Irene Kightley

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since Apr 13, 2009
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chicken food preservation forest garden fungi hunting solar
South West France
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Recent posts by Irene Kightley

We've had some fluffy bare necks - we called one Michael Jackson because he moon-walked, inbreeding did him in before long.

The bareneck/Marans chick is cute but she was not very pretty when she grew up.

This is "the look" from a sitting hen - watch those eyes !!

2 months ago
I've been using chickens in the garden (and for many other things) for about twenty years. I manage a hectare plot of ornamental gardens, a food forest and about 3000m² of vegetable gardens and I couldn't do that without the chickens and other poultry. We have about 50 chickens, a dozen or so ducks and some turkeys.

I'm sure I've posted in Permies before about this but I'll repeat it here. Observation is the key, watch what the chickens do and think how you can use that to your advantage (and theirs!). Go slowly and try new methods using all the the permaculture principles.

Jeanine has made some very valuable points but bear in mind that each garden is different, different breeds of chickens and even individual chickens are different.The main thing to consider is that you can't do this in a small garden, the chickens will destroy it and break your heart.

Our chickens are completely free-range and I use a lot of different strategies to protect my plants. Covering them with cages, using moveable cages, using very dense planting and the judicious use of sticks around plants. 

There are over a hundred photos in one of my sets in this link, which show the techniques I use, the vegetables and so on that I produce and the overall results of my designs.

This is one example of a "before and after" shot. The chickens clean the paths and the beds to allow the spring sun to heat the dark earth and they also eat overwintering insects. I plant, with a few sticks around each plant to protect them, then heavily mulch the bed. The chicken manure helps to compensate for the straw's nitrogen robbery and keeps the earth warm to help the plants become established.

Once they've finished working, they go elsewhere - wherever I've disturbed the soil, turned over a bed of manure or cleaned out a goatshed. This photo is taken a few weeks later.

The crop here was exceptional.

Here's the link :
4 months ago
When we moved to our new house we put up two little Rutland wind generators at the top of the hill on the north side of our house on land which was really heavy clay. They turned almost all the time !

We planted windbreaks to protect the road and the front and east side of the house from the wind and now the trees and shrubs really doing a great job and have improved the comfort around the house and they've greatly improved the views too.

Those same little Rutlands now (A higher mast is in preparation)

hardworking hedges

Ducks all over the place because there are lots of ponds in this area in the heavy clay

Corn dryer at the end of a wind tunnel

View to the ruined pigeonnier (Note the neighbour's Lombardy poplars on the horizon in the photo below, are leaning from their exposure to the west wind and the trees and shrubs on our land are still.)

Note too that my signature had changed - I've been busy this year writing up my diploma and finally....
6 months ago
It looks very damp to me.

To save it, I'd wash it in vinegar the rub some alcohol over it, scraping the mould off with your fingernail or a knife, more alcohol then pepper it to absorb as much moisture as possible, rub the pepper in well into all the bumps and open areas.

Hang it somewhere dry but open to moving air and if that place becomes humid, move the copa. Keep your eye on it all the time.

This is one of ours, notice how much pepper there is and how the string is pulled really tight to keep the copa solid.

It's a shame to waste it, but don't hesitate to get rid of it if black mould takes over. Good luck.

7 months ago
Evening light with roses, little peach tree, Tayberries, thornless blackberries, wisteria, aikiba, climbing rose sage, horseradish and rhubarb under the shade of a huge oak tree

The big orpington hen with 28 chicks - some adopted

Tree full of plums Yukka getting ready to flower and Trumpet vine in flower

Pretty red hazelnuts ripening

I let this some Artichokes go to flower - too pretty to miss

Twin Ceps (penny buns) we get loads of these in our woods and they're delicious !
7 months ago
Early spring garden with chicken shed completely covered in perfumed climbers

Little wild corner with new supporting poles in chestnut

The Raspberries and Tayberries are on their way

The yellow Banksia rose in the oak, the gloriette keeping our root cellar cool and our handsome cockerel

Goat shed, duck shed, Wisteria, Mexican Orange blossom and Yukka on the path to the potager

10 months ago
I was reminded of this part of the forum by the Permies daily e-mail and started looking down the threads and this one caught my eye. It's an old thread and there may be something newer about this in the forum but I'll add some details to it anyway.

We use our south facing overhangs to warm thermal mass from the autumn equinox until the vernal equinox in March when the sun is prevented from entering the house. In fact, we didn't think of equinoxes when we were building the house, we just put chalk marks on the walls where the shadows fell when it started to feel chilly and used them to size the barrier. When I checked the dates for the yearly "opposite" to know when the overhangs would start to keep out the sun, it just happened to be the day of the autumn equinox.

This barrier in this photo isn't a roof "overhang" because we built a terrace on the south side covered with clear polycarbonate sheets but the photo shows clearly how the wooden part of the roof works in cold and warm seasons. We built our south facing upstairs windows, measured inside the walls; and added overhangs using the same dimensions.

1 year ago
Thanks for your quick reply André.

Chrome worked, merci !

I then filled in all the boxes and was told at the end that I needed to go to their French site - where the magazine isn't available. I knew that.

Finally, after trying all sorts of things, I'm still going round in circles. It seems that the only way to buy this item is to be in one of the countries where they allow it to be sold or sent to.

Thanks for trying, I appreciate it.

1 year ago
This is a long shot but my husband is trying to find a gun magazine for a Browning Acera dual.

We've found a German site that sells exactly what he wants but although he's registered on the site and gone through all the stuff you have to do, the "Add it to your basket" link doesn't work.

I've spent hours going through the site, translating and clicking all the buttons.  

Are there any German speakers who can help me know how to buy this article ?

Thanks in advance.
1 year ago
Our chicken shed is in the veg garden 3000M² and the chickens (About 50) and twenty or so ducks have access all the time. (The turkeys are banned from the kitchen garden) They all forage on a hectare including a little food forest and the gardens and ponds around the house and sometimes have access to several grazing areas nearby to help keep the tick population under control for our sheep and goats.

I've a set in flickr if you'd like to see how I manage the chickens here : and lots of photos in this forum to show that they do very little damage to the garden. 

Observation of their behaviour, taking steps to prevent problems and experience have helped me enormously to integrate them into my garden design and I could not manage a hectare on my own without my chicken army.
1 year ago