The month of 6th December to 6th January is a pretty busy one for our family – it starts with Scarlett’s birthday and ends with mine and has Christmas and New Year sandwiched in the middle.
The weather has been kinder this week than it was over Christmas with less wind and colder temperatures (which we welcome – cold is easier to deal with than wet, it’s far easier to keep the caravan warm with the woodburner or an extra layer of clothing than it is to deal with the constant condensation and bringing in wet clothes, shoes, dog, cat and people that rain brings). Even a bit of frost which makes for starry starry nights and nice stomp-worthy ground out on the croft which is always a welcome change to the soft mud underfoot. It’s been back to wet and windy again the last few days though.
We’ve managed to get outside when there have been weather windows though – for firewood runs, animal feeding, collecting and delivering various things to the village and back. Ady and I did some seaweed gathering ready to use as a mulch on the raised beds. We also offered some to the sheep and the pigs as the deer and goats on the island all eat seaweed, as do the highland cattle and ponies and I have seen sheep eating seaweed elsewhere. Both tried it in the manner of suspicious toddlers being offered green vegetables and ate a little.
I’ve begun to dismantle the damaged cloches I made to cover the raised beds which have strawberries in them. I had been proud of making them from scrap wood, reclaimed polytunnel plastic scraps and off cuts of water pipe last year but despite knowing better really from experience I had not really made them Rum-proof and sure enough during the recent gales they had all blown off the raised beds and congregated in one corner of the fenced area (we call it the walled garden although actually it’s a fenced area of the raised beds) having sustained lots of damage to both the wood and plastic but thankfully not damaged anything else while tumbling across the area. A rethink and some online research has given me the new plan of securing the water pipes into the ground using bamboo canes (which we have a load of leftover from the tree planting) to make a tunnel frame and then putting plastic over (which I have arriving this coming week).
I spent some time working out a planting plan for the spring – sorting all my seeds into plastic bags labelled with the month to sow them in. I used various books to give me additional information than that on the seed packets and have a short list of some seeds to buy too.
And just because doing all that thinking about it started to make me feel desperate to get started I sowed some basil seeds indoors to start a little kitchen herb stash. Last year I had had my first sowing of basil not germinate and when I looked online I found an article about how you should swear at basil seeds to make them germinate. Seemed a bit mad but I did it anyway with the second sowing and it worked! In the name of scientific research I sowed one lot with happy thoughts and speech and then a second lot (well out of earshot of the first ones) with all my best swearwords! I’ll let you know what happens…
I’ve been having a play with metal stamps as I have an idea for a range of jewellery to sell from the Shed. So far it’s still very much a learning curve work in progress so no photos to share on that one. Once the actual output even slightly resembles the vision in my head I’ll take some pictures.
And having given the good growing season part of my plans for 2017 a good amount of attention I spent some time today playing with my ukelele. I’d been offered the advice that good strings can make a cheap ukelele much better so have got some of them on order and with the help of a good book and a really good website and two hours of practise I now have very sore and dented fingers but have mastered a very slow, clunky, not always reliable but there nonetheless chords of C F and G and changing between them.
I’ve been crocheting a fair bit too – enforced indoor time and the need for cosy headwear inspires lots of hat making… so far I’ve made two new hats for me and one for a gift.
(the third is in the picture of me infront of the raised beds).
Ady’s been very busy regardless of the weather tending to the animals. Making sure the sheep and pigs have cosy shelters and plenty of grazing / feeding space. We’ve also started getting fresh eggs again daily, having inadvertently created an excellent nesting area in the shed we’re storing cut grass from the croft to use as animal bedding / sheep feed.
And my birthday? 43 years on the planet, 43 trips around the sun. It feels both very old and very young! I had a lovely day with gorgeous heartfelt cards and gifts, many of them home made by family and friends, loads of messages, texts and phonecalls with those I was not with in person and a bracing walk during a couple of hours in the afternoon when it wasn’t raining! In the evening we went to the village and had a few celebratory drinks with Rum friends and shared the traditional birthday brownies. It was a good one.