Friday, 1 April 2016

A great day out

As forecast, we had eleven hours of sunshine yesterday, a first for this year and Mr J and I made the most of it. The animals also seems to enjoy the chance to spend time in the sunshine.

I turned the new compost pile which comprises a large amount of grass cuttings, straw, wood shavings, kitchen vegetable peelings and poultry manure. I've also mixed in one bucketful of garden soil, one of well rotted horse manure and a small bag of coffee grinds.

The local Waitrose store has a metal bin outside it with used coffee grinds that customers can take (free of charge) for use in their gardens. I asked Coffee #1 who also have a coffee shop close-by and they too will give you used coffee grinds if you ask a member of staff. I would guess that most cafes and coffee shops would happily give us used coffee grinds and tea bags if we asked for them and took a suitable container to take them home in.

As the compost pile isn't very big, it was quite easy to lift the metal hoop (made from pig netting wire) that I am using to hold the compost in one area and put it next the pile and then fork the pile back into the hoop. I mixed the contents well as I turned it and I am really pleased with how quickly it is becoming something less like a pile of grass cuttings and more like something you'd put on the garden.

I let the cockerel out into the paddock with the girls for his first day outside in his new environment. He quickly made himself at home in the compost pile made from mucking out the stable and together with the other birds, he enjoyed some quiet time sunbathing.

On Tuesday the ducks had managed to find a small hole in the netting around their enclosure and she was out of it in a blink. The drake was too big to squeeze through the gap so after I had put her back into the enclosure a few times, Mr J and I mended the hole using cable ties. Yesterday morning, the duck spent a sad ten minutes trying to find a way to escape the enclosure and because I was going to be in the paddock for much of the day, I gave in to her pleading squeaks and noises and let them both out into the paddock to snuffle about for the day. They certainly earned their keep yesterday as both of them spent hours clearing slugs and snails from under the pathway weed suppressing membrane, from around the edges of borders and from around the base of the mature fruit trees at the back of the paddock. I spent a while just sitting and watching them, I'm still fascinated by the way they wash their eyes in buckets of clean water, its obvious how much pleasure they get from splashing around in the water.

Somehow (and I'm still not entirely sure how) the drake found a way through the netting into the other side of the paddock where the chickens live. I thought it probably didn't matter as we'd thought that eventually we'd move the duck house to that side of the paddock anyway. Unfortunately the drake took a fancy to poor Diesel and tried to have an amorous moment with her. Luckily we were close by and prevented Diesel from being hurt by him, we shooed him back into his side of the paddock and closed up the gap in the netting that we think he used to get through (it was the only one I could find, so I hope that's it now).

I continued to fill the raised bed with soil from a mound in the paddock, its a slow process because there are so many pebbles and stones in the soil and an awful lot of glass from the old commercial glasshouses that used to be on this site. The glass goes into a bucket to go into containers to be taken to the local recycle centre and the pebbles and stones get taken to the hedge around the outside of the paddock where I am creating a pebble stream (without any water) which will help hold down the weed suppressing membrane through which the hedge is planted. Mr J continued to remove screws and nails from the recycled wood we bought a couple of months ago. These long lengths of 2 by 4 wood are what we using to make the raised beds. With two beds completed, I can start to think about planting out the garlic and onions.
Mum and I in February 2012

Mid-afternoon my sister arrived and we both headed off to the village where my parents lived for 30+ years and where they are now buried in the local churchyard. Yesterday would have been my mother's birthday and so my sister and I visited her grave to say happy birthday, pay our respects and put some cheerful daffodils on their grave. When we got back, we had a cuppa and I gave her some duck and hen eggs to take home.

I was very tired last night and was ready for bed well before 9pm. Mr J stayed downstairs to make a cuppa and hotwater bottle and by the time the kettle boiled I had already fallen asleep. I slept through until almost seven this morning with just one short spell awake during the night. So not only did I have a great day, but I very good night too.

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