In nature, sustainable living on March 19, 2012 at 1:57 pm
As Spring Equinox approaches we are spending lots of time in the garden. It’s that time of year when the green returns and we are enthused by spending time revelling in it. In the polytunnel beds have been dug and manured ready for the plants that are growing in the seed trays. The Peach tree is in full flower. This will need to be hand pollinated as there are few insects about this early. Some seeds are sown direct in the beds: Oriental Salad Mix, Rocket, Spring Onions and Spinach.
All the manure used in the garden is from our own animals. There’s also the compost made from vegetable waste from the garden, vegetable peelings and teabags from the house. It is full of worms, beautifully dark and crumbly.
Spring Equinox is a day earlier than usual this year because of the leap year. The Equinox ocurs about 6 hours later each year, with a jump of a day backwards on leap years, hence 20th March this year. The Sun will be rising earlier each day now, 6.o5 tomorrow, and nightfall will be coming later and later.
Strawberries are already flowering in the polytunnel, very early this year. This is an alpine variety, small but very sweet fruits.
At the Vernal Equinox day and night are of almost equal length. The Sun rises exactly in the east, travels through the sky for 12 hours, then sets exactly in the west. I look forward to the budding trees revealing their beautiful new leaves, the wind becoming less harsh, plants sprouting and everything being seized by the vibrancy of the Spring season. For this is the real beginning of Spring.
Everything in nature is being revived, growth really takes off and the Sun is gaining height and strength. A great festival of awakening.
Happy days to all. May you and yours revel in the joy and beauty of it all.
In Animals, arigna on December 15, 2011 at 5:46 pm
The Sun when it appears in these dark December days has a watery wintry feel…in tune with the weather I suppose. The air is damp and the earth is permanently wet. When out and about one is aware of the particles of moisture in the air. The dogs have to be dried off before they come into the house in the evening. They spend the days outdoors and come into the house as darkness falls. They enjoy their house time relax before going to their shed for the night.
The sunsets have not been very dramatic in the recent cloudy grey weather. This one a few evenings ago is as good as it’s got.
The animals are all being fed hay now…they really appreciate this on rainy days as they don’t like getting wet. A lot of people think Donkeys coats are waterproof but that is not the case. In the mornings they get a little treat. Daphne really likes carrots as do the goats. Enid the milking goat gets an extra treat of some organic concentrate while she is being milked. Other favourite treats are Ginger Nut biscuits, Polo Mints and bread of any type.
In the garden the Fuschias continue to flower. I have never seen flowering to continue so far into the year. They are not of course as plentiful as earlier in the year but they are a welcome splash of unexpected colour at this time.
Spindle has now lost it’s leaves but the berries are still giving a good show.
On the lane the sloes still hang from the leafless Blackthorn. Usually these would have been consumed by birds by now. Tradition dictates that these and indeed any berries are not picked after Halloween as it is said that the Pooka would have breathed on them at that time.
Lower in the valley the Arigna river slowly meanders on its journey to Lough Allen.
In Animals, nature on November 28, 2011 at 11:49 am
As the month draws to a close the weather has become a little colder…we were spoilt by the mild conditions of October and November. Still no heavy frost…lots of rain though. The sun is low is the sky…less than a month to go now before it starts its upward journey and the days once again start to lenghten.
In the garden the plants seem to have been fooled by the Spring like Autumn. I have never seen Borage to be still producing flowers into November…and this plant is outside!
The Fatsia has produces it’s odd little flowers…last year they were destroyed by hard frost. Daffodils and Crocus are budding early…as are so many other things.
The grass in the fields continues to grow which keeps the animals happy. Last year we were feeding them hay throughout November. We have hay in store so if the weather suddenly turns we are prepared. Lots of food in our own store too. We were snowed in last year for 2 weeks at end of November into first week of December. Then we had a thaw before being cut off again for 2 more weeks which included Christmas Day.
Daphne is looking very cuddly at the moment as she has grown her Winter coat…she’s takin no chances with the weather!
The dogs and I continue to have twice daily walks on the lane regardless of weather. The low sun gives little Lettie the shadow of a Great Dane…and me a giant. Yes…I continue to be amused by the long shadows…I’m easily entertained really!
In the kitchen work continues turning the Summer fruits into jams and chutneys. I have booked a stall at the Christmas Fair in Manorhamilton next Sunday so will sell the preserves there. I will also do some baked goods…Almond Tarts, Melting Moments and Caramel Slices are always good sellers. So…a busy week ahead for me.
In Gardening on November 10, 2011 at 3:46 pm
The weather here at the moment is amazing. Blue sky, sunshine and so mild too. The only clue to the fact that it’s Winter is the lack of leaves on the trees. Hopefully it will continue. I find these type of days quite invigorating.
In the garden many plants are flowering again. This Fuschia did’nt do well flower wise in the wet Summer…it is now covered in cheery blooms. Not a sight I’ve seen in previous November’s. This time last year was 10 degrees colder…we had really heavy snow at the end of November.
Feverfew is flowering again…
as is this Rose which is in a pot by the back door.
Inula is flowering by the garden gate…
and on the laneway the skeletal remains of Summer plants serve as a reminder that yes…it is Winter.
I’m delighted that this Spindle has flowered and produced berries as I grew it from a seed planted about 8 years ago. Soon the skin on these seeds will split open to reveal the vibrant orange coloured seeds inside.
In Gardening, nature on November 8, 2011 at 5:41 pm
The last few days have been lovely here. Frosty mornings followed by bright sunny days. The sun is low in the sky making for long shadows. Driving into the sun at this time is a pain as the low lying sun does’nt get blocked out by the sun visor…a small price to pay for these lovely days. The nights are long now…darkness falling by 5.30. Waking this morning I was expecting another sunny morning but alas there was no frost so the day was cloudy and dull.
Hopefully the frost will return and we will once again have diamonds glistening in the grass…
and gossamer cobwebs to be admired.
The neighbours Cows still have lots of grass to eat in the fields. The mild wet weather we had through September and October ensured continuous growth.
In the garden plants like Lamium…
and Pulmonaria ensure there is still some colour. If the weather stays mild it will be an opportunity to make more plants by dividing these stalwarts of the garden.
Rheum palmatum gives a last splash of colour before retreating underground until next Spring. Here’s hoping for more frosty nights and long shadow days.
In Animals, Cooking, Gardening, sustainable living on July 6, 2011 at 4:21 pm
The Blackcurrant harvest continues as more fruit ripens each day. Other years you could cut off branches and pick off the fruit as all would be ripe together. This year however the bushes have to be gone over daily to pick the newly ripened fruit.
As branches are eventually stripped of fruit the goats get a treat, competing with each other to get any remaining currants which they love. I’m sure a vitamin C boost won’t do them any harm!
I freeze the fruit in 1kg lots. This is then enough to make 7 or 8 pots of jam or a few bottles of cordial. Blackcurrants are of course full of health promoting antioxidants and Vitamin C. They are helpful for joint inflamations, eyestrain and urinary tract infections. Research in New Zealand has found a compound which may help some types of asthma.
As I pick the dogs keep me company. Lettie sits on the garden bench, a plank of wood on some concrete blocks, and enjoys the heat of the sun.
Freddie stays closer, dozing under the shade of a Blackcurrant bush. I’ts amazing to think this little guy has only been with us little over a week. He just fitted perfectly into the routine. He hangs out with the other dogs, does’nt run off and is very affectionate. Everyone who visits loves him.