Winter, get thee behind me, I have bulbs to admire (hopefully).

I know, I know, it’s been ages since I wrote anything, in honesty I feel as if I have done nothing for the last 3 months except go to work, clear up horse crap, pull up weeds and drink sherry, hardly going to set the blog world alight with that…..

It’s not entirely true, I have done a few bits and pieces (most of them start with and end with horse crap though)…

For once, neither of the hairy idiots have injured themselves in any unusual or expensive ways, the winter has been miserable with the weather, it’s been incredibly wet, they’re covered in mud and pretty grumpy at not having any grass.  January is when they get their teeth done, I am lucky that I have one of the best horse dentists in the country to take care of them. As we were in lockdown, I left him to sort them out while I stayed in the house.  Little Louis, good as gold, in and out of the stable in 15 minutes, then I looked out of the window to see the unedifying spectacle of my big fat hairy idiot giving Mike the slowest speed chase ever round the paddock, she couldn’t be arsed to actually break into a trot, so she just sort of trudged slowly away with a grumpy face with Mike following behind waving a headcollar.  Thankfully, she’s incredibly lazy and gave up the farce of a chase after about 60 seconds, mostly due to utter apathy. God, I want to pressure wash the pair of them so very very much…

A few weeks ago, I came in from sorting out the ponies, wet to the bone, freezing cold, covered in mud finished off with a light patina of hay, pony snot and poo.  The hubby takes a sniggering look at me and comes out with “so how’s the childhood dream of having horses working out for you?”.  I would like to say, that I am now definitely and officially an adult, because I didn’t stab him in the neck with a fork.

I did picture it though….

It is hard, horses in winter, but I love them with all my heart and they’re worth every bruise, back strain and mud splattered incident and summer will be here soon enough and then they are a joy (a wheelbarrow full of horse crap everyday kinda joy, but hey…).

Before then, we had Covid Christmas….  Hubby treated himself to Twinkly lights that were programmable to each individual bulb, and got to use a chainsaw in the living room, which I think he enjoyed and we had a new light display everyday, from the sedate to the migraine inducing, only MrC could geek up a Christmas tree…  For the last 20+ years we’ve spent Christmas day with Mr and MrsC snr and various family and friends, they fill me up with equal measures of turkey and sherry and I gossip with Pippa and I try not to snore as I nap.  This year was a Zoom Christmas, and although I terribly missed spending the day with them, in a weird way, I actually got to spend more time with my Dad and sisters and their partners and children, usually, it’s just a quick phone call with Dad, this Christmas we spent an hour talking on screen and seeing each other which, without Covid, we wouldn’t have done.  Silver linings and suchlike…

In the garden I’ve done a bit of a project, the mound that runs around one side of our gardens is a bit dull, nothing really grows there apart from the odd weed as it gets very little sun in the summer because of the trees.  I generally don’t like yellow flowers but I’ve made a few exceptions here…  I planted 100 daffodil bulbs, which only filled a few feet of the mound, so then I bought 500 bulbs and put them in, again this didn’t even slightly cut the mustard, so with gritted teeth and muttered oaths I went to the on sale at £1 spring bulbs with a “this is it, this time I will fill the rest if it kills me” and I bought another 800 bulbs, so I’ve put in 1400 daffodils in here.  Have you ever dug 1400 holes???  It took me 4 days, even with my trusty hole digging tool,  if I don’t get a bloody Wordsworth worthy display here in a month or so, there will be an epic sulk and even more sherry drinking than normal going on….

In the engine room of the gardens, my beloved greenhouse,  I have set up a “hot bed”, I read about the Victorians doing this, and thought I’d give it a go.  You dig a big hole, line it with rotting straw and then top up with some nice fresh horse crap (something in ready supply round here).  Really, you’re supposed to dig down about 3 foot, but as my greenhouse is basically derelict and I was a bit worried it might collapse if I dug that far down, mine is somewhat shallower, but it seems to have worked, it’s only raised the temperature in there by a couple of degrees, but that’s enough to get started on seeds early and for my resident plants in waiting to thrive when they might have died or been stunted in growth over the winter.  They knew stuff the Victorians…

I have made a start on my seeds for the year, soon the greenhouse will be full to bursting with seed trays and then they’ll start to encroach in the conservatory, the porch, the boot room, the windowsills and finally everywhere that’s flat and gets some sun, which my incredibly tolerant husband will studiously ignore…

I can’t really put any seed trays in the conservatory yet, because it’s already full of chitting seed potatoes….  The first earlies will be ready to be planted in about 3 weeks, that’ll free up a bit of space.

Every year I try to grow something edible that I’ve not eaten or not grown before, last year was a write off as you couldn’t get seeds for love nor money, this year, my new crop is going to be Hamburg parsley,  a worthy plant, you can eat the leaves and the roots, and I can’t wait to try it.

I have a big project planned for March this year, I’m going to create a reading garden, a little space that will be deer proof where I can grow anything I like and it won’t be eaten, and to that end I’ve been hoarding plants, and trees to plant out, it’s getting a little out of hand…..  These are plants given to me my neighbours and friends, the 50p bargains from work and some I dug out of a skip (I have no shame when it comes to plants, thinking about it, I just have no shame in general), I’m excited to start work on it and I dearly hope Mr and MrsC snr will be allowed to come around and be part of creating it.

I’ve also finally planted out my onion, shallots and garlic for the coming year, it was bloody hard work digging over the plot in the muddy conditions, but it’s a big tick for the gardening year to get them in, grow strongly my little friends, for I shall turn you into stews and soups and you will be delicious.

For the first time since we’ve been here in this wonderful property, I am content with the gardens, don’t get me wrong, there are a plethora of jobs to be done and weeds to be routed, but as I look around, it’s mostly beauty I see rather than work to be done, and that’s a happy place to be.

My happy place, seeds, compost and a glass of sherry. I may have dirt under my fingernails, I smell a bit odd and am covered be in things that mean I really shouldn’t leave the property lockdown or not, it’s not a bad life.

Oh yeah, I also turned 50, it was a bit dull, but at least I go up to a more urgent vaccination group….

All you need is fluff.

I am blessed, today I have received a (her) belly floof (my) face snuggle with Maggie which actually resulted in a purr rather than complete outrage and a withering look, Little Louis gave me a cuddle for about 20 mins and even my aloof “I don’t do cuddles” mare presented her nose for a kiss without bribery or coercion.  They are my life these fluffy idiots, the first thing I think about when I wake and the last thing I think of before I sleep.

