Spring surprise!

Feels like spring has been going on forever this year. It got really warm and then suddenly snow, rain and cold winds. Always a nice surprise to see what I planted in autumn though. I’ve completely forgotten and now loads of pretty flowers are blooming. The little chickens we got have turned big. They follow me wherever I go because I’ve spoilt them rotten feeding them overtime I go out, they are so cute! Definitely not the breed we were told but we love them anyways. The little white&black one is called Astrid and the white&brown is called Peanut. We waited a long time to name the black one, it’s most likely a cockerel but we decided on Woody. Today Maggie decided she wants to become a mum so we’ve ordered some fertilised eggs. The garden is coming along nicely. I built a frame in the crazy-always-overgrown-by-weeds-veg-patch and planted loads of vegetables and made sure to make it chicken proof. Started building a greenhouse a while ago, put hours and hours into it then someone came along the other day and asked :Is there really going to be enough sun in there? …after a few days of thinking I realised that Nope it’s not. So now I have to move it. Oh well, start over do it right! Today was sunny but a very cold wind so I changed plans from going out in the nature reserve to staying home having a bbq for lunch and then watching movies and pretending it’s Friday.

Green fingers

After having two weeks of snow suddenly sun appears, everything has melted and every time you turn around a new spring flower has popped up! Yesterday I did loads of necessary chores but took some time in the sun just hanging with the chicks. Today started foggy but eventually sun broke through. I said last week we have to buy a proper pancake or crêpe pan instead of our big frying pans, this morning I went down the second hand shop in the harbour and Voila! The perfect cast iron pan. Love it when that happens! I had a coffee because they have the best coffee and it’s also nice to just sit there and look at people. At home I immediately tried out the great find and me and my daughter had pancakes in the sun on the stairs. Then she helped me clear the veg patch, chickens came to help to. They are so social and curious. I’ve spoilt them rotten so every time I go in the basement they come to beg for food. When I planted peppers Lottie actually came inside but left as soon as she didn’t find any food. I promised myself to not go through another summer without a greenhouse, problem is I want a really big one to sit in. Planning the year I realise that it’s not gonna happen without a budget and a holiday so now I’ve decided to build something in the vegetable patch  or possibly attached to the henhouse. The veg patch is my worst enemy. There’s ivy and nettles taking over everything. I’m tempted to leave it but it’s such a valuable patch of land, perfect location, enough sun, shade and shielded by the worst wind. Maybe if I put five minutes every day on weeding I’ll be able to keep it in check. Think of all the vegetables we can grow and use for events in the barn/gallery!

Esme reicarnated

It is pretty quiet in the garden with only three chickens which is both good and bad. I love planting but the chickens sadly doesn’t see the difference between weeds and flowers… But as sure as I’ve already ordered new seeds I’ve started looking for eggs to buy. I am really happy with Hedemora and whatever mix race the new hens are but we’ve decided(well my daughter did) that we will be shallow and order fertilised eggs from hens that lay different coloured eggs. So now it’s just to wait for one of the hens to become broody. I paid a visit to Fotö where the 4 hens live that we sold before the fox came. So surreal, I think of them all gone, so to see Buffy, Vera, Captain Pugwash and Renee Biggs is like they’ve come back to life. They are very happy over there though! Sharing their home with the wild goose Gizmo. Gizmo was found as an egg(yes I know it’s illegal to pick eggs from wild birds but a kid found it and if they had put it back it would probably have been shunned). They hatched it in an egg hatcher and we saw him when he was just 2 days old, tiny fluffy thing with flippers. Now he’s huge! They are not friends but tolerate each other. Gizmo must like his home thought because his wings aren’t clipped and sometimes he’ll do a tour of the island but he always comes back.
I am naturally very careful with closing the chickens in now after our fox visit, they usually head inside as soon as it starts getting dark but the last two nights that I’ve gone to close the hens in they have still been outside. Tonight I watched Lottie try to fly up in the cherry tree but she failed. She is definitely Esme reincarnated! I know that in a few weeks when it gets warmer I will have to climb that cherry tree every evening to collect her. Wouldn’t surprise me if she learns how to cockadoodeldoo as well as Esme did.

Creeping up on me

Every autumn I think next year I’ll calm down a bit with the planting but by the time xmas is fading my fingers start to itch. My first chilies are popping up and I’ve ordered some veg seeds and flower seeds who need an early start. A little while ago I received the new seed catalogue for 2017 and skipped happily towards the front door only to glance at the flower bed at the front of our house. 3 happy chickens sand bathing in where they had dug big holes in my flower bed. My happiness was momentarily quenched but now I’ve decided to not go through another summer without a green house and that makes me happy again! Just need to build one. As well as extending the henhouse and building a smoker. 2017 bring it on! Same with photography, I always switch off over the holidays but now new ideas are popping up like mushrooms without me even trying to think. Still haven’t spent any time in the darkroom since before xmas but today I played around with my phone, taking pics of the chillies(yes, all the people who know me as the most analogue person out there are laughing their asses off right now) with my xmas present. It’s a macro lens that you attach to the mobile with a little clamp. I must say I am quite impressed with what the phone can do with just a little add on and it’s a lot of fun. Only problem is keeping the phone still, never thought I’d say this as I don’t even own a digital camera but maybe I’ll have to invest in a phone tripod…

