A spinning wheel

The York District Weavers Spinners and Dyers Guild lends equipment and books to its members, so I’d hoped eventually to be able to borrow a spinning wheel in order to get an idea of whether I would like to buy one. Using a drop spindle is convenient but I understand with a wheel it is possible to spin more quickly.

I was therefore thrilled when the Chair of the Guild offered to lend me a spinning wheel that had been donated to the Guild and was in her home. We arranged for me to pick it up at a location between our two abodes and today was the day.

I’ll need to look on YouTube for instructions on how to use ‘my’ wheel but the Chair suggested that she might run a workshop on using one. In the meantime, I am excited about seeing how far I can get on my own.

Whilst out, I was also pleased to have a walk in a different location. Last spring, my daughter and I explored Tadcaster but we never made it to the part of the riverbank I had the opportunity to walk along this morning. In the event, I didn’t get very far but I enjoyed the view across the River Wharfe

and was tickled to see wild garlic. I can’t say I’ve this in such a location before.

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Back to the stables

Further proof that the horse manure is doing some good in the garden came the other day when I noticed what the blackbirds had been up to in the main garlic bed.

I don’t know if the birds were successful in there foraging but it looks like the manure has been decomposing under the cardboard. It also looks like the cardboard has decomposed under the compost I laid on top.

So, with the weather being drier, I decided to return to the stables where I was getting the manure last year. Once it had got wet and cold in the autumn, the car may have got stuck in the mud by the manure heap and I didn’t want to risk being stranded.

Today, the manure was the most rotted down I’d yet experienced. The steam coming off it was incredible, so no doubt the dalek compost bin will really appreciate this feed.

I’m now impatient for the weather to warm up so that the compost bins start to work their wonders more quickly. The stuff I spread round the garden over the winter isn’t as decomposed as I would like it to be but all being well it will still be good for the soil. However, in the future, it would be better if there weren’t recognisable bits in it.

Posted in Gardening, soil management | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Oh no! Those pesky pigeons again

I hadn’t been wandering around the garden as much since the snows of January and February, so I wasn’t paying attention to the space at the back. Then at my local farm last week, there was a notice that the wild garlic would be ready soon, which prompted me to take a recce at home.

Damn! If only I’d thought to look sooner. The pigeons, however, had got there before me and nibbled the nascent shoots on the daylilies. You can’t tell from the photograph below, as I have now covered the plants with a cloche, but underneath it are the remains of the daylilies and what appear to be bluebells coming through. Clearly, bluebells are not to a pigeon’s taste, unless I am lucky and the uneaten shoots are in fact daylilies, too, and the pigeons were simply hoping to come back another time for them.

I’m hoping that the daylilies under the cloche will recover but at least I can be thankful that my wild garlic is coming through – and remains uneaten! After being disturbed each year by my digging to get ground elder out, I’m not surprised that the wild garlic is only just emerging, unlike in the woods at the farm. I guess the terrain is less shady and moisture retentive as well but perhaps in future years it will become more lush.

On a more positive note, the blackbirds have been finding certain areas of the garden quite lush for worms. I’d seen a daddy frequenting the ground under the bay tree and yesterday caught him in the act of pulling out a succulent wriggler. It must have been quite determined, as unsettled as he was by my presence he did not immediately fly away.

I dare say that the soil under the bay tree must be a rich hunting ground after the bag of horse manure I put down there last year. Of course, the effects of any ivermectin or other horse dewormer must have worn off, if this is the case, which suggests that use of horse manure in the garden isn’t as devastating as I had feared. Even the compost bins seem to be attracting worms again, although I will stick to my guns about not putting any manure in the Green Johanna.

Posted in edible flowers, soil management, Wildlife | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments


Tomorrow might be one of the days we call the start of spring but this last week could have been days in March already. This afternoon I even heard my neighbours cutting their lawns.

Of course, I don’t have a lawn to mow. I do, however, have grass coming through where I mulched with horse manure last year. I guess this is par for the course. In any event, I decided to nip the situation in the bud and get the unwelcome visitors out before any of the patches of grass could spread.

The purple sprouting broccoli in the raised bed seems to be coming to life, which is a relief and I’ve been able to have small salads with red-veined sorrel and the newly emerging chives. So, the next move will be to get sowing seeds for some annual crops later in the year.

In the meantime, I explored some more of Temple Newsam this weekend. The crocuses were quite a sight to behold, though I didn’t take any photographs because I expected the photographic image would be a disappointment after the enchantment of the real thing. Instead here is a view over the lakes. Don’t the swans just look charming?

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Be kind to unkind people

Perhaps my sleep patterns have always been deranged but I feel as though they have gone completely loopy since the start of the pandemic. So, this morning with there being such beautiful sunshine, I decided I needed a proper walk to start the day.

I had intended to go onto the bridleway near the house and then turn back but it was exhilarating being outside. Now, I have been outside on many occasions, as this blog will attest, but it seems so long since I enjoyed a walk before work. So, my legs kept moving until I reached the village green and a parade of shops with a café, where I purchased a few goodies to take back home.

After ordering in the café, I went to sit on the edge of a planter outside. The spring flowers caught my eye first but I was then tickled by the message amongst the plants:

‘Be king to unkind people because they need it the most.’

