Wednesday 5 August 2020

Adding to the Clan

Our original chickens are thriving.  We still miss Agnetha chicken, we still dont know what animal attacked her.  It will remain one of life's mysteries.

Meet the new girls.  We have added 2 extra Colombian Blacktails to house.  Blurry picture as we have only had them 24 hours and they are for the first time outside and near humans.  They have already worked out the metal bowl means food and that if they stand on their house's roof they can see the other hens.

The new emergency coop is made from the Christmas tree box we made in November.  I couldnt find a 16ft tree so we had to make a box and a skirt for it.  It has now been recycled to a chicken house!  The roof was the original roof from the chicken coop.  If you remember it leaked.  We used as many of the planks as we could that didnt have knots in for this.  Everything on this little house we already had.  The hinges were from a old cupboard in the cellar, the extra supports on the sides are fence planks that were warped and we cut them down.  The only thing that looks new, but is actually from the inside of the airing cupboard is a bolt to hold the door shut.  At present they are in the fixed run to give them time to quarantine from the older hens.  They can see and hear each other from a distance, but they cant interact.  Neither seem to be bothered with the others.  

They look a little bit bedraggled right now.  This is the first time they have been outside and they were in a bit of a sorry state when we went to collect them.  They will eventually look like Shazza in the first picture.  

We will train them to come for food as it will make it easier for us to get them in at night.  The original hens put themselves to bed.  These 2 sat in the rain and it was a bit of a Benny Hill sketch to chase them in.  They are drinking and eating well.  They are quite scrawny.  The will soon pick up.  No names as yet.  

Tuesday 7 July 2020

Harsh Land in Covid Times

 All of these pictures are out of order and blogger wont let me sort them.  Above is a salvaged plastic roof that be brought here from Cornwall.  In the last house it had an ugly as sin car port that we had to take down to make the driveway useable.  Waste not want not.  The carport would have covered 4 cars to give you an idea of how much roofing was there.  We have used it for a few logs stores around the house and the cottage.
 This is our Columbian Blacktail, we did have 2, but one was taken by some sort of animal or bird of prey.  We have many birds of prey in this area.
 This is our Buff Barred chicken, she is a funny thing and only lays occasionally and although she is still very young, she has already gone broody once.  We will see in the future if we want to use her to hatch some eggs.  

 As we were in lockdown when the birds arrived, we had to get a coop really quickly.  This one is from Cosy Pets.  Avoid at all costs if you can.  We had to get something that could be delivered as we couldnt go to the timber merchants.I will go through the list of items we have had to remedy to keep the ladies dry.

There was a pop door that had a handle to open it manually.  It is light here in the summer until well past 1am and then it is dawn again at around 3am.  Not wanting to run about in pajamas, a sensor door opener made sense - get it. Sense... lol  forget it.  As the run connected directly with the coop and its legs, we had to add some wood to extent it out.  This then meant rain could run down onto the doorway and the ladder.  We then had to use some more wood that we screwed onto the coop to shelter the gap and allow the string to the door opener to move freely.  

The roof was horrendous, made of tongue and groove with lots of knots in the wood that some popped out and the others just let the rain through.  We had to rebuild the roof with marine ply we had previously.  You've guessed it, we had it in Cornwall! lol  Womble, never chuck wood away.

The end of the pen, we have added a door to it.  We snipped the wire off and built a frame with a wash board (I cant think of another name for it, you use these on boats and yachts to keep the water from the cockpit out of the living area of a boat...).  This is actually the side of a chest of drawers we bought as a set with a Victorian wardrobe.  The drawers were broken and all very damaged.  Chopped it down, routed the edges to make it slide easier and the frame is double sided for rigidity and to hold the door in.  A bit of blue rope with a carabiner hook to hold it in place so the wind cant make it fall on a chicken.

You can just about see the inside frame of the wash board.  We also had chicken wire from the previous house and the deck boards are left over from another project.  Waste not want not.  The chicken wire gives them slightly more area than the pen, we shut them in there with the wash board open if I go to the supermarket etc.  When I am home the free range the whole of the back garden, except for the raised beds.  Which to be truthful are a complete waste of time in this area.  You can see why below.  It has rained none stop for 8 days.  Some days torrential rain.  And when it stops raining it is still windy.  In the last week we have had the wood burner lit 3 times.  It hasnt been warmer than 10 oC, its cold and miserable.  Welcome to Scotland!

