Thursday 28 March 2013


The weather has been so cold that the grass isn't really growing.  We moved the Girls off the pampas area a while ago, and the grass hasn't recovered.  Meanwhile, the grass patch in front of their run, where the fence now is, has been "wrecked". 

Yesterday I was looking at this out of the bedroom window, and decided that I'd move the Girls back on to the Pampas until the weather gets warm enough for the grass to start regenerating.   So, I went out and started to move the netting. Tilda was under the Pampas, minding her own business.

The Girls, of course, escaped all over the garden. I left them to it.  With the others on the loose,  I did go and get Tilda. I popped her in the run so she could have a dustbath without the others gathering outside.  As it happens, she just sat in the dustbath and made no attempt to bathe.

It took a while to move everything.   I then got a lawn rake, and raked up the bits of dead garden and chicken poo,  and this made everything look better.   Custard got very excited and decided she just had to excavate the big shoe thing I was raking into.

When I was ready for the Girls to come back into the netted area, I got some mealworms to tempt them with.   They came running from all corners.   I popped some mealworms in the Run with Tilda, and Roobarb slipped in as well.  I went to shoo Roobarb out, and then decided against it.  I've rarely seen Roobarb peck anyone, and I thought Tilda might like her company.

Outside the Run, I put the lid back on the mealworms,  put it down, and then turned back.   Tilda was lying on her side in the dustbath, trying to bury her head.  

I was so shocked.

I sprang into action, rescued her, and took her back to the house.  I couldn't see any signs of damage, but she did panic when I went near one side of her head.  I offered her mealworms - she ignoed them. Grapes.  Cucumber. She ignored it all.  

I gave her a couple of drops of Nutridrops.    Over the next hour she recovered,  and by the evening she was chatting away to us as if nothing had happened, and was tucking in to her peckablock.  She even managed some mealworms.

This morning she's fine. I've put her outside the back door so she can sit in the sun. She can also get down the side of the house which is sheltered. Fortunately, she doesn't tend to wander very far, so we don't really have to net her in. 

So. I learned a lesson yesterday.   I wasn't wrong to let Roobarb stay in with Tilda (although I won't do that again, of course); my mistake was not standing and watching to make sure nothing untoward happened.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

yes, you must

The Girls seem to have decided to be extra vocal in voicing their disgust/outrage at being kept shut in the coop. This moring it started at 6am.  It didn't stop, so I got up to go and see what was happening. I had noticed some small scabs on Lotti's comb yesterday, and I was concerned that she was being bullied to death.

Of course the moment the Girls heard me open the back door, there was silence.

I went out anyway, and whipped open the nest box to see what was going on.   The Girls were queueing to get out.  Lotti broke ranks and rushed towards me.  I checked her comb (no additional problems) and shut the door. I went back to bed.    The noise started again after a few minutes.

It was quite light inside the cube.  Whilst trying to drift back off to sleep, I tried to work out how I could put some blackout fabric over the cube without blocking the ventilation.   I didn't come up with an answer, but I did remember that I had an old blackout roller blind somewhere, and I might try and do something.


After breakfast,  I went through the usual routine with Tilda.  I opened the back door, and shuffled her towards it so she could stick her beak outside to see what it was like.   It wasn't as cold as it has been and, although still cold, the sun was trying to make an appearance.   Tilda tried to get round my legs to go back into the kitchen.    

She's been in the house without going out at all for the last 2 days.  With slightly less horrible weather, I was determined that today she would go out, even if it was only for an hour.

We had a bit of a leg wrestle,  and evetualy she gave in and hopped down on to the paving.  I scooped her up and put her in the Pampas, so she could settle down and keep warm.

She looks happy enough.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Joseph Collins

I very rarely drink - well, apart from a single glass of wine with some meals - and so I'm finding practising my newly learned cocktail making skills a bit of a challenge in itself.

On Sunday I made a gin based Tom Collins,  but it wasn't great.  I don't like gin, so it was off to a rocky start anyway. For clarification, that's not quite as stupid a statement as it perhaps sounds.  I've managed to drink Plymouth gin with only a small amount of complaining... I was hoping that making it into a proper cocktail following a proper recipe, might make it more palateable.

