Category Archives: Chickens

I’ve started keeping hens this summer (May 2010), 3 ex batts and one donated littel brown hen. My first ex battie died in Spetember and that set me back a bit, but I love ’em, they are bats literally and highly entertaining.

I’m in charge!

Relaxing in front of the fire (which is possibly the only thing I am in charge of) after a day with the animals.

This is my first day as the garden designing housesitter in deepest Shropshire.   And how gorgeous this lovely old farm house is.  But very little has happened in the way of garden design today!  But it is day 1.

My charges are 2 lovely donkeys, 3 terribly easy sheep, 5 completely chilled hens, two dogs with lovely natures….. and 13 cats….all with their own personalities.   Before you gasp not all the cats live in the house.   In fact just at the moment I’ve only got Willow and Dilly for company.  Although Mincey did follow me up to the shower…realised it was a bit wet and promptly took off again.

What a funny day though.  Just as the lady of the house was on her way out of the door to Australia for a lovely long holiday there at the door was a father and son who had come to see the house from Australia!  The father’s mum had lived here when she was a child about 40 years ago, so in they came and we showed them round.  They were just tickled pink by this lovely old house with its nooks and crannies, beams and low ceilings….and so am I to be honest.

Feeding time down here on the farm is going to have to be a much stricter affair than it was this afternoon though.   Everybody is after everybody else’s dinner.  I’ve never seen anything like it!   The dogs like the cat food….the hens like that too, the donkeys quite like the sheep food and the dogs like the hens’ afternoon tea.   So lesson learnt, doors will be closed and animals will be segregated!

 

My best pal for today has been faithful Dixter.  What a goodhearted dog he is.  Cheerful and happy but sticking with me as if to make sure I was OK.   And so biddable.  Possibly the most easy going animal I’ve ever come across.   And his constant companion Harry – who is an incredible 15 years old, but still dashing round following a trail in the woods amazingly. It’s a bit tricky to call him though – he’s quite deaf.  He’s fast asleep now though very sensibly, still chasing something in his dreams.  I might just join him.

So, tomorrow is another day, I might just look at that garden…….now where was that wine?

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Chickens, farm, house sitting, Uncategorized

Sabotaged photos

I thought I’d take a pic or two of the winter planters I’d done….but then Gloria thought she’d take a swipe at the berries on the gaultheria…..see swiftly moving hen aiming for red berries.

OK so I shooed her off and tried again.  No hens to be seen, great, point the camera at the planter and ……peck!   Straight at the phone..Gloria and her friend this time.   “Is it edible, no, well let’s have another peck anyhow”……..so I gave up till they were in bed…but of course then it was dark.  You can’t win sometimes.

Hopefully you can see what we have here though.   A full sized old fashioned zinc pail filled with a 2ft conifer, gaultheria which has lovely red berries flowing over the front, with trailing ivy and pansies or violas  All should do beautifully well on your doorstep all winter.

Put a string of battery operated lights round the little tree and you’ll have a lovely Christmassy welcome on your doorstep later in the winter as well.

And if you want to you can plant everything in the garden when it gets too big for the bucket.  Don’t panic though the thuja (confier) is slow growing so you’re not looking at a hugenormous monster like leylandii!

So here it is in the dark.  Difficult to see I know but I hope you get the idea!

The buckets cost £30 delivered to Leeds postcodes and the Pontefract/Castleford areas.  Please get in touch via the contact form on the site if you’d like one.

I deliver little planters as well but it’s way too dark to take any pictures now.  Will have a go tomorrow.

You’ve seen the autumn wreath before but I’ve had requests to deliver them as well.   Here it is again if you fancy one too:

The base is a wicker frame decorated with seed heads and berries from the garden and the hedgerow.  The frame itself will last for several years so you can decorate it again every season if you want to, and the berries and greenery will last outside for many weeks….the colder it gets the longer they’ll last!  There are some advantages to the cold weather.

Delivered to the same areas as the planter the wreath will cost £28.00.

