December is here, almost surprisingly; for the heat of late October transmuted into November and a cool to warm fug, with mists, and rain, dappled days of afternoon sunshine, occasional abrupt winds, which tore the last leaves from the chestnut trees, but real cold? Never.
Now the temperature has begun to drop, and we are promised a first frost, possibly over the coming weekend...so we must hie us to the forest once more to pick the last of the chanterelles and the saffron milkcaps/rovellons/niscalos, which have been abundant this month, so much so that chanterelles on toast with a poached egg, or chopped finely and fried with niscalos, chopped garlic, a little butter and oil, salt and pepper and a sprinkling of parsley....even these have begun to pall. I have been cooking them up for the freezer with sour cream and lemon and chicken stock; ready for some spring Stroganoff of Iberian Pork fillet.
My seedlings are up and I have started to prick them out into pots. (The first are for pink hollyhock, green aquilegia
, white veronica, mixed vintage stocks
, and drifts and spikes of blue and white sages) - ordinary, I know, but perfect for adding to the borderts or for planting amongst the vegetables in the organic garden, to bring some colour and life, and swarms of pollinating bees, I hope.
I have a mass more seedlings to go, but am a little nervous if the frosts do indeed come. The greenhouse was savaged by the pigs a few weeks ago, and the shredded skirts of plastic let in a stiff cold breeze when the night wind blows. I shall have to try and find some more plastic, or some old window frames to fill in the gaps.
The salads are doing beautifully, even though one day last week one of my curly- headed lettuces had gone for a walk overnight, shifting out of its neat row and across the furrow beside it into the neighbouring row of straight ones. Although standing and looking happy, it was only just lodged in the earth and I had to move it back firmly and stamp it in. I don't think it is a walking or 'haunted' lettuce, but there might well be a mole or mouse in the soil, waiting to eat my beets when they are at their juiciest.
We are getting busy with booking requests for cookery courses next spring, and with young international travellers wishing to stop off and help us out from time to time on the farm or in the house. These generally find us through helpx.net
, and the young people passing through the farm liven up those otherwise quiet winter days.