Saturday, 30 April 2016

Garden, chickens and reasons to celebrate

After our usual chores around the yard this morning, Mr J and I had a cuppa and worked out the best way to put up the flexible chicken fencing that we've borrowed. That way we can separate the kitchen garden from the duck area as the ducks were beginning to get just a little bit too interested in our young plants.
Yesterday we collected two large rolls of fencing from Helen which we estimated would be more than adequate to go around the outside of the kitchen garden.
We started by going along the edge of one of the raised beds, which means for now I won't be able to easily access this side of the bed except by putting my hand through the fencing, but that shouldn't be a problem as it's already planted with red onion sets.

We decided to leave an opening so that we can easily get in and out of the kitchen garden and create a simple barrier gate (with a loop of string across the top of the uprights to keep the tension on the netting which I'll slip off when using the gateway). So we started at one side of the raised beds and erected the fence to the approximate size that the kitchen garden will be. Tasks like this require a healthy sense of humour (on Mr J's behalf at least), particularly when your partner changes her mind (often) but doesn't have the strength to actually do the job herself!

We also have an overlap of the two rolls of fencing which has allowed us to create a second opening, by moving the fence where it overlaps when I need to,  I can easily access the area where I keep the compost bins.

The kitchen garden is centred but on one side of the paddock. The other side of the paddock is the area given over to the chickens. Now that the kitchen garden is marked out, the ducks can still walk all the way around the outside of it to get to their favourite areas of the paddock but they can't get to the young vegetable plants.

There's a long narrow strip (about eight feet wide) along one of the long sides of the kitchen garden, which now looks like a duck super-highway.

Feeling rather pleased with the successful fencing task, we grabbed a quick lunch and then headed off to my sister's home to give her the birthday card and gifts that we bought yesterday. It isn't her birthday until the end of the week, but she is at Badminton Horse Trials for most of the week and I wanted her to have the sweets we'd selected so that she could take them with her. She is competing in the horse trials in the earlier part of the week, this is the first time that she has qualified for Badminton, so not only am I very proud of her, but very excited for her too.

On returning from my sister's home, I checked on the birds (as I always do when we go out anywhere) and I was surprised by what I found. At last, the crested Cream Legbars (CLB) are maturing and one had laid a small but perfectly formed egg.
These little birds have been free-loading for the last 3 months and that little blue egg made every moment worth it. Now call me sentimental, but it was quite possibly the sweetest little egg I've ever seen. There must be something in the air today because Jack, who has been on a break from egg laying for the last two weeks, produced an egg today. Jack's eggs are usually what the shops would label as large or extra large and usually weigh 67 - 80g. The little blue egg weighs just 36g.
So today we have had a good range of eggs from the girls. The duck is still laying most days, she has consistently laid each day since we got her with just an odd day here or there when she hasn't laid. We don't mind the occasional missed day from her because the eggs that she is producing are so rich. Jack lays the large paler brown egg, Diesel the deep brown egg and now we have the blue egg to add to the egg rack.
As I finish writing today's blog, Mr J is locking up the hen houses to keep the girls safe for the night and shortly we will round up the ducks and try to persuade them to go to bed without their usual flap and fuss. I'm now really looking forward to tomorrow to see whether we get another blue egg or perhaps two.

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