Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Lone Trumpeter

Here I am in Stockholm!  There is snow on the ground and it is so cold here!!!  I am sitting at the desk in my hotel room with a hot water bottle on my lap.  Its freezing!  The hotel is non smoking, so i have to lean out of the window like a school child!!  Can't face going out as the rain is coming down now.
Was in Duesseldorf again on Tuesday and visited the Christmas market!!

I took the girls on the crew with me into Town, but managed to lose them pretty quickly!!!  After a bite to eat, I picked up a few bits and bobs, which I can't talk about until after Christmas and then grabbed a fresh prawn roll and headed off to the supermarket.  6 pots of goose fat, some Christmas bits and several shopping bags later, i got back to the hotel exhausted!!
The goose fat will be posted soon Kate, i promise!! *wink*

When I finally got home yesterday, I quickly let the girls out before it got completely dark!  They only had about 20 minutes until bedtime, but were happy to stretch their wings and have a root around in the bark chippings.   I cleaned them out and topped up their, now empty, feeders.  Also collected 5 eggs!!!!!!

All but Laverne had laid but she is still having some 'me time', so deserves a break.  Her feathers are all back now and she really is looking beautiful.

I can hear a trumpet out of my window, some poor so and so is playing Christmas carols in the high street.  It is so cold and he has been playing for 4 hours now.  Must be frozen.  That would explain the odd duff note.  And the slightly strange tempo.  He has just been joined by an accordionist.  Its really festive!  

I have all my Christmas cards ready to write.  In truth they have been in my crew bag for a couple of weeks!  Its the one job I never seem to get done.  Always a last minute dash to get them written.  I have 2 more days at work, then off for a week.  WILL get them written!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas Shopping!

Up with the lark this morning, (well the alarm clock) and headed straight out to the garden centre 40+ miles away!  Its a long way to go but it's the best garden centre in the world.  I was very restrained and only bought the pressies I needed (and some oreo cookies and a large tug trug for me)!

Then down the motorway to Festival Place in Basingstoke.  How I hate shopping centres.  Frantic people.  Crowds.  Shocking Christmas carols, the same cd in every shop.   We did well and bought nearly everything we needed.   Just my niece, Grace, to buy for.  Birthday and Christmas.
Nearly everyone I know has a birthday in October/November/December and January.  Its an expensive time.

We stopped off in Nando's for lunch and I had the veggie burger option.  Jase had the bean pita.  Delish.  It was nice to go out for lunch as its something we don't often do.  Back home in need of Lemsip and I cleaned the girls out and gave them some corn.   

They seem happy enough and we had 3 eggs today.  Laverne and Winifred are on strike at the moment.  They deserve a break anyway.  I had to shuffle them around tonight as we are both away for a night and they will have to spend the day in their runs.  Moved Prudence back in with Winifred and Elsbeth, she didn't squawk at all this time.  Think she might be the ideal candidate to show people at the hen keeping course.  Will train her with food, it works for me!!

Back to work tomorrow for 5 days, throat is better but the aches and pains are still racking my body.    Will take my hot water bottle and some lemsip, God I know how to live!!
The good news in that I am in Duesseldorf tomorrow (just for a change) and the Christmas market is on!!!  I should land in DUS by 10.30am and will be at the market by 11.30 if things go to plan.  Need to get a few bits, as always, and can't wait for the food!!!  Currywurst and chips, warm sugared almonds and anything else that i can gorge on!!!!!!

Speak soon

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Mad Chicken Professor?

All was well with the hens this morning.  They appeared rested and were gorging on layers pellets when I opened the run door this morning.   Not a sleepless, dark circle under the eyes to be seen.  Well, not on the chickens anyway!   I woke up, throat feeling like a cheese grater.  Cotton wool brain and numb fingers, which was odd.

We went to Waitrose for a big shop and half way round, I had had enough.  Even with the Christmas stock to tempt me.  Will go back, alone, when I'm feeling better.   We now have enough food in the house to last for weeks, so bring on the snow!  The log basket is full.  Let Mother nature do her worse, we have enough houmous.

