Saturday, 30 September 2017

Long distance "bargains"

A for sale ad popped up recently on a poultry related FB group.  An extension for a Go Up.

I thought about buying it, but it was a GL postcode, and Guildford is a bit of a trek. (Although it did used to be my preferred shopping centre, funnily enough.  I think it was my nearest Lakeland at the time).

Yesterday morning, however, I decided to take a look.

We'd been out to Oxford the day before and the chooks had been shut in for about 4 hours.   For Bertie and Ping Pong,  the run seemed a bit small.   I know they won't be here for much longer,  and they are hardly ever confined to barracks,  but it would be good  to have a longer run, just in case.
It was actually quite a bargain, because it was actually two extensions, for less than the price of one new one.   I contacted the seller to make sure that I was reading right,  and I also checked that the end panel was included.  It was.     I checked on TOmTom, and discovered that it wasn't actually GUildford,  it was GLoucester.   It was only an hour and a half.   Even with diesel,  it was still a bargain.

So, I bought it.

I set off to collect it.  I left at 12.45, I shoudl be there by 2.15,   leave there at 2.30 and home by 4. I memorised the important bits of the route (which motorway junction,  which turning to what village).

En route, the satnav changed and sent me further down the motorway.  I assumed that there must have been an incident on the arterial A road, so I followed my SatNav.    I got to the village I was looking for,  it wasn't too bad, only 15 or so minutes later than planned.

And then it didn't go so well.  The sat nav started to lose its signal,  so it wasn't keeping up with my actual position. 
I couldn't find the road it had told me to turn in to. When the signal came back, momentarily, it told me to turn round.    I did, and the signal went again.    I searched and searched, but the road I was looking for no longer existed.  There weren't many roads to choose from,  so I took the one nearest to the one that wasn't there.... and  entered an under construction mahoosive housing estate.

In vain, I tried to find my way to the point on the sat nav, or to any of the recognisable points on the sat nav display, but I failed, and failed.     The satnav kept losing its signal.    None of the roads on the map were on the ground. 

I parked by a local shop,   and my phone didn't have a signal either.  I looked ta the new names of the roads, and I could see that this must have been an industrial estate that had been converted, and the names were probably related to the industrial estate.  I just couldn't work out how to get to the "x marks the spot" on the sat nav screen.  The new roads were culs de sac.

Eventually, I did what I should have done some 20 minutes earlier.  I drove away from the housing estate until I got a phone signal, and then phoned the seller.      They gave me detailed directions,  and I tried again.  The seller waited outside their house to wave me in.

The run was partially dismantled, so it was in DH's car in seconds.   I started home.

DH phoned me to say his friend was popping over to give him a lift to the pub, , and was I nearly home or should he put the chickens away. I explained that I was still the other side of Oxford and would be about an hour and a half.

Overall I was only about an hour later than planned. I'd made up a lot of time because I'd assumed it would take 15 mins to dismantle the run, when in fact that wasn't needed.

It's all piled up on the grass, and I'm just getting up the enthusiasm to go and re-mantle it.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Bertie Ping Pong

Ping and Pong....

...and Bertie

Buttering up

I'd briefly looked at electric butter churns some years ago.  I was interested in something which would speed up my home processing,  or would in some other way simplify what I do.  When I saw the price, I decided I'd better carry on doing it as I do.

I set up alerts on Ebay, Gumtree, etc,  just in case.  Over the years I've had a few alerts.  These are broken machines,  or ones which aren't at all what I'm looking for.

And then, some time ago,  one popped up for exactly the machine I had been interested in.  It was a ridiculous amount of money, so I ignored it.  Some days later,  long after the ad had gone,  I found the link to the manufacturers website and I realised that the machine I'd seen was actually a bit of a bargain. It was still a lot to pay for a hobby butterist,  but I couldn't imagine ever getting a new machine for that sort of money, nor a used one.

Eventually I found the seller advertising elsewhere,  and I bought the machine.   My parents collected it for me, and brought it with them a month later when they came to visit.   It was summer, and too hot to make butter, so I put it in the utility room.  Then DH had his accident, time passed, and I had got into the habit of buying butter.

In Costco the other day I decided I'd better get on with it.  I bought cream, which I stuffed in the fridge.   I decidid that yesterday was going to be the day.

I unpacked the machine, washed it all, sterilised it all, watched the videos.    I put in my 4l of cream (I can only process about 1.5 - 2 litres a time in my Thermy), turned it on... and it didn't work.

DH sorted the fault out for me, and I tried again.

It did an excellent job of the initial churning and of course it was converting a lot more cream at once than I could otherwise do.     Big Tick.

The buttermilk drained off through the tap at the bottom.  Big Tick.

On to the washing step.  For the first batch, I used water from the tap (for the second batch, I'd put water in the freezer to chill).

