best layer of the month # July

July has been hot hot hot!  Not as dry as in some parts of the world since we’ve had a couple of storms and rainfall.  The other week, we had one hell of a storm with high winds which caused havoc: bringing down tree everywhere, which in turn brought down powerlines.  In our orchard, two tree were brought down by the wind

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Hen coops were blown over, and needed immediate repair.  Hens got totally soaked

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but were unharmed.  And Cléo’s trampoline was whirled up in the air and landed about 20 metres farther away, down in the stream!

Stream was turned into a fast flowing muddy torrent

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Anyway . . . the day after the storm, everyone was out with chain saws, local council were out, as well as the electricity company, and power was restored.

Hens don’t seem to have been put off egg laying, despite the heat and storms . . . egg count for this month totalled 89 eggs!  28 laid by Miss Moneypenny, 30 by Mauricette, and a staggering 31 by Miss Plumpton.

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best layer of the month # June . . . and then there were three.

A bit of sadness in the coop this month.  From four hens

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we are now back down to three.

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Who’s missing?  Yup, our lovely red hen, Miranda.  She was suffering from “fly strike”, also known as myiasis, earlier in the month (very gruesome, I’ll let you google if you have a strong stomach).  We did our best to treat her, but to no avail, and we had to make the decision to put her out of her misery.  I say “we”, it was actually the husband who did the deed quickly and efficiently – for which I can never thank him enough.  It would have been inhumane to let her linger.

I really miss not seeing her lovely golden plumage, when hens are all strutting about – she was a lovely hen with a great personality, and in the 3 years she lived here, she laid a total of 726 eggs, so she was en excellent layer too.

Anyway, I’m pleased to say the other gals are all healthy.  Miss Moneypenny has finally got over her broodiness (which seems to affect her every May & June) and is now back out, strutting her stuff.  She’s mainly there just to look pretty these days though, aged 4, we’re not relying on her for our egg supply.

For June, the total egg count was 58 eggs.  1 laid by Miranda before she got “ fly struck”, 3 by Miss Moneypenny, 24 by Mauricette and a staggering 30 by Miss Plumpton, who never seems to take a day off.

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Saying that, Mauricette laid a 110g whopper only the other day – no doubt a double-yolker, but I haven’t cracked it open yet.

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Anyway, our three gals are enjoying the shade of the apple trees in the orchard.

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Temperatures are hot.  35°C today, and forecast says we can expect 37°C tomorrow.

The orchard really is the best place for the hens in the summer months as there’s always a bit of shade.  Apple trees look as if they’ll yield well this year.  I have no idea what varieties we have, but there are two which seem to be cooking apples

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And one which gives nice eating apples.

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They’re not ripe yet, but if they can all stay nice & healthy-looking like that, we should be in for quite a harvest.

Pear trees aren’t doing so well.  We’ve got 2 in the orchard, and 2 in the veggie patch.  The latter are totally without pear, but in the orchard there are a few (probably about a dozen in total).

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The question is: will they ripen, or simply fall off beforehand?

a bit of this & that

Summer officially arrived on 21st June, but we’ve already been enjoying fine weather for a while.  Our spa has been set up in the back garden

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Here it was being filled, but since then, I’ve been enjoying refreshing bubbles late afternoon every day.  I’ve also been doing a bit more cross stitch, with my feet up,  and lots of secret sewing.  Sadly, because of the latter, I realise I don’t have time to make un-birthday gifts this month but hope to have some made for July.

While I won’t be sending any gifts out, I was lucky and received some surprise mail in the post though.  A lovely hand-stitched card from Cathy

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and a little cross stitch kit, plus hand-made card from Carole.

from Carole

This kit was a free gift with Cross Stitch Crazy, and Carole thought I might like to stitch it (which I do! ).  Seeing that lovely design, spurred me into going on the internet and checking out subscription costs for UK xstitch magazines.  I let my subs run out several years ago because I was stock-piling magazines and not really having time to make the most of all the lovely designs.  However, I did miss the delight of receiving a magazine through the post . . . so I’ve just signed up for a 12 months subscription for Cross Stitch Crazy (so thanks for giving me the idea, Carole). 

Most of my stitching time, of late, has been spent trying to make progress on “Getting Ready” for the SAL.  But I did also finish up a small design.

permin robot

A very cute little robot, kit by Permin.  Three shades of grey, black and a bright green.  I’m thinking I might stitch the design a second time but using three shades of a different colour.  Maybe blue, or pink, or green.  In the meantime, I need to get my thinking cap on and decide how to finish this little fellow.  The Permin kit came with enough aida plus a lining fabric and instructions to make a pouch for mobile phone but I’m not too keen on that idea. 

flooding the Close

Well we had a bit of unwelcome excitement last night!

We had rain and a storm  which began around 10pm . . . were woken from our slumbers around 11.30pm by a neighbour banging on the door, and the view outside was

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Now, we have a little stream which runs along the edge of our land . . . but all this water actually came from further upstream.  It seems that upstream, there were tree trunks and branches which were stopping the normal flow, and with the rain, the stream had swelled up out of its banks.  Water, as always, looking for the shortest route to flow . . . and that route, bringing it directly down the little side road in the Close and towards our house.

