we’re having an Indian Summer

Hmm, looks like we’re having an Indian Summer in our part of the world.  Blue skies, sunshine, and temperatures have been around 26°C during the daytime, although it is getting a bit nippy at night.

What do we do when weather is fine?  Well, if you’ve got a lively dog, like we do, then you go to the park and take photos.

IMGP5973

Here’s Gibbs, our Flat-Coated Retriever, now 2 years old.  A healthy 40 kilos of pure muscle, and enjoying our daily walk/run around the park and obstacle course.  We walk, he runs.

IMGP5974

IMGP5990

IMGP5996

Please note the lovely blue sky, as well as a very agile Gibbs who has no trouble going up and down all the ramps, and over hurdles.

IMGP5998

And yours truly, in a sleeveless cotton shirt – it’s just like summer!

Advertisements

best layer of the month # August

IMGP5452

Miss Plumpton did it again!  She didn’t take a single day’s rest this month and produced an amazing 31 eggs!  What a clever Sussex hen she is, eh?

Other gals did very well too though . . . Mauricette with 28 and Miss Moneypenny, despite her age, laid 27.  Total egg count this month: 86.  That made quite a few omelettes for us, plus a couple of baking sessions . . . but I also gave fresh eggs to neighbours since there’s no point in stock-piling.

We seem to have something of a barter system going on with neighbours lol.  I’m happy to just give eggs away rather than see them go to waste, but this month we were given a couple of litres of milk in exchange AND

IMGP5624

some fresh crayfish!  Now, I have to add here . . . we’ve got a new neighbour in the Close, and as well as holding down a paid job as a teacher, he also works for the Fishing & Forestry commission on a volunteer basis.  In this role, one of his occupations over the summer holidays was to set traps to catch a foreign variety of crayfish, an American variety, I believe.  These were introduced (no idea when or why) into local waters and have been breeding like rabbits to the detriment of the European crayfish.  The American cousins are considered as pests so people on the fishing commission have been busy trapping them all summer.  

You can’t see exactly how many of the little blighters there really are in this photo, as they’re in an ice-box and are all piled on top of each other.  I’ll spare details for the squeamish, but we spent several hours prepping these for the freezer, and then received another bucket-load the following day which we had for dinner.  They’re fresh water creatures so taste nothing like prawns.  However, they were very tasty cooked up with fresh tomatoes from the garden and served on a bed of rice. 

best layer of the month # July

July has been hot hot hot!  Not as dry as in some parts of the world since we’ve had a couple of storms and rainfall.  The other week, we had one hell of a storm with high winds which caused havoc: bringing down tree everywhere, which in turn brought down powerlines.  In our orchard, two tree were brought down by the wind

IMGP5562

IMGP5563

Hen coops were blown over, and needed immediate repair.  Hens got totally soaked

IMGP5569

IMGP5570

but were unharmed.  And Cléo’s trampoline was whirled up in the air and landed about 20 metres farther away, down in the stream!

Stream was turned into a fast flowing muddy torrent

IMGP5567

Anyway . . . the day after the storm, everyone was out with chain saws, local council were out, as well as the electricity company, and power was restored.

Hens don’t seem to have been put off egg laying, despite the heat and storms . . . egg count for this month totalled 89 eggs!  28 laid by Miss Moneypenny, 30 by Mauricette, and a staggering 31 by Miss Plumpton.

best layer of the month # June . . . and then there were three.

A bit of sadness in the coop this month.  From four hens

hens feb

we are now back down to three.

june hens

Who’s missing?  Yup, our lovely red hen, Miranda.  She was suffering from “fly strike”, also known as myiasis, earlier in the month (very gruesome, I’ll let you google if you have a strong stomach).  We did our best to treat her, but to no avail, and we had to make the decision to put her out of her misery.  I say “we”, it was actually the husband who did the deed quickly and efficiently – for which I can never thank him enough.  It would have been inhumane to let her linger.

I really miss not seeing her lovely golden plumage, when hens are all strutting about – she was a lovely hen with a great personality, and in the 3 years she lived here, she laid a total of 726 eggs, so she was en excellent layer too.

Anyway, I’m pleased to say the other gals are all healthy.  Miss Moneypenny has finally got over her broodiness (which seems to affect her every May & June) and is now back out, strutting her stuff.  She’s mainly there just to look pretty these days though, aged 4, we’re not relying on her for our egg supply.

For June, the total egg count was 58 eggs.  1 laid by Miranda before she got “ fly struck”, 3 by Miss Moneypenny, 24 by Mauricette and a staggering 30 by Miss Plumpton, who never seems to take a day off.

june plumpton

Saying that, Mauricette laid a 110g whopper only the other day – no doubt a double-yolker, but I haven’t cracked it open yet.

IMGP5444

Anyway, our three gals are enjoying the shade of the apple trees in the orchard.

june hens 02

Temperatures are hot.  35°C today, and forecast says we can expect 37°C tomorrow.

