Wednesday, 26 March 2014

More felt hens

I've succumbed.

Fiona, who makes the hens, was having a BOGOF day.   Sadly I missed it, but it did make me think about getting some more (felt) hens.

I asked her if she had any black felt, and she said she had enough to make one, maybe two at a stretch, This was perfect.  I asked her to make me a big hen and a small hen, and to give the small hen a different style of comb.

So please meet the felt representations of Florence (my Australorp) and Poppy (My welsh black)

And here's Poppy in real life
I've just realised that  I shoud have asked for grey beaks.  Never mind. I'm happy nonethless

Monday, 24 March 2014

New House

Here are some pics of the finished house. The roof is curved for run off.  The edge of the roof also overhangs all round, to try and avoid rain getting in the joints.
It has six nextboxes, 3 either side. The middle of each three is slightly larger than the outside two.  The top flap opens for easy access to eggs, and for airing when cleaned.

The large opening at the back lifts up, allowing easy access for cleaning. We have wooden struts on top of the Cube wheels to help distribute the weight.  Two of them are kept long, so we can use these as handles if we want to move the house on its wheels... and the handles also act as perches for the Girls during the day.

Inside, we put roosting bars, which have slightly rounded edges.. We dithered between roosting bars and perches. We decided to start with roosting bars. Everything is, of course, dusted with Diatom.
The roosting bars sit a little hugher than the nestboxes. Compost bag trays are underneath (the house was sized so these fit perfectly), lined with Aubiose. These slide out for easy emptying. I currently haven't put in anything in front of the nestboxes, so this makes cleaning easy. The old Aubiose can be easily swept into the main part of the coop, and then swept out.  No additional edges or corners for things to get trapped, or water to get caught when cleaning.

For cross ventilation, we have holes just under the eaves in both sides, covered with mesh:

The Girls are laying eggs in the nestboxes, but they aren't sleeping in the house. That's not surprising, as they still have the older houses to choose from.   We will be dismantling and disposing of at least one of the older houses soon.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Ladies and cocktails

Yesterday was a cocktail day with my lovely friend (Y), her sister (D) and my Aunt, (J).

This time it was at Y's.   I arrived at 10.30 laden down with assorted Monin syrups,  an enormous bag of lemons and limes,  a small and select range of alcohols, some special chocolate bitters, and various cocktail making sundries.  And eggs. And cream.

Y supplied the majority of the alcohol.  And most of the ice. 

After delivering me, DH went to collect and deliver J,  and we got started at about 11am.

Our first suite of cocktails were based on the Collins family of drinks.   I carefuly noted the alochol, the type and amount of syrup,  the lemon or lime, and the reactions.       It was  a successful session, and we quicjly got into the swing of things.

We stopped for lunch, walking over to our village cafe. Something to eat, some coffee,  and a walk  prepared us for the afternoon.   We started with the Sours,  and used up all 6 egg whites (the yolks will be made into custard).   We also used some of Y's eggs,  and never has it been easier to show the difference between a pet hen and a commercial hen.   We ran out of ice, and DH very kindly agreed to bring over a couple of bags.  Fortunately, we live close by.

We then moved on to Margaritas, Mojitos, and Mules.  And Y made a Martini for someone who was curious about it.

When we'd all had enough,  we  chatted until DH arrived at about 7.30 to collect us.

I think we may be doing that again.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

The new coop

Some time ago, probably in Country Smallholding, I read about a new product called Ecosheet. Made of recycled plastic, it was marketed as being ideal for farmers to make pig arks, hen houses, and various other things out of.

The selling points were very good, including resistance to mites, and I searched for it locally without success. I could get it delivered, but we needed several sheets and the delivery cost made this prohibitive (unless we were prepared to buy a pallet lad of sheets)/

Eventually, it became available at a wood yard about 20 miles away, and we decided to go for it.

We spent quite long time designing the new coop.  One of my concerns was how long the wooden coops take to dry when I clean and poultry shield them. This new material is non absorbent, so I should be able to wipe dry.     We wanted plenty of nest boxes (3 each side), which needed to be accessible for egg collection from the outside.   Access from the back for easy cleaning was essential.  At the same time, a set of Cube wheels appeared on Ebay, and we bought those to use as a base, which meant the coop would be a reasonable height from the ground (making access for cleaning straightforward) and there would also be an area underneath for the chooks to shelter. 

