For a long while now I have been wanting to have a lifestyle of self sufficiency, or at the very least going back to the old ways of growing my own produce.
I moved into my home back in the summer of 2009 with grand idea’s to grow our own vegetables. But just after starting out I bought four chickens. I couldn’t see the problem of letting them have full access to the garden, after all they were giving me four large eggs every day.
I love my hens, they are very funny to watch wandering around the back yard investigating every little thing that moves. Digging worms up from the soil and eating everything in sight.
And I mean everything. We were attempting to grow swiss chard, onions, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, chilli peppers and herbs as well as flowers to make the garden look beautiful. I had planted out daffodils, purple heather, primroses, tended the existing bushes and trees (no idea what they were) and my garden looked nice. It was a real pleasure to get out there in the summer months. This first attempt at becoming a gardener didn’t last too long. The hens managed to eat everything except the rosemary! They even found a way to get into the cloche that I was using to protect the onion beds, twice! The second time they managed to rip through the seams and completely destroy the cloche. Bang went that idea.
In 2011 I bought more hens and had a new run built with the idea that the girls would become enclosed and I could begin reclaiming the garden again. The new hens didn’t get on too well with my older ones so a new coop plus run was bought for them and my existing girls were still having full run of the garden and only enclosed when I had friends over for barbecues. I certainly am doing this wrong!
Then last year (2012) my garden basically got ignored thanks to my entire body “crashing” leaving me too tired and achy to do much at all. I didn’t give a minutes thought to growing produce, but the entire time I knew that I wanted the hens to have a bigger living space.
And this brings us up to the present, well almost! A couple of months ago I gave my step-son the task of creating a usable living/sleeping/nesting space for the hens, in the garden shed. Utilising the existing coops and runs to save money, he kitted out the inside of the shed with a shelved area for food and water, used the old rabbit hutch/coop to create a nesting area, built two ramps for both, then installed perch area’s for them. They love it, we open the shed door every morning and they take themselves off to bed at dusk. Still having full run of the garden.
Then Misty joined the family. She loves to play with the chickens whenever she goes into the garden. We have spent the last two months “rescuing” Millie (our eldest & most productive hen). Now is the time to build them an enclosed run attached to the shed so that they are safe from Misty and the local foxes. Again my step-son was given the task of using the left overs from the old runs to create a new run with a sliding hatch to let the hens in and out, while still being able to access the shed via the existing door. This he has done very well.
So now I can begin to think about reclaiming the garden and becoming self sufficient! This is all very well; I went out to make a start earlier today as I am feeling quite bright and able. I stood in the middle of the garden, turning circles, looking at the mess around me. My head exploding with idea’s on what I want and where. I stood there for five minutes, totally dismayed and began feeling exhausted by the task ahead.
So I went indoors, had a coffee and a rest. Still with idea’s reeling in my head, making me restless. I really don’t like feeling restless, my body constantly moving, my brain itching to get up and do stuff. An hour later I went back outside, thinking that I could clear all the old branches from the trees that we chopped down last autumn and then re-arranging the greenhouse, some metal racking and all the stuff that used to be in the shed before the chickens moved in. Effectively clearing the entire garden to make way for my grand ideas of growing potatoes, carrots, peas, broccoli, tomatoes, sweetcorn and anything else that takes my fancy.
This didn’t happen! Less than two hours later I was hiding away in my sanctuary almost in tears, because I knew that this was going to take me a very long time on my own. It finally occurred to me as I swept the decking with both legs and both arms shaking that this invisible illness really does get in the way of achieving realistic goals.
After calming down and composing myself again (and another cup of coffee) I went back out to the garden, resigned to the fact that I certainly won’t be clearing it all today. So I concentrated on just sorting one corner of the decking and carrying on with the other mammoth tasks another day, when I don’t feel quite so fragile.