Not long after getting the original girls, I mentioned to Jase about running a course on chicken keeping.  Just the basics, you know, cleaning, care, feeding, eggs etc.  I hadn't given it much thought until recently.  Omlet are looking for keen eglu owners to run mini chicken keeping courses from their own homes and I have signed up!!  

My first course is planned for the 8th of December and i am really looking forward to it.  2 hours talking chicken, what bliss!  Jase says he needs to get me a barbour jacket and Indiana Jones' hat to really look the part.  Cheeky sod.  Do I need to think of a country bumpkin accent to use for the talk now?  I can't wait.  I have one person booked so far, which isn't bad as my course wasn't announced until 11pm last night!

Need to sort out the course details.  Will try and inject humour in the talk, people already think i'm mad so will have to tone that down a bit!
I hope it goes well.  It is amazing how much you pick up in a short space of time.  Will delight in talking hens to a group of like minded people!  

For more details, click on the title of this post!  ;0)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I Didn't Make it to Milan

Woke up at 3am this morning, feeling like death on a stick.  Flew back from Duesseldorf and went sick.  Got home and went to bed for an hour.  Had Lemsip and Jase's homemade carrot soup and will chill out in front of the fire tonight.  

The girls are fine and still free ranging together nicely.  Just been out to lock them in for the night and they are deciding where to sleep.  Laverne was in the new eglu with Winifred, so at least they are mixing well.  

Off to bed early tonight so speak soon

C x  

Update - Jase and I have been out to shut them in.  They are all in one eglu!  I was really tempted to take a picture but i didn't want to disturb them.  They look so sweet all huddled up for the night.  Hopefully this will sort out the minor pecking issues that Elsbeth has with the 'old' girls.  Feeling all warm and fuzzy that they are getting on so well.  Sad but true!!!  
Off to read December's Country Living magazine now...........

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Guess where I am?

Up at freak o'clock this morning. Left the house at 5.55am. Traffic was murder.  The flight to Duesseldorf was ok and uneventful. I do fly to other places you know! But the DUS flight is quick, easy and I get to spend the whole day chilling out with internet access.  You would think that the hotels would provide it as standard, but most charge £20 or so a night, which i won't pay.  If you are lucky, you can get a wireless signal.  Depends how far you lean out of the window, balancing on one leg, trying not to drop the laptop!  Trust me, I have been there many times in Brussels!

I decided to let the old and new girls free range for a bit yesterday.  All was going well until Prudence saw Shirley and it was 'beaks at dawn'.  Then Elsbeth saw Laverne and all hell broke lose!  No damage to either parties and it seemed okay after 10 minutes.  A sprinkling of mixed corn and they were all friends!!  Winifred is too big for anyone to bother with.  She just struts around, Lady of the Manor. 

Jase let them all out today and they were fine, a case of chasing around the eglu to hide but things have settled down.  4 eggs at the last text message alert!!! Not bad from 5 hens, 2 of which are moulting.

Off to Milan tomorrow for the night, the flea pit of Europe.  I can't stand the place.  Luckily we land at 12 noon and leave very early the next day.  I have never known a city with so many mosquitoes!!  Its like an all you can eat buffet for them when I arrive.  Even in November, the buggers get me.  My arms and legs look like a brail version of War and Peace by the time i wake up in the morning.   Just seen the Temperature is  -4 tonight there, so hopefully the gnats will have frozen.

In other news, I didn't get the days off I wanted at Christmas. I am off the 24/25 but working the 23/26th!!!!  I have leave on hold for the 26th but might not find out if I'm off until 6pm on Christmas Day.  What good is that???  We were hoping to go to Scotland for Christmas to visit Jason's Mum and Sister.  Looks like he might be going without me this year.  My Parents are going to Germany, so Christmas for One (and 5 chickens).  

Trying not to think about it at the moment, there is always hope.   


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Too Many Eggs In One Basket??

