Sunday, 20 May 2012

At last a little bit of more spring like weather, it was a lovely day here today, great for the Sparsholt College next door to have their annual countryside day. Tomorrow looks less joyful but they are promising warmer weather again next week so let’s hope we all build up a bit of momentum on the sales front.

Sometimes it is tempting to pretend everything is ok, to put up a brave front and try not to give the impression of poor performance and panic, but this spring has been a shocker and it is the same for lots of horticulture based businesses so we are not alone. There is not a lot we can do with such a poor run of weather other than face up to things and get stuck in and make the best of it. It is not just the businesses that suffer but the employees too. We are not a well paid industry generally and the loss of all the spring overtime will be quite a hit to many, good job we enjoy what we do so much! A good friend of ours with a small local retail outlet has faced up to the troubled spring with a full on advertising programme this week with the headlines ‘Horticulture in Crisis, help out by getting down here and buying some plants’. Stunningly upfront and honest is our Roger and it may well work. I can’t wait for his ice cream parlour to open, a yummy complimentary outlet to his great tea room and craft centre.

So here we are at a moment in time, the past few weeks are behind us and the future is ahead. Getting upset or cross about what has happened isn’t going to help and can make things a lot worse. The knock on effect of a grumpy outlook only knocks back everyone else around you when they are probably only a short step from grumpiness themselves. I try to pick on a few positives to get my brain pumping out the right hormones and get me out of bed and off to a good start. If I make it upright from the bed without putting my back out, the turbines are turning when I draw back the curtains, the tea bag goes straight in the cup from the other side of the table, I pour the juice in the glass and not on the cereal, the cat hasn’t pooped in the tray, life’s full of little plusses when you look.

I did a bit of NLP training a few years ago and one of the exercises I had to do was to list a few things I had done that I was proud of or pleased with, big or tiny, from today or from the distant past, it didn’t matter. As I was unprepared for the question it took a while to think of much to write down and just as I got into a flow he stopped me. I then had to get a notebook to keep by my bed and each night I was to write one positive or groovy thing I had done. After a year or two you would have a book full of ace facts and whenever you woke up in the morning feeling a little down then you could turn to the book and it helps you remember lots of good stuff about yourself. It’s just chemistry really, the brain releases different chemicals when stimulated by good stuff, it can act like a switch and turn the start of the day from going down to going up. It worked for me, I just have to catch sight of the note book (I got one with quite a distinctive cover) by the bed, the hair stand up on the back of my neck and I get a boost. Now I’m not the sharpest tool in the box, I never actually got round to writing anything in the book, but an empty notebook still works as a trigger for better thoughts for me.

Great pictures from Cornwall this morning of the Olympic torch relay, it’s lovely to see people get so excited about carrying a small gas canister 300m. I hope the positive mood keeps growing, the jubilee isn’t far away and there will be lots to cheer about all summer long. Hurrah. I see the first torch went on Ebay today for £3,250. Bargain.

Eco News

Cold weather has slowed up the biological controls a bit, we have just released our third input of a wide range of predators and my beetle breeding bucket seems to contain quite a lot of life, whether it is all the right sort I’m not all together sure. I will keep up the weekly feeding and we will see if they keep the pest numbers down.
Have a good week, from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries

Monday, 14 May 2012

At last a lovely sunny weekend, still a nip in the air this morning but lovely gardening weather. Let’s hope this gets things moving after the poor run of weather most of us have suffered from. I keep catching bits on the news that horticulture is suffering so we may get a small sympathy vote to help us along the way. It’s at times like this that you hold on to any little signs of hope you can see, after all it can’t get any worse can it? Last week was boosted by the great thank you card we got from the local school, the thought of a nice long bank holiday weekend, and the prospect of the turbine man getting all three going in unison on Wednesday.

Had a lovely break, literally. Spent half of Sunday in casualty after Caroline took a tumble in a garden where we were delivering a big cat pen as a favour to a local cat charity. A change of route for carrying a bulky part across the patio and a failure to complete a valid manual handling assessment of the new path, resulted in a fairly innocuous backward sit down and the appearance of a second elbow near the wrist, ouch. No mention yet of the fact that I was pushing on the other end of the load! Anyway, she was patched up on Sunday in time to complete the VAT return in the afternoon and returned on Monday to have it ‘realigned’. This involved a strong dose of ketamine and a team of staff to pull it straight and rematch up the bone ends. It all went really well and the post pull x-rays showed a really good result. Back this Monday for a full cast now the swelling has subsided. She has coped really well although it is only when you become slightly disabled that you realise how much you need all your bits to work well to cope with ‘normal’ life. I am now a dab hand at pulling on socks, slicing up and carrying stuff. Things are taking a bit longer especially as it was her right arm, but she gets there in the end and a couple of extra hours at work means she still manages to get through most of the jobs! Apparently doing things with your left hand improves brain activity and helps stave off senility, if only I had known earlier.

