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Saturday, 31 October 2009

Friday, 30 October 2009

Happy Halloween



After much flapping I seem to have managed to fix my internet problems.
*Big sigh of relief!*
Many apologies if I haven't replied to you in the last few days, I have been completely locked out of everything.
Hope everyone has a fun Halloween,
A very relieved,

RO :o)

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Wordy Wednesday: Summer Farm.

Summer Farm
by Norman MacCaig (1910-1996)

Straws like tame lightnings lie about the grass
And hang zigzag on hedges. Green as glass
The water in the horse-trough shines.
Nine ducks go wobbling by in two straight lines.

A hen stares at nothing with one eye,
Then picks it up. Out of an empty sky
A swallow falls and, flickering through
The barn, dives up again into the dizzy blue.

I lie, not thinking, in the cool, soft grass,
Afraid of where a thought might take me -
This grasshopper with plated face
Unfolds his legs and finds himself in space.

Self under self, a pile of selves I stand
Threaded on time, and with metaphysic hand
Lift the farm like a lid and see
Farm within farm, and in the centre, me.


Monday, 26 October 2009

Hugo the Hedgehog.


We've had a bit of wildlife related drama at Tumbledown Farm today. Everyday once milking has finished in the morning we put the girls out into the main day area of the goat house where they go during the day, they like to lay around and snooze there and then wander outside into the yard and down the field if the weather is nice enough. In the evenings they all come in and have their own pens that they either have to themsleves or share with a close goaty friend. It seems that last night, after the girls had gone to bed and the day area had been tidied we had a visitor. This morning when we looked into the day area there was a tiny little brown ball near the main door. On closer inspection we discovered that it was a very tiny baby hedgehog. After a little conversation with baby Hugo we discovered that he really wasn't feeling too well, he was very cold and sleepy and didn't even want to try to hide when we said hello.

On realising the little fellow wasn't too happy I quickly went to get a cat carry case, lined it with fresh hay and gently scooped up baby Hugo and popped him in. The poor little fellow was so weak he didn't even bat an eye at me. I popped in some cat food and water for him in the hope that he was just hungry and would perk up but sadly he didn't. He seemed too cold to want to engage in any activity. I quickly made a makeshift hedgehog hot water bottle and popped it in with him. Then I set about calling the the local vets to find out where our nearest hedgehog rescue centre was. Luckily there was one just a few miles down the road. So off I went to with baby Hugo to the hedgehog rescue. He is now in their intensive care unit and we will have to wait and see if this poor little chap will make it. He is far too small to spend winter outside. So everyone please keep their fingers crossed that Hugo the hedgehog will make it.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

October Adventures at Tumbledown Farm.

Liriodendron tulipifera

I have at last found myself back at Tumbledown Farm after a long week away. Signs of autumn are slowly appearing. The Liriodendron is turning a delicious golden yellow and the Aged P's have already turned the central heating up to coma inducing levels.

Little Owl in the Orchard.

As I made coffee in the kitchen this morning one of the little owls was sat in their favourite apple tree in the orchard. They have become so used to us pottering around now that they hardly bat an eyelid when I pop out with the camera to take a picture. This years owlet has even taken to sitting on top of the Choisya in the back garden which is only a couple of metres away from the kitchen window.

Salvia and hover fly.

I missed Garden Bloggers Bloom Day again this month, I just never seem to be home. The garden is still full of colour though. The salvias and roses are blooming away brightly. There's a second flush of flowers from the pholx and the chocolate cosmos as ever is full of flowers.

Salvia "Dyson's Orangy Pink."

Rosa "Sweet Dreams."

Symphoricarpos alba.

As I drank my coffee this morning I sat on the couch staring out of the front window with Stilton thinking that I just couldn't see the point of snowberries and that I really must get around to pulling out the 101 self seeded shrubs around the garden. Then I spotted a beady eyed blackbird sitting in a snowberry bush. With a quick sidewards glance he moved forward and proceeded to pull off four large berries swallowing each one whole with great vigour. The white of the berries against his bright yellow beak and glossy black coat was particularly eye catching. So I guess snowberries do come in useful after all (well for some anyway, perhaps I'll leave the birds one -the rest are definitely going)!

Nasturtiums growing up old hay rack.

Veg Plot Rob.

