Friday 30 September 2016

Last Day of September

Well it's the last day of September, and what a quick month that seemed to be. 

It's also I think, the last jug full of Sweet peas from the Veggie Patch.   I only planted them to attract the bees to pollinate the French and Runner beans which have both fizzled out and done terribly this year.  The Sweet Peas however, have done brilliantly well, my best Sweet Pea display ever, bringing colour and a glorious scent to the hillside and the house over and over again. The more you pick the more you get!!

Shopping with Mum last week saw me spending another bit of my Flower Show winnings on more packets of seeds.  They were being sold off at 50p a pack at the garden centre, so that's another £3 spent.

Well roll on October, let's see what you have in store for us, is all I have to say now :-)

Sue xx

Thursday 29 September 2016

Six Little Beady Eyes .......

I wonder what these six little beady eyes are keeping an eye on ......

.... yup, Lovely Hubby is a soft touch and they know if they wait and they watch there will always be a little bit of something over from his breakfast.

I don't eat bacon, or give them bits of my meals so they know it's pretty pointless to watch me  :-)

Sue xx

Tuesday 27 September 2016

My Favourite Time of Year

Autumn is my favourite time of the year. 

Most days start fresh and bright, and yes sometimes a little chilly, but it's nothing that wellies and a lightweight fleece can't cope with.  The dogs run around the paddock after their breakfast with the long wet grass soaking them up to their tummies ... the downside to being only a foot or so tall  ... poor things, while I stroll and ponder on the day.

There's still harvesting to be done and bits of space to be found in the freezers for the food, once it's picked, washed and blanched.  To tell the truth it starts to get a bit boring by this time of the year, and at times I even miss the simplicity of just nipping out to the shops for a bag of frozen veggies!!

We stroll to the far end of the paddock, the dogs dashing around and sniffing here, there and everywhere, and ... I hope you're not tucking into anything tasty while you're reading this  ... eating any fresh rabbit droppings and occasional sheep poo that takes their fancy ... sometimes I despair of their manners ... after all it's so soon after breakfast!!  

As I look back towards the house, the sheep are tucked under the hedge in the dry spot they have slept in.  Yes they are back, four of this years lambs now pretty much grown up and no longer needing their mums.  One is a returner and knows the ropes of ignoring the dogs and in return being ignored by them, it works well and nobody gets upset by our twice or thrice daily meanderings around the field.

As we walk back towards the house the sun comes out even brighter, illuminating the fields on the hillside with their criss cross of electricity wires and pylons, and promising another good day.

And at my feet more mushrooms, they are everywhere this year, and the damp morning conditions are just perfect for bringing them on.

As we get back to the house, it's time to dry off the dogs little wet paws and for me go out to clean the henhouse.  The chickens are loving being back in their old stomping ground at the side of the house.  The early morning light sees them vanishing into the small wooded area that separates our land from that of our neighbours.  But when they hear me coming over they rush to the fence to see what goodies I might have and yes, as usual I have a scoop of corn to scatter around and keep them out of my way while I clear out the henhouse and leave it fresh for more egg laying.

It's a good Autumn routine at the moment, and it will last us a while ... well until it changes into a Winter,  much brisker but equally invigorating one.

Sue xx

Monday 26 September 2016

Trimming Trees

Living alongside a main A road and owning trees of all ages and a woodland, means that we have the responsibility of making sure that all the trees on our land are safe, and most specifically that none near the road will be hit by passing lorries, of which there are a multitude twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.
A couple of the main branches on our roadside trees were getting dangerously close to the tops of the big trucks and rather than wait for bits to start falling off as they were wafted and hit we decided to call in our friendly tree surgeons and get it all sorted before the weather turns.
Living so close to Snowdonia National Park we had to wait for the end of the holiday season for traffic lights to be allowed on the main road for the trimming to take place, and so at last it was all sorted last week.

I just had to get a couple of photos of the brave guys in action.  Hanging out over the main road walking along the branches of the trees is definitely a job  for  the experts.   The top photo was taken from the side of our house and then these two were with the camera zoomed in to get a closer view.

