What a beautiful weekend

I know it’s a common thing to say, but this weekend just flew by.  We did have a busy one mind you, it was glorious weather! 
The greenhouse was difficult to keep cool and I actually lost some tomato seedlings which I’m gutted about.  They were in this heat in the propagator too, so even hotter.  I have lots more sown, but still sad when it happens.
It was a weekend of fencing again.  We have a stock fence that separates the small paddock and the field.  The field has a gate which is not linked to the small paddock and it’s become a mud bath over winter, so we’ve decided to put another gate in as an alternative route whilst that one recovers. 
Ste took part of the stock fence down, to make room for the gate.  A trip to Mole Valley (agricultural store) later and we had the wood necessary for the job.

In no time at all, Ste had dug the holes out, post crete’d in the posts and added the fence rails. 

 
We then had a chat about the stock fence which started to look tired and aged against the new post and rail section.  Our intention was to eventually replace the full thing, but not immediately.  This weekend’s task was to get the gate ready for use.
Of course, best laid plans were thrown to one side and we set about (we being Ste) and took up the stock fencing, keeping it for the pig area at a later date.  The field now looks amusing in that there is a gate in place, but an open space which you can just walk around.  We had another run to the agricultural store and got the rest of the wood needed to put a full fence up. 
 
I wasn’t sat on my haunches whilst Ste was busy with the fence.  I’ve planted up the rest of the trees in to the mini orchard and am really pleased with the results.  It’s still work in progress as there’s a lot of soft fruit to go in, but so far, so good.  We’ve the last 2 apple trees, a pear, 2 apricot, an almond and a rogue fig…the fig isn’t in the ground yet as I’m not sure what to do with him.
The grass area will eventually be removed and some replaced with culinary and medicinal herb beds.  That’s something I really want to learn a bit more about. 
 

Richard the duck

Richard, our most recently acquired duck, is a mucky little thing. Well big thing. He’s actually huge. Since we adopted him he’s been kept in the barn in our growers pen with the other chicks that were of a similar age. He’s outgrown it now and to be honest, he’s getting very smelly. I’m saying that and I have 4 horses in there who don’t smell anywhere near as much. So tonight we introduced him to the other ducks and he’s spending his first night with them in their coop. I’ve probably picked the most gloomy, windy and stormy night of late but he’s got a roof over his head so should be ok from that aspect and fingers crossed he isn’t bullied.
Grace carried him from the barn to the outside area. He cuddled in to her which she loved. The plan for this back area is to clear it out and have a good think about what we can do with it. People say goats live well on rough, nettle land but when I read up about them they seem to be selective eaters and wouldn’t take kindly to the nettles area? Either way we are going to extend the duck area to include the orchard so they get to roam around more. Given the damage the geese have done by bullying the ducks in the past, we’re separating the back of the barn and the orchard so the geese and ducks shouldn’t come into contact with each other. There’s quite a bit of work involved so Ste is taking care of that ad and when he can.
Also we have some huge mushrooms growing in the horse muck!! This is pure muck so I am going to see what we can do about growing our own safe mushrooms next year.

A smallholding weekend…..we’re getting there

The weekends go by in a flash.  Why is that?  I remember finishing work on Friday and thinking how happy I was that it was the weekend and we have 2 free days to spend as we wish, enjoying each other’s company and the ups and downs of smallholding life.

Saturday saw my friend and I ride the horses out along a route that previously had a gas gun set up on it to scare the birds off their crops.  It’s been switched off now, so we ventured along the bridleway which leads through a farm.  I met the owner the previous week and it turned out I used to go to school with him, so we were happy to go through.  It turned out there were lots of bridle gates and some weren’t accessible easily so I ended up jumping off and walking most of the route through the farm.  We’re going to use it again as part of a circular route so that we don’t have to get off twice.  We doubled back on ourselves on Saturday meaning we need to go back through the gates again which was a pain. 

A lovely couple took 20 bags of manure from us this week, taking the last lot on Saturday.  They absolutely loved our place and even brought us a cake to say thank you for the muck!  It’s no hardship other than bagging it up and it helps us not have a much to get rid of, so we were very grateful for the cake.  It was a Greek yoghurt cake and I kid you not, it tasted divine.  Light and tasty, what more could you want.  They are welcome for more muck any time!  They also bought 12 eggs from us.

For lunch on Saturday I harvested the crazily big asparagus and made soup from it.  It was lovely.  My son likened it to a nicer leek and potato (he’s 5).  My Mam and Dad turned up as I was making it, so I fed all of us (not Mam as she has digestive issues bless her), with leftovers eaten on Sunday.  I was beaming with pride as serving something up that we grew ourselves (ish, it grew regardless of us).

After lunch, we said bye to my parents and set to work in the small paddock trying to clear it of the last bits of debris from the ginormous pile of branches, fence posts, rotted rails and general dumping ground items that the previous owner had left there.  It’s looking a lot better but still work to do there.  The ponies can go on it, which is the main thing.

Steven and I sat down in the middle of the paddock with a cold drink late on the afternoon and spent 10 minutes just taking it all in.  Days like that were what it was all about.  Cake for muck, eating our own produce and working on our own land.  Doesn’t get much better than that.  My only downfall was that I hadn’t anything prepared for tea so when we went in at 7:30pm we ordered a take away.  Oh well!

On Sunday morning I was coming back with my daughter from her ride out when the neighbour rang, she wanted 12 eggs when we had time.  As we were almost back home, I nipped in, grabbed 12 eggs and took them round to them as they were having pancakes for  breakfast.  You don’t get better service than that and no fresher eggs that laid that day!

Sunday afternoon was spent in the field which we had sectioned off on Saturday.  The kids played with next doors kids and we finished poo picking so the field can grow unhindered by piles of poo.  That’s something we need to start doing almost daily as we don’t have vast amounts of space, so we need to look after it well.  Finally I went round the smaller paddock picking leaves off the trees in an attempt to identify them and make sure they’re not poisonous as the ponies now have full access to the woods as part of their turn out.  Even if they didn’t have access to the woods, they’d still get some of the tree’s leaves as they’re growing at a very enthusiastic rate, so this is a priority for this week.

After a full and tiring day, Steven suggested we go out for tea, who were we to say no?  So he took us to the local pub where we had a lovely meal that filled us up nicely.  We’re so lucky to have a lovely family, even if it’s slightly crazy and the kids fight like cat and dog J