The weather is still dry which is very helpful, and I am pleased to say that Pecky has laid an egg.
I am reading a lot of articles about people who no longer want their chickens (keeping chickens has become very popular in the last few years). I think this is because people do not realise what is involved in chicken care. Even the good point - egg production - when the chickens are laying, they lay one egg per day each. Even when we had two chickens, this could sometimes be too many to use, and some people have lots of chickens. We have recently been asked to take on a flock of 18 chickens and 2 ducks!!! Also, I have read recently that people do not realise that for part of the year, chickens do not lay eggs at all. The other thing that I expect people do not realise is how much poo a chicken can produce in a day...my lovely illustration shows the poo removed from the chicken house this morning . This is from one chicken in one day and does not include the poo left outside. I am determined to keep Pecky as clean as possible, I am cleaning her out everyday and there is newspaper on the floor to collect her deposits. She has lots of space and dry and fresh food, which I am hoping will improve her general wellbeing, but this is obviously extra work for me. Much as I love animals, they do take time and commitment. Her poo and dirty bedding also can go in the compost!
I then go up to the 'bee area' and plant 100 mixed daffodil/narcissus bulbs to add to those I planted last year, whilst I am there I take out any major weeds like brambles and nettles.
I then start on a list of what I need to do...people often say to me at this time of year that they expect my gardening jobs have finished for the year, they seem surprised when i say I am working outside everyday! I start to list which bulbs need planting next, some are more urgent than others eg. Daffodils and Narcissus need to go in first and I've noticed that some of the Grape Hyacinths are already sprouting, and English bluebell bulbs go mouldy quickly because they don't have the same protective skins as a Daffodil. I also notice that the Dahlias were zapped by the frost two nights ago, these will now have to be taken up (there are more than 200!) and put somewhere - probably in the cold frames - to dry off, before they are put into store. I can then replant their beds with tulip bulbs.
I then go inside to order the grape vines from The Pomana Fruits catalogue - 8 Muscat Bleu (black grapes), 8 Polo Muscat (white grapes), 5 Pheonix (white grapes), 5 Regent (black grapes), and 4 Strawberry Vine (red grapes). These are all vines that are hopefully suitable for outdoor growing and are sweet enough to eat but also suitable for wine making. At the same time I ordered two white current bushes - White Versaille - and two Pink Currant bushes - Gloire De Sablon. These are to add to the fruit cage because last year, Parker's sent me 3 extra Gooseberry Bushes instead of White currants and I didn't realise the mistake until they came into leaf!
I then started planting some of the Grape Hyacinth bulbs along the front of the fruit cage border adjacent to the mini orchard.
I was interrupted by the delivery of two large boxes from Parker's containing the collection of 240 ground cover plants, 48 Aubretias, and 15 Alstromeria tubers. I sorted out the boxes and had to come in to teach one student at 4:00, but because I had a gap between 4:30-5:30, I went back into the polytunnel to pot up the Aubretia plants, managing to plant 36 before I went back inside to teach.