“Wow £4.19 for 15 strawberry seeds. Is it really worth buying these?” Danny shook the seed packet pensively.
“We couldn’t buy 15 plants for £4.19. Even at the church fete. I want to grow enough for wine and jam this year.”
"Won't we get enough from the 12 plants that arrived yesterday?"
I am deeply into getting a good harvest of strawberries next year. Today I am planting out my new strawberry plants in the overhauled soft fruit bed that sits beside the chicken run. I know that the chickens will stand patiently beside the wire hoping for fruit morsels to be tossed into their world. Chickens love soft fruit. They don’t understand that in the winter the harvest is sparse. Although we are still harvesting the occasional Autumn raspberry and it’s nearly the end of November.
Am I driving them crazy with my cultivation of soft fruit? At the other end of their run behind the herb bath is a wonderful blackberry bush. When I harvest these plump beauties the chickens stand on the roof of the Ken Docherty Day Centre observing me closely. The blackberries are so bountiful that there are plenty to share. I try to make sure that everyone has some fruit as Carol and the Italian cockerels tend to grab everything first.
But making sure there are fair shares takes some skill and quite a lot of blackberries. I run up and down the outside of the run with my blackberry basket tossing handfuls into different parts of the run. The cockerels and Carol pound back and forth in a wild shrieking feathered frenzy.But they can’t be in all places at all times so eventually the gentler birds get their fill.
The roof of the day centre is sloping so a blackberry tossed onto this generally rolls off and drops into the run. Jumping on and off the roof is good SAS training for fitter chickens. Only Carol has twigged that if she stays on the roof she can grab a berry as it rolls down. There’s six chicken years of experience for you.
They do have exclusive rights to the blackberry bush that scrambles over the other end of their run. This is mainly because I can reach the fruit but I don’t tell them that. There is an old climbing rose that shades them on sunny summer days and gives them exquisite tasty treats on and off all summer. It’s hard to believe but chickens adore eating rose petals.
Our strawberry harvest was sparse this summer and this was largely down to me not looking after them properly. I had no idea how greedy they are. There weren't even enough to share with the chickens. Hopefully next summer I can run up and down their run with baskets of strawberries if all goes well.
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