Seed order, missing dog and red mite remedies.

Monday 8th Jan: It’s cold but dry this morning, did the morning rounds, one of the hens from the front paddock seems to have a bad leg so I got her in and put her in a stable with some water and food. She wasn’t walking very far so wouldn’t be able to get to the feed and water buckets, not sure what is wrong but if I give her rest and food hopefully it will sort itself out.

Had to have two goes at lighting the Rayburn this morning as the first attempt failed, most unusual but second time around it went well.

I contemplated doing a bit outside this morning but it really it too chilly to wander round looking for jobs, it’s ok if you have something you can get stuck into and warm up a bit, I decided the seed catalogue might be a better and warmer option, I do need to order sooner rather than later or the favourites will be sold out.

I noticed over the weekend that the geese are getting into the water bucket, a sure sign that mating season is starting for them, although I couldn’t top it up this morning as the hose was frozen, I will do it later on when it’s hopefully thawed a bit.

A package arrived his morning with some goodies in as a thank you from our Christmas guests, that was a lovely surprise.

I forgot to put the grey bin out even though I had marked it on the calendar, the bin men stopped at the end of the drive and then came looking for the bin, what a fab crew 😀 very grateful for that and messaged the local authorities to let them know how thank full we were, I’m sure they are always getting grief for things that go wrong so a bit of positivity will even it up a little.

It seems to have warmed up a little this evening so I took the opportunity to fill up and clean the water buckets, the hen I put in the stable is no longer there but I found a dead one in the back hut, not sure if it’s her or if she has just wandered off, I will keep an eye out for a limping hen tomorrow!

Trying to organise a delivery of straw bales as we will run out soon and our normal farmer does not have any left 😜 For some reason I didn’t keep the telephone number of the chap we used before, I looked all through my messages/contacts but can’t find any reference so having to track him down by other means, must be more organised 😝

Tuesday: Definitely milder today, I couldn’t see any sign of limping hen this morning so I’m guessing it was her that died. I put fresh bedding in for the ducks while I was on my rounds, made a quick coffee and took it outside with me to do a few bits in the garden. I read an article yesterday that said don’t do any gardening while to mud sticks to your boots lol so I will heed that and just Potter when necessary. I still have carrots growing and wanted some for tea so pulled those and weeded the bed a little, they work well in a raised bed, it doesn’t get waterlogged so they haven’t rotted and it’s high enough for the carrot fly not to be able to reach them and lay eggs, I also dug up some celeriac although something has been eating the tops off of them, my escaped rabbit I expect, she is still loose. I gave the carrot tops to the rabbits and went back in to make apple and celeriac soup and a chicken casserole. To be honest the soup was a little bit too sweet for my liking and I would probably leave out the apples next time but as it was packed with goodness I still ate it for lunch along with some Parmesan croutons I made from the last bit of the loaf I made the other day, they were delish 😀 I made a new loaf and got some apple and blackberries out of the freezer for a crumble for John later. I have a lot of fruit to use up, I’m am going to have mine with a blob of creme fresh I think. I had Mia and while she was asleep I looked through the rest of the seed catalogue and put markers on the ones I want to purchase so just need to sit down and put the order through now.

Did the afternoon feed and collected the eggs, the numbers have now gone up as we relented and put a light in with the front lot, it made a difference within a couple of days so we will carry on doing it, the light is rechargeable and dies sometime during the night so they are not on 24hr egg laying duties 😝 I need to put oyster shell and grit on the feed shopping as a fair few of the eggs from the ladies at the back are breaking readily when they are washed, the oyster shell helps to harden up the egg shells and they are obviously not getting enough even though they free range.

Wednesday: Today felt like Groundhog Day, I asked Alexa if it was, she said ‘no’ which made me laugh and be grateful that I woke up even if it was to the same old routine or so I thought. I did the morning feeding and then went into the greenhouse to contemplate what needs doing, I went through the seeds to bring indoors so that I don’t over order something I already have, I also bought in the clear covers for the seed trays to give them a good wash along with two propagators, and a big load of seed markers, though where the rest are is a mystery, I had hundreds of them. I went to the postbox and on the way back wondered why there was only one dog waiting at the gate, I called the other one, nothing, 45 mins later after me searching everywhere including up and down the lane she finally turned up, it is not something she has ever done before and she is definitely in the dog house 😡 I ordered some shelving to make the most of the space in the greenhouse, there is plenty of higher up space that doesn’t get used to it’s full potential so I am rectifying that.

The sun was lovely this afternoon, I was almost fooled into thinking that spring was in the air, it would be nice to have a few more afternoons like that.

Thursday: I am off out for lunch with Shelley and Josh today so got the morning feeding done, lit the fire, got tonight’s dinner sorted and cleaned the two propagators for the greenhouse before I went.

After doing the afternoon egg collection and shutting the birds away John phoned to say he would be late so I took the opportunity to sit quietly and order my seeds, a bulk tonne bag of multipurpose compost and some miscellaneous bits for the greenhouse including capillary matting. I can’t wait to get started on the growing season, though I can’t believe the prices of some things these days, I thought the garden centre would be cheaper but nope it turns out ordering online is.

When I use the multipurpose compost for seedlings I will add vermiculite, sand or well composted bark, you could use leaf mould if you have it too, it doesn’t need any extra nutrients for seeds just good drainage. When I use it for potting on I will add either some well rotted manure that has dried out or something like blood fish and bone for slow release nutrients. I do have large quantities of compost I made last year and then grew the potatoes in but I will be needing that to fill up some new raised beds I have planned.

Friday: I had a busy day planned so got the rounds done as quickly as possible then onto sorting out the greenhouse, I wanted to move it around, clean it inside and out and tidy up any rubbish, all was going well, I had planned to come in at around 10.30 to light the Rayburn as it’s not too cold today and Mum was coming for a coffee. Then at about 10.20 life went a little haywire for a moment or two! Apart from the fact that my cordless screwdriver decided not to work, an egg customer came and left empty handed, I had forgotten to put the eggs out 😝 cue a mad dash to get them out there, a fox shot across the back, the dogs were in because Mia slunk off again, and at this point I’m guessing she has been doing her job and chasing off foxes, the skip lorry arrived and as I looked for fox footage on the cctv I found it hadn’t been working! A little bit later and a riderless horse went galloping down the road but thank goodness it wasn’t one of ours. Everything settled back down for the rest of the day, the greenhouse is now looking tidy, clean and I have maximised the useable space for growing, with the hazels down there is much more light getting in so I should have a good seed germination, that’s the hope anyway. John is looking at a job tonight so it’s down to me to do the feeding and then the shutting away when it gets dark.

There are so many jobs that need doing I need octopus arms lol, the veg garden needs a good tidy up but then I’m inclined to think I will wait in case we get any more windy weather which just blows everything all over the place again, the poly tunnels need the algae cleaning off to let maximum light in, of course the fruit cage is still in a heap and that needs looking at before stuff starts to grow, there is still a lot of stuff to cut back, weed membrane to put down to suppress weeds and warm the soil, rigging up fencing to keep the ducks and the escaped rabbit off the garden, clean the rabbit runs out, clean the ducks out, fresh bedding for the geese, look at the cctv, tidy the hay barn, do some paperwork, cleaning, cooking, washing, light the fire and keep it going, I’m exhausted just thinking about it all 😂 where is my list?

