Tuesday 31 March 2020

Casualty and bully.

We had our first casualty from letting the Girls roam together.

Phyllis, black hen in foreground
It was Phyllis, who is 6 years old.    I saw her wandering around the garden with her beak open.  I bent down to talk to her to see what was up, and I noticed that her comb was quite dark.  I also saw blood on her wattles. 

I carried her in to the kitchen, and offered her some sunflower seeds, which she ate.   I cleaned up the blood and saw that she had some damage to the top of her head and to her wattle.  I purple sprayed the wounds (and myself a bit, oh well), and gave her some Nutridrops.

These things are to be expected when you try and integrate.

I took her back outside and she toodled off.  She's one of DH's favourtie hens because she is so friendly to him.  She's really nosey, always wants to get under your feet.  Her Dad was Henry (Roo's Welsh Black son) and her mum was one of the Welsh Black Harem.  She stands out because her shape, comb, and friendliness come from Roo's side of the family,  although she has Welsh Black colouring.

On a related theme,  I noticed that the Leghorn girls had even more scabs on their combs than usual, and Barbara had feathers missing on her head.      The huge floppy combs and wattles on leghorns make them an easy target for bullies.   I wasn't entirely sure who was doing it though, and made a mental note to keep an eye out.

In the evening I went out to shut the Allotment Girls' coop (the auto opener hasn't arrived, so I guess it won't be dispatched until all thhis COrona Virus stuff blows over) and I saw that Fay was up and her coop door had already shut.    I tried to catch her and failed,  and I went round and manually opened the coop door for her.

By this time, she was at the Youngsters coop and was trying to get in there.   Something was amiss. 

One of the Leghorns was outside on the mezzanine,  another was in the doorway with their whole body outside,  and no one was able to get in.

When I walked up, the one in the doorway tried to go in and one of the girls already in the coop went beserk and started attacking her.  The squealing was horrendousand I could hear the vbictim running around insdie the coop trying to get out of the way.     I rushed to the back of the coop to open it up, and I saw the problem.


She was in the coop and she was attacking anyone and everyone. Not with a bit of "oi, know your place",  but with real aggression.   I pulled her out and put her in the Big Girls coop via the pop hole.   With her out of the way, the Leghorns filed in to the coop normally.   Fay ran round to the Big Girls coop and hopped in through the door I'd left open.

Fleur is understandably stressed by the Allotment chickens,  and what it means for her in the pecking order.    I can understand why she's behaving badly, although the agression I'm seeing is worse than I expected.  I  can't imagine what she's going ot be like if and when the remaining 6 girls come home

I don't have the luxury of being able to separate her out now,  nor the luxury of taking things super slowly.

I know I'm mixing my metaphors but - her card is already marked, and she's now had strike 2.


Lemons, Pilates and kittens.

I had some lemons languishing in the bottom of the fridge, it seemed a crime in the current situation to throw them away, so I decided to try dehydrating them.  

I'm well aware that fruit is best done at its peak, but I decided to go ahead anyway.  My dehydrating bible says that the results from dehydrating lemons is often poor,  but that's fine: i'm planning to grind these into powder to use in, say, breadcrumbs.

We did a Pilates class yesterday.  For the last week, our instructor has been running 3 classes a week by video and this is the first one we've been able to join.     DH hasn't been to Pilates for a few weeks as he wasn't well,  and I missed the last couple of weeks as well.

It was really tough.  Much harder than it should have been.   The kittens thought it was a new game specially for them and they joined in at every opportunity. 
We're going to see if we can cast the phone to the much older bedroom-TV, as the floorspace there might be a bit better shape (and we won't have to move the furniture so much).   It would be good if it works, as the bedroo TV never gets used. 

As the class was in the evening we didn't have dinner until late.  We decided to have a cheaty tea,  so I made hot dog rolls (using an enriched dough with egg and milk) and we had a jar of hot dogs.   I'm regretting it a bit today.

