Saturday, 28 May 2016

A Huge Swarm

Hello All
Still busy here, but making progress with all the tasks that have built up. But as usual the best laid plans of mice and men etc...
Just about to attack the nettles around the outside of  the field when we recognised that familiar sight and sound of a swarm.
And it was HUGE!!!
Normally if it lands in a tree (which it usually does) David will climb a ladder up to the swarm and will knock it into a box, which I will hold underneath. He will cover the box with a cloth and I will hold onto it until David comes down the ladder and takes it off me. We then place it close to where they landed and leave it there for a few hours, giving all the bees that are flying time to join those in the box. HOWEVER..
There was no way that we could physically do this as the swarm was on a large branch of our old apple tree. It wrapped half way round the trunk as well as along the branch. The bees would have to be swept into the box and would weigh more than I or David could manage above our heads . Here it is...


So how to capture this valuable swarm? In good smallholding ( but NOT Health and Safety) practice, we used.. PALLETS!!
The photo shows David placing the box on the top pallet. He pushed it back closer to the trunk and directly under the middle of the swarm. David then stood on the ladders while I steadied him and, using a soft brush, he swept the bees into the box. It took several sweeps to get the majority in and be sure that he had the queen. When it was clear that she was in there, he partially covered the box and we left it for several hours. ....Until we got back from the quiz night at midnight. We then carefully bought the box down and carrying it between us we sited it at the bottom of the garden.
We are very pl;eased to have secured these bees, which is the largest swarm we have collected in over 40 years of beekeeping.

 I know that I have have been tardy posting recently. The gardens, Civic Society and various projects have been taking up so much of my time.
We are also now on countdown to our annual "Festival", the large family party that we host in our field each year. I have posted about it before, but if you are new to my blog it is a weekend when our daughters's and our friends join us for a two (for some, three) day party, when many camp (hence Festival) and we have games and races and friends and relatives who sing and play for us. We play rounders, dance, swim in our river and play huge games of rounders (50 a side). All very sophisticated, cocktail party it is not!
Making a smallholding a safe place for 150 people is quite a task, thus much of my time (when I'm not baking and freezing stuff) is being spent tidying up around the place. Our smallholding is nowhere near as tidy as some that I see in Blogland, so there is much to do.
  I have my youngest daughter's old black lab to look after for the weekend, while she and her daughter are walking the Yorkshire three peak challenge to raise money for "Labradors in Need" They have taken Coda, the young yellow lab with them, but Sammie isn't up to the walk.

All for now fellow bloggers, back as soon as I can. I may not be posting much, but I am reading your blogs. Before I close I must welcome Julie, Carol Flood and Jane Berry on Bloglovin . I seem to have lost a follower or two on the side bar, but can't work out who.
I'll close with a pic of Dixie, the bold explorer, skulking around on the bund in our neighbour's field.

Love Gillx

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Grandslaves and Reynard strikes

Hello All
Here I am again a couple of weeks since I last posted. The time has flown by and much has happened and been achieved, especially in the vegetable gardens, which are now looking pretty good. David has nearly finished the pallet-wood fence, which will keep the dogs off the gardens and tidies up between two spaces
.Here is one of the reasons we have started to get on top of the gardens... grandchildren!




 I have questions about two bloggers-
Does anybody know why I am no longer following Frugal Queen? Have I missed some change?
More importantly, where has the lovely Weaver gone? She normally posts daily, but hasn't done so for well over a week. Her wonderful posts are missed.

When we were in Cornwall for a spot of sea fishing the blasted fox paid us a call. He dug his way through our (substantial) defences and slaughtered 13 hens. My granddaughter, who was looking after the smallholding, found them on her morning rounds. I feel so sorry for her, it must have been an awful sight! We have spent many hours beefing up the fencing and have changed how we lock up at night to add an extra layer of defence. Fortunately the hens have been in the orchard run and not ranging over the whole holding for three weeks as the gardens are being planted up or it could have been even worse.
If anybody tells me that foxes have to live I will not be responsible for my language!
 Just been out to gloat over the veggie gardens (the rest are in an awful state) and see that the b****y rabbits have trimmed the early pea row!
Need to go out and net the peas now.. back soon.
Gillx

P.S I have been nominated for the leibster award thingy. Hope there is not a time restriction on responding, which I will do soon.



Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Spring update


Hello All
Welcome to Susan Telford on Blog Lovin. Good to see you here.
Alright enough already! Snow, hail, thunder, bright sunshine, frosts overnight. Make your mind up ! It's been very difficult to settle to any job and know what to wear over the last few days. The lambs should be out all day, but some of the weather has been so inclement that we have been bringing them in at teatime and leaving them in overnight until 9.00ish the next morning. On a couple of nights we have even put the heat lamp on for them.
The drive this lunchtime...

I have been trying to deter the hens from going broody and for the most part have succeeded. apart from Mavis who is doggedly sitting in an empty rabbit hutch on who knows how many eggs. The hens are pretty skittish at the moment as the fox paid us a visit a few days go and killed two hens.      ( I'm not in the mood to hear that the fox has to live at the mo!)

My friend's funeral went well. It was good to see a good turn-out. She was of Welsh decent and she would have loved the rousing "Guide me O thou Great Redeemer" at the service. (and also the good "Ham Tea" afterwards)
Sadly, a dear old friend died that same afternoon as the funeral and I am really struggling with this. His service is next week, it will be sad to say goodbye to him. We have known M for 45 years and will miss his calm kindness and affection.

I went my school reunion on Saturday night. It was interesting to see how we have aged, some better than others! I did struggle to find something in common with people. I did resist the conversation I had with someone at a friend's Golden Wedding a couple of weeks ago. We were talking about getting old and what it meant. I said that I feared losing my marbles over everything and he asked if I did anything to combat this. I told him that I read a lot, am secretary of a Civic Society and a couple of interest/ campaign groups, was researching for a local history paper and wrote a blog. I told him about the Smallholding and how it kept me on my toes. I said that I couldn't relate to just going out to lunch (pensioner's specials?) or the occasional game of whist as it sounded like a living death to me. "What do you do ?" I asked. "I'm a member of a luncheon club and play the occasional game of Bridge" he replied ooooh er whoops!

Thought you might like to see the fence that David is building across the veggie plots to keep the dogs off. Made of pallet wood of course and very sturdy it is too. It will keep more than dogs off. As we say here "In the event of a nuclear attack crouch behind....(whatever David has built)"

Cro has a picture on his blog of his Wisteria, it is glorious and he is so much in front of us. This is a branch of ours presently. Way behind.
 The false quince that is next to it is looking good tho'

All for now, will update you on the Radio Derby/chicken saga soon.
Love from a breezy Derbyshire
 Gillx


Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Radio Derby again!

 Hello All                                                                                                                                                                I'm about to sit down for a much needed cup of tea after a visit from Radio Derby. They wanted to talk to some chickens! Apparently a study is being carried out about... I'm not too sure actually..., something to do with playing sounds to chickens for some reason. The reporter wanted to know If I talked to my chickens and if I understood the sounds they made. I was somewhat wary, not really wanting to be seen as the dotty old chicken whisperer! He asked if he could feed them and I gave him some feed to sprinkle on the ground as I let them out of their night time run. He then put the mic next to them and asked them to talk to him, which they didn't. I told him that they were well bought up chickens and were taught not speak with their mouths full.! Did I really say that?! I did explain the chickens DO make several different sounds which can be interpreted by us but that it was unlike;y to work the other way round, other than as a Pavlov's reaction ( i.e me shouting chick chick chick as I feed them means that they associate that sound  with being fed.) I have been interviewed on the TV/radio several times for various reasons but this was the most bizarre.
 Tonight we are hosting a meeting of the great and the good about how to fund the reinstatement of the canal through a envelopment site I shall make some biscuits and get out the home made wine and we will see how it goes. I have to assemble and print out the agendas yet and a quick dust and vacuum wont go amiss!
The last week has been very busy but when I leave it several days between posting I lose the momentum to write about it as it is finished and done with. Suffice to say I haven't been bored!

I'm feeling rather mortal at the moment, so many of our contemporaries are seriously/terminally ill,  Last week a neighbour called round to say could I help her with a friend of mine who is also a neighbour. When I got there I found that she was at the stop of her stairs and had been dead for some time. She had been fighting cancer for sometime, but we did not expect her to die so suddenly. I feel so sad that she died alone.
I have quite a bit more to write but some friends have just arrived so will sign off for now
Before I go a warm Derbyshire welcome to
Cafe with kids, Katie Walters, Helen Egg, Rebecca Pick. on  Blog lovin and L Efting on the follower bar .
Back Soon
Gillx


Friday, 1 April 2016

Hello All
Here I am again after another little break. I am SO rubbish at regular blogging.

