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November 6 2012 3 06 /11 /November /2012 12:51

Snow-chickens.jpgAs the colder weather draws in, a chicken keeper has the dilemma as to whether to insulate the chicken coop, or not. Unless you are living at the Arctic, chickens can tolerate pretty cold temperatures. Each hen comes with its own built in feather quilt. Extra heating is only needed for young birds that are not fully feathered or possibly ex battery hens until they feather up. Provided they have plenty of straw they will all huddle together to keep warm. If you insulate the coop with polystyrene any crack or gap could be a place that red mite would get in, birds will peck at the insulation and come June you are going to have a hot stinky chicken coop.  

Some literature advocates installing underfloor heating in the chicken coop, by providing an electric blanket. Issuing hot water bottles at night to each bird as they go to bed. If it has been raining, drying each bird off with a hair drier before putting them into the shed.  Installing an extra radiator circuit to your domestic heating system with rads inside the shed!!!.

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November 1 2012 5 01 /11 /November /2012 11:58

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The flower garden

Prune rambling and climbing roses.

Cut down annuals and take to the compost bin.

Prune acer now to avoid stems from bleeding once the sap rises in the spring.

The kitchen garden

Mushrooms are growing at this time of year. Kits can be purchased.

Lift chicory roots to force.

Harvest celeriac and winter cabbage as required.

The greenhouse

Line with bubble wrap to provide insulation.

The pond

General

Check stored fruit and vegetables for rotting.

Store hoses and sprinklers in a frost free shed.

Protect ceramic and glazed pots from the frost. Raise on feet to assist drainage.

Wrap insulation around outside taps.

Stop feeding house plants as light and growth diminishes.

Gather fallen leaves to make leaf mould.

Replenish bird feeders.

 

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October 18 2012 5 18 /10 /October /2012 12:50

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Obviously dogs cannot speak although they communicate though body language. As an owner you need to understand how the dog is feeling and therefore likely to behave.

 A stiff stance would indicate aggression, uncertainty or fear. Whereas a relaxed posture would indicate a calm, relaxed dog.

If his hackles (hair on the back of the neck) are raised, with eyes fixed and stance stiff the dog is ready to attack.

Ears pricked up and turned outwards, eyes wide and mouth closed is an indication that the dog has sensed something.

Ears rotated backward or positioned close to the head, eyes narrowed and teeth showing would indicate aggression.

Head held up, tail up, ears erect is a sign of an alpha dog.

Ears pricked forward, eyes wide and mouth relaxed is a sign of a happy dog.

Growls, whines, yips and yowls are ways of communicating with you using sound.

A raised stiff non wagging tail indicates potential aggression.

A low wagging tail indicates fear or submission.

A tail that is wagging with a smiling kind of face is a happy playful dog.

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October 1 2012 2 01 /10 /October /2012 10:56

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The flower garden

Cover large non frost hardy plants with horticulture fleece.

Cover newly planted bulbs with wire netting to prevent squirrels from digging them up.

Water cyclamen plants that have died down during the summer.

Lift and divide asters.

The kitchen garden

Sow green manure in empty beds, this keeps the weeds down and can be dug into the beds a few weeks before planting.

Gather leeks, artichokes, carrots, parsnips, pumpkins and squashes.

Sow broad beans and peas.

Prune blackberries after fruiting.

The greenhouse

Tidy the greenhouse. Clear and clean staging.

Lift and bring in dahlia, canna, azaleas, gladioli, begonia, pelargonium, and agapanthus in a frost proof place.

Pot up herbs and bring in.

Check heating equipment is working.

The pond

Remove pond filters and pumps.

General

Tidy and clear weeds.

Aerate lawns by spiking with a folk and brushing sand into the holes.

Reduce watering.

Pot up pots of hyacinths and paper white narcissus for indoor displays.

Dig in farmyard manure to all beds leaving a thick mulch.

Collect and compost leaves as they fall.

Ripen green tomatoes on a window sill or make green tomato chutney.

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September 29 2012 7 29 /09 /September /2012 15:59

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Young chickens moult twice during their first year of life. During the first few weeks of life the soft down feathers are replaced and later young feathers are replaced by adult feathers.

In good health a chicken will moult annually starting during September, which could go on for several months. Feathers die and are replaced; however there may be some delay which results in bald patches as new feathers develop. Moulting takes considerable energy placing the chicken vulnerable to ill health. Hens do not lay and cockerels do not breed during moulting season. Antiparasite treatments should not be used during this time as it may interfere with healthy feather development.

