Monday, 28 September 2015

Patience of a Broody Hen

Gloria continues to be broody.  She is glued to her chosen spot, getting up once a day to eat, drink and poo. It doesn't seem to matter what happens in the area around her, or the area immediately in front of her, she concentrates only on her taslk of brooding.

I often pop some corn (or a tomato, bit of cucumber, whatever) in the nestbox with her, so she can eat while brooding. She seems to appreciate this.

Poppy sometimes tries to steal the stuff, and Gloria doesn't do much - if anything - to stop it.  This is most unlike her, and is just a feature of the single-mindedness of the task in claw.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, I've now progressed to opening the dividing netting (between Poppy/Gloria and the Littles) each morning, and leaving it open all day.  I can see that Poppy isn't happy. She asserts herself every so often, but I think that 3 newbies in one go is a bit too much for her.  Now she has access to the newbies area, she comes as close as she can to the house, presumably for our company. I've also seen her sitting next to Gloria's nestbox.

The Litlees love the extra area.  They especially love the covered run, and seem to spend a lot of time in there, rooking around on the ground, or sitting around on the many perches.  They haven't noticed Gloria sitting in the nest box. Or, if they have, they are blissfully unaware that she's only letting them get away with it because she has a more important task to manage.

Littlees unaware of Gloria (in the egg shaped nestbox)
I'm hoping she snaps out of it soon.  If she doesn't, I think I'll have to keep them separate until she does, so that she and Poppy can manage them together.

Saturday, 26 September 2015


We went to visit DS2, his lovely partner, and the DTGDs (darling twin granddaughters) yesterday, first time we've seen them in their new home.  Lovely house, lovely area.

A couple of quick presents.  Firstly, a leopard mask (and matching hair grip) for one, made with plush fabric
And for the other, who's not keen on masks and hair hrips, a moustache shaped pencil topper.  I didn't get to take a photo of that though. :-(

No fly zone

Poppy, followed by the two littlees, continues to fly over the netting.  It's extra extra tall netting, but it doesn't stop her.

I'd set my machine up to sew (rather than embroider) so I could hem my jeans, so, before I went through the palaver of of switching it back to embroidery, I whipped up some no-fly bunting.

I'd bought lots of variations of ripstop fabric, some months ago,  to do this . I selected plain black and a birdy pattern.  I cut some strips,  turned the strips into squares, the squares into triangles,  and then sewed them into some apron tape.

It was a bit of a quick and dirty, but it's good enough to test the principle.

It actually looks quite sweet.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Rooting for the Underdog

I guess it's that traditionally British trait, rooting for the underdog, but I am always surprised at how the process of introducing new chickens affects me.  I am always changing my mind about who I am rooting for, and it's usually whichever poppet is getting bullied.

Poppy, our fox attack survivor,  has been regularly lunging at the newbies through the netting.  I completely understand this.  She was bottom hen before,  survived the awfulness of Milly's constant bullying (which went way beyond henpecking, and  was so bad we had to cull Milly in the end), and doesn't want to be bottom chook again.

Gloria, the girl we bought back from the allotment to keep the orphaned Poppy company, is top hen. She harassed Poppy mercilessly to establishing her position,. Gloria  has been broody for some time now. She and Poppy are both excellent broodies, they stick to the nestbox unrelentingly, and seem to disengage their brain.

The newbies' Cube, run, and netted area  has been alongside Poppy and Gloria's area for many weeks now.Whenever Poppy encounters them at the communal bit of netting, she lunges at them and they run away.  Normal behaviour, nothing to worry about.  I hoped that she would just get on with it.

Lately, the two flightiest newbies have been flying into Poppy's area,  or following Poppy by flying into the garden.   The third newbie, a maran,  is too heavy to fly over the netting, so she runs up and down. I feel a bit sorry for her,  and I don't really want the other two to form a strong bond which excludes her.

When Poppy encounters them, she lunges at them. I feel a bit sorry for them.  They are young, and small, and naive.   Poppy doesn't persecute them though, she just chases them until they go away.

The newbies are 18 weeks old now. and a t some point we'll have to deal with introductions and integration. For the last couple of days, if they flighty newbies have followed Poppy by flying over the netting into the main garden, I've simply opened the entrance to their areas so that Fleur, the maran, can join them.  This way, they can all free range in the same area.

Today I spotted that the newbies had taken over the covered run.  They were scratching around in front of Gloria's nest box.  Oblivious to the fact that Gloria was there, even.   Poppy was nowhere to be seen.

