Friday, 11 April 2014

Fun Friday

I have to start with some sad news today, Mrs Flora Hen (one of the new ex-batts I got a couple of weeks ago) died yesterday.  She was the weaker of the 4, and though she was eating and drinking, she wasn't eating as much as the others really, and they would push her out of the way at feed time.  So she has gone to hen heaven.  The other three are doing fine, they are still at home in the rabbit run, though they did enjoy a day on the plot with me today in their new pen.

I'm not remotely surprised that I am sporting some rather fetching tan (burn) lines (special thanks go out to Papa O for the passing down of that particular Celtic gene.  You know the one that causes immediate lobster like colouring, when a ginge steps partially out of the shadows!)  Its been glorious sunshine today and the hens have loved it.  Shall we take a moment to discuss this behaviour:

Dust bathing in my beds!! Thankfully there's nothing growing in there.

Today, I've done some planting on the plot.  I've wanted to introduce some colour to the plot for a while really, particularly to attract bees and butterflies more than anything, but with 6 main beds I've obviously not wanted to put flowers into them when I can putting fruit and veg in them.  But then I got to thinking, about the new hen pen attachment.  I could grow flowers up the side and around the bottom of that as well as putting some hanging baskets on there (when Papa O brings his drill again because mine is broke!).  This would combat a few things really it would provide the colour I want, it would attract the bees and butterflies, it would provide even more 'fox proofing' (though be it a very small amount) and finally provide some good natural partial screening for the hens in the summer as the plot is south facing, it's full sun all day long.  So, last week on my garden centre visit I bought some Sweet Pea Seeds for this very reason.  Then this morning, I went to buy milk at the local little shop and they had some Sweet Pea plants.  It was 7 for 60p BARGAIN! So I got a a pot to plant along with the seeds.  After work yesterday I also went the local bargain store and picked up a box of wild flower mix for £1.50!! I thought, it was at least worth at try and if they didn't amount to much I hadn't lost much.

Now, all my pens have a layer of mesh running around the bottom, so Mr Fox (hopefully) will be deterred from digging underneath, so I lifted this up:

Put a layer of compost underneath, then pinned the mesh back down:

(The mesh also covers about 2ft on the inside of the pen as well, so there's 3ft to have to dig under)

Next I've covered the mesh with completely with compost:

At this point, it should be noted , I ran out of compost and went to the local garden centre looking like a right trog with my unwashed hair (I hadn't done it this morning, I hadn't expected to see civilisation and frankly the chickens don't give two hoots what you look like as long as you feed them!), mud all over my face as well as clothes and wellies and my particular favourite, massive mud marks on my bum, where I'd been kneeling and resting on my heels! (I know what you're thinking - My husband is one lucky fella!)  Thankfully, Peter at the garden centre has seen me on better days and put a great big bag of compost in my car as I had spied yet more sweet pea plants this time 12 for £1.20p!!

I then planted them by making holes where the mesh was and carefully poking the plant through, as well as putting a couple of seeds in between two plants:

I then got slightly over zealous with the rest of the little plants and planted them too, so lord only knows how many of those seeds will come up! 

In front of the sweet peas, I've planted the wild flower mix -which looked a little bit like porridge oats (I think in a few weeks I might find out why it was only £1.50 and in fact it isn't seeds but porridge in a box marked seeds!)

I then had to section them off because yes you guessed it - the hens started eating them!! You'd think they were never fed!!

I then planted up some tomatoes, in the upside down tomato planter which worked great last year because the slugs and snails couldn't get to them, and found that the old chicken house table makes a great potting bench!:

And for my final task of the day?  Well, last year when I planted my peas, and made a pea support thing,  it started leaning and falling over.  Allotment Nigel and Allotment Frank, who are some neighbouring allotmenteers (and frankly, ever suffering...Sometimes, I know they just watch me thinking, what the hell is she doing now?) told me that the reason it was leaning was because the peas where too heavy for the support.  So this year, I decided, that I would incorporate a support for peas, beans and yet more sweet peas as well as some sort of tunnel down the path, and using garden canes I've come up with this:

It's not quite finished because I'd just had enough by that point of working above my head, but hopefully it should be sturdy enough.  With hindsight, you might have to bend down slightly to walk underneath it, and not put on anymore weight, but I think it will look nice with plants on, and if need be, there's always other paths to walk down.

And finally,  today has been quite momentous - PENNY ROGERS HAS LAID AN EGG!!:

(Shes the middle one in the picture)  I've had this bird two years now and frankly she has a free ride, she does nothing, nada, not a jot, gets to eat to her hearts content, isn't remotely friendly, pecks you if you try and pick her up and up until now has only ever laid one egg!  Again, another lucky hen who should be thankful I don't eat meat!  She made that much of a racket that she'd laid an egg and the other hens where looking at her as if too say ' its an egg, its what you should have been doing all along'  and in the end Martha hen got so annoyed with her that she pecked to shut up!

Bye for now & happy planting! Xx

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