I finally have a plan to reduce Louis exploding bum from defcon 5000 to hopefully a nice place to be around again.  Hayledge, as it turns out, often turns ponies into shit missiles, so there’s an add(ative) for that and I’ve 10 bales of hay to pad out the hayledge until he adjusts.   The hay was delivered by my local farmer, whom I adore, and he allowed me to snap a pic of his ingenious use of old tarp and baler twine to share with you, I’ve used baler twine for many many things, but this is just fabulous and I can only stand in awe at his ingeniousness.

Last time I wrote about the work to clear up the poor willow tree that had fallen, and Roger did an amazing job, however, there was still the enormous trunk to be dealt with and Roger felt, that needed a BIG chainsaw, so our reinforcement, called in his reinforcement, Howard, who has a, frankly, terrifying large chainsaw.  Sadly I wasn’t here when he came in to clear up the last of the debris, but Mr C has taken some pics of the work he did, which was amazing.  The area is now clear and it’s been seeded with grass, rolled by Mr C snr and after we have a massive bonfire to clear the left over bits, we can plant some of the branches we’ve saved and get a new willow tree (or 3) going.

The really large pieces of trunk have been turned into a nice socially distanced seating arrangement round the fire pit, with little tables for your glass of wine and baked potato.  It’s not rubbish, it’s rustic, that’s my story and I shall be sticking with it.

The rest of the logs will be collected by our local farmer for his eco burner heating thingamajig.  We try not to waste things round here, which is why the garage looks like an extreme episode of hoarders…

Elsewhere about the place, the veggie garden has been adorned with large amounts of pony poo, the muckheap is almost at manageable proportions again.  This lot will be raked over, left over the winter for the worms to work into the soil and rotavated in the spring ready for next years potato, onion and other assorted crops.  Thank you to MrC snr for digging out and ferrying this lot from the poo pile.

As often happens in village life, there is a certain amount of barter going on, I had grown (because my friend gave me a free plant) a huge pumpkin, which I had no idea what to do with, it has been sat in the greenhouse for a month getting in my way and it’s finally found a home, my neighbour (a few doors down and up the road) loves them, so we traded some plants for a pumpkin, she gets soup and I don’t have to step over the bloody thing anymore when I’m working in the greenhouse.  Win win…

The In-laws have made a start on a job that will last a few months, gathering up leaves for the leaf mulcher, I used the last of my leaf mulch last year, another year to wait before I can start harvesting this lot.

As for me, I’ve been sitting around eating bon bons and sipping wine, not.  I’ve been weeding, today I finally finished the gate bed (this bed is approximately the size of our entire garden in the previous house).  Looks empty now I’ve weeded it, I shall be keeping a close eye on the rescue section at work for some plants desperate for a bit of love and a new home.

I’ve also noticed some unusual things going on in the garden, this ceanothus is in flower, it really shouldn’t be until April next year, I appreciate it’s efforts but I worry what will happen to it in the spring. 

And then there is this teasel, I think these are seedlings, actually in the old flower, I will be taking them out and potting them on to overwinter in the greenhouse, never seen this before, but hey, free plants!

This lockdown doesn’t really affect Tim and I, the garden centre will be staying open (quite how a tray of winter pansies or a box of shortbread is a necessity escapes me, but at least I’ll be earning enough to pay for vets bills and fodder) and Tim has worked at home since March so nothing really changes for him.  If you’re struggling and need a chat, don’t call me, I’m hopeless with phones, but message me and I’m totally there for you.  And my advice, if you’re bored or frustrated, grow something, chuck some parsley or basil seeds in a pot and watch and wait for nature to work her wonders, it never fails to lift my spirits and my cooking!

I love the smell of chainsaws in the morning.

So in pony news, Rosie is once again plagued with feather mites and this close to the winter I don’t want to shave her legs, so I asked the vet to give her an injection which should give her 5-6 months protection (it’s done in two injections over 2 weeks, one to kill any active mites and the second to kill any that may have hatched in the interim).  So vet comes over with a needle the size of a rolling pin and inspects Rosie’s bum whilst I insert an apple at the head end for distraction purposes.  After a moment the vet says…  “Do you have a brush?  There’s so much mud I can’t find a needle site”.  That wasn’t embarrassing at all and a very expensive way to get your pony brushed….

Last time I wrote I was feeling all smug that the winter hayledge was in and Rosie wouldn’t end up this winter sounding like an old man with emphysema.  But no, this is ponies we’re talking about, it’s never that simple, the hayledge is so good and rich it’s given Louis the worst case of projectile wet farting I’ve ever seen.  Standing behind him is like being in front of a bloody firing squad.  The neighbour who comes over to fuss and brush him, took a hit, just after she’d washed his poo laden tail.  So now I suppose I’ve got to give them a 50/50 mix of hay and hayledge until Louis little tummy adjusts to the rich food and hope it doesn’t trigger Rosie’s allergy.  I love them, I really do, but they seem to just know when I’ve that “everything is good” vibe and then poo all over it.

The raised veggie beds are looking good for winter, I’m cropping cabbages and leeks right now and have enough to last until about March, and there are  broccoli, cauliflower, Chinese onions and succession leeks planted for spring cropping and soon the celeriac and swede will be ready to eat.

With Mrs C snr’s help, the polytunnel has been cleared down of tender summer crops swept clean and ready for me to fill up again.  Well I can’t see the space unused…  For ages I’ve been planning a new garden, just a small one that will feature foliage as the stars of the show, it will have a snuggly seat that I can curl up on to read and be screened and private.  Unlike my normal, what’s cheap, free or easy to take cuttings from scattergun approach to planting, this one is actually being planned!  So I’ve started collecting the plants I want for the foliage garden, a swathe of grasses at mid level is featured and I saw a huge chunk of Miscanthus discarded in a skip, which I’ve rescued (with permission), split, potted up (and given words of encouragement) and with luck they will start flourishing in the spring.  We have some blue conifers which will be dotted within the grasses and some heuchera which will be at the front of the garden.  A long way to go before I’ve hoarded enough to fill the garden I plan on, but I’m patient, you have to be if you’re gardening on an epic scale with no budget.  These (and others soon to come) will overwinter in the polytunnel and hopefully I’ll have prepared the ground ready for a spring planting.

The herbaceous borders at the back of the house have been weeded and planted for the winter, considering that 2 years ago they contained little more than sticks they are looking a lot more herbaceousy now.

Sometimes, Maggie likes to assist with the digging…

Although it is looking increasingly like Christmas won’t be anything approaching normal this year, I can report it’s business as usual in the Christmas Cake department, over the next few days I will create 4 delicious concoctions that will, over the next 6 weeks, be force-fed brandy to within an inch of their lives ready to give alcohol poisoning via the medium of mixed fruit to my family in the Forest of Dean.

