Earlier in the year, I rearranged the fruit cage in the garden in an attempt to find a method for chickens and raspberries to co-exist in harmony. It failed. The chickens ate the raspberries, even though I tried to protect them with netting. Not the fruit, mind you, but the leaves. As a result, I’ve been left with a row of devastated raspberry canes with a handful of fruit hanging from the bare stems. There was nothing to it but to move the fence and separate the fruit and the hens. It means that they have slightly less space to scratch about but so be it. Doris is doing her best to wreck the remaining plants through the fence but I will shortly be adding a strip of fine mesh which will keep those beaks at bay.
As it happens, it helps solve another conundrum. We’ve been asked to host an earth oven building course run by Tom Baker, the appropriately named founder of local food social enterprise Loaf. Over the bank holiday weekend, an earth oven will be built in the garden, ready to bake bread, pizzas and other delights in a few weeks time once it’s dried out and set hard.
Mr Greedy Gardener is busy preparing the ground ready for the oven, using some of the space we’ve reclaimed from the chickens. He’d actually given me a book on building earth ovens last Christmas; whether it was meant as a hint or a promise, I’m not quite sure. I’m looking forward to the course - by hosting it and providing food for the participants, we get ourselves an oven in a really sociable and communal way. We’ve worked so hard on our garden and allotment in recent years, mostly just the two of us, so the times when friends have come to help have been really great and it’s been lovely to share the fruits of our joint labours afterwards.