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Journey to a smallholding

Month

March 2016

A seedy story

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Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny, bank holiday Friday. So we certainly made the most of it. I planted more seeds, while the other half finished building the new chicken house (separate story!).

I have now planted butterscotch sweetcorn, viking spinach, peppers and chillis. Fingers crossed for them.

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Meanwhile, the courgettes I planted recently are doing nothing.  I think it’s still a bit cold for them, even with the protection of the coldframe. 

On the plus side, my rocket seems to be doing well.

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The coldframe is certainly filling up now. I still have cucumbers seeds to plant too.

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Pot luck

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The weather has been fantastic this weekend, so we’ve built the potting bench I got for my birthday last month, and I’ve started sowing seeds.

I’ve never been very lucky with growing from seed, so I’ve started small.

I’ve potted 15 courgette seeds which are happily homed in my new coldframe that I got for Christmas.  I also have a pot of rocket on my kitchen windowsill. Time will tell if I can grow from seed.

I’ve got more packets to sow soon… Sweetcorn, chillis, peppers, spinach and cucumbers. Next weekend is supposed to be nice too, so I shall sow more then hopefully.

Remembering to water them is the hard part for me.

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The search for protein

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So Barney (the black one) is making a nuisance of herself. She keeps pulling feathers out of the other girls’ bums and eating them.

Google and various chicken forums leads me to believe she might be lacking in protein. So now I’m desperately trying to get some protein into their diet before the other girls go bald and Barney resembles a stuffed pillow.

I read some horrific suggestions, like skinning small animals to feed to them (I won’t be doing that!), collecting roadkill (I won’t be doing that either!) or feeding them fish guts (really?! No thanks).

So I’m searching for more normal ways of providing protein. So far, they’ve gobbled up the pulled pork leftovers that I gave them (the cat wouldn’t eat it!) and Barney seems to love cooked brussel sprouts (I guess someone has to).

Hopefully though, more scraps will sort out the issue and stop Barney eating feathers. If you have any ideas, let me know!

Little Acorns

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I went walking in the local fields this morning and suddenly realised what I would call my smallholding should I ever find and afford it… Little Acorns.

A conversation with my Mum last weekend is the reason. She quite rightly said that unless I win the lottery,  I won’t afford my dream of 10 acres, a nice house, holiday lets and animals on a smallholding any time soon. She’s right. I’m looking at £700k for that. Ouch.

But, in her wisdom, she told me to start small. “Look for small plots of land, you could afford them, you don’t have to live there at first.”  Start small. Grow big. Sell on. Then buy the perfect place.

Which made me think of the saying: Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.

Which led me to thinking, “Little Acorns, that would be nice.”

So there it is, a bit of a plan, and a name. Still need to find that land though.

Eggs – very eggciting!

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Finding an egg in the nesting box is always a pleasant surprise. I can’t help it, I get excited. And after nearly 6 months of having chickens, the novelty of finding eggs isn’t wearing off!

Our egg production has been varied. We started with only 1 chicken laying, so only getting the odd egg ever few days. Then 2 were laying, so we were certain to get an egg every day between them. When the third girl started her feeble attempt (it took her a while to get the hang of proper sized eggs, some were like peas!), the first chicken started to moult and stopped laying.

Throughout Winter 2 out of 3 were producing eggs, and we were getting around 10 per week. Apparently, for Winter that’s not too bad.

Last month, February, Snowball decided she was ready to start laying again, so we’re up to 3 out of 3 laying. Yesterday we got 3 eggs in one day – that’s never happened before – and hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.

With only 2 of us in the house, we don’t eat all the eggs. So we’ve started selling them. We decided £1 for a box of 6 eggs was fair enough, and nervously put our first box out in December. We practically sat in the window twitching the net curtains, waiting for the box to sell. And it did sell.

We have a few neighbours who regularly buy our eggs when we put them out for sale, plus a few strangers passing by. We’re in a quiet residential street, so we don’t have much passing trade, but hopefully enough to sell what we have spare.

Selling the eggs has earned enough to buy their next bag of pellets and shell, which means they are earning their keep and wont cost us anything going forwards.

Well done girls! Keep up the good work!

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