Monday 30 March 2020

Hens in Spring

Egg production is at its peak at the moment.  It won't last: as soon as they start going broody, they will stop laying.

In the meantime though, it's very very noisy.  

We have 5 nestboxes for the 8 Garden Girls who are laying.  The Girls, however, all want to lay in the same nestbox, and several chickens want to lay at the same tim.

Each girl likes to get herself settled, and sit and read the paper for a while before she actually lays an egg.   They don't like sharing the nestbox, so there's a lot of shouting going on. (like people banging on the bathroom door saying 'hurry up'). Sometimes there is a queue on the stairs 

We have 5 nestboxes in their run, including one that could accommodate 3 hens at once. But no. They all have to try and lay in one box.

Over in the Allotmenteers temporary run they have one double nest box for the 4 hens that are laying.  So far they seem to be managing OK,  but it could be just that theur coop is so far down the garden,  and the Garden Girs are so noisy,  that the sound is muffled.     We aren't getting 4 eggs a day from this group,  it usually works out at 2 or 3 a day. 

This morning, the Allotment Girls announced that they needed more space.   They've been really happy mooching around their area (which is mainly the old fruit ed, but with one reasonable sized bit of grass).  Ad lib grass is a luxury they aren't used to,  and it's kept them occupied since they arrived nearly a week ago.

This morning,  all 5 of them were together at the boundary of their area,  just standing around.   It was time to take the next step. 

I removed part of the netting which seprates the Allotment Girls from the Garden Girls.   It was a piece right at the back,  in an area which the Garden Girls don't often use.     The Garden Girls aren't likely to discover this, until they realise that the Aliens are now in their patch.     We'll leave it open for a while, to see how it goes.

I've had to go and rake up the Allotmenteers area.   The poo is building up,  and we need to try and protect the grass for as long as possible.

We're making preparation for the possible evacuation of the remaining Allotment girls.   We don't want to do it until we have to,  but we want to be ready to move quickly if necessary.




Last week, before the shutdown was announced,   DH's hair desperately needed cutting. 

He was unable to go to the barbers and he suggested buying clippers to do it himself. We were on our way back from visiting the allotment chickens, having done a lot of preparation for moving the chickens should it prove necessary.

We were driving past a large Boots, so I suggested we go in and look, as car park was pretty empty.

So, clippers were purchased.

It turned out that "do it himself" meant "we could do it ourselves".

I've ever used clippers before.  I've never seen anyone's hair being cut with clippers (unless they are having it all choped off, which looks relatively easy).

I watched some Youtube videos, which weren't as helpful as you might expect,  they were mainly people doing a for of head shave.   I just wanted to cut some excessively long hair into short hair.

In the end, DH had to try and tell me what to do, while I did it. We were in lockdown by this time, so I reasoned that if I made a mess of it, it'd grow back before anyone saw him.  Well, the hair would.

It wasn't too bad.

I need to use the clippers several more times before they've paid for themselves.  It'll be better next time.

Sunday 29 March 2020


Are you old enough to remembeer the little dog on "That's Life?"
This isn't about that.

Our friend Shirley had contacted us some weeks ago to say that her latest porkers were due to be slaughtered, and would we like our usual half pig.    Of course we said yes.

They were booked in for last Tuesday, but with all the recent events, Shirley wasn't sure whether the abbatoir would be able to keep the appointment.  In the end, they were done, and we arranged to collect on Friday.

I hadn't been out since Tuesday (when we moved the chickens),  and it was about collecting supplies,  so it seened like a good idea.      It seemed less of a good idea on the way home when the motorway ground to a halt.

At east I'd be able to prove that I'd genuinely been collecting supplies... all they'd have to do was to look in the boot and see the trotter sticking out of the box (that's Shirley's trademark way of boxing the four primaries/. And thank goodness we get her to cut it into primaries,   a complete half pig wouldn't fit in my boot, and I chuckled as I imagined what the driver behind me wold be thinking.

