I have been making weekly visits to Starnash Farmhouse to help with the chickens that I formerly kept at Shawpits, and it’s lovely to see them moved on to a new patch and clean out their coops. I used to keep horses, and get the same sense of satisfaction as with a newly-mucked-out bed, filled haynet, and clean water bucket at the stable.
We are making lots of plans for the veg plots as well as the kitchen garden, and we want to make proper compost bins once the Triffid-like pumpkins have finished strutting their stuff.
Now that bird flu seems to be a year-round thing, and worryingly tenacious, the hens are being kept in apart from a few minutes out while we move their runs. Many geese fly over the area on their way to Arlington Reservoir from the grasslands and farmland, and while it’s a beautiful sight, one can’t help feeling a sense of portent about the future for our wild birds and domestic poultry. Thankfully Vicky has a large space to move the chickens, and the runs, while heavy, are straightforward to transport to the next spot. Later in the season we would like to get them in the greenhouse to clear the ground but there are a few tomatoes hanging on in there at the moment.
Part of the land-share is being able to utilise the produce effectively, and I took home a glorious golden beetroot and made beetroot and pumpkin soup, topped with local creme fraiche and dill; perfect autumn food even though it is still so mild.
I have taken some old hive boxes over so we can use them as mini raised beds in the greenhouse so I will report back on those when we’ve put them in place.
I have heard a rooster here at my new house which is wonderfully reassuring – even though it does have to compete with the Tawny Owls!