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