Over in the veg plot it is awash with nasty urchins. They are even making their way up the side of the goat house and wrapping themselves around an old iron hay rack. Veg Plot Rob sat in the hawthorn and watched Stilton and I closely as we took our afternoon stroll around the plot. As I reached the greenhouse I found a dead bird strategically left across its threshold, Stilton likes to leave a little offering, whether it was for me or the god of small greenhouses I'm not quite sure. I also discovered ten bags of horse manure lovingly acquired for me by Aged P No. 2 (dad). After the ceremonial removal of dead animals and manure I made it into the greenhouse to see that my species Pelargoniums are still looking gorgeous.

Pelargonium "Royal Surprise" and Pelargonium sidoides.

Pelargonium "Lord Bute."

The girls (April front right).

Next on our afternoon stroll around Tumbledown we ventured into the goat paddock to see the girls. Well I wanted to see the girls, Stilton isn't really that fond of them. Mostly because April tries to squash him whenever she spots him. Stilton therefore likes to walk along the top of the fencing well out of the way of naughty kids toes and nibbling teeth. April is, I have to admit a bit of a terror. As I crouched down to take the shot above of the girls coming to greet me I was counting on them stopping, they did, all except April who planted her slobbery nose right in the middle of my camera lens and I duly had to spend ten minutes muttering to myself and wiping it clean as she happily chewed the camera strap.

Stilton roosting.

On the way back from the field Diana stopped to chat up Dracus in the billy paddock. He was most excited to be receiving some attention from a somewhat keen young goatling. He embarked on his best courtship routine of making "gob gob gob" noises and waggling his tongue about a lot. I've heard of bad chat up lines but this takes the biscuit (although it seemed to work quite well on Diana)!

Dracus whispering sweet nothings to Diana.

Stilton practising newly discovered courtship routine.

Stilton watched all this with great interest and when I walked over to the fence to talk to him, he did is best to impress me with his tongue waggling. I laughed a lot.

Sapphire waiting to be milked.

As promised earlier in the week, I said I'd tell you about my first attempts at making goats cheese. Luckily we have fresh goats milk on tap, so the tale starts with us milking the girls. When I say we I mean Aged P No. 1 (mum) and I. Stilton is a coward and will not come into the goat house. He stands instead at the door and complains bitterly until I come out!

Milking.

Stilton waiting for me to come out of the goat house.

Once we had milked we started to get ready to make the cheese. We sterilized the cheese cloth and got ready to filter the milk.

We took 2 litres of milk straight from milking and filtered it and then added some rennet to start the cheese off.

Once the rennet had been added the mixture was left to stand at room temperature for eight hours.

Then once the mixture had turned to curd we poured it into the cheese cloth.

The curd was hung up and left over night to drain any liquid from it.

The following morning we took the curd down.

Then I picked some fresh herbs from the herb bed and added a bit of seasoning and finally my first batch of soft goats cheese was ready. It was surprisingly mild and creamy.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Pucker up!

Pucker up!

I'm afraid I've spent the last week running about from one end of the country to the other and so my time for blogging has been brief. I have a few lovely pictures to fill the gaps for a day or two more and promise to blog about my brief encounters with little owls, goats cheese and beautiful english country gardens in the very near future ;o)

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Pumpkins!

Orange Sunshine

Over at Gardening Gone Wild they are having another Picture This competition. It has been my first year of having a veg plot and pretty much most of it has been harvested already, although I did enter some of the veggies in the Emsworth Village Show back in August. So when I saw that this months theme for the picture contest was "Abundant Harvest " I was a little dissapointed. But not for long! I have been keeping my eyes peeled for something that would fit Saxon's criteria and this week I spotted just the thing at one of my local farm shops. Pumpkins! Lots of pumpkins! They really have had a bumper harvest of pumpkins this year.

Bumper harvest of pumpkins.

I am a total beginner as regards to photography, although you can see from this blog that I really do love taking photo's. Earlier this year I recieved the rather lovely gift of a second hand Cannon DSLR camera. Since then I have gotten the bug. I now can't walk around a garden without itching to take a photo, infact I get positively twitchy if I can't. I love it because it provides me with a wonderful record of the flowers I have grown and gardens I have visited. I'm not very good with the technical side of it, although I keep trying to tell myself I am going to learn more. At the moment I just enjoy the spontaneity of wandering around with a camera and snapping things that make me smile.


I have chosen to enter "Orange Sunshine" in this months contest as for me it says October and bountiful harvest. It was taken on a very crisp, gloriously sunny autumn morning and I just loved the contrast of the blue sky against the warm orange of the pumpkins. If you click on the picture to enlarge it you will see that the moon was still out and sits just above the pumpkins in the middle of the picture.
I enjoyed them anyway, I hope you do too!