Sunday, 13 July 2014

A for apple, B for broccoli, C for cauliflower...

July is generally a prolific month here in the Sparrowholding garden, with crops gradually growing, ripening and being eaten. Quite by whom they are being eaten is another matter. Suffice to say, it's not always by us! In fact, at times I feel as if we're engaged in a battle of wills with the weeds and other "guests" who arrive uninvited and gorge themselves on our produce before we even get a taste of it. 

So here's a whistlestop photographic tour of the things that have made it  and a few of the things that didn't  in all their fresh, graphic glory!
An abundance of apples (till the wind blows!)
Baby beetroot plants  just peeping through
Blackcurrants galore, as usual  shame we don't like them!
Burgeoning blueberries
Broccoli's a bit sparse hereabouts –  we love it, but sadly it
doesn't seem to do very well in our garden!
Spot the baby butternut squash. Or at least Dobbies sold it as
a butternut squash - it looks like a courgette plant to me!
One of our three cauliflowers  the slugs have
slurped up the others :-(
We have nothing to do with the wild cherries - the tree
does everything itself :-)
One courgette on the way  and hopefully
a few more to follow eventually...
The gooseberries that never were... A greedy garden
pest has decimated many of the branches of our goosegog
bushes. HG thinks sawflies are the nasty nibblers.
Baby grapes just forming, courtesy of polytunnel resident
Vinnie the Vine. We have to keep plastic "doors" shut, though,
or the cheeky birds nip in and help themselves!
Lovely mixed lettuce leaves  slug free so far...
The parsnips look as if they're at a ceilidh and waiting ready
for an Orcadian Strip the Willow dance to start!
Though  the row that our neighbours' hens decided
to turn into a dust bath doesn't look quite as good...
Peas on the vine...
... and peas in the pod
Our Rooster potatoes are looking  nice and healthy
In fact, you could say they're blooming!
HunterGatherer has put nets over the rasps and soft fruit 
to try and keep the beady-eyed birds at bay!
But one bird still managed to snatch a raspberry... grrrr!
Between next door's marauding chickens and the resident
slug population, our strawbs are taking a bit of a pounding.
To avoid the birdy beaks above and the slippery slugs
below, I've had to pick strawberries unripe and ripen them
indoors, but then the berries are just not as sweet.
Tayberries are a cross between red rasps and blackberries
 –  they're a bit bigger and very  tasty, too!
Nothing like as many tomatoes as last year, simply
because HG and I were both really busy with work during
that crucial period when the dreaded chickweed
decided to engulf the polytunnel. It smothered a few
of the tomato plants, but at least a couple
survived. No chutney this year, I fear...

Saturday, 5 July 2014

The power of parental attachment in the bird world

Lucky to be alive - the thrush fledgling
Do you ever get the feeling, when you're busy speaking to someone, that they're not quite focusing on what you're saying? Well, I had that distinct feeling yesterday evening when I was speaking to HunterGatherer upon his return from another long day at work in the farm workshop. As I prattled on, HG was gazing intently out the sitting-room window at the sheep paddock and then, before you could say "woolly jumpers", he was out the patio doors over the fence, flapping his arms and running through the long grass after something.

My first instinct was that he'd completely lost the plot; however, when I saw him then stoop down and scoop up a bird in his hands, I realised that there had indeed been method in his madness. His eagle eye  well honed from years of employment as a deer stalker on estates in the west coast of Scotland  had spotted a big black crow carrying off a baby thrush in its talons.
The bird-catcher
He'd been alerted to the incident because he'd seen Mummy and Daddy Thrush frantically pursuing the crow (which was easily twice their size) to and fro across the paddock, and then spotted that the crow was not empty-clawed.

Miraculously, the fledgling bird survived its ordeal. HG placed it in a clump of grass in the garden, from where it cheeped pathetically to its parents – who were still flying bravely at the, by now, extremely hacked-off crow, to deter it from returning for its intended Saturday evening supper. 

The hunter-turned-bird-protector waited until he saw his new feathered friend flutter off back into the bushes and then returned to the sitting-room in search of his own Saturday night supper: steak and new potatoes served with home-grown broccoli and cauliflower from the Sparrowholding polytunnel. I suspect he fared rather better than his adversary, the crow...