Archive for March, 2009

Two chicks!!

Well, the number of chickens we have went up by two yesterday, a day ahead of schedule. Mama Silkie wasn’t very keen on letting them pose for the camera and everytime I gently moved her out of the way so I could see the chicks, she carefully but firmly hid them again under her feathers.

The only photo worth showing you completely fails to capture their cuteness but you know what chicks are like, so you really don’t need me to tell you!

Mama Silkie and the first (I hope) two chicks - 30 March 2009

Mama Silkie and the first (I hope) two chicks - 30 March 2009

One is black and one’s yellow so, if November’s chicks are anything to go by, the black one will be a pure Pekin bantam and the other will be a Silkie x Pekin.

She’s got another six eggs, four bantam/Silkie and two from the big chickens: one from Irene and one from Willow. I really hope they’re fertile, that they hatch and that they’re both female as it would be lovely to have some more of Fat Boy’s daughters to remind us of the big oaf. However, I think Flint was also getting up close and personal with the girls and I’m somehow sceptical that a Pekin bantam has got what it takes to fertilise the eggs of a Buff Orpington. Doesn’t stop him trying though, which is a cause of concern when it comes to getting a new cockerel for the big gals.

Maybe I should re-home John and Dolly instead and put Flint in with the Silkies, thereby allowing me to keep all of John’s daughters, whether they’re pure bantam or not. Truth be told, I don’t want to breed any more small chickens (unless there’s a massive market out there that I’m unaware of?!) but would love to use the broodiness of the Silkies to hatch eggs from the bigger hens. Ideally, we’d then sell the gals and fatten the boys for the table. Win win.

Any takers for the sweetest Pekin bantam couple this side of the Severn Bridge? She’s a fantastic layer, he’s an excellent companion and caters to her every need. He’s also excellent with chicks and used to feed them from his beak!!

Playing with the theme

I got a bit bored with my last theme (mainly the fact that it’s just two columns: I’m a sucker for three-column blog themes) and since everyone else is having a spring clean, I thought I’d join the club.

For what it’s worth, I can’t bear the colour scheme of this current one (Andreas04 by Andreas Viklund) and there’s a lot about it that needs tidying up if only I had access to the style sheet, but of all the three-column themes available (a whopping eight!!!), this is the one I dislike the least, so it’ll do for now. Unless the colour starts to grate on my nerves, in which case, bear with me…!

UPDATE: Ignore all the above. I’m back with the K2-lite theme. I might play again later, right now I’ve got piggies to scritch and a veggie garden to get on with!

Appearances can be deceptive

A couple of self-deprecating anecdotes for your amusement:

Several weeks ago, I went to the local library to do some photocopying. I went up to the desk and asked if they did indeed have a photocopying machine. The librarian nodded and was in the middle of telling me where it was located when she had a proper look at me. An old and scruffy jumper, muddy jeans, muddy leather boots, messy hair… She stopped and asked if I’d like her to do the photocopying for me.

Then, on Saturday afternoon, I was feeding the pigs and as the weather kept turning from hot sunshine to heavy rain with little warning, decided that after the morning’s soaking, this time I’d go for too hot but dry and donned my raincoat, which is actually a child’s one. I was happily chatting away to Tia and Bailey, my back to the road that runs alongside the field, when I heard a voice: “Hey, kid!”

I turned round in shock and came face to face with a teenage boy who proceeded to put on the most incredible display of blushing that I’ve ever seen. After going through a whole spectrum of colours, his cheeks settled on a vivid colour that would do any post box proud. “Erm, can you tell me the way to the train station?”, he stammered, and I duly gave him directions, trying to stop myself from laughing. Off he walked (well, ran) and I almost wet my pants, I was laughing so hard. Readers, he was half my age!!!!!!!!

R.I.P. Fat Boy

I was most upset when I arrived at the farm yesterday morning as Fat Boy, our Buff Orpington cockerel, had died in the night.

Fat Boy and Buffy - 4 January 2009

Fat Boy and Buffy - 4 January 2009

I don’t know why or what happened, but there he was, not a mark on him, eyes closed tight.

Poor old Fat Boy, he really was lovely: a gentle giant who didn’t have a nasty bone in his body. He never really got over the fight he had with Nemo and just hadn’t been himself. Whether that contributed to his death, I don’t know.