Here are my peas today.  Yes, those are peas.  They were planted as it said on the packet.  The wind and the rain seem to have stunted their growth.  Pathetic arent they.  Their height is about 20 cm about 8 inches tall.  lol   

Yet strangely I have 14 figs on the tree and lots of flowers on the olive trees.  What the heck is going on!

Wednesday 13 May 2020

Love the NHS!

Please share this.  We love the NHS, lets remember this.  

Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives.

Stay safe.
Be well

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Dont tell me you didnt sing along!

Day eleventy billion of the Covid 19 (Coronavirus), lockdown in Scotland.  I was going to do a post on the chicken coop and pen and the retrofits we have added to make it work well for our set up.  I didnt take the pictures as we hadnt finished them all and will probably make more changes.  I will document the progress.

For today, I give you another youtube.  We have to look on the bright side of life as I dont really know what else to do.

Be safe
Be well

Tuesday 28 April 2020

While Staying at Home to Save Lives!

Tomorrow, I will try to post about the retrofits we have added to the shop bought chicken coop and pen.

Stay safe 
Be well

Friday 17 April 2020

What is this plant?

Can you help me?  What is this plant? 
 it is popping up everywhere.  

Tuesday 14 April 2020

The Elements

Checked the vehicles this morning, to see that the solar panels are topping up the batteries.  Yep, that is correct, -4 oC.  Wind is coming from the opposite direction today, so a little bit warmer this afternoon.  

Been out, putting compost into pots to try and grow seedlings on in the dining room.  No idea if this will work, but no green house means we have to be inventive.  They can grow on, whilst we think about the beds.

Reading a lot about permaculture at present.  I am hoping to get lots of ideas and what is possible in my area.  Gosh, it is time like this that I become really homesick. This is a challenge.  I hope I can defy the elements and grow something in the garden.  Wish me luck.

Be well

Sunday 12 April 2020

Next stage

Now that the chickens have their area, coop, run and their free range area, I can now decide where to put beds in.  They have to be raised as the back garden is very uneven and rough.  Where it slopes it doesnt drain well and will become water logged.  I need to look at each area and think hard about where to put things to get the most of the light and what can fit in the space.  Its not small by any means, a person in a new build house would think that they had the best plot in the estate if they had this area. The exposure and the massive trees cast shade and the plants could become wind burnt if I am not careful.  

Chickens left to right, the one that looks white is a Buff Barred, she is called Edna.  The one resting on the ground is a Columbian Black Tail, this one is called Agneta and the one showing off on the top of the wood pile that we call 'Pride Rock', this is another Columbian Black Tail called Sharon or Shazza.  She gives the alarm when we approach, I hope she doesnt turn out to be a cockerel!  lol  

They are quick to put themselves to bed and to come out of the coop in the morning.  They havent mastered roosting yet and seem to all pile into the one box?  lol  they are getting a bit big for that.  

Thursday 9 April 2020

Grow Your Greens

I have featured this youtube channel before.  I really enjoy watching youtubes about gardening.  I find this and Nonna Gina really relaxing.   He is very excitable, but I think this shows how passionate he is about his garden.  

What vegetables are you growing this year?  

Wednesday 8 April 2020

Tears for Fears - Mad World

As there is no tip open to take the garden waste away I now have to process it by hand.  I am using secateurs to snip the leaves off and chop the thin bits of stick into the bin.  Giving it a good kick every so often to make it all sift down and leave no gaps.  Or at least that is the idea.  There is no recycling in this area of Scotland.  I know, shock horror.  I normal separate all of my waste and take it to the tip and dump it into the right bins.  At present there is now where to take it, so it is slowly mounting up in the shed.  It does mean though that I can throw garden waste into the general waste bins (right or wrong this is the only option at present as we do not wish to burn it and put any more pressure on the emergency services if we cant keep it under control...).

Snip snip snip, kick kick kick.  The dogs are loving it and are running back and forth with their toys as this is all great fun to them.  It is managing to be sunny at present, there is as always, wind.  lol  

There is some more chopped wood to move and we have some wood left over to make some raised beds, although we cant leave the property I feel I am at least being a bit productive.