Luckily, we have quite a high pavement just in front of the house, so the flow swept off at a right angle and continued on its merry way, flooding neighbour’s terrace and surrounding land, until it eventually made its way back to the stream further down.

Neighbours and husband were all outside in wellies until the early hours, tryng to clear the drainholes of silt and debris the waters brought with them.  And suddenly, after a few hours, the waters subsided.

This morning we woke up to mud everywhere, but the ground was surprisingly dry, considering.

As far as I know, only one family had to be evacuated, with around 30cm of muddy water in their house.  We and close neighbours got off lightly.  Our garage has about 2cm of mud which will need clearing and there was also a minor infiltration in my husband’s workshop area.

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But the most urgent job for today was to clear the mud which had settled on pavements and terraces.  The local council were out clearing the “main” road which was under about 5cm of mud and littered with tree trunks and smaller debris.

They’ll also be coming round to assess the damage because, as water flooded down and around, it literally took half the road surface with it.

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Husband even found this amongst the debris

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The stream running along our land is actually lower than it usually is at this time of year, but the current is a lot stronger.

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The banks are high enough here, that there is no risk.  It’s the part farther upstream we need to worry about.

Another storm and more rain is forecast for tonight.  Fingers crossed the stream doesn’t come visiting again because we haven’t finished cleaning from last night yet. And when we’ve finished cleaning mud, we’ve got a pile of sand to shift too.

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That was all deposited there during the night too as the water flooded over the land trying to get back to the stream.  I’m just really glad all our pets were indoors and our hens & veggies patch were not in the flood path.

best layer of the month # May

A big round of applause for our Sussex hen: Miss Plumpton!

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There are 31 days in May, and how many eggs did Miss Plumpton lay???  She laid thirty-one!  Yep, didn’t take a single day out to rest!

Mauricette didn’t do too badly, with 21.  However the older gals are slipping.  Miranda laid 8 and Miss Moneypenny . . . well she’s just been keeping the other hens’ eggs warm, and only laid one egg this month!

So grand total of 61 eggs this month.  Tomorrow we’ll be moving the gals to their “summer residence”: the second coop which is under the apple trees in the orchard.  That will give them lots of fresh pecking ground as well as shade.  I’m hoping the change of scenery will make Miss Moneypenny get over her broody phase which has been going on all month.

prepping in the veggie patch

Husband has been keeping himself busy, while I’ve been lounging with my feet up indoors, preparing the veggie patch for the 2018 crops.  For the moment, he’s still in the prepping stage for most things, so the following pics aren’t going to have you drooling . . . it’s much too early in the season for anything exciting.

The hens are currently fenced in on approx 20m2 of pecking ground and, seeing the egg count, they’re happy enough.

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Husband had the rotovator out yesterday, turning soil on a previous coop site.  Hens were on this plot over the winter months, and everything had become hard, compressed mud.  Now that it’s been turned over, it can be sowed with fresh grass seed so it should grass over in time for October.

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Very soon, though, we’ll be moving hens to their summer residence in the orchard, where they’ll be able to enjoy the shade of the apple trees.

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This little plot is all nicely rotovated, weeded and ready.  Hubby is going to plant flowers on 2 strips, to attract bees and other pollinators, and then a couple of  red pepper, chili and aubergine plants.

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Two artichoke plants are already in, and behind, you can see the rather big, bushy, spikey cardoon plant which is thriving.  I’m not a fan of cardoons but that doesn’t mean we can’t grow them.  To the right, husband has prepared 2 strips where I’ll plant green beans. 

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A few rows of seedlings will need thinning out soon.  Chard to the left and beetroot to the right.

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What looks like a wooden coffin, is the husband’s 2018 trial for potato growing and in those sandy “trenches” . . . he is also trying asparagus this year.  Asparagus won’t be ready to harvest this year, even though the first shoots are popping up.

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Raspberry bushes, which were cut right back, are thriving . . . and we re-planted our strawberry patches with new plants in the autumn which are already starting to flower.  We have 4 little patches, with 9 plants each.

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We’re listening to the neighbours tihs year.  They seem quite knowledgeable about the micro-climate we get here, and their advice is to wait until mid-May before any more planting.    While weather has been very hot this past week (27°C) we’ve heard temps could drop dramatically early May.  And since summer tends to last well into October, there will plenty of time to finish plantations in May and enjoy fresh produce as it ripens.

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Last photo, an overall view of our veggie garden, which is approx 250m2.  With the portable net fencing for hens, waiting to be moved and set up in the orchard.  No photos of the orchard for now as I can’t hobble that far yet.

best layer of the month #March

I haven’t bothered taking any recent photos of the gals these past few weeks, but they’re all well, and strutting around, enjoying the milder weather.

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I have been counting eggs as usual though, as I collect them on a daily basis, and this month there have been quite a few days when I’ve found four eggs, all snuggled up together in the straw. 

Miss Plumpton, however, is our best layer of March.  She only took a rest for 2 days this month, and laid a total of 29 eggs.  Her shells are very pale, compared to the other gals, so very easy to recognise.  Other gals all laid very well too, including the older hens. 

22 laid by Mauricette, 19 by Miranda, and 18 by Miss Moneypenny, so a grand total of 88 eggs in March.  And, yes, neighbours have been enjoying fresh eggs aplenty this month.