Tuesday 30 May 2017

Mr Purrfect

I sit here because I know I look good.

  After watching the birds fluttering about and teasing me with their jittery antics I meow loudly and Mum comes running out with her camera to capture my perfect image for posterity.

She starts from afar, but she knows this sort of beauty ....

... needs to be seen much more clearly.

I show her my best snooty cat face ....

... then my perfect profile.

I see her about to put down the camera so I try my sad downcast face ....

... then I remember the box on the table and make a dash for continued adoration.

There, I think she's cracked it - absolute puurrrfection  :-)

Ginger xx

Thursday 25 May 2017

Bargains, Coupons and Plans

I splurged the other week when I was in Tesco, they had the latest edition of Gardeners World in a bargain bag with gardening gloves, six packets of seeds and a year long '2 for 1 entry' card to gardens all over the UK.  As we are going to the Eden Project soon and this was included as one of the 'gardens' it really did make sense to have this particular splurge.  It's £25 to get into the Eden Project for an adult, so my £6.75 purchase price of this special edition was well worth it.

And of course I have now have some more vegetable seeds to add to my ever growing stash, the flower seeds have already been sown, as this year we are working on expanding our planting to attract bees, ready for next years bee keeping plan.

We spent Monday morning planting shrubs in Nut Wood and already this is having the desired effect, the place is suddenly alive with bees, other insects and of course this in turn has meant that more small insect eating birds are to be seen flitting in and out of the nut trees.

It's nice when a plan starts to come together  :-)

Of course, as I used to blog about on a regular basis, we still get our money off vouchers from both Tesco ....

... and M&S for using our credit cards.

(We still pay the amount owed off in full every month to avoid interest payments.)

Obviously the amount we are getting has gone down significantly and will be going down even more from now on, but a couple of months ago I did persuade Lovely Hubby to make a large company purchase on the M&S card and then pay it off with company money hence the large amount of M&S vouchers this time ... every little helps ... to quote the other supermarket   ;-)

In our push for self sufficiency we have done brilliantly with vegetables and not too bad at all with fruit but obviously there will always be things we can't produce ourselves, so we have decided that coupons, vouchers and all the money from the sale of vegetable plants and surplus vegetables will form our money pot to buy the things that we can't produce ourselves.  Just things like various flours, brown and basmati rices, pastas, olive oil etc.   In that way hopefully we will be self sufficient with food, because the foods we can grow ourselves will finance the foods that we can't grow ourselves.

Anyway enough for now, time to get on with some chores in any shade that I can find.

Sue xx

Tuesday 23 May 2017

Help ... No Cabbage!!

I'm pretty well known for my 'hiding behind a cabbage' profile picture .... but what do you do when there is no cabbage available and there's a man roving around armed with his phone taking pictures ..... simple you hide behind a baby fruit tree.

Thank goodness it had leafed up a bit and has some nice blossom to afford me just a little bit of cover :-)

The roving photographer was snapping away just before we moved the chickens back to their original, and now much rested Chicken World.  We decided to move them on Sunday night as I really needed to get the raised beds on the hillside back into use, I have lots of plants now needing to be transplanted outside to their final positions from the poly and net tunnels.

We just had to wait for dusk when the chickens were making for their night time perches in the hen house and then one by one we lift them off and put them five at a time into our large chicken crate.  It must be funny for them going to bed in one house and then waking up in another identical house ... but one that is in a totally different place.

They love being back near our house, they can see what we're up to and more importantly keep an eye out for me when I'm coming out to feed them, and I can see what they are up to most of the time.  But best of all for them they can now go through the gaps in the old stock fencing into the little wooded area that actually belongs to our neighbour, hunt for bugs and creatures to eat and keep out of the heat of the sun.

They are very happy little chickens ....

... and I am a very happy veggie grower.

Now that they have moved back I have managed to get a large proportion of the Veggie Patch weeded this morning .... and got two beds of Runner Beans planted out.  This photo show one of them.  I'll be adding some more vegetable plants to the front of the bed over the course of the next week to make the best possible use of the space I have.

It wasn't possible to plant or even weed over there before as we had three daily escapee chickens that no amount of fencing would keep in, who came out to rummage around through the chippings on the pathways between the beds and dug into any disturbed soil that they found, looking for creepy crawlies to eat, luckily they never got into the poly or net tunnels ... I wouldn't like to imagine the devastation they could have caused in there!!

