After weeks of relentless sogginess in Central Scotland (and a range of temporary water features in the garden and paddock here at The Sparrowholding!!), at last the weather seems to have taken a turn for the better in the first part of this week. Over the weekend, I had tackled the three unwieldy bushes which were all but blocking the garden path, reducing them by around 50% in volume and giving them a short back and sides. I suspect I was not cut out for a career as a hairdresser, as their coiffures look fairly frightening!
Then on Monday, Son&Heir was minded to get some fresh air and sunshine, so he kindly tackled both the front and back patio areas of the garden. He edged the lawn along the path, removed all the dead leaves from the borders, plus scraped the grass and mud off the paving stones. And what a difference he's made!
Meanwhile down in the polytunnel...
So much for the patios... However, just 20 metres away, in the polytunnel, there's still a LOT of work to be done... HunterGatherer is out in the fields seven days a week at the moment, and Yours Truly has been making her way (wo)manfully through mountains of proofreading, so we've rather left the poor polytunnel to its own devices over the winter.
To save having to water them during the frosty spells, HG dragged most of the Tublyx tubs (of which he's built up quite a collection!) containing herbs out of the polytunnel way back in November. As soon as we can get some time, the plan is to fill half the polytunnel with them (and get some seedlings planted) while keeping the other half free for a couple of lambing pens. Although lambing is about a month away (unless Ivan the Terrible sneaked out of the field when we weren't looking one night!!!), we hope to get the pens set up this coming weekend. I can hardly believe it's over eleven months since the last wee woolly bundles bounced into the world - scary how quickly the last year has flown. (Eek! Now I'm beginning to sound like my mother...)
The unexpected snow at the end of last week meant that extra rations were required for the chocolate sheep, and they certainly weren't slow to run up the field when they saw said rations arriving... The short video clip below shows the general melee as everyone tries to work out which tub holds the tastiest morsel (they all contain exactly the same, of course, but try telling Socks, Pipsqueak, Pickle and their friends that!!!).
Having a FarmerBruv is very useful at times such as this, as his Timothy Hay Blox go down a treat with our woolly jumpers :-) They also have the additional benefit (if you happen to have to go out to work in 'decent' clothes afterwards) of being extremely quick and easy to distribute. I've been known to stand at the edge of the paddock and practise my 'shot putt' skills to ensure they land on a mud-free area of the grass.
The other benefit is that they don't blow away in the wind as hay and chop tend to do. It would take a pretty hefty gale to move these 1 kg blocks. And talking of their weight, that's the other advantage of the Blox: you know exactly how much you are feeding every day, whereas with a hay net you need to use scales to be sure (with hay being very variable in its weight per 'wad').
The snow has disappeared very quickly, though that's meant two extremely soggy paddocks for now... The garden and the garage here at The Sparrowholding have been similarly affected. HunterGatherer hardly dares venture into the garage in case he finds something too awful!! Roll on the spring...
Despite the odd few days of frost and snow here and there, we've had a fairly mild winter here in Kinross-shire, and the plants which are still growing around the garden are looking well for this time of the year. Of course, the only slight concern is that a plethora of pesky horticultural pests that might have been killed off by prolonged periods of frost will instead have survived the winter and are currently lurking in wait under a pile of leaves, intent on munching their way through our produce very soon!
The bay leaf plant is HG's pride and joy!
HunterGatherer hauled the big red tubs he's been using as giant planters (in his war against chickweed) out of the polytunnel over for the winter. The bay leaf is looking particularly bright-eyed at the moment, and the rosemary is also in rude health. Our last red cabbage is waiting to be cut for supper very soon, and we've been enjoying curly purple kale right through the winter.
Meanwhile, on the animal front, Ivan the Shetland tup (or 'ram', depending on which part of the country you live in) spent a happy eight weeks amid his fleecy harem in the hill paddock over the winter, but last week - no doubt much to Romeo's grand chagrin - the seven ewes were put back into the front paddock.
We'll have far fewer ladies lambing this spring, as we sold half a dozen of our ewes (as well as almost all of our lambs) this year. We did, however, keep four of our own female lambs and have bought in two 'full pedigree' newbie ewes - the alliteratively named Juno and Jinja.
Fortunately for us, Farmerbruv's horse feed Blox are equally popular with our woolly jumpers. They have tried out all the different types and their favourites are definitely the Timothy Hay Blox and the JustGrass ones. When it's blowing a hoolie outside, it's great just to be able to nip outside quickly and throw a few Blox into the field from the fenceside, knowing that (unlike the loose hay) it's not going to disappear, airborne, into the Kingdom of Fife within a matter of minutes.