I got home, via the Vet as I had to pick up some prescription items for Izzy.  We processed the pork on Friday afternoon, but didn't do anything particularly interesting or new (i'm just not in the right frame of mind to be dealing with curing ham or salami, or whatever.).

DH wanted to make lots of sausages, so we did.    We'd ordered some seasoning mix and some fresh casings.  We usually have Weschenfelder's Cumberland mix, but  they's dold out.  So instead we had "Gold", which we've had before,  and "Yorkshire", which we hadn't.     DH made the sausages on Saturday,  and there were loads of them.   He made "sausage pie" for dinner,  and both mixes tasted really good.

He's going to make bacon,  using loin this time.  After our little, ahem, incident with the cardboard smoker last time we made bacon,  I bought a proper metal smoker and we haven't actually used it yet.


Someone posted this recently, and it made me laugh out loud.

Saturday 28 March 2020


I washed my hair today.   It's due for a colour,  and my roots are starting to show.   I toyed with the idea of buying a home colour kit

My hair is very curly, and I don't have a parting, which means that the root issue is only really really obvious around my fringe.       Usually when the roots show, it's an ugly yellow-tinted grey. It reminds me of nicotine stains,  even though I've never smoked.

Today though, I saw some proper grey - or white, i'm not sure which - as well as the yellow colour.

Maybe I'll use the enforced staying in as an opportunity to see what my hair is like underneath the colour.

I'm sure I'll give my friends and family a shock  when they see me.

I haven't ruled out the home colouring kit thing.

Thursday 26 March 2020


Another gorgeous sunny day.  DH again used his once-a-day to go and check on the chooks at the allotment.  All are fine.

He's been taking advantage of th gorgeous weather and has hosed down the seating area so we can move the swing bench back in to place, and put out a table.  The swing bench collapsed, literally, in the winter. Luckily for me, DH is handy with wood,  so he was able to make a new beam to fix it.

One of the Garden Girls is Not Quite Right.    Fleur has been Not Quite Right for pretty much her entire life.  Now we've got an extra 5 girls in the garden,  and may have more to come,  we're having to give serious consideration to culling her.

I ordered a coop door opener for the coop we brought home from the allotment.  I haven't heard anything form the company concerned, so I hope all is OK with them.    At the oment, the Girls are being very patient about being shut in at night and not being able to get up when they feel like it.  The Garden Girls start getting gobby quite early, complaining that its 6am and their respective doors haven't opened yet.

In some respects, it's good that one of us has to get up to let the Ex-Allotmenteers out.  Whoever gets up makes tea, feeds the cats etc,  and by that time its not worth going back to bed, so the other one gets up as well.   I suspect we'd be lie-abeds otherwise.

The layers pellets arrived today.  I ordered direct from the manufacturer, to avoid pressure on our local supplier.  People are, naturally, buying extra to see them through (as indeed I did).

Groceries wise, yesterday evening I managed to book an online delivery slot for tonight (it was tonight or nothing), but stuff was going out of stock between me putting them in my trolley and checking out,  so I don't know how much use it will be.   I didn't panic buy, I didn't over order.   It has cat food in,  and some cheese for our neighbour,  plus some goats milk for me (the milkman is having trouble delivering goats milk at the moment), and some butter.  I've also included some vegetables, as I haven't been eating enough veg, and my cholesterol count is very high.

I made yoghurt last night, and today I used an extra fine straining box to try making yoghurt cheese. I appreciate the irony of making "cheese" when I have high cholesterol,  but all was underway before I got the news.

Speaking of cheese, I've just realised that my Instant Pot would be great for makking marscarpone.  I normally make it in a double boiler jug thing,  but I bet the IP would be fab.

I've phoned my Uncle (who lives about 6? miles away) almost every day in the last couple of weeks (I missed 2 days), to check he's OK.     My mum and my brothers and I are all on a group chat,  and we check in each day, at eleast once a day.  One of my brothers reads the messages but doesn't often comment.  My brothers and I (and my husband) also have a separate chat so we can talk about things where we don't want to bother/worry mum.  Most of the talk is about the Virus, or related to it or the lockdown.

