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12th. July - 25th. July 2005
Although busy, it's been quiet, if that makes sense !
In the garden it's a story of success and failure. The failures are still carrots and other outdoor sowings. From my four sowings of carrots, at different times, in different places, from different seed packets, I've eight plants actually growing ! It's the first year I haven't sown them indoors, then planted out, but after my 'carrots from hell' (see gardening page ) I thought I'd do it properly this year.
However, the squash on the bonfire, courgettes, runner beans, second early poatoes and onions seemed to love it and are plentiful. I've noticed much more leaf on the courgette plants this year, but they taste OK.
At least the chutney's looking good for autumn !
Leo and I went to Southampton to visit family for 5 days last week. A most enjoyable break with the exception of me having a wobbly tooth (one of the few left) which has obviously weakened the immune system for the usual variety of viruses on offer from the grandchildren.
Whilst there we visited a 'Theme Farm', something which I am in two minds about. It's good that kids see what animals are, but there's a lack of information (from the parents as well I suspect) that a cow is where your McDonalds Happy Meal comes from etc.
Three weeks here and my new ex-battery hens are doing famously. Of all I've taken in, these must be the best ones to settle in with the old timers. Very few punch ups and all 17 sit around the gate eagerly awaiting my arrival in the morning.
The new one's are still staying up late. I go up to check on them just after dark and still see a shape floating over toward me. Can't work out the reason for this. I've shared the info with other ex-batt owners and they all have similar experiences for the first few weeks.
As for cricket, Kent, following one of our best ever victories over Surrey last week are still top of the championship table. It's strange how we do so well in the 4-day game but not well atall in the 1-Dayers. I've examined if I fold the towels in a different manner for different games, but they always look the same to me, so it can't be that.
The summer seems to be passing by too quickly and there's too much living to be done
28th. June - 12th. July 2005
A slightly late entry due to cricket and not getting home til after 10pm for the last three days.
A dark cloud has appeared down the lane. Ashford Borough Council have released a core strategy for development around us. Although the initial protests have to be in by the end of this August; by the time red tape has taken it's place, it would not be until 2007 that any of the 450 new homes would be built.
Where I live is actually rented and the Landlord owns many more houses in rural places. In that sense it would be quite easy to 'escape' the bulldozers - but not yet though and I don't wish to appear having an attitude of 'bad luck home owners, we're OK' etc.
The Saturday before last I colected 5 more ex-battery hens from Diane at Brabourne. She is the Kent representative for Jane Howoths charity found at www.thehenshouse.co.uk.
You will see I finally got around to building the shed someone gave me 3 years ago. Up to last week it was a toss up between a chicken shed or a coal shed - but I guess it was no contest in the end !
Should anyone like to have some ex-battery hens you should email Jane, or if you email me at email@example.com I'll pass the information on to you.
A couple of days off last week allowed me to do a little up-dating to the web site and I've added a few new pictures to the Photo Galleries, got the cricket pages up to date and even altered the home page a bit as well. Still much to do though.
I must confess that things have caught up with me a little lately and for this reason Leo and I are going down to Southampton next week for a few days visiting my daughter Vicky and the Grandkids (although this could be the 'summer break from hell' if the usual virus's are abound) !
In the garden, the onions, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, courgettes and runner beans are doing famously, but I'm holding my breath a bit over the sprouts, beetroot and carrots. Lettuce, cucumbers, peppers and broad beans are already well into being eaten.
13th - 28th. June 2005
So there I was sitting in the bath at 7.30pm today and I suddenly thought 'is the diary this week or next week'. So the answer is obvious and I'm one day late in posting !
It's 'twenty / 20' cricket time and with a game here and a game there plus the International on Thursday between Australia and Bangladesh, much time has been spent travelling around with a car full of towels, balls, radios, ice boxes and drinks etc.
Somehow though I am right up to scratch in the garden. The recent heatwave, with consistant watering, has worked wonders. The courgettes and squash are growing at an alarming rate. The broad beans are now beans, the runner beans are over the six feet mark. In the greenhouse tomatoes and lettuce are all thriving in the summer heat.
I have found the Kent Co-ordinator for the Rescue Hen centre which is run by Jane Howarth in Devon. She was recently featured on a BBC Inside Out documentary and since then has become a registered charity and is saving thousands of battery hens (www.thehenshouse.co.uk)). The web site article on the BBC features this web site as a link, so that's nice.
