Thursday 27 October 2011

Dollopey women

There is one thing that I dislike more than dollopey women,  it's when I act like one. (rolls eyes)

I did the Allotment chooks today, as DH was tied up. All fine. One of the Welsh Blacks is running around like a hedgehog, obviouslyin some discomfort. SHe dropped all her feathers in the space of a few days, and now they are all gromwing back at once.  Poor love.

Anyway, It was raining.  I did the chores, locked up, and left.  Several hundred yards away,  I didn't remember turning on the electric fence. Now, I've been here before.  I do it automatically.  But at this time of year, I just couldn't take the risk.

I thought I would save time by cutting across some other allotments to the back of ours,  as I had DH's keys which had the fence tester on.   It was harder than I expected to get to the back of our allotment. When I got there, the fence wasn't on.

I walked round to the front, and I could see that the energiser was on. BUt the fence wasn't.  The bit of wire had that links the energiser to the fence had come off.  I said a rude word. Last time I'd made that happen, it had been very serious. There was no clip on the end of the wire. I couldn't get it to stay on the pin thing.  I ohoned OC Ohter Chap) to see if he could come and fix it. 

As I was still on the allotment, he asked me what sort of screws the casing had, so he could bring the right tools.  Nothing for it, I sank to my knees in the mud to try and work it out.  And then I realised that I could actually reconnect it myself, it was the previouss energiser that was unfixable when this happened.  I told OC that I thought I could fix it.  He warned me to disconnect the energiser from the battery.  It's turned off, does it matter.  Yes.  So, I unlocked the door, went in, disconnected the battery. Connected the wire to the terminal, connected the energiser to the fence, reconnected the battery, turned the energiser on - and it worked!  Why was I such a dollop that I hadn't just checked it properly in the first place?!!  OC just chuckled when I told him.

Several hundred yards back to the car, I couldn't remember whether I'd locked up.  I remembered shutting the door, but I could not remember locking it.  Botheration.    

I had locked it.

Still, the exercise is good for me.

Monday 24 October 2011

Having a fit

Did a bit of a long motorway journey today. 

Got back, and my bonnet was badly marked by the eyelashes.  My heart sank. I gingerley rubbed one of the marks with my finger - it didn't move.  I wetted said finger, and tried again. No luck.

DH was on the phone when I went into the house. Got a clean microfibre cloth and wetted it, and also picked up the Fairy Liquid.

The marks came off.

I am somewhat relieved.

Sunday 23 October 2011

BIts and pieces

Went to the allotment yesterday for the first time in a couple of weeks (DH has been doing the duties).     

The 3 remaining cockerels are filling out and are now all stunning young men.  

The Girls are getting on (reasonably) well together.   Mucking out yesterday I can tell that  three coops and the temporary shelter are all being used for sleeping. Can't tell who is sleeping where,  so I might pop down one evening to have a look.

Norman has finished moulting and is sporting an absolutely stunning new coat of feathers. She's grown back blonde again, and looks fantastic.   Siouxsie, Norman's half sister,  has almost finished regrowth;  and NotNorman, Siouxsie's full sister,  is running around looking like a porcupine.

Ruby, one of the two Welsh Blacks,  is moulting.  She's lost about half her feathers in one go, and is looking very ucared for.    Rose (the other Welsh Black)  and Mrs (original Sasso) have yet to start.

The young girls have all filled out and look like proper hens now.  

Coco, as I think we may call the Chicken of Fate, is still running around looking much younger than the others,  but she doesn't seem to be getting picked on.  We still can't get close enough to catch her, and she won't eat out of our hands She lays very dark brown eggs - not Welscummer or Maran dark,  but much darker than everyone else.  I'm really happy about this, because it means that when it comes to incubating eggs next year, we will be able to identify hers and decide whether or not to include some.

With the weather starting to change, we want to get down to one flock. This would also mean that everyone could have access to the shed (currently the Boys sleep there), and we can put a feeder and drinker in there in case of bad weather.  However,  we have to get down to one cockerel to do this, and be ready to saddle the girls if necessary.

So, it'll be decision time on the cockerels soon. And we'll also start having to make decisions about the Girls.  Not really looking forward to that.

Tuesday 18 October 2011


Log delivery yesterday - 2 cubic metres.  All packed away now in the dry, ready for the cold weather.   I opened the coal bunker to stash some in there, only to find it full of kindling from last year. lol.

Hopefully this delivery will last all winter, but I'm not sure.   I've resisted lighting the stove so far, but the weather has been so chilly lately that I can't see it being long. I do love a real fire.

