I have been working on the creep for Molly’s babies. It is made with walls of straw so is dismantled every winter then remade again in piglet season. The creep is a warm area with deep straw and a heat lamp – this is where the babies sleep, safe from their big mother and extra warm.
My barn is unheated and drafty so a well made creep is extremely important.
Molly does not just watch the work she wants to be actively involved. She was being very naughty yesterday – jumping up on all the gates and fences, digging under them – grunting merrily and running to and fro, she is excited as all the new smells are unearthed while I create the little room. I will be building the piles of straw very high, as usual, so she cannot see out into the barn. This makes all the difference in calming her down.
I will have the creep finished today then I will extend the chickens area. They can start exploring the rest of the turkey house now that the worst of the cold is over.
All the trees have the tiniest of buds. This is why March is our hardest month. There are all the signs of spring coming but it is still too cold to work without a jacket and hat and scarf and warm gloves. Today is blustery and cold.
It appears that Mr Flowers’s tail is on the mend. He has it lifted often for his girls now – any girls actually, boys too. He regales the roosters and guineas as well as his own harem. The flakiness has passed and he walks with it off the ground now, no more of those trailing muddy feathers.
He is much more active too now that – even though I am still complaining about the winter – it is above freezing in the daytime. They are watching the gardens carefully for signs of an early dinner. The PeaCrowd (all the peahens and the peacock) have also begun to hover about the glasshouse door staring in through the windows at the growing seedlings hoping someone will forget to close the door. They know that John (against my advice) wants to start planting cabbages. The seedlings are too small and it is too cold but there is no stopping him. He does this every spring.
Years ago I invested in good tapered deep growing cells, trays of them, they enable me to grow the plants to a good size before transplanting straight to the garden when the soil is warm and the frosts are over. No need to pot them into larger vessels. Our last frost date is April 24. My first wwoofers come on April 2.
I still have snow and ice on the ground. Ironically, it was warm enough to be planting on this day last year. But we really did get the early spring last year. Still I maintain that they grow slower in the ground than in their warm pots at this time of year.
The discussion is very much alive in our kitchen. But I am afraid my arguments fall on deaf ears. He will sneak a tray of his cabbages out I just know it.
We have the other garden over at the West Barn and I have asked Our John to (if he must) start his planting there, it is more sheltered and there are no peacocks, the peacocks will eat anything that is small. This will hopefully assuage his need to get into the soil but it is still too cold.
I discovered a terrible thing yesterday. I went to get my good seeds to begin another round of sowing. I store these seeds in the fridge – they are Open Pollinated for good seed gathering and expensive. They are all in one zip lock bag to keep them dry. I must have lost my mind when I re-stored them before I went to California, instead of popping them back in the fridge I opened the top door and popped them into the freezer. ALL my seeds. All my seeds have now been frozen in the kitchen freezer.
Excellent I said. So I got out my tiny plastic bags and tiny paper towels and felt pen. Opened every packet and extracted a sample of the seeds then returned all the packs to the fridge. I folded two or three seeds from each variety into separate damp paper towels, placed the paper towel packages into separate labelled plastic bags and laid them in the Cloak Room table where it is warm from the glass house. This way I will see what varieties survived my own terrible tender care.
What a disaster.
Jake did a quick Professor Google search and thinks they will be OK. But I am horrified at such an error. Seeds are expensive. Seeds saved are so precious. And I may have put a summers worth of garden seeds INTO THE FREEZER FOR A WEEK!!!
Poor chicks are at that ugly in between stage. Yesterday was their last day with the daytime heat lamp. They have feathers now and are big enough. They do have a lot of room in there but this was a bedtime shot and they like to cuddle up in their box surrounded in their Mama Tables with a heat lamp above the heated tables just to make sure they are warm. During the night as it gets colder they slide further under their Mama Tables or climb on top of them.
I will turn their lamp off in the daytime – and back on in cold nights. This way they will keep growing at a good rate and toughen up. No point in having them shiver their weight off at night though.
Tima has discovered the hay field and goes down there every day for a munch of the old top grass that wintered over. Here she is on her way home for the day. Even Tane is moving further afield. When he gets up a head of steam he can move at a reasonable clip.
Let’s hope it warms up soon for him too. Poor old fella.
I hope you have a lovely day. With heavy clouds and wind we should reach 48F/8C.