Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Girls Are On The Move And A Wildflower Meadow Beckons.

We've spent the last two days working flat out to dismantle the hen house at home and build a new one at ma's. Today we finished the job and the girls have now been installed in their new house. I thought they might be anxious, but not a bit of it. There are so many interesting grubs in the new run that it was beak down and bum up almost before their feet touched the new earth.

We started the day with this at home....


And ended it with this....


Great.

Just what I always wanted: A Tip.

It looks lovely doesn't it? Bomb crater chic is de rigeour right now.

Actually, this area is now destined to be a wildflower meadow, but we have an awful lot of work ahead of us before that happens. The chooks have been on this patch for six years and as a result it is about as nutrient rich as it's possible for a patch of land to be. Wildflowers do not like nutrients; the barer the soil the better as far as they are concerned, so we've got a fair amount of soil back to do, then I am going to plant Yellow Rattle, because it loves sucking the nutrients out of the soil. Only then can we plant the meadow.

My Father in Law (who was an organic farmer in a previous life) had an acre space on the farm that he turned into a wildflower meadow and it looked beautiful. Luckily for me I can pick his brains about the best way to do it. He's also used seeded mats to great effect in their current house and has suggested I go with him to meet the company he gets them from when we're ready to start. So that's all Rather Exciting.

In between turning our front garden into a bomb site we also managed to build this at ma's....


We are now Old Hands at Chicken Coop Construction and it went up in a matter of hours, which was Very Satisfying. To be fair, some Child Labour was involved, but unfortunately this year they have Wised Up and payment was demanded first on the basis that that way Unions wouldn't need to be involved.

Whilst constructing the New Run, F found this person sitting on the gate. I suspect he is a moth-in-waiting, but I have no idea which one. Any thoughts?


M and I were not the only ones busy busy busy yesterday and today. The blackbirds clearly have some Very Demanding Children stowed away somewhere, judging by the amount of worms they've been stuffing into their beaks...


It's been hot here in the afternoons, which means that working outside has been a joy (although I have got burnt). It also meant I found another Bee Fly, this time on the Muscari by the front drive....


And a Brimstone on the new Saxifrage. It's always so pleasing when a new plant gets landed on and used...


There were also at least three Orange Tips who flew through the garden. I chased them up the garden but they didn't stop once. I have decided it's a conspiracy and I'm not rising to it anymore. If I feign indifference they'll get bored and stop for a rest (and then I'll get 'em).

We have a patch of Bugle growing at the top of the garden and for the last three days a Tree Bee has been visiting it. So far I've only managed blurry pictures, but I'm hoping to get a crisper one to show you. I've recorded the sitings with Bumblebee Conservation.

I've also discovered a whole new set of tunnels in the back veg patch which look suspiciously like My Vole's handiwork. I do hope he has taken my snake-related warning seriously, because Samantha Helvetica (although huge) can make herself Very Narrow Indeed when she wants, and a vole tunnel would be no barrier to her in terms of sliding along. I know this because I almost trod on her sunbathing last summer and she scootled off through some chicken wire, which is way smaller than Mr Portly Vole....
Here she is, for those of you who missed her last time....





The garden flowers are Doing Well and look Gorgeous in the sunlight...

Bluebells

Cherry Blossom

Muscari
The dogs are loving having the once-chicken-pen to themselves and have been busy digging there all afternoon (watched in the shot below by Ruby, just before we moved them this afternoon). The hole got so big we lost Poppy in it...


The Rat Runs beneath the shed that was the girls' night-time house were quite something once the shed was down and we could see them. They illustrate exactly why we've given up on keeping hens at home... The yellow areas are sand, the dark bits are the tunnels the rats've dug....


Someone had Tremendous Fun digging over them....

Oh Teddy!
I can't be too cross with him because he saved a Bluetit who was stuck in the greenhouse yesterday. Perhaps this wasn't exactly his purpose, but by staring intently at it he alerted my attention to it and when I went to explore I found the teeny weeny person clinging to the metal frame. I explained I would need to pick him up to set him free and that he probably wouldn't enjoy it much but it would be better if he didn't fuss too much, and then I just picked him up; no fuss, no bother, no struggling, just a couple of desultory pecks on my thumb to make the point, before he tweeted a thank you and flew off over the garden. 

The sun is still shining and there's an hour or two of gardening time still to be had, so I'll leave you with my favourite Gardening Mug. It reminds me of an old patient I knew years ago who was 90 and put her radio on everyday so she could dance about in her kitchen. That's the spirit!  CT :-)


22 comments:

  1. Wow you have been busy , what a great space to dig and play. I would be a little sad to see the chickens go, but I hate rats, we used to live next to a paper mill, and rats were a big problem sometimes as well as cockroaches...

