Hen Update (2)

Sadly we lost our remaining two hens. I forgot for once to close their outer door and they were taken in the night by a fox. I was woken in the night by noises but turned over and went back to sleep. It was very sad 8-(

We now have three warrens which we acquired from a relatively local breeder. Although all brown they do have their differences and now that I have watched them I can differentiate between them though I have also put coloured rings on two of them to help! They are Amber (the lightest and more yellow of the three), Ruby (the reddest) and Sapphire.

So far they have been amazing layers! They have each laid an egg a day, every day, all the way through December and January and are still laying! One of the girls is beginning to lay slightly later but there has been no other variation in their supply of beautiful eggs.

I am now looking forward to warmer days and introducing the girls to the compost heap.

Hen update

I haven’t posted much recently and certainly not about our hens. Sadly Beryl (the Bluebell) died a short while back. She seemed perfectly fine but one day she sat down and her head dropped to the floor. I saw her and picked her up, brought her into the warm but she died within half an hour. I understand that chickens try not to show illness as this highlights them to predators as easy pickings. We will have to consider what we do about replacing Beryl.

Sheila. our Light Sussex, continues to supply us with eggs on a regular basis thought the colour of the shell varies a huge amount. Just the other day we had a completely white egg followed the next day by a brown one!

Wendy (the Warren) has had a wheeze and a sneeze since last year and wasn’t laying. We have been trying to nurse her back to health and recently she has sounded a lot better and started laying mini eggs. Here are some next to one of Sheila’s eggs, you can see them getting larger.

Compost to compost

I’ve just had the joy of turning one compost heap into a new bay with the help of our new puppy Charlie. The compost looks fantastic this year, probably due to the introduction of chickens to the garden last year which has resulted in a lot of chicken manure rich wood chip which I have mixed with other garden waste and it has cooked up well. Charlie has had his nose in it and has given it his approval. It has taken twice as long to turn but that has given me time to observe his young puppy body as it tries to turn over worms and wood lice, plus a chance to notice the aches and pains in my body which is suffering from lack of exercise after being knocked off my bicycle several weeks ago.

I’m not sure what I / we would do if I were to be seriously injured or taken ill. Although the garden has had a lot of work put in to make it more low maintenance it still needs that physical input. Do I need to put more planning into that possibility? Or do I ignore it and hope that I will keep fit for another xx years? Perhaps that is what community is partly about? After all, one day they will be saying “compost to compost” over me and I will have to pass my small plot on – maybe that is better done as a gradual transition rather than a crisis step.

More thinking needed!


This year we have had a lot of Honesty appear in the woodland area of our garden. This was one of my mother’s favourite wild flowers.


Honesty is popular with insects and is often planted under fruit trees to encourage bees and fruiting bushes. In the US it is known as the “silver dollar” plant because of the appearance of it’s seed pods

Gooseberries and sawfly

After being reasonably successful last year with our gooseberries – we sheet mulched under the plants to stop sawfly – we are going to experiment with Poached Egg Plant this year. I came across this as a recommendation a few years ago and we now have enough plants to try them out under the gooseberries. Our chickens are also very fond of Poached Egg Plant and I wonder what nutritional value it has.

Poached Egg Plant under gooseberry plants

Poached Egg Plant under gooseberry plants


We need to defend the Earth with the same ferocity we would evoke if it were our home, because it is. We need to defend its inhabitants with the same passion as if they were our family members, because they are. We need to defend our lands, communities and cultures as if our lives depended on it, because they do.

Mark Boyle – Drinking Molotov Cocktails With Gandhi

New wood store

Our old wood store has seen better days, is in the wrong place and looks ugly so the challenge was to build a new one close to the back door where it is easily accessible, gets the morning sun to help keep the wood dry, is more pleasing on the eye and has a smaller footprint than the old one. And it had to be built using “waste” materials. So here it is:



The main frame is from an old stud partition wall that was ripped out from next door and the roof cover is from another neighbour’s fence which they replaced. Most of the bottom half of the firewood is from Leeds Coppice Workers. The old wood store will be moved further up the garden to store and dry freshly cut wood from the garden.

Verdict so far: the wife seems happy and the chickens loved picking out the bugs from between the wood. Hopefully there are plenty of spaces in the store for insects to hide.


Grey Dagger Moth Caterpillar

I was pruning back some of the lower branches of an oak tree in our hedge this morning in order to let in a bit more light and to provide some more firewood. When I took a break for a cup of tea I found this little fellow on my arm:

It is a grey dagger moth catterpillar and it feeds on a wide variety of tree leaves. You can see more about it and the moth it develops into on Wikipedia and other websites.