Germination – colds and seeds

I’m going to have to keep this one (relatively, for me) short and sweet, simply because I’m still not well and seem to have had a second wind with this cold. Or whatever it is. Bleh.

Firstly, thanks to each and every one of you that commented on my last post. I should have replied personally to each of you but, to be honest, I’ve lacked the energy and mind space to much at all lately. I’m just wiped out, especially this morning, having had about 2 hours sleep. But I have read, re-read, read aloud and read once more the comments thoroughly and taken heed. Believe me. I really have.

So as you’d imagine things have been going at a somewhat more leisurely pace here at The Smallest Smallholding. In the evenings, after work, I’ve been doing a little weeding whilst we let the bunnies ‘free range’, mostly because I’d either sit there and brood, or eat. So it’s a good time to do something constructive. Little bits and pieces, where I can.

If I feel any better this afternoon I might try and plant a few lavenders in, but I think today is a bit of a sofa day. I really thought I was getting over this cold/infection/thing but yesterday afternoon it came back with a vengeance. Is that normal? It just seems it’s been about 3 weeks in the making and then not a fully fledged cold, just a bit glandy (new word), tired, snotty on and off.  Now I’ve just got one of those really awful dry hacking coughs that make you gag, because I’ve been breathing through my mouth all night, a (literally) streaming nose and burning eyes. Joy. And then add to that beautiful picture a few spots (thanks in part to office-bought Krispy Kremes, NOT my idea), and rapid weight gain, and you have a truly stunning sight to behold.

Blergh. I’m no good when I’m ill. I was hoping to get over it a lot quicker so I don’t feel so down in the dumps all the time. It certainly hasn’t helped. And yes – I am dosing up on every known natural cold/immune system booster/remedy known to man.

Sooo rather than moan and relay all my symptoms to you (isn’t it boring), let’s talk fruit and veg.

My polka raspberries are sprouting now. despite Moppy’s attempts to eat all of the newly shooting leaves, so I’m hoping I’ll have a few healthy bushes to marvel at by the summer. My garlic and onions are doing well, as always, and the Charlotte potatoes are IN.

And my chillis and peppers are starting to germinate, despite not being in a propogrator – wahey! Well, not all have germinated quite yet. The jalapenos and cayenne peppers are yet to make an appearance, but I’m hoping once the conservatory starts to reach a suitable temperature, they’ll show themselves.

So I’m sort of on top of my planting, but there’s still a lot more to do. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure where I’m going to put everything this year. The onions and garlic alone (along with a line of raspberry canes) has taken up my biggest plot. I have a small bed dug out, reading for composting before I plant my salads. I figured a smaller bed for cut-and-come again salad leaves would be easier to manage and protect than big, long rows. I have one remaining vacant bed and I have to find room for cabbages, runner beans, a few varieties of squashes and goodness knows what else that’s lurking in my seed box. Hmm. Need to work out some space-saving solutions…

Either way, today I’m going to take it easy, and not feel guilty about it. I even had a relaxing bath at 6am (due to lack of ability to sleep due to feeling crap) with my copy of Country Living and a hot honey & lemon.

I’m a Grumpy, Ill Person

As I lay here and type this out on my laptop, I’m surrounded by all kinds of potions, syrups and capsules, tissues and blankets. The cat is sleeping on my legs. Yes, I’m ill. I don’t know if I’d go as far as saying I’ve had ‘flu, but it’s been a Very Very Bad Cold. Well, at the moment it’s more like an Annoyingly Hacking Cough and fatigue. I look even crappier than usual.

After a night of coughing, I couldn’t actually ring into work because I’d lost my voice. Not that I mind too much at the moment because I don’t have an awful lot to say to people, generally. I thought I was getting better on Saturday and ventured out for three hours to the hairdressers. By the time they’d finished, I was ready to crawl back under my duvet and sleep away the rest of the day. Since then I’ve just been housebound. It’s really knocked me for six, whatever it is I’ve had. And it’s not like I can really rest properly at home, given that next door are having their bathroom gutted and refitted, and living in an old semi-detached house, we get to hear every scrape, bang and wallop. Joy.

The really annoying thing is that I’ve actually got a hell of a lot of work on at work at the moment. For me, it’s fairly important stuff and the longer I’m ill, the more I’m going to have to work my socks off when I get back. In fact, they’ve had to take over writing what I was supposed to be involved in, and I’m so frustrated by that. Hopefully there’ll be more scope in the future to get more involved. Urgh, I’m so rubbish right now!

