Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Golden Marjoram, Silver Thyme and a Buff Sussex

Introducing the girls.... 

Hippy Chick (the Light Sussex) and Herby Chicken (the Buff Sussex)

Like a lovesick teenager checking an inbox for messages, I have been obsessively checking the nest box for eggs and I am hugely relieved to announce that the seemingly interminable wait (all one day of it) is over as far as Hippy is concerned - we are looking forward to some egg-laying action from Herby in the very near future.

There are only two girls because everything I have ever read on the subject suggests that chicken-keeping is highly addictive. So by starting small, I have a way to go before things get out of hand. They have certainly provided a welcome diversion in all this bad weather as have these beauties.

One of the great things about this miserable weather is that our tulips have flowered for longer than usual. I didn't think they would perform so well in all the wind and rain, but they have done us proud. These ones are 'Jimmy', 
'Sjakamaro' and 'Ronaldo'.

Another silver lining to all these storm clouds is that anything recently planted appears to be establishing with a minimum amount of effort from me. The culinary herb border which went in last week is already showing signs of growth. I chose the driest, sunniest part of the garden which, as luck would have it, is close to the kitchen door. I added grit when planting to help with drainage and it seems to be doing the trick. 

Golden Marjoram 

Pink-purple stems of Silver Thyme

I love planting culinary herbs. Their different forms, colours, leaves and flowers offer so many creative opportunities. They are not just inspiring to design with, they can attract beneficial insects; provide fabulous flavours which help to mask my culinary inadequacies; and just crushing those leaves releases the scent of summer.... even on a rainy day in May.  

Dill in the rain

Despite the appalling weather, our indomitable builders have continued in their quest to turn a 17th century threshing barn into our new home. Beams are documented and preserved wherever possible and we continue to see a steady stream of visitors who won't let the rain dampen their ardour for historical buildings.

We appear to have rills where there should be walls, which is an interesting interior design feature.

The next photo shows where we plan to sit and watch the sun setting, although we fervently hope we will not be viewing it across a muddy puddle.

The good news is that no television presenters have been spotted sloshing around in the mud, doing sympathetic shots to camera about our conversion being over-time and over-budget, so we’re bound to be in by Christmas... ahem.


  1. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. It looks like you've got a big project on your hands there, I look forward to following your progress with it. Lovely looking chickens, how I'd love to enter in to the hobby of chicken keeping but just now isn't the right time unfortunately.

  2. Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog - I love your hens and am looking forward to seeing pictures of your garden. I reckon your barn will be supa-dupa when its finished. Good luck with it all.

  3. Your hens seem very happy. And the barn looks great. I, too, like when the deadlines are a bit flexible. :)

  4. I love chickens and have friends who keep them. Fresh eggs from your own hens are the best :)

    Herbs are my favourite too.....I love to plant them, eat them, cook with them.

    Wow, now that is some project. Our farmhouse ownly needed slight renovation, well I say slight, it seemed to take forever. In fact, we have more to do.....but I do not want to think about that at the moment.

    Tku for visiting sanctuary....I tend to post more on
    www.cheryl-taketimetosmelltheflowers.blogspot.com/ Would be lovely to see you there.
    The mallard came back yesterday, with four males in tow....poor girl.

  5. Thank you, Jo, Elaine, The Sage Butterfly and Cheryl, for taking the time to visit my blog and to leave comments.

    Jo - Like you, I had to wait until the time was right to keep chickens - I'm really pleased I waited. If the timing was wrong, chicken-keeping would have been stressful and that's not how it should be.

    Elaine - thank you for your optimistic comments!

    The Sage Butterfly - Thank you - hens don't appear to be too demanding and so far they seem happy so long as they have food, water and shelter. Let's hope they don't start getting aspirational and demanding more!

    Cheryl - No home-improvement work is ever quite complete. Ignoring the to-do list is a life skill worth honing! Poor Mrs Mallard - I hope she's fully recovered. I will pop over to taketimetosmelltheflowers.blogspot.com right now!

  6. You've certainly got a big project on your hands but it will look amazing when completed. I only started my blog in February and this was mainly because I had lots of unfinished diaries (just like you!) however I'm more optimistic about continuing to blog as there is so much valuable information out there.
    Chickens are addictive and they have such quirky personalities! I hope you're not too water-logged at the moment..

