28 April 2013

The Archie Saga

My friend Penny, of the cute windmill fame from the last post, used to keep free range chickens and geese in her nice big 2 acre garden. Sadly, however, a visit from a hungry fox last year meant that only one lone gander named Archie remained. Archie is a very lovely looking goose but he is also a very big goose. Humongous in fact and since his recent return to single status, he has been, quite frankly, a very cranky goose. Archie loves Penny and considers her part of his family and she picks him up and cuddles him and carries him around the garden. Her partner, however, is not so lucky. He has frequently been on the receiving end of Archie's wrath as has their dog Cheeky, who refuses to go out if Archie is sitting on the porch first thing in the morning on the grounds that Archie bites her tail!! 
My nemesis Archie

A few weeks ago it was my turn to be on the receiving end of one of Archies tantrums. Penny and I were on our way to the greenhouse to have a look at how her plants were progressing when, in a flurry of snowy white feathers, an angry goose came charging  across the garden and attached itself to the back of my leg. He wouldn't let go. And as if that wasn't painful enough, he then began flapping his wings and kicking me with his huge rubbery feet, still attached, by the beak, to the back of my calf! Suffice to say, the next day, I was covered in deep purple bruises all down the back of my leg which took about 2 weeks to finally disappear. It's fair to say that since then, I have given Archie a fairly wide berth. 

Anyway, when I went to visit Penny for a coffee this morning, she suggested a stroll down the garden  saying she had something to show me. I'm guessing she must have sensed my lack of enthusiasm because she added that Archie had been put in one of the large pens at the bottom of the garden and that we would be able to wander down there quite safely. Off we went, part of me half expecting to see a flurry of feathers heading my way and preparing to run should it be necessary (well, actually, hobble because I have torn a ligament in my right knee and it's agony .... but that's a whole other story!!). 

When we arrived at Archie's pen I was thrilled to bits. Archie has a girlfriend. Her name is Allie and she is a Toulouse goose. She had been put in one of the big pens for a while by herself with Archie wandering around outside so they could get used to each other and a couple of days ago, Archie was allowed to move into the pen with her. Today, they are finally going to be released back out into the garden where they will be able to do goosey things to their hearts content.

The beautiful Allie 

24 April 2013

Bad Back!

Sorry but there will be no photos on this post because unfortunately, I'm in great agony and I haven't been out anywhere this week to take any pictures. I have a bad back. It's kind of at the bottom of my back on the right hand side and it's very painful so, all the things I had been planning to do have been put on the back burner ...... no pun intended! This all started before Christmas when I decided to paint the ceiling in my living room. My living room is quite large, it's about 35 foot by 20 foot and the ceiling is covered in the dreaded Artex which at the moment, I can't afford to have re-skimmed. It's an absolute nightmare to paint but it needed doing so one day in November, I attacked it with my usual enthusiasm and managed to get two thirds of it done before my back gave out. Quite frankly, my back has not been the same since. Sometimes it's fine but at the moment, it's excruciatingly painful and it takes a couple of pain killers first thing in the morning before I can function. Not good really, considering how much stuff I need to get done, so until the effect of the pain killers kicks in, I thought I would write a quick post. 

In my living room, on the wall, I have a huge whiteboard on which I write all the stuff that I need to do.  There is a list of long-term stuff and a list of short-term stuff and they're both very long lists. I like lists. I get great satisfaction ticking things off when I have done them and it's good for me to have the constant visual reminder of things that need doing. The stuff that's up there at the moment is mostly decorating ...... I need to paint the kitchen, the hall and the downstairs loo and finish the ceiling in the living room and there is also loads of sewing I need to do ....... one Roman blind for the kitchen and a door curtain for my bedroom not to mention the stuff for the market. There is also a massive list of stuff that I need to do in the garden. My raised beds need digging over, the lawn needs mowing, the borders need weeding and the patio needs clearing and I need to give the front of the house another coat of paint so, having a bad back at the moment is terribly inconvenient. 