We had a cat related shock yesterday. Lewis came flying over the fence into the garden.  We don't know how he got out, we didn't even know he was out.  The camera that is trained on the cat flap, for this exact purpose, had run out of battery.

Later, when we went to bed,  he had Shelby by the scruff of the neck,  and I'm sure he was trying to get in to position to  mate with her.   Luckily she's spayed! She carried on sitting next to him after we separated them, so I don't think she was too bithered about it.  Perhaps she thought it was part of their normal kitten rough and tumble.  

I hope the Vets open before too long so we can get him "sorted out".

We're only a couple of days in to this latest lockdown phase,  so the death toll is going to continue to rise for weeks until the lockdown starts to take effect.

Wednesday 25 March 2020

Those left behind

DH used his one hour exercise window to go to the Allotment.

The boys and the remaining girls seem happy enough.  We opened up a section of ghe allotment which we've been letting recover for many months.  It was meant to be for this year's chicks,  but we wanted to give the Allotment chickens a distraction from the other changes.

DH too the usual amout of green vegetables,  so that's a bit of a bonus for them.

We're still discussing what to do in the event of a further curtailment of activities.  


Monday's announcement abour movement restrictions meant we had to bring forward our plans to relocate some of our hens.

Our allotment has been broken in to several times over the last few weeks, but the culprits were looking for things to steal, not hens.    The lockdown means that, now that they know we have hens (and chicken feed etc) on the plot,  our hens are more at risk... even if the original thieves don't want them, they may well tell other people.

When we thought that Norah (our oldest hen) had died,  before the Announcement, we had made the decision to relocate ALL the girls to our home, and to leave the boys on the allotment.   With the good news that Norah is still alive,  we've had to revise this.  We are concerned that the shock of reocating her,  and the resulting, inevitable,  battle for pecking order, will be the death of her.    So, we decided we'd leave her at the allotment for now. 

Of course, we can't leave one hen with 2 boys, that would be an even worse fate for her.  So we had to work out how many - and who - else to leave.   We ended up leaving 6 hens. 2 of them are our lovely Dorking girls,  Ping and Pong.  They've been left because they are in lay,  and that means a source of eggs for the Other Chap.    We've also left Norah (the oldest hen),  the 2 harem girls who are from the same hatch as Poppy and Gloria,   and Big Bird.      We brought Phyllis,  who is aged between the Harem and Big Bird, home.  DG has a soft spot for Phyllis.

It took quite a long time to dismantle the coop at the allotment and to get everything loaded in to the car.  At home, we had to unload,  clean it, and then DH built it.  It took a while to get sorted.

The Allotment girls were a little fazed by the move. Phyllis was stressed.  We put them in the garden in a small section of grass, while we unloaded the coop etc and got things set up for them.   They seemed OK,  the ad lib grass really helped keep them occupied.

The Garden Girls were not happy.

Late in the afternnoon we moved the Allotmenteers into a sectioned off area with their newly built coop.  In the evening, all but one had worked out how to go to bed, and we shut them in.

At some point soon we will need to let the two flocks free range together.  Normally we'd take this very slowly, let the two flocks get used to the idea,   but we don't have the grass to be able to do that.... and we may have to bring the other Girls up at some point.   We'll keep them separate for a couple of days to check for any illness (stress brings it out sometimes), and then go from there.

Monday 23 March 2020

Not Norah.

I went to the Allotment today with DH.

As soon as I walked in, I saw Norah.

I realised at once that it was Barbara that DH had found on Saturday.   Whilst Im happy to see Norah,  I am so very sad to find barbara gone.  She was the bird I wanted to breed from to keep that line and colouring (Indian Game) going.

The chap that bred that line originally,  David from Castle Hill Farm near Hay on Wye,  has sold up in the last month.    Another great story closed, sad at any time but seems desperately sad right now.