So this week in the mornings before the sun gets everything too hot, I will be found mainly weeding and planting on the Veggie Patch, and thus making lots more space in the polytunnel for the Pepper and Aubergine plants to have the space they need to be potted on.

Sue xx

Thursday 18 May 2017

In The Net Tunnel This Week

I love this time of year, the seedlings that only a few weeks ago were tiny little things needing lots of protection from weather and temperature fluctuations under their propagator lids are suddenly big strong plants.  Some in the process of being hardened off ready for transplanting outside and some already in situ in their final growing places.

This Courgette is happily ensconced in the net tunnel, as are a couple more.  They have lots of room to grow, good compost to grow in and the safety of the net to keep hungry rabbits off.  Not that there have been anywhere nearly as many bunnies as there were last year on our hillside, the dreaded myxomatosis seems to be infecting rabbits here in North Wales at the moment  :-(

On the opposite side of the tunnel at the far end are pots of potato plants, then white onions inter-planted with some radishes, then come the red onions.

The top left hand corner has the strawberry plants all grown from last years runners, with a pea support and three pea plants in the centre.

Nearer the front doors on the left is the garlic bed and another of the courgettes.

I've not planted as much garlic this year as we are only just finishing eating 2015's garlic and are just about to start on last years large crop.  I want us to catch up a bit, because although it has stayed perfectly edible it would be nicer to be eating it that little bit sooner after harvesting.  All this years plants are grown from our own garlic cloves harvested last year, and so have cost us absolutely nothing to produce.  Hopefully I will be able to do this every year from now on.

Just in are the carrot seeds, planted in the raised bed, in the tyres and in the pot for extra depth (and length of carrot).   I was a bit late sowing them this year, but with the warm weather, sunshine and this weeks lovely, much needed rain, hopefully there will be signs of growth nice and quickly.

Also just back in the centre of the net tunnel, in their own large pots, are the three Blueberry bushes.  They had been sat outside at the back of the tunnel (as in this photo), since their flowers first appeared but now that the bees and other pollinators have done their work and had their fill of nectar, the bushes are once again safely under the protection of the net tunnel.  Fingers crossed for a bumper crop like last year, it's looking very promising.

So that's a round up of the Net Tunnel as it is today.  I love working in there ... except when it's raining when you get big drips of rain right down the back of your neck ... it's a slightly shaded protected feeling that I'm sure the plants enjoy as much as me :-)

Sue xx

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Ginger and Mavis Caught Napping

Caught snuggling on the sofa the other day ....

... Ginger and Mavis just snoozing the afternoon away.

Until naughty Mum disturbed them that is.

Sue xx

Tuesday 16 May 2017

The Llanbedr and Tal-y-Bont Open Gardens Day

After a lovely long doggie walk in the beautiful sunshine on Sunday morning we dropped the doggies back at home for a snooze and then set off to the other side of the valley to have a wander round the gardens that were open in the Llanbedr and Tal-y-Bont Open Gardens Day. 

 Arriving in the village we bought our map in the village hall along with a few raffle tickets, and first things first, sat down for a cup of coffee and slice of cake, then once we were suitably fuelled up we set off up the hill to the first garden.

It was just my sort of garden, full of trees, with nature just about under control and with something to see at every turn.

This tree trunk wood carving was amazing ....

... the detail truly lovely.

The rest of the tree was planked just like our old oak tree was a couple of years ago and the wood left drying in just the same way as ours.  Nothing wasted .... but they had artwork as well.  Hopefully our tree base will one day soon be a table top and we will be able to drink in the view of the valley from seats around it.

They had left little signs hanging all around the garden  :-)

But their scarecrow made me jump out of my skin!!

We climbed high up the hill to partake of a fantastic lunch at the Valley View Tea Rooms, which turned out to be someone's house completely thrown open to the public and bursting at the seams with happy diners.

In one of the gardens Lovely Hubby found a man shed that ticked all his boxes.

And in another there was a view like no other ...

... and a certain Donald Trump was to be found relaxing in a wheelbarrow.

We had a brilliant day out. 

We walked for miles, talked to lots of garden owners, including a lovely elderly couple that lived high on the hillside and gardened their very steep garden without any help at all.  Pinched lots of ideas and were struck by inspiration at almost every turn.

Then it was back to the village hall for more coffee and cake, and a few very necessary plant purchases before setting off for the bridge across the river and home.