The engineer’s turbine visit went well too. He recalibrated the anemometer on the troublesome third turbine and that seems to have sorted that out at last, but during his inspection of the turbine nearest the house he found a fault which has meant he had to turn it off while they sort out a repair. No word yet on how long this will take but they are trying to rush it through. At least with having three, when one goes down we are still generating from the others but it is frustrating. I wondered whether to suggest that the problem might be in the cables to all three being just too short. When they repair one they pull the cable a bit and it pulls the plug out of the other, which is why only two out of three ever seem to run. I know a lot about turbines me.

Eco News

After years of having an artificial house martins nest on the house which was used every year by house sparrows nesting on top of, it is currently occupied by its first pair of house martins, hurrah.

If you need a fax list please let us know, pick it up from the website or alternately send an email address. Have a good week, from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Another month gone and still waiting for the spring sales to get going. It’s early May and I’m sitting in the office in sweatshirt, fleece, coat and woolly hat wondering how the sales are progressing in the nurseries and garden centres. Hopefully the pent up demand for all things green will show its credit card soon and we can sell enough plants to see us through another year. Still there is not much we can do about the weather we just have to make the most of it. I know some suppliers have tried to shift some extra stock by reducing prices but if there is no one on site they are still not going to buy anything and the onl y result will be low sales volumes at lower prices which will only make the situation more difficult.

The rest of the week was full of fun things, the drains had to be cleared, two of the turbines gave up, the carbon monoxide alarm gave us a scare and I failed to master Caroline’s smart-phone. Luckily the drains cleared ok and the alarm just needed replacing. The turbine however needed some technical input which involved a mobile call from in front of the control panel. I borrowed Caroline’s smart-phone having been instructed how to wave at it in a certain way to get it to start up and which bit of the screen to touch to make my call. It was rubbish. By the time I had walked to the turbine I had already accidentally made 2 calls with the phone jiggling in my pocket and the touch screen being so sensitive. I then discovered that I could barely see the screen in the sun (it must have come out one day) but I did manage to dial the technician’s number after overcoming the screens repeated attempts to foil me by registering completely different numbers to those I was pressing. Naturally he was on another call so I left a message and awaited a response. The call eventually came back and where had the green phone symbol gone to pick up the call? Heaven only knows. After pressing just about all the screen I lost the call, not once but three times! Apparently you have to do some sort of flick motion across the screen to answer calls which makes perfect sense. I managed to call him back eventually and made my excuses. Between us we managed to get this turbine going by altering a sensor parameter in the control box, which is a temporary fix until he visits on Wednesday. This got all three going for 2 days before a recurring fault stopped a different turbine. This one looks like it is reading the wrong wind speed as the controls think the wind is too strong when it obviously isn’t. It has been doing this since we had a power surge during a thunderstorm a couple of weeks ago. For a while it just stopped for ten minutes then restarted but now it won’t restart as I suspect it has sussed out that there is a sensor fault. I suppose it is good that it is monitoring these things but it is frustrating when it won’t go. Hopefully the Wednesday visit will sort this problem too.

Great news that Southampton made it back into the Premiership. I celebrated with a pork chop on Saturday night. We know how to party! On Sunday we went to see a young blues musician Ollie Brown at The Brook in Southampton , who was really good and very loud. On Wednesday we went to the Anvil in Basingstoke where Jools Holland was playing the first night of his latest tour. This was a sell out gig unlike the one we were at next door where only 30 people had showed up and 4 went home at the interval! It was a shame for the band (JT and the Clouds) who were from Chicago and very talented. Not quite my cup of tea but Caroline thought they were brilliant. The lack of audience was slightly embarrassing so we all had to be extra enthusiastic to compensate which only exasperated the embarrassment. However a good night was had by all and Caroline now has a new favourite CD.

A highlight from this week was the arrival of a lovely card made by the kids from the local primary school in Sparsholt. We donated a batch of herbs for their school garden and they made the card as a thank you. Who needs money?

Eco News

House martins are back. A group all turned up on Tuesday evening and roosted in the nests on the house.

Have a good week from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries