Thursday, 28 January 2010

A benefits of Chickens, Organic eggs and a couple of New start.

This is Bianca our white leghorn hen. She and her two partners are great and have been giving us a regular supply of eggs all through the winter. However it's not eggs that are the only useful product that chickens provide, look at that lovely black stuff on the floor in front of her! The waste is excellent for the garden and as our hens are fed organically it is perfect for the veg patch. It is important that you either compost it for a while or do what I do and dilute it in a bucket of water before you use it. The hens actually have the run of the fruit cage so a lot of the waste goes directly around the raspberries and other soft fruit.

If like me you are concerned about animal welfare and the food you eat please be aware of this. Organic eggs do NOT always come from freerange birds. It is quite common for Organic eggs to be produced by caged (battery farmed) birds fed on organic food. Please always make sure that if you are buying eggs check that they are freerange as well as organic.

This week we had our first proper meeting of 'Natural Woodhurst' the group that has replaced the 'Village in Bloom" group. It was a really productive meeting and we have lots of projects planned some of which we will need grants to complete. I have a new role as editor of the new newsletter we are going to produce, apart from news I hope to include some natural history notes in it to make people more aware of what is going on around the village.

I have started updating my other blog again this week after a long and unforgivable break.
Painting with light is where I show some of my favourite images, it doesn't have an overall theme but occasionally I will group related photos together.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Sorry, sorry. A bit of gardening and tracing my roots

Sorry, I have been failing in my duty to keep this blog updated over the last few weeks, to be honest it has been a combination of not much to say and that I have been really busy with work. I normally write the blog when I have gaps during the day, but people just keep sending me things to do!

Anyway, I thought it might be nice to talk about the garden as this is what this blog is meant to be about. I actually managed to get out there and have a look about and do a little bit of work now the ice and snow have gone. The aftermath of the winter weather and the rain over the last week have reduced most of the garden to a sticky mess but things are growing.

The first shoots of Rhubarb are starting to show, I have covered a couple of crowns with large pots to force them, I don't normally bother but I am already craving my first crumble of the year.

The garlic also braved the snow and is looking good.

The broad beans took a bit of a knock but will recover and should give us an early crop.

My sweetpea's are doing well, I am planning to use a lot of them in the garden this year. In the past I have grown specific colours but these are a mixture of self collected seeds and ones that I found laying around in my seed box so it will be fun to see what we get.

The Wood Anemones are in flower and I saw loads of snowdrops over the weekend, spring is on the way.

We spent the weekend with friends in a cottage we rented near Beccles in Suffolk. We had Boris with us and their ridgeback Becca, We all had a great time, especially the dogs, beaches,mud, ditches and a ford, dog heaven. As I am writing this he is curled up on the sofa with a 'Let sleeping dogs lie' look to him. on the way home Sharron and I stopped to explore Beccles, it a lovely town full of wonderful old buildings. This was not the main reason for my visit, any of you that have been reading my blog since the beginning will have seen this photo of my great grandfather in his green house. He was a gardener and florist in Beccles and we went to see his house, where my grandmother ( standing at the front ) was brought up.

I had never been to the town before and it meant a lot to me to finally see it. I always remember the little picture of St Micheal's church on the wall in my grandmothers flat, the church where they were she was married, it was really special to walk throught the churchyard and know that they were there 89 years ago. I plan to go back when the weather is better and take loads of pictures.

Monday, 4 January 2010

An update on the last 2 weeks including a maritime disaster

As you can see some of us had a really nice relaxing Christmas!

We had a great time, my mother came to stay which in it's self was a special event. It was the first time she had stayed away from home in over 25 years. Needless to say we made sure she had a good time. The village looked great in it's coat of snow and the temp outside never rose much above freezing. The garden was had an almost permanent frost covering but I do still have some lettuce ready to pick under glass.

Before Christmas I left you guessing what my Christmas present might be, well the answer was a kayak paddle. I have got myself an inflatable kayak to allow me to explore the rivers around here for wildlife. Anyway excited by my present I was desperate to try it out so the day after Christmas I was out on the Great Ouse, unfortunately due to a mistake by me I only half inflated it. It still worked but not very well, it also filled up with very cold water. If you look at the third picture you will see how it was sagging in the middle.

Having dried it and myself out I took it out again yesterday on the river Cam. It was -1 c so I made sure I wrapped up warm. The kayak worked great, the power unit failed after about an hour (New Year resolution = get fit), but in that hour I managed to get close to a grey heron , saw a kingfisher and was nearly hit by a mute swan taking off so I think the wildlife plan is a good one.