26/8/2016 It has been a busy few months since welcoming my first ‘guinea pig’ guests at the end of April. A fair amount of frantic DIY and administration went into getting the finishing touches in place before and during the trial period (I hope no one looked too closely at the blackout lining!), which is now over, and ‘official’ bookings are starting off well. It has been a delight and not at all nerve-racking, thanks to all the willing guinea pigs who helped me get into practice before there was too much at stake!
Outdoors, it has certainly been the wettest spring and summer that I can remember, water level-wise. The lawn struggled to reinstate itself well into August after being used as a duck-dabbling bog for several months, and now the resident moles are taking unfair advantage of my hospitality. It also has its plus sides, however: the amusing sight of newly-hatched ducklings swimming on the ‘lawn’, and the goats not yet able to walk through the (now fast) drying out front pond to get to the driveway area, where they will wreak havoc on my newly planted flowerpots if I don’t think of a way to foil their mischief in time…
The wildflower meadow has made a promising start, with the cowslip and ox-eye daisy colonies expanding well, pyramidal orchids (below left) returning for the third year in a row, and the first few yellow rattles (below right) making their first appearance after a huge seed-sowing effort last autumn. This is a plant that apparently paves the way for other wildflowers to move in, and they need a cold winter to germinate, which we did not get this year, so I was glad to find any at all!
Felicity and Ilo continue to rule the garden with a firm munch and frequent bout of chicken headbutting (a sport which I try endlessly to discourage, to no avail). Interestingly, they do not rule the waterfowl: I have never seen them attempt a duck-headbutt (which would be pretty easy, I would have thought, being as they are far less nimble than chickens), and it is amusing to watch them run away when chased by mother moorhens, who try to appear large and fierce in defence of their chicks.
I have had to say a sad goodbye to Lily, one of my first chickens, though only 2 years old, due to egg peritonitis (an infection caused by egg laying problems). And a warm welcome to several (invited!) rodents, 2 beautiful young chickens and 2 very friendly ex-battery chickens who are already taking their garden for granted… (click here for photos).