Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The world keeps turning

I don't like not having a cockerel with the Allotmenteers.  There are a lot of them, all different ages,  and they need keeping in check.   A good cockerel looks out for his Ladies,  keeps watch for predators,  and stops any bullying.  There is still a hen pecking order, but the cockerel will usually stop it getting out of claw.

Camilla, number 11 out of 12 in the pecking order,  had been sticking close to Henry for some weeks,  and was right by his side for the last couple of days.  I'm worried that she'll get more pecked on than usual.  Souxsie Sioux, our smallest and oldest chook is number 12, and I think she'll suffer a bit too.

This time of year there are quite a lot of cockerels available, mant free to good home.   I thought about what I wanted:    a dual purpose breedd;  one that had been well handled; and a cockerel that had a chance of being good with us.     Oh, and something quickly.

 I did a local search, and found a lot of bantam cockerels, and cockerels from egg laying breeds.  Not so many dual purpose boys.    I then found an ad for a Vorwerk boy, 9 weeks old.   What a fab idea!  We could bring him home to the garden for a few weeks (until he started to crow), and we could get him used to us and used to being handled.  Perfect.

We retrieved the spare coop, which was a bit of a feat since DH has only one working arm at the mo.   We set it up, and I drove off to collect the lucky chap.    He's a little cutie pops.   We set him up in sight of the Garden Girls so he wouldn't feel too lonely.   Gloria escaped, and took an instant dislike to the interloper, and tried to peck him. 

As I watched him, I realised that he was going to have to be about 18 weeks old before I could try introducing him to the Girls at the allotment,  and 9 weeks was a long time for him to be "on his own".     I set about investigating getting a couple of similarly aged girls to grow on with him.

That was also harder than I expected.  I wanted to source locally,  I wanted something the right age,  and this time I wanted egg layers not dual purpose.   Once again, I found plenty of bantams.   I also found birds I didn't want: exchequer leghorns (I love leghorns,  but I still miss Lotti, my exchequer);  legbars (never again after that cow Milly) etc .

I found a chap who was selling 2 11 week old "legcanas" (Leghorn/Araucana cross).   I said "yes", and paid over the odds for them.  

The 3 of them are doing OK together at the moment,  I expect we'll see some jostling for position in the next few days.  That would happen even with hatchmates.

Small Person isn't here this week, and that's a shame. She would be a great asset to get them used to being handled!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Tough call

We culled Henry today.

I caught him easily,  and fed him scrambled eggs which he gobbled down.   I checked him over, and tested his legs. He couldn't grip.  He tried to stand, but couldn't.  I stroked him while he ate.  I realised that it was better to get it over with, rather than drag it out.  I told himn how much I loved him, what a wonderful boy he was, and how good he had been with his ladies.  I apologised that we didn't have a son to take over from him. 

We both had to do it, because DH only has one operational arm at the mo.  Afterwards, I sobbed like - well, like a girl I suppose.  I sobbed because he was so lovely and I was so sorry.   I cried for Camilla,  who had spent the last week within a few feet of him. I cried because the line was ending.  I cried because culling is such a hard thing to do, even though it's the right thing to do.

My lovely, lovely boy.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Surprise declutter

I had a very minor declutter of my utility room. Well, one half of one side of it anyway.

We'd decided to juice some pears.  For the first time in several years, the pears on the pear tree were not covered in canker.   I've been eating 1 or 2 a day, but now they are ripening and falling from the tree.   We wanted to at least try to do something with the ones that were left.

So, I went a picked a fair few.  We decided to juice them,  using the juicer I'd got from the bargain shelf at Lakeland last year (when we had so few apples it wasn't worth getting out the full apple pressing kit).   The juicing went well,  we chose to freeze the juice rather than pasteurising it.

I thought it might be a good idea to move the juicer so it was on our main worktop, along with our other "every day use" (slight cough) electricals. That way, I might actually use it. At least for the next month or two, while the fruit is ripening.

I made a space, which involved a bit of farting around,  and then a bit more farting around elsewhere in the kitchen.   I looked at the electric butter churn, and decided to find a permanent home for it in the utility room, rather than standing on the side.

Easier said than done.  The upshot of this is that I've decluttered a whole section of the utility room in order to get this fitted in.  The decluttered stuff is now sitting on the floor, next to the computer, in the living room.  I've been photographing it and listing it for sale (or as freebies).  If the items don't go by tomorrow, I'll give them to a charity shop.

I have to do it quickly, other wise there is a risk that I'll start thinking "Maybe I'll use that after all".  That's what happened last time I got the Tefal Jam Maker out to sell it.    I haven't used it since then, I seem to prefer my maslin pan.    I think I kept it because it makes divine rice pudding..... but my Instant Pot also makes good rice pudding. As the Instant Pot is always in use, it's out on the worktop, so I'm never going to get round to using the Tefal Jam Maker for it.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Ageing and CBA

When I was younger - not a lot younger - I had a tremendous ability to grit my teeth and power on through long, tiring, jobs.   I've lost that determination somewhere along the line.

My kitchen is in a bit of a state.  Quite a bit of a state.  Well, truth be told, it's quite a lot of  a state.  It needs a proper clean, a tackle-each-cupboard-fully clean.     Not so long ago I would have taken a deep breath, and just done it. Cupboard after cupboard after cupboard,  motoring on until it was ALL done. It wouldn't matter if it took me one day, or two days.  It would all be done.  All of it.  Stopping only for the occasional cup of tea. 

Now, I'm suffering from an acute case of CBA, and it's more like I'm farting around and stopping for the occasional emptying of a cupboard.  Today I did two, including the corner cupboard where all the plates, bowls, serving dishes live.    I had to suppress a giggle when I realised I was actually feeling a sense of accomplishment for having emptied and cleaned it out, put stuff back,  and got a small pile to be distributed between "charity shop" and "bin".   

When did I become so feckless?!

Last week I'd cleaned 3 tall wall cupboards,  1 normal base cupboard,  the corener cupboard where the frying pans, mixing bowls,  large cake tins etc are, and under the sink.  It took me three days to do them.  Well, it took me a few hours, spread over 3 days.

I'm going to do the drawer unit next.  That will mean I'll be 1/3rd of the way through.

At this rate I won't be done by Christmas!

Time passes

It's been over 5 weeks - FIVE weeks! - since DH had his op, nearly 6 since his accident.  It's gone past in a bit of a blur really.

I need matchsticks to prop open my eyes, mainly because I'm not sleeping through the night. 

He's doing really well, and he's also trying to do too much.   We arranged some physio for his upper arm, and we ended up buying a massage table so that I could try and do the physio at home.  Muxed success.  Still, any physio (done correctly) is better than no physio.  

I'm keeping the tomatoes going, just about.   We haven't done anything with them, apart from eat a few and give the burst ones to the chooks.   We keep meaning for me to pick some pears and juice them,  but the time just runs out.  Sometimes it feels that sorting out the cats meds, doing the Allotment chooks each day (OC has been away for a couple of weeks or so),  visits to get the dressings changed,  physio appointments,  there isn't much time for much else.  It's not true, of course, it just feels that way.

Last week I tried to use my new (to me) multi needle embroidery machine.  I'd had it a month and, due to DH's accident, I hadn't used it.  I couldn't remember anything.  I'd bought a tee shirt for Small Person (SP) , and attempted to embroider a flowing horses head on it.  Unfortunately, I managed to catch a bit of the hem on the back (grrrr!),  but it was a scalloped hem and the snip wasn't obvious.    I learned a lot in that 20 minutes.

This week I made SP's mum a birthday card,  and I used my new Durkee frames to do it, so that was also an achievement.   I then tried to use the Durkee frame to make SP a tooth fairy door hanger.  SP chose the fabrics (cue much complaining about how difficult the choice was).   I got stuck in an error loop, and no amount of reading the manual helped.   I had SP yapping on (and on) while I was trying to figure it out,  and in the end  I gave up and used a normal hoop, and that worked OK. 

Small Person (SP) has been here for 3 days this week, and it's been an interesting time.  She's been excellent company as always,  helping me with the allotment chooks,  looking after our garden girls, etc.   The weather this week has mostly been appallingly wet,  but we did manage to get to the park on 3 occasions to try and play table tennis.  That went surprisingly well,  and now we can sustain short rallies so we're improving.

