Apple Day

This year has been a good year for apples, so it would seem. Our trees have been laden with them and our trusty cooking apple tree (possibly a Bramley) has produced baskets of large red and green fruit. We have now harvested them all and are slowly going through the many crates filling the floor space in the kitchen. We daren't light the woodburner in there so as not to spoil them before we have a chance to process them.

Today is Apple Day and I thought I would make a contribution to this 30-year old autumn celebration by giving …

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Restoring balance at the Equinox

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This afternoon, at 2.31 pm, the Sun crosses the celestial equator (or the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth's Equator) from South to North and the Autumn Equinox will occur. At that particular point, days and nights are of equal length, a moment of balance between light and dark, a threshold between two seasons.

As I write this, the scene on our patch of Welsh countryside is typical of Mabon time. Looking out, the landscape is still mainly green with only a few dots of autumnal yellows and oranges here and there and the blue sky continues the …

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And the robin sings again

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It's still another two weeks till the official start of Autumn at the Equinox yet there are plenty of signs that Summer has retreated and Autumn is settling in. There is a chill in the air, the colours of the landscape are changing and nuts and berries are abundant in the hedgerow. But there is something else that heralds the new season: the robins are back singing their Autumn song.

During Summer, robins are conspicuous by their absence, so much so that they seem to disappear. Of course, that's not true as they don't migrate (most don't anyway) but they …

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Lammas... the first harvest

As we move into August, we pass the half way point in the calendar between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox. The long days of Summer are drawing in and we are making our way towards Autumn. On the Wheel of the Year, this point is Lammas, a celebration of the first harvest, the Grain Harvest. The word 'Lammas' comes from 'loaf mass' and indicates how important and meaningful the first grain and the first baked loaf of the harvesting cycle are.

We are now at peak Summer when the harvest season begins in earnest. Growth of early Summer …

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Re-opening the shepherd's hut after lockdown: striking a balance

After a six months hiatus, we were delighted to welcome our first post-lockdown guests last weekend. We are usually quieter with bookings over the Winter but come April, bookings come in a steady flow. This year, however, when we said goodbye to our guests at the end of January, we could not anticipate that we would not be hosting for another six months!

We were away on holiday ourselves in February and come March, the country came to a standstill with an imposed lockdown because of the Covid pandemic. For the first time in three years, the shepherd's hut stood …

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The gamble of hatching chicks

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Who remembers the photo of the pretty basket of fluffy chicks I posted at Easter time! Twelve weeks on and I thought I would write about our experience.

This was our first venture into the world of incubating eggs to add to our flock of hens although not the first in having chicks. Two years ago, we gave some fertile eggs to our top hen Betty when she became broody and she did all the work from then on: incubating the eggs, turning them, talking to them (did you know hens do that?) and raising the chicks that hatched. She …

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Spring 2020, one to remember

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As we head into June and towards Summer, we look back at Spring 2020, which has proved to be very unusual in more ways than one!

Hit by the global Covid19 pandemic, the country went into lockdown at the Spring Equinox with the message to "Stay At Home". Peter worked from home for the first three weeks and then went on to be furloughed, which he continues to be until the end of June. That has been a great opportunity for us to tick things off our long to do list: we have re-done the roof of one of the …

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New life at Easter

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Our little flock of six hens is keeping us well stocked up with eggs at the moment and we sell our surplus via an honesty stall at the top of the drive. At the beginning of the year, though, we had to go and buy eggs because production had gone right down and that went on for several weeks. Out of our six hens, only two are young and productive, although last Winter, at the end of their first laying year, even they stopped laying after their big moults. The other four are getting rather old: Mother Hen Betty is …

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Finding balance

It's the Spring (or Vernal) Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere today and Spring is officially here. Astronomically, an equinox is the moment when the Earth's equator passes through the centre of the sun, momentarily creating an equilibrium between night and day because of the way the Earth tilts in relation to the Sun. The word equinox comes from the Latin word "aequinoctium" meaning 'equal night'.

Right now, the stabilising energy that this balance brings feels really important. The world, this Spring, has been plunged into a huge amount of vulnerability and uncertainty. The chaos and changes brought by the Covid-19 …

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Nurturing hope in the garden

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Spring is nearly here and the growing season is well under way on the smallholding by now. Every inch of windowsill space in the sunroom holds trays and propagators with seeds growing this year's harvest. When seedlings are big enough and in need of more light than they can get in the sunroom, they get moved to either the heat mat on the shelf in the potting shed, the greenhouse or the polytunnel.

This time of year is always very exciting, full of promise and wonder at the huge potential for growth and transformation held in a tiny seed. Right …

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