Jul 21, 2008
June has been a month of highs and low yet again. The low point was reached when Mr Tibbs, my attic cat died. He had finally come down from the attic and had made himself fully at home, following me round the farm and sleeping on my bed. Sadly he ate some rat poison somewhere, I donít use it and I fervently hope there isnít any left lying around from the previous owners. The vet and I battled to keep him alive and at one point we thought we were going to be successful but it was not to be, we just couldnít stop the internal bleeding.
June was also the month of the sour cherries. The late frost here in April wiped out just about all of my tree fruits but a couple of the sour cherry trees were protected from the frost and gave a bumper harvest. The trees havenít been shaped or pruned at all so all the fruit was at the top and un-pickable. Cue pruning chainsaw style and then cherry picking became a lot easier! So I now have what started as 7 lbs of cherries converted to glacť cherries, the left-over syrup from that process is bottled to pour over ice cream or stir into yoghurt, more cherry jam, some cherry jelly which is a really soft set but again is wonderful in yoghurt or crŤme fraiche and some cherry vodka in my store cupboard. The recipes are on my other blog, www.dalnd.blogspot.com
The Lacey Ladies have stopped laying; the most prolific layer went broody first and now has 3 chicks and the next two layers have also gone broody and are on a few eggs leaving only the non-layer to keep the cockerel Mr L company.
June has also been the month of my first haymaking and as expected it was not without drama. Cutting the grass went well, I found two leverets that I was able to chase to the hedge at the top of the field. They needed my presence as I was accompanied on trips round the field by a couple of buzzards, a hawk and a bunch of crows. The buzzards went away hungry but the hawk got a mouse or two while the crows were feasting on the locusts that took flight as I cut. Setting the cutter down once Iíd finished was the problem; all went well until I unhooked the blades from their transport position and tried to lower them to the ground. The hydraulics pushed them from vertical and they toppled, with only the lifting chain to break their fall Ė it failed on the second bounce so Iím now waiting for the chain to be repaired so I can cut another field.
The tedder worked fine and then it was time for the baler. The first bale that had been left over from the last time the baler had been used came out fine but after that nothing. The baler either broke the twine or failed to tie the knots, nothing we did would make it bale so the local agricultural engineer was called to come out and see what was the problem. His diagnoses after riding shotgun on the back of the baler was that he couldnít see anything wrong so though it might be the baler twine. Iíd had bought plastic twine as the local shop was out of sisal. Thankfully Regis whoíd come over to help me with the hay had some sisal lurking at the back of his barn. A change of twine and the baler worked perfectly so I now have small bales of hay that I can manage easily and the alpacas have fresh hay that they love.
There has been some progress on the kitchen as well. Iíd started on some of the wall cupboards with the help of number 2 son who came over for 10 days but had stopped as Iíd had problems with the corner cupboard. In fact both the upper and lower corner cupboards have been the most difficult pieces to fit and I would have been totally stumped if it hadnít been for Chris (another FrenchEntree person) who lives close by. He and his brother had sorted the lower cupboard on a previous visit and Chris worked his magic again and persuaded the upper cupboard to fit Ė the problem there being that the corner was greater than 90 degrees and the walls themselves are not straight vertically or horizontally. But now the cupboards are all up. Are they finished? No of course not as I have my children over for the summer and the outside things such as haymaking have taken precedence.
On the farm, the alpacas have been shorn and are busily re-growing their fleeces. Iíve given up on the vegetable area as by the time the ground dried out enough to be workable everything else needed to be done and it was to late to plant so I now need to rethink what to do to qualify for my carte vitale. But the sun started shining after mid-summers day and all seems like endless summer days again.