When we first moved here, the trees we’ve taken custody of were at the very heart of the reason we fell in love with the place, over the years we’ve removed 100’s, some dead or dying some too big for the place they were, some self seeded in the wrong place and sycamores and elder by the dozens because they’re basically huge weeds. Those that remain we love dearly and this week we lost one of our favourites.  Alas, one of the weeping willows just became to large to bear it’s own weight and was uprooted during the winds we had a few days ago.  This is a huge loss to the gardens, a real hole in our landscape and where the heck are we supposed to hide the massive pile of rubbish we accumulate for burning now?

Not only is it a loss, it’s also a massive clean up job that needs doing to make the place safe, the tree took itself out, but also on the way down it took out an enormous branch of the willow next to it.  It was a mess, a dangerous and unstable mess.  Now my hubby has, over the years we’ve been here, become very proficient with a chainsaw, but this was a bit of large ask, so the in-laws called in the cavalry. 

If you’ve been reading this from the start, you’ll remember Roger and his chainsaws, and tractors and indomitable will to get stuff sorted.  He came over many times to help us with things we were too inexperienced or quite frankly frightened to tackle.   And so it was again, he might not be wearing a cape, but round here Roger is a bit of a hero.

With Roger wielding the big chainsaw, Mrc Snr on the little chainsaw and Mrs C snr and myself armed with loppers and on dragging duty, we’ve broken the back of the job.  There is probably another days work here but the area is safe once again.  It’s a terribly sad thing to see such a beautiful tree reduced to it’s component parts and we’ll need a big bonfire in the future.  The logs won’t go to waste, they’ll be given to people with wood burners, or people who create lovely things with logs.  A lot of the foliage has been collected for friends to feed to their horses or livestock and my two have been helping out where they can.

We will replant, Roger has selected several branches that will be perfect for clone trees, so although we’ve lost the parent, we will refill this part of the garden with it’s children.

I speak often about how much I love village life, I’ve put my back out, it’s getting better, but I was having a moan on facebook about it and said, jokingly, “send Codine” and they did (Tim was quite surprised and asked if I was drug running…), I love not only this place but the people we’ve met and made friends with too.

Goodbye dear friends, you served me well, an epitaph to my boots…

I know, I know, it’s been a while, I’ve been busy.  It feels like summer has passed in matter of moments.  And now, I’m doing all the jobs to bed down the place ready for winter.  I predict it’s going to be a cold, hard winter, due to an abundance of berries this year, the Yew, Hawthorne, Blackthorn, Rosehips, Rowen, Holly and Crab Apples are all bending under the weight of their fruits.  I hope it is a cold hard winter rather than the soggy fiasco we had last year.   I’m still not sure how the ponies survived the horrendous mud without their feet falling off, I don’t think I could cope with a repeat performance this year.

I can’t believe that I haven’t given the ponies a bath for over a year now, don’t get me wrong they’ve had legs, manes and tails washed, but a full on bath takes 2 people. Ever tried to socially distance whilst trying to rinse off ¾ of a ton of agitated soapy equine? Trust me, not possible, or advisable. 

Louis has become somewhat of a communal pony, there are several people in the village who come over to give him a brush and a cuddle, I love this, I was once the pony mad girl with no pony, sharing mine is a joy and a privilege.   Louis loves being fussed over and brushed, he’ll stand all day for it and then rejoin the queue for another go, Rosie is a bit more standoffish, there is one lady who likes to brush her, but I’m not trusting her with young children, I think she quite likes the peace and quiet to have an undisturbed nap while Louis gets loved on.

One little project I took on, with the help of Mr and Mrs C snr was to tackle the area of the garden where Storm Dennis had felled a whole bunch of conifers.  Hubby had chainsawed the remains of these a few months ago and as ever, if you turn your back on anything in this place for more than 5 minutes it turns into a weedy bloody mess.

Weedy bloody mess:

Mrs C snr and I cleared the weeds, I gave it a rake over and then we chucked some seed about then I raked it again.  The area was too tight to get the tractor and roller in there so my In-laws (love them so much) stomped all the seed in (this needs doing to ensure the seed has good contact with the soil for germination and to stop the pigeons from stealing it all).  I didn’t manage to get a picture of this, sorry, but I can still see them in my minds eye, stomp stomp stomp, stomp stomp stomp….  The things they do for me, honestly.

This is it today, looking pretty good I think.

Still not entirely sure what we’re going to do with this in the long term, I’m not sure that replanting more conifers is the answer, I don’t think they’d get enough light to thrive, or actually to stay alive unless we could get some that were about 30ft tall and I’m not even going to think about the logistics of that…  More thinking needed, but at least with the grass down it won’t be a weedy bloody mess again (in theory).

One of the big winter preparations is fodder for the ponies, and this was becoming a worry, since Rosie has developed a severe allergy to dust, I can’t feed her hay and hayledge is about 3 times the price of hay and I can’t just pop up to the local farmer and ask him to drop 20 bales off.  Hayledge comes in 4 sizes, round and Heston sizes, which you need a forklift to move, so not an option, then conventional and small bales.  Small bales are what I’ve been feeding them through the summer and they are eye-wateringly expensive, I needed conventional bales which are still expensive, but way more cost effective.  I must have phoned 30 hayledge suppliers, and not a one makes conventional bales, they’re not easy to prepare, they need fairly specialist equipment and frankly, I’d have had more luck trying to source a unicorn.

I mentioned this to my friend Matt, who just happens to be an engineer who repairs farm machinery (the big stuff, combines and the like).  Fret not he tells me, I will find you some.  And he did.  I’ve got 100 conventional bales paid for and reserved thanks to the fact he knows just about every farmer in the East of England.  I honestly can’t thank him enough for this, I know my ponios will be fed and happy for the winter and that’s a huge and important thing for me.  He hauled round the first load of 34 bales and they’re now stacked in the haystore and ready to go.  It’s gorgeous stuff, smells amazing and both of the hairy idiots love it.  Even though these bales are conventional size, they weigh 30 kilos each, and there were 34 of them that needed hauling out of the trailer, onto our tractor’s trailer, out of the trailer and then stacked in the haystore.  I couldn’t actually lift one on my own, they’re slippery, heavy and bulky and the bottom layer were covered in sheep poo from the trailer.   My Father in Law lifted the majority of these ON HIS OWN,  that’s just over a tonne in weight he picked up and moved TWICE, I can only pray I’m even slightly that fit when I’m in my 70’s, thank you Mr C snr.   We both had to strip off and chuck our clothes directly into the washing machine due to the poo, the stripping off was, for the sake of modesty, done separately.

Ponies/winter fodder, check.

In the picture, the white bale is a small bale, and they cost the same amount as the conventional, so you can see what a huge saving conventional bales will make.

