Wednesday, 22 May 2013

February 2013.

Now if there's one thing i regret its not having videoed the moment the trench was joined to the drainage system.  It was a joyous moment to hear all the collected water finally draining away.  So much so that I was jumping up and down like a gazelle - clearly forgetting the boggy earth that was still underneath my feet, and yes I ended up flat on my arse in mud, thankfully with my water proof pants on!!

February was a good a month the plot drained brilliantly quickly once all the falls in the earth were correct:

Trench phase 1 complete.

The weather was a lot milder but most importantly WE GOT OUR FIRST EGG!!!

I was happily one day minding my own business when I realised Penny Rogers was missing.  I went to look in the hen house and there she was looking very suspicious.  After about 10 minutes of leaving her in there, there was an almighty racket as Penny jumped out of the hen house and I went and looked and there it was an egg!!! Well actually there were three but two were rubber eggs, it took me a while to get used to those!! Penny was squawking away like 'look what ive done!!' I tried to pick her up and give her a cuddle but she just pecked me.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

November 2012.

By now, if it wasn't for the chickens and having to go to the allotment every day for them, I would have probably given up on the venture.  I can honestly say I hated the place.  If I could have taken the chickens to live it at home then I would have done happily, but I couldn't - so I had to suck it up!

The weather wasn't at all pleasant by this point and the clock change meant that the nights were longer.  By the time I was finishing work it was nearly dark and the chickens were having a brief amount of time out of their pen each day - and still not laying.

January 2013.

Yes I've skipped December but if you re-read November you'll get the idea!  The New Year brought a sense of inspiration (for want of a better word), and I begun the task of digging all the trenches in for drainage system.  Because the main trench was full of water and I was still unable to drain down to the woods.  I had to dig the trenching in the rest of the plot leaving a foot at the end of each one so the the main trench didn't seep into the new trenches and vice versa.  I also decided to make the shed more pleasant to be in, so that when I was there at least I had a bit of sanctuary around all the mud:

I also 'built' a make shift path to the shed out of various bits of wood, i found myself jumping from piece to piece more often than not misjudging and ending up in the mud into my knees and elbows! 

February 2013.

With all the new trenching in (67 metres of it all together) the ground was drying out.  you could see a big difference even though it wasn't draining anywhere - and so began the task of drainage down to the woods.  Now as I explained to get to the woods I had to go through the other plot, which was done by using a piece of drain pipe:

The drain pipe had to be fed under the fencing through the mud because I didn't want to dig up around the fencing and weaken the barriers from foxes.

When it was finally put in place, I put a piece of plastic under the drain hole to help guide the water out.  And then, I dug the existing trench into the new pipe.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

So where were we?

March 2012.

The new plot, complete with yet more reeds.

But for some reason, I managed to convince myself  that because this one was 'nearer the river' that in fact, the drainage would be a tonne better - it turned out not. But i'll explain more later.  So after roping in mr husband again, it was soon strimmed:

After taking up the fence posts from the old plot and hammering them into the new plot, with advice I covered the plot to stop the reeds etc.. growing back through.
The shed that was taken from my father in laws garden went up on the easter weekend (thanks mr husband),  it looked a bit worse for wear and its held together with a good few nails and balancing on various bits of wood, because it was rotten, but its grand and it does the job.  And if after a bit of paint, a new roof (oh and note the horseshoe made by Boo (my daughter) and I) and a few bits and pieces it looks like new. 


June 2012.

The greenhouse went up soon after, next to the shed and I finally managed to get some things growing.  I had tomatoes - they were eaten by slugs, I had strawberries - they were eaten by the slugs, I had chillies - they get the picture! Everything in the greenhouse and the few plants that were out like the blue berries and peas well, everything was eaten by the nasty blighters and honestly it was so disheartening.  

August 2012.

