Monday, 14 September 2015

Animals behaving badly

Who me? Turbjørn is often our most uncooperative and
most difficult to catch. He is better than he was though.
As I sit here in the caravan and begin to write my blog, Eyre our kitten is in the toilet, well not literally in the toilet, but in the little room. Locked in there for trying to eat Ian's food. It is not as if he had left it unattended, he was just serving himself another portion and she started tucking in, right under his nose. She needed a good lesson in leaving human food alone. Potatoes in wild mushroom sauce is not cat food! She is not the only one misbehaving though, our boys have escaped four times this week, three times on the same day and once after they had a new area fenced off so they had new grass to eat.

Even Brencis has been misbehaving too, as he has been
trying to bite the back legs of Agnese and Estelle. He has
been getting a kicking from the other alpacas for his naughty antics and rightly so
They had plenty to eat where they were, especially for our two portly alpacas, but they were obviously bored with that, or rather presumably Herkules, had been using a post as a scratching post and down came the wire and out he went, followed by the other two. The next time a spring which is used as a gate, came unclipped somehow and we have no idea how that happened or who was responsible but two escaped that time. The next time was when a wire broke on the fence because Tellus was trying to eat the nice, lush grass that he now knew was just on the other side. The fence needs replacing, but there is no point at the minute because they will be going into the new alpaca house when it is finished and that will have a new fence. For the time being the wire has been replaced by four posts for an electric fence - it's enough.

Just checking Brencis' fleece
The fourth and last time we hope, was after Herkules again used a post for scratching and got out of the  new section that had just been fenced off with the electric wire, along with Turbjørn. We had been up the top end of the land, sorting the sheep out, who were being very well behaved and stayed within their fenced area, when we came back two of the boys were roaming about. They both seemed to have got the routine by now and were fairly easily herded back into the paddock area. The electric is not normally switched on, as it is not often needed, especially in a freshly fenced off area. It only drains the batteries which is not good for the batteries anyway, but occasionally we do put it on, just to remind of them of where their limits are. Needless to say, they are being reminded for a few days at least.

The girls enjoying the afternoon sunshine
We continue to battle with the various skin problems on our animals, but at least Veronica's side is starting to heal up quite nicely. I had been using comfrey and plantain spray to calm the irritation, not sure if this has helped or not (it sure calms down the itchy bites I get, so hopefully the same for Veronica) but she has stopped nibbling at her skin and opening up more wounds. The number of flies that were also contributing to the problem has dropped right off too, so that also helps. Herkules still looks a mess, but it isn't getting any worse and he has had regular oily cream applied to his skin. That will stop when I am away and we will see if his skin is any better. We finally got around to cutting Turbjørn's toe nails today. He should have had his done at the same time as the others, but he was downright uncooperative. Today we haltered him up and made absolutely sure that we succeeded and I think he realised we were determined, as he quietened down to let us get on with the job this time, after trying to get away a bit at first.
Schisandra chinensis or five flavour
berry is ripe. We had one the other
day and it is was a rather powerful
taste. They say one berry is as good
as five cups of coffee and I can see

The first of the squash plants harvested and the beans
from the field. Those beans did okay, but another section
was dreadful. I got a handful of beans at best.
It has been a time of harvesting and clearing this week. We want to get a container to store things in and we needed to put it somewhere out of the way, which meant clearing a whole load of wood that hadn't been dealt with, some was okay for burning and some was past its best. The wood that was okay was re-stacked neatly and the stuff that was past its best was put down the field where we grow some of our crops to make another hugeltur pile. It is basically a pile of rotting wood, covered in hay and compost for plants to grow in. It will help to build the soil in a low lying area that easily floods - well that's the plan and if we can get our act together and not let it get too infested with weeds again.
The tidied site, ready for a container

Not many red grapes left now. The
tomatoes were denuded today to ensure
that we don't have blight in the
greenhouse and also to hasten the
ripening of the tomatoes. You can also
see a couple of bunches of beans
hanging, these ones should be red in
colour. The ones in the field were beige
We have now cleared the land of short beans, onions, carrots and buckwheat. None of them have been sparkling in the amounts we harvested, but we have plenty to keep us going over the winter. It is still amazing to us as we stuff our faces with the most gorgeous red grapes that they have cost us very little to grow. Admittedly the greenhouse cost us to grow them in and the original plant to buy, but year after year it keeps us in grapes for quite a while. It would cost us a fortune to buy them in the shops for sure and they would only be a big shop treat, as there isn't a huge range of fruit and vegetables in our local supermarkets, especially over summer. There is no need to stock a huge range in the shop as so many grow their own around here. So as the red grapes are nearly gone, the green grapes are just about ready and shortly after that a different kind of red grape. The dark grapes are earmarked for wine, although they taste nice, they have a lot of seeds in them. It is not just grapes of course that we are tucking into and one meal last week I counted 12 different vegetables and two herbs. Quite a range for one meal and would have cost a fortune in a restaurant, as some were quite unusual like the cucamelons.
Only the second load of tomatoes on for tomato sauce.
Good job we still have some in the freezer from last year

We often stay out in the caravan these days and one night
the sky was clear and full of starts. It is so amazing the sky
at night where we are because there is so little light
As we were collecting in our sometimes rather poor harvest, it still made us think that we put in a certain amount of seed and we still get back more than we put in. The potatoes were especially good this year, as I mentioned last week. The carrots were not great per seed, but the seed was old and some of the carrots I pulled up this week were huge. The large carrots will be kept to provide us with more seed for two years time, since they continued to produce even though the seed was old and in a rather poor year - always a good point in its favour and the size was good into the bargain. It is often said though that the market is the most efficient way of dealing with demand and yet so many anomalies occur to disprove this. A farmer plants a seed and it returns 8x, 30x, 100x on the investment, but it is still might not be enough to make a profit, because other costs can suck the money away or in a good year the abundance drives down prices. Other inputs can also cost too much and on top of all that the system is skewed. All that even when the products are in demand. How is that efficient?
It is not misty in the greenhouse, but
the lens on the camera. It is still possible
to see the height of the sweetcorn though.
We may have one or two cobs, but the
majority is for seed for next year.

The mornings can be glorious too
It is also hard to judge demand as well as difficult to judge what is going to grow well in a season. We grow a variety of crops, so that at least something does well. Our broccoli was doing very well and then we were caught unawares by the munching wee beasts, aka cabbage white caterpillars. We now have skeletal remains, they may recover in time to give us some more broccoli. The kale will recover, but we had hoped to have far more and be able to feed it to the chickens in the back end of the year when they are in the greenhouse and I am not so sure about that yet.


  1. Can't say you lead a boring life!

    1. I think that would be safe to say :)

  2. We've been subjected to an undue amount of misbehavior from our cat Mr. Fabulous lately. He seems determined to get himself banished from the house. And we too are battling (and being battled by) the critters in the garden. More deer attacks on our peas, threatening to destroy the entire crop. And our fall brassicas are being eaten to the ground by, of all things, grasshoppers. But fortunately our Asian greens, kale and arugula are coming in very well. Never boring here either. :)

    1. Definitely that time of the year then. My heart sank when I hear of your problems with the deer. So disheartening. Glad something is working for you though


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