As John wasn’t back yet I thought it would be a good opportunity to sort out some paperwork and get the desk cleared, made some bread as well.

Before and after photos of the tidy up and reshuffle. The things under the green covers are my orange and lemon trees, I have two lovely lemons growing which should be ready to harvest later this year.

Saturday: Normally John is here at the weekends but today he is working to finish a job, first though he went to collect feed. I did the morning feeding and put some fresh bedding in for the ducks on the way round, then as John arrived back the postman also arrived with some of the bits I had ordered for the greenhouse, happy me 😀 It was the greenhouse shelving and some yellow fly strips so I got on with putting together the shelving and hanging up sticky paper to catch anything lurking in there. The shelving is going to give me some much needed extra space for seedlings, an extra layer up high, they come as a four shelf unit but I have used it in half and it can easily be put back together as I need space for growing on outside so a win win buy I think. I also potted up the Autumn Gold raspberry canes I bought at the end of last year, I am intending to pot most of the raspberries I grow to stop the runners taking over the whole patch. The fruit cage is the next job on Johns list so he tells me whoo hoo I need to get that up and running again before things start to grow, this time the posts will be concreted in, the last ones were just rammed into the earth but they have rotted away although they did last about 5 years so that’s not too bad. The new one though should be altogether more stable and not move and rock in the windy weather which is a bonus as the door will also stay firm, the old door moved a lot and sometimes I couldn’t even shut it properly. I put some net up for the peas in the small poly tunnel to climb up, I have grown them in there because if I did it outside they would have been eaten by now, I will hopefully get a good crop of early peas 😀 Daffodil bulbs have pushed through as have the garlic and onions, I feel positive for the year ahead, for now at least 😝

I sat down with a cuppa and through various trails of reading I ended up reading a report of trials to control red mite in the poultry industry (a little light reading 🤣🤣) it was very interesting though and here is the link http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/4506/1/S0043933909000403a.pdf for any other poultry keepers in case you want to have a look. Apart from chemical controls there are other methods used such as high heat 45c, fungus (entomopathogenic fungi) which if I could find any for sale would be very useful, good old diatomaceous earth (silica, which basically cuts the exoskeleton on the mites) and also simple things like cardboard traps which I am definitely going to try out when we next clean the boxes.

Try and learn something new as often as you can is something I have always done, not necessarily have a go at it just reading and digesting the information is good enough to keep the grey cells from slipping into a coma.

Sunday: A busy morning doing the usual stuff, then putting a windbreak up around the veg garden mostly to stop the ducks coming in now that we are gearing up to grow stuff and it will also help to create a micro climate for the veg so a double bonus although I needed to order more as there is not quite enough. It doesn’t look pretty but needs must, no point putting stuff out for the ducks to walk all over it or worse, eat it! I cleaned out the three rabbit pens, and the bantams house, we spent a mad 15 minutes trying, in vain, to catch the rabbit that is still loose, she is now eating any available crops in the garden including the celeriac and carrot tops. A delivery of 50 straw bales turned up so those had to be stacked, the cat presented its arse with a worm hanging out so that had to be sorted luckily I had stocked up on wormer so they have both been done 😝 John cleaned out the hens at the front and cut up cardboard to try this new technique of trapping red mite, it’s not full season yet but might as well start as we mean to go on. Bird flu is in the country albeit a different strain from last year so we need to be mindful of that and keep up to date with any bulletins, they do send a text by landline but Facebook is much quicker at letting us know.

And then out for lunch 😀

Well that turned into a long lunch and we were late back, the fire had gone out and the chickens were waiting for their tea, the eggs had sold out so it was action stations for a mad half hour and then relax 😀

That’s it, the end of another week, have a good one, make each day count, learn something you never knew TTFN 😀

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Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018 and the bits in-between 😀

I thought I may as well make a few notes over the festive period, so Christmas went really well, our visitors enjoyed themselves immensely, objective achieved 😀. Most of what went wrong was technology, Alexa crashed on Christmas Day due to the overload of her system with all the new ones I’m guessing, and the day after Boxing Day we lost our landline and internet connection so couldn’t catch up with programmes we had hoped to watch. As you know I am a great advocate of modern technological developments but when they go wrong it’s a big fat fail. To begin with trying to get hold of a human being to report a phone line down is hard work, it keeps directing you to the website, all very well but we don’t have any internet either, the fact that we don’t get much mobile signal compounded the issue further, still I eventually made contact with the outside world, probably India 😜 and reported that we and our neighbours had a problem, an engineer (grumpy by all accounts) is fixing it as I type, thank you 😊

John held the fort outside doing ALL the feeding, egg collecting and putting to bed, while I held the fort inside doing all the cooking and hosting. One of our house guests insisted on doing all the washing up every time there was any to do and I was very grateful for that. We have had 4 family birthdays over the Christmas week as well so have been extremely well fed and no doubt we are all looking forward to the new year clear out of bad habits etc to have a fresh start. I got the ball rolling by clearing out my baking cupboard, specifically the ‘cake making box’ full of out of date food colouring (2011) sprinkles of various descriptions, gelatine sachets and two full tubes of liquid glucose? A bottle of vegan rennet? About 20 half burnt cake candles 😝 I even found a dead spider though how it got in there in the first place is a total mystery. It’s all cleaned out now and at least I know if I need supplies for birthday cakes I shall have to go and buy some and as we are on a septic tank the pretty colours going down the sink might show up in the excess run off and give us a laugh 😂

The weather has been up and down, nothing new there, 11 degrees on Christmas Day, snowing and bloody freezing two days later, lashings of rain and some cold winds thrown in for good measure. Our guests left yesterday and this morning I ventured out to give John a hand for the first time in almost a week, the first thing I did was put my foot down on what I thought was a puddle, it was in fact ice, the foot slipped forward causing me to crash down on the opposite knee looking like I was waiting to take a well deserved knighthood, **#@£&!!? bloody good start that was, heat and pain shot up my leg to my hip and after a few minutes it eased off and thankfully after quickly taking some ibrufen no lasting damage has been done.

Marvellous job, the phone line/broadband has been restored, message on the answerphone from BT thanking me for reporting the fault and that they will be out to fix it and ring me to keep me updated!!! Some serious joining up of thought needs to be done in that company me thinks 😜

It seems like a continuous round of sorting leftovers, some to the dogs, some sliced for the freezer, some to use up as soon as possible and reluctantly some for the food waste bin, I only use that when we have had a ‘gathering’ as most things are processed as above in various ways but once things like pate/dips have been opened and left on the table for a few hours I prefer not to keep them especially when multiple knives with other stuff has been in and out of it!

The next preparation is for NYE, we are gathering with some of the village and eating, drinking, making merry, I shall be making a large beef stew, I hate cooking for other people, just in case it doesn’t come up to expectations, and have never been a natural hostess (or even sociable some may say) type but I am making an effort, it’s the least I can do once a year 😜

I will not be making any resolutions, I’ve NEVER kept one I have made in he past so gave that up as a bad job years ago, what I will do is probably make a list of objectives and see how many I can achieve, I’ll make them reasonable, no point failing before I begin. I have been looking at the seed catalogues, not rushing into buying them this year, I will look carefully at each variety, see what their strengths are and see how well they can be used in specific areas of the garden. After all there is no point having sugar sweet peas that take forever to grow to a reasonable size when we have such exposed conditions here, what I need is something of acceptable taste that can withstand a wind chill, that’s the kind of thing anyhow. On the garden subject the fruit cage or rather replacement of it will need to go on the list and a possible relocating of it if I feel there is a better place for it to go.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU AND WELCOME 2018

The second day of the New Year, I was busy cooking dinner for the family yesterday and watching films 😜

This morning it’s raining but we still had work to do so off we went outside, I did the rabbits etc while John did the others, then I decided to rake up the leaves from the drive next to the house it been bugging me for ages. I blocked off a particularly muddy bit, that the dogs keep running in, with some sheep hurdles and swept the area clean, very satisfying but I was actually soaked through to the skin by the time I finished.

