It has been a week of ups and downs here. Admittedly, not of roller coaster proportions but more akin to driving slightly too fast over a hump-backed bridge.
The down has to do with chickens.
This, some of you may recall, was one of the many failed resolutions from last year that I was planning to atone for this month by, at last, getting a chicken house and starting work on my WIR (walk in run - thanks to Jane Perrone for my new favourite three letter acronym). Then a friend pointed out that I might want to double check on the toxicity of yew to chickens, as a hedge of it would border the entire run.
Pah! I thought. No problem! Birds are OK with yew - in fact it's their penchant to eating the berries which help the plant spread. Of course, I do know it's poisonous to humans - and much livestock for that matter. I'll admit, I only know about that second group because of an episode of The Archers where some of David Archer's cows were killed after eating dumped hedge clippings. As an aside, this was a typical Archers storyline because it gave David the chance to do what he does best - sound both world-weary and exasperated whilst at the same time adopting the role of rural vigilante - a kind of Charles Bronson in wellies. Indeed, in my head he will always be "David Archer: Badger Killer!". But I digress...
Sadly, it turns out yew is poisonous to chickens and, although they would probably avoid it and other harmful plants whilst roaming free, having it constantly at their disposal may well be pushing my luck. As my son has already been reduced to a blubbering wreck by the death of his Triops and Stanley the Sea Snail, if I also manage to poison his chickens it might be the final straw.
On a happier note, I have, this week, been spraying a lot of white lines. This is more exciting than it sounds (not a hard feat) as the purpose was to layout the 300 metres of path about to be added to our village playground as well as deciding on the spots for the hard surface playing area, BMX track, double slide, climbing wall, picnic tables and bird nest swing. Yes, this week sees work begin on the final £45,000 stage of this redevelopment, made possible by a grant from WREN.
Being me, I'm more excited about plans to leave some small sections of the field unmown to encourage wildlife and gain a more interesting looking site, but I have a feeling the children will prefer the play equipment. Tsk, kids these days!
The work should take about four weeks so I will update you on progress as it goes. So far, we're on Day 2. Sadly Day 1 was mostly taken up with the site manager carefully respraying somebody's very shoddy white lines...