Monday, November 20, 2017

Summer is icumen in ...

I arrived back at Gerolstein in late September. And it rained. And rained. Big, soggy puddles all over the place. Muddy paddocks. Slush. Please, please may we have some warmth and sunshine so that little things can grow?

It's now late November. And the sun is powering down. The two-week forecast says no rain in the next fortnight. Please, please may we have some cool and rain, so that little things can grow?

Who'd be a farmer?

But it's summer. It's the time to start the clean-up, and the planting ... so here we go. Off to the delicious country nursery 'Roses at Cust' to stock up the flower garden, replacing the plants chewed by the flock of 40 peacocks *thus, standard roses ONLY), drowned in the flooding, died inexplicably, and so forth.

Roses at Cust

Loading up a few beauties
This year, we've revamped the gardens. We started with mine ... When we arrived 15 years ago, it was a formal rose patch with a flowering cherry tree in the middle. Colourful. Also labour intensive. Then the cherry tree gave up the ghost. But it was still pretty enough that we chose to bury Ian's ashes there, with some lovely golden lilies around the grave.

But roses don't last forever and now there is just one of the originals left. So we've chosen to make it an informal garden instead. Just a few roses, here and there, with Ian's golden lilies, which have come back staunchly for eleven years, yellow irises, tropicannae, an azalea bushlet, lobeliae and so forth ...

The veteran white and last year's 'Hamilton Gardens'
'Crimson Glory' originally bought for LITE GASP's first win

What was a decrepit orchard with a tin shed, alongside the river, has been cleaned up bit by bit. The old plum tree still yields a few fruit, but the scraggy grapevines and ivy-strangled apple trees are gone, every touch of antique shadecloth has been consigned to the fire, miles of old wire and fencing and polythene piping to the tip ... instead we have a brightly growing little walnut tree and drapes of honeysuckle ...

Into the ex-orchard 
You are my honey-honeysuckle...
I had a little nut tree ...

Next it will be Wendy's gardens ...

2017 is a turn-around year for Gerolstein! And the peacock menace has been averted somewhat. Last week, Wendy and Nigel tricked eight peahens and one young cock into a closed horse float, and down the drive they bumped off to a new life somewhere ... anywhere! ... else.

Bye, girls!
This means of course that the Gerolsteiner population has become rather patriarchally balanced. As near as we could count, for the last three years we have had circa 21 boys and 21 girls. We lost two or three to 'natural causes', destroyed all the eggs, and, up till now (when I have discovered that peafowl eggs are mega-delicious) only one young lad escaped our Herodical rampage. But now, that young lad plus eight females have been white-slaved to places beyond the county line. So we have, at last count, a dozen hens and over twenty males. Some cocks are looking rather bewildered. 'Hey, where've all the chicks gone?'.

Sorry, mate!
In just a week the power balance has gone crazy. The boys have redoubled their displays and howls, and also started fighting. One large male is injured in the foot. We feed 'Hoppy' inside because the others bully him.

Hoppy knocks on the door for his feed
And this morning two of the young men measured up to each other. Tails up. Feathers shimmering. Was this romance, I wondered, or war? Given the anatomy of a peacock, I'm pretty sure it was war.

Well girls and guys, the Big Bad Horsefloat is coming back tomorrow. So let's see what the totals are at eventide. I can see another half-dozen overworked girls rushing for it!

Last year's tree-toppings ... wow! heat!
In the meanwhile ... well, while Wendy's been all day doing vast things in the garden, I did the fire (big needing-to-be-overseen bonfires in hot weather are NOT fun), so I think it's time for a wee whisky and some armchair... yes?

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