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Valkyrie

Updates from Devon

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I thought I'd do a slightly different thread from the old one.  Not sure whether to call it a smallholding (which we have a CPA number - but unable to reach the office to change the details) or homestead as a lot of smallholders have started to do on Youtube to cater for the Americans and worldwide audience.  CPA number easy, go on DEFRA, find the phone number - number is not recognised.  Now just in case it's me, I try a few more times.  You'd think they'd sort that out!  So on my retreat to quilting heaven with the North Hampshire ladies, one of which has a holding.  Suggested I get in touch with this section.  As far as I can see the phone number is exactly the same - but ahaaaaaaaa it has an email contact number.  Then again it has so many different subtitles which to choooooose?!

Anyway spring has finally come.  Or it may be summer already.  A guy on a tractor saw OH the other day and asked him what we were doing - there has been a fair few comments on the veg patch!  They have obviously been watching the building work - rabbit proof veggie area - and then the long black lines which could be marked for a heli-pad, but no cross bar (they wouldn't be able to see that unless in a plane or helicopter!) are actually weed (wild flower and grass) suppressants.  

Were invited to a dinner party down the road last night - wow, my first dinner party and my goodness it was fabulous!  They got a little excited at the thought of me doing veggies, and already decided I need to sell it!  :lol:  On the way down the road I spotted Early Purple Orchids - that was exciting as they were on our bank!  Closer to the gates there are primroses blending with pale violets.  Not much blackthorn as it has been shredded in the hedge trimmings.  That is not going to happen again for a few years - it needs to grow and then be rotated for wildlife.

The wildlife lady came to walk around the property and was delighted we had already started putting in things for the wildlife (although we feel dual-purpose as we want some of the goodies too) and although we couldn't find a single yellow rattle seedling, she has given us a few ideas as a plan B.  The wildlife trust is keen on getting pockets of areas for the greater horseshoe bat as it is in decline.  It would be nice to think that they could use us as a motorway service station as they travel cross-country.

So far in the veg patch we have all the first early potatoes in the ground and a few of the second earlies - well 18 Charlottes, because the pile of compost is now in the way of progression, so I have tried to rake some further up.  Well that'll be enough for another 18!  On the opposite side of the helipad the garlic is growing and the onion sets are filling 3 beds.  This is what happens when you forget you ordered some with one company and then order same and more of a different variety from another company.  Only did that because I'd forgotten I'd already bought seeds.  I have a lot of senior moments lately!

Broad beans are doing nicely and I've filled gaps in with more seeds - no sign yet.

In the greenhouse the tomatoes and peppers have been potted on and no longer in the propagator in the porch.  They are quite leggy but already flowering.  I also have pots of celeriac, sweet peas (purdy for smelly bunches to pick for indoors), leeks - forgot the winter ones but they are now on order!  Tamar Organics - great for big seed packets for those feeding customers. Beetroot, chard and more spinach sown in another section.  Underneath the work bench I have been adding compost and already have spinach ready for picking, rocket, spring onions, yellow purslane, carrots and more salads - all very exciting!  Wildlife is a little sad because the female deer, Juliet, was run over recently.  Something has dragged her through a hedge (prime suspect is the badger) and nothing much left.  Romeo has been visiting on his own and chomping plants.  Obviously confused as one flower bed has been fenced off - not to prevent him nibbling but to prevent poor starving chickens from churning up the plants!  Near and in the veggie patch we have had delightful sightings of half a pheasant, half a rabbit and a leg of rabbit on a fence post along with a picked clean pheasant breast.  The remaining parts (except for the unlucky rabbit feet - both hind leg leftovers, not sure why they call it lucky!) never stay and can only think it's Bertie or Bessie Buzzard feeding their Tim nice but Dim offspring.  Apparently he has been learning to fly as he has been coaxed further out but did a very grand belly flop onto our neighbours lawn.  He then wails for mummy to help him.  I have heard him!:lol:  Of course left over remains may have been taken by Mistress Vixen as she must have given birth by now.  We see signs of rabbit fur in large patches around the field but no sign of bodies (which is another reason for thinking the buzzards have shelter inside the veg patch) and she carries the whole thing back to her babes.

Chickens have been separated.  The big ones (well the twins) have decided on a new fun sport - it's let's chew up the curly creature!  So Fudgebutt and Curlywurly have been separated before they kill them!  Both are sporting purple rinses on their heads - Curly was particularly bad with 2 holes in her head.  Obviously fine as she scoffed a fair few raisins while I was patching her up.  All healing well when the 2 little ones escaped and were trounced yet again.  Fortunately I spotted one of the twins calculating her target and flying over the barrier, stopped her before she did any damage apart from chasing.  Both twins have had their wings clipped.  All nice perchy fun bits have also been removed as they discovered clipped wings didn't matter when they could use things as stepping (jumping) stones!  I'm considering naming the big shelter "Jurassic Park" as I seem to have a pair of very intelligent velociraptors! Anti-peck spray is at the ready.  Curlywurly is the only chicken left to lay - probably due to stress - but she has been nest box hogging yesterday and whingeing.  I think perhaps today will be the day!