Lewis was booked in to be neutered on 30th March, the earliest date our surgery could book him in for, after  the abandoned booking (only 1 testicle dropped) in mid Feb,  as they were undergoing a massive refurb.  

Last week I contacted them to see if there was any chance it could be brought forward, and the Vet very kindly moved him to today (they were full until then). 

Last night we had a call to say they had to cancel.  The Vet who was meant to be doing surgeries today had been called out on an emergency and would be operating until the small hours,  This meant she wouldn't be operating on Monday.... and Monday was their last day for doing routine surgeries.

So, no snip for Lewis.

We haven't let them outside, unless they are on a lead, yet.    Now they are older, they are getting more fractious, and really could do with the outside stimulation. 

Their food was removed last night so Lewis could starve before the op.   I didn't give then anything, just in case the other nearby Vet could help.  I phoned them first thing this morning, but they are also suspending routine ops (even before I told them we weren't registered with them).

It's worrying, but it can't be helped.

At least Shelby has been done.

Saturday 21 March 2020

Goodbye Nora

Our current oldest girl,Nora, died last night.  DH found her when he was checking the nest boxes and coops this morning.

No trauma,  just old age.   She was over 9 years old, and was the one of  first hatch from the Welsh Black girls we bought from Castle Farm near Hay on Wye.     Her dad was our gorgeous Roo.  and unlike most of the rest of the hatch, she was brown and black.

 She was one of a pair of very similar looking girls, really pretty markings.  Her sister, Batty,  died in August 2017.  Actually, they were known as "Norah and Batty" (named by the Other Chap),  and the names were interchangeable because it wasn't always easy to see who was who.

Nora walking behind Bertie (our Vorwerk cockerel)
She was an enormous, gentle, friendly girl;  she had the best characteristics of each of her parents.   Roo's gentleness and unflappability;  Rose/Ruby's heath, vigour, excellent constituion, and spirit and zest for life.

I cried when DH told me.     We knew it was coming, of course.  She was an Old Girl anyway,  and she'd been slowing down recently.      I'm happy that she appears to have died peacefuly in her sleep.

It's the end of an era:  she was the last surviving daughter of our wonderful Roo.

On a positive note, we have her (or Batty's) daughter by Henry,  a yellow hen called Bg Bird.  Big Bird doesn't look like Norah at all,  she has the colouring of Roo's side of the family. 

And we have her daughter (or it might be her granddaughter through Big Bird),  Barbara.  Barbara looks very, very similar to  Norah.  I'm happy that we have her Norah's genes in our breeding pool.

Goodnight sweetie.

Friday 20 March 2020


I had a bunch of bananas on the side, and decided I'd better take them out of their plastic and move them.

 I picked the bunch up, an this happened...All the bananas fell off the stalk and split open.  .

I peeled one and took it outside to give the Girls.They love banana.  They rarely get it though because its not really very good for them: a little bit is OK, but too much, and they get crop issues.    I shared it out as best I could, even trying to give some to Sylvia who was on the nestbox at the time.  She's one of last year's hatch,  and was too busy concentrating on laying to eat.  If it had been one of the older ladies, they'd have stopped laying and gobbled up the banana.

I made banana bread with the rest, on the basis that I could slice it and freeze it.   It's in the oven now.

I've also got a bottle of sour milk, which is really unusual.  I need to amend my milk delivery to switch formally switch another one of the cows milk days to goats milk as I consume more goats milk now.    I was going to pour it doen the sink,  but that seems too wasteful with all the shortages.   So,  I've decided to make soda bread instead.   Ironically, I have whey in the fridge from making yoghurt the other day, and that was maerked for soda bread.   I'll have to make something else with that.

A lovely pair of chaps have set up a fruit and veg stall at a pub in the neighbouring village.  I went today to get a few bits,  and I took a list from my neighbour who is self isolating.  People seemed to be buying quite a lot of stuff, but I guess they might just be buying for more than one household.    I bought very little, and I was acutely aware of what I was buying (4 medium potatoes, a cabbage, a lettuce and a squash, plus a couple of swedes  for the chooks at the allotment.).