I didn't drink much of it,  I didn't have any syrup left (I'd used cordial as a substitute), and so I wasn't able to try another version until today.  Today I made a Joseph Collins, which uses Vodka.  I followed the base recipe,  as I wanted to see if I liked the basic drink before I started trying variations thereof.

It was quite acceptable.  However,  I drink the hard stuff so rarely that I don't think I'll be ready to try a new variation for another couple of days.  

Did I imagine Tilda's disapproving looks?

My Aunt

My Aunt, who is in her seventies, has decided it's time for her to get on the escalator of the technical revolution.

A couple of weeks ago she took delivery of an Ipad and learned how to use it.  She's used it (when at my house) to change her energy suppliers, she's signed up for broadband, and she's mastered a number of games downloaded to keep her going while waiting for Broadband to be connected.

In the last few days, since she her broadband was activated, she's  learned how to email and surf.   She's checked out some furniture she was interested in, found some recipes she wanted,  and found some clothes in M&S that she wanted to order.   Today,  she's learned how to use Facebook and Skype.   I'm not a fan of Facebook, so I've got her started and her daughter-in-law will help her more on this

We've got a few more things on the list to do, we're tackling things one step at a time.

I'm really proud of her.

Sunday 24 March 2013

Mixing it up

The One Day Introduction to Cocktails Masterclass was even better than I expected.

The course didn't start til 11, the Shaker Bar School opens at 10.45, and they warn that no food is provided.  So, we arrived early and had breakfast in the nearby Speedy's Cafe.   Thanks to Google Maps, I'd not ony been abe to view cafes in the area but, thanks to StreetView, I'd actually been able to look at it (and the surrounding area) "for real" to see if it was a salubrious sort of place.  Actually, it had lots of positive reviews as well.

It was great.  An "old fashioned" cafe serving good food, freshly prepared, in good portions and reasonable prices. Tea in a mug. Excellent service from happy staff.

Suitably fortified, we marched on through the snow.  Again, thanks to StreetView, I knew what we were looking for at the end, and I knew that we had to walk through an alley way to get there.

We arrived at the Shaker Bar School, and there were 11 (should have been 13, but two failed to attend) of us.   After a brief introduction of our two trainers and ourselves, we got stuck in. The format was that the trainer demonstrates a cocktail and talks about it,  then in our pairs one of us makes a version, then the other one makes a version.   This means that everyone gets to make every drink, and try every drink.

1. Collins
First up, we learned how to make Collins type drinks.  The trainer demonstrated a Tom Collins, and explained that in order to be a Collins, you must use lemon and you must use soda.  The alcohol and the syrup could be adapted to make variations.    A Tom Collins is gin (not my favourite drink);  he used Bombay Sapphire, which was OK but still not great for me.    Yvonne made a Joseph Collins, with Vodka,  and decided to use a Vanilla syrup.    Good start!

I made a Joseph but used Elderflower syrup... not good.  I think my home made Elderflower, or my Bottlegreen Elderflower, would work better.  We discussed with the trainer other options and flavours.  We wondered if coffee liqueur might work,  and he advised that this would be OK with Joseph but not with Tom.   We also asked about using Bottlegreen-type cordials, and he suggested using something like Hendricks gin.... I think Plymouth might work (for me), as I can just about drink the Plymouth style, I really don't like the London style.

Conclusion: Collins: Definitely on my list of drinks to make at home

2. Mules
Next up was Mules. A demo and an explanation of how the drink was created.  The learning here was that the type of ginger beer determines what other ingredients you put in.  If using a fiery giger beer then omit the syrup.     The trainer made it first without Bitters, and then added them so we could se the diifference.  I found that the Angostura Bitters gave a sort of cola-bottle taste to this drink.
Our turns.  Yvonne made a Tennesee Mule using Jack Daniels.   This was surprisingly good, without bitters,  but adding bitters made it taste like whisky with ginger.

I tried a Cuban Mule with Rum.  For me, this was not a success, with or without bitters.

