Wednesday, April 27, 2011
And straight to work. During our prolonged absence, the pigs had done a grand job clearing the potato patch for us. They have moved back to their home croft now, but we will be taking delivery of our own two in August. The top half of this field is really good growing land, and once the new drainage ditches are dug, and the rushes are dealt with, then the rest should come into production as well. Not really sure of the best way to oust the rushes. Digging them out is just too much - their roots, while not deep, are very tenacious, to put it politely, so not an option. Chemical treatment is the most often proffered advice, but not really what we want to hear, and also, so much of the land around us is already rush covered, they would soon be blowing back with the wind when they set seed. Our neighbour, suggested cutting them back, before they seed and pouring some rock salt into them, so we are going to give this a go first, and combined with good drainage, we are hopeful that we can at least keep them at bay. He is determined to sort out his rush problem too, so that should help.
Our first early potatoes are now in. 25kg of Duke of York, or Eersteling, as my republican leaning husband prefers to call them. We have differing views on potato planting methods. I prefer to dig out a trench, lay the tatties in and then cover them up again. John is very influenced by the no-till school, and prefers to dib them in. In the end we worked out a fairly efficient system which satisfied his no-dig tendencies, and my slap dash lets get this job done style. Using a narrow spade, he dug out a small hole for each potato, while I followed on putting in the pots, and adding a good handful of our potent seaweed and well rotted manure (horse/cow/sheep) mix. John then lightly raked the sods back over the top, and it was done and dusted. Just the Kerr's Pinks, which are a maincrop, to plant over the next couple of days. Not sure how they will work out, but they seem to grow well enough here, if the Crofters' Market stand is anything to go by. No time to chit either!
Maddie Mor agus Maddie Beag are doing well. They have grown quite a lot since we last saw them. They still came running up eagerly when they saw the red trug, so we know they have forgiven us. Some happy news today is that one of our other neighbours is giving us a ewe with a lamb! Oo-er that means 3 sheep to shear now!! Our little group of livestock is expanding rapidly.
The acrobatic sheep in the second picture is my neighbour's. He was herding some of his flock into his trailer, to move them to another field, and I guess she just didn't want to go.
What else? Baking! when we arrived back, I had the pleasure of opening several packages from the well known online book retailer, which I had ordered thinking I would only be away for a couple of weeks. Among them was the River Cottage handbook on Bread, by Daniel Stevens. What a marvellous book. Everything works! I have never made such soft springy loaves, and I feel almost confident enough to try these scones out at the local show.
And our Good Friday picnic on the croft. Hot Cross Buns (from the Bread handbook) and cups of tea all round.
On with the potatoes and then off to the peats - see you there!