A very pleasing dilemma

With the completion of our move looming tomorrow I find that, in a quiet moment at work this morning, my thoughts turn to a dilemma which has been on my mind intermittently over the last few weeks. Among all the hassles of selling and buying property not to mention applying for a mortgage (twice!) this has never a major topic on my mind. However now I can turn my attention to the problem but I’m still not sure…

Should I rename this blog now we are moving to 15 acres?

It would surely be some form of false pretences to continue under the “Small Plot” banner when there will be so much land at our disposal. Of course for some “proper” farming people 15 acres might still be considered a small plot but as we’re moving from a typical suburban garden that is not an opinion  to which I would subscribe.

We still have a wide range of “Big Ideas” for the future though so that part of the name if still very well suited. So far the plans have been limited by the available space but in future I suspect the limitation may well be a financial one instead!

Having said all that, I don’t think that “Big Plot Big Ideas” has quite the same ring to it and besides that comes across as a bit too obvious for my taste.

Maybe I should stick with the existing name as a way of keeping in touch with where it all started?



The Chicken Diagnosis

No, this isn’t the title of a new Robert Ludlum novel – just a post about some recent chicken problems!

Luck or judgement

We have been very lucky with the health of our 3 chickens and in just over one year there have been no major problems at all. I wouldn’t try to claim this is the result of any expert attention of our part or any deep-rooted animal husbandry skills. At best it’s just a sign that we’ve obviously not been making a complete mess of things so far.

Until recently the most worrying situation we have had was what we call a “jelly egg” where the shell is to a greater or lesser extent missing from the egg. This has been a fairly rare occurrence and usually within a day or two the hen in question is back to normal again so it’s never been a great cause for concern.

Don’t panic

Mealworms as a reward for posing
Mealworms as a reward for posing

Unfortunately the other day I spotted some white crusting  which I hadn’t seen before on the comb of one of our hens. This led to an entertaining if slightly disconcerting evening of researching chicken ailments on the internet.

The most likely cause I could find was a fungal infection called Favus which by all accounts isn’t immediately life threatening. As far as I could tell we had caught this at the very early stages so the treatment should be straightforward.

Treating the patient

One of the best bits of information I found on this was this page at the OrganicVet web site. which has treatment recommendations  Another helpful forum post at Allotment.org  also recommended the use of miconazole (as found in Daktarin athletes foot treatment) so off to the chemists we went!

It turns out that chemists keep Daktarin behind the counter and they check with the customer before selling it. I’m not sure I understand why but that’s just the way it is apparently.

Not such a big deal you would think but in the first shop we told them it was for treating a chicken and they wouldn’t sell it to us! We immediately learned that lesson and were more successful at the next shop we tried.

The results

A day or two after applying the cream everything looked to be good but the symptoms were not completely gone. At the same time I noticed some similar symptoms with another hen so we applied the treatment to both birds just to be safe.

This seems to have done the trick and there have been no further signs of these symptoms again but I’ll definitely be keeping a watchful eye out in future.

Rhubarb progress

After checking up on the older posts I realised that a rhubarb update was long overdue and now I’ve also finally remembered to take some decent pictures to accompany this.

It’s hard to believe that it is now 2 months since the first signs of growth and my initial concerns that one variety was taking too long to get going. It’s even more odd to think that it’s been almost 4 months since the crowns were first delivered but time has been a little skewed for me lately with all the other concerns around moving house.

The most promising is still the Stockbridge Arrow variety with some good growth plus strong looking stems and leaves. I must confess that I look longing at the stems every now and then but I will follow the advice to leave this alone for at least this year. It’s not easy to resist the temptation but I’m banking on a better harvest in future as a result

Rhubarb - Stockbridge Arrow
Rhubarb – Stockbridge Arrow

Despite my initial concern at the comparatively slow start, the other variety – Champagne – is now looking promising too. I’m not sure whether this is just a later harvesting variety so I need to investigate that further. However the difference between the varieties could be simply down to the use of bubble wrap on the Stockbridge Arrow provided better insulation that the fairly basic garden fleece that was used for the Champagne variety.

Rhubarb - Champagne
Rhubarb – Champagne

My only concern now is whether the plants and pots will survive the best efforts of the removal men when the time comes – I’m not sure that their insurance specifically covers rhubarb damage but I’ll certainly check beforehand!

A job well done

Sometimes you just need to believe the weather forecast – not always, just sometimes. Based on their recent predictions I decided that Saturday was going to be spring cleaning day for the chicken house and run.

I even got the jet washer out of retirement for the occasion although that needed a little encouragement before the work could start. Apparently they don’t like working when connected via a long length of hose wrapped around a reel. Connecting the jet wash directly to the tap via a short hose soon solved that problem.

At the same time as doing all this chicken house cleaning it made sense to do a complete change of wood chips in the run and also tidy up the compost bins when getting rid of the results. It may not last but even the compost bins look pretty good.

Luckily the weather was exactly as predicted and, after a short adventure rummaging through a flower bed, the chickens were soon back in their sparkling clean home.

So here it is in all it’s glory. Fully jet washed, powdered and reloaded with straw and wood shavings.


Looking so much better than before and I hope they appreciated the effort