Saturday, 30 May 2015

Early Summer

It has been a busy last few weeks with poultry, swarms and um, other stuff which has taken up my time but I now can't think of what...

The chicks are growing well and now that the nights are milder, are in the broody coop with Beatrice, and enjoying their daily explore of the garden under her watchful eye:

The chick I thought was a boy I now think is a girl, and the white 'hen' seems to have a prominent comb already. I tried to talk myself round to it just being because it's a white chick so it shows up more but it's seeming less and less convincing!

Son of Henry
I really wanted a white hen as since Peggy (Amber Star hybrid) had to be put down due to a kidney infection, all the chickens have been varying shades of brown. Ho hum, I'm sure he'll be a handsome chap like his dad tho so I'll keep him as a replacement. The other two 'Welsummer' chicks (either the hens were running with another cockerel and retained his semen for longer than I'd anticipated, or Henry is not a pure Welsummer) are orangey-brown and have smaller combs so fingers crossed. I am pretty sure the two Buff Sussex bantams are pullets though, which would be brilliant as I need to replace the two taken by rats; I still feel pretty sad about that incident to be honest.

In other news, we've rescued a baby bunny from nextdoor's cat - it sadly didn't make it but it was a little poppet:
Ketchup, the young bunny
Clearly it wasn't a victim of my cat who is now on a diet due to his sedentary lifestyle - thankfully the rat problem seems to have lessened now it's getting on to summertime and the spring traps I bought have caught a few.

My allotment has been a bit neglected as I've been so busy elsewhere but a session with the girls saw off most of the burgeoning willowherb. The slugs have had a wonderful time as I'm the only person who doesn't use pellets, but I was delighted to see that the sheet of corrugated iron I left in a sunny spot has encouraged a large and expert slug-eater:

A warty friend
As Amber and Rose were with me, it had to be named, so meet Todd the Toad. I'm really hoping I might get slow-worms as I love them! I'm not sure if hedgehogs frequent the area; I hardly ever see them these days. I read an interesting article in Permaculture Mag about slug control: as usual, the more the ecology is fiddled with, the more problems you have. So, if you do everything to encourage natural predators the balance will be restored. Using pellets or even nematodes discourages the birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians from coming in, hence the problems the minute you don't use any control, or miss a bit. Utilising slugs and snails as food for beneficial animals means the predators will patrol the area looking for food on a regular basis and do a far more efficient job with none of the negative side effects. However, I would like to fence off my plot so I can take my ace slug hit squad up there periodically for a sweep:

Be afraid, be very afraid
I've not had much time for knitting recently but I have picked up some art - a timely and excellent birthday present from a like-minded friend has inspired me to pick up my pencil and paper and I'm loving it, to the point where I see something and my first thought is to want to draw it rather than photograph it. I'm only getting proper time to indulge about once a week but I'm hoping to start a sketchbook as well as galloping through A3 printer paper for my practise exercises, and a trip to Tate Modern beckons...

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