We literally just finished one job so he starts himself another. Boy really is a glutton for punishment!
At the back of our plot we have a very dilapidated old
greenhouse that we call ‘The Potting Shed’. It’s got brick sides with inbuilt
smoked glass windows and a wooden roof which looked like it had fire damage. There’s
the trunk of a grape vine coming through the wall which some cretin had stolen
before we arrived. It has always been one of ‘those jobs’ which I knew would
never get done. I wanted it to be lovely and warm in there so that I can start
my seedlings off in peace and possibly sit and have a victory brew in peace.
The majority of the glass fell out over Christmas 2018 so it is currently just storage for all of the ‘potentially useful junk’ we have come across in the past year. This mainly consists of old beer kegs and buckets from MrT’s workplace. I’m sure those chefs just use my allotment as a recycling centre at the moment!
So, when MrT announced yesterday that he was at the allotment
but wouldn’t tell me what he was doing, I got scared. This usually means its
something dangerous or involving power-tools and he knows I would shout at him
When I arrived last night and he was waiting for me at the gate, I knew he had done something bad. When he held my hand on the drive up the lane, I knew he had done something really bad. When I arrived at the gate and he had laid a nice set of slabs at the entrance, I knew he had done something he thought I’d cry at.
He had only gone and demolished the whole roof of the Potting
He had bought some new beams and intended on replacing only
the broken or rotten ones, but it turns out that they were all broken or rotten
– at least they are now he’s finished with them anyway.
So, my ‘birthday present’ is new beams for the roof. It will
take him months, but maybe itll be finished by the time that this years’
birthday comes around.
He did say this though – “I took lots of during pictures for your blog!”
Bless his little heart.
I jest, but I am actually pretty excited. I hope it turns out how I would like it to and hope that my husband doesn’t give himself a concussion in the process….
So, this post has been a long time coming. You’ll remember
from the end of last year my worries about the girls current living
arrangements and how I wanted to get them in to a custom-built coop. Unfortunately,
the best laid plans always fall through and it has taken us this long to get
around to finishing off our ladies’ new digs.
I took a day off work and roped in MrT to help build the new
palace. Turns out it took much longer than a day and has actually taken about 3
weeks of weekend and evening work, but that’s by-the-by. We had no strict
plans, no measurements, nothing. I just knew what I wanted and had to try and
relay this on to him. We were planning on using as much of the spare tongue and
groove wood from our new log cabin at home as possible so that it was built
with some thick, well treated wood and would last a long time yet.
We started off by building the base. We simply picked the
shortest lengths of wood, slotted them together and kept going until it got to
the right size. We made sure that the smooth side of the finished wood would be
inside the coop. This lends itself to easy cleaning and also reduces hidey holes
for redmite and other nasties. We then screwed a wooden square to the base for
strength and the floor was done. Simples!
Because the wood is so thick and heavy, we really needed to
put it in to place before we added any more to it. We attached six leg (three either
side) made out of old fence posts cut to size. This will keep the floor off the
ground and reduce hiding places for Ratty and Co. to live and chew through the
floor like they have the shed. We dug six holes in the ground to sink the legs
and when everything is built and settled we will postcrete this in to stop it
sinking. We placed it in the corner of the run so that we still have optimal
space for the girls, and up against the fencing so that I can have the laying
box outside the run without compromising the girls safety.
Next up was to build the rough structure for the walls.
Again, we had no particular measurements so we used the offcuts of the base to
make a rough shape. Initially I had pictured an apex roof, but I soon realised
that was way too much effort, even if MrT thought it would be easy enough to
do. I knew that I would end up finishing this off by myself though so opted for
the easiest option. We just used a longer length for the front elevation, a
shorter one for the back, and an angled piece at the top to hold it all
together and support the roof. It needed to be steep enough for the rain and
snow to run off, but not so steep that it makes the living quarters too shallow
for the girls.
Next up, screw these to the base and put in two equal
lengths of wood across the front and back to make a “wonky box”. Mr T cut and
installed some lovely diagonal ‘bits’ to keep the walls from flopping over in
the wind. We then installed a ‘H’ shaped structure which was the height of a
chicken to create the pop-door. My descriptions are obviously very technical
and in no way made-up.