DH used a CAD program to work out a cutting plan which then told us how many sheets we needed.  My DB2 collected the sheets for us in his van.

I'm not sure what I expected Ecosheet to be like, but whatever I expected, it wasn't what he unloaded from his van!

Still, it was here now, and so DH started work.

I was a little concerned when DH made the first cut.    I couldn't see how something like this could be mite resistant (and it wouldn't be possible to make a coop - or an arc - out of uncut pieces).
I contacted the company, and they said if I was concerened, we could just use a sealant over the cut sides.  That's what we did in the end.

Gradually the coop took shape. It also took over the kitchen for a while.

 The nestboxes are internal, which is why the floor area is so large.    We debated and debated whether to have a centre pop hole or a side pop hole.  In the end, as you can see, we went for a centre pop hole.

I can't find the photos of the rest of the build. Next time I go to the allotment, I'll take some pics of the finished coop so you can see it.

And Thursday

In anticipation of being able to move the kitcar into the back garden to work on,  DH was keen that we moved the new hen house down to the allotment. The hen house was currently preventing access.

The new hen house, built by DH out of Ecosheet (recycled plastic sheets),  has been finished and ready for several months.   The weather has been too horrible to face the hassle of getting it on site.

Anyway. Today was the day we had selected. 

It took a long time. 

Not particularly to get the new hen house on the allotment (although this did involve dis-mantling and subsequently re-mantling some heras fencing and some electric fencing), it was everything else.

We moved one of the old hen houses,  so that half the plot is now clear to re-seed.  This weighed a ton,  and involved me tripping over a log pile (ha ha ha).

The chooks got very excited that one of the coops had moved, and it had to be inspected by everyone.

We then had to manoeuvre the new coop, still in the trailer, to its resting place;  the base,  made from a spare set of wheels for an Omlet Cube, and some wood,  was levelled first, and eventually we transferred it.  I then had to diatom it all, put some Aubiose in... and I tried, unsuccessfully, to introduce the hens to it.

DH then fenced off the fallow half of the allotment, while I de-pooed the various coops,  did the waterers, collected the eggs,  and checked the feeders.

We still haven't decided which of the two old coops will go (in addition to an ancient shelter which is definitely going).  It was too windy, and rain was imminent, so we put off destroying the ancient shelter.  The active half of the plot is now a little busy with coops and shelters.   We will do it the next week or so, weather permitting.

I'm not convinced the Girls are going to use the new coop of their own free will.  I put some dummy eggs in the nest boxes as a bit of encouragement, but I'm not holding my breath.  Given that we haven't removed any of the other coops,  there isn't any point in forcing them.


Heavy Wednesday

When we first moved here, some 17 years ago,  I applied to the local council to see if we could rent a garage.   I was very happy to be accepted, and took the offered garage. It was to store DH's kit car. It's not too far away.

Over the years we've discussed (sometimes quite animatedly) whether we should keep the garage, but we can't agree with what to do with the now-non-running car.    The garage was home to my carriage as well, for a while.  And all the spare roof tiles, leftover from when we had the house re-roofed.  We kept them as we were considering adding a porch at some future unspecified date.

The subject came up again recently, prompted by the SORN declaration.  Out of the blue, I suggested that, if we were keeping the car and garage, maybe we should try and get a garage in the block which was nearer our house.  We can see thse from the back of the house.

I checked online, and saw that no garages in the block were available.  I emailed the local council, now housing authority,  to ask about availability and to ask if I could be put on the waiting list.  I explained that I wanted to swap garages.

Why did I want to swap?  was the reply.

I was a little embarrassed to say that the desired block is less than 30 seconds walk from my house, whereas the existing one is about two minutes walk.     I was also a bit loathe to tell them that I would be happier being able to keep an eye on my garage - it's not as if we've ever had trouble at the old ones.

In the end, I explained that it was almost literally "on my doorstep", and I sent her a marked google map picture.

To my delight, a garage was available, and I could swap immediately.     While I went down to sort out the paperwork, DH went to the garage to start loading the car with roof tiles.   We'd then be able to unload the tiles into the new garage, then puch the kitcar down the road, and then I could give the old keys back.