It's also time to gather in the Horse Chestnuts and put them out on all the windowsills of the house.  It really does keep the spiders out and is something I've been doing  for years now.  We had one huge spider in the house last week and I realised that last years conkers were still in place, obviously not giving off  enough of the scent that deters the nasty long legged critters.
It's all sorted now, and since I put the new ones in place there have been no more sightings ... phew!!
Sue xx

Sunday 25 September 2016

Rosehips and Roses

This is a familiar sight at this time of year at the far end of our paddock, the wild rose bush full of rosehips.
What you don't expect to see next to the rosehips .... is dog roses!!

This poor bush is totally confused with the seasons. 
We had roses blooming away at Christmas and back in January of this year that lasted for weeks, then they disappeared.  Then they came back when they should have appeared and now here they are again.  I'm not complaining ... they are absolutely beautiful ...  but it must be hard work for the bush not knowing which season it's supposed to be.

Meanwhile here is Suky pottering under another bush while Mum snaps away at the roses :-)
Sue xx

Saturday 24 September 2016

Chippings ... and Shorts

The dogs love to explore each new delivery of chippings that we get, they must smell wonderful to them.  I can just smell the gorgeous freshness of pine and the sap scented wood and leaves, but to a dogs even more sensitive nose there must be a myriad of different scents from all the places these chippings have come from. 
They circle the mound then walk all over it, before doing what all dogs do best .... squatting down and adding their own unique scent.

This last delivery came with a free pair of wooden shorts .... well that's what they look like to me  ;-)
Sue xx

Thursday 22 September 2016

Double Decker Dogs

Every day at the moment, at one time or another I come into the kitchen to find my double decker dogs are at it again.

They sit cuddled up to each other like this for ages, mostly in the mornings after they have been out for a 'wee wee break' and then pile back into the kitchen, when instead of getting back into the beds they got out of, they double up until breakfast time. 

Rosy of course is having none of it, and gets out of and goes back to her own bed, leaving the other two to squish themselves together.
I must  point out that other beds are available  ;-)
Sue xx

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Matchy, Matchy

The colour of Lovely Hubby's latest batch of Rhubarb and Apple Wine was such a glorious and familiar colour that we got out a couple of jars of last weeks Compost Heap Jelly for a colour comparison ... and yes, they were very, very matchy.
I like that I can sample my wares immediately ... if the urge takes me, but unfortunately we don't get to drink any of the lovely looking wine for at least a couple of months  :-(
Now it's all bubbling away nicely and doing it's thing out in the workshop.
Sue xx

Monday 19 September 2016

Composting Brainwave

I had a bit of a brainwave a couple of weeks back. 
 I was busy weeding in the veggie patch when I sat up to straighten my back and have a little break, like you do, sitting back on my heels and surveying all the work still to be done I glanced over at the compost bins.  We have three, built together out of old pallets on the side of the veggie patch handy for the patch and the tunnels.
Now the grass and weeds growing all around the bottom of the compost bins was longer and lusher than anything else growing on the veggie patch and it made me think.
Why not build a smaller version of the compost bins and site it in the middle of each of the raised beds in turn.  Leaving it there for a while for the grass trimmings and all the other contents of the bin to start leaching their goodness directly into the ground where I will be wanting to grow next year.  The compost when it is on it's way to  decomposing nicely can be added to the main bins and then the little bin can be re-sited onto another raised bed.
The soil on our veggie patch is very poor, after all it was once part of the main paddock and has only ever been used for grazing for animals and growing grass, and of course it drains downhill so any goodness gets washed downwards with any heavy rain, so the more we can do to feed it and pull up the nutrient levels for growing vegetables the better. 
We'll see if this little brainwave is a good one in the years to come if the quality of the soil improves ... but in the meantime it can't possibly do any harm.
Sue xx