She's had some specific projects to work on,  like sorting out DH's pound coin collection (SP is fascinated by coins, and always spots "rare" (well, less common ones, and  she's usually right!). She had to use the laminator for this, and the labeller, and organise things.

We made a lovely courgette lemon drizzle cake for her mum (we made one last week for ourselves, it was scrummy);    after a bit of a wrestle with my new embroidery machine, I made her a "tooth fairy" door hanger (she has some wobbly milk teeth);  and I can't remember the rest.

I do know that she is obviously starting to feel settled here, because she's had a couple of short sulky fits.    The biggest one was in the car,  because I said "No" to making Angel Delight for her.  I had made some for her (us) the day before, and she loved it, and wanted more.   I refused, saying it was a special, occasional treat.       Wow, what a sulk!

I explained that sulking was not going to make me change my mind, in fact it would make me even more determined to say no.    The sulking continued for  the rest of the car journey.   I could see that she was trying to get herself out of the sulk (something I striggle to do myself, actually), so when she made overtures, I helped her out.    No, we didn't have the Angel Delight.  We did, however, have pains au chocolat while watching A Close Shave We had watched A Grand Day Out and The Wrong Trousers last week.

She's been trying to get the two light birds to stand on her arm.  Poor Girls.  She does seem to manage to pick up Sasha quite a bit. I told her to try and give her a little treat each time she picks her up, so that Sasha associates being picked up with getting a reward.    It seems to be working.

We don't have her next week, and that's good.  I can use the time to catch up on neglected home duties,  and maybe try and resolve that embroidery machine error.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Bye bye Batty

As soon as I arrived on the Allotment yesterday, I saw that Batty was not her normal sprightly self.

 I noticed a couple of weeks  ago that she had lost some weight, but she was eating well, barging her way around, and being very sprightly.  I mentioned the weight loss to DH, and said  that I thought she might need to be dispatched before long.

There was no change to her demeanour, until yesterday.  Yesterday she wasn't interested in courgettes, or corn,  and she seemed to be not quite all there.   I caught her, checked her over for wounds, gave her some Nutridrops.   It was possible that she was brewing a softy,  although I didn't think so.   She didn't seem in any distress,  we didn't really have any suitable dispatching implement, so we decided we'd take something with us today so we could do the deed if she hadn't improved.

She was in the coop, on the floor, already dead, when we arrived.    I'm glad we didn't have to dispatch her ourselves;  DH is one armed at the moment, so we would have been worried about not doing it cleanly. 

She was a lovely, friendly, cheeky girl.   She and her sister Norah are our last remaining offspring of Roo and Rose.  Rose was one of the original Welsh Black girls we brought back from Castle Farm when we settled on having an Indian Game cross breed for our table birds.  Roo was already there, we'd had him for a year I think by then,  he was our first home-hatched cockerel. We hatched him and two girls for the table,  but when it came to it we couldn't do it. We'd got too attached to the 3 of them.

The young Batty

Grown-up Batty
Batty had a relatively long and happy free range life.   She was so characterful, I'll miss her.  I'm pleased we still have Norah, although at over 6 she may not have that long to go.

A lot of them are senior citizhens now, so I'm trying to be mentally prepared for it.

Goodnight sweetheart xxx

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Small Person, week 2.

Summer holidays are here, and that means we get to spend time with Small Person (SP) for a few days each week :-)

Mostly we just carry on with our normal routine, and SP joins in and helps.  Sometimes I save things to do that I know she'll like: for example, if there is any labelling to do, I make a note on a memo thing on the fridge, and SP gets out the labeller and does it for me.

We usually have her 3 days a week, and she stays over for one night.  She'd like to stay over for both nights (probably because she gets to stay up ridiculously late), but I am a firm believer in leaving them wanting more. So in the long holidays, we stick to one night.

She likes to have things that she's in charge of.  So, she gets to collect eggs (I try not to  collect them on the days she's not here, so she has plenty to collect) and she writes the date on them and puts them on the Egg Skelter.  She lets the Girls out and puts them in as necessary, and gives them their treats. If they need cleaning out, she does that.  She helps me with worming, heath checking, and playing with them.

She comes to the allotment and gets on with unlocking everything, cleaning and refilling waterers, collecting eggs.   At home, she measures out some of the cat meds. She goes to the shop (we're lucky the shop is very close by) to get Bagels for lunch.  She fills the bird feeders.  If she stays over on Air Rifle night, she comes to the Club with us.

She also takes on other "jobs". Picking (and eating) tomatoes and cucumbers.  She mowed the grass yesterday, which was an amazing feat as the lawnmower is big and heavy.   She did some weeding.  We do some cooking.  I've made her various articles of clothing (none of which have been particularly well sewn, I'm still learning) and she always seems pleased with them.

She's also been helping DH kit out his workshop, she's not just a girly girl. Today's task has been laying interlocking matting. He couldnt do it on his own because he's one handed at the mo.

She asks questions all the time, about anything and everything.  Some are easy to answer, some are more tricky.   She learned last holiday about fertilised eggs (why you don't need a cockerel to have eggs but you do if you want chicks,  what a fertilised egg actually is,  why a fertilised wgg won't necessarily result in a chick,  what incubation is,  what is thw difference between a hen incubating and us using an incubator,  why hens go broody even if they don't have eggs.... etc). 

This time we've had some detailed questions about chicken breeding.  Today's line of questioning started with "If we wanted to have Gloria hatch eggs,  would we take Gloria doen to the allotment to be with Henry, or would we bring Henry to the Garden?"    I explained that we probably wouldn't do either, we might put fertilised eggs fro one of the other Girls under Gloria, or actually we might consider bringing in fertile eggs from outside to refresh the bloodline.  She likes full and honest answers, and she remembers the details.  If we didn't tell her that bringing in outside eggs was a possibility, and then we did this next year,  she'd feel that we hadn't told her the truth. 

So, today's discussion included explaining Henry's relationship to various Allotmenteers, and why there were two girls (his full sisters) that we wouldn't breed with him   

It's not all just "work" though.  We go out sometimes (although she seems just as happy at home, as long as we're 'doing'  something).  We (rarely, special treat) have a water fight.    I bought a pop up pool to use, but the weather has been rubbish,  certain;uy not good enough to warrant ruiing our grass over.

She eats whatever we put in front of her, doesn't always like it but it's not a drama when that happens.  She loves to pick the vegetables from the garden and eat those.

She enjoys being here,  and tells her mum all about everything she's done (however mundane it may seem to us).   It won't be long before coming to us will be a bit of a bind for her,  so I'm happy to enjoy it while we can

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Thank you

My lovely step son (R) came yesterday to finish insulating the workshop roof so that it could be made watertight.  He got so far but then it rained, and the rain just didn't  stop.  So, he stayed over.

Today he and my brother finished the work DH was doing when he fell. They also moved the internal wall,  made up the second bench, and tidied up.     The shed is now weatherproof. The roofing shingles and the kitting out can wait until DH's arm is fixed.  DH may even ask for help in completing the shingles.

We're so very lucky, and we really appreciate their help.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Goodnight Poppet

One of our allotment chooks died. 

We found her this morning.  No obvious signs of cause.  She'd not looked right yesterday, I couldn't see anything wrong, she just didn't look right. I thought she might be brewing a softy.  I had given her some Nutridrops, but they didn't work their magic this time.  She was one of our lovely Welsh Blacks,  an Indian Game/Australorp cross.   She was only 3.

We've been lucky that it's been a while since we've had a loss. I've been expecting a couple of the older girls to go, I hadn't expected one of the (relatively) young ones.

Goodnight Poppet.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Procrastination strikes

With DH out of action, I've been busy tring to keep on top of everyday stuff,  and I haven't had time to do anything on my (new to me) multi needle embroidery machine.

I'm guilty of creative avoidance.

I haven't done much sewing (apart from adapting some tee shirts for DH.  And omne jersey tee shirt for me, which turned out to be too clingy for the fabric I'd chosen).

I am trying to clear my cutting table (aka the kitchen table) so I can draft a shorts pattern for DH. I keep getting distracted, although today I woke up deciding I was really really really going to do it (i.e. clear it) today.