The other thing, of course, is that everything at the Smallest Smallholding is shooting up around my ears. Grass needs cutting at least once a week, weeds are springing up in every available nook and cranny, there’s about six million seeds still to sow, and anything that has been sown is either a big load of crap, or needs potting on.  It just feels like it’s all slipping through my fingers at the moment. Mum has been our saving grace at the allotment, because I’ve managed to spend all of about an hour and a half down there in the past month. I NEED to put aside so much more time if the reality is to match up to the grand plans in my head.

Maybe I’ll just go and do a tiny bit of pottering outside later on today. It feels good to get out in the fresh air and move around a bit. I’ve been so bored and fed up being stuck indoors with no inclination or energy to do much more than eat half a sandwich and sleep.

Thing is, I’ve noticed that since I’ve not had the hens, it’s been much easier to shut myself away and lose track of what’s going on outside. Because I don’t HAVE to be out there every day in any capacity, I’ve lost touch a bit. That makes me sad. We can’t get any hens right now though. It’s just not the right time for a multitude of reasons. I’ve even had thoughts of digging out ponds and ducks, but I do tend to have these flights of fancy, forgetting about the real groundwork that still needs to be done. No, when I’m better I’m just going to have to pull my socks up, take the proverbial bull by the horns and just work like mad over the summer. Now night isn’t drawing in until around 9pm, I’ve no excuses. None whatsoever.

Being ill is so boring.

Feed the Birds! And other things…



No seriously…stop.

I can’t believe the snow has been here for a whole week. A whole week! Never in my 26 years can I remember snow laying this thickly, and for this long. It’s ‘proper’ winter, not experienced since the last great snowfall (lasting around 2-3 days) of 1999 (see pic)!

Snow like this is great fun for kids and those that don’t have to go into work. Pretty awful for the birds though.

See, I can’t help but feel a bit guilty about it all.

Today I’ve run out of bird food so I’m hoping to persuade Rich to get me some more (with the usual promise of “I’ll pay you back when I’ve been paid…”, which should happen next week). The birds have been going mental where I’ve cleared patches of the snow away and put down seed and cheese. The hanging bird table needs topping up at least twice a day. So many different types of bird have been arriving, more than the usual suspects. Even some redwings came right down to gobble the berries on my pyrancantha bushes.

Looking around it doesn’t seem that many other people have made provisions for wild birds, and this makes me feel a bit sad. I wonder how “my lot” would do without me, as we’ve consistek. Aently had over 6 inches of snow this we small bird such as a finch or sparrow has an extremely fast metabolism, and with night temperatures falling to around -5C, it’s so important that they can stuff their faces during the day. OK, so there’s the natural order…survival of the fittest etc. But honestly, there’s not much in the way of natural food sources out there. I’m slowly changing that on my patch at least, but there don’t seem to be many other people that are bothered by at all. It just doesn’t cross their minds I don’t think.

So yes, my message here is feed the birds. And any other wild beasts that might cross your path. Now is a really tough time for them. DO IT!

We decided to bring the chickens into the conservatory a couple of nights ago, given how cold it’s got. They’ve been resolute in refusing to set even so much as a toe onto the snow, so spent most of the day looking grumpy in the shed. At least in the conservatory they can see all around them, it warms up nicely in the sun, and doesn’t get too cold at night. Chickens are much better at tolerating the cold than extreme heat. But Yoko was sleeping in her makeshift nestbox in the shed, and Maureen has been on her own in a big chicken Ark, sp we thought there wasn’t any extra body warmth that you’d expect a small flock roosting together to benefit from during the cold nights. So in they came.

I, meanwhile, have been moping around like a seething snotmonster. I’d been far too smug about the fact that I’d not had a cold in over a year and that I’d missed out on all this ‘flu business. Bleurgh. I actually woke up this morning feeling a bit better. The sunshine was streaming in through the window, and I thought “hmm, what can I do outside today?”. Then a split second later remembered that actually, I can’t do anything, because there’s snow everywhere. Still. I still get a tiny moment of surprise when I look out of the window and see so much white.

It’s actually making me feel a bit impatient, all this snow. I want to get sowing, I want to get going out there but the snow is just making doing anything impossible. I was planning on doing some baking this weekend, but being the decrepit tissue-laden snotslug that I am at the moment, it’s just not going to happen. Being ill is just so boring!

So for now I’m going to carry on making notes and doing little sketches and things. You see, I have a couple of little projects that I’m going to be blogging about this year. If the snow ever melts…