Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Unexpected bonus

I was rather tired yesterday, and my legs ached a bit.

This morning, I noticed that my normally-swollen left ankle wasn't as swollen as usual.  I was surprised.  My main vein in that leg is completely blocked with scar tissue from a DVT and embollism some years ago; it doesn't carry blood any more, and the secondary veins find it hard work.  Consequently, blood tends to pool in my left ankle, and it has been noticeably larger than the right for some years.

I got on the scales.  I was 3 pounds lighter.  Walking 5 miles has really helped release my retained fluid!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011


This morning I phoned the garage to see when they would be able to tyake a look t my car.  They said I could bring it in today, they would look at it, and they would be able to work on it later in the week.

I needed to do the allotment chooks today.   Yesterday evening I spent quite a bit of time online trying to work out bus routes from my home to the allotment,  from the garage to the allotment,  from the garage home. All sorts of permutations trying to work out how to do both things.   It involved a lot of anti-directional travel, but there were a number of options. Thank goodness for traveline's website!     In the end I decided that I would go and do the chooks en route to the garage, and then go by bus from the garage home. I looked at the bus timetables, and decided that I would give in and just get a taxi back home. 

So, I set off.   The universal warning light came on almost immediately, followed a few seconds later by another warning symbol. I'd left the handbook on the kitchen table, but the new warning light looked sort of engine shaped which didn't bode well.   I decided to go directly to the garage.

Once there, car dropped off,  I had a bit of a think about what to do next.  Getting a taxi from there to the allotment, and then the allotment home, was going to be stupidly expensive, and was a real cop out.   To get from the garage to the allotment by buses was possible - albeit a bit convoluted involving bussing for 15 mins in the wrong direction first -   but the first bus in the series wasn't due for ages anyway.  So, I decided to walk from the garage to the nearby town (across fields),  and catch a bus in the town for the last couple of miles of the journey onto the village where we have an allotment.

So, I set off.  The first part of the walk was fine.  The footpaths had been converted to a national cycleway and were broad and easy to use.  I wish I'd packed my bike (which I had considered as an option,  but I had decided that I would then be trapped into using my bike as I wouldn't be able to take it on a bus. Or in a taxi).     I walked.  And walked. And walked.

And walked.  Fortunately, I had walked this walk once before, 32 years ago, so I knew that it would, eventually, deliver me into the town I wanted to get to.   At an intersection, I wasn't sure which way to go. Luckily for me there was a chap cutting a hedge, so I asked him and he gave me detailed instructions.   

I got to the town, feeling quite proud of myself, and walked to the bus stop.  No timetable.   I decided to walk in the direction of the village, keeping an ear out for the bus. No bus.  A couple of bus stops later, there was a timetable.  The bus wouldn't be there for ages.  So, nothing for it, I walked all the way.

I was tired and relieved when I finally got to the allotment,  and I sorted out the chooks.  I then considered what to do next.   I could get a taxi (which I was seriously considering),  or I could get a bus back into the town,  walk 1/4 mile to an alternate stop and pick up a bus home.     I decided to take the healthy (and money saving) option and walked to the bus stop.  It had a timetable.   The bus, one an hour, wasn't due for another 45 minutes.  I considered getting a taxi.  I decided to take another national cycle route and walk into the town where I could get a bus.

ow, I have walked this particular route before, a couple of times. I remembered that both times, the footpath disappeared.  I walked along the first part of the route, along the road,  debating whether to just give in and get a taxi. But now, I wasn't really in a sensible place to stop and wait.   No, I would be fine.  I left the road and struck out for the footpath.

About half way between leaving the road and reaching the town, I stopped feeling virtuous.  The ball of one of my feet was starting to get a bit sore, and I was quite thirsty.  It had been over 2 and a half hours since I had left home, and I was slightly regretting my decision not to just give in.    Eventually, I reached the town, and I tried to work out where the bus stop was.   

I considered, for about a nano-second, whether or not to just walk the last few miles home.  I walked past a taxi rank.  No.  I had got this far, I was going to get the damned bus.

I walked through the town, checked the helpful map at a bus stop (not my stop, sadly, but a helpful stop nonetheless),  and walked towards the correct stop.  As I got close, I could hear a bus coming up behind me.  I looked, it was my bus.   Remembering the village bus that was only one an hour, I managed to run. Well, jog.  Luckily for me, there were quite a few people spilling out of the bus,  and two older people waiting to get on.  I got there. I got on.  It took me to within 200m of my house.

I was home just over 3 hours after setting out. 

Feet hurt.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Calming Down

All allotment chickens in the right place this morning, so the wing clipping had the desired effect.

DH popped back from his holiday,  brought petrol, emptied the lawnmower tank and refilled it. I've now been able to mow most places, including the Hen Pen,  and I have strimmed too.  Rain prevented me finishing, but it all looks better.

DB1 got in touch and we went through and sorted out the soft drinks.

Girls' Cube has been cleaned out.

Coffee is wonderful. Very happy with machine.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

My day continues.

So. DH phoned to see how I had got on with the chickens.  I told him. I went on to tell him about the scotch eggs,  about DB1 and the phone,  and then how  DB2 had had to unscrew the lawnmower filler cap for me.

"Be careful which petrol you use", he said.  
"Why?" I asked.  

"There are two sorts in the shed, 2 stroke and normal" .  
"There was only one can with petrol in. The other was empty.Does it matter? How do you tell?"

"Yes. The mower will smoke and will get gunged up"
"So what was in the can with petrol in?" 

"One of them is lighter than the other. Not the can, the petrol"
"Ri-ight. So how can I tell?"

"One of them is lighter than the other."
"Right.  So how do I tell what it is when only one of the cans has petrol in?"

"I don't know. It's probably 2-stroke."
"If it matters, why didn't you write on the can?!?!" 
"Leave it. I'll drain the mower when I get home"

So. That's another pre-FG (Family Gathering)  job that I can't do!

Never mind.  These are all small things,  and they will pass.This time next week it will all be over with and normality will have resumed.

MIni Scotch Eggs

I tried one of each, and the flour-and-egged scotch eggs were infinitely better than the ones just rolled in breadcrumbs.

Both of them fell apart as I ate them, but that could be because they'd only been out of the overn for about 2 minutes before I started to try them.

I've got the 2 remaining ones cooling now. I'll try them when they are cold.

