Another year gone! It seems only yesterday that it was the start of 2022. Doesn’t time fly when you are having fun? I always love spending today looking over the blog, reminding myself of all the changes, successes and failures during the year. I’ve tried to pick out some of my most memorable adventures but if I have failed to mention your favourite moments, I apologise! There are always so many escapades during the year, there isn’t space to cover them all!
Our chickens have been the source of much amusement and entertainment this year. Cirrus hatched four beautiful chicks which kept her busy, Trixie became the leader of the Topknot Gang and we welcomed several new girls to our flock (Silkies: Arcus, Cumulus and Aurora; Booted Bantams: Gertie, Winnie and Coco). The new silkies and Coco have settled in well and delight in terrorising the other half of the Topknot Gang! Arcus especially relishes getting into the other Omlet to eat the others food. Typically, Nimbus and the others haven’t a clue what to do and just wait in the nest box until Arcus gets bored and leaves! Coco functions on the same wavelength as Arcus but is much more brazen. Her favourite place to perch is on the handle of our George Foreman Grill. Or to sunbathe on the dining room floor. She’s so sneaky about getting into the house that I have walked past her on more than one occasion only to realise she had snuck inside when my husband spotted her on the kitchen counter!
Sadly, we lost several of our girls this year including Pirate Chicken, Roxy, Lilja, Leia, Alba, Sadie, Little Miss and Winnie to a range of different issues including old age. Speaking of old age, Maude and Mavis continue to thrive despite their advanced age (I estimate at least 7 years old). Whenever I go to their coop, I get greeted by gentle clucking. That is until I produce treats, then I get roundly shouted at until they have their beaks full of food. Another big change in the coops was the rehoming of Tommy and Gordon. This was utterly heartbreaking as they were lovely boys who looked after their girls brilliantly. Tommy is now living the life of Riley in a one acre enclosure with four girls whilst Gordon is loving life with two big girls at Duster’s Ark. For next year, we probably won’t hatch anymore chicks…but then again, you never know if anyone will go broody!
A more recent adventure was the rescuing of Quentin Quimby, our little quail. Unbelievably, he survived being fed to a cat and overcame the shock to wake us at an ungodly hour in the morning with his screeching. Promptly, we put him outside and bought two beautiful girls to keep him company, Queenie and Quinn. They are quite the little trio who enjoy capering around Quail Mansions together.
But these aren’t the only animal adventures we have had this year. One of the most memorable was finding a fledgling robin at the back of the site. The adorable little bird sat in the sunshine resting after learning how to fly. But the most dramatic rescue has to go to the wood pigeon we found injured on Geoff’s plot. An emergency dash to the RSPCA Wildlife Hospital was made to try and get the bird medical care.
The weather this year has been a difficult opponent, swinging wildly between melting temperatures, peaking at 38 degrees, and freezing temperatures, dropping as low as minus 8 degrees. The maximum temperature range of 46 degrees is incredible and reflects the increasing challenge of trying to grow crops and keep poultry in a rapidly changing climate. The soil on the plot was rock hard in the summer and absolutely sodden in the winter. The willow, now it’s established, is helping keep one side of the plot drier but the other side still needs some work. The hot weather led to an absolutely bumper fruit harvest this year. We had so many apples, pears and berries that we couldn’t use them all. Even when we filled the freezer and gave some away, there was still tons left over. The fruit trees need pruning as several of the branches have snapped under the weight of the fruit. It’s unlikely we will have such a big harvest next year as the trees will need to recover.
One of the major projects this year was putting a new roof on the Main Coop. Our efforts, over three wet weekends, paid dividends when Flockdown was enforced and the blasted gang of marauding sparrows could break in. It was a mammoth task and the endless rain didn’t help as it bowed the new roof panels. The addition of the wooden beams have made sure the roof panels do their job. Once Flockdown is lifted, we will play Musical Chickens to give the ground in the Main Coop a rest after six years of constant use.
One of my proudest moments was capturing a swarm solo. Having worked with Phil and Steve with the bees over the years, I knew what to do. Although I was very lucky that the swarm had settled on a low hanging branch. This summer there were so many swarms, we could hardly keep up! Another highlight was teaching a group of home schooled children about the bees and how to look after them. I think their favourite part was dressing up in my bee suit!
My big project for the greenhouse I decided to postpone until next year as I still need to source a few more bits and work out where the biggest parts will go. So watch this space! The greenhouse needs some maintenance this year with new glass and a full clean out ready for a new growing year. The shed too needs a little work and a new coat of paint.
This is what I love about allotmenting. There is always something new to try, new to grow and new to learn. Each season provides an opportunity to adapt or change. If something doesn’t work, it just means you try something different next time. So from our plot to you, we wish you a very Happy New Year!
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