It's been a busy time at the farm - too busy to sit down and write an update! So here's some catch-up.
Happy and sad news on Mama Duck and her nest. A few weeks ago Kim called me out to the verandah on a Saturday morning, and there, swimming on the pond, was Mama and 14 wee fuzzy ducklings, all clustered around her tail end as if they were ball bearings and Mama was magnetic. (So sorry for the poor quality of the photo, but I didn't want to risk getting any closer!). That's the happy part. The sad part is that that was the last we saw of them. We don't know if once the ducklings were hatched she decided to take her wee ones away from Frankie and his barking, or if something terrible happened to them that night. Our worst fear is that somehow Petunia got them.
We feel horrible. But Mother Nature may have forgiven us, because we now have a nest full of very vocal baby birds (swallows, we think) in the ceiling of the verandah - there's a ventilation hole that should be screened, but isn't. We'll repair the screen when the babies are grown and flown, but for now it's quite fun to watch the parents flying in and out with snacks for the babies, and to hear the incredibly loud chirping of the brood.
The garden is changing every day. In the perennial beds tulips of a dozen different varieties have come and gone, and the day of the iris, the cornflower, columbines and phlox has arrived. Most showy of all are the poppies - cheerfully modest orange ones, and blowsily luxuriant Oriental red ones.
In the vegetable garden we are learning lots of lessons about how important nitrogen is in the production of leaves and roots (we almost lost some squash plants), and about the benefits of succession planting (planting the same seeds over a few weeks, rather than all at once, so you don't end up with a mountain of spinach all bolting at the same time). We are continuing to eat wonderful salads from the garden, with romaine, Swiss chard, kale, spinach and mizuna. The peas are now about 4 feet tall and flowering. The raspberry bushes sound like some kind of machine, there are so many bees buzzing among the flowers.
Kim has taken charge of the orchard. We are learning there are a million things that can go wrong with fruit trees, but so far we haven't actually killed anything... With some new additions to the orchard we now have 3 apple trees (one is an espaliered tree with grafts of 6 different varieties!), 2 crabapple trees, 3 plum trees, 3 pear trees, 3 cherry trees, and 4 peach trees. We also have some loaded gooseberry bushes, and the blueberry bushes are already loaded with baby berries.
With the new trees in the orchard, and new tools, and new watering wands, we have spent an awful lot... But our favourite purchase by far is our new garden ornament, bought with Dad in mind.
Much love to you all!