Conclusion: Mule: Hmm, probably won't rush to make this again

3. Sours
The third drink type we learned was Sours.  I hadn't expected to like this at all, as I don't particularly like Sour taste.   I learned that Sours aren't necessarily sour.   And this drink uses egg white.  As a chicken owner and custard maker, I'm always looking for ways of using leftover egg whites.

This was a bit more involved process as we needed to get the egg white frothed.   We also learned that there are more types of Bitters than just Angostura.     We made Disoronno sours. Our neighbour made a fab chocolatey one using 3/4 Chocolate Liqueur and 1/4 Disoronno, and using chocolate bitters.

This one you had to start with 1 ice cube, rocking the shaker to mix the egg white. Then a bit of gentle shaking to froth the egg white. Once the ice cuvbe had melted,  we filled the shaker with ice and shook properly.   A bit of swirling before pouring to get all the froth out, and then poured over ice.  The drink takes a few moments to settle, like guinness, and for this reason the bartender used half pint tankards to serve.   It was perfumed with lemon.

Another success.  And I learned that I could tolerate Disoronno

Counclusion: Sours: Definitely on my list of drinks to make.

At this point we had half an hour for lunch.  We'd bought sandwiches from Speedy's, and we walked back there to get a takeaway coffee.
4. Daiquiris
After lunch we started with Daiquiris.  With these, you can use sugar or substitute syrup. This is a doubel strained drink.  We tried Vanilla and Lavender.  The Vanilla was ok, not great. The Lavender was horrible - but I think home made Lavender syrup might work better than the synthetic Monin syrups we were using.

Conclusion: Daiquiris: Probably not.

5. Margaritas
Learning here was to use a good Tequila, made from 100% blue Agave.  We learned about prepping the glass before shaking the cocktail.   The variations here were the spirits used to complement the Tequila.  We tried three,  and I didn't really like any of them. I don't think I'm a Tequila girl.

Conclusion: Margaritas: Not for me, thanks.

6. Cosmopolitan
Variations here were the type of citrus vodkas that could be used.  Failed miserably on firing the orange peel.

Conclusion: Cosmopolitan: There are better drinks (for me) to concentrate on.

7. Mojito
Our final drink, and what a great one to end on.   Lots of tips on doing this well - how to gently crush the mint leaves,  not to chop them up when muddling, how to churn the drink.   Really refreshing, and I look forward to trying it with alternatives to Rum.

Conclusion: Mojito : Definitely do this one

Before we left, the trainers showed us how to make Martinis.   Too much alcohol in a martini for me, so I'll probably leave that off my list for now.

And along the way we learned loads of tips:
how to test a drink - using a straw to pull some drink out to try (although some of our drinks didn't taste so good like this, but were more acceptable when drinking from the glass).
More alcohol doean't make a better cocktail
Get the proportion of lemon/lime and sugar absolutely right, don't skimp/overdo either
More ice stays icier longer
Clean as you go

And more that I've probably forgotten for the moment.

The accompanying boooklet is great. It covers, with photos, all the basics that we didn't specifically go through (but were covered as part of making each cocktail).

All I need now is space to create my own cocktail bar.

Bless their little cotton socks

DH picked me up from the railway station this evening.  I'd been on a one day cocktail making course, and thought it best if my friend, Yvonne, and I were collected. Just in case we were suffering any ill effects.

We'd missed one train, and had arrived at another platform right at the other side of  the station to get the next train only to find the doors shut and the train about to depart,  and so was about half an hour later than expected.   He'd shut the Girls in before he left, but he hadn't had time to separate out the two bullies into their own run.... he hadn't expected to be back to late.

When we got home I went straight outside to move them.   Because we are shutting the pop hole at night to muffle the morning noises, and because tomorrow is Sunday, and because I couldn't risk the two Littlees being shut in with the bullies,  I couldn't risk leaving them all together.

When I got outside, I found that the two bullies had taken themselves off to their own coop anyway.

Bless 'em.  

Yep. For the first time in a long time, I thought "Awwww... aren't they sweet".

Saturday 23 March 2013

Mix up

Cocktail Masterclass in London today. 

Wonder if the trains will be running properly?

