Chickens in Summer

Chickens in Summer

Lots of new chicken keepers get concerned with their flock in winter. Are they warm enough? They forget that hens have a nice feather duvet wrapped round them and are quite tolerant of cold.

Unfortunately they’re not so tolerant of heat. On sunny days, it’s critical that they have enough water and shade. Chickens are jungle fowl and keeping them under a tree or large bush not only makes them feel secure but keeps them cool. Keeping them in the middle of a lawn in the sun stresses them both physically and mentally.

The reason I mention this is that I heard about someone who picked up some ex-battery hens and drove them home, an hour’s drive, in his hot car. He arrived home, went in the house for a minute and returned to the car to find they’d died. Don’t underestimate the dangers of heat to hens.

Time On The Allotment

The main jobs at this time of year are just watering and weeding. My split early potatoes have shown the effect of not watering properly, I’m ashamed to say. Hopefully the recent good rain has corrected things across the plot but I’m keeping a close eye on my rain gauge. Last year we watched in amazement and horror as yet another inch fell and the plots turned into paddy fields. This year, we have a shower and check the gauge only to find but a few millimetres have fallen.

I love growing, always an opportunity for a good moan. Either the weather is too wet and we can’t get out or it’s wonderful and too dry.

I planted out some Chinese cabbage on plot 29 and some Golden Acre and Elisa ordinary cabbages. Trying to be controlled this year and not plant too much but failing as usual. We nurture from seed to seedling and then young plant so discarding at this stage feels sinful. However, how many cabbages or lettuce can we eat?

Talking of eating – my strawberry barrel is producing well. I didn’t weigh the amount, lets just say enough for us to make pigs of ourselves. One thing to remember with these is that you need to water even when it’s been raining. There’s a perforated tube in the middle which I just pour my 11 litre can into and then give the top a few litres with the rose on the can.

The strawberries are producing runners, so I’ll be potting some up to generate new plants. You only really get 3 years productive life from a strawberry, but they do produce loads more plants for you.

The aubergine that wasn’t doing well in the small greenhouse came out and went to the compost bin. Popped a cucumber in its place. My Carmen cucumber in the other greenhouse had a lovely one for us. It had started bent into a tight U but it had straightened out as it grew and was well nigh perfect. Little seedy though, think I should have taken it a few days ago.

Despite my hanging yellow sticky cards around, the whitefly were really bad in the small greenhouse on the peppers and aubergine, although not on the poorly aubergine. Fussy whitefly? Resorted to a spray with bug clear. I don’t like sprays but compared with commercial growers, I daresay they’ll be better for me.

The tomatoes got side shooted and tied in again. How do they do it? You think you’ve got them all, then the next day there’s shoots 8″ long.

Yet more carrots from the greenhouse, took up a short row of potatoes, about 4 plants, which filled a carrier bag on there own.

The squash planted on plot 5 were failing as well. I don’t know why the ones on plot 29 are doing well and on plot 5 failing, perhaps pH, but up they came. 2 plants is enough anyway. Added a good handful of fish, blood & bone to the compost where the first potatoes were grown and popped another cucumber in. Replaced the coldframe top but without the lids. This should provide some extra shelter and promote growth.

It’s funny, there’s not much to do apart from watering, weeding, harvesting, planting and I wonder where the time goes!

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
2 comments on “Chickens in Summer
  1. BenF says:

    I remember a long time ago when I was a kid we used to keep a small flock of chickens,ducks and a rather large old goose. We went through a really cold winter wrapping old carpets and fleece around the hutches within the runs and the majority survived – no problems.
    A hot summer the following year came around and though visiting the site morning, afternoon and evening, providing shade and water we still lost 12 chickens from a flock of 18, 2 of the 6 ducks and the old goose, whether it was the heat or age. It certainly a timely warning for all those with livestock.

  2. nickyveglover says:

    you make it sound so easy john, i spent 5 hours in the garden on sunday and only got a tenth of the jobs done. isnt it great?

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