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Archive for the ‘garden’ Category

Silage-making is once more upon us.  Gordon and Dan worked hard and sorted out the gearbox on the newer of our two foragers, getting it ready for action last Thursday.  The older one requires a pump originally sent off for repair in Scotland, but it came back with an incorrect shaft fitting so had to go again.  Since then until today we’ve been mowing, foraging and rolling with the assistance of our other nephew Chris (Dan’s younger brother).  Despite him telling me it’s ten years since the last time he graced us with his presence as a tractor driver it seems to have all come back to him and we’re making very satisfactory progress.  Yesterday was interesting with the addition of a drizzly rain for the best part of the day which made everything sticky and the failure of one trailer when we were almost finished.  To add insult to injury and with just one trailer-load to go, the trailer I was hauling hopped off the hitch and buried itself in the ground which meant Dan had to rescue me with the loader.  Today the boys have been making repairs so I’ve had a ‘day off’ to catch up on various things (like accounts, yuck!).

I’ve bought new glasses from Glasses Direct which I thought were very reasonable (they’re not paying me for the plug, by the way).  They’re transition lenses so I’ve been driving the forager in them and realised that for the past couple of years I haven’t actually been able to clearly see the pickup hitch!  I’ve been able to catch it (it’s an acquired skill from years of experience), just not able to see it.  How weird that I didn’t notice.  If you ever need new glasses I can thoroughly recommend their website.  They even send you glasses to try on at home before you put in your prescription details and choose frames.  Should you fancy trying a pair, let me know – I have discount codes and if you’re recommended by someone you get £30 off, plus I get an Amazon voucher.

Both Gordon and I have been gardening this year.  Gordon has finally found the enthusiasm for more than just mowing the lawn and is nurturing tomatoes, peppers and melons in the greenhouse.

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He spends ages out there watering, feeding and ‘pinching-out’.  Since I’ve been struggling to do this single-handedly for years due to his complete lack of interest, this amuses me very much, but I let him get on with it.

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I’ve planted lots of herbs and random bits of plants I’ve been cultivating in various pots and tubs, including this tin bath we found when sorting out Gordon’s mother’s greenhouse.

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My enclosed raised beds are doing very well and for once I’m able to grow things the cats can’t get to.  We refer to it as ‘the safe house’ although someone did call it ‘Gordon’s splendid garden erection’ the other day which made us laugh.

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Radishes and beetroot.  We’ve been eating the radishes for a while, but the beetroot aren’t ready yet.  It’s nice to be able to keep them in the ground without something digging them up.  If it isn’t the cats then the foxes will usually have a scratch around to see if they can eat it.

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Our woodpecker is back for the peanuts and this time he/she has brought a youngster who sits on top the archway waiting to be fed.  Every time they’re both there I run for my camera but haven’t been able to catch them together, which is a shame.  Look at those claws though.

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Upcycling (Part 1)

I don’t know about you, but I’m avid browser of Pinterest.  I absolutely love to see what others have made such as cakes, crafts and things for the garden. If I acquire a new stamp I quite often look to see how other people are using it and although I don’t like copying it exactly I use it as inspiration.

A while back I spotted a planter made with the headboard and footboard of a single bed. lt was painted red and yellow which I thought was quite garish, but I liked the idea and looked on local selling sites for a cheap bed base – a very cheap or even free one.   About two weeks after I started looking, someone fly-tipped one into a gateway up the road. There was a headboard, two footboards and the slats.  I had to negotiate with a neighbouring farmer who had his eye on it for firewood, but we comprised: I got the ends and he took the rest.

On Sunday while Gordon was painting the table I decide to drag it all out of the workshop where it’s been stored and think about how to make a planter with it.  Love him, he came across when he’d finished and we discussed what I wanted to do with it.  Within about half an hour he’d chopped, sawed and joined it all together as if he had the instructions in front of him.  He has an uncanny knack of being able to see exactly what needs to be done and the finished article was what I’d hoped.  The extra footboard was sawn in half and made the sides.

I spent a couple of hours today sanding the old paint off and painting it in country cream paint.  I still have to line it with plastic, fill it with soil and plant something, but thought you might like a preview.

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It’s a great shape, isn’t it?  I’m most pleased.  I do like to give something a new lease of life.

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A long time ago I decided if I wanted something done around the place I had to do it myself.  Today I finally realised that’s not strictly true.  If I want something done I need to start it myself or even suggest starting it and Gordon will invariably take over.  He can’t help it.  He has that kind of nature.  If he could split himself into a dozen people he would because he likes things done his way.

Yesterday I’d finally had enough of the state at the front of the house and decided to do something about it.  Lord knows I’ve asked Gordon often but somehow it just never happened.  Within a very short space of time the pressure washer appeared and he set it up, making a start on washing the concrete.  When he got a bit bored of that I took over, but he’d done quite a bit. 

