Sunday, 31 January 2010

Room for a small one?

Okay, so let me introduce you to 'Snowflake'. Snowflake is the first-born lamb to The Funny Farm this season, and belongs to a right haughty-looking mother called 'Muriel', who's actually quite pretty when she lets her guard down, and doesn't know she's being watched?

Here, on the other hand, is the newest member to The Shaun Club, and I swear was still wet behind the ears when I first laid eyes through the 'noculars the other day, curled up like a wet rag in the grass? Welcome to 'Liquorice Sticks'. Like Muriel, Mum 'Mildred' is equally protective of her baby, as the photo shows: "Come one step closer Wellie-Baby, and you're history angel!"

And THIS little beauty (below), is 'Adora', who's asleep all the time in the corner of the barn, with Fresian friend 'Piskie' behind (always got incredibly dirty knees has Piskie for some reason...)

Adora's Mum and Dad are truly, truly adorable, and gentle little souls to look at..... I'll try and photograph them for you this coming week.

In no way am I suggesting that I'm 'A Small One' (!) and certainly not as gentle on the eye as the previous little darlings...(!) Now we have a vision of Wellie with the bit between her teeth in the biting cold Northerly Wind on Saturday afternoon, absolutely determined to make a start on the new Asparagus Bed. Sorry to bring the blog back down to earth!

I had thought that the ferny-fronds would make a really 'natural' divide between the kitchen garden and the sick sheep pen, but I encountered so much Couch Grass root along here, that I had to abandon Plan A for Plan B.

Plan B materialised after an icy-cold glass of Pinot Grigio (thankfully!) namely; barely-visible netting behind (to stop the sheeps nibbling) and then Fruit Bushes, with training possible of cordons, espaliers, etc. etc., and the soil being covered with weed-supressing fabric, permanently mulched with well-rotted farmyard manure/shrub-shreddings to keep the couch at bay, and make the bed look as natural as possible. Because, if you think about it, the fence, once netted, has created one side of a fruit cage for me, without any expense, and I can seasonally attach more netting at crucial times, to stop birds pecking out new growth buds at this time of year, and ripening fruit later in the year.
You see? There's a positive solution to be found in most negatives.....
And whilst the Dray Wate Wane was numbing my goosebumps, I fancied that I might squeeze a cheeky crop of Potatoes into the bed before I do any of that, given that the fruit is/can be containerised still. But I'll have to sleep on that one for a while, as I do with every 'Wellie Idea', until I prove my own theory completely wrong. Do you have brilliant ideas one day and shoot them down in flames the next? Pushing the boundaries - always important if you want to make progress, me thinks.

As you can see, the quality of the FYM I tipped onto the still undug triangliar bed in the foreground is excellent quality, so very well done girls and boys in the fields of The Funny Farm (credit where credit's due afterall, eh?!), and if we can just get this really cold snap of weather elbowed, I could continue with the great leaps and strides that I'm achieving whilst I'm 'on a roll'.

Still, turning yet another negative into a positive, this frosty weather does make picking up little parcels of sheep-poo for making Funny Farm Liquid Feed, a darn site easier!
Stay warm, and Safe.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Sheep & Shreddings

I completely take my hat off to Trousers today, with knobs on.
He was wide awake all night long, on account of the fact that we were expecting an oil delivery this very morning at 6am and he wanted to wake in time to switch the outside light on for the delivery driver to actually find the oil tank in the dark. (I know, it's a SUNDAY, how very fantastic is our local fuel company?) Yeah Right, at nearly a Quid a Litre now?! But they have had my cash for a fortnight, and fair is fair. Backlog or no backlog, the boys have done us proud today, and The Funny Farm has a touch of warmth once again this evening.

Trousers spent the majority of the day shredding The Twiggy Mountain of stuff that we'd pruned off the overgrown shrubs in the garden in the last week or two. Good Man.X

Whilst me, trying to keep warm, and knowing that (potentially) I might have about another four weeks to dig over the garden, plant stuff, plan stuff and then Panic Like Mad, I'm putting my Wellie Hat on, my Wellie Boots, and just getting out there and on with what needs doing.
Beyond that, it'll be Plan B.
Failing that, Plan C.

But here, I've taken the bull firmly by the horns. A beautiful rose (got the name of it in the drawer with the screwdriver and spare lightbulbs?!) and last year, the border was riddled with nettles, couch grass and thistles. I wasn't happy with that planting combination, so I've decided to 'kick arse'. After that, I'LL decide, Okay?!