If you're in this area in two years time be sure to lookout for the roadside signs that advertise this fantastic day.

Sue xx

Saturday 13 May 2017

Watch Out, Watch Out There's a Man About!!

A jokey stocking filler bought by Lovely Hubby for me at Christmas, and now it's about to come true .... but we've both been looking forward to this happening for the last three and a half years  :-)

With the flat about to be occupied so it's self financing and most of the big expenditure out of the way for the small holding it's time for LH to step away  from his weekly round trip of ten hours drive and do what work he has to do from home.  Visiting base only as and when he really needs to.  The plan has come together .... phew!!

There will be more of him around the place mid-week, cleaning the solar panels, helping with the heavy stuff, bee keeping, woodworking, animal rearing ... whenever he is not ensconced in our office here that is because he will still have about twenty hours of 'his day job' to do each week, that will bring in some income for the next year.

He'll be able to drink in the views of home while he works, instead of daydreaming of home stuck in a busy work environment.

But I won't always keep him up ladders .... unless he's very naughty  ;-)

Sue xx

Tuesday 9 May 2017

Replanting the Strawberries

The strawberries have started flowering and luckily even though we have had some late frosts and the arctic breezes of the other week, they have all survived nicely.  Which means it bodes well for some tasty fruit in a few weeks. 

That they have held on to their flowers and not gone black is mostly thanks to them being safe in pots while they were waiting to be replanted and kept in the net tunnel.  It protects all the plants in it from harsh winds and manages to stay just a degree or so warmer than outside.

The new strawberry bed was ready thanks to LH and Simon filling it last month, and the soil had had plenty of time to settle naturally, so on Friday of last week I set to replanting.

I had water on standby in buckets along with two watering cans full as LH had commandeered the hosepipe for washing down the solar panels on the garage and workshop roof.

An hour or so later and I had fifty plants in this bed.

I've left a few in this planter as I ran out of space ....

...and the other 30 have been planted into the end bed of the net tunnel, with a pea support and three pea seedlings in the centre.  I just thought it looked nice and I like to work in an attractive area  :-) 

Strawberries in the sunshine, we've had some gloriously sunny days over this past week.

I can't use the lower strawberry bed of the two just yet, because two naughty chickens keep escaping from Chicken Land and scratching around in the chippings.  Any plants put in there at the moment would soon be covered in woodchip.  I'm thinking of using it for a few tomato plants this year, once the chooks move back to Chicken World that is, and we will think of a solution to the chicken problem in time for next year  After thinking about it I have decided to use this bed for all the new runners the older plants will hopefully throw off at the end of their fruiting season ... so it will be a strawberry bed eventually.

Things always work out in the end :-)

Sue xx

Thursday 4 May 2017

The Black Country Living Museum

On the Saturday of our weekend away we went to the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, and as requested I have downloaded some of the photos for you to see.

We started out in the car and vehicle workshops where they maintain and restore the vehicles that they use on site.  A quick ride on the old bus took us along to the other end of the museum to the canal where we looked into the narrow boats and barges.  The top photo of LH was taken there.

Then we had a wander around the old houses, there are various styles including a couple of back to backs, one up one down houses, which were fascinating.  To think that whole families of seven or nine had lived this way is astonishing especially when you think how families expect every child to have a room of its own these days!!

The house in these photos was a little bit later and was a 'two up, two down'.

I love seeing all the pots, pans and utensils that I still use today in their original settings.

The living room of the same house ... we are a lot more modern than this at home  ;-)

Then we decided to rest our legs for a while and sample the local ales in the sawdust floored pub.

Before moving along to the shops.

Lots to see ....

... some of the shops sold bits and bobs of everything ...

...while others just sold food. 

The fruit and vegetables were available to buy.  I was in awe of the huge onions, much bigger than I have ever managed to grow!!

A big block of butter ready to be sold in portion sized pieces.

LH had a good look at the tool in the hardware shop :-)

Then we bought fish, chips and huge pickled onions for our lunch and sat on the bench opposite the shops to eat them, watching the workers and volunteers from the museum in costume also queueing up to buy their lunch from the chippy.

Later two little piggy's got stuck into their dinner of pignuts, completely oblivious to us watching them.

It was a really good day out, at the moment they are converting day tickets to year long access tickets, so if you live within regular visiting distance it is well worth getting yourself a ticket to go.  Visit the website here for more pictures and lots of information.

Sue xx