Friday, 11 June 2010

Prances with Goats: June at Tumbledown Farm.

 Old garden bench near the orchard.

Time has got his running shoes on again and I'm damned if I can keep up! The month of greenery and growth has been and gone, swallowing parts of the garden with it. I failed miserably to provide an update on events at Tumbledown Farm last month. Kiddings and flower shows are largely to blame. The rain is coming down again this evening, the wind is howling and Aged P No. 1 has put the heating on so I best retire to my armchair and tell you what has been happening in darkest Lincolnshire. 

 Bird Cherry (Prunus padus)

Of May I must just mention one thing from the garden that I did not get to share with you: the bird cherry tree (Prunus padus). Ours is a monster. It stretches towards the sky like a flailing octopus with tendrils over 30ft long. For much of the year it is a fairly insignificant creature, but in May it awakens and is smothered in delicate white flowers which, on a warm day have a deliciously sweet almond smell. This has to be one of my favourite spring trees and makes such a refreshing change from the usual fluffy pink cherry blossom in so many gardens at this time of year. 

The other thing May was full of was this...

Delphi just after she was born being cleaned up by her mum Dianna.

Back in April I introduced you to the quads. Well since then we have had several kiddings, some went pretty smoothly like little Delphi's pictured above, others did not. We have had eleven babies in total this year but sadly two died the evening before I went to the Malvern Spring Show during a very difficult kidding involving a second set of quads. Little Max and Rosemary, the kids who survived have already found new homes on a smallholding in Kent with their mother Ruby. Since Aged P No. 1's operation back in April we have been struggling to cope with the number of goats in the herd and so sadly Ruby, Jorga another of our milkers and the two kids have set off to pastures new. The coming and going of animals is all part of having a smallholding, but there are always moments of sadness when you have to say goodbye to old friends, but losing babies that have barely had a chance at life is utterly heart breaking.


As a working smallholding we cannot keep every kid that is born in the herd. We are however lucky enough to have animals that are of a standard that can find good homes reasonably easily. We have six babies left now. Pixie one of the original quads, and one of my favourites (sniff sniff) left us a couple of weeks ago to start a fantastic new life on a smallholding in Cornwall with a show herd. I know she has a super new home, but I do miss the little girl, she was always the first to give me kiss in the morning and loved to sit on my lap for a tickle. She is happy though and has sent me a letter and some photo's already telling me all about her new surroundings and friends. Dahlia her sister will stay at Tumbledown and be part the herd. Her brother Delovelyson will also stay at Tumbledown as a stud male, he has a few weeks grace left to play with the other babies before he will have to be moved over to live with the big boys. 

Dee Dee, Delphi and Delovelyson.

The babies have all been bottle fed since they were about a week old. This has meant a tremendous amount of work making sure that they have had bottles three or four times a day every day. When they were tiny this was quite a pleasurable task, they would sit on my lap and take their bottles with little fuss. Now however is a different story. They have grown. They each have their own cheeky little personalities, and get rather impatient that I cannot feed all six of them at once. This usually results in me getting nibbled and jumped on and nutted in the shins until it is their turn to get a bottle. Delovelyson is the worst. He is a hair puller. Oooch! We have had words about his behaviour, which he has ignored. 

Hold onto your ears! Babies running in the paddock.

Once they have had their milk they all become happy little beasts again and give me kisses and come for a fuss and a tickle behind the ears. Posing for the camera however is not something they like to do. They are eternal fidgets. They do not stay still for a moment. Getting a non-blurry picture of them is nigh on impossible. Well actually I freely admit it, I have given up trying to even take pictures of them now. Letting this lot near my hair is bad enough, letting them near my camera requires a large cup of camomile tea beforehand and something even stronger afterwards.
Stilton, Ruler of the Universe.

Stilton is not that impressed with the babies. He likes to keep his distance. This usually involves him sitting up one of the apple trees and looking on in disgust from a comfortable distance. He frequently gives me filthy looks as if to say "Why on earth are you playing with those things Mum?"

Asparagus pea in the veg plot.

The veg plot has been a little neglected this year. I have found it a struggle to keep on top of everything with having to cope with all the kiddings and caring for mum after her operation. Her recovery has not gone well after the knee replacement. In fact she has been told that she is not recovering as she should. She has very little use of the leg, far less it seems than she did before the operation. After several frustrating visits to the hospital we are STILL waiting to see her consultant who has been off sick for over a month now. In the meantime we have to deal with the fact that mum cannot walk, and nobody seems to be able to help her which has left us feeling very worn out and disheartened.

Broad bean in flower.