I've not been remotely impressed with my growing skills Down On The Funny Farm this year, because I've had to re-define beds and borders, actually, I've had to FIND them! but no matter what, I will actually pat myself on the head for the small amount of beautifully-formed red brussel sprouts that I'm in the process of growing. And maybe we might see a Savoy Cabbage if we're lucky!

BUT! You all know how very trying I am, and here's early proof. January is always such a NO-NO time to sow seeds, but I've had success with Tomatoes, Aubergines, Shallot & Onion Seeds being sown, and harvesting my own tomatoes mid-June, where others are waiting to pick more than a month later.

Because, for salads, and Trousers's lunchboxes, I like to pick cherry tomatoes as early, and as tasty, as June/early July, or shoot me, or what's the point? BUT. There's the old 10 degree rule to adhere to, which is important.....
You can see (on the chair) Pigletwillie's Banana Shallot Seeds germinated.
I've got some more seed, so I might give it another go this week, when it's biodynamically a root day!
Thank you for listening once again. X

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Cruel To Be Kind?

You see this Eucalyptus Tree? Unfortunately, so do I - still...! And it is blocking out such huge new Kitchen Garden potential for me.

The story goes, that it was planted many moons ago, for floristry additions to bouquets and arrangements, and no-one bothered to check out just how tall this thing would grow in the garden, if left unchecked. Which would account for why it's umpteen miles high now, and casting not only its' shade, but its' peeling bark, its' shedding evergreen leaves and berry-tip wotsits, and actually, it's doing my head in. I must find out how much it costs to hire an industrial 'Cherry Picker' bit of machinery (Trousers is professionally qualified to operate one - Oooh! Get HIM!) and get all Trousers's mates round for a 'Chainsaw The Annoying Tree Down' Party.

Any single one of you, male or female, with your own non-electric chainsaw (!), proper protective clothing, proper-proper insurance, would be welcome at the party. If any of you turned out as having A Day Job as a Tree Surgeon or something, you could have an extra sausage roll, and an extra 'tinny', get dinner thrown in, and party for the rest of the weekend, as far as I'm concerned.....
Any takers?!

And whilst this beautiful 'muddle' in the photo below is, in itself rather appealing visually, it's going to need a certain amount of Wellying (new word) in terms of pruning this year.

It's a spring-flowering Clematis montana, which I showed you in the early Funny Farm blog updates last year, growing magnificently and beautifully through the Yew tree, the Yucca, and everything in its' vicinity. Sometimes, just sometimes, as a gardener, you have to be cruel to be kind. And in this instance, it is spoiling, rather than enhancing, so it can have one last flush of scented glory this year, and then it needs to be drastically pruned.

For those of you who know me well by now, and those of you just getting to know me, I am completely and utterly addicted to my cat. No more, no less... Trousers and I go for a walk round the farm - the cat comes too. I'm pricking out seedlings in my Grown-Up Girls' Greenhouse, and my cat's sitting there watching me. I'm weeding or planting up the borders, and my cat insists on playing the 'jump out and grab Wellie's ankles' game, making me scream with laughter. And the more I laugh, the more she does it. It's a hoot.....
And earlier this evening, I wanted to show Trousers the first lamb that I'd seen down on the funny farm, so armed with the camera, we went to find it, but the cat went "Me! Me! Take a photo of Me!".

We didn't find the lamb, but we did find a very tired shrew, layed down on the path for a well-earned snooze! My cat looked at me, and went "Moi?"

I'm hopeful of bringing you photos of the new lamb in my normal regular Sunday Blob Update tomorrow.
In the meantime, thank you for watching.

Sunday, 17 January 2010


Ready for a Sing Song?
"I see Fields of Green..... Red Roses too......doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo... Pom Pom Pom (!) And I think to myself, what A Wonderful World!"

Okay, I was telling Porkies about the Red Roses, but I cannot BEGIN to tell you of the joy that I feel to see the green, green grass of home once again, now that the snow has all but melted..... There's Lovely? So Trousers and I got right back out there today, and it was a gloriously mild and sunny day, so we did some serious, serious pruning of overgrown shrubberies.

Having lived here since last Easter, we've become accustomed to where the sun rises, why it doesn't reach the Kitchen Garden 'here, there, and everywhere', and now is exactly the time of year to tackle a daunting job like this, as without leaves, you can ruddy well see the wood for the trees!