We need to do some shopping tomorrow, some for us and some for my 80+ year old FIL.  Wish me luck.

Stay safe.
Be well.

Tuesday 7 April 2020

Gardening in the Coronavirus Pandemic

I have been chopping things down in the garden today, I am dreading trying to get rid of all the holly bush I have hacked down.  I have also gone a bit crazy chopping at a tree that is giving too much shade to a large area.

The picture is beech tree seedlings trying to grow.  I was hoping that it was monkey puzzle tree, no such luck.

There is also a plant that I have no idea about.  It seems to spread under the ground and come up somewhere else...  I will take a picture of it another time.  It is huge.  It is about 1.2m high by 3.5m wide clump.  It is taking up too much space.

I planted some of my plants from last years shopping frenzy at Morrisons.  Every time I went I bought some plants on their £1 special of the week.  Heathers and the such like.  I also bought some conifers (dont worry they are dwarf kinds that dont get taller than 1m and the other 1.5m).  I will slowly start adding these to the border at the very front of the property.

I still have lots of fire wood to move from the other border, I still have plants to go in there as well.  

I have 2 camellias that are in flower, the first is one called Ruby Wedding, it is very pretty.  The other one was a bargain £1.75 job from Aldi that I bought and potted on as soon as I got home last summer.  I have a few of these ones.  They are exceptional bargains and if you have the time to grow them on you will save a fortune.  I cant really afford to buy from the garden centres, the camellias would have probably been £10 for the size they have grown to in the past year.  Its worth looking when you are shopping, if and when we go back to normal. 

I am very anxious at present.  I am 500 miles from my parents and the rest of my family, it is weighing heavy on my mind and I feel homesick for a home that no longer exists.  I think many people will probably feel like this.  

Please stay home.
Be well everyone.  

Monday 30 March 2020

The gardeners

My gardeners have arrived.  (The man down the road walked them up to our house yesterday and left them in the parcel box. He rang, to get them straight away. Paid by paypal. Life sure is different at present.)

The pink one is the only one with a name.  Evil Edna.  She is a Buff Barred and the other 2 brown ones are Colombian Black Tails.  {Kev} also recently got some of these, it would seem they are very popular right now.  I wanted a Sussex, but in these times you take what you can get and be happy about it.  Little bit of a scuffle last night trying to get them to use the ladder to get in the house.  Evil Edna decided that she was having none of it and was pecking both the other 2 and myself.  Hence the name.  

They have been out this morning in the run and already seem to have got the hang of getting slugs.  There was much glee and throwing it about and then they all descended on it like they didnt have any food!  The dont seem to like the water dispenser and keep pecking the top furiously.  I might change it to a metal one as it could be their reflection.

They are 17 weeks old and wont lay for a month.  But they are already doing the job and are scratching the heck out of the area.  When they have done a thorough job there, we will move them on.

Thursday 26 March 2020

New house

Chicken house is up.  

Nesting boxes
It looks rather cosy.

Wednesday 18 March 2020

Pretty bits and bobs

Here you go {Dave}I am proud of this.  This is one of the clumps of crocosmia (Lucifer?) that I dug out of a huge mess in the back garden.  Ripped it apart with my hands and then scrapped the soil back with the trowel and dumped the partial bits in.  Heeled them in and told them, 'you are on your own, if you live, then you can stay there'.  They are all coming up, in the parts of the borders I dumped them in.  Pleased with this, if they will flower it will be another thing, but they are green and coming up, so it fills in a bit of the dead space.  As you can see, huge amounts of leaf litter here.  When I start to get some home made compost I will chuck that about like mulch and home things get on a bit better.  For now, I am happy with these ones surviving.

Astlibes,  no idea what their name is, they are a purple colour.  I managed to get 2 really manky going over plants last year in Morrisons super market for 25p.  The big one I will divide into 3 at the end of summer and dot the other 2 somewhere else.  They remind me of purple sprouting broccoli right now.  They should be frondy later.

Some of the crocus have lines and dots on them, I am wondering if they have become a hybrid?

