29 February 2008

The cranes flying overhead on 29th February !

These are the Cranes flying overhead on their way back to their summer quarters. The noise they made was incredibly loud and the dogs, cats and goats all looked up at the sky to see what was going on ! Sorry about the rain spots on the lens.

23 February 2008

21 February 2008

Our warm Mud Room and the winter light

This is one of my favourite photographs of our "mud room" taken about three years ago about this same time of year. The winter light comes right in and it's so cheering and warm during the day when you're working inside - sometimes it even encourages me to tidy up !

The mud room's where we hang our coats and boots. It's behind the fireplace and the hot water cylinder is in there, so it's lovely and warm. I also use that space for drying clothes to keep them out of the way - I don't like having wet washing hanging all over the place and we often just take things straight off the line and they're warmish when you put them on.

One of our cats GriGri loves sleeping here in the heat of the sun.

The little box in the top middle of the photograph has three solar controllers and the distribution box for our wind and solar system in it, the batteries are at the back in another room safely out of the way.

20 February 2008

Total eclipse of the moon

Well it's tonight folks - are you going to set your alarm to watch it ?

HERE'S some information.

16 February 2008

You don't need a lawnmower when you've got geese and chickens

Ever gallant, George the Brahma

Ever gallant, George the Brahma, première mise en ligne par hardworkinghippy.

The wee lamb died

The wee lamb died, première mise en ligne par hardworkinghippy.

For the next few posts I'd like just to post a few photographs of what we're up to.

We're lambing, working on an election, trying to get some more solar panels up - which is not really a priority - but it will be exciting to have more power, really having a go at the brambles and trees in the garden, clearing, tidying up.....

3 February 2008

Part of the weed-free (thanks to the mulches and the chickens) veg plot in February

I haven't touched the garden for weeks, except for planting a few bulbs and taking cuttings. We've had a few sunny days when I should have been outside, but it seems that when I've days free it rains for days.

I used this photo to show our globe artichokes - still green and growing well. Normally these die down completely in the winter and I have to protect them because the chickens soon peck all the new growth once it comes through in early Spring. This year they've not been affected at all by the frost and should get away quickly in the next few weeks - providing we don't have really hard frosts.

It's nice to have early vegetables especially Artichokes which are so French, so sophisticated (and so easy!) but it's a bit worrying too because I've never had Artichokes stay like this through the winter before. The rhubarb started to sprout in the middle of January and the Chilean potato vine solanum crispum album (You can see that on the screen at the back of the chicken shed in the photograph above) that I bought as "not frost hardy" has stayed green all winter too.

I bought the mother plant from a show run by Philippe Burey at "Les Jardins de la Brande" 24380 Fouleix - tél. He runs a garden centre with unusual shrubs, winter-flowering plants and a forest garden open to the public. He regularly organises groups of people who sell interesting and unusual plants and I try to make it to at least one a year.

This Solanum flowers for a long time if it's in a sheltered spot in full sun. This was one of five cuttings I took in late summer 2006. I lost two to either dogs or chickens, I gave two away, and the other is now doing really well on the terrace. Here's a SLIDESHOW of the progress of the cutting I planted in June last year.

As you can see from the photos, the chickens do a wonderful job of clearing the ground - there are no weeds at all in the raised beds and the earth is rich and dark for a good 40cms. I'll wait until the sun warms it up a bit, and then cover it with a thick mulch. The goats need the heat of their bedding straw that I use for mulch under their bellies for a few more weeks, it's still damp and the nights are very chilly here.