April 2011

We’ve had Mason Bees in the yurt these last few weeks. Looking for holes to fill with mud. (They’re not fussy – I caught one trying to build a mud nest in the top of an envelope.)

In an effort to give them somewhere more suitable to do their thing, Her Outdoors and The Daughter found a mason bee house online you can buy for about €12. However, the website made the mistake of including a picture which I ripped off unashamedly for the cost of eight screws. Here it is (including a hole blocked up with mud):

Now you can rip it off from me.

I’d forgotten all about the Pyramid Orchids, but it’s great to see the first ones putting in an appearance this morning. Readers with OCD will be anxious to know that I took a photo of a Pyramid Orchid here on April 30th 2009 at 12:27:10, but it may have been flowering for 432,000 seconds before that.

Cool but not cold mornings until around 10, then mid-20s to 30C and sunny until the end of the day. Half a day of much-needed rain at one point and some wind.

WARNING: Past temperatures are no guarantee of future warmth. Your happiness may be at risk if you book a holiday or other activity secured upon them.

For the digital record, Her Outdoors saw a Golden Oriole yesterday and we’ve heard it several times today. It’s one of the most exotic sounds of the year.

Chilly mornings until 10 or 11, then sunny and warm or hot (mid 20s) and growing cooler in the evenings. Not a drop of rain.

Dress required: Long trousers and hoodie for both ends of the day, with shorts and sandals for the middle. Shades or a hat would be useful but I can’t find mine anywhere.

Looks like the White Helleborine where the old tyre swing used to be will open in the next day or so. How accurate is that?

UPDATE: There are two of them and they’re both open now (April 20th).

I’ve got to go and make dinner in a minute, so I’ll make this quick.

Here’s a shot of the treehouse I’ve been working on in the last couple of weeks for our kids:

Here’s a detail of what you can do with mid-20th-Century coping saw and absolutely no training ever (in the background you can see our straw-bale grey-water system for the kitchen waste):

This is what the sand filter looks like this evening:

With mud taken from what will be a reed bed, above the willow trench, for the soon-to-exist solar shower:

Overlooked from a distance by some Lady Orchids:

And from a longer distance by a bunch of Early Purples (that I keep calling Purple Sprouting) by the veggie patch:

At the opposite end of which are some of those Burnt Orchids “anonymous” was interested in:

Round the corner from a field Her Outdoors has hand-sown with animal-feed crops for the coming winter:

Here’s Luna, our probably pregnant bunny:

And Starsky, whose the daddy:

Near some guinea fowl you haven’t seen yet:

And it’d be rude not to publish a cheeky photo of my Silky cock:

Right. That’s it for now. Bye.

In the last week, after putting in several days’ effort on some impressive leafage, our first Lady Orchid flowered on the slope just below the pig woods. And today I saw some Burnt Orchids (a personal favourite – ridiculously beautiful) outside the polytunnel, which must have come up in the last few days.

Not quite as scientifically precise as scientists might want, but maybe they just need to get out of the lab more.

Weather-wise (bearing in mind we’ll be open this time next year) this week has been mainly: Coldish mornings then baking hot every day, up to around 35C. This is Definitely Not Normal, unless it is, in which case next week’s forecasted lower temperatures with a couple of showers may or may not be abnormal either.

I just can’t do this science stuff.

I know I said in an earlier post that I can attach the nozzle to the front of the sausage machine to speed up the whole process, but I think I should ignore that next time. I think I might find it easier – and less effort, and certainly less sweary – if I mince the meat first, then add the breadcrumbs, herbs etc, then put it back through the machine into the skins. I’ll let me know how this works out.

Also, I don’t think I should worry too much about stripping out the tendons at the hock ends of the legs. Any bits that look like a lot of work can go into a delicious slow-cooked, fall-apart-in-the-mouth curry. Or rillettes.

Oh yes – I should cut the flare fat away before leaving the pig overnight. Makes things a bit easier the next day.

I probably shouldn’t bother with the lean pork chunks – it makes for a fattier sausage mix. And while I’m on that point, I mustn’t forget to put some belly aside for the sausages. I know bacon is delicious but recipes are recipes. And get some mace next time!