John went off to the dentist to have a tooth out so that’s him done for the day today and he will probably spend the rest of it in bed, I set about looking for a new waterproof coat! I decided on a wax coat as they are obviously made for lots of outdoor use, I didn’t go for a brand name however, they are extortionate in price but for one about a third of the price. John has had one for years so I know they do the job, I also ordered some waterproof gloves that are intended for cycling but should be just as good for farm work though I may need to replace them regularly as the finger tips tend to wear away quite quickly.

I had Mia for a few hours so got the house warm and we watched The Gruffalo for the umpteenth time 😝 could be worse, could have been Peppa Pig 😩

John got up eventually and probably should have stayed in bed, it’s not easy having to look after someone who has had a major operation like an amputated leg, oh, wait it wasn’t, it was a tooth out, honestly, I had a caesarian section then looked after a new baby and two other children while he was at work, I can see a kick up the arse coming, obvs I will wait till he has healed a little bit 😜

Wednesday 3rd Jan: Storm Elenor is currently roaring away outside, she could be heard all the way through the night here but as yet no damage luckily. John is into his last week of three weeks off, to be honest we are getting to the end of each other’s tether 😝 coupled with the fact he had a tooth out yesterday and hasn’t had a smoke for nearly 24hrs he is getting on my nerves, I am getting on his nerves lol roll on Monday when we will be out of each other’s hair for a good 8 hours a day 😝 It makes me wonder how retired couples get on, badly, I’m guessing, at least to begin with.

My hands were a bit swollen from raking and brushing yesterday, that’s typical of the Lupus and very annoying, I get the bit between my teeth, do a job and then wham there is a price to pay.

Thursday: The winds dropped last night but are back with some force again today 💨 John is off to do some work later but stayed to do the animals this morning first, he did the usual stuff while I cleaned out the goose hut and the ducks. The goose hut has a separator in there for spring use when they start to lay eggs so that they are not all laying in one nest, that becomes a problem when one starts to sit as the other eggs can’t be collected, this way we stand a chance until they all decide to sit. The duck pen is basically a giant muddy puddle and hopefully that’s one good use for the wind it will help dry it up a bit in between rainfalls😝 I tided it up as best I could given the circumstances, it’s a waiting game for a dry or cold period to give us some respite now.

My new coat arrived this morning and I can’t wait to put it on and go out to play lol. The old one has seen much better days, been repaired goodness knows how many times and the zip is at best barely functional and at its worse downright stubborn. I’m not one for throwing things away too quickly mind you so I shall attempt another repair job and use it when the weather dries up a bit, but for now I am happy with my new waterproof, windproof coat, I hope it doesn’t get too dirty too quickly 😩.

I am waiting for a calm, dry day so that I can get in the greenhouse, empty it out and give it a clean ready for spring. I know a lot of people do it at the end of the season but I’ve done that before and had to do it again as the wet/damp weather just creates more green algae so no point wasting energy better to pick the right time.

It is at this time of year gardeners are chomping at the bit to get going and I’m no exception, I have already clocked the emergence of the snowdrops and noted dead stuff that needs cutting back or clearing when the time is right. The seed catalogue takes the main place on the coffee table pile though I haven’t finalised my decisions yet it won’t be long 😀 The broad beans and peas I planted in Autumn appear to have survived and are doing fairly well as are the garlic and onions, I haven’t ventured into the poly tunnels yet but as they are a dry space I really ought to get started on them, I can feel a list coming on 😜 John has a couple of jobs on his list that need doing, the post that holds the big gate open by the back door got ripped out of the ground by the last winds and I am having to hold it open when anything drives through so that’s a priority and the stable bolts all need adjusting again as the water table has gone up and pushed the posts up slightly, we are always adjusting them depending on the water table lol.

Got some homemade veg soup out of the freezer and made some bread, definitely a day to appreciate it, I think more scanning of the seed catalog is in order this afternoon apparently the winds will not die down until tonight and I can’t take a day of buffeting so indoor stuff until it’s necessary to go out again.

Well we must have had a very strong gust of wind, when I was doing the afternoon feed rounds I could hear something banging away and looked over towards the rabbit run, one of the roof panels had come off together with the wood that it was screwed to, phoned John to let him know he had a job waiting for him before dark 😝 We managed to patch it up enough that it should hold overnight and not let the rain in, the garden chairs had all gone flying as well but I have left them where they are until the wind dies down.

Spent most of the evening looking for chickens of certain varieties, they are proving elusive or a days journey away! I am after a utility breed, Large Light Sussex, Ixworths or what would be best of all Le Bresse, these would be to rear the cockerels as table birds, I may have to purchase hatching eggs which is not a problem just takes much longer to get what you want.

Friday: John has gone to work today so it’s down to me to do the morning routine for the first time since before Christmas. My nice new coat didn’t stay clean very long, I let the ducks out, one flapped it’s wings sending mud splattering all over me including my face 😜 After that job I cleaned out the quail hut completely and put in fresh bedding and floor covering plus a nice dust bath bowl for them to play in. They have laid all through winter not as many as in the summer months but that’s to be expected. The egg numbers in general are going back up thankfully just waiting for the geese to start laying and we will have a full range for sale again.

One thing about having someone else around is that I can never find my equipment, the time I have spent looking for something that hasn’t been put back where I left it is nobody’s business, drives me insane, this morning it’s the shovel, the light weight one I bought for myself because the heavy one is, well, too heavy!

I took photos of the silkies this morning, I have asked online for an opinion on which sex they are, I can normally sex chickens easily however these have a full head of fluff and not many obvious features that are different. I looked online for the answers but it’s a bit vague so needs must, or I can just wait to see how many eggs I get or if any start crowing.

Saturday: What a day, 2.30pm and I have only just come inside or indeed sat down since 8.30 this morning! After doing the morning feeding we decided to ‘cut back’ the two big bushes in the front, why stop there we thought, might as well do the hazels while we are here with all the equipment out 😝 we have cut back hard this year, previously we have just trimmed so they are not in the way so in for a penny in for a pound we set ourselves loose. As the hazels were quite tall it was an ideal opportunity to make some bean and pea poles with the debris, so with the billhook and loppers in hand I spent many hours making them. My back, legs and hands are aching but it’s an excellent job done and I will be thankful when I need some supports in the garden I’m sure. I don’t think I will be able to move again for a while now I have sat down lol.

Sunday: Got the usual stuff done then it was on to burning all the debris from cutting the bushes back and sorting out my bean poles into sizes. The wind was bitter, but we kept going, well I did until lunchtime when I came and put some sausage rolls in the Rayburn, once they were done I took them out to John with a cuppa and he suggested I go inside as I was pretty cold. I did a bit of cleaning and some washing and was grateful to be in the warm. The sun has been shinning nicely and with the tops out of the hazels lots more light is streaming into the house, unfortunately that shows the dust 😝 but dust is always there no matter how much I polish and I have better things to do than worry about it too much.