The washing seemed to work really well.  Much less hassle than doing it by hand and spinning it.  I also didn't lose butter in the process, which was a bonus. Big Tick.

The butter was, however, a bit.... loose.    I don't know if this was the weather, or because I hadn't used chilled water,  or whether it was because water was being retained in the butter itself.    I hoiked the butter out and put it on a colander in a bowl in the fridge, and left it there while I made the second batch.

When the second batch was ready,  I started to salt the first.  Some water had drained off, but not a lot.   I salted it in the food mixer, and potted it.  Its all now in the freezer and in the fridge.

Cleaning up was really quick and easy, and there was a lot less collateral damage cleaning to be done as well.

I won't know whether it has a lot of water in, until I start using it.   If it does then I guess that I'll have to add in a step where I use Thermy to spin the water out  Or use Scotch Hands.  I have a pair, but find they make a lot of mess.

Even if I do have to put in an extra step,  it was a lot quicker and a lot less labour intensive than my normal production line. When I did it BC (Before Churn), I used to process 10 litres of double cream in a session,  1.5 to 2 litres at a time.       Next time I might go up to 12 litres of cream (3 batches).  Or I might stick at 8 litres and do it more often.

The machine is the Milky FJ10.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Saturday and Sunday

The whirlwhind that is Small Person has just left.

One night turned into two.  She hinted during the day that it would be better if she could stay over on Saturday night as well, so I checked with her mum without her knowing.    Later, when we were taling about what to make for pudding,  I said that if we were going to make chocolated steamed pudding, she'd probably need to stay, and suggested she checked with her mum to see if that might be OK. 

She had a class in the morning, so I dropped her just before 10, and picked her up again at 1.  We spent the afternoon playing with chickens,   raking up apples (she was excited to use her new garden tools, and that sort of stuff).  

We did a lot of picky-uppy.  Catch a chook, pick it up, give it a single mealworm, put it down.  Lather, rinse, repeat.    The Girls got a bit fed up of picky uppy, and went into the run.  I could easily have caught the from there, but decided that was them saying "enough now".

It was the Firefly 15th Anniversary marathon on SyFy,  so we went indoors at about 3.30 pm and watched the first (double episode), fast forwarding through the adverts.  We stopped so I could cook dinner,  had dinner,  watched more Firefly.  And more firefly.  And then watched an episode of Taskmaster, which she seems to love.  I think she loves it because it's on late, because it's an adult programme,  and because it makes us laugh.

She insisted that I wake her up to let the chooks out, so that's what  I did at 7.30 this morning.  

We let the chooks out. Bertie pecked one of the poor girls on the head,  so we opened their run doors too so the girls could escape him if they needed to.

He chased them a bit and then, unexpectedly,  did a fleeting cockerel dance.  It was just a quarter turn, very quick, and then he was back to being bossy Bertie.     I guess we'll see more of that over the coming days.

The big girls are eating from the feeder, which is wedged open.  They aren't feeding from it at the same time as Bertie, and that's an issue.    We need them to be confident eating at the same time as him so we can close it. They will learn how to open it from him.  

It's only been a couple of days,  but it feels like daaaaaaaayyyyyyyss.

SP asked me if I missed Sherbet and Fizz.   I replied, honestly,  not any more.
She was a little shocked, and wanted to understand why I didn't miss them.  I tried to explain.

She asked if the breeder would kill them.   We'd already discussed this, and I told her exactly that. "But why can't he just keep them separately?" she demanded.    I explained, again.   I reminded her that Sherbert and Fizz would have been culled much younger, if the breeder had known they were boys. "But why?"she demanded.    She definitely knows the answer to this, and I realised that she was just in one of those being awkward moods, and she was a bit cross with me for no longer missing the boys.

I didn't rise to it,  and all was well a few minutes later.

Her Dad arrived bang on time at 8.45, and she dragged him outside to meet the new girls.

I'm off outside now to play picky uppy.

Saturday, 23 September 2017


Small Person arrived last night for an overnighter.   She was excited to meet the new girls, and straightaway commented that they looked like Siouxsie.  She's been comparing them ever since.

No major dramas at bedtime yesterday, apart from me forgetting to open the pop hole to let them go up to bed.  Once that was resolved, they all went up and stayed up.  Small Person noticed that Bertie was pecking the new girls a bit, but it wasn't vicious.

Small Person fell asleep on the sofa at 9pm. It made me chuckle as not 5 minutes before she'd been telling me how she has trouble getting to sleep at night,  I know this is true because she often sends me messages trying to chat.       We left her asleep until we went to bed at 10pm.

This morning, she was only just awake at 9am. This also made me laugh as one the reasons we're having her to stay is so her mum can have a much needed lie in today.

