Sunday, January 09, 2011

Time to get cracking!

So the decorations have come down and the Christmas tree has been turned into mulch. Everyone is back at work or school....
This is the season for planning. When the weather is awful and the soil is claggy there can be nothing better than snuggling up on the sofa in your Christmas slippers with dog beside you and a good book.

I have a couple of favourites that I return to again and again.
John Seymour's 'Self Sufficiency' is one. It has a lot of sensible advice in it but that's not why I read it. This is my daydream book that I study regularly so I'll be prepared when I win the lottery and buy that smallholding in the country.
(I don't actually play the lottery so winning it is unlikely!)

My current book of choice though is 'Gaia's Garden' by Toby Hemenway. It was a gift from my big brother who is kind enough not to be surprised that his sister now dresses like a scarecrow and talks passionately about brassicas.
Anyway, this book is a real gem, inspiring and practical and a fantastic introduction to permaculture principles.
This is a subject I've been trying to learn about but not having hundreds of pounds and unlimited childcare to go on courses I was struggling to move forward. I've read the book cover to cover twice already and am busy redesigning my back garden around my new apple tree that big bro bought me to go with the book.

Today though, the weather was glorious! Bitterly cold but crystal clear with that harsh winter sunshine that makes it hard to see.
Today was a day for being outside!
Little flower was keen to come with me and made a good job of raking the fallen leaves while I turned over and weeded one of the long beds. 

There was some damage to the beehive.
I suspect a woodpecker but I'm not entirely certain.
It looks almost as though something has been chiseling at the place where the brood box meets the hive's not a round hole like (I imagine) a woodpecker makes and thankfully it doesn't go all the way through....yet.
I wrapped chicken wire crop covers around the hive which will thwart woody if he is the culprit...but I wonder if it may have a rat in which case Queen Bea and the girls are probably doomed.

 Little flower distracted Mr Chips, explaining in patronising tones the perils of coming too close to a hive of agitated bees so I was able to work without hindrance.
I did, for a moment, wonder at the wisdom of letting a small child march up to a stallion but he seemed to listen intently and when she'd finished he nodded slightly and rested his great head on her chest so she could tickle his ears.
I never should have let her watch the Horse Whisperer!

  Finally, before heading home we enjoyed a hot chocolate break over by the shed where we were joined by a fat little robin on the ground, there was a very tuneful thrush in the tree to my left and above her, right at the top, sat a distinctly shifty looking woodpecker!



Saturday, January 01, 2011

Well, that's that!

2010 is was it for you?
We had a pretty good year, grew stuff, made things, laughed, sung and didn't cry much!
We're all healthy, we're all together and we're starting the new year with no debt and a whole heap of optimism.

Winter celebrations are a big deal in this household. We are not at all religious but we join in with christmas, winter solstice and any other parties we can think of. 
We start on December 1st, making decorations, baking, making and wrapping gifts. 

My children argue less, the house smells and looks lovely and this year we were treated to early snowfall that turned 'Thomas' my topiary hedge man into a very special snowman!
I do so love this time of year!

Winter is also a lovely time to be up the plot.
Yesterday I spent a peaceful afternoon there, completely alone apart from Mr Chips, the old horse.
The fog obscured the view of the London skyline, and muffled any noise.
I won't pretend I got much done, a little digging....moved some manure and planted the last of the spring bulbs.
Truth is I spent most of my time sitting by my little shed brewing coffee with my new 'kelly kettle' (a present from Wurzel) and watching the birds and the foxes squabble and play. I can honestly say it's the most relaxed I've felt in years!
And speaking of relaxed, I'll leave with a picture of our soppy old dog Jacob in his favourite spot (when he thinks I'm not looking)
Happy New Year everyone!