Saturday, 13 November 2010

A chilly, yet sunny November day


Woke at dawn, as usual, with the cockerels crowing and the ducks head-butting their doors in their normal, impatient 'let me out NOW' way. Went out to release the flocks and was pleasantly surprised by a crisp morning that promised some sunshine. After the torrential rain and blustery winds we've had recently, this had to be a bonus.
By 7.30am I was in the front garden just in time to greet the arriving neighbours. After 18 months of preparations and plans, they have now arrived to begin their new life in the country. Going to be strange trying to get used to fulltime neighbours next door again.
Washing done, it went out onto the line to soak up some rays and be blown by the fresh breeze. Meanwhile, I got started tidying up the bedraggled looking fruit trees, clipping and pruning to the best of my ability. Hope I've done it right!

Next up was taking care of all those pesky gaps in the fence where the bantams get through to the field when they should be in the garden. I had plenty of willow whips cut from a neighbouring woodland, so these have now been cut to sensible lengths and sunk into the fround along the edge of the dodgey fence. At best, some will take root and help prop up the fence, at worst, the sticks will prevent the hens from wandering too far. The longer lengths of willow have been sunk well into the ground either side of the gate in the hope that they'll root and grow me a living arch that the honeysuckle will meander through in future years.

That reminds me, I must check the Russina Vine that had started growing up the pergola that's over the greenhouse patio. Don't want it taking too firm a grip, as it's going to be used to train over the quail run to give it a more natural look. Need to make sure it's safe to use near cattle and sheep first. If not, it will be staying exactly where it is and hoping it plays nicely with the grape vine.

The hens and ducks enjoyed a big bunch of kale and spinach beet, as there isn't much grass left for them by this time of year. They start the winter mornings off with a warm mash and then help themselves to corn in the afternoons. The quail are all looking quite perky, with the cockerels crowing and showing a great deal of interest in their hens. When I went in to top up their feeders, I was rewarded with half a dozen eggs from them. It's not many, I know, but for this time of year and allowing for the birds living outside, this was a welcome gift.

The carrots are coming along nicely in their raised bed, so I thinned a few more out and fed these to Floppity bunny. Checking the cauliflower, I discovered that the one I thought would be next for dinner has frost damage. Likewise, the last of the outdoor cucumbers have succumbed to the sub-zero temperatures that have been hitting us periodically since mid-September. Don't think I'll grow as many cukes next year, probably 2 plants would be enough, planted a couple of weeks apart. Likewise with the courgettes.

One of the raised beds in the furthest corner is needing manure dug into it so it's fed and ready for spring planting. I reckon it will be more fruit bushes going in there. The one next to that is next year's strawberry bed and then I'll have the third one for potatoes - I think! It's so difficult trying to decide what's best grown where and making sure I don't plant the same things in the same places for consecutive years. This year, the raised beds/square foot gardens at the front had potatoes in one side (now it has carrots and cabbages) and assorted calabrese and leeks in the other, with peas along the back. These will need to be dug over and fed before spring planting begins - hope my two asparagus plants survive the winter in there.

Next task is to prune the grape vine and cape gooseberries to take them through the winter biut this job will need to wait gor another day. Dusk beats us again. So much to do, so little time to do it when days are so short and weather so unpredictable. Before we know it, we'll be back to planning the seed planting and incubating eggs for next year's egg layers.

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