No dramas when I opened the youngsters pop hole at 7.30 this morning.   I've seen one of them use the feeder, but not at the same time as Bertie.  It'll have to stay wedged open until I've seen them eat together.

After I'd dropped Small Person off at her morning activity,  I came home and played picky uppy with the new girls.  Neither of them liked being picky-upped,  one even less so than the other.  Even mealworms didn't really do it for them.    So I sat on the bench, made clucking noises, and threw Garvo in their general direction.

Bertie is refusing to be caught and refusing to fly up on to my arm,  so I went and did some training with the Big Girls instead.  Gloria, Poppy and Sasha all now fly up on my arm quite happily.   Fay, who could do it if she wanted to,  still refuses,    and Fleur still doesn't understand what to do.   Poor Fleur is still moulting very badly,  so  I don't want to push her too much.

I've come in for a break.  I'll go back out again in an hour or so.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Friday - Late Afternoon

It was all going so well. They were mopching around together, eating grass. Sitting together. All looked serene.

And then I showed one of the girls where the food was in the treadle feeder.  Bertie took great exception to this, and pecked her really, REALLY hard on the back of the head.

I shut the horrible little man out of the whole area, then shut the girls in the run to give them a chance to eat.


Friday - Lunchtime

Things are improving

Friday morning

I was awake at 5, and lay there listening for sounds of squabbling.   It gradually got light, still no sounds,  so I left them alone.  At 7, I finally got up and went and opened the pop hole.

No one came out.

I walked to the other side of the garden and opened the pop hole for the Big Girls.  No one came out. I was earlier than normal, and caught them unawares.

Eventually, Bertie came down the ladder, but the Newbies did not.  I watched for a while,  and then decided I'd better check all was OK.  I shut the pop hole,  opened the door at the back and picked up one girl. The other escaped.  I stroked the girl in my arms (such soft feathers!), and put her on the ground.

Bertie lunged at them.

I recaught the two girls and shut them in the run (shutting Bertie out).  I opened the netting so Bertie could go off exploring,  and that's what he did.

The Newbies ate and drank.  Bertie decided to go and explore the Big Girls run (the Big Girls were still shut in their covered run at this point).   I closed off his netting so he couldn't get back in,  and I opened the run doors so the Newbies could explore their paddock.

I went and had a shower, did some Domestics,  helped DH with his shower, did my mail, that sort of thing.  I went out to chat to them all.  While I was there, one of the Newbies raised the alarm.  Bertie ran over to them (still on the outside of the netting). 

Wash sauntered up the path.  I stroked him and told them all that Washy was a friend (like they could understand me, of course).

I then opened the netting so Bertie could get back in.  I stood in with them for a few moments,  and the came inside to make breakfast.

It's going to be an interesting day.

Thursday, 21 September 2017


Busy day today.    Up very early to get ready to go to ExCel.   If we cut across London, it would be less than 30 miles,  but TomTom and my phone's software both say to go round the M25 and in on the M11, 70 miles.

It was a slow start with lots of hold ups.  It took an hour and three quarters, probably not bad for the time of day,  and was straightforward.  I had to deliver something I'd sold to a place next door to ExCel, and then we carried on.

The Great British Sewing Bee was interesting.  Fairly small,  but a pleasant wander around.  We didn't watch any of the theatre shows or challenges, whih I guess was a bit of a shame,  mainly because I'd arranged another appointment later in the afternoon so we had to Get On.

I did call in at the SureFit Designs stand and topped up on vellum.   I really hope Judith does well there,  she's put so much work in to getting the UK arm up and running.

We left at about 12,  continued round the other side of the M25, and arrived at our next destination a little after 1.30.  And there we picked up 2 young Dorking pullets.  They are young girls, but very big.   When I put them in the carrier, I was hoping that the don't intimidate Bertie too much.

We chatted with the lady for some time, and didn't actually leave there until about 2.15.  We were home by 3,  and I popped the Girls in Bertie's coop.   I opened the door for them almost immediately, but they didn't want to come out.

A bit later, I went out with mealworms for everyone, and they made an appearance.  Bertie seemed not to have noticed them.  He continued seeming to have not noticed them for some time,    nibbling grass around the run and not noticing anything amiss.

He casually started crowing.And then suddenly, he went for them.

I was a bit shocked.

He chased one around the garden..  Not in an excited young cockerel way,  in a "F off out of my space" way.   I stepped in.

I suppose he's been living with 2 other young lads for the last 4 weeks,  and was bottom of the pecking order.  He's presumably staking his claim early.  The two girls, whilst much bigger than him, are trying to take in their new surroundings and are a bit nervous,  so didn't retaliate.  

I should have waited until tonight and just popped them all together in the coop, but I didn't like the tought of them all being shut in, just in case there was trouble.  However,  I had been so focused on worrying about whether he'd get bullied by 2 girls, that it didn't occur to me that he might bully them.