Despite being small eggs,  the finished scotch eggs are still much bigger than the M&S party eggs I'd been modelling them on.  I wonder if I could have compressed the eggs a bit while they were still warm? Right when I shelled them, I mean. Hmm. I have a meatball utensil, maybe it's worth giving that a go?

Also, if I use cling film to flatten the sausagemeat, maybe I can get it thinner?  I used my hands (wetted first so that the sausagemeat didn't stick) to press it thin and then rolled the egg up in it.  

I'm sure deep frying would give the best taste of all, but I'm trying to go for a healthier option. 

If the little girls lay weeny eggs in the next day or two, I'll definitely make some for the FG (Family Gathering).   It's no good using really fresh eggs as the hard boiled eggs fall apart when shelled if too fresh. 

I've had better days

Coffee machine is fab.  Really good.  I'm very happy with it, and I am feeling sheepish about my irritation with it.

This morning, I went to do the chooks as DH and OC (other chap) are, somewhat inconsiderately, away at the same time.  All fine,  two cockerels were in with the Big Girls and were a bugger to catch.  Lots of weeny eggs, which I collected up and decided to try making into mini scotch eggs.

On the way home from the chooks,  my automatic car lurched as it changed gear. I looked at the instrument panel, and one of the warning lights was on.  Bother.  I pulled over and got the handbook out of the glovebox.  It's the Multi function warning light, which comes on when a whole range of things are going wrong.  "Take to an expert", was all it said. 

Well, I didn't have any easy way to get home, so i decided to carry on driving, carefully.  The car continued to lurch as it changed gear. I coasted in neutral wherever possible.    As I drove home, I reasoned that it might be something easy, like transmission fluid.   i pulled over and got the manual out again.

 I couldn't find anything about transmission fluid.  I looked under transmission, I looked under gearbox.  I looked at the engine diagram which helpfully showed me where to  check oil, coolant, brake & clutch fluid - but nothing about transmission fluid.  I phoned my darling brother (DB2), who very kindly said he'd come and help.  I drove home.

While I waited for him, I looked in the manual again. Nothing.  I decided to go and cut the grass while I was waiting.I've been waiting for it to be dry enough for days, I have people coming next week and I need to get this out of the way.   I put the Girls in their run, hoiked the mower out of the shed, put the grass bag on, primed it, it wouldn't start.  I tried again. Same thing.

I went to the shed and eventually found some petrol.  I couldn't get the petrol cap of the lawnmower.  I gave up and went inside the house.  

DB arrived. He read the handbook.  Nothing about it.  He eventually found some stuff uder automatic transmission. But nothing about fluid.  He looked at the engine diagram.  I looked at the engine diagram again.  Definitely no mention of it.

So, we went and had a look.  It's there, right at the front (and is definitely missing from the engine diagram).  The level of fluid was fine. Coolant was fine. Oil was fine. Everything that was linked to the sensor light was fine.     I said I'd take it to the garage on Tuesday.  

Typical that it had to go on the blink while DH was away (or, specifically, while DH had his car). And on a bank holiday, so I won't be able to get it looked at until Tuesday at the earliest. Did I mention that we are having a large family gathering here next week, and that's what I'm doing today and tomorrow?

While I made tea, DB2 got the cap of the mower and filled it with petrol, and he even started to mow for me.  It rained. My washing got wet.

We had a chat, a cup of tea, and he left.   I looked at options for getting to the Allotment tomorrow and Tuesday.  Could I cycle? Not really.  Maybe I could get a bus into town, with my bike, and then cycle from there.   Buses run hourly on bank holidays.  It might be doable, but it would take me about 4 hours in total.  Well, I am where I am.   Worst case, I could get a taxi there and back but it would be hideously expensive.   Then I remembered the tour bus.  I could walkto the nearest stop,  it would take me part way and I could then walk the last mile or so to the Allotment.  I could then walk back into town, do some shopping for the party, and get the tour bus home again.   Perfect.

DH, who is away at the mo, phoned me to say that a neighbouring allotment holder had called him to say that the cockerels were on the shed roof.   DH was over an hour away and had had too much to drink to drive home.  I decided I'd just get a taxi,  but I wsn't quite sure what I'd do if the cockerels had flown over the fencing. They are like little roadrunners, hard to catch.   I phoned my other brother, DB1, to see if he would come and help.  Unfortunately he was tied up, and so I decided against asking him.  So I phoned DB2 to see if he would come back and help.    Bless him,  he did. 

Four cockerels were in their pen. We caught each cockerel and I clipped one wing on each.  We then had to catch the two that had got in with the Girls.  I'd taken my chicken net, not to use to catch them -  normally freaks them out so much there isn't a hope in hell of catching them - I was thinking I could use it to shoosh them off the roof, or like an arm extension while walking them into a corner.    In fact, I ended up catching the two in the Girls pen by using the net, so that's actually paid for itself now.     Hopefully the wing clipping will solve the problem.

When we got back there was an answerphone message from DB1.  He'd finished what he was doing so he had phoned back to see what I had wanted.  I phoned him back,  and we started to do some preparation for a family get together.  I'm doing the food, DB2 is buying the alcoholic beverages,  and DB1 is buying the soft drinks.  I was helping him choose.

A few minutes into our call, and he couldn't hear me.  His home phone went kaputt. I tried his mobile (which I know he never uses) and of course it was on voicemail.   We exchanged emails:  the other hadset isn't charged, it'll take an hour to charge.  I emailed back saying "charge your mobile, you can use it while its charging. Or do you have Skype?".  Email back "its in my car. I haven't used it for ages.Technophobic".    Email from me "can't you go and get it???!" 

Not my day today.

Still, I've made some small scotch eggs using some of the tiny eggs from the young girls and some of our home made sausages.  I'm testing out oven baking them. Two of them are just rolled in breadcrumbs, two of them are flour/eggbreadcrumbs.   They are in the oven now.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Coffee headaches.

Many years ago, I purchased a Gaggia espresso machine. I forget the model name, but it cost a small fortune.   It worked really well, and packed up shortly after the guarantee expired.  I vowed never to buy Gaggia again.

Quite a few years ago, I bought a Krupps espresso machine.  It was their then top of the range machine, and it worked really well.  It was one where you had to start it espressing and stop it espressing, and it took a while to recover enough to produce steam for the milk.  DH and I have a double espresso each every morning, with milk done in the antipodean "flat white" style. Eventually I got fed up with overfilled coffee cups (attention span of a...), and the time it took to produce 2 coffees so, I bought a Gaggia Baby Class D.  