Thursday 21 March 2013


Like many girls/women, I am a squeamish when it comes to slimy/wriggly creatures.

I've fed maggots (from a bait box) to a chicken suffering from a blocked crop.... but my hand shook the whole time, and I felt nauseous as I watched the seething mass.

I realise that my fear is entirely irrational, but fear is fear - and even irrational fear can't just be stopped.

With Tilda "on her last legs", some time ago I decided to buy some live mealworms for her final couple of days.  Looking at the mail order prices at Wiggly Wigglers, the 1kg option seemed the best value.   I wasn't quite sure how many mealworms would be in 1kg, but I realised that I would need something to contain them in the fridge.

I did some research and bought some superduper bait boxes.  They were a bit like Lock n Lock, with four separate locks, but for bait.   I ordered three different sized boxes: I might be squeamish about slimy wriggly things, but I don't want them to suffer unnecessarily.

The boxes arrived.  The mealworms arrived.  I was surprised that they arrived in 2 x 500g brown bags,  each bag containing egg cartons to stop the poor things gettng squashed.  I opened one of the bags, and heaved.  I was a complete girly as I tried to empty them in to the boxes.   There may have been a lot of irritating girly squealing. 

Some escaped.  I had to find Tilda, pick her up and carry her to the escapees so she could remove them.

I gave some to Tilda from the tub.  I tried to give some to the rest of the garden gang, but they upset the pot and ended up with rather more in one go than I bargained for.  I recoiled every time I found an escapee worm on the kitchen floor.

This carried on in a similar vein for some time, meaning that my first 1kg of mealworms did not last very long.  I ordered some more, and this time I was prepared for what would arrive.

This time I put some of the egg carton in the tubs. I put CSI gloves on, and managed to get the escapees out of the corners of the bags, off the floor, etc, into the tubs.    When I fed the girls this time, I decanted a small amount of worms into a small tub,  and then shook the tub onto the ground.  If the girls managed to knock my arm, I only lost a small number of wormies in the process.

This delivery lasted a little while.  After a couple of days I was concerned for the welfare of the worms.  I did some research, and ended up putting crushed weetabix and grated carrot in the tubs.  I progressed to bringing thetubs out of the fridge every couple of days, letting the worms come out of hibernation to eat, and then putting them back in the fridge.

I realised that my fear was stupid, but I just couldn't help myself.  I did get cross with myself for being such a girly, and one day I made myself pick up some worms with my fingertips, tossing them into the Garden Girls.    They weren't actually slimy at all.  

I made myself do that each time.  I made myself put some worms in the palm of  my hand for the Girls to peck at.  I did the same at the allotment.

By the time the third delivery arrived,  I was not wincing at all as I emptied them into their newly cleaned tubs.  I swept the escapees off the worktop with my hand.  I picked up individual houdinis.  I didn't recoil when I found the odd worm in the odd place.   I kept a carrot in the fridge especially for the wormies.

And so, I'm cured.

But it's a very specific cure.  Mealworms are manageable.  Maggots.... not sure about the!


Tuesday 19 March 2013

The future of paper

This was posted on a forum I frequent.... it made me burst out laughing.

Hope you like it...
Link to Future of Paper video

Not today, thank you.

Tilda had a sojourn outside yesterday.  She spent a bit of time in the run of the Green Cube - it was raining, and the others were using the main run;  and then a bit of time in the Pampas, a rare treat for her.

This morning after her now-usual breakfast of mealworms and yoghurt, I opened the back door and shuffled her towards it.   We got to the threshold, she poked her beak outside, whipped round behind my legs, and then skippered* back into her pen.  (*Skippered = a cross between skipping and lumbering)

The number of coop cups is increasing.  She now has one for water, one for pellets, one for Garvo AlfaMix, one for oyster shell and grit, one for yoghurt and one for treats like cucumber.  And she has her peckablock.

The pen door is always open, so she can come and go as she pleases. She often sits under the breakfast bar stools.

I guess I can see why going outside is not the most attractive option.

Monday 18 March 2013

Spring fever


The Girls are driving me mad!