I've made a lot of progress.  There's a lot of clearing to do.   I can see the tabletop on about 2/3rds of it now, the other 1/3rd is piled up with stuff which needs putting away.

I am going to do it.


Thursday, 13 July 2017

Still broody. Two broodies.

Gloria has been broody since 18th May, 8 weeks now.  Poppy went broody about a week ago today, and they've been sharing the nest box in the Cube.

Gloria is, at last, considering not being broody any more.   I know this because she now comes out of the Cube at every conceivable excuse.  As soon as she hears me, she comes out to see if I have something worth eating.  And if I do, which I usually do,  she makes those cockerelesque encouraging burbles which mother hens also use to encourage their babies to eat.  I've even seen her pick up a bit of food and drop it, invitingly, next to one of the other girls.

But she then disappears back into the Cube, so she's not finished yet.

I've been enouraging her to practice jumping on to my outstretched arm, falconer style.  She doesn't need the practice, but I want to show the 3 youngsters how its done.   I wish I'd taught them when they were babies.    Progress is slow to non existent.   Sasha,  Appenzeller,  will just about stand on my arm, if I place her there and don't do anything to scare her.   Fay, Fayoumi,  runs away shrieking when I try and pick her up.  Fleur, Marans,  well, she's just too heavy.  I've tried sitting down and then putting her on my arm but she panics.  

I've missed having baby chickens this year, although it's probably been a good thing.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Moving on

The last few days have gone in a bit of a blur.

The first couple of days revolved entirely around helping DH with every task.  Getting a drink, taking tablets, having a shower, getting up, sitting down, eating....    I adapted a second tee shirt,  bought some more bits (Amazon Prime has been fabulous).

As the morphine has worn off, the pain has increased.  I've kept a detailed record of all the medications.

Gradually, DH has been able to do more and more for himself,  and he's been amazing.  Much better than I suspect I would have been.

We've got a routine now for the morning, which includes showering us both, medicating DH and medicating the cats, having breakfast and getting ready for the rest of the day.

We've been twice now to have the wound checked and the dressing changed.  

I saw a self-hoist thing for sale on Gumtree, not too far away. It was a bit of a bargain,  so we decided to get it.  I went out yesterday, calling in at Costco on the way home.  

The hoist is really designed for someone who can use both arms to pull themselves up,  not someone who can only use one arm.  It took some time to try and get the optimum position for it, and we have to have it angled to compensate.  It's hard work for DH, probably harder work than using me to pull against,  but it gives him a bit more independence.

He's gradually become more coherent, and he now seems fairly normal in that regard. .  He's much more mobile (once he's up).     The way he is now is the way I had expected him to be when he was discharged.

We think he has broken a rib,  the pain when he coughs is too intense to just be sore muscles.

A different kind of stress

DH was discharged on Friday.  We had instructions to get his wound looked at on Monday and to come back immediately if there was any bleeding.

I had prepared for DH coming home - or I thought I had.  I'd ordered one of those full arm plastic bags, so he could shower.  We already had a little bed table.  I had made some alterations to an old tee shirt, and was really proud of the results.  I was ready for a bit of hassle.

I was somewhat niaive.   I had imagined that D would come home,  have no use of his arm,  be a bit stiff.  I had not imagined that he would be barely able to put one foot in front of the other,  that he would be away with the fairies,  and that he wouldn't be able to lie down, or sit up,  or anything in between.

DH fell asleep while sitting on the sofa.  Unfortunately, he was holding a glass at the time.   It wasn't a problem.  He went to bed because he was so exhausted.   He couldn't lie down, so I made some sort of arrangement with numerous pillows so he could be in a bit of a half way down position.  

It was 5.15, and I went out to buy some sort of "sippy cup" so he could have it on the bed, and it wouldn't matter if it rolled over.   I decided to go to one of the nearby towns and see if I could get a V pillow or something at the same time.

The local department store was just about still open when I got there.  I raced up the escalators to the homeware department.  Their website had showed they sold V pillows,  but there weren't any to be seen.   I rushed through the shopping centre, googling the various shops to see who was likely to have something.  I passed a Wilko, open until 6pm, so I popped in there, and they had one.  I bought it. 

Boots next, for the sippy cup.   I don't have children, I have no idea about suppy cups.  The choice was overwhelming.  I bought 3 different sorts.

 Next was also supposed to sell such things, and the town had a massive Next which was open until 8pm.   No luck.   TK Max, open til 8,  no luck.  They did, however, have some "box" pillows, so I bought the only two they had.   I looked at the dog beds to see if I could find a beanbag type, but no luck.

On the way back to the car, I passed Hobbycraft, still open.  I went in and bought a massive bag of beanbag beans.

I was very stressed about how we were going to manage, scared that we might do more damage to DH by his not being able to lie as he needed to.

At home, I unpacked everything.   I started to make up the side arm for the bed, and then I realised it just wasn't going to work, even if DH slept on my side of the bed.    DH woke up, and I helped him get up and go to the toilet.  I tried out several combinations of pillows (myself) and found a combo that would provide more support.   DH went back to bed, and seemed marginally more comfortable.

I still wasn't happy.  I started looking online for wedge pillows,  then I remembered that Argos sold disability aids.   I searched the local ones, and found one in another nearby town that had some bits in stock.   They were open until 8.   I ordered online, and got there at 7.50.  

 I put the table in the middle of the bed between us, where he could reach it.  I put a sippy cup of water on it, and the control to the ceiling fan.   I asked DH to wake me whenever he needed anything, and he had to do that because he wasn't able to sit himself up.

It was a long night. 

Thursday, 6 July 2017


People have been very kind. 

Next door neighbour made sure I had her number when I got in to the ambulance, and she offered to come and get me from the hospital.

My next-door-but-one neighbour knocked this morning.  He'd just heard about DH (he was on his own shed roof, and our in between neighbour told him to be careful). 

Another friend emailed to say that they realised it would be difficult for DH in the car on the way home,  and he asked if he could drive me to the hispital to collect DH as he had a roomier car.

My brother has been fab.  As well as driving to the hospital to be with me and to bring me home, he offered to take me on Monday.  I declined. I don't mind the journey now that I know DH will be OK.  He's working at the mo (he's retired, and works when he can get jobs), otherwise he'd here each day to check I'm OK.  He's also planning to take me to collect DH, and he's planning to complete the work on the workshop that DH can't do.

DH's two best friends are visiting him.  One has been away working, only got back yesterday, so today will be the first opportunity.   The other is also going today,  plans to go yesterday were changed because of the op.

DH's eldest son has been to visit him twice.   Daughter had planned to come, but one of te DGC developed appendicitis and had to have an appendectomy.   Other son has offered to finish the roof when DH is out of hospital.

Everyone wants to help, we're so very lucky.

We're so very lucky.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Getting back on track

No food fails today.  although I was very tempted to buy chocolate from the vending machine at the hospital.   I was going to get a bag of something to eat on my way home,  but the vending machines were by reception, and reception had closed - and access was locked - by the time I left.   I was very tempted to stop at the services on the way home,  but I was making good time and I just wanted to get home.

At home,  I resisted temptation to snack,  and waited impatiently for an hour and a quarter for my baked potatoes to cook.  For the first hour, I did a mixture of clearing up (including changing the cat litter)  and looking for a new tablet for DH.

I did end up wating some of my hastily made tuna/mayo while I was waiting the last 15 minutes,  but I'd have eaten it with my potatoes anyway. That means it doesn't count as a fail.

The potatoes were OK.  They skins would have been better if I'd been patient for another 15 minutes, but I wasn't and they weren't. I still ate them.

Onward and onward.


I've been doing well with the Kefir, and was surprised to find that I'd lost 5.5kg in the last 3 weeks.  My clothes don't particularly feel looser,  and I know that my weight fluctuates by 3kg anyway when it's hot,  but 5.5kg indicates a definite improvement.

And then yesterday I sabotaged it all, by buying a pack of M&S currant buns and eating them one after the other, on the way home from visiting DH in hospital.  When I got home, I also chomped part of a family bag of vile crisps, until common sense made me throw the rest of the bag in the dustbin.  At least I managed to resist buying a box of Maltesers (which I would have eaten until the box was empty, or I was sick, whichever came first). 

