Everything here has been coming along really nicely. The hens have settled in remarkably well. They have been free range around the orchard/ future forest garden and though they are still a little feather free in places, they seem to be healthy and we have continued to get around three eggs a day from the six of them.
Things in the polytunnel are also coming along really well and it feels rather crowded in there now! We have been harvesting quite a lot already- so far we’ve had the first plant’s worth of baby new potatoes (still pretty small), bucket fulls of mixed salad leaves and spinach, mange tout peas, radishes, small bulbs of red onions and their greens, spring onions, pak choi and little gems.
Inside the tomatoes in the porch are ripening now.
We had a lovely weekend sitting out in the sunshine in the garden with a friend who was staying – spending some time getting to know the hens – one of them who we have called Martha has already revealed a fascination with falling water – she came running while I was going the watering and stared in amazement. So if we want to find her we just have to fetch the watering can! The others are harder to recognise but I am getting there!
I am writing this from my mother-in-laws house in Yorkshire. We are down here for a few days helping her with a few DIY jobs around the house. While we are having a lovely time it is bad timing as while my we are down here our new ex-battery hens have finally arrived! We adopted them in the end them through the excellent charity ‘A Wing and a Prayer’. Now we have not five as we originally intended but six lucky ladies who have now happily set up residence in the orchard/forest garden.
Introducing then, Clara, Henrietta, Florence, Martha, Gladys and Dorcas – though I am yet to meet them myself!
It sounds as though they are already loving their new lives – scratching around in their run. They have laid six eggs already – clearly as their systems have not yet climbed down from their intensively farmed schedule. It will be interesting to see what happens to egg production when they become fully integrated into free-range life.
In any case, the chickens are here to stay – any gifts they choose to give us are purely incidental.
Well, we’ve had a crazy election here in the UK – we have an interesting discrepancy between the way England and Scotland have voted and we here are simultaneously elated by the historic victory in Scotland for the progressive, left-wing SNP and extremely depressed to be stuck with the Conservatives in Westminster – since (at least for now) we are still shackled to that government. Five more years of the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, and astonishing numbers of people having to rely on food banks. Five more years of a government that very few people in our country actually voted for.
Aside from staying up all night to watch as the results came in on Thursday night, we have managed to take our mind off it all by doing quite a lot in the garden and polytunnel. Though it is still a bit colder than we would usually expect for this time of year, things are still surviving and thriving.
Today we have planted out lots of tomatoes and bell peppers into the polytunnel.
Things outside the tunnel are looking pretty good now too.
Oh, and here is one of the wood burning stoves in action, complete with the hearth dragon that lives beneath it.
Apologies for not providing a proper update after the snow. We still have rather unseasonably cold weather but nothing dramatic. Fortunately so far there has been no more snow. Aside from a fair few herbs and the marigolds planted in more exposed places, most things seem to be struggling through.
Direct sown peas, salad leaves and radishes are popping up.
And everything in the polytunnel seems to be thriving.
We do however have rather a large number of what I think (from looking them up on the Internet) are St. Mark’s flies, Bibio marci. I have read that they eat the roots of, amongst other things, lettuce so having so many of them is probably not a great thing. We will have to put our heads together and figure out how to deal with them.
Today, in hopes that the weather will soon improve I have sown another batch of seeds. More kohlrabi, french beans, various flowers, basil and summer squash.
One of the reasons that I have not updated this blog sooner than now is that it has been rather a chaotic week. The two wood burning stoves have finally been installed!
Some wood has been ordered, since of course the wood we have chopped here and that acquired from my husband’s workplace will not be useable for a year or so. We were glad to be able to find a supplier of naturally dried wood. You may or may not be aware that much of the wood on the market is kiln dried – negating its carbon neutrality. Seems crazy to me.
We are glad to finally have the stoves in place. They mean that next autumn and winter we will not have to rely on the oil heating. It is a big step towards our more sustainable way of life.