Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dawn - and at last - sunshine - and new babes

Dawn and all is quiet in the run. 
The plastic 'glass' tarp is covered with condensation outside, but the sun will soon dry that off and it will soon be like a warm summers day in there for them.
The new girls flew down when they saw me throwing some food in, but decided to stay at the back.
Henrietta did get chased a little bit by Lola, one of the modern game birds

But she really didn't seem too bothered.
There is so much room in their extended run that there is plenty of space to run, jump, fly and perch, so it's quite peaceful.

I am expecting two more new additions either this evening or tomorrow evening - they are really cute.

They will all stay 'confined to barracks' until Monday before they freerange again.  That is just to ensure that the new girls get their bearings and know their way 'home' when it comes time to roost in the evening.

I am so glad that I added the two extra extensions - if we do happen to get that dreadful deep snow we had in January, it will not affect the bantams whatsoever; it was so deep last year that it was taller than they were, hence my adding the first run panel during a snow storm!

I just had to add this photo as it's a bit later and brighter.  You can see Bluebell on the left the Modern Game bird - and how roly poly Henrietta is, the Old English Game bird!
Oh you can see out of the 'windows' now the sun's out.
This is also a good photo to show you the size and height difference between Bluebell and Henrietta on the roosting bars.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Here are two of my new girls

It's been raining, raining, raining, - but it hasn't dampened my spirits despite getting soaked to the skin for several days, gardening - more of that another day. 

Look what I went to collect - again in the pouring rain - late this afternoon.

Meet Bluebell on the left and Henrietta on the right - just chilling out.

Bluebell is a blue red Modern Game Bird.  She has pretty turquoise legs - the colour of which doesn't really show up in these photos.    She is still growing her adult feathers, so here and there you can see her baby fluff.  When she is mature, her little comb and skin around her eyes will be a deep shade of red.

Henrietta and I are having a little chat.  It was love at first sight.
She is an Old English Game Bird.  She is just how you picture a speckledy round chicken from old fashioned Nursery tales.  She is very round, just like a football, and she looks like she is wearing a little crown.
She too is still a bit 'fluffy' as she is still growing her spectacular feathers.  She is just adorable, but we needed to have a serious conversation about the rules and regulations now that she is going to live with me and join my very rare game birds in Peckingham Palace.

She, and Bluebell are not used to the freedom that they will have here, and as she is capable of easily flying up into tall trees, I had to explain that that behaviour will not be tolerated.
If she flies onto our tall hedges, fences, or tall trees and lands in the field or other gardens, she might well be chased by cats or dogs or even Sparrow hawks.  She did listen ardently and made lovely little 'understanding' noises - but had a cheeky look in her eye - so just in case, I clipped a few of her flight feathers on one wing which will keep her confined to the garden until she gets used to it.
They'll re-grow when she moults next  year - and she'll still be able to fly, as the others do, but just not over 6ft.

I left both of them to have some supper and to chill out in the lean-to where the tomatoes are, until it is dark and the others have gone to bed - then her and Bluebell will get popped into the Palace and snuggle up with all the rest.

I left them tucking into 'greens' and finding worms and having a great time.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

At last - an update!

I have been AWOL for quite some time  -  lots of reasons why - but I won't bore you with them.

I have had a number of emails asking after the chooks - they are alive and kicking and gorgeous.   Sadly I can't find my summer chicken images - but as soon as I can I will add some.
Andrew's allotment is still keeping me in wonderful flowers - for 50p a bunch,  but I doubt there will be any waiting for me tomorrow as we have had torrential rain today.

So I will update you with what I have been up to this past week - heavy work!
My gorgeous little bantams have spent a blissful summer in the garden freeranging, and still love Peckingham Palace.   So I have decided to add to my flock of rare breeds and am expecting quads!  Or maybe even quins!   The weather has changed and Autumn is fast approaching, so I have been getting on with landscaping alterations in the garden (in between harvesting and cooking, and freezing the produce - but that's for another day)

To make the garden more manageable and less work intensive, another flower bed had to go.
It has been jam packed with flowers non stop since spring to now - and also veggies, squash, courgettes.  I have been hacking back the foliage in readiness for turning it into a lawned area........and......

With the assistance of the bantam babes
We got together and decided that it was about time they had an extension to their palace grounds for the winter.

So I dismantled Peckingham Palace - work in progress above and moved it off the patio - in order pressure wash the slabs as well as their home and run.
So here it is all nice and clean.

And so is the patio - still drying out but it looked perfect when it did.
At ten o'clock yesterday morning I had two huge boxes arrive (I played truant from college as I so wanted to reveal what was in them. )

It was a giant jigsaw puzzle which took me from 10am until dusk yesterday to put together - there's a clue above.
Mr Lottie started on the heavy work.

