Rain was forecast for today. Not just a bit of rain, but what the news was calling ‘Washout Saturday’. When I got up this morning and looked out of the window, the sun was out and the ground slightly damp. And that was it. So much for ‘Washout Saturday’ I muttered to myself as I pulled on my wellies and ambled to the allotment. Not many people were on site when I arrived but I said hello to Steve who proudly showed me the work he has been doing in his polytunnel. Using old polystyrene boxes, he he built a whole row of raised beds. It’s going to be interesting to see how the plants grow in them!
My first job, once I had opened up the shed, was to clear the patio. Being the only non-muddy part of the plot, over the winter, it gets cluttered up. One rubbish bag full and on a roll, I cleared out and tidied the greenhouse. Leia and Flora took great delight in constantly getting in my way, whether it was under my feet or sitting on something that needed moving. All this clearing made the need for sorting out the nest box and greenhouse floor seem more urgent. I removed the food and water bowl and left the girls with strict instructions to eat the remaining food on the floor.
Rummaging in the shed for the brush, I came across the secateurs. For the past few weeks I had meant to trim the willow again – there are a few bits sticking out which need removing. I worked on the willow screen by the shed before slowly making my way down the willow arch on the path side. The other side could wait for another day. Rather pleased with how it looked, I decided to tackle the fruit section. The blackberry bushes have gone berserk the last three years and although I have pruned them, I don’t think I was ruthless enough. Time to remedy that! I hacked my way through the blackberry bushes, rediscovering the tayberry bush only when the thornless blackberries suddenly seemed to have thorns! With the blackberry bushes chopped, I could sort out the pallets which provide a screen to the fruit section behind.
The next job was to clear out the old chicken bedding in the greenhouse. Armed with the brush and a bucket, I cleared the floor. Again, it would have been quicker if two idiotic birds didn’t constantly get in the way. Flora was especially spiteful. Whenever there was a pile of old bedding (mere seconds away from being swept into the bucket) she would sprint to it and start ferociously scratching through it, hurling old bedding everywhere. Eventually, I got it all out and replaced it with new fresh chippings. At least Leia was appreciative, clucking loudly as soon as she could get into the nest box. Here’s hoping for an egg to reward me for my hard work!
Back outside again and I noticed the clouds had started to get a bit darker. Nevermind, it wasn’t going to rain properly. It was already lunchtime and the forecast has said it would rain heavily all day. Now to clear the back part of the plot behind the fruit section. By the time i got to the fruit section, it had begun to rain. Two seconds later, the heavens had opened and a torrent of rain washed over me. Pausing only to wonder at my own idiocy in thinking that the British weather could be relied on to be dry in January, I sprinted back to the shed, throwing open the door and diving inside. For the next ten minutes, I hid in the shed, waiting for it to stop.
Finally, it stopped and the sun came back out. Cautiously, I opened the shed door and gave a look of despair at my now flooded plot. This is the reason why I can never dig over my plot over winter. There are never enough consecutive dry days to allow the plot to drain and give me time to dig before the next deluge hits. I checked on the Little Weed Destroyers, all of whom had had enough sense to hide in the nest box during the rain. To mollify Roxy who is desperate to get out of the run, I threw them some chard and left them to it.
Over in the new coop, Gordon and his gang was busy scratching. They had plenty of food and water so I left them to their own devices, heading across to the main coop. The ground in the main coop was absolutely sodden. My plan to install guttering had been shelved due to the chaos at work the past few months. Seeing the huge puddles on the floor, I knew something needed sorting. Grabbing the form, I dug over the entire coop floor. It took quite a while but it gives them a drier surface to walk on – well until the next monsoon! We have two options to try and keep the run dry: 1) install guttering inside and outside the coop or 2) rebuild the roof. Both would take some doing but in rebuilding the roof, we could also permanently stop the pesky sparrows from invading. Pondering these options, I headed back to the shed.
Realising I was absolutely soaked, I spent several minutes sweeping the shed floor and doing some tidying. Geoff has very kindly given me a huge battery from his mobility scooter. This means the solar system can hold more power and by adding an additional panel, I can power more things. The best use of the solar power would definitely be when the battery powered drill gives up the ghost and you have to stop the project until the next day, waiting endlessly for the battery to recharge. Also, I want to run a solar powered irrigation system in the greenhouse which would add to the amount of power the plot needs.
Anyway, with the chickens fed and watered, the main coop dug over, the greenhouse and shed tidied and the patio clear, I decided to call it a day and head home for a well deserved hot lunch!