Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Finish Holidays!

"Finish Holidays!" is the rather sad cry put up by Diamond's great Poros Islander friend Captain George as yet another of her stays on the Greek Island draws to a close and he is sorry to see her packed and waiting for the ferry back to reality. We are the same today as the miniature horses come to the end of their little stay here, mowing our lawns and the East Field and helping owner Carolyn out of a fodder-shortage crisis.

They were a new and exciting first experience of "owning" horses for both of us. They are great characters, each with their own personalities. Maybe we did 'spoil' them a bit with the Silver-Mints and Carrots but we bonded well with them and loved watching them grazing, rolling on the grass, chasing into full gallops for the pure joy of it. But now we need the grass for the sheep arriving at the end of August so they have gone back 'home' where Carolyn has now got the home field organised (and, in fact, cut for hay).

We will miss them and as the girls took them away we were joking around making sure they "looked after them properly" and would I be allowed to visit them and bring them mints  if I was missing them too badly!

As the 2CV (my own "two horses"?) reaches the expiry date of the old NCT and we try to sort out whether to keep it on the road, I have been out again with the trailer gathering up another water tank which will act as a reservoir for the sheep drinker but I was hoping to use the car for a much more entertaining job - Carolyn's hay is cut and being turned daily as it dries, but is not yet baled. This was suggested for today and we were going to go down and haul it back to the house (about 200 yards, maximum!) on combinations of my 2CV and trailer and an assortment of carts slung behind the various mini-horses. We even had Liz laid on offering to bring the hay-carters out a picnic of sausage pie and salad, but the baler did not show and it's all postponed till tomorrow. I hope to bring you some fun pictures of us all in action. I wonder how many bales I can fit in and on the trailer.

Meanwhile, after a slow start the garden is now starting to crop nicely on all manner of veg, many of which fall into the two categories of "First time I've grown it....." (such as this calabrese) and/or "Best I've ever grown". We are happy , then, to get hints and tips from Mentor Anne and Simon who are not only experienced growers outdoors, having once been in (their own) business of growing organics commercially, but also having used poly tunnels widely.

Anne, for example, told me that if you cut calabrese carefully and high up under the heads, it will keep coming back from side buds รก la "purple sprouting", Also to blanch it you plunge very quickly into boiling water (just long enough to make it wet!) and then straight into cold water. You can spin off the excess water in a salad spinner, then freeze on trays before bagging.

 Our garlic is also proving to be a delight - huge bulbs - and the shallots are finished in the poly tunnel and ready to lift. I planted a row of marigolds and nasturtiums alongside the raspberry canes to attract insects to the allotment and they have done so well they have rather swamped the raspberries which were struggling to get established in the dry July. In the picture here (top left) you can also see a very sturdy, healthy looking row of spuds - these are the Hungarian, blight resistant variety Sarpo Mira. If they are anything like as strong under ground as these tops, then we should do OK. My new/salad potato plants are hidden behind them, doing very well but quite dwarfed by the Mira top growth!

As well as collecting their horses, our Rabbit-Mentor Charlotte checked over our batches of baby bunnies and declared that Ginny's and Padfoot's were now old enough to be taken off their Mums. This we did by moving all the babies from one run to the other, and the Mum in the opposite direction. We now have 12 baby bunnies in one run, which is a riot to watch especially as they run and jump about in circles quickly sorting out a dominance order. Charlotte also took the chance to sex them and show me how to sex them. There are 8 does and 4 bucks. My notes are quite funny as we basically have mainly black and white babies, so the descriptions read such as "wide black spine and dots" (a buck, that one) or "2 black dots on nose, black spreads from eyes to ears" (a doe). I am trying to get a photo of all 12 in the run but have so far only managed these 7 in one place long enough to focus on!

Goldie's babies are too young yet to be taken off Mum but she has 3 boys and a girl remaining. We have not done so well with her in terms of survival and have had a few unexplained 'infant deaths'. These things happen, we are told and there are all manner of reasons, but every so often we have checked them in the morning and found another still, sad little corpse lying on the grass. No injuries or obvious problems, but stiff and cold. Ah well, we still have the 4 and we have 12 from the Silverwood Mums, so we can't complain.

Hay cart tomorrow then, all being well.


anne wilson said...

I don't know if freezing veg uncovered on trays is a good idea, all the sites that I have visited say to bag and excluded all air immediately, we use the ziplock bags.

Mr Silverwood said...

All looking good up there at the moment, will have to come up again as long as I get my car sorted out