Tuesday: Back to reality and doing it by myself, yesterday on the bank holiday John and I spent the morning cleaning out all of the pens the ducks and chickens are in, that was hard work, 6 barrowfulls out of the duck stable and it stunk, ducks slop water everywhere then it gets under the bedding and makes a stinky mess, today you wouldn’t even have realised we had done it! Still at least we know it was done and now I will keep topping it up each day with fresh stuff and we will do the same again at the weekend, hopefully the enforcement will have been lifted by then but you never know we may have to do another 30 days. The chickens are definitely getting fed up now, trying to escape through the door every time we go in and eating any green stuff like they haven’t eaten all year long. My aim to use everything is going quite well today, the roast beef we had yesterday was sliced up thinly with a slicer I was given a couple of years ago and with the adjustment of the blade I managed to slice up 6 packs of beef which John will use for sandwiches instead of buying ham from the shop, the sprouts got frozen and I used up leftovers and bits in the fridge for soup, I gave away a fruit cake that came in a hamper that John didn’t like and some fancy cheese biscuits that we won’t eat, they also came in the hamper. I got 2 loads of washing done and both are now drying on the lazy Shelia and an airer by the heat from the Rayburn and Johns dinner is also cooking nicely in the Rayburn. I went for a walk round the village with Sam and Shelley and the grandchildren, I wonder if I go on as I started, hopefully, all in all a satisfying day.
Wednesday: Did the morning feed rounds and a bit of cleaning out water buckets etc as the weather is kinder today and no frozen taps or hoses. Took the chickens some kale I pulled up from the poly tunnel better that they have it as they are not getting much else in the way of grass and grubs etc. I looked around the veg garden, the cabbages I planted are still looking a bit pathetic I hope they pick up when the temps warm up, the broad beans however are doing really well so I am pleased about that, they will be one of the first crops available in early spring.
I cleaned out Kai’s kennel, swooshed some disinfectant around and gave him a brush, he is moulting already, due to the warmer Winter I suppose. The bolts were rusted on his side door so I got the WD40 and a hammer out to loosen them, went to squat down and riiiipppp there go my trousers, dag nabbit, I put them clean on this morning, and they ripped in an unrepairable place
I have choices now about the rest of the day, I need to phone HMRC about a glitch on my system but when I called before Christmas about it I was on hold for over an hour, do I sit for goodness knows how long again or because the weather is reasonable do I ignore that for another day and work outside?
I decided to go outside for a bit, yesterday Hubby, who I usually accuse of not taking any notice of anything, reported to me that I had overlooked the road side egg board in regards to updating the new prices for the eggs, well spotted, so I went out armed with nail varnish remover and a waterproof chalk pen to quickly correct the matter.
Keeping up with the announcements about avian flu has been easy as every Tom, Dick and Harry has had their twopence worth on social media 😝 disappointed was easily the word to use when rumours began mid afternoon about the enforcement being extended to the end of February. No surprise really when the latest outbreak was only confirmed yesterday in Carmarthenshire, most of my pens and stables I am happy with its the outside run with the tarpaulin that will probably not hold up for another month 😖 we haven’t even had any very windy weather yet and it’s flapping about all over the place, so this weekends job will be to make it better than it is now, how I don’t know but needs must. A cull is looking very likely to ease congestion, the old birds, rather than living out their days in the paddock, which they are unable to do anyway, will be used to feed the dogs and the drakes will go in the freezer to feed us, waste not, want not. I will have to put myself into a different mindset to get the job done, it’s not easy at all but once we get underway it just becomes another task, generally speaking one I put off for as long as possible.
Double fail on the bread making front today 😜 firstly, at some point in time long ago my timer melted at 45mins this is ok if you notice and nudge it on a bit, but today I came in from afternoon feeding and it had stopped, not to worry if the dough had doubled it should be ready, look in the bowl, flat dough, at that point I realise I had forgotten the yeast 😤
I am worried for the chickens now, another 2 months inside is not good, the shells are beginning to thin, they have extra calcium but it works hand in hand with Vit D provided mostly by daylight, going to have to do a bit of research and meanwhile I think I will be buying greens from the shop for them, not how it is supposed to be 😔It looks like I will be feeding them yoghurt or cereals fortified with vit d as there are hardly any foods suitable for chickens, I can’t feed them fish or liver!
The bird flu situation is going from bad to worse, with reports of Slimbridge Wildfowl now having cases and over 1.2 million ducks and geese about to be culled in France 😔
Thursday: Woke up this morning feeling a bit like its Groundhog Day!
-5 on the thermometer at 7.30am, probably went down to around -8 overnight brrrr, good job we have managed to keep the Rayburn going continuously for the past few days. Dug out some trousers from the back of the wardrobe to replace the ripped ones and found some thick socks to put on today.