Saturday 17 September 2016

Holding Hands

It's funny I don't remember ever holding hands with my first husband, sad really as we were together for 26 years!!  I wonder if it's an age thing or just that we were never 'touchy feel-y' people.  Me and Lovely Hubby have always held hands ...when we're walking down the street of course, not when we're mucking out the henhouse or digging the veggie beds ;-)
I think it's lovely when you see very elderly couples walking along together holding hands, and we see it a lot when we're walking the dogs along Llandudno prom in the evenings, romance at the seaside.
 I guess we're well on the way to joining them.
Yep ..... that's me  :-)
Sue xx

Friday 16 September 2016

Quick Harvesting, Long, Slow Loading

The harvesting is coming thick and fast at the moment, unlike the computer which is going long and slow ... these three photos just took 35 minutes to download, it's because I am posting from my little laptop at the moment while our office computer is in to have all it's stored information loaded onto our new computer system. I guess that's the downside to only usually blogging in comfort from my desk and on our office computer.
I didn't realise until I came to use it for this but my small laptop is still running on Windows 8, which is now an unsupported system so I am going to have  to upgrade as it makes sense to have them all running on the same programme.  At least that way I'm not having to adapt each time I use a different computer ... and maybe this will perform a bit better after an upgrade.

So I think it's fair to say that for the next two weeks you are not going to get more than one photo a day ... sorry!!

Out on the Veggie Patch the sudden cold nights are having a detrimental effect on the outdoor courgette plants so I have been harvesting them as quickly as they get to a half decent size and having grating sessions.  The grated and squeezed out courgettes are then put into flat ziplock bags and will be great for using in soups, casseroles etc. over the Winter months.  Freezing them flat like this takes up  less space in the freezer as they stack so nicely and it also means that if I only need a smaller amount  I can snap off just part of the pack.
It's time to step away from the computer now and take the dogs out for a walk, a bit of fresh air after a frustrating computer session is exactly what is needed.
Sue xx

Wednesday 14 September 2016

Chickens and Apples

I think the chickens are enjoying keeping an eye on us as much as we like keeping an eye on them, now that they are back over in their original Chicken World.
Every time we come out of the back door or even move around in the conservatory, they appear at the fence to see what we are up to.  I guess the novelty will soon wear off as they get used to our close proximity to them again, but for now a funny way it's nice in to have our every move monitored by chickens.
One things for sure, they have a plentiful supply of fresh apples over there, and a nice mix of eaters and cookers, as the ripe fruit drop out of the trees at the merest whisper of a breeze.
Sue xx

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Compost Heap Jelly

I made a double recipe batch of Compost Heap Jelly following Pam Corbin's recipe the other day.   I mentioned it in an earlier post.  When it came round to labelling I didn't label it as such because actually the ingredients were never destined for the compost heap this time, they were just good windfalls and a bag of frozen lemon slices that I unearthed from the bottom of the freezer.   I had no idea how old they were but they were starting to dry out and needing using up.

This is a common sight in the kitchen at the moment, jam pan and sugar both warming on top of the Aga ready for jam or jelly making later on in the day.

Here's the recipe if you want to have a go, it literally can be made with all the trimmings, peelings, cores and fruity bits that are usually destined for the compost bin after a jam, marmalade or jelly making session ... and it tastes delicious :-)
Another regular sight in the kitchen ... we have  something dripping through the jelly bags most nights, sometimes it is for jellies and sometimes for Lovely Hubby's wine making obsession.
It's all a good way to preserve the goodness of all our fruits for use over Winter ... although I must say it's not fair that we have to wait so long to sample the wines and cider  ;-)
Sue xx

Monday 12 September 2016

A Little Visitor

We had a little visitor over the weekend, the smallest one for quite a while.

He came in the window to say hello and just sat there for a minute before the dogs interest and barking set him off fluttering around a bit.

You can see how little the window was open so he was obviously determined to come in and visit us.  After snapping this photo I slowly walked over and pushed the window open a bit further, and with a flap and a flutter he went on his way.

No drama, no fuss, just a short visit from a little feathered friend.

Sue xx

Sunday 11 September 2016

Cor What a Whopper

This huge beauty fell out of the tree and just missed me earlier today.  I'll be needing to wear a hard hat to go over to Chicken World at this rate.

I got a 'normal' sized large apple out of the bucket (yes we need to keep them in a bucket ... a fruit bowl is just not big enough) to compare it too, and it's almost twice as heavy.

