Sad news on the chicken front, I’m afraid; our lovely Caramello passed away last month.

Rest in Peace, Caramello
November 2019

Sad news on the chicken front, I’m afraid; our lovely Caramello passed away last month. She suddenly took ill and despite our best efforts to syringe-feed her vitamins, she was no longer able to eat or drink by herself and passed away peacefully in her sleep. Thankfully she wasn’t alone in her last few days, because Punky watched over her the entire time; sitting next to her, even snuggling up to her, keeping her warm during the nights. It may be my imagination, but ever since Caramello has gone, Punky hasn’t been the same. She seldom comes out of her run, could she be mourning her dear departed friend? It is very sad - we now only have two chickens left; Punky and Tufty.

Come Spring we are looking to adopt 4 ex-battery hens. These are hens which have lived their lives indoors and now that they have reached the grand old age of 1½ years old, they are deemed useless as they are no longer capable of laying eggs every day. So, instead of ending up in the slaughterhouse, you can adopt them via the British Hen Welfare Trust, thus giving them a second lease of life; a better life. We started our chicken journey with ex-bats and they were the loveliest, clingiest and most adorable chickens we’ve ever had! Apart from the cranky one mentioned above, the aptly named ‘The Hooligan’. She liked nothing better than swearing and shouting at us all day long!

The best thing when you get ex-battery hens, is although they look very poorly at first and don’t understand what ‘weather’ is, gradually after a while their feathers start to grow back and they don’t care if it rains, snows, is blowing a gale or whatever, they’re just glad to be able to get outside. It is very satisfying to see them out and about and happy again.

Half-an-hour of gardening a day, keeps the doctor away, or so they say. It is true though, that gardening and being outdoors in general is very good for your physical and mental health. There was a recent episode of Gardener’s World on this very subject. Research has shown that just 2 hours per week of gardening (or any exercise outdoors) can reduce anxiety, blood pressure and improve overall health.

Personally I cannot agree more! As you know, I grow most of my own fruit and vegetables and try to make the garden a wildlife friendly space. But recently I began to feel stressed myself. And what was causing this stress? The garden! You see, I wanted to do too much all at the same time and of course this is never going to work and doesn’t make gardening a very relaxing experience. On top of that, I have difficulty walking sometimes which means I can’t be active for too long. So, I took Monty Don’s advice and vowed to garden just ½ an hour to 1 hour on my days off. I’ve been doing this for just over a month now and I feel so much more relaxed! And what’s even more surprising is I have been able to do a lot more than before. I am now back on schedule; the vegetable beds are all tidied up and covered with either cardboard or green manure, the greenhouse is emptied, the chicken coop is now cleaned regularly every week (not that I was in the habit of leaving it too long anyway!), the bulbs have been planted and I can even start weeding the borders!

So, my advice for this month (or maybe more after winter) is: go outside in the fresh air for at least ½ hour a day, or at least 2 hours a week and if you have a garden: take it easy and do something small every day! Not only is it better for the planet, it’s good for your health too!

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