Sunday, April 30, 2006

My Lean to

Gherkins and brussel sprouts.

Mange tout, peas, beans, sorrel, - all sorts growing.

My home made mini greenhouse made from a fish box and a plastic container that they use for 'growing' snails in! It works though

My first lot of tomato plants, I have some more needing pricking out in my conservatory windowledge.

I don't have a green house so I make do with growing my plants in the lean to. I just have enough floor space left to fit my two feet in!

Back garden photos

The chicken pen border created in the winter. There have already been a big show of crocuses, now grape hyacinths and primulas, and the clematis is growing up the chicken wire fencing - should have a treat to look forward too later in the summer. The green screening acts as a windshield and a proctection to the plants so that the chickens can't dine on them!

Maxines Garden bursting with life again - soon to be a mass of flowers

The pergola border just coming to life through the mulch.

These look like giant snowdrops. They have been flowering for four weeks. Each stem has at lease four bell flowers each flower looks like a crinoline skirt and has green dots a along the little points. This is the only clump I have and it grew out of the ground right alongside the raised bed I put in.

This is the only bit of sunshine this Aubretia gets. It survives on the bit of gravel next to the wall of our home. It gets totally neglected but this time of year it flowers its little heart out and lights up a dreary path.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Thank you for your lovely messages

Just a short note to thank you all for your lovely messages, they are really cheering me up.

I am dosed up to the nines with extra extra strong painkillers 25 in all now - but they just make me feel sick - still its a bit of a destraction from the pain LOL

OH wants to put his arm around me to give me a hug to make me feel better - then stops himself as he realises that it is like an electic shock to my skin if he touches me. - What a waste of all this affection - I am putting all the hugs and cuddles in a 'bank' so that I have plenty when this calms down.

I realised that I must be poorly when I couldn't eat my two squares of dark chocolate last night and he had to eat one for me. I am also keeping a note of that too, so that I can pig out when I am fit! LOL

It is a lovely sunny day here, the little banties are feasting on the fresh greens I picked last night - and no shrieks from Freckles. She did when I opened the back door then went quiet when I ignored her and went into the garage to get their Sorrel and spinach - do you think that my new strategy is working?

Didn't feel up to getting attacked by Dilly Dilly so will keep an eye out for when she comes out and will go and collect the egg then. I am thinking of making a nest in a hedge like I did when I first got them - but haven't got the energy yet.

I have spent the morning working on a birthday present from my lovely eldest grand daughter - but can't say anything about it or put photos up as she apparently reads this. So you will have to wait until after Monday when she gets to see it first. Only fair after all.

I am going to sow some leeks seeds in a pot - as I am getting gardening withdrawal symptons.

My smashing other half is making sausages and mash for lunch - my home made sausages -remember the fun and games I had making them? And our own onions - he is good at cooking that.

A really short posting today but I haven't a lot of energy.

Just a picture of my woodland garden taken earlier this week, so you can see how everything is starting to grow, and a couple of other photos.

The Euphorbia got hit by frost but it is still floweing its little heart out. Close up they are creamy white tubular bells - like a small version of blue bells.

Hope to be back tomorrow - enjoy the wonderful weather while it lasts - we are due rain here - which I need to get those carrot seeds germinating up the lottie.

In this photo you can seem my willow arch on the left.

The arch I made myself out of willow sticks which I pushed into the ground either side and tied with strips of willow at the top. The interwoven little odds and ends of willow sticks and cornus sticks male a pattern on the sides, and now that it has taken root and is growing, any long growing twigs I now weave in and out of the sides which will eventually be solid.

This is it's third summer. It looks wonderful later on when it gets into full leaf and grows a wonderful hairstyle at the top. I give it a crew cut a few times over the summer - sometimes a flat top - like and GI's hair cut, and sometimes a curved one, depending on how I feel. Even a Mohican hair cut.

I trim it in autumn when I has lost its leaves, and off it goes again in the spring.

I am quite proud of it really, and it was my own idea and design and when I first put it in it was a bit feeble looking and fragile. But now that it has taken root is is really sturdy, but looks dainty, and when we get really strong winds it moves about and looks lovely and I know that it will never fall down.