I wanted to include a nice laying box set-up for the girls
which stuck out of the side of the herras fencing run so that I didn’t have to
go in and disturb them every morning or evening. We made this run the full length
of the house so that the cladding would run smoothly and to provide three nice
big spaces for the girls to lay. 3 of the older ladies no longer lay much and
the new girls are Bantams so take up very little space so 3 laying boxes would
be more than enough for our 10. I planned to make this have a lift up lid for
ease of access but also to keep it as fox-proof as possible. Its hard to
describe the shape of the structure we built so take a look at the photos below
and if you’d like measurements and instructions get in touch and I can send
The next problem was that I wanted a nice people-door and a window
in the new chicken-abode. MrT thought we could build them, I thought we should
use the readymade ones from Cluckingham Palace Mark 1. After many minutes of heated marital
discussion, it was decided that we would do it my way. Obviously.
Mr T went back to work for the rest of the week and left me
with struct instructions to leave it until he we next off, so of course I got
all of his tools back out (sorry love!) and spent my weekend carrying on with
exactly what he told me not to do.
So the nice hot pink door and window frame were installed
and looked beautiful. I took the window home and removed the chicken wire to
install some clear Perspex. They don’t need it for ventilation as they will
have the permanently open pop-door as well as a ventilation hole in the top of
Then it was just a case of cladding up the sides front and
back. Much more difficult than it sounds since we had to try and work through
herras fencing on two sides, with one also covered in brambles and nettles.
Thick trousers and a jumper were required but I still felt like Snow White in
the woods when the brambles grabbed hold of my hair!
This took a lot longer than I though and I needed about size
hands, but eventually I managed it just in time for MrT to be off again. We
went out to the DIY shop in my lunch hour and spent an awful lot of dosh on
some hinges, hooks, hasps and roof panels which just so happened to be the
perfect width. He then spent the afternoon creating a lovely lift up hatch for
the laying box.
Being the hard worker that he is he had to go back for
another full-on week (or perhaps he just pretends to go to work to get out of
chores?) so I carried on regardless. I installed some laying box dividers made
from offcuts of the hatch. I sanded and painted and made it look beautiful in ‘Slate
Grey’. I hinged the door, added a hasp lock so that I can keep them safe and
added a small hook and loop to the door so that I can pin it open should I need
Then, on the windiest day of the year, I decided to put the
roof on… by myself.
Sadly, this is where our lack of measuring and squaring up really
hindered us as it turns of that the whole place isn’t square! I nearly flew
away many times and could hardly lift the heavy wooden sheets, but I managed it
in the end so sat and had a victory brew surveying my building skills.
I then had to put the roofing felt on top, which was even
less fun as when the wind catches that it rips the felt out of your hands along
with the skin on your fingertips. Don’t try this at home kids. But guess what? I
managed it in the end so sat and had another victory brew surveying my building
Late on Monday evening, I went to the pet shop and loaded up
the car with some fresh bedding and went on a mission to move in my girls (and
Jimmy the undercover rooster) in to their new digs.
We blocked up the door to the old house and installed a roosting
bar and a ladder entrance to the pop-door, filled the new place with bedding
and hay, added their food and water dispensers and snuck in to the old coop to
move them in. MrT was on removal from the old roost, and I was on placing on
the new roost. I definitely picked the right job, as MrT soon saw what I meant
about Jimmy looking after his ladies when it gets dark. After a good few nips
to the wrists, MrT soon learned the best way to pick up a rooster is quickly and
All of the girls have now moved in to their new digs and
appear to be loving it! There is less space in there than the old one so they
are much cosier and its really toasty in there. They still have enough space to
spread out and section themselves into their groups, but there’s less area for
Jimmy to have to patrol and they can now huddle up without having the tiptoe
along the bar in the dark.