Spring has sprung, and they are obviously al overflowing with hormones.  Sadly for me (and for my neighbours) this manifests itself in long and loud outbursts of frustrated clucking or whingeing.

This morning the cacophony was ridiculous.  At first, they seemed to be complaining that the Pampas was now out of bounds.  I don't want them to associate cacophony with getting attention, so I ignored it for as long as my nerves would stand.

Then I went out and gave them a bit extra of another area, and they were quiet for a few minutes.

Then we had three of them crowing. It was as though someone had laid an egg, and all three wanted the credit.   I went to have a look and I could see Milly (the Bully) sitting on the nest box, and Lotti hovering by the door.  We have three nest boxes, but I can inderstand that Lotti doesn't want (or isn't allowed) to go in when Milly is on the throne.  I checked under Milly and couldn't find an egg, so I assumed she was laying. She does do so occasionally.

Not much later, the same thing.  I went to the nest box and Milly was still there.   I found a smashed egg underneath her, and I caught her eating the contents.  Now, Milly's egg shells are always paper thin, so I can believe that the breakage was accidental. Her rare eggs are often, but not always, broken.   I popped Milly out on to the ground, and hoiked the eggy mess of Aubiose out from the nest box. Lotti came straight in and sat down.

The rest of the gand appeared at my feet.  Roobarb was whingeing incessantly.  I asked her to stop (like that ever works), and I threatened to catch her. Milly appeared and started to complain loudly.  Florence started to burble.   Poppy flew up and tried to land on my arm, which was down at the time,  and only a quick movement from me saved her from embarrassement. EVen Custard started squealing.

I tried shushing. They shut up for a split second, before resuming.  I put Poppy back down, caught Milly and told her to shut up; I tried, unsuccessfully,  to catch Roobarb.

I could feel myself getting a teeny weeny bit cross with them, soI came back in to the house.  Silence for about twenty seconds, then  Lotti was announcing her egg.  Then Milly joined in.

For goodness sake.

Sunday 17 March 2013


It's still raining.  The grass in the Girls' free range area isn't recovering, whilst the grass in the other areas has gone beserk and needs cutting - it's too long to risk letting the Girls on to it.  The area at the back was reseeded a month ago, and is not yet ready to have chooks on it.  The "lawn" is reserved for this year's chicks,  no other hens are allowed on it.

Something had to be done though.  So, after I put them to bed this evening, I moved the fencing around.  I'm going to rest the Pampas grass and the grass around it for a couple of days. In the meantime, I've opened up the area previously reserved for Tilda, which has suitable shelter shrubbery in it.    Tilda hasn't been out very much in the last few days - her choice, not mine - and I'm running out of options.  Hopefully the grass in the usual area will perk up after a couple of days rest, and the Girls can go back on there.

Custard and Milly are continuing to behave well. They do not resist when I pick them up to put them in the other run for the evening,  and often go in themselves with a bit of encouragement from me.  They aren't particularly chasing Poppy and Lotti when they are all out together, so that's progress.

I can't risk letting them sleep in the main cube again at the moment.  Poppy and Lotti are so noisy in the mornings (and get the others wound up so they start too) that we're having to shut the pop hole at night to try and stifle the noise a bit.    If letting Milly and Custard into the main cube with the pop hole open is a bad idea,  you can imagine why I can't risk letting them in if the pop hole is shut.

Not sure how we're going to resolve this one. If we were going into winter then the dark mornings would solve the noise problem.... but we're going the other way.

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Hard Luck

About 6 or so years ago we had a water softener fitted.

We live in an area of very hard water, and it seemed like a good idea.   Of course we only ever appreciate just how much  of a good idea when the water softener stops working.

My hair seemed a bit dull after shampooing yesterday.  My skin has been a bit itchy.   Today, I noticed that there was limescale on the inside of the shower door.  I was a bit surprised, I was sure that I had wiped it over with Viakal only a week ago (maybe two weeks, time does go quickly).  The shower head was a bit limescaley, which surprised me even more as I'd stood it in a descaler solution very recently, and it takes ages to fur up. 

