We've had a week of gorgeous weather and have finally been able to get on with planting up the veg patch. Thirty tomato plants, three rows of green beans and two of borlotti, 20 lettuces, six courgettes, four patty-pan squashes, eight cucumbers, some aubergines and peppers, and more to come: we still need to plant out the autumn squashes. The broad beans are ready to crop and are doing really well, though only a single pea plant germinated in the two rows we sowed. The garlic and onions we planted at the same time as the broad beans are also doing well. We also have raspberry canes (given as cuttings two years ago by a friend), gooseberry bushes and a whitecurrant bush, all flourishing. It's all looking especially neat this year because John's been asked to take some photographs for a book on growing your own food, so he's been weeding it ferociously.
There's bad news on the ducks: just a day or two after my last post, four of them disappeared in broad daylight, and we later found some feathers and a bit of blood — a fox must have got them, though it's odd that there weren't more signs of an evident massacre. Unfortunately it managed to take four females, leaving us with two males and a female, not a sustainable threesome at all. After a few days of dithering we decided to get rid of the older male, so John summarily despatched it and cremated it on the bonfire! We're now left with a a male/female pair, which is fine and might lead to some ducklings later this summer. In the meantime for our egg supply we'll need to buy some point-of-lay chickens (you can't buy point-of-lay ducks here, as no one keeps ducks for eggs), which is okay by me as I'd wanted some hens anyway, to make a change from duck eggs.
Cassie has now finished moulting and looks lovely and sleek and elegant (as elegant as a stocky little mountain horse can look — but beautiful). I've walked her up a few times to look at Mario's donkey, who brays like crazy and gets very excited, running up and down the fence and practically scrambling over it in his eagerness to say hello; the first time she saw him Cass looked astonished and somewhat alarmed, but now she neighs back to him and then just puts her head down to eat. I don't think she's that impressed with him really. Yesterday I rode her for the first time in ages and apart from some jumpy behaviour because of the wind and a moment of recalcitrance in not wanting to leave the yard, she was pretty good.
The caterpillars are into their third instar but I'll post on that tomorrow.