Monday, 23 January 2017

I've been pruning my apple trees!

Oh yes, I've been pruning my apple trees.

I have 9 apple trees in my orchard, and a small tree in each of my chicken runs, plus two new crab apple trees in my vegetable plot.

I inherited 6 small trees, grown on dwarf stock, and these trees need pruning every winter other wise they get out of hand and end up growing nothing but new branches and plenty of leaves and no fruit.

Of the other three trees, one is a crab apple, bought in to aid pollenation, most apple trees need a pollinator which can be another apple tree that blossoms at the same time or the crab apple which tends to have an extended blossom period. The other two trees are large trees and other than keeping them tidy will be allowed to reach their full height!

When we first inherited these trees we decided to go on a course that would show us how to prune apple trees properly, and although I can remember the basics, I am still not 100% sure that I do it right!

We are pruning back to fruiting spurs, the fruiting buds are bigger then the leaf buds, and they appear on a short spur, and so all of the growth from the leaf buds will just use up energy that the tree needs to prodcue apples. So, we prune back all of the previous years growth to where the fruiting spurs are, so that the blossom has the best chance of being pollinated, and the apples have chance to take hold before the tree does indeed start producing leab-ves and new brabch griwth!

We have been doing this for about 6 years now, and for sure we are getting better fruit production for our efforts.

Here is one of the trees before pruning.

And here is oine of the pruned tree!
A bit different isn't it!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

We are getting pigs!

We are getting pigs!

We have just ordered 3 piglets which will be ready to collect in the middle of March.

We have ordered gilts (females) which will be easier to keep and unlike boars will not taint if I keep them for too long!

The idea will be to have three, two for us, and one for a friend, and they will be in the freezer by early October, and we will probably just have them for pork, rather than sort out any bacon or gammon.

I do need to sort some housing out & cor blimey isn't stuff expensive, so it's going to be a DIY house for them, and it'll be one that can used to house some of our pygmy goats at a later stage.

I'm looking forward to the challenge - watch this space for pictures!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Feeling frustrated!

Every now and then I get frustrated, and today my frustration is all around the poor broadband speeds we get here in the sticks. I live a good distance from the exchange and at best get around 1.5Mbs which I know can be good, but the average speed that I seem to get is at the lowest of the proffered range which is close to 0.4Mbs.

At that slow speed, two laptops, two mobile phone and two tablets just freeze and to even see a 15 second video on facebook can take over 2 minutes to watch, so more often that not I just skip past videos as there is just no point trying to watch.

But my frustration is with the provider, who for this blog will remain nameless, and ultimately the salesman that sold me the service. I now know an awful lot more than the salesman and if I had known that before then I wouldn't have bought it, and the salesman should not have sold it to me!

A previous provider(s) can provide me with a service where the lowest speed is close to 1.2Mbs which is acceptable considering where I live, but can provide me with up to 2.1Mbs which is brilliant and we can do pretty much what we want.

The story goes on and the penalty for extracting myself from the contract is far greater than having a a new line put in for 2 years by one of those other providers, so all the promise of savings from this new provider go to paying for a decent broadband service from someone else!

The story of my life as I have in the past wasted hundreds of pounds chasing that elusive better broadband service, and am getting more and more frustrated with my own endeavours.

I do wish that salesman would have the gumption to apologise, that would make it a little better!

Monday, 16 January 2017

I moved the chooks!

I moved the chooks last night - last week I bought a 6m long polytunnel off eBay for about £100 - and I put it up on Wednesday just gone, fixed it on Friday after it being blown around on Thursday night, anchored it to the ground and cable tied the cover onto the frame.

A bit of duct tape to repair the damaged cover & yes, we were finally ready to go last night!

I am hoping that this will survive the rest of the winter and to the 28th February when teh DEFRA rukes revert back to normal!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

My chooks are still locked up!

My chooks are still locked up - DEFRA has extended the lockdown period until 28th February!

My chooks are struggling, so at the weekend I bought a new polytunnel - 6m * 3m - and today erected it over their coop. They are not in their coop, they are locked in a shed and will wonder what all that extra space is when they get back to the coop.

I also bought some ground disinfectant - DEFRA approved - to sprinkle over the ground, and tomorrow the ground will be sprinkled!

Some extra time will be needed to tie down the polytunnel so that it won't blow away in the first gale and I hope to do that on Friday and the chooks moved back on Saturday morning!

They'll be pleased, and so will I.

They'll have grass to run around on again and will be under cover out of the worst of the weather too, so hopefully the best of all worlds!


A couple of days away to start this week.

My sister sadly lost her husband last year to cancer, a chap just a little older than me, and a really lovely bloke - one that you could spend plenty of time with and never really notice how long you were with them.

My sister is struggling a little with his loss, and it wasn't until I saw her before Christmas that it came home to me that I really to need to make more effort to see her. We, along with plenty of other folk, would visit to see her and her husband but since his passing we thought life will get back to normal but it doesn't, it never does & never will.

She mentioned in passing how in general visits had dropped off, and I thought, darn, I am one of those folk, and I must do something about it.

So, I did, we went to the pictures, or movies, and saw Rogue One, we had beer, wine & dinner out, we had a fun time, we stayed up until the early hours just chatting. We had laughs, we had a few tears, and we must do it again!

After all, I'm not that busy that I cannot find time out to show some love to my siblings!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

We are eating & drinking leftovers

We didn't really over buy this Christmas, but when you make meals we always freeze any leftovers as they make a quick & easy meal at some point, and we have reached that some point!

We have a chicken casserole for dinner tonight, just add a few fresh mushrooms when re-heating, with a jacket potato & that's dinner done - we even remembered to take it out of the freezer this morning to allow it to defrost first.

We had a chicken curry last night, and I think we have a beef stew tomorrow night, all yummy stuff the first time around!

But drinking too! Oh, yes, there are leftovers there too!

I had a glass of port after dinner last night - that finished that bottle off!

I bought a polipin of beer and there is a few pints left in there, so that's tonight's evening drink sorted. At the weekend I might just polish off that bottle of Bailey's, it'd only go to waste otherwise! In fact in the outside store there is enough booze to keep me going for a month or so, my house guests over Christmas let me down :-)

But, very little of it will go to waste, it wasn't just alcohol, there was a pint of whole milk, not normally seen in our house, but our granddaughter drinks it, but that last pint made a very nice refreshing drink one lunchtime! I think there's a few cans of diet coke too - the caffeine free variety - that'll get drunk at some point - 4 bottles of fizzy water turned up from somewhere too!

Cheese & biscuits with home made chutney seem to be a regular lunch at the moment, we had rather a glut of cheese leftover!

Mind you, it's not just at this time of year, that we eat leftovers, we do our best not waste much all year long!