What’s bringing you comfort these days? Family time, kitten cuddles, walks with my dog, binge watching historical dramas, tasty food (specifically nachos made with leftover vegetarian chili), and craft projects are keeping me going.
As the pandemic continues, and the nights grow longer, I worry about the coming months. Covid-19 cases are increasing daily in Ireland and we now have confirmed cases locally. For a while we felt safe in our remote location, but that has changed in recent weeks.
My teenagers are convinced that students they go to school with have it, but there have been no closures or warnings sent home to parents. I’m hoping distance learning will be brought back soon. Tonight we’re expecting an announcement from the government. It’s possible that we’ll enter a Level 5 lockdown again.
Last March we had sunshine and the promise of spring to boost our spirits while confined at home. Facing into winter it’s a different story! I’m trying not to worry too much and take each day as it comes. Fortunately we’ve had an autumn full of goodness. I’m grateful for simple pleasures and the gifts this season has brought us.
Our hen Foxy became broody at the end of August. In early September a friend gave us 12 fertilized eggs. I marked each one with an X. Each day we’d have to check for fresh eggs since 2 of our other hens were still laying. Sure enough there would often be fresh eggs which needed to be removed. Foxy would give the evil eye and sometimes peck whomever disturbed her. She was very protective of the next generation.
Apparently most people use incubators these days if they want to hatch eggs. I grew up in a big city so this is all new to me. I was as excited as the kids waiting for the chicks to hatch. It was fascinating seeing how dedicated Foxy was to the process. During those two weeks I never saw her leave her bed to eat or drink. She sat there patiently hour after hour.
One afternoon I could hear chirping, although there was still no sight of the chicks. Two had hatched but they were tucked beneath their mama. By the next day all 7 chicks were peeping out cute as could be! Our brood of chickens nearly tripled overnight.
It’s been exactly a month since they hatched and all 7 chicks have grown a lot. They’re really strong and fast now! We’re not sure how many are hens or cockerels. We’ll keep the hens for laying eggs and give away any cockerels. Half of our kids are vegetarian and the others would refuse to eat our pets. My house is in town so the neighbors would kill me if we kept a noisy rooster.
I recently read an inspiring post by Vee, Just Do It, about a Canadian women who charges $35 an hour to rent her chickens to people. Apparently the birds eat slugs for gardeners, which translates into cash for their owner. I hope she’ll publish a book How to Train Your Chickens because that would be truly magical. When we let ours loose near flowers or vegetables, our hens scratch them up or eat the plants!!!
The garden yielded only mediocre success. We have purple sprouted broccoli, beetroots, a few carrots and parsnips, and an abundance of potatoes left as well as a ton of kale. We grew 4 pumpkins: 2 ornamental and 2 for eating. The slugs ate all of the butternut squash. Some of the cabbages were consumed by caterpillars. We only had about five courgettes (slugs again) and the beans were a disaster. A friend of mine who is a seasoned gardener had the same problem with beans this year so that made me feel a little better. Our onions were also a fail. The chives are abundant though.
The Swiss chard, peas, spinach, and mixed green salads grew really well. However, we learned a big lesson. Next year we need to plant them in succession to space out harvesting. When the salad was ready to be picked, we couldn’t keep up with the amount of produce. We offered to give heads of lettuce away to friends and family, but everyone was in the same situation. As a result a lot of it went to waste.
The north facing aspect of our raised beds posed a challenge. The garden didn’t get enough sunlight for some of the plants to really thrive. I’m wondering if a polytunnel would make a difference next year? Using the conservatory as a sort of greenhouse for the cherry tomatoes worked really well, although the plants took up a huge amount of space. We finally cleared them out last week.
Next we intend to plant bulbs for the spring. I think I’m better at growing flowers than food…
I’ve been lazy about gardening lately, but when I do tackle a bit of weeding I feel good. If we have a severe lockdown again, I hope to get on top of jobs that still need to be done outdoors. It’s a great comfort knowing that nature has a rhythm that remains undisturbed, regardless of human problems.
While decluttering last week, many of my craft supplies resurfaced. The timing was perfect! I had planned to reinstate our nature corner and that was just the nudge I needed. Years ago I loved sewing Waldorf dolls, patchwork cushions and blankets. I also enjoyed wet felting. I have loved creating with fibers since I was a child so these crafts connect me with a playful part of myself.
Over the weekend I made a Pumpkin Child out of wool, knitted cotton, and felt. My little boy loves it. Although I created the small doll for our autumn tableau, our 3 year old keeps playing with it. It makes me smile seeing how this simple creation has captured his imagination.
Still Needs a Name!
This little guy is a constant source of amusement! As I tried to review a backwards loop cast on, he decided it was his turn to use my laptop. Who could get annoyed with that face? Not me! He’s completely stolen my heart… I call him Romeo but my daughter claims that’s not his name. It’s been a whole week since he arrived and Miss E still hasn’t decided on what to call him. He was Prince for a day (again my choice) until she vetoed it. Any more suggestions? We both loved Luna but it’s too feminine for him…