It started by me buying a vaguely sugary drink because I was thirsty and needed an energy boost.  It was 1 am the day before.   This started a sugar craving.  I tried all day to resist.  I stopped to buy petrol. The attached shop was M&S and  I needed to buy some butter (we've run out of home made, and it's too hot to make more). So, I bought that, and some potatoes to bake for my dinner,  and then I saw the buns and couldn't didn't resist.

The first bun was small polite nibbles, and would have been excusable, acceptable, forgivable.   The other three were angry bites,  controlled 'loss of control' sabotage.

I'm tired and feeling a little fragile, and a little sorry for myself.  I'm also annoyed with myself for feeling this way, when actually I should be feeling happy that things aren't a great deal worse, they so easily could have been.

Lots of people are dealing with much worse stuff. 

I need to get a grip.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Kefir revisited

Im still carrying on with the goats milk Kefir.  I think today is day 15.

I need to take a photo of my fizzog and compare the rosacea now to the rosacea before I started.
I still wince at drinking the stuff, but it no longer makes me retch,  and the thought of it doesn't make me retch.  I'm able to drink it fairly quickly, with little or no procrastinating.

If I do as directed and drink the Kefir on an empty stomach and wait a while before I eat,  then it really gets to work.    It's less obvious if I take it after I've had my breakfast (even if I wait until lunchtime and have it for lunch).

The Kefir lotion  is working wonders on my poor sore feet. 

I'm having goats milk for my lattes.

I haven't noticed a dramatic change in my bloating, so it may well be that it's not cows milk (or the A1 protein in cows milk) that it causing a problem.    I eat a lot of bread, so I guess that could be the cause.       The reality is, it's probably just "sugar belly".   When I eat refined sugar (if I have sweets, for example, or ice cream) then my belly definitely swells up.  I'm short waisted,  so there aren't many places for this to go, hence the sugar belly.

I've decided to continue with a second batch of Kefir.   Chuckling Goat recommends a 9 week course (which is 3 batches) and, so far, I'm happy to carry on with that.

Skirting around things

I made  another skirt. Just a simple maxi skirt, no shape,  yogaband for the waist.     Still had a few sewing glitches,  that was down to my lack of ability.  Skirt was still perfectly wearable.  Not sure how it'll stand up to the washing machine.

And I've nearly finished yet another maxi skirt as well.  It's the hot weather. It's so much more comfortable than trousers,  and I don't have to expose my legs.

 It's just a trapezium shape,   front and back are identical,  each cut on the fold.  Sew up one side.  Sew open a slit (to prevent me tripping over) on the other side, then sew the rest of that side up.  Attach a yoga waistband. Hem.  Finished.     When I made my first successful (wearable despite the flaws) maxi skirt last year, I  made a cardboard template of the pattern.  Now I just put the pattern on my washed, pressed and folded fabric, and cut it out.  Transfer the markings to match the sides up and to tell me where to put the top of the slit,  and away I go.

It's entirely possible I will have a whole wardrobe of these before the summer is over, although it is my intention to find a summer dress style that suits me.  I've had a relapse and have bought a big bundle of cotton fabric.   I had been resisiting buying any because I already have lots. (It's just every time I go to use some I think, "Oh but I was thinking I'd make a dress out of that").

My attempt to create an empire line blueprint is hanging, unfinished, over the back of a chair.   A floaty peasant style blouse is lying on the spare bed, waiting for me to bind the neck.    Both UFOs (UnFinished Objects) require more thinking and effort than I'm prepared to expend at the mo.

My sewing machine, coverstitch, and overlocker have all been working,  and I love each of them.

All I need now is my new (to me) embroidery machine.

More news on that, maybe, at the weekend.

Hens and sheds

Today I decided to shut Gloria out of the nest box.  She hasn't taken it well.

She's been broody since about the 18th May, 6 weeks today.  She's been a trooper,  and I wish we'd been in a position to give her some eggs to hatch.   She's not shown any sign of coming off the nest of her own volition, so I've taken some action.

The three youngsters have now ALL taken to laying in one of the stand-alone nest boxes, down on the run floor.    We're back to nest box squabbles, because they all want the same nest box.    Honestly, we have 2 cubes (althoughj 1 of them was occupied by Gloria,  but Poppy manages to lay her egg each day) which each have HUGE nestboxes; and we have two roomy standalone nest boxes.  And they all HAVE to use the same ones.

With the oppressive hot weather, earlier in the week we completely rearranged their free range area, so that they could have the back fence and the fruit cage.  The back fence has hedging all along, and this is cool and pleasant even on the fiercest of days.  

This meant that their usual area, including the pampas,  gets a bit of a rest.

It was helpful because the material for DH's workshop arrived, and that took up most of the garden.

He's been building it, single handedly,  for several days now.  It's double walled and insulated, the floor is insulated etc etc, so it's a slow process.   He used that hexagonal plastic stuff for the base, filled with pea shingle.  Superb.  He build the previous shed on that,  and it worked really well, and we could see how well it worked when we (well, he)  removed the old shed. 

Minor arguments along the way "It's too small, why didn't you get a size bigger?" (Me).    And various other squabbles about what was going in there, where it was going, and why it wouldn't work.  It'll get sorted in the end.  

It looks lovely.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017


It's so hot and airless, I'm struggling to get the enthusiasm to do anything.

Three days ago, I put on a me-made maxi skirt. That's how hot it is (it takes a lot of heat for me to not wear trousers).   Actually, it was sooo comfortable, I think I might have to run up some more.

DH commented on how pretty it was, and asked if I made it myself.  Yesterday I wore it again, with a different coloured/style top.   DH asked if that was another dress I'd made.      To be fair, the skirt is multicoloured (really lovely fabric),  and the colours that "pop out" really are affected by the colour of the top I wear.

Today I wore another one, with a different colour/style top.  This top, not home made,  was a lovely colour, but was far too baggy and sack like.  It occurred to me that if I just turned up the hem (by about 8 inches) it wouldn't look so frumpy.   So, I did. 

I coverstitched it, and it looked great.  I then trimmed it (which I should, of course, have done first).   And of course I managed to cut a hole in it.   Bother.

It's at the back.  It's not particularly noticeable.  It'll last until I take it off tonight to wash it (when it will most likely fall apart).

Apart from that,  I was really pleased that my on-the-hoof adapation went well.

In other news,  I've sewn up the top from yesterday.  I need to put binding on the neck,  and then hem the sleeves and the hem.  It's too hot to even think about doing that now. 

Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Progress, of sorts

I'm pleased to be able to report sort of progress on several fronts.

Firstly, I no longer heave at the thought of drinking goats milk kefir.   I am still struggling with the taste when I'm actually drinking it.  I'm confident that this will get better as the days go by.

Secondly, I finally opened, washed, hen carefully folded and labelled  all the piles of fabric bought when I had a moment of weakness and procrastination.

And thirdly, I cleared enough space so I could cut out the front of a new blouse pattern I'd started working on some time ago (before my sewjo went on holiday).  I even tried to think about pattern placement, as the fabric has bands of colour.

It's a bit of a shame that I realised part way through cutting out, that I'd only actually adapted the neckline and shoulders.  I hadn't got round to adapting the side or the length.   It was remarkably good fortune that I realised this when I was half way through cuttind the side.    I made an emergency adaptation (which, on reflection, may tutn our to be a bit of a mistake), and carried on with the cutting.

I then realised that I hadn't done a matching back pattern,  so I worked that out the adaptations required to my Blueprint so that it matched the new front,  drafted it and... remembered to think about pattern placement. It's not exactly pattern matching, but I do need to try and get it right. ish.

This morning, I sewed carefully stay stitched the armholes and neckline (not that long ago, I'd never heard of stay stitching), as the fabric is going to be a bit of a sod to sew.    I then did my gathering stitches, marvelling that  that bit of the process is almost becoming second nature to me now.   I sewed the sholders together,  and then I needed the sleevies.

I hadn't forgotten the sleeves. I just wanted to try something a bit more flouncy than previously.  This was going to require more pattern adaptations, and I needed a fresh head to do it well. 

And progress there too. Well, possibly.  I'm going to celebrate now, even though I haven't actually cut them out yet.   If it doesn't work, well,  I won't feel like celebrating later.  And if it does, I can celebrate again.

