This is a happy update on my last post. After the fox visited we set about reinforcing the chicken run. We could have given up, but we’ve come a long way down the chicken keeping road and the garden seemed terribly quiet without them. So, the run is now the poultry equivalent of Fort Knox and today we’ve picked up four hens, courtesy of the British Hen Welfare trust.
Apologies for rubbishy phone pic but here they are; (L-R) Betsy, Henrietta, Camilla and (front) Winny.
They were rescued from a caged farm in Preston this morning, and have travelled down to Allesley near Coventry for rehoming. Bit of a mare of a day for them but a million trillion times better than the slaughter wagon!
5 days ago a fox forced its way into my chicken house and took all four of my girls, leaving a trail of feathers and mangled chicken in its wake. I know that’s a horrible description, but that’s how it was. My four lovely little chooks. Em, our veteran hen, who’d survived our first attempts at hen keeping and laid us countless pure white eggs over the previous 3 years. Little Amy, such a character, the youngest hen but so determined to find her way to the top of the pecking order. Placid speckledy Kate, who was just recovering from some unpleasant bullying, and Bella Big Bum (below), my beautful, fluffy, stroppy, determined and huge bluebell.
My husband and I were obviously mortified – we were responsible for these creatures. What had we done wrong? What else could we have done? I knew I’d been the person who’d put them to bed the previous night and I’m still going over and over it in my mind – were they secure? Would they still be chuntering at me in the garden if I’d checked it one more time?
Fact of the matter is, probably not. The fox is known as a wily beast for good reason. But I cannot be beaten. We’re investing (even) more time and money in the coop and run and we’ve reserved 4 ex battery hens who will arrive towards the end of the month. I hope that as we ‘recharge’ them I can come to terms with what we discovered last Wednesday morning and hope that in time I’ll be able to relax and have confidence in the Fort Knox-esque chicken run we’re creating.
About time I got the blog off the ground again, I thought. I was shocked to find it had been over two years since the last post though! To kick-start myself I’ve had a little re-vamp and allowed myself the freedom of some random musings. Here are my ten for today:
How do bumble bees get their butts off the ground?
When my cat plays with an elastic band, what does he think it is?
Why aren’t poached eggs more predictable?
Why aren’t healthy foods the nicest tasting?
Why is it that when you’ve emptied the laundry basket there’s always still a sock/tshirt/teatowel to be discovered somewhere to start the next load?
Why are apostrophes so hard to understand?
Why do you always fancy food you didn’t buy at the supermarket when you’re planning the evening meal from the 101 choices in the freezer?
Does Father Christmas shave off his beard in the summer?
Who knows where the time goes?
Why is it always so hard to think of a tenth thing?
We’ve lived in our house for nearly a decade. It has been almost ten years since we looked round the house, noticed that the garden was huge, had a holly tree and a rhododendron bush and thought it might just be the place for us.
Since we moved in we have experimented, designed, dug, planted, mowed, weeded, changed, adapted, moved plants, removed plants, pruned and sowed. We also brought in a greenhouse some five years ago, with the intention of using it once we had built the new shed, removed the old shed and made space for it. The greenhouse was a bargain; a friend wanted £50 for it so we had it even though we were nowhere ready for it. And I really wasn’t ready; I’ve blogged before about how I have not enjoyed the physical work of gardening but in the last couple of years it has started to appeal to me a lot more, and I am ready for that greenhouse now.
Anyway, last summer, the new shed was built. This weekend we have taken down the old shed, lifted the crazy paved patio and moved the greenhouse into the spot that is to be its home. It now has the beginnings of a concrete base and as I write, the bloke is putting the glass in. In almost no time at all, we’re going to have a usable greenhouse! I am unbelievable excited about this and already have a number of trays of seeds ready to find their home in there. The greenhouse will soon be finished, but I feel like my gardening life has just begun!
I have had the loveliest day today. A bit of a lie in, Marmite for breakfast, lunch with a mate, a bit of shopping then home to watch the birds in the garden. Today’s spectacle was provided by these two. One blue tit arrived, checked out what was on offer, had a taste of everything, chirped and flew off. After about a minute he was joined by another blue tit, and one watched while the other ate (they definitely had their beady little eyes on me) and then they swapped over. I also saw a heron go over this afternoon, as well as the ubiquitous pigeons, gulls, magpies and sparrows. See what I mean about urban wildlife?
I sat for the best part of an hour this evening watching the sparrows and then this robin feeding. Urban wildlife is so fascinating – these creatures are cautious, but not timid. The sparrows are, we think, the birds we watched as fledglings last year, and they are perfectly happy going about their business with us around. The robin is an opportunist who appears when the feeder has been filled up or when gardening has taken place!
I found it hard not to be sad today. I woke up and picked up my phone, as I always do, and saw the stream of tweets and Facebook updates about Mothers’ Day. My lovely women friends, describing their gifts and cards, their breakfasts in bed, the handicrafts brought home from school and pre-school in sticky fists and handed over with love. Those didn’t make me sad. I smiled, and clicked ‘like this’, and rolled over and relished the fact that a lie-in is pretty normal here, with no babies or toddlers to wrench me from my bed. I made the right choice, it suits me.
It’s the things I didn’t choose that make me sad. I miss my Mom. We sent flowers to my Mother in Law and I was happy that she loved them, and I don’t find myself having panic attacks in card shops when I choose a card for her these days. But there’s a weird sort of limbo about Mothers’ Day when it doesn’t really touch you. As a woman who is not a mother and no longer has a mother, I felt a bit…well, out of the loop.
I mused on this throughout the morning, and when a series of unfortunate events (i.e. a phone call from The Bloke’s work) meant our plans to go out for a walk were scuppered, I took my camera out into the garden to see what was happening out there. It seemed appropriate that a clump of Forget-Me-Nots have come up, presenting their first flowers of the year as a tiny, perfect posy; and this, and the fact that I will NEVER forget, is my token of appreciation for my Mom.
I am weighty.
I have spent the last decade on a diet, or gaining weight having been on a diet. Before that, I was the bonny baby, the chubby child, the kid who was never picked for the team, the one who ‘would be really pretty if you lost a bit of weight.’
And since last September I’ve been on Slimming World. I have lost a stone, one measly stone, and that frustrates me. As of yesterday, I’m back to Weight Watchers, which works for me (when I work at it), and to celebrate the decision I made pizza, Weight Watchers style, for dinner.
These days I’m too old for the team and too mature to be pretty, but I am hoping that I might at least be fitter, healthier and in smaller clothes by the time the summer comes.
For Clive, on our anniversary.
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
We don’t bother much with it here – it’s the day before our wedding anniversary and I am of the belief that it’s cliched and over-commercial. I’m a lover of stories though, and the tales that led to the rather odd custom of sending anonymous cards intrigues me.
There’s no real evidence that any of the people known as ‘Saint Valentine’ were romantics in the sense we think of. There is one lovely legend, however, which says that a priest named Valentine married young Roman soldiers to their sweethearts despite a decree from Emperor Claudius II which forbade such things. Claudius believed that single men made better soldiers. When he discovered what was happening he had Valentine arrested and jailed, and sentenced him to death. Some versions of the legend say that this Valentine sent the first ever Valentine’s card to a young girl. She may have been the jailer’s daughter or she may have been someone he’d previously healed (she may have been both), but the words on that note were familiar to us today: “From Your Valentine.”