A brief interlude….

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I write, in fact looking back over the decade of magazine, newspaper and book contributions I seem to write quite a bit. I’m not sure quite how many words I’ve written but each piece always seems to be a relatively short or succinct journey. Even the book I was involved with last year was broken down into sections that at times it felt like I was penning a series for a magazine as opposed to writing a substantial chapter of a book.

Then there was the mini guide I did for Your Chickens, again it was a segmented delivery that could well have been run in a periodical publication. That’s the beauty I guess of feature writer or columnist versus that of being an author. In fact it’s not until you sit down with an idea, the idea you just pitched successfully to a publisher, that you realise the difference.

Why this little blogette? Well today I have sat in front of me the 40,000 word final draft manuscript of a book, this time though I’m the sole author and despite the invention of computers and word processing, I still feel a little like Samuel Johnson with the first ever Dictionary, wondering if I’ve covered all that I wanted to cover….

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Welcome

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No matter how you ‘appened upon us, be it via a link, directly or simply stumbled upon, then hello and welcome to ChickenStreet; a place for chickeneers and garden-holics.

Below you’ll find a blog filled with procrastinations about poultry and garble about gardening in an untidy tangle of the two, up above you can find pages for the poultry and plants we incubate and propagate for folks to buy and the events, talks & courses we attend and provide. If it’s books, articles, photography or media you are looking for then Freelance ChickenStreet is the page for you, and finally there’s all you need for Oswestry Poultry Auction – Enjoy your visit, do come back, bookmark us, in fact why not subscribe?

Two Years Later…

Aside

I’ve just noticed that it’s almost 2 years to the day since I started this blog of random ramblings about poultry (in particular chickens) and gardening projects. Back when I started I recall saying at the time that some of the stuff would probably be best put in a book and oddly enough it is now, in fact in two books with another going through the editing process as I type… there’s also a bit of a cameo on a DVD due out soon. It’s been an interesting evolution that’s for sure.

So, a quick thanks to those of you who subscribe to the blog, I hope I haven’t bored you too much and thanks too to the sponsors I’ve had over the last couple of years and here’s to the almost 100,000 visitors who have dropped by for a read. It’ll be interesting to look back in another couple of years.

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A right Royal time of it…

I’ve been having a right Royal time of it recently and have been lucky enough to attend three of this years Royal Agricultural Shows.

NFU Countryside magazine invited me and a few of my chickens along to join them at the Royal Bath & West show at the very beginning of the month after we’d had such a successful Edible Garden Show working together and the event was excellent fun.

Next they teamed up with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and I was invited along (again with chickens) to the newly appointed “Royal”, the Royal Three Counties. Another fantastic event and it was brilliant to be surrounded by a number of Britains rarest breeds of livestock. It was also an honour to be involved with such an important agricultural & conservation charity, founded by Joe Henson and now heavily involving his son Adam (probably better known for being a presenter on BBC Countryfile), as it began celebrating its 40th Aniversary

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It was a particular honour too to have the opportunity to spend a few minutes talking to the Countess Of Darnley JP who was this years Show President. Her interest in understanding the importance of utility breeds and the value they have to the small scale keeper provided us both with plenty to talk about, in particular the value of the Sussex and Ixworth.

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Next up came the Royal Norfolk. Now it’s quite a drive from North Shropshire to Norwich but after being invited once again to join the RBST on their stand (along with the NFU Countryside crew) and being told that this particular time the stand would have 40 examples of rare livestock breeds of cattle, horse, goat, sheep, pigs and poultry currently under threat, the distance was no obstacle at all!

It was not only a fantastic opportunity to see such an excellent collection of beasts (all kindly donated for the duration of the show by RBST members around the country) but also a superb chance to be part of the celebration of some the best things about our heritage livestock breeds (and natter on about chickens to anyone wanting to listen).

The RBST Facebook page has a ruck of photos on it if you want to have a closer look

Finally to cap off what has been a fantastic month talking about & promoting British rare breed poultry for me, along came BBC Countryfile who shoved a camera in my face (actually they politely asked) giving me the chance to put them squarely in your living room…. so look out, one Sunday evening you might end up getting close up & personal with an Ixworth pullet!

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Blog Sponsors – The Chicken Vet

When I set off writing this blog my aim was try and remain as impartial as possible providing constructive commentary on chickens, ducks and a self-supporting lifestyle. I didn’t want to litter it with adverts that had click through URLs that paid me when a purchase was made.

