Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Increasing Our Flock

I don't think I've put this on the blog yet - but we're increasing our flock by one.
Yesterday we went for the twenty week scan and everything looks good and healthy so we're all happy - my little girl was even waving to her brother or sister on the screen!
A carboot bargain or two should help cut the cost of the next one! (this was £30)
This will mean more changes, less sleep, less free time but lots more fun and happiness - I can't wait! Due on October the 9th, I might even open a book on the date it arrives!

Monday, 27 May 2013

Garden Path

Maybe a little like my own body, my garden lacks definition.
Although the veg garden fenced off, the muddy track down the middle is a haven for weeds and general messiness. I decided that I would use the free slabs I got back in the winter to add some paths and try to make it look a bit tidier.
The garden did look a bit wishy-washy and weedy
 I had intended to lay the paths on a hardcore base, bedded on mortar. But time and logistics are against me so I took the easy option and laid them on the soil. In fairness this means I can change anything I don't like and alter the layout if I want to at a later date.

The slabs make it easy to see the divides and to see where I should be weeding
I had to lug the slabs a fair distance (three at a time on a little push sack truck), and I levelled off the earth with a mattock, a tool I've always loved using!
 I was quite pleased to get around 80 slabs down today (although I can feel it now), and although I know they're settle yet and move a bit when it rains, it's really changed the whole feel of the garden. In fact now it feels like a proper garden!

Quite a long stretch up there!
I've got another pallet of slabs (about 50 I think) stored at my parents to bring over yet so they're will be more paths added around the fruit garden and up by the greenhouse. Hopefully this will help to keep it looking a bit more loved!
Quite pleased with my days work today. Anyone else have experience of laying slabs on dirt and how they fair?

Sunday, 26 May 2013


Sorry if I've been a bit quiet this week on the blog front. I've been really busy at work and hundreds of other things always seem to get in my way.
 Before we moved here I never really minded buttercups.
In fact I always thought they were quite pretty. And great for telling if you like butter or not!
That was until I spent most of last summer trying to pull them out of my veg garden.
I think as weeds go they're up there with grass (only a weed where you don't want it) and docks. They have lots of long thin roots and they spread at a ridiculous rate.

Our 2 acre field looks quite pretty with the buttercups this week!
Has everyone else gained some plants on the "public enemy" list that they never thought they'd be fighting against?

Friday, 17 May 2013

An Hour A Day

To keep on top of the work on my little small holding I've adopted my new ethos, which is to work "an hour a day" on it. This can be any job from gardening to fixing household appliances.
I always want to do more, but the trick is not to burn myself out as I have quite a full day anyway.
Although I have Mondays off to spend with my little girl, I do normally end up working on a Saturday, just moving my weekend forward one day. During my normal working day I tend to get up just before 6, do my chores, have breakfast and leave for work by 6.30 so I can start at 7.30. I then work a full day as a carpenter, finish just after 5 and get home just after 6 (I've no idea what 9 to 5 is like as I've never done it). I then spend time with my little girl and wife, have some tea before putting her to bed (the girl not the wife). This is when I go and do my extra hour.
Splitting wood seems to be a task that never ends but for some reason I love it.
In truth it can end up being more than an hour but I do seem to be getting a lot done lately.
I've split piles and piles of wood, planted loads of seeds, maintained tools, weeded the drive, cleaned out chickens, etc.
Big jobs can still be done at the weekend, and most of Sunday is normally dedicated to this, but getting rid of a lot of the smaller ones in the week makes it all more manageable.
Now if I could just get to bed before 11 I'd probably find getting up a whole lot easier!
How does everyone else manage their time to get things done?

Monday, 13 May 2013

Altering A Chicken Coop

Last year I made a large chicken coop for some laying hens. It's been great but there is a problem with it.

They won't lay in the nest box. In fact they tend to perch by the nest box and then use it to poo into. Not great if you want clean eggs.
I decided last weekend to alter it. I think the problem was that there wasn't much difference in height between the perches and the nest box. I decided that the best course of action was to drop the nest box lower. Of course this didn't turn out to be as easy as I thought it would be!

The chickens didn't like my first idea for where the nest box should go...
I had to remove the side cladding from the nest box to get at the screws to take the thing off. most of those little bits of cladding then split so I had to find some more wood (their ramp got a little bit shorter if I'm honest). 

Proof in the pudding...
 I also divided up their nest box into four compartments as I'd been  meaning to do this for ages as I think the chickens prefer it and it helps keep their nest clean.

Spot the difference?
So if your building a chicken coop make sure the nest box is well below the perch (Mine was 4 inches lower before and this wasn't enough). The first night after I made the alterations all seven chickens were on the perches and there was four eggs in the nest box clean as anything. Job done.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Happy Hens

The electric netting and movable coop seems to be working really well.
You can see where they were the week before by the area of yellow grass to the pens left
 The hens get fresh grass every few weeks and a large fenced off area big enough to stop them from getting bored.
"Folding" then hens like this seems like a great way to keep them and although I know it's not true free ranged, but when foxes and uncontrolled walkers dogs are about, this is the next best thing! Everyone who see them says how healthy they look so all that fresh grass and insects must be doing them some good!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Veg Garden

I'll just post these couple of photos of my veg garden because it's looking rather good at the moment with very few weeds.
Add caption

I'm sure it will be a different story in a few months time...
Still loads to do, seedlings to plant out and seeds to plant as well as paths to lay and gates to make. Still it keeps me off the streets...
How's everyone elses veg garden looking?

Monday, 6 May 2013

Trying To Preserve Our Old Oak Trees

On our little 5 acre patch we've got nine large oak trees. Four of these are huge and none have had any work done to them in a long time.
The large branch on the left is the one with a split right up the middle
Separating two of our fields are three of the biggest oaks which are quite beautiful. The middle of these has a long branch that is split right down the middle, the branch itself is the size of a tree and I was worried that if it breaks it might rip a big section of the trunk out with it.

Roping in
 So I called an the expert. My expert! It's quite handy having a brother who is a fully trained tree surgeon. He decided that I was right and the branch needed some work on it but to remove the whole thing would make the tree unbalanced, So instead he removed the last 25ft or so.

Spot the brother
I'm under no illusions here, although I'm fine with heights, there is no way you could get me up there wielding a chainsaw!
An April morning up a tree

A much lighter branch a few weeks on
 He did a really good job and having the weight removed from the branch seems to have made it much better. Hopefully now when it's in full leaf it won't catch the wind the same and it should last a few more years!

Some firewood into the bargain
All I've got to do now is burn the brash and split the firewood! If we can do a little bit of work like this every year then we should make these old oaks last a lot longer and provide the material for keeping us warm over winter!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Honesty Box

Not much of an honesty box really. Just an old cool box. 
I thought the footpath that runs across the top of our land might have one good use (for me anyway) - to sell eggs to walkers.
 After a day out there we've finally made a sale! Our first pound from an honesty box!
 Does anyone else use this way of selling surplus produce? Do you have many thefts or things going missing? What else do you sell from it and what do you charge?

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