Monday, 4 May 2015

Here comes summer

You can see how much greener the grass is. This rainbow
is the lowest rainbow I have ever seen out on the land

 Summer’s here! The caravan is out of the greenhouse, the chickens in the arks are out too, the swallows are back and so are the cuckoos and the weather is forecast to rain! About right then!

Ian out working well into the evening. He is using the
spring tyne to break up the land for rotavating. These
areas are still too wet for the rotavator and so he needs them
to dry out a bit and this should help break it up and take
out any big stones or large chunks of grass.
The days are getting longer and today we were outside working until gone 7pm. I managed to get quite a few different seeds in and vegetable beds mulched up in preparation for the rain. I even lightly mulched the seed beds so they don’t all wash out again. There are still plenty of seeds to go in and some to start off next week, but it has been a good start. I have been potting up tomato plants too. They are only small and certainly not the size of the ones we saw in the Spring Market today that was taking place in our village. There are definitely some advantages to heated greenhouses or lots of windowsill space. Still the ones I have started will be ready in time to go in the greenhouse when the time is right for transplanting. There is not much use in getting them in too early, as a late spate of cold weather can kill the lot, even in the greenhouse.

A funny face from our grandson
Ian had a good time away. He was rather surprised to see our youngest at the airport, he hadn’t been expecting him. Ian picked up a car and found he had been given a very good upgrade. He had booked a small car and instead got a bigger car with bells and whistles, fortunately it was also a diesel and best of all it even had a sat nav. He was so pleased about that, as he doesn’t think he could have found the farm where he was doing the alpaca shearing course without it. Ian and our youngest both went down to our middle child’s place as Ian was staying there overnight, so he could see the newest addition to the family. Lucky person! He also got fish and chips in the evening and had sausage and bacon butties for brunch. A real britfest there.
The newest addition to our family
As promised, some pictures from the conference I was at
last week. This shows the tables set for the dinner - doesn't
it look posh?
Ian also went to see a lady who I got to know via her blog, she makes the most wonderful pieces of artwork, so full of vibrant colour and she spins. Not only does she spin she knows how to spin alpaca wool. It turns out she only lives around the corner from our son and his family and so was an ideal opportunity to meet up. Ian took her some of our alpaca wool and had a quick lesson in how to spin. Apparently he has the right technique and should be able to get the hang of it. Now all he needs is a spinning wheel.

The submarine that we sat near for dinner
at Seaplane Harbour Museum
This caught my friend and I by surprise.
Before we realised what we were doing, we
 found ourselves going up a very steep incline
and then we had to make our way down it.  I think
if we had realised how steep it was going to be
we would have found the alternative route around
the place.

This is the contraption we were climbing. Not quite sure what
it is, apart from a steep bridge that is quite slippy to climb
He then went onto stay with a friend of ours who we also got to know through this blog. She came out to stay with us a few years ago and we had a great time. She lived closer to the place where Ian was taking the course. At one point I asked her if she could pass a message onto Ian via facebook and found out that they had done a LOT of talking. Once you get Ian started, you can’t shut him up (hehe we’re as bad as each other).

Lunchtime for me. Squash, nettles, chilli and peppers
Ian was delighted to get the chance to shear about 5 alpacas. It certainly took him a lot less time than he has taken to do ours, 20 minutes as opposed to two hours. He also found out the best way to secure the animals and so he is now trying to source some pulleys that they normally use on yachts, so he can create a similar set up. He found out how to cut teeth using a special machine, only we can't now find the machine. Their's is about 10 years old and is an attachment that can be used on various machines. It seems that the only gadget is the one that Ian found on the internet and costs hundreds of dollars and yes is American, so would need to be run through a transformer.

The barley has finally sprouted
While Ian was away I asked him what I should do with the alpaca boys as Herkules was up to his usual trick of eating through the fence. Ian said not to worry, he will move the electric fence when he gets back. The next morning I sat down for a cup of coffee whilst watching the alpacas, when I noticed that dear old Herkules had got out. The problem is that he got out in a way that I didn't think he would find his way back in so easily. So I thought I had better encourage him back in. I made the mistake though of not first fastening the other two into the paddock and Herkules was not cooperating, he rather liked the very green grass he was eating. Before I had a chance to react, Turbjørn nipped through the spot which I had opened up to let Herkules back in. He is the most awkward of our alpacas to cooperate. He is very bright and very nervy too and not as easy to con into doing anything. To cap it all Tellus got out as well.

One of the gooseberries we purchased
today from the Spring Market
All three out now meant that herd mentality would kick in and they could just drift off, eating as they go. I tried to encourage them in but realised it wasn't working, they were too interested in the grass they weren't even interested in the grain. I left them to it for a while, no point in spooking them. I went and got some hay to part fill up their feeder and took some to the sheep who also needed moving and so needed the hay to eat. I didn't want them out, that would have been a disaster. Next I played the gently as we go game, making sure they didn't head off in the wrong direction and just gradually manoeuvring them back in. One by one I got them all into the paddock area. Next I decided to move the electric fence so that they wouldn't think of escaping again. By the time I had finished that it was lunchtime and my morning had disappeared.

Red currants. Might not look much now
but hopefully they will grow. We also
bought male and female sea buckthorn,
quince and potatoes for planting.
It wouldn't have been so bad, but I had two deadlines for papers to be submitted by the following day and I had hoped to get them done that day before I went to collect Ian from the airport at night. Amazingly I actually got them both finished and submitted, even though one needed checking over by a colleague and I needed permission from a couple of photographers to use their photographs for the other one. Sometimes things do come together after all. At least it meant that I only had to do some quick checking of one of my student's work the next day, which meant that Ian and I could actually spend time chatting and pottering about on the land. I have enjoyed a whole long holiday weekend doing the gardening, either at our other flat or out on the land. It was wonderful not to have to do too much in the way of thinking beyond digging up weeds and planting seeds.

The result of my work in the orchard plot vegetable garden.
At least half the plot now looks nice and neat. Still have the
bottom half to work on yet.
Ian did get the sheep moved finally. Far, far away - well over the hill really. The grass is definitely good on that side and he doesn't have to listen to their very loud baaing. I am sure they are the loudest sheep ever and very demanding at times. We think that they have helped to improve the grass a lot on that side through their manuring and eating down of some of the weeds. That means we have another area of good hay now. Ian went to check on them on the way home one night. He stopped the car by the side of the road and went towards them, they panicked and jumped the fence and ran up the hill. Ian is not sure if coming from that angle spooked them or if it was the reflective, light, green stripes on his new coat. Anyway he had to get back in the car, go back to the greenhouse where grain is stored and entice them back into their electric fenced areas. Fortunately these days they do follow him when he has food and they were quite content to go back, where they have since stayed.


Bill said...

It seems you have a lot on your plate these days. :)
I hope you find plenty of time for peaceful and relaxing gardening this summer.

Joanna said...

I hope so too Bill. It has been rather too busy just lately for me

Gina said...

What a busy varied life you lead!

Joanna said...

Varied definitely Gina, but I am beginning to think it might be a little too busy. I need space to mull things over and that is not happening so much at the moment. Maybe have to do that while planting seeds and weeding

Gunta said...

Hard to believe how far I had to go back in your posting to try to catch up. Sometimes life just gets a bit too darned busy! But I know I'm going to enjoy it as I plow on through.

Joanna said...

I know the feeling Gunta, I really do.