Tag Archives: gardening

The District Nurse

I got up around 8.00 today, which is late but not unforgivably so for an idle town dweller with nothing much to do. It gave me plenty of time to wrestle with plumbing, socks and trousers and do a spot of gardening before breakfast.

It was sort of gardening anyway, going over the joints of the paving stones with a flame gun. It’s far better than weedkiller and easier than hand weeding. The hedge looks like it needs a tidy, which reminded me I was planning some drastic pruning. If I get it cut back in the next two days I can get all the waste in the garden bin ready for the first collection of the year on Friday. Privet really isn’t good for compost.

This time next year I’m hoping to have a new permaculture based front garden. I was hoping to start this year but I haven’t felt up to doing much so far.

Granary toast for breakfast and some uplifting reading on WordPress, including this, this and this. I usually drop in here and here too, but I’m working slowly today. Apologies to those not mentioned, I’m just finding it harder to get round these days.

It was time for a walk then, as I’m trying to get more air and exercise. With a bad leg (not sure what is causing it, but sitting down all day isn’t helping) I’m struggling to do more than a few hundred yards, but that was just right to get back in time for the district nurse.

She provided me with a few bags and the phone number to get more plus help and advice. She also took blood pressure, heart rate and temperature readings with equipment that looked decidedly old-fashioned compared to the kit in hospital. All is as it should be. Finally she accepted that I was able to monitor my own bottom for signs of pressure sores, which was good. I’m a man, not a baboon, and such display is, frankly, neither necessary nor welcome.

By then it was time for lunch, shopping and a drive home.

I’m feeling tired now. Well, I’m convalescing so it’s allowed.

A good time for quiz shows and blogging, I feel.

Triviata

Yes, was surprised it was a real word too. I was looking for a title that denoted an accumulation of trivia and thought this was about right so checked it up to make sure if it was already taken, and yes it was. Shakespeare introduced 1,700 new words into English, but these days it’s not quite so easy.

There is also a Trivipedia, but no trivicumulation. I’m going to think about that…

I think it can be defined, in my sense, to denote a jumble of trivial news of the sort that makes up conversations between spouses or posts on blogs about normal life. Well, you may discuss world politics or philosophy with your spouse, but we tend to discuss children, what we did during the day, and housework. Or, more precisely, why I have done no housework.

So, his morning, after a day on the road yesterday, I drifted into consciousness just before 7.00 am, looked at the day outside and went back to bed for a while. Feeling energised I then sorted out books for charity, selected clothes for the Salvation Army (they seem to have been shrinking lately) and took a faulty kettle back to TESCO. It hadn’t been expensive but even cheap kettles are supposed to keep the water on the inside.

It’s surprising how long it takes to return a faulty kettle to TESCO. First you have to find someone to accept it, and at our branch that means going and standing at a shabby, anonymous counter at the back of the shop as everyone ignores you. Then, after finally intercepting a passing manager, you have to wait and see if they can find a replacement on the shelves or in the warehouse. They couldn’t. So I accepted a refund on my debit card.

Lunch was soup (Pea and Mint from TESCO) with fresh bread. Yes, I know I should make my own but I wanted something quick.

Blogging next – reading posts and adding bits to some posts I’m mulling over. I still have another post on Crowland Abbey to polish  (you have to ration these things out ) and a few others to develop.

Finally, gardening. I’ve been putting it off until the warmer weather came, and the warmer weather has come. As I have plenty of time this year, it really is time to get on top of the job. It’s also time to add some permaculture design and  wildlife to the garden.

I’m alternating TV, computer and cookery now. Julia is out at a meeting and when she returns she will be expecting meatballs. I’m still looking for a meatball recipe so “relaxed” and “well prepared” are words that don’t currently apply to me.

It will be different tomorrow – the Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry is already done.

Meanwhile, I’d better focus and stop browsing. I’ve just been reading this. It’s cookery, but not as we know it.

Readers of a nervous disposition may be better not clicking the link.

 

 

Writer’s Block

A proper post on writer’s block would, I suppose, be blank.