Suddenly, I was very concerned - and sad -  that Poppy might end up at the bottom of the pecking order again.  I felt guilty for bringing in 3 interlopers who might push her out again.

I had a moment of clarity.

What I wanted was Poppy to still be second in command.   I wanted her to assert herself enough to establish this,  but not so much that the others were traumatised (as Milly had done).

I'm on Team Poppy now.


Wednesday, 23 September 2015


Corn on the Cob harvest today.  I set up a production line to strip the husks, chop the ends, sort the cobs by size; and then to blanch them,  plunge thenm in iced water to cool,  drain and dry them, bag them, freeze them. It's important towork really fast because the sugars start to turn to starch from the moment the cobs are picked.

I took some photos just as I got started.

First few cobs waiting to be blanched

Sizing the cobs (to blanch similar sizes together)

SOme of the stripped husks waiting to go in the compost

CObs in my icking bag waiting to be stripped

Cob ends for the chooks
It was a really good haul, and the kernels well developed, neat, and swollen.   32 very large cobs, 8 medium, 9  small (which are still quite big), all frozen.

 I'll miss being able to pick them and eat the raw (only do this with cobs that are literally just picked!),

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Technology trap

Writing my last post - about scanning all those paper files - made me go and search for my word processing files related to our Boat.

I found them easily, and saw that since 2004 I had created PDFs of all the correspondence I sent, so I had that plus the original word processing format.

I could see that I had files going back to the original purchase in 1994.  Unfortunately, they were unreadable.  Whatever word processing programme I used back then is long since obsolete.

I've no doubt that the more recent files will become obsolete eventually,  as will PDFs.

I wonder how much collective data, information and knowledge will be lost because of this sort of thing?

Burning Memories

I have been ruthless in my clearing out.

Today I started on some files of paper.  I am already rigorous in my record keeping, and destruction of old papers.   There have been some bits that I had kept for many years.

One humingous set of papers related to a narrowboat that we owned for 20 years.  We shared her with some other couples, and m fules conained all the receipts, meeting minutes, correspondence for the entire time. It also included the orginal purchase, and the final sale. 

I took a deep breath, and burned the receipts.

I then proceeded to  scan all the meeting minutes and the correspondence. Some of them already exist as electroinic copies in my records,  but the paper files contained meeting minutesand letters with my handwritten notes scribbled over them  the pristine digital copies didn't have that.

It's taken me the entire afternoon to get through it all, and I had to stop myself from reading them as I scanned them. I could feel myself getting nostalgic over our lovely boat.

I'm drowning in piles of scanned papers.   Mini bonfire tonight - thank goodness for a solid fuel stove.

Onward and upward.

Monday, 14 September 2015


I'm having a very rigorous declutter  of the guest bedroom.  We have to empty it completely so the built-in cupboard can be removed and the walls made good.

It's a monumental task. The decluttering,  I mean, not the building work. Everything is rammed full of...stuff.

I've had to break it down into manageable chunks, and one of those chunks was to empty the bedside cabinets.  These, along with the triple wardrobe and the chest of drawers, gave been sold and so must be completely emptied.

One of the drawers was full of cery neatly organised travel  toiletries. I used to fly long haul once or twice a month.

The pics do not do justice to the number of moisturisers and toothpastes.

All gone now.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Making progress

I made a list.

The huge roll of stabiliser arrived, and we bought a japanese fine toothed saw to cut it. It worked beautifully, thanks to DH's patience and preparation.

I made myself make something.

In the end, I made two masks and  matching hairclips for one of the DGDs.

I felt much happuer with the machine after making these.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

No Mojo

I don't know where it's gone, but I've managed to lose my Mojo.

I was excited when I got my new machine home, and I unpacked it.  I oooh-ed and aaah-ed as I tried out the sewing functions, and did a quick bit of embroidery.

Perhaps it's performance anxiety, with the new machine.  The ridiculous design of the small hoop was so wasteful that I ended up using one of the enormous hoops and trying to do multiple things at once.  It was not altogether a success.

The Horizon Link software is good in parts . I had been hoping that it might even replace my DIgitizer Junior, but it can't quite do everything that DJ does.  Don't get me wrong, it does some things even better,  but some core bits - it just can't manage.

I love the wireless functionality.  I love being able to send the deign without using a USB stick or having to plug the laptop in.  I love being able to control the machine from another room.  But the farting around getting multiple designs to stitch as I wanted them to, and for them to not quite work out, has drained me somewhat.

