Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Bad Fox

Bad Fox

Today, sometime during the afternoon, early evening perhaps, a fox entered the chicken area and killed all the 10 chickens. We found 9 dead, and one missing that the fox must have taken away for food, when we went to put them away for the night.

Bigger fence is obviously needed. Learning the hard way.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Garden Birds

Garden Birds

Since the RSPB annual bird watch is next weekend I though that I'd up the bird feed and start to see what can be attracted in preparation. Over December and early January there wasn't much food in the bird feeders and the birds were staying in the field and hedges. After a few days of feeding more, they start to appear in the front garden in greater numbers.

Today, sunny cold start to the day, there were:

2 Blue Tits
2 Great Tits
5 Long Tailed Tits
1 Blackbird
5 House Sparrows
2 Dunnocks
1 Robin
1 Wren in the front hedge

In the field as I am spreading manure there are the following pulling up worms,

1 Robin
2 House Sparrows
1 Wren
2 Dunnocks
2 Blackbirds

If I stop digging and working for a while there is a Pigeon and Magpie that appear. 

The Barn Owl made a brief fly past first thing as it normally does although this only once in a while flies over the field and sticks to the neighbour's field.

Around the house, garden and field there are 3 Wrens, one near the compost heap as there always is, one in the front garden and another near the green house. They obviously have their own little territories. Also the Robin that keeps coming into the front garden is the same one that lives in the roadside hedge and appears on the manure next to the roadside manure heap but another Robin lives on the field side in and around the Hawthorn trees and keeps appearing on the manure that is being spread on the vegetable beds that side. 

The 2 Tree Sparrows that were hanging around with the House Sparrows haven't been seen for a few months now.

Sunday, 11 January 2015



By looking at the UK Soil Observatory's it is possible to get an idea of the make up of our soil.

Soil Group: Heavy
Soil Texture: Clayey Loam, Locally Chalky

Parent material carbonate content: CaCO3 Content VARIABLE(LOW)
Calcium Carbonate which is defined as :
(Elements & Compounds) a white crystalline salt occurring in limestone, chalk, marble, calcite, coral, and pearl: used in the production of lime and cement. Formula: CaCO3

European Soil Bureau description: Glacial Till
Cadmium Sesquioxide Metal Binding Capacity: Value 4.5 - 5.0
Topsoil Carbon Stock: Value 6.33 (I think %)
Soilscapes: Slowly permeable seasonally wet slightly acid but base-rich loamy and clayey soils
Native Woodland Model: Lowland mixed broadleaves with dog's mercury
Soil layer thickness: Deep
Nearby Soil depth (points) Base: 1m

Parent material grain size (Grain Size): MIXED (ARGILLIC-RUDACEOUS)
(I think this means course clay?)

Drainage: Impeded drainage
Fertility: Moderate
Habitat: Seasonally wet pastures and woodlands
Landcover: Grassland and arable some woodland
Carbon: low
Drains to: Stream network

Water Protection: Main risks are associated with overland flow from compacted or poached fields. Organic slurry, dirty water, fertiliser, pathogens and fine sediment can all move in suspension or solution with overland flow or drain water

General Cropping: Mostly suited to grass production for dairying or beef; some cereal production often for feed. Timeliness of stocking and fieldwork is important, and wet ground conditions should be avoided at the beginning and end of the growing season to avoid damage to soil structure. Land is tile drained and periodic moling or subsoiling will assist drainage

Texture: Loamy and clayey
This soil type Coverage: England: 19.9%    Wales: 2.4%
England & Wales: 17.5%

Make Up:
NSI Topsoil Silicon: 29.56%
NSI Topsoil Aluminium: 6.1%
NSI Topsoil Iron: 3.23%
NSI Topsoil Calcium: 1.93%
NSI Topsoil Potassium: 1.4%
NSI Topsoil Sodium: 0.41%
NSI Topsoil Titanium: 0.33%
NSI Topsoil Phosphorus: 0.07%
NSI Topsoil Manganese: 0.05%

NSI Topsoil Sulphur: 648.21 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Barium: 344.38 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Zirconium: 285.88 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Chlorine: 105.09 mg/Kg

NSI Topsoil Iodine: 4.32 mg/Kg
NSI Topsoil Magnesium: 0.71%
NSI Topsoil Cerium: 60.74 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Caesium: 4.3 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Cadmium: 0.2 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Bromine: 7.41 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Bismuth: 0.26 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Arsenic: 18.61 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Antimony: 0.99 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Lead: 50.64 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Lanthanum: 31.04 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Indium: 0.25 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Hafnium: 6.99 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Germanium: 0.84 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Gallium: 10.67 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Copper: 21.96 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Cobalt: 11.18 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Strontium: 116.70 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Silver: 0.24 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Selenium: 0.33 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Scandium: 10.45 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Samarium: 2.49 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Rubidium: 67.34 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Palladium: 0.23 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Niobium: 11.5 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Nickel: 26.7 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Neodymium: 22.98 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Molybdenum: 1.57 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Zinc: 71.75 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Yttrium: 22.87 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Ytterbium: 2.61 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Vanadium: 82.99 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Uranium: 2.33 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Tungsten: 1.13 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Tin: 10.14 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Thorium: 8.68 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Thallium: 0.38 mg/kg
NSI Topsoil Tantalum: 0.75 mg/kg

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Comparing the past - January

Comparing the past - January

January 2013

January 2014
January 2013 was a blank canvas.

January 2014 was a busy time, the old chicken house we inherited from the previous owner, was a caravan with a fence around it and a shed or two attached. Along with other rubbish it was all removed, burnt or taken away. The area is now a large vegetable patch of around 15 ft wide by possibly 30 ft long. The old chicken area was on top of a rubbish pit, all sorts of rubbish was dug up, and a pond needed filling in. After digging it all over and removing a lot of nettles up to 4 feet deep of manure has been applied to this area. It has been going on from May. Potatoes and other veg were grown on this patch and when they all finished more manure has been added so it can rot down and become a raised bed.

During late winter we also added another dozen fruit trees and a load of willow (which are hard to see on these photos) as well as a new Raspberry bed along the main path going to the chickens. The chickens have also been given a new home. 

Another big difference between the two January's are extra beds just below the fire. Also the fire area has been seeded with random flowers and bulbs.

The rough grass has been kept longer this year as it is an excellent habitat for frogs, toads and newts, all which have been very numerous this year and between them totalling hundreds.

January 2015
Out of shot on the left, the original vegetable beds have been extended by another 15 ft.

Since May, over 30 tonnes of horse manure has been added to the field, mainly veg beds and around trees although most of it has just vanished and you'd never guess that much had been added.