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September 1 2012 7 01 /09 /September /2012 10:54

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The flower garden

Continue to dead head dahlia and salvia to keep them in flower until the first frosts.

Prepare to bring in tender plants. In the South it will be ok not to bring them in yet.

Herbaceous perennials mat be lifted, divided or relocated.

Plant daffodils for spring flowering.

Plant trees and shrubs while the soil is still warm.

Plant crocus and tulip bulbs.

Plant lily bulbs.

Pinch out this tips of wall flowers to achieve bushier growth.

Sow hardy annuals such as nigella and calendula for early summer flowers.

The kitchen garden

Cover late crops of salad.

Plant spring cabbages.

Harvest broad beans, sweetcorn, cauliflower, cabbages, main crop potatoes, onions and garlic.

Harvest squashes before the first frost. Place in a sunny spot to fully ripen.

Pot up herbs.

Prune cane fruits.

Harvest blackberries some of the thornless varieties are the nicest to grow/pick.

Pick and store apples.

Plant garlic.

Sow hardy onions, lettuces, salads, beetroot, swedes and Chinese cabbages.

 

The greenhouse

Stop feeding and reduce watering of all greenhouse plants.

Continue to cut off non fruit bearing tomato branches from the base of the plant.

Sow lemon grass in a propagator.

Monitor the temperature in the greenhouse as the colder weather draws in.

The pond

Remove dead water lily leaves.

Thin out oxygenating plants.

Net the pond surface to prevent a build up of leaves.

General

Feed birds.

Prepare the ground for sowing grass seed or laying turf.

Raise the height of the mower.

Put grease bands around the trunks of fruit trees to catch winter moths seeking to lay eggs.

Hang wasp traps in fruit trees.

Keep poinsettias in the dark for 14 hours a day to encourage bract formation.

Vine weevils are active now so treat pots with biological controls.

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August 27 2012 2 27 /08 /August /2012 12:10

Laly and Peeks

The first few days of a chicks life is fairly peaceful. They require a warm quiet environment where they can sit or sleep. I tend to provide them with a soft fluffy blanket on a bed of hay and under a red heat lamp. This seems to act as a sufficient replacement for mother hen. Hatchings during the colder months, I also provided a thermostatically controlled heater. My chicks tens to be comfortable at around 30̊c, any hotter and they pant, any colder and they huddle together.  

Food is not wanted for the first few days, as they digest the egg yolk. Following this I give them sieved ‘layers mash’ in a low sterilised dish every 2 hours 7AM – 5PM. Chickens are day time animals which suits me fine!. I give them cooled boiled water with small sterilised stones in it as young unsteady chicks can easily drown or fall asleep in a water receptacle. Chicks will naturally peck at objects and a small stone is a good way of encouraging them to the water bowl. As soon as the chicks are up and mobile I remove the stones.

Cleanliness is the key to healthy chicks, their nest must be cleaned at least daily, paying particular attention to clean water and feed receptacles.

At 4 days there little wings start to develop and they start to flutter. It is now that I am able to determine if they are frizzled or straight winged. At this stage their little combs are all uniformly yellow so there is no way of telling males and females.

I begin to wean them out of the light of the heat lamp at 3 weeks, by now I have normally got another clutch that need it more and they are quite capable of generating body heat by their size and antics. If the weather is cold I will provide them with a hot water bottle under their hay.

At 4 weeks, if the weather permits they are able to go outside during the day. I have adapted a rabbit cage for this purpose. It is under cover, there is a warm sleeping area with hay and I have added some logs and low perches for their amusement as they are now accomplished fliers.

They are now able to tolerate ‘layers mash’ put through the centre of the colander, so that any large pieces are removed. Food can be left out all the time, but their last meal is always 6PM. They will also enjoy some fresh grass, greens and breadcrumbs. Chickens will get most of the nutrients they need from fresh green grass.

It is at this stage when it is possible to determine the boys from the girls. The boy’s combs will begin to turn peach/coral/red and red marks appear on their necks which are the start of wattles.

They will start sleeping at night, but I still bring them inside if the weather is cold.

By 6 weeks saddle feathers begin to develop in females and it resembles a bustle.

At 7 weeks they are able to stay outside all day and night. They will perch in the coop to sleep and we have height adjustable perches so that they can be raised as they grow.

At 8 weeks the males will begin to be sexually interested in his females, perhaps with a little sideways dance or the offering of food.

