Saturday, 18 February 2012

Spring jobs in the patch

I've not had our windows cleaned for a couple of months now. I guess if I leave it long enough I may not be able to see out into the back garden which is rapidly degenerating into some sort of ram shackled quagmire.

Hey ho, with spring tapping at the door I figured this weekend was to be the time we would set to picking up the empty feed sacks, disintegrating trampoline cover and other random bits which seem to have become airborne at some point and subsequently lodged in amongst bushes and garden furniture. Oh, garden furniture, it seems comical to think right now that anyone would relish sitting out there.

It soon became apparent that much more than a rubbish round up (aka known as Fling Boogie for those of the Flay Lady persuasion) was required. Not only has copious amount of rubbish appeared - copious amount of grass has disappeared! I knew the situation was bad; I'd just not realized how bad! A combination of excess rain, pecking and general footfall has turned a vast part of the lawn (I use the term lawn very loosely) into mud.

Having picked up lots of debris we started adding further fencing to the patch. Currently the lighter breeds can fly out of the patch onto the lawn. Their freedom is going to have to be curtailed for a wee while till we get the lawn sorted, or their greens may end up being gone forever! Providing it's not tipping it down tomorrow we'll finish the fencing and sew grass seed on all the affected areas. Hopefully, give it a month or so, and all will be well.

I'm saying that spring has been knocking at the door and that all will be well with the seeding, however, whilst out there today there were two short but intense snow flurries! According to the BBC the weather is to become mild again within the next two days, so I'm going to seed tomorrow anyway and take a chance on it being warm enough to germinate. I want it sorted and my chooks back out on grass as soon as possible.

I'm pleased to say that all three of our batty girls have survived the winter and are doing remarkably well. You can see one of them (the brown one) above, in between a couple of blond ladies. All three are virtually fully feathered now - something I was beginning to fear may never happen. They peck and scratch around now as if they had always done so. Hopefully the days of being unable to turn round in a tiny cage, starved of natural light and dark, will have well and truly faded from their conscious.

A few people have mentioned to me in recent months about how it's now much better for poultry in England, battery cages having been outlawed. If only I could agree. The new cages are only marginally better. I'd still cry buckets at the thought of any of my girlies being placed in one. Also, I have read that in order to maintain low prices, many supermarkets are increasingly importing intensively farmed battery eggs from abroad, rather than pass on the slight increase in cost of English eggs to the consumer. So, as I understand it, the net effect is that most hens are now being kept in marginally less substandard conditions and our farmers are being passed over in preference to cheap imports. Certainly nothing to celebrate in my view.

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