Thursday, January 05, 2006

I awoke to a dull grim day - but how did it turn out?

Eggs - Total to date: 127 - Day 58

KoKKo 43(86grms) 29.11.2005 Personal best
Adelaide 42 (76grms) 12.12 2005 Personal best
Ginger 42 (78grms) 14.12.2005 Personal best

What a dull gloomy day I woke up to. It was freezing outside when I went to feed the girls, and as usual their brrkk brrkk brrkking greeting cheered me up straight away.

I left them to their breakfast whilst I had mine, and although the weather looked grim with sleet forecast, I decided to go up the allotment to get them some fresh greens. Then I thought I might as well take up the garden waste and the sack of chicken and kitchen waste whilst I was there.

It was even colder up the lottie in the wide open spaces, and I was glad that I had on two pairs of trousers, two jumpers, a fleece and a thick puffa jacket that was once Pat’s. Believe me I needed it. Thick gloves on underneath the man size rubber gloves too.

But as usual, my spirits soared as soon as I was through the farm gate. Not a soul about as usual, but that suited me fine. The pigs had just been cleared out as there was a strong smell of pig muck wafting my way as the wind was coming from the east.

After opening the shed, for no particular reason and loading up the wheel barrow, I thought that I might as well have a go at digging another trench for the runner beans, and then I needn’t cart the heaviest sack of waste down to the compost bin through one of my corrugated iron ‘gates’. So I trundled down right to the very bottom giant compost bin next to the field, which I use for hard to compost stuff or perennial weeds, avoiding the ‘gates’. I didn’t linger long at the bottom as it was really blowing a gale, and I was soon feeling cold.

Digging the trench was not as hard as it was when the ground was frozen. It was soft and like slicing through chocolate cake. I never used to pay much attention when countless television presenters, and authors of gardening books emphasise incorporating compost and manure to the soil. Growing flowers and shrubs in the gardens I have had, has been achieved by just adding spent compost, mushroom compost, blood fish and bone etc. Since having my allotment, and having an accessible supply of manure, which I have made the most of, I have really noticed the difference in my soil. It has gone from being as hard as concrete, with heavy clay, flint stones, and not a sign of worms, to a much lighter soil, with lots of worms, and a mole, but I still have the stones. It really sunk in today when I was digging the deep trench which was much easier going than when I dug the first one last year.

It is amazing that two big sacks of waste do not make much of an impression in the new trench! The idea is to fill them up over the winter and two more that I need to dig in the middle fenced off plot for more climbing beans.

I gave myself a well earned rest and took a walk up to the top of the allotments, to see the chickens.

The snow covered junk on my last visit up there, had lost its magical appeal so too the old shed!

I would love to have some more chickens – bantams to be precise – but that remains a secret at the moment. They might just arrive one day in the summer when I get my next Eglu which will be located up there. Seeing the chickens up just made me want them all the more!

I reckon these are for the pot - they are all cockerells
Here are a couple of pictures of just a few.

The sun had come out earlier whilst I was digging and it wonderful to be out in the fresh air and in the sun – and the chickens obviously felt the same way too.

Once back on my plot I was reluctant to go home and decided to stay and enjoy the sunshine whilst it lasted, so I walked down to take some photos, and stopped when I saw that something has started to eat my broad beans. Having had chickens now, I recognised the pattern of a big bird feeding. They rip off a piece, and often drop it on the floor and rip off another, only eating the dropped piece when the other supply had run out. So I figure that a pheasant or pheasants had attacked them. There have been quite a number of them around lately, but I had not seen them eat broad beans before, in fact once they had grown they seemed to be safe. Maybe the birds just pulled off bits and spat them out leaving all the pieces on the ground.

I decided to cover them up with my old cloches. The plants might get a bit squashed if they grow taller, but it is better than no plants at all. I did not have enough for both rows, but I should at least be able to save some of them.

The clouds started to gather so I figured that I would just have time to prune down to the ground my autumn fruiting raspberries. A few minutes later A turned up with a car full of sacks full of horse manure and hemp mixed. I now have a lovely brimming bin full. It smelt sweet and warm, and not unpleasant in the slightest.

The sky was grey and it was getting colder so I pruned the rest of the raspberries which took me another half an hour, and walking back I notice the tops of some of the parsnips appearing through the top of the soil – the leaves having died back over winter. I dug some of – and due to our stony ground some of them were distorted. You can judge the size of them as they are pictured in the wheelbarrow with my lady spade. The variety is an organic Tender and True and they were ones that I literally just ‘threw in’ as I had bought a spare packet in case the other two didn’t germinate, and I had read that parsnip seed needs to be fresh to germinate so it wasn’t worth saving it for this year. - It was September when I did that! It was getting even darker by then so I went to one of my raised beds and pulled up some sorrel and spinach leaves and got picked a carrier bag crammed full to last the chickens over the weekend - as bad weather is forecast. I also pulled up some leeks too. Looks like I will be making different versions of parsnip soup tomorrow.

I discovered my missing box of vegetable seeds – I just knew that I had some more seeds somewhere. They were underneath the pile of cloches which were stored on top of the cupboard – and old wardrobe – in the shed. The shed door would not shut as a strip of wood in the frame had swollen. I got out a hammer to bash the wood, and then the door. In order to get it to close I had to hammer the door along its edge at an angle and I managed to hit my head with the hammer as I raised it to give the door a good whack – my head got a good whack instead! I saw stars, but was distracted by the task of getting the door closed and locked. Then by the discovery of a mole hill beside the concrete slabs in front of the shed; then by the opening and closing of gates and getting home before the rain. I was further distracted by watching the girls antics and they attacked with gusto a quartered pumpkin, and then a cage full of the lovely fresh leaves that I had picked.

I had just got in when Pat arrived home from golf – and it was not until later this afternoon that I wondered why I had a thumping head ache, and a lump on my head! It was only after I sat down to relax after lunch and a shower that it hit me!

But I have had such a wonderful time in the open air and a bump on the head is a small price to pay. Just as Pat came home the heavens opened and it has rained ever since, so I made the right decision!


  1. Aren't Cockerells handsome?
    They look like they are wearing uniforms:)

  2. Who'd have thought that allotmenteering can be so dangerous!
    Did Pat sympathise with you re your hammer mishap?Alas my husband usually yells at me - as if I do things like that on purpose!
    Do you take a mobile phone to the lottie with you for emergencies ?
    Really loved the photos particularly the lovely dark feathered hens.

  3. Bovey Belle7:18 pm

    The dark hens look like the Black Rocks we used to have - they were very reliable layers, far more so than the Marans, although the lovely dark brown speckled Maran eggs were worth waiting for.

    I hope your head is better now - gosh, but I bet THAT hurt. I thought is was just me that did such daft things. Thanks for the inspiration to get on with my sorry veg plot here at home!

  4. Hello Allotmentlady!
    The photos are really nice. The chicken family looks really healthy and colorful. The egg size is increasing I have noticed. How much rain did you get from those passing clouds? Was that shed already a part of the allotment when it was purchased? I enjoy the blogs!


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