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Sunday, 8 September 2013

How I had an attack of Chickens,gave up gardening and took up wildlife and wasps.

I used to like gardening.  There was something about being down there in the soil, stark naked and rolling around with a potato in each hand that told me I wasn't doing it quite right, but I was happy.  I had the sun on my buttocks, the wind in my groin and a smile on..well, I suppose it was my face, but I was quite often upside down, so it wasn't always easy to tell. And then, dear reader, I got Chickens, it was probably all that rolling around naked, people always told me I'd catch something. 

Subsquent to the Chicken Acquisition, and not unrelated to it, I discovered that there are few things more dispiriting in life than going out to your newly-planted herb garden, in which you have invested time, money, weedkiller and many hours of naked rolling, and finding nothing left but a patch of bare earth, three bits of pecked greenery and a lump of chicken pooh.

But, you know, chickens lay eggs. And gardens don't, although you can, with much hard work, whole days of weeding, hoeing, tying up, pegging down and covering with netting, persuade a garden to let you have not quite enough vegetables in one go to actually feed the family, thus necessitating having to go to the shop anyway to top up with frozen veg.  So I gave my garden over to the chickens.  And, by extension, the hedgehogs, rabbits, pheasants, deer, butterflies birds and wasps.  I mean, I could be out there now, carefully turning over soil in order to painstakingly plant something which the chickens will eat as soon as it sprouts, or will turn my newly dug soil into a dustbath.  But I'm not, I'm sitting here on my bed, in the sunshine, guilt free.
Here they are.  On my picnic table, on what used to be a lawn.
My garden is now 90% nettle and 10% bitey-things, with a 0.5% pondage variable, but that's fine.  The children have all grown out of wanting to dig random holes or have a tree swing, the dogs like mooching around in the undergrowth, the cats enjoy stalking the innocent wildlife that wanders through, and I... well, I gaze out over the half an acre of wilderness with they eye of a David Attenborough, and mutter about refuges and endangered species.  There's a patio to sit on, if necessary, and sufficient flat bits of grass to sunbathe (ah, yes, sorry, I forgot to mention the wasps' nests, but they're fine, leave them alone and they won't bother you...).  I save time and energy, which I can then invest in writing, which is a posh name for Googling, laughing at cute pictures of kittens and trying to formulate a message to Tony Robinson which won't breach the (fairly specific) terms of my injunction.  And I get views like this...

Which is nice.


4 comments:

Amanda Horan said...

I love wild meadow like gardens! I am also jealous of your chickens. I yearn to have 4 or 5 chickens running about the place!

Jane Lovering said...

It is very idyllic, Amanda, but it's one thing to have chickens running about the place and quite another to come home and find them in the butter dish and eating the dog's biscuits...

Carol Hedges said...

Next door to us had chickens. I looked after them one year when they went skiing. They (chickens) liked you to get into their hutch thing with them, whereupon they'd climb on your lap, peck off the studs on your jeans and go ''werk?' at you. The aggs were nice though.

Chris Stovell said...

You're making them sound almost attractive, Jane... except for the butter dish thing, if only they ate nettles I'd consider keeping a few (hundred).