Frogs, Frogs and More Frogs!

To think that I was a little worried that we would never get any frogs in our pond! After we have had a few rather wet and rainy days, we now have hundreds, and I mean hundreds, of tiny baby frogs hopping around in the back garden.

I first noticed because one of the little guys had make it in through the back door and was hopping across the hallway!

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We then went outside and saw a few more and soon discovered that there are literally hundreds of them. We have rescued some that were close to the back door and deposited them in our pond. We hope that some of them will survive and make their home there, though of course many will succumb to natural predation etc.. In the meantime we are enjoying these amusing little creatures.

Frogs hiding in the grass.
Frogs hiding in the grass.

Fruitful

We have had our first few strawberries of this year (the ones that the chickens did not get to first) and there is lots of fruit yet to come. I have to say that I am really looking forward to getting apples, blackberries, raspberries and possibly plums a little later in the year. Signs are looking good so far for a fairly bountiful fruit harvest.

Delicious strawberries.
Delicious strawberries.

Here are a few more pictures of the fruit developing. It is great getting to know the orchard/ forest garden a little better as the year goes by.

P1030878 P1030877 P1030876 P1030875 P1030879There are also some brambles in wilder corners and a greengage tree and an elder (currently in full bloom) in the back garden. We could pick the blossom and use it to make an elderflower cordial or wine but we are leaving most of it to get the berries later in the year. Unfortunately since everything except the raspberries and strawberries was here when we moved in, we do not have a clue about which varieties we have, so I hope to learn at least a bit more as the year goes on.

We are so lucky to have so much fruit already here, but already we are thinking about increasing our fruit stock in years to come. I know I would like to get a rhubarb patch going, and grow some gooseberries, and currants… one step at a time.

An Update on Garden Creatures

We are not the only ones who are enjoying our garden, polytunnel and orchard/ forest garden. Our six chickens are settling in extremely well now. Dorcas, who was the least feathered and the smallest now looks like this:

Dorcas has developed beautiful brown flecks now and is one of the larger hens!
Dorcas has developed beautiful brown flecks now and is one of the larger hens!

This is what the poor thing looked like soon after she arrived:

What a difference!
What a difference!

The others are also doing rather well, and all of them are laying almost every day now! We are barely able to get through all the eggs we get from them. As free range chickens they are happily going about their business in the orchard, eating some of my strawberries and laying their eggs in the most awkward places. Two of them decided to lay right in a corner and it took us a while to realise – I found 17 eggs there a few days ago! All were fresh though, fortunately, which I checked by putting them in water. Here are some of the other girls, clucking around:

Chickens in July

The wild birds are also doing rather well here still. Though some cheeky corvids were stealing the chicken’s food the other night while they were inside the coop so we are now making sure to put the food container inside the run at night.

There was also a toad in the orchard a while ago – the first toad we have seen here and we were all very happy the other day when a frog was spotted in the pond out behind the polytunnel. We had been keeping our fingers crossed that some creatures would move into the pond – with any luck there will be more to come.

Eating What We Grow

One of the things I love the most about growing almost all of our own vegetables is that we are really eating what is in season and working our meals around the healthy food we have to hand. Though before we moved in here we had tried to eat seasonal fruit and vegetables most of the time, here I am being far more disciplined about eating what is ready to harvest at the time. It is far easier to be disciplined here than it is doing a shop at a supermarket. I am learning a lot about how out of tune many people are with the food that they eat throughout the year.

Gluts are exciting, but I have so far avoided having far too much of any one thing. I have been planting successionally and we are finding so far that we have enough without having massive excess. There are seven of us living here and we do have quite a few guests here from time to time and so any surplus is usually used up fairly quickly. As time goes on and we experience more seasons here, I hope to gradually get us to a place where we have enough and more of everything and we can really stock up the freezer for future insurance against disasters and bad weather. Already, I have learned a lot about what we all eat and do not eat, what I need to plant more of (radishes, perhaps, and at the moment we could do with more potatoes, though most are not yet ready to be harvested). I do not think I have planted too much of anything at the moment, though as the summer goes on perhaps that will change. We’ll have to wait and see.

The other thing I have noticed about eating what we grow is that I am really enjoying the meditative time taken to harvest and prepare all the food for the meals I make. Though it takes time, I find that time relaxing and it is also when I get the chance to observe and reflect on the growing spaces. I would far, far rather spend half an hour picking or shelling peas or podding beans than plodding around the shops!

If only more people grew at least some of their own food, there would be less of the disconnect that we so often see between food production and what and how people are cooking. We are very lucky here to have the space we do, but most people would be able to do at least a little growing on windowsills or in containers. It costs less than you might imagine to get started, requires less effort and space and takes less time. Everyone should know the joys of eating something they have grown.