Duvet time

peepingchickapr11
I haven't really got a lot to write this evening, but I just had to share this adorable picture (I know I'm a little bias, but still...) of one of our week-old chicks peeping out from under the warmest, most snuggly feather duvet in the world.

If you'd like to see more cute chick photographs, there are a few just added to the photo album.

Let's see if our hit counter goes up again, simply because I've used a 'chick' tag. Who knew there were so many people out there into chicks? Although I think there may have been a few stray visitors among them, who were looking for something a little different, and possibly a little less feathery.

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New arrivals

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I helped save a life this morning. It's not every day you can say that, however small that life happens to be, so it feels pretty good.

When I went to check on the chickens this morning a forlorn, 'just hatched' wet chick was lying still, a little way from the hen. When I gingerly picked it up I expected it to be dead, but although it was far too cold, it still had a bit of life in it.

My instinct was to cup the tiny thing in my hands and gently blow on it, which it responded positively to, and when my allotment neighbour arrived (with a lot more years of bird knowledge than me) I was pleased to see he did exactly the same thing.

It warmed up considerably and wiggled around after this manly intervention - although as a pretty heavy pipe smoker, it could have been nicotine rather than his hot breath that brought it back to life. I may now have a chick with a 40-a-day habit.

As I didn't expect to see any chicks off this clutch, I'm over the moon to have five out of six hatch. It was a lonely 24 hours for the first chick before the next one arrived and I had a bit of a shock when I picked up one of the remaining eggs to see if there was any sign of life, only to receive a rather loud, indignant 'cheep' in my ear in response.

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As I explained in a previous post, all the broody hens means I'm getting hardly any eggs at all at the moment, so I visited the nearby farm yesterday evening and brought back these two lovely pullets, who seem to be settling in well.
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Beautiful blossom

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There's an explosion of gorgeous blossom all of a sudden, and the peach tree in the polytunnel (above) has some beautifully delicate pink tinged flowers in full bloom. The plum and damson trees are also putting on a fine show, and, not to be outdone, the blackthorn (below) is keeping pace with some stunning white blossom of its own.

Hopefully, we'll get some sloe berries off the native hedge this year, which will save us having to run the gauntlet with the huge inquisitive horses in the field where we normally go gathering for our festive gin.

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It's that time of year when I feel like I'm constantly chasing my tail, with the weeds appearing every time I turn my back, and so many seeds needing sowing now spring has sprung. Fortunately, Peter was at the garden the past two weeks to help me sieve compost, tackle some of the weeds, and plant over 50 tiny busy lizzie plug plants in flower pouches.

Greenfingers have also been hard at work, planting alpine strawberries in their new fruit patch, along with some red onions, garlic and Smile potatoes in sacks, and creating beautiful hanging flower baskets which we're hoping to sell to raise some funds for the garden.

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It's not often that I get the chance to step back and watch other people working on the Hop Garden (although I couldn't resist giving a hand with planting some of the trees) so it was lovely to see the enthusiasm for a new project being created by one of our garden members, Lynn, next to the wildflower meadow. The plan is for an edible forest garden, and I hope to get Lynn to write a guest blog soon about forest gardening and her plans for this new area.

The chickens are driving me to distraction with their broody tendencies, to the point where I am lucky to get two eggs a day out of eight hens, where previously I was getting six or seven. My regular customers are not impressed, so I think I may have to bite the bullet and buy a couple of point of lay pullets from the nearby farm, as I've worked out they will probably pay for themselves in a few weeks.

I feel a little like I'm running a maternity ward: I've got one Silkie (Buffy) in a rabbit hutch with one chick just hatched (not sure if the other five eggs are going to be any good as I was pushing it a bit with them); Edith has been sitting for a week now on nine eggs; neurotic Nellie is on loan to Alan next door, where she's happily sitting on a clutch for him; and I've just set Fluff away on five Araucana eggs. Phew!

Suzie and Winnie, meanwhile, are in the shed for the night in the hope that sleeping on wire mesh with a bit of air under their bellies might cool them down a bit and knock them off being broody, as I don't think I can cope with any more expectant mothers.

If all this Spring madness hasn't put you off, there's two new volunteering sessions coming up over the next few weeks - check out the news section to find out more.
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