I thought I ought to make an effort as today we are off for our first sea fishing trip of the year and it will be Monday at least before I get a chance to post something. My daughter and granddaughter will be taking over the seedling watering, lamb bottling, parrot and cat sitting and egg collecting duties until then.

We looked over the bee hives last week and have lost two, one where the bees had starved only inches from some honey filled comb and one that was abandoned. The other eight are all now fed and looking good so far.

I have cleared most of the gardens ready for digging/rotovating and have some plants set in the  greenhouse, so here we go for another year's gardening. I hope to share some of this with you over the next few weeks.

My 15 year old "Stoves" cooker (seven burner, two oven) has developed a problem that can't be fixed. The terms of the maintenance agreement say that if a fault can't be rectified they will replace the cooker. They were unable to provide me with another Stoves, but have provided me with a Belling on a like for like basis.
Here it is
Adding up 13years maintenance payments and checking the cost of this cooker I have done quite well out of this and I guess that if this cooker lasts as well as the last one it should just about see me out!

My youngest granddaughter and I went to the fodder rooms today for more lamb milk replacer. They asked if we wanted a BIG bag of carrots for a pound as the bag had burst? Of course we did! There was approx 30lb of carrots and now I have to think of what to do with them - ideas on a postcard please!( as they used to say)

Next week sees me buckling down to organise a public consultation to attempt to capture local people's views on our Civic Society's newest campaign. This means a newsletter to write, print and post to 400+ housing ( I don't do all the posting!) a public meeting to organise, with all the attendant issues. No pressure there then!

Anyway bloggy friends after another random blog I'm off to pack the fishing rods and sandwiches for the trip.
Back Soon
Gillx










Friday, 18 March 2016

Adorable X 8

Hello All
It's that time of year again...
So meet..
Cookie, Cocoa , Cheeky, Cheese and Chives  the girls
and
 Chester, Corbyn and Cameron the boys


Yes I know some of the names are weird, but I didn't name one of them!
If anyone is passing all eight are on bottles and help is gratefully accepted!
Back  Soon
Gillx

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Meat bargains and other stuff

Hello All
Thank you for your comments on my last post. I love how so many people are interested in bees.

I have done quite well for meat bargains over the last few days.
The first pic is of the 1kg £1.55 "cooking bacon" from Lidl The 2 pieces, as you can see, are quite lean and actually weighed a little over 1kg. I cooked these in the slow cooker. They kept their shape and were not in the least bit salty. I cubed one piece to add to a quiche and a couple of omlettes and sliced the larger one for sandwiches for ourselves and our granddaughter's packed lunch.

 My next bargain was a lovely piece of brisket. I bought this "yellow sticker " joint weighing 1.4kg for £4.89, marked down from £9.77 from Tescos. As you can see it is a very lean joint. I pot roasted this. Three of us had this hot for dinner last night and there is nearly half of it left to eat cold in sandwiches.
 Here is something I didn't get round to showing you after Christmas. The girls clubbed together to buy me this beauty.....
 I am looking forward to making cider later in the year. I also have several large bags of grapes in the freezer and will be having a play with these soon.

David and the guys have been working hard at stacking wood and moving a trailer load of chippings that we were given a few days ago.  "That's that parking space cleared " he announced smugly on tuesday evening.
Yesterday (wednesday) our godson arrived with a truck full of pallets ! hey ho. I'd hate David to get complacent and it keeps him off the streets (as they say)
I bet you pallet buffs are making plans in your heads as to what you could with those pallets. The guys will be carefully taking some of them apart today.

The hens have now started laying in ernest, which means that I can put the signs out. Hurrah! Yesterday I made a quiche, an large egg custard(without pastry) and boiled half a dozen eggs for sandwiches. Love it when I don't have to skimp on the eggs..
Off to Lidl now as a request has gone up for meatballs when the family come for tea this weekend and I have no mince in the freezer.
Back soon as I seem to have got my blogging mojo back for the moment.
Gillx