A junior school in Worcestershire has kindly taken to 'down the lane' and Year 4 are using the Poultry pages for discussion on factory farming and general chicken keeping. I'm corresponding with them by email and it's so encouraging to see young people showing genuine concern for the world we live in.
As I write, a huge thunderstorm is approaching. A severe weather warning earlier today gave me the urgency to spend 4 hours in the garden in which I cut all the lawns, strimmed the whole outer fence of the chicken run of its6 feet high nettles, clean the chicken shed and tie the broad beans in fear of them being flattened with the expected torrential rain.
I have a problem, well many ! The main one is that my brain thinks I'm only 18. Working in amongst young professional sportsmen tends to gee me up somewhat and I occasionally help out in training by retrieving balls etc. To shouts of 'quick dickie, throw in hard' etc. I've already damaged a tendon in the shoulder this year and last Sunday stubbed my index finger making a spectacular, but foolish, dive during my brothers Pubs cricket X1 match. It is now twice the size of the other one and I can hardly bend it.
Leo and I are unsure about going to the mountains in the Lake District in a few weeks now. We may settle for the end of August when things are a little quieter. Also, he's off to Italy in 4 weeks.
30th.May - 13th.June 2005
In the garden it's ups, downs, highs and lows.
The poatoes, runner beans, courgettes, tomatoes, squash on the old bonfire etc. are all growing famously and no problems there.
I've manged a few days off since last Friday and worked a good few hours outside with weeding as the number one priority. I find that slugs love the creeping buttercups which seem to grow so well here. Luckily these are fairly easy to pull out.
I've obtained quite a lot of fairly decent wood from skips lately and am desperately thinking of something to build with it. My old pallet garden furniture is finally coming to an end after 6 years, so maybe a nice table and bench set. Whatever it is, it has to be built in less than two hours as that's about my concentration level for anything I do !
The chickens, after a little lull, have started laying well again and I'm getting up to 8 eggs a day. Considering they're ex-battery hens and most are over two years old now, I'm really proud of the little girls.
Our vistor 'Stubby', the ginger cat who seems to turn up every evening through summer and autumn, is now brave enough to stroll accross the kitchen floor to nick some of our cats food. Thje strange thing is they don't seem to mind. There are other cats who stroll around where World War 3 breaks out, but Stubby gets away with it. A real sweety who just sits around, then bangs on our back door to attract attention. Don't know where he comes from but seems well kept - a mystery.
The next two weeks is going to be quite hectic. Tomorrow I work at the Universities Cricket final at Canterbury. Next week I have Wednesday and Saturday in Beckenham with Kent, Sunday at Scaynes Hill at my brothers pub for my Mums 80th. Birthday (always said she'd outlive me ?), then the Australia v Bangladesh one day international at Canterbury.
So all the more reason to have the rest of the day off I think. I've much to do at The Mill House, but the sun's out, the lounger looks unused and my knees hurt !
People who say that gardening is theraputic and relaxing are wrong. People who say it's hard work, makes your body sore but you eat well, sleep at night and gives you more satisfaction than a train being on time - are right.
16th May - 30th. May 2005
With the exception of one day, summer nearly appeared whilst Kent played cricket at Tunbridge Wells.
It's quite peculiar at this time of the year. You go away for 6 days and the whole garden and general scenery down the lane changes.
I've sown yet more carrots and beetroots as they don't seem to be doing much. If they all come up, there will be a stall at the end of the lane !
Some of you may remember that last summer and autumn a big ginger male cat suddenly turned up meowing on our doorstep. We used to feed him although you could never stroke him.
The chickens all seem quite happy at the moment. The rats seem to have vanished into the fields for the time being, but come the harvesting of the dreaded reap they'll all come flooding back I have no doubt. The broody one stopped being broody and is back amongst the others although one of them seems to be breaking at least one egg a day at the moment. Just let me find out which one !
So, tomorrow I'm off to Canterbury for cricket raining then drive a few of my bits over to Maidstone in the afternoon where I shall be until Sunday. Unlike Tunbridge Wells I go by car everyday. It only takes about 25 minutes door to door and I have to pick up towels each morning from the launderette. The 'out grounds' are less work, but more hectic in so far as rushing around from here to there.
My new car got through the MOT with only a few minor things being done and it drives quite well. Although a bigger engine than the last car, it seems as good, or better, on the petrol consumpton.
All in all things are looking bright at the moment; the chickens are happy, the cats are happy and so am I. But tomorrow is another day......!