Thinning, Transplanting and Intercropping Lettuces

The Tom Thumb butterhead lettuces now have 5 leaves, growing well but desperately in need of thinning and transplanting. Their little root systems are quite well developed so yesterday I set some time aside and got to work. This is how the rows looked before I started:

 Tom Thumb Lettuce Seedlings

I transplanted as many of the seedlings as I could into rows in a neighbouring empty bed.

And now……..

 Rows Of Tom Thumb Lettuce Seedlings

 Seeing as there were quite a few left over once the spare bed was planted up, I decided to intercrop some of them with the cauliflowers.

Lettuce Intercropped With Cauliflower

Hopefully this will work well. They all have plenty of space to put on growth and heart up. I’m not worried about a bit of slug damage or the odd loss, most of these lettuces are being grown to feed the hens anyway hence why there are so many. The very scrawny seedlings left over after I had finished thinning , transplanting and intercropping were fed to the hens and devoured in seconds. Nothing is wasted around here!

First Harvest

radish harvest

Here it is, our very first harvest of the year, well, from seed anyway if you don’t count rhubarb which we have coming out of our ears. Not literally but you know what I mean! Yes its those fab little radishes all grown up, willing and waiting to be devoured. I’m sowing them like crazy now to keep up with the family’s demand!

Radish – What a Fab Little Veg

Radish

This is the first year that we have grown radishes, they will not be left off our list again. What a useful little crop they have proved to be. They grow amazingly fast so you can sow them between rows of slow growing crops, making the best use of the available space. We are about to harvest our first sowing of globe radish already.

Sow them every 2 weeks or so to ensure a succession of crops rather than all at once. They really do grow so fast that too many at once could be easily wasted. Which varieties do you like to grow?

Scruffy, Rebellious or Something Else?

Rose Running

At the end of last year I blogged about one of our chickens, Rose, the fact that she seems to have been stuck in some kind of strange moult since like forever. I’m afraid to say she still has not feathered up. In fact, she is worse than ever. Now I don’t know whether or not she is just one rebellious old boot, preferring to be a scruff monster, or, that maybe just maybe she is on the change. OMG.

I have noticed that she now has tiny spur like knobbles on the back of her both her legs, the very part of the leg that spurs would be present if on a cockerel. Also, her wattles now hang much lower than before, they are noticeably bigger and boy like. When Rose came to us in April 2008, although a tatty teddy she was pretty well feathered for an ex batt, OK apart from missing neck feathers but still not bad at all. Not long after her arrival she just went into a permanent state of moult. All different parts of her and stages that have seemed to take such a long time to finish, so much so that she would start a new moult somewhere else on her body before she had. She lost all her head and neck feathers, regrew them but then lost them all straight away. This has been going on for some time now. She has this habit of over preening herself, pulling and plucking new feathers as she does it. But then again she does have a twisty beak so perhaps preening is just not easy for her.

 I can rule out  a few potential reasons such as being bullied, boredom, lice, mites, lack of protein, poor quality feed etc but I still cannot work out why she is like this. Right now she resembles a scrubbing brush. She is healthy, laying OK (but not as often as she was for that matter) and doing everything that chickens like to do. I cannot work it out. If someone out there has the magic answer I would dearly like to know. I would love to see Rose fully feathered and looking beautiful. Perhaps she is just, well, getting on a bit?

Flower Power

img_0250sep2008blog

Chickens and fragile flowers, hmmm, sadly not a great mix. Even though our back garden is fairly well groomed for chicken owners, we are reluctant to plant any new and unestablished perennials, or, dare we say, flimsy annuals for that matter. Gulp. They just would not last 5 minutes with chickens on the hunt for bugs and slugs. So, our front garden has been our focus for being daring and bold with colourful perennials, at least here they are safe from over enthusiastic chicken feet.

Our choice of planting have been those that add colour and drama, that give that punchy wow factor such as giant foxgloves, lupins, titan sunflowers and echinacea. Perhaps a little cottage like in the choice but they have always been my kind of thing. Oh, and I have thrown a couple of shrubs into the mix. Much to my mums horror I have included hydrangeas, you know, the big mop head in your face type. Some may argue (like my mum) that they are old fashioned blah blah blah but I really love them! I have never seen a pink turn blue in the past, mainly due to the wrong soil conditions, but, I have a sneaky inkling that the soil here may be slightly acidic, so, if we also have aluminum present in the soil already, we might get lucky. Even just a flush of blue would be nice.