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    1. Now cockroaches I wouldn't be very keen on. My OH worked in Bermuda for a while and they would sit on the ceiling fans and then whizz out whenever you turned them on, as well as infest cars...yuk! :-)

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  2. Had to laugh about the rats. When we had an allotment we used to call it colditz under our shed, it was a wonder we didn't fall through, there were so many tunnels. I know rats are a nuisance but I did used to love watching the little ones and once sat watching a whole line of them up in the tree trying to get at the bird nuts. I didn't realise they climbed trees until then.
    Love Teddy's dirty face.
    Briony
    x

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    1. I don't mind the babies either, and in fact if we just had two rats they wouldn't bother me, but we had LOADS - some were the size of small ponies (slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean :-) ) x

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  3. Those orange tips definitely don't seem to be keen on being photographed by you!! I reckon that you are right, ignore them!!!! Do you think they will notice.....

    I hope that the chooks are happy in their new home, free from a doggy ratty audience. It certainly seems that the dogs are loving roaming around in the old hen space! xx

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    1. I reckon word has gone round the Orange Tip community and they know not to stop when they see me :-(

      The girls have ma's dogs to put up with, but they already know them so I think will be fine. Hopefully no rats there either....yet! x

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  4. Muddy nosed terriers are something I know all about! Oh Teddy.....xx

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  5. Teddy looks amazingly cute all dirtied up .
    He looks a bit like our Russian tortoise Pokey that just came up out of the ground from hibernation this morning ~ caked with layers of dirt. At first I thought something prehistoric had entered the yard, but it was Pokey caked with dirt from center Earth I suspect . I was VERY glad to see him...long story behind this I may do a post about it ~ as I am completely digressing in this comment about intended to have been about Teddy !

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    1. Oh, yes please do a post about Pokey- I am dying to see him now. But what a great sign of Spring after all your snow :-)

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  6. Hi
    Sounds like a busy time for you. The new chicken house looks good and I love your dirty nosed dogs. I have also spotted orange tips in our fields they are so pretty.

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    1. Hi Sarah,
      Yup, a busy couple of days with more work ahead. I really want to get a good pic of an orange tip but so far no luck at all :-( Still, I've seen the males and females this year which is a bonus :-)

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  7. Rats away...at last, seeing that rat run you had no chance! Hope the girls will be very happy at your mums place. My blackbird is doing the same. Sorry can't id that caterpillar right now, had a quick look but didn't find anything.

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    1. Ted is now convinced the rats are under the garage and has been digging furiously all day as a result! I had a look for the pillar too and couldn't find it either.

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  8. Good Morning - Our snow is almost gone, but still deep in the woods. The severe rain, and winds we are experiencing today should eliminate even more. Aah - Spring - a time to rejuvenate and repair and watch Mother Nature at work, when you aren't working yourself. ha,ha I love reading your post - its like spending the morning working with a friend round and aboot the yard. Lovely flowers, and new chicken coop. Great shot of the snake - I have no idea what it is as we have very few snakes round aboot here and am wondering just what it is. I see little green garter snakes all the time and a long black snake, but that's about it around here - they are not dangerous, but your little fella looks so interesting. My dog Jack would love your dogs as she is always doing just about the same thing. Teddy's face is so cute with the "I been playing n digging look" - oh yes, Jack would have fun at your place. Have a wonderful day.

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    1. Afternoon my dear :-)

      It's so strange to think you have snow when we've had 16 degree temps here today and been out in shorts and vest tops! And I have sun burn....

      The snake is a Grass Snake, perfectly harmless and very shy so we are lucky to have her living here. Ted attacks them so we'll have to be careful this year- sounds like he, Poppy and Jack would get on well :-)

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  9. It looks like and Teddy and Poppy had great fun helping you! Sarah x

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  10. A shame about the hens but at least you'll still see plenty of them. We'd never seen a rat here until next door installed decking and now from time they seem to appear. The wildflower meadow is a lovely idea. It does take a time to get rid of the nutrients in the soil though but well worth it in the end :)

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    1. I will miss them but the rats were so horrid this winter I couldn't bear it any longer :-(

      I'm really looking forward to working on the flower meadow, even though I suspect it'll be a long project... :-)

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  11. Old chicken patches do have lots of possibilities. When we moved our hens I kept the wire around their old patch and now it's place where I can plant things that'll be protected from the rabbits! I love your plans for wildflowers.
    Superb photo of the grass snake and of lovely Teddy and his muddy nose. I'm pleased you rescued the Bluetit - I rescued a female Chaffinch from the greenhouse just yesterday by picking her up gently - I do dread the birds flying in as they sometimes do.

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    1. We've done a lot more work on it since posting and it's looking a lot more respectable. A good over-flow patch for flowers and veg this year- I think the dogs keep the bunnies out, we used to get some in the garden but I haven't seen evidence of any in ages. I guess we'll find out! :-)

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x