It wasn't the water softener. I've been caught out before and now I open the flao every couple of days to check whether the salt needs changing. I'd checked last night and there was still salt in there.

This morning I was doing kitcheny related things.  One of these was to take some sourdough starter out to make a oaf of bread.   When it came to replenishing the Starter I decided to use warm water instead of cold, and to do this using half boiling and half cold.  I emptied some boiling water from the kettle into a jug and I saw that it had bits in.   I opened the kettle and saw that the bottom was full of limescale.  This was impossible.  When I had my de-limescaling blitz recently,  I descaled everything and I  had had to buy extra descaling sachets from Lakeland.   This was only a couple of weeks ago.

I opened the water softener, and it still had plenty of salt in.  I decided to take the blocks out and give the insides a quick scrub.  And then I saw that the blocks of salt were actually wedged in, and the bottoms were not in the chamber.

At least that explained the  limescale appearing everywhere.

The Water Softener has helpful instructions on the side ons on how to force a manual regeneration.  It mentioned putting a Philips screwdriver in the valbe, pushing down, turning clockwise.   I couldn't find the valve.  I couldn't find the manual. 

My friend YouTube came to my rescue.  Except that the nice American man in the video had easy access to the top of his water softener. Mine is under the sink.  I managed to get top of the case off, and, woth the aid of a torch, I worked out where to stick the screwdriver.  I stuck, I pushed, I turned. Nothing.  I watched the video again, and saw that it was a strong turn, not my girly " turn until it resists".  I could see from the video that the valve had helpful writing on it.  I couldn't see the writing on mine.

In the end, I hoiked the drawer out and stuck my face in the drawer cavity.  And the screwdriver in the valve. Down, and a hard turn unti you push the little thingy along the teeth into what must be the "regenerate" part of the dial.  It burst into life.

LIttle things please little minds, and I'm pleased that I now know how to do this. 

And I am once again reassured that the expense of the water softener was WELL worth it.

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Is this it?

Very distressing day yesterday.

In the late afternoon, Tilda began to have very laboured breathing. I checked her over gently, to make sure I wasn't missing something obvious (like peritonitis), but there was no sign of a blockage. There was a lot of gurgling going on - digestive gurgling.

Despite her obvious discomfort from the breathing difficulty,  the rest of her looked quite well.  Her eyes were bright and clear,  her tail was up,  her feathers were glossy.....    She has had spells of breathing trouble before, but they've usually passed after some minutes.  This one carried on.

DH and I talked about what to do.  She was obviously suffering some stress from the breathing difficulty.   Our starting point was that if she was still like it tomorrow (today), then we'd put her to sleep.  A few seconds later, we revised that, and agreed that if she was still like it this evening (yesterday), we'd do it.    I'm sure we've all known people who have kept their pets alive when they should have let them go:  I make sure I'm not  one of them - but I don't want to cull just to end my suffering either.

She sat in her pen. I sat on the floor to keep her company.  She appeared to doze off a couple of times and, each time, I steeled myself because I  thought that "this was it".   In between times,  I used a syringe to give her something to drink.   I took the opportunity to tell her again what a lovely girl she was,  and how she and Lily (my now-dead White Star) had transformed chicken keeping for me.   I also selfishly willed her to let go herself,  because that would mean we didn't have to make the call and then wonder if we had done the right thing.   I reminded myself that she had tried to go on 2nd December, but I had saved her;  we had been so fortunate to have had her company for an extra 3 months, so I should not be upset if she went now. 

Of course all this sentiment, and the pressure of waiting, and the distress of watching her laboured breathing meant that the emotion welled up and overflowed.

I was just getting myself into a state,  which was not helping and was really stupid.  I calmed myself down. DH popped back in to see me before going out,  and then I removed myself to watch some catchup TV to distract myself.

I popped in to check on her every half hour or so.  She was sitting quietly, breathing hard, but still bright eyed and tail up.    When DH came back, we went into the kitchen to make dinner.  Tilda was now breathing a little heavily, but it wasn't laboured.   I topped up her food, which she ate, and more syringe water, which she drank.  She preened herself a bit.

This morning, she's still here. 

