Friday, 31 July 2015

Fate has decided

Today I drove all the way to Salisbury to meet Fleur of Wylye Valley Chickens, and to select 2 very young pullets. I left at 7am to miss the traffic, and arrived early.   Fleur was lovely, and she had a lot of absolutely gorgeous chooks of numerous breeds and various ages,  but I stayed firm and restricted myself to 2

A gold Fayoumi and a cuckoo Marans found themselves in my cat basket, and I put them in the hatchback part of my little car to give them the flattest possible ride home.  The journey back took much longer, and the girls were quiet.  It took about 2 or so hours,  so I popped them straight in the closed Go while I sorted out a feeder and stuff. I put some water and a lettuce in with them.

I then opened the pop hole, moved the water and lettuce, and left them to come out in their own time.

Many hours later, they still hadn't come down, so I had to get them out myself.  They look a bit shell-shocked, which isn't surprising. Up to that morning they had been running round in a large pen with many many other chooks and in a very quiet field; then they were transported for a long time; and finally they found themselves in an enclosed run, just the 2 of them. The new noises and smells must have been bewildering at best!

Wash ambled past, and the Fayoumi screamed and hid under the feeder.  Wash isn't used to getting that sort of reaction from a chicken, I hope it doesn't go to his head.

I've offered them mealworms, but they don't want to come anywhere near me. I don't blame them.

Pugsley, the Marans cockerel, has been crowing again.  We're planning to take all the other birds (except the presumed-females Araucana and Appenzeller)to the allotment on Sunday.  That will give the 2 newbies time to recover from their journey before meeting the Araucana and Appenzeller (who will themselves be in a bit of shock from the sudden separation from their brothers and sisters).   I don't know if we'll get away with him being here for 2 more mornings, especially as it's the weekend.  I went round to see the adjoining neighbours to explain, but only one side was in.

I need to get on and decide some names.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Boys will be Boys

It's official. The Wyandotte isn't a Wilma, he's a William. It turns out that partridge wyandottes are seable from very early on, by their colouring.

I've also been forced to face up to Pugsley (the cuckoo Marans) being a boy as well.  Even stnding watching him crow, I had been wondering if dominant girls crow.

One of the araucanas is a boy. The other one is probably a girl - based on the fact that they are so different to each other. 
The jury is still out on Punky Monkey, and it may be a looooong time before we know for sure about himher.

The older chicks are coming up to 10 weeks old. It's way past time to get them all to the allotment. We've been holding off until we know who the Girls are, so we can leave them here.   We've got to do a bit of preparation at the allotment, and we need good weather to do this. I'm hoping that we can get them down there by the weekend.

And in the meantime, we have to decide whether to get a couple of other pullets.  The place we got these 5 from don't have any pullets of the breeds I want. I've contacted one other place and I'm waiting to hear back.  

Fate will decide.

Final banner (for now)

I've just completed the last banner related to the auction

It's for a Spiderman-loving little chap called Max.  I founda design for a spiders web, so I combined it with a star design.
MAX is a symmetrical name so the banner can be re-strung with the letters reversed. I'd already strung bfore thinking to take a pic of the back, but this gives you an idea...
For the girly banners I've made, I included a hair grip.  Not appropriate for a chap, so I made him a face mask instead. I just need to get some elastic tomorrow, and then it's all ready to go.
I'm now going to have a break from embroidery for a couple of days.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

More bunting

I've complegted the two names I did for the auction.  The symmetical pieces are reversible and, in  both cases, I provided additional versions of the non-symmetrical pieces.

I@ve got one more name to do, and then I'm done for a while.

Chicks and Stuff

The chicks have had another development spurt.

The two little Araucanas went to bed one night still looking like chicks;  when they came down the ladder the next morning they had turned into miniature Araucanas. Facially, they are like adult birds now.

Wilma the Wyandotte (who may or may not be a she) is shaping up nicely.  S/he is the most nervous of all 10 chicks, and won't even eat out of my hand.   I suspect she is a she, so I need to work on getting her less nervous.

 Cheeky Punky Monkey continues to be delightful. Still no idea about gender.

And someone, probably Pugsley the Maran has started Kazooing.  I keep hoping that, despite the early and enormous comb and wattles, Pugsley will be a girl.  He does stand more like a girl. Mostly.  Except that as I look back through my photos, I can't see anyof him standing like a girl.
Pugsley, bottom left corner
We are , of course, getting the bosom bumping and little spats that occur as they try to sort out the pecking order.  Mostly, however, they are all happy together

Thursday, 16 July 2015


DH finally got round to brewing some beer using proper raw ingredient.   The Grainfather got it's fitst outing.