Another small fortune (to me).  But, it stopped automatically when it has dispensed the right amount of water,  it had a pre-infusion feature which made better espressos.   I bought the cappuccinatore accessory, which helped me make "flat whites", and we were in coffee heaven. For a short time.

The machine went seriously wrong. Helpfully in-guarantee. Gaggia, meanwhile, had disappeared to be rescued by Philips.  I called them.  They sent packaging. I packed the machine, arraged a courier to collect it from me and take it to the service centre. We waited.  It came back to us.  It went wrong again. I phoned the service centre.  I had to wait for them to send packaging (even though I still had the previous lot), because it wasn't possible to send only the labels & paperwork.   it went back to the nice people at Philips,we waited,  it came back to us.   It went wrong a third time. I phoned.   I waited for packaging. I packed it, arranged a courier, it went back to Philips.  We waited quite a long time. It came home.   It went wrong a fourth time. I phoned and arranged for packaging. The packaging arrived, I packed it up it went back to Philips.  We waited. It came back, having had some major surgery,  and it worked beautifully for about a year. Then it packed up again. A bit outside the guarantee period.

I was going to chalk it up to experience, and buy something else.  But I really liked the coffee we'd been getting out of it.   And when I considered how much it had cost and how it had lasted just over 2 years (less the time away), I really felt that we hadn't had good value out of it.   WIthout much hope, I emailed Philips and asked if they would consider a final go at fixing it, as a gesture of goodwill given the machine's chequered history.  

Philips customer service chap, Tim, phoned me.  We talked about my machine and the experience I had.  He said, fairly enough I thought, that it wasn't really worth trying to repair the machine again. He then surprised me by saying they would send me a refurbished machine as a replacement, and would arrange to uplift my broken machine.  We left it that he would try and arrange for them to happen at the same time.

Joy! Surprise!  Singing Philips' praises!

I didn't hear anything about my existing machine for a while,  but I did receive a call to arrange delivery of the replacement.    It arrived, we unpacked it,  suffering somewhat from decent coffee withdrawal.   The machine was well wrapped, but I could see through the packaging that it was different to my current machine.

Never mind, I thought.  But as I looked at the fascia, I had a horrible feeling that this machine was going to be like the Krupps - no automatic dosing.  I opened the instructions and pored through them. Yup. Manual start and stop. 

At least it's a coffee machine, I told myself.  But then I rmembered how annoying the Krupps had become.  And I know myself well enough to know that I would be buying a replacement very shortly.   So, I emailed Tim.  I thanked him for the machine,  apologised for being ungrateful, and explained that it didn't have the automatic dosing facility which is why I had bought the Baby Class D.  Did he have another machine available by any chance? And. by the way, I hadn't heard anything about my broken machine being picked up.  Tim was brilliant.  He said he'd arrange to have the machine picked up and a replacement delivered.  

Some time after I received a phone call from someone arranging to deliver packaging so that they could subsequently uplift my machine.  I checked which machine they were uplifting, and it seemed to be my old machine.

The packaging arrived,  no replacement.  The packaging referred to a machine going back into stock.  I emailed Tim to clarify.     Tim phoned to say that actually the packaging was for the refurbed machine,    they hadn't realised I still had my old machine,  and a new replacement was on the way.  I asked him to send me a label for the old machine so I could send it back at the same time. It would take 3-5 working days.

Time passed.   Eventually a call from the service centre arranging to deliver the second machine.  The label arrived. It mentioned going back into stock. I crossed it out and wrote on there that it was the broken machine.   I packed up my old machine, I now had two huge boxes sitting in my hallway. On Wednesday morning,   I arranged for them to be collected on Friday.  Later on Wednesday, the new machine arrived.

Much joy, much caffeine-withdrawal-induced excitement.   I opened the box. I looked at the fascia. It was the same sort of machine that they had sent the first time.  I emailed Tim.   He phoned back to say he was sorry, but there were no other machines available.    We both decided that it was time to give up.

I decided that I would buy a new machine, selling the remaining incorrect machine to part fund it.  I decided I'd buy Gaggia again,  even though it hadn't worked out, because I thought Tim had really tried hard to resolve this for me. Besides, I was planning to sell the second refurbed machine to part fund it,  and it seemed only right that I should therefore buy Gaggia again.

I couldn't find my machine in stock anywhere.  DH was away. Yesterday, in a moment of extreme frustration at not being able to find the damn machine I wanted, I gave in and ordered a bean to cup machine (having phoned a Gaggia Specialist shop to check that the cappuccinatore would fit)   I ordered it on next day delivery.  I then began to wonder if I had done the right thing.  What if, after all this,  it didn't work as well as my Baby Class D?

All morning I waited.  The Yodel man arrived to collect the two other machines.  The Postman delivered another set of labels, this time referring to the broken machine.  Too late to use them.   I scratched my head.  Are they expecting the second machine back?  They can't be.  The label that arrived came before they knew the second machine wasn't suitable.      I realised that the packaging they sent originally must have been for the broken machine after all.  Oh well, I'm sure they'll work it out when they get them.

And then, mid afternoon, It arrived. I unpacked it. I was nervous.   I couldn't find the power supply.  I went through the packaging. It wasn't there.  I was a bit cross at this point, how on earth could "they" send a machine without a blummen power supply?!    I decided not to phone and complain yet. (a) I wasn't in a good mood and that is never a good time to make a complaint, and (b) I wanted to  test the darn thing first in case something else was wrong.  

I started working through the pre-first-use checks. I got to the bit where i had to fill the water reservoir..and I found the power supply. Tucked inside.

Grateful that I hadn't phoned and made an idiot of myself, I carried on. The first-use thing is a bit of a palaver. It involves making 3 large coffees without any coffee, and discharging the contents of the water reservoir through the steam nozzle.    Eventually, having run water through the machine, I was ready to make a coffee with real coffee. 

Now, I have several tins of Illy Long, ready ground. But only 1 tin of coffee beans of some other brand, bought in error when I had decided Illy was too expensive.     As I was trying the new machine, I used the beans.  And I used the supplied panarello frother instead of my cappucinatore.    It was OK, not great.  I don't mind using a panarello occasionally, but I like the laziness of the cappucinatore. 

I increased the strength and tried again. Better. It looked like a proper double espresso now.    But it didn't taste as good as Illy.

