Friday 31 January 2014

Pocketful of Posies

I finally got round to taking a class in flower arranging.

I'm not naturally artistic, and I've been thinking about "doing" a class in flower arranging for some time. The local college did some, but they were whole term things, and in the evening.  One or the other (many weeks, evenings), I might have been able to cope with, but not both.

Then a local venue was advertising a series of 4 flower workshops.  They were in the evening, which isn't great as I find it very hard to get motivated to go out when it's cold and dark outside. However, they were very local, so it seemed a shame not to give it a go.

So, last night I learned a bit about making a hand tied bouquet.   It was a lot harder and, perversely a lot easier than I had expected.

The whole knack of putting the flowers together in a spiral, and turning them, took  me a while to get the hang of.   My poor tutor.  I did explain that I struggle with spatial awareness, and I just could not work out what my hands were supposed to be doing.  I found this really hard.   However, it suddenly clicked  - and I was able to manipulate the posy.

Getting the posy balanced - with shape and colour and foliage and focal points -  was a bit tricky, and I retstarted my first bouquet a number of times.

Learning about using the greenery to force space (rather than just to add green) was an eye opener,   and learning about wiring gerbera was a revelation.    After a lot of concentration -  and with some  cramp in my hand) I completed my first bouquet.  I was very pleased with it

We had a break for tea and cake,  and learned how to make frames to hold the posies.  I made a frame to use (and re-use) at home.

And then, while we were chatting at the end, I had a quick go at making a second posy, using up the greenery and flowers that had been prepped but not used.  I was amazed at how fast (relatively speaking) I was able to put a posy together.  I still struggled a bit with what I should put where, but the mechanics of doing it came much more naturally.    It was surprisingly easy, now I knew how.

The florists eye - deciding what should go where -  will improve with practice, I'm sure.

Another class next month. I'm really looking forward to it.

Tuesday 28 January 2014


The double fencing has been reasonably successful in curtailing Lotti and Poppy's escape attempts.  We've had the occasional bird-in-no-hens-land situation; loud bokking alerts us when this has happened.

Today Lotti managed to fly up on to the top of the covered run, and from there she managed to get out. 

Clever girl.

I managed to get some pics (please excuse the crude editing).

Tilda. Continued.

Tilda continues to show no interest in going outside. AT leastm not when she has a choice.

On dry or sunny or warmer days, I physically *put* her outside now. Sometimes she goes off for a nibble of grass. She ususally comes and stands by the back door, beak against the glass, waiting to be let back in.  If the door is left open, she just comes back in.

Where possible,  I take her down to the covered run, stand her in the dustbath, and shut the entrance so the other Girls can't get in.     When I see her back by the run door, I go and get her.

If the weather is OK after her dustbath, I stand her just outside the run. She then has a number of options.  she can :
  • (a) walk down the path and come back into the house 
  • (b) go and stand by the girls paddock area, in which case I put her in there with the others or
  • (c) amble around the "lawn" free of risk of getting molested by the others, coming back to the house when she pleases

A couple of times now she has gone for option (b).  Each time, I put her in the paddock - or open the gate so she can walk herself in -  I watch to for a moment to make sure she's OK. Usually she gets a bit of a pecking; usually it's just hen-pecking,  not obvious bullying.

Today was one of the days where she decided she wanted to go in with everyone else after her enforced dust bath.    A little later I realised it was pouring with rain, and I could see that everyone else had moved into the shelter of the covered run.

I rushed out, expecting to find Tilda cowering under a bush somewhere.  I couldn't find her.  In the end, I looked in the covered run and found her in with the other.  Not only that but she wasn't hiding under one of the benches, which is her usual safe place.

Later still the rain had stopped, and Tilda had come out of the run with the others.  She was sitting underneath a shrub - another safe place - and seemed OK.

So, I'll leave her out there until later.

Saturday 25 January 2014

Ups and Downs

It's been an "up and down" few weeks.

It's now been about ten minutes since I typed the last sentence, as I considered what to include next.  

I've started and deleted numerous posts over the last few days.

Saturday 18 January 2014

No Hens Land

Lotti and Poppy are becoming a bit of  a nuisance.

They are both gorgeous girls, really lovely personalities, and very friendly.  Poppy, who is half Australorp and half Welsh black, is my most favourite, favourite hen.  She's clever, gorgeous, and happy to be handled (within reason).   Lotti is an exchequer leghorn and is a lunatic. She's funny, fast, stunning to look at, and happy to be handled, most of the time.  Both are 2 years old, and are hatchmates.

