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.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

What's this green stuff?

The poultry netting that I ordered form Omlet arrived on Thursday, so Jase and I spent Friday, setting up the perimeter fence, to stop the girls destroying the new 'cottage garden'.

I spent far too long trying to create a small door for the girls to get into the garden. After lots of swearing, tools flung across the lawn and measuring up, a ramshackle door was fashioned from wood. It is embarrassing to look at, but does the job.
I cut a tentative hole in the willow fencing from the chicken area into the garden, the girls took their first few steps into the garden.

They loved it and were soon pottering around, not knowing where to go first.

"Nice legs, shame about the shoes"

There is something adorable about hen's fluffy knickers!

Did another Hen course today and met some lovely people - have to say that are they read my blog *wink*

Liz and Jo in particular stayed around like a bad smell (joke) at the end of the course, as they wanted a nosy around the house.

We all share the same country living mentality and love the idea of hedgerow harvesting, jams, chutneys and growing your own. Maybe we should start a commune??!! They left with a large bag of elder flowers, so they could make their own cordial. It really was a pleasure meeting you both today! I hope you enjoy your chickens!

Once I had tidied up, I strained and decanted the bowl of sick, sorry elder flower cordial, into bottles.

Ermmm, no, not 6 bottles of urine!

Have a bigger bottle for us in the fridge and gave a bottle to next door to try and gauge opinions........

I personally think it is wonderful stuff. The real taste of summer!. Dashed up the lane and picked another trug full of flowers to make a second batch! It is 'stewing' in the utility room as I type.
I have enough bottles to add to the Christmas Hampers, so I am getting there slowly.

On the down side, Shirley isn't very well this evening, again. She was sitting in the nest box for quite a while today and very withdrawn. She is now in her box in the lounge, with a warm homopathic wheat pillow, honey in her water and a bowl of sweetcorn to keep her company. I think she has an egg stuck. Not looking forward to the treatment tomorrow. Rubber glove and some vaseline is all I am prepared to say at this time *shudder* I do hope she is ok.

Was tempted to light the fire this evening. More for Shirley's benefit, but that is just silly. She doesn't need the fire on. Does she? Maybe I will light it. The glowing embers always make me feel better. NO, she is a chicken. She doesn't think like me. Does anyone think like me??

It is now 20 minutes to 1 in the morning. I should go to bed. Have Nigella's moon blush tomatoes in the oven, ready to take out tomorrow. So will say good night for now. Off to bed. Once I have lit the fire.

C x x

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Stocking fillers?

Evening! Well it feels like it! I got up at 4.15 this morning to say goodbye to Jase. The sun was starting to come up, so i thought I would crack on with stuff.

Drove to Marlborough and was there by 9am. Visited the market and bought mixed corn for the Girls and bits for me. Resisted the plant stall and consoled myself with a cup of tea and croissant. Went into my favourite shop, The Cat's Whiskers, which is stacked to the roof with odds and sods. Lots of gorgeous things with heavy price tags. Ideal present hunting ground, but have to resist for a little while longer. Front door to buy *dull*

Came out with 2 vintage terracotta plant pots and ideas for Christmas presents. Is it wrong to use my camera phone to take pictures of things I could easily make?? I don't think so. Cheeky, but not wrong.

Came home via Pewsey and some stunning villages. Chocolate boxes cottages lined the narrow lanes. Missed a few pheasants and a tractor.

Decided to make elderflower cordial this afternoon.

Elderflower Cordial

1kg caster sugar
850ml boiling water
45g citric acid
15 large elderflower heads, flowers pulled from stems
2 lemons, sliced

Dissolve the sugar and citric acid in the water, add the lemons and elder flowers, stir and leave.

Cover bowl and stir every day for 5 days, drain through muslin and pour into sterile bottles.

Serve diluted with sparkling water.

According to my source *wink*, it keeps for a year in the fridge!

The entire utility room and lounge is heavy with the smell of elder flowers at the moment. Will pop out tomorrow and get sugar and lemons so I can make some more.

No, it isn't a bowl of vomit! It's the elderflower cordial! *rolls eyes*

Picked my first bunch of sweet peas today. Well, I say 'bunch', more like a 'sniff of sweet peas'. They do smell great though. Have 3 tepees worth planted in the garden. I might be cursing them later in the summer when I run out of vases. Who am I kidding??? I will never run out of vases.

The Girls are fine and Elsbeth, Winifred and Pru are laying well. Won't comment on Laverne and Shirley! They were all due for a course of wormer, so started that today. Mixed with their food for 7 days, it will make them feel better. Not pleasant seeing dead little worms in the droppings tray, but better out than in.

Must dash, River Cottage Spring is on in 10 minutes.

C x x x

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Little Weed

Spent most of yesterday weeding the front garden and the small patch outside the kitchen window. Ever since I hurt my back at work, I am very conscious of treating it with care, but I over did it yesterday. The whole area is weeded and barked now, so that should stop the weeds. For a week. The pain in my back didn't really kick in until 8pm, but it was pretty bad. I am under strict instructions to do nothing far I have hung out the washing, stripped the bedding and been to the garden centre and butchers! Hee hee.

I am on day 2 of 13 days off and have lots to do. The garden needs serious attention, but it will get there. I pulled up the spinach and chard that had gone to seed and planted the courgettes.

Mrs Frisby and her extended family have decimated my carrots! The raspberry canes have also taken a hit. I say hit, there is not a single leaf left on any cane!! We are surrounded by corn fields so I really can't see why they are feasting here. Variety is the spice of life I suppose. Will get some mouse traps. Or a cat.

