Evenings at the allotment

After work today I ambled down the allotment. Although it’s been a lovely week, it has been exhausting and I was glad the week was over. When I arrived, my first job was to water the loofa plants. I can’t believe how much they have grown since I last came down. I am sure if you watched them for a couple of hours, you would see them grow! Two of the vines have reached the string and are busy climbing upwards. The third smaller one is getting there. Who knows, maybe by tomorrow morning it will have reached the string?

For a while I sat on the veranda, enjoying the sound of the water in the pond and the birds chattering away. There really is something special about being outdoors. Something soothing to the soul. The Japanese have developed a new therapy for those suffering with depression, stress and anxiety called Forest Bathing. Basically, spending time walking in the outdoors (often forests) and enjoying the sights and sounds of nature. Ridiculous name aside, there is something in it. After a few minutes in the sunshine, I always feel so much better.

Remembering that our little white leghorn pullet had been moved into Steve’s coop, I walked across to see how she was doing. It took me a few seconds to spot her as she was hidden behind a black leghorn. She is relatively easy to spot because she is about a third smaller than the others. The others seem to have accepted her completely without any fuss or bother which is great. I also managed to spy the beautiful little Swedish Flower Hen. Phil and Steve have kindly offered to keep her until we are able to have her. I’m still trying to work out a name for her – something Swedish seems appropriate!

Next, I went to check on our chickens. Leia was looking slightly frazzled. Despite only having 4 chicks to look after, I think she has had enough of being a mum for the time being. We will just wait until the remaining chicks are a few days older before we put her back with the other girls. In the main coop, everyone was perched in the shade enjoying a late afternoon snooze.

I began to clear out the nest box when Phil appeared holding a piece of cardboard in one hand and his keys to the Community Garden in the other. We stopped and had a chat. He and Steve have big plans for breeding two different types of leghorns next summer. He also plans to do a full coop overhaul before the chicks move into the bigger coops. Steve has a contact who can get large quantities of bark chippings cheaply and I asked if we could chip in for some when we dig over the coop floor in the next few weeks.

The Queen he has ordered a few days ago had finally arrived. Several days later than planned, I was worried that the Queen may not have survived. The enclosure always has a fondant food source but it’s often small. Not designed for spending a few days in the postal system. As I looked at the Queen enclosure more carefully, I spotted her and one worker who was busy feeding her. Unfortunately, the other two worker bees had died. Phil arrived back in full bee suit, armed with the smoker and we made a start. He removed the top half of the hive to get to the brood box and I pressed the Queen enclosure into the wax on the frame. Then we replaced the frame and put the hive back together. Initially, the bees were very interested in the Queen. The workers all dashed towards her. Two things will happen over the next couple of days: the colony will accept her, or they will kill her. Such are the perils of royalty. If they kill her, the colony won’t survive. We decided to do a check on Hive 6 on Monday when they had had a chance to settle down.

After Phil left, I went back into the coop to check on Pop. I found her in a corner having a sleep. Picking her up, I was pleased to find she had a full crop and seemed to know where her feet were more than on Wednesday. She was certainly much more alert and even spent several minutes preening herself. I refreshed her water bowl and gently put her back into the nest box. My plan to check whether her crop is working efficiently is to just let her have access to water and no food overnight. Ideally, her crop should be flat and empty in the morning. It’s a relief that she is still showing signs of improvement. I think spending the day outside in the fresh air has helped perk her up too.

Walking up the central path, I spotted something odd in the Stumpery. The large stump that nearly broke both our car and my husband suddenly seemed to be sprouting leaves. Rachael had taken a look at it when it first arrived and suggested it might be a Goat Willow. These grow massive and can cause lots of issues. To ensure we don’t have any problems with it trying to regrow itself, I grabbed the saw from the shed and spent a few minutes hacking off the new growth. Hopefully this should ensure the trunk doesn’t regrow.

Upon my arrival back home, I discovered that my mushroom dowels have arrived! Tomorrow I will soak the logs to prepare them and propagate the logs over the weekend. The long overdue chicken coop clean will also be done. We also need to plan when we will dig over the coop and replace the chippings.


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