Monday, 24 March 2014

Haircut for the Orchard

Another busy weekend in the gorgeous spring sunshine. Saturday was a good day to start pruning the old orchard trees with the sap starting to rise. Many are very old which we inherited when we moved here. Over the years the views on pruning fruit trees has changed, such as keeping them a goblet shaped and being able to throw your hat in the centre, tying the lower branches down so they will produce more fruit laterally.  But really in the past our little old trees have had a thrashing from the elements and each one has had to be treated differently, some lean with all its branches heading north due to the wind, while others head east. Anyway nearly all have had a good haircut and will soon be decorated with blossom, before producing us with the gifts of lovely sweet apples. We couldn't just chop purely to make a good looking tree they need looking after like someone needing individual tender care.
Well I'm off to make an apple crumble, thanks to our  wonderful little trees  still rewarding us with stored fruit throughout the winter.
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away".

Waiting for a haircut 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

A Lovely Spring Surprise

From my previous posts you will know how much I love my three lovely Southdown sheep Petal, Blossom and renamed Flower.

Flower, Petal and Blossom

The last few months have been a joy looking after them. They have at times been a bit cheeky managing to walk through the sheep netting which we don’t always put electricity to it, as we have stock fencing around the perimeter of the field. The netting is handy to just keep them moving onto fresh grass within the field and to protect newly planted fruit trees and to stop them wandering into the dew pond, which because of the wet weather can fill up and get muddy very quickly. We decided to move them into the old orchard on Saturday morning to keep the grass down as it is quite lush now and with all the daffodils out it looked really idyllic. Anyway I got up early on Monday gave them some of their favourite sheep nuts and fed the hens and geese in the orchard, went inside to make my hubby's breakfast. It was such a lovely morning we decided to have our coffee and croissant outside and watch the sheep and hens in the orchard. Then Oh dear something clearly wasn’t ok with Flower, she was bleating and looking very uncomfortable with mucus coming away from her rear end. My hubby and I are still very much novice shepherds with lots to learn. Petal, Blossom and Flower which are only shearlings are not due to go with the ram until next November, so we thought we had plenty of time to study and learn about lambing. Since they arrived last October they have never been near a ram, but quite clearly Flower had come to us with a liaison with some handsome ram that found her irresistible, as 20 minutes later out popped a very tiny very beautiful lamb which we have called Cherry.
 I don’t know who was more shocked Flower or us. It was a bit touch and go as I suppose she is a very young mum and although attentive we thought she was a bit reluctant to feed her lamb. But we have made a maternity ward for her with lots of fresh hay and treats and have also given her the option of using the polytunnel if it rains.

Flower in the labour  ward
Now I was panicking is that it or is there 2 more or maybe shes dead.

After a wash and brush up water and sheep nuts

Baby Cherry enjoying the Orchard and Sunshine

Cherry is still very weak but I hope she will be ok she is so pretty and has the most delicate bleat. It has all been very unexpected but we coped and hopeful she will be a happy fine ewe, for our new flock we can keep. She is very special to us being our first lamb and such a surprise. Gosh I feel so attached to her it would have been upsetting to have had to part from a baby ram.
Well I'm off to read up on tail docking and ear tagging, don't know whether I will be able to watch this.

The First Weekend in March

It has been a little while since I have written this but have had a few problems with my internet the last few weeks. So I thought I would still publish it.
The feeling of spring is here at last. The lent lillies are appearing, blossom is on our new little almond tree. The geese are building nests in the meadow hay and the chickens are laying. The owls are hooting and tweeting in the night and the bats are fluttering about in the lighter evenings.  Frogs can be heard from our spare bedroom window, early in the morning. How lovely to look out of the windows and see the wild pheasants and red legged partridges scratching for corn. So yes it's finally arriving hurray. Having said that we have had some extremely cold nights with sharp frosts, so my little almond and apricot trees are wrapped up warmly to protect their blossom.
We have had a very busy weekend planting a new hedge. We wanted a hedge that would attract as much wildlife as possible. So we have planted hornbeam for colour, hazel to attract the nut lovers, our own grown willow and ash cuttings and what we hope will be a very pretty rose billowing through.
We have planted eighteen fruit trees mainly eaters, 1 cooker and some plums in our front field. Alongside our kitchen garden we have planted crabapple hedging, so I can in the future do some grafting with our really old unrecognized varieties of apples in the orchard on the rootstock. I hope all is well in your part of the world and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Lots of Frog Spawn

Plenty of Goose Eggs

My Little Almond Tree Prunus Dulcis

At Last Blue Sky