We have a wooden picnic bench there and it had reached a stage where you could only really sit on it in old clothes, so I bought some garden paint in ‘Country Cream’ and announced at the end of the day that I would paint it today.  Gordon has an aversion to painted wood, but I thought that if I was going to do it, I’d do it how I wanted.  Lo and behold, a tin of timber care in rustic brown miraculously appeared from the shed, he’s upended the table, brushed it off and is busy painting it.  It isn’t the cream I would have liked, but at least it will look tidy.

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I can’t believe I forgot he had that trait.  Now, what else can I start badly so he feels the need to show me how it should be done?

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On my way into the house this morning after my chores (feeding the calves and washing down the milking parlour usually) the twisted willow that grows beside the front door glinted at me and of course, being me, I came in, fetched my camera and spent the next half an hour or so wandering around with it.  I also topped up the bird feeder since they seem to be emptying it every day and sat quietly in the summer house (damp seats) to see what came to feed.

These are a few I managed to take.

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Robin

Gordon likes to feed the birds in the garden and this robin was hanging around for a long time, making a lot of noise about waiting in the queue.  I think it may have been taken through the window which is why it’s slightly fuzzy.

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Thursday 19 September 2013

As you may have gathered in the five or so years I’ve been babbling on and you’ve been dropping in and out to see what I’m up to, housework is not really my thing.  Cooking falls into that category, but every-so-often I have a little burst of enthusiasm for toiling over a hot stove.  Autumn (or the beginning of Autumn) tends to be one of those times.  I’m a bit of a gatherer you see.  I hate to see anything, especially anything delicious, go to waste and that includes hedgerow pickings such as sloes and blackberries.  This year a friend gave me access to her garden with three or four heavily-burdened damson trees and between us we must have picked about 30lbs.  Several pounds of mine have already gone into gin bottles with added sugar ready for decanting at Christmas, both Dan and my friend have done the same, and the rest have gone into the freezer until I decide what to do with them.  They’ll probably become jam as I feel a preserving-mood coming on.  I also made a bottle of sloe gin and one of blackberry vodka so it’ll be interesting to see how that turns out.  The apples in my garden are starting to drop off the trees and it’s a race between us and everything else that likes to run off with them.  Foxes mostly I suspect, but possibly badgers and definitely birds love to take them from the lowest branches, poop all over the garden and disappear with them.  There are plenty there this year so that’s not so much of a problem although sadly our beautiful Victoria plum tree died during the summer, managing to produce about six plums before giving up all together.  I ate one plum whilst checking out the garden, but by the time I went back later they’d vanished without a trace.  I planted a cherry tree a few weeks ago and that’s been heavily protected to stop the deer stripping the bark before it has a chance to establish but history shows I don’t have a lot of luck with them so if it’s still alive next year that’ll be a bonus.

Our calving season continues on with the successful delivery of four heifers in the past week, all of which have been registered pedigree already: Alexandra, Nancy, Jenny and Tiny.  They’re quite large and mostly black calves as well as being strong and healthy so we’re very pleased with them.  We had another stillborn this morning which brings the total to four so far in the past few weeks, but the mother is fine and that’s the main thing.

Last week Gordon and I celebrated our anniversary by going on the West Somerset Railway again.  We went to Watchet and looked around the harbour, where Gordon made a friend on a torpedo boat that was open to the public.  The guy who has restored it also used to fly microlights so they had lots to talk about.  The drizzle finally drove us back to the station where we ate ice-creams and waited for the return train – we had attentive company.

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Well, I can’t hang around here, I’ve got apples bubbling on the Aga and have decided to make an apple and blackberry crumble.  I’m also waiting on a grocery delivery so I’ll have sugar to start my jam making.  Oddly enough, I’m quite looking forward to it.

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Tuesday 9 March 2013

The girls came home with their partners on Friday evening to a steak supper excellently prepared by Gordon who has completely hijacked the kitchen lately after discovering he likes to cook.  On Saturday evening we had a gathering with friends and family and I prepared a buffet of a roast ham, a massive piece of beef, roast potatoes and bits to go with it.  There wasn’t much left afterwards and the meat was eaten in bread rolls for breakfast on Sunday morning.

My sister and her husband joined us on Sunday for a roast beef lunch and we spent the rest of the day lounging around chatting.  Alex’s partner Mike celebrated his 30th birthday so there was even more cake following two from the day before – one for Steph and one for my father since they share a birthday.  By the end of the day we decided we’d definitely eaten too much beef!

There were lots of birds around the feeder in the afternoon as well as one really persistent blue tit that spent most of the day fluttering up and down the window before landing on a twig in the planter outside, walking to the top of the twig, flying away and coming back again within a few seconds.  I’m pretty sure it’s looking for insects against the glass, but this has been going on for weeks now and starts as soon as the sun comes up.  Consequently I’m woken every morning by the sound of a small feathery body hitting glass!  I took a few photos through the window of both the blue tit and a rare sight in our garden, a woodpecker who’d come down for the peanuts.

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