Thursday 2 October 2014


A bag of windfall apples
One unexpected surprise, an unforeseen fringe benefit of Steak Lady and Mr SL buying their house down by the Silverwoods; this big bag of windfall apples. The garden which came with the house turns out to have some very productive apple trees and, this year anyway, the owners of the house had no interest in picking them, so they were just all windfalls on the ground beneath the trees. Liz picked them all up for 'us'. Initially she was helped by the 'smalls' who were amused by the idea of being able to feed the pigs from long range but one little hand grabbed up a squelchy rotten one and withdrew in horror, and the 2nd found one (he had been warned) with a wasp inside and that was enough for him, so all help evapourated at that point. These kids. We will make ruffty-tuffty farm children of them yet!

The Buff-Orp 'roo' investigates an apple
I was, of course, a bit careful feeding these apples to the pigs - too big a change of diet can upset their digestion, so the whole bag thrown in would not have been good. They did get decent sized portions though with each meal and now all the apples are gone. Diamond was reminding me of a pot-belly pig which was kept near our local farm shop in Kent which was once fed a whole bushel-box of over-the-top strawberries in one go and was later found lying on its back among the fruit, groaning and moaning that it couldn't face a single fruit more, it was soooooo full! The pig survived and was back on its feet next day.

These striped beef toms do not seem to do 'bright' red;
they stop at this mid-pink, but they are juicy and  very tasty.
We have heard from some "experts" (everybody round here claims to "know" about pigs because their Grand-dad kept them or the bloke next door has a couple) that the pork takes up the flavour of whatever you are feeding them most recently. Guinness, for example, is supposed to infuse the pork with a beery, marinaded flavour, though Liz would not let me give ours beer when I asked, saying that maybe they were a bit young for starting the boozing; they were only babies! We wonder whether these windfall apples will give them a pre-apple-sauced twang. However all this talk of marinading could just be a flight of fancy. Carolyn of the mini-horses (and also Gloucester Old Spots last year) tells us you'd have to be giving them so much beer to make any difference, you'd give them liver failure.

Neighbour-bull, Felix (centre) has a lie down with his
wives and children
Well, I am on my own again with Liz away on her third (and planned final) mission to assist with house moves, this time over in Kent where Diamond and husband John are moving from one side of our former town to the other. John has been completely renovating this new house over the last few years, as well as battling with the local planning committees (it's in a 'Conservation Area') and having a hip replacement operation. Now, though, it is ready, the carpet crew were in on 30th Sept and today the removal van and its crew of packers, humpers and shifters were due to turn up at 08:00 a.m. It's all gone very quiet in the Lizzie text dept. so I assume they are all hard at work. Both are not enormous houses (basically 2 storey terraces) but have steep and narrow stairs, so the removal men will not be rushing at either end. Liz believes these guys do best on copious supplies of tea, muffins and bacon butties, so they are probably all quite happy.

It is looking like a good year for sloes.
I am 'over here' holding the fort, mainly doing autumnal tidying jobs. I like the fact that when you prune or cut anything in the garden or the grass at this time of year it is likely to stay cut. If I move the rabbits off a bit of grazed-out lawn, I know it will not have sprung back to the same height within a week. Brambles cut, docks and thistles pulled and any areas cleared of weeds will stay that way going into winter.

The bees are still busy in the October sunshine
We have also been investing in some plants. A local small scale nursery and cut-flower grower divides up her perennials at this time and lets Anne know that now is a good time to descend upon her with a 'shopping list'. We bought some delphiniums and 3 colours of bergamot to add height and more bee-food to our big raised bed. Bergamot is not anything we have grown before but I am told it is loved by bees so it is welcome here. I am also waiting for the 'bare-root' tree season so that I can buy some European Lime trees (Tilia x-cordata) which I am told flower in a useful gap between the early spring flush and the start of the bramble flower. Lime are also beloved of bees.

In terms of tidying, on my dog walk today, I noticed that the Office of Public Works (I think that is what they call themselves here) are clearing the banks of the local river (River Lung) near to our local picturesque bridge (Feigh Bridge). A massive digger is smashing up all the riverside vegetation (mainly willow) and pushing this in a heap, back into the trees further back. Behind the digger a bare (if very efficient looking), twenty foot wide shelf ends at a bare 45 degree slope down to the water's edge.

The start of autumn colour; this creeper on a barn roof ridge
Subtle it is not. The little kingfishers I watch in the summer flashing along this stretch have presumably moved somewhere else. I guess if anyone knows what is needed for efficient land drainage it is the OoPW for this wet old county but I do feel for the wildlife so brutally evicted.

1 comment:

Anne Wilson said...

I assume that the OPW had permission to devastate the river bank considering that Kingfishes are listed as Amber meaning that the populations are of concern?