Friday, 22 July 2011

Another Busy Fortnight Gone!

Where does all the time go?

It doesn't seem any time at all since I was on here announcing the arrival of our newest ducklings, so it's hard to believe that was about a fortnight ago! I hope everyone has seen a bit of the sunshine we have had and been able to make the most of it.

I had family visiting for a couple of days and, would you believe it, those couple of days were the ones that the sun chose not to shine! Typical. But it did stay dry enough for us to sit outside, take them a wander around the garden and for my dad to create a circular route via peapods and strawberries, munching merrily as he proceeded. Yes, we now have peas... and plenty of them. :)

All nine of the ducklings survived, all of them fit and healthy, all of them being cheeky, noisy, mucky duckies. We've had to move them into a much larger cage in the outbuilding, as they outgrew their brooder box within a few days and then outgrew their converted rabbit cage brooder the following week. The weather is mild and their run is under cover, so they no longer have their heat bulb. Some are beginning to grow tail feathers and we hear the occasional little broken squeak that could be the tell tale signs of a future quack.

Last week, we set up some breeding cages for the Japanese quail then moved them from their run  to get them sorted out for breeding. They were all running together, so the past week's eggs all went into the incubator in the hope of getting some chicks. If fertile, these eggs will be due to hatch on 5th August. By then, I should have more eggs for a selective breeding programme to produce next year's layers.

In the garden, rubble mountain is disappearing fast and beginning to show a semblance of becoming the site for the summerhouse. H has spent a great deal of time digging and hauling out all sorts of rubbish, concrete blocks and rubble. The concrete has had to be smashed up in order to move it, but the space is gradually clearing.

On the other side of the fance, the ducks are still loving their new pond, which still hasn't got the paving laid around it, despite it having been ordered last week. Builders' merchant hasn't delivered it yet! The joys of rural living - nobody wants to have to make a special trip out here when they offer free delivery - more a case of, 'we'll get it to you when we can'.

The pond drainage system is one thing I am really pleased with, as it saves so much time when topping up or cleaning and it meant absolutely no flooding after the couple of nights heavy rain we had here.

I managed to haul a huge rock to the edge of the pond and can now have the water trickling down that to top it up. The ducks love that, too.   

Along the edge of the orchard/duck run, all the soil has now been spread out along the south facing wall to form a border. At one end, we've fenced off about 5m of it and I've planted some sprouting potatoes a friend brought me - that was just over a week ago and all the potatoes are now growing, lots of greenery peeking through the carefully riddled soil. There was also a set of cat paw prints the entire length of it within the first day of digging, raking, sifting and planting!

We did manage to get a few raspberries from the canes, quite surprising considering the amount of time they were in buckets between leaving the last garden and getting put in the ground here.

There were nowhere near enough rasps to use as dessert, let alone make jam, so we ate them with strawberries and yoghurt each day we picked them. There are still a few out there, so it's a race between us and the blackbirds. The blackbirds have already beaten us in the cherry stakes!

Peapods in abundance and we've already started picking. Peas are so easy to grow and always seem to grow in abundance! I would recommend them to everyone who has even the tiniest patch of ground, space for a trough or even a balcony. Friends have them growing along the edge of the bridge next to their house... but then again, those might have been sweet peas of the non-edible kind. 

Despite the lateness of planting, my sweet peas look as though they are about to flower, so I'll need to remember to get photographs of those, as I love them. It's just finding the space to allocate to flower garden that's been the problem, but that's all settled for next year. Plans are afoot for that.

 The courgettes are doing really well, with a further 4 on the plant I cut last week's from and several on the other. The yellow one has begun to grow much faster after losing its first fruit to the snails!

This is the first time I have tried the patty pan squash. This was a seedling plant that came from our previous next door neighbours, who have, since, taken over the old house, stove, garden and greenhouse etc. Dreamer's blog should cover progress from over there.
I think I planted too many carrots in one patch! I'm thinning them out every couple of days in an effort to make space for the others to grow, but they aren't being wasted: the larger ones are being eaten by us and the smaller ones fed to the rabbit.

I'll bet if she realised that was what was at the bottom of the 'swishy' greenery, she'd be digging them up for herself. She does tend to help herself to whatever she wants when running about the garden. This is Floppity taking a mouthful of hay (dried grass from the verge trimmings) for a walk. She was in such a hurry to get out that day, she took her half-eaten mouthful of hay with her!

She really is a very funny big rabbit, especially when she decides to chase the cat. Floppity is bigger than our cat, so she usually wins any scraps or carry-on they may have.

We have a great many lizards here, little brown ones that get everywhere, both outdoors and in! This is one sunbathing on the back gate. I'm afraid I didn't hang around long enough to photograph the one that had climbed up the bedroom curtains when I woke the other morning. It's so warm, the windows have been left open constantly since we moved here, so I'll need to be careful of what can gain entry to the house!

Since the lizard incident, Scruffy cat has chosen to thoroughly check out the windowsill every night - I'm sure she'd alert me to anything untoward. Wouldn't she?

I ended up having to pick more rhubarb, as the stuff just keeps on growing. I traded it for potatoes, so that was good, but there's been another flush of it since then. I'll need to get that picked, chopped, stewed and frozen and let the light in at my belated sunflower seeds, which were thrown in the back corner in the hope that a few would grow.

We have so many wild birds about here that some of them are bound to love sunflower seeds. It would be lovely if the flowers grew and put on a wildbird display for us at the same time. The latest arrivals in the garden have been the Linnets and H was lucky enough to see his first Yellowhammer. We've plenty of wagtails, goldfinches, greenfinches, siskins and willow warblers. In fact, I'm amazed at the number of warblers here, despite us having only a tiny stream and the willow not yet established. (Or is willow just part of their name, I wonder?)

All the recent excitement of new ducklings, quail moving, visitors and family visiting seems to have exhausted the cat. She has firmly established her routine - breakfast, out to play all day, indoors before dark, check for lizards, crash out and sleeps soundly all night.

This is her 'DO NOT DISTURB' pose.

Well, since starting this blog post, the sun has disappeared behind a huge rain cloud and the garden is being watered for me - that's one more job ticked off today's 'to do' list.

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  1. It's great that you had the time to get produce growing for this season. And hasn't H done a great job on that rubble pile!

  2. Garden is progressing, albeit slowly, but I am really pleased that the late plantings are catching up. Sweet peas now starting to flower and my sunflowers have suddenly shot up over the past week. :)

    Rubble mountain clearance has been temporarily halted until we can get the next mountain of rubbish away to the tip and the new duck house & run completed.

    Hope all your plans are going well, must be a very exciting time for you!

  3. Thanks for the great update Nyk.

    Looking forward to the arrival of the summerhouse.

    Sft x

  4. Yeah it is Nyk, thanks. Everything coming together so easily though. Just got to sort an outfit, yikes :O)
    Brain seems to have gone to mush since proposal though and can't seem to focus on anything very much, lol

  5. I'm hoping you are checking your comments! What did you use for the left side feeders, for I'm presuming their feed?

    1. Of course I check comments :) I'm not sure what you are asking, though - do you mean the quail cages? If so, water in small tubes and food in the large feeders.

    2. If you mean what type of feeder, they are extra large fountain feeders with cage clips.


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