After storms and very wet weather the garden is pretty much sodden. Then last night a sharp frost has left everything frozen solid. It was minus 4.5 degrees Celsius this morning – not often we get it that cold here in the west of Ireland.
Poor robin was feeling the cold – all fluffed out trying to keep warm. We put extra food out this morning for all the birds.
2. The pond is frozen too. We did a bit of pond maintenance last week – taking out quite a lot of sedges that had spread through the shallower end and bog bean which had taken over half the deep end. It looks quite a bit better.
Pond – frozen
3. I wonder if the honeysuckle is now regretting send out leaves?
4. The creeping raspberry looks very pretty with its frosted fringe. This is a good ground cover plant but we have never got any fruit from it. The bees do like the flowers though.
Creeping Raspberry, Rubus nepalensis (I think)
5. The poultry were finding it cold this morning too. Nelson (our drake) kept walking a few steps and then sitting down as if he was trying to warm his feet. Junior, the cockerel was crowing standing on one foot.
6. And finally our roof is looking a bit like a green roof at the moment. Possibly because of the really wet winter it seems to have become populated with lots of moss. I don’t really mind – it looks pretty.
In the west of Ireland, we have no shortage of farm animals. Among my favourite are the poultry. Especially chickens. I could watch them all day, they are such characters. This is Junior. He is very handsome.
This is Junior’s father and some of the hens. We can’t let Junior and his father be too near each other because they fight, and every morning there is a competition to see who can crow the loudest.
Just down through the fields this is our neighbour’s donkey.
October is knocking and the dark nights are rolling in. It is the time of year for warm fires, stews and hot soups. But still the garden is providing despite the early frost of a fortnight ago. Cabbages have had a good year, as have onions. I do wonder though if the onions will store well as they have grown so big. The tomatoes were late but are still ripening. We’re enjoying apple and raspberry crumble too.
This is an old Irish variety called Gortnahort
Onions have done well
Brambley cooking apples
We haven’t bought any eating apples for a good two months now and these red pixie apples are still to harvest.
Eating apple, Pixie
One of the great things about autumn is free seeds. I have been harvesting some from my flowers and already have lupins, delphiniums, campanula and some wild flowers including ox-eyed daisy, foxgloves and ragged robin germinating and growing.
Ox eyed daisy seedlings
The chicks are growing too, and are spending most of their day in the greenhouse in a little enclosure that keeps the from digging young lettuce plants up!
You may remember a couple of months back, our duck, Jemima passed away. Well, we have a new duck, thanks to our generous neighbour.
Nelson and Jemima ii
Seeing as the new duck was so like our original one we have decided to called her Jemima the Second. She is quite shy but gradually seems to be settling into her new home. Currently she and Nelson are hard at work finding slugs in the vegetable plot. Though Nelson does seem to prefer the poultry field and duck pond!
(Apologies for quality of photo, it was taken with my phone not my camera!)
There is so much happening in the garden. I just love this time of year. The plum tree is full of blossoms and thankfully also full of pollinators. The most colourful of which was this Red Admiral. It’s a little bit worn, so must be one that managed to get through our winter.
Red Admiral on plum blossom
There are bees too and hoverflies, including these little ones, which I still need to identify.
Hoverflies on plum blossom
In the polytunnel, the early potatoes are finally showing through and the broad beans and the mangetout are growing well.
The chicks are getting big and my husband was busy making a little enclosurer for them that we’ve put into the polytunnel for now. Already yesterday, the smallest chick was seen eating a slug!
The Juneberry (Amelanchier) is also flowering. The flowers are so delicate. We look forward to the fruit.
Happy St Patrick’s day! We’ve had a lovely sunny and dry day which has been great for the kids taking part in the local parade. And this morning we got a little bit of time to do some gardening too.
But our most exciting event this week has been the hatching of six little chicks from the chicken eggs in the incubator. The little black one below, was first to emerge, having hatched first thing Sunday morning.
For the rest of the afternoon the kids watched the four little yellow ones hatch. It was great to see their excitement and a great education. Our seven year old, in particular, was asking lots of questions. We’d borrowed the incubator and hope to try some duck eggs next.
Today the chicks were moved out of the incubator into a homemade brood box consisting of a cardboard box and infra-red lamp to keep them warm.
Finally, we have some new hens. We had hoped to get some Rhode Island or Marrams but for now, are happy to have four new hybrids.
We kept them in the ark for a couple of days till they got used to the new surroundings. Poor things had probably never seen a green field.
But now they are wandering about exploring and learning.
This is William, and he looks proud having got some new ladies to look after. They were actually pecking ever so gently at his feathers. Not sure if they were trying to preen him or just thinking he may be good enough to eat.
Even the ducks are happy, as all the rain we’ve had, has filled the pond up!