Monday 27 March 2017


Our Allotmenteers have been under cover since the beginning of December.

You may remember that we hastily erected some Heras fencing,  covered the top and sides with netting, and then covered that with a tarpaulin.  This meant that the Allotmenteers had a reasonable sized area in which to range,  whilst still being protected from wild birds.    The tarpaulin was huge and, for it's size, relatively inexpensive.  We knew it wouldn't last that long in the harsh winter weather, but it would do.

The Restrictions continued and, unsurprisingly,  the tarpaulin started to show some signs of wear.  Wear and, literally, tear.    It held.  When the Restrictions were extended again,  we looked at whether we could rearrange things and their area. 

We decided on a course of action, and did some preparation over the last week.   Then, yesterday,  after strong winds, DH discovered that the enormous-and-relatively cheap tarpaulin now had some huge tears in it, and needed replacing.

The forecast for today was warm, dry, sunny.  So, we arrived at the allotment at about 10am.   We set to work.   At 3.30pm, we'd had enough.   The area has been extended, adding a huge extra area under netting.    DH turned some of the Heras panels on end to make A frames, to give more of an angle for the 'roof'.   Everywhere was netted.  Coops were rearranged to fit.

We opened up the new, netted, area as soon as possible so that the  Girls and Henry were out of the way of all the other activity.  They were so  excited to be "out".   They haven't been out in direct sunlight properly since December.   (They have natural light coming through the sides, but the roof has been covered in a blue tarp meaning they haven't really seen the sky).

With the tarp off temporarily,  today meant that the ground was warm.  The netting cast a lovely dappled shade, and (apart from the lack of grass) the whole area was relatively pleasant.  The Girls took advantage of the warm ground,  and dust bathing parties popped up all over the place.

A little later on, a favourite spot was established, and Henry decided to dust bathe.  His Girls took it in turns to share the bath with him, and at one point there were  6 of them crowded in to one spot.   This is him where some of the Girls were swapping over....

We didn't get the new, clear, tarp back on befire we had to leave,  but everything else was finished.

Friday 24 March 2017

Going bananas

I learned a lesson today.

I got mugged.

Never, ever, walk into the chicken run with a banana.

Saturday 18 March 2017

Mad Veg Woman

Since lockdown started, I've been spending a small fortune on green vegetables for the Girls.

We see the Allotmenteers every two days (we alternate with Other Chap), and we take down four, five, six vegetables each time.   Usually it's from the limited range from our local CoOp (so caluliflower, white cabbage or swede). Sometimes its from a bigger supermarket (as CoOp but also Savoy cabbage, spring greens, red cabbage).

Our Garden Girls get 2 (sometimes 3) items every 2 days, and that's to make sure they waste as little as possible.

We drill holes in the vegetables, put string in, and then hang them up.  This means the Girls get their greens, but take a bit longer to do so.  It helps alleviate boredom that way,  as well as being good for them.

3 cabbages, a white cabbage, and a cauli.

The ladies in the local CoOp have never asked me what I do with the mountain of vegetables that I buy every 2 days.  I think they probably assume I'm making soup. Or something.

If I'm shopping at my supermarket of choice I use a hand scanner and scan everything as I go.

If I'm using a competitor, I don't have that option.   At the larger supermarkets, I do find the assistants tend to Look at me.  Some ask.  Most don't.  I've started to use the self checkout at the end, just to avoid the Look.  

When I first tried to do self checkout, I had problems with the vegetables that needed weighing.  You have to select the vegetable from a drill down menu on the screen.  I was choosing them on screen before I put them on the scale, and it took me a couple of goes (each time requiring a reset by an assistant) before I realised they needed to be on the scale before I told the machine what they were.     It also occurred to me, after going through the menu to find "white cabbage" for the fifth cabbage,  that I could just put all the white cabbages on the scale at once.   That's what I do now.

Last week I stopped at the enormous supermarket near my Chiropracter.  It was Wednesday I think (and I need to remember).    They had *loads* of vegetables, all dramatically reduced.  Well, reduced from about £1 each to somewhere between 49p and 69p.  It soon adds up).