You won't believe the hours I spent putting this all together.
I used lawn edging along the - well edges!
And it is held together with little green clips that really really hurt my fingers wrapping them around the wire and then squeezing them hard to click together to create the run.

Andrew arrived around 2pm to give us some much needed assistance and advice, as I was otherwise occupied building the extensions to the Palace
Yet more soil was dug out
Of course the girls were a great help as Andrew had to go.

And I was still clipping hundreds of plastic thingies around bits of wire until the  light faded - so I was out there at 7am this morning doing this
It's huge - and brilliant and I have made some adaptations to it so that I can open the front door panel and get in. Can you see all the little clips on the 'roof'?  The bar with a hook on the right is the food hanger.
Without crawling in through their door on my hands and knees!
I was able to carry a bale of bedding in and easily spread it.
The rain started.
So I had to cover it up as best as I could.
Luckily the tarpaulin I ordered arrived after lunch.
So as soon as the rain eased I was out there again.
And my girls really appreciated all my hard work - I think - and the happy chirping sounds they were making were a joy.   
The football was added as I have seen others with a ball in their runs - those with big chickens who stay in the run all day.   Mine free range - and were not the slightest interested in the football - they get all the exercise they need running around the garden I guess.
It was raining really heavily by the time I was finishing - just a few minor things to do.
For example to create a 'shower curtain' for the front of the run, and add some roosting bars.  

The middle panel I have turned into another opening 'door' for when I clean them out - and also at the back - so much easier.
But there is still all this soil to relocate.
But in a couple of weeks time this will be transformed into a gently sloping lawn and it'll be hard to visualise what it looked like before!

And after all this, I made my darling Mr Lottie and banana and sultana loaf for all his help - I could never have managed to move all that soil and lay slabs on my own.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Floral Art

What can you buy for one pound that will make you feel like a million dollars and bring a smile to your face for a week?
A bunch of dahlias which I have arranged in what will now be a vintage vase, with foliage from my garden.

It is pure sunshine on a raining and dull day.

Not only that but also

A full on, really clashing, bunch of Zinnias.
They look really, really bright in the kitchen and just make me smile so much - unfortunately with the light coming in from the conservatory at the back, they don't photograph well.

One hundred pennies well spent I reckon

Do flowers make you feel great and make you smile too?

I get mine each week from Andrew up the allotments.

Edible Art !

For weeks now my art work has consisted of harvesting borlotti, cherokee, climbing, dwarf, haricot and lots of other varieties of beans.  Added to which I have been pulling up onions, garlic, golf ball carrots, orange beetroot, potatoes, courgettes, squash and adding peppers, and tomatoes and anything I else I can pick from my garden or allotment....
Cutting them up, adding a tad bit of oil, and roasting them in my big oven, weighing them, and vacuum packing, and popping them in my freezer.  Each pack holds at least 700gr 1lb 8oz.  Can you imagine how long it takes to create the packs I did just one day last week?

But in the middle of winter, when I'm feeling 'blue' and can't decide what to cook - I pop out to the freezer and grab a bag of instant sunshine - and boy oh boy what a joy - and all the aches and pains and hard work of digging, weeding, growing, harvesting, washing, etc are forgotten.

Fast food?

I think I must have about 30 bags of sunshine in my freezer - so far!

Allotment Diary - Me 74hrs. He 71hrs.

Well, it has been quite a time since I have posted - thank you for all your requests for an update.

I haven't been able to spend much time up my allotment this year - the absolute bare minimum to maintain it - but I have been growing veggies at home - where it has been easier for me to garden late evenings when the sun has gone down and it has been cooler

Just as well really as the heat and drought over the summer, has played havoc with the crops on the plots - especially the beans, broadbeans, sweetcorn, and root veggies.

Here is a quick up date with some photos taken during the visits that I did make. 
These photos were taken at the end of July

The main crop of potatoes were almost in full leaf

All the potatoes were looking really  well at this point, but my neighbour had blight

I popped in a couple of late pumpkins as we were forecast rain in  August

July was also the month of high egg yield - and playing the 'hunt the egg' game with the bantams to see who could outwit us the most.
Giant muffins were made and frozen by the dozens

These are chunky chocolate - but there were so many varieties.....Date and walnut, black cherries, to name a few.

Then along came August

The pumpkins grew and grew
And burst out of the compost bins
The main crop potatoes flowered
And I started digging up the rows of early potatoes
And each time I dug up a row, they were bigger and bigger and bigger.
These are the smaller ones.
The grass was short and looked lush, and the dark clouds gathered
The lovely farmer next door decided it was time to retire
The fields have been sold off to local farms, and barns are being demolished to make way for some new houses
And I fell in love with some babies
Meanwhile my little treasures were still playing hide and seek with the eggs
And I kept finding them - albeit 16 at a time covered in mud, but they passed the float test, and the taste test, and I have lots of lovely slices of cake in the freezer for cold winter nights.

And here we are in September - more of that later in the week!