We went down there again last night and found that only two
of the girls had figured out how to use the ladder. Bloody birds. So, we spent
another evening putting them to bed. The last man standing was Jimmy and he couldn’t
figure it out for the life of him. After almost an hour of trying to corral him
up the ladder, he finally got on to it by accident. It was almost as if you
could see the lightbulb!
Hopefully now that he has worked it out, he will show the other girls tonight,
but it’ll be another trip down there later to make sure the last of the
stragglers know where ‘bed’ is!
Now finally, welcome to The Chick Inn – “Where There Is
Always Room For One More”
In our first year, we missed the opportunity to get manure delivered to our plot due to the sheer number of weeds and ground to cover. This made me far too overexcited when enough arrived to get it all done this year. That was, until I realised, I had to shift it all the way from the bottom to the top using a little shovel and my mums borrowed wheelbarrow…
The local farmer delivers tipper-truck-loads of cow manure to our allotment site for £30, which is much cheaper than buying bulk bags or compost and certainly less hassle than trying to haul this much in the back of my car. He waits until after the TB testing, so its often mid to late January before it all arrives.
Cow manure is one of the best manures for your veggie garden and has many more nutrients than the conventional horse manure. Cow manure contains 3 of the most important nutrients that plants need for their healthy growth – Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Now not all cow dung contains the exact same percentages of these nutrients, but research shows the amounts in fresh cow manure with bedding or litter are roughly 11 percent nitrogen, 4 percent phosphorus and 10 percent potassium. This is much better than horse manure and is perfect for leafy veg which is our main crop!
And the best part is that the beneficial bacteria in cow pats converts these essential nutrients into forms that are easily absorbed by plant roots. These nutrients are slowly infused into the soil allowing the plants to enjoy the benefits over longer periods. In the case of fresh cow manure, the moisture content is also high which helps to keep your watering costs to a minimum.
You should never put fresh manure directly on to any beds where you’re currently growing plants as you’ll soon find them dying off. This is called ‘burn’ and its one of the easiest ways to kill your veggies with kindness. Its best to leave it in a big pile for a couple of months to heat up and break down in to lovely crumbly compost.
Some of mine was already well broken down and some much fresher. There seemed to be lots of straw bedding in some areas too which will provide a home for some serious slug families.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a big enough area for a compost heap yet and it’ll be a good while before the weather here is good enough to plant anything out so I decided to spread it all direct. This will hopefully kill off all the small weeds below and keep my soil slightly warmer than it would have been otherwise, making for an early start to planting out.
Luckily, I have a lovely husband who would do anything for a quiet life, so I only had to spend two days there complaining about it before he finished the job off for me. He definitely earned his dinner that night.
So now that the two big beds are all covered and beautiful looking, I just need the snow and ice to come and break up some of the larger clods for me. I haven’t decided yet if I will dig it in or just plant directly in to it, but we will see how I feel later in the year. Some areas will be covered with weed membrane and sow through to reduce my weeding requirements – crops like pumpkins and squash seem to like this quite a lot – so they won’t need so much digging in as the worms will drag it all down in to the soil for me.
I had hoped to go “no-dig” this year, but the sheer amount of compost we would need every year is unrealistic for us so perhaps maybe on one bed and use the other bed as a pumpkin and flower patch? I suppose time will tell!
I do love my new husband, and there are not many things I won’t do for him. However climbing up on a rickety old roof to look at a rotten bit of wood that he’s just been smacking with a crowbar is one step too far.
I have always been the office girl. I google the best places to find things and then send him on a mission to collect the lovingly sourced hunks of plywood and roof felt. Bet he’s glad he settled for me, eh?
I am terrified of heights, I’m not going to lie. So I always knew that the roof repairs would have to wait until the light of my life felt energetic. Or until he got bored of me saying how ‘cold the allotment is’ and how ‘lovely it would be to be able to have a cup of tea in the dry’.
Well yesterday was finally that day.
I finished work a little early so I managed to get there just as the sun was going down (4pm?! Christmas is coming…) and found MrT up a ladder ripping bits of roof off.
He had already managed to get the old rotten sheets off and cut himself on the old felt, so all was going well.
Until he found this.
“Come up and have a look” he said.