I have no idea when I’ll be able to take orders on line (I’m sorry)…. technology and I fight daily.  So if you’d like either the planter or the wreath drop me a note – just click on contact in the menu bar and drop me a line.

Leave a comment

Filed under Chickens, Flowers, Garden, Leeds, planter, Uncategorized, wreath

I think we’ve turned a corner…..

I’m sitting outside writing this….its been a long time coming but that’s what I had in mind when  I bought this little house with its derelict garden.   I can smell the roses from my garden bench and the air’s warm and the birds are singing.

Almost two years ago I sat out here just after I got the keys.   My plumber and I were eating sandwiches for lunch on the hard stony earth surrounded by the old bathroom fittings which were chucked out here and goodness only knows what else…carpet, radiators, bits of wood, you name it.  Not just that but the garden itself was indescribably awful.  Not a garden at all.  And he said to me what on earth made you move here (I had a perfectly nice garden at my house in Leeds) and I said just listen…. so we sat in silence.   There was practically no sound and sitting here now I can’t see another house.  I can see the tops of the chimneys at Ferrybridge Power Station over the greenery mind you but I can live with that!

When I look at the house pre French windows and pre decking I can’t believe it.  It looks so different.  And well done son….I knew it was a good idea for him to retrain as a joiner!

The view’s changed a bit as well, this is how it looks from the  bench now and last year I’d have been looking at this.

I think the biggest improvement though has to be the lawn.   I seeded it in April of this year and banned the hens from it.   They and the birds were having a fine time eating the seed.   And of course it was so dry.  So much for it being a perfect time to sow grass seed  the driest spring for how many years?   So goodness knows how much water went onto it.   Anyhow eventually it started to grow, and so we said goodbye to the grey earth and welcomed the green growth.  Such a difference.   Its not 100% weed free, but then considering what was here beforehand that’s OK.  Its less than 6 months old so a year of mowing and weeding and it’ll improve.

And the front of house is taking shape too.   I was desperate to get a front porch and some raised beds.   It looked so naked when I moved in.  Not a bit like the cottage that the locals called it.   When I told someone where I lived she said “Oh yes, the old potters cottages”  but this didn’t look a bit like a cottage and there was nowhere to plant a thing.   So I’d been looking here there and everywhere for something to change the look of the front door (which is actually the kitchen door….because the house is back to front, but let’s not go there!) when I came upon a reduced garden arch thingy.  Rang my son who said things like, “Is it tall enough?  Will it be wide enough?”and “OK get it”.

So I did.   Anyway without going into the huffing and puffing about it not being quite right after a good deal of adaptation it was eventually installed complete with raised beds on either side…..yet  to be filled I have to say, but it won’t be long.

There is still much to do.   My veg patch now extends way down behind the greenhouse, but it has further to go and it needs to have the little elder which overshadows it considerably reduced, if not removed.  Not made my mind up on that one yet.  Its producing a good yield as well this year for such a new project.   We’ve had onions, garlic, carrots, courgettes (well who hasn’t?), lettuce and other salad leaves, new potatoes and 2 types of beans and radishes.   Still to come are the maincrop potatoes, spring onions, chard, spinach, purple sprouting broccoli and pak choi.  And of course loads of tomatoes from the greenhouse as well as chillies and cucumbers.

I started on a fruit garden as well but that really hasn’t had the attention it deserves, but I have got some pears that look like they’ll be good to eat this season and I’ve had rhubarb and some strawberries.   The hens got to the last of them though and I think the gooseberries.  Well at least they disappeared.

Now that I’ve got this far I’m thinking about next year.   I’m sure gardeners are the most optimistic of creatures.   Always looking forward.

The focus has got to be on the fruit garden.   I might need a fruit cage to keep the birds off it, and not just the hens.   My garden birds are so well fed I seem to be constantly filling up the feeders but that doesn’t stop them for helping themselves to other things they fancy.

As well as that I’d like to clear a bit of land and turn it into a cutting garden.   English summer flowers are so lovely and although I suspect I shall always have to buy in flowers for my floristry work because I simply don’t have the space to grow commercially,  I’d love to be able to gather bunches from my own garden for the house.