The lady at the Housing Association was very helpful.  Several forms later, plus a deposit, plus rent in advance, and I had my keys.  I also completed the termination form for the other garage, and promised I'd be back with the keys as soon as we had pushed the car from one garage to the other. 

I got a text to say that there was a bit more stuff in the garage than we remembered.  And the car's brakes were seized.  Ans the tyres were flat.   He was using the portable tyre pump, but it had to cool down after each tyre and was taking some time.


The new garage needed a sweep out, there was a lot of detritis and broken glass.   When that was done, we moved the roof tiles.   There were indeed a lot of roof tiles.

Then back to the old one, and we loaded the two kitchen cabinets.  And the Ducal bookcase.  The kitchen cabinets went into the garage, the bookcase came into the house so I could clean it up and give it to my brother.

Next, we had to try and tow the car our of the garage.  By the time we reached the new garage, the brakes had unseized and DH was able to manouevre it in.

Next, we had the huge tub of horse paraphernalia, including the electric fencing tape that I had been hunting hihg and low for some time ago.   And the baling twine. And the crops.  And the feed scoop.  And the lunge lines.   And the bridle bracket.     The horse stuff went into the garage, and I contacted the local horse rescue centre to offer it to them.

Finally, was the stuff that needed to go to the Tip.  Lots and lots of once-new underlay, that was a bit the worse for being stored in the garage.   Another ktchen cabinet, now rotted from damp.  Some random bits of wood.   Some childrens badminton racquets.  A helicopter which connects to a sprinkler.   etc etc.

A trip to the tip,  and then I popped back in to the Housing Asssociation to return the keys.   I explained that there had been a bit more stuff in the garage than we expected...

...but I suspect that she had worked that out from the state of my clothes.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Mystery solved

Lotti, our loopy and lovely Exchequer Leghorn,  has been managing to hide her eggs for some time now.

Last year, she was laying all over the garden. Every time we discovered her hidey-hole, she started a new one somewhere else.  This year, she's not been escaping every day - which means she has been laying somewhere in the free range area.  The key is somewhere.

The season started well, with Lotti and Poppy both laying in the nest box.  The older girls weren't laying.  Just under 2 weeks ago, we stopped getting eggs from Lotti.    Now, it's quite common for her to have a day or so off each week. But after 2 eggless days, we knew she was laying somewhere else.
Over the next week, I searched the free range area for her nesting site.   I realised that she was probably laying in the Pampas grass, but I couldn't find any eggs, despite several forays into it. 

Until today.

Today, Lotti was making a racket,  sounding very distressed.  She's been like this before if she has been denied access to the nestbox.  I was pruning elsewhere in the garden, so I came over to have a look.   Sure enough, Florence (our Australorp) was in one of the nest boxes and showing no signs of moving.   I picked Lotti up and put her in the other nestbox.

The racket started again a little bit later, and it was coming from the direction of the Pampas.   I had an idea.  I went and fetched the big egg thing I had once used as a spare nest box for her (until I found her sleeping in it at night).  I could wedge that in the pampas grass, and she'd have somewhere to lay, we'd know where to look for eggs, and she wouldn't have access to it at night time. 

I filled it with fresh Aubiose and found somewhere in the Pampas to wedge it.  I could hear Lotti, but I couldn't see her.  I got DH to help. He searched one half, I searched the other.  She wasn't there,. but I could hear her.

And then a movement caught my eye, and this hen popped out of the Pampas.    She was literally in the Pampas,  about four feet off the ground.   I waited till she vacated, and I found her nest and ten eggs.

I removed 9 of them,  in the hope that having 1 left encourages her to continue laying there.

It's not ideal, but at least we know where it is.

I've left the huge egg thing at the bottom as well, just in case.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Hello to ?? the Cross Trainer

The cross trainer doesn't have a name yet.   At the moment, it's an it.

So how is it working out?

Coincidentally, the lady who sold it to us, and who was absolutely fabulous during the whole process,  emailed me today to ask if everything was OK.    She had been as nervous of it being sent by courier as I was,  although she was much reassured when the courier arrived and turned out to be a really lovely chap with a very presentable van and suitable accoutrements to protect the CT on its journey.

