As my family and friends will attest, that apart from my love of all things fabric, I also love all things chicken. My chickens are actually my feathered children, have different personalities and temperaments and are all named. I have 21 chooks at the moment including a cockerel whom we have named ‘Swiss Toni’ (“cock-a-doodle-doing is like making love to a beautiful chicken”)* He’s a vicious character and would quite happily peck my legs until they bleed but he does a grand job of looking after his girls. His dad is a Buff Orpington and his mum is a black Orpington so he’s quite a looker.
I’ve been keeping chickens for over a year now and am completely addicted. I started with 6 and the flock quickly grew when I took on a few battery hens. Once you get the bug, you really have a job not buying hundreds (ED – Defra might have something to say about that!). It sounds bizarre, yes.
For the first time I’ve had a broody hen – she is called Steve McQueen – don’t ask. She’s sat on roughly 15 eggs. Not all of them were hers; she’s gathered anyones and everyones she could find. Happily sitting on her clutch all day she muttered clucking noises to herself in the dark corner of the hen house. She really did a great job. We now have 5 chicks that hatched; 4 from the mummy hen and cream legbar from the incubator. The legbar was from someone I met from the ‘chicken world’ (a parallel universe where it’s ok to chat about prolapses, red mite, soft eggs etc etc).
Like any proud grandparent, I have photos on my phone of the chicks.
*catchphrase adapted somewhat from tv’s Swiss Toni to chicken Swiss Toni
As most people know, I am a huge fan of gnomes. We have several in the garden and a huge one in the shop (Graham). They’re iconic, kitsch, happy, sinister and dare I say, ahem, sexy.
I’m utterly thrilled that Royal Horticultural Society lifted it’s ban on gnomes at the Chelsea Flower Show 2013. The previous ban had been in place for a years and although I’m not really sure why they were excluded from the show, I’m sure they’ll provide a fun, colourful and quirky angle on what is usually seen as a straight laced affair.
Anyhoo, here’s a potted history of gnomes for your delectation.
Garden gnomes, believe it or not, are not the product of a 20th century lapse in good taste, as their garishly colored clothing and smiling countenances may indicate, but rather an 19th century one.
In the second half of the 1800s, German sculptor and potter Phillip Griebel started a business molding ceramic into lifelike busts of animals, a fashionable home and garden decoration at the time. Inspired by the gnome myths of his home, he began fashioning small, pointy-hatted ceramic gnomes for gardens; the first gnome went to market in Leipzig in 1884 and was an instant success.
Production was halted during World War II, and following the fall of the Nazis, garden gnomes were banned briefly as the German Democratic Republic rose to power in East Germany. Still, the gnomes managed to pull through and Griebel’s garden gnome dynasty exists even now, although in a much diminished capacity, owing to the cheap labour and even cheaper materials coming out of China.
Nowadays, garden gnomes can be found in a wide variety of attitudes and poses: Reclining on one elbow, smoking a pipe; fishing with a wee fishing rod; standing proudly, hands on hips; pushing a wheelbarrow; or holding open his robes to reveal his naughty bits.
Do you have any nice pictures of gnomes for me to admire? Please email me and I’ll feature them on the blog.