Wednesday 30 May 2018

Much disappointment

One of the eggs, one of the ones I'd bough, was leaking.   I removed it from the incubator, in case it exploed and we put it in a sealed bag.  Research suggested there must have been bacteria in the egg, and the leaking as where gas had buit up and was forcing the liquid out of the shell.

We were worried about the other eggs and the hatched chicks.    Then a second one started leaking.  That was also removed.    We put the chicks in the brooder, quickly disinfected the incubator and put the remaining eggs back, on kitchen towel in case of further leaks.

One further chick hatched.  As soon as s/he was dry enough, the hatchling was moved to the brooder.  We monitored them very, very closely.  We also left the remaining eggs in the incubator for a few extra days.  No more hatched.  One of them, at least, should have. 

Meanwhile, we have 7 other eggs in another incubator, due to hatch in the next couple of days.   Some of the eggs were in with the failed eggs.  It's a worrying time.

We moved the now-4-day-old chicks to the shed brooder today.  We haven't used this shed as a brooder before. It's double insulated, so we've no idea how it's going to be, compared to our revious shed.   We've installed a camera and a baby monitor.

I hope they will be OK.

Saturday 26 May 2018

It never gets old

Yesterday morning, early, one of the eggs pipped.

Much relief and excitement.

During the day, a small hole appeared. It was slow progress.  Yesterday afternoon, we heard cheeping from inside the egg.  Before we went to bed, the cheeping was quieter.  The hole was no bigger.   It's so very tempting to want to "help",  but "helping" isn't always the right thing to do..     We've had eggs before which have taken more than a day to hatch, so we went to bed leaving well alone. For now.

This morning I went to look at about 8am and there were two chicks in the hatcher. Two!.  DH said the second one had pipped when he checked at 4am and the first one stilll hadn't emerged.

I'm so excited to see them!

One is from the set I bought, a Leghorn/Legbar cross.  The other is one of ours, from the 5 girls Bertie was penned up with.   It's a brown egg, so we know it isn't Ping or Pong (the two Dorkings).  So, it could be Barbara (Australorp x Indian Game,  the more Indian Game markings) or Annie, Barbara's sister (but more Australorp looking) or Barbara/Annie's Aunt who doesn't have a name.

I hope more hatch soon.

Thursday 24 May 2018

Broody breaking

We'd been expecting Poppy (or Gloria) to have gone broody a few weeks ago.  We'd thought we might pop a few eggs under her, to reward her for her years of determined broodiness.   Once she's gone broody, she sits tight - on an empty nest - for six or seven weeks.

With the disappointment of so many clear eggs,  it seemed that popping some under Poppy would be a good idea.... but she didn't go broody.

Yesterday, DH separated the eggs from the two incubators.  One lot is due to hatch this weekend,  and they were moved into the incubator whch was set up for hatching (higher humidity). The other lot, the eergency lot I collected when we realised so many of the originals were clear, aren't due to hatch until 6 days later, so they are in the first incubator still.

Today, Poppy went broody.

DH brought back the Dorking's eggs from the allotment.  I cracked a couple, and they don't look fertilised to me.  They have a white spot on the yolk, but I can't see a definite bullseye ring.     Eggs from the garden girls often look like that, so I know it doesn't mean anything.

Anyway. We decided to write on the shells, and put them under Poppy.   We know they aren't likely to develop, but, well,  you never know.  And she might as well be sitting on them instead of sitting on nothing.

She gave me a Look as  I put the eggs under her.   I realised that I should have waited until she wasn't looking. Maybe when she was having her daily poo, or when she was asleep.  But it was too late.

Half an hour later, she was wandering around the garden, unbroody.

She may go back to it, so we'll have to see.  At least they weren't bought-in eggs.

Blah Blah Blah

I killed my sourdough starter a couple of years ago.   It had taken me a long time to create him - I think it took two attempts  -   and I had kept him fed and refreshed for a loooong time, even when I wasn't making sourdough (or similar) breads.  And then I just stopped. I missed one refresh, which turned in to missing a couple,  which turned into me not wanting to open the jar......and he died. Or at least,  I couldn't face trying to resurrect him.

I couldn't be bothered to make another one.  Its OK when you're making sourdough, but if you're not, it's a bit of a faff and a bit of a waste of flour.     Ater our recent scandi bread course, I  decided to try again, but this time I bought two sour dough starters from Bakery Bits.   

I refreshed them, following the instructions carefully, and then I made a sourdough loaf from one of them, using their instructions.  It was OK.   It wasn't fab, but it was OK.    

I felt vaguely reassured that I had, actually, been looking after my home made one correctly. Well, until I let him die of neglect, of course.

Today, a kilo of fresh bioreal yeast arrived.    It had seemed like a good idea when I ordered it.  I remembered that a kilo was much better value for money than 42g portions, even if i ended up throwing a load away.         They were out of stock at the time, so it was back-ordered   Today's yat is, therefore, very fresh and will stay useable for nearly 4 weeks.

I have no idea what I was thinking I'd make with it.

DH is going to make a rye loaf, I think.  We've been on a bit of a hand made rye kick for some time - apart from the last week when we've been having sourdough.  I miss the nuttiness and moistness of the rye.

