Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Cob Clay, Ferrets and Ponds

A lovely morning at the garden....warm enough to discard a few layers.
The welcome sun was shining and the lambs were bleating.
I started the day with the construction of my sweetpea row....always a good sign of spring. Interestingly this year, my sweetpeas have only just germinated.

Between us we moved 8 barrow loads of cob clay. Now I know why those muscles in my stomach ache.....not the situps at the exercise class ......but pushing the wheelbarrow over rough, uneven and soft ground with the wheel needing a good pump up.

The pile is gradually going down.

This will be a mixing area. We want to do the cob shed floor and we hope to make a wall at the back by the fence. The thought of mixing cob again does not fill me with delight is such hard work.

The owl yurt is looking good with it`s new cover.

Just before we came home, I began to pull parrot weed from the pond. It has grown into great rafts.
The roots are very long and hair-like.


I left it on the side so that small pond creatures can crawl back in.

The front of the pond looks much clearer. Perhaps the frogs will have enough room to actually produce some spawn.

I think I am right in saying that this is William. He has two little white spots near his eyes and that`s how you tell the difference between William and Harry.
He is certainly feeling happy in his new home, exploring every single inch of it.
The red tube is a play tunnel.
Day came to clean them out and feed them.
No sign of Harry. Think he is still feeling shy.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Cob Shed Floor

What a day it has been!
There seemed to be so many people at the garden and farm today, 
all with their own jobs.
The lambing continues and Gemma and James were there to help. They have one of the watches tonight. I hope it`s not too cold for them.

Earlier in the week Day was helping with the lambs and she has been there today.
In this picture she is painting tar on the necks of the new lambs before they go into the field. The tar discourages foxes from killing the young.

In the meantime Lyn and Gary were busy making a home for the newest additions to the zoo.....
William and Harry, the ferrets. Lyn keeps her horses at the farm and I can hardly believe this is the first time I have met her or Gary.

Anyway Gary was making a great job with the "palace" and it was good to see wood being recycled.
Later we were introduced to the ferrets.

They had a very distinct smell, almost sweet and they were VERY agile and muscular.
Such beautiful colours too.
An added attraction to the farm.

All the scarecrows are out now, after a few repairs to the posts.

The owl yurt was going up with a lot of Tim and Anne`s family to help.
It is looking smart with its new cover, blending well into the surrounding area.

The cycle of life continues in the polytunnel with mating beetles and a dead little woodmouse.

We emptied the cob shed of all its tools and paraphanelia in preparation for the new flooring.
It will be temporarily stored in the polytunnel.

Thanks to Alan Cooke, a local builder Roy, brought us three loads of clay to begin the cob shed floor. The ground was soft at the far entrance so we found ourselves alternately digging out, pushing and putting old carpet under the wheels.
But it was all OK in the end and we have a huge pile of a perfect mix of stones, clay and sand.
We immediately began wheel barrowing it to the cob shed in its dry form and tamping it down.
Gemma was a good sport and helped us.
And Paula cycled down to help as well.

It was great to feel earth under our feet instead of the unstable broken tiles
(the old bathroom and kitchen tiles from our house.)
I wonder if anyone will find them in 100 years and ask where they came from.

I didn`t mind getting the clay, but I did not enjoy tamping down.

It was jolly hard work and we were ready to come home by 2.30. It was a very cold day.

As Paula said, a week ago I was wondering where the clay was coming from and whether we would be getting on with the floor soon and now here we are with it all well under way.
A very satisfying day.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Our own Lambing Live

We took our lunch to the farm today. It wasn`t very warm .
Our main job was to make a start on the area around the entrance to the garden.

It was full of rubble, nettles and brambles.
The trouble was as soon as we arrived, I heard the first bleating of the year.
I followed my nose to the barn where the sheep have been under cover for quite a few weeks.
And there they were....the first lambs....and quite a few of them.

I stayed watching and filming for over half an hour and could have stayed longer.

Later Paula joined us, so I had an excuse to go back again.
We stood and watched as this baby was born.

Lovely to see the mum who had just given birth, being so attentive to the "older" baby who was trying to find a teat. I did gingerly step into the pen to wipe the birth fluid away from the new one`s mouth, as we were concerned when it was spluttering a bit. Later when we checked, it was on its feet.

Tim showed me where the triplets were .....under a sun lamp. The picture only shows 2 of them.
He was being kept very busy, checking mums and lambs and ferrying families to the fields.
He has a student to help him and Gemma and James will be here for a week from 20th, staying in the shepherd`s hut appropriately enough.

The fantastic sheep pens were made by Tim, recycling the floorboards from the village hall.
These boards were going to be burnt. Very enterprising.

I was thrilled to hear from Tim, that this is Ivy with her own lambs.
Some regular readers may remember that she was one of the first orphaned lambs I remember as I had the joy of feeding her once or twice.
A great reminder of the success of rearing the orphans, which is hard work.

We dragged ourselves away for lunch in the polytunnel and then set to and completed the digging of the entrance area. We found two old pallets by the compost heaps and used them as a fence.

We stood for some time throwing ideas around for how to make a feature here.
In the meantime Toffee and Treacle were back in the garden, after having had their myxomatosis jabs.

 And the violets are so good this year.....obviously unloved by rabbits.

A lovely visit today, and as Tim says, "It`s what farming is all about."

Monday, 16 March 2015

Spring Craft Joy

I am always checking out Pinterest for new ideas.....such a great resource.
I even have my own boards, if anyone wants to follow.
Where possible I will include links to some of these ideas.

Most of the latest craft is linked to Easter, which is fast approaching.

I have been knitting these little chickens in my teabreaks. They are designed to hold a cream egg. When the cream egg is inside the chicken sits up.
This link will the pattern. I have adapted it slightly.

These felt chicks were a lot of fun to make ending up with a rather surprised look on their faces.

This link has patterns to buy.
These tiny bunnies are a free pattern on the above website.

 I  have been making these tiny mice for years and I think the pattern originally 
came from Jean Greenhowe. I have adapted the pattern many times.

I bought these card bunny parcel tags in Rye.
I was thinking they would be the basis for some Easter cards.
A very simple outline can be found here...
I will probably draw round the card shape and cut more out from pretty paper.

Finally, I picked this tiny bunch of palma violets today.
They smell like the sweets we ate as children.

parma violets  - detested these  and we thought they were drugs = Purple Hearts!

 It has also made me wonder if I could have a go at preserving violet flowers to go on some cupcakes.
That`s one to investigate next.

There are pockets of joy all over the garden at the moment.