Monday, 31 August 2015

The view from the;office window

No Bank Holiday Monday Blues here...
But yes maybe I should clean the windscreen in order to enjoy the view even more...

Broad View from the ;Office; window..

A good bit of sunshine for mowing at the end of a wet Bank Holiday Monday.
Given that I don't work in a bank, I don't tend to take much notice of such festivities... Gosh those guys and gals must work hard to need so many extra days off.
But to be honest they're welcome to 'em. It doesn't feel like such an arduous task to be driving my old faithful around these verdant acres, getting the herbage down, even if my old Ford isn't quite as glamorous as a recent visitor....

If the grass doesn't get cut now then it's going to be shoulder high by mid September. Worryingly good cover for all those foxes, badgers, bunnies, and other assorted fluffy bottomed characters we love so much.

Plus long grass is an excellent breeding ground for our friends the slugs and snails, some folk go out mowing at night just to get an extra chance to 'search and destroy' the molluscs whilst they are at their most active after dark.

I sometimes go out to the greenhouse, at night with a pair of scissors and a headtorch for despatching duties, but I'll spare you the details in case any 'sensitive' types ever do read this.
Question.....How do the 'Vogons' I.e. the "I'll have no truck with animal products at all in my diet" Feel about us veg growers protecting our crops from the wee beasties? Are there 'slug sanctuaries' out there? If so please will you come and do some  rescuing?

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Late Summer Tomato Crop

Showing golden and red cherries. Both have done well in this newest polytunnel, fresh ground and all that. Sadly won't be all that long before they succumb to blight. The very same airborne fungus spore that affects their close cousins the potatoes.

You can keep blight at bay for a while with a sensible watering and ventilation regime, but it always comes in the end.
Then 'romps through the crop' is not too speedy a description of how fast it spreads from plant to plant.

To be honest, what with the amount of picking and general fiddling about with that growing tomatoes entails, it's a bit of a relief to pull 'em all out at the end of the season and plant something else.
Probably spinach and salad here.

The orange / red part of the 'rainbow' spectrum that we should be eating will be replaced by carrots, squash, and beetroot over the winter.

Jagellero Nero Kale; Dehydrating...

This is a new type of kale, very popular in the veg bags at the moment. It doesn't take much cooking and being so dark green will be full of goodness.

Here, it's about to be dehydrated to take on an upcoming backpacking trip.

One of the hardest things I find about leaving the farm (apart from getting the farm ready to be left) is not having 'proper' greens whilst away. It will be interesting to see how these stand up to being ported through the mountains, and how well they reconstitute to accompany  the 'spaceman food' that one is sometimes required to eat on these expeditions.. Going to try flat parsley and wild rocket too.
Also planning to take alfalfa seeds to sprout along the way, they only need a daily rinse of water, and are ready to eat by the third day. Two little ziplock bags in rotation should do it....Can't stop growing, even on holiday...

And of course there's a good chance of finding some Mediterranean type herbs along the path.

Meanwhile... too much excitement...

Look what the neighbour parked on the frontage, temporarily.......

I don't know how a girl is supposed to contain herself. Look at its buggy eyes! I love my Ford 4000 but this is in another league altogether.

When I'm older, and possibly even madder, and can no longer walk, or cycle very far, I'm gonna get me one of these and chug up to Scotland or somewhere on it. Towing a bow-top shelter behind...There will of course be an old goat peeping out the back...

Keep a look out for me, but I am hoping it might not be for another 45 years or so....

Friday, 28 August 2015

Sorry couldn't resist sharing this one...

A proper garage...Will you look at the wiggly tin on that!.....Crickowell Wales.

Tools for Self Reliance - Barefoot Blacksmithing

Rediscovered this excellent outfit at A Rather Fine Music Festival in Wales (Green Man) last weekend.

"Tools for Self Reliance"
based in Crickowell near Breacon in South Wales.

They source, refurbish, and give a second life to old tools. Some go abroad to folk in less developed countries who can make use of them. They also sell some tools at events to raise further funds for their overseas activities.
And they are aimed squarely  at people like me who find it very hard to resist well tempered steel. Older tools made pre the destruction of British Steel Industry.