It's pouring with rain now, and I'm watching them carefully.

The girls are big versions of Siouxsie Sioux. I'll post some pictures tomorrow.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017


More attempts at cockadilling from Bertie.       He's been mooching round the garden all day, and flatly refusing to be picked up.   I managed to get him once, and rewarded him with mealworms.... he still refused to be caught later.

Today's personal highlight was a planned massage.  The lady who does it works wonders, and I it makes a real difference to my circulation and to my various cricks and crooks.    It was planned for the middle of the day, which means the rest of the day was planned to be a bit of a wipeout while I emjoyed the results.

I wanted to go to Costco as they have an offer on a Vacuum sealer.  We don't need a new one, but the one on offer has some helpful features which our current one does not.  The main feature is the ability to force it to do the vacuuming, rather than have it automatically triggered when the bag is pushed in. We have to waste a lot of bag space because of this,  and often have had to use a bigger bag than really necessary.

I've been meaning to go for 2 and a half weeks,  but I kept putting it off.   It was today, or miss the offer (it's not available online, they onl have some bottom of the range model available online).  (Tomorrow and Friday I have other appointments,  and I never visit Costco at the weekend unless it's an emergency.  Saving money on a Vacuum sealer that I don't strictly need isn't an emergency).

I have to drop DH at his friend's house this evening, so I thought I'd go to Costco then. At least I'd have had a few hours of post-massage floatiness.

And then my poor therapist contacted me to say she wasn't well.

So, I did the Costco trip.  I managed to not buy a breadmaker we don't need (although I am thinking of  going back to get it).  It was an OK trip.

Unrelated to Costco, I've also arranged to collect two hens tomorrow afternoon.   I can't get them today because I don't want them all shut in the small run while I'm not there to keep an eye on things.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017


I opened Bertie's (I'm changing Herb's name) pop hole and he came rushing out, down the ladder, and stuck his head in the feeder.    I opened the door to the Run, something I don't usually do for at least an hour,  so that he could get out an dmooch around.

It was quite a log time before he stopped scratching around.  He roosted on the back of the child-sized bench and, for the first time,  looked a bit...... lonely.

I went out with mealworms.

Then I decided to leave the entrance to his netted area open, so he could wander rounfd the garden. And maybe say "Helloooo" to the Girls.

Some time later, he hadn't worked out that there was an opening,  so I went in and out a couple of times, trailing treats.  He got the hang of it, and spent the next few hours wandering around and eating, popping back to his own space every so often.

Part way through the day I gave him, and the Girls, some mealworms.  Right on the edge of the Girls' fenceline.   They ignored him, and he ignored them - or he appeared to.  I suppose I was secretly hoping that he might get adopted by them,  with the Grls accepting him because he was a Lad.

I'm hoping having the freedom of the garden will take his mind of being an Only Chook.

I'm still looking for suitable (and unsuitable) companions.  I don't really want to get any until Thursday evening or Friday.     I've found some, but they are a  3 hour round trip, which means Thursday is out,  Friday and Saturday are looking unlikely.  I did find myself thinking "oh, just go tomorrow.  They'll be alright together in Thursday".    Common Sense prevailed.   Even if they did turn out to be alright,  I'd still be stressing about it all day Thursday.

I'll keep looking.

Monday happened

Small Person arrived after school to say goodbye to Fizz ("and maybe Sherbert too").

The breeder arrived on time, and we went out to catch the two Legcanas. Small Person helped. 

We chatted while we inspected the birds.  He wasn't sure, but felt it most likely that both of them were boys, and he took took both of them away.   We put them in a box in his car,  and chatted some more.

Back in the run, Herb was wandering about.   He took himself to bed at bedtime.

I continued looking for suitable girls, and failed.  I might have to get some unsuitable ones.

More questions

I told SmallPerson and her Mum yesterday (Sunday) that Fizz's breeder had rescheduled for today Monday).  I knew she would be wondering what happened.    I also asked her Mum whether SP might want to come and say goodbye to Fizz on Monday.  I didn't ask SP directly, as I wasn't sure whether it was a good thing or a bad thing to suggest.

SP's mum asked her,  and she said she'd like to say goodbye.  All being well. they'll come over after school, before the breeder arrives.

Last night, SP messaged me.  "Are you going to miss Fizz?"

I don't know whether SP was genuinely wondering if I would miss Fizz,  or if she was thinking about how she felt.  Maybe both.  

I'd miss Fiz for a while.

"And maybe Sherb" she added, while I was typing my furst answer.