“Don’t worry, its safe” he said.
So I climbed up the ladder and stood on a beam, and I am telling you now – That wasn’t safe.
So I swiftly climbed back down and watched him adoringly, giving helpful advice like ‘be careful’ and ‘don’t fall off’.
I was on screw patrol, and would pass up hardware and hunks of wood salvaged from the old chicken run so that he could add a few more beams to the ever wobblier roof. And he was doing really well until it got so dark he couldn’t see the ground!
So ‘we’ gave up for the night and went home for chicken nuggets. Success!
He is back up there today (bless his little heart) to board out the roof and get it as secure as possible.
It’ll probably be down to me to felt it tomorrow since the days are so short now, but hopefully I will be a bit less of a cry baby about it when I can’t see the ground through the cracks in the beams I am standing on!
So today my friend came to The Goose Roost to help out and get her little patch of land ready for her wedding flowers.
We had to check the chicken run before doing anything else, as unfortunately two doors down lost 4 overnight to MrFox and had to dispatch another thanks to a bitten leg and foot. Luckily ours are safe, but i will pop back when MrT gets back tonight (11pm ish) and take the dogs up to wee everywhere…hopefully that’ll keep them at bay!
He has got babies living on the wasteland (the fox not MrT!) so i dont blame him for being hungry, but i do wish they would only take what they eat, not kill several!
But anyway…back to our wedding workout. The area was pretty clear. It wasn’t all that great to look at at first though!
Her little area!
Rach is having a beautiful cobalt blue and sunflower wedding, so we want to make sure that the flower heads are ready for the end of July!
What she doesn’t use of this plot will be grassed over to create a lovely seating area for the summer, and to also keep the weeds down for another year until we cultivate it.
Half way through
We arrived at about 3pm to gloom and grey clouds, but luckily the weather stayed dry for us.
We managed to get it all dug over in about 2.5 hours and ready to rake and sow grass seeds later in the week.
Shes a good grafter and we had a good natter while we did it! Even managed time to have a luke-warm cup of hot chocolate. I must remember to take mugs next time….
Next stop was to pull up the few weeds in the greenhouse and sow the seeds. While she did her sunflowers (several varieties and all gorgeous!) I sowed some marigold seeds. Its way too cold this year to sow them direct, plus it means that we will know what is a plant and what is a weed. Thats always a bonus.
I heard that marigolds are good to distract nasty bugs from eating you veg, so hopefully they will be around every bed this season. I had awful problems with ‘friends’ last year.
Look at those strawberries though…
It was Rach’s first time planting anything really, so a good opportunity to sound like i know what I’m talking about. In actual fact i just pulled up weeds and filled up a watering can, but we wont tell her that will we?
How beautiful is this looking!
I can’t wait to see things staring to sprout. We saved some seeds to sow more in a week or two so hopefully at least something will have flowers on for The Big Day.
Cold and wet day down the lottie today, but the hens were happy and the blossom is out!
The hens were treated to another hay bale today to try and soak up some of the rain. The old stuff i dug out i put around my berry canes. Hopefully this will be a wonderful manure for them! I love raspberries and am hoping for my first home-grown crop this year.
Hopefully a bumper crop!
The rain them started belting down, but as i was already up there i wanted to finish up. I covered much of the top end of the bed in weed membrane as the same sun that has helped my plants grow has also helped the weeds, and i wont have time to get it all perfectly dug over like the spud bed.
Weed membrane, trying to battle nettles!
All home and clean now, but my boots have seen better days! Poor things have got so many holes in now, they definately arent waterproof any more!
Ready for a nap!
Back off up there tomorrow to get some sunflowers in for my friends wedding… lets hope its drier!
Two days off in a week, means two demolition/fire/destruction/smashing jobs done in a week.
I should have known really when the sledgehammer ended up in the boot of the car that something dramatic was about to happen.
This ‘building’, or ricketty pile of bricks, is built in the most inconvenient place in the allotment. It blocks access to a good 20sqm of space which could otherwise be useful.
Very inconvenient old walls
I mentioned my wish to have this *eventually* removed to MrT a while ago.
