Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Continuing Lockdown

 This week, our creaky old washing machine failed in a big way.  The outer drum was split near to the failing main bearing.  Off with the concrete block and out for the rag and bone, it was gone the next day.
 An on line order has delivered a brand new machine with all of the modern efficiencies (A++).  The service drains have been cleaned out and the new machine installed.  The wash cycles are generally longer than the old one, but at least the kitchen floor is dry.
 A supermarket home delivery or two has left us with ample plastic bags.  This is something we are no longer used to.  These ones have become planters for potatoes and this should increase our food yield this year. They will be recycled when they are finished with.
 The garden path has been sprouting weeds for quite some time.  The wet weather in the winter and early spring meant that we were unable to do anything with the path.  Now I am going through the gravel, weeding it and re-washing it to clean up the mess.
Most of the path has new been cleaned and there are just a few meters left to do.

Having so much time at home is is some ways a bonus.  These jobs do get sorted much quicker.
Stay Safe.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

New kids on the block

 We now have fox cubs on the garden.  These are the first cubs we have seen this year.
 The dog fox is keeping an eye on them to make sure they are safe.  We have only seen two cubs, but the vixen may well be elseware with others.
 Life is new and interesting when you encounted a food bowl for the first time.
 Shortly afterwards, the foxes quickly depart and the camera records the large grey female badger with two youngsters.
 The not so little badgers are also seen for the first time and they are scrapping over food just like the adults do.
There are 3 badger cubs here with the male.  The badgers seem to stay in a tight family group, unlike the foxes who split up and take some of the effort out of caring for their cubs in a large group.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Avatar Forest

Some time ago, I was asked to to generate a scenery for the Zhengjaijie National Forest Park near Wulingyuan.  The local airport was a Gateway airport - with US standard buildings, so I have updated the airport to a representation of its Chinese form.  This is my first flight on the simulator (X-Plane 11) from this new scenery model.

Using the Diamond Twin DA62 from my hangar, I started up and taxied out from Zhengjiajie Hehua Airport to fly North to the National Forest Park.
The Avatar Forest (as it is casually known) is to the right of the big cliff on the horizon, about centre screen.
First sighting shows the tops of the rock columns.
This is a massive scenery - spot the tiny aircraft over the rock columns.  This Karst limestone scenery has some columns which are vast.  The Beilong Elevator lifts tourists 1070 feet to the top of one structure, making it the largest outdoor lift in the world.
Passing over Wulingyuan in a north easterly direction I headed out to the Glass Bridge.
The bridge is off to the right along the river plain.
This structure is the Skywalk Bridge measuring a span of 1410 feet and having a ground elevation of 980 feet at its centre-span.  Tourists are walking on 2 inch thick, tripple layered glass panels with a clear view of the gorge below (the gorge is a no-fly zone).
Picking up the signal from the airport locator beacon, it is time to head back over the mountain ridges to land.
 This is the view on the simulator screen, which is a three screen wrap around showing the scenery across the forward and side views as I approach the airfield location. Confirm landing permission and switch on landing lights.
 Turning into the runway approach.
 Aligning with the runway and adjusting speed and angle of descent on the flight path.  Flaps and wheels down at this point.
 Final approach to touchdown.
Parked up and ready to put the kettle on for a cuppa.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Veg and Flour

Being under lockdown, there has been ample opportunity to tidy up the garden and develop good practive to protect our Summer Veg.
 The seedlings for a variety of crops are growing well in the guttering sections in the greenhouse at present.  Improving weather will mean that they will be planted in the cage soon.
 Over the two largest raised beds is the cage, to protect plants from pests and badgers.  I have also put a net box around my potatoes to stop the badgers and cats disturbing the shoots as they grow on.
 The strawberries of which I have 3 good rows, are flowering well.  There should be lots of fruit if all goes well.
Just by chance, we obtained a slot for a Tesco Delivery (First chance in two months) and I ordered some Strong White Flour for bread making.   No surprise when the order came minus the flour, which was unavailable.  However, Rosie managed to get some Strong Wholemeal Flour, so I thought a double sifting would give me the Strong White that I wanted.
 A 2mm seive was used to remove the course bran in the first sift.  Then I used a 0.75mm seive to remove the fine bran.

What I ended up with is a good amount of flour with some course bran on the left and some fine bran.  Oh Joy, now I can bake the bread I have a desire to eat.  The fine bran could be used to texture home made vegiburgers or sausages and the course bran will probably end up in the compost bin.
We are coping well with this lockdown in many respects.

The wildlife camera captured the grey badger lifting a large earthworm from the lawn overnight.  -Yum!

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Lockdown Continues

CoViD-19 Lockdown is well into its 5th week and it is clear that some things like flour, hand sanitizer and the like are in short supply.  Internet shopping is restricted as many businesses are closed at this time and supermarkets have limited supplies.
Still, the wildlife seems relatively unaffected as the local vixen is still browsing around our garden at night.
The greenhouse is now showing stock and I have potted up some of the tomato seedlings and planted out seeds in gutter section to go into the raised beds when they are too big to be damaged by slugs.
The vegetable cage is now largely planted out and I have a few additional gutters of seedlings in the greenhouse to add to this area later on.
When I dug out the Leylandii stumps, I rescued several ransam plants and put them in a tub.  These wild garlic are doing very well and may be on the dining table soon as a flan or something just as tasty.
The pond is looking OK now that I have topped up the water level.  There are several newts and a number of dragonfly larvae in there at present.  No significant numbers of frogs this year though.
Rosie and I ate out for lunch. "Well, I'll go to t'bottom of our garden".

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Badgers, Cats, Foxes, Insects Away

 Using an old gazibo frame, bits of shelf brackets and pallets and purchasing some good quality horticultural insect net, I started by covering my vegetable cage roof.  Starting low I have sewn the roof cover on to start with.
 Having lifted and braced the structure, on went the side coverings.
 A gap has been left to finally add a net drape to be pegged down around the base for access to the structure.
 A small annexed area has been built out to cover the whole of the long raised bed.
And finally, a double layer net flap has been fixed to the top and left side of the opening, with a tent peg to fix the right side closed.

This structure should be able to exclude the butterflies and moths from laying eggs and discourage the badgers from eating my crops.  Not having to clear cat poo will also be a bonus.  Having considered purchasing a polytunnel and then being locked down for CoViD-19, this option was less than £30 and an easy few days work.  Now I have some gutter sections with compost and seedling in, and a lot of seeds - just need to sow/plant it all out.

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Sorting the garden

One of the big issues in the garden last year was the Badgers eating my crop.  This year I have been looking at the cost of a polytunnel - Then Lockdown happened.
My "Heath Robinson" solution is to use an old gazebo frame which was lying in the Garden Shed to form a canopy over two raised beds.  I have sent for some fine garden nettings to be delivered, and I am looking to make an entry frame from the remains of my old fencing panels and a bit of spare timber over the next week.  Then I can start planting out with confidence.
The bit of garden bed near the front fence has never been a success, so we are stripping it out and laying grass.  The turf is coming from the pathways between the raised beds under the newly developing veggitunnel.
This job will take a few days as we plan to rescue and re-use many of the plants.  Our summer gazebo will be erected on this area of lawn in a few days time.  It is currently boxed and on the conservatory floor.  At least we will be able to cope with all weathers if we have to stay at home for months.

 A day later and the Hydranga has been moved, the fence post levelled and repacked and the grass laid half way across the fence. Monday may see the job finished.

Job Done:
Monday saw the job finished.  Now it's just a case of run the lawn mower over it once in a while.