Determined for it not to be a Groundhog Day I decided to go for a walk around the paddocks then came back and as the sun was shining beautifully I made a cup of coffee and sat outside to drink it. I miss that more than anything during the cold months, sitting outside with a cuppa listening to the sounds of the locality, today the dog was yap, yap, yapping there were cars passing and I could hear rumbles from the stoneyard but just occasionally for a few seconds in between it was just birds tweeting, bliss. Did the morning feeding and put the horse out then decided to go around and do a bit of tidying up in the garden, it’s amazing what gets blown around, everything was still frozen and I made the mistake of trying to empty ice from the plastic trug by bashing it on the ground, result, the handle snapped off, then I tried to put the rotary washing line down and one of the arms snapped off, not doing too well so far lol, so I moved onto the front driveway and cleared stuff that had just been left for whatever reason. I was fairly pleased that I had at least achieved something on a cold January day 😀
Friday: Yet another cold night and frozen morning, bucketing water up from the stable to the geese shut in their house in the back paddock is not much fun. Last night I went out and bought some fruit and veg to chop up for the chickens, they were glad of something different to peck at, normally it’s the bottom of my wellies, today they have cabbage and apples. After feeding I came in to get some paperwork done, HMRC have sorted out the glitch without me having to spend another hour on hold so that’s good and I can tick that off my list. I have a fair bit of sorting out to do as John and his business partner have decided to go their separate ways after 16 years in the bathroom business, John will go back to doing small plumbing jobs on his own and I’m hoping it will mean he has more time to help on the veg garden 😀
By the time I finished paperwork, the temperatures had gone up and the rain had set in 😝 yuk it will be disgusting out there this afternoon, the only good thing is for a while I will be 5’5″ with a layer on mud on the bottom of my wellies, instead of 5’3″ so technically the right weight for my height 😝 gotta look for the positives. We have repeat offender on the escapee front in the form of a chicken that has become known as ‘Ginger Dave’ not because we know any famous escape artists called that but because she is very ginger and one of Johns favourite programmes is Mr Khan! She is obviously very clever as none of the others have worked out her method of getting out yet, or maybe not that clever as she clearly doesn’t know there is a flu epidemic going on, can’t blame a girl for trying though.
Finally had a call re a message left before Christmas from a local chap that dispatches ducks and geese, messaged him with the details and waiting for him to get back with a price and date for 2 geese and 12 drakes, we would do them ourselves if we have to but this way they can all be done at once rather than over a few weekends, also we have not done a goose before so have banded about several ways to do it with the best results but happy to pass it over to someone with the right equipment.
Saturday: Damp start to the day, John went off to get the feed, we do have 4 bags left but it’s not enough to get to next weekend so he will go to the feed merchant and get 12 bags and no doubt have a good chat and catch up. One of the things I love is the relationships you build with people when you use independents, the feed merchant, the local farmer that delivers hay and straw, the chaps at the wood yard where we buy our fencing, a delivery or pick up usually ends in a chat for nearly an hour!
It’s still dark at 7.45am, and a quick look outside reveals that ‘Ginger Dave’ has escaped again overnight, damn chicken, may have to put her in a better lockdown pen than the one she is in now.
As the tarp covered area has been breached numerous times we decided to split the up the hens in there and move them to the other pens, then take down the tarpaulin and the makeshift structure that was holding it up (sort of) I feel much happier now that they are all under cover and in secure pens, even though they are a little more crowded, it will be easier to clean them out etc. I renewed the DEFRA approved bio security footbaths and gave them some apples, pears and cabbage to peck at, trying to stop them from getting bored is a main concern, they will turn to egg eating and feather pecking if I don’t. One of the hens in the stable has been looking very unhappy, sitting as high up as she can get and all hunched up, a sure sign she is not liking the situation, I decided to move her to the outside pen where the rabbits are and she perked up quickly. The rabbits have now been moved out of their des res and into a smaller hutch away from the hens, hopefully they can now eat their dinner in peace.
Back indoors to get the fire lit, tidy up and make some bread, I remembered the yeast this time, I had to add it after on the one I messed up but it turned out ok in the end. Had a little sit down and a cuppa, darts season is upon us (although it never seems to go away, much like snooker and F1) so as I write this Hubby is giving me a much unwanted running commentary, apart from a 9 dart finish, I really am not interested, the best bit about the above sports being on is that I can usually get a power nap in if I need one 😜
Oh I must add that I had a dark moment or two this morning lol, frosty, frozen, sunny, dry mornings I can handle with ease, damp, rainy, muddy ones are my nemesis I’m afraid, I usually have a face like thunder and am known to swear a lot. If you ever watched The Good Life when they are trying to harvest veg in the rain and mud or thought that the lady that runs the farm in Last Tango in Halifax looks very down trodden, you can begin to understand how I feel. I have to give myself a stern talking to and pull myself together, it was helped enormously when I walked around the corner and saw a blackbird having a bath in a puddle which made me smile and then watched John desperately trying and failing to catch ‘Ginger Dave’ which gave me a giggle, she is quick and has her wits about her.
Sunday: Foggy first thing but that soon wore off, was hoping to see some sunshine but it hasn’t materialise as yet. Did the morning rounds, nothing untoward today and then John set about cutting up wood, we were given a huge pile of old wood and pallets at the beginning of the Autumn and he never got round to cutting it up because we did some of the conifers instead, so today is a good day to get them done and cleared up. I came indoors and did some cleaning, the boot/utility/dog bedroom gets very mucky in a very short space of time and gets to the point when you can’t put it off any longer. Then I got some left over turkey out of the freezer to make turkey korma and a turkey casserole for tea, mines the korma, John is not that adventurous 😜 Lighting the Rayburn was a mission today, a combination of having no newspapers left so using the Viking direct catalogue and the kindling was a little bit damp from the condensation that drips from the metal roof, I managed to get it going in the end though. It’s surprising how many newspapers you use, we don’t have them so rely on folks we know giving them to us but of course it’s been the holidays and as people usually buy them on the way to work they are in short supply.
Ooo as I type this, the sun is trying to come out, must have heard me 🌞
My frame of mind is altogether better than yesterday, I’m not sure what happened there, there are down days, and there are uplifting days and days in between, just have to take them as they come.
I will try and get some photos for next week, to be honest it’s a mission just trying to keep on top of it without having to remember to take my camera out with me 😝