Again, I replied honestly.  That I'd miss Sherb a bit more than Fizz because (a) Sherb was friendlier than Fizz,  and (b) I'd had a few days to get used to the idea of Fizz being a boy but I was still hoping Sherb was a girl

She had obviously been considering the implications of one of them being a boy or both of them being a boy.  Some weeks previously, we'd had conversations when we first got them, about what we would do if Herb was a girl, and what we'd do if Fizz or Sherbert was a boy,  back when we didn't know.  She wanted to know what would happen because she knows that we wouldn't take Herb to the allotment on his own.

I explained that we'd probably have to get 2 more young girls to put with Herb until he was old enough to meet the Old Ladies.     I smiled at her response,  Can I help train them?

She questioned me further, with her usual disaster planning head on.  What if we couldn't get any chicks?  How old did they need to be?     And so on.

I've shared my plans with her, and I'm anticipating more questions today as she digests what I've told her.


Saturday, 16 September 2017

And the winner is...


Fizz.  The chook without the fluffy face.

We've seen him crow a number of times now, it's definitely him.   We're unsure about Sherbert.

I messaged Small Person to tell her the bad news, and we had a little chat about it.
               We know who's crowing It's Fizz
                                   "Are you going to cull  Fizz?"  
                I'm going to see if I can rehome him. If not he'll go back to the breeder"
                                 "Will I get to see Fizz again?"

                 The breeder is coming on Sunday to see if he can tell whether Sherbert is also a boy.   If
                 I haven't found a home for Fizz, the breeder will take him with him. |

                  I've messaged someone about rehoming Fizz, but I haven't heard back yet.

Truth is, she probably won't get to see him before he goes,  and that might be for the best.     I'm glad that we'd already had a discussion about what we'd do if one of them turned out to be a boy, so it isn't a shock for her.

I didn't want her to arrive next week and find out it had happened and we hadn't told her.

Thursday, 14 September 2017


And of course now we're looking for it,  and I have the camera charged and ready to go,  there's no cockadiddling at all. Not from anyone. Not for 2 days.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Steps forwardfor some, and steps downhill for others

DH showered by himself today. First time in 10 weeks. 

For me, it was odd (and I was  a little sad actually) to be showering on my own again. It is, however, another small step forward in his recovery.

Later, he was speaking to his mum on the phone again.  He's great with her, rarely shows any impatience.    She phones every day, and the dementia has been noticeably worse recently.     Right now she's in the nmiddle of a particularly severe 'bout'  (is bout the right word?). 

She didn't know what day it was, so DH asked her to look at the clock on the wall.  She has a clock with a large display which shows time, day and date.   She told him what it said.  A few minutes later, she told him she didn't know what day it was.

She then asked him how to work the pencils.  This was (I presume) the parcel of pencils I sent her some weeks ago, which she said she didn't get.   I'd chosen 'propelling' pencils, ones which had one single, long, lead in. This means she wouldn't have to worry about sharpeners, and she wouldn't have to worry about refilling the pencil once the lead was used up.  

When asked, she said she hadn't got the parcel (which was delivered yesterday) which contained ordinary pencils. I guess it's possible that the Home hasn't given her her parcel yet. Or it's equally possible that it's actually the ordinary pencils she is looking at, and she is getting confused.

She also complained bitterly that her daughter hadn't phoned. DH explained that SIL was away working, and MIL got very angry/upset, saying that she could phone.   It's entirely possible that SIL has phoned. Last week, DMIL said that SIL hadn't visited for ages, even though we knew she'd actually visited that afternoon!  

It's such a cruel disease, it's turning my lovely MIL into something she isn't.   

I noticed that didn't use my SIL's name, and   I suspect that she's temporarily forgotten it.    I haven't noticed her doing that before.

Yesterday, she was a little upset.  She thought she had knocked down a wall of her room, but the wall is still there.  She said she probably dreamt it (but she only knew it was a dream bercuse the wall was still there).

This is probably the worst time for her.  The disease hasn't taken her completely,  and she knows that things aren't quite right. 

Although it will be horrible for us,  it will be better for her when the disease has taken her completely and she can be blissfully ignorant of her state of mind.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017


I found the camcorder, to attempt to record the chick/s crowing and, of course, the battery was dead.  I knew that the spare battery was in the charger, and the charger had been plugged in to a socket in the kitchen. I also knew that it wasn't there any more, I'd moved it when I'd wanted to raise the table,  but I couldn't think where it could be.

I checked the obvious place.  I emptied the little cupboard out in the end, and checked everything to make sure I wasn't missing it.

So, I went to the next obvious place.   And while I was there, I thought it could all do with sorting out.  And  then it snowballed. 

I had stuff everywhere. Piles of stuff.   All the little electricky bits,  I put into ziplock bags and printed labels for the bags (most of the actual items were already labelled, from a previous tidy up). I took the opportunty to clear out some stuff relating to an old job, and stacked the papers up, ready to burn.   This gave me a free slot,  so I did some reorganising of that unit while I was at it.

