Wet business

Scruffy also wanted to join in to lay an egg on top

Scruffy also wanted to join in to lay an egg on top

A very rainy day and I ended up spending it in the garden. Cleared out the henhouse and gave them fresh sawdust. Even when it’s raining they go out, all huddling together by the house and as soon as the rain eases up a bit they run out and start digging. Well not all of them, now Bugget has decided to join motherhood with Otilia so they are both looking after the soon-to-be-chickens. I am a bit worried because there is an egg thief around. Twice I’ve found a broken egg on the lawn. Pretty sure it’s either the magpies or crowes so today I secured the hen yard a bit better and covered the whole yard and house in net. Although if I want the hens to go in and out freely there is no great solution to stopping other birds as well. Hopefully Bugget and Otilia won’t let anyone near their eggs.
After that I took on the veg patch. Decided to try something new in my war against the weeds. I covered the ground with newspapers, old sawdust and hen droppings and then soil on top. I will keep adding compost, soil and grass cuttings. Not foolproof there either but at least it looks a lot better and will set the weed back a bit.

layers

layers

Wetplates in the barn

final tintype, not varnished

final tintype, not varnished

the set up

the set up

black and white lights

black and white lights

The other day someone asked if I wanted some uv-lights for wetplate and I said no thanks but then he offered to drive them here and I caved in. They are huge, it took all my willpower to get the lights up on the stand. Decided to test them in the barn to easier control the exposure. Started with a test shot on 10, 20 and 25 seconds. The final plate was 30 seconds. I’m really happy with the results, now I have to work out where to put the lights. Maybe I can treat them with my DIY tan from the other day and they will fit in better in the barn?

Transgender chicken

Esme(or Edward??) from Essex in white

Esme(or Edward??) from Essex in white

Seriously, what’s wrong with this picture?? We have nine hens and no cockerel. I would love to have a cockerel but can’t because of the neighbours. I woke up 5.45am this morning by a Kuckeliku(cuck-a-doodle-do). First thought was there must be an escaped cockerel on the loose. A second kuckeliku, louder this time. Out of bed and look out the window, there’s Esme from Essex on the top of the compost kuckelikuing!! Somehow I had missed her closing the hatch yesterday, I often think I should control count them every evening but rarely do, she must have been up in the tree. We have always joked about her being the leader hen and thinking she is a cockerel but I would never have guessed she would take her roll so seriously!! She is most definitely a hen. I have seen her laying eggs and she doesn’t have long tailfeathers. Her comb has always been a bit bigger than the others but no other estetical signs of her being anything else than a hen. Holy cow, I don’t know what to do next. I’m still shellshocked.

Plant and seed exchange day

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Tina Jerkenstam’s and Lars Bjärkling’s creative plant climbers

IMAG1235 IMAG1245 IMAG1247 IMAG1248 IMAG1263 IMAG1265 IMAG1239Success! Wow so many people showed up! If I had to make a guess, probably around 100-120 people.  It’s been sunny the last week but today overcast, still lucky because it started raining literally five minutes after closing. I had invited a friend who is an artist and who shares the same love for gardening to join me. She and her partner makes these very original plant supports(and fantastic artwork see more at her website! )which you can use for plants to climb on or even indoors to hang jewellery or scarves etc. As soon as we opened there was a storm of people with bags full of plants to swap or just leave behind because they had to many. For fairness I put a maximum of 5 eggs a person but they still sold out straight away. Lots of nice conversations during the day, new friends and new exciting plants! I baked the last cake this morning and almost all of the cakes were gone by the end of the day. It was quite windy and a cold breeze went through the barn but I had put some old windows up to stop the wind and all the chili plants had a place where the pigs used to live. Behind the wall with a heater and extra light lamp. Now I find myself swamped with even more plants though so will do a re-run in a few weeks when the weather is a bit warmer. Also for next year I’m planning to put tables up for everyone to rent so that they can sell or swap their own plants. There was some confusion about how the whole day works and I found many people being a bit conscious about what they could take or not. Now I’m stood in front of a new problem, where to put everything that people left?? I counted on gaining space not loosing!

