Thursday, June 30, 2011

Molly's Puppies 2011 - My Missing Link Returns

I have had photos and updates on all of Molly's adorable puppies from earlier this year but no photo of this little one for quite some time. He has been my missing link to the puppies but now the link is complete.

Every time I see them I am amazed at just how they are growing and how fabulous they are.  He is a gorgeous boy and it is great to see him.
I had to put this photo of his brother Buddy on because they are like twins.

Molly and Rocky's litter The 1st Fab Four of 2011 are all amazing!

Dave The Lamb Another Day Another Dog Walk

Well I didn't think he would start making a habit of it but Dave 'The Dog' Lamb has taken to dog walks like a duck to water. You think he isn't around but he shoots out from nowhere when he sees the troops gathering and looking like a walk might be on the cards - this is pretty noticeable given the amount of noise and crazy behaviour that starts at the beginning of every dog walk at Nunnery Farm and then there he is without a care in the world a little cotton wool ball comes rushing towards the gate with the other crackpots!

He appeared to have yet another great walk but this time there was a bit in the middle that he wasn't too happy about all caused by Bean. Bean is and has been his surrogate mum from day one. She made certain that he knew she was by being with him all the time, none of the other dogs could get too close when he was very young and she let them know she was there to protect him. So Dave truly believes that Bean is who his mum is. Bean on the other hand has got fed up with this game now, and can't be bothered with him all the time and she did just this in the woods. Dave was stuck to her like glue and then all the dogs wandered into the ferns which are at least 4 feet tall, Minnie is a rather large Great Dane and she disappears completely ... so Dave stood no chance.

He would have been fine had she just wandered through them but this never happens. The sight of a clump of ferns to run through sends Minnie into frenzy overboard mode. This in turn sends Bean and Molly crackers and a game starts which cant really be explained its just complete madness and something Dave will not have seen before! So Dave had at this point been lead up the hillside quite a way from where we were stood by his trusty friend Bean and then in a flash she was gone and in the fern game. Poor Dave had no way of knowing which direction to go because the ferns were so tall. We could hear him but we couldn't see him.

Dave eventually got out of the ferns after Daisy had found him and he followed her back to the path!

With all sheep you cannot move them off your holding (land) without a document called a Movement Licence which you send a copy of to the local council which isn't any hassle mainly because you only have to do it now and again because normal folk only move a sheep either to slaughter or market. I am not quite sure of the rules and regulations surrounding temporary removal of lambs for dog walks. Hopefully before I have to make a complete fool of myself and enquire about this maybe Dave will get fed up and grow out of this Dog phase before anyone needs to know!

Then again this is Nunnery Farm!

Dave The Lamb Does The Valley Dog Walk

It started out as a simple dog walk with my little boy and the 5 loonpots that are my faithful and trusty dogs - well I use the word simple loosely as nothing concerning me and my dogs is ever simple.  We set off through the gate for a walk that usually takes about an hour. We had almost gone through the gate when I heard a little bit of clip-clopping behind us. Yep, sure enough the lamb we call Dave was hot-footing it down the path as quick as his wooly legs could carry him.

I just wanted to get out as quickly as posible but Bean and Minnie insisted on acting up as is always the case playing with each other both stood on their hind legs and scrapping with their front paws - this may be amusing to someone who sees it for the first time but every day they do the same and always right in front of you so you trip over them and so this meant we were held up as usual - this gave Dave ample time to catch up. Great!

The reason I was unsure about him coming is just because the walk is quite challenging with many stiles and brooks to cross - I only remember too well having to climb trees and rescue him in my flip flops when he was about 3 weeks old - it was not pretty! So Dave starts the walk with us and then after about 100 yards he simply turned back and walked home towards the gate. Breathing a sigh of relief we continued along the lane.

Not for very long - Dave had a change of mind and ran all the way back to us. When he got to us there was no way I was turning round to take him back - that would have caused too much confusion with Minnie in particular who is a pest for the first few minutes of any walk jumping on everyone and generally being annoying so I was not going through that again - there was only one thing for it .... Dave the Lamb was in for the long haul!

I could not believe that he actually completed the whole walk with us. He went under stiles when the dogs did and over the stepping stones in the brook with ease.

Dave did get into a little difficulty in the overgrown fern patch and got lost. This was because Bean lead him in there and then just left the poor thing. But he returned with us all in one piece.

I wondered whether he would want to stay in the field when we returned (the walk ends up back at the bottom of our field) but he shunned the REAL sheep instead opting to get ruffed up by the dogs joining in their games.

