Archive for May, 2013

Bluebell walk

The Bluebells are absolutely lovely at the moment, and near us is an ancient woodland area called Otterhead Lakes, where there are also 2 lakes.  On Monday we took ourselves down there to walk amongst the bluebells.

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Just the woodland path was beautiful with the fresh green of the emerging leaves, so fresh, so luscious.

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The path follows a stream that runs from one lake to another.

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On our route we noticed a tree trunk that had been sawn and yet was regenerating little shoots.

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There were also some late white narcissus in clumps along the pathway.

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On the road down to the carpark was a Devon Bank or hedgerow just full of bluebells.  They are so lovely to see growing wild like this.

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We also have a few bluebells in our garden around the base of a bush.

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All we need now is a lot more sunshine to bring on all the Summer flowers.

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Update on the chickens

Yesterday we noticed that one of the Black Rocks was standing all puffed up and on her own and not going for food when it was thrown.  Neil picked her up and it was like she was sick, so we separated her from the others, in the old hen house.  A local farmer’s wife had told us that if a chicken gets sick, feed it through a syringe with a little Beechams Powder.  So we mixed some up and tried that.  She seemed to perk up a bit in the evening, but when I went down to let the chickens out this morning she was dead.  So Neil put her body out in the woods for the fox to take away.  Better he has the dead chickens than the live ones.

At the same time Mrs Speckledy has gone broody again.  It is the same hen that went broody about this time last year.  She was hogging the nest box and the other hens were picking on her as they didn’t like that.  So we cleaned out the old hen house, put down lovely new straw in the nest box and transferred her in so she could have the nest box all to herself.  Then this afternoon we went to Pure Poultry in Horton and picked up 11 fertilised eggs for her to sit on.  Pure Poultry only sells pure breed hens and eggs and we walked round the pens picking the eggs from different types of hens.  I wish I could remember them all, there were some Brahmas, Buff Sussex, Marans and several other breeds that I am going to have to look up in a book to remember.

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As you can see some of the eggs are really dark brown and some white and some inbetween. We bought 10 eggs and he popped another one in for luck.  It will be fun to see what chicks hatch and what they grow into.  All Mrs Speckledy has to do now is sit on them for 21 days and we have to watch this space!!

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Moor Lane Plant Sale

On Saturday it was the Moor Lane Plant Sale in Churchinford.  This is an annual event, eagerly awaited by budding gardeners as an opportunity to pick up a bargain plant or two.  We were there as part of the Blackdown Hills Transition Group stand, where we were offering packets of seeds for a donation and encouraging youngsters to “sow a seed and watch it grow” with some compost in a yoghurt pot.

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Neil made a small frame as an example of “no dig” gardening, with plants coming up through cardboard to keep down the weeds.

The plant sales were very popular, and no sales were allowed before the bell was rung at 10.30am.

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There were some great signs outside too:

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I bought some courgette plants that I got into the ground the same day, and a couple of nice tomatoe plants that I have potted up already.

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Found in the border

When we were digging the stinging nettles out of the back border, Neil dug up a soft toy.  It was filty dirty and covered in moss and really I should have taken a photo there and then, but instead I brought it inside and put it in a bucket of soapy water.  I scrubbed it and soaked it and washed it and washed it until finally it was clean; gave it a spin in the tumble dryer and it came up quite good.  It had lost a bit of stuffing in the body but otherwise wasn’t it too bad a condition considering where it had been.  But now the mystery.  Who did it belong to? And what is it?  Is it a cow or a sheep?  What do you think? let me know

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Having “Big Chook” for dinner

The cockerel we raised from an egg had grown very handsome, but at the same time, very bad tempered and aggressive.  He would try and have your eye out when you went to feed him.

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So the time came when we decided he would make a very good roast dinner.  Neil did the deed on Friday evening, killing him quickly when he was in the nest box at night.  Neil plucked him whilst he was still warm and then on Saturday morning our neighbours showed Neil how to gut the chicken and prepare it for cooking. Us being townies who had come to live in the country we had never done this before.  There are no grisly photos as I didn’t want to see that part of the process.

It was 4.5 lbs weight when plucked and oven ready. I cut a lemon in half and popped into the cavity and then it was ready to be roasted.

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I like to slow roast so 3 hours later out of the oven it came.

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You will notice the breast bone is longer and not so wide as a commercially produced bird and when I carved it there was not so much meat.  The legs were really dark meat, very gamey.  But the taste? Absolutely delicious.  This was a bird that had had a good life, been fed good food and rewarded us with a glorious Sunday dinner.

If we raised chicks from eggs again and we got one too many roosters we would do the same again, as long as I don’t have to see the killing as I’m a bit squeamish!!

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Restoring the back border

I really should have taken a “before” photo of the back border.  It was horribly overgrown and full of stinging nettles.  This is the border next to the fence between us and our next door neighbours.  We had done nothing to it since we moved here, having concentrated on the vegetable beds.

The first thing we did was dig it over and pull out all the nettles and weeds, and trim back the existing flowering shrubs, then we decided to give the old fence a couple of coats of fence paint to cheer it up.

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We had a lovely rhododenron bush on the corner by the utility room and we knew this would get trampled on when the men came to do the work on the extension so we dug it up and moved it into the border.

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Neil dug a very deep hole for it and we put ericaceous compost in the bottom of the hole before planting the bush.

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After that was put in I planted out several other plants that had been waiting in pots, such as our peonies and hydrangea, and then on the front edge I planted primroses and primulas that I had dug up from all round the garden, growing in odd places.  The border doesn’t look much at the moment but when these new plants all start to grow up and flower I am hoping it will look really good.

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So now the back border is finished it’s back to the vegetable beds to do some more work.  I can see my first peas are coming up already and some of the potatoes, so time to plant some more seeds.

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