And (cover your ears children), the language that was coming from Trousers in this particular part of the garden was nothing short of atrocious. Even the sheep took temporary cover!
In the coming weeks ahead, will come the laborious task of reducing all these prunings with the garden shredder, but what a fabulous addition to the compost heap. And now I'm getting all excited about that as well? What a truly exciting year ahead.... I just can't WAIT!

Standing further back from The Naughty Corner, it's more evident of just how much repair work is needed on The Draughty Dutch Greenhouse. In the worst of the recent weather, yet more damage has been done to the glass and perspex glazing. I am just shutting my eyes to the extensive chaos in there for now, but it will have to be dealt with sooner rather than later, I suspect.

But this, the smallest of the Kitchen Garden Potagers, and closest to the kitchen door, has brought some immediate joy to us today. Namely, that Trousers dug over one of the remaining two triangular beds yet to be done (far left with the Holly bush)...... And only had to gently 'tickle' the soil in the other undug borders to get a remotely acceptable tilth. That is one back-breaking chore that has been completely averted now due to The Big Freeze, and so High Five Mother Nature, you're an Angel.
They've not been double-dug, nor manured, and I'm largely going to 'suck it and see' as to whether I do or don't, depending on what I want to grow where. Afterall - no point double-digging and manuring if I decide to plant Rosemary & Thyme there, but if I want my prize Dahlias to positively poke me in the eye and say 'Look at Me, Aren't I Just Gorgeous' everytime I walk in the back door, then that might be a consideration.
I can't show you photos just yet, but I've been busy drawing semi-scale plans of my new Kitchen Garden Potagers on a roll of Wallpaper Lining Paper that Trousers very kindly gave me just before the weekend? (I know, don't tell me, I need to get out more!) But it's important! Without a Kitchen Garden Plan, you could be wasting precious time sowing and growing stuff that you just don't have the room for. And if you do have a plan, you can still lick your finger, stick it in the air to check which way the wind is blowing, and just PRETEND that you know what the hell you're doing, eh?!
What made me laugh most, was that Trousers gave me a few Crayons to colour it in with as well? I tell you wot - he'll of fogotten whether to look through the square window or the round one when I've finished with him!.....
Never a dull moment Down On The Funny Farm Kids!
Thank you for watching again!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Our 2010 Family Calendar......

With my cat having caught and not completely killed a feeding Robin Red Breast yesterday, and brought it into the Funny Farm Conservatory for me, in NO WAY does she feature in our Family Calendar, until she's redeemed herself fully. And that's my final word on the subject......

So - THIS is a page from Wellie's 2010 BiodyNamic Growing Year - or my 'BiodyManic Jigsaw Puzzle' as it's now affectionately known in this household!

Last year, I got interested in wanting to grow our food biodynamically, (sown, grown, tended and harvested on either Fruit, Root, Leaf or Flower-friendly days, according to Maria Thun's extensive knowledge and research) and this year, I'm determined to actually do that.

It's way more complicated than just sowing, hoeing and harvesting on relevant days, because there are Nettle Tea, Horn Manure & Silica Tinctures, Compost & Barrel Preps to take into account - all of which I have access to, and knowledgeable peeps to help steer me in the right direction, thankfully, phew!

But. Having prepared totally new ground for growing in this year, (Thanks Trousers: Mwa Mwa XX), the next step is to categorise what I'm hoping to grow into those relevant groups, and quantities.

I was gobsmacked to learn that Leeks are not Biodynamically a Root Crop? They're a Leaf Crop!

And following Joy Larkcom's valuable advice for 'what goes where', I'm identifying what crops I value most in my kitchen (either in terms of extensive use, or cost to buy in the shops as a luxury), and these will take up the majority of space in my Kitchen Garden.

The crops that I need in constant, but lesser supply, like baby beetroots, spring onions, salad leaves, etc. I shall fit in and around the main Leaf/Root/Fruit/Flower Beds, as well as Edible Flowering & Leaf Herbs, so that you control what you grow accordingly to what you use/when - Simples!

Now the next step, according to Joy, is to 'Name or Number' your vegetable beds.

And because Wellie is Wellie, I think I'm going to NAME them (no surprise there then!)

Unconventionally, I'm going to name my beds after my choice of Funny Farm Blog Followers, and Grow Your Own Friends, so that should prove hugely amusing (to me) and the rest of you can make your own minds up, obviously....

I like to sow my Onion and Shallot seeds into modules, with about 5 seeds to a module. That way, when they've germinated and are growing strongly, you can plant them out to continue growing like that. Hey Presto! A range of onion sizes for kitchen use. Trousers does not need a mammoth red onion for his cheese sandwich on a Wednesday? Nor do I need a teeny-weeny onion for a shed-load of Chilli Con Carne for the freezer. I rest my case.......

