I thought if I don’t manage to get daily journal entries done, I can at least get a snapshot of each week written up!
Steve bought me some work dungarees this week so I have wasted no time in trying them out. We’ve enjoyed the colours in the big flowerbed over the spring and summer, but having quickly realised the vegetable garden isn’t really big enough we’re expanding to the flowerbed for things that don’t require a coldframe or anti-butterfly netting. Took a couple of days, the strimmer, secateurs, and billhook, but the weeds have been cut back. I discovered a lavender bush that had been hiding, we watched grasshoppers jumping, and planned out roughly what we’ll be planting where next year.
I’ve started getting Ben involved, talking about where to plant things, when to plant them, what they do and don’t like being neighbours with, what minibeasts and bigger beasts we need to protect from. We’ve seen a house mouse and a field vole in the vegetable patch recently, and a shrew over by the garage, and yesterday there was a dead vole by the driveway (cat attack, but left rather than eaten) so the veggies are going to need some protection. The mole continues to make a mess of my carrot seedlings in its furtling about, the cabbage white caterpillars have all but finished off the rocket salad leaves, and the broccoli never stood a chance. I’ve pulled what’s left up for the compost (but resisting the radishes until a net is built), and we’ve started constructing a net. There’s still time to grow some bits. The potatoes are still growing though, the tomato plants are appreciative of being in nicely draining bigger pots, the sunflowers also like being in bigger pots, and one sunflower has started growing where I tried to sow direct into the ground but gave up hope when the whole row got eaten!
I’ve also finally got all my pumpkin plants in the ground in the right places to see if placement affects their growing. One by the driveway, one in the glassless greenhouse, two in the vegetable garden, and one potted for a friend.
The horseflies have stopped biting (for now?!) and we can be outside happily again which is particularly lovely right now because we can watch the dragonflies and then bats on the hunt. We even watched what might have been a couple of buzzards (I can’t remember if Steve identified them or not in the end) circling and calling the other afternoon, quite a treat!
No progress on The Swamp. Work-work has taken over again, we really need to hire a digger (can dig a pit for the trampoline at the same time!) but it’ll have to wait until we have funds.
And Grylls is just gorgeous. Three and a half weeks old, clambering about, looking at everything. We’re going to have to construct a Grylls Containment Field soon. It’s lovely watching the kids with him. Charley (6) is a natural with both him and Tiger, knows instinctively how to touch and hold. Ben (9) is more awkward but also not as interested although he is very affectionate towards them both. Erika thinks she is a cat, she also mothers Tiger and often sits and chatters to her while feeding her biscuits.
Potty training is also going well – Erika is choosing to spend her days naked (don’t blame her in this heat) and aside from watering random bits of garden at least indoors she has not had another accident since that first day. Today saw her first number two in the potty, but unfortunately I took the thing away to clean too soon thinking she’d finished and bless her she ran and grabbed her nappy and took it to Steve to ask for it on but didn’t get to him in time. The fact that she used that much logic though is incredible!
We have watched the combine harvesters at work this week, and a steady stream of tractors going past the house hauling hay bales and grain, pondering how bad the harvest has been. I hope by next year we have made friends with all our neighbours and I can take the kids out to show them the harvested fields (and see if there’s any gleanings!).
And I have had some wonderful conversations around ethics and raising animals for meat in the online smallholding community that I am enormously blessed to have been welcomed into. Not so much the ethics of raising animals for meat, but how to discuss it with a child who is forming his own moral compass, and who feels things very deeply when he allows them past his defences. Good conversations.
Oh yeah. And since the cousins were here, my boys have developed a love for TEA. I haven’t drunk tea since Erika was born but now my boys are 3 cups a day tea drinkers. One after breakfast, one after lunch / mid afternoon, and one before bed. Becoming a right habit! Good job my parents brought us a couple of big boxes of decaf teabags!!