Chicken tractors and mole diggers..

As always space is at a premium here at Riverside and more growing space is always needed. I have decided to add a long narrow border alongside the path that leads to the goat sheds. I have put my little chicken tractor on the area and have let my broody hen and her chicks start to clear the area for me..as they eat all the vegetation I move the coop along…and so on… I shall cover the cleared area with cardboard and cover that with well rotted compost, ready for planting.

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I have had some quite severe problems with moles here this season. They appeared back in September last year and spent most of their time  making molehills on the riverbank.. That was fine.. but now they have moved into my veg beds are are also undermining the newly planted fruit trees that I added to my little forest garden area. So I have bought a couple of solar powered sonic mole repellent units. No new molehills have appeared ..yet!

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The veg areas are filling out a bit now.. but it has been incredibly wet and windy here today so some of the plants are looking a little battered.

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…the newly planted willow arches are now green and lush!Image

The borage plants are in flower….

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One batch of elderflower cordial has already been made.. and as more sweetly scented  flowers open more will be made.. always leaving some behind to form berries for later in the season for elderberry recipes.

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Imageand whilst everything grows and blossoms here at Riverside our own latest flowergirl Anemone the goat kid blossoms too.. She is growing fast!

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The geese enjoy the sun in-between the rain.. They are moulting at the moment  so we have feathers everywhere…and Holly is STILL sitting on her eggs. x

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The vivid magenta sparkly centres of tree spinach brighten up a dull day

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Looks like we shall have an abundance of currants..if we get to them before the bird do, when they ripen!

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and strawberries too…Not ripe yet ( grown outside, not under glass or plastic) ..but plenty of fruit on the plants, ready to ripen. Every plant is heavy with fruit. Looks to be a bumper year for strawbs!

ImageDespite the unpredictable wet and windy weather lately, there is a feeling of natural richness here. Image

Everything looks healthy, lush and green!

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Mizuna doing really well. We cannot eat it as fast as it grows.

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and the garlic is due to be harvested soon.

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Lupins adorn the orchard wall border.

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And I have been very kindly gifted this little polytunnel frame, by my lovely cousin…so next season I should be even more prepared for the growing season..Just need to get the plastic cover sorted asap! (Let me know the cheapest option).

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Goosegogs (Gooseberries) are looking good but still unripe. I have four gooseberry bushes here so far.

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All in all it is all looking udderly fantastic.

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….and I think Anemone (nicknamed Nemmie) agrees 🙂

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Recent happenings…

Just a quick catch up and an opportunity to post some photos taken with my new (to me) camera. I am just getting to grips with all the settings on it, so bear with me.

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As is usual it has been a busy few days here at Riverside. I have spent time weeding, watering and planting out more young veg plants and more willow whips. My broad beans are smothered in flowers this year!  So pretty! The garden is looking great and I really feel as though I have made some worthwhile permaculture progress this year with more top and soft fruit planted and more native trees too.

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We  have had a few  Spring hatchings.  As you know we hatched our quail eggs in the incubator a few weeks ago.  You can see the newly hatched chicks here... and you can see the latest photos of them that I took today when I moved them to a larger brooder cage.. They are almost off heat now and are fully feathered, which really shows how fast they mature. The females start laying at just 6 weeks old!

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The wild moorhen ( Mildred)  hatched her babies in a nest on my pond recently too. The chicks have been  making the most of the warmer weather and  have been sunbathing on top of a clump of marsh marigolds with their mum each day,  but they move SO fast that I have failed miserably to get a photo that is worth sharing! I will continue to try, but for now here is a photo of one of the goat kids, Heather, having fun in the sun today.

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My pied Sussex hen (Blackberry) hatched four of her five eggs, but sadly one chick didn’t survive. (See pics of her and her three surviving babies below). Very cute chicks. Two are dark grey with cream under bellies..and one is a pale dusky blue/ cream. An unusual colour. The sire of these chicks was a red and blue frizzle cross called Rowan. He is the friendliest and least aggressive of our cockerels here.  So we shall have to see what their mature feathering turns out to be like! We also have some mixed duck eggs in the incubator due to hatch, the beginning of June.

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One of my geese ( Holly-Hot-Pants)  is sitting tight  on her well-tended, deep feather lined nest and is due to hatch her eggs fairly soon. She is not even coming off to eat and drink  (and is looking a little bedraggled, bless her) so I am running the gauntlet with the gander charging at me every day as I place food and water within her reach.

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We are still awaiting Marigold’s kidding and she is looking fit and well and still has a ravenous appetite. Barley, a blue frizzle cross cockerel, has taken to sleeping with her inside her goat shed  every night and he spends a large part of the day sitting on her hindquarters crowing his head off! They are inseparable!  I think she likes having her back tickled by his feet  🙂

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ImageI have been blessed to have help here this weekend, so some much-needed DIY was definitely in order!

My ex husband ( a builder) has been here helping me to build a long wooden wall planter to replace the small  rickety fence that used to sit on top of the old yard wall but that had rotted so badly that it was falling down bit by bit….In fact one whole panel fell down as I was showing him it!

ImageSo here is a pic of the project whilst it is still unfinished..A work in progress.. It will need staining and lining with plastic feed sacks, to help retain moisture, and then filling with gravel at the base and then compost on top of that. It will eventually be planted out with all edible and medicinal plants.

It gets LOTS of sun, which is great as most of my growing space here is in partial  shade. Sunny growing space is at a premium here,  so every little bit helps.

 I will leave you with a few more recent photos.. Catch you all soon x

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Thank you for dropping by xxxx

Bubble-wrap bonanza

Today we have snow and gale force winds. Temperatures feel colder than they are, with the wind chill factor.

After doing all my usual chores with the animals this morning and carrying hay to the pony paddock in the next village, I set about trying to insulate my tiny lean-to greenhouse. Luckily I had been given a large roll of bubble-wrap by my parents last year, so I had the necessary resources available. So staple gun in hand I set about  lining the interior of my little growing space. It feels much warmer already and doesn’t make too much difference to the amount of light getting through. I didn’t cover the two largest windows as they are made from old double glazed patio doors, so they had no wooden frame to staple the bubble-wrap to (old aluminium frames) and they are insulated anyway.

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I have also laid a layer of bubble-wrap over the trays on the hot bed instead of the single layer of clear plastic and used a few rectangles of it on top of a few trays of seeds too.

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I have also baked two spelt loaves today and made two batches of Kombucha tea.

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Fresh from the oven

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Bottling this week’s Kombucha tea.. Made with green tea and ginger.

I also managed to sow a few more seeds.  I shall germinate these indoors by a window.

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The ponies stayed inside and ate yet MORE hay.

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Springtime. March 2013

…and to end today, a cute photo of my daughter with the goat kids. They are growing fast!

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Hope you have all had a good start to the weekend.

Tomorrow is day 1 of milking Tansy. I have sterilised the milking pail, got the udder wipes and  milk filters ready and a lidded jug to store it in the fridge.

I don’t take away her babies completely and bottle feed them. Instead her goats kids are only separated overnight, within sight of her but in a separate area. I do an early morning milking and then they are put back with her all day, until late the following evening….and so on.

I have yet more hay to collect tomorrow and of course there are always logs to saw and split.

This self sufficiency malarky is not for the faint hearted 😉  But I wouldn’t have it any other way x