So while I was planting my spuds, MrT was making some smashing and grunting noises around the back of my greenhouse. I would have been worried if I couldn’t hear his grumbles.
He didn’t move anything, he just wacked it.
We did, however, find out that those walls were supporting my greenhouse… Bugger. Now thats got to come down to as all of the wood is rotten and its being held up by its shelving!
Soon enough he had got it all down and stacked up the bricks nice and neatly while I finished putting my spuds in.
Just out of curiosity, who mounds theirs up and who doesn’t?
I just dig a hole, push my shovel forwards so that it makes a deeper hole, drop my spud in and then removed the spade and fill in the hole.
I don’t bother mounding them up unless a spud sticks above the surface and always seem to get as much of a crop as everyone else.
I also don’t faff about with worrying which are First, Second or Main crops. I just plonk them all in and harvest them when the plant tells me they need harvesting.
Spuds are in
I have put 6 rows in, some of red King Edwards and some of Maris Pipers. I am waiting on the complaints and criticisms of the other plot holders on my site about my lack of lines and mounds, but to be honest the less work the better.
At least I got to use my adorable signs that I bought in the sales last year!
We lost one of our chickens this morning… poor girlie.
We think she may have had a sour crop, but unfortunately there was nothing we could do to help her. She had been very quiet all day, sitting in the coop, but having been broody for a week or so we thought nothing of it. When I went in to feed and water though it was obvious she wasn’t very well.
We put her into the spare coop we call the ‘recovery coop’. Its bright pink and lovely and warm and quiet. We gave her lots of clean bedding and water with Apple Cider Vinegar, and ‘burped’ her as best we could. She seemed a little perkier before we left and was snuggling up into her bedding, but unfortunately she was gone by this morning.
Itsy, Bitsy and Small…
We did have three new arrivals today!
Welcome Itsy, Bitsy and Small.
These three ladies have come to join my current boy and two girlies. They are a bit bigger than the resident 3, even if they are a lot younger.
The resident quail came from a facebook friend who needed to get rid of them quickly. They knew I rescued my dogs and ex-batts so contacted me. They knew I wouldn’t say no, so they ended up living with us! They were very, very scared, and unfortunately 4 soon became 3. We think they are much older than we were told, but we don’t mind. They have only laid 3 eggs since we have had them, but winter was hard this year and it is only just beginning to warm up.
The new three are Jumbo Coturnix Quail, and are adorable! They are very inquisitive and active, and are already braver than my other three. The man says they have already started laying, which is brilliant for MrT’s cheffy antics!
I hope they settle in wonderfully and that they will have a lovely happy life with us.
I leave him alone for ONE DAY and he sets fire to the plot!
He went down to fix my shed roof, but unfortunately we didn’t have enough roofing felt left… things look a lot smaller when they are higher up!
So he saw a big pile of scrap wood and decided to ‘get rid of it’ for me. What a diamond.
I decided that i would pop down in my lunch hour to see how it was going and treated my little worker to a chippy lunch. So civilised.
He is a good egg though, and by the time I finished work for the afternoon he had done so much hard work!
I know it doesn’t look like much, but he has managed to clear our so much rubbish and has even discovered a concrete path and plinth which appears to have once had a shed on it.
Proud little man
Sadly all of those nettles and weeds behind him are part of the abandoned “wildlife plot” next door. This is great for hedgehogs, but is awful for us to try and keep the weeds away and the foxes out of the chicken coop. His next job will be to build a nice pallet fence to keep out all of the big brambles and make it look a bit neater.
That big brick structure is connected to our old rotten potting shed (which we will one day repair!) and it blocks off a nice big space behind it.
So much wasted space!!
This will be all knocked down as soon as MrT gets himself a sledgehammer and will hopefully be the site of a new brewing shed for those cold winter days when a bacon cob is required.
No more stings!
He has managed to clear the path around the back really well, and has dug up tonnes of broken glass which seems to have been dumped inside the old (now demolished) air raid shelter.
Now its just a waiting game for his next few days off to get smashing and crashing his way through that old building!