The potager shed

The potager shed

Hi.

Welcome to my blog. This is just my personal garden and food diary. I’m a flexitarian, vegetarian at home, but more flexible when with friends. I’m trying to grow our own food so we leave a lighter footprint on this precious planet.

Over the past six years I have been transforming a one acre former vineyard on a steep hill into a garden. There are distinct areas; an 80m2 vegetable garden, a small orchard, a pond and a sunken path flanked by two long mixed borders.

We are in a small hamlet near Faugères in the Occitanie (formerly Languedoc) region of France. Our soil is rocky schist. Summer temperatures can reach 40℃ and in winter sink as low as -10℃. Water comes rarely but is diluvial when it does.

Lizzie

Hens again!

Hens again!

Most of my life I’ve had hens, but since moving to this house we hadn’t really thought about keeping them again. I thought we’d need to spend a fortune fencing them in against the dogs and foxes. Then I saw some hen houses with small built in runs. That got me thinking. What if I was to make them a bigger run and to keep them in the vegetable garden which is already fenced?

Thus, three hens arrived a couple of weeks ago. There is Brighton the Sussex hen who will lay light brown eggs, Blackpoule the Black Maran who’ll lay chocolate coloured eggs & Blucia who will give us beautiful blue eggs. In theory they are ‘point of lay’ hens, but Blackpoule and Blucia are way ahead of Brighton. You can tell by their crests. They don’t stand up and look gorgeously red until they are ready to lay.

L-R Blucia & Brighton & in the foreground Blackpoule.

I made them a chicken tunnel, The Chunnel, and Ali made a covering to give them shade, The Hent.

The Chunnel

The Hent

Scout the dog absolutely loves the hens and squirms with pleasure if I let her in to spend some time with them while I’m working in the potager. Jonty the other dog isn’t allowed anywhere near them as he would dive at them in a heartbeat.

Scout is transfixed by the hens.

Scout is transfixed by the hens.

I had my first hens aged about four in 1956. These look like Sussex, but I remember that we had Shaver Starcross brown hens during the ‘60s.

At our last house here in France we had more Sussex and some straightforward brown French hens. Like all French in this area, they were rugby fans.

Here I am introducing Brighton to her new home on the day the hens arrived. It rained for ten seconds - the first time for months. Hence the blurry photo.

The girls put themselves to bed at around 9:15pm, although a little earlier each evening as the nights begin to draw in. Blucia and Brighton share one nest box and Blackpoule has one to herself. She’s pushy so I imagine she made that decision. It’s odd. I’ve always known hens to sleep on the perches - crossbars - in their houses. However, these girls prefer the nest boxes. They also love pasta, New Zealand spinach, having their toes sprayed with the hose and paddling in water. While I’m cleaning my teeth in the bathroom at 6:45am I can hear them calling to be let out of their house. Once I unlock and open their door they come tumbling down the ramp to see what I’ve brought them, chuntering & squawking as they go.

I’ll let you know when they start laying.

Food security

Food security

The state of play

The state of play