Tuesday, 30 March 2010

could I ask you for some help?

So I will be posting an update on my little bundles of fluff tomorrow. However I need some help first with the latest additions, 4 little bluebell pullets. The little sods have started pecking (more like ripping out) each others tail feathers, I've just sprayed them all with purple spray as there was blood, but I was wondering if anyone can recommend the best thng to use to stop this, as tomorrow I can get to the feed store to pick something up.

Antipeck spray ?
stockholm tar ?
Yellow sulpher cream?

As there isn't one main offender I can't seperate them, so tomorrow I'll move them to a huge run with plenty of things to try and distract them.

But any advice would be a huge help.

jess x

P.S that little jezabel yorkie next door has come of heat so alfie has returned to his normal naughty self, and sadly I didn't win the euromillions so won't be buying a papillion this week

Thursday, 25 March 2010

"And they call it puppy lurveeee"

Oh poor alfie

The neighbours have a yorkshire terrier girl, her name is lily. Alfie loves lily.
But this week lily has come on heat.
Alfie is beside himself with a broken heart.
He won't eat, won't sleep, showed no interest in his denta-stick.
Poor alfie.
Everytime lily goes for a walk in the across the road alfie sits in the window and crys and whines and howls.
I mean proper howling.
Whenever the kitchen door is opened he runs outside and sits on a flowerpot by the fence whimpering for lily.
Whilst he's sat there she is sat on the window sill looking down at him, whining.
Its like the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet.

But don't worry alfie if I win the euro million lottery tomorrow I'll buy you a little french fancy, she can be your girlfriend.

seriously how cute is she, I love her ears.

jess x

Thursdays favourite plant

What could you want prettier than the humble harbinger of spring....

Primula vulgaris

There are so many different species of primroses, the native vulgaris is my favourite although Cowslips (primula veris) are very dear to my heart and I love the drumstick primrose (primula denticulata) and the gorgeous primula vialii

I adore these simple little flowers of sunshine, the way the appear amongst tree roots and popping out of hedges promising spring, blue skies and sunshine. One of the first flowers I could identify as a little'un, they remind me of walks in the woods with my mum telling me stories of fairies and elf's. I used to lie down on the ground in the leaves and rub my cheeks against the petals. They still seem magical to me after all these years.

Funnily enough there is so much folklore attached to primroses concerning fairies, My favourite is the Celtic and Germanic stories about finding a fairy hill or a fairy rock and touching it with a posy of primroses, it would open a door to the fairies kingdom. A posy left on the doorstep would invoke the blessings of the fairies upon the house, petals scattered on the doorstep will prevent fairies from crossing the fresh hold. Hanging posies in cowsheds will prevent fairies stealing the milk. This is a good one I found, if you see a single primrose and dance round it 3 times clockwise it will ensure your hens lay well.

If you want to have your own magical carpet of faerie loving sunshine, you can propagate them very easily from root cutting (Hmm I should do some propagating how tos) or you can grow them from seed, either sow seed collected when its fresh or if you buy seed it will need a period of chilling to germinate. You can buy the plants but make sure you get ones marked vulgaris otherwise it could be any old bedding polyanthus.

I'll leave you with this by Cicely M. Barker

The song of the primrose fairy

The primrose opens wide in spring;
Her scent is sweet and good:
It smells of every happy thing
In sunny lane and wood.
I have not half the skill to sing
And praise her as I should.

She's dear to folk throughout the land;
In her nothing mean:
She freely spreads on every hand
Her petals pale and clean.
And though she's neither proud or grand,
She is the Country Queen.

jess x

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Thursdays favourite plant

This ones a cracker

Pulmonaria Lungwort or blue cowslip.

Image via flickr (and its a gorgeous photostream)

If you're looking for a beautiful early spring perennial, that's adored by big fat bumblebees looking for a yummy treat after a long cold winter, then I absolutely recommend Pulmonaria. A woodland edge native of mainland Europe its perfect for shady gardens or growing under trees or hedges. Its a really low maintenance plant, fairly low growing, and self seeding. Its fully hardy, disease resistant although it can be prone to powdery mildew in dry hot areas but this is easily dealt with by removing the dying leaves in autumn and disposing of them (never compost) and slugs have no interest in it neither do rabbits or deer. It will grow on all soils and is particularly happy on heavy clay soils.
There are many different varieties with different flower colour such as redstart (red flowered) and sissinghurst white (white flowered funnily enough) It also has lovely foliage which give it it's common name of lungwort (more on that later), There's a gorgeous one with metallic silver leaves which I've been hunting for for ages.

They produce masses and masses of flowers from the end of January (only if its mild) through to the end of April. I find a bit of deadheading helps prolong them.
One of the things I love most about the flowers is how they change colour, starting pink in bud opening to bright blue and fading to purple.

The reason Pulmonaria has the common name of lungwort is to do with the mottling on the leaves. Centuries ago doctors/herbalists saw features in plants that bore resemblance to Human body parts and aliments. These plants were then used to treat aliments and conditions. This philosophy became the doctrine of signitures. So lungwort resembling diseased lungs was used to treat pulmonary disorders. The Botanical name even represents this (I have an almost nerdish love of Latin names and their meanings and descriptions but I shan't bore you with that). Another good example of this is with the flower eyebright Lungwort was used during the bubonic plague to try and cure the black death.
Like most medicinal herbs it has a host of folkloric stories like being the herb of the virgin Mary with the spots on the leaves representing her tears and the changing of the flower colour the colour of crying eyes, and being able to ward of and reveal witch's. But nearly all plants in medieval times could do that except the ones that were used by witch's (I also have a nerdish love of plant history and folklore).