The orchard really is the best place for the hens in the summer months as there’s always a bit of shade.  Apple trees look as if they’ll yield well this year.  I have no idea what varieties we have, but there are two which seem to be cooking apples

june garden 02

And one which gives nice eating apples.

june garden 01

They’re not ripe yet, but if they can all stay nice & healthy-looking like that, we should be in for quite a harvest.

Pear trees aren’t doing so well.  We’ve got 2 in the orchard, and 2 in the veggie patch.  The latter are totally without pear, but in the orchard there are a few (probably about a dozen in total).

june garden 03

The question is: will they ripen, or simply fall off beforehand?

a bit of this & that

Summer officially arrived on 21st June, but we’ve already been enjoying fine weather for a while.  Our spa has been set up in the back garden

summer here

Here it was being filled, but since then, I’ve been enjoying refreshing bubbles late afternoon every day.  I’ve also been doing a bit more cross stitch, with my feet up,  and lots of secret sewing.  Sadly, because of the latter, I realise I don’t have time to make un-birthday gifts this month but hope to have some made for July.

While I won’t be sending any gifts out, I was lucky and received some surprise mail in the post though.  A lovely hand-stitched card from Cathy

from cathy

and a little cross stitch kit, plus hand-made card from Carole.

from Carole

This kit was a free gift with Cross Stitch Crazy, and Carole thought I might like to stitch it (which I do! ).  Seeing that lovely design, spurred me into going on the internet and checking out subscription costs for UK xstitch magazines.  I let my subs run out several years ago because I was stock-piling magazines and not really having time to make the most of all the lovely designs.  However, I did miss the delight of receiving a magazine through the post . . . so I’ve just signed up for a 12 months subscription for Cross Stitch Crazy (so thanks for giving me the idea, Carole). 

Most of my stitching time, of late, has been spent trying to make progress on “Getting Ready” for the SAL.  But I did also finish up a small design.

permin robot

A very cute little robot, kit by Permin.  Three shades of grey, black and a bright green.  I’m thinking I might stitch the design a second time but using three shades of a different colour.  Maybe blue, or pink, or green.  In the meantime, I need to get my thinking cap on and decide how to finish this little fellow.  The Permin kit came with enough aida plus a lining fabric and instructions to make a pouch for mobile phone but I’m not too keen on that idea. 

flooding the Close

Well we had a bit of unwelcome excitement last night!

We had rain and a storm  which began around 10pm . . . were woken from our slumbers around 11.30pm by a neighbour banging on the door, and the view outside was

flood

Now, we have a little stream which runs along the edge of our land . . . but all this water actually came from further upstream.  It seems that upstream, there were tree trunks and branches which were stopping the normal flow, and with the rain, the stream had swelled up out of its banks.  Water, as always, looking for the shortest route to flow . . . and that route, bringing it directly down the little side road in the Close and towards our house.

Luckily, we have quite a high pavement just in front of the house, so the flow swept off at a right angle and continued on its merry way, flooding neighbour’s terrace and surrounding land, until it eventually made its way back to the stream further down.

Neighbours and husband were all outside in wellies until the early hours, tryng to clear the drainholes of silt and debris the waters brought with them.  And suddenly, after a few hours, the waters subsided.

This morning we woke up to mud everywhere, but the ground was surprisingly dry, considering.

As far as I know, only one family had to be evacuated, with around 30cm of muddy water in their house.  We and close neighbours got off lightly.  Our garage has about 2cm of mud which will need clearing and there was also a minor infiltration in my husband’s workshop area.

garage

But the most urgent job for today was to clear the mud which had settled on pavements and terraces.  The local council were out clearing the “main” road which was under about 5cm of mud and littered with tree trunks and smaller debris.

They’ll also be coming round to assess the damage because, as water flooded down and around, it literally took half the road surface with it.

road01 (2)

road01

road03 (2)

road03

Husband even found this amongst the debris

fish

The stream running along our land is actually lower than it usually is at this time of year, but the current is a lot stronger.

IMGP5360

The banks are high enough here, that there is no risk.  It’s the part farther upstream we need to worry about.

Another storm and more rain is forecast for tonight.  Fingers crossed the stream doesn’t come visiting again because we haven’t finished cleaning from last night yet. And when we’ve finished cleaning mud, we’ve got a pile of sand to shift too.

sand

That was all deposited there during the night too as the water flooded over the land trying to get back to the stream.  I’m just really glad all our pets were indoors and our hens & veggies patch were not in the flood path.

best layer of the month # May

A big round of applause for our Sussex hen: Miss Plumpton!

IMGP5166

There are 31 days in May, and how many eggs did Miss Plumpton lay???  She laid thirty-one!  Yep, didn’t take a single day out to rest!

Mauricette didn’t do too badly, with 21.  However the older gals are slipping.  Miranda laid 8 and Miss Moneypenny . . . well she’s just been keeping the other hens’ eggs warm, and only laid one egg this month!

So grand total of 61 eggs this month.  Tomorrow we’ll be moving the gals to their “summer residence”: the second coop which is under the apple trees in the orchard.  That will give them lots of fresh pecking ground as well as shade.  I’m hoping the change of scenery will make Miss Moneypenny get over her broody phase which has been going on all month.