I've managed to clear out several cupboards.   I didn't find the charger but, part way through,  I remembered recording my embroidery machine,  and I could vaguely picture it sitting on the side upstairs. 

I did look, while I was taking some stuff upstairs to out away, and it wasn't where I pictured, but the spare battery was. 

I carried on sorting out downstairs.  I vaguely remembered it had been plugged in the landing, and I'd unplugged it for some reason... and I'd put it in a stupid place.   By the time I'd nearly finished the excavations downstairs,  I had a pretty good idea where it was.  I went upstairs to look - and found it.

I'm actually quite pleased that I misplaced it, as I wouldn't have done all this decluttering otherwise.

Crow No!

We heard that strangled crow this morning,. I looked out of the window, and could only see one of the 3.  The crow happened again and, to my horror, the one I was watching seemed to be doing it.

It was one of the Legcanas,  Sherbert I think - the bigger of the two.  I can't be sure though, I was looking from above.

We've been keeping a close eye all morning, waiting for another crow so we can check.

Even if Herbert (the Vorwerk) turns out to be a girl,  Sherbert/Fizz isn't any use to us as a cockerel.  He's half leghorn, and they don't make good table chicks.

It may be that Boy-Sherbert/Fizz is suppressing the development of Boy-Herbert.   We had that once before, a long time ago...

...Our first foray into table birds was to buy-in some 6 week old table chicks to raise them.   It was not the most pleasant experience, they were a fast growing breed and did nothing but eat.     Amongst the white birds we had 2 brown chicks.  One was a cockerel and the other was a hen.  The cockerel had a strange gait, so we called him Lumpy (I think I had just watched Bill Murray in Scrooged, his girlfriend called him Lumpy because of the way he walked),  and the other one was called Mrs Lumpy.   Lumpy was culled for the table  and, within days, Mrs Lumpy revealed that she was actually a boy.  S/he threw off the dull plumage and suddenly a magnificent tail, saddle and crest appeared;  the comb enlarged and the wattles grew.       It turned out that Mrs Lumpy was one of those cockerels who was quite happy to defer to another boy.

I'm wondering if Herbert might be doing something similar?  It's not uncommon to be able to keep 2 Vorwerk boys.

We've been out this morning to inspect all 3 of them, but I can't really see any evidence of saddle feathers or hackle feathers.  Maybe a bit on Herb, but I can't be sure.  Sherb and Fizz are doing a lot of quite rough standing off,  and I'm now wondering if both are boys.

The fate for a male Legcana is: go back to the breeder (if he'll take them, which is unlikely);  rehome;  cull.

What we do next depends on what we're left with.
Just Herbert - boy - either get 2 point of lay pullets to keep him company,  or move him to the allotment earlier than planned.
Just Herbalina - girl - get a pullet and a cockerel to keep her company?  Or just a cockerel?   Or just a pullet and wait until a bit later to get a cockerel for the allotment.  Keep them here for a while, or introduce them to each other at the own pen at the allotment (new home for all)?
Herbert + female Legcana - Leave as they are?  Or get another pullet now so that female isn't on her own to be introduced to the rest of the allotmenteers
Herbalina+female Legcana - Leave as they are, look for another cockerel, full grown this time,  and put them all down the allotment, in their own pen until the girls are older,  together.

In many respects, the first and last options would be the easiest to manage.

There's no point contacting the breeder until I know which one it is.

Friday, 8 September 2017


Was that a strangled, adolescent, crow I just heard?  Or was it the dishwasher squeaking?

I ran to the kitchen to look out of the window to look through the window at the 3 youngsters.

I was ambushed en route by a starving cat. As she's a fussy eater, I had to stop and feed her,  and I heard it again.  It was definitely not the dishwasher, so it must be one of the chooks.

But which one?

I looked at them, as they all sat in a line, perched on the back of the child sized garden bench.  None of them looked like they'd crowed,  and none of them looked like doing it again.

DH appeared. "Did you hear it?" he said.

Sherbert,  the "Legcana" with face furniture and yellow legs looked quite pleased with herself.   "I hope it's not her!".  We have no room for a male Legcana, and I'd paid good money for a pullet.

We stood and watched and waited.  And waited.  And waited.

Eventually we gave up waiting.

I'm trying to remember my password for the security cameras so I can see if it was caught on camera.

Thursday, 7 September 2017


My lovely, lovely MIL's Dementia is getting worse.

Until recently, the incidents had a humourous twist to them.  We knew that they were an indicator of her dementia,  and we knew that, for her, they weren't at all humourous.   Like the time she phoned because the lights in her home (her home home, not the Home in which she lives now) weren't working - and it turned out she was wearing sunglasses.

