Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Amongst other things...

There's a gap on the perch of the Henhouse-on-Wheels tonight. Mrs Scraggy-Neck has clucked her last. She is no more. The matriarch of my small flock has gone to her final roost.

At 7 years old she was the last of my original hens. A good layer in her day but latterly an indulged older bird. She'd earned the right to first dibs at pellets and corn and the right to peck viciously at any lesser bird bold enough to stick its beak in before she did. I was quite surprised at just how heavy her lifeless corpse was - not many dinners missed there methinks.

For the curious she earned her name via a run-in with Chester, the 'brave' hunting dog. He grabbed her head, she dodged, skin tore and ouch! That must have hurt. I suppose on the basis of 'whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger' she survived, recovered and thrived - but bald of neck and one ear less.
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Hasn't this weather been wonderful? The farmer's tan is coming on nicely thank you...but I can't bring myself to shed sufficient clothes  to make myself less piebald. It is only March for heaven's sake!

The garden has called. Beds have been tidied - jobs which should have been done in the back end' really. I never feel too guilty when I see Monty Don on Gardeners' World as behind as I consider myself to be. If it's alright for Monty, it's alright for me.

I've had a go at digging out some of the bindweed which has plagued us for the last few years. Our garden was a virgin plot in 2005 so I can only assume it came in as miniscule pieces in the topsoil. Click on the link to find out more about what is in reality a very attractive plant - particularly when growing somewhere else. I'm rather depressed to discover its roots can penetrate up to 5 metres deep - and know all about spreading rapidly. However I'm quite pleased with the amount I dug out yesterday - there's something rather satisfying about unearthing and carefully extracting the fleshy white roots. I've decided it is actually quite a clever plant and knows where it will be safe - lodged in the roots of something precious perhaps or down where the top soil becomes impenetrable shale.

Seeds have been sown in the greenhouse and outside a bed of Broad Bean 'Express' and another of Peas - 'Hurst Greenshaft', have been put in. I have grown both before and they have proved good do-ers. Also at the last count we have 12 spears asparagus looking promising - this is a tad earlier than last year.

Above, in another fuzzy iPhone photo, is fat white Wilson sunbathing on the newly sown peas. Nice warm earth I suppose. Persuading him to get off without disturbing the soil too much was a trial....and then I turned around and he'd got back up again. It doesn't really matter if a few peas are askew does it?
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Lambing is well under way over at Fir House - what wonderful weather for it too. As the ewes lamb they spend 24 hours or so penned and bonding with their lambs and then they can come out onto the hill. At first they are put in smaller fields so the bonding process can continue - a post-partum sheep is easily confused I understand and in smaller groups there is less likelihood of lambs getting lost or muddled up.

We now have ewes and lambs on our little fields - slightly nervy mothers and their tiny offspring, scraps of things - almost too small for the big red numbers painted on their sides. They arrive in the stock trailer from Fir House and are decanted onto the grass - their first taste of the great outdoors.

Now here is something of an interesting observation. I've leaped to my feet I don't know how many times today at what I've assumed to be the imminent arrival of lambs in the stock trailer. But no - some bird out there can imitate the squeaks, rattle and jolt noise of said trailer as it bounces down the lane. Just as back in the day starlings latched on to the warble of that 70s style icon the 'Trim phone'  and had homeowners running to answer that non-existent call. Clever eh?
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PS I have another Herman friendship cake on the go. Anybody want a portion? 

10 comments:

Cro Magnon said...

Sorry to hear about your hen. How did the others react; just walk over her?

mountainear said...

Cro - Yup. Just another obstacle on the way to the feeder.

elizabethm said...

We have a matriarch too but ours is hanging on determinedly, giving no eggs and no quarter.
I love the photo of Wilson. There is a dog who knows how to have fun.

bayou said...

How sad about the hen. We too, have bindweed, it grows in that rose called Raubritter and it's a pest, in fact the combination is. Looking forward to how much asparagus you shall get this year. I too, love Monty. He makes it look all so easy.

Fennie said...

Sorry about the hen. Natural causes I take it? and not something amiss - fox, or even Master Wislon. Ah well, I guess she'll be pushing up the peas now. I envy you asparagus. We just don't have enough space.

Pondside said...

Love that photo of Wilson - he's got the right idea.
The Herman Cake? I'll have to pass, as I'm sure I'd be put on some sort of watch list if a substance of that nature ever came to my address by mail.

Zoƫ said...

Sorry about the Hen - 7 years seems a very good age though.

I have just started sowing too - difficult to decide what to go with though with the impending hosepipe ban beginning next week for the forseeable future.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Wilson doesn't go in for Rip Van Winkle naps , I hope . I suddenly had visions of an extra long siesta ending with him entwined in bindweed .
Mrs. Scraggyneck sounds rather like one of my great grandmothers .... a force to be reckoned with rather than an old dear to be cuddled .

Val + the Girls- BK +CK said...

Our elderly bantam has spent most of the winter in the laundry in a pet carrier on top of the dryer..where she chats quite sociably whilst chores are carried out.
Hopefully she'll make it to the thaw and have a Summer of the sun on her back :0)

Friko said...

All sounds tickety-boo up on the mountain. Weeds, lambs and other creatures doing well and spring progressing apace.

Hasn't it been wonderful?