The Wood Wide Web
Well... where do I start? ‘The Decibels’ (our new black chickens) and ‘The Club’ (Hester, Hetty, Helga and Hank) are slowly becoming friends.
At least they are no longer tearing each other’s hairs, er, feathers out as much. Although... Helga makes it perfectly clear that she still doesn’t like ‘The Decibels’ and she is the only one out of the lot of them who insists on doing her own thing. For a while there she was back to her pampered old self: Princess Helga; wanting to be picked up and carried to the coop every night. Thankfully, she now makes her own way there, no assistance from her ‘knight in armour’ required.
All of the chickens are now free again to go out and explore the fields surrounding our house. We live far away from the nearest main road, so it is perfectly safe for them to run around there to their heart’s content. ‘The Club’ quickly remembered that our neighbour, Mrs. J, enjoys feeding them tasty treats. Don’t get me wrong, I give them treats, too - but sparingly. Only once a day and just a handful of treats at a time. They probably think I’m being quite mean, but I only have their best interests at heart. Everything in moderation, I say. After all, I wouldn’t like to spoil them! ‘The Decibels’ are still a bit nervous about straying too far from the run and so far aren’t aware of how generous Mrs. J is with her treats! Having said that, one of the new chickens has a habit of following Hester around, so it’s just a matter of time before she spreads the word and we won’t be seeing any of our hens around our place for a long time!
Good news on the egg front - all 4 ‘Decibels’ are now laying, albeit miniature ones as the hens themselves are still not fully grown. And every now and then (much to our surprise) a member of ‘The Club’ will decide to lay an egg - one of which turned out to be a corker of a double-yolker! When I went to crack open a second egg they had laid later that day, imagine my amazement when I discovered it was a double yolker too! What are the chances of that? Well, let me tell you... the chance of a double-yolk egg is 1 in 1000, so to get two in a row, makes it 1 in 1000000 (one in a million!). Wow, well done girls! Anyone got the number for the Guinness Book of World records?
Have I ever mentioned the ‘Wood Wide Web’? Maybe I mentioned it a while ago, but it’s such an interesting thing that I feel the need to mention it again. The term, not to be confused with the ‘world wide web www’, was first coined in 1997 by Professor Suzanne Simard and it describes how trees are connected to each other via fungi attached to their roots. Via these fungi the trees can actually ‘communicate’ with each other, telling one another about nutrition, water supply or pests and disease for example. Pretty cool, huh?!
More and more is being discovered about what else is communicated between them. I read in a book recently (‘The Secret Network of Nature’ by Peter Wohlleben,) that they may also tell each other when best to flower or when to produce a massive crop of nuts etc (called a ‘mast year’).
Well, we’ve got a few fruit trees in our garden, but I’m not too sure they have all signed up for the Wood Wide Web yet, as our cherry tree seems content to produce masses of flowers each year, regardless of what the other fruit trees do! Maybe it’s a ‘late adapter’ and isn’t very fond of modern technology? Or could it be that because two of our fruit trees have died the connection has been broken and the cherry tree hasn’t received any messages? Who knows, but I like cherries, so it doesn’t matter.
On the garden front, all I can say is that everything is extremely late. I am typing this blog in the last week of May and our hawthorn still hasn’t flowered, its flower buds are still tightly packed. The rosehips suffered pretty badly with the cold spring too; the first leaves were scorched by the frost, thankfully it is producing a new set of leaves, but it will have an impact on the overall health of the plants. Then (as previously mentioned) 2 fruit trees died due to (what we expect to be) the extreme cold winter (-11°C) and heavy snow fall. Hard frosts can damage the bark of trees, creating an opening for fungi to enter and kill it. Not all fungi are beneficial to trees, sadly.
The majority of our fruit trees are not flowering either yet, which again, is very late and I fear that the season won’t be long enough for the fruit to ripen in time. I believe though that the temperature is set to rise towards the end of May, so fingers crossed they’ve got it right!
We could all do with some sunshine and I’m not just talking about the plants.