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Oh, yes, I remember: posting is a thing!

♥Jul. 5th, 2015 // 04:30 pm
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I seem to have been failing to post very much lately. I have been doing things, though. Here are some of them:

- Killing horse flies (nasty little buggers. At least they're easy to squash). Bugsy has already trashed his (brand new) fly sheet, and is now wearing Baby's old one, which mostly fits him. They both have lovely posh new fly masks, which they are mostly not removing and leaving at the top of the field.
- Making Interesting Drinks, such as elderflower vodka and wild strawberry vodka.
- Having several sets of Lovely Visitors.
- Working on my quilt, which is still not finished on account of Busy. It's only the actual quilting part that still needs doing, though.
- Looking at orchids: we've now seen early purple, common spotted, pyramidal, lady, monkey, fly, butterfly, man, fragrant, musk and twayblade orchids, mostly at Park Gate Down. The orchid twitchers are very helpful, as they comb the place methodically, plant book in hand, and you just have to wander over when they start getting excited to see what it is they've found!
- Ragworting. Bah.
- Going to Finland for Archipelacon, which was a very laid back con for us. Had some lovely dinners (turns out that our hotel restaurant was the best in town), tasty ciders and several nice walks around Mariehamn, which has very variable ecology that's mostly about six weeks behind here (daffs in one garden, and lilacs everywhere) and which never seems to get dark.
- Being Much Too Hot, which I suspect wasn't helped by coming back from Finland (c20-23C) and into The Hottest July Day Ever (c34C here). The Aga is now firmly off. This afternoon is much nicer, after a very wet morning (which we really needed).
- Boggling at the way that the garden has exploded while we were away. The first tomatoes are ripe, and the wysteria is taking over the house, patio, and several adjoining shrubs. There are some lovely cornflowers and poppies in the orchard, which is nice.

And now we have a day off between sets of visitors: just long enough to do laundry and tidy the house....
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Ow, you bugger

♥Jul. 8th, 2014 // 12:09 pm
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Normally, when I complain about horse-related pains it's because GB is a git.

Today it's because I had a lesson on the Baby: my back is killing me now. I dread to think what it will be like tomorrow. Still, we made some good progress, and Mike did very well on GB, so I suppose that it was worth it.

When I was riding with Mrs Next Door, we were talking about side saddle and I was saying that I was thinking of sending mine back, as I never use it. She mentioned that she knows someone who teaches side saddle and lives locally, so: lesson on Sunday. That'll be painful, as well.

Yesterday, we went out to the wild flower reserve to walk the pooch.

Mike spotted a white admiral:

There were masses of pyramidal orchids in the grass:

(We're wondering what The Next Orchid will be. There only ever seems to be one kind on the go at once, so far.)
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Strange happenings in the woods....

♥Jun. 16th, 2014 // 02:53 pm
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The woods are full of mysterious symbols! When we took Jodie up there for her walk, we kept coming across white powder on the floor. Sometimes it was just blobs by the side of the path, but at the junctions there were circles, and at random other places there were T-shapes (usually where there was no distinguishing feature on the path).

Either someone had taken exactly the same route as we did or they'd been on all the paths. Mike hypothesised that someone was having a session mapping the paths for Open Street Map (although they're almost all on there already) and wanted to keep track of which bits they'd already done.

We spotted a couple of pyramidal orchids as we walked back along our lane. That's three varieties so far:

More ducks! They get their corn (in a bowl of water to keep the wild birds off) on the way in after Jodie's walk. Esme was a bit more dubious than the others about staying so close to me.

Which reminds me that I was meaning to check how much they should be getting fed. They eat everything that I put down for them, but I'm not sure if they'd do that anyway. They're laying less than they should, but then they're young and I think Esme hasn't started yet.

The internet is unhelpfully vague. Lots of people list, in great detail, the feed that they give, including brand names and the fact that they give a measured quantity twice per day, but they don't say what the bloody quantity is, except where they say that they just feed ad-lib.
People saying 1/4lb, and 4-6oz, and 6-7oz: well, similar ballparks. But runners are on the small side for big ducks, and they're wandering around eating bugs all day, too: other people are saying that they shouldn't need feeding at all if they're 'genuinely free range', which I suspect ours are. Hmm.
Aha: the people who sell Eglus have an actual *table*, with amounts by weight of duck! A radical concept! They reckon 160g. Right. I shall go with that: must remember to take the scales out with me in the morning, so that I can see how much I've been feeding them!

Right, then!
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♥Jun. 8th, 2014 // 02:37 pm
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They're a lot bolder than they were, and do wander outside every so often of their own accord, but they're still spending most of the day inside. I'm not *entirely* certain that they've figured out a) that their pellets are food or b) how to use their feeder; certainly, they aren't eating as many of them as they should, although they're getting good at scoffing grain when I put it in a bowl of water for them. They are picking at grass and bugs when they're outside, but I'm not sure that they're spending enough time doing it. I don't really want to shut them outside, but I think that I might have to if I'm going to stop them just hiding in their food-free house.

Have finally given up and deleted Wikipedia from my phone. It's been a bit of a pain for a while -- having to delete and then re-download it every time my phone needed to have space for a big iOS update -- but it was that or actually sort through my photos, and.... nah. Bye bye, Wikipedia. You were occasionally useful when I didn't have internet access.

No idea what this one is, but it's quite pretty:

On the basis that those purple orchids we saw early in the year turned out to be Early Purple Orchids, I'm guessing that these spotty jobbies that there are masses of in the woods must be Common Spotted Orchids:

Jodie's leg was a wee bit red when the vet took the rest of the stitches out ("Oh, no, it's not come unzipped has it...?" "No, you just didn't take allthe stitches out...." "Oops....", but it's settled down now. There was a bit right in the middle that was gaping a tiny bit, but it had scabbed over by last night. (It's not scabbed over now, on account of walk and then lying in a puddle so I had to let her go in the pond, and then clean it, but it *was*, and that means that it will be again....)