The digital display was really difficult to see, very dark.  I moaned about it.  I decided to try the ground coffee mode. I had deliberately chosen a machine that could use ready ground espresso as well as beans.  I was a bit surprised to read that you can only put in one spoonful of coffee at a time. Any more, and it gets rejected by the machine.  Hmmm.  Bit irritating.  Never mind, at least I could use the Illy we had in the cupboard and in the fridge.  I made a coffee with it.  It was OK.  Not great tasting.  Maybe a month wuthout proper coffee has meant my tastebuds  have changed. 

Next, I fitted the cappuccinatore.  Not a great fit, but OK.  It's a bit kack-handed, the wand is really on the wrong side for the design of the cappuccinator,  but it's workable.  I made steamed milk as I adjusted the air inlet.   Mmm. Think I might do it this way instead of heating milk in a saucepan, in future. 

The display was annoying me. I could see what I needed to, but the icons were difficult to make out.  It was OK while I had the destructions in front of me..but, I guessed, I'd get used to it.  And the coffee was OK; I knew it would take me a while to adjust the cappucinatore so it worked properly - it took a few goes on the old machine as well

I pushed the machine back into the corner where it was going to live, and I noticed that a bit of the fascia had come away.  My goodwill was evaporating. I was now rather cross.   I was cross about the display.  I was cross about the cappucinatore.  I was cross that I could only put in one spoon of ground coffee at a time (stupid machine!). And, mostly,  I was disappointed that  the coffee was OK but not fantastic.  I flicked the bit of broken fascia to see if I could put it back in place.  I couldn't. It was very floppy.  I couldn't believe it could be such a crappy design. .

I looked closer, and it was hanging off!   The final straw!  I pulled it (as you do),  and that's when it came right off.   Turns out it was actually a piece of darkened protective film, which was protecting the display during transport.

The display itself is quite bright.

Daft woman.

I'm sure coffee tomorrow will be grand.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


Milly is up and about and eating well.

She let me pick her up and stroke her, so I suspect she isn't feeling quite back to normal, but she's looking OK.  She laid an egg today, which got crushed.  I'm hoping that was just a weak-shelled accident, probably resulting from yesterday's heat stress.

Fingers crossed she continues to improve.

I found an interesting tip on the Omlet Forum for dealing with heat stressed hens: wrap them in a cool damp towel.    I'll remember that next time.

Cheeky girls

My turn to do the Allotmenteers yesterday and today.

This morning, 3 of the young Girls were in with the Boys.  Couldn't see how they managed it as the fencing is secure.  They had to get over their fence into no-hens-land, and then over the fence into the Boys area.     Two of them were desperate to get back in with the Girls and were easy to catch;  one Girl didn't really want to be caught, thank you very much.  I'm not overly bothered if the Girls want to be stupid enough to go in with the Boys, that's their choice. What I want to make sure doesn't happen is that one of the Boys gets in with the Girls.

Found a small egg on the ground in the Girls pen.   At first I assumed that one of the inexperienced Girls had got caught short... but then I found a smashed egg near the ladder to their nest boxes,  and another one in the Big Girls pen.  Looks like the thieving magpies are at it again.

The rollaway nestbox had an egg sitting on the shelf, upright.  I saw one of the girls in there yesterday with her bottom wedged firmly in the corner, so I guess it was hers.   When I reached in to get it, I noticed that the rollaway part of the nestbox was jammed with bedding.  I hoiked it all out, so hopefully the eggs will be able to roll away from now on, and the magpies won't be able to get them.

Looks like I'll have to start moving the Girls on to layers pellets soon.  I would guess that half of them are laying now, and it'll be some months before they are culled (the Boys go first).   They will be 20 weeks old on Monday, so I'll start switching them over then.

The Boys were well behaved;  three of the Big Girls are broody, 2 of them in one next box (we have 8 nestboxes for 6 girls, so they really don't have to double up).

They were all delighted to have yet more apples to eat.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Sick Chick

Went out this evening to give the Girls some pasta, and Milly came bounding our from under the pampas and stopped. She looked dazed, and was being barged into by the other 4 girls.

Worried, I oicked her up and sat her on my lap in the garden.  She looked very unwell. Her eyes were closed, her breathing a bit laboured, and at one point she seemed to pass out with her beak resting on my arm.

I brought her in to the kitchen, put her on a towel on the draining board, and stroked her. She was limp, and looked like she was dying.    I had two thoughts in my head: sunstroke, or a blocked crop from eating that damned jacket on the jacket potato yesterday.   I rummaged in the cupboard, found a syringe, and syringed some water into her beak.

I then found the nutri drops, and syringed some of those in.  I stroked her,  she looked like she passed out again.  I then got out the Avipro, dissolved some in water, and fed that to her. She panted a lot, and looked uncomfortable.    I was convinced it was a stuck jacket.

I tried massaging her crop, but it was very empty. Attempts to look down her beak were futile, I needed DH to help but he was out.    I found some liquid paraffin, from another crop problem a couple of years ago, and attempted to syringe that into her beak.    I syringed, massaged, stroked.  She looked close to death, wings and tail down,  no interest in anything, eyes closed,  with moments where her beak was propping her up.

In case it was heatstroke, I soaked cotton wool in water and put some under her wings, her breast, her bottom. After about an hour,  DH phoned to say he was on his way home; I didn't mention Milly as I didn't want to worry him.  Milly and I continued like this for the next hour.   I stroked her, I talked to her.  I told her that she couldn't go now, she'd only just started being a friendly (ish) hen, and she couldn't leave me now that we had started building a relationship. 

When DH arrived he was pressed into service, holding Milly and trying to force her beak open so I could shine a torch down her throat.  No obvious obstruction,  no foul smell.     I still had visions of a jacket being stuck to the insude of her throat or crop and sucking moisture out.  I syringed more water in.      Heatstroke seemed more likely; websites warned against bringing the temperature down too suddenly,  so we trickled water on her comb, her wattles, her head, her neck.

Suddenly, she sat up.   She wasn't interested in moving, but she did look a bit more awake.    I suggested putting her in a box,  DH said she'd be OK sat on the floor. So, I put her on some newspaper with some water, and a few pieces of corn, then I scrubbed and disinfected the sink area, scrubbed and disinfected my hands,  and started to make dinner.

She ate some corn.  I put some chick crumb on the newspaper.  She ate it. I put chick crumb in a bowl. She ate it  About 20 minutes later she staggered to the door and jumped out.  DH followed her to the Run, and let her in.  She started to eat from the feeder and drink from the superglug.