What I really mean is that I’m having trouble concentrating and writing anything coherent that has a chance of being interesting for people to read.

Got up, complained about knees, procrastinated, ate breakfast with wife, avoided washing up, watched TV, moaned about weather…

It’s not riveting stuff is it? I’m hoping it’s just the normal dull stuff that everyone does. You do all have mornings like that don’t you, it’s not just me? If you don’t, please don’t tell me. It’s bad enough that I’m having a bad day without finding that I’m the most boring man on WordPress.

I’m supposed to be planning, but that didn’t go well either.

The 50 new recipes I’m planning to make by the end of the year have ground to a halt because I have limited enthusiasm for poorly seasoned veggie burgers. It’s the fault of the recipe, but that doesn’t make them taste any better. The Mark 2 version with double seasoning, plus lime juice, lime zest, Henderson’s Relish and half a teaspoon of chilli powder is still bland, though a definite improvement on Mark 1. I may have to resort to using salt, but if I do that I might as well just buy them from a shop.

The killer CV (resume to those of you living in the New World) lives only in my imagination because I’m leaving job applications until after I’m sorted out health-wise. There’s no point getting a job interview if you then have to tell people you’ll be needing time off for medical reasons as soon as you start.

Then there is the redesign of the garden. We’ve neglected it badly for the last few years and it needs some serious attention. It’s an embarrassment. So I’m going to avoid talking about it.Yesterday I bought one of those tools for weeding between paving slabs without bending down. Tomorrow I may get round to using it. Then I will have to decide on the future of the slabs – they aren’t very permaculture…

Finally, fitness and diet.I’m doing more walking and birdwatching so that’s going OK. The diet seems to be working too, but when you think of the failed recipe experiments that’s not a surprise. I suppose some good is coming from those veggie burgers…

 

 

The coming year

Today I have been thinking of the coming year.

We are having a casual January to clear the farm and to set things in perspective. In February I will have to start doing things…

I’m likely to have more time on my hands in 2017 because, as Julia has pointed out in a kind yet firm way,  I’m unemployable. Age, size and lack of formal qualifications are all against me, and that’s before you consider that I’m rude, lazy and look like I’ve dressed in the dark. When looking at job adverts I have noticed that these qualities are not often requested.

On the other hand I do have my own tools and an estate car. If there’s nothing in prospect by spring I can always go gardening again, though I will be more selective with my clients this time. No gardens with steep slopes and steps, for instance.

Extra time is not all bad, as it will give me more time to shop and cook, resulting in us eating food that is better and cheaper. We will also probably lose weight, particularly me if I am doing more gardening. Time, I think, to rearrange our neglected garden on Permaculture principles. I might be poor but I’ll be healthy, and full of fibre.

Work-wise I need something to keep the wolf from the door for the next nine years, at which point I will be able to draw my pension.  Just nine years? Where did it all go?

I’m currently exploring a range of dead-end options to occupy my time until that day arrives.

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One of my favourite farm photos – think in terms of stormy weather or pots of gold.

(To be continued…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weeds and flowers

A good garden may have some weeds.
Thomas Fuller (1608-61)

We’ve had a couple of sets of volunteer gardeners helping us in the last few weeks.  As  a result, the beds are spick and span and weeded and pruned to within an inch of their life.

That’s not, as you may have gathered, my way of gardening.

I’m now having to travel further for my nettles and there is no chickweed or ground ivy at all. It will come back, but for the moment my tour of the edible garden has been reduced to a shadow of what it once was.

At least they didn’t try to weed the buddleias out this year. We’ve had to stop people doing that twice before. My view is that if it’s six feet tall with two inch wide stems, I have seen it and I would have removed it if I wanted it gone.

All in all, despite the pain of the missing foodstuffs, I have to say that it’s very good of people to give up their time and that the majority of the garden is much improved as a result of their work. (There you are, I don’t moan about everything, do I?)