The broad beans have been full of flowers and bees and the peas have been absolute stars. I went out the other afternoon and picked my first crop of peas in a shower of rain. I returned indoors with a basket full of fresh peas and herbs for a fresh summer salad and it was utterly delicious. All the more so for the rain!

My favourite! Peas :o)

 Sage in the herb bed.

The herb bed has been doing tremendously well; everything I planted last year seems to have thrived, everything that is except for the rosemary, which died. I never seem to have any luck with rosemary, in recent years it just seems to keel over at the first sign of cold weather. Is it just me? Or is rosemary far less hardy than it used to be?

  Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare 'Purpureum').

The bronze fennel is looking particularly lovely at the moment. It is one of my favourite herbs, not just for taste but in looks too. I love it in the herb garden but have enjoyed growing it in flower borders in the past. When I lived in Wiltshire I used to grow Allium christophii up through it, which was a combination I adored. One new herb I am trying this year, which I am very taken with, is Salvia 'Golden Delicious'. Those that know me well enough know that I have a 'thing' for salvia's. Salvia 'Golden Delicious' has very bright golden foliage and has traditionally been used as a bedding plant that produces vivid red flowers in the autumn. This little gem however is staying in my herb bed. I wondered with a name like 'Golden Delicious' whether it was possible that it could taste like an apple and when I nipped off a leaf and took a nibble I was amazed. This plant really does taste of apples. It is fantastic in salads. It has completely won me over... I love it!

Sweet Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) in the herb bed.

Titch inspecting the herb bed.

Other new things I am trying out this year are asparagus peas (Lotus tetragobolonus), which have the most beautiful red flowers and tree spinach (Chenopodium giganteum). The asparagus peas are a very old vegetable thought to date back to the 1590's or earlier. They produce unusual small pods that are supposed to taste like a cross between peas and asparagus. The young leaves of the tree spinach can be used in salads and the older ones treated as ordinary spinach. I was drawn to the beautiful magenta centres of the leaves, they are very striking and I am all for a bit of jazz on the veg plot!

Tree spinach (Chenopodium giganteum).


Fruit seems to be doing well this year. There are large numbers of blackcurrants, gooseberries, strawberries, and raspberries forming. My small rhubarb plant that I put in last year is going strong and looks ready to offer up its first stems. The apple trees are bearing lots of tiny apples and the kiwi is smothered in hundreds of tiny kiwis. So fingers crossed there are going to be some very tasty fruit salads and puddings this year! 


I fear I am starting to ramble already. There is much to see in the garden at the moment. We are currently on Liriodendron watch as it looks like just maybe (fingers crossed) that it is going to flower for the first time. Something we have waited a VERY long time for. Yes I really am that excited about a tree flowering! I haven't got time to show you everything in the garden. I've picked out a few favourites to share with you.

Bee on Geranium phaeum 'Sambor'.

Under the shade of the old greengage tree are great swathes of hardy geranium phaeum 'Sambor' and 'Lilly Lovell'. These are two of my absolute favourite hardy geraniums and look just beautiful with the dappled afternoon sun on them. They provide some marvellous early colour and the bees love them, even if hanging onto them is a finely tuned balancing act! Other favourites with the both the bees and myself are the real garden staples, foxgloves and lavender.


Lavender 'Victory'

Paeonia lactiflora

I'm anyone's for a peony! They only last but a fleeting moment, but oh they are so beautiful...I could go on but for your benefit I will stop myself. This year I have grown rather fond of schizanthus. They have provided an exceedingly pretty faced presence in the flower border and have not failed to make me smile whenever I have passed by.


Last of the garden flowers for June that I just really can't get enough of is Abutilon vitifolium 'Violacae'. It is simply divine I could look at it for hours! 

Abutilon vitifolium 'Violacae'

Leo in an apple tree.

Sorrel in the hay meadow.

So that is just about it for this month. The hay meadow is starting to grow tall. Stilton and I went for a stroll in it earlier in the week. It was full of insects buzzing around and pheasants flying off in fright as they heard us coming. The cow parsley was flowering and the grass swayed in the breeze. It was a blissful afternoons escape.

Bee on cow parsley.

Grass in hay meadow.


Kyna said...

Many people raise goats in the area I live in. If you raise goats, they call you a 'goat roper' lol.

A friend of ours raises them, and their goat just had two kids. I got to hold one of them, and it was too cute! Loved all of your pictures, and I'm happy to see Stilton in your header again :D

Helen said...

RO, That was a lovely few minutes in the country. I feel calmer just reading about it. Thanks for taking us on such a long, leisurely stroll.

