Let’s Go Outside: The Orchard: Before & After

15 May

P1240858It is one year at our new house. Well, it will be in ten days. Packing up our old life in our old house, I had no idea how much my life was going to change. Obviously we knew we were taking on a house with land, but I don’t think we were aware of what was involved. And what it would lead to. And how, nearly a year later, a new shed would be an Extremely Exciting Event.

The day after we moved in whilst we were unpacking boxes and finding breakfast cereal and worrying about having no cooker, my dad got the mower out and started to mow the lawns. And that was pretty much the theme for the rest of the summer. Being outside, mowing, chopping weeds, more mowing, more chopping of the weeds. It was hard work as we didn’t use weedkiller – it was all by hand or machine. But mostly by hand.

The area I now call Hen Orchard used to be the Pig Pen. The previous owners had pigs there and it was fenced off with pig wire with a sty inside. We didn’t know initially what to do with that area. We had enough on elsewhere so just allowed the weeds to grow.

The chickens were free-ranging at the time, but as autumn started to hint at winter my thoughts turned to how I could keep the chickens safe during the winter months, when predators would be prowling around. And that’s when we decided to fence off the area and turn it into a chicken run. I did not like the idea of electric fencing at all, but you know what? It’s the best thing we could have done. I thought we would have 6 foot high chicken wire fencing. But that was prohibitally expensive for the area we wanted to cover. Electric fencing it was – making the area far more flexible.

But first we had to do something about the weeds.

Then the chickens were put inside. And I had an idea to turn it into an orchard.

The first thing we did was to erect fencing to the left of the orchard. Whilst the trees in our neighbour’s garden were lovely we needed to make it secure for the chickens and we wanted more privacy.

Then the trees were planted. I have holm oak along the new fencing, plus hawthorn, silver birch and leylandi. At the back, behind the wooden coop I have laurels, holly, more silver birch and hazel. Inside the orchard we have fruit trees, plus rowan, wild cherry, sweet chestnut and a nut.  With help from my brother in law we erected a wind break. This has honeysuckle and a clematis starting to grow around it. I’ve also created natural looking perches for the chickens. Some, made of willow, are now starting to grow.

Since taking the large ‘after’ picture I’ve moved things around inside a little. The purple Eglu is in the far left corner making it look a lot neater. And the blossom on the fruit trees is coming out. The grass is starting to grow, the weeds will soon be defeated. And quite soon it is going to look gorgeous.

As projects go, this is quite a satisfying result-in-progress.


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