Monday, April 28, 2008

Hen, His Wife

Still on the subject of poultry, this little gem from my favourite animation film maker, Igor Kovalyov, can now be viewed (not in best quality to be sure) on youtube - part 1 & part 2.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Chicken

As I was walking down Stanton Street early one Sunday morning, I saw a chicken a few yards ahead of me. I was walking faster than the chicken, so I gradually caught up. By the time we approached Eighteenth Avenue, I was close behind. The chicken turned south on Eighteenth. At the fourth house along, it turned in at the walk, hopped up at the front steps, and rapped sharply on the metal storm door with its beak. After a moment, the door opened and the chicken went in.
From 'True Tales of American Life' edited by Paul Auster

What I like about keeping hens is if you get waylayed, at the pub for instance, they will just put themselves to bed.

The Great Aunts after whom our hens have been named, here on a picnic with Uncle Clifford, Gramma Colwell and Uncle Frank.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

And The Winner Is...

Hey! My little film has just beaten out the competition (of one) to win the first ever Agricultural Biodiversity Film Awards. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Working Girls II

We installed another gynocracy in the backyard this week - the egg production unit - and they established their pecking order straight away. Doris the Buff Orpington is bossy boots, then Gladys the Speckaldy and they both pick on Ethel the Maran. It's disturbing to watch. I'm going to have to sign Ethel up for some self assertiveness coaching before she starves to death. That, or I'm going to eat Doris.

Working Girls I

Appliances Required - Before opening a hive for manipulation, be careful to have to hand everything that you may require. A smoker, a carbolic cloth*, a small table that can be carried from hive to hive, a comb box, a dinner knife, a goose wing or soft brush, a pot of petroleum jelly are all useful articles.
*The Carbolic Cloth is also a subduer of bees and by some is preferred to the smoker. Ticking, calico or muslin, 20" x 18", may be used, with (if preferred) a hem on one 18" side to take an 18" lath. A solution of Calvert's No.5 Carbolic Acid, one part to ten parts of water, is prepared, and with it the cloth is thoroughly saturated. If the cloth, when not in use, be kept in a close-shut tin box, it will retain it's objectionable smell for a long time.
From The Practical Bee Guide by The Rev. J. G. Digges

It looks like we have managed to successfully perform the 'Shook Swarm' last Sunday. Although we couldn't find the queen during the operation, we carried on and brushed everybody into a clean brood box. They haven't absconded yet and they look to be busy drawing out new comb. So I can breathe again. If it all worked, the queen will be laying again soon and the varroa mite population will have been cleansed.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Cupboard is Bare

Yesterday I pulled up the last leek. I guess that's it until sometime late October. The kale is all in flower now and we're down to two (rather large) squashes. But still a few potfuls of pink fir apple potatoes. Frank @ Hooting Yard sent me this link for Sydney Smith's A Recipe for Salad. A fine way to see out last year's spuds.

It's fate was risotto.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Man With The Hoe

"I had never really wanted a photograph of a picture before I saw Millet's Man With The Hoe. I was about twelve or thirteen years old, I had read Eugenie Grandet of Balzac, and I did have some feeling about what french country was like but The Man With The Hoe made it different, it made it ground not country, and France has been that to me ever since. France is made of ground, of earth. When I managed to get a photograph of the picture and took it home my eldest brother looked at it and said what is it and I said it is Millet's Man With The Hoe. It is a hell of a hoe said my brother."
Gertrude Stein Paris France

Weights & Measures

Click on picture to enlarge
From 'The Horticultural Notebook' A Manual Of Practical Rules, Data, and Tables for the use of Students, Gardeners, Nurserymen, and Others interested in Flower, Fruit, and Vegetable Culture 1914 (price 4/6 net)
You can still listen again to the Food Programme when they pay a visit to the 'New' Covent Garden Market. Over the past couple of decades the big supermarkets have set up their own distribution networks and Covent Garden became a dumping ground for the stuff they didn't want. It is now trying to reinvent itself as a source of locally grown quality produce for the catering trade.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Spring Greens

St. Columba's Broth - Pick young stinging nettles before the end of June, when they are 4 or 5 inches high - one 'handful' for each person. Boil, drain, chop and return to pan with water and milk. Reheat, sprinkle in fine oatmeal or oats, stirring until thick.
Richard Mabey's Flora Britannica

Nettles, Sprouting Broccoli and Wild Garlic all ripe for the picking now.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Progress. I've buried alive all of my seed potatoes in the new bed at the back of the yard. They're on their own now. And through the mail flap this week came a clipping sent by friend Ren. A review from the Guardian of a new book celebrating the ├╝ber tuber and it's place in our history - Propitious Esculent by John Reader. It may cover a lot of the same ground as R. Salaman's The History and Social Influence of the Potato but brings the role of the spud into the 21st century. Apparently plans are afoot to take potatoes on a mission to Mars in 20 years. Reader reports that a stand of potatoes large enough to provide an astronaut's daily nourishment will also supply all the oxygen he/she needs and mop up the CO2 as well.