The birds absolutely love it - especially when the little branches grow and they sit up there swaying and bouncing on the in the wind. It cost me about £1 for the tall bits of willow and the side sticks were just bits off hedgerows and from my garden. So much cheaper than a bought one, doesn't need treating, won't rot, and it is turning into a nice focal point.

Once again - it gives me such a lovely glow to read all your messages.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Eggs Totals - To date - What have I done with them all?

I just realised that you haven't seen an egg total lately from my little flock have you - it is amazing how many eggs they have produced. I am glad that I keep a record. Here it is up to todays date.

Norfolk Lasses Eggs Total to Date: 415 Day:177

KoKKo 139 Personal best egg weight 86grms 29.11.2005
Adelaide 139 Personal best egg weight 80grms 26.02.2006
Ginger 137 Personal best egg weight 80grms 27.03.2006

London Ladies Bantam Eggs Total to date: 76 Day:44

Dilly Dilly 26 Personal best egg weight 36grm 27.03.2006
Freckles 25 Personal best egg weight 37grms 28.03.2006
Pumpkin 25 Personal best egg weight 35 grms 01.04.06

I have had to guess these pass few days who has been laying the solitary bantam egg, but as Pumpkin has been photographed snuggled up to Dilly Dilly, there is a good chance that is has been her - as Freckles is always out and about all day digging holes and shouting.

Getting on for 500 eggs - amazing isn't it? Makes me wonder what I have done with them all. I guess that more than half of them have been given away at least, some ahve been frozen, and others have been given away in presents of cakes, biscuits, lemon curd, and such like. We eat about six a week - mainly bantam eggs - more if we have visitors.

But even without eggs I would still have them.

Thanks Jools - My allotment chickens are now safely pegged down!

After a message in the comments section from 'Jools' I thought I had better double check that KoKKo, Adelaide and Ginger were safe and secure in their run up the allotment.

Last year in the bottom barn there were a family of foxes, and T had told me the other day that there were foxes up his end.

When I moved the girls up to their meadow, as an extra precaution, I pegged down the metal skirt that is advertised as fox proof - just to be on the safe side and in case the ground was not perfectly level. You can tell I am a worrier as far as my babes are concerned.

Driving up there every rut and bump was a tear jerker, but I knew I would not have slept if I hadn't have checked that I had pegged down the narrow ends by the hen house and where the wire finishes.

It was freezing with a really cold wind - we have been warned of an overnight frost would you believe.

I opened the run to give the girls a stroke but they couldn't wait to rush out to the corner of long grass, chattering happily amongst themselves.

I had put pegs in at intervals around the skirt but not at the vulnerable places so it was a good job that we checked. OH stuck some in for me - for my peace of mind.

I am pretty sure that a fox can't get to them, as they are surrounded by flexi chicken fencing, which I can electrify (but it is a bit expensive to do so at the moment) and now that the skirt is pegged, there is no way that a fox can get in - I hope!

There were three more huge eggs, they seem to be getting even bigger lately. We couldn't stay long for obvious reasons, but it was nice to have a cuddle with all of them, and they were happy to oblige - and I left them a handful of corn mix as a treat.

Whilst up there, I took time to pick some fresh sorrel and spinach for the banties. It amazes me that the rabbits haven't touched it, now that the bed has been weeded and uncovered, but when it was covered they tried their best to get at it, even chewing holes in the netting!

Back home Pumpkin and Freckles have the run of the entire pen to themselves as Dilly Dilly is definitely broody.

She is getting pretty good at attacking me now and has mastered the art of pecking the bit of flesh between my fingers or finger and thumb and hanging onto it for dear life! She makes a really scary noise too - well it would scare the life out of another bantam, but it really is intimidating and the way she fluffs herself up has to be seen to be believed.

I am going through the daily ritual of being pecked and lifting her off the nest; not to rescue the solitary egg that is there, but to ensure that she eats and drinks and gets a bit of exercise - I have to lock her out for half an hour. She looks a bit distressed at first then wanders off to eat and drink and have a little walk, before going back in.

I suppose that she will be doing this for the next three weeks - unless she realises that it is all a waste of time.

I don't know who is laying the egg, or if it is Dilly and the other two are put off by her.