I'd emailed her as soon as it arrived to let her know that it had arrived safely, and I left feedback for her.  .   At that point we hadn't put it together.  She'd obviously been worrying about whether everything was as we expected, hence the email today.

Back to the question in hand - how is it working out?

...we got it all put together, adjusted the feet etc, and it's working well. I'm not surprised it took you til 1am to take it apart and wrap it.

We've each used it several times since it was all set up yesterday afternoon. First time was a killer. We had a treadmill before (for walking, not running), and this is so different. We knew it would be though, and we knew exactly what to expect from this model. We had visited Fitness Superstre to help us decide what cross trainer we wanted to buy before we started looking for one.

That didn't stop us hopping on and overdoing it completely in the first 5 minutes. We've now tried out the beginners programme, and have been playing with the manual settings. We haven't quite got to grips with the programming yet, I need to steel myself to RTFM properly. Or my husband does. One of us does. I think the priority is probably to learn how to set up the individual "quick start" options so we don't have to adjust it each time one gets off and the other gets on.Although it is quite amusing watching my husband's legs cope with my long stride setting.
 I can see this is going to keep us amused for some time.

Goodbye Teddy the Tready

We've said goodby to the treadmill. He went to his new home yesterday.

Teddy the Tready It had occupied a large space in our living room since November-ish 2011. He had  been through phases of much use, and disuse.   For the last few months hehas been in a lot of use, always for walking though not running.   I wondered whether a cross trainer would be better than a treadmill. 

I did a bit of research,  asked a few people who would know this sort of thing, looked at the proces cross trainers went for second hand,  and understanding what the different features meant. In the end, we decided it would be best to go and try some cross trainers to see what they actually felt like. 

We are lucky to have a fitness place not that far from us, and they had a whole range of cross trainers (and treadmills and gym equipment) in a large showroom.  Some of the treadmills on display were brands and models that I had been looking at on Ebay. 

The sales chap was really helpful and not at all pushy.  We explained that we were there on a bit of a whim, had no idea whether we even wanted a cross trainer, had no idea what we were looking for.  He showed us a range of them, and explained the differences.  We tried them. He then left us to try them ourselves, and we spent a reasonable length of time trying them all.

We ruled out a number of models (including the ones I had on my Ebay WatchList).  We ruled in models from a manufacturer we'd never heard of.. turns out they only make cross trainers,  and as we'd never looked at cross trainers before, we'd never heard of them.

We left the showroom and discussed what to do. 

First discussion point was whether we should look at getting a cross trainer instead of our treadmill.   Surprisingly, as we are often a Mr and Mrs Jack Spratt,  we both agreed that a cross trainer was worthwhile.

Then we talked about the models and manufacturers.  Again we agreed.  And we even agreed on our preference of model.  (As I write this, I'm wondering if I should mark this day of "being in agreement" on a calendar!).

We looked online, and found a few previously sold versions, at much less than the new price.   We found one (a slightly older version of the model we wanted) at a much-cheaper-than-new but much-more-expensive-than-we-wanted -to-pay price.   Hmm.

I downloaded the manuals for both versions and attempted to work out the differences.  In the end, the differences were small.  We hummed and haahed.  

I'll cut a long and tedious story of indecision short - we bought the second hand one.    We took a deep breath,  and arranged a 3rd party courier to go and collect it for us.  As it turned out, that was another great decision.  There was a bit of faffing about thanks to my bank,  but all was well.

It arrived yesterday,  about 30 minutes after the treadmill went to its new home.

It's a monster.  It's so different to use vs the treadmill. 

Monday, 10 March 2014

Worm turns.

Tilda's been out for a dustbathe and sunbathe each day for the last few days.    She had also been spending time in the Girls' free range area. Until I saw Poppy go for her.   Poppy. Poppy! My loveliest little girl.

I'm not surprised really.  When Tilda decided to move back out wit the Girls last summer, she was pretty horrible to Poppy and Lotti.     I guess Poppy was concerned that Tilda was thinking about joining them again, and just wanted to get A Few Things Understood.

Since then I haven't let Tilda in with the others.

Yesterday we rearranged the free range area, so that haf of it was resting and they had a whole new bit to use.   For part of that time, it wasn't practical to contain them. They invaded the rest of the garden with glee.  Tilda shuffled off and sat under a shrub, well out of the way.

