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