Thursday, 31 December 2015

December skies

Record breaking December weather!

 Rain 317mm so far, that is 3 TIMES the average rainfall for December.
 It has been the wettest month in our records. The previous record was 226mm during Nov 2002.

There were 30 rain days this December! That is the most in our records, February will never have a chance now! (A rain day at least 0.2mm rainfall)

Mean temperature 8.9 deg C, average temperature for December is 6.6 deg C.
That is 2.3 deg C above average, The highest deviation above average for any month.

Dullest month in our records! Just over 35 hours (recording sunshine here since 2004).

It has been windy too, a gust of 65mph on the 30th.

Summary.... Wettest, dullest, warmest and very windy!
Angus says "It certainly wasn't summery!"
He also says "Surely you have a rain photo?" my answer... "It's been too wet!"

It wasn't dull wet and windy ALL the time!
Angus say's "only during daylight hours".

Peace, Love and Happiness to all.

Winter garden.

Autumn colour at the big pond November 26th.

Harvesting sweet potatoes in the big tunnel November14th.

Just picked apples November 17th.

Time to be pick kiwis.

They will go in the fridge for a few weeks to ripen!

Mallow, December 20th.
 The unseasonably warm (and wet) December weather has kept lots of flowers blooming on and on.

Nicotiana December 20th.
Also blooming are Alstomerias, foxglove, evening primrose, angelica, escallonia bifida, honesty, Kerria japonica... as well as the less surprising last few roses, hydrangeas, calendula, erysimum... even autumn raspberries continue on.

While December has been warm it has also been VERY wet and windy, the small tunnel plastic, after 18 years of life, finally succumbed to the wind mid-month and one storm after another is delaying it's replacement.  Photos will follow in time.

Making Soap 2015.

Ingredients, Olive oil, organic coconut oil and our own bees wax are melted together, allowed to cool and then mixed with lye.

This batch has spirulina added with lemongrass and citrus essential oils .

Poured into moulds.

Sorting and wrapping for winter gifts.

November Skies.

 November was a windy month with a gust of 66mph on the 17th.

 It was the dullest November we have recorded here (sunshine records began in 2004). We had 52 hours of sunshine, average being 78 hours for November.

 It was the warmest November on our records. The 30 year mean temperature for here in November is 8.2 deg C This November we recorded a mean of 9.9 deg C.

A feast of skies in November.

There was rain too!

Beeswax and mead.

Tivon concentrating while spooning crushed honey comb last May.

It might be quicker to pour, but I'm happy if Tivon chooses to do it one spoonful at a time.

Next morning the honey has drained through and it is mostly wax left in the muslin.

As in this photo, I started  to pour the honey into jam jars but I ran out after filling about 50, the remaining honey went into a few gallon Kilner jars. (There were a few of pot fulls).

I found myself with some ivy honey crystallized in the comb in November and after gently melting as much as I could in a bain marie to extract as much honey as I could, I decided that making mead was probably the best option for the rest of it.

As well as the honey and water I added the juice of a lemon. I also simmered several handfuls of crab apples in a little water and added the liquid after straining and cooling.
The demijohn proceeded to bubble profusely for a couple of weeks, in this photo it has just been racked off.

After a few more weeks settling down in the demijohn it is racked off into bottles. I had never tasted mead before, but after leaving it to mature in bottles for a few months I tried it and thought it was excellent.

 With the wax left over after straining the honey I rendered small quantities (about 8oz+ each) of beeswax at a time from different batches of comb. The selection of colours represent the age of comb, with the older comb containing more propolis hence the richer colour. The small quantities are easier to break into pieces for adding specific quantities to recipes. A large solid block of beeswax is hard to cut!

October Weather.

 October was a slightly dry month with 69mm of rain, (the average being 108mm for October).  The ground did feel dry and hard when I was planting bulbs and trees.

 Temperature was marginally above average, it was the dullest October for several years, overall it was a calm month.

 The Kerries, Heather, Amber and Sooty in the autumn light.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

October Garden.

The bed at the house. October 15th.

Sedum and Aster, with our Collie Yin yang on the grass.

 Fasicularia bicolour came here as a division from the huge clump growing in dry shade in my childhood garden where Mum originally planted it many, many moons ago. It has the common name of "monkeys bum".

Euonymus europaeus, common spindle

Woodland edge.

The big pond early in the morning.

The small pond.

Outside the small tunnel.

The view through the dining table window, Rosa "Blue moon" has bloomed prolifically this autumn.

The young woods have been beautiful this autumn.

 Flower bed, No, Dogs bed!

October vegetable garden.

Leeks and sunflowers October 4th.

Sunflowers, borage and nicotiana.

Kiwis, another month or two before they will be picked.

Autumn Raspberries.

Raspberry jam.

Spartan Apples October 15th.

Thornless blackberry.

October wildlife.

 Bumble bee on Heptacodium miconioides.

Red admiral butterfly on Buddleja × weyeriana.

Chaffinch eating Phlomis russeliana seeds.

Grey wagtail on the small pond.