I will have to have a look around as see if they have made a nest in a corner somewhere.

At the moment, apart from taking things easier, I am working on a present for my eldest grand daughter. I hope to take it on Sunday, so I just have to get well enough to make the journey.

I know that I can go another day, but I had set my heart on seeing her and the other two before her birthday.

I will post a photo of what I have put together after I have delivered it - in case she looks here and it spoils the surprise!

I forgot to mention that on Monday night at flower club I won a little bunch of flowers - and here they are at home.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Allotment Lady is feeling poorly - So posts might be a bit thin on the ground for a few days.

Wednesday was a ‘washout’

Allotment and chicken news may be a bit thin on the ground for a few days.

I have been feeling really poorly lately, and yesterday was crunch time! Off to the dentist in the morning for an emergency appointment – to replace a filling – but I could hardly walk, and breathing was so painful – even the dentist asked me if I was o.k. LOL Had to have the chair tilted and some towels rolled into sausage shapes to support me LOL - Not like me to be crook!

On the way home, I asked OH to take me to the doctors to see if I could get an appointment that evening. They were so sweet they fitted me in an appointment there and then.

I just wanted a bit of advice about managing the pain which I thought that was due to the old bones or strain – turns out that I have got Shingles! The doc thought I looked too young to get it LOL – that cream I made a few weeks ago sure must have worked then.

I hate taking any drugs for any reason, but I am under strict instructions to take things easy, take all the pills and potions and pain killers, and to ‘not be a martyr and fight it, but to rest and give in to it’ – Doctors orders.

So yesterday was a non starter - I have to admit to having to lie down in the afternoon. Probably the shock of the cost of have a filling - gone up from £4.20 to £46.20 or was it £42.60 OH paid, I had sit down! New NHS charges. I was feeling to ill to be miffed about it, even though I had had my check up a month ago before the prices went up.

The there were the prescription charges for all the drugs - that was shock, as I don't usually 'do drug' preferring lavender oil for headaches, and such like. Must be getting 'tight' in my old age.

Today, Thursday.

A gloriously sunny day. I decided to gingerly take a drive up to the allotment – I figured that I would much rather be out side in the sunshine feeling ill than stuck indoors.

So that is precisely what I did.

I walked down to the bottom of the lottie and let the chooks out – then sat and rested for half an hour watching them. It was a good tonic – out in the fresh air, watching the girls scratching around and fight over worms, listening to the geese and cockerels in the distance, with the sun on my face and wind in my hair.

Ginger, Adelaide and KoKKo had laid three eggs again – big ones as usual – and the girls have never looked better – in their prime.

I read somewhere that chickens do not like long grass - but they seem to seek it out at the edges and get quite excited at what lurks there.

Probably me humanising them, but they really do seem to enjoy it up there, running around the meadow, tucking into dock weeds, and rolling around in the grass – yes Adelaide was actually rolling around in the grass today! Having a make believe dust bath in the long grass at the edge!

KoKKo and Adelaide onto a good thing.

The pain killers haven’t kicked in yet, and I feel rather washed out at the moment, but I walked up the other end with the intention of sowing a couple of rows of tomato seeds.

It took me one and a half hours – would you believe – to sow 2 x 25 feet rows of carrot seeds! I did have to sit down on the grass and rest quite a bit! It was such a lovely day though.

I picked another basket of broccoli which is really looking wonderful – and tasting that way too. It is now in the freezer!

Home for eggs and bacon and home made wedges – perfect.

Dilly is still in fighting mode and goes at me like a woodpecker every time I open the door to the nest box. She makes really weird noises – nothing that I have ever heard a bird make before!

She did come out for a bit of sunshine and a drink and some food, so I got a chance to grab the egg that was in the nest.

Poor thing was so very cross with me, and I felt so sorry for her.

I have read that you should dunk a broody hen’s rear end in a bucket of cold water – to literally cool her off! I don’t know if I could do that though, it seems a bit drastic.

Anyone got any suggestions? It seems such a shame that she is spending hours and hours on the nest box and not enjoying the sunshine outside.

I have put some tubs in their pen, three of them with lavender, and one huge one with mint in it.

