It’s been several weeks since my last update due to the usual chaos that is December (work, visiting friends and family, Christmas preparations etc). So it’s about time to fill you in on what’s been happening.
The winter months are significantly quieter with only chicken people like myself regularly being on site. Unfortunately, Cliff lost his gorgeous white silkie to a marauding fox and we are all on high alert for another fox attack. Michael found some fox tracks on the front of his plot this morning so it is visiting the site regularly.
Our girls are doing well and seem to be enjoying sleeping outdoors despite the freezing weather. I still can’t work out why they insist on sleeping outdoors when it’s -2 degrees when they have a warm nest box to sleep in. One of the many oddities in the patchwork of life! A couple of weeks ago, a huge delivery of tree cuttings arrived and these have made a massive difference to the coop. It’s mainly conifer cuttings from the allotment border hedge that have been shredded. Several wheelbarrow loads went into the coop and it has really made a difference to the ground, absorbing tons of water and limiting the quagmire that usually develops over the winter. As a result the chicken’s feet are dry and as an added bonus, they don’t look like feathery-mud monsters!
Three of the bee colonies are doing well – two have been transported off site for the winter so we can put their hives onto the community garden in the spring. Weirdly bee hives can only be moved by 2-3ft or 2-3 miles. Anything else and they won’t move. I don’t envy Steve driving back from Stoke-on-Trent with two bee colonies in the boot! Sadly, one colony has died. Phil and Steve have checked with their mentor and he has said it must have been a weak colony. Even experienced bee keepers loose colonies. Fortunately, all the remaining hives are coping well this winter and are continuing to eat the food Phil and Steve are supplying which bodes well for the survival of the remaining hives.
Yesterday, I borrowed a magnificent contraption from Phil to hoe the plot. It’s a cross between a hoe and a mini rotavator. It’s incredible. I managed to hoe 2/3 of the plot in 20 mins – a feat which usually requires at least an hour using a normal hoe. It doesn’t work for compacted soil obviously but it is amazing for loose soil littered with weeds. I have immediately put one of these on my allotment wish list!
The new main path that everyone has worked so hard on has made life a lot less muddy this winter. The guys have been busy filling in gaps so the path extends upto the edge of each plot, making a wide pathway.
So what’s next? Finishing digging over the bottom of the plot and replacing the glass in the greenhouse roof are the main priorities for the next few weeks. Whilst the weather remains bitterly cold, I will be curled up with a blanket and a cat, planning what to grow in the spring!