Monday, December 27, 2010

Caterpillars and courgettes

Now the frantic preparations for Christmas are all over and done with, I can sit down and write a line or two.

Summer is proving to be hot and dry and the local farmers are getting very worried that they won’t have enough grass to feed the cows and to make hay and silage for winter feed.  We have seen the problem on our own land, and Tareka took to break-feeding the heifers from our Friendly Local Farmer in order to make sure they ate all the rubbish stalky grass, as well as the little bit of nice green stuff at the bottom.

I am slowly learning a bit more about cows as we look after the Jerseys from the FLF.  We have a nice agreement going where he uses our place for a bit of extra grazing, and in return we get the paddocks managed and get access to the stock water for our own needs.  He also sends a fair amount of meat our way whenever he has a beast slaughtered, and he’s raising a couple of calves for us this year too (but we’ll be paying him for those ones, as it’s pretty expensive!)

Having access to stock water has meant that my children have been able to play in the new paddling pool they got for Christmas despite the lack of rain, and as a result have been out in it every morning since we put it up.  It has the added bonus that the water sits in black alkathene pipes all day, so by the time we fill the pool it’s as hot as a bath!  I am being very conscientious and using the water from the pool on the garden, so we are not using any more water than usual.

The garden is thriving, and I’ve been feeding all the plants that have started flowering in preparation for fruit-set.  I have a Bokashi bucket outside the back door, so I’ve been using the liquid from that on the veg, and so far it seems to be doing them well.  The pumpkin, kamo kamo and zucchini are all flowering, and we have had fruit of the zucchini already.  The tomatoes have been a bit battered by the wind, but a couple of flowers seem to be hanging on so we may get fruit yet.

The broccoli is going great guns, but I have spotted a few chewed leaves and green caterpillars, so I need to think about spraying.  Tareka is planning to zap it with toxic chemicals, but I am going to try making something from the rhubarb leaves first, see if I can’t be a bit clever by saving us money and being a bit less nasty to the environment at the same time.

I’ve also offered the children a prize for every 10 caterpillars they spot.  They aren’t willing to collect them yet, so we go round together and I either squish them, or pick them off for the kids to stomp on.  I have taught the kids to make sure that if they are stomping on caterpillars to make sure they do it quickly and thoroughly, so the little mini-beast doesn’t suffer.  He may be eating my plants, but there’s no need to be cruel.

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