Baby robins

Here’s an introduction to The Glums… five baby robins who hatched out last weekend (click image to enlarge). I call them that because their mouths are wide and yellow and when they’re sitting quietly they look fed up... wouldn’t you, crammed in with four siblings? But more frequently the nest is full of wide open yellow beaks. Mum and dad are furiously feeding the beaks… the fat balls I’ve made seem a favourite. Dad is also chasing birds off left right and centre. He’s even been on the back of a starling. Just over another week in the nest before they take flight. That’s an amazing rate of growth… they’ve grown a lot in the last week but look nowhere near ready for flight. Suppose it’s more of a flop first time round.

You’ll gather from another late posting that I’ve been hard at it at work. Thankfully all the call centre advisor training is done now, just got the back office training tomorrow morning then back to working two days a week. Stacked up over sixty hours of flexi time now. Hoping to take some as pay, some as time off in a couple of weeks.

On the allotment it seems I’ve got more flower seedlings growing than anything else. Potted up a million cosmos plants Sunday morning (ok, but you try potting up 170 and it’ll seem like a million). That’s on top of the fifty marigold plants the week before… and I’ve yet to pot loads of stocks, snapdragons and Livingstone-daisies. And I’m dreading the nicotianas… they started slow and small but I daren’t count them. The back garden is going to look stunning this year if I can keep my daughter Beth from nicking the best specimens as she usually does, often with the glazed pots as well!

Sadly my vegetable performance isn’t quite so exciting. Think it must be the continuous sunshine we’ve had over the last couple of weeks, although the soil is still nice and damp a couple of inches down so no excuse there! The first sowing in mid March has been generally successful, but late March sowing under the Geoff Hamilton cloche is poor. I blame the compost I put down, which is a bit ‘chunky’ to say the least. No sign of the turnips or parsnips in the next bed.

So I’m still struggling to get a reliable way of raising my vegetables. Wandered past Angelo’s plot on Monday. Don’t normally come that way but some mysterious activity by the groundsmen blocking off a huge area of land near the cemetery with secure high wire fencing made me take a long detour… must watch that space but I suspect the fact that there’s loads of news about an outbreak of swine flu in Mexico has caused the Town Council to accelerate their plans to provide more burial space. May sound far fetched but the fear of a flu pandemic is causing many town councils to think ahead.

But back to Angelo’s plot… wished I hadn’t bothered going that way when I saw his plot… like the other Italians he’s got lovely examples of veg growing without any problem or apparent effort. You wouldn’t believe his garlic, and when the plum tomatoes go up I’ll again despair.

I’m now thinking maybe the best approach is to raise everything in the greenhouse (yes, even the lettuce since Angelo’s seem to suddenly appear in the ground almost fully grown) and plant out when a decent size. I’ll give the new project a sound start this weekend to celebrate the return to normal working hours. That’ll be added to trying indoor strawberries, nettle fertiliser, chicken poo fertiliser, making my own seed compost and growing shop bought garlic as current projects and I’ve probably forgotten a couple of others on the go.

The nettle fertiliser is going well, judging from the smell. If you want an idea of what it smells like click here. Stick your head near the surface and it’s like your nose is up a cow’s bottom. Here’s how it looks at present with some more chopped nettles added.

Son John has taken an interest in home brewed wine... mine unfortunately! It's my own fault. I've been trying to get his and David's approval for months. Now John has had two bottles of apple wine off me in the last week. Apparently his flatmate thought it was so good he’s started brewing. Received a text of helpful advice from the ‘master’ suggesting I try elderberry wine. When I told him I’d got a four year old bottle in the garage he was after that! No chance. But supplies are getting dangerously low so I’m trying little and often on a weekly or fortnightly basis rather than the big batches I’ve done in the past. Started a gallon of rhubarb wine on Sunday.

Got bladdered last Friday… another peek by the consultant to make sure all clear. It was (hurrah!) so another check up in six months with some more chemotherapy in between.

I’m having some five star breakfasts at the moment… my own asparagus and three fried eggs from the feathered fiends, on top of home made Italian peasant bread. Could it get any better?

Got the day off today, and it’s daughter Becky’s birthday. So we’re meeting up with daughter number two, Beth, at The Dolphin Hotel for coffee and a natter. Nice.

Good signs of growth for the penstemon cuttings! (Click image to enlarge)
Outside the shed it's all seedlings
Tomato seedling nesting in my own compost
Inoddr strawberry plants doing really well
Chickens ignoring me... no wonder, they're having their favourite meal of spaghetti!
Got all the potatoes in the new bed now.
Productive trip with the wheelbarrow... dumped compost from the Town Council's hanging pots heading for my compost bins.
The start of rat defences. Mr Ratty keeps burrowing through for a nibble.
The feathered fiends sheltering from the sun. We've had an unbroken run of ten days sunshine.

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