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Posted: Monday 26 August, 2019

by Rosemary at 5:22pm in Smallholding No comments Add your own

Monday 19th August

Mixed bag of weather – warm and sunny, showery and windy. Office day but managed to get out into the veg garden to pick peas and courgettes and blueberries. Dan and Paul lifted the potatoes before the blight strikes.

spudsAnya, Desiree and Maris Bard.

Tuesday 20th August

Still standing water in Laing’s Field, but it’s dropping slowly. Spent an hour pulling ragwort; that’s three sides of the field done.

The cows and calves, and Ace are getting used to their morning breakfast routine.

cattleBreakfast time.

Rebecca and I cleared the two flower beds at the West Range. Well, we left three ferns, the Pyracantha and the Vinca in two pots. But everything else if gone. Going to let it fallow until next year and just keep weeding it. It’s never been properly prepared; we put the brick edging in to replace a cobble one but it’s always had a lot of overgrown plants and perennial weeds. Not quite sure what to plant in it – the beds face east and don’t get a lot of sun; the soil’s not fab but I can do something about that, as the levels are quite low.

bed1Stage 1 complete

The nasturtiums in the fruit garden are rampant, and moving with bees.

fruitBee heaven.

Dan strimmed two orchard paddocks in anticipation of the start of the apple harvest.

Some of the the tup lambs have dirty bums – seriously squitty. The ewe lambs are fine, so I’ve brought the ewes in and put the boys out into Laing’s Field and Far Ditch. We wormed the boys with dirty bums at weaning and some have dried up, some not. We had the same issue last year. Not sure what to do - worm test, I guess.

Wednesday 21st August

Representing Smallholding Scotland at a meeting with Scottish Government officials today. I think we got a sympathetic hearing from the new Head of Agricultural Policy. Took the “green option” and took the train – blanched at the £41 for a ticket though. It’s not easy being green.

Trip to the Strathmore Hall in Forfar this evening to discuss arrangements for the Scottish Smallholder Festival.

Thursday 22nd August

Feeling exhausted today. And that makes me sore. Still, I haven’t taken any painkillers and I’m reducing my steroid intake, and the pain’s no worse so that’s good. Hope to be off steroids (and the other associated drugs) before Christmas. Did my chores and went back to bed; slept for two hours solid and felt much, much better when I woke up. Sometimes – actually, all the time – it’s better to listen to your body. Thankfully, being self employed, I can do that.

Did some Festival stuff, caught up on emails and did some follow-up from yesterday’s meeting.

Duncan, who does big tree work for us, came by at tea-time.  We have a couple of trees that are too big for us to deal with, which need attention. Dan and Duncan had a walk round and they now have a plan. Duncan will be back next Wednesday to execute it.

Bertie has a new spot.

BertieBertie's new spot.

Friday 23rd August

Braw day. Picked up our mutton from the butcher. Label prices total over £590, although we won’t actually get that - some is for us – a whole leg, bone in and a rack– and we’ll discount the label prices for regular customers. Still, £104 to kill and cut leaves a nice wee surplus.

Back from the butcher’s and off to Harbro for the last poultry grower pellets and some pig food. Won’t need much more of that this year. Turning seasons, indeed.

leavesTurning leaves.

Some of the ewe lambs now have squitty bums; I think I’ll take samples and send them off to see if it is worms.

Bit of an afternoon out to Montrose to Taylor’s Auction Rooms – didn’t see anything we fancied, apart from one painting, which isn’t in the catalogue until end of September. Oh, and a couple of boxes of Britain’s farm animals and two dolls houses. I thought I might like a dolls house – but I’d never do anything with it and more dust collectors are not what we need. El Tajin for food – first time there and it was excellent.

Baked a fruit loaf and Victoria sponges for tomorrow’s course, when we returned home.

Saturday 24th August

Wow, Mediterranean weather! Cloudy until lunchtime, then the sun came out. Beautiful.

The Black Blues love the field shelter. They're going to be gutted when they move fields.

BFLTaking the shade.

Our first “Beginners Crochet” with Maite Allwood went well. Dan can now crochet. Yay! No end to the man’s talents.

Solar powered hoomans meant we got lots of wee jobs done after the course finished at 2pm. Peas picked (they’re pretty much finished now and can come out – the pigs loved the pea pods); netted winter brassica plants (hopefully not too late – but even the birds don’t like kale!); emptied the manure out of the box trailer on to the two West Range beds cleared out on Tuesday (dreading to see what state the floor of the trailer is in); sorted through the potatoes (think we’ve got about 100kg across the three varieties – Maris Bard, Desiree and Anya).

bedManured bed.

Dan got up the ladder, with me heeling it, and trimmed the Virginia creeper. We planted this just after we moved in. It’s been a slow grower but seems to have really taken off this year. I love it.

creeperVirginia creeper.

Then he trimmed the ivy, cleaning gutters as he went.

dan-ivyClearing ivy.

The sheep were very happy to get the ivy as a wee treat. He found two old birds’ nests in the ivy and took down the two bird boxes on the gable end – both had been occupied, which is good. They’re now cleaned out, dusted with diatom and back up, for roosting purposes. I think we have about a dozen nest boxes up – they’ll all need cleaning now.

ewesEwes enjoying the trimmed ivy.

 

tupTed and Urquhart enjoying their share.

Then we brought out all the bottles and jars, had a tidy out and brought the apple juice bottles in ready fro the first apple pressing tomorrow. Now that the potatoes are out of the byre, I swept up; we’ll tidy it out tomorrow, and get the apple mill and press cleaned and set up. Dan then went off to top Far Ditch, where there were thistles coming into flower; he took the tractor through into Laing’s Field and made a start there too. It should have been topped earlier, as some of the thistles have already gone to seed, but a combination of the wet and the ragwort delayed work.

Smokey was in the barn – Leo and Ave had gone out, so he got a wee bit extra hay and a good brush. Bless my old boy. Oh, and Leo comes to a whistle. Dan was out looking for Gwenna the other night, whistled for her and Leo galloped up the field to see him. I really must do something with that pony.

And I dropped my phone and the screen shattered; it’s in a rubber case, so that’s holding it together but I’ll need a replacement. Dan ordered me one tonight – reconditioned, but a newer model than my 2013 one, which is on its way to obsolescence. Apparently. It’s worth £2. Not exactly cutting edge. But then neither am I.

 

Sunday 25th August

It’s so warm. Up at 3.30am, drinking tea and writing this diary and looking at the “To Do” list for today.

Oh, boy – what a scorcher. Which is why I’m in the office at noon – just too hot outside. But Dan’s in his bee suit inspecting the bees; he must be sweltering. He got up at 6am and did the pigs and hens to let me lie-in, since I slept badly last night.

He’s decided to clear crop the apple trees this year and go for maximum juice. So this morning, we prepared the byre for juicing and ordered bottles, tops and a bottler. Bottling was such a faff last year.

millCleaning the apple mill

I’ve been catching up on “This Farming Life” – just finished Series 2. I love it. Last night I watched the last episode in that series and really felt for Robin and Penny, as they contemplated giving up the croft that they have restored over a peruid of 25 years. There’s a saying here “Auld age disnae come itsel’ “ and it’s true. We’ve been talking about retirement – it’s not imminent but it’s that choice of soldiering on and watching what you have built deteriorate, or quite while you’re ahead.

So soldiering on, I finished manuring the two flower beds on the West Range, torn between angst for the worms and delight for the young robin, who found a feast.

 

 

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