I almost wish I could sit and watch mindless daytime telly but I can't even do that because I have to get the house cleaned and sorted ready for the weekend and I have to make some things for the market tomorrow although I'm not sure how I will manage standing up all day in the cold ...... the weather here in Cornwall is still a bit chilly and the sun has disappeared again after it's brief appearance on Friday and Saturday so the market will be at least a 3 layers of clothes week this week I think. Anyway, that's what I'm up to at the moment. Hopefully, the back will sort itself soon because I don't have time to be ill. I have way too much to do! Oh ..... and on a much happier note ........ I am finally hoping to go and get some chickens next week ........ so ....... watch this space ...... I'm so excited :-)

21 April 2013

Spring and Sunny Skies.

It's been a lovely couple of days here in Cornwall. Friday and Saturday were sunny and the skies were blue making the local produce market at Trerulefoot, a much nicer place to be than in the freezing conditions of a couple of weeks ago when I was wearing at least 4 layers of clothes, (including thermal shirts and leggings) and I was still blue with cold by the time I got home. I really love my three days at the market. Despite the sometimes cold weather, it's a really enjoyable place to be. The people are lovely, there is a fabulous atmosphere and the range of skills and products available is amazing. A lovely old couple, Penny and Brian, produce hand made wooden planters, bird tables and such like and they grow plants and herbs to fill them with. A couple of weeks ago, they were given a commission for a wishing well and because the people had a big garden they wanted a BIG wishing well. Brian did a fantastic job of designing and building it and here is the finished article, on display at the market, waiting to be collected. The handle even turns and the bucket winds up and down. 

There is a lady who does fabulous stained glass and wooden painted items and if you give her a picture of your pet she will turn it into a fabulous key rack or a hook for a dog lead with a picture of your pet on the front. There are local jams, jellies and chutneys, home made cakes, vegetables and plants, locally produced apple juice and cider and free range organic eggs and meat. Give me a local market any day of the week. I now do most of my shopping at the market. We eat locally produced vegetables,  free range organic eggs, meat that was running around in a field the week before and which was organically and ethically reared and I spend three days out in the fresh air chatting with people both local and from further afield and I even, on occasion, make a bit of money.

Pea and bean sticks and bags of manure at the market ready for Spring planting.

As the weather is warming up, everything seems to be coming to life. Flowers are beginning to bloom, birds are singing their noisy dawn chorus even earlier in the mornings and there are now lambs and calves in the fields around the house making a huge racket at 6am. It's lovely. I love the lighter mornings. I'm much more of a morning person. It's nice to have the lighter evenings too but, for me, the best part of the day is first thing in the morning when everyone else is still asleep and things are calm and peaceful and quiet ....... well except for the birds, the sheep, the cows and the owls hooting their way back to their trees to sleep until dusk when they go off out again to hunt :-) Whoever said it was quiet living in the country had obviously never lived there. 

So, here are some pictures of the things that are beginning to bloom in the lovely sunny weather.

Pink Tinged Daffodils.

Forget-Me-Nots in the border.

The pulmonaria that I bought from the market is flowering like mad.

And the fabulous evergreen Clematis called Wisley Cream that I bought from my friend Bridget at the market  and keeping one of my tea cosies company on my stall.

17 April 2013

Dig for Survival.

I read an article yesterday in The Telegraph that said, the farming minister, David Heath, is urging families to grow more of their own fruit and vegetables in order to cope with a potential crisis caused by adverse weather conditions, disease and slug invasions damaging the crops and causing a food shortage. Mr Heath said “With an increasing population, increasing demand not just in this country but across the world, we are going to have to increase food production.” He also added, “Once we used to ‘dig for victory’. There may come a time soon when we need to ‘dig for survival’.” This is quite an alarming statement but something that is not totally unexpected. He then went on to say “We made a huge mistake a few years ago when the idea got around that we didn’t need to produce in the agricultural sector any more, that we would be able to buy our way through whatever was necessary to feed the country". Quite clearly, there is a food crisis potentially looming on the horizon. Food prices in general, not just fruit and veg, have been on the increase for quite a while and increasingly, more and more people are growing their own veg and keeping a couple of chickens for eggs in their back garden.