I thought about what I might need to do to achieve this, and traced off a copy of my standard sleeve.     The cap bit has to stay the same (to fit into the armhole of the top), it's the rest of the sleevie that needs flouncing.  I could see I needed to slash and spread the pattern.  I could even see how much.     In the end, I search the SFDLearningCenter to find what I needed, and the index told me which book and what page. 

I followed the instructions, even adapting them to get the size I wanted.  I ended up with a sleeve that looks like it might work.     I just need to get round to cutting out in fabric now.

 I'm going to wait for a bit though.  Just in case it's not right.  I'm going to enjoy the "I did it!" moment for just a little bit longer, first.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Goats Milk Kefir continues

This morning, once again,  I could not bring myself to drink the Kefir first thing.

I was getting a bit annoyed with myself.  It's not horrible, it just tastes like goats cheese.  I used to like goats cheese, so I should be able to get over this.

This morning I gave myself a choice. Either drink the Kefir first thing, or try goats milk in my morning latte.       I tried goats milk in my latte.    I made one for myself first, before making one for DH.  It was OK.  I don't think I would have guessed it was goats milk.     I made one for DH - he didn't notice.

Later, we were having a second coffee and he saw me filling up the milk thing with goats milk.
 "I don't want goats milk in my coffee"  
"Because I don't"
"You had goats milk earlier"
"Did I?"

So we had goats milk in the coffee.   That's one step forward.

It got to 4pm and I still hadn't had my Kefir.  At 4pm, I MADE myself pour a glass, and I tried to gul some of it down.  Same problem as before.    I mixed some vanilla extract in, and that didn't really help any more than the banana had done previously.

I'm hoping I can overcome this because, of course, it's only going to get stronger (="worse") as the days tick by.    

I know when I've tried to make myself get over distaste of foods before, it's sometimes taken 5 or 6 attempts to eat something before my tastebuds have acclimatised.     There have been foods (liver, roasted beetroot) where I've never got over my repulsion.

I hope this isn't one of those.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Goats Milk Kefir

The mere smell of goats cheese makes me retch.

A long time ago, I really liked the stuff.  Then I had a very severe case of food poisoning (several days in bed with joints so painful I thought I must surely be dying), and goats cheese was the culprit.  Since then.... well... I can't stand the stuff.

 I love milk.    Milk, however, doesn't always agree with me, and makes me bloated.   A2 milk works reasonably well, but I can only get that when I go to certain supermarkets, or when Ocado delivers.      Raw milk is also great,  but that involves a trip to far distant farmers markets (I tried having it delivered. It might be OK in the winter, but not in the spring/summer/autumn!).

I drink a lot of home fermented kefir, made using cows milk, and this also helps my bloating problem.   I don't like my Kefir fizzy, though, nor strong tasting, so I keep it in the fride to slow it down.    I also am a bit erratic in drinking it.

I have water kefir, which I quite like, but that hasn't really helped with the bloating problem.

I'd been looking at Chuckling Goat's creams. Not eating creams,  creams for the skin.   I bought some, and I've been using it on my face to see if it helps with my Rosacea. A bit.  But it hasn't cured it.    Extending my use of it, however,  did improve the skin on my legs,  and stopped a neck-rash outbreak in its tracks.  Because of that,  I looked more closely at their goats milk kefir, and the claims they made for it.

In the end, I took the plunge and ordered a 3 week course (I'll need 9 weeks to clear my rosacea).   In anticipation, I also bought some fresh goats milk from the supermarket.  It sat for 2 days in the fridge, before I could make myself open it and taste it.     I remembered trying goats milk when I was a kid (pun intended),  and it was vile.

Well, I opened it, and poured some in a glass.  It was very, very white.  Like emulsion paint.  It didn't smell, whch was a good thing.    It tasted...OK.     I think I could drink it.  I need to try it in our morning latte and see what happens.   The carton I bought will probably go off before I make myself do that.    I've seen that my milkman also delivers fresh goats milk, so I'm going to add that to my order.

The Kefir arrived.   It didn't stink as I expected (again remembering the goats milk as a child).    I pored some out.  170ml is quite a lot actually.    I started to drink it.  It reminded me of... of.... cheesey feet.   And then I realised what it really tasted like:  fizzy, runny, goats cheese.

I gagged.   I continued.  Everntually, it was all gone.  The book suggested blending with a banana (and adding stevia if needed).  I didn't reallhy want to do this, I wanted to see if I could acclimate myself.

Day 2,  it wasn't so bad to drink.  I downed half the glass in one go.  It wasn't great, but it was OK. 
During Day 2, it started to work.

Firstly, I had lots of digestive noises.  And then lots of wind.  And then, well, it was obviously clearing out my stomach contents.  In the evening, I felt a little nauseous.   I knew from the book that this was normal, it was just the kefir doing it's spring cleaning of my gut.

This morning, I just could not bring myself to drink it.  I think it as because I'd felt a little sick last night, that I was rassociating the taste of goats cheese with being so very ill.   It got to 2pm today, and I still hadn't drunk my dose.   

I gave in, and blended it with a banana.  As I was blending it, I realised that it probably wasn't a great idea (in my case) to do this. I had a strong suspicion that the drink was bow going to just taste like fizzy banana-ey goats cheese.    And it did.  It was also very very sweet.   Still, I managed to swallow it.

The book advises what foods should be avoided during the "detox" phase.   Hmm.   I think I'm probably going to ignore most of that.   (Avoid cow dairy products, bread, rice, pasta, sugar).  

I need to take some photos of my rosacea so I can check progress.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Out of control

I've been realy really good at not buying fabric for weeks now.   I don't have space to store any more,  and I decided I'd wait until I'd made a few more items and cleared some space before I indulged.

Each time I'm tempted,  I bookmark the piece, and then I just leave it alone.   I think about what I'd actually make with it.   I think about my "to make" list and see if the fabric that tempts me would help.

Yesterday, I cracked.

It started because a bag I made for horse-mad Small Person has, apparently, come apart.  She phoned me from a lake somewhere where she was fishing with her dad (my cousin) to let me know.  I don't have any more horsey fabric, so I was looking for something suitable.     I bought some.  And I bought a small piece of sheep fabric from the same seller.

It turned out to be a gateway purchase.

Around the same time, one of my favourite sellers of inexpensive fabric (Tilly Bee) posted some tee shirting fabric in a neutral colour at a bargain price. I bought 4 metres, thinking I could use it to make a top for me,  try a top for Small Person which I could embroider with a fab horse design,  and make a tee shirt for DH.  (I'm not planning on us all wearing the items at the same time).

I haven't bought fabric from Tilly Bee for a while, but I have been bookmarking quite a few.    I was already going to be paying for postage, so I thought I might as well get a (limited) amount of a few other ones I'd had my eye on.

In the scheme of things (the number of  fabrics I had bookmarked),  I didn't buy much.   But I did buy quite a bit.  I can see it's going to end up in yet another box in my "sewing room".

On the plus side, I managed to regain control of myself before I purchased from another seller.   They were selling some lovely lovely black and white cotton fabric that I would love to make into tops.    But I have a lot of cotton fabric that I wanted to make into tops, and I haven't.  Yet.

Perhaps this will spur me on?


Saturday, 10 June 2017

A blast from the past (April 2004 to be exact)

I do a major backup of my PC to an exernal hard drive every few of months, with a backup to a NAS drive more frequently. (NAS is our home network storage).      Every year or so, I have a mammoth clear out to remove redundant pictures, files, etc.

Today I was doing a bit of a clear out which strayed in to me having a quick peek at what was on the NAS drive.  I found some long-deleted web pages, where I'd been sharing some of the emails I'd sent.

This one was about our ancient cat, Maddie. Att eh time of wrtiting the original, Maddie was an only-cat.  She was old, a bit arthritic.  and thoroughly spoilt.  She would jump up on your lap before your bottom hit the seat.  She used to come away on holiday with us.

This particular letter was written to my husband, who was away on business,  and describes a very surreal night.