I might try a white loaf in my machine. Usually, it's not possible to use fresh yeast in a breadmaker; I assume the programme isn't long enough at the right times for it to work?    Our breadmaker does have a setting for fresh yeast though,  so it would be rude not to try it.

Monday 21 May 2018

At last.

At last, the Inquest is over.    

The first date - sometime last year, lost in the mists of time now -  was postponed becase of the Serious Incident Report (SIR)

The new date arrived,  as did we all,  and the 'other side' asked for an adjournment.  Their grounds were not unreasonable,  we didn't object.    

The next date arrived, as did we all, ready for an extended two days.   One of the key witnesses was too ill to attend.     We asked for an adjournment.   Day 1 went ahead,  and Day 2 was adhourned.

And then the final date arrived, as did we all,   and the Inquest was completed.

I don't really feel any sense of resolution.  I'm just glad it's done.

I'm glad I don't have to pore over the SIR again,  looking at the failures, the missed opportunities to save a life, the processes that would, if they had been followed,  have prevented the death.

I've still got one uncle to phone, to give an update to, and I'll try and do that today.  Then I can put it all away.

Thursday 17 May 2018

Windows Pain

Those nice people at  Microsoft decided to update my computer.   It was a long update.  It should have happened last night - I chose "Update and Shut Down", but it only partially happened last night. The rest happened today after I restarted.

It was a biggie.   When it was done,  I had to answer loots of questions asking for my permission to share data with them.

I loaded Firefox when it was all done, and found that all my bookmarks, saved passwords etc had gone.  I had a new profile.   I went through the "switch profile" optiomn to get it to use my old profile,  but it wouldn't cooperate.

Was it the Windows update that had done this, or had it coincided with a Firefox update perhaps?

I tried a couple of other programs. Some worked,  some decided they needed to be configured for Windows.  

I was very, very cross.   I am very very cross.

That wasn't getting anything resolved though,  so I pushed my annoyance to one side, rolled up my sleeves, and looked at what options I had.

 My last Mozbackup was a couple of months ago, so I knew I could restore that.  But I'd been busy tidying up, ready for my next backup which is (or was going to be) in a couple of days.

I googled for some options.  I tried forcing Firefox to use my old profile, but it didn't like it.

In the end, I had to find out what the elements were that I needed, and I copied them from the old profile to the new.  I needed more elements than I had realised.

So, I've spent a couple of hours in total and I'm now back to where I should have been at 8.30 this morning.

Friday 11 May 2018


Pilates this morning.   Tiring, but good.

Afternoon Tea, held locally in the village, and organised by a lovely lady. I've been looking forward to it for weeks,  and it was superb. I don't think I've had better.

Off to the allotment, to bring back all the eggs.  I fertility tested some from a few days ago.  Then I attempted (and failed) to match the fertile shells with newer eggs.

In the end I picked 8 different eggs, washed them using special santiser,  weighed them, marked them, and I put them in the incubator.  2 were definitely Dorkings, one from each;  one egg may have been from Siouxsie; the others... I have no idea.

It's not how I like to hatch, and it is very possible we'll end up not being able to keep any hatches from 6 of those eggs. It's highly likely that they are from the Girls who have traits we don't want to propogate,  and if that's the case..... well....  we'll be eating hens as well as cockerels.

I'm still debating whether to buy in some additional eggs. It's such a difficult call.

I made a triple batch of Thermie Lemon Curd, to use up 6 of the 8 eggs I tested.  I used lemons from Costco. They were huge and juicy.  They didn't say "unwaxed", so I had to scrub them.   The flavour is a lot less sharp than I'm used to, so I probably wouldn't use them for lemon curd again.

I've also put the breadmaker on to make dough for some olive bread.   I was going to make it by hand but...well....I just felt too lazy.

I'm going to make a cup of tea (I know! I;m not long back from Afternoon Tea) and have a sit down (I know. I've already spent several hours sitting down having afternoon tea!).

And maybe a power nap.

Eggstreme disappointment

DH candled the eggs today, as he's not going to be able to do it tomorrow.

None, yes none, of Bertie's eggs seem to be fertilised!  Four of the 6 I bought from someone else are.

We'll have to candle again in a few days to make sure, but I now need to come up with a back-up plan.

Thursday 10 May 2018


Ants are such hard working creatures.    We have quite a few in the garden, normally they ignore us and we ignore them.   The other day,  I had a couple of ants climb on me while I was sitting outside by the backdoor.  I knew this heralded potential ant trouble.

Over the next week, we saw the odd ant on the worktop.   I picked them up and threw them outside, asking them not to come back.   Then I killed the next few, but realised that was futile as the colonby would just send replacements. 

I cleaned the worktops and the stiff on it, and moved anything vagiely edible off it on to shelves.  I hoped that the ants would go back and report that there was nothing of interest and they'd not bother to invade.

I searched for the entrance point, but failed.  Outside, the ant activity increased, but we couldn't see where they were getting in, nor where they were going to. DH was adamant we'd have to find the nest and destroy it.    I baulked at that.   We've done it once before, and I always regretted it.  (I know they are only ants,  but they aren't generally doing any harm and they have the right to live).