In-between all the other jobs John concreted in a new post to hold the gate open it is much better than the last one so I’m very pleased.

Hazels cut right back this year

Hazel poles for beans and peas

Poles sorted into sizes

John still outside burning the cuttings 😜

A power cut, pies and CHRISTMAS 🎄

Monday: Animals all done I decided to get started on trying a pork pie except that I’d forgotten to get the trotters out of the freezer to make the jelly, never mind the pork needs cutting and mixing with herbs etc and leaving overnight to soak up the flavours apparently so I will do it in stages. Lit the Rayburn earlier this morning and got on with jobs, sat down with a coffee and thought that smells a bit hot, go in the kitchen and I haven’t moved the lever over to heating so flames are now going up the chimney and that’s not good, shut down the spin wheel, shut down the thermostat, shut down the flue damper and hope for the best 😝 Normally I have a perfectly executed routine, got it wrong this morning and after a slight panic the flue temp begins to go back down thank goodness 😅

Made some leek and potato soup and put a lamb shoulder in the slow cooker

Went out in the afternoon to do the feeding and collect eggs came in made a cuppa and the electric went off! Bloody brilliant, phone the electric board yep it won’t be back on until 8pm, not such a problem except that the fire is well stoked and the heat building up in it has nowhere to go, panic, shut everything down click it over to cook open the oven door and the top plates and hope that is dies down quick enough to lose the heat that is building. I have 6% on my phone battery, next to nothing on my vape, I can’t start the generator, next door phoned to say she needs to use the paddock that the boughs have come down in tomorrow morning so they need clearing and John has gone off to fix the pump of a little old lady who has no heating bearing in mind the temps are due to plummet dramatically tonight ( at this point I should insert a round of expletives but I’m trying not to stress 😝😜😛) Thank f**k for good old fashioned candles and a lighter, at least I can see where I’m going. It’s still warm enough in the house obviously as all the heat is coming out of the oven 🤣🤣 but I really hope they get it fixed by 8 or it will be twenty layers of clothing to wear to bed. And today is one of the very reasons I began writing a blog, so I can look back and laugh (oh how I will laugh, probably, one day, maybe) One consolation, it’s pretty sitting in the dark with candles although most of them are scented and the mix of perfume is a little heady 😏

While I still have battery on my iPad I may as well keep typing after all there is nothing else to do, how the hell the women did cross stitch in medieval times by candle and firelight I will never know and I have a new found respect for anyone that lived pre electricity, that would be not only a long night (it is pitch black outside and only 5pm) but a very long winter to boot. Although I am imagining now that when the lights etc all come back on it will be an attack of the senses to begin with, a blip, then glare and beeping noises all around, not sure which one I prefer, get away, obviously I prefer the convenience of modern life but it’s nice to take time out even if it’s forced upon you. It’s very quiet also, not a sound, except the ringing in my ears that is tinnitus of course which is also why I like a bit of noise going on usually. I’m rambling now, it’s the loneliness 😂 it’s dark (very) it’s quiet (very) and there is no one else here except me, now my mind is working overtime because that could be the very opening scene of a horror movie, doesn’t help that I caught up with an episode of The Walking Dead today 😩 hurry home John, if you can’t find me I will be huddled in the back of the wardrobe, hiding from I don’t know what 😝

Note to self: try starting the generator in the daylight on a day when you don’t need it that way you will be prepared for when you do!

The evening hardly went much better, it was Johns Mums Birthday so we needed to get over to see her, temperatures had plummeted and the roads were treacherous to say the least, we stopped at Shelley’s on the way and charged my phone, the vape stick was charging in the van on the way there. We were going to go in the car which I couldn’t really understand as John had used the van all day it was defrosted and he was able to get it out, the car on the other hand was still covered in a layer of snow including the roof which I made him get off before I would get in it, however the car was not going anywhere it refused to move over the lumpy snow so we got in the van, picked Shelley up and went to Johns Mums. Stopped for a cuppa when we dropped her back off and then set off on the icy roads home, it was a slow but successful journey. Up to this point we had no dinner as the lamb was in the slow cooker and the electric was off when we left, luckily by the time we got home it was back on but the lamb was cold, so there was one sausage and two rashers of bacon in the fridge we dined on those lol, but the bread I had made the other day was now mouldy 😜, oh what a day. I made sure that we charged the torch and the phones, vape, and the back up charger pack just in case the electric goes off again anytime soon, I will make bread in the morning and hopefully tomorrow will run more smoothly 😀

Tuesday: A brand new day 😀 still snow covered and in fact more treacherous than yesterday as the temperatures plummeted down to around -7 the back roads are lethal it’s like an ice rink in the lane. I wrapped up warm, wool socks, iso therm wellies, 2pairs of gloves, a woolly hat and a long feather filled coat I was given, even after a couple of hours outside I was still toasty and warm even my toes 😀 Managed to get water done last night so only had to break the ice this morning, I also fed the wild birds again although I still need to put water out for them. Someone got stuck in the driveway entrance so went to help push them out, they were abandoning their mission and going back home, sensible plan.

Then I did a mammoth session in the kitchen, 4 dozen mince pies, give or take one or two for quality control purposes 😝 most will be frozen otherwise they won’t last long with John around! Two pork pies, I followed the recipe and it was not too hard but I didn’t seem to have enough pastry for all the meat mix I had so I quickly made more pastry, they are still cooking at the moment and the trotters are on the Rayburn hopefully making the gelatine that will go inside when they are cooled. I have no idea how they are going to taste or turn out but I wanted to try. I also made bread while I was at it and both ovens were going flat out in a round robin of things in and things out. The lamb from yesterday is back on in the slow cooker and smells amazing today.

Wednesday: Seems like a long week lol, before I went to bed last night I tested the jelly that will go into the pork pies, not setting so I heated it up with some gelatine and put it in the fridge to see if it will set this time. Success, so I reheat it to thin it and wait for it to cool and fill the pork pies and put them back in the fridge to set, I sure hope they taste good for all the faffing, I probably won’t try again but wanted to give it a go at least once. The trotters that were supposed to make the jelly went to the dogs, I did read up about using them but most agree that you need to heavily flavour with herbs etc for them to be palatable, the dogs were happy 😀 After doing the rounds which was a precarious affair because it’s part ice, part snow and part mush, I took the unprecedented decision to close the driveway to customers until it’s safe to walk on. I almost went arse over tit more times than I can count on both hands and can’t risk egg customers falling over. I would have got the shovel out but as I said a lot of it is still solid ice and I would be chipping away for hours so easier to stop people coming in until later when hopefully it will clear.

So the first thing that happens is a customer decided to ignore the notice and come in anyway! It’s entirely at you own risk I say rather rattled that they have chosen to ignore my notice 😤

Thursday: Did the morning rounds, a bit of floor cleaning while I was at it, although it’s difficult to clean the floors when the hens won’t venture out very far I did manage to get most of it done. Then it was time to get lots of little things done that have been nagging me, clear out and tidy the food cupboard, the ironing pile, put the rest of the nuts out for sale which frees up the side in the back room ready for Christmas goodies, generally putting stuff away and checking what presents I still need to get 😝 turns out quite a few! I am way behind this year not helped by the snow and the ice interruption, the ice is still making the driveway tricky but we have had a few customers today so hopefully the cars going over it will break it up a bit. Did the afternoon feed and collected the eggs (still poor in numbers even though I have wormed them) got some dry wood in for the fire, put some more rat poison down, darn things are still around.