Central heating still off.  I want to get to at least November before we start putting it on. Ideally I'd like to get to the end of November, but I'm not sure we'll manage it.  DH feels the cold more than I do.  Actually, that's not true. I think I just put an extra jumper on!

Quince, yet again

I'm embarking on my fourth and final lot of Quince related preserves today.This time I am making jelly whith 3/4 Quince and 1/4 Japonicas (ornamental quince)

The Quince jelly is lovely.  Clare mentioned that she finds Quince jelly a bit tasteless, and I can see why she thinks that.  I think it has a very delicate flavour, and it gets totally lost on robust things like crumpets - but it is lovely on, say, scones.

The Japonica jelly is completely different.  A sharper flabvour. Still surprisingly moreish.

The lemon and Japonica "shredless marmalade" (which is actually Japonica and Lemon Jelly, given a name more suitable to the emd resul) is very sharp, and makes a good breakfast marmalade.

I'm interested tofind out what the combined QUince and Japonicas will produce. I'm hoping for the best of both  - a slightly less delicate Quince flavour, but without being completely in-yer-face.   I'm actually wondering if I should have used less Japonicas?  Is a quarter still too much?  Oh well, we'll find out in a couple of days.

Monday 17 October 2011

Dentist time

Lost a tooth on Saturday. Well, lost the enamel from round a filling.     Went to a party Saturday night and had to make sure I didn't do any wide-mouthed grinning.

Phoned for an apoointment this morning. Usual receptionist wasn't there, it was a lady with an eastern european accent.  I explained that I'd like to see Mr H.  No, it wasn't for a checkup, I'd lost part of my tooth.  

She gave me the time for the appointment, and I had to suppress a chuckle.  I wish the usual receptionist had been on duty, as I would have shared the joke with her.

What was so funny?  The appointment time.  2.30.

I think that must have been one of the first pun based jokes my dad ever told me.

Friday 14 October 2011


Yesterday I converted the juice from the Japonica-and-Lemons into jelly.   It is no longer murky, it  is now relatively clear and a sort of pinky-brown.   It's quite a sharp sweet-and-sour taste, so I think I shall cheat and label it as Shredless Marmalade.  I'm going to try some on crumpets this morning.

As this wasn't a disaster, I'm going to make some Japonica Jelly, without the lemon.  I'll follow the Quince Jelly recipe,  and then I will be able to do a direct comparison.

I'll report back.

Wednesday 12 October 2011


Today I made four Christmas Cakes (2 using Delia's fabulous "Creole Cake" recipe, and 2 using her Traditional recipe).   Fortunately the young ladies on the allotment have been busy laying, and a set of scales helped me work out how many of their smaller eggs I needed for the stated quantity of size 1 eggs.  In case you are interested, a size 1 egg, without shell,  is about 50g - 55g (ish)  of egg.   I needed just over 250g (not counting shell) of eggs for each of the Creoles,  and just over 100g (ncs) for each of the 2 Trads.  

They are all in the ovens now, and the kitchen smells very warm and fruity.

Then I started on making Quince Jelly.  I'm starting with the pure and proper Quince.  It's made and in jars (5 half pound jars, plus a smidgeon extra), and is beautifully clear and set. I'm glad I resisted the temptation to squeeze the bag; I would have got more juice, but it would have been cloudy.  I'm looking forward to having some on my breakfast toast tomorrow.

The japonica and lemon juice is looking very murky,  so I need to strain that before turning it into jelly.   I'll do that later, I'm a bit cooked-out at the moment. 

Tuesday 11 October 2011


This year, the Quince tree produced 9 fruits. That's our biggest harvest ever.  I put one into a pie with some apples. Absolutely lovely.  DH didn't mind the taste (he drank some of the poaching liquid) but didn't like the texture.

I've used three more to make some quince jelly.  It's hanging from the "chandelier" above the breakfast bar, dripping.  The liquid is pink and clear, and smells vaguely perfumed.

DH hung the Lonzino up there this morning as it has reached the stage where it needs 24 hours in a warm environment.  I decided that hanging next to some steaming quince juice was possibly a little too warm, so I've relocated it. It's now handging from another light fitting elsewhere in the kitchen.  Tomorrow it'll  then join the ham which is hanging from the light fitting in the spare bedroom, which is cooler (being north facing and uinheated) and airier than anywhere else in the house or garden.  We're hoping no one will want to come and stay before the two bits of pork have finished curing.

