Tuesday, 30 May 2017

A Sluggish Couple of Days

Sunday 28th May
Growing turnips in the polytunnel
The turnips came out of the polytunnel yesterday. I only grow these in the tunnel very early in the year, as they grow lots of leaf and soon start rotting when the weather warms up. But I do get some rather lovely turnips. Some go into the freezer as insurance in case the outdoor crop fails. This year I turned the rest into turnip masala. The recipe used up some of last year's onions and garlic which are just about hanging on as well as a tub of frozen tomatoes from the bumper year two years back.
I collected together the ingredients and set about crushing the garlic and dicing the onions. Actually, I cheated and did it in the food processor, but it still made my eyes stream.

A Visit from The Bee Man
My cooking was interrupted by a visitor. The bee man who turns up for a friendly chat once or twice a year. He is a serious bee-keeper who breeds his own queens and has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share. We chatted for quite some time until the next unexpected visitor.

A Case of Fly Strike
Our neighbour appeared at the gate seeking help with her old pet sheep which had unfortunately become a victim of fly strike. This is just about the most disgusting thing to have to deal with. Greenbottles lay their eggs on the sheep and hundreds of maggots hatch out and start eating away at the flesh. The wool starts dropping off, and is soaked with a foul-smelling liquid. Very, very quickly the sheep falls ill and if not caught quickly fly strike may well prove fatal.
This is why it is irresponsible to keep sheep if you can't check on them at least once a day. A fly struck sheep will typically be away from the flock and inactive.
The solution is to cut back the wool all around the affected area, clean it thoroughly and dab on the same solution which is applied to sheep as a spot-on application to keep flies at bay. This is a strong and harsh chemical but there are times when subtlety does not do the trick. We have only had fly strike once and it was certainly a learning experience. We managed to save that particular sheep.
I won't go into any more detail, but after an hour or so Carol Ann had gone through the same fly strike learning curve as we did last year.

A bit of our own sheep husbandry
It was then time to attend to our own sheep, as some of the lambs needed worming. While we had them all corralled, we had a bit of a move around. The fawn ewe and the two youngest lambs were to move up with the others. There would be butting and chasing for a while and mum would be distracted from attending to her lambs, so to minimise the disturbance I wanted to move Rambo and the other entire ram lamb out of the way, at least until things settled down.
We had a bit of chasing around the field while the sheep played silly buggers, but in the end they did what they were supposed to. We drenched them (sounds complicated, but just means giving them medicine orally) and I then spent an hour or so just keeping an eye on things until they settled down.

So, back to the turnip masala. I wasn't sure about it, but the genius touch was when everything got roughly mashed at the end. Suddenly the dish was transformed into an authentic Indian vegetable dish. Success!

Final job for the day was one which I had been putting off for quite a while. Our gutter was blocked and grass was growing from it, but I was unable to reach it leaning out of the upstairs window. So it was up to roof level on the ladder - which is why I had been putting it off for so long. For some reason though today my fear of heights was absent. Climbing the ladder was a cinch. I don't know why I put it off for so long.

Monday 29th May
A very early start after heavy rain during the night. At 5am I was picking slugs off the walls of the polytunnel. For yesterday I cut back the herbs which grow along the outside edge of the tunnel, so the slugs had nowhere to hide.
I stopped counting when I got to 200 slugs! Fortunately I have trained my ducks to recognise the white bucket as their treat bucket. All I have to do is to stop the slugs escaping before I get the bucket down to the ducks.
Smallholding is not always glamorous, so I leave you with an image which sums that up quite nicely.

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