I was tied up with work, so DH did it on his own - and he didn't take any pictures of the process!  He commented on how great the Grainfather App was,  it calculated everything for him (after he had put in his recipe information),  and it told him when to do things.  It even had a countdown timer so he could do things at exactly the right moment.

We now have 23 litres brewing.  I think it'll be a couple of weeks before we can see what the end result is like.

Here;s the Grainfather promo video.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

More bunting

I thought I'd offer an alternative name bunting for Spencer's auction, one where the letters were embroidered on to traditional triangular bunting flags.    I decided to do an example using baby pink fabrics and picked the baby grand-niece of one of my best friends.

In the end I used two different dress templates instead of triangles, as there was more room for lettering this way.

It took a lot longer to make each piece than I anticipated. With the alphabet bunting, I can put the back and front piece of fabric on at the same time and sew them on in one step. (Then take off the hoop, trim the fabric both sides, then rehoop to do decorative stitching).   With this embroidered bunting I have to attach the front fabric, then sew it on, then embroider the letter, then take off the hoop,  attach the back fabric, re-hoop, and sew it on; then take it off, trim the fabric both sides, and then rehoop for the final decorative stitches.   So, it's an extra hooping/unhooping step, plus the extra time for doing the letter.  Each piece is about 6500 stitches.

I've decided I won't be offering this as an option for the auction, but it is quite sweet,

Hopefully baby Larna (or her parents) will like it.

I'm pretty buntinged out now.

I'm almost embroidered out actually, but I have a couple of things I'd like to get done.


A local lad, Spencer, has bilateral quadriplegic cerebral palsy.  His mum, Holly, works hard to raise money to buy him the things that he needs to make his life a bit more comfortable.

Her latest fundraiser is to get a special bath (and associated equipent) so that Spence can have a bath instead of having a chair in the shower (which he hates).  The bath costs around £11K (that isn't a typo), and that's without the hoist and other bits.  Someone posted on our local Facebook page about it, so there was a surge in donations.  Then someone auctioned some home made cupcakes in aid of it.  Then someone else offered something else for auction, and then someone suggested organisation of a bigger auction of goods and services.

My (tiny) contribution is a bunting name banner, with the winner's choice of name.  I don't have any decent photos of the name banners that I've made as presents,  so I made a banner today for the granddaughter of a friend. I was actually planning to make her some hair clips,  but I thought this would be a way for me to make her something she'll hopefully like (I've used Frozen fabrics), and it gives me an example.

Back of letters

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Oh No! I've killed Kevin!

Kevin was 10?  years old, maybe older.

I'd neglected him a lot over the last few years, leaving him in a jar in the fridge and changing his milk only every couple of weeks.   Suprisingly he didn't die of neglect.

I was changing his milk. He was in a sieve waiting to go into a clean jar. I tipped the sieve over to shake him into the new jar, and he fell on the floor. Splot!

Our kitchen floor isn't filthy - in fact, I'd only washed it that morning - but it is a high traffic area.  As well as us and the cats, we have all the cats "friends" that they bring home to play, and the occasional chicken.

I scooped him up and, for a moment, thought about rinsing him under the tap and hoping for the best.  He came all the way from Australia, when it was very difficult to get any of his kind here.  It seemed suh a shame to just...throw him away.

The fact that I'd washed the floor was almost worse, as the thought of growing Kevin with attached floor cleaner wasn't appetising. However, good hygiene is essential.  And, I told myself, you can get it easily in the UK now.

So in the bin he went, and I placed an online order for some more.

Poor Kevin. 

Let's hope the new Kefir tastes OK when it arrives.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015


The chicks had their first sleepover in the Cube last night.

The older chicks are already 6 weeks old and, in the normal run of things, would have been overnighting for a week or two already.    The 5 week old Maran is already bigger than everyone else. The Just-over-4-week old Wyandotte is big enough and well feathered.  The 3 youngest chicks are now 4 weeks old, and are still small.   After some thought I decided that they would be fine in the Cube, they could snuggle with the big ones if necessary.

In the end I put the Electric Hen (EH) at one side of the Cube, just in case.... I didnt't sleep well, and woke up wondering if they were too hot. In the end, the image in my mind of  chicks dead through overheating wouldn't go, so I got up and went outside to check.  They were all fine. It wasn't like a sauna in there, so I left it.