I found her being attacked by Poppy. 

Poppy had been on the other side of the garden. She must have spotted Tilda and made a beeline for her.

I ended up carrying Tilda to wherever DH and I were working, keeping an eye on her, and then moving her as we moved.   I would have just carried her round the garden, but she finds being carried a bit uncomfortable, so I only carry her when I need to physically move her.

She seemed very perky today.


DS2's daughters are 8 years old today!

We saw them yesterday, and took their presents.  Fortunately DDIL2 gave me a massive steer on what to buy (thank you Debbie!), and the presents were a great success.

New scooters.

Weather was gorgeous, so we all went to the local park and they had a good old scoot. So did DDIL. And DS.   And me.

And then out for an easy bite to eat.

Lovely afternoon.

Bloody bank

I am so cross with my bank, I'm going to move my account.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Sound of silence

 Power cut.

Lots of streets.
Internet to find out who to call. Facebook to find out who else is affected. Not quite tbe blitz spirit, but much more cheerful than not havimg it.

Very quiet without the whitenoise in the background.

Downloaded app to find out ongoing status.

Fortunately we keep a torch by the back door and could use this to find other torches and candles. I knew those beeswax candles would come in handy.  And the Christmas candle.

DH had a powerful light in the boot of his car which lasted over an hour (despite not being charged up since August). Have to get another one of those for "next time".

Dinner was in the oven. On the downside., being electric the power went off. On the plus side, it remained hot long enough to finish cooking.

All restored after an hour and a half.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Wisley Woes

In Setember last year, Wisley had an apple and pear identification expert visiting them.  I wanted to take the opportunity to get our pear tree identified.

When it came to a day or two before the day, I looked on their website to check my facts and could find nothing.  I phoned Wisley, and was told that there wasn't an expert coming.  I then found the info on the RHS website, and emailed them to let them know about the confusion.

They emailed me back on the actual morning to say it was going ahead.    I hopped in my car with my pear samples, and drove there.  When I got there, it turned out that I had to pay to go into tthe garden if I wanted to see the expert.   I don't mind paying to go and visit the garden, but I didn't have time to look around.  IN the end, I signed up to a year's membership,  figuring that DH ad I could visit again in the year and that would pay for it.

I was then misdirected several times to where the expert was located.  By this time it was pouring with rain, and I was dressed for summer,  so I wasn't the happiest of bunnies.  It all turned out well though, the Expert was great, he identified my pear, and I came home

Fast forward nearly 6 months.

We still hadn't visited Wisley.  Then I got an email telling me about their butterfly house.  DH and I decided we'd go.  Tickets had to be booked in advance, but they were free.   We had other commitments, and the butterfly house was only open on certain days, it finishes this weekend, and it ended up that we booked tickets for today.

We left in plenty of time.  I had my membership card, I checked that it would admit DH for free as well,  I checked I had the butterfly tickets.   I remembered my camera.  I even remembered my macro lens.

A straight run to the A3,   and then suddenly the traffic was solid.  We queued, and we discussed whether it was a traffic problem, or whether everyone was going to Wisley.   We tried going round and coming back the other way, it was worse.

I wasn't too worried about missing our slot - Wisley would understand that there had been a traffic problem,  everyone would be missing their slots.

We noticed that all the cars had couples in.   I had a sinking feeling that all these people were heading to Wisley.   I looked online for information about the jam, and in the end searched on Twitter.  

All the traffic was for Wisley!

Today Wisley was opening for free.  How could I have missed this?!  I would never have arranged to go today if I had known.
We sat in the queue for  awhile.  A long while.  Until I suggested that we go home.

All these cars meant we would be in the queue for another hour.  And then we had to park.  And then, even though numbers in the butterfly house would be limited, the crowds would be in the gardens.  It wasn't going to be a pleasant stroll.

And so we came home.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Goodbye, Chicken Of Fate

Coffee, our Chicken of Fate, died last night.  It was Other Chap's (OC's) turn to visit the chooks today, and he found her dead in the coop this morning.

No obvious cause, no signs of bullying or pecking or anything.