Jase was up early today, so I decided to get up with him. By 7am, i had stripped the bed, done the washing and tidied the kitchen. Once it was light, I let the girls out. Laverne and Shirley were straight back to the alarm calls, warding off the new comers! So glad next door are away for the weekend.
The new girls came out slowly, then, remembering where the food was, dived straight into their breakfast. I wasn't expecting any eggs for a while, but there was one in the nest box. Clever girl!, Whoever it was.

Next job was the shed. Nightmare. I can't blame Jason for the mess as he only goes in there to get chicken food. After a hour or so, it was looking better. Lots of rubbish in the bin and hundreds of old flower pots moved to the garage, ready for next years seedlings.

By lunchtime, i was exhausted. Then I heard squawking. Shirley was eyeing up the new girls through the run again. Elsbeth was in the eglu, clucking contently. I creep out of the area and left her to it. 10 minutes later, she 'announced' that an egg had been laid. Similar noise to Laverne, but much quieter! Egg number 2!!!

By 3.30 all was quiet and i prepared some porridge to warm their cold tummies ready for bed. Don't laugh, they love it!

Prudence was in the eglu laying an egg!!!!! I am so pleased that they are ok and feel comfortable enough to lay!

The one thing I had to stop, was Winifred sleeping in the nest box. Laverne and Shirley used to take it in turns. Not a problem. Apart from the large poo that greeted me every morning!!!!!
I put a flower pot in the nest this evening and have just been out to check that they are all ok. The flower pot is in the run. Winifred is in the nest. Smug look on her face!!!

Will leave you with this picture tonight. It really made me smile.

Left to right -
Winifred, Prudence and Elsbeth :0)

Friday, November 16, 2007


Got up early this morning and had breakfast. Got dressed and set about putting the new eglu and run together.
I drove to the New Forest and picked up the new girls.......
Not the best picture as, obviously, they are not used to the media attention yet.

The white one is a light sussex called Winifred

The grey one is an English maran called Elsbeth

And finally a Silver Sussex called Prudence (at the back, very camera shy)!

They are so beautiful!!! And HUGE!!!

So much bigger than the original girls. Talking of which, Laverne and Shirley are not happy! They are creating in the garden as I type. They keep pacing around asserting their authority. It is so funny to watch. Luckily the neighbours are away for a long weekend, so the noise won't bother them.

I will leave it for a while until I let them freerange together. The breeder said let them see eachother for a couple of weeks, just to get used to 'other chickens' being around. I can't see the new girls being bullied too much as they are so big!!!!!

The two eglus together......

Jase is back to work tomorrow so I will crack on with the garden and leaf collecting! They are everywhere. Need to make a leaf mould bin to put them in. Have to hoover out the car to lose the smell of chickens. They were good as gold in the car, but the smell is lingering!! Hehe.

Thats enough for now, off to peek at the new girls again. All seems quiet outside, so maybe Laverne and Shirley are chatting to their new friends nicely. Fingers crossed.

Monday, November 12, 2007


After 15 days off, it was eventually time to return to work. I was actually quite looking forward to it (i don’t say that often). I threw some sweetcorn in the run to get the girls in and locked them up for the night. It is rare that they spend much time confined to the run, but Shirley has a habit of pacing like a caged lion if i’m stood there watching. From the bedroom window they are perfectly happy! When i cleaned them out, i sprinkled some dry mealworms into the aubiose so i’m sure they will have a good time rooting around.

I gave myself 2 1/4 hours for the hours drive as Sunday night can be a nightmare. In their infinate wisdom the highways agency decided to make barrier repairs on the outside lane. Perfect on a Sunday night, when everyone os returning to London. After 1 3/4 hours!!!!! I finally made it to work. Lovely crew just 5 of us to Berlin for the night.

I made the HUGE mistake of wearing new shoes. My feet were throbbing all the way there. Had a long discussuion with a passenger as to whether or not eggs were vegetarian. I tried to explain that I don’t make the sandwiches, just serve them. He wasn’t having it. Am I wrong? Vegetarians eat eggs/cheese/milk and Vegans don’t eat animals products? He settled for the chicken and bacon sandwich. He was trying to make a point. I do despair sometimes.