This morning the weather isn't great,  so I put the EH back on the ground under the Cube.  The chicks aren't using it at all, but at least it's there.  I also swept out the shed brooder.  I haven't dismantled it - the flooring is still down,  the sides are up,  just in case we need to use it.  If we don't need it in a couple of days, I'll take it all apart, hose and disinfect it, and put it away until next year.

Still no idea on sexing the chickens - although I still think I have "one of each" of the araucanas. 

Have to be patient with the rest.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Water dripping in the middle of the night

I woke, in the middle of the night,  to the sound of water dripping.

In my sleepy state I couldn't work out what it could be. There wasn't a tap nearby, or anything with water in.  It seemed to be right by my head.

I turned and saw the source.

Izzy was helping herself to my glass of water.

I don't really understand why she needed to do that.  I'd refilled the cat's bowl in the bathroom(and their kitchen bowl)  from the same tap at the same time as the water was drawn for my glass. Same tap. Same water.

But I don't mind. Much.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

6 weeks (and 3.5 weeks) old

The table birds are 6 weeks old.  They are growing well, and are now relatively happy to be carried to and from the shed each day.  If we didn't have such young chicks as well, they'd be living in the Cube on the lawn by now.

The younger birds are also fabulous. They are also, mostly, calm when carried Its great having such a spread of ages, as we can see the development across the flock.

The eldest of the bought-in chicks is the cuckoo maran.  This one is really intelligent, does everything sooner than anyone else (including the older table birds), and learns a lot by watching Gloria.   I've clung on to the faint hope that last year "Big Bird" was enormous, had a big comb very early on, but tuenred out to be a girl.  However, Big Bird isn't a maran.   I looked online, and it isn't looking hopeful.
Pugsley, 5 weeks old but as big (or bigger) than the dinner birds

In the last couple of days, the colouring on his gfeathers has separated out from being a marled black to being a definite cuckoo.   If he does turn out to be a boy,  and if he carries on being a sweetie and doesn't turn nasty,  then we may have to run two flocks at the allotment.  Marans make good table bird crosses, and we have 3 hens at the allotment that we can't cross with Henry anyway,  so it might work.  It would certainly be a good way to keep the blood lines fresh.

The Appenzeller, already the cutest little thing,  is getting cuter by the day.  I wish I'd taken photos of himher a weeks or so ago, before the crest developed.  It's getting bigger every day. Yesterday it seemed to be very fine, today it's like a "bog brush".

S/he is the tiniest thing. So small in comparison to the others that I wonder if s/he's a bantam version.  S/he's not very good at being able to peck things.  When offered worms, hisher beak lands in the wrong place,  I suspect s/he has no depth perception.

I really hope this little poppet turns out to be a girl.

3.5 weeks old?

We have 2 araucana, one of each sex.  I think the one with the longer tail is female and the other is male, but I'm not sure.
3.5 weeks old - boy?

Pugsley(R) and the f? araucana

3.5 weeks old - girl?

And then last, but not least, is the Wyandotte. No idea.

They've been out free ranging (within a netted area) for the past four days. They seem very content.

Gloria, who has been allowed out wherever she wants while Poppy is broody,  spends a lot of time next to the chicks netting.  She chases them off when they get close.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Cherry annoying

Every few years we get a decent crop of cherries on our sour cherry tree.  Rarely, we manage to pick them before the birds get them.

This year it looked like we were in for a reasonable crop, so I started to pick cherries a few days ago. This morning, DH and I picked a load more and I judged that I had about enough to make a good batch of Cherry Vodka.  I had rediscovered my first Cherry Vodka recipe a couple of ears ago, but we hadn't had a decent cherry harvest since.

This evening, I got out the cherry stoner. It needed cleaning and disinfecting.  I do this every time I use it, but it still needs it again before use.  I then began the labourious task of destalking the cherries, filling the stoner, using the stoner, and then going round again.   I had two full bowls of stoned cherries, and this weighed about 900g. Perfect.

The recipe called for them to be crushed.  I used my Thermomix on a low speed, and that worked well.  Into a ginormous Kilner jar, added sugar, cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg.  Stirred. And the Kilner jar cracked.

I stared at it in disbelief.

I stared at it, wondering if I could tip the cherries out and still use them.

Of course I couldn't. I touched the crack and that proved to me that I couldn't assume there was no glass particles in the cherries.

I swore.

I wrapped the whole thing up in several wads of newspaper and then in carrier bags, and put it in the bin.

What a shame. What a waste!