March 2008

What are ya lookin at? Want some trouble do you?...

That’s the type of look you get from a chicken, in this case Zebra (click image to enlarge). But after less than a week’s ownership (though not sure who thinks who owns who) I’m finding my grandchildren’s four chickens lots of fun, very friendly & great companions. And even after just a few days their characters are pretty clear… see the section at the foot of this text entitled ‘This month’s photos’ for more about this.

And they can get REALLY friendly as shown in the picture below… especially if you have a handful of grain. But not only are they really difficult to photograph… I took over a 100 photos this month only to discard the majority because by the time the shutter clicked they’d moved out of frame; this lot are so friendly they’re a bit scary for small people, who only see beak, claws, staring eyes & a lunge. So it’s behind bars for the chickens whenever my grandchildren come up to see them.

At other times when I’m present they wander around trying to find tasty titbits anywhere in the plot. Whenever they see me get to my knees to do a bit of gardening or yet more drilling they flock round totally interested (although there’s always a food related theme to whatever they do).

Occasionally a couple will wander to the top of the plot. One of them will then realise they’ve strayed a bit far & come hurtling back down the plot, wings flapping as though her life depended on it… only to be outdone by the remaining chicken when she realises she really is all by herself.

The four are all point of lay (about 19 weeks old & ready to start laying eggs) & since they’ve been brought up together very amiable with each other.

On the day of purchase the plan was to take my three oldest grandchildren to pick which chickens they wanted. Worked out fine until the shopkeeper went into the cage, the chickens flew up in a bit of a tizzy & grandchildren took a big step backwards. It took them a few seconds to pick the one they wanted & then Connor & Sammy displayed the short attention span of five year olds & were off jumping in something much more interesting… puddles. Back up to the allotment to install the chickens, Sammy in the back of my car warily eyeing up the cardboard box full of chickens with accompanying scratching sounds. Finally got the chicken hut ready with wood chippings & hay. Grandsons decided it would look interesting if a few handfuls of wood chippings landed on my head. Let out chickens & grandsons made hasty exit.

First night blocked them in the chicken hut to ensure they knew where was safe. Within a day two of them were on top of the chicken hut, inches away from the top of the surrounding fence… that wasn’t in the plan! So put chicken wire on top of hut to discourage them. By end of month they were happily wandering around the rest of the plot &, as seen on the left, taking over the shed.

Just after mid month there was a heavy (for East Anglia) fall of snow. Struggled up to the plot to do a bit more work on the chicken fencing but didn’t stay long it was so miserable. By the afternoon I was back up again working away with no evidence of the snow other than some forlorn snowmen. Captured the picture below of the plot looking proper wintry.

Shortly after this heavy rain meant the plot was flooded. Managed to sow seeds in the shed, but hit a new low when returning home & jumping over a puddle my feet went completely from under me & I landed on the gravel with my hands. Took a chunk out of one hand which hampered my squash playing for a week & caused me to lose yet another month to my son David, though having managed to claw myself back by the end of the month I was more than a little miffed to find myself three months down when he won the deciding game of the last match of the month.

Below is a picture of the plot from the new allotment land I’ve been allocated at the rear of the original plot. Note the lovely wood chip covered paths. Source of major embarrassment!

Arriving one early Saturday morning I spotted two large piles of wood chip. I assumed the groundsmen I’d seen doing some tree work the previous day had left them for us to use… how considerate. Spent several hours over Saturday & Sunday carting supplies up to my plot. Great for avoiding muddy paths & smoothing out bumps. Felt really pleased with myself Sunday evening… until I read an email from one of the allotment association representatives. I’d apologise for not helping with the planting of hundreds of hedge seedlings the week before, but was assured in the email that it wasn’t too late to help & two piles of wood chips were being delivered over the weekend to mulch between the seedlings….

I rushed back up to the allotments as the sun set running through all the options. Do I cart all wood chips back… not enough time. Do I even out both piles so the large void in one of them isn’t so noticeable… risky. Finally I saw the Richard (the email author) & apologised for the misunderstanding. Phew!

By the end of the month the tomato seedlings are looking good, although only one variety (Money Maker) has shown. Seedlings planted during flooding also showing. But no sign yet of the broad beans, I’m still slaving away on the storage bin & as a result haven’t started to dig the extra plot. Also still awaiting delivery of the vines, due any day.

More photo’s below. Please feel free to leave a comment by clicking ‘Comment’ at the bottom of the page.

Thanks for reading my blog. John

This month's photos (click to enlarge)

Zebra, Paige's chicken. She's the leader of the pack, very friendly & adventurous
Elly, Sammy's chicken, a maran cross. She's friendly & inseperable from Ellytoo
Ellytoo, Connor's chicken (named when Connor said 'I want to call mine Elly too'), another maran cross. Ellytoo is cautious & isn't keen on being handled
Izzywho, Izzy's chicken (since Izzy is 2 years old she hasn't made up her mind about a name), friendly & the most inquisative chicken. She often gets into the tightest corners of the shed
If one chicken finds something the rest are right there!
Inside of chicken hut (5 star rating)
Progress on storage bin
Latest salad bed with garlic at front
Spinach seedlings
Lettuce seedlings
Cabbage seedlings
Tomato seedlings

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