We had friends over to stay yesterday/today and cooked beef olives and roast potatoes for dinner. Jase did a prawn and salmon starter which was delish! We had roast parsnips, carrots, broccoli and red cabbage too, swimming in dark beef gravy! All too full for dessert. The fire was lit and appreciated by all. It was cold last night. That's my excuse anyway.

The verges down our lane are 5 foot high with grass and cow parsley and need attention too. Luckily the farmer does it all (though not often enough). The elder trees are bursting with flowers and I need to make some elderflower cordial at some point. Will leave lots for the berries. Mum likes elderberry jam, so will do some for extra Christmas pressies.

Shirley is fine and was like a new chicken the following day. I received regular text message updates from next door while I was away. She even laid a massive egg on Friday. Was supposed to take her to the vet for another check up, but she has been fine all week, so cancelled. I still have antibiotics for her if she needs them.

Winifred, Elsbeth and Prudence have been laying nearly every day and are keeping us (and Mum and Dad) in eggs. Still nothing from Laverne. Freeloader.

Off to wrap my Nephew's birthday pressie now, as I am seeing him tomorrow. He is 6 now and still a cutie. Think he will prefer the Power Rangers wrapping paper to his actual present!!

Load number 2 is ready to hang out, so better get to it. Will take pictures of the garden when I get a chance.

Monday, June 09, 2008

New bunting??

Greetings from Frankfurt! Only 3 more days until I am off for 2 weeks!

A glorious day yesterday. Really sunny and warm. Jase left at 8am and I got up and ready for the day. Thought I would weed the front garden and then mulch with bark chippings.

Went out to see the girls and was greeted by a hunched up, unhappy Shirley.

As she was still unwell and I made the decision to take her to see the vet yesterday. I called up and made an appointment and was surprised that they were open on a Sunday, When I got there, the doors were locked so I called. Was told that the appointment was at the Stonehenge branch. Had no idea where I was going, so headed off down a country lane to find it. At one point I thought I was in Kansas, a long country lane with fields either side. Could have been anywhere apart my own door step! It is amazing what is hidden down a country lane.

I finally found the vets and we think she has sour crop. Not a nice thing. The vet tried to flush her crop out but didn't work too well. He gave her some probiotic powder and a massive antibiotic and we have to hope for the best. I don't think she has been too well for a while, but I thought it was just a few soft eggs and nothing too serious.

Got back home and let her out of the cat basket, she went straight into the eglu and sat on the nest. Poor girl.

I had to leave for work and 4pm and really didn't want to leave her. She is in the blue eglu with her old pal Laverne, so hopefully she will be ok. I have some tablets to give her when I get back on Tuesday. It is times like this that I can't stand the job. I want to be at home to look after her. *sobs*

Next door said they would pop in and keep an eye on her.

I decided to water the garden at 2pm (not an ideal time) as it is going to be hot for a couple of days. The newly planted front garden got a thorough soaking, so that should be ok until I get home. Really do need to set up the watering system for the veggie garden. There is nothing worse than sowing seeds, tending to seedlings, only to have them turn into little crispy things after a couple of days away. Has happened a few times this year.

The spinach and chard plants are 3 ft tall and have gone to seed. I have several courgettes/pumpkins still to be planted out and feel that summer is running away with me. I have time next week to get things in the ground though.

The potatoes are very impressive. The king edwards in the raised bed are massive and the potato bags are also doing well.

I am in Aberdeen tonight and home late tomorrow night, Have two 'available' days on Wednesday and Thursday, so will see what wonders they are filled with. *rolls eyes*

I also missed the social highlight of the year yesterday. The local village Fete. A few stalls with bric a brac, one for plants, bottles, and the obligatory coconut shy and cake stall! Never mind. We did give them lots of bottles for the raffle and I grew some rather impressive beans for the plant stall. Hope they raised lots of money for the village.

I missed the head of the WI, frantically waving, shouting 'Yoo hoo, flying boys' (as we are known) across the field, as she did last year!

What are they raising money for? Who knows? The bus stop was re-thatched 2 years ago, big news for the village. Maybe a new urn for the village hall? It was for bunting last year. Bless.

C x x x

p.s Have received a text from next door to say Shirley is still with us and eating a little. Good sign.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

2 still to lay!

Here we are again. June is here, so where is the sun?

I have had complaints that my blog hasn't been updated for a while, so here you go!

Busy week at work and the days off seem to fly by.

Shirley is better now, back to her old self. She still hasn't laid an egg though. Her breast feathers are coming through blonde which is a worry. I have told her that blondes don't always have more fun, but she is loving the look! Laverne is still on strike, but Winifred, Elsbeth and Pru are keeping us well supplied with eggs.

The recent rain has made the garden blossom. The beech hedge I planted earlier in the year is in full leaf, but needs tying in to hide a mould of rubble/weeds left behind by the builders. It is too much to move, so will disguise it.

Most of my veggies are now in. Must remember to keep planting bits and bobs to make sure we have salad all summer. Desperate for a poly tunnel after visiting Lesley's farm on Sunday. It was so warm in there and really would be a bonus in the winter. The pigs were tempting too, but I couldn't smuggle one out in the Mini! *wink*

I have been 'approached' by someone wanting to sell my jams, jellies and Christmas puddings! We will see if it comes to anything, but I do like the idea of it. Need to think of a brand! They will pick up my produce from the house and sell it at a local market. I could do biscuits and cakes as well.

Made chilli and cottage pie for the freezer today. I bought some mince from Lesley, who raises her own livestock. The meat is so tender and delicious. Will be placing further orders I think. Still have 4 sirloin steaks in the freezer too!

It's getting dark now so had better go and shut the girls in for the night. I started writing this hours ago. Dinner got in the way, as did a few phone calls.

One more day off then 5 days at work :0( Will update again soon.

Night night.

C x x x