Friday, 5 April 2013


The chicken house keeps moving - I know it keeps moving because I built it on a square of paving slabs. Some mornings it’s about 10 inches further north, some mornings it’s about 10 inches further towards the south. It is being moved by an unstoppable force which likes to flex its muscles regularly – the wind. I do live in an elevated position, unsheltered by any natural features.

When I was considering the position of the polytunnel I therefore took this into account, and decided on a site where the long sides were sheltered on one side by a large mound of earth, and the other side by the hill on which the croft is stood. I commenced the project on the Saturday; the metal framework was completed within a few hours and then decided as the weather forecast was good to press on with the job of getting the polythene on. This took longer than I  had anticipated as the cover was far too big for the framework and needed cutting to size. There were also lots of un-anticipated fiddly around the ends. The upshot was that I ran out of time to finish the job before dark, so I judiciously placed some large anchoring rocks around the base of the polythene and left the finishing off till the next day.

The following morning I went outside to inspect the work in progress. It wasn’t till I got around the corner of the house that that I realised how windy it had become, and as I arrived at the polytunnel I was greeted with the sight of several yards of expensive polythene flapping hysterically – apparently intent on escape up the hill....

Once completed the polytunnel became a haven of peace and tranquillity – for a while. I planted a peach tree and started quite a good little vegetable garden with peas, beans, peppers and courgettes. Unfortunately my luck didn’t last. That summer I  had two little Tamworth weaners (little piggies) who one day, while I was out,  somehow escaped their enclosure and went a–wandering. They found that the polytunnel door opened quite easily with a firm push of a curious snout and trotted in. They feasted on the carefully tended vegetables, and having done a thorough job of ploughing up the soil after their banquet, decided to continue their magical mystery tour of the garden. Unfortunately for them, the door had closed behind them and they could not get out. Being full of initiative however, they came up with a cunning plan, and ate their way out through the polythene wall.

When I arrived home the trail of evidence was laid out before me: closed polytunnel doors, a distinct absence of fruit and veg, and a rather neat pig shaped hole in the side of the tunnel. Keeping animals enclosed was, I concluded, a constant battle of wits – one which I usually lost miserably.

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