Second bit of pony prep for the winter is the paddock, where the ponies were last winter, was a, wait for it, weedy bloody mess.  It’s been sprayed to kill off the dock, buttercup and ragwort, that brown stuff, is dying dock.  Once all the dying had completed, my rather fabulous husband, harrowed, seeded and rolled the paddock, he’s a good man my hubby, not sure what I did to deserve him, I must have saved the planet in another life and now I’m being rewarded. 

Ponies/winter paddock, check.

My ponies have a nice little life, I expect good manners when I’m amongst them, feet lifted without argument when I pick out their hooves and noses presented forward and correct for the purposes of kissing and no crowding when I feed them (that will get them a tap on the nose and a yelling at), I expect them to move where I tell them to without argument and to be haltered without fuss if I need to present them to vet or farrier, they are, generally, polite and responsive to my requests.  Otherwise, they are free to be who they are, neither are, and probably never will be worked.  I’ve been asked so many times why on earth I have them if I don’t “use” them.  That’s an easy question to answer, they are here for me to love, to kiss, to dote upon, to care for and to watch, endlessly.  I lose many hours just watching them interact, eat, play, argue and sleep (there is nothing and I mean NOTHING cuter than a flat out pony sleeping and snoring).  The plan was, that Rosie and I would ride about the local countryside having adventures and we did try that, unfortunately, my dodgy hip, total lack of riding ability, confidence and balance combined with Rosie’s general antipathy towards being ridden changed the plan, and I couldn’t care less, I am so wonderfully happy with my large, expensive to run, incredibly labour intensive hairy pets, and I think they’re happy with me.

THIS! THIS is why I love them so much, no matter how many times I see this, I still cry with laughter.

Harvests have been coming thick and fast, some I preserve as jams and chutneys, some I freeze, some we eat and the thousands of apples I give away mostly.  Windfalls go to Michelle’s pigs, various horsey friends come and gather the ones on the trees, I took some into work, MrC and I baked a few pies to go in the freezer (apple and scrumped blackberry, delicious).  There are still more apples than I know what the heck to do with on the trees, if you’re lacking in apples, pop round, I’ll see you right and will save me from chasing cars down the road begging people to take them….

Mr C snr has sorted out the logan and tayberry bushes, removing growth that fruited this year and tying in and tidying up the branches that will bear next year’s harvest.

I’ve spent a lot of time tidying up and planting up the raised veggie beds and the main veggie garden, I actually managed to keep on top of these this year, I would pat myself on the back, but Mr C snr and I hauled 34 bales of very heavy hayledge this morning and I don’t have that much flexibility at the moment.

The job I’ve been working on for the last couple of weeks is weeding and planting up for winter the flower beds, doesn’t sound like much, but it takes about 10 days to do them all (Not including the borders at the front of the property).  They are looking lovely.  It goes a bit like this at work…

Boss: Can you reduce the trays of leggy pansies and violas to £1.00?

Me: Sighs, then spends entire days wages on pansies and violas.

I think there is something about Autumn that encourages the wildlife to check out the house as a possible winter habitat.  I hoover up about 300 spiders a week, there was a toad in the kitchen and one evening, as I headed to bed, all sleepy and happy (there may have been beers involved) HOLY SHIT!!!  There were 6 hornets buzzing round my bedroom light.   I love most of the wildlife we have in abundance around here, but hornets are really scary.  I dispatched the husband to corral the hornets, which he did, but sadly we did have to get the nest destroyed.  I can’t be doing with hornets in the bedroom..  

I do have some sad news however, my beloved Toggi work boots developed a hole and the sole was coming away on one of them, which I mostly ignored, they were part of me, the leather had formed itself to my leg, they supported my ankles and I wore them every day for at least an hour, sometimes up to ten hours a day, even though they were utterly trashed, I couldn’t bear to throw them away, they were so comfortable.  Then it started raining, I ignored the wet feet and muddy socks for a few days.   Then, it got really really rainy and I was on the muckheap tidying up and I could feel cold wet liquified horseshit seeping into my boot, that did it, sorry old friends but it was time for us to part.  I miss them, I miss them a lot (tear creeping slowly down my face). 

It’s hard work this place, never once in all the years we’ve been here have I ever thought, Hmmm everything’s done, I think I’ll take a nap, and I probably never will think that, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world than right here.

Ponds, pots and pensioner power

With the lockdown being lifted, the hub has decided that Mr and Mrs C snr are allowed around again, thank heavens, so I’ve got pensioner power to help me out again.  I’ve missed these guys so much over the last few months, and not just because I can exploit them for garden labour.

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So they came over and helped me out with a job that was taking me forever and a day.  Our wildlife pond dries out in the summer which is a shame, we’re hoping to fix that in the future, but for now it’s a bit of a wasteland during the hot months, and I’ve neglected it, and when I neglect things round here they go from looking lovely to weedy mess in about 25 minutes.  So weedy mess it was.  I’d cleared about half of it, then the cavalry arrived.  MrC snr whizzed about on the tractor mower, MrC himself got the strimmer out and tamed the bits that couldn’t be mowed without gravity kicking in and dumping the tractor into the pond and MrsC snr grabbed all the nettles so they could be turned into snacks for Louis.  What had been taking me weeks to complete all done and looking good in just a day

Whilst it’s great having the in-laws back, I’m still employing Levi to do the lawns and he does a fantastic job.  Last time he hit a wasps’ nest while mowing the large lawn at the front.  With admirable self-preservation, he was out of there in seconds after hitting it, like a startled gazelle, very impressed, I think he’ll go far that lad.

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It’s quite a large nest, but they’re not doing any harm, we’ll just have to remember to do that bit of the lawn last and very quickly in future.

Ponds have been a bit of a theme recently.  Not so long ago my Boss gave me a lift home and I showed her around the gardens (she is a fantastic horticulturalist , I don’t think there’s a question I’ve asked her {and I’ve asked a lot} that she’s not been able to answer).  She noticed that the fishpond was looking a bit weak and very kindly dug me up a load of plants from her pond to spruce it up a bit.  This spurred the hub on as well and we had a trip to the local garden centre (not the one I work at, we don’t do aquatics) and a pump and special pond plant pots were purchased.

I then cleaned out as much of the disgusting sludge from the bottom of the pond as I could, dear lord that smells so bad, it makes comfrey tea or sewage smell like roses, pulled out a good lot of pond weed, much of which was dying anyway and now we have a fountain!

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The water is still pretty green but hopefully the pump and the plants will clear that over the next few months.  It’s strange but previously, that garden (called the cat garden as that’s where we let Maggie roam when we first let her out) was a bit of dead space really, never used, but the addition of a water feature and somewhere to sit and now it’s a desirable place to be.  It still needs some work but such small things can make a huge difference in how a space feels.

