Building the Stumpery

Today was a very busy day at the allotment. I got down early to make sure I had fed the chickens before receiving a cockerel from a colleague who took three of our work chicks. Unfortunately, she can’t keep Napoleon so I had arranged for a local farmer to come and collect him. Abi arrived with her son and we went to visit all the different chickens across the site. They said goodbye to Napoleon and I got busy making sure there was water and growers pellets in the greenhouse for him. It would be a couple of hours before the farmer came to collect him and I didn’t want him in the pet carrier all that time. He settled in well and I left to feed the other chickens.

All the girls were mixing a little better today. I think another couple of weeks and the chicks will be fully integrated. I spent a while after topping up their food and water sitting with them. I hand fed them their sunflower seeds and collected three eggs.

Over in the broody coop, Leia was busy clucking at her chicks. They are continuing to grow and I spent a happy few minutes watching them explore the run. Three of them seem to have slightly bigger and redder combs which may suggest we only have two girls. But it’s still early days. I am by no means an expert and I do enjoy living in denial about chicks being cockerels for as long as possible.

I went to go and have a chat with Geoff, Andy and Phil afterwards. Slowly the rain clouds rolled in and soon it was just me, Cliff and Koko left on site. I went for a walk around the site with Cliff and we marvelled at Rachael’s beautiful lily and some of Cliff’s stunning flowers. There really are lots of gifted gardeners on site.

As I waited for the farmer to pick up Napoleon, I decided to try and start putting in the first decking boards for the main path. Steve has generously offered us loads of chippings which would be perfect for filling in the path. It took quite a while to work out how to do it and without screws, it’s only half done. But you can begin to see what it will look like when it’s done. Depending on the weather tomorrow, I will fix up the first two boards then move onto the rest of the path.

The farmer arrived about 1:15pm and we caught Napoleon. He was very tame and was quite happy to have a cuddle with me before going into his travelling box. Cliff and I took him for a tour around the chickens on site. He was particularly impressed with the other Rhode Island Red chicks in our coop. We explained to him that Napoleon was a nest mate of our chicks. As he left, he said that he would keep Napoleon to breed with his flock. I was so pleased because it shows the quality of Napoleon as a breeding cockerel.

It was just then that my husband arrived with the car. Between us we collected up the harvest from today, several onions and a large kale from Geoff, a punnet of cherries from Cliff and the eggs and dropped it home. We grabbed a quick drink and headed out to Burslem to have a look at some tree trunks for the stumpery. Lots of places have logs all pre-dried for wood burners but the few trunks I have seen online have all cost the earth.

The guy we were going to see had listed them for free! He had four enormous trunks at the front of the house. One was a perfect size and between him and my husband, they got it into the car. The suspension had to work quite hard on the drive back to the allotment! When we arrived, I got the trolley and we positioned the trunk on it and lugged it down to our plot. Grabbing the spade, I dug a hole and we rolled the trunk into place before squashing down the soil around it to ensure it stays in place.

Next, we drove to a friend’s house over Leek way. Her new home is in about an acre of coppice woodland. It’s absolutely stunning. They have been clearing some trees to make room for out buildings and had tons of oak and birch logs, trunks and branches. Very kindly, she offered us anything we fancied from the enormous piles of logs around the woodland. I tried to choose mainly oak for the mushrooms but also logs and trunks covered with moss. I have read it’s important to have moss in your stumpery but I am yet to find somewhere that sells moss. We spent an hour or so chatting and catching up (at a suitable distance from each other) before climbing back into the car and heading back.

I unlocked the allotment gate and we lugged all the oak logs and tree trunks to our plot. Rather than spend time organising them in a rush, I decided to sort them tomorrow. Mary has generously offered us more stumps if we want anymore. I think we may need one more load of logs to finish it off. Although it doesn’t seem a big area, it seems much bigger when you keep dumping enormous tree trunks into it and there is still room for more! We will probably do one more log run to Mary’s to fill the gaps in the stumpery. All that’s left after that is to add mulch and plants to the stumpery.

Tomorrow will be a busy day if the rain holds off – building the main path, organising the stumpery and carting the chippings to fill the new path.

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