The kids are adorable. My uncle and his family lived for a while on a farm (it was my aunt who was the farmer), including a small herd of goats. When their family went on vacation, my husband and I would goat-sit. Once we eventually got the goat onto the milking stand, I remember it as a restful experience, squirting the milk into the pail. Never quite developed a taste for goat's milk, unfortunately. If I'd only known how to make cheese!

Antique ART Garden said...

Good gracious Golly woman are you busy or WHAT !!!?? I loved this post, loved the goats and your stories, loved the cat pictures and their disgusted arrogant looks towards the goats. Sorry to hear about your mom and the trouble she is having. Your photography is so wonderful ! Thanks, Gina

Heather at Dusty Bay said...

Oh how sweet - your pictures are AMAZING!

debsgarden said...

I loved your update! Your kids are so cute. It would be hard for me to let them go, too! I enjoyed the tour of your garden. I especially like the bee on geranium shot. And that photo of Titch says it all!

RURAL magazine said...

So much, where do I start?

Well with the visuals of course, oh my those photos, sigh... Gorgeous.

Asparagus peas? I'm in, next year I will look for seeds, sounds so good.
Goats, adorable, I think that I am in love, with all of them.

And of course, the cats, especially Stilton, so magnificent. Tich looks rather irked at having his photograph taken, to funny.

Hope that things take a turn for the better with your Mom, and soon.


miu said...

I love your pics. Oh I wish I could live in a firm.

Anonymous said...

Dear RO, This has, without doubt, been one of the most enchanting postings I have read in a very long time. Beautifully written, professionally photographed and charmingly presented it is, for me and many others I am sure, the perfect start to the weekend. Not only is it so refreshing to look at and read, but it is also informative and I have come away feeling both enriched and more knowledgeable. The kids are delightful and I am certain the source of much pleasure [alongside the hard work].

I am so sorry that your mother is not, post operatively, making the progress she should. I trust that any problems will soon be sorted.

Finally, dear RO, thank you for such a kind and thoughtful message left on my recent 'Explanatory Note'. It was, and is, more valued and appreciated than words can describe.

Laura Bloomsbury said...

what a gorgeous, gorgeous post - words fail me. The pictures speak volumes and such a lovely read too.

Laura x

Liz said...

Hi RO,

Lovely photos, I imagine you really do have a lot of fun with those Kids!

(replace fun with nightmares :) heehee )

Wonderful photos, I love the grass in the hay field - lovely!!!

Anonymous said...

Great post as always and the photos too. Of course looking in from the outside it seems an idyll! But I know enough to know all the hard work that lies behind all of it.
Flower is amazing this year and you seem to get so much from it all.
Best wishes and for your mother's health.

Emma said...

Dear RO, so lovely to read up on your news and see what's going on in your garden.Bit jealous of the veggie bits as I've abandoned my veg garden this year. The goats and cats are adorable.I think I want goats now! If only I had the space! Emma x

Sharon Lovejoy said...

I lingered over every photo. Everything is so lovely and full of life.

And, I refuse to grow up too.

All smallholding JOYS to you,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

Autumn Belle said...

June is truly a wonderful time in your garden, with so many beautiful blooms and adorable kids. Love your stories and pictures.

Alice Joyce said...

So beautiful... and touching, all together.
I'm carried away!

freerangegirl said...

I love your photographs. I dream of raising goats one day - yours are gorgeous. Love the bronze fennel as well - I was at Chelsea too and it was everywhere - I bought some seeds, so next year - fingers crossed!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post!
I love the little goats. Too bad you have to give some of them away.
Lovely pictures, I don’t see any neglect in your veggie garden. Everything is doing great!

Juliet said...

Gorgeous photos, RO, and I envy you all that fruit - it looks delicious :-D

Stilton is as handsome as ever, but I like the photo of Leo best - it's so sharp, it shows all the details of his whiskers.

Sorry to hear your Mum isn't recovering properly from the op. - I hope she is able to see her consultant and make some progress soon.

James A-S said...

What very fine goats although I worry that calling anything Delovelyson is going to make picking up girl goats when he is teenager a bit tricky.

easygardener said...

The goats look delightful (but then I don't have to do all the hard work)!
Love the name Delovelyson - he looks like trouble :-)

Luzia said...

Such a great variety of pictures form plants, cats and goats. Wonderful studies from them (I love goats and cats!) and so interessting to see. A big hug from Luzia.

Marie-Monique said...

J'adore flâner parmi vos superbes photos de votre jardin...Je suis subjuguée par tant de variétés de plantes.
J'aime particulièrement l'image de la fleur Schizantus. Merci pour cet enchantement......