Saturday, 28 November 2015

Procrastination and avoidance.

I don't send many Christmas cards. Most of those I do send, I make.  This year, I thought I'd whip something up on the embroidery machine.

I've purchased a number of suitable designs over the last few months. I was running out of reasons not to knuckle down and make some.    I bought more designs.

I catalogued my designs.

I printed out some of the pictures.

I did some stuff with installing fonts.  I did all my fonts.  I created PDF files of images of the fonts.  I printed the catalogue.  I bound it.   I bought more fonts.

I thought about making applique christmas trees, I have lots of fabric.  I searched for designs. I bought designs. I catalogued designs.

I just haven't been able to make myself make anything.

In the shower this morning, as I had my three thousandth bright idea for christmas cards,  I thought about why I've been avoiding it.   Is it that I don't want to make embroidery cards?  Or make cards at all?  Or send cards?    

Am I bored with embroidery?

I don't think so.

I think I'm suffering from the embroidery equivalent of Analysis Paralysis.

I'm a little overwhelmed at the array of things I want to make.  I'm ovewhelmed with the possibilites of fabric (even if I just use felt, I've got so many colours), and thread.  And the colour of the card for the cards.

So, I'm going to just pick a couple of designs, and make them and see how they come out.  Doesn't matter which one (or two). 

Any will do.

Just pick one.

I'm now wrtiting this blog post.   I think writing it down will make me do it.


I will.

Really. I will.

I'll just make a quick cup of tea.  And put some bread on.  And get mutton joint out of the freezer in the shed.  And take the apple baskets back to the shed while I am at it.  And check for eggs / give the chooks their afternoon corn.  And top up the bird feeder while I am in the garden........

Monday, 16 November 2015

Integration continues

I decided to let the Babies decide fore themselves where they wanted to sleep.

I went out at dusk, to find that negotiations were still ongoing.

The Babies had obviously decided they wanted to go in with the Oldies, Poppy and Gloria.  As soon as I opened the kitchen door I could hear the commotion, which I interpreted - correctly - as youngsters being chased down the ladder.

By time I arrived on the scene, Fleur (the Marans) was trying again;  Fay (the flightiest bird I've ever encoutnered, was screeching;  Sasha (the Appenzeller) was running into the other cue, up the ladder, and calling for her sisters to join her.

I htought for a moment, and then shut the door to the big girls run. This trapped Faye and Fleur inside, giving them no choice about where to go to bed.  (They wanted to sleep in this Cube, they were going to have to do this at some point, might as well be now).  I then tried to encorage Sasha out of her run, but she just kept running up and down the ladder.  In the end, I opened the nest box door and this was enough to make her exit the run; I opened the other run door and she ran in.

I could see that Poppy was not happy.  I tried to intervene, but I could see I was making things worse. They needed to sort it out for themselves, and there were 3 newbies vs 2 oldies, so it wasn't like the Milly days.  I left them to it.

A bit later, when it was properly dark, I went out with a torch to check that everyone had got in OK.

They had.

Tomorrow, I'll move their feeder into the main run.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Accidentally enforced integration

Bad chicken mummy!

For a few weeks now, if we go out during the day we've been shutting Littlees and Oldies into the walk in run together. If we're out for more than a few minutes, I also put out 3 peck-a-blocks (the Oldies can only commandeer 2 at once), and some cabbage or similar.

Today, I did just that.

I had forgotten how early dusk falls.  DH and I went out. When we left the place, it was already dusk...and I realised that the poor chooks would have been stuck in the Oldies run.  We wondered whether they would have tried to get into the Cube, or whether they would have just roosted on one of the many perches, or the veranda.  We decided that if they had roosted somewhere, we'd relocate them to their own Cube.

As soon as we got home I grabbed a torch and rushed outside.

The 3 Littlees were in the Cube, occupying the prime position with their heads out of the door.  I didn't check in the back and side as I didn't want to disturb them all, but I would guess that Gloria was in one of the nest boxes (she usually is while she's moulting) and that Poppy was in the other.

I guess being 3 of them against 2,  it wasn't too difficult....although it might have been a long struggle. I hope poor Poppy wasn't too overwhelmed.

I guess we'll have to decide tomorrow whether to go back to normal, or whether to push ahead with the integration, now that this has accidental progress has happened.

I'm not sure which route we'll take yet.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Good LIfe week

I'm feeling a little virtuous (which upion rereading I think should really say "smug". Sorry). - it's been a bit of a "Good Life" week, albeit with the help of some of our best gadgets.

Buttermaking on Monday.  Thermomix.

