Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Autumnal harvest.

It was fairly inevitable that, sooner rather than later, a blog would begin...

.....'it's getting to feel rather autumnal round here, especially in the early mornings.'

Days are shorter, mornings have a pleasant chill and slightly dank air. I couldn't tell you exactly when they left but our swallows have gone in the last few days, off to seek warmth under African skies. While the trees have not yet changed colour their green is dull and dead. In the lanes hedgerows are full of berries; hips, haws and rowan - some say this bounty is a portent of a cold winter to come. (I remember a late spring with no frosts to spoil the blossom.) This will be a good year for holly.

Blackberries have been and gone but there are sloes in abundance and we will be making Sloe Gin soon. I've already got some Damson Gin on the go. (1.5k fruit, washed and pricked, in a stoppered demi-john with 500g of sugar and a bottle of gin. Disolve the sugar, give it a shake every day for a week then store in a dark place for a few months, strain, bottle and glug.) Just the thing for a cold and frosty morning, noon or night. I'll let you know what it is like.

Alan's little fruit trees are laden with fruit too - the orchard, only in its third year - has done remarkably well producing apples, pears and plums. Even the trees we had in pots in Heaton Moor, and which we brought with us, are fruiting well. One, in particular looks like an illustration from one of those catalogues which fall out of the weekend papers where it always looks as if the fruit has been stuck on especially for the camera. See what I mean?

In the background the rest of the vegetable garden is looking somewhat blowsy and tired. The pink and purple patch are Asters - a welcome splash of colour as the light levels drop. If you've keen eyesight you'll see leeks in the background - they've grown well and will see us into the winter - as will the cabbages, sprouts and broccoli - caterpillars and other pests permitting. We've aready harvested onions, potatoes and squash and they are stored for future use. Hopefully we'll have beans and courgettes until the frosts.

And here, for no particular reason, are some of the sheep on our field at present. This bunch of old gals, short of teeth, sore footed and gammy legged, is being given the benefit of the doubt for another season. They're getting extra rations - to them the sight of a human being means only one thing - Sheep Nuts!!!! You can imagine what a disappointment a fool with a camera is.....

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