Tuesday 23 October 2018

Hurtling towards winter

The clocks go back this weekend, a sure indication that winter is on its way. The weather has in fact been rather mild during September and October making it very pleasant to work outdoors. 

The new ram has now joined the ewes for what should be his busiest time of the year. I've put them in the smaller of our fields to make it easier for him. We had three ram lambs born this year and these are separated out. One of them has grown big and sturdy and a smallholder in Suffolk who is building a flock of Wiltshire Horns has bought him. He looks big enough in all departments to do the job this year. We also sent off two elderly ewes. One of them needed help giving birth this year so I did not want to breed from her again. Both were more than eight years old.

One of our young sows was AI'd three months ago but is still not showing any obvious signs of pregnancy. In fact she appears to have continued to come into season. However, I gather that this is still possible. Sows have two uterine 'horns' and it is apparently possible for a small litter to be confined to one of the horns while the other has a regular oestrous cycle. I'll be bringing her into the farrowing house just in case.

The bees have still been flying on warm days. I've started to feed them sugar solution and will switch to fondant at the end of the year. They got through last winter's harshness okay so it makes sense to continue with a regime that seems to work.

A lot of time has been spent harvesting, storing and preserving summer crops. In the greenhouse some pepper and chilli plants remain, as well as a couple of tomato vines. Not for much longer though. Most of the greenhouse I have cleared  to make space for some Little Gem lettuce and some tatsoi, an oriental leaf vegetable. Outside leeks, parsnips, chard, Jerusalem artichokes and mangolds are still in situ. Apart from some impressive early cauliflowers, the brassicas have performed poorly this year so the remaining raggedy specimens have been removed.

Archetypal autumn crop. We'll eat some but I really grow
gourds for their ornamental value for indoors

Some of the regular 'winter jobs' are underway. Gradually clearing the vegetable plots and adding a layer of compost, making next year's compost in the process. I've pruned the fruit bushes and tied in canes and finished by adding a thick  mulch ready for next summer's fruit bonanza. 

Lots more to do as always.


  1. You feed FONDANT to the bees? Whatever is that with respect to bees (I like chocolate fondant myself!)

  2. Yes! It’s fairly standard practice. If they the colony is running short of their own supplies it is helpful to supplementary feed them. In cold winter weather fondant can be positioned directly available to the colony. It is also composed of sugars that are easily digestible. You can get bee keepers’ fondant but I use Lidl. I’ve had no complaints.