Sunday, December 18, 2005

Good Morning - You'll think I'm mad when you read what I have been doing today.

Eggs - Total to date: 88 - Day 39

KoKKo 29(86grms) 29.11.2005 Personal best
Adelaide 30 (76grms) 12.12 2005 Personal best
Ginger 29 (78grms) 14.12.2005 Personal best B

It is almost like a winter wonderland outside. The ground is frozen rock solid, and there is a dusting of snow every where and it looks very pretty.

The girls had somehow managed to squeeze out the door from their eglu this morning, I closed it with the handle but didn't lock it, my hands were so cold. Their run is totally fox proof, so it didn't really matter.

They were chattering with excitement to see me arriving with their warm water and warm breakfast - or was it chattering beaks with the cold. I do not think the latter. In a covered run, in a sheltered position, and wearing duvets, they looked as warm as toast and certainly warmer than me!

They didn't seem in any hurry to go out into the snow covered pen this morning and I don't blame them. And there were two lovely large warm eggs in the nest for me -so who needs gloves!

I am off to make some pastry for my mince pies. Pat got me a large orange from the village shop (for grated zest for the pastry) and was a bit shocked that it was 60p. We have been self sufficient with my home grown and now frozen veggies and summer fruits etc with only buying fresh apples and pears and bananas to supplement them, so he was out of touch with the prices of out of season fruit. Still it is Christmas! I am going to freeze them uncooked for a change - to help save our waistline, as they are always a temptation - due to all the brandy that I put in the mincemeat!

Pat has just surfaced so I am off for breakfast. Have a good day, and maybe catch up with you later - still waiting for THE CALL.

Lunch update

Whilst waiting for the garlic and herby roast chicken legs, roast tatties and the steamer to finish - I am grabbing a few minutes to update this.

I decided on impulse to go up the lottie and plant those peas I bought on Friday, especially as Pat came home with a reminder from Sheila, via her daughter Tracey who works in the village shop! They have had theirs in for three weeks - which I knew as they were planting them when I took the Jostaberry bush down for Sheila which I had grown from a cutting.

So, with snow on the frozen ground, I have probably broken every rule in the book by doing so. Dressed like Micheline man with so many layers on, and a big black puffa jacket on that Pat found in the bottom of the wardrobe, off I went walking like a Sumo wrestler. (Joke Haruko, I mean those sumo wrestler outfits that you get on It's a Knockout type programmes).

No one was daft enough to be up there, but the good thing about frozen ground is that I could get my little car up the track without slipping!

It was 28f today and the wind chill factor up the lottie was minus lots I wouldn't wonder. It is amazing how warm you get working hard though isn't it - just the feet and hands suffer a bit even clad in layers of socks and gloves.

I got out my little ladies spade and the hoe, put on my kneeling pads and took a dibber to plant the seeds. Ground like concrete. I would have needed a pick axe! The the light bulb appeared out of the corner of my eye and I had an idea.

In a previous posting you will read that after the grandchildren had a go at clearing the raised bed that held the tomatoes, I had to dig it over as it was a tad bit trampled, and I put some of the cardboard box that the Eglu came in on top to keep the weeds down. Sooooooooo I took off all the snow covered lumps of wood that were holding it down, and prised it off the soil and underneath it wasn't frozen. There were frozen bits of compost stuck to the underside of the carboard but the bed was fine. So I planted them in two blocks in that bed and then covered them up with the cardboard. If we do get a bad winter that might protect them a bit, but I will have to read up about the winter sowing of peas. I figured that I could always take the carboard off later, and if we get lots of rain it will rot anyway.

Once that was done I didn't feel like going home as the sun had come out and I had warmed up. So I thought it would be a good time to dig a trench or two where the climbing beans would go.

Last year I tried an experiment and grew some without digging a winter trench and filling it with household waste, and just top dressed them with well rotted manure, and I sowed a later crop that I had dug a trench for - albeit a bit late, in the Spring.

The trenched crop did brilliantly and I didn't need to water them, and the yield was magnificent. The others failed the first time, due to lack of rain, late frost, whatever, but the second sowing worked, and although the Cherokee Trail of Tears produced a late and abundant crop, the other climbing beans were a disappointing failure.