I met up with the crew for a quick drink then headed back to my room. After running the bath i sat on the edge soaking my aching feet. *mental note to self never wear new shoes to work*

Have spoken to Omlet and the eglu is definately being delivered tomorrow at 2.30. Jase will be in but i won’t be home until late in the evening. I am so excited!!!!!

It is brass monkeys here in Berlin. Snow is expected! Shame it hasn’t snowed yet. Might venture out to grab a bite to eat. Problem is, i forgot to bring a jacket. Its minus 1 outside and i don’t fancy my chances with just a polo shirt.

Off to Duesseldorf tonight, but only about 12 hours there, then an Amsterdam and back on Tuesday. I have two more days at work then am off for 4 days. Gives me a chance to settle the new hens in.

Time to get showered now and peruse the room service menu.........

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Watch Where you Tread!

Just been pottering around the house and garden recently. Thought we were going to lose the roof with all the rain and wintery gales we have had. I locked the girls in their run early as they we being blown around my the wind.

I spent most of yesterday calling breeders all over the south of England, trying to find 3 breeds of chicken. I have finally found someone near Beaulieu, so am off in a bit to take a look. The new eglu is arriving on Tuesday, so I will pick the new girls up on Friday if poss.

Right, back from the breeder in Beaulieu. Slap bang in the middle of the New Forest! After avoiding several donkeys, a couple of horses, pheasants and a rather large bull, I finally arrived at the farm.
The place is fantastic and a chickens lovers paradise! Chooks running around everywhere! Ducks too. He showed me the chickens i was after and their housing etc etc. The place is very clean and tidy except for the chicken poo liberally scattered all over the place.

I have picked a Light Sussex, a Silver Sussex and i think i will go for a French Maran. They lay dark chocolate brown eggs with a glossy finish. I am picking them up on Friday next week and am so excited.

I left the farm with a bag of grit and a tray of eggs. All different colours and a couple of duck eggs which i had for breakfast this morning!

I have to get my backside in gear now. Leaving for work at 3.45 this afternoon and want to get the chicken area ready for the new eglu's arrival. Need to scrape the bark up and move the old eglu round to fit the new one in. My back is killing me today, must've slept funny. Nurofen is definatley needed today! Haven't had any problens with my back for a while so thats good news.

Eglu is now moved, new aubiose in the run and looking good. Have raked the bark and aubiose into a corner ready for the new eglu. It has just started raining so good excuse to come in and have a cuppa. Laverne and Shirley had fun digging up the ground, revealing worms, baby slugs and woodlice! Back is agony. MUST see the physio again soon.

C x

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

And Then There Were Five?

Feel much better today and we had a leisurely breakfast, then got on with things. I popped to the shops and picked up a couple of Christmas pressies. Jase got some bark for the garden and had his haircut.

We were sitting in the kitchen and he said, out of the blue, "Should we get a couple more chickens"?
After picking myself off the floor, taking a seat before my legs gave way again, I said "ok".
I can't believe it. He was so adamant that we weren't getting any more, after Babs was ill last time. We discussed it and we are now getting a new eglu and 3 new chickens.

I dashed outside, with tape measure in hand and we can fit a new eglu in the chicken area. It also makes it easier to introduce the newbies. Without a second to spare I was on the phone to Jan at Omlet HQ and have reserved an orange eglu, which should compliment the blue one really well.
The only dilemma is what type of chickens to get??

I am still in shock and keep thinking that this is all a dream. I will wake up and is all been a horrible nightmare. That is why I am writing this, so there is written proof. I am so cynical!!

We have agreed that this will be our Christmas Present to eachother, although I feel that he has got a bum deal. He is happy if I am. Bless him. What a guy. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful person. I don't say it often enough.

Enough of that mushy stuff ;0)

Here is a pic of the sloe gin I made last week.

The colour is amazing, really dark red. Last year's batch took weeks to change colour. I'm hoping the flavour will match.
Well, my friends are hoping the flavour will match. Nearly 5 years sans alcohol for me!!!!

