Thursday, October 15, 2015

Living in the Country

my new garden ornament
No, I have no idea where the time is going. I'm quietly living, I look up and suddenly it's the middle of October. The year is disappearing along with pretty much all my goals, objectives and money. Humpf. One of the things that has been and gone, is the first anniversary of my running away to the country. It happened at the beginning of the month. I blinked and almost missed it. I've been busy with the garden, trying to take advantage of the warm weather while it lasted. Just as well really, it's been throwing it down this week. And it's cold.

Since the arrival of my flock of velociraptors, I spent as much time outside in the garden as the weather and my energy would let me. I was able to hack and slash my way through 80% of the garden, removing the top layer of nettles, ground elder and other miscellaneous weeds. That last 20%...that was the killer. In the end, I asked Z if I could borrow her gardening man and his strimmer to deal with that last bit. Z herself shaped and pruned back a couple of shrubs and the garden looks so much better for it. 

Now comes the hard bit. When the weather and my To Do List allows, I head out with my girls to do some root removal. Without the weeds making the whole thing Bush, I can see the shape of the garden itself. Unfortunately, my neglect has given the perennial weeds a full season to establish themselves. Basically, if it's dry enough I let the girls out, find a patch in the border (or lawn) and start forking it over. Reminds me, I must get some hand tools. It means I can pull out the root systems of the weeds and turn the soil over.

The velociraptors like this activity of mine very much. When they were in the greenhouse, I handled them to get them used to me; I think it's worked a little too well. They are getting the idea that they might want to keep their distance if I'm wrestling with the fork, but sometimes, the thought of a worm or a centipede is just too much. If I am crouched down removing roots they'll be under me, pecking at my hands to get at the yummies. They have no fear of me at all now.

Dave bought me and put together a proper chicken coop for my girls. He's been an absolute star doing that and even moving it over an earthy bit so they can grub around in the extension. They were deeply unimpressed by the move from greenhouse to coop. Getting them back in there on the first day was a bit of a struggle, I ended up cornering them in the greenhouse and hauling them complaining bitterly back in. Z was absolutely right when she said to leave them in there for a couple of days, then let them out, they've been fine since then.

They are still youngsters and after about an hour or so of pecking and scratching, they're ready for some treats and a doze, which is perfect for me. If there's a dry patch in the day, I can get out there, dig over a bit, haul out half a hundred weight of roots and then get on with the rest of my day. 

They are getting bigger and earlier this week I thought they were big enough to be less vigilant around them. Rummy and Z's Eloise think it's a fine game to rush at them, to see them squawk and flutter around. Me and the girls are less impressed. It's got to the point where I've had enough and have threatened to douse the cats with water if they keep it up. There must be something in my voice, because both cats made themselves scarce today after that threat.

However, my vigilance is still required and not because of the cats either. Z and I were having a cuppa in the garden with the girls, chatting and watching them scratch about under the hedge, when a sparrowhawk made a run at them. It failed to do anything other than scare the bejeezus out of us, but it was an impressive bit of flying on its part. 

The sparrowhawk started its bombing run at the chicken coop. It came in low and fast. It squeezed past a piece of plastic I've hung on my line and the hedge (about 2 feet maybe). The only thing that saved my girls was a tree in its flight path. After the squeeze it had to bank sharp right to avoid splatting into the tree. The speed it came in, had it hit one of the chickens, it would have done some serious damage. It couldn't have flown off with it so I'd have come back to a mangled corpse.

Time will take care of the risks from the cats and sparrowhawks, in a few weeks time, they will be big enough to hold their own against them. In a few weeks time, I'll also be able to tell whether there's a cockerel in their midst. Today, Jenga had a go at crowing while we were gardening. If s/he minds his/her manners, it might be okay. However, it's really not good news. Despite my best intentions, I've got quite attached to the damn things. 

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