I am however delighted to announce the Chicken Vet as blog sponsors. You will see their logo on the front page and if you click on it you will be taken to their website www.chickenvet.co.uk , there’s no kickback for me or tracking cookies involved, just a simple link to their website. Have a look around, sure there’s a shop where you can purchase products but there is also a mass of other useful information including articles on poultry diseases and husbandry along with a comprehensive list of poultry friendly vets.

The St Davids Poultry Team are a commercial poultry vets whose work covers the majority of commercial flocks here in the UK. They realised the increase in backyarders though meant scalable solutions were required for smaller flocks. So they established “The Chicken Vet”, an online resource that provides a service to those of us who can count the chickens in our flocks. This gets my vote and I’m very pleased for this blog to be associated with them.

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Are things a bit late this year?

Its a question asked quite frequently when it comes to gardening or the flora and fauna of the countryside but for me I can’t say I can always provide evidence to support my answer. Ok I know the date when the swallows return or the first chiff chaff call but thats based on whether I’m paying attention and could, for all I know, be out by a few days or even weeks.

I was out taking some photo’s the other day and that was when some real evidence landed in my lap…. there are precisely 2yrs and 22minutes between these two pictures of the same oak tree… I guess that answers my question for this year at least!

May 12th 2010

 

May 12th 2012

 

April: always a mixed month weather-wise

April in many ways represents a mid-point in the change from winter to summer. Its weather is well known for its April showers, it’s also well known for its changeability. I recall one day many years back when all four seasons occurred on one April day, from glorious sunshine through to snow. It particularly sticks in my mind as it was the day I was married! As such it’s a month that you make the most of the good weather and don’t grumble about the bad. With the dry winters we have had recently almost all rain is useful rain at this stage of the year.

4th April 2012. The snow started to fall. The previous week I'd been sitting in that chair in that exact spot in 23c sunshine

 

Four days later... 8th April 2012... sunshine & blooms

 

 

As the seasons turn, so does the wildlife in the garden. Bees and butterflies will be seen more frequently, warming themselves in the rays of sunshine. The resident birds will be well on the way to making nests and the females will soon begin to brood. Most of the winter migrants will have left leaving behind a few stragglers who will catch up later. New birds will be reaching our shores as the summer migration begins in earnest.

 

The vegetable garden will seem empty as most of the winter crops will have been used and without the aid of a greenhouse it’s unlikely that there will be anything to new to harvest but no matter, abundance will soon return. Around the garden there will be a flush of colour with daffodils fritillaries and tulips are bursting into flower. In the shrubbery flowering currants put on a show whilst forsythia and magnolia compliment them with dainty yellows and bold, creamy whites. As the month wears on the weather continues to improve and the intensity of colour within the garden shines through to meet the warmer, longer days.

Six days after the covering of snow and the garden bursts into life, the white snow replaced by white blossom

 

(If you are wondering what the chicken house is in the middle of the shot is a recycled plastic coop from Solway Recycling Limited – rather discreet and handy for the free range garden gang)

But remember the opening comment… the weather can and will change as April plays host to the contest between the seasons, taking two steps to the right looking out across the field and winter was dinging the bell for Round 2…..

A hail storm readies itself in the grey corner....

 

Clucking away

Aside

"Did you know ChickenStreet is on Twitter?"

I picked up Novembers copy of Grow Your Own magazine the other day as a friend had told me that there was something in it that could be of interest to me. Now I ‘consume’ huge quantities of gardening literature, in part because I do book reviews for Country & Border Life magazine as part of my Country Garden column in there, in part because I’m an avid gardener, and in part because I also write large quantities of garden related material.

In this case though, whilst enjoying reading the magazine, I wasn’t sure what article was warranting the interest from my mate until I reached the back pages. Indeed it was a surprise to find my twitter account had been recommended as worth a follow! I must confess that when I set out using twitter I had no idea that I’d encounter quite so many cyber chicken keepers on it. And so, thank you Grow Your Own mag for the recommendation, good to know my tweets are not clucking useless and are worthy of a mention.

About clucking time….

After much deliberation I’ve finally managed to get around to attempting a blog of my own.

I’ve guest blogged on a number of sites and what with the freelance writing for a number of magazines and sites, I’ve built up quite a bit of ‘stuff’ on poultry & plants that I’d like to share.

I should really put it all in a book I suppose but hey, what the heck, lets have a go at popping it on here. Time will tell if its worth reading I guess 😉

And if you’ve just read that, then thank you kindly, at least you’ve made it this far… I hope you read on a little further, pick up a tip, a nugget, an idea, or just enjoy the images and maybe come back to check for updates another day.

Here goes nothing….

Andy (a self confessed chickeneer)