Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Strange weather and summer swallows

What do ochre skies mean? Trouble!

Sometimes it just doesn't feel like summer. I think this is going to be one of those years again where I'm waiting for summer to happen but it never quite does. We've had days when it's been too hot and the sheep have been lying around in the sun like swooning maidens in too tight corsets and days when they've been smugly impervious in their huge woolly jumpers as the rain lashes down. Shearing can wait until until the isobars are less excitable.

Parent arrives to stuff an insect into a hopeful beak.

The swallows continue their summer routine whatever the weather. The farmyard is full of them swooping in and out of various open windows and doors. Stand in front of one of the (glassless) windows into our range of dilapidated outbuildings and they'll knife the air in front of you regardless, intent on feeding their greedy brood. This week the chicks have fledged and fly wonkily to the telephone wires where they sit in demanding rows awaiting the attention of their exhausted parents.


The parent rests briefly on the wires - it's easy to tell the difference at this age; the babies haven't yet grown the long tail streamers.


The parent heads off to find more food. I don't think these are all the chicks; there were three others on the wire at one stage.

The swallows' ever present chatter is one of the main sounds of summer, played against a background hum of tractors and mowers intent on bringing in the silage.

Gardening-wise it's been high summer in the polytunnel for ages with new potatoes, salad plants and strawberries all going strong. The tomatoes and cucumbers are in the borders now and are coming on well too. Outside things are rather more disastrous and demoralising. It seems I'm planting things purely for the slugs to eat and the couch grass is completely out of control. Every time I think I have cleared it, it invades again. I think murderous thoughts in its direction. And for some reason I can't get a single runner bean to germinate. Borlottis and broads, yes, runners (and peas too) no. Some years you just have to shrug and admit defeat!


At least this paeony has survived to flower this year. Last year the wind cruelly snapped it off when it was tightly in bud. This year, unperturbed, it has offered three buds and all have resisted the attentions of the wind (and I've staked it too, which might have helped.) You have to be a tough plant to survive at 600 feet up on the lower slopes of the Preselis. Last week I watched the wind punch my dogwoods flat. The plucky plants stood back up, only for the wind to knock them flat again.

16 comments:

  1. Clever photos, Mags and lovely to see howthings are going over at yours. I do wish summer would happen - I'm longing to feel some sunshine on my face.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish summer would happen too - I'd quite selfishly like to cook it between July 20th and September 3rd while the kids are off school. That would make a lovely change! Mind you, I'd settle for any summer, just a proper one!

      Delete
    2. Hahahaha - I meant 'book' it! Quite an apt slip though!

      Delete
  2. Sounds idyllic, Mags. Things look beautiful. Now, if the weather would just co-operate, things would be truly grand.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes, when the wind is howling and the trees are lying flat it doesn't feel that idyllic - but I'll be out in my waterproofs loving it nevertheless.

      Delete
  3. Just love the swallows we don't get them here at the farm; rooks in abundance but no swallows. Been out and about taking photos of my forgotten garden and realising how beautiful it is despite the 6ft weeds!
    PS How do you get the Preseli copyright on your photos? Would love to do the same on mine...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd miss the swallows if we didn't have them. As for the copyright doodah, I open the picture in an editing programme (I use Microsoft digital image 2006 standard edition editor or PicMonkey) and then add text. To get the copyright symbol on a Windows computer, hold down the alt key while typing 0169 on the number pad.

      Delete
  4. I love your swallow photographs. Two nests have fledged here but another still has small gaping beaks peering out over the edge.

    That is a very dramatic sky. The weather man is predicting stormy rain for the next few days so I hope your sheep are still waterproof!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I must count our nests - I think there's about seven in all. I always think the chicks inside look like little choirboys with their smart white bibs and open mouths.

      Delete
  5. It has just started to rain here, so I imagine you got yours an hour or so before us. We had no yellow storm sky - just encroaching greyness.

    Our cart shed swallows (2 lots) are swooping in and out through the windowless top window and we have barracaded the stable door top to stop the cats getting in. Ours were late starting, so none fledged yet.

    As for runner beans - it took me three goes to get them to germinate. If you set some yet AGAIN now, you will still get a crop I'm sure!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it's raining here now too. Ah ha, I've only had two goes with the beans. I'll put a third lot in tomorrow. Thanks - I'm glad it's not just me!

      Delete
  6. Swallow photo envy here - don't they fly with such air cutting panache?

    Interesting that your 'outdoor, veg is so-so. I know I'm 825 ft up a mountain, but still, I am so disappointed with performance so far - seriously wondering why I bother.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm in a small valley and all the gardeners here agree germination this year has been abysmal.

    Peas have been one of the few things I have successfully germinated- beans were hopeless and everyone has had several goes at carrots. Funny year.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes I feel it's a summer in waiting kind of year... again. Love the sky photo - so moody and dramatic. It's not the weather that's hitting our vegetable plots but the rabbits, they been busy doing what rabbits do best, but we are now over run with them. Topsy needs some more training me thinks.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have tried and tried to get photos of our swallows but all mine are truly disappointing! Yours are fabulous. And yes, bring on summer. I am ready. The garden is ready. The holiday cottage is booked solid and ready (please please let there be sunshine for visitors).

    ReplyDelete
  10. I adore your blog, but it's making me want to move to Wales more than ever :D I'm friends with Bovey Belle and found you via her blog :D

    ReplyDelete

I'm sorry to have to add word verification thing again but I keep getting spammed.