Preparing to say goodbye...to the swallows
The end of August already, and it certainly feels like the summer is over. The dismal weather doesn’t help, but more so the final bank holiday before Christmas, children preparing to go back to school and endless queues on the A303 and M5. Far more interestingly, the swallows are gathering in preparation for their six-week journey to South Africa. The RSPB website tells us their 200-mile a day flight takes them through Western France and Eastern Spain into Morocco, before crossing the Sahara Desert and the Congo rainforest. How incredible. And here they are, gathering on the telegraph poles before flying is large circle over the farm each evening. Quite a moving spectacle, which brings a tear to the eye.
The orchard trees continue to thrive. Each one in turn had a good going over this week, removing dead or damaged leaves, taking off the plastic spiral and removing the grass and weeds that have snuck in there before replacing and adding an extended section to protect the rapidly growing trunks from being nibbled. One Cox’s Pippin is showing sign of damage, with most of its leaves having been stripped. It is a comparatively tall tree so unless the rabbits are wearing stilts or standing on each other’s shoulders in motorbike stunt-team style, I think it may be deer. There are certainly deer around the area though we have yet to actually see one on our property. A field camera has been positioned to hopefully identify the culprit. Happily ladybirds are still plentiful – at least a couple seen on almost every tree and barely any aphids to be seen.
With no vegetable patch or greenhouse ready in time for this growing season, the conservatory was taken over with pepper (Salad Festival) and cucumber (Mini Munch) plants, all grown from seed. It resembled something from the Day of the Triffids until the tomato plants (Gardeners Delight) were moved outside. They have produced an incredible haul, probably around 100 cucumbers, 50 peppers and 2kg tomatoes. The cucumbers have featured heavily in our salads (and Pimms!), many of the peppers are now in jars, preserved in olive oil with garlic and chilli and the tomatoes are now chutney which will be ready for Christmas. Bettered only by the plum and mulled wine jam just prepared.
So why does spring feel so close when the summer is only just at an end? Well there is much to do between now and next spring - the vegetable patch to be dug in, the greenhouse to purchase and set up, the wildlife pond to be created, the fruit trees to be pruned and the small matter of 500 woodland trees to plant - autumn and winter are bound to fly by!
Teasels are everywhere at the moment - take a moment to stop and look rather than rush by. Lovely photo by Helen Simmonds