I decided when I wanted the allotment I would get chickens (i also wanted goats ands pigs, but thankfully that idea went out the window!), so i bought and assembled the chicken coop next to the greenhouse:

It made sense to me to have all the buildings at the bottom of the plot, the only problem with this was the ground was becoming increasingly boggy.  We had so much rain that I was fighting a losing battle and i didnt think to take the plastic up, i just didn't want the reeds back!  In the end though the coop had to be moved upto the top of the plot even before i got the chickens because I couldn't have them rolling around in mud (maybe pigs would have been the better idea).

September 2012.

I got my hens!! I got two brahmas and a legbar/sussex, all point of lay and 'should be laying any day soon' the breeder said (liar!):

Though they were my hens, I was actually only allowed to name 1, Martha. Boo names the other two.  The Brahmas are Martha and Dolly (parton) and the sussex/legbar is Penny (rogers)! Its not the best picture, penny wouldnt stand still, she literally hates people, whilst the other two follow me everywhere.  

I ended up at the allotment every day eagerly looking for eggs, and my eagerness just turned to disappointment.  There were no eggs EVER!! That breeder had me for a fool!!!  

The bad weather had set in even more, i had finally taken the plastic up from the ground,  and the chickens were getting soaked.  I had to weatherproof the chicken coop to keep them warm and dry:

And now, i had to survey the damage the bad weather and plastic had caused the plot.

November 2012.

By November, the plot was flooded a big boggy flooded mess that you couldnt walk on without being knee deep in mud and your wellies getting stuck - that somehow needed draining.  And so begun the ditch digging:

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

In the words of Maria.......

Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start...

I was sat watching tv one day, River Cottage and Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall to be exact and there he was telling me, his loyal viewer all about Landshare and grow your own, and honestly as I was watching I envisioned both myself and the husband becoming Tom and Barbara off of the good life - only with broadband and a slightly better dress sense.  Before the end of River Cottage I'd signed up to landshare, contacted a local advert for allotment and eagerly awaited the phone call.  I told the husband of our plans and how we were going to become self sufficient and grow all our own food etc....we would save money, we would eat our own delicious crops, we wouldnt give any more of our money to the devil that is asda, and the kids would know where their food came from. As I was saying this to him I could actually hear royal brittania in my head, there was no doubt about it, i could actually save the nation (well maybe that's an exaggeration).  My husband it seems did not share the same view as me his words, and I quote 'I want nothing to do with the effing place, this is ridiculous idea and asda is just up the road' still ring true to this day, he indeed wants nothing to do with the effing place and only comes to help me when absolute necessary.  After about 6 weeks I finally got the phone call, now I'll be honest, when they rang me I had no idea what they were talking about because I had forgotten completely about signing up for this and had moved onto some other hare-brain idea about how we were going to save the world (fostering russian children anyone?).  But i eagerly went to look at my allotment, the place where I would spend many a day in my shed in the peace and tranquility in the company of myself and nature, picking veg for tea.......I was faced with a big reedy plot of land.  Cue the husband, we hired a strimmer and his first task was to strim the whole lot 50x50 feet.  he didn't appreciate it.  What i didn't appreciate was how quickly the little blighters grew back!!  However, i really did try, i knew this wasn't going to be an overnight process I  didn't think it would be a three year process!), so i made the best of what i could.  I started by putting weed control fabric down and marking out beds - but the fabric was quickly pushed up by the ever growing reeds.  I bought a 'weatherproof' self assemble greenhouse - but the wind blew it over the next day. I hammered in 20 or so fence posts and built a gate for my new plot - they are actually all still standing.  But honestly,  my first year was pretty much a wash out (quite literally) nothing was grown or planted.  Not only was the allotment flooded in the winter the path upto the allotment was knee deep in mud, a word to the wise, if your plot of land has reeds on it (and potential bulrushes) it doesn't have good drainage. Not being able to grow anything on there (i should say now, that i'd never grown anything at this point)  and it not being an enjoyable experience, well it was pointless having it, but luckily after speaking to the allotment owner, I was moved to a brand new plot - covered in reeds, cue the husband and the strimmer!!