Monthly Archives: March 2012

Over winter mulching

The over winter mulching we did this year seems to now be benefitting us. Pretty much all of the veg beds were covered in a layer of used straw from the chicken shed in the autumn to begin composting and help prevent spring weed growth. We’ve already dug one bed over to put onions in and the second is now done, ready for the beans. We scraped back most, but not all of the straw before digging the remainder in. Hopefully this will help water retention over the summer. The soil looks in very good shape and hopefully is rich with fertiliser that has leached from the straw.

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Bees

We did another bee inspection late afternoon yesterday after another warm day. There is a fair amount of beetivity but disappointingly there is little or no Brood on the frames. There is about one and a half frames of honey and a fair amount of drawn out come. One of the frames appears to have mould on it which presumably means the hive struggled for ventilation through the winter.
We also couldn’t find the queen. The lack of brood seems to make sense if there is no queen although it’s possible she just hasn’t started laying yet this year. They all seem pretty calm if they have no queen, but basically if they don’t, or if none of the very small amount of brood that is there turns into a queen cell the hive will basically die out.
We will do another inspection at the weekend to see if there is any change.


Broody Virginia

Carmen very unusually started looking broody last week so we set up an ark and broody box with some fake eggs for her. She seemed keen for all of about a day but quickly got bored. We let her out but left the door to the ark open to see if we had any more takers. Virginia quickly obliged, but, since we hadn’t been collecting Muscovy eggs in anticipation, thought we’d have another go with some goose eggs. She seemed a bit put off for a couple of hours but then duly made them her own. Lucy seems to know somehow that this isn’t quite right and is spending a bit of time complaining about it all but she’s tiring if that. Virginia started sitting properly on Saturday, so hopefully in 28 days we may have some goslings!


Spring Wildlife

This weekend just gone was beautiful. Lovely clear crisp mornings and sunny days. The clocks went forward too, giving us longer evenings. Last night was the first time in months we’d been able to go out on the plot after work. We’re still chipping away at the weeding around the raspberries in preparation for a new layer of woodchip in the area.
On Sunday morning we walked the dog on the fields and on the way were lucky enough to see a grass snake, looked like a male judging from a quick google search. I think we disturbed its sunbathing.
It’s also hare spotting time now and in the view across one field we were lucky enough to see 5 hares.
The little owl is also around and busy. Chances are the female will already be sitting on eggs so we’re going to put the camera back up in around 3 weeks to see if we can catch some owlet action again this year.

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Pallet Shed 1

We got hold of some pallets today so should be able to make a start tomorrow. We have managed to get three extra large pallets to build the base with. This will create a base area 3m by 2m. We hope to built a deck out front and a large roof.

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See initial plans

See day 1

See day 2


Spring

Virgil’s Bees

Bless air’s gift of sweetness, honey
from the bees, inspired by clover,
marigold, eucalyptus, thyme,
the hundred perfumes of the wind.
Bless the beekeeper

who chooses for her hives
a site near water, violet beds, no yew,
no echo. Let the light lilt, leak, green
or gold, pigment for queens,
and joy be inexplicable but there
in harmony of willowherb and stream,
of summer heat and breeze,
each bee’s body
at its brilliant flower, lover-stunned,
strumming on fragrance, smitten.

For this,
let gardens grow, where beelines end,
sighing in roses, saffron blooms, buddleia;
where bees pray on their knees, sing, praise
in pear trees, plum trees; bees
are the batteries of orchards, gardens, guard them

Carol Ann Duffy

 


Charity challenge

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Some awesome students at the UNiversity of Leicester are running a charity epic cup cake bake for sports relief. They are baking huge cup cakes and selling them to department staff tosplit between a team. Each cake costs £12 and cuts into 20 portions. What a great idea! 

I am buying one for the team I work in, but also I have offered to give them a weeks worth of our eggs. At the moment everyone is in lay, so in theory it should be about 40 eggs, and maybe 3 or 4 goose eggs. My donation might be limited by what I can carry to work, but it should help them to raise a bit more money.  It means we won’t be able to sell to our usual customers that week, but I am sure they will back to BIG BAKE project.