Our choice of flowers will hopefully keep the bees, butterflies and other nectar collecting insects happy as well as passers by. We want people to be drawn to the planting arrangement and colour, to be given a ‘lift’, to place a smile upon the faces of folk as they pass by whilst walking their dog or taking their children to school. Many gardens that I pass by each day make me feel exactly this way. I must look like a crazy person in this day and age society, smiling away at flowers, sometimes running my hands over luscious foliage that’s crying out to be touched. Oh, and I’m not only talking about my own plants either, maybe one of these days someone will be a little concerned for my well being and make that call, I will be carted off by the people in white coats for acting strangely outside peoples front gardens. Whoops. Seriously though, perhaps I’m just an old fuddy duddy stuck in a younger persons body, I don’t know, but I do know what I like.

Growing Our Own

veg beds

I’m so pleased with our vegetable garden now, particular because it was such hard graft to get anything growing in the first place. The whole plot was a jungle only a few months ago, you could barely access any of it let alone dig it. All the hard work has paid off and now we have vegetables happily growing away. So what have we been growing and sowing so far?

Sweet corn, Pentland Crown main crop potatoes, Charlotte salad potatoes, two varieties of broad bean (tall & dwarf) mange tout pea, red & white onions, garlic, runner beans,  courgette, Brussel sprouts, parsnips, main crop carrots, butterhead and cut & come again lettuce, radish, beets, rhubarb, tomatoes, cauliflower and we some chillies growing inside. We grew tried growing chillies last year and had reasonable success with them, although the chillies refused to go red on the plants. This is all a big step up from what we grew last year, we still have a lot to learn with regards to vegetable growing but so far so good.

The foundations that we discovered a while ago have now all been removed and soil replaced to fill in the trenches that were left. We have been left with a perfect brown rectangle in the lawn, a sprinkle of grass seed will soon put that right. The Marjorie’s Seedling plum has recently been planted into its final position but we need to wait a little longer before planting our apple trees. We are having a new fence erected at the end of the garden as well as having the soil leveled with mini digger. We did manage to level off half of it by hand but the job proved too time consuming and back breaking that we felt that we needed a bit of machine power. And a well earned rest! This should all be happening middle of next month, then we can think about planting our apple trees finally and perhaps getting another fruit tree, perhaps a pear.

Our New Ex Batts

Ive been so busy lately that I have been neglecting the blog a little, also our readers blogs. So sorry! I shall make some time to get back into the swing of blogging a bit more than I have. I just don’t seem to have enough hours in the day lately.

Anyway, I realise its also been quite some time since I updated the photos of our new ex battery hens that we re-homed in February from Free At Last hen rescue. As some will recall, we lost our dear Shazzy hen and were left with 3 rather scraggy hens. Well, here is how they look now:

Auntie Marge

Brenda

Chrissie

Brenda seems to be doing well since recovering from sour crop which is good news. On a sadder note, Chrissie has gone on to develop EYP. She was a bit of a mess in the egg laying department when she arrived but she did lay. I want to point out that I specifically asked for needy ex batts this time, so these sort of problems I’m afraid come with hens that have been pushed to the limit. I’m not at all sorry that I did, they have brought me much joy which far outweighs the sad times. Chrissie’s EYP is manageable at the moment, I shall keep a close eye on how she copes with it and take it from there. Its all I can do.

I thought I would do a photo comparison that some may find interesting, it also shows why I do what I do! Below is a photo of Auntie Marge on the day of her rescue from a battery farm. Her condition was shocking, as were the other 3 hens we rehomed with her due to spending a longer period of time than usual in the battery farm. This was all down to an increase in egg sales over the Christmas period. I would like to thank those people who contributed to her longer sentence by knowingly buying eggs from caged hens. Not!

Auntie Marge

A few months later this is the same hen, not completely feathered up yet but much healthier and happier.

Auntie Marge

Little Hen Rescue Need Homes For 10,000 Battery Hens

Little Hen Rescue desperately need homes for the last remaining battery hens of a farm due to shut down. The slaughter man has been booked by the farmer for 29th June, these hens will be slaughtered unless homes are found ASAP. After spending 18 miserable months of their short lives in a hell hole, never seeing daylight or grass, never knowing what the sun feels like on their backs, they will be held by the legs and roughly put into crates, loaded up like rubbish and killed. All for cheap crappy eggs.

Many co-ordination points have and are being set up to accommodate as wide an area for re homing as possible. If you can give a home to some very needy hens, or can help in other ways ie putting up posters or donating, please contact LHR @ http://www.littlehenrescue.co.uk

If you have been thinking about re homing some ex battery hens but are unsure, please feel free to join the Ex Battery Hens Forum for very friendly and helpful advice  http://www.exbatteryhens.com

If you are a blogger, please pop a post on your blog to help raise awareness.

Please, support LHR and help them to get these hens out.

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