DH is digging up the remainder of the ropey parsnips today.     This is the first time DH has grown ropey parsnips.  Usually they are amazing, and we eat them in huge quantity over a short period of time (parsnip soup, parsnip bread, parsnip crisps, parsnip chips....).   This year they weren't great, and we left a load in the ground.  We'd kept talking about digging them up and doing something with them,  but the likelihood is that we'd have left them in the ground to rot.    That's not really right, under the current circumstances,  so we're going to salvage what we can and peel, blanch and freeze them.

With non-food stuff, it's really hard to know what to do.   I don't want to panic buy or buy stuff unnecessarily.... I do want to support those shops and businesses who are trying to keep going.  Everyone will have to stop at some point,  and I want to support those that I can, while I can.

I've been trying to buy stuff that I woud have bought anyway,  in the sort of quantities I would have bought anyway. 

Wednesday 18 March 2020

Time Tunnel

Just watching this on the Horror Channel. 

I loved this when I was a kid. Its season 1 episode 1. 

Its just as I remembered it. And,  unlike some of my other childhood favourites ("The Champions"  I'm looking at you!),  rewatching has not ruined the memory. 

short Ribs

Recently we decided to eat some of the larger, older,  items in the freezer.   Last week we had a huge pork shoulder,  cooked for 7 hours a la Jamie Oliver.   Gorgeous, moist,  roast pork for 2 days,  pork for the cat,  and   then pork in tomato sauce with rice.   We had much larger portions than normal,  it's been ages since we had a full roast. 

 This week, it was beef short ribs,  cooked in my Instant Pot Evo Plus,  following Nom Nom Paleo's recipe.  No added water,  no burn message,  despite the tomato based sauce.

Her recipe was for 4.5 pounds of ribs,  and the picture showed many pieces.  Mine,  from Pipers Farm,   was half that and only 2 pieces. 

I made her Magic Mushroom Powder as a seasoning.   I did the ribs for 45 mins, and the meat was beautifully tender and falling off the bone in some places.

 I would add 5 mins next time so it was falling off the Bone everywhere.  I might also make it a day in advance,  as she does, so the fat can separate and be peeled off.  I used a gravy separator jug,  which worked quite well.

I served it with home made aligot mash. This was heated from solid frozen in the air fryer.  It was about 20 mins at 150 and then 5 mins at 170. 

Very happy.  

Lovely village

We live in a mostly lovely village.

The village Facebook group has been busy, with pepole asking for help and offering help.   The bug town nearby has set up a FB group for help during the situation,  and it encompasses our village too.

Our Parish Council recognises that many people in our village don't use the village Facebook page,  and many don't use the internet,  so they decided to organise a village wide leaflet drop.   It explains that there is help available with picking up shopping,  phone call,  posting mail,  urgent supplies,  and how to access the help.

They asked for help in delivering the leaflets, and all streets were quickly covered.  (I did ours, ther aren't that many houses so it was easy).

I know similar things are happening all over the country, and it's great to see positive things occurrring.

(Of course we've also been warned about scammers offering help,  there will always be pond scum.)

The internet age means I can keep in touch with my brothers and my parents in one group chat.   My Uncke doesn't have internet,  so that's a phone call.   

But it's good to concentrate on the positives.


We've been making plans for what to do about the allotment chooks.    They have extra waterers and plenty of feed and(assuming no injuries etc)  would be fine for a while if we couldn't get to them.  We've filled up the water storage tanks there, so if we can't get there but someone else can, it's not much hassle for volunteer.

We've been talking about whether we could bring them home if necessary, and what we would need to do to make this possible.

For a very short period, we could manage with them in the garden, but the extra number would make short work of the grass leaving little or nothing for any of them.   It would have to be a last resort thing, and we aren't there yet.