He left the field as soon as he got to the top and appeared more relaxed when he was back on the driveway.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Surprisingly The Nunnery Farm Completely Overfilled Skip Remains

My really really grown up plan failed to work yesterday which was, as I had said, to hide upstairs during collection of slightly overfilled skip and wait for him to just go away and I am sure it would have worked but the driver phoned me for directions en-route and once I had spoken to him felt a bit silly sitting in the bedroom when he knew I was in so there was only one thing to do.

I faced the music

He was not impressed and told me he had never seen anything like it in 20 years to which I replied Ooh Thanks - he didn't appear to appreciate my good wit.

He  walked around it twice, got out his camera and proceed to snap away from every angle. Then turned and walked to his van saying he would return tomorrow with another skip which I had to put the top half of the skip in.

I asked if he was taking snaps of my piece of tightly packed art so he could enter it in Skip Monthly Magazine Best Fill Competition or whatever magazine skip men had in their offices these days of course knowing it would win ... he didn't reply!

I said he could always take it to The Tate.

Again nothing!

I went in!!

I presume I am now blacklisted in the world of local skip hire!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sprout Panic - Assistance Required Please!!!!!

Well I think the word I am looking for is Help Please!!

I recently filled up my veg garden and I planted sprouts straight from the packet into the soil. I never have any luck with seeds so this time I dug out a shallow line of the soil and basically tipped all the seeds in a nice neat row!!

With the recent hot weather things have got going in the garden and today I was taken by surprise to find a thick green line where my sprouts were planted. I only wanted 2 or 3 plants but currently I have in excess of 200 - so that's good!

Question please to you experienced growers - how and when should I thin the seedlings out? It seems so wasteful!! A bit of sprouty knowledge would really be appreciated!!

Anyone Fancy a Fruit Tea?

 This blueberry bush I planted a couple of years ago had a few little berries on it last time I looked but the chickens have obviously got there first - oh well never mind - next year I may move it or cover it with a little light netting to protect the crop - which is tiny anyway to say the least! I need to read up on what sort of place they like to be in and maybe increase production next year.
 If there is one thing that grows in abundance it is sorrel. I wish there was more use for it, what with the garden and field I could produce a tonne of the stuff easily each year! There is an endangered bird called the Twite which feeds on the seeds of the sorrel plant and so therefore I guess I can live with the abundant growth of it. Although I am not a great fan [ there seems to be a feathered friend who is!
Onto my herbs and although I do not have many at the moment, those that I do have seem to be growing in abundance. Another herb that grows like wild fire is fennel. I bought one plant from a garden centre about 3 years ago - what a mistake - it is wild. I now have fennel making up part of my lawn, the majority of my weeds. It comes up through the tarmac, through walls - advice for this thing is do not touch it with a barge pole! No one likes it here at Nunnery Farm even the geese steer clear and that is saying something. It is typical the things I don't like grow like mad!

Although saying that I do pretty well with the herbs dotted here and there and I will certainly be re-stocking these to include more sage which although invasive and quite tough has not come back this year and it was an amazing plant which served me right up to the middle of winter which was a shame.

My thyme is fantastic, so is my rosemary. I have a bay that is plodding along but to date has never let me down. If you want any mint then look no further there is tonnes of it but I rather like mint, the flowers and the bees that is attracts so for me it can be as invasive as it likes. I also have what I think is lemon bergamot - no idea what to use it for but I do like to smell it now and again!

I have marjoram which always appears year after year.  I have tried for years to grow dill unsuccessfully. I think it may be time to try and grow some in a pot, everyone elses dill that flourishes seems to be contained so maybe thats the way to go! My wonderful sister has attempted a dill plant but as yet remains just soil. I will keep you updated on Sis's Dill Developments!
Molly in the sun - she lies in the same place for hours, thats a berner for you, just wait until she meets her new baby sister Elf!

I only realised that this cherry tree was in fact a cherry tree a couple of years ago. There are 3 close together causing disruption to my telephone lines given  chance. The third one is just straggly and needs to come down but the other two are fantastic and this year seem to have gone mad. The trouble is because these trees are so big there is no way I can cover them with net to protect them and the majority of cherries are to high for me to harvest which is a shame. I will probably get a pot of jam if I am lucky!

I plan to get a couple of apple trees, a couple of pear and seek out some good grafted ones that will produce some nice fruit in quick time.

If you haven't noticed I am on catch up and for the record I am not doing too bad!!

This is Bean in the sunshine just about to get the hose pipe!

