Thursday, 27 May 2010

Hay Making

Our first WWOOFers have arrived and we are honoured that one of them, Ariana, has a family that owns an organic goose and duck farm where all the grass is cut by scythe. Quelle chance! So, new scythes in hand, she taught me how to scythe and how to sharpen the blades. And I have to say that I really enjoyed the work. It's peaceful, you find a certain rhythm, you are close to your crop and get to 'know' it, and you have control over what gets cut and what doesn't. We cut half an acre in 2 hours and our other lovely WWOOFer, Edith, took a turn at the scythe and helped with raking it all out. I was amazed at how efficient both a scythe and a pitch fork were, never having used either before. Now our little pile of hay is duly dried in the sun and stacked under a tarpaulin - just as well as we have had LOTS of rain today. I can no longer say "we've only had 6 hrs of rain since 25th March". Still, the 'drought' was perfect haymaking weather and I'll look forward to making some more.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

There's Been a Mistake

We brought home two mother ewes and two baby ewes but there's been a development - horns! And this normally means willy, and on closer inspection Black Daisy is indeed a ram. He's now named BD. He's the lamb on the left of the photo posted earlier in the month (Etoile is the other lamb, Ema is her mum and Mince is BD's mum). Oh dear, what do we do now? Sheep breeding wasn't in the plan.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

In Yer Drawers

This is by far the easiest place to keep your children when not in use.....

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

A Bit of Rain

At last we had some rain. Four whole hours of it on Saturday evening and some more on Monday, bringing the total to 6 hours. It was much needed as the last rain was 25th March and nothing was growing, not grass, not weeds, and more importantly, not my crops! Now the air smells all refreshed and I have been out working again. The top of the soil here now is a pleasure to work though it's still dry at 6cm deep. It is a clay soil so holds the nutrients well and this can be seen by the length of tap root on plants like dandelion and creeping thistles. In most cases it only goes as deep as a fork, unlike at Butterwell where the soil was sandy and the roots had to travel down much further to reach enough food and water to sustain them. I planted more maize, or should I say tried to plant more maize - as fast as I was sowing it the chooks were eating it. They may be good bug catchers, walking fertiliser machines and organic tractors but they're a pain in the bum when you're digging - like enormous, much more aggressive robins!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Baa-ing Mad

Today saw the arrival of some more ecological lawnmowers - four little Ouessant sheep. Two ewes and their lambs, females also. And "Why?" you might ask if you know that I don't particularly like standard sheep? Well it's difficult, not to mention unenvironmentally friendly to mow with machines up there so we got the geese. The geese however are quite selective with what they will eat, and sheep apparently will compliment that range.

Plus they're not 'standard' sheep but minatures, only growing to a maximum height of about half a metre. And they're kinda cute. So we'll see how we get on.

Friday, 7 May 2010

A Touch of Frost

This morning saw a light frost out in our fields! None in the top area around the house, nor in the orchard, but I was very glad that my little seeds hadn't popped their heads above the surface of the soil as they may well have been nipped off by the chill. Now a wise retired farmer friend by the name of Little George warned me not to plant too early, that frost often comes in May, and I'm glad that I heeded his advice. It's true, the seedlings will catch up with any planted sooner, in fact may even be better by not having a chilly set-back.

Now talking of seeds, there was another touch of frost today between Ben and I. I was labouring away planting row upon row of maize and the job was taking ages, and he came out and offered a hand. I was really pleased as he's never shown an interest before. So I explained the row distance, handed over my little hole dibber and the bucket of corn but he marched off and came back with a pinch bar and a rake!! Apparently he wasn't going to sow seeds "in that ponderous fashion". Oh well, each to his own. Within two minutes he'd found out that the soil was so dry that one did indeed need to use the hole dibber, otherwise the soil fell back in the hole. He wasn't too pleased so I left him to it. Fifteen minutes later he came back to house proudly announcing that that was another two rows planted - at that rate he could have the whole field planted by lunchtime!!! I was keen to know his secret and on visiting the spot discovered it immediately.... as had the hens, the crows, and any other seed robber in the vicinity. There was maize everywhere just inviting a good old scratch about to see what lay under the surface. I had taken pains to bury any evidence and here was the complete opposite and I was NOT happy. A big 'heated discussion' erupted ending in me going over the two rows, saving what spilled seed I could and covering the rest. Talk about labour-saving!!!!!! I may well have lost goodwill from him on the seed-sowing front. Thank goodness the WWOOFers arrive soon. They too will need to know how pedantic I am!