June 02, 2011
Fruit Plot - Part 2 / Bees & Chickens
The fruit plot is looking really good and the trees have really benefited from the good weather we've been having - though I must say I was really rather relieved to see rain this morning - watering 100 raspberry plants, 12 jostaberries, 4 damsons and 3 mirabelles is no mean feat especially when the water has to be collected from a cattle trough!! I keep saying we'll appreciate it when we pick our first-of-the-season plump fruit. Already, the damson trees are laden with small green fruit and yellow raspberries are showing promise of an early harvest. I've got some fantastic preserve combinations up my sleeve for the market stall, so watch this space...
Yesterday, we planted a further 3 apricot and 3 greengage trees in with the chickens next door. This was always part of the plan, but it's taken a while to prepare the area as a shed needed to be taken down and dismantled in order to make space for them. I'll be posting some pictures of the new 'orchard' soon.
The other great news is the bees have arrived. I was fortunate enough to get hold of a six frame nucleus from another member at Bath Beekeepers' Association. The queen has been busily laying over the past few weeks and the colony is looking healthy and growing steadily. If the conditions are right I may be in for a bit of honey this year... fingers crossed.
The chickens are doing well, though we did run into a little trouble with some feather pecking. Even after isolating each one, it was difficult to accurately pin point who the culprit was and in the end we concluded they were all at it. One morning I noticed some spots of blood on Wilma's (our Rhode Island Red), back. So many feather's had been plucked out she looked as though she was ready for the oven.
To avoid any risk of cannibalism we decided to order some poultry bits from the Wildfowl Trust. The bit works by preventing the hens beak from closing fully so it can't feather peck but can eat and drink normally. It sounds terrible, but apart from a couple of sneezes after they were fitted, the girls were absolutely fine about it. Already new quills are growing through and they are beginning to regain their former glory.