We then had 4 ants over two different (adjacent) worktops.   Small Person was here, and she reminded me about talcum powder.  If I could find where they were coming in, I'd try that.

Yesterday afternoon,  I opened the condiments cupboard and an ant came out.  I checked, he was on his own.     I checked the other food cupboards,  no ants.     Last night, there were 8 ants running around on the worktop.

I could see that this was going to end in an invasion,  and that is horrible to deal with.    We had an invasion when I was a child, and it wasn't pleasant.  We'd had an invasion here once, that's when we destroyed the nest I mentioned earlier.  

I didn't have anywhere to put talc, but I did decide to try an ant bait station.   I had two in a drawer  so, last night, I opened one up and put it on the worktop.  DH was not impressed.    The ants avoided it.  

This morning, we had no ants on the worktop.

I'm not sure if the scouts have died,  or if they've gone back and the ant bait has made the colony decide not to invade, or if they are rallying troops ready to invade.  Or, of course,  if I've sent back poison which is going to kill the colony.

I guess we'll find out.

Thursday 3 May 2018


So.  Bertie has a real downer on Pong.    He chases her away when their paths cross.  For that reason, we decided we'd breed from Pong's sister, Ping.   Ping scuppered this plan by deciding to go broody. Ish.

So, plan C was to separate off the breeding girls (Barbara, Ann,  Pong, and one of the Harem girls),  and to put Bertie in with them for periods of time but not to leave him in there overnight.     Immediately we separated them, Ping got distressed (presumably because she couldn't get in to her usual nestbox),  and Bertie got indignant.   He called, and all his ladies came running, lined up against the fencing that separated them.

Bertie showed no interest in any of the girls.   We put Ping back in with them, and went home.   We came back later that day to let Bertie out and to check on the girls.  As soon as he was back with everyone else he humped everything in sight.

There were 3 eggs, including one each from Ping and Pong.  We collected them, and broke them at home to see what was going on.  One egg - we don't know which of the other three laid it - was definitely fertilised,  it had the tell tale white bullseye ring.    One of Ping/Pongs was definitely not fertilised.  And one had a white bit (as many eggs do) but I couldn't be sure it was a bullseye.

Since then, every other day,  we've shut Bertie in with the 5 breeding girls in the morning,  and let him out in the afternoon.    The idea is that the breeding girls don't have to put up with him all the time,  and he he can still keep control of the main group.    We were going to put him in every day,  but we were sort of hoping that a day's absence from the breeding girls might make him fonder.... but we haven't seen any evidence of that.

Still, we've collected a number of eggs, although we haven't tested any more for fertility.   The plan is to incubate all the eggs, even if it means 2 incubators,  and then remove the clears at Day 7 when we candle them.

That's the idea, anyway.

We're planning to put them in the incubator on Saturday.

Wednesday 2 May 2018

Knees up

Yesterday, for some reason, I decided to try and play some classical pieces on my Orla, and to use my left foot on the pedals.  I hardly ever use my left foot any more, I'm well out of practice.

It was hard work.  I managed to get mself into position so that my left foot hung naturally over the G pedal (as I was taught when I was 11),  but that isn't the position I sit in normally so my chord hand was out of position.

I tried The Blue Danube and was slightly more successful than I anticipated.  I think it was muscle memory really.   As a child, I used to play this all the time.   I've played it a couple of times in the years I@ve had Orla, but I've never really tried to play it properly.    I fluffed quite a bit,  but it was much better than I thought it would be.   

Then I tried Symphony Number 40 and was surprised that I could do that (sort of) too.   I don't remember when I last tried to play that.

Even my nemesis,  Arrival of the Queen of Sheba was not a disaster.   It wasn't pretty, but it wasn't a disaster.  I have played AoTQoS, the right hand,  quite a bit.  I've even tried using my left hand to play the pedal part (obviously not to press the foot pedal, dummy,  I've been using the left hand on the upper keyboad to press the foot pedal part as my right hand plays the tune).

I had to stop because my knee was killing me.

Today I put a brace on my left knee, and tried all three again.      None of the pieces were perfect,  but they weren't at all bad really. Well,  Arrival of the Queen of Sheba was not good, but that was mainly because my hands were too cold to flow.  I had a cup of coffee, and another go.

The sound quality on Orla was amazing.

Even though they were all riddled with mistakes,  I'm really really happy at how un-badly I did.

Old Childrens Tv

A Don Quixote related crossword clue led me to think of Sanchez,  to Sancho,  to a Mexican hat and a donkey.

A very clear picture popped in to my head, and I knew  it was a kids programme I had watched.  I remember my mum and I talking about the donkey.      I just couldn't remember the name.

I reached for my phone to google, but put the phone down and tried to remember.

I just couldn't.  At all.   It wasn't a programme I'd thought of in all the "do you remember....?" discussions during my adult life.  Not ever.

I just couldn't think of it.

So I googled it.

Donkey Sancho Mexican hat.

And there it was.


How could I have forgotten that!?!