All plot and bothered

I walked down to the allotment this morning armed with my bee suit just in case the bees were being checked. There was a breeze so it will be done another day as bees hate wind. They tend to get rather angry if you open up their hive for an inspection if the wind is any more than light air. The breeze did absolutely nothing to cool the ever increasing humidity and heat. Forecast says this week will have some of the hottest days of the year. It certainly felt like it today!

I spent a while in with the chickens. Geoff who is a chicken whisperer and has his own lap chicken (I kid you not!), taming his by sitting in the coop with them for half an hour or more a day. My hand feeding of the girls continues well and I even had Rey and Molly interested today although they didn’t get much of a look in thanks to Millie, Hattie, Snap and Polly. I collected three eggs which is an improvement on the last week and is linked to the improved weather. Despite being warm and humid, most of the day was overcast.

Leia was busy clucking at her chicks as I arrived at her coop. The chicks are growing so fast and all of them have nearly all their wing feathers now. One chick showed rather a keen interest in the bowl that held the chick crumb. So much interest in fact, that it almost fell out of the nest box. Instinctively, I put my hand in the way and gently pushed it back in. Leia didn’t freak out at me until the chick was safely back inside. Then she let loose! That’s gratitude for you! To try and calm her down, I fed her a mix of sunflower seeds, corn and layers pellets by hand. She had her fill and I put the remainder in a box by the water bowl for her to eat later.

I went to have a chat with Geoff about one of his rescue hens who has been off colour for a couple of days. Yesterday, Geoff had spotted that she wasn’t herself and caught her to check her. He found her crop was full of liquid. The crop is a vital part of the chicken’s digestive system and all poultry owners live in fear of crop problems, especially sour crop. Geoff turned her upsidedown and massaged her crop, encouraging the fluid out of the crop. This provides a temporary fix. In previous years, one of our girls Maggie had sour crop and we kept her going for several months but it was a struggle. Remembering a tip I had read online, I suggested to Geoff that he try giving his hen a dose of natural yoghurt. The bacteria in the yoghurt apparently can help break down some of the blockage in the crop. He have her a dose yesterday evening and one this morning. I was pleased to hear that despite the hen refusing food yesterday, today she was walking around the coop and enjoying a bit of bread and some weeds. She still isn’t out of the woods but it’s good to know she is doing better.

As we were talking, Steve appeared holding a scone tipped with strawberry jam and clotted cream. It turned out that Tracy had made scones and brought them down to share with everyone. The strawberry jam was delicious, made from Mick the Greek’s strawberries whilst Steve organised getting the cream. There is something special about eating home made baking that has ingredients grown in the allotment. There is no taste like it. Two rounds of scones and a chilled hour chatting with Tracy, Andy and Steve, I began to close up the shed. Just as I was getting my stuff together, Tracy shouted at me to come and see the loofa plants. It has been a couple of weeks since I saw them and I was amazed at how big they are now! Tracy has done so well to get seven plants from nine seeds. She showed me how she has set up for her loofa plant, utilising a grow back on end in a bucket with bark chipping at the base, all sitting on a pot tray with water in. Apparently, loofa plants like humidity and Tracy has been keeping the greenhouse door closed to ensure a consistent temperature and humidity.

Now that the greenhouse is clear, I had somewhere to put the loofa plants Tracy gave me. The lack of compost sent me into town in the hopes of finding some in Wilkos. No such luck. There wasn’t a single grow back available. Instead I found three 40l plant pots and matching water trays. I snaffled three of each and walked back to the allotment. I opened the greenhouse door to be hit by a wall of hot air. Quickly, I set up the pots and beat a hasty retreat from the heat. I decided that not only would I need to get a couple of bags of good compost but also shade netting for the greenhouse. It’s important to keep a constant temperature and it is quite easy to boil the plants if the greenhouse gets overheated.

Before I left, I spent half an hour sitting with the girls in the main coop. Millie, Hattie and Georgie were busy having a dust bath in the sunshine whilst Snap sunbathed in her favourite spot. The chicks came across to say hello and after a while, Aggie even walked up my leg and stood there for a few minutes! My chicken whispering skills have levelled up but I still have a long way to go until I have a lap chicken like Geoff.

Tommy seems to be more magpie than chicken as he started going for my phone. I got a hilarious photo of him as he pecked at the back of the phone! Rather an extreme close up!


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