She's still looking bright eyed,  she's eating and drinking. Her breathing is a little heavy but I wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't been looking for it.  She certainly doesn't look like there is any misery from which she needs rescuing.  She's ambling around the kitchen floor as I type.

I'm suffering from a crying-induced migraine, my eyes are sticky.  Serves me right for getting myself into such an emotional state in anticipation, I should have known better.  It does make me prepared though... for a while.

Inside, I know that it isn't going to be long.


Monday 11 March 2013

Not so daft

Yesterday Tilda, our bed and breakfast chook, decided that she didn't really fancy going out during the day, thank you very much for asking. 

She had her full English breakfast (live mealworms, followed by a teaspoon of natural yoghurt, followed by a small piece of cucumber and half a grape), and started making her way around the kitchen. I scooshed her to the back door, by walking behind her so she had no choice but to go in the direction I did.

We got to the open back door and I got her on to the step, she sniffed the air, hesitated.....and  made a right hand dive, around the back of my legs and back into the kitchen. She then skipped under one of the breakfast bar stools.  Fair enough.

She spent all day indoors, rejecting 2 further attempts to get her to go out.  I was making Jamie Oliver's slow roast shoulder of pork (6.5 hours,  fantastic as fact, I couldnt bear roast pork until I tried  this way of doing it) and Tilda chose this day to start exploring the big part of the kitchen.  In fact she sat right in the middle if the kitchen floor while we ate our lunch, which isn't something she has done before.

Glad I had chosen pork not chicken!

Thursday 7 March 2013

Still dithering

Sorry for the lack of posting. It's mainly because I'd be harping on about the same old thing and didn't want to bore you with it.

But here it is anyway.

Firstly, Tilda continues her apparently happy residence overnight in our kitchen.  Some time ago she decided she wanted to go in with the others, so I let her.  Despite me thinking I was watching her,  she ended up with a bloody comb and a peck in the eye.  I couldn't be sure who had done it, as I know that her presence brings out the nastiness in all four of the older Girls,  I even once saw the usually gentle Roobarb give her a peck .

About a week ago, I was watching them go to bed on the Hencam (by which  I mean, of course, I was watching the Hencam. I don't mean they were bedding down on it).   The two Littlees always take an age to go in, but on the day I was watching, I realised that they were going in and being chased out.    Indignant on their behalf, I stormed outside, wrenched open the lid of the cube, and then I pushed Milly down the ladder.   This let Lotti and Poppy get in, and then Milly got back in.

I went back inside, and saw the LIttlees come hurtling out again,  and I saw Milly physically leaping at them through the pop hole when they tried to get in.   Again I went out,  this time I hoiked Milly out and put her in the spare Cube. 

The following morning, I let them all out together.  That evening, the same sort of shenanigans, Milly was physically lunging at them to stop them going in.  Again, I hoiked her out and put her in the other Cube.

We're now at the stage where they are all (except Tilda of course) out together during the day,  but at night I separate Custard and Milly into the other Cube.  The Littlees are now going to bed without any problem.  (Custard joined Milly after I caught her chasing the Littlees round the run one evening).

I'm ready to remove both Custard and Milly permanently.  I don't want them passing on this unacceptable behaviour to Lotti and Poppy.  So why haven't I culled them as I have threatened to before?   Mainly it is because I had decided some time ago that culling wasn't to be undertaken lightly or, more particularly,  in a moment of anger.      Milly and Custard are behaving themselves during the day, and they are both going into the other Cube without too much fuss in the evening.   And while they are all behaving themselves with the current setup, I can't justify to myself that it needs doing. So, I've kinda got myself stuck into this routine now.

I do realise that I am probably just putting off the inevitable, and I suspect there is part of me that is thinking Nature may intervene anyway (Milly is no spring chicken).  

And I suppose I want to make myself feel better about it (if such a thing is possible) by being sure I've done "all I can".

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Chicken Church

A friend on the Omlet forum posted a link to a Daily Mail article about a chicken church..
It made me smile... so I thought I'd post a pic here.

Here's a link to the article:

Saturday 2 March 2013


I managed to lock myself in the chicken run.