Also another reject that was almost dead last year, a yellow hollyhock.  It seems to be fighting to come up this year.  I thought they were an annual.  Lets hope for some colour.

And I think this last one is also a reject and is it is primula? I dont know but it resembles an onion or alium seed head.

Hope you are all well.

Sunday 15 March 2020

The Lorax would hate me

At present, everyday I am pulling at least one soup plate like this of sycamore seedlings.  They are everywhere.  I have had to use tweezers to get them out of the down pipe and drain on the porch.

The neighbours have just come home with a huge chicken run.  This has raised it even more if we should get hens.  I am still in two minds we still have so many other things to do.  Then I swing the other way and think could they help in the garden scratching about and getting rid of the millions of slugs all over and the grubs, weevils that have killed all of my lavender plants.  I have no idea what they are, but I would think chickens would eat every single one of the little sods.

If we were to get some chickens, my veg raised beds would need to be somewhere else.  You see, I cant make my mind up what to do.  More fire wood to move and stack.  

Here is a picture of the density of the moss.  I think we will take everyones advice and just mow the lawn and not try to get rid of it as it will just leave the whole garden bare.  You could comb it.  At the very top of the picture you can just about see the tiers on the garden.  there are 2.  I am thinking of trying to plant them as they are nigh on vertical and extremely hard to mow.

Nothing else to report.  Same as everywhere else with the Covid 19.  No toilet paper, no paracetamol, no canned tomatoes and no pasta on the shelves.  Due to the type of working contracts we take, I always have enough in to see us through as we never know when a contract could end suddenly and we need to eat from the stores.

I am going to take this opportunity of staying home more, to change some things in the house to make them more efficient.  Silly little things that I have not got around to doing since moving in.  For instance taking the shelves out of a cupboard so I can store the vacuum cleaner etc rather than it keep falling all over the place in the utility room.  Something small, but it will make a big difference to every day.

I have just read that the government is going to push that all people over 70 self isolate for up to 4 months!  Honest, all the older people I have spoken to, seem to think they are invincible and nothing will touch them.  "Oh I have lived through the war!".  And like I pointed out, "well you didnt at 80 plus and not with heart failure and breathing problems!".  I am just really quite worried and stressed about it all to tell the truth.  My cousin is going to go ahead and get married but do it by webcam.  Have a party later.  the hotel have cancelled with them as the evening do was for 600 in London. It is going to affect everyone.  

Be safe everyone, stress and the not knowing what is going to happen, can and will make people do things you dont expect.  Stay home as much as possible. 

Be well my friends.

Thursday 30 January 2020

Internal Garden Monologue

If you had told me 5 years ago, I would be sitting in a house, at a table over looking a front garden in Scotland, I would have laughed my socks off.  It was an impossible thought.  It had never even entered my mind that it could possibly be true.  Life is strange like that. 

I have lived here for 15 months now.  I havent really stayed in any house that long.  Its strange to think that I might remember the postal code or the house telephone number if some asks me it as a security question.  I must look like a complete idiot in the bank sometimes.  We have moved so many times I remember none of them and gave up trying to remember them as some houses we bought and sold again 7 months later, what was the point.  

Apart from the weather and it being dark, it is nice.  I have tried to join in with the community the best I can and it has repaid me in ways I had never thought about.  Every one talks to you and sometimes it makes me laugh, they know more about my life than I do.  I dont mind too much.  I just wish the neighbours would give up their love of weed killer.  You see, I want to really go for it with the garden and see if I can open it to the public on those national open days.  We will see.  At present I cant see it happening for a long time as I dont have a huge amount of money to do it and that means you have to grow from small plants.  With the size of the gardens, small plants will be swallowed up.  We will have to wait for them to get bigger.  Many of the locals have seen me struggling to keep things alive in the garden.  The weather is harsh, the wind chills you to the bone whilst whipping you and burning your eyes.  Some of the ladies at the WI bring me little offerings from their gardens that they know grow here.  It is nothing like Cornwall, where you can just scatter the seed and walk away.  Here you have to protect everything.  I have taken to digging a little trench next to the saplings and pushing a wooden board down in next to it to deflect the wind whilst roots are put on by the plant to anchor it in the ground.  For every 5 plants I put out, 2 will survive.  I have been told lots of times to just give up on anything that will be tall flower spikes, or with big leaves.  That leaves it a bit hard to make up texture in the garden.  

