Spring in the Garden

Spring in the Garden

Friday, 23 March 2012

Potatoes Are Now Planted

On a more optimistic note the beans and garlic are growing well and last Saturday hubby helped me to plant the potatoes. They were well chitted and starting to look a little shrivelled. You don't want the shoots to be much longer or they could snap easily. If the potatoes are too shrivelled they will probably have lost some of the energy they need to grow and won't do so well. We are lucky we are having such a mild March, or we might have wished we'd waited a few more weeks to buy our potatoes.

The potatoes we started chitting mid February

As I wasn't feeling to great last Saturday hubby kindly dug the trenches for the potatoes and I planted two rows of ten seed potatoes, about a foot apart, as these can be grown as first earlies.

We sprinkled some organic potato fertilizer in the trenches before covering up the potatoes completely.

After gently treading down the earth to remove any air pockets, we finished the job by marking each end of each row.  Now we are waiting to enjoy lovely new potatoes in June, with a bit of luck.

Goodbye to Anna

Unfortunately things are not so good now, where the chickens are concerned.  Yesterday morning we noticed Amber was pecking at Anna's rear end as she squatted passively and Bella started to join in.  Hubby went up to chase them off and Anna ran upstairs into the roosting area, so he was able to shut her in before dividing the ark off from the run and shutting the other two chickens in the run so they couldn't get at Anna when she came back down.  He said noticed some blood in the roosting area and a bit on her and there was some on the egg Anna had laid, but hubby couldn't see anything much and wondered if she had suffered a slight tear, although the egg she laid was only slightly bigger than her last eggs.  Hubby thought I ought to wash Anna later to clean her up.  He had to go to work, but I wasn't due to go to work yesterday.

So once I'd washed and dressed I went out to look at Anna and found more than just a bit of blood on her.  It was very clear to me that she had suffered a prolapse, so I found a large cardboard box, which we had, luckily, and put her in it and made an appointment to see the vet, who not surprisingly, thought it best to put her down.  He could have pushed everything back inside, but the next egg would have pushed it all out again.  It seems a sad end to a lovely young chicken's life. It was only six or seven weeks ago that we joyfully brought Anna and Bella home.

Anna in typical hunched sick chicken pose.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Fresh Pastures for the Chickens

Last weekend hubby and daughter, who has been home on study leave, moved the chicken house up the garden onto the grass.
The grass is a bit bare after keeping the chickens there last year

The chickens had a good scratch around while they were waiting for everything to be cleaned and moved.

Bella and Amber seem to be developing a special relationship
We've had an egg a day from both Anna and Bella this week, with a regular one every other day from Amber.

Monday, 12 March 2012

A Good Start

I didn't manage to get out into the garden as much as I would have liked this weekend, but I did do some digging and planted a few flowers yesterday and today I managed to finish digging my new strawberry bed.  I'm just waiting for the strawberries to arrive.  I ordered them over a week ago, so I'm hoping they'll come soon.

Meanwhile the broad beans I planted at the end of January are starting to show.

There are six up altogether, so far.

The garlic I planted a couple of weeks ago is also beginning to emerge. Just five tips are showing at present.

The chickens are continuing to lay well, we had two on Saturday, including one from Amber:

Amber laid again on Sunday, as did both pullets, giving us three eggs, which we haven't had for about a year:

Two more pullets' eggs today from Anna and Bella:

Friday, 9 March 2012

Eggciting Times

Spring is always an exciting time for chicken keepers as hens who have not been laying over Winter come back into lay.

When we had our 3 Warrens (Isa Browns/Gingernut Rangers etc) they didn't stop laying during Winter, but Amber our one remaining brown hen only laid 3 eggs at the beginning of January and another 3 at the beginning of February, but she is about three and a half years old now and she was moulting, then she had two new chickens to share her territory with, which she may have found stressful.  We did wonder if, having laid an egg nearly every day for a couple of years, she might not have many eggs left in her.

On Wednesday last week, 29th February, Amber and Anna both went up to the nest box.  I thought Anna was about to lay and Amber was being nosey - perhaps she was hoping for an egg to eat, I thought, even.

Later on I found this in the nest box.

 It's not as big as Amber's normal eggs, but its rough shell, with a thin patch at the bottom made me inclined to think it was hers.

The egg on the left is a large shop-bought egg, on the right is Amber's egg

On Thursday Amber and Anna went into the nest box again, but Amber was in and out and up and down the ladder.  Something, I think it was a chicken-made sound caused me to go out and look in the nest box.  There I found Anna gently prodding a very small, smooth pinkish brown egg with Amber and Bella in attendance.

Was Amber sharing Anna's proud moment?  Did Bella want to know what was happening?  What thoughts go through a chicken's brain at a moment like this?

Anna's egg is the one to the right of Amber's and the large one from the shop

Friday I found another of Amber's eggs in the nest box, which was much more like her usual size, i.e. bigger than very large and too big for an egg box.  Although I checked again at about 12.15 hubby found a small reddish brown egg in the nest box when he got home in the evening.

So, we thought our new chickens had started to lay, but we wondered if Amber would just lay a few eggs and then rest again for most of the month, but we've had to think again. So far this month we have had more eggs from Amber than from our new chickens.  She's laying regularly every other day, whereas the pullets' laying pattern is more sporadic - one last Thursday and Friday then nothing until yesterday morning and two more today.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Garlic, Broad Beans and Victoria Plum

Sunday I managed to plant two rows of garlic.  I chose an organic Spring planting variety called Flavour, because it was the only one on offer from the Organic Gardening Catalogue. I'll see how it compares with other, non-organic, varieties I've grown before.


  and a second row of broad beans

In the afternoon hubby planted the Victoria plum tree we bought at Wisley last weekend, adding plenty of grit and humus to the planting hole first and watering it well afterwards.