Although I generally follow the advice in the title and don’t count my chickens before they are hatched I think I can safely predict an excellent crop of figs this year. The fig tree evidently enjoyed the early wet weather and now, in its sheltered corner, already the fruit is plentiful and unusually large for June. It should ripen from mid-August on and continue into September. Last year I put some into the deep-freezer at the end of the month then used them as a cooked fruit during the winter.
Seasonal farm operations are up-to-date although the frequent strong winds have made it difficult to apply insecticides, fungicides and herbicides when the relevant crops are at the optimum condition for achieving maximum effect. These products all add to the cost of production so it is in our interest to keep their use to a minimum and only to use them when necessary. Having said that, the rye which we drilled last autumn, as it is said to reduce the appearance of blackgrass, is still on the short side and therefore not effective at smothering out the blackgrass. As every growing thing seems to be twice its usual height this year perhaps it will catch up before it is cut later this month. We can only hope.
We saw a mallard duck leading her brood of six ducklings from the pond in the Stackyard Close onto the pond by the orchard. They are down to two, now but I saw her chasing off a moorhen. They are killers of ducklings so perhaps she was not always successful. She is a conscientious mother; I saw her sending a cock pheasant on his way. I am sure he had no bad intentions but she was taking no chances – very brave, I thought. We were fortunate to see a barn owl glide across the garden the other evening. It is always an impressive sight and we were prompted to say, as we always do, that we must put up a nest box on the farm then wait to see if it is adopted. Barn owls need quite a large hunting area, so there may be no room for another pair so close.
June is the season for fund-raising events. Many villages in the area hold Garden Festivals, Afternoon Teas, Teddy Bears Picnics, Open Gardens and of course, there is the now well-established Lowdham Book Festival which takes place from June 19th – 30th. This covers much more than books, and offers a programme of events appealing to a wide range of interests.