Tonight when I put them away, the mint was stripped bare. It was a very tall pot so they must have had to fly up onto the top to eat the leaves I didn’t think that they would bother. But they did – maybe they have a sense of smell? I know that Ginger, Adelaide and KoKKo loved the mint, so I should not have been surprised that Dilly, Pumpkin, and Freckles would love it too.

I have removed the pot to give it a chance to grow again – mint is as tough as old boots so will soon recover.

Only one bantie egg today – and I don’t have a clue who laid it. When I went to put the banties to bed, Dilly was on the nest already and shrieked when I opened the door to look. Freckles was on the roosting bars and complaining, and Pumpkin was outside walking up and down complaining – so I had to gently encourage Pumpkin into the run and now she had gone to roost with the others.

Off to bed. If I miss a day or two or the posts are short you will know why.

Soon be bouncing back like my old self though - I am a tough old bird.

Enjoy the sunshine - and a Bank Holiday coming up too this weekend.

Tuesday's musings

Today, Tuesday, I was out of commission for the day. No work up the allotment – by order!

I was up early as usual and went out to see my little banties. Pumpkin and Freckles were out of bed early and as usual Freckles made enough noise to wake the neighbourhood – the little blackmailing loveable monster.

So I dashed into the run and shushed shushed her and picked her up and gave her a cuddle.

Pumpkin did her usual circuit training, and they went into excited ecstatic mode when they realised that I had sneakily put something on the top of their run.

They jumped up and down and all over my feet trying to see what it was. – My left over breakfast cereal – oats and bran and some dried fruit.

I couldn’t eat it, so OH suggested I gave it to them for a treat.

I put it into a little dish and hung it outside on their run and they chattered so excitedly to each other then dived in on it. Picking bits up and squabbling over each morsel – checking out the other’s beak full in case the other one had something better than theirs.

They are looking at me as if you say 'Do you mind, we are trying to have our breakfast in peace' - So I left them to it!

Pumpkin did her usual and pinched every bite of Freckles’s and ran helter skelter around behind the hen house, then back again – whilst Freckles tucked into the raisins whilst Pumpkin had stolen a mouthful of oats. Too quick for me to get a photo though

Dilly was still in bed so I opened to door to see if she was up, so that she could share in the fun.

She was in the nest, and raised herself to her full height (six inches) and attacked my hand, with a loud indignant shriek.

Bless her, it was so funny, and her little pecks were nothing compared to those of the big girls – who peck at my rings, my trousers, my feet, in fact anything they can to show their affection – but they are a bit heavy handed, so I have stopped hand feeding them corn without my gloves on.

So, I closed the door on Dilly and left her too it. I think that she might be getting broody as she sat on the nest until quite late this afternoon, and whilst she was out eating what was left of my breakfast, I quickly popped out to retrieve two hot eggs from the nest.

When I was weeding around the broad beans I came across this.

It looks like a perfect egg – but in fact is a stone. I might put it under Dilly if she goes broody! Do you think it will work?

I took my physio specialist half a dozen bantam eggs and a sealed bag of purple sprouting broccoli which she was really grateful for. She loves the free range eggs I take and the odd slices of cake or bits and pieces from the allotment.

No results from the MRI scan as the system to the hospital had been down for a week, so I will have the 2 week wait for the written report after all. What I thought was strained muscles in my back and behind my ribs, from using muscles that I hadn’t used over the winter (planting the potatoes and onion sets) turned out to be spinal injury problems – which is a nuisance. Still I will rest up a couple of days if I can force myself and hope it eases a bit.

OH took my up the lottie on the way back, and I got to see my Norfolk lasses and make a fuss of them, and collect another three huge eggs – and to look longingly at the bit of weeding I so wanted to do.

There was evidence of a murder on the plot – white feathers – the farm cats had been on the prowl, or was it someone with a gun? Looks like it was a pigeon – not enough evidence left even for Sherlock Holmes to work out whodunit.

Freckles and me are playing a battle of wits this week. I am not quite sure who is winning at the moment.

Every time she hears the back door go, or sees one of us she goes into her loud shrieking mode. So I have told OH not to talk to her - just to ignore her – and I am doing the same. Apart from when I first went out to let the banties out in the morning.