My lovely neighbour delivered her ornamental quinces a couple of weeks ago, and they have been ripening on the kitchen table.  Some of them went yellow, i.e. ripe, others skipped that stage and went straight to brown and wrinkly.    I picked out the ones that are ready, and decided to make japonica and lemon jelly. I guess I should have made just jelly, then I could have compared the two...but I didn't. So, that is currently dripping through a jelly bag.   This is not pink, and it is not clear. Not really sure what's happened,  so I think I'll try straining again before I use juice tomorrow.  I might try doing another batch and use my tefal jam maker to extract the juice. Not today though.  And not tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be busy.  I've got the 2 lots of quince juice to turn into jelly,  and I'm making 4 C*******s cakes. 

DH has been making curry base for the freezer ("Curry Secret" cookbook. Make restaurant quality curries at home).It takes a while to make, so we make a lot of it in one go.  But once it's made,  a restaurant-quality curry takes only 20 mins to make. It's been portioned up into tubs and, as soon as they are cold, we'll pop them into  the freezer.

Between us we've made a bit of a mess of the kitchen.  Still. That's what it's there for.

Wind and shadows

Very windy fof the last few days, which has become the norm for October now.

In the garden, poor Tilda (special needs girl) is still in full moult. She has got some new feather shafts now, and spends a lot of time preening. Bet it itches, poor love.  I was watching them out of the kitchen window this morning, and I saw Milly (oldest girl, cranky cream legbar)  peck Tilda on the back.  Tilda didn't react, so it obviously wasn't that  sort of peck.  Maybe I imagined it, so I asked DH if he had seen it.  He said it had been very gentle, which to be frank isn't a word we usually use in connection with Milly. 

No one else seems to be moulting yet, so I imagine they are going to wait for the really bad weather to set in.  Tilda will have the last laugh if that's the case.In the meantime, Tilda gets a couple of spooons of cat food every other day, to help her protein levels.

Custard (Tilda's full sister) continues to bully Tilda, making her move fromwhatever she's doing, whether it's eating (we have 4 double feeders, and Custard has to use the exact spot that Tilda occupies), drinking (we have 2 double drinkers and 1 nipple drinker), dustbathing (innumerable craters throughout the garden plus a man-made dustbath in the run), or just generally rooking.   Grrr. 

On the allotment, Norman and 2 sisters are in full moult, having gone for the "drop them all at once" method.   They are such small girls anyway, and now they are featherless they look even tinier than ever. Norm, who is a bit ahead of the others, looks like a little porcupine at the moment.   They get cat food every other day, and we have to stand guard while they eat it up to prevent the others (all much bigger, even the babies) from stealing it.    The other oldies don't seem to be moulting yet either.  I seem to remember that Rose and Ruby (the two Welsh Black ladies) were very late moulters last year;  Mrs (our sasso, mother of Tilda and Custard) is always a law to her self, and I expect she'll moult if and when she's good and ready thank you.

The newest girl - the one dumped in with ours - seems OK.  The confusion caused by putting everyone in together seems to have worked.  SHe hasn't really been "accepted" yet, but she doesn't seem to be being targetted.   We've started to get some very small eggs so we're thinking she might have come into lay.

And someone is laying quite dark brown eggs. Not Welsummer or Maran brown, but much deeper than we are used to.   No idea which of the newbies it is, but we'd like to find out as whoever it is might be a keeper. I did wonder if it was the newest girl, but these are large eggs and she looks too young.  Apart from the fact that dark brown eggs are attractive in their own right,  when you are raising offspring from your own eggs it is helpful to be able to identify the layer of an egg.   For example, our small girls are really too small to produce worthwhile dinner chickens; fortunately we can recognise their eggs,  so we don't put them in the incubator.  We aren't really able to tell Mrs, Rose and Ruby's eggs from each other, so we never know how many of each we're incubating. (We usually just take all the eggs laid by them over a few days,  so we're likely to end up with 1/3rd for each of them, IYSWIM).

On a non chicken note,  just heard Apache being played on Radio 4, and found myself doing the Shadows step routine.   I didn't even know that I knew the steps.   I think middle age is catching me now.

EDITED TO ADD: Since posting, they are now talking about the Shadows Walk. How spooky.

Saturday 8 October 2011


Definitely nippy now.  Walked to the local shops, cardiganised, and wished that I had put on my coat.

This morning we decided to "winterise" the Garden Girls' run.  This meant (a)  stripping off the green covers on the Cube part of the run, and replacing it with a clear tarp which covers both sides and the top, and lets in more light; and (b) putting up clear corrugated PVC panels along the side of the walk in run.  

