Sunday, 19 June 2016

D-Day looming

Sue's checking out the bees so I've decided it will be safest to stay inside for  a couple of hours and update the blog.

17th June
The school fayre
The school summer fayre and a good chance to sell some jams and honey. I got stuck sitting on the stall as Sue was bravely singing in her band, which I'm sure will have impressed all the children and parents in her school. Anyway, all the honey went. I could have sold more but the weather this last week was too wet for Sue to rob the hives again.
Sue's onion marmalade always sells well too - it's the main reason I grow so many onions.

I returned home to the realisation that today was D-Day. I've not mentioned this before but I've known for a while that our wonderful neighbours Don and Maureen are moving. They will be a great loss. We will both miss our chats over the fence and Don was always there looking out for us and ready to help when we needed it. We will still see them as they've not moved too far away. In fact they've moved very close to our dentists so we can pop in every time we've got a toothache.
In one of our last conversations, Don told us about his long-time dentist and how he used to greet him with the phrase "Neither of us is going to get hurt today, are we?" He followed this with a raucous bout of laughter. That's how I'll remember Don.

So I returned home to see a different car in next door's driveway. That's when it all became very real. Later in the evening our new neighbours knocked at the door and we invited them in for a chat. They seem decent enough people but they're not Don :-(

Elvis ducks set free
I let Elvis's ducklings out tonight too. They've grown pretty big now, big enough to make a terrible mess of their small pen. When you first let a hen and her family out, the trouble comes with the hen being too defensive and fighting with the other hens. To ameliorate this I now try to let the hen out on her own a couple of days before letting the whole family out. This seems to avoid most of the trouble.
The ducklings clearly enjoyed their new diet of plantain leaves and whatever bugs, grubs and slimies were unfortunate enough to be in their path.

18th June
With the weather dry and us at home to keep an eye on them, we decided we would have another go at letting the turkey family out. Mum has been hopping the stable wall into the goose stable and then spending the day outside, but we have kept the poults inside following the terrible events of a while ago when we let them out too early and in bad weather only to lose four poults over the next two days.

Today's release went well and the turkey family spent most of the day around the stables. They seem to be very keen on the herb patch.

There are raspberries in here somewhere
Meanwhile, I tackled the raspberry patch. The raspberries, under a strict regime of neglect, seem to be doing very well indeed this year. However, they are impossible to get to. Long grass, nettles, tansy, docks and sow thistles have been thriving. I spent the whole day just pulling weeds to restore the paths to their former state. Mowing them used to be a real pain so instead I decided to rotavate them and keep them bare. But with the soil wet the weeds took full advantage. I'm now opting for the cardboard mulch route. This should starve the weeds of light. At the same time, hopefully the weed seeds will germinate and rot off.

19th June
Peg looming
I am really aching from yesterday's mammoth weed pulling session, so I'll spend the morning pottering in the polytunnel. I've a few late brassicas to sow and there's kohl rabi to be picked.

Later on Sue and I are off to a fellow smallholder's to learn how to do peg looming. I'll post up some pictures when I get back.

... back from the peg looming and we have bought a peg loom!
James keeps Leicester Longwools specifically for their dreadlocks which produce long strands of wool for peg looming. But I don't intend changing all our sheep just so we can use the fleeces to weave, so I took along the fleece we got from Rambo this year. To my delight it was easy to pull off and stretch out the fleece to almost a yard long with no great skill required.
Peg looming is the oldest form of weaving and is pretty easy to do, if a slow process - the perfect way to spend long, dark winter evenings. Admittedly these are far from my thoughts with the summer solstice looming.

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