Coffee, a black rock hybrid,  arrived in September 2011.  She just appeared amongst our Girls, having been dropped n by someone who didn't want her.      Luckily for her, she'd been dropped in with the young dinner girls, rather than the established flock. If she'd been dumped in with them, she would probably have been killed (by them).

She had scaly leg, and her feathers weren't in very good condition. She'd been wing-clipped, but whoever did it had clipped everything - primaries, secondaries, and a long way up. 

It was too late to quarantine her, so we treated her for the scaly leg mite, and gave her some extra protein to help her feathers.   The treatment for leg mite took quite a long time, but it did have the advantage that it helped her to not mind being handled. 

She blossomed into a lovely little girl, who laid enormous eggs.  When we joined the 2 allotment flocks,  she became part of Henry's harem.  She had a good free range life, and was with us for 2 and a half years (was it really that long?!  I only know because I looked back through the blog to find out).   I guess that means she was about 3. 

Unbelievably, I can't find any photos of her.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014


Some time ago I bought a handheld Dyson vacuum cleaner.  I hadn't been in the market for one - I was shopping in Costco,  it was a good price, was designed to cope with animal hair, and when I saw it, I thought it might help with the stairs.

All our downstairs is solid flooring. Our bedroom and the bathroom is solid flooring.   The stairs, landing, and spare bedrooms are carpeted. The upright vacuum clearner, lives upstairs.  We have a Henry stored in the utility room, and he comes when we're doing DIY, or I'm cleaning the fireplace, or somesuch.

The stair carpet gets covered in carp and cat hair all the time, and vacuuming it is a bit of a palaver. I have to get Henry out specially, unroll him, put the end on, then vacuum, then put him away again afterwards.   When I was ambling around Costco that day, I thought that the handheld would be perfect for the stairs.

However, I'd had an original Dyson (DC01) many years ago, and found it was heavy, a pain to empty and didn't live up to the hype.

Still, this one was light.  The bin popped open easily, and it seemed a good buy. 

And so it has been.  It lives in the hall, plugged inready to go.  Vacuuming the stairs is easy.
With Tilda living in the kitchen again,  I've been having to sweep the kitchen floor every day, and as soon as I have swept it,  more debris (Aubiose, a bit of chicken food, a stray feather...) appears.   I've tried numerous types of broom (foam, brush, angled brush, rubber...).    Recently I've found myself getting the handheld vacuum cleaner, and using that to do the edges and corners, it's much more effective than a broom.

And then I saw the new Dyson DC59 advertised on TV.    That was the answer!   That was, until I Googled it and saw how much it cost.   I decided I'd wait and see how I felt in a couple of weeks. Or I'd wait until someone had a sale or an offer. 

I kept looking.   I found that retailers often excluded it from their Quidco payments,  or their discount codes.   My fear wasn't really about spending that much money on a vacuum cleaner,  it was about spending that much money on a vacuum cleaner and then finding it wasn't worth it.

Then by chance I found that Curry's were doing a promotion where you could get your money back if you bought one of a selection of Dysons, and decided you didn't like it within x days.   That seemed ideal. 

I bought one.

It's been amazing. Seriously.   It's hung on the wall just outside the kitchen, so it's easy to grab and use.  The head pivots on a ball.It sucks right up to the front edge (not quite right to the sides of the head).  The amount of stuff it picks up is unbelievable.  I've used it on the carpets too, and it's great - but for me it's best use is downstairs.

I do have to switch to the crevice tool thing to get into the corners of the kitchen units,  and I don't do that every day.    But I do vacuum the kitchen floor every day, and it's grabbed multiple times for additional bits of cleaning.  I've found myself vacuuming other downstairs more often, just because I have the thing in my hand and it's quick to do (much quicker than sweeping and dustpanning).

I have also used it (with a different head) with great success to vacuum my sheepskin rug,  and to vacuum the sofas, and to de-hair the cat tree.  I did try using the specially supplied  head to vacuum the windowsills and TV stand, instead of dusting,  but that was only moderately successful.

It's also great for lifting up and doing the ceiling.  We are a spider-friendly household, so we don't routinely remove cobwebs.  We wait until they are obviously out of use.  Actually, I normally wait until I am confronted by a dangly out-of-use cobweb.    If I have the crevice tool on, I take a moment to look for cobwebs that are ready to be removed, and I can get them easily, without having to climb on something first.

