Saturday 20 September 2014

Revolving Doors

The Ivy flowers are now open. Go for it, you bees!
We are thinking about fitting revolving doors to the house. Lately it seems that one or the other of us is out on a trip and it goes almost by return of post, one in, one out. First there was my trip to the UK visiting friends, relatives and the barge, and then while I was gone, Liz's parents finally got their moving date, for the same week. Liz had to pretty much collect me from the airport, we came home for her to enjoy just one lie-in (a break from the livestock she'd been attending in my absence), and then she was packing her own stuff for the trip to Dublin.

This worker bee is foraging Phacelia tanacetifolia, so her pollen
baskets are purple from the pollen.
There she helped pack the family home into the van, blitz-cleaned the place, and then followed the van down to the 'new' house down near the Silverwoods. Here they all tipped the van into the house but then hit a snag; some kind of paperwork issue in the 'chain' which meant they could not unpack, move in or claim the key. They had to fill the house with packed stuff, hand back the key and walk away, all promising to return on Friday-next by which time the issue will (allegedly) be resolved.

Pig 'muesli', pig nuts and blackberries!
Another trip for Liz but meanwhile I took a call from Kent friend Diamond to say that her own house move (in which Liz had also promised to assist) had been moved earlier. The carpet man has given Diamond a cancellation for the 30th Sept, so they are moving over the 2nd and 3rd of Oct, this one a short one across Faversham in Kent from one end of town to the other. That brings us round to the 7th of October when, we think, all this jet-setting and gallivanting will take a break.

Red Kuri Squash
Meanwhile back at the calm, mill-pond that is our smallholding, the ivy flowers have opened in the warm, Indian Summer weather, which is good news for the bees. The bees, though, seem to have finally decided that it is OK to forage inside the home garden and are giving my various clumps of the 'green manure' plant Phacelia tanacetifolia, a good going over. Phacelia is such a good bee plant that I usually let it go all the way to flowering instead of digging it in green. We noticed today that the bees were taking pollen from the long stamens as well as taking nectar and that because this pollen is purple in colour, the bees had purple pollen baskets on their legs instead of the usual orange or yellow. There will presumably be purple cells in the 'honey comb' too.

Good sized fruit.
The hedges all around are still laden with delicious, big, sweet blackberries so although we have picked our fill for the freezers, jams etc, I still collect a load each time I walk the dogs, to bring back for the pigs, to make their lunchtime pig-nuts a bit more interesting and varied. Just out of curiosity, Liz offered blackberries to the dogs and all three seem to have fallen in love with them. When I am walking the dogs and I stop to pick berries for the pigs, I now have three little dog noses pressed into the hedge nibbling off any fruit at westie-height. I have seen pictures of foxes doing this, but did not know that the domestic dog might have the same tastes.

25 kg of mixed daffs.
We have been impressed by the crop we have on our 'Red Kuri Squash' plants. We had never heard of this beast but last year, Mrs Silverwood passed us a couple of the fruit she had bought in a supermarket but had not then got around to cooking, mainly because she did not know what to do with them that the children would actually eat. Well, we knew what we'd like to try, and that was a roast of wedges done with chunks of pepper, onion, tomato, lemon and a splash of olive oil; this is how we treat butternut squash also. The Red Kuri were gorgeous, so we decided to save some seed round to this year and try a few plants. They have done very well and we now have this season's crop to play with.

Pirate. He might never be 'handsome'
but he's a lot cleaner now with no cuts
scabs and missing tufts of fur.
In other news, we spotted that the local farmer's co-op (Aurivo; formerly Connacht Gold) was selling 25 kg nets of mixed daffodil bulbs. Our front at present is just a green verge and the nice tidy (but boring) privet hedge, so we decided that a row of daffs along the front might look nice in spring and some hot-red nasturtiums clambering through the privet in Summer might pep it up a little. Just need to dig a 100 foot trench then.... that's me tired out for the day!


Anne Wilson said...

The squash look good, maybe you will save some seeds for me please.
When my Mum died I inherited her dog an English water spaniel, she loved blackberries and would go all around our field boundary's picking them and eating them off the lower branches, she could never have enough, but then her name was Pudding! We haven't seen Tess do it we might try her on some.

Matt Care said...

Of course we will.