The veggie plot is finally producing enough for each meal to usually contain at least one home grown ingredient, and this pot of fasolakia is entirely home grown produce (the beans were grown by MrC snr as the bloody pigeons ate all mine).   I realised when serving it I’d accidentally cooked vegan, so we made up for it by slathering plenty of butter on bread rolls to accompany it.

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I’ve also ventured out into pot planting, no, for the last time, I am NOT growing cannabis plants, anything that looks like a tomato plant, IS actually a tomato plant!

I’ve never really been one for plants in pots, they’re a lot of work, pots are expensive, and it never really occurred to me to bother having so much garden to play with.  However, I was able to purchase very cheaply from work lots of pots that were damaged in one way or another, so pot planting is now a thing for me….

I’ve also branched out a little in the tropicals, the pots in the conservatory are, seemingly all by themselves, multiplying……

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This pot I did plant a couple of years ago, I’m not really bothered by the flowers, I like the fleshy foliage of the sedums and then the razor sharp juxtaposition of the gladioli leaves.

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When my Stepmother Judith passed away last year, Tim and I travelled home to the Forest of Dean for her funeral, it was sad time, but somehow happy too, I don’t often get to see my father and sisters so even though it was desperately sad, reconnecting with family made it special, which I guess is the whole point of laying to rest.

We were there in my Father’s rather wonderful garden (he’s had more years practicing than I have) in a time of year when everything is dormant, very few flowers bloom, but there in the heart of winter were camellias with bright flowers and glossy green leaves, I’d never really come across these bushes before and for me, at that time, they took on a special significance, they came to signify Judith , a happy smile in a sad time, a flower when there were no others.  So I’ve collected a few in her memory.  At the moment, they are mostly in pots as they need acidic soil, which I don’t have, but I’ve prepared a few spots in the front garden with the correct conditions for them, this coming winter, I hope she’ll smile at us with beautiful flowers.

Although both of my Sisters are in the Forest of Dean with Dad and look after him wonderfully, it was a worry him being alone, especially after so many years with Judith.  But worry no more, happily Dad has met someone new to share his life with.  As lockdown wasn’t really conductive to a relationship, they’ve moved in together (bit of a silver fox my Dad…).  So welcome to the Isaac family Linda, you don’t HAVE to be crazy to live here….  Who am I kidding, yeah you do, utterly bonkers would be best really.  Dad and I are cut from the same cloth, so expect to hear things like “seemed like a good idea at the time” and “I had NO idea that was going to happen” a lot as you pick up his battered and bruised body from the latest misadventure,  my hubby can provide advice and counselling if you need it.

I asked hubby to take some pictures of things looking lovely around the gardens, I think he did a good job!

 

 

 

 

 

Harvest begins, and it’s joy to the tastebuds, less so on the back muscles.

Summer is a busy time, Autumn will be even busier, Winter is still busy because we don’t actually have winters anymore and spring is, you’ve guessed it, a busy season, that’s the way it is with large gardens, sometimes it’s overwhelming, but mostly its joyous, if weedy, and it’s productive.

After weeks of soaking in brine and then a few days to blacken up properly, the pickled walnuts are finished, they just need 6 months to mature and then they’ll be ready to eat.   So delicious and not something you can buy (the ones in the shop are actual walnuts not the whole fruit, completely different).

We’ve had our first (of many to come) home grown tomato, this is a gigantimo, they taste like holidays abroad, incredible flavour and I’m staring at the next one that is ripening, urging it to get on with it.

I’ve started to crop the veggie garden, the onions are ready, they just need a few days to harden off in the sun before I can store them.   I’ve also dug up the last of the first and second early potatoes, likewise they’ll get a few days curing in the sun and these will keep us going for about a month, by which time the  maincrop will be ready to be harvested.

Not everything has been a success in the veggie garden however, all my beans were eaten, either by deer or pigeons, I’ve replanted them 3 times now and hopefully we’ll at least get a couple of meals worth.  Aphids have attacked pretty much everything, I made a homemade aphid spray of soaked tomato leaves, which the internets said was much better than anything chemically.  Utter rubbish, so I’m back with bug sprays, which in fairness, are also utter rubbish.  I fought the aphids and the aphids won.

Strangely, I’ve been completely unable to grow courgettes this year, something is eating them, normally the mainstay of early summer, they’ve been utterly ravaged and I doubt I’ll even get one.  Next year, I’ll put them in the polytunnel instead.

I decided that I really really needed to muck out the haystore.  I don’t know what happens, one day it’s neatly swept with bales tidily stacked, then the next instant, not even a year later, it’s a festering craphole that’s probably a hazard to health.

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As Princess Rosie has decided that she’s allergic to everything, up to and including air, she’s being fed hayledge instead of hay at the moment (it’s about 4 times the cost of hay).  I shall feed her new hay for a few months this winter before it gets dusty, but right now, they’re both enjoying the hayledge, which as far as I can figure out is the horsey equivalent of cocaine, they’re both choosing to eat the hayledge over grass.  Rosie is fine at the moment, no cough or difficulty breathing, it took a long time to bring her back to full health.

The shape of the gardens has changed a little, we had a massive willow branch come down, not due to storms, it just became too heavy to support itself I think.  The ponies were very happy about this, as they got to eat a tonne of the stuff before it started going brown.  I had a fire to dispose of the rest and the big logs will go to the local farmer.

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The wildlife has been taking the complete Michael recently, we have flying ants that refuse to leave in the boot room, we also have a blackbird that likes flying ants who hops into the boot room for a snack, a crow fell down the chimney and had to be herded out by the cat, the deer no longer run away and I’m fairly sure the squirrels are planning to kick us out and move in.

This area has been annoying me, every week I weed it and every week it grows back and it has no function apart from being a storage area for the compost bins and the leaf mulcher.  Time for action and weed suppressant…

 

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My handsome hubby also wrestled out the rotten metal storage container, that served no purpose other than to annoy me, yay, it’s going, gives me room for another composter!

And even better, he managed to remove the one in the greenhouse that has been annoying me since we moved in.  More room to store pots, a few years ago, I’d have said you can never have enough pots, this  is no longer true, I have reached saturation point on the pot front.

 

I also gave the compost bins a good stomping down, I have to be honest, this really isn’t the most flattering photo of me I’ve ever had taken…

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Over the years, I’ve posted many a picture of either MrC or MrC snr, in the winter, up to their thighs in the stream trying to clear a blockage under the bridge between us and the woodland next door.  Not this year!!  The tiny pipe that runs under the bridge is being replaced with this beauty, it’s actually wide enough for a person to crawl into!  So this year, expect photos of MrC or MrC snr in scuba gear trying to clear a blockage under the bridge…

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In our conservatory, I have a number of houseplants, I’m not that great with houseplants, I have a green thumb outdoors, but with houseplants it can be a bit hit or miss (and if it’s African Violets, it’s pretty much instant, violent death, they hate me).  About 6 months ago, I repotted a mostly dead Swiss Cheese Plant that had been given to me by a friend about 15 years ago, it was a last ditch effort to keep it alive, and boy, has it repaid me in spades (using that well known marker of scale, a box of after eight mints) it’s thrown up enormous new leaves and seems to be a very happy plant now, and if they’re happy, I’m happy.

