Monday, May 25, 2009

Today we walked up the Dumpling. A short refreshing stroll with a terrific view of Loch Lomond from the top.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lots of Lovely Compost

It didn't take long for the contents of our compost bins and the horse muck heap to be consumed by the raised beds and we were wondering where/how to get some more in order to grow veggies etc this year. Through Jane I discovered that Scottish Water can supply POD which is peat free compost/soil booster which has been created from composted green waste, 'sanitised' -whatever that means and is biologically active and environmentally friendly. Also it came with the recommendation of James, the owner of Damhead who grow organic veggies to supply throughout central and southern Scotland.
So, a couple of weeks ago, we had approx 19 tonnes delivered and dropped from the back of this very large lorry. Fabulous! The existing beds are now all filled and we'll have plenty to use in the next area where beds will be built (in due course!) and for topping up the areas for general planting of flowers, shrubs etc.
Today I finished planting the seedlings which have been grown in the house and the caravan, I also sewed some crops directly in the soil. The list of goodies in the ground is now as follows;
Potatoes - desiree, maris piper, ratte and pentland javelin
Broad beans - aquadulce claudia and sutton (the latter being good for windy sites - which this is)
Peas - kelvedon wonder
Courgette - all green bush
Dwarf beans - sonesta (a yellow variety)
Spinach - renegade and bordeaux
Baby carrots - ideal
Spring Onion - white lisbon
Radish - rougette
Chard - bright lights
Salads - a california leaf mix; and a few bits from 'leftover' packets

We'll make some direct sewings of other veggies shortly. But it has only recently started warming up here - and to remind ourselves on sunny days of the Scottish wisdom "ne'er cast a cloot 'til May is oot" has certainly been apt this year.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Busy day and lots of fresh outdoor air

First day of the school holiday weekend for us today. Glorious sunshine at the start, the children were up early but delayed breakfast to play outside, collect the eggs, pick rhubarb, chalk on the paving, hit some tennis balls, do a bit of skateboarding. By 9am they were keen to have brekky and move onto other activities. So this morning I made a batch of rhubarb chutney which is looking very dark and lucious. The children weren't keen on the overriding vinegar smell while cooking took place but were intrigued by the bubbling steaming hot mass in the pan. We've been overloading on rhubarb crumble, tart, torte, cake, fool, and custard recently but not yet at the stage we're tired of the stuff.
The outing for the day was over to Balmaha on the east side of Loch Lomond, a small village with a boatyard, good pub, National Park visitor centre and huge car park. We had a lovely walk through the woodland on the lower slopes of Conic Hill and did lots of exploring. The weather had changed from the early morning and was a mix of showers and weak sunshine so the midgies were out, although not toooo bad. Lots of bluebells to see still and lots of 'nature walk' interest for the children.
I love seeing the new growth on pine trees like this, the contrasting greens make a good sight.

The growth of lichens, some of which are quite some size, are also a great indicator of the clarity of the air.

A glorious sunny end to the day was just perfect.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

a few days of good weather is forecast for these parts - that would be so nice!
so, after a week of skies this colour....
we're looking forward to a (short) spell of evenings like this...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

just a wee note to say that Fintry Development Trust is holding its FRESh event this weekend which is well worth a visit if you're in the area

A different sort of egg-watch

Generally the British are fairly weather fixated - usually, as people say, because we get so much of it. Chez nous we've always been obsessed, partly because we work in the wind industry, partly because we use the sun to heat and power this house and least importantly 'cos I've always fancied being a meterologist. Anyway right here right now its only 4degC, sleeting and with winds over 40mph....and its May for goodness sake!
The piccies are of the oystercatcher which has laid 3 eggs on the stones just outside the preschool nursery in the village. Its causing a bit of mayhem as the eggs are just next to the front door so people are having to use an alternative entrance. Its a great learning experience for the children who report on progress and get a chance to see 'nature in action'. Even amongst the slate the eggs are nicely camouflaged. I believe the eggs will hatch in about 3 more weeks so shall post any progress.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

It has rained since Sunday.

A bit of an update although I haven't taken any new photos recently. I'm sure the many many rainy days we've just had have limited such creativity. Actually we had sunshine at 5am this morning, a glorious start to the day, it held such promise!

After great angst on the hen front we may well be back to normal service as we've had a few days of unpecked eggs. I can't lay claim to any secret weapon, we checked the eggs so frequently that the number of pecked eggs reduced which may have helped break their bad habit, we kept the hens to their pen rather than give them completely free range around the farm, we moved the grit closer to their house just in case they weren't getting enough. General experience from others indicates that you can't always cure them of this habit but we're hoping the bad spell is over...

Last weekend I went to the Wee Green Market in nearby Killearn, this was recommended by Caireen of the patchwork dress who I met through the blog but who lives just down the road. The WGM is a monthly market held in a village hall, partly for community fundraising and partly as a means of supporting and promoting local businesses. There were some super crafters such as Lynn of My Baboo who I have met before so it was really lovely to catch up. I'll certainly go again - especially for birthday presents.