Doors to the past

Pidgey and Esme wanted to help

Pidgey and Esme wanted to help

Compared with the original wood...like the finest mahogny as my neighbour said

Compared with the original wood…like the finest mahogny as my neighbour said

Doors to the past

Doors to the past

Started 6.30am baking a cake and carried on pretty much without a break until now. I cleared out the barn. Well, the part with the new floor is very tidy but the rest has collected a lot of stuff over the winter, bikes, garden furniture etc. Not to mention the mess I’ve made with my newfound hobby carpentry… All the old doors and windows that I’ve saved were taking up a lot of space and then I realised that it would save a lot of room, and cover up the only very ugly wall, to just spread them out next to each other. Looks great! I know I could sell them for a lot of money but I never will, they all have their own individual story. A very original story I heard today from a neighbour, another neighbour told me a while ago but no one I told seemed to have heard of it so I had my doubts. Apparently where our road begins used to be called “Hor-gabet”, translated to English(from broad island dialect) it means The hookers mouth. Charming. Although where my neighbour house is there used to be Gårda bar, a drinking hole, so it actually makes sense. Oh well tomorrow I’m bringing some culture to Hor-gabet. After a lot of carrying, sweeping(amazing to think I have a hundred year old dust up my nose) and planting I only have some more baking to do and then my head will hit the pillow. Oh! One great thing today was trying a blog tip (thank you Instructables.com!) about ageing new wood. In autumn I built a stand for the extra light for the chilies. Carrying it out to the barn felt kind of wrong because it looked so new compared with everything else in the barn so I brushed it with tea and vinegar. What a change! A great result, now this I will do again. The only drawback is the smell of the vinegar after a few days with rusty nails. Well I have a feeling that tomorrow will be a very busy day so off to bake and then bed.

Inspiration from Zanzibar!

on the bus on the ferry...

on the bus on the ferry…

Swedish countryside, long since I last saw it

Swedish countryside, long since I last saw it

I love going by train

I love going by train

I rarely leave the Island unless I have to but made an exception today. I got in contact with a Swedish nature photographer the other day, mainly because I saw that she had hens as well, a café and smokery. Turns out she’s quite famous in Sweden and not “just” a photographer, she owns a travel agency, Naturresor, that offer trips to India, Brasil and Africa to photograph mountain gorillas and tigers. So she is traveling September-March and runs the café Zanzibar with B&B, photography workshops and lectures for the rest of the year. It was worth the travel (by moped, ferry, bus, train and bus), I had a wonderful day and felt so welcome and inspired! There was a whole bunch of chickens, all mixed breeds, two cockerels and ducks. One cockerel was tiny! It looked like someone had shrunk him with a shrink ray gun, especially since the other cockerel looked exactly the same but three times his size! He had hens his own size but kept chasing and courting the big hens and even chasing away the big cockerel. The ducks were dead cute and so hilarious. They all rushed out eating grass and then got in a fresh water bath and splashed water like crazy, so happy. I was shown around, had a lovely fish soup, sadly the smokery doesn’t open until Friday this week when the busy season begins, had a really nice long chat and got to see lots of amazing photos of huge animals. It gave me goosebumps just thinking about being so close to these wild big majestic animals. It is also good to hear about someone who actually runs a tourist enterprise with a Ecological and sustainability concept. She even won a price in Eco tourism a few years ago. So important and it is something that I will strive for with my own business, to use as much ecological produce as possible but also near produce and cooperate with other businesses on the island to help strengthen the local economy, culture and nature.

Café Zanzibar

Café Zanzibar

Photographs by Anneli Utter, Naturresor

Photographs by Anneli Utter, Naturresor

Ecological eggs in all sizes!

Ecological eggs in all sizes!

Utters Rökeri

Utters Rökeri

Happy ducks!

Happy ducks!

Smoker

Smoker

African themed b&b

African themed b&b

One cocky cock!

One cocky cock!

Smokery and ducks

Smokery and ducks

A new breed

Picked up twelve fertilised eggs from the postoffice and put them under Otilia! 21 days to go! She has been wanting chickens for a week. Last year I mentioned to my daughter how silly, cute and friendly Silkies seem to be. Tried since then to put her off the idea. She is only 11, so by any rights shouldn’t be the one making the decisions but so far she has actually been a life saver with the hens. She never complains if I ask her to chase them back in, feed them or whatever needs doing. So we decided to get Silkie chicks! I found a reliable dealer online and received the parcel this morning. She had individually wrapped every egg with bubblewrap and signed it with first letters of the colour of the hen. The whole parcel was wrapped in bubblewrap and hay. I asked for 10 eggs of mixed colour, meaning the colour of the hens, but ended up with the question -Why not make it an even twelve? Who am I to say no… After the order I go online googling Silkies and find out that they are apparently one of the hardest breeds to tell the sex! Our plan was to see two of our grown up Hedemora hens and keep two Silkies but apparently they might take as long as 5-7 months or even a year to show if they are a hen or cock. Holy moly. Might have to go with the safest guesses and keep our fingers crossed that they stay hens and sell the rest.

Otilia a happy expecting mother

Otilia a happy expecting mother

perfectly packed eggs in the post

perfectly packed eggs in the post