19th April 2004
Hi Geoff

I thought you might like to hear about some of the adventures your cat and I had last night.
She came up to bed with me, slept on your side.  In the middle of the night I woke up because she had moved and was standing ON MY HEAD.  Although I was groggy with sleep, I moved my head to push her off, and then she started kneading my hair. This was really painful, and a bit scary as I wondered where it was leading (did I feel like a litter tray?) , and I moved my head so she was only kneading the hair on the pillow. Finally she sat part on and part off my head, but I was too tired to care.
Sometime later...maybe minutes, maybe hours,  I woke up because she stood up and turned round, and then started again. Same rigamarole as before.
Later still, she jumped off the bed.
Even later, I heard her jump on to the windowsill. As I lay there, half asleep,  thinking "Maddie is on the windowsill", I suddenly realised "It's not Maddie!. She can't get up there!" .  I then remembered that I had locked the catflap so that  cats can get in but not out. I forced myself to wake up, turned on the light and stared at the black cat on the windowsill. It was a black cat - so it must be Maddie.
I started to doze again when I heard her jump down from the windowsill and,a few minutes, later jump up again. Then I heard her bell.  Then I realised that Maddie doesn't have a bell.  I turned on the light, looked at Maddie on the windowsill, saw that she had a belled collar, and leapt out of need to put on my dressing gown.  "Maddie" jumped off the windowsill and walked under the bed.
Then Maddie walked in the bedroom.  Hissed and spat at "Maddie" under the bed.  In a bit of a daze, I picked up the real Maddie and put her on the bed... I couldn't face a catfight.  Then I got down, pulled the boxes out from under the bed and got hold of the other "Maddie" by the collar and scruff, and dragged her out.   It was a young "Maddie". Black, same face, different body.  The collar told me that her name (his name?) was Salem, and lived at 20 Straight Road.  Holding Salem by the scruff I carried him/her downstairs.
I wasn't really sure what to do.  S/he looked very perturbed, and I couldn't face doing anything horrible.  So with Salem/"Maddie" in one hand I found the front door keys, unlocked and opened the door, and then chucked the cat out.  S/he just sat in the driveway looking sheepish. (If a cat can look sheepish)
As I shut the front door, I heard the catflap rattle.  I went into the kitchen, turned on the light, opened the door... nothing. Then I heard this terrible caterwauling in the utility room.  I walked in, and there, crouched on op of your jacket, was another black cat!  Maddie must have been having some sort of black cat convention or something!. 

 I grabbed this cat by the collar and scruff. No nametag, but a very soft purple collar.  It was very frightened,  and so I couldn't do anything apart from the same as before.  I marched to the front door, opened it, and ejected the cat.
I went back to bed, it was 5.11 am.  Maddie lay down beside me. Every few minutes we heard something and we both sat up.   In the end, I decided I didn't care right now if more cats were in, they could wait til morning.


My lovely step daughter graduated recentlyfrom the OU.

The weather was kind to us.  Ely Cahedral was a marvellous setting. 

So very proud of her.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Small person returns

Small Person had half term, and we volunteered to have her for 3 days.  We were delighted that she also wanted to stay over, so this included an overnight as well.

She rolled up her small sleeves, and jumped in to our day to day routine.  Cleaning out the chooks.   Egg collecting. Filling the feeders.  Filling the wild bird feeders.    Catching chooks for health checks.    Putting out higher fencing to try and prevent the Poppy and Fay getting out.     Returing Poppy and Fay each time they escaped.  Everything in her stride.

I've lost track of what else we did.  The weather was good, so the water pistols came out.    We also did a potters wheel taster session at the wonderful Hands On Art place.    Oh, and I made her a pair of leggings. They were made from unsuitable fabric, so they probably won't last more than a couple of washes - but it enabled me to create a pattern,  and I can make some more another time.

We found that one of the old bikes we keep was a good size for her,  so I took her for a bike ride: quiet roads only, and I made her ride on the pavement for part of it.   She doesn't yet have the road sense to be on the road all the time.

Oh, and I know we spent some time trying to work out (hypothetical) relationships with DH's children and grandchildren.   She was delighted to learn that she is "(step) second cousin" to my step daughter (DSD),   and even more delighted to learn that she was "(step) second cousin once removed" to my DSD's daughter.  They hardly ever see each other, but are firm friends when they do

It turned out that her school has a two week half term,  and we were asked if we could "do" Monday and Tuesday this week as well.     We jumped at the chance.   The weather was rubbish, but there was still lots to do.   She loved going to see the allotment chooks, despite the rain.    This time she helped us empty DH's shed, and I showed her how to use a labelling machine. Then I found lots of things for her to label.

She's always full of energy, enthusiasm and fun.  She isn't a fussy eater,  and she asks  questions ALL THE TIME.   She asks me questions about anything and everything, and it's an interesting window on what goes on inside her head.   

Second week also included homework,  so we made a string telephone.  This also required her not only to go to the shop (which she loves), but to go to a different shop and have to ask for something!  

I also took the opportunity to send her off with a shopping list when we were in another village,  and that was really good for her too.

She did manage to lock herself in the Girls' run,  which was quite funny. It was perhaps a little unfortunate that I only found out she was locked in the run because her Mum came to collect her,  and I had to go and look for her.  Oops!

Luckily for us, her mum has a sense of humour.   Unfortunately, she did it just before her mum turned up to collect her,  and I hadn't realised that she was stuck in there.

We've volunteered to look after her for some days in the summer hols.

Monday, 29 May 2017


I made another top.  
Yet another pattern adaptation,  this one didn't take long though. It's geting easier each time.

I wanted to make a slightly floaty blouse in some loively floaty fabric. However, I chickened out of using my fabric, and made it in cheaper fabric instead.    I'm glad I did.

Some things went really really  well.
  • This time, I decided to try a different construction method, and it worked.
  • My coverstitching worked (mostly)
  • The rainbow thread I used for the loopers on both the overlocker and the coverstitch worked  (I love it, and I'm going to be orderig plenty more spools)
And, as always, plenty of learnings
  • The sizing was OK, if I'd been using the original fabric. I left the darts in, just didn't sew them , so this hgave me more wearing ease.   It wasn't right with this fabric, I should have sewn the darts (I still might)
  • The neckline I drew was far to hight for the style I was going for, and for the gathered neckline.  However, it would work if I had used bust darts,
  • I should have used hemming tape to give y hems a crisper edge.

I've got a few more things on 'let's try' list. Firstly, some relatively simple things:
  • a squarer neckline, with a view to incorporating a top into a summer dress
  • a slashed neckline
  • shirring
  • Finish my empire line blueprint, and make a dress from it.
And that leads me on to making some summer dresses,  some fuller skirts (than the ones I made last year).

And go back and finish my trousers.  And some leggings.

The list goes on.

  •     I

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Sharing a bath

I hoik Gloria off the nest once a day, as I haven't seen her coming out of her own accord. 

Sasha had been complaining about something, non stop, for about twenty minutes.  My neighbour was working from home, so I eventually went out to see what she was complaining about (Sasha, not the neighbour).

I couldn't see anything.  I couldn't see Poppy, so I assumed Poppy must be in the nest box with Gloria and that Sasha wanted to lay.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to catch Sasha.  I gave up. It's too hot to be chasing chooks.

I went back to mulling over my sewing pattern, and Sasha started again.    This time she was sitting n the floor in the run, and she shut up and ran away when I arrived.     I heard some chicken purring,  which is such a lovely sound.

It came from a make-shift dustbath located under one of the Cubes. Poppy and |Gloria were having a happy and contented communal dustbath.  Both girls were purring, and I watched them from a distance so I didn't disturb them.

I tried to work out how old they are. I checked my spreadsheet, and found that the are 5 now!    I perused the spreadsheet looking at all the hens over all the years. 

Our oldest girl, Siouxsie Sioux, is now 8. She still lays occasionally, and she doesn't look her age.   Next are  Norah and Batty, who are now 6.  Then we have Henry and  four of the Harem Girls (who are all from the same hatch, but have various mums) who are 5.   Camilla, Big Bird, and three Harem girls, all five of them Henry's offspring,  are 3. And finally Barbara (daughter of Nora) and a gorgeous Harem girl are now 1 year old. Barbara is the spitting image of Roobarb, who was one of then hens who died in the fox attack

With so many hens of the same age (5), I guess we're going to end up losing a few fairly close together at some point. Hopefully not too soon.

