Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Leaving Home. Again.

Norman and his siblings left home last week, and were moved into their new (temporary) accomodation at the Allotment.

The arrival of 7 new young hens caused a lot of interest from the other groups of chickens.  Both Roo and Flint got quite perky as they inspected the newbies.

Norman, of course, managed to escape into one of the neighbouring pens, and had to be retrieved.

The 7 are in a separate area (adjoining both the other areas) and have their own separate accomodation.   They'll stay separate  (Norman permitting) for a couple of weeks so that everyone gets to know everyone at a distance.  Then we'll start the introduction process.   

The plan is that they will all move into the same area as Flint and the single Dorking, and create one flock.    Of course, we still don't know which of the 7 are boys and which are girls. No doubt the other chickens know already.

We'll start with a few sessions of supervised free ranging and see how that goes before we take it any further.  And that won't happen for a week or two.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Dead hen :-(

One of our Dorking Girls died on Saturday night. 

DH arrived at the Allotment, said hello to all the birds, noticed that neither Dorking Girl was out and assumed they were in the nest box, laying eggs.

He sorted out Roo's gang, did the Geese, and then came back to the Doirking pen.  He found one of the girls in the nest box, possibly trying to go broody, and saw the other girl on the perch - dead. 

He phoned me, and checked her over while I was on the phone.  No sign of blood or pecking,  so it wasn't a predator or an attack from one of her family.   He brought her home so I could check her over.  She was a good weight and didn't look anaemic, and there were no signs of pests under her feathers (although I imagine they would all have evacuated by then).   I suspect she had a heart attack, perhaps the violent storms frightened her too much?

We wrapped her up in a soft towel, put her in a cardboard coffin and said our goodbyes.

She was such a pretty little bird.

Monday, 9 November 2009


As my surprise birthday pressie, DH bought me a Ukulele.    I heard a programme on the radio about the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (UOoGB)some time ago, and I went on to listen to the UOoGB Prom.  They were amazing. I had no idea that a Uke could be so versatile.  

I was particularly interested in the audience participation part of the Prom, where the audience had been invited to bring along their Ukes and to join in "Ode to Joy".  Fab.

I thought how great it would be to learn to play a Ukulele so I could join in, should the opportunity arise.    I played the guitar a bit as a child, and I couldn't see it would be much harder than that.

Well. It isn't harder,  but being able to play the guitar (a bit) has turned out to be a real hindrance.   The frets on the Uke are much smaller,  and the chords are different.  So instead of just learning the Uke chords, I have to unlearn the guitar chords.

Progress is slow.  I can play 9 chords now without looking at a crib sheet (C, C7, G, G7, A, A7, D, D7, F) and I am practising my changes.  I've also learned to play the melody for "Ode to Joy", but i'm not mistake free.

And I'd forgotten how sore it makes finger pads.

Still. I'm keeping the Uke in it's (open) case on the kitchen table, so I can pick it up and have a quick play.    On the beginners DVD it says that Ukes need frequent retuning, sometimes between songs.   It's certainly true of one of my strings.

DH told me I need to learn more songs.  Uh-huh.  I explained that, as it's primary purpose is an accompaniment by chord strumming,  it's a bit difficult to hear the difference between one song and another.  

I don't sing. Well, I do attempt to sing while I play, when the house is empty, but it's not a pretty sound.

We'll see how it goes, and whether I carry on or put the Uke in the wardrobe next to the Accordion.