I am not going to go in there if she is shrieking – and will only go in there if she is quiet. I hope to try and cure her of her mindset – shriek and get attention or a treat.

Place your bets now as to who gets their own way!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Titles of the flower arrangements

1. Phantom of the Opera
2. The easy one which I remember now was Cabaret
3. King and I
4. Moulin Rouge
5. My Fair Lady
6. Miss Saigon
7. Memoirs of a Geisha

Bit of a disaster sort of day - so no chance to post anything.

Will do so tomorrow

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Flower Club Meeting

Another month has whizzed by so quickly and there was another club meeting last night.

The demonstrator's theme was Musicals and Theatre.

She made arrangements that depicted My Fair Lady, Moulin Rouge, Miss Saigon, The King and I. Memoirs of a Geisha and Phantom of the Opera and one other that I forgot the name of but she called it a simple design

See if you can guess which is which.

I will give you the answers tomorrow.






No.5 (part 2)



Sunday and Monday up the allotment.

The London Marathon was on in the morning, and West Ham played Middlesborough in the semi final for a place in the Cup Final against Liverpool.

I always know the date of the Cup Final – not that I am a keen football supporter, but because I was in labour with my first son whilst the match was on – and came out of hospital on the day of the Cup Final five years later in time for the family to watch it! Not that I was impressed at the time!

So I left my dearly beloved at home and headed off to the lottie. A dull miserable day – just for a change LOL.

The place was deserted – I guess all the others were glued to the television!!

I got my little Merry Tiller out and went over the ground a few times where I wanted to plant the onions sets.

When I bought them loose from an old fashioned store in town, there didn’t look many. But on my hands and knees with the tiddly little things I realised that there were between 200 to 300 hundred in all.

I did six rows on Saturday and it still took me a good couple of hours to get the final two rows done – making eight in all. I had put my back out on Saturday so had to be very careful!

It sounds a lot of onions but over the year we a lot, and are using up our last string at the moment so will run out before these are ready. There are all sorts of varieties – I don’t know the names as the girl in the shop mixed them up and didn’t write what they were on the bags. But I don’t mind. I know that some of them are Sturon and I have two rows of red ones!

I spent time with the chickens and collected their eggs, and they still come when I call so I still get a cuddle. I thought that they might go ‘native’ being up the allotment and in a different environment.

I took a few photos of some of the allotments up there.

Looking sideways from my plot across seven on them

I know of 10 tractors of all sizes and styles. That is quite a high ratio out of 18 plots.

Some of the ‘tractor boys’ have more than one plot. I was watching J on Saturday, tinkering with one of his tractors, then hitching a thing on the back – a cultivator I think, and went up and down the plot a few times, Then he unhitched that and went up and down with a plough thing that made the grooves for the potatoes, then he and his father walked along and threw in a potato – just chucked them in the grove, then he hitched the other thing to his tractor and went over it all to cover them up!

OH said that the time he took tinkering with it, and attaching the different things on the back, took longer than the way I did them. I can see the attraction of doing it that way. But I think that I get more satisfaction being a ‘hands on’ gardener.

Here are a selection of some of the plots – they all look so nice and tidy don’t they.

After taking the photos, I went back to work. I hand weeded all around the broad beans. That took me an hour. I was so pleased, that despite being pecked, chewed, nibbled, and frozen half to death, some of them looked really healthy and are actually in flower. Some of the blackened frost damaged stems had re-sprouted and there was healthy green growth on the ends. I dug it all over with a hand trowel and the soil looked rather nice, so I decided to sow some broad beans in the gaps. By the time the over-wintered ones are ready to be harvested the others will be well on their way too.

Don't you get a pretty flower on what I think is such a boring end result with the pod and beans.

I ‘tillered’ around the rows of strawberries, and weeded between them and they look healthier too. The first growth got hit by the dreadful sub zero temperatures – but they are fighting back and starting to grow again. I am glad that I have a few spare to fill in the gaps.

The difference between the field ones, and those sheltered in the fruit cage is amazing. Those are green and lush and full leaved – just by being sheltered by a few wooden pallets! Still I should get two crops an early and a late one.

A few dock weeks have appeared in the last week, so I will have to oink them out when I can dig again. Or sweet talk OH to do them.