I also use it to vacuum the bottom few stairs, if I happen to be vacuuming the hall.  To vacuum the rest of the stairs comfortably and properly, I'd need to take the long pole off,  and it's easier just to get the original handheld and use that.

I've ordered a second filter.  The filter needs to be washed once a month and left to dry for at least 24 hours.  Mine will need washing at least once a month,  and there is no way I could wait more than 24 hours to use the machine again.

Sorry if this sounds like an advert, it isn't meant to.    I dithered about getting one, I had fairly low expectations.... and it's just been great.  

I just wanted to tell someone!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Bad Mummy

Tilda seemed quite perky this morning.  She'd already had a bit of a wander around the kitchen by the time I got downstairs, and she was sitting under the breakfast bar stools.

We emptied the dishwasher and put stuff away. I made breakfast, poached egg on toast as usual, and then I went and did some stuff on the PC.  Tilda chuntered away, getting quite vocal sometimes. When this happened, I wen into the kitchen to see if she was trying to tell me (a la Skippy) that Poppy was out, or that Geoff had falled down a well.   Nothing was amiss.

I was a bit puzzled, but I just assumed she was having one of those days.  She might be asking to go out for a dustbath, but as it was wet outside the other Girls were lounging around in the covered run.

Much. much later, I went out to make a cup of tea. Tilda was still grumbling. An image of Yoghurt  popped into my head, so I checked her yogurt galley pot (yes, she does have one), and saw that it was empty.  

And then I saw that the door into her pied-a-terre was closed.

We'd obviously closed it so we could get into one of the cupboards to put something away.

Poor Tilda.  She wasn't going to go hungry, she has dishes with food strategically placed around the kitchen (including under my bar stool)... but her water was inside. Bad mummy!

I opened the door and apologised.  She immediately shuffled in and headed for....the yoghurt pot.  She stuck her head in and banged her beak against the bottom of the empty pot. Then she just looked at me.

A teaspoon of yog was duly dispensed, and immediately eaten.


We had a problem with a blocked gully outside our driveway, caused by someone (not us) sweeping crabapples into the drain last autumn.

Every time it rains, we get a moat.    In the recent floods, the moat got quite large, and extended over half the road at it's widest point.   The blockage was also affecting the nearby garages.   We contacted the council, sending pictures,  to ask if someone could come and clear it.

After the floods went away, we still had a moat.  Every time it rained, the moat increased.  One day, a little council truck turned up and the men worked on the drain.  They were very quick, we assumed their high-powered vacuum had done its job.

It rained again, and the moat was back.

After a few days of rain, I contacted the Council again - just in case they thought it was fixed. I sent new pics to show that I wasn't making it up.

Another Council truck turned up today. This is a BIG truck.  There is a lot of activity, the drain cover has been up, there has been mega-vacuuming, and now there is a lot of banging. 

I'm intrigued by the banging. What are they banging?  Has the wodge of apples set solid at the bottom or something?

After several minutes thumping,  the vacuum was employed again.  Then a hose.

I went out to see if hey would like a cup of tea. They were making a lot of noise, so I wrote "Cup of Tea? Coffee?" on one side of a piece of paper, with  "sugar?  milk?" on the other side. By the time I opened the door, the noise had stopped. I didn't need ny sign.

I asked them if they'd like tea, and they said thanks, but they were just going.

The moat has gone, so hopefully it's now fixed.


Today's planned meal is faggots, which I found in the freezer - a treat from visiting one of the many food shows.  I also got some leftover rice out of the freezer,  as I'm in use-up mode.

I think we'll have faggots-out-of-the-hole  I love Yorkshire Puddings (my mum made the best ones), but I really don't like -in-the-holes.  I find the Yorkshire doesn't cook as well when there is something else in the fat.  So we have two old 7 inch cake tins that we use. We make 2 giant yorkshires, then put the whatever (which has been separately cooked) inside.

I was originally going to have passata with the faggots, but this didn't seem right with Yorkshire pudding.  A rummage around unearthed some beef gravy, leftover from last time we had roast beef.   That will do perfectly.

I'm not really sure about rice, yorkshire pudding, and gravy as a combo.... but it's what I've got out, so we'll try it and see.