They are now able to manage corn and you will notice them look like they are yawning or a crow with no sound. This is thought to be them shifting the corn into the crop. Their growth is now beginning to slow and they will only need to be fed twice a day, morning and afternoon.

At 10 weeks the female’s feathers will be more rounded than the males who are more pointed.

At 11 weeks they progress to wanting to dust bath. An unused cat litter tray filled with a mixture of fine soil and sand will suffice. I had read that dust bathing was a social event but was amazed to see the whole family regularly dusting together, it is clearly their favourite past time.

The males make attempts at crowing, although this sounds rather like they are being strangled.

Hens start laying eggs at around 5 to 6 months of age but should this fall over the winter months it may be a little later. Basically in chicks that I hatch and raise, I will wait a whole season before they come into lay themselves, but enjoy watching them grow up.  

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August 21 2012 3 21 /08 /August /2012 14:10

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Cotton wool and cotton buds for cleaning and applying lotions.

Disposable gloves.

Disinfectant.

A selection of syringes - for administering treatment.

Parasite treatment.

Flea and louse powder - one for the chicken house and one for the bird.

Nail clippers - for beaks and toenails.

Liquid paraffin - for crusty leg scales.

Petroleum jelly - for combs in the winter.

Antiseptic spray - for wounds.

Vitamin and mineral supplements - for sick birds.

Aloe vera nose and ear cleaning solution.

Surgical spirit - to treat scaly leg.

Antibiotic eye ointment (prescription only)

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August 1 2012 4 01 /08 /August /2012 10:51

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The flower garden

Trim lavender lightly to remove old flower heads and encourage new shoots. 

The kitchen garden

Tie in the main shoots of cucumbers. Shorten side shoots to 1 leaf beyond the flower.

Harvest runner beans, lettuces, beetroot, courgettes, onions, shallots, garlic, early potatoes, and globe artichokes. 

Cut and freeze dry herbs.

Prune back gooseberries, blackcurrant and raspberry canes now that all the summer fruit has been picked.

The greenhouse

Cut off non fruit bearing lower branches of tomato plants. Continue to feed.

Sow oriental vegetables such as mibuna and mustard greens for salad, they bolt less at this time of year.

Harvest peppers, aubergines and chilli’s.

Support melons as they ripen.

The pond

Check if dragonflies have laid their eggs in the pond.

General

Continue weeding/ hoeing.

Give hedges their final trim of the year. Clip to 1 third of their base.

Feed lawns with autumn feed.

Start collecting seeds from vegetables and flowers as heads start to ripen.

 

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July 30 2012 2 30 /07 /July /2012 15:30

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London’s Olympic park gardens cover 111 acres. The gardens were designed by a British landscape company British LDA Design and the American company Hargreaves Associates. The planting design was led by James Hitchmough who specialises is in perennial planting, Nigel Dunnett whose focus is on annuals and Sarah Price who was the designer and gold medal winner of the Telegraph garden at Chelsea flower show.

The main concept of the gardens was to ensure that they would be sustainable for future use of the site. In the main plants that would be in flower for the start of the games were used although some spring flowers were incorporated. Flowers were deadheaded to ensure that they were in full bloom throughout the events.

There are four gardens running in sequence and forming a timeline. The regions each garden represents are
Western Europe, The Mediterranean and Asia Minor,
The Temperate Americas.
The Southern Hemisphere; South Africa, Australia, New Zealand.
Temperate Asia, particularly Montane China, Japan and the Himalayas.

The gardens are composed of three main elements: clipped formal evergreen hedges that create a permanent structure; strips of ornamental grasses or perennials and the 'field' planting.

The Western Europe Garden consists of the field of dreams which is a wildflower meadow of blue cornflowers and golden tickseed. The field is a mixture of perennials laid out randomly.

The North American prairie garden consists of grassland and summer and autumn flowering herbs including Asters. Prairie’s are packed with plants for wildlife which supply nectar and pollen.

The South African section consists of pink echinaea and yellow rudbeckia. These plants flower during the summer months and grow between grasses. Flowers that stick up in the air on the ends of tall stems makes them stand out to birds and insects. These plants are tender in Britain’s climate.


The Temperate Asia Garden focuses on the herbaceous plants of the woodland glade, forest edge and grasslands. There are cultivars of Japanese anemone, Hostas, Irises, and drifts of Tiger Lilies.

 

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  • : Poddington and P
  • Poddington and P
  • : Poddington and P is about life in the country. It includes their creations, the animals they raise, and the plants and produce that they grow in the kitchen garden.
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