The final straw in a long line of stolen hens (and my last duck); the bastard took Mrs. Mazel Topf the araucana. I was really upset by this. I loved watching her strutting past my window with her fascinator bobbing. I also loved her blue green eggs. It’s always the hens you love that they take.
The hens had been getting out behind my fence into next door which is a 7 acre field. At the top of the field there are 3 bungalows and the narrow field lane running between my place and these houses holds no end of fascination for them. Plus the houses only have sheep wire around their gardens so the hens are getting into the gardens as well. Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence for hens too.
The fox had been seen a few times in this field and when the hens were out there they were sitting ducks (well hens really). When Mrs Mazel Topf was taken I got a brainwave and put a radio out on the fence. It kept him away for a few days but he wasn’t going to be fooled for long. I finally did what I should have done long ago and went and got a couple of rolls of chicken wire, tying wire and a thingamyjig for cutting it and twisting it.
Between myself and the woofer we blocked all the gaps. Then we let the hens out. They paced up and down trying to figure a way out but we had them stumped.
The chap who did the fencing around my veg garden is coming back in a couple of weeks to fence the rest properly for me. We had decided on sheep wire until I realised the hens were able to squeeze through it. The object is to keep them on my property as I really don’t think the fox is brazen enough to come in with 4 dogs here. So he has suggested using up some old fencing panels he had and as it’s not going to be very visible I agreed.
He put up this picket fence in an afternoon and it’s a really decent job. The area in front I’ve already started planting up to give a cottage garden border effect. Having had no garden for a year and a half it’s been a joy designing it. In a previous existence I was a landscape designer. But that was sitting in an office on a drawing board. This was actually laying it out and selecting the colours and textures I wanted, then digging into old roots from the trees that were removed. I think I’ll be digging out roots for a long time to come. I put some new topsoil here as well.
On the veg garden side I’m just waiting for the seedlings in the tunnel to get big enough to plant out. It’s still a bit cold at night so I want to harden them off first. The strawberry plants are in and some herbs and a horse radish. I had intended planting the herbs in the fruit garden but until the hens are fenced out that’s not possible. They demolished a fennel plant on me and they’ve even had a go at some of the perennials in the flower border.
The grass seed I planted at the back of the house is beginning to grow. Although now the hens are confined in the yard, they’re not helping matters. The area in the first paddock that had been cleared had to be harrowed so that I could seed it. I asked my neighbour to do it for me. He has his mares and foals in my third paddock so it’s a fair swap.
I decided to dig out the docks by hand and spent the next day at it. It’s a backbreaking job not helped by a load of curious onlookers. Just when I had the wheel barrow full the goats would jump into it, knocking it over. They can clear the electric fencing like grade A showjumpers.
The excess grass seed mix that was sent to me includes perennial rye grass as well as fescues, timothy, cocksfoot, chicory, forage herb, clovers and birds foot trefoil. I’m looking forward to seeing it once germinated. I hope the sheep will enjoy it.
Speaking of sheep I’m still waiting to get my herd number from the Department of Ag. despite being inspected at the beginning of April. It was the same with my pig herd number. I doubt there are many new number applications in Co. Wexford so not sure why it’s taking them so long. When I ring I get the usual excuses – backlog, staff on holiday/sick/leave etc. It’s very frustrating.
While the woofer was here we got the old shed completely whitewashed including the gable end that we didn’t get around to last year. Unbeknownst to me she took on to white wash the big shed that we painted last year. I was out in the field pulling the docks and didn’t see what she was doing. It looks great but it’s a total waste of the lime putty I had to get couriered here from the Natural Lime Company, not to mention a waste of money. Plus it will probably run off in heavy rain.
I also got a new tin of the lime green paint. I thought I had saved the code but it had vanished. Luckily the place I bought it were able to check back how many tins they had mixed this time last year so I knew it was the correct shade.
I got some lovely compliments recently, one from a couple I was speaking to in Duncannon. They asked was I living here and where. When I told them where I was they said “you have done such a fantastic job with the place.” The chap who did the fencing told me he remembers this place as a child and it was like a chocolate box cover with whitewashed sheds and a beautiful garden. He said he was delighted to see it being restored to its former glory.