We decided to "jazz up" the defrosted leftover mashed potato that I defrosted.  Normally they go in an ovenproof dish and go in the oven or under the grill.

DH had the idea of naking patties out of them and egg and breadcrumbing them.     I had the idea of making up some dried herbs with a small amount of hot water, mixing this in, and adding parmesan.  We decided to use a burger press, to try and get firm patties.

Chilling them didn't work, so we popped the made patties into the freezer for a short time.  Then they were flour/egg/breadcrumbed,  apart from one where we ran out of flour.

It was a bit of a palaver to get them fully coated without them disintegrating, but DH did a great job. We then baked them in a hot overn for 20 minutes.]

They tasted delicious.  However, it was quite a lot of faffing about.      So, we decided that next time we'd continue with the adding herbs and parmesan, but then we'd put the whole lot in an oven dish, and sprinkle seasoned breadcrumbs on top,  a kind of potato gratin.   It wouldn't be quite the same, but it would be less faff.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Under orders

Took Tilda out for a dustbath on Friday, but she didn't want to do it.

By the time I got back into the house and to the 'puter to switch on the  HenCam,  she was out of the dustbath and sitting under one of the benches.

I went out straigtwaway to collect her.  I'[m not sure she was actually ready to come in though. Normally when I put my hands down, she steps forward and leans her chest into my hands so I can pick her up.  She didn't do that. I had to move the bench to retrieve her.

I didn't get a chance to put her out yesterday. When it was sunny, we were at the allotment,  and in the afternoon there always seemed to be someone in the Run.

Today I got back from the market (I bought 3 weeks worth of raw milk today) to find that Tilda was sitting under my kitchen stool, looking out of the window.   She started burbling as soon as I appeared. 

I was a bit too busy to pay attention, so I just chatted back to her while I made space in the freezer for the milk. I'm using up leftover mashed potato to go with our dinner today,  and I got some faggots out for dinner tomorrow.  Then I moved on to sorting out another kitchen drawer, and then I  used some lemon spray stuff on my wooden kitchen utensils and boards, etc etc. Worked well on the wood, but made a mess of everything else on the worktop!

I realised that Tilda had been chuntering away at me for some time,  and it occurred to me that maybe she was asking for the dustbath.  The Run was empty, so I put my hands down, she lurched into them, and I popped down the garden and put her in.

By the time I got back and turned on the RunCam, she was dutbathing away.  She was mid-roll when I took a snapshot
 Back in the kitchen - I think that I need to do some meal planning. 

We've been using up the ready meals (leftovers that we've frozen) for the last week or so,  but there are some other items which need using up.  I've got some bought pastry that has been there for longer than it should, and there isn't really any need to keep it in there.  I'm going to make something I haven't made before. Not sure what yet.

Saturday, 1 March 2014


I had a flash of inspiration some weeks back, thinking it must be possible to buy a  pressure washer for use where there wasn't any electricity.   And it is.   I did some research and stacked some possibles on my Ebay watchlist, to get DH to look over.  Then I discovered by accident that not all of these could take water from a waterbutt (who knew?!) and so that cut the list down a bit.

And then I wondered why I couldn't just attach my pressure washer to a generator.  A generator would be a bit more versatile.

It turned out that I neded agenerator of a certain output.  And I needed to check whether my pressure washer would run off a generator, And then I had to chek whether my pressure washer would draw from a warer butt.

Amazingly, the pressure washer passed all the requirements.  DH found some generators and, when I discovered how heavy they were, I insisted that it had wheels.  We got one.

Today was the first sunny day since the generator arrived, so we packed p the car and headed for the allotment.    I was going to jet wash the Dinner Chicks home;  dh was going to use the electric chainsaw to cut up some of the branches which had fallen in the recent storms.

It all worked rather well.  I was surprised at how little water the pressure washer actually used.    I was temtpted to give the older houses a going over, but I wasn't sure they'd stand up to it.

Previously DH had cleared and rearranged one half of the allotment, ready for re-seeding.   It only needs the hen houses moving, and another Heras panel.   We were going to move the houses ready, but it all got  a bit complicated.

We decided to leave it until the next sunny day, and we'll take the house that DH built months ago at the same time.