Fat Boy - 19 February 2009

Fat Boy - 19 February 2009

What I do know is that Fat Boy was a real gem, a treasure. Our first cockerel, Archie, took it upon himself to die just a couple of weeks after we got him. Ironic, as he was a “properly bred” chicken, but all the hens were ex-batts who would probably still be chugging along now, had it not been for the fox. Anyway, we replaced Archie with a beautiful Light Sussex cockerel, Derek. Who turned out to be Evil. So we sold him (plans to put him in the pot were scuppered when it was pointed out that someone would have to get close enough to Do The Deed). And then there was Fat Boy (and Slim, but the fox got him as well), and what a contrast. I never once saw him peck anything. He even seemed to be gentle with the corn, breadcrumbs and grapes he loved so much.

Fat Boy tucks into some breakfast breadcrumbs

Fat Boy tucks into some breakfast breadcrumbs

Adieu, Fat Boy. I shall miss you and your giant feet.

A boring, boring day

At some point in the last week, I got what I thought was a thorn under my fingernail, but as the days went by, it showed no sign of coming out. Instead, my finger went rather manky and was quite painful, especially if I touched something right on “the spot”. So, I did what I rarely do and yesterday morning went to see my GP. Well, I registered at the surgery first, something I’ve been meaning to do since we moved here in the summer! When B rang the surgery to see if they were taking in patients, she was told that we’d need to bring proof of our address and either our NHS cards or passports. This came as a surprise to me: over the years, I’ve registered with many doctors’ surgeries and have never needed photo ID! Neither of us have any ideas where our NHS cards are, but I dug out my passport and water bill and got there early enough to be third in the queue at 8am.

The receptionist was extremely rude but did not ask for any proof of my identification or address: even when I told her I didn’t have my NHS number! Huh.

Still, after an hour’s wait, I got in to see a GP who told me that they didn’t have the right equipment to remove a splinter and that I’d have to go to A+E. What about a tetanus jab? No, they’ll do that at A+E…

What really annoyed me was that the receptionist had told me an hour earlier that I’d have to go to A+E but that she’d get me in with a doctor as I’d probably need antibiotics. Well, it turns out that I did indeed need them, but guess where I got them…!!

So after that waste of an hour and a half, I was very late getting to the farm and quickly fed the rather desperate pigs and topped up the chickens’ feed. The dogs were not at all impressed when I abandoned them for the second time that day and went to the local A+E. Parking was predictably impossible and it took me three circuits of the car park to find a space. Things started to look up after that as a guy saw me about to push my money into the pay and display machine and gave me his ticket! It’s only a pound for the whole day but as the money goes to a private company and not the hospital, I’m fine with that.

The receptionist nearly had a fit when I told her why I was there and murmured something about my doctor presumably failing to understand the meaning off the letters “D” and “r” in front of her name…

Not having a watch, I lost all track of time as I was a good citizen who turned off my phone when I entered the hospital, so all I know is that I left the farm at half past eleven and returned at half past two. In that time, I waited in reception, saw a doctor, waited for an x-ray, waited for the results, waited for the nurse to give me a tetanus jab and then waited in the hospital pharmacy for my antibiotics.

It turns out that there is no thorn and what looks like the site of a nasty and deep-bedded splinter is in fact an infection, probably as a result of dirt getting in a cut and being sealed in before I had a chance to wash my hands. Or something. The more I think about it, the more sceptical I am of this diagnosis as the “infection” is localised and hasn’t spread all week. It looks like a black or very dark red blob at the end of my finger and really doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen before: other than the site of a splinter. Ho hum, the x-rays didn’t show anything so I guess it’s a case of wait and see. I’m under strict instructions to give the antibiotics a chance to work but if nothing changes (or gets worse) over the weekend, I’m to return so they can do something else. I’m not sure I want someone digging around in my finger with a scalpel (not to mention anther wasted day) so keep your fingers crossed!

I gave myself the day off on Thursday and other than the usual chores, did very little else. In retrospect, I should have dealt with my finger then and there because I ended up doing even less on Friday! Luckily, the weather’s looking a bit better for the weekend, so I should be able to crack on with the veggie garden.

