washed away

We had a terrific storm with torrential rain the other day . . . resulting in severe damage to the banks of the little stream only a stone’s throw from the house.  Before: photo taken looking downstream.

On the right you can see a white barrier, which is wrought iron sheets, and ran all along the bankside for several metres, keeping the embackment in place. Just to the left of that you can also see the first of 5 stone steps, that led down to the stream.  On the morning after,  looking upstream, things looked like this

Only three stone steps remaining (number 3 looks decidedly wobbly) and the banks completely caved in.

We, and other residents in our little close, have contacted the local council who are going to send someone round very soon to check out damage and decide how (and when) to go about repairing damage.  In the meantime, we’re hoping we don’t get any more heavy rain which will only make things worse.

Apart from that . . . I’ve been keeping busy indoors, crafting for dolls which entails some sewing, crocheting and even some shoe-making.  Am currently playing around with a very small 23cm doll I received for Christmas 2019, and discovering how fiddly it is making things for such a small doll.

Here’s a photo of one of my recent makes:  a little pair of shoes, only 4cm long, for tiny feet.  If you want to see more, just hop over to my other blog: Claire’s Collections.

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not once, but twice!

We had a bit of unexpected excitement out in the orchard last week.

The husband’s bees swarmed . . . TWICE!

The first time, the husband and bee-keeping friend, were too busy dealing with the swarm to take photos (and I was still fast asleep in bed!), so the above is of the second swarm.   Luckily, the husband had equipped himself, earlier in the year, with a second, smaller, hive (that he painted bright red) so on the morning of the first swarm our two amateur bee-keepers were able to knock the clump of buzzing business, and it dropped (more or less) into the open hive. A fair number of bees did land outside

but since the queen was safely in the box, it was only a matter of hours before the ones outside went inside.

Anyway . . . the husband was really pleased, because it meant the colony in his main hive was thriving, and the captured swarm meant he’d be able to have two hives up and running this year.  However, the following morning, the bees in the main hive swarmed a second time!

Same photo as above, just zooming in slightly.  We didn’t have a spare box or anything to capture this lot, so the husband phoned bee-keeping friend again.  Another gentle knock and this lot was plopped down into the friend’s portable hive.  They spotted a queen bee in there too.

Back at the main hive . . .

 

there was an awful lot of buzzing about and general agitation.  Our bee-keepers spotted yet another queen bee already in residence there, so, in theory, the husband will have two colonies in our orchard, and his friend will be able to adopt the second swarm.

best layer of the month # May

Weather is warming up.  Kiwi vine is in flower.  Days are getting long, and it’ll soon be time to move the hens to their summer quarters in the orchard. In the meantime, they’re still in their enclosure in the vegetable garden, and laying well.  For this month, of 31 days, I collected a total of 76 eggs.  24 – Ruby, 25 – Florence, and it was Mauricette who wins best layer of the month, with 27 eggs.

best layer of the month # April

Three eggs snuggling in the nest hasn’t been a very regular sight this month as Ruby is having a massive moult, and that’s put her off her laying.  Just as well the other two gals are being productive! Total egg count for April is 67.  Ruby laid only 16, Florence laid 25 and Mauricette laid 26.   Mauricette is in the husband’s bad books at the moment, so is obviously trying to redeem herself!  She kept escaping the coop earlier in the month, flying over the fencing, then pecking & scratching at freshly sown seeds, which earned her a “I’m going to wring her neck!” threat from the husband.  I clipped feathers on one wing.  Seemed to have solved the problem until Mauricette learned to helicopter up onto the roof of the nesting box, then glide over the fencing and out.  Where she then set to pecking & scratching at more freshly sown seeds.  That earned her a “where’s my shotgun?” threat from the husband . . . and ended up in my spending an hour or so rigging up some netting higher up, to prevent further escape.

Anyway, for the time being Mauricette is staying inside the enclosure, and not getting into any trouble.  Which is just as well since another thing hens like is sand . . . and our asparagus are doing so well, we don’t want any fowl interference.

 

outdoors & indoors – what we’re up to

Something of a photo-heavy post today, to tell you what the husband and I are up to lately.

With Spring in the air, the husband has been spending long hours outdoors!  It all started last month really, when he managed to hire a bricklayer who agreed to come and do some work in the veggie garden.  The husband had this idea of having some raised beds (to make life easier when you’re not as agile as you once were).  The bricklayer, name of Atila, worked like a Trojan, I can tell you!  Digging trenches, mixing cement to lay foundations, then building five raised beds with breeze blocks and laying some paving stones to level up with the path.

The husband was then kept very busy because the new beds needed filling . . . so wheelbarrow loads of sand, sifting & weeding of “old” soil to mix back in.  One bed is already planted with strawberry plants & lettuce.  The others will be sowed/planted up in a couple of weeks time once the husband is sure there will be no more night frosts.

He’s also found himself a new indoors project!  When we moved into this house, the previous owners left a very grotty clock up in the attic. Nothing antiquey, or of any value and probably riddled with wood worm.  But there it remained, gathering even more dust & cobwebs.  The husband asked me to bring it downstairs because he fancies a bit of renovation work.  So I obliged.