About a month ago, she really brightened up.  She phones most days,  and DH and she (or she and I) have the same conversation.  She says how well she is feeling, never felt better,  has been eating properly and feels fitter than she has done in years.  We talk about the weather,  about SIL visits,  about DH and when he will next be able to visit,  and so on.     She asks for puzzle books, for pencils, all of which I send (and she tells me that DH has sent them to her,  but that's OK).  We talk about whether she's been out for a walk, what she's had to eat, that sort of stuff.     I;m happy with the repetition, it makes the conversation easy.

And then, suddenly, a significant shift.    This week, she's been unable to find something, and has been very distressed about it.   She is adamant that she put the item on the shelf, like she always has done,  but its gone, it must have been stolen.     DH has spent hours on the phone with her, trying to help.  He asked her to check her bathroom, she was adamant she doesn't have a bathroom (she does, its an ensuite in her room at the Home).  She cried, upset that he didn't believe her.  DH is brilliant.  He patiently explained that he does believe her, but to look anyway.  He tried to establish whether she'd told one of the carers that she'd lost it,  but couldn't get her to say the same thing twice.

On a different day she said that she had put it on the shelf,  but in the night a big machine came and cleared away the whole of that shelf an the whole of the wall, it wasn't there any more.   We know that this is the Dementia causing it, and we know that she genuinely believes that what she says is true.

Of course, she's remembering a different room, a different place,  possibly from 50 years ago, and the frazzled synapses are making her believer the only possible explanation is that the whole wall had been taken away. And the only way that could happen, was by a big machine. And because she hadn't seen it, it must have happened at night.

The saga continued for several days, with more tears of genuine distress.    My MIL would be mortified if she was aware of what was happening to her,  she would never cry in front of her son.  

My SIL goes to see her at least once a week, sometimes twice.  When I ask MIL  about SIL visits,  she sometimes says she's seen her,  but often says she hasn't seen her for ages.

The list of confusions is now quite long.    The home is a Mathodist run one,  and they have services on a Sunday.    Each Monday she phones to say that "once a year the whole place comes to a halt while they have some religious ceremony".   Of course, the "once a year" is "once a week", and every week she phones to tell us about the once a year happening.

 I'm so sad that we are losing the person she was.  More than that, I'm so very sorry for the person currently  inhabiting her space.  I suspect she's finding the orkd very confusing, and a little frightening, and I think that  she knows things aren't right with her.

I wish I could reassure her.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017


At the end of last week, two separate conversations with Small PErson's (SP) mum collided in my memory.

The first was when she'd said that SP went back to school on Wednesday and the second was that she was had Thursday, Friday and Monday off work.    I messaged her to check, and offered to have SP on Tuesday if that was the case.  She messaged back to say thank you, and that SP's dad was going to have SP on Tuesday. She'd check with him.

SP overheard her mum and dad discussing it,  and asked if she could come to me instead. Result for all of us!

So, we had a bonus day yesterday, an unexpected pleasure.

I had a couple of things planned:  some time with the chicks, trying to get them used to being caught,  and teaching her to sew something simple.

Unfortunately, it turned out that SP had quite a bit of homework to do,  so we actually spent almost the whole day doing that.      She had to find out some stuff and do a poster (or Powerpoint) about Van Gogh.    I had an idea about decorating it with little thumbnail sized pics of  his pictures... and then when I found out how many pictures that was,  we adapted the design.  We still only used about half of them.   I spent most of the day cutting them out for her to stick.

 I learned quite a bit, and I made sure that she could explain all the points on her poster (How old was he when he died?  How many paintings did he create?  How many drawings?  How many did he sell in hs lifetime?   What happened about the Ear?  What was different between Gaugin and Van Gogh's style of painting?   What is a "lay preacher"?  What is an "art dealer"?  What was special about the painting that sold in 1990?) so that the teacher would know that SP had really done the work.

We did fit in some chick time,  and time to eat ice lollies and bagels.  We also witnessed an incident with Sherbert and Fizzbert, the two "Legcauna".       There was some facing-off going on,  normal at their age.  And then it turned a bit nasty,  and then it turned very nasty.  We went out and I separated th etwo girls, shut oe in the run, and brought the othe rone in the house.    I cleaned her up and applied lots of Septicleanse,  and then swapped them over.

I realised that the apparent aggressor, Fizzbert,  was actually reacting from having a bit of her comb bitten off by Sherbert.    I kept an eye on them for the rest of the afternoon, and noticed that they kept their distance from each other. 

Small Person, of course, wanted to know what my contingency plans were going to be.  "What would you do if they keep fighting?  ". She'd worked out that we didn't have any room to permanently separate them.  I explained that I'd probably have to keep the aggressive one in a dog crate for a while, and then reintroduce and see what happens.   

