Early May

Ok, I’m trying out my new idea for the format of my posts to see if it works; it will also give me an opportunity to catch up on events, if not for you then for me. And if you are wondering how I have found the time to type this then it’s down to the weather and administration; the weather has turned wet and Gosia is in town ticking boxes for those nice people at the EU donations office. I don’t have long, so I better work quick!

A couple of things from April first, things that need to be recorded; the wild plumb tree came into flower on the 26th of April, the sweet cherry, sloe berry and plumb not far behind on the 29th. Apple, pear and quince just starting; looking over the valley you can spot all the fruit trees in flower indicating a house, occupied or indeed derelict. One worrying thing seems to be the lack of bees, I have only spotted bumbles so far; Gosia recalls a lot more buzzing last year, I guess the proof will be in the crop as it is highly dependant on pollination, although I not sure if this is exclusively from bees though?

The swallows are here at last, although they don’t seem to have taken up residence in the barn, not to worry; I know they must be nesting nearby as they are taking mud from the pit on the building site.

The coppiced trees seem to be doing very well, I’m getting about a 50% success rate with the silver birch and almost 100% with the willow. We have also had unintentional good luck with the elder which I cut two years ago to get rid of them; they have all coppiced and we now have an abundance of greenery soon to become flowers and berries!

Wild plumSweet cherry treeBlossom across the valley

5th, 6th of May: Looking at the 10 day weather forecast we convinced ourselves that we should be frost free from now on so we headed for the garden and top field; I think we also needed a bit of a break from the house. 45 or so pumpkins in along with maybe 20 butternut squash. These were joined by about 20 courgette and 20 sweet corn on the 10th. I will check for damage later today when we return, I think we are tempting fate by not putting up the electric fence.

As the dandelions are up I had a quick wiz round with the mower before they set seed; a job that will have to be repeated more often than I have my hair cut 🙂

I heard the first cuckoo of the year and the oats that we cast are starting to sprout, giving the top field a new look of dappled green. Also noticed the Lilac tree flowering and the odd sight of horse radish in flower, which I had never noticed before. We have lots growing around the land and we are careful to avoid them when strimming as they are a key ingredient in many pickles and preserves.

LilacHorse radish in flower

7th of May: Good news, bad news; the electricity was finally connected without drama or tripping fuses, I’m all set to tackle the rest of the house now. Bad news, the plaster around the windows is cracking. A combination of vibration from the opening and closing of the windows and our poor attempt at getting lime render to try and stick to wood and expanding foam; the fiberglass mesh we used to help the process has failed to perform as we had hoped. The rest of the day was spent chipping off any loose render so that we could have another try. I guess we were lucky that we hadn’t started to take down the scaffold!

8th of May: We have been thinking about getting another dog and Gosia has looked at quite a few dog rescue websites to find a suitable playmate for Jackie (not quite true as Jackie doesn’t like other dogs) but you never know. Gosia finally found what can only be described as a Springer, Setter cross’; Zara. We headed off  first thing in the morning and she was part of the family by noon.

Zara

We think we have a solution for the window surrounds; the render that is used for the polystyrene insulation is quite flexible, so we have decided to give it a go. First coat completed by the end of the day, ready for a second tomorrow.

9th and 10th of May: Whilst the new render solution isn’t ideal in that it’s not a natural product, it does seem to be doing the job. second and third coats applied as required, then sanded down to blend in with the lime surround.

New render around windows

New render around windows

Jackie fell off the top level of scaffolding! All I heard was the thud as she landed on the bottom level, about 4 meters below and Gosia shouting for me to get there asap. I ran round the building shouting to try and find Jackie’s location, heart beating fast and a sense of dread; but of course I couldn’t find the black lifeless shape of a dog anywhere, she had already dusted herself off and was heading back up the scaffold! A heart stopping moment and a ban on dogs on scaffold has now been imposed.

Spider dog

And just in case you are worried about an overflow, I emptied the composting toilet, although this was in no way related to the events of Jackie falling off the scaffold:)

11th of May: Final sanding down of render and painting with a primer so that the lime wash will take, a good tidy up, a weed around the various plots of land and eviction notices left for the few mice that seem to think that our house is available for occupation. Chicken soup tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it.

Monday 13th of May: Catching up with the blog 🙂 Hope to read a few before we head off later today.

Posted in Blogging, Composting Toilet, Environmental issues, European Union, Food, Gardening, Nature, self sufficiency, Straw Bale House and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

15 Comments

  1. Oh the tongue on that dog. Really stood out from all the green.
    I liked your summaries. Works for me. I’m rather doing you randomly. I love the beautiful pictures.

  2. Nice idea to format like this.

    I’m wondering about the coppicing. I’ve heard the phrase used a lot but am not 100% sure about what it is. I wonder if you could give a brief pointer or two. We cut back our Willows and planted a couple of off cuts, but not what to do with birch etc.

    • Cheers Terry, I’m finding it easier to keep up with events this way and easier for me to reference late when I want to remember what we have done
      To coppice is to essentially cut down a tree, about 30 cm from the ground and as a defence mechanism the tree will send out multiple new shoots and in theory you end up with a multi trunked tree in the years to come. All trees are different, the classics to coppice are hazel and willow as the resulting growth is often used in crafts such as basket making or fencing. Ash, Oak and indeed Silver birch will all coppice, but they have to be cut before they reach a certain age; in the case of birch it’s before they are about 10 years old, after this they send out seed. I’ve found that a birch that you can get your hands round will probably coppice, any bigger and you will just end up with a tree stump!
      Some of the birches that I cut down two years ago have now got 8-12 new trunks with 4cm + diameters; another two or three years and I should be able to harvest them for firewood.
      I’ll send you some pics during the week.
      Cheers, Eddy.

    • I thought I better come back and correct this as I checked through old photos, the first birch I cut was three years ago, so I’m expecting my first wood harvest in another 3 years; 6 years in total. Still not bad from a tree that has already heated us up once 🙂

  3. Yep brill. You have been getting on and doing alot latley…..but what’s with the “Plumb” – It is “Plum” .Made me laugh anyway!
    Julie x

  4. I think your new format is good Just like a diary now but you write much more than i do in mine I have now last 30 years of my life recorded and as you know i have several years of your Grandfathers back to 1923 Love to Goshia Uncle Charlie

  5. I also like the new format! Your house has become very beautiful and the nature around it is lovely too, with so many trees and plants in bloom! Do you feel that nature is late this year in Poland? Zara is definately pretty, how does she get along with Jackie? Good luck and thank you for the update, I really enjoy reading about the house and everything that is going on.

    • Thank you J, I appreciate your kind words and encouragement. The spring was later than normal, but once it arrived it arrived with a bang and hasn’t disappointed. Jackie is getting used to Zara….slowly. She has to remind Zara who is boss every now and again 

  6. The new format is good! i like the day/date feel, and the impression of progress, and changing seasons. The dog had a lucky escape, and the new spaniel looks nice; hope they get on.
    As you know, I do worry about that toilet, so was pleased to hear that it was emptied, and equally pleased that I was not around to witness it! Good luck with all your stuff Eddy (and Gosia), and I look forward to hearing more, as and when you get a chance to blog. Cheers mate, Pete.

    • Cheers Pete, it will probably fit our schedule better; after all a few words on the toilet is all that is required 🙂 But keep your eyes peeled for the great tomatoe experiment! All the best, Eddy & Gosia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *