Monday, December 29, 2008

Fluffy bums....

Baltic is hardly the word for it. It is freezing outside with temperatures struggling to get above 3C!! I popped outside to collect eggs (or should that be egg *rolls eyes*) and my fingers are frozen solid. We now have the heating on all the time and are going through the oil. We will have to get a top up sometime in the new year - at least the price is coming down slowly.

Elsbeth is still halfway through her moult and hasn't laid for a couple of weeks. She is two-tone still, but her new grey/black feathers look beautiful. You can see her old brown feathers on her back still.




Agnes has laid all week and is always in the nest box first thing when they are let out. She is getting big now and her comb is starting to 'flop' over!!



No sign of eggs from Cornelia yet, but her comb is still quite small (Agnes' fluffy backside in the background)



Laverne is still picking on them, but not quite as much as before. They are learning to avoid her now.

I really should go into Town and take a look around for sale bargains. I can't face it though. Having absolutely no cash isn't helping either. I do need to control my spending next year. That will be a New Years resolution.

A friend said he would help me set a website to sell my Christmas cakes/puds and Farm Cottage wares, next year, so that might earn a few extra pennies. I have received lots of very positive feedback from the people that I posted out things out to. Everyone loved my Christmas puddings (even those that don't like them normally).

Everything has gone up so much in price recently, looks like we will be shopping in Asda rather than Waitrose from now on.........!

I was surprised by the comments about the hampers. One friend said I was wasted and should sell complete hampers next year as they were so lovely. Maybe I will, if I can source slightly smaller boxes.

I planted several pots of mini daffodils and hyacinths to give away for Christmas but still have a couple of pots left. The flowers are just starting to open. They are called tete a tete and are so tiny!




Just been outside to fill the log basket and the frost is still on the lawn. It has been there for 3 days now. METCHECK is saying it will be minus 4 tonight, with the wind chill it'll feel like -7!!! The girls water is topped up, but will get a jug ready for the morning, to defrost the glug drinkers. They will be locked up tonight.

Off to lock the chickens in now. The sun is setting and the temperature is already 0C. Time to light the fire and get snuggled down for the night.

C x x x

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

He is nearly here.........

Only a few hours to go until Father Christmas visits Farm Cottage! I am so excited. Jase thinks I am mad. He is probably right. :0)

I still have a few presents to wrap which I'll do this evening. We have had our festive dinner of fish fingers, chips and peas and the fire is roaring.

A couple more pictures of my final hampers fillers. They look and taste really nice and it was well worth going cross eyed, dribbling melted white chocolate on each one, cutting up miniscule pieces of cherry and angelica!

Ready for the close up!









In their little tins








Disaster struck at 11.30 last night when I decided to make a quick batch of gingerbread men. NO GROUND GINGER!! I was horrified. Against my better judgement I HAD to drive to T...TES...I can barely type it. You know the shop. I haven't been for nearly two years as I can't stand the way they are taking over the Country. Anyway, I went as it was the ONLY shop around here, open at midnight. Luckily it was empty (unlike Waitrose yesterday)!

I came home and had a good wash to cleanse my system.
We now have a gingerbread man army in the kitchen. The recipe made a massive amount of dough, so I gave some to next door and put the rest in the freezer.

Agnes gave us another perfect little egg this morning. Only her and Winifred are laying, Elsbeth and Pru and definitely looking bedraggled with their moults and stopped laying a few days ago. Cornelia is still a little too young and Laverne is too busy tormenting the new girls and squawking.

I dropped off the hampers to my neighbours this afternoon and Jase delivered the last of the presents to a friend. Very chilled out affair this afternoon and evening. TV is shocking for Christmas eve and we ended up watching Ghostbusters on UKTV Gold!

Right, time to get into my bed time attire and finish wrapping. Throw another log of t'fire and enjoy the peace. Not forgetting to leave out a mince pie, carrot and a glass of something nice by the fire.........


Hope you all have a lovely Christmas and a wonderful New Year. Thank you for following my little life in the country!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Nearly finished wrapping....

Only a few days to go until father Christmas comes down the chimney, so time for a festive update I think!

Monday - Jase came out of hospital!!! No face furniture, just a bag of pain killers, a doctor's note for 4 weeks off and instructions to take it easy.

Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday - up at 3am EVERY day for work, quick Brussels flight and a Copenhagen and back on my last day. At 1 o'clock on Friday, I drove home relieved that it was all done and dusted for the year. I am now back on the 6th January, but am not thinking about it!

The festivities are in full swing now. I had a major baking session yesterday.


Nigella's Christmas puddini bon bons!







Peanut butter cups for my Niece and Nephew -








Pistachio and cashew nut brittle -







Chocolate fruit and nut puddles


They are tucked away in the fridge fighting for space. I have hamper fillers everywhere! Seem to have misplaced the spiced cranberry vodka, but it will turn up I'm sure. Once Tuesday comes, I will assemble everything and probably need to get bigger baskets/boxes!

The biggest news this week is that Agnes laid her first egg today. Jase found it in the nest box this morning! Small and perfectly formed, bless her. She is always squatting when I go near her, so an ideal opportunity to pick her up. Trying to get her tame like Winifred, so she can be handled at hen parties in the Spring.


Jase is still a little spaced out after the surgery, but hopefully will be back to his old self soon. He has been through so much over the past two years. The massive change in lifestyle, from long haul to short haul, taking tablets every day and having to adapt to his 'new' life must be difficult. I can't imagine how he feels, but he knows I am always there for him, even when I appear stroppy and frustrated. I love him dearly. I hope we will have a wonderful Christmas and pray (not that I am remotely religious, will probably be struck down for even typing that), 2009 will be better for us both.

Time to finish the last of the presents for a trip to Kent to see my Gran tomorrow. Have a small box of puddinis in the fridge that I MUST remember to take with me. Will probably forget!!

Speak soon


C x

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What can I say?

I have 2 big fears in life. London at night and the underground. Having Jase in hospital in Hammersmith, meant I needed to conquer these fears. I am doing well so far. Shock horror, I even have an oyster card for the tube!!! That is like a chicken riding a bicycle!!?! A very unique event!

I went in today and he is doing fantastically well. He was up and dressed and wanted to go for a coffee. Great news. I even had to force a blueberry (debatable) muffin down my throat. When dinner of char grilled rubber chicken, 2 potatoes and broccoli mush was served, he took one look at it and headed for the door. Pizza express is opposite the hospital, so we ate there. He looked particularly fetching with the bolster strapped to his head and the hospital bracelets on each wrist, but I didn't care. It was lovely to spend time with him outside the clinical walls of '11 South'.

I promise I will post some pictures soon (not of Jase and his white padded moustache)! The house is very festive, tree is up and looking lovely and I put simple lights along the outside of the house. I loved coming home this evening. Yes, London does offer lots; shops open late, 24 hour kebab shops *vomit*, hairdressers open until 10pm, but I love my quiet life in the country. No traffic, lights, or distractions. Fields, horses, cows and stupid pheasants that run down the road avoiding my Mini. Bliss.

Lots to do re Christmas, but the pressies are all bought and waiting upstairs. I have 5 more days at work, starting with 2 nights in Stockholm from Monday. My last day is the 19th of December and then I have 2 weeks off!!!! So happy.

I made more candied orange sticks last week and they are dry now, just waiting for a dunk in melted chocolate. Will do that next week.

Now I have more time, I would just like to say Thank you to all the messages left here and Private messages through the Omlet forum, wishing Jase all the best. It really does mean the world to me, that -

a) people actually read my waffle.....
b) you take the time to not only read, but to respond in such a caring way,
c) even though I am a stranger to (most) of you, you actually care about my little life in the country.

Thank you.

Enough of my waffle, off to youtube Alexandra as I hear she has won X Factor! Not that I watch it. Glad JLS didn't win, or Eoghanamamaowen or what ever his 'big hair' name is!! Not that I watch it. *wink*

C x x x

Friday, December 12, 2008

Quick update

Hello everyone!

Just a quickie this evening! Jase is doing really well. He was up and about today and counting down the minutes until his next meal!!! Not sure when he will be out yet, but soon hopefully. The house is very empty without him.

I was tempted to post a picture of his face, complete with bolster under his nose, but thought better of it.*wink*

Traveling up and down to Hammersmith everyday, so not much time to post, but wanted to update you all.

Thank you for the lovely comments and wishes for Jason, very much appreciated!

And (sorry, shouldn't start with 'and'), a special thanks to Caro!

TTFN

C x x

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

All's quiet in the chicken house....

Hello All!

Been non stop this week. Generally preparing for Christmas and trying to get organised. I have spent a fortune on ribbon in 'The Range' - a shop too good for words. Lots of crafty stuff at bargain prices, I find it hard to resist.

Jase is going to hospital tomorrow to have his benign tumour removed from his brain. It was removed once already in January last year, but it is back. He will be in for a few days, but hopefully out soon, to spend Christmas at home. I bought him some worry dolls to take with him and I have one too. Daft as a brush I know, but that's me. Mad as a bag of frogs apparently.

The big news this week is the harmony between Agnes, Cornelia and the Big Girls. They are let out first thing and all seems well. I am glad. Was so worried they would be picked on. Only Laverne has issues with them now and they are starting to stick up for themselves a little. We still separate them at night, so they sleep in their own eglus.

Winifred finally laid an egg yesterday after several weeks off lay. Her feathers are all back and I wasn't expecting an egg until Spring......Good girl!

Finally finished the Christmas shopping yesterday. Only a few hundred presents to wrap now. Not sure when I will find the time, although I do love wrapping. I wonder if I can be a professional wrapper?? Worth a thought!! The parcel paper, ribbon and tags are all waiting. Will light the fire one night soon and begin. It has to be done at night. Carols on the ipod speakers. Fire lit. It is the law. In my world anyway.

Freezing here in Duesseldorf this evening. Sat here with a hot water bottle on my lap. Early to bed for me as have to be up at 4am tomorrow. *Yuck* I did manage to pop out to the supermarket and pick up a few stocking fillers. Plus 3 tubs of goose fat. Don't ask.

Started writing my Christmas cards at 1pm and am nearly finished. Not my favourite job in the world. Really should make a list of the ones I have written before I post them off. Every year I get that sinking feeling that someone has been forgotten. *shock*

Time to top up my hot water bottle......


C x x x

Monday, December 01, 2008

Freedom!

Thank you to everyone who left nice comments on the last post. Really very nice of you all to be so kind. I still haven't watched it.

The countdown to Christmas is on!!!
After a quick dash to Scotland last week, dropping off presents for Christmas, normality has descended again. I have been busy getting the house ready (tidy) for Christmas. The office and spare room now have visible carpet and my mind is at peace with the state of the house. The decorations will go up this week, when we have bought a tree. The six footer that Jason would like won't fit into my Mini, so his car will be used. Let him find pine needles for the next 6 months. Hee hee.

Been busy making more candied orange sticks. They are drip drying in the utility room at the moment. I used 5 oranges this time, so there might be enough for my hampers. If I don't sample them first. I have iced some gingerbread biscuits ready to put on the tree and all of Jase's presents are wrapped and hidden away. Only 15 bags' worth of pressies left to do. Cards to write too. Arrrggghhh panic. Time is running out. If only I didn't have to work this month.

I drove into the local village today, after spraying febreeze on my car windscreen - mistaking it for deicer - and got my hair cut. Posted off the last of my Christmas orders. Still have a few puddings and cakes, but they are for friends and family. One or two to take into work and then I'm done. *smiles* Bought myself a chocolate advent calendar. Big kid at heart.

Will bake some mince pies and other festive goodies nearer Christmas.


Here is a little picture of one of the hampers I have done so far.









I wish I had taken a picture of it all wrapped in way too much ribbon and all things festive, but hey ho. Still have several more to fill, but the jam mountain will be reduced, as will the flavoured vodkas. Some things I won't add until just before Christmas.

Had a quick glance at Nigella's Christmas book today and was devastated that she has included the recipe for peanut butter cups. I had hoped that the recipe had vanished, as they are divine. Many a pound has been added to my stomach due to those little morsels. Will make some for the *cough* hampers!

It is perishingly cold at the moment. The weather station has struggled to get above 3 degrees C. It is good for killing the germs, but I am so cold. The fire is already lit and roaring. Will need to get some coal I think. It keeps the house warmer for longer. It is days like this that I wish we had a log burner, but I do love an open fire.

The new girls had their big day. Freedom. Agnes refused to leave the safety of the run, but Cornelia went up to Elsbeth bold as brass. I was most worried about Elsbeth as she can be a bully. My fears were unfounded. She ran a mile, honking like a goose. Coward. Winifred, top chook, was a little scared too. Pru paid no attention, chilled out like always. It was Laverne, bottom chook, that really went for it. She jumped on Cornelia, then hunted down Agnes in the run and went for her too. I was stood watching with a tub of mealworms and a broom at the ready. After a few squabbles they settled down and ate mealworms together.

I will let them out together every day now, so they get used to eachother. Relatively painless so far. Think the food helped.

Feeling very Christmassy tonight. Have Dean Martin playing on the ipod speakers and feel like I am getting there now. Most of the pressies are upstairs in several bags, just one or two to get. The annual wrapping festival can wait for a week or two. I have stockpiled brown paper, star anise, cinnamon sticks and more raffia than is humanly possible, so I should be ok.

Stay warm everyone.

C x x

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bows down to public demand


video

The very thought of it makes me cringe.  Been 'hassled' on the Omlet forum *wink* to post a you tube link to my tv appearance, so here you go.  I am hoping the site will crash!!  

In other news, I found a wonderful place today that sells cardboard hampers, 'nesting' material and all kinds of cellophane.  Can you believe I actually ran out of cellophane??  Unheard of.  Luckily it wasn't far from me, so I stocked up on bits and bobs and headed back home singing along to Christmas carols...it is NOT too early.  

Spent this evening making tags with my new glue gun, bay leaves and star anise.  Need to start wrapping the pressies for our trip to Scotland on Wednesday.  The Christmas collection blaring out of the ipod!!  Feeling very festive tonight.



I have got the melted glue off every surface in the kitchen now!  

Our oil is rapidly going down.  I am trying not to put the central heating on.  The blueness of my fingers determines whether I will or not.  Going slightly magenta now, so time to light the fire I think.  Hee hee.  




One egg again today.  Good ol' Pru.  Her feathers are a mismatch of new dark grey and last seasons sun bleached brown.  She is looking odd, but none of them are looking their best at present.  Roll on Spring. 

That's all for now.  Will post again soon, when I get a chance......ding dong merrily on high!
 
C x x 




Friday, November 14, 2008

Sorry, no more autographs.

Hello everyone!!
Back at work after a fantastic week off. I did so much and am very pleased with myself.
We went to Rome for the weekend with Jase's Mum, sister and boyfriend, to celebrate her 60th Birthday! We walked for miles and I now have much flatter feet. Visited the Pantheon, Colosseum, Spanish steps and Trevi fountain. Ate Bruschetta, pizza and pasta OUTSIDE under a patio heater and sampled several cones of pistachio ice cream. My favourite! It was a wonderful weekend and we all had a really good time.

The TV programme that I mentioned a while ago, aired last week. Village Voices featured the local village and I had a 3 minute slot!! As soon as I came on, I headed for the door and sat on the porch cringing. Jase watched it and said it was really good!
The first shot of me holding Winifred was just too much to watch.

The texts and calls then started, telling me it was wonderful viewing. *I have my doubts* Unfortunately, I still haven't heard from Channel 4 offering me my own series! I was recognised by several people the next day and got a hug from the Lady in the paper shop!!! Bless.  The girls in Waitrose all saw it too.

ITV sent me a dvd of the show, so when I can, I will upload it onto youtube and post it here. Time and techno knowledge permitting.

Back down to earth with a bump, I started on decorations for the hampers. Here is a robin I made with my sewing machine pressie from a couple of years ago. Need to get more use out of it.



I made 4 and have another 7 on the go.







The 'wasp man' came over to pick up his Christmas pudding as payment for ridding us of the stripey invaders in the summer. It doesn't look that big, but it will feed at least 12 on Christmas day! I like the finished result. So did he :0)









In Dusseldorf now and the Christmas market started today! I wasn't expecting it to open until next week. I headed downtown on the tram and it brought back lovely memories of when I was little, visiting my Gran in Bremen. I wandered around, soaking up the smells of Christmas. Bought a few little bits for stocking fillers and decorations. Nice afternoon. The Germans know how to do Christmas.

Going to Nice tomorrow, then home again. The girls are fine and we got 2 eggs today. Still moulting, but looking better every week. After this working block I will release Agnes and Cornelia from their run, to mix with the others. Broom in hand, I'll watch them for a while. Am dreading it. Elsbeth has that look in her eye!

Jase has a date for his surgery. The 11th of December. Hopefully he will be out within a week and we can chill out and have a relaxing Christmas.

That's all for now......thanks for reading

Saturday, November 08, 2008

My, how they grow.

Today was the day that my new girls grew up. As from today they are now eating layers pellets, not growers pellets anymore. My babies are all grown up! I am so proud.










I chicken proofed the last remaining raised bed with anything in it, to allow them some free range time in the veggie garden.




The spinach and chard should be safe from curious beaks.




I had to go to Camberley this week for a contact lens appointment. 80 mile round trip, but I like going in and browsing the shops. I managed to pick up a few bits for Christmas including a book for me! Oops, that wasn't the idea, but when you see the title you will understand the overwhelming desire to get my wallet out!! It is wonderful and very 'organic'. 'Discover a simpler, greener Christmas'. Lots of fantastic ideas on wrapping, decorations and ideas for a traditional Festive time. My kind of thing.

I am back to work tomorrow at 6.30pm, just a quick Paris for the night. Jase is up at 5am ish for Aberdeen for the night. He went to bed a couple of hours ago. The wind is howling outside and tipping it down. I have the fire lit and thought I would catch up quickly before bed. Get home on Monday and then off to Copenhagen on Tuesday. All day there and can't wait! The shopping is fab, lots of Scandinavian festive bits and bobs. The nearest shopping mall has a massive fabric shop, that I have to visit. Been waiting for weeks to go and will really enjoy it.

Should go to bed now. The fire is dwindling and I plan to get up early.


Thanks for all the lovely comments from everyone. If you have ordered a cake, it will be winging it's way to you soon.












C x x

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A load of old wood.

Decided to make some orange sticks from my new River Cottage Preserves book They were a bit of a faff to be honest, but now they are dry, the taste is wonderful. They don't look all that great at the moment, but will do when bagged up I hope. After a 'half dip' in Chocolate nearer Christmas ,they will be great little extras in the hampers.







We had another log delivery which Jase and I stacked the other day. Should do us for the rest of this year/beginning of next.









I decided to let the new girls out of their run for a wander round. Being the coward I am, I shut the old girls in, so that Agnes and Cornelia could wander in peace. Pru was honking constantly and all four of them were glued to the side of their run watching the interlopers. If chickens can give evil looks, this was definitely the case with my four. Agnes wasn't too keen, but there was no stopping Cornelia! She happily marched around the outside of the run, checking out all the bark and Winifred's lost feathers.



The girls watching Agnes and Cornelia free ranging - not happy! Hee hee






Winifred is looking very white and pink. Her tummy is bare, but the new white feathers are coming through quickly. She hasn't laid an egg in 2 weeks, but that is fine. Between Pru and Elsbeth, who are also moulting, I am getting one egg a day. Not bad as they shouldn't be laying anyway in the Winter. Believe me, it is winter here. Freezing everyday, fire lit every night. Maybe the logs won't last that long?

Blogger is playing up and won't let me upload any more pictures. Shame, as I have been snapping away with my new camera!! Will add some more when I get a chance.

Baked 6 more Christmas cakes this afternoon and had another order for a Christmas pudding and two jars of spiced nuts! They are proving popular. Will weigh out the fruit later and get it soaking in brandy.

Jase went to London today for his CT scan. Now they have that, we should hear about his surgery soon hopefully. The surgeon said late this year, early next. Fingers crossed it is soon. I really hope it is the middle of December so that he is home for Christmas. Wishful thinking.

Cakes are now cooled but that lovely smell of Christmas is still lingering in the kitchen. *smile* I resisted the urge to play Carols this time.

Speak to you all soon, hopefully with more pictures.

C x x

Friday, October 31, 2008

Never ignore a call bell.

Bit of a crappy week really. Flew home from Bucharest on Wednesday and a Lady has a suspected stroke on the flight. I was the one dealing with it and we decided to divert to Frankfurt as she was not doing well at all. We landed and the fire brigade were there in seconds. Stairs on the back of the aircraft and the paramedics were on.

They treated her on board and then took her off to the local hospital. Her husband was such a nice man. He thanked me and made me well up!!!! Big softie that i am. Then he asked the Purser to make an announcement, thanking all the passengers on board and apologising for the inconvenience!! Manners, you see. Even though he was going through the mill with his wife, he still made time to thank everyone. Unbelievable. Bless him.

We took off for London again and landed back 1 1/2 hours late. Didn't matter. Mrs H was being looked after and that was all that mattered. I drove home and the realisation of what had happened hit me. I was a blithering wreck by the time I got home, really quite emotional and soppy!!!

Jase told me to call in and explain that I wouldn't be coming to work the following day, which I did. My manager was very understanding :0)

I spent today cleaning out the runs and generally tidying up the garden a bit. Whilst run cleaning, I let the girls into the veggie garden. I chicken proofed the spinach, chard and strawberries first. I am not stupid. They seemed to enjoy ripping up the weeds, but did surprisingly little damage. They would normally be digging whopping holes in the beds, but they held back today and just descended on the beetroot leaves that I forgot to cover.

If anybody wants a few bags of chicken 'compost' then let me know.

I fitted the corrugated plastic to the old girls' run and it looks really smart. Should keep them dry throughout the winter, whilst still letting light in. We had 2 eggs today. Production has really dropped off, but they are happy. That's the main thing.

A little picture of Winifred





..and one of Elsbeth - you can see her new grey feathers coming through on her head



The leaves are falling thick and fast and I should get the leaf blower out really. Will wait a while and do the lot in one go.

Made beef olives for tomorrow night's dinner, and will make some hobnobs later. The house is freezing again, as the heating was off for most of the day. I was outside in fleece, gloves and a woolie hat, so left it off. Looked very glam. Might light the fire in a bit to warm the place up.

Had a log delivery last night - a double load as I am expecting snow (wishful thinking on my part). After the moving of runs and scraping of bedding into sacks (7 in total) there is no way I am lifting a log for a while. Well maybe the odd one to top up the fire.

Jase found out from someone at work, that the Lady was doing well and was flying back to Glasgow tonight. I am so pleased. I shed a tear when he told me. Soft lad.

Will leave you with a cheery picture of my daisies.


Night night all!

C x x x

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The evenings are drawing in......

Well my camera epic with ebay is over. They emailed me to say there was a problem with the delivery - or they didn't get the amount they wanted more like! I bit the bullet and bought a brand new one from Jessops in town. A Canon eos 1000 D. Means nothing to me, but I know it is wonderful. The picture quality is superb! I am really happy with it. Just need the rain to stop, so I can get out and take some more pictures.

A bad one of Agnes -





.....and Cornelia!


I made a few Christmas cakes a few weeks ago and decided to try my hand at icing for the first time. After boiling up apricot jam, rolling out marzipan (yuck, can't stand the stuff) and smoothing down fondant icing, I was quite impressed with the results!



And small baked bean can size!



........a jar of Christmas salt!








and a bottle of honeyed fig vinegar!












One of more 'rustic' looking Christmas cakes -












We went out to Wickes and picked up some sheets of corrugated plastic to cover the Girls' runs for the winter. It can get really wet out there and the plastic should keep the aubiose bedding dry and fresh. Just need to give them a thorough clean out and add the new roofing. Not a pleasant job at the best of times.

I pulled up the last of the runner bean,tomato and courgette plants yesterday. The veggie garden is looking decidedly bare. Once I have protected the winter spinach and chard from marauding beaks, I will let the Girls in there to free range. They will love it in there. Lots of raised beds for dust baths and several slugs,worms and snails to munch on! I do love the winter, but it is a shame to tuck the garden up for a well earned sleep.

The clocks went back last night so the countdown to Christmas is officially on, in this little cottage! Jase and I organised Christmas pressies today and took stock of what we have and what we still need to get. The hampers are filling up nicely though. I wish I was getting one! Such a shame though, as the Girls were in bed by 5pm.

I joined a new website this week too green metropolis You list any books you want to sell and they send you the address of anyone that wants to buy them. I have sold a book already! Just need to resist the urge to buy from the site.

I will leave you now with my favourite picture taken yesterday with my new camera (not sure if I mentioned that yet)? Hee hee.

"I haven't done my make up yet"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Autumn Fashion

Just realised that my dates are all to pot. I started writing my blog on the 17th and didn't get round to publishing it. The blog entry above was for yesterday the 21st of October. *rolls eyes* I am losing the plot I think. What do you mean losing ?? Ok, lost.

No delivery today *sobs* I really want that camera asap, as it will make me feel better I'm convinced.

Made a huge cottage pie, and several batches of chilli for the freezer. Christmas cake is in the oven. I have tried to sit down and chill out, but can't. My head is sore, but worse if I stop. The dripping nose is most attractive too.

The girls have had their treat bowls. Gave them a good clean out this afternoon. Pru is always the first to inspect the eglu after it has been done. I think she is as addicted as me to the smell of red mite powder *oops*

Still blimmin' freezing out there. Time to fish out my 'market trader' fingerless gloves. Those, a pair of wellies and chicken poo down my front are this seasons must haves.

It is now 17.40, so have given up hope of the delivery van for today. WIll be pacing at the window at 8am tomorrow. Hope it is a cold again *means I can light the fire early*

Right, jacket potato and chilli for dinner. An open fire and the tv on for once. Feel like snuggling up with a hot water bottle (she is called Flossy as she is a sheep) - yes, I know I am 34!! A swig of night nurse and then bed.

C x x x

Friday, October 17, 2008

Where is that delivery van?

Had my days off and should have been back to work yesterday. Woke up at 6.45 and felt like death warmed up. Called in sick and went back to bed. Jase got in late from work, had 12 hours at home and has gone away for 3 days again. I had to brave Waitrose yesterday as we were running out of bread and milk. Spent the day pottering around, with a swimming head, clicky ear, a yucky cough and generally not at my best. Sniff sniff.

My camera is broken and I have so many things to take pictures of. Typical. I have iced my Christmas cakes, made the spiced nuts, Christmas spiced sea salt and am on track for Christmas presents and orders! One more ordered Christmas cake to make this week. :0)

I spent the other night trawling through ebay looking for a digital SLR camera. I do like photography so thought I would treat myself. After all, isn't that what you do when the cost of everything is going up? Oil, food, electricity (we don't have gas), petrol etc - spend a few hundred quid on a camera, just before Christmas? I am hoping it arrives soon. *Looks out of window every 2 minutes*

I went to bed last night with the kitchen thermometer heading dangerously near to 1 degree C. WInter is here. Definitely. By 6.45 this morning it was minus 1. The sun came up about 7ish and revealed a mass of white. A thick layer of frost covered the garden. With a jug of hot water in hand, I trundled across the garden to defrost the chickens' water and let them out. Treated them to a handful of mixed corn as it is so cold. There is something nice about walking across frosty ground. Things shutting down for the Winter.

Agnes is definitely looking more buxom now. She is going to be big. Cornelia is daintier. A few more weeks of growers pellets and confinement and then I will let them meet each other. That should be fun. There is still the odd peck through the bars, but nothing vicious.

I had seen the weather forecast and decided to lock the Girls up last night. Didn't think to cover the courgette/runner bean plants in fleece though. Judging by the droopy leaves, I think that is them finished now. The tomatoes don't look good either.

The veggie garden is still a state and the leaves are coming down thick and fast now. Will dust down the leaf blower soon and get collecting. Plan to make a leaf mould bin as some point. Another thing to add to the list. When I am feeling better.

Today will be a day of vegging out. Had my breakfast of porridge and Lemsip (not together), so will take it easy today as under strict instructions to relax and get better soon.

I have to stop making jam. The mountain of jars on the dining room table is getting out of hand. I need to sell some just to be able to see through the window! Have more than enough for hampers this year (and the next 10 years), so enough is enough. The jam pan can hibernate until next autumn now.

Might do some batch cooking for the freezer. Cottage pie I think. Seems appropriate. Hearty Winter fayre!

Hope you all have a good day.

C x x

Friday, October 10, 2008

The list maker

Eek! It is now Friday and I am nowhere down my list of jobs that I have to do this week. Why the pressure of a list? If I don't make lists I get nothing down. Plus, there is something incredibly satisfying about ticking off the jobs once completed.

I went to a friend's small holding yesterday and picked mountains of crab apples. She wasn't exaggerating when she said she had loads. I picked a tub trug full, plus a carrier bag. They are waiting in the outbuilding for me to get the energy to create something jammy with them. Had a lovely day. :0)

Made 5 more Christmas cakes last night, using the baked bean can method. It works so well, if the tins are lined with baking parchment. Unfortunately only 4 made it to the wrapping stage. Ooops. Well they do contain lots of fruit. Fruit is healthy. That's my excuse anyway. Now to get on with the task of icing. Dreading it.

I have the massive 1.2 litre Christmas pudding steaming away on the stove. It has been simmering for 3 hours so far, only 7 more to go! I hope it cooks ok. I usually make small puds that only take 6 hours or so. This one is payment to the 'wasps nest' man. The fruit has been soaking in a heady mix of brandy, Cointreau and Grand Marnier for a week. The utility room smells wonderful! Had enough mixture left to make a small pudding too. That is also steaming away in my new steamer. *smiles* The lid is gently 'tapping' as the steam escapes. Very therapeutic.

Woke up this morning with a dodgy back again. Too much stretching for crab apples yesterday I think. Will take it easy today. The garden needs some serious attention. The sweet peas are past their best and need pulling up, lots of weeding to do and hundreds of bulbs to plant, but it will have to wait. My back can't take it at the mo.

The office looks like an explosion in a Christmas factory. I have bits and bobs everywhere and do need to sort through it all. I have been so organised with Christmas shopping this year. Been squirreling things away for months, buying nik naks that I can use to add to hampers, odds and sods that will adorn the presents and now I have absolutely no idea what I have. Typical. Paper bags full to bursting and not the foggiest what is in them all. Will have a big sort out in my next part time week in November.

Elsbeth is still the chicken that won't lay. I have had a Winifred egg this morning and left Prudence on the nest 10 minutes ago. I let them free range on the lawn for a bit. They seem to enjoy ripping out the moss from our less-than-perfect bowling green (!) lawn. I am watching Elsbeth like a hawk as she is always plotting to try and get through the netting. I can see her eyeing up the pumpkin plant!!

The eglus were cleaned out yesterday, but could do with a blast from the pressure washer. Will rig up something from chicken wire to stop the new girls escaping while I give their eglu a good clean up.

Beautiful blue sky today and the old girls are outside, wings akimbo, soaking up the sun. I never tire of watching them.

The veggie garden is a site too. The runner beans are still going strong as are the courgettes. The tomatoes are more or less finished, along with the sweetcorn - appalling crop. 2 cobs. Won't bother next year. So much weeding to do and planning for the spring. What I like doing best. Will get the colouring pencils out and draw a plan!!

Judging by the sound of Pru "bok-boking" outside, I think we have another egg. Better pop out and check....!

C x x

Edit - update - after 12 1/2 hours the pudding is done!!! Never again. Ever. Well maybe next week. *wink*

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Hugh's Replacement

On my part time week again and really am looking forward to the time off.

Was in Salisbury by 9.15am on Friday, on the lookout for wicker baskets for Christmas hampers. Finally found them, along with a few kitchen bits. Let me put it this way, I have kept the staff at Lakeland in employment for a while!!

On the way home I noticed lots of crab apple trees, but all were on dangerous bends on very fast country lanes. I really wanted to make some crab apple and clove jelly this year, but unless I find some without risking life and limb, I will have to do without. Driving home, I was scouring the hedgerows looking for a less life threatening crop. I have recently heard the term 'wombling' - the act of scavenging. I love that term. I have been called many things in my time, but a womble is perfect!!

Now that the weather is miserable, I decided to crack on with the Christmas preparations. Spent the day weighing out fruit and soaking it in alcohol for cakes and puddings. I wanted to make smaller Christmas cakes, rather than the usual gargantuan round thing, that takes weeks to get through. As tempting as it was, I decided against the Christmas tunes on my laptop for fear of tipping Jase over the edge!

I found a smallish baking tin in Lakeland, but at 6" it is still a little big. A friend recommended using small baked bean cans. They worked a treat!



I made one large and four small cakes. One was, erm, 'sampled' by myself and Jase for quality control purposes you understand.

Also found a recipe for spiced cranberry vodka (thanks to Sarah) -
It smells really good and is turning a wonderful Christmas red.

A couple more weeks and it will be ready to strain into small bottles for hampers.

The girls are not impressed with the rain. It was tipping it down today and Pru for one was making a racket after laying her egg. I am thinking of renaming her to Trumpet Girl. She was trumpetting for an hour today. No idea what was up with her. Elsbeth hasn't laid for 9 days, but her new feathers are starting to grow through now. Her neck is threadbare and she looks a right state. I have started adding tuna to their afternoon treat to boost their protein. Winifred is also looking a tad scruffy, with lots of bald patches, but she is still laying.

I found a nice picture of the girls taken by Ilene Sterns at one of my hen parties


Taken long before the rain turned the area into a swamp! I really need to sort something out before the winter. The wellies are out again as the crocs can't cope.

Agnes and Cornelia are getting bigger by the day. They don't seem to be eating much, but both are going to be huge I think. Now that they are over their fear of fresh spinach *rolls eyes*, they are tucking in to any treats I give them and eagerly come up the door to see what is next in the treat bowl. Laverne and Pru are still pacing the perimeter of the run on a daily basis, giving chicken evils through the bars. They had better get used to it, as I think that the newbies will hold their own.

I can now mention the Tv crew that came over a couple of weeks ago. They were filming for a new series called Village Voices, focusing on local villages and the 'goings on' of the Villagers!! They thought I was quirky and interviewed me holding Winifred! She was good as gold, and the interview went well. Lots of action shots, with me collecting eggs and hand feeding them corn. I was hoping for more shots of the chickens, less of me, but I won't know until it airs in November sometime. I really don't want it on Youtube!! Should Channel 4 see it and offer me my own show, you will be the first to know.

C x x x

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Box in the boot....

Sorry, sorry, sorry! Being hassled to update my blog! *wink* Just haven't had the time lately!

Ok, finished work last week at 11am, so headed home for a nap and then Jase and I went a-brambling. The blackberries were ready just down the lane, not far to go but we drove anyway. We picked nearly 3 kilos, thats 6.5 pounds in old money. *smiles*


I have used most of them as bramble jam cooked together with some of Mum and Dad's apples. Did a couple of portions of apple and blackberry filling for crumbles too - safely stashed away in the freezer for Winter.




Jase went back to work and I popped along to a chicken breeder, not a million miles away. I was planning to just have a look to see what she had. Now, I am not known for my self control, not that I wet myself, but with regard to purchases of a chicken nature.

Two little bundles of fluff were loaded into the cat box that I just so happened to have in the boot *wink*.

So.........introducing Agnes and Cornelia! My 11 week old chickens!!!!!! YAY!!!!!

Agnes is a Buff Sussex













and Cornelia is a Barnevelder



Sorry for the bad picture quality - camera playing up.






They are both still cheeping and are adorable.

The 'old' girls are really not sure what to make of them yet. They are being kept confined to the blue eglu and run for a few weeks until they are big enough to stand up for themselves.

Elsbeth is going to be trouble and has already made her feelings known by patrolling the perimeter of the run like a guard from Tenko. Laverne is not impressed either but Prudence and Winifred are fascinated by them and always strolling over to have a look. I hope that Winifred, as top hen, looks after them ok.

I was woken by Laverne doing her nut by BOK BOKING at 6am. She didn't stop all day. The new girls were running in and out of the eglu, not really sure what to make of it all. They keep going up to the side of the run, hoping to make friends with their (much) larger counterparts, but only Winnie s showing a real interest. I do hope she Mothers them.

Laverne soon got used to the new additions, but is still giving the eglu run a wide berth!

As they are 11 weeks old, it will be at least 7 weeks until I introduce them to each other properly.

We have agreed to stop at 6 chickens. We don't really have the room to house more, unless we make a large walk in run down the side of the house, which is currently home to some unruly wild hedging and god only knows what else. It is on a slope, so would need to be levelled. The plan is to put a green house and more raised beds or a fruit cage there, but it needs some serious time, money and effort.

I have a picture of the runner beans I bottled the other day. Glorious colour aren't they?



Shame when I rinsed them 3 times, then boiled them, that they had absolutely no taste! Will work on some way to keep the harvest for longer, rather than just freezing them.

Next door are on holiday and I have been asked to help myself to anything that is ready. I resisted the urge to pop over with a trug the minute they pulled out of the drive! Will go round tomorrow and pinch some tomatoes and beans.

We lit the open fire again the other night and sat with a Chinese takeaway. Lovely. There is a definite nip in the air and the trees are starting to show their autumn colours. I like autumn, something nice about nature slowing down for winter. Meals with gravy and dumplings, heavy puddings with custard. The smell of a fire, burning away in the lounge. Heavenly. The only down side is that I see less of the girls, as they are in bed so early when the days shorten.

I have one flight back home from Nice tomorrow, then I don't have to be in until 7pm on Friday! Home early on Saturday morning, ready for the TV crew to come and interview me. Yes, I am going to be mean and not talk about it yet. Let's just say that it has something to do with........CHICKENS!!!! *wink*

Thanks all for the lovely comments you leave. It means a lot to me.

C x x

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Easy on the legs

Well we are back from 9 days of glorious sunshine, several tons of prawns with garlic and a healthy glow a piece!

We did very little, mainly sun bathing, eating and swimming. Heaven. Didn't visit any sights at all, as we have been before, just soaked up the rays and chilled.

I dared to wear speedos around the pool, a first time for everything. I wouldn't be seen dead in them in public, but around the villa was fine. I managed to burn the backs of my legs on day 2 and couldn't sit down for 3 days, but otherwise it was fine! Fluorescent red is the new brown, you know.

The week in Portugal was wonderful, a much needed break and recharge. It is amazing how quickly you lose your tan when you come back though. I am sure the aircraft cabin air starts bleaching your colour the second you get on board!

Jase had to be at work at 6am the morning after we arrived back (well - up 3 hours after we got in)!! So I spent the day doing tons of washing and tidying up. Cleaned out the chicken run as it was full of pellets that the little minxes had scooped out of their feeders! After a couple of hours of them 'helping' me, the run looked great, nice and fresh. I also set up the other eglu and run, ready for the new arrivals.......more about that later *wink*

The veggie garden needs some serious attention. Blight has taken hold of the tomatoes as the weather has been so God awful.
I really need a few days to get out there and sort stuff out. Will probably have to wait until my part time week in October now. Am on a 5 days on, 2 days off pattern at the moment, its pants.

The rabbit is back - well a family member probably. Got back from holiday to a devastated flower border and several piles of rabbit currants! Really do not know what to do apart from fencing in the borders with green mesh. Don't really want to do that though. I guess when the plants grow you won't see it.

Got another loads of cooking apples from Mum yesterday. Have a tub trug full now, so need to get jammin'. I'm sure I can sell them on. It is very satisfying when you sell something you have made. I will never be rich with the jam making, but I do find it relaxing. I spend time making the fabric gingham covers and labeling them all nicely. They look good.

Need to think about starting the mincemeat in jars soon too. It contains no suet, just fruit and alcohol, so lasts for years.

Got a 'recipe' for runner beans in brine from Kate. I blanched them yesterday and sealed them in a kilner jar and they look really nice. Very fresh green, all cut up beautifully thanks to my new bean slicer. Will do lots more as and when I harvest them. The rabbit has done me a favour in that respect, as all the plants are producing at different rates.

I am tempted to add them to the stocking fillers pile, but unsure as to what people would think, getting a jar of beans for Christmas!!

Right, enough wittering on. Am in Hamburg tomorrow, so will pop out and get some more Christmas hamper bits and bobs.

Ta ta for now.

C x

Monday, August 25, 2008

A nest for a puddin'

Here I am in Prague. Mush for brains last night, so packed a jumper and jeans. Not ideal in the heat of Prague!

No one is going out or meeting up, so thought I would stay in and chill out. Write my blog and catch up.

Dug up my main crop potatoes the day before yesterday. The leaves were looking decidedly tatty and possibly had blight. I didn't want to risk infecting the tomatoes, so up they came. Not a bad haul from a one metre bed. I chose Kind Edwards, as they get to a reasonable size for baked tatties. These ones didn't. Another month or so and they would have been perfect. Still, enough for at least 3 months. They were dried out on the patio table over night and are now bagged up in a triple layer paper sack and safely stored away in the outbuilding.

Now that we have a decent door that doesn't fall off it hinges, the outbuilding is water tight and safe. We plan to get some sort of shelving units and use the building for storage. Shelves heaving with jam and kilner jars. I can just see Jason's face!!

We had a wasps nest in the ensuite loft so I called out the local man to come over and blast them with powder. He noticed the Christmas puddings on the side and asked why I had so many. When I told him i made them to order, he said to put him down for one that feeds 8-10!!

We did a deal, he zapped the wasps and I will send him a pudding. Perfect. I can just imagine offering a pudding to someone in my old house in Town. Just wouldn't happen. I love where we live. So quiet and friendly. A real sense of belonging here.

My 22 jars of apple and damson jam have sold! A couple went to my hen course attendees and the rest to a friend of a friend who sells them to farm shops. He hopes his stall at the farmers market will be up and running soon. I also gave him a sample of my chilli oil, to see if that will sell too!

Less than 2 weeks until Jase and I go away for 9 days. Private villa, pool and sun. High walls and a bell on the gate in case you are walking around with only a pair of sunglasses on! Fat chance. I tend to wear a poncho.
Really need a break and I think it will do us the world of good. Not been an easy year so far, but life would be dull otherwise, wouldn't it? I would settle for dull at the moment to be honest. Too much crap going on in the world.

Anyway, have a couple of orders for Christmas puds and jams. The office is a dumping ground for spare jars, boxes, nice paper bags, cellophane and biscuit tins. I really must get it tidy.

Have finished my 'still life with chickens' book and it was quite good. Decided to try with Terry Pratchett again. Liked the last one from the Guards series, so have another one to try. Plus one about witches. Well, I had to get some points on my new Waterstones card, didn't I? I can't resist a book shop. Something homely about them. Has to be Waterstones or Ottakars though. They need more soft brown leather sofas in the shops though. Let me while away the hours.

The secret bramble patch that I sprinkled fertiliser on last year isn't ready yet. The berries are still green. I did find a wild apple tree close by though. Don't think it is a crab apple, as they are tiny aren't they? A little out of the way from the road, so it should be safe. Managed to park up and take a wander. Found millions of blackberries, but again, not ready yet. I hope they are still there when we get back. I would hate to miss out on a tub full o' berries. They make the most amazing jam and jellies. Will freeze some too for crumbles.

Enough of my ramblings, must dash.

Until next time.

C x x

Monday, August 18, 2008

'Frosty the snowman.........'

Christmas is alive and kicking! Well, at Farm Cottage anyway. To the dulcet tones of Dean Martin, with me on backing vocals, I gently creamed the butter and sugar together. Not a kitchen power tool in sight. The trusty wooden spoon and my new Mason Cash mixing bowl. With the bowl under my arm, a la Mrs Beeton, the kitchen was alive with festivites this afternoon. I was making Puddings!!

I do try and make them early. Some would say obsessive so, I think organised. I have already had a couple of orders for this years Christmas puddings, so thought I would get ahead of the game before the orders come flooding in!! It is now 24 minutes past midnight and they are still steaming away slowly.

I couldn't not have Christmas carols whilst stirring the pudding mixture. It wouldn't be right. I think it is law anyway. Some say I am barking mad. I prefer quirky *wink*

Funny when I see my roster and have 12 days off. Where have they gone?? I am back to work on Wednesday for a 3 day block.

Spent the other evening making jam. Not at lunchtime, the middle of the night. Screwed the last lid down at 12.30!!

Apple and damson jam











I made some smaller 'samples' for my Gran's hamper this year -












I went slightly overboard with the damson and apple and ended up with 22 jars. *oops* The plan is to sell them at a Farmers' market in a few weeks.








I made a small batch of plum and ginger jam today. It does taste good, even of I say so myself. 5 jars of that and 5 of apple and elderflower jelly. Beautiful colours and they look pretty good with their gingham tops.

Jase and I went to town, clothes shopping for our holiday. I did pretty well, with several tshirts, the obligatory polo shirt and a couple of jumpers. We then headed off to Camberley and whilst Jase had an opticians appointment, I popped into Waterstones and did a spot of book shopping. They now offer a loyalty card. 3 points for every £ spent. You probably have to spend a few hundreds pounds just to get the latest Jackie Collins, but it is something for nothing I guess.

I picked up a copy of Still life with chickens, which looks like a good read.


Ooooh, I have photgraphic evidence of the ROMD! (rabbit of mass destruction)!!

Not the best picture, but proof!! As long as he stays on the grass he is spared.










I need some advice. How much do I charge for a Christmas pudding that serves 4 (very generously)?? Each one is lovingly prepared, to the tune of 'The Christmas song', served in a ceramic bowl and wrapped in more sellophane and ribbon than you can shake a stick at. Garnished with home made dried orange slices and a cinnamon stick. I am thinking £15, but do want to sell at least one! Answers on a postcard please.

The oven is beeping and I hope to god they are ready. I need sleep!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Give them a calculator!

I can't believe it is August already! I need to get Christmas preparations ready soon. I have the 24th-27th December as leave this year and the 28th dec-02nd Jan as my part time week!!! Taking into account my part time week 30th November-6th December and 7 days off that month, it is looking pretty good work wise!! only 10 days at work :0)

I think I will start doing the Christmas puddings this month. Give them time to mature before the big day. Not sure what we are doing this year as Jase didn't get leave yet (there is still hope) and with Mum's chemotherapy starting at the end of August, we don't know what to do for the best. Would love everyone to come here, light a fire and have a very chilled out time, but don't think that is going to happen somehow.

I haven't mentioned my Mum on here as yet. I know she reads this, as she is the one who nags me to update it all the time. Needless to say, she is doing very well, always smiling and looking on the positive side of things. Treatment is plodding on, well steaming along actually and the outlook is fantastic. She is very strong. Stronger than me. You know where I am if you need me. Love you Mum. X x x

Winifred, Elsbeth and Prudence are all moulting gradually, but still laying. We had 2 eggs today, Laverne doesn't come into the equation as she has more or less retired now. Having said that she did lay 2 eggs the other day. One whopper and a soft egg. The other girls laid too, so 5 eggs from 4 chickens!! Not bad! They obviously can't do maths.

Mum and Dad came down today, so I baked some gingerbread men. And stars. And chickens of course!! They do taste good. Christmas hamper fillers I think.

We went to the garden centre and I bought a couple of giant chrysanthemums (can't believe I spelt that correctly)! and a large tub of Gladioli 'Jester' - no idea what colour they are, will google later. The man at the till didn't know how much they were, so said "Give me a pound"! Mum grabbed a pot too! *wink*

Time to head off to the sofa and finish my book - The Book Thief. Brilliant, so far! read 3/4 of it in a few days.

Jase should be home from Madrid soon, just checked and he is an hour late! Typical on your last day isn't it?

Bye for now!

C x x x

Sunday, July 20, 2008

First prize at the village show?

Lovely day so far. The alarm went off at 6am and I hit snooze 10 times! Got up around 7ish. Let the girls out and sat in the garden with a cup of tea and the sun coming over the hill. Bliss.

I spent yesterday breaking my back turning 2 compost bins full of, errr 'chicken waste' and veg peelings. Cleaned out the chicken runs and took the blue eglu run out of the chicken area. We don't need it at the moment. They are fine with 4 hens in the extended run. It gives them more space too. I have left the blue eglu there so they have an extra nest to lay in. Another 3 egg day from the Girls. They are doing well, despite looking scruffy.

Did another Hen Party today and Winifred was pretty good at being handled. She hadn't laid at the time and she is always a little bit bolshy before an egg!

The rabbit is back. That is unless something else has a taste for chives. Losing a few chives, I can cope with. The reinforced veggie plot is holding it's own. No further damage. Yippeeeee!

I pulled up the garlic today, as it had blown over. Didn't think it would come to much but it looks good. Left it to dry out by hanging it up. Have about 10 bulbs which will last a while.

The 'front' garden is looking good despite Mr Munchy getting his paws on things.


Hard to believe that this area was only lawn a couple of months ago.











My attempt at protecting the french beans -












My awarding winning Lily plant after an attack. Don't think I will be entering it in this years Village show -










Popped over to Mum and Dad's for a barbie yesterday and the clan were all there. Ellis and Grace were both on best behaviour and it was nice to see everyone. Headed home in time to lock the girls up and settled down to watch the Color Purple. My favourite. Was in the mood for a good tear jerker film last night. Feel better today and have done lots of niggly jobs that needed doing. Made some pistachio fudge for the freezer (if it makes it that far).

All packed for work tomorrow - boo. Only 3 day block so bearable. House is looking good and tidy for a change. Makes you feel better when everything is put away and neat. Oh no, I think the OCD is returning!

Better go and make dinner, chili and jacket potato tonight. Meal for one as Jase is away. Sob!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thought it would take months of persuading......

Been a busy week as always. The weather has been funny today. Sun one minute, drizzly rain the next. Still nice to be sat outside, under the umbrella, writing this though.

Jase and I decided to paint the kitchen, lounge, utility room, stairs and spare room this week. Admittedly we haven't got it all done as yet, but we are getting there.

The kitchen is now wedgewood blue and cord. Really difficult to match the colours as the tiles are a very dark blue. Jase has filled the plaster that fell off the wall from a leaking shower above and we just need to sand that, give it a final coat of paint and we are done!!

