Saturday, 28 May 2011


I've made a start clearing Area 51. Bloody back-breaking I can tell you. The lack on attention over the past two months has meant I've had to don my jungle fatigues and machete my way through the bush again, just like I did when I first took the plot on.

No mucking about this time though. All I'm putting on here are my bees and a huge flower bed in one long row. A smorgasbord of nectar for the little fellows to feast on. Perennials, lavenders, chives,wild flowers etc will form a plot long row in front of the hives.

What's really worrying me, and it's something I've taken especial note of just lately, is the lack of honey bees on the flowers that are blooming. Yes, there are loads of bumblebees of every species getting drunk on the lupins, and wildflowers dotted about the plot, but I have yet to see a honey bee this year on any of the flowers.

I know that there are plenty of nectar rich sources in the numerous hedgerows this time of year and I'm hoping they're all gorging themselves on that. Any of you seen much of the honey bee so far?

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Cake & Tea

I've been having a few comments censored removed from some fellow blogger's posts. Can't think why hehe...
Anyway it reminded me of this little gem. Some of the blogs out there are like this tea shop...

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Area 51

It's exasperating. All you hear about these days in the 'grown your own' mags and the Hugh FW tele shows is the lack of garden space for dig hungry thirty somethings to get their green fingers into. Waiting lists abound and tens or even hundred of thousands of people are eagerly and forlornly waiting for a chance to get a plot. Many end up waiting ten years or more to get some ground.
Yet two months ago I decided to let one of my plots go to someone to have a chance of growing some veg, and guess what? Despite there being over a dozen folk on our allotment waiting list and about six gardens being made vacant this year, hardly anyone has bothered to take them on. We had a few ploughed to give the newcomers a good start but still nothing. When I got my plot a couple of years ago, I couldn't wait to get started!

Maybe the 'well rotted horse' has put them off?
 Anyway, as the garden I'd originally given up is getting so overgrown and rapidly reverting back to dense jungle, I've taken it back. This will be another orchard I can just mow but will have beehives dotted about instead of chicken coops.
Should look nice with a few flower beds etc. but it is a shame someone like Adam the Gardener didn't take it on.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


Well the chick that was raised from the dead last week is, by all accounts, doing very well. G. on the plot opposite me has the little fella with some of his other hatchlings in his warm brooder.

Sadly the last chick to hatch didn't fair so well. I thought I could do my resurrection thing again but it was not to be despite doing all the things I did before like trying to warm it up in the jeep.

Pecking at grass on a cloud somewhere now I imagine...
Life can be very cruel. Such a perfect little chick too. I suspect the effort of hatching took its toll.
On the plus side I now have five healthy looking chicks (including Lazarus from last week). Only one is the powder blue colour of the Copper Blue Marans, the other are all like this chap, black, white and yellow and should grow up to be the jet black / iridescent blue with copper bits of the Copper Black Maran type.

I'll post some pics soon but they're so bloomin' fast it's tricky to get them framed in the camera long enough to shoot a picture. Anyway here's some pics of the maternity unit MASH...

Now clad in clear plastic - des-res with conservatory...
Not amused
I'm hoping this wind will die down a bit so I can do something constructive on the plot this week. Far too windy to go fly fishing too unless I want to repeatedly rip sharp hooks out of the back of my neck and ears!

Hopefully though, early next week, I'll be seeing an old mate on a Welsh beach somewhere for some sea fishing action. Hurricanes permitting.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Joy 2!

Tonight, after struggling to get the dishwasher to work again and mopping up the ensuing flood, I made my way to the plot to check on the new additions to the family.

First thing I noticed was that a chick (Marans chicks are a lovely black, white and yellow colour) had been thrown out by Claudia and was lying seemingly dead near the door not moving. It was most likely knackered by the exhausting exit from its egg and as it was the last of the clutch, Claudia probably decided she had enough chicks to look after without this one.

I picked it up. It wasn't moving or breathing and was very cold. No signs of life, it hung limply, tiny in my hand.

Sadly, I went to get my spade and pick a plot where it wouldn't be disturbed to bury it and lay the chick on the soil next to the deep hole I'd dug for it.

I don't know why but something made me pick the chick up again. I gave it a stroke or two and cupped it's little body in my hands and f**k me it moved its head. Just a tiny bit but enough to get me scrambling to the jeep parked next to the plot.

The next twenty minutes was spent in the jeep stroking the chick back to life, breathing warmth onto it and then with the engine running and the heater going, gently blowing warm air onto this tiny bird. As it's downy feathers dried it let out a few squeaks and wriggled about.

I was going to bring it home and get the desk lamp onto it but G. over from me on the allotments turned up just as I was packing to leave. He'd just had some chicks hatch this pm and that he could put it in the heated incubator thingy he's got and keep an eye on it. It looks promising that this little chap will be ok.

Good day today...


I've tried to keep myself  in good spirirs over the past few months despite the general lack of paying work and the rather gloomy weather recently (cloud and wind but hardly any rain - what's the point of cloud but no rain?)

One thing that never fails to bring a smile to my miserable face is the antics of menagerie - the dog, the cat and, when on the allotment, the chickens.

I was a bit bothered that Claudia, the perpetual broody hen, had left the nine eggs she had been sitting on for too long a couple of weeks ago and that they had got too cold to have any chance of hatching.

She was due on the weekend so I told her straight that she had until Wednesday (today) to produce some surrogate offspring or she was off the nest and back to laying to earn her keep. Sure enough this morning there were eggshells neatly pecked in two littering the floor of the maternity unit and I could just hear the 'cheaps' of the little chicks under Claudia's downy feathers.

Made my day that has...

Thursday, 5 May 2011

What ?!

Last year I had so many courgette plants that I gave most of them away. I still ended up with about ten plants (golden and green), all churning out courgettes like there was no tomorrow. Everything we ate had some courgette in it, even cakes.
At the beginning of last week I planted some seeds sparingly so I didn't have glut of courgette plants taking up precious space in the modest greenhouse. A week later and only the cucumbers I planted at the same time have decided to make an appearance - not one courgette. Bloody typical. I tried a variety called Romanesco this time. Maybe they're like me, a bit slow.
Planted some Borlotti's too last week which have also made sporadic progress so I've sowed the whole bloody packet now in the hope that they'll catch up with the ones that have germinated. Again I've tried another variety from last year - these ones are climbers, not the dwarf ones I've had success with. Moral - if it ain't broke don't fix it!

Cute little red 'n white beans
On the chickeny front everything is calming down. Claudia, who's got the 'being a Mum bug' bad, has been sitting on nine eggs in the Maternity Unit for a week now. I'm not sure if they'll hatch though as she decided to teleport herself (don't ask me how) off her nest and back into the big house long enough to let the eggs cool.

I'm really hoping they will hatch as I'm curious about WHAT is going to hatch. Louis I and Jacques have both been 'busy' enjoying themselves with all the girls so some chicks will be throroughbred Marans whilst some will be Heinz 57's.

Time will tell...