All our apple trees are doing brilliantly well this year, still absolutely brimming with fruit.  So Lovely Hubby is all set to do another bucket of cider this weekend and I've just finished making a batch of 'Pam the Jams' Compost Heap Jelly to make good use of a big bag of sliced lemons that I found in the depths of the big chest freezer as well as lots of lovely red apples, including my big beauty here ... the kitchen smells gorgeous.

Cor What A Whopper ... as they used to say in the Carry On films ;-)

Sue xx

Saturday 10 September 2016

Daily Pickings

I don't remember planting any yellow tomatoes, but I've got lots of them .... and they are lovely big, sweet and tasty tomatoes too.  When they first started growing on the plants I was waiting for them to turn red and then I had a 'der' moment and realised they were never going to do that.

We are still harvesting an unusual amount of Blueberries from our last remaining fruiting bush, the other two finished about a month ago, it really has been a bumper year for Blueberries.  It must have  perked them up no end moving them into bigger pots with fresh compost and then popping them over into the Net tunnel where the only insects they are harbouring are the spiders that make their webs from one side of the tunnel to the other using the central Blueberry plants as a support.

I open freeze each picking and then tip them into the boxes in the freezer when they are frozen, which means I can just grab a handful at a time when I need to add them to a recipe.

I'm off over to the tunnel in a bit to get some more tomatoes for tea, it's Mediterranean Veg for tea tonight .... yummy ... but of course I should call it Welsh Veg as it was virtually all grown here :-)

Sue xx

Friday 9 September 2016

The Buoy is Back

A few of you commented on the lush green grass we have here at the moment, both in the paddock and nearer to the house.  The grass near the house is brand new recently sown grass after a lot of levelling and groundworks all done by my Lovely Hubby over the past couple of months.  It used to be absolute hell to mow even with the large petrol mower as there were so many dips and huge stones not far beneath the surface ... and of course half of all mowing here is done uphill !!

Now that it is more level it is easier to mow, although the new grass is growing so fast it needs mowing even more regularly.

Over in the paddock the grass has had time to rest after the sheep left us a couple of weeks ago.  The mix of hot, sunny days and lots of rain over the past two weeks has meant that that too has put on a growth spurt, so in a couple of weeks Lovely Hubby will ride round on his little tractor with the grass cutting deck attached and neaten things up ready for Winter.  One thing sheep do is to graze in their favourite bits over and over and leave tufts where they don't eat.

A sign of the changing season is this ....

... yes the buoy is back!!

The first sign that the ferns and undergrowth on the edge of our woodlands are dying back is seeing the dangling buoy for the first time.

But yes, we are looking green and lush ... if a little shaggy around the edges.

Sue xx

Wednesday 7 September 2016

A Totally Doggy Post .... well Almost!!

Yesterday I spent most of the day with my Mum and brother Graham.  We met up at Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet, had a wander around the shops,  drank numerous cups of coffee and had a spot of lunch along with a bit of a catch up .... it's seems us ladies who lunch have taken to dragging along a token male to keep us company this past couple of weeks  :-)

Anyway when I got back, the dogs who had been snoozing the day away ... very sensible with the temperatures we have here at the moment ... were relieved to get out and about in the sunshine and have a good old play around in the paddock.

Running free and letting off steam and just generally tiring themselves out.

Here's Mavis getting her breath back .....

... and grinning at Mum.

Pensive for a moment ....

.., and then back came that happy face.

Suky enjoyed her run around the paddock with the others and then we all went back over to check out the chickens.

You might be mistaken for thinking that doggy walks are just that ... but no most of our doggy walks and play sessions include our feline member of the pack.  

Ginger is always happy to mooch about the paddock with us.  Although this time he kept out of the way while the dogs whizzed round and round, and simply strolled along at his own pace.

A good day in lovely weather, but roll on cooler temperatures I say ... I got bitten to buggery sitting on the grass taking photos of the animals, and last night I had some most unwelcome visitors ... three Daddy Long Legs flying round the living room ... YUK !!

Sue xx