So, apart from the sheep escaping escapades of the past week, the sheep have been fairly low maintenance. They also haven’t really interacted with us at all. C has been really keen to try and play with them but they have tended to bolt whenever we come near them. However, we now have at least one on our side. I have nicknamed her ‘Bluey’ as she is the only sheep with a blue marking. The farmer has given all the sheep numbers to help match up mums and babies. Those who were twins were marked in red, and those for whom it was a single birth, in blue. We only have one single birth and hence ‘Bluey’ is quite easy to distinguish. The feeding started by C insisting we take weeds/hedge trimmings to the field with us on our jaunts as special treats for the sheep. The other day we finally managed to coax Bluey to try some and now that is it. Every time we go into the field she comes up to us desperate for treats.
The raspberries have started to show their first fruits which means we need to start protecting them from the birds. The last thing we want is all our hard work on them to become bird feed.
So our raspberries are in pots and as such do not need the support of canes so there is not a natural point for us to attach our netting to. So last week at the garden centre we purchased some bamboo canes and they are now sitting in the pots with netting covering them. The netting has a large enough mesh to ensure that bees can still pass through it but impossible for birds to get through. That is the major downside of soft fruits, the birds love them and netting can be a hassle and tends to look fairly unsightly. However, as it is only for a short period of time when the plant is fruiting it seems a small sacrifice for what will hopefully be a good crop of fruit. The blueberries don’t seem to be at the point of fruiting quite yet, and are likely to take at least another year to really get going but they will need protection too.
So we are finally able to harvest our first crops of the season. We’ve just started to pull up our first crops from the raised beds – our turnips. The variety we planted was called ‘Purple Top Milan’ and we originally received the seeds from Grow Your Own magazine, which we subscribe to. I love turnip and reading the seed packet they seemed fairly easy to grow so they seemed ideal for a first time veggie grower. I was so sure that none of the seeds would take so I did end up sowing them rather thickly directly into the raised bed. The plan was to have two rows sown two weeks apart but as both C and I were a little over enthusiastic in our sowing we ended up planting both rows at once.
A couple of weeks after they had started to sprout I thinned them. The above picture shows one row thinned and one row still to thin. The thinned seedlings went to the chickens as a lovely treat. On reflection, next year with more confidence in my ability I would try and sow my seeds less densely.
I have sprinkled crushed egg shells around them as I have with most of our seedlings as a deterrent to slugs. Apart from that we have just watered them. We did a little weeding in the early days but very soon the foliage grew enough to prevent weed growth.
Now turnips are best consumed when small and sweet – too large and they have a woody taste. So today we picked our first ones to serve with Sunday lunch as we had some friends over. They were delicious. We tried to pick fairly spaced out to give more room for the remaining ones to grow. We will get the rest of the harvest out in the next few weeks and then I’ll need to find something else to put in where they were. No idea what though. The turnips are definitely down on my to grow list for next year again!
So, the weather has been rubbish for the first week of June. We’ve had torrential rain, hail and heavy winds. There have been some glimpses of sun but not enough for my liking. Whilst the rain has been great for the garden the wind has unfortunately caused some damage. We’ve had the ornamental quince tree which is up against the coal shed come away slightly to hang into the drive. We will need to remove this tree anyway as it is where we will hopefully have bifolding doors so that’s just another job to add to the to do list. However, the wind has given us a bigger problem. A fallen tree branch. In the field. On our wonderful new fence.
Now how did we discover this? Well on coming back from our evening chicken check we stopped to chat to our neighbour at the end of the drive who mentioned that some of our sheep had escaped earlier today into his field but that he thought they had gone back now. Cue my racing to the field to count the sheep. Right at the back of the field I came across a sheep who was behind our fence and between our field and the farmers field at the back.
Unfortunately this has not been the first instance of sheep escaping this week. My husband and I erected a barrier of sorts to cover the where the tree had pressed down on the fence.
However, the barrier has proven pretty useless as we’ve had to chase sheep back in twice since then. Including this evening. In the rain. Not fun. We’ve now tried using twine to tie up the barbed wire and the fence together to prevent gaps but as we’re not entirely sure how they’ve escaped it’s been pretty hard to be sure we’ve got the problem solved. Fingers crossed our temporary patch job works as I don’t fancy chasing sheep around a field every evening!
So we have given one of our raised beds over to strawberries and we have had our first harvest. Well, not exactly a full on harvest but we’ve had four strawberries so that is better than nothing. Enough for one each for me and J and two for C. They were so amazingly sweet that I’m now itching for more to ripen. They’re not evenly sized and are a bit grubby but perfect in every way!
This week the weather has been totally rubbish. Now I normally wouldn’t mind rubbish weather in the week I go back to work. Especially if it saves me doing the watering. However, there have been really harsh winds and torrential downpours which aren’t great for my seedlings. And the other afternoon we had a brief spell of hail, pictured below. Thankfully it didn’t last too long but I’m not sure how well my crops are going to fair after such a drowning! Only time will tell I guess.
So the other evening I went out to do the usual evening chores whilst J put C to bed. I walked up to the chicken pen and turned off the electric fence before remembering that I’d forgotten to turn on the tap for the hose in the field. I popped back to the cottage to turn it on and by the time I got back I discovered that one of the girls had taken advantage of my absence. Belle had somehow made her way outside of the fence, I presume that she had flown over. Now as J was inside still I had the job of getting our least friendly chicken back into the pen.
I kept lifting up the fencing to try and encourage her to creep under but instead she kept moving further away. Finally, thankfully, she saw sense and rushed past me into her pen. Hopefully she won’t brave trying to escape again!