What an absolute stonker of a weekend for mid March! We couldn’t have asked for better weather than that and I hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did 🙂
I have been busy this week preparing the beds for imminent planting of vegetable seeds and plants, the weeds have been cleared in the fruit cage and the holes in the netting mended, a Goji Berry which is taking over has been dug up and will be planted in something that can contain the root system, it is a bit of a brute and the branches have been rooting all around it, the Japanese Wineberry is about to have the same treatment as this is also quite vigorous and I don’t want it taking over the fruit cage.
All the time I have been digging and weeding, four of the young chickens have been doing a great job of picking over the grubs and scratching the dirt around, even manuring it for me as they go, but now they have come to the end of their usefulness in that department and it is time for them to vacate the vegetable garden completely so that anything I plant remains in the ground! This has proved easier said than done, firstly I increased the height of the fencing around their pen which covers a large area in the orchard, this did not stop them finding a way out, so the next step was to clip their wings and move them to the back paddock with the laying flock. A new battery was connected to the electric fence, but by midday one by one they began to wander down to the front and were eyeing up my newly raked over beds, on to plan c and they are back in the orchard and we have removed (hopefully) all possible mid height perching areas, I will watch today and see how succesful that has been.
The chickens in the orchard will be joined by 60 more tomorrow which is my first order of the year for the ‘hens for sale’ part of the business, that should keep them occupied for a while, and if they continue to get out they will included in the for sale list! They really can’t complain though as we spent Sunday morning cleaning and scrubbing the chicken hut for the new arrivals and then the wanderers moved back in, I don’t think they are as stupid as we think they are!
On the Saturday we went to the Smallholders Auction as planned, and I know you are all dying to know what we bought, two bacon rolls and two cups of coffee and that was it 🙂 To be honest the stock that was there was not up to much, a word of warning for anyone buying animals from an auction, on the whole it is generally stock that is no longer wanted by the owner, and if they don’t want it, neither do you! It is a bit like a Spring clean when people get rid of things that are no longer working or a bit tatty and passed its sell by date 😉 To be fair there were one or two pens that had good animals in but they were reflected by the prices, and the day was not wasted as it gave us a fair idea of what we should be paying or selling decent stock for, plus we got to catch up with a couple of friends and talk ‘smallholdings’ and of course the bacon rolls went down a treat 🙂
We caught another Fox this week, and whilst chatting to our friends we found out that we are not the only ones that are overrun with them, the ones we have caught have mainly been in good condition but I know that there are an increasing amount that are looking very scruffy and full of mange, a clear indication that something needs to be done, hunting, although not agreed by everyone, did at least dispose of the weak and the ill in the fox population. Another worrying fact is that the stronger ones are increasing in size, we thought our 15kg fox was big, but there have been reports in the paper of even bigger foxes than that caught, as there is nothing to keep the numbers down and the urban foxes have a ready supply of food from bins or even put out especially for them, I can only wonder how long it will be before they evolve to be big enough to include dogs, cats, or worse, as fair game!
My daffodils have finally burst open this morning 😀 and the trees in the village are covered in blossom so we can safely say that Spring has arrived, how long it will stay for is another matter though. As the weather had warmed up a bit I thought I would check on the Tortoise house and see if there were any signs of movement. On inspection I found a clutch of 14 hens eggs, another problem with wandering hens, as I got them all out I noticed that quite a few were cracked and smelt a little off, the Tortoises are still fast asleep and I hope that the smell in there was caused by the eggs and not the fact that Fred and Livingstone have not made it through the Winter! Only time will tell, they have to wake up slowly and in their own good time, if you try to rush it they will certainly die, we should know by the end of the month so I will keep you posted on that one 🙂
I would have planted Broad Beans, Parsnip and some New potatoes this weekend but wanted to make sure they would stay in the ground without getting dug up, so that is today’s job providing the chickens don’t get out again, what I have planted is radish, Spring Onion, Lettuce and Spinach, all in the safety of the greenhouse, the radish are already beginning to sprout and I will plant successions of each in order to keep a ready supply going through the Spring. For a gardener this has to be the best time of the year, planning and anticipating the bounty to come, it does not matter if it is vegetables or flowers the rewards are one of natures greatest gifts, there may be some disappointments along the way and army of insects all bent on getting to the goods before you do but that is what makes it fun, getting the treasure at the end.
I just popped out to check on the chickens in the orchard and they are all still in there, however they were all gathered around the plum tree eyeing up the lower branches as a possible escape route!!