I was about to drone on about how is it that Birdbrook always misses the rain? I had been getting weather warnings all week from the Met Office about heavy rain on Thursday, so there I was licking my lips and excitedly hopping from foot to foot in anticipation, when just as the deluge was due to arrive a message arrived cancelling the weather warning. 4mm, a measly 4mm was all that bothered my rain guage. I felt despondent, forlorn, down in the dumps, because the summer and winter squashes, and most of all the beans, were showing signs of stress; and then the gale force winds came in and desiccated the plants to add to my tale of woe. But as I write this I am looking out on rain, steady rain, with accompanying rumbles of thunder in the distance, and the world seems a better place, and I sense the runner beans stretching out their tendrils and swelling their pods in the sweet smelling summer rain. But then I fret about not sowing those seeds today after preparing the beds, because it was too dry, oh what a dolt I have been! Enough of the drama, get a grip.

The wind was rather unpleasant though, and it did bring a tree down right across the drive at Moyns Park; so yesterday afternoon after the market, I had to go to the entrance at the rear of the estate to gain entry. That was the most serious casualty that I am aware of, but it could be that there are more to be discovered in the days to come. The climbing beans took a hammering as they always do, but the poles just about remained upright, and there was no damage to the polytunnel.

So, on to my hen pheasant and her 5 chicks. I saw quite a lot of them during the week, and on Thursday they decided to hop over the fence and leave the confines of my garden. The hen took her brood to the nursery paddock out the front of my potting shed, but somehow two of the chicks had become detached from the rest of the family group in the process. I spotted the 2 stragglers some way away from where they should have been, so I hopped over the fence and herded them up the track towards mum and their siblings. After a couple of attempts the family was reunited, and they happily grazed in the paddock together for the rest of the afternoon. Having left the garden I thought that would be the last that I saw of them, but on Friday they were back; but that is where my story takes a twist. After returning from making the deliveries on Friday, I went out to cut some courgettes to take to the market the next day, and as I began my work I heard a distress call from the hen, and watched a chick fly up into one of the plum trees. I rushed down the garden to see what was going on, only to be mortified by the sight of the beautiful Bengal cat I showed a picture of recently, with one of the chicks in its mouth! I coaxed him and managed to catch hold of him to force him to drop his prey, but the poor thing was limp and lifeless. I felt miserable, and so sorry for the distressed mother who had watched on helplessly. Since then I have seen neither her, or any chicks, so I am fearful that the rest of her brood have probably met a similar end to the wretched baby that I cupped in my hands. I know that I shouldn’t get so emotionally involved, but I find it difficult not to.

Tomatoes are doing quite well, so this week I am selling cherry ones separately to the larger types. I had a tally today, and I have already picked nearly 120kg of fruit, and it seems like they have only just started. Cucumbers are beginning to slow down, but they should go on for a couple more weeks – I have cut 209 sellable cukes so far, which I am quite pleased with. There are plenty of courgettes and patty pan squash, and this week I will be cutting the next batch of lettuces – green or red loose leaf types. There will be carrots, beetroot, beans, garlic, mushrooms, onions and potatoes. I will be digging ‘Cara’ spuds, a white potato with pink eyes, suitable for mashing, roasting and baking; there are also ‘Charlotte’ salad potatoes too. The lemons will be large this week, with a price to match, and I am going to pick some ‘Discovery’ eating apples from the orchard.

The rain stopped and the sun came out as I proceeded with this, but a threatening bank of angry looking boiling grey clouds is approaching, so all is not lost.

Here’s wishing you a good week; apologies to my readers who are on holiday and are gnashing their teeth at my rain lust.

Phil

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