Back at the start of December I finished creating the pallet fence along one side of the vegetable garden (read about it here).
And just four days later took it apart again to use the pallets to build the front of the chicken palace because the Avian Flu Prevention Zone measures were enforced.
Last Tuesday, we managed to collect some more pallets from the local business that we buy the pallets from and yesterday I decided to rebuild the fence around the vegetable garden.
The weather was glorious yesterday, it was frosty start but the sun threw a deep pink colour across the smallholding making the frost twinkle. After I had done the morning chores and Mr J had gone to work, I carried the pallets to the annual vegetable garden, put them into place ensuring that I had a pallet at right angles to the fence between each fence pallet and tied them together.
To go around a corkscrew willow tree that is slap bang in the middle of the fence line, I used a double length pallet so that I didn't need to put a cross brace where the tree is planted.
I was so pleased to have some fresh air and sunshine that when I went back inside I opened the patio door and the ground floor windows to air the house.
To celebrate the winter sunshine and that so many of the chickens have come into lay, either back into lay or laying for the first time, I decided to have an egg salad for lunch. Both the smaller chickens that we hatched at the end of July last year that are a cross between the bantam cockerel we had for a short while and either Jack or Diesel (I can't remember which of them) have started laying this week. Two of the Jersey Giant girls have started laying, one of the Australorp chickens (we call her Mrs O) has been laying for around two weeks. A couple of the Cream Legbar girls starting laying again last week, which is fabulous as I had got to the point of thinking that they would never lay again. So we are now collecting around 9 - 12 eggs a day and I expect this to rise as the light levels increase and the days get longer.
I get a huge amount of satisfaction from being able to go to the garden and gather food for our meals and yesterday while a couple of eggs were cooking, I collected some salad leaves from the greenhouse and some lamb's lettuce (corn salad) and spring onions from the vegetable garden.
The rest of the day I was busied myself with cleaning out the chicken house in the field (that is currently home to our meat bird). I was somewhat alarmed to discover that there is red mite in the house, so I cleaned it out as much as I could and sprinkled diatomaceous earth (DE) all around the corners, the perch supports and all the usual hiding spots for red mite. After I had put fresh sawdust in the henhouse, I sprinkled some more DE over the sawdust in the areas that I know the bird sits. Hopefully that will prevent him being bitten by the mites and it will kill them off. Once he has been dispatched, Mr J and I will take the house apart and treat all of the wood including in the joint sections that I can't reach by puffing and sprinkling the DE while the house it together.
Having dealt with the red mite situation as much as I can right now, I went inside, peeled off my outer clothing and put it straight into the washing machine so that I didn't transfer the mite from the house in the field to the other henhouses. I have seen no evidence of mite in the other houses, so wanted to take as many precautions as possible to prevent the spread.
Clean clothing on, I headed back outside just in time to greet our friend the tree surgeon who had arrived with a large trailer load of wood chippings. These comprise mostly of hedging plants and have a fairly high leylandii content, so I don't want that to go onto the garden soil, but these chippings are ideal for use on the pathways in the vegetable garden. The pathways have a weed suppressing membrane over the ground and chippings over the membrane. The chippings will break down over the next couple of years and then I will add it to the soil and then I can put down new chippings on the pathways.
This arrangement with the tree surgeon seems ideal. For his customers who want the waste wood cleared away from their property, he needs to either store the chippings, take them to a tip (which has a cost implication for him) or he can deliver them to someone who can make use of them (me!). I now have a long term source of wood chippings and once the pathways are all covered, I can leave the heaps of chippings in situ for a year or so to let it break down before adding it to the garden. When he delivers chippings that do not have a leylandii in them I can make wood chip heaps in the chicken fields and let them scratch through the chippings (which they love to do), turning them (which they are very good at doing), adding their manure (which they do naturally) and helping it to break down quickly.
It was a very satisfying day and exhausted, I fell asleep on the sofa by 9pm. If you'd like to see my day on today's vlog you can find it here or click on the video below.
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