Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The end of June

Today really has been flaming an I'm reluctant to come inside. It's after 10.30 and getting dark. I'm sitting outside whilst puss is trying out the doorstep! She's just had a nice cold saucer of milk. My pot of 'pinks' which weren't in bloom for my birthday are looking splendid for my sister's!

June evening

It's hard to believe that June is coming to a close and the first half of the year has slipped by. The foxgloves and the elderflower blossom against the side of the barn and the field beyond, so noisy an hour ago is now silent. I want to prolong my time outside and start to water a few of my recently planted things.

Twizzling time

After a couple of days of baking sun it's time for our hay to be turned, once again it has to be fitted in after milking and huge clouds of dust and pollen followed the tractor around the field.

Stuff and yet more stuff

With swallows swooping all around and on the hottest day of the year so far we begin the task of turning out the barn where we'd stored lots of things temporarily during the move but somehow they'd put down roots. Some stuff can go to the tip and then hopefully we can collect the last items still in storage. At least with the hot breeze it doesn't take long to air things like the dust sheets which have got rather damp.

Taking flight

It is a perfect day with the most incredible blue sky. The swallows have chosen this time to leave their nests and the youngsters are busy performing training flights swooping low to the ground and then doing circuits round and through the barns. Some stay on the roof for a long time looking less sure about this big adventure which will culminate in a couple of months, when they head off to Africa.

Puss isn't keen, their low flying makes her jittery and she tries to breakfast with one eye firmly looking to the sky.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Hill Farm in Midsummer

At last the heat of summer is here, almost too warm as it's come so suddenly. In the garden the squash and courgettes revel in their change of circumstance. In the fields the buttercups so plentiful at the start of the month are now over and the grass seed heads were pinky mauve before the tractor scythed through them. It's lovely hay and the air smells sweet.

Looking good

I was admiring how the cheap rose that I rescued from B&Q's reject pile last winter has turned out to exactly match one of the deeper scabious growing behind it. Suddenly I was aware someone else was appreciating my planting combination!


In the heat lots of butterflies are on the wing, some like this one are hard to identify as they barely land and when they do they close their wings. However I'm pretty sure this is a 'meadow brown' and I hope our meadow measures up!

Roses (but not mine - yet!)

We drive down to David Austin's this morning to look at the roses and to decide which may be suitable to plant here when we're ready. The perfume in the rose garden was incredible. This is 'Francis E Lester' and I love it's wild form which will be perfect to plant around some of the agricultural sheds as partial disguise. It is strong growing, healthy and sweetly scented.

I thought I should find a little out about the man for whom this rose is named, apparently he was born in the Lake District in 1868 but lived for many years in California where he imported and bred roses, this one came to market when he died.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Our hay is cut

Tonight just as we were about to eat supper outside the tractor arrived to cut the hay field - we'd been expecting him as all around other tractors were out cutting. The clouds of grass pollen floated in the air and by the time I came indoors I was well and truly sneezing!

Saturday, 27 June 2015


As I came to bed I fetched the camera as we had a pretty pink sky developing, but then to my amazement it was filled with birds, maybe a hundred and not starlings as I may have expected to see but rooks. I checked on the internet and found that they a very social birds congregating in pre roosting flocks. I know people in Doveridge have been bothered by the sheer numbers of them, but for me they were just an incredible sight.

A ghost moth

When we get home from the (excellent) concert I'm baking and so take my coffee outside. Dusk is starting to fall when Dave notices a strange moth - later I go and look it up and discover it's the 'ghost moth'. It has white rapidly beating wings but seems to hover in the air moving around a square foot of lawn. Apparently this is how it attracts a mate but last night (at least while we watched) he wasn't having much success! He was, of course, impossible to photograph.

This link takes you to a You Tube clip which gives an idea of what we saw:
Ghost Moth in Flight

Drying space

It's a lovely sunny morning and our newly created space is just perfect for airing the laundry!

Friday, 26 June 2015

Two years

Today it's the anniversary of the auction which saw us as successful bidders on the farm. What a lot has happened in the last 24 months. Although at times recently we've felt a bit exhausted by it all the arrival of summer has provided fresh inspiration. Tonight we are going to church where there will be a string quartet and I'm preparing the food!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Bee heaven

Everywhere on the farm is alive with bees at the moment, they are in the field on the clover and here in the garden they are buried deep in the borage and the catmint, which - touch wood - puss has yet to discover. We had hoped to find someone who wanted to keep bees here but our early efforts have proved unsuccessful and neither of us really want to become bee-keepers ourselves.

Hard times!

