Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Time..

All around, the hedgerows and gardens are full of colour, spring has definitely arrived. We heard the first Cuckoo last weekend and yesterday the Swallows arrived.
In the woodlands Bluebells

and Wood Anemones are in flower, the perfume from the bluebells is wonderful. The wild Garlic is also well up,  but no flowers as yet. We had a drive out to Forest Park and then onto Derreen woods to see and smell spring time.
Close to Derreen woods someone is farming Llamas, they look to be doing very well and are definitely looking very woolly, last year we saw them just after they had had their babies, maybe next time we go that way we will once again see their young. Most of the local farms have now finished lambing, it's lovely to watch the lambs playing chase and 'King of the Castle'. Our wild birds are not so interested in the food we leave out for them, they are too busy making nests.
All the  Blackthorn hedgerows are now covered in white, they look as though someone has covered them with lace, they look beautiful.
Everything in the garden is growing well, including the weeds,
we've had our first picking of Asparagus. If the fruit blossom all set we will have a bumper crop of  fruit this year,
the Lough Key crap apples have lots of flowers as well as the  Victoria plum trees,  the apples also have a lot of buds.
At last, one of our two Damson trees has bloom, first time in five years, I had severely pruned one of them, threatening it with the  chain saw, but it's the other one that has the flowers.
 Both of the peach trees have set lots of fruit, however the Apricot tree has not, despite having been well hand pollinated, the friend that gave us this tree also failed to get fruit to set.
The lemon is  full of bloom, again something that has to be hand pollinated although we do leave the porch door open in the hope that a bee might arrive and do the job for us, the perfume from the lemon is lovely.
 Even the Blueberries have lots of flowers this year. Unless we get a late hard frost we should have lots of fruit to carry us through the year. Vegetable seed sowing continues, the propagator and greenhouse is full of seed trays and modules, there's always something that needs doing at this time of year.
We still have lots of daffodils but the tulips are now taking their place for colour.
My last pottery project turned out well, I had ordered a special glaze for it and I'm very pleased with the outcome,
I have now started another one to make a matching pair, but it will be several weeks before it's ready as Jacki my teacher only fires when she has a complete kiln full, I will just have to be patient.
Being Easter we once again made a dozen Hot Cross buns, unfortunately they didn't last , we ate them all in two days, maybe we will make some more, they were delicious.
Finally, colour overload, some of our Tulips.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Progress going backwards.

When supermarkets first appeared on the high streets they were hailed as your 'One Shop Stop' for everything that you needed for your weeks shopping, no more traipsing around different shops to get what you needed. I can't recall if they sold fresh meat, but they stocked far more products than the local grocery store. Over the years they took on the independent green grocer, the wet fish shop and your friendly butcher who not only knew what you wanted but always had a few off cuts for your cats or bones for the dog. A few years on and they became mega shops, everyone undercutting their competitors and squeezing the farmer so they could keep prices low, and the standard went down. Going back to the early 60's I could get everything I needed from four shops, the advent of supermarkets cut that down to just two shops, the butcher and the supermarket. Fast forward fifty years and I now need to go to seven different outlets to get a weeks shopping and four of those are supermarkets, two of which are 30k away. Is this progress? not in my book, of course if we were happy to buy poor quality mass produced food we could do all our shopping in one supermarket, but we're not. The two supermarkets that we have to travel a distance to are three monthly visits, one of them for Organic butter, the other a German supermarket for good quality organic milk, and while we are there we stock up on good bread from the best baker for miles. Fortunately all these things freeze very well, for good fish we travel 50k, again stocking up for three months. It would be great if we could get everything that we need locally, but that would  mean turning the clock back fifty years.
Victoria plum in flower.
Thankfully we grow all our own veg and fruit, can't get more local than that. We currently have carrots, PSB. cabbage, spinach, we are on the last of our leeks and parsnips, but they lasted well.
The garden is looking it's best now with so many different types of daffodils and tulips in flower.
In the woodlands the first bluebells are flowering
along with wood anemones
primroses and celandines, it is lovely to see so much colour, I have heard the first cuckoo of the year, soon the swallows will be with us and summer will be here.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Early pickings.

March has been warmer than normal but slightly more rain than the last four years.

Fritillaries are now flowering.

Our first daffodils were out in January, as we grow so many different types we should have them flowering right through April by which time the early summer flowers will have started. The Victoria plum trees are also flowering, the apples wont be long
. Rhubarb is now abundant, we have had a lot of pickings, our PSB seemed to take a long time to form it's spears but we now have plenty and the spinach so far has yielded four good picking, more seed has been planted. Spinach does well for us as an early and late crop but not as a summer crop which is a shame as it's my favourite veg. Strawberries in the tunnel are also in flower, hopefully we will get an early  crop.
The pile of stones are the capping to a passage tomb.
Last weekend was beautiful weather, very warm, dry, without a cloud in sight,
just the right day to take a trip out around the Sligo lake area.
The gorse was in full bloom everywhere, hover flies taking advantage of the warm weather.
Lough Arrow.


For us Sligo has everything, beautiful coast line, the hills and mountains bursting with archaeology and some of the best Neolithic and bronze age sites in the world
Lough Key.

and wonderful lakes.
We  also celebrating our twenty ninth wedding anniversary, a week late but as it's just a day after St. Patrick's day we thought the restaurants might be rather busy so we left it a week.
Fillet steak that you could cut with a fork.
We went to a place in a nearby town which hasn't been open that long,
Chocolate brownie with home made ice cream.  
however it was one of the best meals we have had for a long time, the restaurant also  stocks the local craft beer which is excellent, we find that we rather prefer a good craft beer to a highly priced mediocre wine.

I've made these with mussels in mind.
I'm still having my pottery classes but not much to show at the moment as I have to wait for Jacqui to have enough peices to fire up the kiln, waiting to be fired I have a wall plaque, four mousse cups and another vase, I'm quite impatient to see the vase finished as I will be glazing it with a special effect red glaze.
Seed sowing is now an on-going job, melons, tomatoes and early peas have all been planted in moduls, plus parsnips in the garden. There is always plenty to do at this time of year.
Curious cows.