Oh, and incidentally. I have now forgiven the cat.
But only just?

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


I must just say, my jaw dropped when I saw this photo. What an incredibly beautiful picture ! Trousers had difficulty making it back from work yesterday, so absolutely no point in trying to get to work today, only to experience yet more difficulty getting home, and running the risk of missing kissing the cat goodnight, or Wellie's fabulous homemade chilli & garlic bread that I told him I'd make for his supper tonight.

So he put on his rather unattractive Travis HobNail Boots today, his equally unattractive Travis Thermal Hat, and disappeared off into the 'now familiar' unfamiliar territory, for to take some rather gorgeous photographs for you and me (if the cat stays awake long enough tomorrow, I may show them to her as well).

Meanwhile, Wellie has temporarily abandoned curtain-making, and is more concerned about her Funny Farm Feathered Friends, who very kindly munched every single one of her Cabbage White Catterpees last summer off the Brassica plants - so it's been her No.1 priority to waitress fresh food and water outside to them each and every 3 times a day during these freezing conditions - 'because they're worth it'!

Now I'm quite an intelligent girl, but, with just one or two panes of perspex or glass missing from The Draughty Dutch Greenhouse, how the HELL is the whole of the inside, and every inch of it covered in as much snow as outside?! But I put a tupperware tray of 'blitzed up peanuts' and stuff in there for the birds too.

Luckily, The Funny Farm has secondary double-glazing on some of the windows, and in the Sitting Room, the windows have old wooden shutters.

Fortunately, when Trousers took the beautiful picture below, the sheep had been moved to more cosy quarters, but before he finally made it home yesterday, it did make me smile to watch them out of the kitchen window, and with snow rapidly building up on their backs and noses, they were oblivious to it all.....

If Trousers and I don't kill each other with a Snowball in the next day or two, we might build a SnowPerson.....
Keep Safe, Keep Warm!
And thank you for watching.X.

Sunday, 3 January 2010


It's a ruddy good job no-one sees curtain linings, per se, because I've only made one Roman Blind and one pretty pair of co-ordinating curtains so far for the kitchen, and both of them have muddy paw prints all over them. I can't understand HOW they got there.....!

Actually, even Trousers was bowled over with my first attempt at making a Roman Blind, and said I should 'pat myself on the head', which is praise indeed, coming from him.

Am I right in thinking this curtain pole isn't straight? or is Trousers' Optical Illusion theory correct?!

Anyway - as you can see, the man wot's coming to fit the new sink and kitchen units still hasn't. And Wellie's starting to get a teeny weeny bit annoyed now.

It was a great shame that Trousers and I had to spend New Years' Eve like Two Big Billy No Mates, as I'd put such a lot of effort into making the Dining Hall look completely gorgeous for us all, and then Trousers' Best Mate, in the world, quite understandably, cancelled out because of the forecasted snow drifts, and so I offered our good friends, The Piglets, a similar option, which they took, on account of work commitments.

And the drift never made an appearance in the end....

Still. Trousers prep'd the Wegetables, and Wellie ended up cooking Chicken in a scrummy Stilton Sauce. Honestly, even though I say so myself - it was heavenly.

The dessert I'd planned was going to be quite a 'finale', and suitably theatrical for such an evening, and will have to remain a secret for now, because I shall resurrect it in one months' time!

I'd planned to light the room only by candlelight for the evening, and I had taken my paternal grandfather's brass light fitting in to the most charming Engineer to have it 'doctored' so that I could make a really impressive table centrepiece. I think you'll agree, it does look stunning - and I am so appreciative to The Nice Gentleman for fitting it into his busy day at such short notice! Thank You Kind Sir. X

I had also planned on getting Trousers, Jim and Piglet a Helium Balloon each, tied to the back of their dining chairs, for 'after dinner entertainment' for us Girls, but that little gem can quite happily reside in the wings now until, hopefully, we can reconvene the event for Trousers' Birthday Celebrations early February instead.

And here, in the photo above, we have Wellie's New Year Caption Competition Children!

Any suggestions? Feel free to leave a comment!

And then Trousers spilt candlewax on the tablecloth, Wellie got the right royal hump, Trousers fell asleep snoring on the sofa, waking up just in time to wish The Cat and Me felicitations for the New Year, and THAT, my friends, was that!

So. A Very Happy New Year to you all, from the three of us Down On The Funny Farm.

And see you again very soon.X.