Wednesday 25 August 2010

Always look on the bright side

There were a few bright moments but overall August was a snotty month. Yet again early teases of a barbecue summer came to nothing - tomatoes swelled up and stayed mainly green.

But looking on the bright side we’re that much better prepared for winter, not deluded into a sense of never ending summers.

Rainy day projects have come forward, such as shelving in the cellar, and the first batch of bilberry wine is bubbling away in its demijohn on track for a Christmas tipple. The old barn that serves as workshop, grain silo and dumping ground is spruced up – junk rationalised to the tip, yet more shelves for storage and new stones stuffing gaps in the thick walls.

Dropping temperatures brought forward the chimney sweeping and spurred us on to fill the log shed and more. The Aga has been serviced ready to serve hot meals and water through to Easter. Oil has been purchased at summer prices, towed up the hill in the bowser and siphoned into the main tank.

Last Sunday we had (probably) our last bilberry walk and picked 5 lbs. It was slim pickings to begin with, sparsely covered bushes, blotches of brown on the leaves, some berries wrinkling into raisins and just a few outcrops of good ones precariously out of grazing reach. With but a few ounces each we headed home a different route until we struck a rich seam. For some reason the goats and sheep had left these alone, incredibly so as the leaves seemed to have dropped leaving these prominent ripe berries like beacons. Our bags full it was time to sort and freeze – not much room left in the freezer.

Carrots, courgettes, cabbage, kale and runner beans are all cropping well and the potatoes have died down – that is apart from the new, new potatoes. Seeds stored at low temperature, planted in late July are sprouting through ready for harvest from October to Christmas.

Seems like cheating but gives that sense of an almost never ending summer, especially when you start the day with a handful of bilberries on your muesli.


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