What a sensational week of weather we have just had; more like mid-summer than early April. All good things come to an end, and so it looks as though today is the last of the warm days for a while, with the daytime temperature dropping from the low 20’s to just 9 degrees tomorrow and Tuesday, accompanied by some cool nights too. There is very little rain in the forecast, so I have been dragging the sprinkler around to water the recently planted onions, leeks, lettuces and cabbages. I sowed carrots and turnips last week, so they are getting a drink too, otherwise germination will be very patchy. Actually as I write this the weather has broken, there is thunder and lightning and a little rain, just enough to wet the ground; every little helps.
Fortunately I managed to cut the grass in the orchard this afternoon while it was still dry, the apple trees are looking good, with lots of them coming into bloom; I do hope that we don’t get frosts so severe that the blossom is damaged. Last year was a disaster, I am hoping for a bumper crop this summer, for fresh fruit and for juice.
I hope that you lot like lettuces, because I’ve now planted hundreds of them; this morning I set out another batch of 160, to follow on from 2 previous plantings of a similar size. I normally sell a lot of lettuces at the farmers’ market, but as I am steering clear of it at the moment I am relying on you to go salad crazy. The first ones should be ready to cut next week in the polytunnel – Little Gem.
It’s an absolutely stunning time of the year, the natural world is sporting a brand spanking new coat of many colours. Blackthorn, flowering cherries, hawthorn, primroses, cowslips, celandines, speedwell, these and many more contribute to visual delights everywhere you look. The backdrop to this Technicolor set is the fresh new soft foliage in every shade of green that clothes the trees and bushes in the landscape. There have been butterflies aplenty in the past week, I have seen Peacock, Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Orange Tip, Red Admiral, Comma and Small White; but not yet a Holly Blue. Up on the top pond there are tiny clockwork ducklings randomly skittering this way and that on the surface of the water, and Canada Geese honking their heads off for no apparent reason. At home I saw my first Swallow of the season yesterday, sharing the airspace behind our cottage with the Skylarks. I am always conscious of the flora and fauna that surrounds me, but this year it is as if my senses are heightened, helped by the reduction of manmade noise – less traffic on the roads, virtually no traffic in the sky. The next thing to tick off on my seasonal list is the call of the Cuckoo; perhaps the pandemic will mean that there are fewer hunters abroad to prevent them from returning on their epic journey. Oh, and since setting my trap the rabbit has been conspicuous by its absence.
Stumpy the scruffy white pony is a little less scruffy and a little whiter this week. He had a shower! Tabitha the stud groom’s girlfriend decided that he needed smartening up, so she took the hose to him. He was very good during his pampering session, mainly because I fed him carrots to keep him quiet. His coat felt so much nicer afterwards, and he even had his mane plaited, which I think he saw as being undignified for a testosterone fuelled stud pony.
It’s the last hurrah for several items in the ‘shop’. I have only a very few leeks, very few radishes, very few Pak Choi, and limited spinach. After this week it really is going to be back to basics for a while. Apologies for the potatoes last week, I ordered the wrong ones, and discovered that whilst perfectly sound, those I received were pretty small, so I sympathise with whoever has to peel them in your house. I should have the correct type this week, along with bakers and Pink Fir Apple. Basically the selection in the shop is the same as last week, albeit with limited availability of various items. I have ordered a larger quantity of oranges this week, so hopefully there will be enough for all.
I had an unexpected hold-up while I was delivering last Friday. I drop off some boxes at customers that live in one of the small side streets that run at 90 degrees to Long Melford high street. The road is quite narrow, only one vehicle width on account of cars being parked along it’s whole length. Anyway, as I pulled into the street I found myself following a middle aged man wearing a full length cassock dragging a huge cross behind him, with an elderly woman a few metres in his wake carrying a carrier bag and wearing sandwich boards informing onlookers that Jesus died on the cross to save us. I wonder if she had loaves and fishes in her bag? In previous years I have passed the pilgrims carrying the cross to Walsingham, but they do it mob handed and appear to be having fun; chummy in Melford was probably wearing a hair shirt under his robe just to lessen the fun factor. I’m not ridiculing him, I love the fact that there are individuals like him with such conviction. In the whole scheme of things it cost me about 5 minutes of my time as I headed the cavalcade behind him, and I was pleased to have happened upon the scene. I have no religious faith, but well done that man.
I am sorry if some of you sometimes don’t receive everything in your box that you had ordered, I’m afraid that it’s just human error on my part. I am packing around 700 items per week in the boxes at present, so inevitably the odd error is going to occur; it’s a consequence of working under pressure I’m afraid. Please let me know when you are short of anything and I will make amends.
Just a reminder that I am continuing to minimise contact, so in most cases boxes will be left on doorsteps. On Thursday Jennifer has been dropping off most of the local orders; don’t engage with her! She is under strict instructions to drop the boxes and run, but she is somewhat more gregarious than I am and is much more likely to stop for a chat given the opportunity, please don’t tempt her. The other thing to remind you is that the order deadline is Tuesday night. Thank you for your cooperation.
Enjoy your Easter egg….go for a jog in the morning as penance.