The Girls were very interested in what was going on. They spent their time investigating what we were doing, examining our workmanship, and burbling their feedback to each other and to us.    I think we'll need to get some panels for the end, and maybe the door, this year if snow is likely, other than that it looks OK. I'm sure they will appreciate the clear tarp if nothing else, as it will let the daylight in earlier and allow it in for longer, now that the days are shorter.

DH also planting garlic today.  This year's harvest was fantastic, and we've already used lots of it with making passata.   Speaking of which, we're hoping to take out the last tomato plants today. One final batch of passata.    And it means that we can clean the greenhouse and use it to store logs for the winter.

Monday 3 October 2011


So, what was it that I bought for my car, that shocked me and makes DH think the real me has been abducted by aliens?

Eyelashes for my car.

I know. I know. 
I saw a car the same model as mine with them and I found myself thinking "wow, she looks really cute with those....".  ("she" being the car.  There is something about the car that makes her very feminine.) "...but I wouldn't have them on mine".  

Then I found myself looking at my car thinking "You'd look really cute with eyelashes".

And then I found myself searching for them.

And then I bought them.

And then they arrived.

I've changed my mind several times since they arrived....and today I found myself putting them on. On the car, that is.

She does look rather fetching.
(HIghlight the missing words to reveal my embarrassing secret).

Saturday 1 October 2011


Took the opportunity to not only scrub the Cube clean in today's sunshine, but sprayed with Poultry Shield as a preventative.  

Waited until Milly had laid her egg, then hoiked everything out. I worked as fast as I could, first power-washing the cube inside and out, then power washing the roosting bars, nest box dividers, poo trays.  Couldn't find the Ecover, so I had to use Fairy LIquid - hope I don't come to regret that. Left it all to dry in the sun while I also scrubbed out and disinfected the drinkers.

When it was nearly dry, I poultry shielded everything, and then went off to clean and disinfect one of the wild bird feeders while the disinfectant got to work.  By this time, Roobarb and Custard had decided they might want to lay, and were most disconcerted to find the nest box had no door, no wall and no roof. They complained, loudly.

Custard in particular has a loud monotone of a  screech. Roobarb's is loud, but it undulates.  It's annoying in its own right when she goes on and on,  but is very melodic compared to Custard.

I made up a temporary sheltered area for them, using rags (old tea towels) to provide two walls and a roof.  My efforts were not appreciated.  The duet of screeching increased in volume, reaching a crescendo which nearly had me shouting at them.  I may have had a little shout actually.   I walked off and left them to it.

They didn't stop.

Milly started.  I looked her square in the beak and asked her what she was complaining about, as she had already laid her egg.  She squawrked a bit more, turned on her heels (well, if she had heels she would have turned on them) and stomped off, in that clockwork-chicken way that Aardman captured so well in "Chicken Run".

I carried on with other things. Ungrateful girls!  I cut down a rather large branch of a very large shrub.  It had caught me  one time too many, when I was hot and bothered and carrying the pressure washer over the netting and up to the Cube. What made it one-time-too-many is that today I had been wearing a tee shirt so I now have rents across my bingo wings.    Perhaps fortunately, I couldn't get to the chainsaw in the shed,  so I resorted to using a very large pruning saw.  It took a while, but the shrub is now considerably smaller and it won't be catching my arms in the near future. Ha.

I went to the Cube and dried it as best as I could with the rags.  It still wasn't dry enough to finish, so I left it open in the sun.

I put the pressure washer away, filled a tubtrug with Aubiose, found the louse powder and the diatom puffer;   I put the hose away.  Every time I went near the Run, R&C wailed at me.

In the end, I could stand it no more.  I put the nest box back together,  puffed with diatom, and put some Aubiose in. The Girls climbed the ladder.    I quickly put in the poo trays, lined them with Aubiose and put the roosting bars in position.  Back on, roof back in place, shut it up, walked away.

Hope it's dry enough.

The Girls are in there now.

Personality transplant?

I think I've been taken over by an alien.

I just bought an accessory for my car that the real me would  *never* have considered.

It arrived yesterday.  Eventually I showed it to DH, ainly because I decided he'd be more patient at fitting it than I would.  He just looked at me.  He'll fit it, because he's like that. I suspect he thinks it's my car, and if I want to accessorise it this way, it's up to me.   I suspect he's also adding the caveat "  long as I don't expect him to ever drive it".

Bit busy at the moment with pork processing, so I'll tell you abit more about the car thing later. Maybe.