What does that leave?  Well, not much that I am used to.  Everyone else rips conifers and rhododendrons out.  Where as here it looks like they will do well.  I have some thuja and some different coloured  camaecyparis, all shades of green obviously but to add shape and they are all dwarf variety that will get to about 1.5 metres.  Hopefully this will stop the wind getting to them too much.  I have some Albert Golds as well as they will grow well here.  I have some azaleas to go in, which are little more than whips really, but they will grow well here.  I am hoping these will all provide back ground structure and then I can fill in with heathers and annuals.  It will be masses of trial and error.  I can imagine quick cold snaps will turn a lot to complete mush.  We will see what happens.  I may draw a plan to show you.  It depends on time.  

Tuesday 28 January 2020

It came and Doomsday Preppers

This picture is from the middle of the day.  It is dark here.  Weirdly at night it seems brighter as the snow reflects the street lights.  Night becomes day.  

I have planted some chilli seeds today.  They will live in the utility room with the hope that at some point we have warmer weather.  I need to dig out some of my potatoes that I thought would be good for Christmas, but they were so small I left them in the bags.  Covered in snow at present so that will have to await.

We have ordered a few bits to keep in the cellar in case the main roads get blocked or like the other week, flooding.  

Have been watching Doomsday Preppers on Netflix.  Have you seen it?  Wow, some people are intense arent they.  It is an interesting watch as the Preppers are marked out of 20 on 5 categories and it is to see how long they would last in their "worst case scenario".  One man even went to buy a helicopter and had already spent $250k on prep.  His score was still really low.  One of the highest scorers was a man who had hydroponics at his bug out location. (its an American TV programme). 

I have just finished reading the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness.  It has been made into a TV series called A Discovery of Witches.  With the very lovely looking Matthew Goode, *Phwoar*.  I have started reading another book that is about the next gen (evolution) of people who use more of their brain and it makes the immortal.  It is young adult fiction and I am liking it as it is a really quick read.  I dont know what to read after.  We will have to see.

Sunday 19 January 2020

"I would like some sun please"

All day it has looked like this out the window.  The weather has been awful for 2 weeks now.  The grass has only just defrosted and it is starting to freeze again already.  I am going to look into a daylight lamp, the darkness is getting to me.  I am getting frustrated that I cant do any gardening.

Plan for the week, shift some of the logs that you can see in the middle of the picture.  There are 9 piles like that in the front garden. As you can also gauge from the picture the garden is tiered, meaning I have to push the wheel barrow up 2 really steep (near vertical) slopes.  I estimate that this will take 2 days to shift the piles in this picture, the tree trunks were approx 1m wide.  Some of them were lime trees that had died in position and looked like lightning trees.  All the bark had fallen off and when the tree surgeons took them down they broke 4 chainsaw blades on one tree.  They said it was tougher than concrete!  We are processing them very slowly as it take so much to hack them up.  

This is part of the front garden, we arent allowed to put any structures in the front, we live in a conservation area.  Which is kind of funny that out view over looks houses with green houses and we have been told no as they will be seen from the road.  lol  

Once the garden is clear of the logs, then we can see how bad the soil really is.  It is like sand and dust, it seems to hold no water.  Yet the lawn is mostly moss.  I think the trees are taking all of the nutrients and water from the soil.  They also cast a huge amount of shade.  All the trees taken down in the garden, were either already dead or had a disease.  We had to take the horse chestnut down from the driveway, and although it will be missed from the landscape, it was completely black and rotten right through the middle.

I have about 300 plants in the back garden waiting to go into the front garden.  We have lots of low conifers of different types, azaleas and camelias.  They seem to grow well in this garden and the gardens on both sides.  Especially in the house next door, that is built into the original kitchen garden for this house.  I am itching to get out there, but it is too cold and the wind has been awful.  

I would like some sun please.  It doesnt need to be warm, just some blue sky and some sun.

What are you planning for your gardens?

Thursday 9 January 2020

Stay Back Evil Beast

I spy you there in the distance.  
Stay back evil beast, we dont want you down here. 

Brass monkeys today.  At least I saw a little bit of blue sky.