Before and after

It’s a bit of a dank start to the day today but at least we don’t have full on rain just yet, and if the forecast is to be believed we better make the most of the mild temperatures before the end of the week brings in a cold sweep from the North 😦

I always get to this bit of the blog and think what have I done this week, I can never remember from day to day let alone one week to the next! It was probably not helped by the very sociable weekend I have had resulting in what felt like cotton wool stuffed ears all day yesterday, still the company was excellent, the wine was flowing and the music was great so it was all worth it.

I made my Christmas cake in the week, this year I have tried a new recipe called ‘as you like it’ which basically means put in whatever is to your taste providing it is of similar structure and quantity. I chose to use dried apricots and cherries, replacing some of the dried fruit, I also used Amaretto instead of brandy this year, the smell was delicious although the mixture was a bit sweet! One of the best things to do in the run up to the big day is getting the cake out on a weekly basis and lacing it with alcohol, I never tire of the job 🙂

We have been moving chickens into the stable again this week, this time some of the pure breeds from the small runs. The end run has become a bog and is unhealthy to leave them in there over winter, they will be dusted, fed up a little and introduced at night to the chickens that live in the small paddock in the old shepherds hut. Introducing them at night minimises the risk of fighting although the hen pecking will still go ahead to establish a pecking order. I am worried about putting a little Blue Orpington in with them though as she is very timid, so timid that when I opened the gate to let them free range on Friday, she went and hid in the coop all day. I don’t know what to do with her, she can’t live on her own because thats unfair but she is scared of all the others, she needs a home that can give her the time and patience to bring her out of her shell. I have never known a chicken like it, so if anyone feels they can take her on let me know.

The pumpkins that I have grown have gone to the front gate for sale, there were 9 big ones and 4 smaller ones in the end so not bad, there were a few others but they had begun to go soft in the top and so were fed to the chickens who devoured them in minutes. Apart from what is left in the ground that is pretty much it for the veg season, the poly tunnel is still nurturing dwarf beans and some winter lettuce, there are also cauliflowers and broccoli growing although not showing any signs of much at the moment. The cucumbers are all but finished and so I will probably be clearing them some time this week. The potatoes that I put in for Christmas did not do week during growth and I am not sure why, it is possible I put them in too early and they have all bolted, I will leave the greenery there and see what happens over the next few weeks, I may be lucky enough to get a Christmas Day boiling.
I have established that I have far too many birds and need to reduce the numbers, as the geese are both male, and it is difficult to introduce new geese to each other, they will also be on the menu for the festive dinner this year, along with a couple of surplus to requirement cockerels, sorry guys that’s just the way it is.

The weekend is always much busier than the week days here and this weekend was no exception. The trees that overhang the ménage needed trimming, the ménage surface needed dragging, we dismantled the two coops from the pens ready to clean and creocoat and the horse trailer was ready to be painted. That’s what the before and after title is about this week, the pictures at the bottom are of the trailer before and after its great paint job that my eldest daughter and her boyfriend spent all weekend doing so thank you very much to them.
The other before and after photo I just had to include is of Mia, she had great fun this weekend the power washer being her new found toy! She usually plays with water from the hoses when we are filling up water buckets but this was a whole new level as far as she was concerned, the spray that was coming up when I was washing the chicken coops was so much fun for her but she was filthy at the end of it, there was no point trying to stop her and beside it was very entertaining watching her. She had to have a bath after that and it took two lots of shampooing to get her looking any where near to white. We kept her in after that but needless to say she is back out this morning getting just as dirty again.

Karma is a bitch as they say, but also a great leveller I find and I just had to share this little musing with you as it made me laugh out loud. I mentioned before that the ménage needed dragging and this is done with heavy metal chains on the back of the quad bike. My daughters boyfriend had bought his over and so we were going to use the opportunity to use it for the job, I was going to get to drive it and get the job done, Hubby joked that I shouldn’t be in charge of machinery, I was not in the mood for his jokes and stomped off leaving the job for someone else. The next day he took the hedge trimmer and went to cut back the trees in the school while I got on with power washing the chicken coops (my mood had improved by this point and everything was amicable) a short while later he came limping round the corner, in an only ever so slightly concerned tone, I asked him what he had done, and the blood leaking through his jeans confirmed his story that he had caught his leg with the hedge trimmer. Of course being a good wife we went indoors and I cleaned it up and put a big plaster on it. We went back out and I carried on cleaning the coops, thinking to myself, thats Karma and that will teach you to mock me about being in charge of machinery, this is where Karma took her chance to level me, I took a step too close to the coop I was cleaning and ended up with my face covered in chicken shit that was sprayed up from the washer! Karma, you gotta love it, it will get you in the end.

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