Robin one, chicken nil

Not much to report from the garden, but I thought I'd share a few photographs, such as a lovely pose from Derek (above) who has become a bit of a poser when he spots a camera, unlike the other hens who are a little camera-shy. This week he and Bo spent spent some time trying to work out how to get from the wicker sofas up to the wild bird feeder, where they realised this robin was getting a snack that they had missed out on.

Suffice to say, the robin got his lunch and they went hungry (there's a reason people use the term 'chicken brain' in a derogatory fashion).

There are still a few edibles left in the garden, such as the brussels sprouts, Jerusalem artichokes, turnips and chard, and also these gorgeous autumn raspberries, which were a donation last year from a visitor's garden.

All these photographs were taken on one of those beautiful sunny, crisp cold days that make this time of year much more bearable. Today, however, even the chickens are cowering in their shed: the cold wind is back, and has brought with it driving rain.

If only I hadn't ordered all my seeds already - it's perfect weather for perusing those catalogues and day-dreaming of all the things you could grow next year.....

Feeling festive

I have an unwritten rule that I try to avoid anything too Christmassy before my birthday in early December, but as the primary school's festive fayre is a mere two days later this year, it doesn't give me much time for creating so I'm making a few exceptions.....

I've been having a very creative time during the past few weeks making wreaths, rabbit treats such as dried mixes and willow chews, bath bombs and scrubs and even sage and sea salt toothpowder! Everything we're selling has at least one ingredient grown on the allotment.

The wreath bases were an experiment as I had a hard time getting willow to work last year - this time I've used the cut down hop vines instead. They are actually a much better option as they are pliable when freshly cut, love to wind around each other, and provide that extra rustic touch which you don't get from willow. It's also great recycling as they normally get composted in the autumn.

The only downside is that I get contact dermatitis from touching hop vines, which is not unheard of but a bit of an occupational hazard. Fortunately I have a pair of gardening gloves which are lightweight enough to still be able to feel what I'm doing.

We've had some bright, mild days but the soil is still too heavy and wet for digging, so we've just been tidying up (but not too much so the creatures and insects have nowhere to overwinter), cutting down some of the Jerusalem artichoke stems but leaving some for ladybirds, confining the mints to pots buried in the ground and taking down the last of the beans and sweet peas.

I've also taken a few hardwood cuttings from one of our blackcurrant bushes so we'll see how they take - all things being well we should have some sturdy little bushes by next autumn.

Time to take stock

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