Sunday 29 January 2012

Chicken Blog time

Thought it was time I blogged about our Chickens.

It's almost a year since we re-homed our ex-battery hens from the British Hen Welfare Trust.

Hetty, Betty, Peggy & Maud settled in well, so well in fact that they have produced almost 900 eggs between them in the first 9 months that we've had them.
Here you can see them enjoying a juicy apple, we normally chop up apples, but when we saw one if these, designed for feeding wild birds, we thought it would be good exercise for our 'girls' and fun for them too.
It's important to give them play things, to combat boredom. Ours do seem to be 'Happy Hens'

Another favorite of theirs is the mid day snack, which can be a mix of most things you might have at home:
Fresh Greens, Bread, Biscuits, Mealworms, Cereals, Apple, Grapes, softened veg & cooked pasta (maybe veg leftovers too) almost anything goes.
But an hour before roost time, we give them Supermix Corn, this is a good slow release food for them to digest overnight.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Saturday 28 January 2012

A lovely, but cold, Saturday

Well the weather forecast was correct and the sun came out so a perfect day to visit the Allotment.

The Onions I planted out last year have survived the winter so far.
White 3 rows to the left, Reds 3 rows to the right, about 30 of each.

The Leeks I planted last year, early ones on the left, late ones on the right, have also survived the winter well.

We have harvest
ed some of the early ones for Leek & Potato soup and were lovely.

The late ones will mature later this year for a successive crop.

As I said the sun was shining, after a frosty start and the ground was still quite hard in places, so all I could do was do a spot of weeding.

The Asparagus I planted out in April last year, was in need of a good weeding and looks a lot better for it.

I had to be careful with my weeding fork as Asparagus roots are fragile and don't like to be di
sturbed, we haven't had a crop yet so didn't want to risk damaging the roots.

I also planned for the next few jobs that need doing.

In other news:

The 1st of my potato order arrived this week.
The Charlotte (2nd early) are 'chitting' now in egg trays, in a cool but bright place.

The rest are expected to arrive within the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Sunday 15 January 2012

First real Frost

Didn't do much today because the ground was too hard, due to the first real frost.

So decided to try forcing some Rhubarb, to get an extra early super sweet crop.

First I put some straw around the crown, then placed an upturned bucket over that and weighted it down. I wont look under again until the Rhubarb pushes the bucket off.

I love Frost because of the photo opportunities, here is a Teasel head.

I know the temp got well below freezing as one of my rain barrels, without a lid, had at least an inch of ice capping.

But the frost also has a cleansing effect and can kill off lots of pests, if you can turn over a patch of soil any slug eggs there will be finished off by frost, best to do the digging the day before a frost is due.

Our Chickens don't seem to mind the cold, but have reduced egg production, as expected, the last few days we have only had 1 or 2 eggs a day.

So as I said not much to do today, couldn't have dug anyway as the soil was too hard.

All I had to do was top up the compost bins with kitchen veg waste, and set up the Rhubarb forcer.

Was hoping my seed potatoes would have arrived this week as need to 'chit' them, but alas they are late!

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian.

Sunday 8 January 2012

Happy New Year

The Allotment doesn't look any different than 2 weeks ago.
It has survived the storms rather well, the greenhouse had just one glazing panel pop out, but easily put back in.
I replaced 75% of the glass with perspex a few years ago, so when one pops out they don't smash as glass would.
The shed also needs some new roofing felt, but that was expected as it was due a repair before the storms!

All the crops over wintering are doing well, Leeks, Onions, Garlic and some Brassicas, but the Cauli's I put in seem to have been eaten, slugs I suspect as they were under netting!

But the Cox's Orange Pippin Apple trees I planted out in November are doing really well and as you can see are in full bud/leaf I'm hoping for a small crop this year.

Chicken news:
The chickens are doing really well, the egg count for 2011 since we got them in March was 896, not bad for 4 ex-battery hens.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian