I've started this year with such a feeling of optimism and happiness, perhaps because of the end of 2010 being so cold and dark with snow etc, but I have really noticed a change since the winter solstice. The days are certainly longer and small signs that spring is on its way are appearing too. Although I fully expect to have some more snow before this winter is over!
The first order of business this year has been our annual seed order - especially as we have the polytunnel this year. I want to grow the things I love to cook with most of all - no more huge gluts of stuff that has to be made into chutneys or pickles but I reckon the best use of our time and effort (and to save us money from our food bill) is to grow to the cook's (ME!) order.
My list for this year (so far) includes;
potatoes - first earlies and Pink Fir Apples (my fave)
onions - red and white
tomatoes - Tigerella, Gardeners delight and Tumbling Tom
swiss chard, kale and cavalo nero
courgettes (but only a few - really don't want the glut of them again!)
Our chickens have started laying again with me getting one or two eggs a day - this is so lovely as they are building up to Valentine's Day which always seems to be when they come back to lay. I haven't had any eggs from my Cream Legbar for ages, but I think as she is a pure breed, she is less likely to lay than the others - I don't really care, she is so pretty and makes up for the lack of eggs by her delightfully scatty nature and funny 'old lady hat' head.
Zac, Brea and Poppy - our horses are all well, and due to the snow and relatively dry weather have been living out most of the winter. They are so much happier being able to move around in these types of conditions rather than having to stand overnight in a cold stable - this is the reverse of what normally happens when we have cold, wet rainy weather when they would much rather be in. P and I fitted a heat source tape with thermostat to my stable water pipe which thankfully has kept the water from freezing even down to -18oC. This has made a huge difference to my routine of carrying water from the house every day when the pipe had previously frozen - also made a difference to my poor elbows too!
The countryside around us is so beautiful at this time of year - the low winter light seems to give everything such wonderful colours. The woods behind our house are a wonderful blend of purples, browns and greens - Birch are my favourite at this time with their smoky purple haze. I'm feeling inspired to get out and about with my Christmas present, a new camera, although I don't have a clue about photography - I'm really excited about it - watch this space!