By the way, Sasha has been shut in the Cooler (one of the wooden nest boxes) again.  I'm thinking of changing her name to Hilts*. I've set a timer so I don't forget about her..

(*Steve McQueen's character in The Great Escape)



Gloria went broody about a week ago. 

I was a little surprised. Poppy (her sister) is usually the one to go broody first, and Poppy had been showing i'm-thinking-about-going-broody symptoms.  Instead, it's Gloria clamped to the next box.

I'm well aware of the suggestions for "breaking" a broody. Early in my chicken keeping life, I even tried a few of them with varying degrees of success (and failure).   Eventually I accepted that going broody was just something that some hens need to do, and so now we let them get on with it.    We had even considered letting either Poppy or Gloria raise some chicks this year, but we've decided to have a year off chicks.

The downside is the disruption it causes the others in the flock when their favoured egg laying spot is occupied.

No, that's not really true. The downside is the disruption caused when one or two of the remaining flock decide to get very vocal in expressing their annoyance about the nest box hogging.  They complain, loudly and persistently about it.  It's a darned nuisance, and complegtely unnecessary.  We have ample nest boxes: 2 Cubes,  and 2 extra wooden nestboxes.

Sasha and Fay (our Appenzeller and Fayoumi)  start getting very gobby, very early in the morning.      We've been shutting the Cube door at night so that the sounds are muffled, otherwise they just get up and start being gobby in the run.

We've tried letting them out in the run early.  The gobbiness continues, unmuffled.

We've tried letting them out in to the garden.  The gobbiness continues,  even closer to our neighbours.

I've had some success with getting up at stupid o'clock,  hoiking the offending chook(s) out of the back of the Cube and then shutting them in the little wooden nest boxes.  They can't get the height in there to get the volume.   When I do it, I set an alarm for 30 minutes (I don't like to keep them shut in there for too long), so I have to get up again to let them out. 

It does mean that I have to get myself out of bed though, and some mornings.... well, I fail.  I don't sleep through the noise,  I just struggle to get myself up.

As the nights get warmer, and people start sleeping with  their windows open,  I can't take option of lying in bed trying to ignore it option.

I love Sasa, and I love Faye.  They are tiny, funny, silly, chooks. 

At 5.30/6.00 in the morning,  they aren't so lovely.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Small person

My cousin and his lovely wife went away for a week to celebrate a significant birthday.  We looked after their daughter (T), who is 9.  

An interesting week followed.   School, or at least, school rules have changed quite a bit since I was T's age.  I had a pass to enter school grounds, the gate was not unlocked until 8.17,  and was open until 8.40.  I needed adaily pass to permit me to collect my charge at the end of the day,  and her mother and I had visited the school previously so this could all be recorded. .  Homework had to be downloaded from the school's extranet site.   The stuff T was allowed - and not allowed - to take in in her bag was very strict.

I made a spreadsheet to tell me what time to drop her off, what I had to make sure was in her bag for each day,  what time to collect her,  and what after school activities I had to take her to.

It worked well.

I was surprised at the school dress code.  They are uniformed, which is good.  What I wasn't too happy about is that the Girls have to wear skirts in the winter, and summer dresses in the summer/. They are not allowed to wear trousers, unless on religious grounds.  I really think this stinks.   Firstly,  why should girls have to wear skirts/dresses?  Why can't they wear trousers if they want to?   And secondly,  that just makes the girls who wear trousers on religious grounds stand out.   That's not right either.

Still, she's not my daughter, it's not my school, so I didn't say anything.

Getting up in time to be showered before making sure T was up was a shock to the system.  We knew the traffic was going to be bad (major roadworks) but we weren't sure how bad.  Day 1, we arrived and had to sit in the car for 5 minutes before walking to the school gate (there is no parking at the school), and then we still had to wait for the gate to be opened.  Day 2, we left 5 minutes later. Day 3 we intended to leave 5 minutes later still but accidentally left even later...we weren't late but we were later than we liked.     Day 4 and Day 5, we timed it perfectly.

I have no idea how her parents manage with all the after school activities.  We didn't even do them all! Her mum said we didn't have to do any of them, but we did take her to her swimming lesson one day,  and to her horseriding on another.

On the plus side,  my daily step count has been amazing.  And don't my poor feet know it!    I should have taken advantage of it,  but I didn't.. I just stuffed choccy biccies.   Next time, I'll make sure I have healthy snacks ready for me.

I made her a couple of bits while she was here.  Firstly, a little cross-body bag to hold her phone. It has a little zippered purse bit too.

Another day, when she had the sniffles,  I made her a matching zippered tissue pouch to match (but I failed to take a picture).

Finally, I made her a test pair of leggings.  They were OK, but not quite right - so we'll make another pair another time.

She's already invited herself to stay for part of half term, and I'm really pleased that she has.

Thursday, 11 May 2017


We are so very late doing our first preventative spray of the coops for this year.

Things have been a bit up and down, and it's just got pushed back and back and back.  I decided at the weekend that today (Thursday) would be The Day, unless it was raining.

It didn't rain.  I donned my shower cap (to protect me from drip shilst spraying the inside of the shed roof). It took about 2 and a half hours, and the weather was kind to us.  The shed and the two coops were complely emptied, and checked for signs of red mite.  None, thank goodness.

I used the knapsack sprayer to spray everything with Poultry Shield.   While that was drying, I sprayed the nest boxes, and the bits of the Cube, and the roosting bars.  The poo trays were all cleaned and disinfected,  and the drinkers were sterilised too.  

It was non stop.

By the time I'd done my spraying,  and rinsed and refilled the drinkers,  two of the coops were dry enough to be Stalosaned.  WHile I left that to make sure there wasn't any unseen liquid anywhere,  I put the brushes into a bucket with some Milton.      The Stalosan stayed dry,  so I then Diatomed the corners, the crevices,  and all over the place.   Finally,  I put Aubiose in the poo trays and in the nest boxes (along with a bit more Diatom).   By the time that was done, the shed was dry enough, so more Stalosan,  then Diatom.   The nestboxes went back in (Stalosan and Diatomed),  and then the poo trays.  Then Aubiose.

Last year I bought a couple of powder shakers from Flyte So Fancy, and these worked really well for the Satlosan and Diatom.  I've tried numerous things over the years, and these have worked out the best.

When all was done, we hung up new fly papers in the shed.

I was covered in stuff, but I'm so happy its done.

Just the Garden Girls coops to do now.  Sunday.  Weather permitting.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

I've been trying sort myself out and give myself a bit of a kick to get moving instead of mo[ing.

I bit the bullet, and adapted the Blueprint (A1)  I'd made at my recent sewing retreat to make myself a top with a gathered neckline (instead of a bust dart).  I made it in a stretch fabric and, even  so,  I put the original waist and shoulder darts in.

My dart sewing was spot on,  I was really proud.  Unfortunately, I made a couple of silly errors, and I put it down and left it a day or so before I came back to it and attempted to salvage it.

It came out OK, definitely wearable. Bit baggy - or "tunic style" as I am callinh it - but that was to be expected as I didn't adjust the sizing.  The front , back and sleeve were stuck on to Tailor's Card (along with a fabric sample)  for posterity, and clearly labelled as "A2"

I immediately started working on another adaptation, this time removing the waist darts but to leave everything else the same. I then cut out fabric for a second version,  and waited a day to start construction.   I used the same fabric as the first so I could compare and contrast the fit,  without having different fabric potentially blurring things.

I used my coverstitch machine, and it did a grand job of the hems and the sleeves. 

It also came out well enough to be wearable, so I taped the pieces to card and labelled them as A3.

Of course I'll need to trace them off if I want to use them again,  but that's OK.  If I find a fit I really love I'll make a card template.

My next foray will be another adaptation. This time (probably) a sort of peasant-blouse-style neckline.  I'll use a less stretchy fabric, so I'll probably need to use the A2 version of the bodice and maybe just not sew the darts.  It depends how much ease there will be.

I might wait a day or two.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017


We had the funeral yesterday.  It went really well (for the type of event it was).

I designed and printed the Orders of Service,  and was really pleased with them.  I had a high quality card cover, with printing and photos on the front and the back. The front had a recent photo, one that my Aunt actually liked.

 The back had a photo from when she was about 21.