Still, on the good side, the day might have been a wash out, but the evening was excellent as Jennie invited me round for tea (again!) and cooked up a free range toad-in-the-hole, made from my sausages and eggs. Truly delicious, especially with the added ingredients in the batter. Pudding was most unexpected: I’ve never eaten Christmas pudding in March before, but equally yummy!

Now, where are my gardening gloves…?

Snoring like… pigs!

This is the photo of my Kune Kunes last year:

The Kune Kunes - 27 March 2008

The Kune Kunes - 27 March 2008

Tia’s the one at the back, with Scrumpy on the left and Stella on the right.

They stayed like that for hours. In fact, they only woke up when I went to check that they were, in fact, asleep…!

Feral garlic?

A while ago, there were some cloves of garlic in the fruit and veg I get for the pigs from my local greengrocer. Even though I knew the pigs don’t eat it, I still chucked the cloves into their buckets and thought no more about it.

Until yesterday, when I saw something rather unexpected whilst checking to see how the grass is doing on their old patch:

Feral garlic?!

Feral garlic?!

All in all, I counted six plants! I’ll probably transplant them later on when my veggie garden has been dug but they seem happy enough where they for the moment. Having said that, I like the idea of “feral garlic” so I might just leave them to it, though that does mean I can’t put the pigs back on there until after they’ve been harvested. If they survive, that is.

Asleep on the job

Apologies to all of you who must be bored rigid with my witterings about digging the vegetable garden but it’s taken over my life so the fact that it’s also taken over the blog is inevitable.

I’ve finally developed a rhythm and a system and found today’s efforts to be extremely relaxing, not least because it feels like I’m finally making progress. I’m still not sure how many stones I should be removing from what’s proving to be damn good soil, but I’m picking up as many as I can.

On Monday, Snipe tried to help me by retrieving all the stones I was throwing out of the patch but as I don’t let her play with stones, it really didn’t take her long to connect the cross tone of my voice with her actions: she brought me the squeaky green ghost as an apology. She chewed it for a while and was obviously watching me tackle the turf, since, to make up for her earlier indiscretion, she helped out:

Snipe helps dig the veggie garden!

Snipe helps dig the veggie garden!

Yesterday, however, all my “helpers” spent the afternoon snoozing in the sun:



The weaners

The weaners



I doubt I’ll be digging much over the next few days, as the forecast looks rather soggy, so if you’re lucky, I might find something else to blog about! Maybe…!

Time stands still?

It strikes! one, two,
Three, four, five, six. Enough, enough, dear watch,
Thy pulse hath beat enough. Now sleep and rest;
Would thou could’st make the time to do so too;
I’ll wind thee up no more.
Ben Jonson

Last week, my watch strap snapped and so I borrowed one of B’s watches (yes, she has many) until I get round to fixing mine. However, that decided to stop working over the weekend!

I was lucky enough to have company in the form of Jennie and then B at the farm all weekend, both of whom wore working watches. But I was “home alone” yesterday and that meant no watch.

With one exception (I ended up having lunch at half past two!), it was wonderful. No pressure, no deadlines. Just me and whatever task needed doing.

I might not bother fixing my watch strap: just set the alarm on my phone so I don’t miss real deadlines.

As the sun shines, so I dig

Yesterday was my third day of digging the veggie garden and I’ve finally developed a routine and a system and have, I hoped, figured out what I’m doing!

It’s going well. Progress is still slow but much better than on the previous two days. The trouble is, it’s going to start raining this afternoon so I have a feeling that now that both I and my muscles have figured things out, I’ll have to stop. Meh!

And the weaners are still having fun on their patch, though progress was not as fast as on the previous day. Some were keen to keep working for their grub, but others were happy to take the chance that I’ll feed them and love them whether they sleep or dig!

B and the weaners - 22 March 2009

B and the weaners

B was finally able to spend a non-rainy day at the farm with me and it was so lovely to have her around. She often helped her father in his vegetable garden when she was a child so was able to offer lots of advice and helpful tips, but mainly I just enjoyed her company and conversation. We don’t see enough of each other and spending a day in the sunshine was a real treat. In fact, I’ve been spoilt rotten with company over the past few days so today will be very quiet. Too quiet, I think.