Meg is keeping well away from Bean. Bean drives Meg mad and here is Meg doing what she does best - chilling!
I don't need to tell you who this lump is, she will not lie outside but insists on the settee. This one is about to get replaced and so she doesn't know it yet but her days on the sofa are numbered!

Minnie Margaret Myrtle Moo

Oohh forgot to say I have discovered the nest of one hen so my egg collecting has increased slightly. Most of my hens are larger ladies and they only have to sit down in the sunshine for a rest and they go broody so that is the current reason for lack of eggs both for me and my Honesty Box!

Will They .... Wont They ..... Skip Stress at Nunnery Farm

Will they or won't they - is the question that has troubled me all night because today is intended collection day of the skip and I am not sure they are going to agree to move it as I may have gone slightly overboard!

Recently there has been some building works going on in the human quarters of Nunnery Farm. I use the term human loosely as thinking about it there are more animals live in our house - in fact we are outnumbered by a staggering 3 to 1! That is the calculation by not including Dave who is actually semi-permanent and the baby Elf who will be joining us very soon! Does that mean they live in a palace or we live in a kennel!

Anyway during the course of these renovations I have been dumping all the stuff to go to the tip in a pile in the garden ready for the day there was enough to fill a skip and last week when an old mattress was added to the pile I thought it time to order a skip and get rid.

Seems simple enough - the skip arrived and not being an expert in skip sizes I ordered a small one thinking this would do. When it arrived it did look rather a little smaller than I had hoped but not being put off began the task of filling it, and filling it, and filling it!

I did manage to get everything in as is evident with the photograph but in the meantime had created a rather tall tower and I had a funny feeling there are skip rules and one of those is do not over fill. I decided that when the man came to collect it I would plead ignorance and apologise and say I just didn't know that to be the case and hope he let me off.

With that decision made I went into the house to phone them and realised that my plan was useless

I found that just below the telephone number and just below where I had signed there were clear instructions about the load level - fantastic!

There is only one thing to do in such circumstances I must act senbsibly and like a grown up. I am going to open the gate so the truck can get down the drive once I have fed the pigs this morning and then I am going to pretent I am not in.

I will update later as to whether the load has been removed!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Nunnery Farm Has an Unexpected Harvest

 After planting out our bedding plants my Trusty Helper and I set about checking just what was going on in the gardens of Nunnery Farm and we were completely taken by surprise.
 A gooseberry bush planted a year ago and forgotten all about had a hidden bunch of treasure, we counted 4 little gooseberries -

We then cam across our blackcurrant bush which seemed to be packed full of fruit - only one or two are ripe at the moment but hopefully this will continue to grow like it has been doing and we can maybe make some jam or even some cordial to see us through the winter, especially hot on Bonfire Night!
 Next was Kyle's plot - he planted a couple of tomato seeds, about 50 lettuce seeds and 2 pumpkin seeds last week when I did the vegetable plot and he was so excited today to see that it was time to split the seedlings and plant them into bigger pots. So my little baby potted all his plants in bigger tubs and we moved them into the little greenhouse we have.
The tomato plants have now flowered and so fingers crossed we will have our first set of tomatoes to eat in the not too distant future.

It was lovely explaining to Kyle that his seedlings would grow into food we could eat and then the flowers on the tomatoes would soon die to reveal some more little treasures we could eat too. I have never been more excited about growing our own food now that my little boy can have fun growing things with me too.

But this was not all that was to be found .....

The Bedding Plants

I decided to spend today putting out the bedding plants in the beds that I had been tidying and weeding over the last couple of weeks.  

The lovely smell from this vase of flowers spurred me on to get the garden ship shape before the Summer had simply passed me by so the hanging baskets and all the flowering pots got a good re-vamp and before I knew it my Trusty Helper was by my side and we were in the middle of a major garden overhaul!
It was such a lovely day and I was surprised just what had been going on in the garden without me even knowing!

Whilst I was working my fingers to the bone the other Nunnery Farm residents were not so keen on any work at all.

I took time to have a look at just what had survived from last year and I was amazed as to what I discovered!

The smell from the honeysuckle and rambling roses was divine - it hit me like a blast, I had never really noticed it before. I need to train it up and around the archway but I dont see that as a problem really. I have planted a Clematis on the other side and hope this one actually starts to grow - there is something about this side of the arch - no matter how many Clematis I plant, they all seem to wither and die!

It's My Bed Minnie - Not Yours

Now Dave knows that to come inside the house now is not allowed so its great to know he is taking notice of the house rules.