Of course whilst I’ve been writing this I’ve had to move indoors.   Its been trying to rain and its got a bit chilly out there.  Oh English summers hey.  But with a bit of luck it might just brighten up into a lovely evening whilst I’m watering the hanging baskets.

1 Comment

Filed under Chickens, Flowers, Garden, Uncategorized, vegetables

Soft colours for a new border

I planted up a nice little border this week in Leeds.   It needed a rework.   The established beds had been planted up some years ago and over time plants had disappeared and my least favourite thing – bindweed had been gradually creeping through what remained along with its best friend the couch grass.  I really loathe bindweed.   Its such a nightmare to kill off and it doesn’t matter how much you dig you are bound to leave a bit somewhere and so off it will go again.  However, I’ve written about bindweed before though so I shan’t rant again.

So a lot of digging!  And on the left of the border geranium Johnson’s Blue had got out of hand.   Its got a lovely blue flower early in the year but then it doesn’t do much at all and it keeps increasing in size year on year unless you keep it under control, only its pretty early flower has saved it here but very much reduced to a shadow of its former self.

The newly planted border looks a bit thin (I hope you can tell which is which!) but come back next year and I promise it’ll be full of flower and colour.   The client wanted soft colours, pinks, mauves, whites and blues and lots of flowers with a reasonably long season so in the border are a range of fairly easy plants, phlox, iris, campanulas and grasses….which aren’t doing a lot at the moment – as well as verbenas, ecinacea and sedums, which will be in full flight any minute and continue right into the autumn, and a nicely scented English rose which should flower all summer long with a lovely verbascum which is flowering right now.  There were already alliums in the bed which will now come through the new planting, and on the fence, though tiny at the moment, I’ve planted a white Japanese quince which should cover the panel with flowers in the early spring and then have fruits later on.

Because there are steps up through the border I’ve put in some Mexican Fleabane (erigeron karvinskianus) alongside and hoepfully it’ll self seed between the stones.   I think its probably my favourite plant this week…..ummm or maybe not, maybe it was the verbascum Pink Domino….

At home we’ve installed a scarecrow in the garden to fend off the fox.   The wretched thing took Elsie almost a fortnight ago and so having Googled all things anti fox we came up with either electric fencing (ouch what about the cats?), male urine (so poor son is banished from the bathroom) and a fairly quick fix, Sam the Scarecrow.  This is all well and good but he keeps making me jump!  Let’s hope that he makes the fox jump too.  I must get it into my head that Sam lives here too now.  Somehow I suspect that  this may not be the end of it and so my search for the perfect solution will continue.

Leave a comment

Filed under Chickens, Flowers, Garden

All Decked Out

Yes – all these years after the demise of the instant garden makeover show we’ve installed decking.  And I love it and what a difference it makes. It gives a sort of verandah out from the French windows. Since the window went in you had to risk life and limb leaping out of them onto the ground about 2 ft below and then do the same thing in reverse if you wa

nted to get back in.

My son, fortunatley he’s a joiner, had been being pestered, and he gave in in the end. However we can’t finish it off till I get cracking on the next bit which will be a low seat/wall made of gabions (more of that later).

Meanwhile the new ex battery hens have arrived.   Its clear that exbatts may or may not live for very long, so of the 3 I adopted last May I only have one left.   Gertie died after a few months here but Daisy made it to nearly a year of freedom.  So that left us with Elsie – chief hen, not from a battery and so seems quite strong, and Ivy, commonly called Scabby Ivy, because of all of them she was the one with the least feathers.   However she stumps round the garden like a good ‘un and still lays….if somewhat erratically.

Anyhow 3 weeks ago Sylvia, Betty and Flo joined us.   They are getting the hang of things and 2 of them are laying already is  brillliant.  Try as I may I cannot make them pose this morning – so I’ll have a bash later.  Unfortunately hens don’t sit when you want them to.

