I can’t believe that we’re nearly at the end of January already, and as Geoff so helpfully points out, that’s nearly a twelfth of the year gone! Today as I write this, it is stormy, cold & windy, our maximum/minimum thermometer on the deck records a high of 36 C & a low of 6C for the last week, that’s a huge range of 30C difference, no wonder we don’t know whether we’re in Summer or Autumn. ( Looking back I see we had the same thing in 2011, & also had 100ml of rain, so there’s a chance we might get a good soaking)

Haymaking all around

Over the last couple of weeks, there has been a lot of activity all around us, as farmers cut, turn & bale hay, it seems to have been a bumper year, & the view from our window changes with each process. It’s lovely to be so connected to the seasonal cycles & to live among other people working the land, with the same awareness. There is a high number of conversations about rain at this time of year, & unlike many folk, we are all grateful for any drops that arrive, & carefully watch the forecasts to see if & when any more is coming, although what’s predicted is rarely what we get.

Luckily the gardens know where they’re at,despite the high & low temps & are doing exactly what they should be. Our Arnica plants are producing masses of flowers every day, which we are harvesting & putting into bottles of oil, ready to be turned into ointments later on. It seems most likely that we have a hybrid variety, a cross between A. montana & A. chamissonis, because we grew both plants in the same area. The variety we have is ideally suited to our conditions, handling both the cold Winters & hot Summers.We’ve finished picking Mullein flowers now, so we can leave the plants to look stately, the oil is used as an antispasmodic, for sore muscles, also a few drops can ease earache & it’s also used to treat eczema in the ear. The St John’s Wort, Chamomile & Meadowsweet are all harvested & either in jars of oil, or already processed & stored in the dark for use over the year. We have an ongoing supply of orange Calendula flowers, which we pick regularly & put in oil, it’s probably our most versatile & useful remedy.

Fragrant Lily  Hidden places at Millstream january 2014 027

We are mostly eating out of the garden now, loads of scallopini & zucchini, also Liz’s Bumpy Beans which crop enthusiastically & are so delicious we can eat them at every meal. We picked a Rock Melon yesterday, which was ripe & delicious, a huge achievement for us, as we hardly ever can grow Melons. We have tomatoes now & my beetroot are full grown, sweet & crisp. We’ve harvested all the garlic & onions now & they are drying in our garden caravan, along with Lavender flowers & some other herbs for the Winter.

In the rampant part of the garden, behind the Melons & Scallopini, we have a big tangle of pumpkins and gourds, it’s impenetrable, so we shan’t discover what has grown there until the frost comes.

Large Bell Froglet & small Whistling Tree Frog Set Free Young Bell Frogs

Our Tadpoles have all grown up & left home. I miss them. We let them loose as soon as they had four legs, just in case they got out & got dehydrated on the deck. They have disappeared into the pond without a trace, but we are optimistic that next Spring we shall hear the Whistling Tree Frogs in our garden, meantime Geoff spotted 6 adolescent frogs sitting on the edge of the bath/pond in the herb garden, so they obviously survived the goldfish & grew without any help from us.