Samhain – All Hallows Eve – Carve pumpkins into Jack’o’Lanterns

Samhain – All Hallows Eve – Carve pumpkins into Jack’o’Lanterns

31st October was once New Year’s Eve in Celtic Ireland. The Druids believed that the mystic veil separating the dead from the living opened and spirits roamed the earth.  We celebrate with a bonfire and Wittenham Cider and pumpkins carved into Jack-o’Lanterns – so called because they are named after the phenomenon of strange light flickering over the Irish peat bogs creating Will’o’the’Wisps

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The last rose of summer

The last rose of summer – somehow more special because it’s flowering in late October.  I chose this rose for it’s fragrance and every morning when I put sunflower seeds out for the birds I can enjoy its fragile fragrance for a few moments.

the last rose of summer

the last rose of summer

Still picking runner beans

Still picking runner beans and it’s nearly November.  There’s no more room for beans in the freezer so I’m just picking enough for two days – preparing them and leaving half in the fridge in a plastic bag for tomorrow.  I pick from one section so I still get some young beans – once beans get full size they stop producing more.  The other section I leave and pick when the pods are fully grown then I pod them and use the beans in chilli con carne.  I made a three bean chilli yesterday from dried red and black beans, and podded runner beans – and I also cooked some sliced runner beans to go with it.  We all like meat so I added some mince as well but I needed a lot less mince than usual as beans are a good form of protein.  There was none left – sure sign of success!

runner beans

runner beans

Broody hens

Some of the hens are still laying eggs – but two of them have gone broody.  Mrs Brown is really good-natured and lets me move her anywhere but Honey is very bad-tempered and pecks me when I go near her.  I have moved them to a rabbit cage so the other hens don’t bother them.  Once the chicks are all hatched and big enough to hop about I move them to a bigger pen but with a shallow water bowl.  Baby ducklings can also drown if they can’t get out of a water bowl.

When there are young chicks about I always put a brick in the big water bowl so little ones can get out.  Dane was helping me just after Christmas last year.  We had a chick that hatched on Christmas Day so we called him Jesus (he later turned out to be a girl!).  Dane asked me why there was a brick in the water bowl and I answered:  “It’s so Jesus doesn’t drown.”  Dane replied:  “I thought Jesus could walk on water!”

(L to R) Snowflake, Doris and Dillon

(L to R) Snowflake, Doris and Dillon

Autumn sweet peas?

Can’t believe my sweet peas have survived into Mid-October – I was a bit late planting them out _DSC0027in the Spring but this Autumn has been very gentle on the flowers.  I pick a few sweet peas each day and add them to a vase on the kitchen windowsill so they smell lovely when I’m preparing vegetables for dinner.

Nasturtiums in October

Nasturtiums in October – until the first frosts – then “… they’re gone willy-nilly, umbrellas and all”_DSC0021  The rabbits love nasturtiums and it’s a real treat for them to still be eating them so late in the year.  I give them just a few leaves a day – too much can cause tummy upsets – and they love the growing tips best – they must be the most tender leaves and shoots.