She took herself to bed about 20 minutes later. 

I hope she's OK tomorrow.

Baked potatoes

Now that Marfona are back in season, we've been eating lots of baked potatoes.  I like smaller potatoes.  I always bake lots. Any unused baked potatoes are turned into sort of oven-wedges the next day.

The Girls lurve baked potatoes.  I try to save them a potato usually, but they usually end up getting eaten by us.

On Saturday I also had a couple of potatoes that were a bit past their best, but I baked them anyway - for the Girls.  As well as pricking the skins (of the potatoes, obviously, not the Girls), I carved a little C into them. Just in case the difference that was so obvious when they were uncooked was lost when they were cooked.

Potatoes were lovely.  No, I didn't eat the Girls potatoes by mistake.  I left the girls potatoes under a food net to cool overnight, and then yesterday, I cut the potatoes up and took them outside. Rather than puttingthem in the Run  I caught each Girl in turn, sat her on my lap, and let her munch the potatoey goodness. A fair reward for putting up with being petted. 

Everyone - except Florence - wanted to participate.  Florence wanted to participate in the eating of the potato, but not in the being picked up and sat on my lap part.   We went round twice, with each Girl being returned to the others in between.

Milly, my cream legbar, doesn't really like being picked up.  When she's in egg laying mode she crouches for me, and I can see as I stroke her that her natural instinct to crouch is fighting with her chickeny nature to just scoot out of my way. 

Since Lily and Daisy died, I have been putting more effort in to seeing if I can get Milly to not mind being handled.   Every time I pick her up, she gets a treat.  I don't hold her for long etc.    A couple of times now when we've been doing individual treats, she's only half-heartedly run away from me, and hasn't run out of my arms' reach (I'm leaning over netting, so I can only reach so far).

Yesterday was one of the days when she only tried a bit to get out of my way. In fact, when I didn't pick her up, she "accidentally" moved back in to range. So, I scooped her up, sat down with her on my lap, and offered her some potato.  She went mad for it.

Milly became very greedy.  She tried to swallow a large chunk of potato and jacket in one go.  She couldn't quite do it, so made that gurgutating movement that chickens (and alligators  and crocodiles and snakes) do when trying to swallow something whole.   I was concerned that this might cause crop problems, so I decided to help out.

I tried to hold on to the end of the jacket that wasn't actually in Milly's beak.  For some strange reason, she seemed to object to this.  I pulled, she pulled back.  Fearing that she might swallow it in an even larger piece, and haunted by the image of Milly with a jackjet potato shaped bulge in her crop (like the shape one might imagine when a snake eats something whole), I let go.  I watched in a mixture of horror, disbelief, disgust and admiration as she managed to get it all in.

The Girls all had very potatoey beaks afterwards, and were very happy.

Here's a quick pick of Tilda, with potato all over her beak.

Cat and Mouse

My cats hunt occasionally,  and often they hunt as a team.

This morning I went into the garden to collect some lettuce and chickweed to take to the Allotmenteers,  and the cats were nonchalantly Doing Nothing.  Usually this means they are hunting and pretending not to, to lull wildlife into a false sense off security.  Sure enough, when I got back to the house, Wash was no where to be seen.  

In the kitchen I stuffed the lettuce into a carrier bag and I could hear a strangled squeaking sound.  I stopped and strained to work out where it was coming from.  It stopped.  I walked towards the living room and it started again, but it wasn't getting any louder.  

I stopped. Silence. Utility room - nothing.  Went to the bottom of the stairs in the hall, and it was really loud and clear - I realised Wash must have a mouse (or worse, a Big Mouse) behind the sofa in the living room.  I opened the connecting door, which is a bit of a feat as the sofa is wedged against it in the living room.  I must have shocked Wash, as it was all quiet. 

I waited. Nothing. I assumed that it was now too late to save the poor mouse (or the horrible Big Mouse, which was just as well as I would have had to deal with that one myself).  But then I heard it again.

It must be upstairs.  But it didn't sound like it. I turned round, and heard it again. Maybe it was outside the front door?  No.

Was it the Japonica squeaking against the front window glass? No.  I stood in the hall,, scratching my head.  In the end, I couldn't solve it, I was running late, and I decided I'd have to leave the poor mouse to it.

I walked down the hall and heard it again. I stopped. It stopped.  I turned round. It made a horrible long squeal. I stopped. It stopped.   

"How bizarre!" I thought. The bloomin cat must be watching me.  But I realised that was very unlikely.  I looked along the floor as I turned and walked back to the kitchen.  

And I saw it.

It was the hard sole of my moccassins, with some squishy wet leaves in the treads.  I hadn't changed into my garden shoes when I went to get the lettuce, and I'd brought some lettuce in on my slippers.

Squeak squeak.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Birds and Bees

On the allotment, Hive 2 bees are still very happy little bees, and Hive 1 bees are still very angry bees. Last night, we removed the spent combs from the Eke (a shallow super tray which goes on top of the hive to add food etc) and replaced them with the last of the extracted frames and all the remaining wax cappings.   We'll remove these in a week or so.

The Young Chooks are doing well.   The cockerels are mostly well behaved, with some squabbling and jostling for position but, so far, no real nastiness.  One of them, "Yellow Ring",  is very frustrated and is desperate to get in with the Big Girls.  He managed to squeeze past me when I was moving between pens, and he was like a cockerel possessed. He was literally chasing down the girls, running all round the pen (like Roadrunner) with the poor girls running away from him as fast as they could.  He was an absolute s*d to catch. 

Eventually, he managed to grab Ruby by the neck... it wasn't very pleasant, and I managed to grab him and wrench him away before he did any damage.  I put him back in his pen, and I saw him eyeing up the gap between two fence posts, lining himself up so that he could breathe in and ooze through. We're having to be extra rigorous. I know he can't help it, but I think it means his card is marked.

The Little Girls seem happy, and we have two of them laying now. 

The Big Girls are toodling along, and seem to be getting on reasonably well.  To my surprise, "Mrs " (Mrs Roo, the original Sasso hen) is still going, still looking well. When I say "well", I should probably rephrase that as "She's looking well for Mrs Roo".  She's a strange, brick shaped, hen with very short stubby legs, rather tubby, gets breathless easily. I don't think she's going to appreciate having a new cockerel around...but it won't be for some time, so we'll see what happens in the meantime.