I did think I wouldn’t achieve much today as my hands and elbow were giving me problems last night and this morning but after popping a few ibrufen they were fine thank goodness as I don’t have time for bits of me not to work 😜

I bought a second hand fridge yesterday as other little built in one is not big enough for ‘occasions’ like Christmas and Charlie and Macca will be moving back in at the end of January to save a bit more for a deposit on a house so we need extra fridge space. John kindly picked it up but deposited it in the driveway this morning from the van declaring it was to slippery to carry it across, I waited all day and by 5pm I had waited long enough so I dug out the old heavy sack truck, which was heavier than the actual fridge, and proceeded to huff and puff across the ice and get the fridge in the back where it is going to go. My point is twofold, first a moan that I am always last on his list while he is out rescuing people from their plumbing woes and secondly I’m not the type of woman who ‘can’t do it’ I have to reassure myself of that from time to time 😜 although I will leave it to him to level up the feet, after all he is used to lying on the floor to ‘fix’ stuff!

Friday: A cold wind this morning to go with the half frozen half slush ground 😜 I did the rounds and cleaned out the ducks in the process, then cleaned out the geese after everything else was done.

After the afternoon feeding which I did a bit earlier today it was time to go round and meet the others to surprise Mum with mince pies, mulled wine and a rendition of We wish you a merry Christmas on her return from Australia 🎄🎄

Saturday: Got the rounds done quickly and early in order to go and do the dreaded Christmas shopping 🛒 not many folks about at 9am so that’s good we rattled round and picked up a tree then back home by 12.30 😀

John went off to pick up some corn as we had run out and then set about the tree boughs when he returned home. I did the afternoon feeding and discovered the damn rabbits have dug out again, honestly they find the tiniest bit of earth and excavate the escape routes. Down tools John we have to get these back in, except by dark we couldn’t find one of them so she is going to have to take her chances in the ‘wild’ 😜 I really need to get their floor sorted but it’s a big run and consequently a big task not made any easier by the fact I can’t shut them in anywhere, but its getting ridiculous and needs to be a priority, but so are the tree boughs and Christmas preparations 😝

Sunday: Apart from quickly helping John this morning with the rounds I have mostly been ‘doing christmas’ the tree is up, half the presents wrapped and a bit of cleaning done, just got a few more presents to buy and some more to wrap and I will be ready, well that side of it anyhow. We have guests over the holiday period so got to have everything in hand or I shall be preoccupied.

John was busy all day outside, cleaning both the front and the back chickens, a bit more on the chainsaw with the trees, helping me get the Christmas tree in and standing upright etc.

I think I will end the blog here for this year, all that remains for me so say is thank you for reading and have a VERRY MERRY FESTIVE SEASON and I will see you on the other side 😜

Snow, heavy snow and breakages 😩

Thursday: After a few days away, which was a fabulous little break with plenty of eating and drinking, fine company and interesting ports, the first day back got off to a good start. I had forgotten to order straw before I left and quickly sent a text on the evening we returned to the farmer that supplies us and he turned up this morning with two big round bales, however he did tell me that he has over sold this year and that these were the last two bales he has 😝 I had also forgotten that we have a shortage of straw in this region so that might be interesting later on in the Winter, until then the two bales will keep us going for a couple of months hopefully. Before he delivered them I needed to get the area tidied up as the chickens have been scratching it about all over the place, I filled up two dump bags of the stuff that was all over the floor, I will save that for the duck/goose house, waste not want not. Then Mia and Sam arrived but I still needed to go out and feed the rabbits and top their beds and run up with hay as snow is predicted this afternoon. We all got our winter gear on and chopped up some apples and parsnip, loaded the trolley with feed and Mia sat in the back and went off to the rabbit run, on the way through I dug up two celeriac to give the rabbits as well. I stuck the fork back in the ground but misjudged and caught my big toe which made me yelp, while we were in the run the snow began to come down, just a little at first then a big flurry of it, Mia did laugh at first but the more it settled on her the less she laughed, got that done quickly and went back indoors to get the Rayburn lit. Shelley FaceTimed so that Josh could tell us about the snow and we told her our little story and included the fork in the foot bit, I took my shoe off to have a look and there was blood all over my sock, took my sock off and had a lovely cut right across the bottom of my toe, obviously it had gone through, I didn’t think it had, at this point I was more annoyed that I will have a hole in my wellies 😜 I shall have to get John to silicone it up or they won’t last the Winter.

Not sure what happened to Friday and Saturday lol, lots of the usual things to do and catch up with washing, shopping etc.

Sunday: Oh a different day altogether, you probably noticed we had a lot of snow overnight, that means a fair bit of work to do. Firstly none of the birds want to come out so water and feed needs to go to them inside, the ducks ventured out and the geese but none of the hens. The main thing we first noticed was the cracking and falling of tree boughs, not just the odd one but a fair few of them all over the place, luckily you get an audible warning ⚠️ . The weight of the snow means that the greenhouse roof and the poly tunnels needed sweeping off and any other flat roofs like the point of lay house and the rabbit run. The snow has also collapsed my fruit cage into a heap, you will remember that we were saying it needed re doing but thought it might last another season, nope, it’s over 😝 Wet clothing means dripping clothing once we come inside so the Rayburn is lit early to dry everything out, my feet are frozen and so for the first time this year, slippers go on as well, typically because of my poorly toe I can’t get my iso therms on just when I needed to most 😜

Unbelievably egg customers are still turning up this morning and actually cleared out the shed, one arrived with a big pile of snow on the roof of the car! If I didn’t have to go out on foot I certainly wouldn’t let alone in a vehicle.

Spent most of the day indoors watching tv lol a rare occurrence indeed, just out again to feed in the afternoon, collect eggs and then put away at dark.

Monday morning: Still a heavy layer of snow though it is melting, I took a shovel and dug away the snow in paths so that the hens would at least come outside even if they don’t venture very far.

This is my fruit cage 😝

The middle picture is of the paddock and one of my fave things, unadulterated snow on the ground, nothing more beautiful than that I reckon.

This is just one of the boughs that have gone and there are a fair few more, I would have said it’s because we cut the other trees down around it but we have untouched trees that stand on their own where the boughs have snapped inside the canopy. We will need to be very careful of those in any windy weather we get as we won’t get the audible warning again they will just come down.

A six foot fence, a big fat fox and carpet grippers!

Monday: Another week begins and we had rain overnight, the temperature has gone up and I’m sweating doing the rounds this morning, gotta love this country when one day is nearly always different to the next and nothing to do with the weather is ever a dead cert!

On my way round I looked for the bantam, nowhere to be seen which is a worry, I suspect a John saw a different one eating and this one was still hunched up somewhere and didn’t go inside at night, a worry because it means something has been able to get in a take her, bearing in mind it’s a six foot fence all the way round that’s not good.

Cleaned the floor of the back pen and by the looks of it there is no more rat activity at the back either, maybe we are winning the battle, as I have said before it’s not huge but even one or two rats causes a problem with egg/food stealing. This time of year eggs are few and far between as it is without them being stolen, the daylight hours or lack of them, affect the egg numbers drastically and we are almost at a stage when we will begin to sell out each morning again, roll on 21st December when the nights begin to draw back out.

