How to Quickly Convert a Barn.  Part One.  Why Bother?

Autumn beauty here, but winter is coming and the house is full. Seven people, cats, chickens, visitors, the occasional rat, and a roof full of birds.  Crows guard chimneys, swallows nest under gutters, and starlings sneak around inside the roof. Everybody needs a space to live, the humans and chickens pay to keep it all going. It was kind of working, until last winter, when we got a leak.

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Autumn Jobs in the Garden are not What you Think

Don’t bother looking for garden jobs now. Let everything die back, and trust the worms and insects to mulch it all down. They are better gardeners than you will ever be. Go for a walk, admire the colours and, when you get back, get busy with lost chickens, wild rats and too many pumpkins.

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A Year in the Life of a Call Companion

Autumn creeps in under the cover of sunflowers. Yellow flowers symbolise friendship, the perfect antidote to loneliness. Loneliness is a Bad Thing and last year I decided to help get rid of it. It hasn’t exactly ended well.

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How to Cure Seasonal Affective Disorder with Apple Sauce

The Japanese Anemone glowing in the shadows. It is a symbol of anticipation, which can be a cause of SAD. Nobody needs that back-to-school, winter-is-coming gloom but, if you are sensitive to seasons, the first ripe blackberry is enough to set it off. Time to stop looking ahead and do something about now.

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Hedgehogs in the Pampas Grass

The garden is bleak. Leaves rot on slimy paths, sunflower skeletons collapse against broken garden chairs, abandoned balls wait for dogs that don’t visit and snivelling chickens hang around the back door, hoping for company. Above all this the Pampas Plumes soar towards the sky. ‘Look at us’ they say. ‘See how we glow in the sun. Autumn is wonderful’.

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The Clematis is Flowering. It’s Pumpkin Competition Time.

The Winter Clematis is out. It’s time to launch into a frenzy of preparation for the pumpkin competition. Hopefully the other entrants are all small children so I am in with a chance.

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How to Carve a Pumpkin Properly

A lonely pumpkin lurks amongst cauliflowers. It is hard growing cauliflowers and getting any sense out of them. You get flowers but no caulis. This Pumpkin is the main player. It will be carved, illuminated and sent out to ensure that every evil spirit of bad luck unpleasantness will take one look and go ‘OH NO it’s a pumpkin with a candle in it, I will go and dump bad luck on somebody else, can’t possibly enter that place’. Here comes Halloween.

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Fungi, Foraging and Underground Life

Found these in a hedge. They might be called ‘Chicken of the Woods’. If that’s true they are edible. Or they could be ‘Aggressive Honeyfungus’ less edible for some of us. If you are hungry and come across something like this, don’t eat them all at once, just try one or two for starters and see how it goes.

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Hazel, Magic and Mythical Creatures

The hedgerows are groaning with hazel nuts. A chance to wear your fingers to the bone picking nuts to make stodgy nut roasts. Or maybe roast something else and leave them for the dormice? Hazelnuts are their favourite food.

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Grapes, Hops and how to Celebrate

The Grapevine has been picking fights all summer. Throttling nearby plants, doubling in size overnight and chucking sour grapes all over the place.

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Honesty and How to Prosper

This is an Honesty plant, with its paper thin seed pods glowing in the sunshine. Also known as ‘Silver Dollar’ it’s a symbol of sincerity and prosperity.

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