"What if that didn't work?"  Well, I'd probably have to rehome one of them
"What if you couldn't rehome one?"  Worst case, I'd have to cull.
"What if they were both aggressive"  Well, I'd probably have to pick one to keep.
"Which one?" I honestly don't know. I don't have a favourit
and so on.

We'd had a different conversation a few days before.
"What if Herbert isn't a boy?"  Well, I'll keep him and call him Herbalina (which was SP's suggestion of a name for one of the Legcaunas.
"What if one of the white ones is a boy?" Well, I'd have to try and rehome him.
"Why wouldn't you keep him?"  I only have room for one cockerel
"What if Herbert is a girl and one of the white ones is a boy, would you keep him?" No.
"Why?" Because we breed for the table,  and I need a cockerel that will prodiuce good table birds.  The white chicks are from breeds which are great egg producers, not table birds".

I'm used to these conversations now,  I try and answer honestly and without showing embarassement (and without going in to too much detail). 

We've had several conversations about hens, cockerels,chicks, eggs, fertilised eggs, incubation and brooding. 
Yesterday, as we were learning about Van Gogh,  she said  "It says Van Gogh sent his ear to a prostitute.  What's a prostitute?"   A prostitute is a woman who has sex for money instead of for pleasure or making babies.

I digress.

This morning, I opened the back of their coop to see whether anything had happened in the night, but all was well.  And today they were sitting next to each other in the sunshine, so harmony has been restored.  A bit of a relief really.


On Sunday morning, the dishwashwer was displaying a fault code.   I googled it, and found lots of online help about what the error probably meant, and suggestions on how to fix it.  It was one of those generic error codes, where you have to work down the list and eliminate various causes.

I took out the trays,  and then DH and I attempted to remove the plinth that was holding the machine in.  Easier said than done.

Some time later, the plinth had been removed and the dishwasher was out and being laid on its side. 
One of the legs snapped. My fault I think.

We located the part,  tested it,  tested somewhere else (to make sure it wasn't somewhere else that was causing the problem), and then took out the part.  DH cleaned it up as instructed, and refitted it.

Righted the machine, turned everything back on, started it.. same fault.  So, the little part needing replacing.

It was going to cost almost £100 for the part.   There was no guarantee that this would solve the problem.  Our dishwasher is 12 years old.

We ended up buying a new dishwasher.  We used AO, and paid for next-day delivery.   I didn't really want to spend the money,  but I know what I'm like.  If I'd waited until free delivery on Tuesday,  by Monday evening I would be cursing that I hadn't spent the money.

As it was, I ended up with slightly dishpan hands.    Hand washing is SO wasteful!  I couldn't bear to have the tap running to get to the hot water,  I had to catch it in a bucket and give it to the plants. Or wash the floor with it.       

I don't think kids today realise that you have to use really really hot water to properly wash up.  I was wishing I had some Marigolds.   And all that water for rinshing!    And the draining board got full so quickly.... I even employed one of the dishwasher drawers to try and accommodate all the clean washing up.

The new machine didn't arrive until 5pm the next day,  by which time I'd done more washing up by hand than I've probably done in the last two years.

When I bought my first dishwasher (thirty something years ago), my friends and family thought I was crazy to buy such an unnecessary luxury.  Now, I imaging that a couple of days without one would have them tearing their hair out - or eating takeaway on paper plates.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Child-sized PROPER tools

SmallPerson had been helping in the garden.   One of the things she helped with, was raking up the windfall apples and pears.   Our lawn rake was far to big for her to use and she tried, valiantly, to hold it about half way down.

I went online to research child sized garden tools.  I found a lot of rubbish - garden "tools" that were really just toys,  about as useful as a childs pretend lawnmower.    I found some upmarket ones, which cost a small fortune - far more than I was prepared to spend in these circumstances.

And then I found some that actually looked good and weren't prohibitively expensive.  Even with next-day delivery, they were still not a bad price, and I decided to order several items.  I ordered a lawn rake, a garden rake, and some hand tools.  I was tempted to buy other items as well, but I wanted to order things that I knew Small Person could use immediately.

They didn't arrive. I hadn't noticed that they were on a "3-6 day delivery".  About a week after I'd placed my order, I emailed the supplying company, who responded immediately.  They apologised, and explained that the items come directly from the manufacturer,  and the manufacturer had just implemented new delivery systems which had been causing some problems.

The items arrived today,  and we won't be seeing Small Person again until October.

The items really are lovely.  They are well made,  they are proper garden tools, just a smaller version. They have lacquered ash handles, and carbon steel tines.  

Small Person will love them.

I can see that I am going to end up ordering the fork. And maybe the hoe.  And maybe the spade.
Here's a link to the website (no affiliate link or anything like that)