Stuff everywhere

It's been a funny (odd) few days. The house is completely topsy turvy and I'm busy ignoring it. Or trying to ignore it.  I'm going to write it down here, and then I'm going to forget about it.

DH picked a couple of crates of apples yesterday. I wrapped them and put them in crates, so we can press them in a week or so.  DH otherwise engaged until then, and it's one of those busy activities which is definitely more fun with two. They are sitting on the kitchen table, waiting. 

The apple crusher,  the apple press, the apple picker, a step ladder, and folded crates are standing by the french windows, waiting.   Because I can't get to the cupboards that side of the kitchen,  the stuff that needs to be put away is being piled up on the worktop.

Lots more tomatoes, and lots more Passata.  The new Weck jars are working well, and I think I prefer them to Kilner jars now.  I like Kilner jars but I find that the screw caps tend to rust; sometimes they are difficult to open.  I've almost run out of the 500ml jars now, so I'll have to go back to Kilner for the rest of the tomato crop.  I'm debating whether to buy some more Weck jars - but I have so many Kilner jars, I'm not sure I can justify it.  I do have some 250ml and 500ml Weck flasks,  but I'm saving those for apple juice.    Picked tomatoes, which will go into the next batch,  are overfowing from a large bowl on one of the worktops.

We had to fire up the spare freezer in the garage. We moved some of the bulky items from the house freezer, plus the corn on the cob in there, and I started making bags (and bags. and bags. ) of ice cubes.  We're having some family over for lunch soon and, in the anticipation of it being a warm day, we're stocking up on ice.   It's not particularly about ice in drinks (although we do need some for that), we also want ice for buckets to cool wine and beer.    We will probably end up buying some bags of ice,  but it's definitely cheaper to make our own with ice cube bags, so that's what I'm trying to do.  Bit tedious though, frankly, standing by a slow running tap filling the bags. I do about 10 in one batch.

The new hive arrived (Modern Beekeeping were having a sale, and we wanted to have a spare hive for emergencies.  And we wanted to get a Nucleus sized box, for next year, so we can raise a spare Queen.   All these have needed painting, and we've had bits of hives in various states of painting, all over the kitchen. They are finished now and stacked up neatly.   We're going to put them in the spare bedroom next week (after flying visit from DD and family).   And then we can move the spare brood boxes and all the supers - currently forming a tower in the only bit of unused floorspace behind DH's desk in the study - into the spare bedroom as well.

Under the stairs - the space is open to our hall -  is crammed with bee related paraphernalia, including the saucepan and sieve DH used to melt and purify the wax.  We've got another batch of wax to do, so the stuff is sitting under the stairs for now.    There is also a huge box containing a Baby Class machine waiting to go back to Gaggia.

In my living room, I have another huge box containing another coffee machine, a Baby Class D, which is also waiting to go back to Gaggia.  This was in the utility room, but that space was needed for the pastueriser.  It was in the kitchen, but it got in the way.  It was under the stairs, next to the other one, but that space was needed for the bee stuff.   

A third machine should be delivered next week. Hopefully before then I will also receive the returns paperwork for the machine in my living room,  and then I can arrange for them both to go back.

I had a new companion bench delivered yesterday.   It came wrapped in two huge pieces of bubble wrap.  It seemed a shame to bin the bubble wrap (I have lots in store already), so I posted it on Freegle.   There was a surprising number of enquiries, so I picked someone who was working nearby and who could pick up yesterday afternoon.     Bubble wrap was then placed in the middle of the hall, ready.      Chap didn't show up.   I assume that he was on auto pilot going home, so probably just forgot...but I didn't get an email or phone message from him.     I was going to go to the next person on the list, but decided I'd at least email this chap and give him this afternoon to reply.      Having a bubblewrap mountain to negotiate isn't helping!

Right. I've finished moaning now.  I'm going to get on and clear away anything and everything that can be cleared away, and then I'm sure I'll feel better!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Cob on

We ended up with a reasonably large number of Corn on the Cob plants this year, and most of the plants had 2 cobs on.   

One fantastic thing about growing your own CotC is that you can eat it, raw, straight from the plant.  It is DELICIOUS.    Don't try it with shop-bought fresh cobs though - the sugars start to turn to starch as soon as the cob is picked, and the window for eating it raw is very short.

I've also been grilling cobs.  Turn your grill as high as it will go, and leave it for a length of time to get reall, really hot.   Put a bit of olive oil on the cobs,  maybe a bit of salt/pepper, then stick under the grill, really really close.  Turn them as they start to colour - a few kernels will go black and some will pop. When you've cooked it all the way around,  serve with butter.  

We still have lots of corn left, so the other day I tried blanching and freezing some.  A few days later, I tried some of my frozen cobs (defrosting them first), and they were great.

So today, I picked almost all the remaining corn cobs. I then  blanched them in batches according to size,  plunging each blanched batch into iced water*, dried them, put them in the fridge to finish cooling (they really hold the heat!), then I bagged them and froze them.   I haven't counted them, but there are a lot.  DH doesn't indulge, so it looks like I'll have lots of summery corn to brighten up the winter!

*I ended up having to stick jugs of water in the freezer to use. And I used my ice packs.  And my therma med thing for my back.  And any bagged ice cubes we had.  I had no idea they would take so much effort to cool down!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Other business as usual

Ran out of butter over the weekend and had to buy some. First time in, literally, years.

This morning I turned 8 litres of double cream into a lot of butter.  I didn't think to weigh it. Butter now in freezer, and everything is cleared up.   It's much harder making butter when its hot, very hard to get properly cold water out of the tap. In the end I had to put some jugs of water into the freezer, and use those for final rinsing.   Note to self Make bigger batches of butter before summer so I don't have to make it when weather is hot.   Or, if stocks are low,  make butter when weather less good - and don't run out.

We're having another half pig from Shirley in September.   I've been looking at what we did last time, and I've been starting to make a list ("more mince", "less loin of pork", "fewer pork chops - make bacon instead?").   As a result of looking at what we have left in the freezer, I'm having brawn for my dinner, along with Focaccia (that's proving as I type) and the cottage cheese we made on Saturday.  DH is having one of the many pork loin chops.

I need to watch the video I took, to see if we will be able to do the butchering (not the slaughtering!)  ourselves this time.


Time's Up

Today the babies were 18 weeks old, and it was "Time's Up" for 4 of them. 