(Back from lunch)

So with the aformentioned memory in mind, I set too with my spade. It was hard breaking through the soil and it was frozen a spit deep, but once I got going, I got the knack of slicing down slim slices - like slicing a cake, and it came out in neat pieces. These I stacked up either side of the trench which is two spits deep and two lady spades wide. It was still hard work and took me ages to do. In the end I only managed one trench 22feet long. I had a couple of sacks of chicken guano and household waste and some dead flowers all mixed with shredded paper and some newspaper from the chickens dropping tray. All of which I used to line the trench, so I was very proud of myself for doing that and felt great - aching, but great.

Whilst doing all those chores and particlarly when digging out the trench I had a robin for company. First he sat of the corrugated iron fence panel in the front of the pig muck compost bin. It had come a bit adrift from one of the stakes and as he alighted and sat there it moved in the breeze and he looked like he was balancing on a piece of wood bobbing about on the current of a stream. He waited until I had dug out quite a strip before coming to explore for bugs or worms.

I had a few stems from the remains of the broccoli plants that I had tied up for the chickens so walked right down the bottom of my plot to the big compost bin next to the field where I put the hard to rot down waste and the perrenial weeds. It is amazing how quickly it does drop down in a few month. When you mound it up as high as I do, you think that there will never be room for next years - but there is. It does help that is is enormous!

The robin joined me and flitted around wherever I walked which made me smile.

It all looks pretty and neat down that end. I paced out the meadow area that was this years project that is edged with flower borders with cuttings in them. The actual meadow is approx 14 yards by 8 yards, and it looks green and lush, and just perfect for the chickens. I stood for a while debating whether it is feasible to put fencing above the the two sides of corrugated panels that are there already, and the chicken wire fencing that lines the other two sides. There are 3 'gates' of iron panels too, so I would have to do something flexible and easily removable for those. I just thought it would be such a nice area for them to free range whilst I am working up there, but I need to ensure that can not escape my plot obviously!

Walking back up the plot I noticed the changes that this last lot of hard frost and snow has made. There is now dead foliage appearing on the flowers stems which I can cut down and compost. The rows of broad beans looked a bit bowed under the snow and frost, but I am sure they will recover (fingers crossed). The remaining parsnips were well frozen into the soil, but I have a few in compost at home. The sorrel and perpetual spinach and chard seem not to have been affected in the slightest.

The fenced off areas seemed to be a bit more sheltered than up the top end where I was digging, so perhaps I should have tackled the trenches there first!

Off to eat a choc ice before it melts - back later


  1. Well you accomplished a lot more than me at the lottie today!
    I spent ages trying to replace the black plastic which the wind had blown to one side of the plot-it's held down with metal posts,stones and water filled 6 pint milk containers-doesn't look awfully pretty but hopefully the covering will help kill off some weeds!
    Think I might also plant some peas ASAP plus broad beans which I've usually planted by now.
    Had a good look around the allotments and surrounding country park for some of the items taken from the last time my shed was broken into in Nov(hammer/screwdriver/slug pellets/very old shears etc)plus noticed today that also missing is an old washing up bowl-it was filled with stones to hold the plastic down -goodness knows what anyone wanted a grotty bowl for unless it was used to carry off the stolen items!!!

  2. If the chickens can get out,a fox can get in.We have our garden fenced quite well .Cats can get in(no chickens here) but nothing bigger (we thought).Yesterday there was a huge fox trying to get into the shed,pulling at the door with his paw ,he lives in the wild bit we have at the bottom of our garden on the other side of the fence.

  3. Hi Chris,
    Mercifully we haven't seen any foxes in our garden, I think that the farmers do a good job of keeping them at bay. The Eglu and run is made so that it is fox proof, with locked doors and a welded run with a welded skirt all around. You can buy special pegs that screw into the ground if your put the run on an uneven surface for extra security.

    The pen I have built in the garden is almost 6ft high so hopefully a fox would not get into it in the day time. But if I go out I put them back in their fox proof run which is of course inside the big pen.

    When I have them up the lottie, I will add another run to this one which will make it at 13ft long fox proof run altogether and there is not way they can get out of it or a fox get in - I will add pegs if I put it on softer ground, but the wide skirt means that they would have to dig a tunnel first to get under it! I will only let them out free ranging in my little meadow when I am there of course. They are too precious to me to risk being got at by anything.

    Lovely to hear from you again.

    Merry Christmas


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