Wonderful White Stuff

The snow is lovely but the wildlife is certainly suffering a bit. The birds seem to strip the feeders as fast as we can fill them up and it’s a job to stop the drinking water from freezing. I’m giving them left over scraps and fruit cake so they’ve now invited their mates over too!
Goosey sadly died in the week. This was not unexpected as she’d not been herself for quite a few days, looked tired and frail. We gave her some extra vitamins and checked her over but at six years old she’d had a good life.  She looked like she had died peacefully in her sleep and I’m so relieved that she didn’t have to put up with the snow! The other chickens seemed a bit quieter than usual – I’m not sure if chickens feel loss but it wouldn’t surprise me as Goosey was their boss for a long time and it must have seemed strange to them. We built a little SnowChicken in the enclosure… Goosey would have pecked those little sunflowers seed eyes out in a jiffy!

snowchicken

We spent some time today in the chicken enclosure and cleared some paths for them to make it easier to walk around. They don’t seem too bothered about the snow although I’m worried about them getting hypothermia. The only one who doesn’t venture very far is Bluebell, one of the new girls, who has decided to have her first moult and looks perished… I’m tempted to knit her a little jacket but I know that she wouldn’t want to be seen in it unless she had the shoes to match!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about Bella and Milo so here’s a bit of a catch up. They’ve both really made themselves at home and it feels as though they’ve been a part of our lives forever. They get on really well together and if they’re separated for any reason start mewling until they find one another. I can’t believe that they’re four months old already.

BellaCat

They both seem to have a mild obsession with water – dripping taps, water bowls, rain on the window panes. Milo especially loves to flick the water out of his bowl and even stands with his paws in it! They don’t bother with the sink in the kitchen but they love to sit in the utility room sink and poddle little wet footprints everywhere!

MiloCatI’m not sure why Milo looks a little cross-eyed in the photo above… he’s not normally!

Autumn Walk

I love this time of the year when the sun sits low in the sky and the last of the Autumn leaves fall to the ground like confetti – this makes any walk seem more like a parade (I must remember to play some brass band music on my iPod next time)! Our very favourite walk actually starts at the gate… we simply turn left and walk. When we reach the red postbox (below) it always makes me smile. When I first moved into this area I tried to post a letter and was surprised to find that I could see daylight through the slot. The front of the decommissioned postbox was retained by the owners as an attractive feature but I often wonder if they ever find any errant letters or unpaid bills fluttering around in the garden!

The circular walk is only five miles long but there are a couple of good climbs that make your legs realise that they need to get out more! It’s great to take deep breaths of fresh air and enjoy the beautiful countryside, especially knowing that there’ll be a hot cup of coffee on return.

It’s hard to believe that we started the year with an official drought due to a cold but very dry Winter last year. Ironically, there are now flood warnings in place and thousands of homes throughout the country have been flooded and emergency evacuations are occurring. The ground is so saturated that any small amount of rain makes the situation worse. We’re lucky as the house is not near a river and it’s not in the valley, yet despite this, we still need to put on our Wellies to open and close the gate. My thoughts are with those who aren’t so lucky and who will be cleaning up and paying the price of flood damage for a long time.
About half a mile down the Lane there is a tricky bend that often becomes flooded… I’ve noticed that I can guauge if this bend is passable or not by looking at our driveway… if the flood water is all the way across the gateway then the lane is not passable!

I’ll end with happier news – the kittens have settled in beautifully, they’re outgoing, used to being handled and very playful. I can add “an armful of kittens” to the list of things that make me very happy! I’m also on holiday this week from work… another thing that’s on my happy list :-)

Delayed Autumn Chores

It’s hard to believe that it’s the middle of October already! The Summer seemed to last for ages, probably due to the constant rain, and now we’re having some sunny days it’s difficult to find time to squash all the chores in. I’m resisting the urge to tidy the garden up too much as there are still quite a few butterflies and bees relying on the nectar. The bumble bees are looking a little tired now and it’s taking them longer to warm up – maybe I should suggest that they do some extra star jumps before starting work for the day?

Agastache

The Agastache is still performing really well and has even started to send up new shoots with the recent sunshine.