The table birds were killed on Monday, and on Wednesday DH dressed them. We put the smallest to one side to cook that day, and the rest were jointed (and deboned), and put in the freezer.  I made chicken stock from the carcasses, using the recently purchased Ipot (electric pressure cooker).

 On Friday, we collected our half pig.  The lady who breeds them is only doing one litter a year now, as her sow is getting on a bit. We took this into account when deciding how to butcher it. We decided not to have large joints. Instead we cut  some small belly joints (which were deboned, to make them suitable for more recipes),  loin for bacon,  some small hams,  LOTS of diced pork,  minced pork, some shoulder set aside for pork pies, and an enormous quantity of meat for sausages.

We had to put the old freezer on to cope with everything!

I made lard, lots of lovely, snow-white, lard.  I made stock with the pork bones (Ipot).  

There were more, but we had to test them
This morning DH put some of the pork into cure, to make some small hams and some bacon.   He also made a mountain of sausages, which are spread out between the fridge and the freezers at the moment.   He had some sausage-meat leftover,  and fancied making sausage rolls.

We didn't have any puff pastry in the freezer, so I suggested looking for a Thermomix recipe for quick-puff-pastry recipe.  He found one in the standard Thermy cookbook,  and whipped up a batch in a jiffy - mainly thanks to the drawer full of frozen butter.  He'll be on Bake Off next!

He also made some trotter stock, which he'll use in pork pies tomorrow.

Food wise, we had roast chicken for dinner on Wednesday (thank you to Delia for her Fast Roast Chicken recipe).  We had risotto on Thursday, made with some of the leftover chicken and some of the stock. The rest of the cooked chicken has been bagged and frozen, for future risottos.

Last night,  I made chinese style spare ribs, also in the Ipot,  for dinner.  I used some home pressed apple juice, our own garlic, and one of  DH's Habanero chillis, in the recipe.    The remainder of the ribs are in a bag in the freezer for later use.

Arancini, waiting to be fried
Tonight we're having the sausage rolls, plus deep fried arancini (leftover risotto, well seasoned,which are flour/egg/breadcrumbed which are then deep fried. (Our own eggs and breadcrumbs).

It'll be served with dipping sauce (leftover from last night's spare ribs),  and home made Hummus. I even made the tahini for the hummus, by blitzing sesame seeds in Thermy.   The texture of the hummus is fine,  I need to work on my flavouring.

The apples are still sitting in crates waiting to be dealt with. I've been eating them all week and hardly made a dent in one crate.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Yet more cards

 October and November is very busy, birthday-wise,  for our families.

Somehow I managed to not photograph all the cards.

Monday, 9 November 2015

The cats are in control

I'm waiting to vacuum thevliving room and to wash the floor.

Washburn is lounging around on the sheepskin rug, looking very comfortable and cute.  If I start the vacuum cleaner, he'll run off in a panic.

So what do I do?

Find some other bit of housework to do until he's left of his own accord.

He has me wrapped around his soft little paw.

Moving on.

A major move for the Littlees yesterday.  Late afternoon, I moved their Cube and run, so that it was almost next to the Big Girls' one.  It was a bit of a faff, I had to trim the Eleagnea (sp?) to get it through the gap. The Littlees were starting to get stressed as dusk fell and they couldn't find their home.

Fleur found it, and went up the stairs calling the other two.  They weren't so clever.  I put a torch in the nest box, and then went and shooed them round.  They found it in the end.

The next step is to turn it round a bit and connect it to the walk in run.  That means the way in and out will be through the walk in run, and I think its a bit too soon for that.    I am routinely shutting them all in the walk in run when we go out, though... as long as I know we'll be back before chooky bed time.


And today, the Dinner Chicks were dispatched.   All 8 of them in one go.   We had only 1 female, so we couldn't introduce her to the rest of the flock on her own (for a long time we thought we had 2 females, and if this had been the case, we would probably have  kept them).  Because the boys were getting sexually mature, she was going to have to be part of the first group to be dispatched anyway. We've been really lucky that the boys hadn't already started bothering her.

The boys were already big and we if we kept them much longer they'd only be pacing up and down eyeing up the hens in Henry's harem.   It was better all round to dispatch them all.

I always feel sad about it, but I know (and remind myself) that these birds have had a really good free range life. At 24.5 weeks old, they've lived at least 16 weeks longer than commercial fast-growing chickens, and 6-10 weeks longer than most equivalent birds.  If we didn't do what we do, then they wouldn't have been hatched at all... and the gorgeous parent birds in the harem wouldn't be kept, either.