The lounge looks stunning, if I say so myself. Cuban red on the chimney breast and far wall. It is so cosy and warm, without being too oppressive. Wish we had used that colour years ago! Need to find a few bits and pieces for the lounge now to tie the colour in.

We spent yesterday outside as it was lovely and sunny. Jase painted the wooden garage and I spent an age rabbit proofing the veggie garden. I got hold of 25 metres of green coated chicken wire from ebay and set about stapling it to the picket fence to keep the rabbit out. After a quick walk down the lane, to get to the outside fence, I used normal, make-your-fingers-bleed chicken wire to try and stop the little blighter digging under. I hope it works!

With the veggie garden now officially (hopefully) rabbit proofed, I planted some lettuce seeds and placed a wire cloche over the top. Took me blimmin' ages to make the cloche and it doesn't fit properly, but looks very 'rustic'.

With one runner bean plant 8' tall and the others 12" tall (thanks Mr Rabbit) I don't really expect a huge bumper crop this year. I forgot that I planted some in the back garden, they seem to be doing ok. Unlikely that I will be selling surplus this year. Will concentrate more on jams, jellies and puddings, with the odd biscuit thrown in for good measure.

Have I mentioned that someone wants to sell my jams and jellies at a Farmer's market?? Not sure if I have. Well, I am really chuffed. Need to source cheaper jam jars, but am looking forward to it. Won't be leaving work just yet, but the cash will come in handy for odds and sods.

The girls gave us four eggs yesterday. Good old Laverne's egg was perfect! The 3 'new' girls appear to be moulting. Their neck and throat feathers are looking a little sparse and Winifred has a bald patch. Small white spines are peeping through, so that is a good sign; more feathers on their way. Will treat them to some tuna this week and give them poultry spice in their food as a boost.

Gave Dad another 3 boxes of eggs to sell, but think that they will slow down, now they are moulting. Shock, horror, we might have to buy eggs!!

Had dinner and off for a bath now. Will light the fire as it is a little chilly.

TTFN

C x x x

P.s BIG NEWS - Jase agreed to getting more chickens in the Autumn!! More about that later, I am so excited!!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

R.O.M.D (rabbit of mass destruction)

After spending an eternity driving home on Monday, I am now off for 12 days!! The motorway was closed for a while as a lorry had split it diesel tank across all four lanes. 2 1/2 hours for a 50 minute journey, but home now.

Jase and I went to Hampton Court flower show yesterday and were really lucky with the weather. It only rained for about 3 minutes and the rest of the day was sunny and quite warm.

The Daily Mail marquee was stunning as always.

Here are a couple of pics -









It amazes me how they built all of this for a show. It must take weeks to do. The effect is really stunning. Shame that the whole lot is ripped out at the end.








The vegetable garden was an inspiration.


















I had my eye on a Victorian style greenhouse and got a couple of brochures. Looking at approximately £3,000 for the one I would like. A little overtime is needed at work I think. **look here** for a sneak preview

The rabbit is still alive and kicking in the garden. I caught it outside the kitchen window today. Bold as brass munching on some box hedging. Is there nothing it won't eat? We are surrounded by corn fields and it has decided to stay here.

I have no alternative but to buy chicken wire and section off all the raised beds. It might look unsightly, but the damn thing is eating everything. Roses, lupins, onions, runner beans, euphorbias, peas, radishes, curly kale, scented stocks, lillies, the lot!! All munched. Not sure what to do about the 'front' garden and that really can't be fenced off. Tempted to get an air rifle, but there is no way I could shoot it properly.

I keep banging the window like a loon every time it hops into the garden. It runs away only to return 10 minutes later.

In other news, we had 4 eggs today!! Ok, Laverne sat on hers and broke it, but it was still a 4 egg day! Gave 3 boxes to my Dad to sell at work. The price has gone up to £1.50 a box, still good value. I have to pay for that greenhouse somehow! *wink*

It has been tipping it down all day. The chickens looked like drowned rats, even though I got the emergency shower curtain out of the shed to cover their run.

Jase was called from standby to fly to Lisbon for the night. The house is spookily quiet. The fire is stacked and I will light it this evening. It is cold, damp and depressing tonight. Think I will curl up on the sofa with a dvd and chill out. Was going to make biscuits tonight, but don't have the will to do anything really.

Hopefully it will stop raining tomorrow and I can get out in the garden to do some damage control.

Right, 10pm and time to light the fire!

Bye for now.

C x

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

'Brights eyes, burning like fire'

Finished my 5 day block and have today off. I got up with Jase this morning at 5ish(?) It's a bit of a blur to be honest.

Anyway, did have a Larnaca trip tomorrow (the start of a six day block) but managed to finally swap it for a Frankfurt and back tomorrow and a Rome and back on Thursday. Just want to be home a bit more at the moment. Plus the thought of 5 hours on a plane with the shell suit brigade, brings me out in hives.

Spent the day pottering around the garden and sat out reading Country Living magazine for an hour or so. It was warm today, but cloudy. Watered the garden and tidied up a bit. Have cut up 'garden fresh' strawberries for pudding this evening. Haven't thought about what to do for dinner yet.

Thinking of renaming the house 'Watership Down'. I have solved the mystery of the nibbled carrot tops and dug up onions. A bloody rabbit!! A nice little pile of rabbits droppings greeted me this morning. Think I preferred mice. At least chickens eat mice. Will have a think about what to do now.

If the rabbits weren't bad enough, I also have the blackbird to deal with. She has taken it upon herself to eat my ripe strawberries. Not whole ones, just a few pecks from each!! I have netted them now. That should stump her!!

The sweet peas are taking off finally and i have picked a few bunches so far. Mowed the lawn today too. Looks tidy now. Didn't quite manage the stripes that Jason gets, (I don't have the patience) but it looks good now.

The girls keep the other lawn 'tidy' and haven't dug a dust bath in the middle - yet. We have had a fair few occasions of 3 egg days this week. All the 'new' girls are laying well. I won't mention Laverne's laying!! She is doing well though and loves being on the lawn, scratching up the moss. I have enough for a few hanging baskets now. I might rent her out as a scarifier.

Next door are on holiday so I went over to check that all was well. Watered a couple of hanging baskets and opened the greenhouse. Their garden is beautiful, but Sandra doesn't work, so she does have more time than me.

Can't wait for this block to be over. We are going to RHS Hampton Court flower show on the 8th July. Really looking forward to it. Shame I am poor as there is always so much to buy. Have the handy box on wheels ready to pop a few purchases in. Who am I kidding? A few purchases??

Jase has just text to say he has landed, so should be home by 8pm. Better think of something for dinner.

TTFN

C x x x

Edit - Call from M&S and a rather eager Jase wanting a BAR-B-Q. We are having steak apparently. Better go out and pick a lettuce to make some sort of salad to go with it!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

and then there were four :0(

You ever feel that life is just there to kick you in the goolies sometimes?? Trouble at work and various other things are getting me down today. Will feel better tomorrow.
Shirley was no better so I spoke to the vet and made an appointment to see him. She was really sick and disinterested and the best thing was to have her put to sleep.

She hasn't really been herself since the last time she was ill a few weeks ago. At least we are able to do it for animals. She is no longer suffering.

Haven't given chicken heaven much thought to be honest. Thinking that they are lots of dust filled craters to dust bath in and meal worms aplenty!!

Bye bye Miss Shirley.