  7. Hi, lovely to have found your blog and thanks for leaving a comment on mine! You are indeed blessed to have your herb patch in a sunny spot by your kitchen. Mine main patch is downstairs in the community gardens so I grow lots of herbs on my tiny balcony. Shady UK native herbs get tucked into the corner while the Mediterranean types get good drainage and lots of sun. Bizarrely the rain has brought on my golden oregano which sits just above a bed of clay ... !
    I wish you lots of luck with your building project, a vast undertaking by the looks of things. Keep posting, I'll be following with great interest!

  8. PS. Could you post your crumble topping recipe from the last post? It sounds divine and I can get gluten free flour really easily. (Love a good crumble, me!)

  9. Chickens - you WILL get more! Trust me, a few is never enough...!

    Barn conversion looks interesting - not on Grand Designs by any chance?

    Love the two hens - good choice of breeds!

    And lovely photos.

  10. Thanks so much for visiting my own blog! I really appreciate your comment. My jaw dropped when I saw your barn-to-be-home! Once upon a time my husband and I almost bought a barn house. Our plans were thwarted when we realized how badly the property flooded, but it is still a fond dream. I will follow your blog to see the final results! I also adore your chickens!

  11. Keeping hens is addictive, we started with just two and now have eight! Just you wait.

  12. Thank you all for visiting my blog and leaving comments - it's lovely to hear from you.

    Pyjama Gardener - I think blogs were invented for poor diarists. I'm joining in with your optimism about blogging - it's already May and we're still here! Thankfully, although the ground here is still very wet, it is nowhere near as bad as it is in places like Essex.

    Caro - I did count my blessings when I saw the sunny spot near the kitchen. I like the way you are arranging your herbs on your balcony and getting the most from them.

    The crumble recipe which gives the most shortbready-type of gluten-free crumble topping so far in my weekly crumble trials, is an adapted version of Delia's basic crumble topping (apologies to Delia Smith for meddling with her lovely recipes)
    225g (8oz) gluten-free plain flour;
    75g (3oz) butter at room temp;
    75-110g (3-4oz) caster sugar (Delia uses soft brown, but caster makes it more shortbready)

    Rub the butter and flour together until it looks like crumbs then add the sugar and deposit the lot on top of your fruit or rhubarb and bake it at 180 c (gas 4) for about 30 or 40 mins.

    Last week's crumble topping was a Jamie Oliver one involving stem ginger in the topping over rhubarb to which the zest and juice of an orange had been added. With gluten-free flour, it was like a stem ginger cookie topping.


    Compostwoman - thank you. No we're not on Grand Designs! Imagine the pressure - a barn conversion combined with having to try to look wonderful for the cameras! No one - not even Kevin McCloud - looks great in a hard hat and high vis jacket.

    Debsgarden - Yes I fear we might have to address the indoor water garden at some point. Thankfully, it's only there because we have had to dig down something like 6' in places because we are on clay!

    Peter - I am already hankering after a Buff Orpington! Where will it end?

  13. You have a lot ow work ahead, but it will be rewarding in the end. Your chickens are cute and I would have a hard time staying at two also.

  14. Your chickens are so cute! And I just love your golden marjoram... beautiful as well as tasty, I imagine.

  15. How lovely, fresh eggs from your own hens! My grandmother kept hens when I was a little girl and I used to love to help her collect the eggs :-)

    My goodness, what a big project you have undertaken! I'm sure it will be wonderful when it's finished though.

    I use herbs in my cooking a lot and grow quite a few in pots outside the back door. I confess I also cheat sometimes and use dried ones.

    Your Tulips look beautiful...as do your girls :-)

  16. Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and leave comments - I really appreciate them.

    Gardenwalkgardentalk - You're right - we have an astonishing amount of work ahead! I truly hope you're also proved to be right and that it will be rewarding!

    Spurge - I haven't started picking the marjoram yet - when I do I'll let you know what it tastes like.

    ShySongbird - What a lovely memory! When I watch my children running outside to collect eggs, I hope they are creating happy memories like yours.
    It is still raining and the tulips are still standing tall. I have honestly never been more impressed with a plant!

  17. And you have chickens!!!!! Lucky girl.

    1. Lucky indeed!... and they get on so very well together - they're inseparable!