With the warm weather and occasional gentle rain, the garden has started going barmy. Almost every day, Martin and I have been outside getting it shipshape. It is a sizeable task, but because the former owners kept it in great condition it is more a question of tidying and returning the errant areas to order, rather than making any large changes, and that is quite enjoyable. The lawns are a big one, and we did the first big cut of the season. I had trimmed it a few weeks back, but they needed a more drastic trim this time.
I've also been working on the getting the paddock looking good. It was topped and harrowed a few weeks ago to get rid of the thatch and level it a bit. Every three days or so I mow a third of it. It really needs sheep nibbling it to keep it down, but that won't be until next year - I only want to introduce one major thing onto the smallholding a year (and this year is pigs) so I don't spread myself too thin. In preparation for the sheep, this year I'll work on paddock maintenance, learning about how to create good quality grass for grazing animals.
We've moved the chicken pen to new ground so now I have a scratched and fertilised area for potatoes. I have a mixture of first earlies and salad potatoes, and when those are done and harvested I will replace them with leeks for the winter. Next spring we'll move the pen on again, and then we'll have a second bed ready to go.At the same time, we switched the chickens around in the two different pens. The old girls are no longer egg layers and do not scratch around much, preferring to get their food from their tray and then lie around relaxing. For them a large pen is a waste. Compare that to the new girls, who tear a place to pieces and are into everything. They are the most industrious chickens we have ever owned and it didn't make sense for them to be in a small pen. Twilight spent two days yelling her head off about the injustice of it all, and then settled down fine.
The pigs are now very big boys and tearing around like loons! The paddock grass trimmings get tipped into their pen where the choice bits are snaffled. This is really helping with the feed bill, as every pound of greenery the pigs eat means less pelleted food is needed. They seem to love grass - even turning their noses up at veg I bring them in favour of damp grass. They have rejected our attempts at creating a wallow (they don't seem to like water very much) and prefer to lie in the shade of the trees on the cool grass trimmings.
I'm cracking on with the patio boxes and have a goal to have those ready for planting by this weekend but I'll write about those and show you the pictures another day. They will contain all of the more expensive veg that we eat frequently, like baby spinach, salad leaves, rocket, pickling cucumbers, spring onions, mange tout, peas and french beans.