Having had a couple of days when we can walk around the frozen ground without getting muddy we are back to slop this morning, slippery slop that’s they only way to describe it and you gotta be sure on your feet otherwise over you go.

John and I are off on a mini break to Belgium and Amsterdam next week so I need to make sure everything is up together and that all will run smoothly when Shelley, Martin and Josh are here looking after the place, it’s a little bit easier in the winter months, well not so manic at least, the hardest job will be keeping the Rayburn going especially if the temps drop again.

Cleaned out the quail and put the large rabbit run back to normal after fencing a piece off for the baby rabbits, I’m a bit concerned about what is getting into the orchard pen though, the bantams are shut in at night but the mesh is quite flimsy so I think I’m going to have to go out and beef it up somehow.

Tuesday: Last night I set the camera and after getting the morning rounds finished I had a look at what if anything I captured, I was right something was getting in, a big fat fox! It is scaling the six foot fence and we have a plan in place to try and stop it being able to, the orchard will look like stalag 17 but hopefully it will stop it otherwise drastic measures will be taken.

I made the cranberry and orange sauce with my 5p cranberries lol, it’s now in the freezer and will be a great accompaniment for cold meats on Boxing Day.

Wednesday: ‘The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow’ I don’t know about that but the wind is certainly blowing from the North it feels perishing out there this morning, a red face and runny nose morning. The proverbial Robin should be fine as I keep topping up the bird feeders for him and his friends. I saw two deer grazing in the field behind our back paddocks this morning, that always lifts my spirits and makes me smile, their heads keep bobbing up from eating just to make sure there is nothing threatening close by.

Both yesterday and today I have lit the Rayburn early in the morning to ward off the chill that the wind is bringing with it, it gets a bit toasty at some points of the day but I’d rather that than shivering.

The ducks have been free ranging everyday for about two months now so next years slugs should be well and truly taken care of, to start with thy didn’t venture far and now they are getting all over the garden and side paddocks, as a result they are laying really well which is more than can be said for the hens! We are in the shortest daylight hours now which profoundly affects the number of eggs laid, we don’t keep them under an artificial light as it’s not very natural and messes with their body clocks, sometimes when we are running out of eggs daily we think about doing it but to be honest I’d rather not, customers will just have to wait until the egg laying gets back to full strength. It is surprising how many customers don’t realise the above fact so I have now put an explanation on the board, they want free range because of the welfare and with it comes natural living and a drop in available eggs 😜

Made lemon buttered cod for dinner and a self saucing chocolate pud that I saw on tv (save money: good food) last night yum.

I also ordered a proving basket from my fav online outlet store, when I make bread, which is every other day, I generally prove it free form but sometimes it spreads a bit too much making a shallow loaf which is okay for toast but not so good for a decent sandwich so I thought it was about time I had an authentic basket to do it in 😀

Thursday: Another cold start, luckily I got John to fill up all the water buckets yesterday afternoon so I only needed to break the ice this morning. By the time I had finished the rounds my toes were hurting even though I had thick socks on. The sun is set to make an appearance though so at least things will thaw out even if the temperatures remain cold. My proving basket arrived last night so I will make the first loaf of bread in it today, it needs ‘seasoning’ beforehand, basically wet it slightly and sprinkle flour in it, shake it around and let it dry, once it is, it’s ready to use. Or rather it would have been if my dough had risen on the first proving, it didn’t! So google to the rescue and find out how to remedy the situation, put the dough in an oven or microwave with a cup of hot water and hopefully the steam will activate the yeast. Normally I use fast acting but I didn’t have any so I used the one that you have to mix with water and sugar to get it going, it’s obviously on strike, fingers crossed the steam works 😜

Made a banana bread with the ones going over and that’s cooking in the Rayburn as I type.

Well the bread and steam didn’t work so I abandoned it, not entirely as I have baked it, the ducks will eat it even if it’s dense, I will have to get some more easy yeast and stick to what I know lol.

Friday: Slightly warmer today but not much, the wind is still biting. Did the usual stuff, not much else going on today in terms of the farm.

Saturday: John did the rounds then went off to stock up on feed while I packed the suitcase for our few days away. “Ive had a shave and haircut and got a battery for my watch” said John, great you’re all ready to go then, I will do the rest! Looking forward to a break and a not doing the cooking and cleaning, not trudging round in the mud 😀 Shelley is in charge 😀

When I get back it will be directly into Christmas mode, presents to shop for, food to prepare 😝

We had a few last minute bright ideas to put into place before we go, one is to get carpet gripper to go on top of the fence that the fox is jumping, presumably he is landing on the top and not clearing right over it, anyway he will get a bit of a shock if that’s the case 😝 secondly we decided as the egg numbers have dropped drastically we would worm the birds (should have done it earlier but didn’t 😛) it takes seven days and obviously we won’t be here for some of them so I have now prepared 7 buckets of medicated feed to be given in the afternoons. And we came up with an ideal plan so shelley doesn’t have to go in with the geese, she is six months pregnant and not as agile as normal so won’t be able to nip past them readily, problems solved hopefully and hopefully the egg numbers will go back up though I’m still convinced it’s to do with daylight hours and not worms, we shall see.

I’m off to the cinema with Charlie tonight and then relax for a few days.

Rouge ferret, sad goodbyes and an eco egg.

Monday PM: Just got back from my away day with the girls and a fabulous time was had by all of us 😀

Update on the Guinea pig versus ferret episode:

Saturday night, I heard the guinea pig squealing at around 10pm went out with a torch to see a ferret chewing on his neck, the ferret disappeared quickly and I got the pig out and bought him in to do some first aid on him and put him in a box out the back for the night.

Sunday morning I got an old cage, cleaned it up and put the guinea pig in there to get better, the damage surprisingly was not to bad just superficial. Bearing in mind I was due to go away it was all hands to the pump to set a live trap and try to catch this ferret otherwise it would be starting on my rabbits and bantams! John called later in the day to say it had been caught, though I never got to see it, it was obviously a pet as it was quite tame and must have been on the run for a while as it was also underweight and had lice.

Back to Monday: John has done a sterling job looking after everything albeit only for 24 hrs lol, it’s still a big responsibility 😀 and decisions have to be made and he has booked Kai in to see the vet for tonight. Kai has been off his food for nearly a week, is limping and is reluctant to leave his bed, these are not good signs, if he has a temperature and needs antibiotics that will be he best outcome, if it’s not that then it’s more serious and we will be saying goodnight to him.

Well he returned with Kai and he has had a shot of painkiller and antibiotic although the vet could not find anything obvious wrong with him except the tenderness he is feeling in his front leg. However he needs to eat in the morning, if he doesn’t he is not going to get any better and an appointment has been made for tomorrow night just in case.

Tuesday: Obviously my first thought for the day was to feed Kai and see if we can get him to eat, success, he seems a little perkier and has eaten a bowl of wet food, the call to cancel the appointment can be made and we can pick up some more medication. It doesn’t mean he is out of the woods yet though, if the meds don’t help him to improve then we are back to square one and decision time so fingers crossed. He is twelve this coming year, which doesn’t seem old but it is for a husky and he has lived outside all his life and so is bound to suffer with his joints more readily than a house dog. We bought him indoors yesterday evening until his appointment but it is clear that it’s unfair on him to change his surroundings, especially when it’s a lot warmer than he is used to.

