Wednesday, 29 July 2009

I Can Fly

Yes don't children just think they can do *anything*? And here is Sammy, true to form, thinking he can fly. He can roll, and he can sit up but flying might take a little longer to master me thinks. He's learning.

And, as it goes in home-educating, this attempt at flight brought our family discussion round to Icarus. This led to a small geography 'lesson' (about the Icarian sea), a small biology 'lesson' (about which birds would have feathers big enough), a small science 'lesson' about the properties of wax, then a small science 'lesson' about the sun, and that led onto a BIG discussion about the solar system and lots of artworks being created by the boys to show all the planets. Then them raking out a gift they had been given last Christmas called 'A Moon in My Room' and they couldn't wait for bedtime to see it working properly. Rowan was all triumphant because he already knew about the term gibbous moon (having picked up on it when he was just turned 3!) And so ended another day of home-schooling.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Preserve Me

We have had a fabulous harvest of peaches - white fleshed ones that I didn't know existed until we bit into them. Every bit as gorgeous as 'peachy' coloured peaches, and tasting like honey when picked straight off the tree warmed by the sun. Now my family may well scoff at this knowing that I *didn't* like stoned fruit - seemed like a faff to me to nibble round stones or have them in your mouth just to spit them out after masticating all the flesh off them, so I haven't tried them since I was young - but now I'm old and since we're growing it, it's free food and I can't see it all go to waste so I've given it another go. Mmmmmm is all I can say. Cherries, plums, mirabelles, peaches and nectarines so far.

Some days I feel as though I'm in a jam and chutney making factory but I'm determined that we'll preserve all of this harvest for the winter months. Brilliant info HERE about all sorts of preserving. Next week I'm going to visit a neighbour and she's going to show me how she uses one of those big sterilising units to bottle fruit and veg. That's what I like about rural France - there are still lots of traditional skills used. I just have to find the folk that can show me how.

These sterilising units are on special at our local hardware store at the moment and, apparently when you're not using them to bottle your fruit and veg, you can use them to make yoghurt. I'm thinking of trying this too because it is very difficult here to buy yoghurt that is sans morceaux (without bits of fruit) and Rowan doesn't like the 'bits' ones but loves yoghurt. The trouble is that the only ones sans morceaux are loaded with sugar. I figure if I make our own then we can adjust it to suit us. I do kind of feel that I'm following in my mother's footsteps here as I do remember her making yoghurt when I was a child but I'm afraid that the memories of the yoghurt itself are not good ones - rather sour I seem to remember though I couldn't have told you that as a child, just that they weren't 'right'. Well we'll give it a go. We're contemplating getting some goats a) to eat the brambles and b) to milk. More on that I'm sure at a later date as I still have a lot to find out.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Roll Me Over In The Clover

Or rather, don't because there are SO MANY bees collecting pollen from it. The grass per se has not grown hardly atall in the last few weeks due to scant rainfall, indeed the last cut was 16 June, but the clover has flourished. Now we can't bear to cut the clover as it's such a rich food source for so many creatures. But the buzzing of bees has resurected my desire to keep a beehive so I'll need to think some more on that one. When the grass finally does start growing again we're going to try to follow the tips in this article "Organic Lawncare for the Cheap and Lazy"

Containing the Hoodlums

Hoodlums? That's the geese. Up until now they have been allowed to roam around this top area of garden and we have delighted in watching their antics but recently these antics have become more scary. As they have grown and their confidence increased, they have been exploring more and more all things NOT grass. Like plastic strands of landscaping fabric, like nibbling the number plates off the Bongo, like eating all the boys plasticine, like chewing the tops off of storage pots. You get the idea. So we've spent the last two days putting up a fence around the orchard (that was Ben) and making some woven willow gates (I did that with Rowan and Brodie) to keep them in the orchard. The fence is rather ingeniously held upright with string tied to various trees around the perimeter. You may think that that's a bit half-arsed but it actually works quite well as we can still move it to give the inevitable weeds a good grubbing out occassionally. Plus the ground is absolutely rock hard at the moment due to scant precipitation so getting posts in is a no-go without getting in mechanical diggers. The photo shows the Girlz looking very dejected 'behind bars'.