This was where I found Dave last night before locking up and going to bed. In Minnie's Bed!!


You can see he is not strictly sleeping and has one eye open just in the hope that I have not noticed said lamb in my kitchen

When inspecting closer he seems to try and look like he is asleep.

With Dave back in the field, or at least on the front door step, Minnie can get into bed and go to sleep.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hello My Name is Elf

My brothers and sisters are just so comfy

Posing for the camera is just exhausting

Its all toooo much for me ..... good night

A day in the life of ... Elf xx

Dave Refuses Work

Dave the Lamb is getting used to living outside but is still not comfortable around his fellow sheep instead continuing to opt for the company of Bean the Newfoundland and Minnie the Great Dane. He has become somewhat of a local celebrity when he join in with the dogs all running and barking towards the gate to see off the postman.

He does stil try his luck to sneak into the house and today I decided to give him his first job as payback - in return for his use of the dog beds in the kitchen. This was simply to move onto a lovely patch of grass just near the front door for a couple of hours a day so he could still be part of the gang but in the hope that he would at least start to eat off this grass as it is quite a slope and not the easiest to mow.

Dave is sent into the new grassy area....

Dave comes out of the grassy area ...

and straight back into the kitchen!

The Pig Field Gets Worse

This photo was taken a couple of days ago and the field still looks to have patches of green - these patches are reducing dramatically each day.

The two Porkers really have got to grips with rooting the field over looking for grubs and with the rainfall recently my trips in the field twice a day are starting to become a little tricky to say the least.

I am not looking forward to my winter feeding times one bit!

The pigs are doing really well and are growing by the day. Minnie has been taught a lesson and this morning decided she was going to jump over the fence at breakfast and cause her usual amount of trouble but this backfired when both Porkers ganged up and chased Minnie right out of the field. She was not amused.

It is times like this I envy those pig keepers with a lovely flat field!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

News from Nunnery Farm: About Me

News from Nunnery Farm: About Me: "Hello and welcome to my Blog. My name is Leanne Skelton and this is a little bit about me. As a child I always wanted to live in the count..."

My Own Vegetable Garden

 I dd it!

My plan to leave the general weeding and tidying up of the garden until completion of the veg plot has paid off. Yesterday I gathered up my trustee assistant and we both set off to get what we needed. We were on a mission.

First stop pig, sheep, pony food and more wood shavings for the chickens. Then the garden centre. I realised that so late in the year I was going to have to cheat slightly and buy seedings if I could get any and check out the seed packets in general for any that said I still had time to sow.
My Shaddow
So we got some netting for the sides and top to keep out the birds, colourful pegs to clip the nets together, other bits and pieces I might need to get it into shape and then we went in search of some plants.

I managed to get:
6 red cabbage seedlings - not sure what I am going to do with these, wanted normal cabbage but they were out - will have to pickle some for the Honesty Box at the end of the gate
1 marrow plant
1 courgette plant - lesson learned a couple of years ago on my first attempt to grow veg, with no actual dedicated area for the veg I just planted
all my 12 courgette plants amongst the flowers and was stunned when they all grew, and grew, and grew - they looked quite nice amongst the rest of the garden when I planted them. I had no idea of the size they would become nor how many of the things I would be stuck with! So just the one for this year!
1 red pepper plant
3 tomato plants
strawberry plants

2 green bean plants
I would much rather be planting out my own stuff but for now this will have to do
I have also planted some seeds straight into the ground for
late carrotts

So we got back and got out our garden tools and started the task of digging and turning over the soil. I have  never been so tired. My arms ached so much but I wanted to get it all done so for 5 hours tried to get the soil nice and fine then I got to do the good stuff and plant  then I secured it like you would not believe in he hope of keeping the pesky rabbits and birds off my veg. Which overnight I have become obsessive about - something to rival blogging!

Kyle spent most of the afternoon doing his usual tricks that only a 2 year old can repeatedly do and not get bored of like moving everything I needed and heading off to throw it in the pond. Dave stuck to me like glue and this time I was also joined by the hens, ducks and geese who all insisted in crowding round my fork as I was digging in the hope of a few turned up worms.
One of the Boys
So all in all a very good day - lets hope they survive and I get to eat some!!

Next big tasks

1, Re-build chicken house interior
2. Construct Smoker before 2nd week of August when my pork will come back
There will be much better examples but this one is mine !

3. Build composter

Next stop .... get on with the gardening!

Things to Note - get veg plot prepared in time next year and get seeds planted and potatoes in