Whilst on my hands and knees it was lovely to see the little flower plants emerging. Hostas are bursting through now, crocosmias, delphiniums, rudbeckias, cardoons, salvia turkistanicas, and the flag irises are going to look a treat this year. Even some of the chrysanthemums are starting to shoot – they looked like dead sticks – hope the rabbits keep out of that area.

The rudbeckia are just through at the back against the fence and grow over six feet tall and are wonderful in the summer. There are delphiniums in the distance and in the front are the stems of lots of chrysanthemums - just forming leaves right at ground level.

It was hard to drag myself away, but I was so hungry – and it was gone 2pm again – so I collected the eggs, put the chickens in their run, and reluctantly came home.

I managed to cook lunch with all the trimmings so that OH could finish it in time to watch the football match - and West Ham won!

Monday 23th

I gingerly went up the lottie yesterday - have 'done' my back in. I just love to be out in the fresh air, so I took the car up there, and spent time with KoKKo, Adelaide and Ginger. They squawk with delight as soon as they caught sight of me, and mobbed me happily when I let them out and knelt down to stroke them - then when they realised that I did not have any treats they shot off to all corners of their meadow and busied themselves with worm hunting. I sat on my old chair and just watched for 15 minutes, did a few warm up exercises (only the chooks could see me) then went off to look for a job I could do without doing any more damage.

'Ping' an idea - just when I thought there would be nothing suitable.

I did all that hard work last week on the middle area and also where a couple of the bean trenches are.

Overwinter they have been filled with kitchen and allotment waste, topped with layers of chicken, horse, and pig muck, and then covered with the soil I dug out.

So I could just about manage to put up a row of canes. If I could find enough that is.

For the two summer seasons that I have had my plot, I used cut down tree branches, but they were rotted so I had to burn those over the winter. They are really good for the job though and being branches, the beans get lots of space to spread out and grow on the top branches.

I had a good search in my tardis of a pig hut and came up with some old tall canes, and some straw bale twine - bright orange and indestructable. I spent a good half an hour patiently sitting on a chair untangling some out of my sack and untying some knots. I did not have any scissors or a knife sharp enough to cut the stuff.

So off I went with the barrow loaded with everything (absolutely no lifting for me for a while).

I had a brain wave whilst doing the task. Because I had no scissors I could not tie the canes together sooo........

About 3 feet from the ground, I tied one end of the twine, and added more bits until it stretched from one end to the other (with about 4 foot spare that I had to wind around and around the other end!)

Then, (and this is the clever part) I managed to split the twine with my fingers and nails, (ruining a few in the process) and found that it was made up of lots of threads. (Are you still with me thus far?)

I then could make a 'hole' in the bale twine, and push the cane through it, and it held fast. The more canes I added the tighter the hold. And they do need to be held tight as we get horrendous winds all the time as we are exposed.

I had to go on the hunt for more, and took some from the fruit cage, broccoli cage, and some of the bird scarers had to be used - so I had to make more out of shorter canes.

Hey presto an hour and a half later I had one row! It would have taken half the time had I got scissors and was not injured.

I need to cut off the dangly bits - must remember to get some scissors for up there.

I bet you are wondering why I have put the twine so low down aren't you.

Reason one - the nearer the ground the stronger the support and less damage due from the winds. When loaded with climbing beans they soon get blown down (well, she says rather smugly, mine didn't last year).

Reason two - if the canes cross over that low down, it is far easier to pick the beans, as they hang down away from the canes, in a similar fashion to grapes, as you will see in the summer.

I just need to buy more canes now to slot in next to the ones I fitted - but I am sure that you get the idea. Or you will when I have finished it.

The green 'path' I put down had membrane underneath and was a bit of rubbish that was amongst the weeds. I take it up every winter and then put it back down now.

Great as it keeps the weeds down, is a removeable path and nice to kneel on when plantng and harvesting the beans.

Three lovely large eggs again from Adelaide, KoKKo and Ginger. I moved their run so that they had a different view - daft aren't I?

Oh, I nearly forgot - my treasured and hard earned purple sprouting broccoli - another basket picked today.

