Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Summer time!

Well, it's late July now and I s'pose the middle of summer. As in the last 3 years May and June were scorchers with July turning out to be a bit of a damp squib.

Spring had been good - we'd managed to do lots of sowing and get spuds, onions and garlic in the ground,
even though we knew this year would be a bit difficult due to the fact that we have no soil to speak of in The Allotment (more anon.). We have peas and beans in, along with chard, salads stuff, strawberries, raspberries and a whole loads of pumpkins, squash and courgettes.
















We had also started sowing the chicken's run again. We had originally planned to plant this up annually too, but as we were an all-you-can-eat-chicken buffet for Reynard we had fenced the girls in behind electrified poultry netting. It had already been sprayed off to get ready to dig over, so now we had to re-seed it, like this....














In mid-June we took delivery of this years weaners.  We had already fenced off an area of the top field and run water up there so we were ready to accommodate them. This years are pure Welsh again. The breed that is, not because they were born down the road... Here's some shots which I hope demonstrate why you should avoid keeping pigs on a nice lawn...



Pigs are incredibly friendly animals, especially so if handled from a young age. One of ours loves his belly being scratched.



















By now we had what were possibly the scruffiest sheep in Wales. The hot weather had meant shearing had started a tad earlier than usual, but with Wiltshire Horn there's no need as they lose their hair naturally each summer, sort of naturist sheep if you will. Still, our shearling ewes hadn't got the hang of it in this, their first year of wool-shedding, evidenced by the photo below...

As you can see they are in various states of undress, with the one on the right being best at getting her kit off.














Possibly the best time of the day is late afternoon as the sun get's lower in the west. It's a lovely spot up at the top of the field, a fact not lost on Mimi the cat who must have been a dog in a previous life, following us around as she does.













When we were creating the allotment it was obvious that we needed more soil. Here on the side of the hill the topsoil is little more than 3 or 4 inches deep in reality. Luckily I have spotted somewhere locally selling topsoil by the ton, so we're going to get some of that in. In addition, Darren who sold us the pigs has several tons of 4 year old manure that he'll trailer over for us, so it looks like we'll have a busy autumn shifting upwards of 15 or 20 tonnes of earth/poo.

Notwithstanding this, as I write The Allotment is looking good. We were not diligent in watering in the dry spell, so that has checked growth of some things, but all in all we are happy. Here's a shot of what the plot looks like this week.















Mange tout, spuds, onions, garlic and cucurbits doing well. Less successful have been runner beans, sweetcorn, carrots and beetroot.

As you can see the chickens have lots of green area to graze on now the grass is growing. We still have a good amount of bare earth to re-seed, but there's time yet.

By the way, toads aren't very bright creatures: one got whacked by the electric fencing and Louise found it 'dead' by the gate into the enclosure. She picked it up and put it to one side. When I went up later that morning it had, Lazurus-like, recovered and was nowhere to be found. Until later that is when it had waltzed into the fence again. Unlike cats they don't have 9 lives and this time it was brown bread, lying arms and legs akimbo, deceased.

So, there we have it. We are looking forward to a continuing harvest of produce from The Allotment, and continue out regime of pig feeding / belly rubbing. On that note i'll sign off with a happy porcine photo.


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