beekeeping courses, beekeeping equipment

Mantel Farm Newsletter - March 2017

March 2017 Notes...

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Happy Hens and Website Work...

Its has been so nice to enjoy a few 'spring like' days (between the recent frosts and hail!) and start to see more faces in the shop as people start to get back out into the garden. Our own garden is looking a little drab - even though the grass is looking a little better than usual having had a break from the geese during the Defra restrictions, the moles have gone crazy! Just as well we have a few daffodils to brighten thins up and Graham is on hand to give advice on Grey Squirrel control!

Our geese were out today and tomorrow it's the hens turn to free-range, we can't wait to see the hens enjoy the grass again and it will give us a good chance to tidy up their pen - it is so much easier without so many little feet to get in your way!  In our blog this week Josh has written an update on the Avian Flu requirements, it is great news that the general restrictions around the country are being lifted. However there are still localised restrictions in place (e.g. Rye and Pevensey Marshes) so please do check the links we have provided before letting your hens out.

We have been beavering away behind the scenes making some improvements to our website:  The payment process has been simplified and we have added the option to make payments using a debit or credit card as well as Paypal. Don't forget that if you are ordering products or hens for collection from our shop, just select the "free customer collection" option at checkout.

Find out more...

We have also made improvements to our home page with easier links to help you to find not only our services and products, but also information and advice. Why not take a look at our blog for up to date information on chicken keeping? This is still work in progress, as we add more and more info, so please keep an eye on developments and if there is any topic you would like us to cover please let us know.

Have a look...

This Month's Feature: The Grey Squirrel...

Graham Burgess provides a local pest control service, including Bees, Wasps, Mice, Rabbits, Mink, Moles, Rats, Earwigs and Birds. This month he has written a feature on Squirrels:

Often called a 'tree rat', the Grey Squirrel was introduced to this country from America in the late 1800's and their successful colonisation of this country is to the detriment of our smaller native Red Squirrel.

Their breeding season is Jan-July and they can have 2 litters a year with an average of 3 to a litter.

They can do a lot of damage to woodlands by eating buds, roots, young shoots and the bark of native hardwood trees, they also cause problems in the Orchard where they are a menace to fruit, and by feeding on the move they can damage more fruit than they actually eat.  In gardens Squirrels will dig up bulbs, peas, beans and other seeds. Around Poultry they will eat a large amount of grain as well as damaging feed hoppers and Wild Bird Feeders.

Squirrels found in attics are not unusual and can be dangerous due to their habit of gnawing electric wiring causing blackouts or fires. They can even gnaw holes through ceilings gaining access to rooms in the house!

For pest control services contact Graham on 07876 108434 or 01424 251222

Our Local Weather Forecast...

Tim Macpherson is a digital publisher and angling film maker as well as being an obsessed boat angler for over 25 years! So he keeps a close watch on the Sussex weather for both his fishing, work and of course his bees and hens in his garden.

Well we do seem to have escaped the worst of the weather... until storm Doris turned up and uprooted a few trees.

February was a strange month. On at least three days our bees were very active and having looked in the hive it was clear they seemed healthy enough, apart from an episode of hive robbing from a nearby feral colony.

So March is here so what can we expect from the weather? Over the next few days an unsettled picture is likely as frontal systems move into the UK from the south or southwest, bringing wet and windy weather at times. We should get some spells of brighter weather with showers. Nevertheless, some brief quieter, drier spells are also likely. Temperatures will generally vary around normal for the time of year, often slightly above average.

For the rest of March signals are weak and forecasters' confidence is low. It will probably be rather unsettled with spells of wet and windy weather at first, interspersed with brighter and showery conditions. Temperatures are expected to be slightly above normal for the time of year. However, there remains the possibility of seeing some colder periods. This is more likely later in the period. In like a lion out like a lamb as the saying goes.

Ian's Gardening Tales from the Weald...

Ian is a Gardens Manager living in Crowhurst, working as part of a team in three large country gardens in the Sussex and Kent Weald, where he is passionate about natural gardening.

Late February / early March is ornamental grass cutting time. At our prairie garden in Kent, with 70% grass and 30% perennial plantings, this means a lot of cutting back! The perennials get the chop just the same as the grasses and in my opinion, this is more favourable to more traditional prairie management technique of burning the pasture in late Winter.

We cultivate these gardens to provide a desirable habitat for bees, butterflies, moths, birds and although not always beneficial to emergent plants; cover for small invertebrates that in turn provide food for the local kestrel and owl population.

We find the best way to scythe these plants is by using reciprocating bladed hedge cutters. These shred the plants finely allowing the arisings to drop relatively neatly to the ground where they can either be left and incorporated as mulch or raked up and burnt. We rake up, weed and then apply a mulch of mushroom compost as we are on a predominantly sandy soil that would otherwise drain too quickly.

Once this whole operation is complete, we let the whole show start all over for another year!

I still have a vacancy for an apprentice gardener, so if you would like more details please contact me on 07773 363096.  Ian Donovan:  Hips and Haws Gardening, Crowhurst

available for a short period only...

We have some lovely, and unusual emerald green Emu Eggs for sale... ideal for making a family omelette or a large 'dippy-egg'! (fry for at least 20 minutes, boil for 35 minutes - please check recipes online!).

Emu eggs are around 10-12 times larger than chicken eggs!  If you don't like the idea of eating an Emu egg - how about hatching one?

Available only in our shop:  £10.00 each

Smallholder Range (Allen & Page):
Natural Free Range Layers Pellets

With our hens able to free range again, why not give them a really healthy diet with this specially designed free range pellet?  Full of all the vitamins minerals and ingredients needed for good sized eggs with a natural golden yolk and deep rich taste, this is a lovely feed and is also the only soya free non GM layers feed available

£4.25 / 5kg sample bag (sacks also available)

Find out more...

Our 2017 Beekeeping price list is now available along with a full stock of Cedar Hives...

Full range of Cedar National and WBC Hives, complete hives and individual hive parts available.
Find out more...

New to chicken keeping? Or simply looking for more knowledge? We have just a few spaces left on our next Chicken Keeping Course:  Thursday 16th March at 7pm

Aimed at the back garden keeper, our chicken courses consider what you need to keep a few hens in your garden, including:

Where to start? - an egg, a chick or a chicken?
The types of hen, their daily routines and care.
Housing and equipment required, as well as possible perils - predators, pests and diseases.

Find out more...

Due to the popularity of our April Beekeeping weekend, we have arranged another weekend in March... so why not join us for a fun and informative weekend, learning all about this fascinating past-time?

Sat 18th and Sun 19th March 

Beware!  Beekeeping can become addictive from the very first time you open a hive and peer inside!  It is an interest that can just keep growing.  As you begin to understand more and more about how these little insects work as an incredible and complex colony there is endless knowledge to gain.

Find out more...

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