It tastes even better than it looks. Was it worth spending hours picking caterpillars off it all summer?

Well now that I have forgotten the 'pain' and the heat and the squashed ones under my knees, and the ones that fell all over my head and down my back and front when I knocked against the tall plants - yuk - then it was!


One very kind lady's poem to me

This poem with an accompanying photo appeared on Patsy's blog - see link to the right.

I read it soon after I had spent a few hours deleting over 300 of my posts.

It really struck home then, that all the emails and comments were genuine and that so many of you looked forward to my silly daily diaries.

So I had a rethink - and thought - why should I let one irresponsible little person mess things up. It affected not only me but lots of people.

So you all are the driving force of my being back.

If you click on Patsy's link you will see my snowy footprints.





Monday, April 24, 2006

Sunday 23rd April

I haven't had time to type up my allotment blog page - so here are a few photos to whet your appetite.

The farm track that we use - a bit hard to negotiate in the winter though!

The rhubarb plant that I am forcing for my Scnapps recipe - I wonder if there is 600 grammes yet once it has been trimmed?

From a distance this was just a pile of horse muck, but when I looked very closely it was a thing of beauty - and the toadstalls were hard to spot! They are easy to see when I zoomed in, but I really had to look closely to see them as they were perfectly camouflaged. Aren't they gorgeous?

The rain and the bit of sunshine must have created just the right conditions for fairy toadstalls - and look what I spotted in the tall grass - a pretty primrose.

I think that I will end the day with these memories of today up the allotment. The work I did was hard, it was cold, and it was dull, and it was drizzling - but on such a nothing sort of day - you can always find beauty if you care to look for it!

Saturday afternoon up the allotment

Saturday 22nd April

It was still nice a sunny in the afternoon, so we made the most of it. OH had offered to dig out the weeds on the last of my raised beds.

This is the one that I grew all my salads in last year, and was a temporary bed for a few strawberry runners that have ever-wintered, and where I grew the perennial sorrel, spinach, and swiss chard for the chickens.

It took my other half two hours to dig over this bed – you would never believe that it takes so long to do something like weeding, unless you actually do it yourself. He now appreciates why I spend so much time up there and how sometimes there is little so show for it.

Of course the easiest way to work and allotment, it would seem, is to have, no permanent features, like raised beds, fruit cages, or fences, and no permanent plants, like soft fruit bushes, flowers, and veggies, like asparagus. Then you could just run a tractor and plough over it in no time.

But daft old me, likes a bit of character and colour and structure, and would find a 330 feet of blank ‘canvas’ far too daunting to tackle each year. At least with my raised beds, grassed paths, fruit cage, flower beds and yet more fruit bushes and rhubarb etc I have something to look forward to each year. And I can tackle a bit at a time.

So whilst the boy was busy weeding the bed, I got out my little ‘Tiller’ and went over the ground next to the potatoes and planted up 6 rows on onions on my hands and knees. I had started some of them off in a big polystyrene box that I got when I bought some fish a few weeks ago. I can help myself to them out of the skip as they go into a landfill site and cost the company a fortune to dispose of each week.

They very conveniently have drainage holes in each corner so I don’t even have to worry about that. I put in a thin layer of old potting compost with a bit of fresh mixed in, and sat the tiny onion sets on top of that, as close to each other as I could. At the time the weather was dreadful with no hope of planting them for weeks, and I was fearful that they might go so and mouldy as often happens. The just sat there patiently for a number of weeks, and had really lovely healthy roots when I planted them up. A good start for them, and less likely to be pulled up like the birds. I spent so long last year putting back onions that the pesky birds had pulled up!

If you enlarge he phote by clicking on it you will see little green tufts from the onions. I know that this is not particularly interesting to you - but remember that this is a personal record of my allotment year on year, so that I can look back as read and see how I did things, and where my crops were and how they performed. For example this time last year everything was really advanced, with the potatoes up and in leaf, the onions well on their way, carrots and parsnips sowed etc

This is a bit more interesting - my view across the allotments when I stood up after planting the onions. Open and ploughed and nothing yet planted.

The chickens love their new holiday home, and the eggs are even larger. I got three huge ones today – no record breaking personal bests, but almost.