Last week, when all three of us had been at the allotment sorting out separate runs for the girls and boys,  we had taken a look at the boys to see who would be going.  It would be much easier if we knew that they were all going in the end but, because we'll be keeping one of them,  it's means that we have to make the decision each time.

Firstly, we decided that the two more "runty" boys should go. Neither of them were going to make the grade.  They are also quite aggressive, partly because of their lowly place in the pecking order.    We also earmarked one of the big Welsh Black X boys, as he had been caught pecking a couple of the hens for no obvious reason.    For the fourth...well, that was a lot harder.  

We have 2 boys (not counting the "runty" pair) who are the spitting image of their dad.  We haven't decided yet whether we want to keep one of them, or one of the Welsh Black crosses.    Personally, I think it'll come down to temperament.    One of these 2 is top cockerel.  We aren't sure that he has the right temperament,  but we realise that taking him out will just cause a lot of in-fighting as the biys then jostle for top place.   

We debated whether to take the second Roo lookey-likey, or one of the Welsh Blacks.  In the end, we decided to take out the second Roo lookey-likey.   The Top Cockerel will be "safe" now until we come to a final decision, unless he demonstrates that he has too aggressive a temperament.

DH and OC (Other Chap) did the deed this morning, and DH came back with our 2 chickens.   DH always finds this difficult and time really hasn't made it easier.  

Once again I console myself with knowing that 
(a) They had a fantastic happy life
(b) They had a quick and pain free death
(c) They lived until they were 18 weeks, whereas if we were buying free range chicken that chook would have been only 8 - 14 weeks old...
(d) ...and we would not know for certain exactly what sort of free range life that chook would have had.

So, we're down to 9 Girls and 6 cockerels (plus 2 of a different breed being raised for us on a neighbouring plot).

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Bit of a spurt

D(S)D and family came to stay last night.  Always great to see them, the children are lovely and even the youngest DGC (darling grandchild) is now old enough to have a conversation with. (=I can understand what she is saying, which is a big step forward).
They are all really good natured happy children, so when we get the inevitable over-tired tears, I don't mind.
Anyway. Late night last night,  very busy morning this morning.  Breakfast in shifts,  games with the little GCs (which involved me getting out a play set which can be used as a swingball or a volleyball net or a badminton net,  and attempting to teach two inexperienced children to get a shuttlecock over it,  DH taking eldest GC to the allotment to see the chooks..etc, etc. 

Anyway, they left just before lunch, and I was thinking about having a nap this afternoon to catch up on my sleep.   Not quite sure what happened, but suddenly we've:
  • Canned (heat processed) the latest batch of tomato passata
  • picked dozens of corn cobs, stripped them, blanched them, chilled them, put them in to freeze 
  • stripped and eaten the sugarsnap peas while I was picking the corn
  • picked chillies, prepped them, put them in to freeze 
  • made (well, making as I type) 4 pints-of-milk's-worth of cottage cheese 
  • ordered a load of bread flour to top up our supplies 
  • inspected Ouch's head and attempted to soak off the dried bits of powder an and purple spray (she didn't like that too much) 
  • put Ouch and her sister on one of our flower beds so they could have a rook around and dust bathe,  and watched them for half an hour while they did so, to make sure they didn't (a) wander off, (b) eat my lettuces, (c) eat the polystyrene container which the lettuces are growing in, (d) get attacked by the Big Girls
Just starting to clear up now.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Ouchy update

So, Ouch and her little friend have been in the spare Cube since Thursday evening. Tehy spent a hapy enough day yesterday munching fresh grass, and eating the various treats we gave them.    Last night,  I noticed that Little Friend gave Ouch a darned good peck on the back of the head.

So, first thing this morning, DH was dispatched (despatched? I can't remember which is correct) to our ffriendly neighbourhood horsey place to by some anti peck spray.   It said "wear gloves", and I am soooo glad he did.  It smells like...well, like tar I suppose.

We're hoping that with this new parfum de tar, Ouch's head will not seem so appealing.  If it works, then we can get the two of them back to the allotment.  Before I get attached to them.

By the way, Ouch laid 2 soft shelled eggs.  She's far too young to be getting her egg laying tackle ready. 

And this evening, I shut the Big Girls in their run and let the two young girls out for a bit. They don't need the space, but I thought they might want to have a rook around in some dirt, or have a dust bath. 

Attached? Of course not.

Thursday, 11 August 2011


Today we're implementing our Separation Plan.  

Last year we didn't need to implement our Separation Plan, I think because the Dinner Chickens were hatched very late in the season;  by the time the hormones kicked in it was later in the year, the days were shorter, the weather not great.  We didn't have any trouble between cockerels, and the boys didn't seem to be pestering the girls.     Our last few cockerels, who were actually meant to be Christmas Dinner,  weren't dealt with until later in January because of the bad weather.

This year, there hasn't been too much trouble between the Boys, apart from the expected jostling for position.   We noticed that one of the Boys (one of the Roo look-e-likeys) was starting to pester the Girls last week, but as we have lots of Girls it wasn't too much of a problem.  However, it did make us work out our Separation Plan, and I'm glad we are now able to just go and do it.

So that's what we'll be doing this morning.  

Back later.

What happened next

So, DH went out, and would be visiting the allotment on his way back.  If she had been pecked again, DH was to bring the injured chicken plus any of her sisters home.

Phone call sometime later to let me know that he was on his way home with 2 chickens.

Fortunately we the Cube which we use for the chicks was still assembled with 1 metre of run in front of it (the 2nd metre was packed away).  What's even more fortunate is that we had been sorting out our shed that afternoon and had sorted out all the spare run bits, so I could lay my hands on the front panel very quickly.   I also sorted out a couple of feeders, a drinker, and a treat block.

The hens were sitting quietly in a box while we got everything ready. The cut on the injured girlie was a lot worse, so I treated it again.   The Big Girls were not happy.  They were very very not happy whe the spare Cube rolled into place next to their run.  They were beside themselves when they realised there were chooks moving in next door.

The two visiting girls settled in very quickly.  I wondered if they recognised the Cube as the place they had lived just 10 weeks ago.    They managed to put themselves to bed, so maybe they do.

Lots of noise this morning from the Big Girls.


Yesterday was Bee Inspection day (Hive 2, our calm hive), with a quick bit of stuff in Hive 1, and our day to do the allotment chooks.