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If I’m honest, I’m feeling a bit worn out, without the Casey’s snr help, it’s been a struggle trying to keep on top of everything and I’ve failed in a few areas, which I’m now just labeling as “wild” and can hopefully get back to next year.   However, the bits I’ve managed to keep on top of, they are a joy and I’m really proud of my lavender hedge round the veggie patch.  I grew this from seed, it’s taken 3 years to reach maturity and as a “deer deterrent” it’s a complete failure, but I love it, and the bees love it and it’s a thing of beauty.

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Happily, in a few weeks I have 2 weeks holiday coming, and I’m looking forward to getting on top of things in the garden and maybe a few day trips to Centreparks for a swim and time with family, possibly mojito’s on the patio and naps, lots of naps, many many naps, with a few dozes and the odd afternoon snooze thrown in for good measure.

 

 

Weeds everywhere, I’m even weeding in my dreams, my fantasy life needs help.

So what have I been up to the last few weeks, that’s pretty easy to sum up, I’m either weeding, working or picking up horse crap.  It’s almost as boring to read as it is for me to do it.

This time of year, the gardens are a challenge, keeping the veg plot and the flower beds mostly weed free takes up every spare minute I have (and I don’t have many).  Thus far, I’ve been mostly successful, but as I can no longer exploit pensioners (I really miss my in-laws) I’ve turned to child labour for getting the lawns mowed.  The lovely Michelle is lending me her eldest for a few hours and he whizzes round with the push mower, while MrC does the same on the ride along.  Which frees me up to yank up whatever weed is flavour of the month (it’s mostly nettles and burdock at the moment).

It’s impossible to start any “projects” at this time of year, although I have several in mind, maintaining what I’ve already done is a full-time job.  (If anyone out there has large leaved Gunnera plants and wouldn’t mind digging up a couple of chunks for me, I have plans that involve Gunnera…  watch this space)

The soft fruit and veggie gardens are starting to produce a nice steady harvest and I’ve been making jam for Christmas presents, so far I’ve raspberry, tayberry, loganberry and gooseberry jams tucked away in the cupboard.

We’ve been feasting on potatoes straight from the ground, along with peas (they don’t really make it as far as being cooked) and broadbeans have been blanched and chucked in the freezer.

I had just finished giving the veggie patch a hoeing, when I realised that I’ve not been in the stumpary for a week or so, so I trundled along with wheelbarrow and a trowel in case it needed a bit of a weeding.

 

What the hell???

Some of those nettles are about 8 foot tall, this would never have happened on MrsC snr’s watch…

So yeah, it needed a bit of a weeding…

It does look stunning when it’s not a weed strewn mess.   It’s missing something though and I haven’t quite figured out what it is, it needs something a little more to round it out and it’s driving me nuts trying to think what it might be, suggestions on a postcard!

I’ve also tided up the hosta mound, they’ve transplanted really well and seem to be happy, happy hostas, happy me.

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I’m really pleased with this flower bed down the side of the house, it gets very little sun, but I seem to have got the correct mix of plants in the right place to take advantage of what we do get and I think it’s turned out a bit special.

It’s not all work, we had a thoroughly lovely albeit socially distanced BBQ with Matt and Michelle and their brood, so nice to just sit and eat and chat with friends, thanks to the hub for doing the cooking.

I’m trying something new this year, we have 6 mature walnut trees at the far end of the property and every year I lose the entire crop to squirrels.  So this year I’m picking them green before the shells form and making pickled walnuts (they taste amazing on a bruchetta) and I’m trying my hand at Nochino (walnut liquor), can’t wait to try it, so at least I get to use a small number of walnuts this year.

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Had to include this picture that the hub took, goldfinch on my cornflowers in the front garden, there were 3 of them feeding on the seed heads, which gives me a bloody brilliant excuse never to deadhead a cornflower again!

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So if you need me, I’ll be weeding, working or picking up horse crap…

I’m not bonkers, I’m thrifty, I think…

For the last few weeks I’ve mostly been pottering about in the veggie garden (it’s looking pretty good) or planting out either bargain plants from work or things I’ve grown from seed in the greenhouse.

Here in the raised beds we’ve all sorts of brassicas  (including Brussel sprouts for Christmas dinner).  celeriac, radish, rocket and all sorts of delicious things.

We’ve got onions and potatoes in the main veggie garden, some of the onions are already folding over and will be ready soon, which is absurd, they shouldn’t be cropping till August or September, but with the strange weather we’re having, lots of things I “knew” about gardening are being completely rewritten.

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The fruit garden is looking fabulous, raspberries will be ready in less than a month and the bush covered over with netting is for gooseberries, the birds got the lot last year, not this year my friends, not this year.

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IMG_1684I spent some time planting up the poly tunnel, in here I’m growing a special variety of tomato called Gigantamo, they taste like holidays abroad, along with melons, chillis and sweet peppers.

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I see lots of people at work leaving with a car full of plants, and all I can wonder, is how the hell are they getting them in the ground.  Mine is like concrete, I have to soak it with water before I can even slightly get my trowel in the soil.  It’s turned  what is normally a pleasurable (if time consuming) job, into a complete pain in the bum, and if we don’t get some rain soon, they’re all going to die anyway.  As much as I might like to, there is no way I can water everything, the greenhouse, the polytunnel, anything in pots and veg that’s looking thirsty I look after which takes about ¾ of an hour every day, but everything else takes it’s chances.

One thing that is definitely thriving, is the nettles, normally, nettles are the domain of MrsC snr, a nettle had the temerity to sting her beloved granddaughter many moons ago and she declared war on them and since then can often be found yanking them up by the handful.  Because of this, I tend to ignore nettles knowing that sooner or later MrsC will have at them.  This somewhat laissez fair approach has slightly backfired on me with the lockdown….

They are completely out of control and they’re everywhere and they’re about to seed any moment now.

So I pulled my finger out and chopped them down.  Nettles are vey high in iron and trace minerals, however the ponies won’t eat them, because they sting, obviously.   But, if you dry them out, the sting goes away and you have nice healthy free pony snacks (the words free and pony do not often appear together in close proximity).  Anyone seeing my washing line at the moment will assume that I’ve gone completely barking mad.

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Louis in particular loves these, he actually shoves Rosie out of the way to get to them.  I also pull up armfuls of cleavers (goosegrass) and feed that to the ponies, they love it.