 The middle was 120gsm paper, and contained the last photo taken of my Aunt, when she was smiking and happy and healthy, taken just a few days before she died. 
 Thank goodness for having a long-arm stapler.  The end result looked professional, and better than many I'd seen.

My Darling Aunt's surviving brothers and their wives came, and many of the cousins came too.  Lots of My Darling Aunt's friends were there.

We had Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah, possibly my Aunt's all-time favourite song,  as the "going in" music.

My brother did the introduction;   we all sang Abide With Me (which seems to be our family's choice of funeral hymn), and then he handed over to me.

I'd practiced the Eulogy, out loud, many times.  Deep breath. 

It was a long Eulogy, about 15 minutes. Lots of stories and snippets about my Aunt, lots of quotes from people, lots about what she thought about others as well as what they thought about her.   It went well, got a couple of chuckles and some smiles,  as well as many tears. 

I think she would have liked it, and I'm sure she would have appreciated it being delivered by someone who knew her so well.

Those who contributed appreciated that I'd included their words.

We had two minutes quiet time for people to privately remember my Aunt,  and then a Goodbye from my brother - no curtain around the coffin, so people could go and say goodby to my Aunt if they wanted to.

We had Elvis singing The Wonder of You as people said their goodbyes to her.

Afterwards,  a lovely wake.

Just the inquest to go now.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Treading water

I'm treading water, waiting for the funeral I guess. 
I can't believe its only been a week since my last blog entry, it feels like...well...months  actually.   This week has passed in slow motion.

We looked after my cousin's daughter for a couple of days last week. Full on days,  she was lovely.  She's at the age where we can have proper conversations with her, and where she wants to do things.

Then I went to help my cousin pick out some clothes for my Aunt to be cremated in. My Aunt was very particular, and we wanted her to look her best, even though it's not an open coffin.    After a bit of hesitancy, we found the perfect ensemble, and we were both instantly agreed on it.

We deided to take the opportunity to clear most of her clothes out of the wardrobe, and I packed them in to my car to take them to a charity shop or a jumble sale.  It took me a while to decide where to take them and, in the meantime,  the car smells lovely - of her washing powder.

I started to write the Eulogy.  I started by making some notes of my own thoughts, and then grouping them.  Then I made a flow,   and I fleshed out the words.   I spoke to people to say that we were writing the Eulogy, and to give them some time to think.

I fleshed out my words, and eventually read it out loud (in my living room, on my own).    The first time I tried to read my draft, I couldn't get through it.    Several times later, and I could.

Talking to people was lovely, and very draining.  Each time I added in a new story or snippet,  I had to read it out loud over and over to be able to get through it without crying.

It took several days to get through it all.

We had dinner with my cousin and his family on Easter Sunday.  A tough time for them, as their normal Easter tradition revolved around them walking over to my Aunt's house. This was the first big occasion that she wasn't going to be there.   It was a lovely evening.     The kids went out briefly,  asn we took the opportunity for me to read the Eulogy to my cousin and his wife,  and we made the final tweaks.

It's ready now.  I just need to keep reading it out loud, so that I can get through it.  If I can't get through it when I'm on my own, I'll never be able to get through it on the day.

We had my DCD (darling cousin's daughter) again for 2 days this week,  so the clothes are still in my car.  I'll take them to the charity today.

I'm looking forward to the funeral, to seeing my extended family,  to  celebrating my lovely Aunt.  It's like this thing, looming, waiting. It feels like everythign has stopped until this thing is out of the way. 

It feels like we can't get on with the business of learning how to carry on, until the funeral is done.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

And following on...

My lovely MIL is now in hospital, and DH has travelled to see her and his sister.  MIL has Dementia, and this means that the two children may have to invoke their Power of Attorney.  I may write more about this when it's over. 

On the bright side,  the Avian Flu restrictions are being lifted today: the hens can finally go out.  DH mowed thegrass at home before left,  and he also cut the grass outside the allotment.  

The Garden Girls won't be let out until this afternoon.  They haven't felt grass under their feet or tasted grass in their beaks since December last year,   and they will probably try and gorge on it.  

Last night, once the Girls had gone to bed, I started to peg out netting.  I didn't wamt to do it during the day because the Girls would see, and they would know that Something was Going On.  They would get overexcited, and trouble would ensue.

Pegging out netting in the dark isn't that difficult, even without a torch. .   What is difficult, is unrolling netting. SOmething happens with the spikes.  They get caught. It's hard to undo, even when it's daylight.    There was a lot of muttering and a bit of swearing going on in the garden at night.   I managed to put one roll up,  but the second and third rolls are currently abandoned on the ground.    I've decided I'm going to print labels and number each post, as that  would help a bit.  Not in the dark, really,  but at least I'd know what the order of the poles should be when trying to unravel them.

Roll on this afternoon!

Monday, 10 April 2017

Where to start?

It's been a horrible few weeks.

My Darling Aunt was admitted to hospital, for stents and then a pacemaker.  During her spell in hospital, I visited every day. She was her usual happy self, eating well,  making us all laugh.

 After the pacemaker, she was a bit quiet. Not surprising. She'd been through a lot for the previous week or so.  She was discharged the day after the pacemekaer was fitted.

The day after that, she had deteriorated, and we took her to A&E.  She was readmitted to hospital.

It's too soon (it's too painful) to relay what happened over the course of the next 3 days.

She died, unexpectedly, on the Sunday.  Her son and I got to the hospital in time to see her.  The hole she has left in my life, and the life of many others in our family,  is huge.  She was the glue that held our straggly and disparate family together, she was the only person who kept in touch with everyone.   She was such a vibrant, vivacious woman, full of life, full of joy.  She should not have died, and there will be an inquest.

In the meantime, my FIL died.  His death was, in contrast, a relief.  He'd been very ill for a very long time,  and the dying process was long and horribly drawn out.  We'd been waiting (and wishing) for his death for several weeks.   DH had to make several overnight trips in the space of a couple of weeks before the final death and then in the week that followed.

The last couple of weeks has all been about daily hospital visits, dying, deaths, and funerals.  FIL's funeral is now out of the way,   and DA's will be in a couple of weeks.

I've done nothing productive. I have missed acknowledging birthdays (sorry especially to my friend Sandra), I have failed to organise some friend things that I was meant to arrange.

Normal service will be resumed when possible. 

Monday, 27 March 2017


Our Allotmenteers have been under cover since the beginning of December.

You may remember that we hastily erected some Heras fencing,  covered the top and sides with netting, and then covered that with a tarpaulin.  This meant that the Allotmenteers had a reasonable sized area in which to range,  whilst still being protected from wild birds.    The tarpaulin was huge and, for it's size, relatively inexpensive.  We knew it wouldn't last that long in the harsh winter weather, but it would do.

The Restrictions continued and, unsurprisingly,  the tarpaulin started to show some signs of wear.  Wear and, literally, tear.    It held.  When the Restrictions were extended again,  we looked at whether we could rearrange things and their area. 

We decided on a course of action, and did some preparation over the last week.   Then, yesterday,  after strong winds, DH discovered that the enormous-and-relatively cheap tarpaulin now had some huge tears in it, and needed replacing.

The forecast for today was warm, dry, sunny.  So, we arrived at the allotment at about 10am.   We set to work.   At 3.30pm, we'd had enough.   The area has been extended, adding a huge extra area under netting.    DH turned some of the Heras panels on end to make A frames, to give more of an angle for the 'roof'.   Everywhere was netted.  Coops were rearranged to fit.

We opened up the new, netted, area as soon as possible so that the  Girls and Henry were out of the way of all the other activity.  They were so  excited to be "out".   They haven't been out in direct sunlight properly since December.   (They have natural light coming through the sides, but the roof has been covered in a blue tarp meaning they haven't really seen the sky).

With the tarp off temporarily,  today meant that the ground was warm.  The netting cast a lovely dappled shade, and (apart from the lack of grass) the whole area was relatively pleasant.  The Girls took advantage of the warm ground,  and dust bathing parties popped up all over the place.

A little later on, a favourite spot was established, and Henry decided to dust bathe.  His Girls took it in turns to share the bath with him, and at one point there were  6 of them crowded in to one spot.   This is him where some of the Girls were swapping over....

We didn't get the new, clear, tarp back on befire we had to leave,  but everything else was finished.