We have chiffchaffs - wasn't sure if the first one would stay, but they haven't left.  The swallows are here.  The butterflies are on the increase and hairy caterpillars are on the march (believe it is a ruby tiger moth).  All the fruit trees are starting to flower - the cherries are just coming out.  We have palmate and smooth newts and we did have a frog but the chickens ate him and lots of tadpoles.  It must be warm as we have a pond surrounded by feathered paving stones - ah nope - female pheasants drinking in unison.  Very cute.  Poor Dudley Pheasant has hayfever - I sympathised as I also was suffering that day.  But we are both fine now!

Next door's cat seeks me out and accompanies me around the garden.  He is fond of a tummy squiffle.  But he will walk under my feet so (as I have said before) I do The Monkees walking down the sand dunes in their Foreign Legion gear funny stagger walk.

Anyway I think you've all suffered enough and I'll rescue poor Trigger who is yelling "let me ouuuuut!"  Or it could be a response to the other cockerel down the road who is bragging "I've got girls!" and Trigger responds "so have I!"

 

 

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Great update Valkyrie - I'm impressed at how far on your veg are.  Our swallows arrived yesterday, as did the first of our home-bred chicks - and the remaining 3 (2 eggs failed to hatch) arrived through the day - so 4 little cheepy bumblebees.  Weather's great so I may open the eglu door for them tomorrow and see whether Midge will take her babies on their first outing.

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Thank you Minmoosie.  With regard to veg, I think I started them too early as the weather was too cold to put them out.  I think the sets were spot on - we are just late with the compost and weed suppressing.  Held back by a) sheep grazing the field down, b) fencing to be done and c) rubbish weather!  Now it's a race to get things done in the heat!

Curlywurly laid her first egg yesterday - she was whingeing and nest box Jack-in-the-box-ing all day.  Went to bed without laying anything and the following morning repeated the behaviour.  After all that I found her egg on the floor of the run!:roll:  Luckily Fudge had already laid and the two eggs are so different, Curly's being quite pointed and fawn coloured.  Fudge's are almost white and you can just about see the pointy end.

Took DD and her partner to our friends and she gave Lamborghini his bottle feed.  He is finally drinking from a bucket so that's the last of the bottle feeding for him.  We had lots of cuddles.  His eyesight is now perfectly fine - they wondered if he had some lack of oxygen to the brain as he is clearly very slow to progress, but progressing he is nevertheless.  He will become a ram companion so he won't be going to freezer camp.  His brother weighs a ton!  

Our friends informed us that it does rain rabbits here - buzzards grab them, fly up and drop.:vom:  Not seen it, but I guess that's how the rabbit remains end up in the veg patch!  

Saw more swallows yesterday and finally we've had loads of brimstone and orange tip butterflies.  Some darker ones that might have been tortoiseshells and a few peacocks.  I'm now going down to the veggie patch to move more compost (did a lot yesterday) before it heats up too much!  

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I am really enjoying your updates, Valkyrie! I guess that it's all a real learning curve as it's your first year but it does sound very labour intensive! 

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Definitely at the moment!  The no dig system is all shovelling compost at the moment!  OH managed to damage his shoulder and was told to rest it!  So it was just me but this morning he came and helped so it went much quicker.  Only did 2 more beds - and a little blue butterfly kept landing on the bottom layer of spent mushroom compost right where I wanted to empty the top layer!  I assume it was a holly blue - have no idea.  Eventually it found the pile further up.  I managed to get my finger so close a couple of times - the idea to get it on there to transfer it to a safe place!  Although we did decide we needed 2 wheelbarrows - one filling while the other was emptying!  Then it got so hot we came indoors.  I do enjoy raking it over - it becomes my Zen garden!

Trigger has been yelling his head off all day since 6.30 - with a breather in between.  We also saw the fox heading up to the farm above us - Trigger wasn't yelling for that though - he was quiet!  However the geese up there kicked off big time.  I don't think Trigger likes rooks - they have been doing Alfred Hitchcock film re-enactments along the power lines.  Quite funny listening to them.

OH has suggested we get down the field early while it's cool and we can crack on and finish the potato area.  Now that would be great - we still have up to May to plant them now.  I do need to get the parsnips up and running.  

I've also ordered my leeks (and more bits like seed compost) from Tamar Organics - they have a good reputation even as far as Scotland!  Most seeds I've sown are popping up in the greenhouse.  More potting on soon!

I'm not looking forward to Tuesday - very humid and thunderstorms predicted!  

 

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Yes it is a holly blue butterfly - and a male.  It doesn't say anything about them loving poopy compost though.