What do you make of that?

The village green

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Rats like raw onions

Now, I’m sure you are already aware that it can be dangerous and counter-productive to generalise from a single incident. The fact is that the generalised title had a better ring to it. Shame!

Anyway, while the rat has been up to its usual antics amongst the compost, including taking a daily bite out of a raw onion, the pigeons have been taking their daily bite out of the Nine-Star Broccoli. I have observed that they prefer a varied diet – much like the resident rodent – which means they have had a nibble on the broccoli leaves and then wandered round taking choice morsels from other plants.

I think at least one of the pigeons I’ve observed must be a returnee. I watched it waddle towards the back of the garden, foraging on the way, and then look quite disconcerted when it got to the patch where the mint used to be. It seemed strange that it hadn’t looked ahead and seen already that this patch of ground was bare, so was it working on prior knowledge?

Anyway, neither the rat nor the pigeon will be interested in the snowdrop which has appeared in the front garden

or the new rhubarb which was only recently transferred to a bigger pot. I’m so pleased that it is growing again, being only a youngster. I’m also pleased it starts a couple of months earlier than the one which has been with me for about ten years. In the long run, it looks therefore likely that my cropping season will stretch for more than half the year.

Posted in Gardening, Wildlife | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Not going to make it

The cold snap may be on the wane. Unfortunately, this might be too late for the purple sprouting broccoli.

With it being a tad warmer today, I got the secateurs out and pruned the final apple tree as well as giving the Orléans Reinette another trim. This meant I had the opportunity to inspect the raised bed.

I guess it was optimistic to think I might get a crop of these specimens – but who knows, they might recover. The biting cold wind yesterday will most certainly not have helped matters. It didn’t encourage us to go on a walk round Ardsley Reservoir, either.

The farmer at Red Lodge Farm had recommended the reservoir to us way back when we first started to frequent the farm for our raw milk but we always seemed to have somewhere else to go. However, I was determined to get my daughter out of the house and out of the car, so yesterday seemed like a good time to see the lay of the land.

As it turned out, we didn’t get very far. It felt about five degrees cooler by the edge of the water – my daughter’s words – so after a few photos she was straight back in the car. At least I can say that I got one or two scenic shots.

In fact, I got more than scenic shots, as the reservoir is right next to another farm, which has a shop selling fruit and vegetables. With produce such as avocados, it can hardly be entirely their own produce but I felt good about buying (not the avocados though) from them rather than a supermarket. It must have been bitter inside the tent, which served as a shop, so I felt sorry for the lady manning the till.

Posted in Days out, Gardening | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Last walk in the snow?

Yesterday, I went for a walk round the grounds of Temple Newsam. After dropping off some books at the Little Free Library in Colton the other weekend and being curious about the village, I wanted to go back and explore some more but my daughter wasn’t that keen, so I enlisted the help of a friend.

The way we chose to walk turned out to provide very easy access to the grounds. It also provided me with a view which I had never seen before.

My friend had togged up in wellies after recent experiences of flooded fields and large amounts of mud but the ground was solid with the continuing freeze, which made walking much less messy. It seems however that the farmers round her village are plagued every year with flooded fields, which need to be pumped to enable them to be used for arable purposes. I’ve noticed also at my local farm that the ground is waterlogged in winter and I can hardly imagine that things are going to improve.

Posted in climate change, Social | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Making new friends

During the first lockdown last spring I heard mention that one of the trying aspects of the situation was not being able to meet new people. As a sociable person myself, I concur with this. However, this evening has seen a turn of events.

I had a Zoom meeting with the Yorkshire Weavers Spinners and Dyers Guild. It was so lovely to be able to interact with people who are not only new faces but who I will one day be able to sit in the same room as!

Another excitement today was getting some crafting supplies from John Arbon Textiles, a company which is recommended by the Yorkshire WSD Guild. The yarn is a bit pricey but I’m going to thoroughly enjoy knitting my next pair of socks with it this evening and beyond.

I’ve been eyeing up the final apple tree which needs pruning – and indeed this could be done in spite of the continuing snowy weather – but there is time before the end of the month. It might even be possible in March but I would rather it were done sooner to be sure I haven’t left it too late.

Posted in Crafts, Gardening, Social | Tagged , , | 14 Comments


The other day, I got a surprise in my inbox. I had won a prize, an e-book:

Now, I hadn’t even been aware that I’d been entering a competition, so it was even more of a pleasant surprise. The idea behind the competition, it turns out, had been to encourage people to post in the U.K. and Ireland section of permies.com, an online forum for anyone interested in permaculture and related matters. Then the winner was selected on the quality of their post.

I think my winning post may have been a recommendation to visit Old Sleningford Farm (not during the pandemic). However, this is a guess. Overall, it is just great to be acknowledged, especially as we continue in lockdown and social isolation is the order of the day.

Anyway, I did promise to write a WordPress post to advertise permies.com to those of us outside the USA (naturally, more Americans would be welcome as well). It would be fabulous to have a more active online community at any time but making connections with people who are on the same wavelength through the only means which are currently viable may provide some hope and comfort for now as well as the future.

I’m enjoying reading to book, by the way!

Posted in Permaculture, Reading, Social | Tagged , , | 8 Comments