Even the Lavender is looking happier – it’s hated the wet soil beneath it’s feet this year…

Beds To Clear

… although, judging by how much the herbs have grown you wouldn’t know this. If you look at the photo above you will notice that I have cleared one bed already. This had the sad remains of the sweet peas and courgette plant. There are also some asparagus crowns that did spectacularly poorly so I’m hoping that next year they will show a little more appreciation in the spears department! I gave them a good stern talking to whilst tucking them up in a duvet of mulch. There’s a ground frost in the mornings now so it won’t be long before all these flowers are gone.

Still going strong

Magic Beans

One of the best things about gardening are the lessons that Mother Nature teaches us each day. Broad Bean FlowerOne of my challenges in this new garden is to grow something I dislike each year in the hope that I will be inspired to eat it… and, who knows, even enjoy it! Broad Beans (fava beans) have always been my nemesis so these had to be my first choice to grow this year.
There are three wonderful things that I have discovered since growing these plants. Firstly, Broad Beans have the most beautiful, delicate perfume that fills the air with loveliness and when I first noticed this I was amazed! The smell came wafting over from the vegetable patch on a gentle breeze and it took me a long time to identify that it belonged to the bean plants. My brain would not, could not, believe what my nose was telling it. In fact, I initially started to sniff all the pretty flowers in adjacent beds as I really couldn’t quite believe that these sturdy looking plants could smell so good… and I don’t mean just plain good, I mean “put it in a bottle and wear it as a perfume” good! None of my garden books seem to mention how beautiful these flowers smell and, to be fair, I think that I would grow them for this fact alone! I must say that the garden books in question did worry me silly about swarms of blackfly and also stressed the important of proper support in windy weather.
The second wonderful thing  (probably related to the first) is that the bees absolutely love these flowers! The big, fat bumble bees seem to particularly enjoy them and they can’t seem to get enough! I’ve grown lots of plants to deliberately attract bees and butterflies to the Nectar Bar but the Broad Beans seem to be doing a better job and our buzzy friends just can’t stay away.

The final amazing lesson that I have learnt is that Broad Beans grow upwards! Not down towards the ground but actually up towards heaven!! I know you’ll probably be laughing at me for being so naive, but I’ve never grown these before and really thought that they would grow down! So, I have either a)  acquired magical, gravity-defying beans, b) I have been extremely ignorant and have managed to overlook this simple fact or c) I actually planted them upside down! Ha ha… Let me know which it is (and if they’re really magic… what shall I do with them?).  I’ve always had a sneaky belief that Broad Beans Are Evil so I’m only growing them as an experiment anyway! Wouldn’t it be funny if I went from a hater to a lover? It would be especially funny if I marketed a new fragrance based on Broad Bean flowers… called “Implausible – A Fragrance For Her”

Disorganised fun!

In November I planted three different layers of bulbs in terracotta pots. It was really cold outside, we’d had a long day and the light was fading… I was desperate to go indoors and have a hot bath so, in my haste, I forgot to note which bulbs I’d thrown in which pots! Four months later… surprise! I still don’t really know! Ha ha ha x

Tulip Leaves & crocus

The days are definitely getting longer and I’m amazed how much life there is in the garden. Each evening after work I make a cup of tea, put on my boots and go and say hello to the plants. The recently planted Polka raspberry canes are starting to produce leaves now. I have to constantly remind myself about their shallow roots so that I’m gentle with the hoe… I’d hate to chop their little toes off! There’s not a lot of finesse to my style of gardening so anything that survives is generally recommended!Raspberry "Polka"

I’m just so excited about seeing new, fresh green things that I even snapped a picture of a dandelion! I will regret this very soon as these horrible little weeds torment me beyond belief throughout the Summer… I’m sure that they even duck when the lawn mower skims over because when I look behind me all that is left is a manicured lawn and several dandelions laughing heartily!

Dandelion

The dandelion bud that is just coming into flower above looks a little strange, almost like it has been edited, but that is how it was opening (I’m not clever enough to edit my photos yet!). I’m doing quite well with my Broad Bean aversion so, who knows, I may learn to love these little fellas too in time!