Leave a comment

Filed under Chickens, Garden, Uncategorized

The Christmas markets are in full swing

How come when there’s lot’s going on fate steps in and throws a few unexpected odds and ends into the mix to make things a little bit more complicated?

Last Saturday, just as I was gearing up for the Christmas market season and preparing to deal with a garden makeover my poor Elsie was attacked by a neighbour’s gun dog.   I thought she was a gonner, but she’s made of tough stuff.   Full of punctures and with a backend as bald as a coot, we brought our bedraggled and traumatised hen into the house where she has been nursed for a week.  A trip to the ben, antibiotics and anti inflammatories seem to have got us over the worst thank goodness.  Chickens do not like being confined – this one decided she was going to dig herself out one day – what a mess!  Now she’s back in the coop with her pals so we watch and hope.

In the garden I have installed another feature plant.   I’ve rescued a pittisporun which was destined for the bonfire.   It was about 8 ft high but was chopped and stuffed into my little van and fortunately seems to be taking.

Meanwhile the Christmas market season is getting well into its stride.   Today I took our signs, wreaths and Christmas goodies to Albion Place – really enjoyed it and am looking forward to next month when we’re there again.  Tomorrow it’s Green Hammerton and next week Chapel Allerton Lights switch on.

Here’s the schedule so far!  Come and say hello if you can make any of them…..

 

Sunday 21 Nov

 

Christmas Fair

Main Furniture Company, The Green
Green Hammerton, York, North Yorkshire YO26 8BQ
10am – 5pm
Wednesday 24th November Chapel Allerton Lights Switch On Stainbeck Corner, Chapel Allerton 6pm
Saturday 27 Nov Woodhouse Grove Christmas Fair Woodhouse Grove School, Apperley Bridge, 

BD10 ONR

 

10am – 1pm
Sunday 28th November Hob House Farm Christmas Fair Hob House Farm, Holmsley Lane, South Kirkby WF9 3JB 10am – 4pm
Tuesday 30th November Ramada Encore Christmas Market Whinby Road
Dodworth
Barnsley
S75 3LF
6 – 9pm
Friday 3rd December St Gemma’s Christmas Fair 329 Harrogate Road, Moortown, Leeds LS17 6QD 3pm – 8pm
Saturday 4th December St Gemma’s Christmas Fair 329 Harrogate Road, Moortown, Leeds LS17 6QD 10am – 3pm
Friday 10th December Leeds University Union Leeds University, Leeds 1 10am – 3pm TBC
Tuesday 14th December Christmas Market & Gospel Choir 20 Stainbeck Lane
Chapel Allerton
Leeds, LS7 3QY
6.00 pm – 9pm
Saturday 18th December Artsmix at Albion Place Leeds City Centre 11am – 5pm
Sunday 19th December Pure Genius Craft Centre 3-5 Grape Lane
York YO1 7HU
10am – 4pm

Leave a comment

Filed under Chickens, Craft Fairs, Garden

Cabbages and Chickens

This caused a bit of hilarity when I handed it over.   I like the idea of using something different  in arrangements so here’s a savoy cabbage hollowed out and filled with rosebuds.   I’m planning to make a few of these at Christmas filled with red roses or carnations and just lightly sprayed with some silver sparkles.

At home the hens are definitely not happy about the weather and the lack of daylight.   If I let them out in the morning before daylight their little heads peer at me from their perches as if I’m mad.  I can almost hear them ticking me off for getting them out of bed too soon.  However if I leave it too long Elsie gets in a proper tizzie.    Current egg laying time is about 7.45 and current egg laying location is a corner of the shed where she found some left over bear grass which is now a nest so I have to let her out or else.

Meanwhile the other two – Ivy and Daisy are so ravenous having been cooped up for such a long night they make a beeline for the breakfast bowl.   Current breakfast being warm mash – yum!

Egg laying is dropping off a bit from these two girls but Elsie, once she’s settled in the shed, continues to lay an egg every day without fail.   So on that basis alone I think she deserves to lay her egg wherever she wants to.

Leave a comment

Filed under Chickens, Craft Fairs, Flowers