Saturday, 31 October 2015

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Can You Dig It? - The Turkey Shed. Part: The First.

Digging a Hole
Levelling the ground and Making Some Space

Our idea this year was to raise our own turkeys for Christmas, well this has failed.

We were very keen on the idea and planned to take on around six little ones and raise for friends and family for Christmas time. Our first step was to get a shed. So I put up a request on our local Freegle page, basically "Shed, please."

I wasn't expecting much. Not many people happen to have a shed lying around that they just want to give away. After a couple of weeks I decided that I'd have to start looking at prices for secondhand sheds. And that was when the email arrived. Someone had an old 6x8 shed (formally used for chickens) that he'd dismantled ready to chuck out, and never got round to it. It was ours if we wanted it.

Did we ever!

The shed was in great condition. The roof needed refelting but beyond that there was nothing else that a lick of paint couldn't fix! We loaded it up.

The next step however was getting the position for the shed prepared. We dawdled. And procrastinated. And ummed. And errrred. And took too long, so we missed the deadline for getting the turkey chicks for this year. But with the shed leaning up against a barn wall we still had to get it erected, there's no way it would survive the winter as it is.

Flattening Out the Ground

So we decided to get stuck in. The position we have chosen is at the bottom of a slight slope and the flat area is just too small for the shed.... So bring in the big guns...

We had to clear the area and flatten it as much as we could so the shed will stand sensibly. We also intend to put in some, cemented in, posts to fix it too. We get some major wind on top of our hill and we don't want this thing drifting away!

Farm Guy got a great chance to play with a big new toy, so he was happy! Although we did have to take down a fence in order to get the digger in!

We followed our land "flattening" with the digging of some post holes. Once these were dug out we used post cement and water carried in a couple of our thousands of plastic bottles (watch this space for more on those). Soon the corner posts were in and it was just a case of waiting for the cement to dry before we can put the walls on.





Picture of the Field
Our Newly Flattened Spot


Monday, 5 October 2015

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Gardening With Kids - Square Foot Gardening

Had a couple of people discussing gardening with kids and I am a huge supporter of this. I think it's great to teach children about where there food comes from. Our eldest girl is four (nearly five) and is right into growing! Hurray! Our youngest is only just turned one, so at the moment she has more worries about how to get the food into the mouth, rather than all over the face, than where it comes form in the first place!

Our little ones are (will be) taught about it all, not just fruits and veggies but also meat. We already have chickens for eggs and we do eat the young cockerels when there are too many. We will also be sending a lamb or two to slaughter for our freezer. Obviously, I am a meat eater and I have no qualms about eating meat. But I also have no misconception of what is going on. Where I have no problem with eating meat in itself I do have issue with the welfare of the animal before and during slaughter. Just because an animal is going to be used for food doesn't mean it doesn't deserve respect and to be treated kindly and fairly. This is what I will teach my children. I will teach them that it is not wrong to eat meat, it's a choice, like choosing not to, but it IS wrong to mistreat an animal anyway during its life and death.

Sort of went off on a tangent there! At this moment we are talking about the slightly less controversial topic of fruit and vegetables. Why do I teach them about growing fruit and veg? Well, firstly because it's fun! Watching things grow. Making them grow! And then being able to see, literally, the fruits of your labour! Then you can eat them! The second reason is to show them how much effort it takes to grow, even a small amount, of food. Help them understand how long someone, somewhere, has to work in order to provide them with things to eat.

It's not about preaching to them but I think that the more we understand about how things are done the better! And that counts for me too. I'm a question asker and never turn down a tour. I recently got to look round the dairy farm over the road. I asked about everything from the cows, to breeding them, to milking, to the computer system they use to track the cows and milk amounts! Do I want to start a dairy? Nope. But I like to understand the jobs and lives of others. It's a bit like the old saying of walking a mile in someone else's shoes, learning about other people's lives makes you a more understanding person, I think anyway!

So, my daughter was learning about seeds at nursery, in a very basic way and she had also learned, at our local Science Centre, the science of how a seed works. Well, after the nursery topic was over home she came with the Broad Bean plant she had grown herself. And very proud she was too! It spent a while on our windowsill but it longed for more!

I had been investigating square foot gardening and I wanted to give it a try so I saw an opportunity. A square foot garden would be a great way for her to plant many different vegetables and also a small area to avoid her getting bored of the work taking care of it.

For those unfamiliar with square foot gardening it is much as it sounds. You split the garden into square foot sections and plant within those sections. There are plenty of websites on this topic, with planning designs and rotations. I may well do my own in the future but until then I promise you will not go lacking. I can recommend Dave's Square Foot Garden blog for some great inspiration!

Square Foot Garden
Toddler Garden

Our garden was just the one bed and it was four three by three feet, giving us 9 squares to plant in. Initially there were two broad beans, her nursery one and another that I donated. We also planted a potato and a few onions. These were quickly followed by lettuce and spring onions, seed gifts from Grandad that had come free on a bottle of sherry he bought. (Nope we still aren't sure what seeds have to do with sherry, but free seeds are free seeds!). We also added some carrots. These were experimental carrots, and so far, (bar the one featured here) are the only ones to grow!

After a terrible batch of weather, something we have seen too much of this year, one of the Broad Bean plants succumbed. So we replaced it with a cabbage. And added a kale and a cauliflower for good measure.

So, what's actually in there..

  • 1 Potato
  • 1 Broad Bean*
  • 5 Onions
  • Cut and Come Again Lettuce
  • Spring Onions**
  • 1 Kale
  • 1 Cauliflower
  • 1 Cabbage
  • Carrots (multicoloured)

She has been very much enjoying the garden, showing it to everyone who visits. Nibbling on lettuce and spring onions as she passes. We have also harvested some of her broad beans which she enjoyed helping me prepare and insisted on something for tea that would "go with Broad Beans".

All in all I am very pleased with the square foot garden. I think it is something that we should extend in the following years and really make the most of. I feel we have probably not utilised the area to the best, as we had no proper growing plan, but it was done as a fun, mildly educational, experiment and as such has been a huge success.

*Are Broad Beans called Broad Beans in the U.S.? Can someone let me know!

**Spring Onions, for my US readers, are what you call Scallions.


I'll let you know in the future how her garden fared!