Waking up in Autumn

It happens every year, after a summer of tending plants through stinking hot days, you wake up one day and the overnight temperature has dropped and those tomato bushes are past their best. Well that’s where it starts.

About a week ago we did decide to pull out the spent tomato vines and in the time-honoured way it has led to job after job in the garden. Once the tomatoes had gone the rest of the bed needed to be cleared of weeds. Then it was clear that the whole bed needed re-aligning to rectify some long-forgotten design decision we made years ago.

Thankfully our garden beds are not permanent, so up came the concrete block edge. Three days in and all the strawberry and sorrel plants that lived in those concrete blocks were transferred temporarily into tubs so the blocks could be re-laid. In the interim one of the chooks offered ‘assistance’ by eating the one sorrel plant remaining in the main part of the garden down to it’s roots.

Then it was off to the tip to buy a trailer load of compost. I’ll skip over the hard work of shoveling soil etc, because I was lucky enough to avoid that task. I injured my shoulder some days earlier, (the other half did an excellent job of the task).

At last we reached the fun bit, planting out. This bed now has lettuce, spinach and kale planted in it. Today the strawberries have gone back in. The sorrel, having proved such a hit with the chickens, has now gone back into the main part of the bed. Around the edge I have transplanted an allium, possibly a variety of garlic chive, whose white flowers look quite decorative. Of course the finishing touch is miles of plastic mesh and spiky sticks and tubes, which we hope may forestall chicken attack. Although we doubt it will work. ūüėä

PS defences were broken through, but we are retaliating with bigger and better defences.

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Sleeping disorder

A change of location is always a bit unsettling, but our new chickens are having some unexpected problems – “just where are we supposed to sleep?”

I assumed, incorrectly as it turned out, that they would prefer to sleep in their straw filled carry box. No. This is where we found them the first night.

New girls1
Sitting on top of the nesting box

Obviously our girls are of an age where they prefer to roost. So today we spent some time re-arranging the pen and adding a special roosting area. Cue this evening.

I was running late shutting the chooks away for the evening. So they decided for themselves. If in doubt, sit on the roof of your pen!

New girls2
What? this looks good to us

So finally having managed to persuade them to go inside their safe house for the night we have our fingers crossed that the chooks will finally get onto the right perch.

New girls3

Taking responsibility

It was inevitable that having taken delivery of five un-sexed chicks before Christmas that some of them would turn out to be roosters. We had decided, from the start, that we only wanted to raise laying hens, not meat birds. So we knew that we would need to deal with any roosters. Earlier this week we killed our two roosters.

I won’t¬†provide details of the procedure – there are plenty of places where you can read that on the internet. I do want to note¬†that from the time we caught the birds to their deaths was a matter of only a few minutes. The rest of the flock was sequestered away from the proceedings. We took responsibility for the raising and the killing of our birds.

What has upset me, more than actually killing our roosters, was being left an unsigned note of complaint from one of our neighbours about the crowing of the birds. I would have preferred that they approached us so we could tell them what action we were taking.

The poet Robert Frost quotes a saying that “good fences make good neighbours”, all I can say is that anonymous notes do not.