Now, I will confess up front, I'm not very good at growing veg. My intentions are good but in practice,  my veg growing expertise is still very basic. My mum is an absolute whizz at it. She uses a few raised beds and some big pots and planters for her spuds and cabbages and things and it's amazing ........ everything she plants seems to sprout and grow like mad and she absolutely loves eating what she grows (particularly her delicious pickled beetroot!). I am, quite frankly, terrible. I hardly ever actually eat the veg that I grow. Either I forget to pick it and the slugs get it or I pick it and never get around to using it. Appalling, I know ....... but this year, I am utterly determined to grow and eat as much of my own produce as I possibly can. The price of fruit and vegetables has increased so much in recent months that quite frankly, it's the only way I am going to be able to afford to eat as much veg as I want without it costing an arm and a leg. 

Last year, some of my most successful veg was grown in wooden crates from my local veg shop, which they give away for free to anyone who wants them. Lined with black plastic sacks, they were ideal for growing lettuces and cut and come again salad leaves because I could keep them off the ground on my potting bench and it made it harder for the slugs to get at them.

This year, I'm also going to be trying this. It's a shoe rack, the kind that hangs on the back of the door. I plan to fill each pocket with soil and sprinkle one portion of cut and come again salad leaves in each pocket so when they are ready, I can work my way down the pockets cutting one portion at a time and by the time I get to the bottom, the ones at the top will be ready to cut again :-) Again, it has the added bonus of keeping the slugs well away from the plants.

I can't wait to get started. I have gathered together a fabulous collection of seeds, some from Trago Mills, my local cheap-as-chips store for 49p per packet and some from a fabulous gardening hamper which was a birthday present from my daughter and all I need now is a couple of rain-free, preferably sunny, days so I can get outside onto the garden and this year's veg crop will finally be under way. 

Add to this the fact that I now have my chicken house and hopefully, very soon, 3 lovely chickens to go in it and I will be well on my way to being a bit more Tom and Barbara and a little less Margot and Jerry. 

8 April 2013

A Spring Flower Show and A New Chicken House

Hi again everyone. It's been so long since I have posted anything that I think I have rather lost the knack but I have decided that from now on I am going to try and post on my blog at least once a week. I know it sounds like a boring excuse but I have been really busy with the Trerulefoot Local Produce Market where I have a stall three days a week. I'm still trying to figure out which things sell well and which things are more trouble than they are worth but I think it's slowly coming together .... Maybe. I love being at the market, the people are lovely and I really enjoy chatting to people. 

This week though, I took a day off from sewing and making cards and went to the Boconnoc Spring Flower Show on Sunday. It was lovely. A bit chilly but I got some lovely ideas for things to make and some fabulous heritage vegetable seeds. There was one stall with over 80 different varieties of tomato seeds!! 

Boconnoc House
There were loads of lovely local food stalls giving away free samples, I tried some fabulous game pie that was totally delicious and there were loads of scrumptious cakes to be tried and quite frankly, I could happily have just stayed in the food tent and carried on sampling. It was a lovely day. 

I don't know if I have mentioned in the past that I have been wanting to get some chickens for a while. Due to a lack of spare cash, however, this has so far just been wishful thinking. Today, I am thrilled to say, I finally got a chicken house :-) It was made by two of the other market stall holders Penny and Brian of Inwood and they very kindly gave it to me as a present. I'm so excited. I went to pick it up this afternoon and now I can't wait to get some chickens and ...... I think I'm going to give my lovely new chicken house a coat of pink paint :-)