I filled my little trolley with cauliflowers, spring greens, white cabbage, savoy cabbage.   I made sure that I didn't take all of them (although I was tempted!),  I took plenty that were "on the turn", and I left plenty for others who might need them.I still  had enough to cover me for 2 Allotment visits.

I'm assuming that they must be the vegetables that were left over from the weekend.  I might try going to some of the big supermarkets near me midweek to see if that's a  common thing.

Friday 17 March 2017

Pain in the Neck

I've had back and neck pain for longer than I can remember.   It's mostly intermittent now, but every so often I hace a flare up. Over the years I've tried all sorts of gizmos to try and help.  
I've had backstretchers that look like a curved abacus. A imilar laddery neck stretcher.

Some years ago I bought a newer type of back device, called a FlexiBak. This really helped.  Unlike the abacus thing,  each individual piece moves independently,  and the exercises were simple rocking ones.  The improvement I see when I use it is much greater than the small amount of input it takes.

The only downside is that I have to lie on the floor to use it, and often I just couldn't be bothered to get all the way down there and all the way back up again.

I do still use it when I'm in pain, though.

What actually works is regular visits to see my Chiro,  fso that problems can be tackled before they get serious,  and massages in between.

Sometimes though, I still get neck problems - usually if I've been working in one position for a long time,  or I've been overdoing it on my tablet, or if I have a migraine attack.    During one such occurrence a few months ago,  I came across something oon Kickstarter called a C Rest. 

Because I was in pain at the time, and I was desperately trying to massage my neck to release the pressure,  I could see how the C-Rest might help me.  I particularly liked the idea that it could be used while I was sitting in a chair,  and so I backed it.

It arrived today.

I'm not sure about it.  I've had a quick go (I even lay on the floor to try it),  and I'm not sure.
I'm going to try it again later.  And I'll take it to my next Chiro appointment (not for another 5 weeks!) to see what my Chiro thinks about it.

We'll see.

How do they do that?

My chooks love yoghurt.  Natural, live yoghurt.

They don't get it very often. In harsh weather, I might mix some into their warm pellet porridge; if an individual is looking under the weatherm they might get a bit;  sometimes I use it to dispense Flubenvet, that sort of thing.

I'd had a  rare yoghurt-making fail yesterday morning.  I'd ended up with something of a "drinking yoghurt" consistency,  and there was far too much of it for me to drink.    I poured some into small plastuc "coop cups" and put it out for the chooks.   They all dived in.

When I went out later to give them their afternoon corn,  I was amazed to see that the coop cups were completely clean. 

 How did they do that?

I don't just mean they'd eaten it all,  I mean the cups were clean. Like they'd been licked out.  Chooks don't lick.

They have beaks.  They can only peck at stuff.  With liquidy stuff, they stick their beaks in, grab some between the upper and lower beak.

It's like trying to pick up yoghurt with chopsticks

And yet.... the cups were clean.

How did they do that?

Tuesday 14 March 2017

Mothers Day cards

It seems like absolutely ages since I made anything.  It is absolutely ages.

My machine was fine, didn't even need a service.  I'd got some fluff caught in the tension discs, and now she's working perfectly again.   

I made a couple of bits for the DGDs' birthdays, A cute sheepy pencil topper for S,  a bunny pencil topper for G.   I made some treat bags for them (again, a sheep and a rabbit), but I had a minor glitch with the sheep... the treat wouldn't fit in.  So I decided to turn them into cards instead.  I had everything wrapped and in the parcel before I realised I hadn't taken a picture.

I've also made cards for our mums for Mothers Day at the weekend.  

I made the Westie one first, it looks deceptively simple.  It's a really clever design.  I decided to try a variegated thread for the first time, and used it for the lettering.  It's OK, buy not as impactful as I was hoping.

 It was harder to pick a design for my lovely mum in law, but in the end I chose something quite colourful.   At the last minute, I decided to try another new variegated thread for the lettering.   I really like the effect, and I wish I'd used that on the Westie in my Mum's card.     I'll definitely be using it again.

The machine worked beautifully, and making these cards reminded me why I like her so much.