Saturday was one of those days that really make life worth living. I knew it was promising when I woke up to a beam of light across the bedroom. I’d almost forgotten what sunshine looks like. It may have been bright and beautiful but it was blessed cold.
Now cold comes in different forms; there’s a cold wind which cuts right through to your bones, then there’s a damp cold which just seems to suck the heat from you but today was a still, dry cold. Now a dry cold is easy to cope with. I’d much rather have it at minus ten and dry than plus five and wet.
The first thing to remember is a saying a Norwegian pal told me, there’s not bad weather – there’s bad clothing. So on with my skiing underwear. Come on, how many gardeners write about their undies? Yep, just me! But seriously, keep an eye out in the shops for clearances of thermal underwear and especially ski gear. Keeps you as warm as toast but allows you the freedom to move around and work. And ladies, trust me, you’ll look dead sexy in long johns!
Extra Shelf in the Shed
My first job was to put up a shelf in the shed where I keep the machinery for the associated bits. It’s surprising how many ‘bits’ you need. For a start there’s the oil for the lawnmower, then the two stroke oil for the leaf blower and the strimmer, the petrol additive, the mixing bottles, chain saw oil, ear defenders, goggles and the list goes on.
The final straw was that I bought some two stroke oil as I couldn’t find any when I last filled the strimmer only to turn up a bottle afterwards. Not very efficient, to say the least. Now things are all organised, the time spent putting up the shelf will be repaid many times over the coming years. I can’t complain about the cost either – some scrap wood I had around, a couple of 29p shelf brackets from the hardware shop and a few screws.
Chain Sawing in the Orchard
So that has to be cleared before I can get started on shredding the privet. The thin branches are easily chopped with my loppers but anything over an inch diameter, especially hardwood, is beyond them. So it was up with the chainsaw, which is electric, which is why I have a 40M extension cable (back to that shelf again). I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever get it all chopped though. The afternoon hardly made a dent in the pile.
Eggs & Elderly Hens
My neighbour saw me and popped over bearing six eggs, which was nice of him. He’s got quite a flock but I don’t think they’re a very productive flock overall. Too many geriatrics and cockerels for that. The line between smallholder efficiency and pets is easily crossed but so what? A hen is pretty cheap to feed, especially when compared to a dog or a cat, so keeping them going when they’ve basically stopped laying is not much in the scheme of things. And if you haven’t realised I’m a softie about animals, then you don’t know me.
He was saying how he’d never had so many eggs through the winter as this year. And, as gardeners always do, we ended up chatting about how weird the weather has become. There’s no predicting it any more. He said that, when he was a child, you could be pretty certain of snow arriving in November but now it’s anybody’s guess.
I’m just hoping for a good summer. It’s been a few years since we had a real scorcher. My first year on the allotment was one. Started by taking a flask of squash down with me and graduated to taking the squash bottle it was that hot and I drank so much. I’d love another one of those summers, please.
Sunday is wet, windy and cold. I might put a shelf up in the potting shed if I can face trekking across to it.