JP and I went to visit family in the Netherlands and subsequently had to self-isolate for 2 weeks after we came back. My best friend, who we also arranged to meet up with, reminded us that with so much to do in our garden the time would fly past. And it did!

Too much time on our hands
October 2020

So JP and I have had so much to do that we never had much time to switch off and relax! We’ve been busy harvesting around 50 kg of potatoes (and there’s still one more bed to go. Phew!); 5 kg of runner beans (a massive improvement on last year); 6 kg of tomatoes (and making tomato soup and sauce for the freezer); 5 kg of white cabbages (and making sauerkraut, of course… a necessity) and around 7 kg of cucumbers to both eat and pickle for use later in the year.
All of this while also trying to keep up to date with the shop’s emails, deliveries and orders (something Stuart and Gregor managed perfectly well during my absence), but there are some business matters I have to attend to personally. Not to mention the problem of trying to remotely log into the shop’s computer. What a nightmare!

On top of all that we also had a huge pile of logs to chop up - food for our stove which heats the house in winter. Actually that was quite fun and good exercise; unfortunately using a big hydraulic wood splitting machine left my arms covered in bruises because of the backlash every time a chunk of wood broke off.
But they will fade… I suppose it will all be worth if it means we’ll be nice and cosy during winter. No pain no gain, er, heat!

During our time in the Netherlands, our neighbours kindly looked after our cats and chickens and, dear oh dear; Tufty (in particular) has been misbehaving. When Mr. M tried to get her in at night, she actually attacked him! Not just the once, but three times. Exasperated, Mr. M ended up pushing her inside the coop. Brave man. What was Tufty thinking?! I never raised her to behave like this!
Unfortunately not long after we got back, Tufty became quite ill and was admitted to our emergency hospital (aka the porch) where we hoped she would make a full recovery. Sadly she didn’t and she passed away some time later. We buried her in our garden. We should have renamed her ‘Tough-ty’ because she certainly was a fighter right to the end. Bravely she clung onto life and exceeded our expectations. Normally when a chicken is in obvious pain or discomfort we have to end the suffering, but Tufty (or Tough-ty), didn’t seem to be in any real pain or show any signs of distress, so we left her in the quiet and warmth of the porch where she lived for another 5 days before finally succumbing to her illness. Incredible. Rest in peace, Tufty, you will be remembered as the toughest chicken we’ve ever had the privilege of knowing!

Some good news though… the sunflower I mentioned in last month’s newsletter is still going strong and has survived the strong winds!

Remember how I sowed edible poppy seeds way back in spring, which ended up taking over the entire bed and suffocated the carrots and beetroot I had sowed next to it? Well, I’ve harvested the seeds and they weigh in at over 300g! Enough to fill a full kilner jar! I never expected there would be so many seeds in one seed head. I’ve got a few seed heads left and anyone who would like to sow these themselves; feel free to pick up a seed head from the shop next time you are visiting (limited supply).
On a particularly peaceful, sunny afternoon, when I had finished all the essential chores I had to do, I made a 100% plant based ‘bug hotel’. Well, why not? Firstly, I tried my hand at making cord from nettle fibre. The stems of the poppy plants turned out to be hollow so I wrapped the nettle cord I had made around the hollow tubes and placed the ‘bug hotel’ between stones in our stone wall and with any luck mining bees and other visitors will ‘check in’ next spring and build their nests in the tubes.

I have to say, I was pretty chuffed with my efforts. Excuse me while I give myself a pat on the back.

Continue Reading