Friday, 9 March 2018


   As seems to happen here is la Creuse winter has switched into spring within a few days. The days are longer and warmer. Of course, there is still a threat of frost up until the middle of May but every day brings that month closer and lessens the change of a prolonged cold spell.
   So with the milder weather I have taken the plunge and sowed my parsnips under cloches. I learnt that parsnips will germinate at two degrees centigrade. I do like to sow them early and give them the maximum amount of time. Last lot of onion sets planted, a variety called Sturon. I have grown them before and I am hopeful that they will be a larger onion but who knows? Tomato seed sown. Seven varieties. Lettuce sown. Moss curled parsley sown and a hot pepper. The hot pepper, purple Tiger, I have brought into the house to germinate as they require a much higher temperature. Dug up carrots, parsnips, swede and leeks. Cut cabbage. The winter vegetables are now coming to an end.
   On the animal front the hens are laying 2 to 4 a day. I discovered that one of our Buff Orpingtons is a coq! So now the decision has to be made as to which one gets the chop! The buff Orpington or Ixworth coq? My bet is on the Ixworth as I am convinced he is infertile. The sheep are being sheep. I have had some interesting episodes with escaping rams. I think there will be one or two late summer lambs. The female duck has not yet started to lay but it cannot be long.
   So onward with the garden. Lots to do and fingers crossed it does not rain!

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Cold winter days

    Since the last blog the weather has not been kind. It has been cold particularly when you take into account the wind chill factor. Having said that I managed to get one day on the garden and planted my shallots and most of my onions. I also hand forked and weeded the garlic bed with my new patent pending hand fork! In the poly tunnel amazingly coriander is starting to grow. The cold weather though has slowed up the 18 Jour radishes.
    As I write this the weather has taken a turn to the milder side. Yesterday it was a freezing -7C today a balmy 13C and the outlook is for the milder weather to continue. No doubt it will rain and once more stop me from getting on. I have dug up more leeks and carrots. The carrots are now pretty much done. I also managed to cut down a small fur tree that has been annoying me for years. Now need to get the stump out! More fencing posts obtained which means work in the fields putting up posts before the ground gets too dry. 
   On the animal front the hens are laying more regularly with the longer days and now a return to milder weather. At least two a day, more often three and now and then five. I expect to be getting four a day soon. The chickens are being chickens and turning over any ground I dig or fork. The sheep are surviving and grass is  getting very short.

Garlic bed


Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Onions and shallots

   Well that reasonable day to plant onions and shallots over the last week has not arrived. There has been a couple of dry days unfortunately not contiguous and the ground is so wet it is impossible to work or sow unless there is a few days where it does not rain.
   On one short of dry day, it drizzled a bit, I managed to get my bonfire lit and the branches etc from the cut down pine tree burnt. It was a good bonfire and I am pleased that I have managed to get it done. I have replaced a number of posts in the fence lines with the idea that our "jumpy" rams would be keep in. They had to be moved from my daughters next door neighbours garden as there really was no grass for them. I moved them and guess what? Two of the so in so's jumped my efforts at making Ramstag IV. I got them back but one is a persistent so in so. One sniff and one look at a ewe and he is off! Cut a long story short three times he jumped higher and higher fences. The third time the fence was at least five foot ten high, that is, as tall as me and he still got over it. I spent a half day trying to catch him and had to give up however I finally got him through his own greed and desires. So now he is back in my daughters Sophie's garden away from the ewes. He has to go.
   In the garden it has been a case of digging up parsnips and leeks, picking sprouts, cutting cabbage and getting muddy! I tell you digging up a parsnip when the soil is liquid mud is not a pleasant job. Now is the time I need to make the decision to sow tomato and sweet pepper seeds. Onions, shallots and parsnips are going to be late this year I fear.

Cress grown on a piece of kitchen roll!

Male pheasant in the field

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Where did that time go?

   Well I do not know! My last blog posting was on the 2nd February and here we are at the 13th February (shrove Tuesday in the UK). So where did those eleven days go? 
   The weather has been mixed. Cold, ice, snow, rain, sun. Had the lot! On the animal front one group of rams has been moved from one paddock to another. Grass is getting short now. Four of last years lamb rams have been moved to my back  garden and they are doing a great job of getting the grass down. Usual maintenance done, that is, cleaning out coops!
   For a laugh and because I remember doing it as a child I sowed some cress on a piece of damp kitchen roll on a plate and hey presto up it came. Looking forward to egg and cress samwiches. Not a lot done in the garden generally other than dig up leeks and parsnips, pulled carrots, cut cabbage and oh yes I took down an overgrown small fir tree and removed the stump. That was a bit of an effort but now I have a good view over the front garden, not mind you that is much of a view!
   I am now looking out for a reasonable day to sow the onions and shallots and parsnips. In the mean time I have a bon fire to light and to give some thought to sowing tomatoes! Few more days maybe? Umm.