Liking the cavalier attitude to health and safety. Gives a 'real world feel' regarding safety boot availability in some financially poorer countries.

I did resist though...apparently a girl can only have so many hoes...Never mind Wales isn't so far away..sneaks off....

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Different Sewing Project

Same soggy day. Appropriately for the weather making a 'rain skirt'. Lightweight and waterproof, just the thing for an upcoming southerly excursion. 
I really don't like waterproof trousers, have to wear them for work in the winter a lot.
Oh the joys of toting half a kilo of mud about the place, on the hem of each leg.....
So for a walking trip, this seems like a more comfortable solution, a wrap around kilt type affair which will double as a lightweight groundsheet and emergency shelter for any Spanish pixies encountered in the mountains...

Sowing project

Ideal for a rainy day in August, when the idea of spending a day outside weeding really doesn't attract.
Lots of veg plants start their lives like this, sown into modules, raised in the greenhouse, then planted out once they're tough enough to stand the rigours of the outdoors...Gives the grower a bit more time to prepare the ground and get it weed free.
Although in an organic growing system 'weed free' is always a short term aspiration rather than a long term reality. 

Gotta keep the hoe moving through the soil, all the time, to have any chance of keeping the weeds at bay, but you can only hoe properly when it's dry....and this is a typical British Summer.

Here is Corn Salad expertly sown using the 'flicking them off a creased piece of shiny paper with a sharp knife' technique.

A very fast and accurate method in experienced hands.
The seedlings will be planted out in the polytunnel late September after the first tomatoes have come out. And sow it goes on, and on, one hopes (and fears) without end.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

This afternoon's Custard and Rivulet

Took the afternoon off..

Walked over the hill with solid 'shopping for holidays' intent, but sadly, successful purchasing expeditions are not generally to be found in my 'toolbox of talents'...

Had a delicious crab sandwich and particularly toothsome slab of gingercake in a cafe; and then got a thorough patronising from the guy in the outdoors shop; thanks mate!

Came home full bellied but empty handed, it's not the shops''s me.

Never mind; the Internet won't try to tell me what I do and don't want.
Bit of a downpour (prolonged shower?) there and back, hence the track speedily turning to a streamlet.

Meanwhile Imogen's creation is waiting faithfully, back at the homestead...An unscheduled, but most welcome, 'Wednesday Custard' with blueberries. A little firmer than some of the previous ones, but none the less gorgeous for it. Is it custard that is supposed to wobble like the inner thigh of ....nope can't quite remember?

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

The mornings work laid out.

This is an excellent way to commence the working week. Especially after a weekend off farming. Well 'off' that is apart from the essentials.

But having small people visiting who will enthusiastically run up to feed the pigs or take the corn shucks to the chickens, then gladly gorge on the corn itself, makes it all feel like a treat.

So a few lettuce and rainbow chard to get into the already prepared ground. Simple straightforward rhythmic stuff, sunshine solitude, and a teensy little barely there headache from overindulgence.

Worth it though for the beach, moor,  campfires..and fine food, drink, and company.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Sunshine served up after a day of rain

Several months of solar gain, on a plate, for one evenings repast....compensations for what sometimes feels like endless 'soil toil '

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Sea Buckthorn

Thriving on the dry sandy soil at the top of the hill. Perfect growing conditions for this sea side shrub.
The very sharp berries are reckoned to have one of the highest levels of vitamin C weight for weight, of any fruit.

But to be honest you would struggle to get any amount of them down, it's not wholly dissimilar to eating sloes.

Some folks make them into ice cream. We tried steeping them in Vodka. No idea what that did to the vitamin content, but it certainly made them more palatable.

Erosion happening right now

Rivers if allowed will take the path they choose...
There is even a classic Oxbow Lake forming a few miles upstream of here. With the beaver colony living alongside it's worthy of a combined Biology Geography school trip.