As for the rest of the morning, the guinea pig is doing well and I was going to put him back with the rabbit BUT on my morning rounds I found a dead baby bunny, one of the ones that had escaped and we hadn’t been able to catch. A bit of detective work and I could see that it had been bitten out in the paddock as there was a patch of fur, it has then made a dash for the orchard pen as it can get through the pheasant wire and died in there. Question is, what has bitten it in the first place? Possibly a fox has tried to catch it or we maybe have more than one ferret on the premises so I have reset the live trap to see if anything else is caught. Always something 😜 The chickens, ducks and geese are all tickety boo thank goodness. I filled up the wild bird feeders and have turned on the wildlife camera to see if I can get some footage of how many there are and what type.

The wildlife camera in the day was a disaster the only footage I got was of me opening and closing it! I will try again maybe at dusk.

Kai seems to have made quite a remarkable recovery, he is back to barking, wolfing his dinner down (with the meds in) and hardly limping, fingers crossed it stays like that.

Wednesday: The weather continues to be mild which makes going outside pleasant enough and at least the wind is drying things up a little.

Not much on the to do list today, Mia arrived and did a bit of baking, a crazy, wacky chocolate cake, no eggs, no dairy so great for Josh to share when he arrived later in the morning.

Put some more rat bait down when I put the birds to bed and that was pretty much it, just as well as the weather has turned quite foul out there, the wind was blowing a hoolie all night long. Went out to get a bit of shopping after dark and saw two tiny baby deer on the side of the road, goodness knows what they were doing out and hopefully Mum was not far away.

Thursday: The wind is still going, though not so fierce, got the morning rounds done, cleaned out the smaller rabbit run and the girl baby rabbit cage while I was at it. Then inside to make some bread, I made whole meal the other day but it was a bit like lead lol so gone back to white with a bit of whole meal flour mixed in as I now need to use it up. John came home at lunchtime and cut up some of the wood mountain 😝 while I cleaned and tidied up the boot room a little, it gets so dusty and cluttered in there that it needs a sort now and again.

I heard or read a saying ‘a story told is a life lived’ that has stuck with me all week (I googled it and it was from Outlander!) For some reason it struck a chord with me and I am glad to be able tell my daily story albeit a cutting room floor version, trust me you wouldn’t want the full blown ‘life of Dawn’ version, to start with it would take a week to read and secondly I would probably get a lot of hate mail due to the sarcastic tone I would inevitably adopt 😜 Maybe one day under a pseudonym, invitation only, those who have a strong mind and a sense of humour 😉

I did the afternoon feeding and John did the putting to bed, ‘put the grey bin out and feed the dog’ I tagged in as he was going out of the door, 34 years and the training is only just kicking in 😁

The temperature has dropped rapidly outside tonight so looks like a cold start tomorrow morning, I follow a page called Reality Weather which looks at very long range forecast and the movements of weather fronts, blockages etc, we might be in for an extremely cold and prolonged snap either this winter or next, yep that’s how long range it is, they can’t tell exactly because it depends on how the fronts move but it seems there is some unusual movement going on in the Northern hemisphere which will eventually wreak havoc! I look forward to that 😝 and in the light of the information I will make sure we are well stocked up in wood and food just in case 😀

Friday: My rounds took longer than usual this morning, firstly I checked on Herbie the guinea pig and his eyes had closed over so I got him out and bathed them, happily they are now open and he looks fine. He is still on the sick ward out the back, apart from his eyes he seems ok still eating and drinking and no sign of infection in fact his neck has healed well though it does look like leather it will probably restore given time. Then it was onto the routine stuff, cleaning out the ducks on the way round, when I let the bantams out in the orchard I noticed one was not looking well, hunched and not running for food like the others. I picked her up and immediately could feel that her crop was full, this should not happen, in the morning a hens crop should be empty as the food they have eaten the day before should have been digested overnight. The first step is to massage the crop to loosen the compaction, then hold the hen upside down and continue massaging, gravity will help to move the obstruction, sure enough though it took about ten minutes, a smelly mess began to appear from her beak, I began to gently pull it to help it along it was a mix of straw and grain. Young chickens can be a bit stupid and eat anything, this one has decided straw might be good, it’s not, and that is what has caused the blockage. I bought her in and I gave her some kefir by syringe, a delicate job as you can accidentally send the liquid into her lungs which would be fatal. Then I made her some scrambled egg and put her in the dog cage in the back room with some water, I can’t make her eat but hopefully she will pick up enough to want to eat. The kefir is a fermented coconut drink which I happen to be taking at the moment, it is full of good bacteria and hopefully will help to process anything left in the crop. The rest of the rounds went with out incident 😀

I have said before that I could do with a little hospital corner, a couple of purpose built in cages that are easily accessible so that anything poorly can be monitored with ease, may put that one on the to do list.

Did some tidying and putting away in the back area, another dumping ground that needs doing every now and then, and then got the bantam out to repeat the upside down massage, not much in there now but she still hasn’t eaten or drunk anything so unless she does she will probably got into heart failure if she is not already on the way.

Had a discussion about Kai this afternoon, although initially he picked up a little, there has been no improvement and this afternoon he started growling at me when I tried to get him up, he has a course of meds and painkiller and we will finish those and see what happens but it’s not looking good he should have improved a fair bit by now.

John came home early and cut up some more of the wood mountain 😝 I put the front birds to bed and he did the back lot, it was bloody freezing even then so we also did the water ready for the morning and there was ice in the hosepipe already brrrrr. I have been putting rat poison down each time the last lot disappears, which it is going alarmingly fast, this time of year they are looking for an easy feed and somewhere dry to sleep, right under the hen house is ideal but I’m determined to knock them on the head quickly.

I bought an eco washing egg, I looked at the reviews and thought I would give it a try, it probably won’t be so good on heavily soiled garments but on normal day to day wear it should be fine, they last for 720 washes apparently and obviously kinder to the environment in terms of chemicals, packaging reduction and general manufacturing, I hope they are good, I will let you know.

Saturday: It’s only 10am and we have had a proper morning of it, had to call the vet to book Kai in today as he is not eating again, this will be his final appointment 😩 and you don’t realise how it affects you until you try to talk to the receptionist on the phone 😪 The Guinea pig has not made it, turns out there was infection under the skin, the bantam doesn’t look like she will make it but I have put her out with the others for today to see if being with them helps pick her up and something upset the horses all around and Jack cleared a 5ft fence into the next paddock! Roll on wine o’clock 😜

On the upside the girl baby rabbits went off to their new home this morning, in one fell swoop we have 4 less mouths to feed now one way or another.

I can’t settle to do the jobs needed, made bread, lit the fire, waiting for John to return with an empty collar and lead, I cried when I put him in the car, he has been an amazing dog, pulling John around the block on the skateboard for his daily exercise a few years back, keeping an eye on everything night and day, driving me mad with his yapping sometimes, he is irreplaceable.

I have just done the first wash with the eco egg and I have to say I’m quite impressed, it was a whites wash and the clothes look clean and fresh, fresher than usual, high hopes for this egg 😀 darks next and we we see how that comes out.

Sunday: A beautiful crisp, sunny but bloody cold morning! John went out and did the feed rounds and reported that there was a dead rat in the front chicken hut, that’s good at least we are managing to kill them off, well one at least 😝 I stayed inside and did a few small household tasks and then the biggy we had on the list today which is sweeping the flue and cleaning out the Rayburn. A very dirty job but very necessary as we don’t ever want a repeat of a chimney fire again, we clean it depending on the amount of use it has had and now was as good a time as any.