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I've been watching the Escape to the Chateau with the Strawbridge family and was amazed at how quickly things seemed to come together outdoors. I looked up their website and they offer 'Garden Days' where you PAY to go and work in their garden doing whatever needs doing at the time and, in return, Dick cooks up a big lunch with wine included!!! They are booked up WAY in advance too! Valkyrie.....just an idea ;)

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Lovely to hear your news Val

I was over at M&M's today, so saw her wee chickies... so cute. Her place is coming on very well and I have veg garden envy!

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Valkyrie - it's all sounding wonderful.  Sounds like you've got a monster veg garden!  Had a lovely walk with Clare today and then got the last of our fruit trees (for this year) in - they've been heeled in what will be the new strawberry patch for too long because I was waiting for the man with the pick axe to dig some holes!  Chickies were scooting up and down the full length of their 3m run this afternoon - 4 little bumblebees going full tilt while their mother stood guard.  At this rate they're going to be sturdy little birds!

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Oh dear Soapy!  Got to hand it to them - they can get people daft enough willing to pay for doing their work!  I don't think dinner and wine is enough for a day's work! :lol:  Sounds like they've found another project then.  

LOL! Veg envy!  Well we have diddy tomatoes already!  The biggest is slightly bigger than a marble!  Sounds like DM and M&M had a great day with the chicklets!  

Strawberries will have to wait - we've already run out of compost!  Again!  I've even run out of seed and potting compost so stuck! But did manage to finish popping in the second early spuds and some early maincrops.  Another 2 rows needed for the Violettas but only 25 maincrops left. Instead I carried on clearing stinging nettles under the walnut tree.  We now have a path through and the chooks have been enjoying the ground clearing.

OH is really suffering with his shoulders and I lost count of how many barrowloads I shifted yesterday.  Luckily it wasn't as hot and the breeze helped.  I have caught the sun, but only slightly - I think I'm so weathered that I'm already conditioned to it.  I had been using a small spade, but OH brought out a shovel - it was my dad's!  I really zipped along after that!  I'm definitely getting an upper body workout!  And I feel fine!  Even my back hasn't complained once!

We had two spits of rain and it's been nowhere near as bad as they anticipated.  Definitely feels cooler.  At least we can sleep more comfy tonight!

And after all the money spent on the yellow rattle in the field (and none showing as far as we can see) I have found one!  In the greenhouse alongside my carrots!  I can only think a seed got stuck to my boots and fell off in the greenhouse.  When I've swept compost along for the seed bed it must have been brought to the surface and germinated!  Perhaps the field seedlings will emerge later once they've had the warm weather on them.

Dudley the hayfever pheasant is doing well and it sounds like he is less sneezy today.  Poor little snufflebutt!  He's been running around across the patio stones - bonkers!  He also has 4 ladies to keep him company!

 

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Nothing on your scale Val, but I have been reinstating the patio after the works - the random paving looks wonderful and I am re-doing the herb (Belfast) sink amongst other things. Tomatoes are in and look healthy. I will be planting some miniature thyme, mint and chamomile between the stones for scent.

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Is that the sink that came from Acorn near Little Milton after the the Newington Nurseries meet, DM? If so glad to hear that it's still in use! I think you are very brave to tackle a patio - you do realise that you can't post that without the promise of pictures, in due course ;) :lol:

Valkyrie - it sounds as though you are getting a super workout! I had to smile over the yellow rattle...in the greenhouse! Mother Nature's little joke!

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OH has sent an email to the architect today!  Hopefully we will be able to start the ball rolling on the rebuild!  And my quilting studio!  In the wish list is an area to bring on chicks (or perhaps ducks - I have duck envy as well as barn envy) and an area separate for chook equipment and possible dispatch area.  I'm going to be a horrible chicken munching person - or maybe duck munching - at a later date.  I just love the idea of having our plates with our own home grown food, although lamb, pork and beef - and goose will come from our neighbours.  OH has put his foot down with regard to piglets.  Oooh and I've emailed the Animal Health Registration peeps with regard to the smallholding number.  Hopefully we can keep the number going - just in case!

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5 hours ago, soapdragon said:

Is that the sink that came from Acorn near Little Milton after the the Newington Nurseries meet, DM? If so glad to hear that it's still in use! I think you are very brave to tackle a patio - you do realise that you can't post that without the promise of pictures, in due course ;) :lol:

Valkyrie - it sounds as though you are getting a super workout! I had to smile over the yellow rattle...in the greenhouse! Mother Nature's little joke!

It is another sink A - I have quite a collection now.. this one came from my parents' place when my dad sold it last year; it is a very heavy white and ochre one. I have to admit to not laying the patio myself - I came up with the design (reclaimed bricks and stuff) and a friend's OH, who is a brickie, laid it for me, with me acting as his labourer.

I will post photos at the weekend

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Oooh looking forward to the pics - with sinks too!  I did wonder if you had added a paving saw to your expertise!  There is a Belfast sink round the side of the house, but it has a lot of stonecrop in there - different sorts!  Not mine, but it looks nice enough.

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