Well its 7.40pm now and 3 degrees C. Fire and heating are on, so i'm not doing my bit to save the Planet, but its freezing here. I'm sure its colder here than it was in my last place. Then again, we don't have as many neighbours, buildings, etc near us to hold the heat in. Just fields, fields and more fields, Bliss.

Speak soon

C x x x
(the happy chicken boy)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Goodbye Miss Babs

On the 21st July 2006, Roy from Omlet arrived in his van. After unloading the eglu and run and a mysterious wooden box, he leaned on the fence and drank his coffee. When finished, he slid open the box and handed me a ginger chicken. Miss Babs. I trimmed her wing and put her in the run. She was the first chicken I had ever held. She was a cutie. Such a character. She was the big boss of my little 'peep of chickens'.

Over the next few months, she rewarded us with small but delicious eggs. Chris, the Postie, always liked hers best.

She was the first into everything, the first to escape from their 'chicken area' into the veggie garden. The first to escape from the veggie garden into the main garden. Aloof at times and a bugger to catch, but always interested in what you were doing.

I would like to say that Babs, Laverne and Shirley have given me so much pleasure over the past 18 months. I really enjoy keeping chickens and could not imagine life without them now. They bring life to a garden and eggs to the kitchen. Whenever i open the back door, there is an excited 'bawk' from one of them, eagerly expecting some sort of treat.
I hope Laverne and Shirley don't miss her too much, I know I will.

RIP Babs

Healing Vibes Please

Been a busy bee for the past couple of days, just pottering round doing stuff.

Jase was up early this morning and let the girls out. He said Babs wasn't looking too good. I tiptoed across the frosty veg garden to take a peek and couldn't find her. She was sat in the dust bath (with lid) and didn't really move. She is like a fluffy football with legs. Her head and neck and withdrawn into her body. Not a good sign. I have made an appointment for her at 11.15 this morning. If its the same problem that she has been treated for three times this year, then we can't keep putting her through it. Sad this morning.
Can't really concentrate on anything, hence my typing and the constant delete button!

I planned to get some bark today and cover the new garden borders as the weeds are already growing back like mad. The lawn has been scarified and looks awful, but will hopefully look better come Spring.

I'm still off until the 11th, so have some time to get stuff done. The Christmas shopping is coming along nicely and i'm waiting eagerly for the Postman every day. I love getting post, especially when its parcels!!

Going to pop outside now and see Babs. Positive vibes please.

C x x x

Been out to see her and she is sat lifeless in the run, so I picked her up and brought her inside. She is sitting in her box, with a towel over the top and is quiet. The heating is on, so she is nice and warm. Off to the vets in 30 mins. Fingers crossed.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Three Fat Ladies

A beautiful day here today, sun is shining and the sky is blue. Tempted to cut the lawn but its still wet at the moment. Will maybe do it this afternoon. Been busy on t'interweb buying pressies for C********. Have got loads today! 80)

I have decided to get the sewing machine out and finally make the table cloth and bags that have been on the back boiler for a few weeks. Shame as its such a nice day outside.

Finished the table cloth, only took 5 minutes!! Really pleased with myself now. Off to start on the little bags........

The sewing machine is jammed! I have taken it apart, not a good idea, and now can't put it back together again!! Oh how i hate machines!!!!

In other news.......Grow your own and Practical Poultry mags were out today. Going to chill out later, in front t'fire and read them cover to cover.

Just been out to say goodnight to the girls and tuck them in. With the shorter days they are going to bed earlier each night. Shame, as i miss them chatting in the garden. I opened the eggport door and they were all huddled up together, fluffed up to keep the cold out. Bless them. Got a look from Laverne, who always sleeps by the door, as if to say 'do you live in a barn'?
I closed the door and heard them murmuring in the eglu. They are so funny, love them to bits.
Topped up their pellets so they can feast in the morning.

Here is a picture i took of them earlier

The rehearsals for syncronized chicken dancing are going well, but Shirley must learn to keep her tail up!

Off to find a sewing machine repair shop now............


C x x