I ordered the new rectangular hoop for the new machine (see how I haven't named it yet?  See how I am not even calling it "her"?) which was an eyewatering price. It arrived quickly. It was a more sensible size. It was slightly larger than the hoop for my previous girl.  

The new hoop arrived a week ago, and I haven't used it yet.

What also arrived was the JTHoopitup I'd ordered from the US for the (previous) RE hoop.  I'd had to pay VAT on it, which wasn't horrendous, only £3.24,  but then I had to pay an additional £8 admin fee to Royal Mail.  All for an item which does not fit my new rectangular hoop.

To my surprise, I decided to sell my 11K combined machine, rather than the 6600.  There isn't any point me having 2 embroidery machines, especially as the old one is so far behind the new one.    Unexpectedly, and to my delight, my brother has decided to buy 11K so she's all packed up and ready to go.  She has a whole box of extras - like the JTHoopitup, and the duplicate hoops, and the cap hoop;  I've also included vast piles of stabilisers - cut sheets and rolls - which don't fit the stupid design of the new hoops.  They don't even fit the rectangular hoop, which is bigger than the previous model despite still only having the same embroider-able area.

I felt (and I feel)  dejected. 

I've told myself to make something easy, like some felt masks for the grandchildren, but  I just can't seem to knuckle down to do it.

I've ordered some Christmas fabric to make some Christmas bunting.

I've ordered some new stabiliser rolls, which I can cut so that hey fit the new hoop.

I phoned Janome to find out details of the course I've got a voucher for - but it sounds far to basic to be worth the overnight trip.

All displacement activities. 

I think I'm treading water to see what the new Brother machine is going to be like, and I suspect that I'm considering doing a swap. 

Saturday, 5 September 2015


Dad was definitely surprised.

First me.  And then further round the supermarket, my brothers. Mum had kept the secret well.

Lunch at Sospan's was lovely.  Homestyle food, all home made and delicious.

It all went well.  


Last week was busy, with a there-and-straight back, 5 and a half hours driving, to Devon,  followed by a there-and-straight back 2 and a half hour trip to Jampshire the following day.   On Wednesday morning this week I was up at silly O'clock, and off to my brother's (DB2) house..  All three siublings were leaving his house at 7.10am to drive to Wales to see our parents. 

We were gong to birthday-surprise our Dad in their local supermarket, take them to lunch and then go bak to their place for the afternoon and evening.  We'd stay overnight, see them the following morning, and come home in the afternoon.

I'd booked a B&B, which I had thought was fairly close to where my parents live.  It wasn't quite as close as I had thought, but it wasn't too bad.   "Live and learn", we thought.  "It's only 1 night".

In fac,t it was magnificent  Really, really lovely.   They only had 2 B&B rooms (although they also had cottages),  and the B&B guests had their own lounge area.   It wasn't stupidly opulent, but everything was really tastefully done.  It wasn't cheap nasty make-do bts of furniture and bedding,  nor did it have one o fthose mean showers that resent letting any water flow through.  Nor the mean plastic pots of UHT milk and grudging packet of bourbons.

The rooms were really well done out, everything you could want.  Good kettle, fresh milk in a small flask, an array of quality drinks to choose from,  biscuits and cakes.   The bathroom was large, spotless, and with a fab shower.  Decent towels.  Good bedding. 

The lovely Yola even brought us tea and cake when we arrived.  Breakfast was superb - no scrimping,  best quality bacon and sausagesm beautifully cooked.

View from my bedroom window

It was so lovely tha we've decided we'll go there next time too. 

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Dead of night

By the time I'd had my bath,  I was aching. I told myself that I would NOT have forgotten to turn on the fence, I wold have done it automatically.  EVERY TIME I have driven back to the allotment, this has been the case.

At about 11pm. I got into bed. I couldn't shake the "Did I?" feeling.  I KNOW that every previous time, it turns out I did turn the fence on.

But this time, I had just fallen off a ladder, was trying to carry the damaged ladder and all the tools, and I was a bit preoccupied.  Maybe this time I really had  forgotten?

"What would be worse?" I reasoned.  "Getting up, driving to the allotment,  walking over to our plot, and findind that the fence was ON?....  or finding out tomorrow that all the birds have been foxed?"

When I put it like that, I knew I had no option.

I was cream crackered, my leg hurt, it was dark.   I put a coat over my jim jams, put my bare feet into my garden shoes,  and drove to the allotment.

When I switched on the torch and started walking to the plot, I wished I'd got dressed.  What if the PCSOs were called out, and they came to investigate?  

Of course the dratted fence was on.