Now you see it!

Now you don't!

The removed stump

Friday, 2 February 2018

Mud! Glorious mud!

   I have bought my seed potatoes, onions and shallots. I had a nice surprise in that I did not have to pay anything! My fidelity card paid for the lot.
   The wet and miserable weather has given me an opportunity to clear the cobbles from grass and mud outside the front of the house. Normal maintenance work done despite the weather, that is, clean out the coops! As well as that the ram lambs have been moved from the neighbours garden to my garden! Also the adult rams who were living in a paddock at the back of the main chicken coop have been moved to a fresh paddock where they have taken great delight is having some grass to eat! This means I have two big piles of dirty, wet and smelly hay to move to a compost site in my garden. The chickens are also very happy as they are being allowed to wander the garden and they have already found my spinach. No great loss as far as I am concern! 
   In the garden carrots are being pulled, as are swede and sprouts are being picked. The sprouts are coming to an end now and I will probably give most of what is left to the sheep. I had  left my tree onions in the ground over winter to see what result I would get. I have weeded and gently forked their bed. They look ok so far! My over wintering peas are still thriving but I fear the next week will test them. The weather forecast is for several nights of below zero and so I expect there will be a frost. I have pruned the japonica. Probably the wrong time to it as it is starting to produce flowers and leafs. Needs must! I need to have a bonfire!!
   Nothing to say on the animal front that has not already been stated. All continue to thrive but the darn chickens are not laying as many eggs as they should be. Spring is just around the corner. I have daffs in flower and the snow drops on the ditch bank are out in full splendour.

Snow drops 24/01/18

Daffs in flower 29/01/18

2017 Ram lambs in my garden

Monday, 22 January 2018

All together now....rain drops keep falling on my head..

   What can I say? This will be a short blog as really nothing much has been done. Some thinking about sowing what and where and oh my seed order from Real Seeds has arrived. This week the ground has gone from workable to liquid mud. I have managed to get some forking and weeding done before the rain came but now the ground is impossible again. I have removed two barrow loads of liquid mud from my front drive. It is the disadvantage of being at the end of the road. If the ditches have not been cleared I get the washed down mud in my drive. Fortunately the ditches had been cleared for this last lot of rain but its a continuous battle considering my drive is not metalled or gravelled very well.
   Continue to pull carrots, swede and parsnips. The last of the savoy type cabbage went to feed the rams. They enjoyed them. Not many carrots left. A few white cabbage, small, but still big enough to eat. Plenty of leeks still. Note to self. Eat leeks.
   Spring is around the corner. If this mild weather continues I reckon spring in my neck of the woods will be about a month early. Crocus's are in flower as are snowdrops with daffodils in sheltered places already showing buds. 18Jour (18Day) radish sown in the poly tunnel on the 7th January have germinated. 
   Withing the next couple of weeks I will have to go and purchase my seed potatoes, onions and shallots. I am hoping soon for a few dry days so that I can sow some parsnip, hopefully at the beginning of February.
    So as the rhyme says
Rain, rain go away
Come again another day.
Rain, rain go awayLittle Rodger wants to play. 

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Steady as she goes!

   All right! The pace quickens to get outside jobs done before it either rains or freezes! I have  finally been able to get out into the garden for a reasonable amount of time. I have been busy tidying up. Jobs that should have been done last autumn are finally getting done. Gusts of wind have taken down my bean poles so I have cleared them away. I need a new set. They should have been removed before now. The weather has been kind enough to allow me to fork and weed so I have been busy. The soil in places is on the heavy side but it is workable. Lots still to do but if I can  get on top of it now then I might be ahead of the game. I continue to pull carrots, swede, beetroot, leeks and cut cabbage and pick sprouts. The cabbage is coming to an end but they have been a good crop. Certainly the sheep like them! The carrot critters have returned for another year attacking my carrots. They are very clever. They attack the carrot from underneath and hollow it out. When I go to pull the carrot all  I get is the top and a hollow carrot!
   No change on the animal front. Three chickens are laying quite regularly now which is welcome. It is good to get eggs with deep yellow yolks rather than those pale ones bought from the supermarket. The rams are having to be feed hay twice a day as there is little grass for them. The ewes are managing in the big field.
   The river overflowed its banks last week. I have never seen it so high but of course it could have been as high in previous years. I just would not have seen it!
  Fingers crossed for continued drier weather and mild temperatures. I can then crack on with preparing the vegetable plots.

Normally you would see standing stones here

Critter attacked carrot

Blown over bean sticks