Jess xx

P.S how flipping fast do baby chicks grow, they are all sprouting wing feathers and leaping about like nobodies business, will get some photos up soon.

Monday, 15 March 2010

WARNING!!!!! more cuteness than you can shake a stick at

So the chap up the valley who bought my Maran cockerel asked me if I'd like some freshly hatched chicks for free.....

Well it would have been rude to say no.

There is 10 in all 4 are definatly light sussexs, ones a araucana and he can't remember what the rest are, he'll call me when he finds the list.

Needless to say I love my new babies. The silkie babies are a bit jealous as but they'll get over it.

jess x

Please excuse the slightly bluriness but trying to snap a chick with the flash off and get them in focus is not the easiest thing I've ever done.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Thursdays favourite plant

Hooray its back.

Is it Thursday today? this weeks been a bit of a blur!

Anyway may I present.....

Iris reticulata

My most favourite of the early spring bulbs. Easy as pie to grow just pop the bulbs in twice as deep as their size in the autumn, wherever you'd like a splash of gorgeous colour. I always put a few in small terracotta pots too. They look lovely in window boxes as well.
The colour of these little sweeties is lovely, there are many different varieties with different depths of blue, including a pale washed out blue and mustardy yellow, which frankly I'm not found of (I think you need bright colours after a long dull winter) and a gorgeous purple one whose cultivar name is I think 'Pauline' (but don't quote me on that. If you have heavy clay soils add a handful of grit to the hole before placing the bulb in to give it a bit of drainage (good idea for any bulbs).

In other news I've said goodbye to another cockerel today. I saw a wanted ad in the local feed store for a Maran cockerel, rang it up and a lovely chap from further up the valley came and collected him for his flock of maran hens this morning. And he paid me for him. So that leaves his slightly smaller brother (who I may keep to set up a breeding trio with, not sure yet) Boris and Ivan (the two chaps in my sidebar) and fancy looking but bad tempered bantam. That will leave me with Sawyer my gorgeous gentlemanly Welsummer, Big gentle ben the light sussex and holly my partridge silkie. There is also the two silkie babies, snuffkin and little my, I tried dowsing them with my wedding ring and a bit of garden twine last night and got a different result for each, but time will tell.

Right Sidneys appeared in the middle of the field wanting some dinner and he doesn't like to be kept waiting.

jess x

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

peace in the valley

Well Its a known fact that I have far too many cockerels and I even though I've killed and eaten a few, I'm still very soft and besides the ones I can't eat have names (unintentional) and characters.

Today I managed to re-home 2 of my favourites (ok so not favourite enough to stay but still I liked them)

Yes my dear blackberry and little frody, have gone to live with a lovely veggie lady (so no need to worry about them ending up in a pot) and her 11 lonely hens.

I know they will both be in chicken heaven and won't know what to do with themselves. They along with Sawyer my welsummer cockerel have been confined in a bachelor pad run away from the main flock. But now its just Sawyer and his 2 new ladies that were acquired at the weekend.

Yep poultry auction season has begun.

Now I wasn't planning on doing much buying at auctions this year but I went on Saturday to sell a big galvanised feeder and have a look around. Loads of birds there they had to open up another section. Hubby was quite worried, but he had no course to as there were a few things I fancied but not enough to bid for. Except some wee little ducklings just 2 little'uns in a huge cage labled as "black and white ducklings 4 weeks old". I planned on bringing these home but they went for £6 (and that's a head). I remember last summer seeing 4 Muscovy's going for 50p the lot. I was quite sad to miss out on them as in the few minutes I decided to bid for them I'd named them and planned where to put them. Also I thought 2 random babies would be a good introduction to duck keeping. However when I saw the chap who'd bought them show his little boy and the look on the boys face I was rather pleased for their fate.
Anyway what did I buy. Well after watching lots of POLs and Hybrids going for twice what you could buy from local breeders, 2 Indian game hens came up, I'm guessing no one really knew what they were as the only interest was from the bloke who was buying up all the unwanted lots for pennies, cockerels and drakes and I have a fairly good idea about their fates. He bid a pound and I bid and won at 1.50.

Bless them they have already paid for themselves in eggs laying every day including in the box on the way home. However they have the worst case of scaly leg mite I have ever seen, It looks like they are wearing spats, but I'm treating the problem and as a precaution treating sawyer too and in a month or two the will be good as new.

I like Indian game birds, the males are good eaters and the hens are so petite in a beefy nightclub bouncer sort of way. They make the funniest little trilling sounds and have a slightly feral attitude about them. These 2 can stay with sawyer until their legs improve then they can join the main flock and sawyer can have 3 welsummer brides of his own to breed with.

I've also been making the most of the sunshine and getting out side and doing some seed sowing in my tiny plastic greenhouse. So far I've sown sweet peas, leeks, lettuce, pak choi and black Tuscan kale. My very expensive heritage red flowered broad beans went in to and I have tomatoes and snapdragons on the windowsills. The baby silkies snuffkin and little my have doubled in size and are now eating a mix of crumb and growers pellets and spending a few hours in the sun running about in alfies dog cage, helping to scracth out the patch of chicken trashed lawn ready for me to re-seed it.

Oh and the duck is still here but his girlfriend comes and goes (the hussy) thinking more and more about catching Sid and buying him a paddling pool.

Right some boring housework beckons.....

Jess xx

P.S the walls have dried out but its still flipping freezing

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