Lotti is very light, and can get over fencing even though her wing has been clipped.    She hasn't worked out how to get back in the same way though.  Once she has seen Poppy get over something, she follows.

Poppy is very heavy. Despite this she manages to get over my extra high fencing.  Shes also clever enough to be able to get back over it she wants to.  She can spot a weakness in the fencing, wherever it is.  She is a master of escape.

Af first, they were just escaping once or twice a day.   They just ran around the bit of the garden that we laughingly call the "lawn".  

As they came back in to lay, they started escaping more frequently, until they became impossible to contain.  They started digging up some of the wild flower borders.   They stand by the french windows looking in, and pooing where they stand. Which, coincidentally, is where we stand when we step outside.

It had got to the stage where it ws just not worth putting them back in.  Until Lotti managed to breach the other fence wiich separates the garden from the gates.   Not only that, but she managed to  find the catgap in the bottom corner near the gate, and escaped into the driveway.

So.  I invested in another 21metres of extra high fencing,  and we now have a double row.  In between is a gap g about a foot, which is no-hens land.   The idea is that even if they get over the first row,  they won't get over both rows in one go;  and once in  no hens land, they won't be able to get the angle of launch to get over the 2nd row.

Poppy has found herself in no hens land 4 times since the 2nd row went up.   It's been up about 3 hours.

I'm hoping she'll get fed up of it, and stop leaping the netting.

I'm not convinced she will, but at least she won't come to any harm.

Friday 10 January 2014


It's stopped raining, temporarily, and the sun is out.

The lower parts of the village, those by the river, are under water - for some people, they are only reachable by canoe or thigh high waders.

Our part of the village, some way from the river, has been moved up from "flood alert" to "flood warning".   Upstream, the river is now officially as high as it was in 2003; downstream, we'll reach that any time now.

We're unlikely to get flooded by the river, but I guess we may have some problems with flash floods. Earlier in the week we had problems where the drains couldn't cope, but it wasn't endangering the house.

More rain is forecast,  so we'll be keeping an eye on things.

The sun being out, I took the opportunity of shutting the Girls out of their covered run and putting Tilda in there so she could have a dust bath.     Tilda again refused to go out at all  this morning,  so I picked her up and carried her into the run, and deposited her gently in the bath.  I then cleaned the waterers in the run, and filled the feeders,  so that I was on hand and she could feel safe enough to bathe,

I'm back in the house now, keeping an eye on her through the runcam, so I can see when she's finished.

Sunday 5 January 2014

An egg at last!

We haven't had any eggs from any of the Garden Girls for...ages.

I suspect that Lotti is laying somewhere in the garden, but I haven't been able to find a nest.

Poppy, my most gorgeous and lovely girl, my secret favourite,  started crouching for me the other day.  And today there was an egg from her, in the nest box.

Bless her!

Agoraphobic hen

Tilda is still with us - both in the sense of not being dead, and being with  us in the kitchen.

The weather over the last couple of weeks has mostly been foul, and there have been many days when the Garden Girls stay in their run and I haven't even bothered to try and get Tilda to go out.

On the intermittent days I've suggested  she go out, and she has often point blank refused.  Some times I've put her outside, and she's back at the door within a ouple of minutes waiting patiently to be let in.

I'm beginning to think she has agoraphobia.

Over again

I finally took the decorations down this afternoon - very late removal, for us. Very organised dismantling, as always.  I started by taking off the baubles that go in the bottom of the tree box, and making piles of the others until the bottom layer was complete.   We have a place for everything -  with a box for the tree decorations, a box for the front door wreath bits, a box for the mantles, a box for the bannister mantle, and a box for the other hanging decorations.  Managed to fit everything back in the right boxes, and the boxes are already back in the loft.

Took the tree round to the recycling point - literally a two minute walk from my house.  I always feel very sad for the poor discarded trees.  Our tree this year was particularly lovely,  and had been up possibly for the longest time we've ever had a tree up.   

I find myself often giving feelings to inanimate things, and the tree was no different. I'm a little  embarrassed to confess that I chatted to the tree all the way there,  letting it know how much it was appreciated.   I said goodbye to it as I found it a comfortable place to stand while it awaited collection. (I do know that's a bit weird, but I can't help it. Anyway, the whole point is about bringing tree spirits into the house, isn't it?).

The downstairs is now back to "normal" and it looks rather bare.

I expect I'll get used to it in a day or two.  

I did find myself contemplating a bit of a living room rearrangement, but that would involve possibly additional or alternative furniture.   And/or moving the TV and the cat tree. 

I don't yet have the enthusiasm needed to sort it out.