Friday, 21 October 2016

A fiery Euonymus on the Ribbon Beds.
The gnaw of the Maize harvester is the sound of October in the countryside and then you realise that the year is into it's fourth quarter! How did that happen? October is a great month for countless reasons.....great light, turning leaves, clement walking weather, bonfires, chilly nights, roaring fires, hearty food from the fields, last year's Sloe Gin, strong dark ales and the opportunity to attack those areas of the garden that need attention. Bed 3 is our main project this year and we've started, in our hunt for Bindweed and a perennial Chicory, forking over the soil and picking out offending roots whilst transporting 'must save' perennials in a barrow to the potting bench. These must saves include Lysimachia clethroides, Aster ericoides, Aconitum 'Sparks Variety', well at least I think it is. This particular Monkshood ticks all my boxes.....late flowering, deep tone blue and no staking!
Seven of our Copper Blacks seeking safety in numbers at Barnsley.

Yesterday morning I visited Oxford Poultry near Kidlington and met proprietor Sarah Smith, I was picking up ten Copper Black Marans. A hybrid Hen, glossy black plumage and Magpie iridescence, some show varience with copper 'capes'. They also lay chocolate/mahogany eggs that will complement the warm brown Welsummer eggs of the young Hens the gardeners hatched out and reared this spring and summer. Next spring we hope to get another ten birds from Gavin and Sarah; but ones that lay blue/green eggs. This is a project started earlier this year to have a flock of birds, up to forty maximum,  that produce a colourful array of eggs for breakfast boiling. I have also fallen in love with the White Leghorns at Oxford Poultry and I think I'll be back to supplement our flock soon. The White Leghorn is a stylish, perfectly poised little hen, out of Tuscany, that lays a surprisingly large porcelain white egg. In the meantime we have a twenty strong flock goverened by Cockerel Kurt and matriarchs Freda and Greta (parents of our young Welsummers) and may have, if it goes to plan, some egg production before Christmas.
Two Copper Blacks, one playing it cool; the other keen to know more about the Welsummers' dust bathing facility.

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