It’s not even pretty!  but if it keeps the husband amused, at no cost, then I’ll be interested to see how it turns out and if it actually works!

I, in the meantime, keep myself amused with less dirty occupations.  Have just begun a new crochet project.  This was a “M’aidez, m’aidez” call from Mrs Tattoo.  One of her friends is expecting a baby for later in the year. Mrs Tattoo (who can’t crochet) bought a crochet kit, thinking she could teach herself to crochet and rustle up a soft toy lol.  She tried (bless her) before admitting defeat and asking for help.  I wasn’t too enthralled with the design she’d chosen, and didn’t think it was really suitable for a baby. So . . . after sending her a few links to free crochet patterns for her to choose from, she decided on this.

This cute pattern, available on Amigurumi Today.  (I’ll be embroidering eyes and facial details – don’t trust safety eyes on a baby toy!)

I then sent Mrs Tattoo photos of yarns from my stash to choose from, and we’ve settled on something as close to the original design as I could make it.  Stylecraft Special DK in: Spearmint, Lavender, Grass Green, Clematis & Citron.

And work has begun.

I’m using a 2mm hook to keep things nice and tight – don’t want any stuffing coming out!  So far, I have a head, body, tail and one front paw.  Just need to make second front paw, 2 legs and 2 ears!

Stay tuned!  Baby isn’t due for several months, but I should have it finished very soon.

 

best layer of the month #January

It’s 31st January already!  So, after a quick phone call to Mr Tattoo, to wish him a happy 33rd birthday, it’s time to tot up egg total for the month.

Egg count is down from normal, partly (I think) because of the weather we’ve been having.  We had a couple of snow falls this month

About 10cm in those photos, and the hens were rather perplexed by all that white stuff covering the ground in their enclosure.  I had to rake a clear space so that they could see grass poking through before they agreed to get back to their normal activity of pecking & scratching.  A bowl of daily “treats” helped too.

Anyway, for January there were a total of 67 eggs.  From left to right in photos: Mauricette laid 18, Ruby laid 23 and Florence (our black Medici) laid 26.

best layer of the month # November

Time to tot up egg count for this chilly month of November.  All gals have been laying well, I’m pleased to say.  A total of 76 eggs for November with Mauricette (photo centre) laying 24 very large eggs . . . Florence (left in photo) laying 25, and Ruby, our red hen laying 27 eggs this month!

Not only have we had a bumper harvest with eggs, but we also harvested our kiwi the other day. I didn’t bother weighing, but this is what we harvested.

 

 

best layer of the month # May

Yesterday it was time to tot up the egg tally for the month of May.  The gals are all enjoying life in the orchard, in the shade of several apple trees.  The ‘on-loan’ bee hive isn’t far (top right in photo) but bees and hens appear to be living in harmony.

It looks like Miss Moneypenny might be starting to get broody again (always seems to happen to her when weather stays warm) because she’s begun leaving a few fluffy feathers in the nesting box, but, she has also been laying really well.  Total eggs count for May was:  Mauricette – 20;  Ruby – 26;  Miss Moneypenny – 27; and this month’s winner is Florence with 28.  Which makes a grand total of 101 eggs this month.

A few more photos, of future apples and pears.

Apples should be in abundance this year but we’re not counting our pears just yet.

how does your garden grow?

a photo heavy post today, as I was out in the veggie garden, having a look at how all the edibles are coming along.

We moved here in December 2014, and one of the first things we did was to plant a small blackberry bush which seemed to take forever to establish itself.  So pleased to see that this year it’s thriving.  Will there be enough fruit for blackberry jelly this year, I wonder?

Strawberries have already got fruit, some of which is turning red.

and the husband, after weeding in those patches, has decided to plant something else in one of them, where the strawberry plants were sparse.

Elsewhere . . . looks like we’re going to be in for a bumber crop of artichokes

I counted 37 but I’m sure I must have missed a few.

Under shelter, we’ve finally planted tomato plants.  Eight inside the greenhouse

They look a bit lost in there at the moment, but they’ll grow!  We’ve got 6 of the “ondine” variety in there and 2 “crimean black”.   Then more “crimean black” outside, but protected under plastic.

The husband put in 6 lettuce, but looks like the slugs have already visited.

Potato plants are overflowing from their wooden grower

Asparagus has been doing really well so far this year and we’ve already had several harvests and given some away to the neighbours.

And raspberry bushes are looking very healthy.  It’ll be a long while before they flower & fruit, but I’m already drooling at the thought.

There will be further plantations of things like radishes, chards and courgettes but for mid-May, things are already looking promising.

And before I say goodbye for today . . . a gardening themed present arrived out of the blue the other day, from a French blogging friend, Lilubelle.   She had been keeping busy during confinement and thinking of her friends . . . and made me the most gorgeous diary, with “cartonnage” method, and a fridge magnet PLUS several packets of seeds.