We may or may not be able to bring one of the coops home from the allotment.  Even if we could, it isn't big enough to accomodate all the allotment girls,  but we also have our small  coop, so we should be OK.  We we could accommmodate some in the greenhouse overnight if needed, and we might have to do that for the more elderly girls.  

As for the boys - well, they will need to be boxed or crated at night, and put separately to the girls (in one of the sheds), to minimise the effect of their early morning crowing.   Cockerels need height to be able to get a fully loud crow.  Minimising the headroom means they can still crow, but they can't achieve the usual volume. 

As for enclosed runs... technically we could build up the run we used for the chicks,  but that would actually just concentrate the allotmenteers on one patch of grass, putting more stress on it.  It would be destroyed completely in days and would take months to recover.        It looks like we'd have to have them free ranging all the time.    That's a big fox risk, but we might have no alternative.

I guess it's possible one or other of  our neighbours might let us put up a run in their garden, at least so the chooks could graze for a few hours.    Our adjoining neighbour would, I know  but she's moving imminently.  The other side has a puppy Jack Russell,  so I don't think that will work.   There are others who might be able to help,   and we'll progress that if and when te chooks definitely move.

Sunday 15 March 2020

Stepping Up

My lovely step daughter popped over to see us late on Friday night.  She stayed the night, and we spent most of Saurday round the breakfast table chatting.  Not really about anything, just chatting.

She lives a couple of hours away; not far really, but far enough to mean that droping in for a cup of tea is impractical.

It was a lovely day.

Friday 13 March 2020


Some scummy broke into our allotment last night.

It was OC's (Other Chap's) turn to do the allotment today,  and DH got a phone call and went straight away to assess he damage and to see what had happened to the chooks.

They damaged a fence to get on to the allotment land.  They pulled out the wiring for the electric fence,  ripped off the the door to the chicken shed and then, finding it was a shed with chickens roosting,  they ripped off the door (next door to the shed)  which actually gives them access to the plot. 

They attempted to steal the solar panels,  took the camera,   and then tried to get in to the storage shed. 

They failed.  It would have been a disappointment anyway.

Luckily,  all the chickens were accounted for.   We were relieved that none of the chickens were stolen,   and were lucky that no fox took advantage of the lack of electric fence and lack of door to the shed.

It took several hours today for the two chaps to do enough repairs to secure the chickens (from four legged predators).



Tuesday 10 March 2020

Coughs and sneezes

DH has a horrible, incessant, cough.  No fever, so not Coronovirus.     It's very wearing for him,  and a bit for me.     I've no doubt I'll be strting with it soon enough.

I went to do the Allotment chooks today.  I put out an extra waterer (making 5 toughs in total), and filled up the feeders.  They've always got enough to cover an emergency, for example if we're unwell and we're unable to find someone to step in..  A bigger worry is if they are in an area which ends up being locked down,  which is why we wanted to make sure they had feeders well stocked, and the extra watering trough.    I've got another large plastic drinker, which is a nuisance to clean,  so i might bring that home next time, clean it and then take that back as well.

We've currently got 12 girls on the allotment,   which is a few too many really (although we have 2 cockerels, so from that point of view, it's about right).       We have 2 girls in the garden who will be moving to the allotment at some point,  but they are layers rather than breeders of table chooks. 

Three of the allotment girls are very old ladies now, and 2 are getting on a bit.  We don't begrudge them their long and happy retirement.   Norah is 9 years old, and has slowed down noticeably over the last few weeks.   She's eating OK, and she looks OK.     AnneOfCleves and KatherineHoward, (sisters to POppy and Gloria),  are 8.  We lost JaneSeymour a few weeks ago.  Henry's last 2 remaining  daughters,  BigBird (daughter of Norah [or Batty]),  and Phyllis (daighter of one of the 6 Wives), are both 6.  Phyllis looks a little tired,  asnd her comb isn't quite as bright as it should be. Phyllis' twin sister, Dilys,  died 2 years ago,  so Phyllis is doing well.

