O'Reilly's News - May 2005
Well after a summer that led one to believe that there would be an early break in the season, April turned into the hottest since 1923, with little rain, so things are very dry. Cold mornings and shortening days have nevertheless led to a greatly reduced harvest and we are now about as close as we get to holiday mode. I have been picking plenty of regrowth off the broccoli which has been frozen for our own use over winter. The residual plants are now being harvested for the goats - they also relish all the sweetcorn stalks with the coarse fibrous vegetable material being essential for healthy ruminants.
Brussel Sprouts over a metre high look fabulous, but are still tending to "blow" rather than consolidate, due to the warm weather. We have been using Eco oil to keep the grey aphids from setting up house in them.
Our main task this last couple of weeks has been to visit the old grove apricots with the chainsaw. The dead and sick limbs are easier to identify when the leaves are still on the trees. Cutting them out whilst the weather is dry, helps to reduce the spread of fungal diseases. With 250 trees to look over it's good to get this task out of the way before the usual winter pruning. The fallen limbs are then sorted for select premium logs which are stored for woodwork, (David likes to turn... when he has an idle minute, and Apricot wood is beautiful). A good deal of firewood is also recovered and then the rest is carted into a big pile for a wintertime bonfire.
The mating season for dairy goats is well underway and I have put nine does in kid and none have returned back on heat. I'm currently still milking three does once a day and as well as freezing milk, I have had my electric separator in action. The cream is superb for making icecream and a host of other creamy favourites that I only get to enjoy at this time of year. As well, I blend cream and flour together and the resulting pastry is frozen for wintertime pies - the pastry has a great elasticity and I've found it pointless to bother making butter. The skim milk has grains soaked in it for the poultry and sometimes we get a couple of piglets.