Plans of what we were going to do went well, no disagreements or discussions.  We arrived, and set about our tasks.  I poo picked (the chickens, not the bees), DH scrubbed the waterers and refilled, and topped up the feed.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw one of the DInners pull at the back of the head of another.  I scooped up the pecked girl, and saw blood through the feathers. A quick inspection showed that she had been pecked on the head and was bleeding. Looked to me like it was caused by a cockerel (holding on).

So, I put the wound powder on, purple sprayed her, and shut her in the Big Girls coop while she dried and I carried on with everything else.    I found a soft egg in the Dinners' coop.  They are ony 17 weeks old, so it's remarkably early.  So, I had to set up a temporary nest box in the coop, and DH managed to find me a rubber egg to put in it.    

Next, I notcied that there was more poo than usual under the lower roosting bars, so I asked DH to put another long perch at the same height as the others. It was possible (though not really likely) that the injury had occurred as te birds were jostling for position on the higher bars.

Then we popped the injured hen back in with the others so we could keep an eye on things while we carried on.   

We were now running very late.  DH had a call scheduled for 1pm, and we still needed to do the bees.   In the end, we just took a peek in Hive 2,  and turned the combs over in the ekes in both hives, and fitted entrance reducers.  This is because both hives are still relatively small and the bees find it hard to defend a large entrance - especially when they have food in the ekes which attracts robbers.

Hive 1 still unhappy, but this time we didn't have any followers.

We agreed that DH would pop back in the evening to check on the injured hen in case she was still being pecked.

And I bet you can guess what came next.

Monday, 8 August 2011


Pears are funny things.  Unripe, rockhard one day,  and mushy and rotten the next.  It's difficult to get them right. 

Our pear tree has been fantastically productive this year, first time we've had lots of pears for a few years.    I'm actually not that keen on them.  I find pears, generally, have something of a bitty gritty texture which I don't like.  

Last time we had a bumper crop, some years ago now, I spent a week preserving them in various guises. We had pickled pears, pears in sherry, pears poached in this, pears poached in that.   Several years later,  I remember tipping the pears away so I could re-use the numerous Le Parfait jars that they occupied.

This year I've been trying a pear every day or two.  Eventually I had one which was reasonably ripe, and DH picked as many as he could.  No point leaving them on the tree, best to pick them and pack them, and leave them in the house to ripen. Bon Flowerdew uses his bathroom, apparently.

Yesterday I went through the crates and pulled out any which were bruised and any that were ripe to overripe.  I then repacked them into small crates, each row separated by crumpled newspaper. I tried extracting pear juice using the Magimix which worked surprisingly well.  I had to have 2 goes as the first time I accidentally left in the puree paddle, which meant we ended up with pear puree instead of pear juice.    Although it worked well, it's only suitable for processing a few pears, but it confirmed that they were ready-ish. 

DH got out the apple mill and press, washed and disinfected everything ready.  And today we processed them.

I washed them, weighed them, and DH crushed them then put them in the press.  We had 21 kilos of pears,  which produced just over 10 litres of juice.   DH used 2 demijohns worth to start of some Pear Cider, 1 put 2 litres into 4 x 250ml bottles which I then heat processed,  and I drank the rest.

I found lots of conflicting information on how long and at what temperature to heat process pear juice.  Because I'm using screw top bottles (with plastic lined lids), I have to use the water bath canning method rather than pressure canning.  This takes a lot longer and uses a lot more water.   I couldn't get a definitely answer on the temperature to use so I decided to use the hottest temperature, which was 75 degrees.  The lowest I'd seen was 60 degrees, and that recipe actually specified "no higher".  But I'd rather overcook it and learn, than undercook it and have problems later.  Fortunately I have an automatic thingy, where I can set the temperature and the time,  so at least I don't have to stand over it trying to keep the temperature constant.

And, athough it's a lot of water,  I can always drain it into a bucket and use it to flush the lavatory!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Unexpected loss

Bit of a shock at the allotment today - one of the youngsters was dead. 

S/he was one that we initially thought was a hen, had a very small comb etc..but lately we had begun to think she was a cockerel in hiding.  Big legs,  cockerel-ish feathering around the neck,  colouring more like the cockerels than the hens.

We checked him/her over carefully, to see if we could find any obvious cause. There wasn't any.  At least we know s/he wasn't bullied or pecked, but it does mean we have no idea.  No signs of anything.

I'm thinking it may have just been the heat was too much? They do have plenty of shade, and lots of fresh water, but the weather has been far too hot lately.    

Of course we'll be keeping an even closer eye on everyone else, looking for symptoms of anything untoward.

Very sad.  I know s/he had a lovely (if short) life,  and that s/he would have ended up on the table at some point anyway - but it still makes me sad to see a life cut short.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

On guard

It was Tuesday (or it might have been Wednesday) before we took the emptied frames back down to the bees.   It needs to be done in the evening, ideally when bees and wasps are all tucked up in their respective beds, otherwise it encourages robbing.

We suited up, didn't bother with a smoker as we were literally taking off the roof and crown board, putting the eke on, putting the crownboard and roof back. A 2 minute job.

Hive 2 was fine.  The bees found the frames before we'd got the roof back on.

Hive 1, not so much.  In fact, the bees were the worst tempered they have ever been.   They started before we even got to the hive, so I had to go and get the smoker. Fortunately we've been using tightly rolled corrugated cardboard and specialist lighter pellets, so it got going immediately.

Once we'd finished, the bees were still unhappy.  We moved away, staying out of the chicken area.  The bees wouldn't leave us alone.  We moved in with the chickens, which we don't really like doing when accompanied by angry little ladies.   They were still a-pinging and a-stinging.   

We moved further away. We moved apart from each other.  We waited.  

It was a lovely evening and, rather inconsiderately,  the neighbouring allotment holders were on their plots chatting.  We couldn't risk going out of our compound whilst escorted by angry bees, in case the bees decided to get angry with the neighbours as well.

Time passed.  

I was down to two bees and they flew off.  I dived out of the compound with the bee stuff and took it back to the car.   I came back, picked up the box we'd transported the frames in,  and my escorts were back.  We waited.

Time passed.

My guards left me alone briefly. I ran for the compound door taking the box with me.  By the time I was outside they'd caught me.  I went back in.

Several months later,  I was able to escape my captors and I got back to the car.  I waited for my poor DH.  I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  I had  a little snooze.  I thought about going back to keeep him company, but thought better of it. 

Eventually, he appeared, bee-less.

We decided to leave taking the Ekes off again until our next inspection.