We may choose not to hatch this year.     I'd like to hatch some blue egg layers,  and I've asked around to see if I can find a cream legbar cockerel I can borrow for stud duties.    I'd like to put him to my Leghorn garden girls,  and keep a couple of resulting girls.    No luck yet.        

If we can't find one,  we might decide not to hatch at all this year.   It's always hard culling chooks,  and culling excess girls for the table is even worse.   I can't imagine not having chicks.     There are advantages though :  we can rest part of thre ground for longer than just a few months.

I guess I'll see what happens about the cockerel.

Saturday 7 March 2020

The Great Escape

On Wednesday I had an appointment with my chiropracter, who does an amazing foot and leg massage.  This (along with some other stuff) has really been helping with the issues in my lower leg,   and my leg is smaller now than it has been for years. 

I also had to go and get some chicken feed,  and go and muck out the allotment chickens.  I planned my time carefully, allowing a few minutes contingency.

It went wrong immediately.

I got up to leave the house and I could hear the chickens squawking,  but not from the usual place.    As I walked across the kitchen, I saw Shelby had her face ressed against the front cat flap.  I realised that there was a chicken... no,  more than one chicken..... out on the driveway.

Next door has a young terrier pup, Mason..... I  ran out the front.     3 of the youngsers were running around the driveway, shrieking.   I tried to catch them, but they were too full of panic to let themselves be caught.   They also refused to be herded through the cat-sized hole in the fenvce whence they had come. 

It took ages to get them back in.    Then, I had to herd all of them into the run.   I had been planning to leave them out (a risk, I know),  but that was now impossible.  The 3 girls would show the other 2,  and the 5 old girls would also want to get in on the act.      I had to spend more time getting them all shut in their run,     and filling up hanging feeders to occupy them,  before I was able to leave.

Mason trotted into the drive to say hello, just as I was leaving. 

A narrow escape for the girls.

A little ray of sunshine

Yesterday was a gorgeous, sunny, spring day.

It was the first blue sky day for what seems like forever.   I walked to Pilates (on my own, DH is unwell) and filled my lungs with fresh spring air.

When I got home, I wanted to open all the doors and windows tl let the house breathe.  I couldn't, of course, because the kittens would get out.  Instead, I went round and opened all the windows on their latches, to let a bit of air in. 

It was wonderful.

The good weather lasted all day.  I spent most of the day cleaning and airing things.  I can't help it,  the slightest whiff of that ozone rich spring air, and my brain goes into spring clean mode.

Monday 2 March 2020

Choice Grenfell

I was on a sewing machine related course a while ago (a looooong way from home),  and the venue had flyers for the local arts theatre.  One if the flyers was for a show called Choice Grenfell, and it looked like my cup of tea.

When I got home I looked it up, and I was pleased to find that there was a show coming up at an arts centre more close to home.  I booked tickets,  and we went to see it. 

We took Miss Tween, even though we knew it wasn't really going to be her thing.   Her nan, my aunt,  would have loved  it, and I would have taken her (were she still here).   So, we took Miss Tween instead.

It was a lovely evening.

The first half of the show was Joyce an her pianist rehearsing and chatting.  In a very casual way, they managed to impart a great deal of information about Joyce's life (she mentored Clive James!), and they got in a few sketches/songs under the guise ofrehearsing them.

The second half was Joyce performing.    I had completely forgotten just how poignant and sharp some of her observations were,  they weren't all funny.    I cried at a couple of simple songs and a couple of clever subtle sketches.    The evening included some of the most famous funny ones (George, don't do that!),  and I was happy to see them performed. 

Last time I saw anything like this was years ago.  We went to London to see Maureen Lipman in Re: Joyce,  which was incredibly moving. I cried all the way back to the train.

Miss Tween said she enjoyed it.  What she meant was she enjoyed  having an evening out with us. She didn't dislike the show, but most of it went over her head.   I'm not surprised.   I'm hoping that she may revist Joyce Grenfell when she's older.