Today Dave's been grovelling around the base of our oil tank removing the last of its contents (if anyone was watching they'd think we must be trying to find a way to raise a few pounds!) When we tested it with a cane there looked to be very little inside, but that ignored the fact that an oil tank has a rather large base area. Four containers later Dave gave up for the day as it only comes out of the pipe at a trickle. We want to sell the tank which we've never used and with our ground source heating it is completely redundant and taking up a chunk of the barn space immediately behind the house. We emptied it as it's very heavy and any reduction in weight will make it easier to move.


When I woke up this morning I could see the buzzard sitting patiently in the next field. He stayed there for over an hour. Meanwhile in our own garden another bird was watching - this time I think it's the Brussels sprouts which were being scrutinised, Mr Pigeon looks far too plump to need anything else to eat.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Over the hill .. or the cows are coming

Each evening at around 8 o'clock the cows start to come over the hill opposite. I guess they are stretching their legs after their evening milking. They make a fine sight and I never tire of watching them. It is lovely to be surrounded here in the Derbyshire Dales by small scale dairying still.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Evening light

Sitting outside enjoying the seasonal (but rare) warmth the sun comes through the clouds in a shaft of light.

Pigeons beware

Something, and I blame the pigeons (without actual evidence) has been nibbling on my Brussels sprout plants so Dave sets to work constructing a cage to keep them out, but before it can be netted I'm going to have to clamber inside to remove all my seedling pansies, nasturtiums and spurge that have made a home there.

Monday, 22 June 2015

A bird or a plane

Sitting in the garden we hear a noise and look up to see this hang glider flying overhead ... it wouldn't be my choice of how to spend the evening! Plus we wish he'd go and buzz around over someone else!

Demolition work

Our lean to over the well got destroyed in the last lot of gales, the wooden cross pieces were broken in half but the huge uprights turned out to be completely rotten. Since the damage happened we've had to put bricks on the corrugated tin roof as every gust of wind lifts and bangs the metal, causing us to worry that it will blow off and onto the car. As we examine the structure we find that it has shifted so much that it is making the wall lean too, so we spend the day carefully dismantling the whole thing. Our next task will be to rebuild the end section of the wall which had collapsed before the farm belonged to us.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Another rose

This wild rose is one that I planted along with the hedging that had lived a whole year heeled in with the vegetables. It is looking very pretty at the moment. So far of the three I planted out here one (above) is white, one palest pink and the other has yet to produce buds!

Morning mist

'Morning Mist' is the surprising name for this David Austin rose. It was a very welcome gift from my friend Sally last year but I've had to wait a long time to see it in flower. I have planted a honeysuckle nearby and this too is just beginning to bloom. They are growing on the short bit of wooden fence near the front of the house and are backed by hazel that I've put in but which isn't in a hurry to grow in the rather windy spot.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

A fight

No not us but a pair of male pheasants sparring at the end of the garden. They must have carried on for around an hour - I gave up watching and came indoors for a shower but they seemed pretty evenly matched.


It's been so dry that it seemed the rain would never reach us. Recently driving home, Joe reported rain just a mile or so away on the A50 but it  never reached us. Now though it's pouring from the sky and the plants are very grateful.

A dark sky

Today we had a very dark sky and I went out to take some photographs. Later it poured.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Making hay

There are two techniques for making hay, first the professional way as carried out on most UK farms in 2015 (and currently being done on our neighbouring fields), then there is my way which I feel has much in common with a hundred years ago, or alternatively with remote Eastern European practise! Dave strims the grass, it dries and then it's my turn to rake, pile and shift (penance for liking it leave it long in parts of the garden).


Our restoration project has finally reached the stage where we can and must turn our attention to all the outbuildings. We start by getting a quote for repairs from the local company who originally installed the sheds  here.

Thursday, 18 June 2015


I realise that I need a post to celebrate all Dave's hard work on our internal doors. It's been a huge task removing, repairing and replacing them. In doing so he has managed to retain all their hardware and interesting quirks - like the key hole which definitely seems to be upside down!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

My view

While Dave's strimming the grass (and our neighbour is busy making even more noise with his tractor) I retreat to the back of the border to weed! This is my view as I look out from behind the flowers! The  planting is starting to come together - I've added more catmint and some double orange geums sourced from the plant fair at Catton Hall on Sunday. I like the way the geums pick up the colour of the buttercups which are in the field behind them. Now after a day spent in the garden I am spending the evening on the computer as I have been rather tardy in updating the blog. You might think that when less is posted less is happening, whilst in fact as you can now see the reverse is true!