Another pesky weed that I use as a crop is comfrey, it grows all over the place, the roots can be 3ft deep or even longer and impossible to get up, so I let it flower because the bees love it and it’s an attractive plant, but I don’t let it seed, I chop it up and it makes the most excellent nutrient filled compost.

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This little area next to the summer house needed a good weeding.

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I’ve planted out some of the sweetpeas I’ve been growing in the greenhouse, so you get the lovely scent as you walk by (the wilted plants in the background are cowslips that have flowered and are very much past their best, but they’ll come back next year and be beautiful.)

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I had to have the vet out to see Rosie (again) I came home from work one evening and she’d cut her nose.  I tried to examine it to see if I could treat it (general cuts and bumps I can deal with) but she wasn’t having any of it and this time of year any wound, no matter how slight needs to be treated to prevent fly strike.

For people without livestock, that happens when flies lay eggs in a wound.  The eggs hatch within 24 hours of being laid, and turn into maggots, they then start eating your animal, alive, it’s absolutely horrible.  There is a feeling that if you let an animal get fly strike you have neglected your livestock, and that’s really really not true, the wound can be tiny and you may not even notice it and it happens fast, really horribly distressingly fast.

Although Rosie is a “pony” that doesn’t means she’s biddable or can be forced to do something, if she says NO then no it is, she’s strong (bred to pull gypsy wagons and people up hills and down dales), she’s big and armed at each corner and at the front.  So despite suspecting this was an easy fix, I had to have the vet to sedate her so we could get a proper look at the wound.  As suspected, it wasn’t a serious injury, a clean and application of silver spray to keep out flies was all that was needed.  Bloody drama queen.

I have been asked several times why I don’t use a whip to control her when she’s being a pita, well, when I first got Rosie, she was very bargy on the ground.  After she’d body slammed me into the stable a few times, I did get a whip, waited for her to do it again and when she did, I gave her 3 not too hard smacks of the whip on her rump.  What happened next will forever be with me, she went from being bargy and opinionated, dropped her head to the floor and trembled.  Somewhere in her past someone had beaten the living tar out of her.  I held her head and there was a tear in her eye, I promised her that she’d never feel the touch of a whip again and I threw it away.  Since then, we’ve worked on her ground manners and she’s come along really well, but sometimes she says NO and we work around the no’s until they’re a maybe or an OK, but with blood coming out of her nose, I didn’t have time for persuasion, so vet it was…

Slight caveat on whips, I do use a lunging whip with her, but you never use that to actually hit a horse, although I have poked her with it a few times when she’s decided she’s a bit out of puff and would rather eat grass instead of running round in circles.

Here’s a pic for MrsC snr, there aren’t many foxgloves in the wood this year, but a few have popped up.

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Although I talk all the time about weeding and seem to spend half my life removing unwanted plants, the garden does surprise me with a few treats, this is a beautiful cuckoo pint a lovely native wildflower, in the autumn this will have stunning black (and extremely poisonous) berries.

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Our wildlife pond has completely dried out and our resident but wild ducks (Penny and Tucker) are forbidden in the fishpond (not that they take much notice of the rules, we’re forever shooing them away) so I set her up a duck bath.  It’s not as good as a pond, but I think she likes it.SONY DSC

And finally, soon, oh yes soon…

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Don’t stand, Don’t stand, Don’t stand so bloody close to me!!

Sometimes, it’s difficult to know where to start with my blog, and I put it off, and off and every day I do, makes it more difficult to get going.

So, I shall start with beautiful things, because I am surrounded by beautiful things.

This bird box (made by our talented friend Roger) that has become home to a hive of tree bees.

This laburnum that for 3 glorious weeks of the year is so stunning it makes your eyes ache to gaze upon for it too long.

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The rock garden, that really only came into being because I was sick and tired of looking out of the window and seeing a giant pile of rocks that I had no clue what I was going to do with and being annoyed at a blank space that was ugly.

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This lovely saxifrage, newly planted just a few months ago that is starting to spread and conquer in the rock garden.

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This crow (or possibly a rook) that has made a nest in the eves of the house.

This hawthorn that is bursting with flower and smells divine.

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I am blessed, this place is so amazing, it soothes the soul, delights the eyes and drives me utterly bonkers with all the bloody weeds.

I returned to work last week, now don’t get me wrong, I really love my job and the people there, but it’s emotionally draining, I know I’m in danger.  For me, when in danger (having horses is intrinsically dangerous), I either punch it in the face, or run away really quickly, I can’t do either of these things at work, I’m fairly sure punching customers in the face or running away when they ask for plant advice would make the general manager “disappointed in my performance”.  So I slap on a smile, suggest hostas and ferns for shady areas, enthuse about the beauty in foliage and try not to tremble when someone gets too close, which they do, ALL THE BLOODY TIME!!!

This is the new normal and it’s ugly and harsh and frightening.  There are several people at work that I am hugging friends with, and that’s gone and God that’s hard because we’re all scared, and a hug would so very much help us all.  But it is what it is, so I shall suck it up and try to do the best I can.

So I’m back at work and things have slowed down a little at home, but we’re still getting stuff done.  MrC and I had a FIRE, we burnt all the accumulated garden waste from the last 8 months.  We store all the broken trees, dropped branches, piles of weeds that won’t fit in the green waste bins under the willow trees.  I have tried, and failed in the past to do before photos of the sheer amount of rubbish under there,so I didn’t bother this time, I do, however, have an after photo that brings me joy and will mean a lot to Mr and MrsC snr, who usually do the “BIG BURNS” with me.

Clear!!!

This is (until I start filling it up again) my new favourite place in the garden.

I gave the shed a good clean out, boy that was nasty and involved evicting about a dozen mice. IMG_1620

In a property this size, you have to have a junk area, you just do, there is unattractive stuff that I can’t really tidy and this is ours.IMG_1655

Here we have the giant pile of junk we’ve dug up that needs a skip to remove (aka, I can’t burn it), the pile of hardcore that will, at some point, be useful, the pile of large Purbeck rocks that will, at some point, be used around the wildlife pond, once we can afford to get it dug out and lined with clay, the asbestos outbuildings which just contain “stuff” wood that will be useful at some point in the future, things we’ve dug up that need to be restored, just “stuff” as well as somewhere to keep the agricultural equipment we need to keep ticking over, seed spreader, harrow, roller and so on and so forth.  It is therefore, not the most attractive part of the gardens.  It’s faced by, what we call the gate bed, called that because, someone, many moons ago, leant a metal gate against the fence, and then the trees all grew through it, and the only way I could remove it, was to chop down all the trees, so I painted the rusted gate with hammorite and called it a “feature”.  In about a month this will be glorious with a swathe of lupins in flower.