Despite the clay and the wind and the lack of budget the beds are actually looking good this year. We will have to move some things around and do some drastic culling at some point but it’s now looking like a garden.  The periwinkle that started out as a 50p rescue plant from the “almost dead” bargain area of a garden centre is now threatening to take over an entire bed after just two years and has already contributed cuttings to a dozen other beds. The ice plants from the same place are also thriving, though not to the same extent. They do have one advantage over the periwinkle though, the leaves taste of avocado, cucumber or citrus, depending on the day. So at least one edible plant has survived the massacre.

And for the sake of symmetry, let us finish with another quote from Thomas Fuller.

One that would have the fruit must climb the tree.

Sounds impressive but ignores the existence of ladders.

The Friday post is late again

As you can see from the main photo, there’s nothing a chicken loves so much as a freshly turned flower bed.

With a lot of help from the Community Payback team we cleared a lot of the overgrown beds yesterday. This always seems to happen at this time of year – it’s too wet to go on the clay soil without damaging what’s left of the structure, then suddenly we are full of weeds.

We had six pairs of blackbirds on the allotment at one time, all enjoying fresh food sources. The Jackdaws and Pied Wagtails arrived a little later and the robin had a go too. Then the chickens arrived. They can move a lot of earth when they start scratching.

That was why we used to feed a “scratch feed” back in the days I was a poultryman keeping birds on deep litter. It was considered old-fashioned in the 70s but I learnt the business off a man who had worked in poultry before the war, so we did a lot of things the old way. We also used to get excellent results, and it’s possible that the two things are linked. There are nutritional and behavioural benefits to throwing grain on the floor (despite the presence of specialist “scratch feeds”  on the web, all you need to do is throw grain on the floor).

Anyway, back to the point – if you throw grain on the floor in a deep litter shed they will scratch the litter, which will stop it caking on top in damp weather, and will enhance the the composting effect.

I haven’t put a link to the term on the web because it turned up several pages of rubbish – there are even poultry keepers who feed “scratch” (as they call it) in feeders. Where is the “scratch” in that?

Putting grain in feeders to give the birds a choice of grain or layer ration is called choice feeding, but I think I may already have delivered more poultry-related content than most people want.

The only other thing of note for Friday was that the touch pad on my lap top has stopped working. I checked I hadn’t accidentally disabled it, and I hadn’t. Looks like I may have accidentally disabled it in another way, such as when I dropped it. Fortunately I have a wireless mouse as a back up.

Goats and Diplomas

We have our first school visit of the year tomorrow. Having misread the calendar, I thought it was next Tuesday. Now, though I’m not exactly in a panic, I’m not quite as relaxed as I could be.

News just in from the allotment, that the comfrey patch has been wrecked, has helped to further elevate the stress levels.

You wouldn’t think it was hard to manage a site where you can see (and even shout) from one end to the other, but it is. You’d also think that most people, knowing that we have a butterfly garden, would leave buddleias as butterfly food. But they don’t – although they haven’t actually pulled any out this year they did try to weed them out several times in the last couple of years.

To be honest, I’m beginning to wonder if I’d be better killing a few of them and burying them in the bean trench. The volunteers, that is, not the buddleia or the comfrey, which, unlike the volunteers, are both useful in the garden.

The good news is that the goats are looking good, that the potato and leek soup went down well, that we are having home-baked bread on Wednesday and that we are embarking on an exercise in scientific poultry management.

I am putting some kit together and by next week we should be in a position to monitor egg weights, bird weights and food consumption. We started by counting the birds today. We’re going to do it again on Wednesday just to be sure (they will keep moving!)

So that’s it, our customary halting progress, with one step forward and two steps back, but at least we’re doing it in the sunshine.

I will leave you with that positive thought, and a selection of goat pictures.

No, actually I’ll leave you with a picture of Julia and her new Diploma in Human Nutrition. I’m suspicious, but she seems to think it qualifies her to pass comment on my diet (apparently “chips” and “fried food” aren’t recognised as food groups by the awarding body) and who am I to argue? I’m at an age where I wouldn’t be able to find anyone else to put up with me if she kicks me into touch so looks like I’ll have to grin and bear it (at least until I perfect the art of slipping out for illicit burgers).

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Note serious expression and scholarly spectacles.