Before I left I made up a dust bath in their favourite bowl – and they jumped in it as soon as I put it down – so I left them merrily bathing and headed off home.

Saturday, 22 April 2006

A simply gloriously sunny day. I was out this morning and in my absence my OH complained how noisy Freckles was whilst I was out. You would have thought that she was a cockerel the amount of noise she was making apparently. He even went out to tell her to be quiet - but she didn't take the slightest notice - a bit of bribery might have helped. I had to pick her up and give her a cuddle to try and calm her down.

So I guess that this is an opportune time to introduce you to my other chooks – my adopted Bantam Babes, which I nickname the London Ladies – because that is where they came from and they also remind me of ladies (of the chicken world) dressed up in their finery almost like the grand ladies in My Fair Lady.

They are Pekin Bantams, with wonderfully soft feathers that cover all their bodies and legs.

I have a Lavender one – called Dilly Dilly, she gets call Dilly for short, and it saves on the typing. Lavender is one of my favourite plants for its versatility in cooking, aromatherapy and herbal uses.

I also like the old English song……..Lavender’s blue Dilly Dilly, Lavender’s Green, When I am King Dilly Dilly, You shall be Queen…….and so on.

Dilly is a very dainty little lady, and loves a cuddle and is quite talkative but not in a loud way, and she can be a bit bossy and give the others a peck now and again to remind them who is top of the pecking order. She also will not be rushed whilst concentrating on the business of egg laying and had been known to sit there for hours - to the annoyance of the others.

Freckles, well she is a real pain, but what a little character, you just can’t help but love her. She adores to be picked up and cuddled and is so soft you want to bury your head in her lovely black striped feathers with ginger freckles.

If you stroke her on her head and under her chin she closes her eyes in ecstasy and will often nod off. You would never have thought that a noise so loud could come from such a tiny little frame!

She struts about as if she owns the place, but really she is bottom of the pecking order. She walks tall, shouts, and is always up to mischief. She also has a couple of toes missing - I discovered that a few days ago - so too Dilly, but they seem happy and healthy otherwise. Freckles was the first of the three to lay an egg.

The last lady of my little trio is Pumpkin – a Buff Pekin – who should really have been named Road Runner.

Her previous owners mentioned that she was ‘haughty’. That has to be the understatement of the year. She is the one that everyone falls for instantly. She has attitude – big time.

When all the chooks were together it was Pumpkin, who fearlessly ran and pinched the apple cores, and tasty morsels from under the 'noses' of the huge hybrids and ran hell for leather with the others in hot pursuit – but she always gave them the slip.

She does't usually say very much, she is a doer, not a talker - and is too busy getting up to mischief and when she does say anything it is in quiet undertones as she plots with the others to try and get them to distract me so that she can make her escape. I think that she must have all her toes if you saw what she does!

She is a great tunneller, and digs huge holes all around the perimeter fence which I take great care to fill back in.

If I open the gate an inch she is out like a rocket so I have to be very careful. I have started putting pots strategically placed around the pen in some of her big holes as a deterrent, but it is a waste of time as she digs around those too.

I would love to be able to tame her like the others, but the lady is not for turning. When I do manage to sneak up on her and pick her up for a cuddle, she just looks at me indifferently as much as to say, ‘I don’t like you invading my personal space, but I will suffer it with dignity’.

The first thing she does every morning is race out of the run, and around the pen like greased lightening to see if all is in order. Then she runs and jumps up onto her favourite log and pecks through the fencing at the ivy growing up the wall on the other side!

I started this by telling you about the noise that Freckles does to get attention - the only way that I could shut her up today was to give her a flower pot with some weeds in the top - all to herself! It worked for about 15 minutes which is all the time it took her to eat them.

I do believe that she was just attention seeking and was lonely as I found out what the other two had been doing for a couple of hours or more.

Sitting in the nest, talking amongst themselves and in no hurry to shift. When they finally emerged a couple of hours after I came home - they had laid a wonderful pure white and clean egg each - so hot when I took them out, that you would have thought they would be cooked inside.

But they weren't of course and made wonderful Yorkshire puddings today.

There is so much more I can tell you about all my girls but this is enough for one day – you will get to know more over the coming weeks.