I have done three washes with the eco egg and I’m still pretty impressed I have to say, the clothes look fresh and clean, you can add conditioner if you want it to smell nice but I haven’t as yet as I can’t see the point, I’m in the minority camp of liking my bath towels rough not fluffy so I won’t even put some in when I wash those.

Last night was the first night without Kai and I woke up this morning thinking I had heard him bark, which of course I didn’t, makes me wonder how many times I had thought I heard him when he was here when really I didn’t, dreamt it maybe lol.

It remains cold into the afternoon and I am very reluctant to venture outside unless I have to, luckily John volunteered to do the afternoon feeding and collecting of eggs so I’m staying put in the warm, plenty of time for me to be doing it all next week. He said the bantam was eating with the others so at least she is still alive for now.

Steaming the pudding, more unwelcome visitors and cuddling a chicken

I picked up some reduced cranberries in the supermarket, had to be a bargain at only 5p 😀 I will probably use them to make a cranberry and orange sauce to go with cold meats at Christmas as we are not having turkey this year. I may pick up some more if they have any next week they will always be useful for making something different.

Monday: Cold start again today so I made sure I had thick socks on, plenty of layers 1and thick gloves as well. To give the hens a bit of heat I mixed in some poultry spice with their feed this morning. I make my own as it’s cheaper than buying the pots that you can buy, they contain turmeric, fenugreek, garlic and one other ingredient that I can’t remember at the minute, but I just looked on the pot and ordered bulk individual items and mixed them in a tub, it makes loads. Hopefully it might boost egg production which has dropped off considerably due to the lack of daylight hours and the cold temps. I did a bit of cleaning out of nest boxes as I went, that helps to keep the eggs clean and makes my job easier when I am boxing them up later in the day. I checked the baby rabbits and fed all the small animals, we now have five in there so one of the escapees has come back! The small garden birds have discovered the feeding station that now has bird seed in and judging by the excited chirping this morning they are very grateful. I am going to make a couple more seed holders as I only have one and there are a lot of birds, easily around 20 I would say and these are the ones living in and around the nest boxes (and gaps in the cladding)on the front of the house.

Then on to feed the dogs and give Kai’s kennel a clean out and give him a nice clean duvet for his bed for the colder months.

Inside then to light the Rayburn and the temperature is not going to go much above 4 degrees today ❄️ and I want to try and stay warm to see if it helps my hand problems, I think it does as yesterday they were fine until I had to go outside then all evening they were playing up.

I fed the Christmas cake some brandy and it will now be wrapped up and stored for a couple of weeks when I will get it out again and lace it with more brandy 😀

Tuesday: The day of epic boiling of the Christmas pudding, 8 hours of bubbling water to cook it so an early start is needed, and I better put the timer on as I will probably forget over the course of the day how long it has been in. Again I followed a Mary Berry ‘figgy pudding’ recipe. I made bread, leek and potato soup and some rock buns while I was at it. Had Mia from lunchtime and Shelley and Josh came for a visit, I can nip out and feed the hens and collect eggs while Shelley is here so that’s what I did. John came home in time to put the birds to bed and found a bag of live chickens dumped at the gateway! Going through the the cctv we could clearly see who it was and they are known to us so John will be calling in there tomorrow for a few stern words 😤 Clearly they don’t want to look after them so there is no point taking them back to him and after all it’s not the chickens fault, but there is the risk of contamination to my flock so they will all have to be wormed and de loused/mited just in case. Very unfair on us and the chickens.

On the upside I have found a home for any of the baby rabbits that are female so I just need to sex them and see how many that is, just the boys to find homes for as there are definitely both sex’s among them.

Wednesday was lost somewhere 😝

Thursday: I have a fair few jobs I want to get sorted today, the main one being separating the boy and girl rabbits! I’ll tell you though you couldn’t write this stuff, I went out and fed them caught the three up that are in the run I made, the others have escaped 😜 then I looked at the one in the guinea run, 2 boys, 2 girls great, I go off to prepare a separate hutch for the boys and when I get back I check the bunnies again in the run and remove the boy, go to get the one from the guinea hut and it’s gone!!! I’m sure it will be back but it means I don’t get the job done and dusted just yet. One of the babies died, I don’t know why, it was looking quiet yesterday, can’t see any obvious signs of anything but they have been getting out and so anything could have happened to it at some point. Just having a quick coffee then I have 10 sweet chestnut trees to decide what to do with. Some will be potted up for sale, some will be planted in the hedgerow.

Among many other jobs on the list today, the rat poison arrived so I needed to put that down just as it got dark, the rubbish needs to go out though I have no idea what colour week we are on 😝 had another look for the baby rabbit but that one is right under the hutch and I can’t reach it, meanwhile another is out in the paddock chomping on grass but I can’t find the net to catch it with.

Friday: ❄️ brrr very cold this morning! Did the rounds quickly lol, topped up the wild bird feeder as they will be hungry in this weather as well, thought about working outside but gave it a miss and did indoor stuff instead. Had a visitor drop in for a chat and as we were talking at the gate another egg customer pulled up, good job because two minutes later a very dodgy couple in a old van who couldn’t speak any English pulled up. They were trying to buy 1 chicken??? Well that was what they were gesturing but as I have said before you know when someone doesn’t seem right, the chap wouldn’t take no for an answer and I was grateful that there were others there with me, one took the registration number and the other wrote down directions to go and find chickens for sale, I don’t think they were real directions lol. They left and my visitor stayed around for 10 more minutes just to make sure they didn’t come back. With all the activity in the area at the moment you got to keep your wits about you 😜 As a consequence I am now spending every five minutes looking out of the window just in case, puts you right on edge. The egg customer came back twice, once to give me the reg number she had jotted down although I had already committed it to memory and then again to tell me they were still hanging round the village an hour later so they clearly didn’t head off to look for chickens for sale, at this point I rang 101 to report the incident just in case they were up to no good.

Saturday: The weather started off ok and slowly deteriorated 😟 John was away early this morning on an errand so it was just me manning the place. Did the morning rounds and found that something had attacked my guinea pigs and killed one of them, poor Stuart Little, Herbie the other one I bought in and tended his wounds which were superficial and purple sprayed him and put him back out, hoping that whatever it was doesn’t come back and if it does he can fend it off as I don’t have anywhere else for him to go. I’ve half a mind to think it was the baby boy rabbit that was in with them but he didn’t have any blood on him and the neck had been eaten out so looks like stoat maybe, if it was a rat they are usually only interested in food and there was some in the bowl. The boy rabbit has now been put in with the other boy, so now girls and boys are separate thank goodness, so we won’t have any mishaps!

We often have some strange customers and visitors as this week has already shown 😜 and today’s request did not let that custom down, ‘can I cuddle a chicken’ luckily it was John who was out there and he can be very obliging lol and so the lady’s request was granted 😝

The rain continued to come down and once I had finished the housework and John had finished outside we called it a day and watched a film in the warm and dry 😀

And that’s it for this week as I am off with the girls tomorrow morning for some great food, great drink, spa treatments, relaxation and general time out leaving John in charge for the time I’m away.

I haven’t got any photos this week and I was looking back through them to see if I could find one or two of general interest, what I decided was that I will do a blog just of past photos sometime next week, it’s interesting to look back at what we have done form year to year, keep your eyes peeled for that 😀