Wednesday, 30 March 2011


Well I haven't posted here for ages (since December last year!), yet I have lots of things in my 'waiting' file but I reckoned that if I waited to complete all those then the blog would get so far behind that I'd lose heart. The trouble with trying to write in the winter is that our little house has one BIG living area where everything gets done, and where everyone is. That means it gets Noisy with a very capital 'N' and I can't concentrate to write. Then at the end of the day when the children have finally gone off to bed I could arguably write some but then I'm so tired that I too just want to go to bed. So here we are, Spring, and I'm posting with the here and now and may go back and fill in January and February.

We have had a very mild and dry winter according to the weather reports and, with the exception of December, I'll second that. March had a couple of frosts but this last week has seen us working in t-shirts and cut-off trousers, eating our lunches outside. And since the clocks went forward last weekend we have even been able to eat our evening meal outside too as it's been sunny and still since Sunday. Right just now though there's a bit of rain so I'm in writing.

I'm glad for the rain too. We have only had two days of rain in 6 weeks and whilst it has been a sort of blessing by keeping the weeds back whilst we got things under control a bit, the ground does need it. The pigs were very happy as it must have brought bugs up to the surface for them. Normally they go to bed around dusk but since Sunday (when we had a morning of heavy rain) they have still been snuffling around at 11pm. At first I was worried because I thought Maybelline was maybe losing her piglets. She is 6 weeks pregnant, the 'deed' having been done on Valentine's Day, but she's fine. They are all just enjoying the Spring Snuffling. They have sustainably and gently tractored a vast amount of the ground on the south side of the farm and we intend to move them to a section of land that Josiah, one of our WWOOFers, top-cleared of brambles. We have an issue with rabbits there and we hope that the pigs rooting about in the ground will make the rabbits pack up and move elsewhere.

Talking of land-use, we have decided that all the animals will be moved from the south side of the farm to enable us to crop it for the summer now that it is nicely fertilised by pig and goat manure. The goats will join the sheep in the field closest to the house on the north side. This will give them plenty of browse and will also allow me to watch them closely for signs that they're about to kid. It might also give us nightmares in terms of them escaping up the drive as we can't see where the holes are in the boundary fences until they have eaten back some of the growth. We'll look forward to that. Still, it wouldn't be LPM if there wasn't some kind of escapee at least once a week! You can tell that we're new to this can't you!

Once the pigs have moved the rabbits on, we'll move them into the field to the east of the house. It's an awkward piece of land to know what to do with as it drops away from the house at a 45 degree angle and then flattens at the bottom. This is where most of the rainwater goes, the flat bit, so maybe after the pigs have been in we'll turn it into a willow coppice. That or put in some more swales to keep the water back a bit (my favoured option). It would make sense to have a forest garden there in the future, or at least some kind of agroforestry type cropping. It just seems daunting right now.

The sheep should be lambing in the next couple of weeks. I say 'sheep' - that means one! We have two ewes and a ram but I don't think our youngest ewe, Etoile, 'took' this year. Her mother, Ema, though is looking fairly round and is going very slow now. I'm sure that I saw Mr BD smiling his toothy smile mid-November last so mid-April should be about the right time. We'll watch and wait.

The birds, hens and geese, continue to lay eggs, eat and poop with not much to report.

The pear and peach trees are heavy with blossom and have been for about a week so hopefully we're in for a bumper harvest. I hope that we don't have a frost. We planted 16 new fruit trees into the orchard and an almond into the newly created area on the west side of the house. This last planting, the almond, was done out of the orchard as peaches and almonds should not be grown within 50m of each other as the almonds go bitter due to cross-pollination. So it's very annoying that I have just remembered the peach tree that is well-established at the side of the barn just 10m away from the almond - grrr. I'll have to re-site the almond, maybe into the mini forest garden that we're creating at the south end of the 'lawn'. Always work to be done!

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