Thursday, June 17, 2010
The good life on Chook Farm, Scotland
Hey! It’s good to be back with Due South and a few more tales from life here in southern Scotland. Our friends at The South Reporter say the column’s been missed by quite a few folk in your neck of the woods, which was really nice to hear.
It took a long time for spring finally to arrive in southern Scotland. We were well into May before temperatures started to rise.
Now we are in the middle of June and we’ve had some nice warm days and some typically Scottish early summer weather of mild temperatures and patchy drizzling rain - or Highland Mist as my grandmother used to call it.
The good news is that the better weather has seen all our vegetables and fruit trees coming on really well in the garden.
So this last week we have been carefully weeding around our seedlings. The mangetout and sugar-snaps are doing very well, while our purple-sprouting broccoli is looking well, and the chard is coming through nicely, but things are already getting nibbled, so we have had the slug pellets out (a brand that’s organic and non-poisonous to pets/children).
The carrots and parsnips have not been so successful, but that might be due to the cold weather. We were pleased to see our potatoes have finally started growing, having also been held back by the cold weather - and regular excavation by the chickens!
This is despite our home-made anti-chook defences constructed from planks, chicken wire, string and some old fishing trawler net!
We planted raspberry canes, strawberry plants, gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes, a Tayberry (blackberry/raspberry cross) and a Loganberry last year when the vegetable raised beds were new -- these are coming along with lot of fresh, green growth, so we’re hoping for a bumper harvest this summer. We didn’t do too well with our strawberries last year, thanks to some hungry mice!
The population of ‘Chook Cottage'’ has grown, and now stands at 18 after the addition last week of a pair of six-week-old Voerwerk hens, joining the two young Jersey Giant chicks that arrived a couple of weeks before.
This breed originally hails from New Jersey and so they have appropriately been christened ‘Bruce’ and ‘Patti’ after Mr. Springsteen and his good lady - one of America’s most popular exports in the Entwistle household!
We’ll let you know how Bruce and Patti get on. Also since the column last appeared, we’ve added a dog to our family set-up. An eight-month-old Rottweiler cross Staffordshire Bull Terrier that goes by the name of ‘Leo.’
Now 11-months-old and weighing about 56 pounds, he’s turned into a fantastic family dog and even lets the chickens have a head start!
Mark Entwistle is the chief reporter for The Southern Reporter, Selkirk, The Borders, Scotland. The South Reporter also sends a column to that paper. (http://www.thesouthernreporter.co.uk)
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