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There is history behind the creation of the gate bed, involving, the thing we don’t talk about, a lump hammer and man with a large machine, if you missed it the first time around, you can catch up here:

https://countrysideinsanity.wordpress.com/2016/08/14/its-lump-hammer-time/ 

So this area, does get neglected, it’s not beautiful, it’s functional and over the years, the couch grass and other weeds have been encroaching on the road.  Time for some reclamation, no weeds, you may not take over the road, time for me to spend some time on my hands and knees and sort this out.

It’s not easy work this, in order to get all the roots, I couldn’t really wear gloves I need to feel what I’m  doing, and weeding road plainings  is rough on the fingertips, so It’s a case of 2 days on, 1 day off to allow some skin to regrow.

I’m about halfway round the road so far, an ongoing task  (that will probably take the rest of my life)…..

I spend at least 1 day a week hoeing weeds in the veggie patch and the herbaceous  beds, it’s tedious, but if I didn’t, I think they might actually eat me.

I’ve also started to plant out all the seedlings from the greenhouse, I’ve done about 100 so far, I think I’ve another 600 to go.

My wonderful other half has done the job I most hate, mowing the lawns and it makes such an incredible difference to the place, the ponies are also contributing to this chore and giving it their all.

I had a craving for Pizza, not the frozen sort which are inevitably disappointing, but with proper chewy dough and the tang of fresh herbs, so with MrC instructing and me kneading, we made one from scratch and my goodness, it certainly satisfied the craving, absolutely delish and we’ll definitely be trying this again!

A thought on relationships…  Has mine with my beloved hub changed at all after being cooped up together  well nope, we put up with each others eccentricity just as we always do, laugh at each other a lot, and while I’ve been back at work, MrC has been so tolerant when all I can do after getting home is sort out the ponies, water the greenhouse and then go to bed at 7 in the evening to read and drink wine because it’s the place I feel safe, when I have no appetite because I’m so stressed at being exposed to the virus all day, he brings me bread and cheese to pick at because he knows I can’t resist it, being together 24/7 for months hasn’t changed our relationship, it’s strengthened it.

So there’s a round up, panic, joy, fear and love, I’m not alone in how I’m feeling, so if you are there too, I am here for you, send me a message or give me a call and we can talk, one day, we’ll have a hug and it will be wonderful.

 

 

 

 

I can squeeze another seed tray in there, Can’t I?

As the weather was a bit unpleasant, and I don’t like being rained on, I retreated into the greenhouse for a couple of days for some serious pricking-out, potting-on, seed sowing and general faffery.  The greenhouse is a time thief, I go in there at 11am for a couple of hours and suddenly its 6:30pm and I haven’t fed the ponies, the cat or the husband…

Before I could get started I needed some compost.  When I sow seeds, I buy general purpose compost and add grit and sand to make a seed mix.  For everything else, I make my own compost, so it was time to get harvesting.  I produce about a ton and a half of compost a year, and it all gets used.  I’ve got 4 compost bins and they’re always full to bursting.  The only downside is, my compost isn’t sterile, so it does contain some seeds, which is why I buy compost for seed sowing.

Black gold!

The greenhouse is getting a bit full, this lot will be ready to plant out in about 3 weeks and I can fill the flower borders and veggie garden full to bursting!

This is my haven, it’s not work pottering about in the greenhouse, it’s heaven for me and I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful place to indulge myself.  Yeah, it’s falling down, there is glass missing, the wood is rotten and the guttering leaks, but I love it.

Once the weather perked up a bit I tackled a job I was going to do last year, but the drought hit us and made it impossible to get a fork into the ground.  This bit of garden between the paddock and the stream is riddled with bramble, 2 days of rain had softened up the ground nicely making the job a bit easier.

2 trips with the wheelbarrow, I think not!

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Something I struggle with in my blog, is how to convey scale.  This doesn’t look like much, but it’s 4 or 5 times the size of the garden we had in Norwich and digging up the bramble took me the better part of a day.  Now it’s safe I can put my hairy lawnmowers on here to complete the tidy up.

Perhaps if I show this “little” bit from another angle, at the back here we have a row of massive poplar trees, their trunks are about half a meter across at the base, 2 mature walnut trees and an apple tree.

We’ve also a recent addition to this bit of the gardens, the back part of the paddock, often had standing water in the winter when the rain gets insane, so last winter my wonderful hubby dug this drainage channel leading to the stream and it works brilliantly, no more standing water.  Back breaking work digging that out, bless him,  I think he loves the ponios too.

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Next job was to tackle the other patch of miscanthus we have, I’ve been meaning to do this for ages, just in time, new growth is already emerging.  This too, took the better part of a day to complete…

Apart from that, I spent a morning digging up ragwort (that’s a given, every week at least a morning, sometimes a whole day every week is spent getting rid of the damn stuff to keep the ponies safe).

And weeding, I weed constantly, I don’t even know I’m doing it, I have to keep a trug by the back door, because whenever I arrive there, I usually have a handful of weeds I’ve absent mindedly  pulled up as I walk about the place.

MrsC snr was asking about the foxgloves in the wood, well, there aren’t that many and I don’t think they’ll flower this year, but it’s looking good in there.  Here’s a fix for you xx

Despite my best efforts, not even I can ignore what’s going on in the world, as I write this more than 30 thousand people in the UK have lost their lives to COVID19.  I don’t really know how to process that, 30 thousand families who’ve not been able to have a proper funeral for their loved ones, 30 thousand gaping holes in the lives of their friends and loved ones.  Thus far, I am fortunate, I’ve not lost anyone that I know, and with the lockdown still in place, we are kind of safe (for those of you braving the outside world everyday, putting your lives at risk, I thank you for the bottom of my heart).

However, lockdown will soon end, and we’ll emerge into a changed and still dangerous world, the virus hasn’t gone, it will still be killing people and devastating families, and I’ll be honest, I am not looking forward to returning to work (not because of work, I love my little job and the people there and usually the customers).  The last day I was at work, was terrifying, there was a huge stream of customers, families, the elderly, hardly anyone adhering to social distancing, it was a horrible horrible day.  I have every confidence that the management at work will make it as safe as possible, and as I’m working in the horticulture section, I am mostly outside all day which diminishes risk, but I’m still nervous about it, as I suppose, everyone else is too.

My wonderful hubby, knowing I’m trepidatious about what’s to come, purchased for me, a confidence boosting “return to work kit” from Espa, my all time favorite supplier of all things pampering (their facial oils are like being kissed by angels), I haven’t been able to afford anything from them for years (I have ponies, I might not have expensive face creams, but I get pony snuffles on a winter morning so I’m definitely winning).   I love you MrC, I have made many poor decisions in my life, but marrying you, was not one of them.

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