My arm's a bit sore today, which I suspect is due to some or all of going out for a hack (I did ride one handed, though, as it was a bit painful in the canter); holding GB still when the Baby objected to having his hat put on and fled, snapping his tie-up in the process; mucking out; poo picking and then taking the wheelbarrow down the hill to check I could; and sleeping funny. Actually, my chief suspect is the bit where I was holding the reins in my bad hand while shutting the gate, and GB yanked them off me so that he could eat. Git.
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♥May. 22nd, 2014 // 04:17 pm
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We had some much-needed rain, last night, and a bit more this morning: hopefully, that will get the resting half of the field growing again. The non-resting half is, thankfully, getting eaten down a bit now. A couple more days and we should be able to stop using the muzzles, which the boys will appreciate.

Jodie's leg seems to be healing nicely. We had a slightly longer but still careful walk today: no chasing around in the undergrowth, but not on the lead either so that she could sniff around the place. I even remembered to not come back the way that involves going over a stile!

There's a not-early-purple orchid by the side of the road, in the woods, but we've only seen it in passing from the car: I might take Jodie up that way tomorrow, if the vet gives her the all-clear, and see if I can get a better picture than the one Mike took through the car window.

We inherited these chives, but they're looking very pretty (and doing quite well, cut, in the house):

The hop is romping away, growing visibly from day-to-day, or even morning-to-afternoon. It's up past the top of the stake, now, so it's a good job that we put the wire up the side of the house for it:

Oh, and another mouse overnight. Still, the rate's definitely slowing down! I was vacuuming earlier, so I pulled all the bird food bins out and had a good tidy-up around them. Now I can keep an eye out for peanut skins and sunflower seed shells appearing on the floor.
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Park Gate Down

♥May. 9th, 2014 // 05:52 pm
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This afternoon, we took Jo over to Park Gate Down, for a run around some different woods.

In the grassland, they had many, *many* cowslips:

Also lots of early purple orchids, but they are pretty much over by now.

We also spotted some salad burnet, which was very pretty-looking:

The man with the giant vacuum cleaner came this morning while I was pilating, and the problem was not the septic tank. On the 'plus' side, Mike now knows where the other end of the pipe is, so tomorrow we're going to try poking things in it from the other end. It's a good job we've got other bathrooms....

This afternoon, taking advantage of a better than forecast day, I (guess what) did some more weeding. It must be getting better, because today I got as far as the back garden.

Have ordered shelves from Ikea, some for the shed and some for the conservatory, which is getting over-run with trays of salad and other misc seedlings. Life is so exciting out here in the countryside. I've been reading a book about chickens, too.
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Dog toys....

♥Apr. 11th, 2014 // 05:30 pm
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We're very used to tripping over abandoned dog toys in the as-yet-unused part of the field, but this was a new one:

I spotted another of the pink orchid-like things on our walk today. I'm pretty sure that it is an orchid, with those flowers and the spotty leaves:

(I feel as though I've done nothing today, although I did manage riding, mucking out, pilates, dog walking and some painting, so I guess maybe I just didn't have time to do anything? I dunno....)
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Job of the day

♥Apr. 9th, 2014 // 06:13 pm
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This morning, I was poo picking in the field when I saw a man in hi-viz having a shouted long-distance conversation with TWWOTV, which ended with him walking towards our house. So I popped down the hill, and he said he was there to read the electricity meter. I took him inside, and he sighed and said "That's not it...." I checked the address, and it was our house but TWWOTV's name, so I sent him back to her, and went back to the poo. When I'd finished, I saw the pair of them walking down from her house to the farm yard, and went over to see what was up: it wasn't the meter in her house, either. Then she remembered that she had one in the farm yard, and that one had the right code number on it, much to everyone's relief.

The chap turned out to be a roving, trouble-shooting meter reader: every month, he gets a list of about a hundred meters that the regular meter readers haven't been able to find / get access to for a long time, and he drives around the countryside trying to find them, with a big pile of maps and a willingness to knock on all the nearby doors until he manages to find someone who can help. As I came back to the house, TWOOTV was looking at his list and giving him directions to all the local farms that he had to find.

On a lovely spring day like today, that's a pretty cool job to have, I'd have thought!

Yesterday, while we were riding (hence long-distance photo!), we saw a few of these flowers. I can't decide if it's something like a hyacinth or if it's an early orchid:

(They were, I think, much pinker in real life.)
Must go up there on foot for a closer look.

More bluebells! I'll stop soon, but they did look lovely in the sun today:

And more white ones, too:

I experimentally picked some wood anemones, today. I suspect that they won't last long, although they did feel slightly more robust than I expected when I was picking them:

Must speak to Top Of The Hill about digging some of them up for our garden. (Although, naughtily, I'd rather have some from a patch in the Forestry Commission woods that has some lovely pink ones as well... decisions, decisions....)

I made macarons, this afternoon, fitted between gardening, walking the pooch and painting some wooden crates. I think that they came out quite well, although I wasn't massively impressed with the recipe listing as ingredients both '1 egg yolk' and '100g of egg white'. I appreciate the variation in eggs, and need for precision, but some sort of idea of how many that would be might have helped (three, it turns out, almost exactly).

Mike's in town today (after spending all of yesterday frantically updating SSL). Jo knows it's nearly time for him to get home: every time I stand up, she runs to the front door, thinking I've heard him....
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