Wednesday, 4 July 2012


Wednesday 4th July 2012
It did actually turn out to be quite a nice day.

My own man
The best part of my new smallholder lifestyle is that I can choose what to do and when, although the animals, the plants and the weather might have something to say about this. I guess that what I really mean is that my day is mostly free of interference by other people! This suits me perfectly as I am an independent so-and-so who doesn't really like being told what to do!

If I want to, I can devote a whole day to one job. Or I can fill a day with bits and pieces. Within my familiar, slowly evolving little plot little things happen and I have the time to notice them. 
I have to choose what to pick out for blogging purposes. So here's just a small selection of those little things from the past few days...

Gerry makes himself at home.
Rivalling me for stubbornness has been our cat, Gerry.
He is well and truly better now, but since being given normal, wet cat food when he was ill, he has decided that he no longer likes the biscuits which he spent the first fifteen months of his life eating. Yesterday I won the battle and he ate biscuits, having refused to touch anything for two whole days. His tummy had even be heard to rumble. However, somebody has cracked and given him Wh*skas again!!!

Lady Guinea has started laying again. I suspected this when G'nea G'nea himself was becoming more and more macho, calling raucously and charging at me (always behind my back). While I was clearing out the weeds from the poppy patch on Weasel Ridge I came across an egg sitting in a hollow on the ground.

Too late to realise, I'd left it totally exposed and it was no surprise that something had snaffled it by the next day. But then Lady Guinea moved to the soft fruit patch and left this behind....

Unfortunately the crows found that one. It would be lovely if one day I couldn't find Lady Guinea. It would hopefully precede her appearance with a family of young guineafowl.

Bird movements
I've not mentioned our fenland birdlife for a while, and that's because everything had settled down to breed. But I've started seeing the first young birds and gangs of young starlings. In the last few days I've seen a few birds of note though. A hobby appeared on Saturday, doubtless intending to try its luck hunting some of the young swallows. It was seen off by the adults though.
The same evening a cuckoo was fluttering about calling, being pursued by some very worried little bird, many times smaller.

Then, on Sunday, the familiar call of an oystercatcher came from afar announcing an imminent fly-past. A common tern drifted over too. Yesterday, two oystercatchers and four lapwings.

None of these birds is particularly rare, but they are noteworthy when they appear here. And for five noteworthy species to appear within a few days shows that something is happening. A slight change in the seasons. Post-breeding movements or failed breeders moving on. As far as birding is concerned, spring is over and autumn is on the way!

Chinese Artichokes

Down in the veg plot I've planted out the Chinese Artichokes. I've not grown these tiny corkscrew tubers before and I don't even know what they taste like! I know they can be sliced and eaten raw and I'm hoping for something crunchy and nutty.

Some Swiss Chard has been left
to flower and produce seed
Swiss Chard
I've sorted out the Swiss Chard too. It overwintered successfully and has grown to impressive proportions. But, being a biennial, it's now thrown up tough central stalks topped with flower spikes. So I harvested what leaves and stems I could for harvesting and left just a few plants for seed (and out of curiosity).
The rest of the bed was needed for some of this year's courgettes and outdoor cucumbers and for Borlotti beans.

A welcome visitor
On Saturday our local swarm collector called in. What a friendly man and a font of all knowledge, not just bees but pigs, geese, chickens...

At the beginning of this post I may have sounded as if I don't like people. That's not strictly true and this was a very welcome visitor, as are most people who visit.

However, I can be a bit fussy about which people I like and which I don't! And call me grumpy but I do prefer animals and birds.

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