Monthly Archives: April 2015

How to make amazing compost

I can now answer that question as I am a compost millionaire, with more compost than I know what to do with. It has only taken me five years to master it, but hey ho. The secret recipe is below
1) Chop everything up small with a sharp spade or similar. This helps it to rot down quicker, but more importantly enables you to fork it and turn it over with out finding massive weed ‘spiders’ that get tangled to everything.

2) layer it up so you have carbon stuff and nitrogen stuff…dried and brown stuff mixed with green leafy or grassy stuff.

3) water it

4) turn it

The last one is the most important. If you do this it will rot down super quick (3 months), if not, it can linger around for years.

I have dismantled and rebuilt all of our 5 compost bins. The previous incarnations had been in situ since we moved in 5 years ago so were beginning to rot. I have moved them up and changed the design slightly to accommodate better compost making.

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The main difference is the open fronts. This is to make sure that they can easily and regularly turned. Closed fronts encourage over filling and no turning, which means the matter does not break down.


Weather forecasts

Are sometimes wrong…

This week, a couple of days ago, was forecast to be very grey and overcast, possibly with a bit of rain. It really irritates me, along with the rest of the population obviously, when there is a surprise good weather day and I have to go to work. Not yesterday (or today, and fingers crossed, the rest of the week!).

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Veg beds

The potatoes are now into the top bed (A) and we have done half a bed of Agria (nearest the house) and half a bed of the other one, which I’ll have to check the name of when I go back out tomorrow. All from our friendly potato farmer, Jamie, in Lincs.

The next bed down (B) which will have the fruit group in I this year, has been dug over along with some compost and we’re putting old straw and hay on it to mulch it and suppress weeds until we plant into it in June.

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Newbies

After one incident or another, where clipped wings haven’t done the job for example, we have ended up with a bad drake to duck ratio. We’re down to two Muscovy drakes (Orlando and Othello), three Muscovy girls (Vita and the two chocolate girls) and one runner drake (Linford). This is not helpful really, especially given Linford’s tendency to actually get on top of Orlando when he mates with Vita. All a bit messy. So today we went to Melton Fur and Feather market, hurray! We have to avoid going very often because we are ver easily distracted into buying things we didn’t go for. And today was very busy and there were lots and lots of possibilities. One way of curbing our enthusiasm is to only take a limited amount of cash. We had £50, which was good because this prevented us from buying a pair of peacocks, which went for £100.

What we actually bought was not at all far off what we intended to buy, which was ideally, more Muscovy girls. What we came home with was a very sweet Muscovy girl and four fairly entertaining khaki Campbell girls. After a showering of lice powder and a wing clip, the Muscovy girl (from now on to be known as Violet…) has been added to Othello/chocolate girl gang and the khaki’s (no names as all identical) have been put into the area with Orlando, Linford, Vita and the chickens. This has blown Linford’s mind a bit as he can’t cope with not being nosy and checking the new girls out but not having Vita (who couldn’t really care less) with him all the time. So basically he’s just running aback and forth for now.

We did nearly also buy a girl Indian runner and some hatching eggs but came to our senses.

Everyone seems to be settling in fine.

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All move

This is one of the two times of year when pretty much every bit of electric fence, every bit of housing, every water and food station and therefore every animal is moved from the now a bit tired winter ground, to fresh new pasture which has been rested for a good few months.

So, following harrowing of the fresh new bits, on Saturday morning, all of the sheep were wormed and hooves trimmed as needed and then moved over to the lambing pasture, ready for the girls to hopefully lamb in the next couple of weeks. This is a mixed blessing for Rambo who can’t wait to get to new grass but is always very annoyed to find he can’t just go everywhere he likes. This is the only time of year when they are completely penned into a relatively small area, which helps us to catch and tag the lambs and check them over when they arrive.

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The poultry are now all under the tree and have been split up into three areas; the geese are separated, Othello is in with the two chocolate Muscovy girls and the random collection of the two chickens, Linford, Orlando and Vita are all in together. And Mac has been moved too. And they all look pretty happy and are certainly quieter now they don’t have to defend their patches from anyone but us…

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Harrowing

My least favourite plot job, possibly aside from dealing with strike fly, is harrowing the pastures. It’s a pain in the arse because if it’s a bit wet the John Deere gets stuck because the bit of harrowing kit makes it heavier, and also the harrower gets jammed up with old bits of thatched grass, which is the idea, but this means you have to get up and down over and over again to unclog and collect it. It needs doing though, and it does make satisfyingly straight lines on the pasture. So on Good Friday I harrowed the new lambing pasture, ready for the sheep to be moved onto it, and the area up around the tree onto which the poultry will be moved to spend the summer. The other areas will need doing over the next couple of weeks, but I’ll wait until I’m in a good patient mood before I do it…


Spring updates

The date of this post might not be correct. Published from hard drive retrospectively.

Yesterday Becky and I both took an unplanned days leave a) because we can, and b) because we wanted to. So we spent some time in the morning digging over one of the large vegetable beds and planting our onion sets. We have bought a mixture of sets this year. Some red ones, some white ones and some shallots. the whole bundle came to about £6, and should provide us with enough onions and shallots for at least 6 months of the year. We have planted them in rows, and covered them with wire fire guards to stop the birds pulling them up before they get established. Although I love the idea of the local songbirds having really strong onion breath, I am also keen to get a crop.

A few other surprises have occurred in the first days of spring. The goose has started laying, we have collected a couple of really large eggs ready for omelet season.

Secondly the ramsons that we planted last year have established! They have popped up in our herb bed. This is both wonderful and surprising because we forgot about the bulbs and left them under our spare bed until they were less than in their prime, and then planted them on the off chance. Ramson is a type of wild garlic. It is fantastic as it has a garlic flavourless that can be used in salads and also a garlic flavour flower. Once they get going they are very prolific, so we hope to nurture them and end up with a large productive patch.

Photos to follow