As I begin to write this on Sunday morning I am looking out over a winter wonderland of hoar frost cloaking the panorama before me, chunky ice crystals adhering to every leaf, twig and bough. The cloying freezing fog of last evening has lifted, but the scene is one as if viewed through one of granny’s net curtains. The galvanised drinkers in the hen’s enclosure are welded together by the frozen water, requiring a kettle of hot water to release the bond. The girls are more interested in their corn than drinking when they first tumble out of their coops, but they will soon be nibbling at the water and craning their necks skywards to let gravity do its thing. The poor girls, so used to roaming free, are very disgruntled at being shut in their run, because, like large numbers of the human population they are being shielded from an imported disease. I would be inclined to let them take their chance by allowing them their freedom, but the field directly adjoining our garden is currently highly populated by Fieldfares and Redwings which have migrated here from the Eastern European avian flu danger zone, so I am being cautious.

We have just returned from taking Nellie for a lengthy walk, and from the moment we left the house the frost was beginning to thaw, so at points along the way where we passed beneath trees we were showered by small nuggets of falling ice. As I sit here drinking my coffee only the areas shaded from the sun are showing signs of the Narnia like scene that I observed at first light. Talking of which, it is quite noticeable how the daylight is stretching out by degrees in the afternoon; I wasn’t quite expecting it to be so obvious so soon. I don’t know if it’s captivity or the extra light, but the hens are laying more consistently again – the egg famine is over.

I have been enjoying the cold dry days, but it was blinking freezing standing at the farmers market yesterday – at least the mask kept my face warm, I couldn’t wait for the heater in my van to kick in on the way back. For most of last week the temperature in the potting shed struggled to get above 3 or 4°C, which is good for vegetables, but less so for humans with permanently cold hands and feet. I must work on my posture.

Just when you thought that things in the USA couldn’t get any more crazy, they did! The events at the Capitol building last week were shocking, outrageous, abhorrent, anti-democratic…..yet entirely unsurprising given the behaviour and language of Trump and his followers. It was also captivating viewing. Only 10 days left to babysit the current President, to make sure that he doesn’t make any more grand gestures that further threaten domestic and World peace. I am always amazed at how creative some people are; within a day of the insurrection in Washington the image below appeared online.

Ok let’s get back to the business at hand…..fruit and vegetables. This week I am helping you to boost your immune systems. Turmeric, Ginger and Garlic are all good for that, and for reducing inflammation – tasty too. There will be Savoy cabbages, curly kale, leeks, swede, sweet potatoes, dirty parsnips, onions and carrots, small squash, beetroot, red cabbage, mushrooms and potatoes. You can make some lovely tasty stews, soups, casseroles, curries with that lot. For your vitamin C there are lemons, oranges and kiwi fruit. There are Seville oranges for marmalade making, but I will have them for several weeks, so there is no rush. Then there are Gala apples – one a day to keep the doctor away.

Once again I am having to turn away new customers; this time round I am determined not to be overwhelmed by a level of business that I am not geared up to support. I need to think of my own health and wellbeing so that I can continue to supply my loyal customers. It’s hard to say no, but I am going to have to.

I finally have an appointment with the ENT department tomorrow, so after 10 months or so of discomfort, irritation and reduced hearing I might find out what the prognosis is for my ear. It will be such a relief to know what the problem is and how it can be resolved…..assuming it can be.

Right, that’s me done, I’m off to replenish the wild bird feeders. I am having to rethink the peanut feeder at Moyns Park because the squirrels have trashed it. I know that they have to eat too, but if they could only remember where they had buried their stash of various nuts and seeds in the autumn they wouldn’t need to scoff all of the Tit’s food.

Oh I forgot to say, the first foal of the year was born on the stud on Thursday, a beautiful filly with legs like Bambi.

Have a good week

Phil

 

 

 

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