Thursday 25 August 2011

The Beginning: A summer review...

I love these late summer mornings; rising early, just after Hubby leaves for work, means I get some precious time on my own, before a sleepy sproglet emerges demanding attention. After Spring, this is my favourite time of year, there is still a warmth to the sun but you can feel the allure of the cool Autumn in the gentle breeze.

Last night we finally had rain on the hills after a two week heat wave, offering welcome respite from trekking heavy watering cans to the new 30m long hedge we've planted. All the laurel plants home grown I'm proud to say.

Over the past six weeks life seems to have been all about the living and less about recording our achievements or failures. I've written my daily words in my little black book fairly consistently but I've fallen into bed at the end of a day without translating my thoughts or deeds to blog-land. Sorry, I aim to start catching you up starting today.

We've had plenty of success in the smallholder department this year: The new allotment gave up almost 150kg of potatoes but dragging them from virgin soil was a very painful exercise. The bonus is that they taste amazing and we are in no need of a gym. We planted Charlotte, Desiree, Nicola and Lady Christl. For my money the Nicola potatoes were most productive followed by Charlotte, Desiree and last Lady Christl. They have supplied us with food for months at a cost of approximately £12 for new seed potatoes. We made up the difference by planting the remainder of last years potatoes.

The flock numbers continue to fluctuate...flocktuate..geddit? God I'm funny! Not! Anyhoo, yesterday there was a big-hen death; a cough a wheeze and wham-bam she was on her back, legs to the sky. No idea what that was about. The 8yo was relieved that the hen dispatched herself, she really doesn't like it when I have to do the pully-neck thing. I'm not so keen either and I'm pretty sure the hens are against it too.

Today we have 10 bantams, made up of one white mum and 9 chicks of various shades. 5 girls, who have just come into lay and 4 boys. All of them are pretty annoying to be honest, being tiny enough to nip through the gate or nimble enough to fly over the stone defences into my preciously guarded walled garden! The 4 boys are now destined for market in a couple of weeks time as I've had enough of their cock fighting. Also they've taken to jumping their sisters and their mother [absolutely revolting] so, together with the squeeky attempts at cock-a-doodle-doing and the fact that they really piss off our main rooster, they're outta here!

We've still got Rooster obviously and his girls number just 9 now, which is why we decided to allow Archie to go broody, to see if we could increase our production of eggs. Archie hatched out 8 healthy chicks and all are doing well to date. Unfortunately 5 or 6 look like being boys and judging by their legs - huge boys! Yet more for the market! If I make any money at the sale I think I'll just buy some more big girls. I need more big eggs.

The bantam eggs are cute but tiny and finding them is a bit of a challenge too. The latest nest is in the middle of my strawberry patch. Every day is an Easter egg hunt day here at The Larches. Such fun, such fun! .... warped smile...

Well it's lunch time now and I've been in and out all morning working in the garden and down the fields picking blackberries. Can you believe it is that season already? Little by little I've updated this post when I've popped in for coffee but I've just noticed that the damsons are ripe for the picking so I'm off to denude the trees now while it's fine. I'll write more later in the week, no doubt with purple fingers.... Love and a kiss..

BTW If the video of the chicks doesn't appear on your email, click on the title of the post to see the blog post on the web. See ya!


  1. Sounds like a successful summer of planting and picking. What hens do you get your biggest eggs from?

  2. I still envy you your lifestyle!

  3. the cake chick: We have 9 ex-battery hens. They are big, soft browns, hybrids of two breeds presumably so the industry gets the best from both breeds, good egg layers, and sexable at hatching. We rescued them from a local battery farm for £1 each and they get to finish their days roaming at The Larches. Actually we're getting quite a few double-yolkers lately.

    James: It is great isn't it? Though sometimes, making jam into the wee hours I feel a little weary!


The Archers at The Larches

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Snowy and Moon

Snowy and Moon