Christmas come early

img_0458 img_0447 img_0436After last weekends nightmare with all but one hen eaten by the fox it’s taken some time to get over the nightmares. We did go out the same day to a neighbour and got two new hens. Felt too sorry for Maggie who was the only one left and an attempt to sooth my broken soul and my daughters. She had woken up in the middle of the night hearing noises but was too scared to come downstairs in the dark and felt so guilty. As did I who left the hatch open by misstake. Now our two new hens have settled in and they are both big personalities!  My daughter named them Nettie and Lottie. Maggie immediately started kicking and biting them but now she’s calmed down and they actually hang out in the garden together, at a distance. I’ve been out there all most of my days keeping an eye on them. It does help that the local garden center has a fantastic discount. 10 Swedish kronor/perennial. I’ve made three trips now with my moped! Plus all the spring bulbs that needed planting. While planting the bulbs I found more quince-I! When we moved out I bought a rose quince bush and thought it was just decorative but now we have fruit. Tiny yellow hard fruits. I also tidied up the barn/gallery and put the xmas lights up. Planning a xmas market and feeling it already. The barn looked so nice with all the lights on, it’s going to be great!

Quinces or quinci?

img_0358 img_0351 img_0348 img_0396So a couple of years ago I bought this quince tree and brought it home on the bus and moped. See Travelling tree. I was told at the garden center that it’s not really hardy for our climate but for some reason I’ve always wanted one so I bought it. Last year it grew some fruit but they never got bigger than cherries and all fell off. This year there’s loads of fruit! My husband wanted to make crumble while I had other plans for it, luckily there was enough for both of us. The crumble I must say was a failure(hope he doesn’t read my blog), quince and vanilla gone all mushy with crunchy salty crumble, nah not for me. Of course I had to top him but with the bar set pretty low I didn’t think it would be that hard. First thing I tried was making quince cheese, also known as Dulce de Membrillo, I chopped and boiled and mushed and boiled again to put in the oven. It didn’t set properly and I ended up throwing it out. Next thing I tried was quince and apple jam, that was a tastier but didn’t get any of the nice dark colour you see when you google quince jam but rather a light pinkish beige. So yesterday I picked most of what was left on the tree and tried making marmalade. I chopped half of it up and boiled, mushed and then grated in the rest of them together with sugar and lemon. After reading up on how to get the lovely dark quince colour I kept the pot boiling for five hours. Still not much of a colour change. Apparently it goes really well with Manchego cheese so I bought some and opened one of the jars (after checking on the pan for that many hours it felt like opening a pot of gold). Turns out the marmalade was really thick and jelly-like, so I tried making marmalade but made quince cheese! All in all my conclusion is I love the very special flavour of quince, bet it will be nice with green mouldy cheese like St Agur or Cambozola or with meat, but this years quince-cooking was a big failure. It’s a finicky fruit with a weird name as well- one quince two quinces? Can you really say quinces? We decided no, sounds weird, so from now on it’s one quince two quinci (pronounced as quince-I, like in rastafari). Next year we’ll have to do better!

Swimming with the fishes

img_0102For quite a while now I’ve been so busy working for my new exhibition that I haven’t had time to do anything else. Up early morning brushing liquid emulsion in the dark, again after a few hours and printing in the darkroom in the evening, every day for two weeks. Then finally after the opening I took my time to go for a morning swim. It was wonderful! They have taken the jetty out of the water so I guess officially swimming season is over but for me it never ends. After a very unpredictable summer with lots of rain, wind and cold temperatures september has turned in to an Indian summer. I got in the water and then heard a noise like it was raining, turned around and there were hundreds of mackerel babies jumping the surface of the water! Then they swam around my legs and disappeared. The day after our next Airbnb guests arrived, all the way from Malaysia, to do a wet plate workshop on their honey moon. For the shoot they had brought traditional Malaysian clothes, we got some great pictures and had so much fun. They ended up cancelling their next accommodation and stayed a bit longer. The morning after the workshop they talked about how nice and relaxing it was but that they wanted to do some “work” even mowing the lawn or something so after me saying three times-You’re not joking right? They mowed my lawn and helped take the hen yard down! Fantastic! The garden looks so much better now without the extended hen yard and the hens are out running free all the time so they don’t really need any space in the hen yard. Hopefully the grass will grow back next year and I’m planting lots of flower bulbs for spring. It sparked my interest in the garden and made me realise that I’ve spent way too much time fretting about work and other things. I realised that I’ve spent more time thinking I have to mow the lawn than it takes actually doing it. I’ve had so many great Airbnb guests since we started renting out but this takes the price. We ended up talking for hours, doing more wet plates and having meals together. Now we’re looking for trips to Malaysia! img_0136 img_0120 img_0106 arlurock