Not long after we lost Hannah (2nd in command) last month, our other white chicken fell ill too and we feared for her life, BUT she is fully recovered now and is back to her old self: off exploring the fields surrounding us!

Recording nature’s events
April 2021

The other 3 chickens are all fine and happy to be able to go out again. More good news on the chicken front: it is very likely that sometime in April we will be getting 4 more ‘brand new’ chickens! Posh ones from a respectable poultry farmer no less! I’ve set my heart on a breed called ‘Sussex’ as they have a calm nature and are hardy, particularly suited for the Scottish climate. These new chickens will be fully vaccinated against the common chicken diseases; just in case the last chickens we had, succumbed to a disease. Our new arrivals (and the feathered friends we already have) should stay in tip top health. Stay tuned... I’ll properly introduce them in next month’s newsletter.

Some of you may remember that I also study Biology at the Open University and part of this year’s module was frog behaviour and mating calls would you believe. Well, during Mid March our frogs started behaving in what I can only call a ‘Frolicking Frog Frenzy’. The noise was unbelievable! Cool to watch though and what was also very interesting is that this starts every year more or less on exactly the same date! How do I know? Because I’ve recorded the first frog spawn (and other nature events) on Nature’s Calendar for the past 4 years and when I had a look back at my records, I noticed that the first frog spawn happened on 15th, 17th and 18th March, apart from 2018, when we had snow lying and the pond remained frozen until the beginning of April. Recording nature’s events helps scientists (and biologists) in assessing whether climate change is changing plants’ or animals’ behaviour. It is also fun to do yourself, because you can track your own nature events in the same way I do and see what differences, if any, there are. Find out more at: naturescalendar

Next month I will be investigating pollinator behaviour in my garden. Just waiting for more flowers to open and for it to get a little warmer as there is not much pollinator action right at the moment! I’m also proud to say that because of our wildlife friendly gardening we have recorded a rare bilberry bumblebee and also last week I spotted a tree bumblebee! This bumblebee is fairly new to the UK and was only recorded in Scotland for the first time in 2013, so now biologists can add Glendevon to the list of distribution.

Some of our friends know me far too well: they saw this t-shirt (see picture) and immediately thought of us! It reads:”I just want to work in my garden and hang out with my chickens”. How cool is that?! And how true!

By the way, I’ll be selling some little strawberry plants in the shop for 80p each sometime in April. They have been organically grown in peat free coir compost and come in a toilet paper tube, so you can plant them directly, tube and all, in the soil. No plastic, no peat, no fuss!

Cut off any flowers forming this year and they should produce large strawberries from next year onwards. Strawberries are native to Scotland, so can grow everywhere reasonably well, light shade or full sun are both okay, but full shade is not recommended. There really is a big taste difference between home grown strawberries and shop bought ones. Trust me, I should know - I’ve eaten enough of them!

We’ve grown that many potatoes last year, a whopping 74 kg! (163 lbs), that we still have around 20 kg left (44 lbs)! But although you can store potatoes pretty well, they are now at the point where they are beginning to sprout, which means that the potato goes a little soft and wrinkly. They are still edible this way though, but my husband, JP, has now started to turn all of them into chips ready to freeze and we have dedicated one whole freezer drawer for just chips! A mammoth task, I’m sure you’ll agree!