Not certain if the folks whose gardens are just out of shot to the right feel quite so sanguine about all this educational 'geography in action'.

Sand Martens burrows

In the sunken lane alongside Hoppins Field.
The lane is cut very deep at the top of the hill shallower at the bottom. Before the road was tarmacked the sandy soil would have washed away every Winter as traffic stirred up the mud.
I wonder how many generations of Martens have bred here, and how tall the 'cliff' had to be before they deemed it a worthy nesting site?
Erosion isn't always a bad thing, something or someone can usually take advantage of the ' niche' created.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Nice bit of 'circularity'

This year's Crown Prince Squash swelling well with the sun and rain. Ready to harvest early October.
Am considering a joint squash harvest and birthday do.
Could be a quiet one...

Out on the scout

For the wiggly tin appreciation society
It maybe one of those situations, where, if you have to have it explained to you, then you're not going to understand....
Anyway up, it's good to get out on the bike after a day picking and packing veg.
Added bonus, got spotted by Lucy 'up her lane' and was taken in for tea...

Friday, 7 August 2015

This can qualify as 'wiggly tin '

I love this everso cheerful 'invisible Mend'

There is something compelling to me, about things being a little bit broken.
Or in some cases a lot broken, but still they carry on, do what they have to do, and make the best of things.

Some of my favourite people are like that too..

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Elspeth's friend Bernice

Investigating the 'soft parts' of the Squash....not too certain.... 'funny foreign food'

A golden nugget of 2014's Sunshine...

This is the last Crown Prince Squash, harvested in October 2014, and then stored through the Winter and into the Spring, it has spent the Summer being guarded in the porch by the cat, she did a good job no one stole it..
 It was finally starting to go soft - it wanted to release its seedy babies....

The intense burst of orange that's revealed when it's cut open is like getting a glimpse of the previous summers' sunshine. 

A bit like the heat and light you get from burning dry logs - only that's years and years worth of 'pent up summer sun'.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Insert poor taste joke re chickens and buckets here.....

Sorry, but somewhat in contrast to the bucolic delights of 'Slantilightshire' so often depicted in 'Country' magazines.

This is a chicken who was decapitated by a fox yesterday ...bucket to save you details of the gore..

Fascinating 'fact'.. foxes go around the chicken run pulling off all the heads because the brain is the most nutritious part! Yum..

Plus in the background the 2000 or so spinach beet plantlings - this mornings labours.

Two 'Girl Mondays' came  to help. Thank you Jacqui and Lucy 

Nice slanty light though, eh?

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Deep thoughts from a tall hen

Elspeth pondering the demise of her companion.
And wondering "might I be next??" #henhousedramas

Once a fox has got started, it won't give up. 
They don't go out to teach Sunday afternoon yoga classes, cook eggs and spinach on toast for their tea, or spend any time on facebook... They are totally focused on one (42 and diminishing) thing.

A Thursday custard

Not about to branch out into a third career as a food stylist. 
I would be hopeless, and eat it all before I got a decent shot. Here we have one of Imogen's sublime baked egg custard with blueberries,  nestling in a bed of  New Zealand Spinach, that's waiting to be graded and bagged. - No chance we're too busy gathering round with spoons.....

And just when the girls thought it couldn't possibly get any more thrilling...

Along comes this handsome chap. offering to swap corn for eggs. 
Sweet deal. 

Which does in time leads to further treats for us all.

A pretty enough picture, but....

This is what lettuce gets like as it gets older and tries to go seed. As growers we need to remember that vegetables aren't interested in the slightest in feeding us.

They are, like most living things primarily concerned with reproducing themselves... A plant under stress, in this case lack of water , will panic and 'think' " must make babies (seeds) quickly before I die".

So we need to lull them into a sense of  'its all ok I can keep on making myself luscious juicy and big with leaves, then when I'm enormous I'll have even bigger babies'

The recent dry weather has meant that no amount of irrigation was going to stop these ones 'going up,.

They had cropped well for a number of weeks previously, and all lettuces go to seed eventually, they just can't help themselves...Time gets to us all ....Bother!