Friday, 6 May 2016

Normality resumes, almost!

After the excitement of the last couple of days I was looking forward to a gentle, calm day today. And the day started well. While I made a cuppa, I checked on the chicks in their box in the kitchen, they had safely made it through their first night under the brooder and seemed to have grown overnight!  I pottered in the garden shortly after the sun came up, I really like to be in the garden as the dew starts to lift from the grass and there aren't many sounds around me except for the birds singing and sheep bleating. I sat for a few moments and watched a beetle busying around the soil, the silky blackness of its body standing out against the brown earth.

I planted some lettuces that had been grown on in the greenhouse and a couple of rows of curly kale plants. I don't worry too much about planting in very straight rows because once the plant grows a little I can't see the spacing and anyway, it all tastes the same whether straight rows or not.

Mr J joined me in the garden with a cup of tea and to talk about what we had planned for the day. We decided to start planting more (and more) of the vegetable plants that have been hardened off and are filling the greenhouse each night before being taken back outside in the morning. It's become a bit of chore to move so many trays of plants each morning and night. As soon as we had agreed an action plan for the day the chickens came racing out of the stable and into their area of the paddock. Diesel had something in her beak and horrified, I realised that it was part of an eggshell.

Mr J and I leapt into action, Mr J went to try and find the piece of shell that she had now dropped to find out what it was fromand I ran into the stable to try to find where she had got the shell from. In her hen house, I found a few specks of golden yolk. Something had broken an egg. We don't know whether it was Diesel or one of the other birds or whether one of the Cream Legbars had laid its first egg and the shell was soft and had broken as it was laid. But whatever had happened we knew that we may need to think about separating the culprit in the very near future, if we can work out which is the offending hen.

All thoughts of gardening swiftly went out of the window when Jack went into the henhouse and started to make the most peculiar noises. I lifted the lid carefully to see if she was okay and she puffed herself up and made more funny little sounds. She looked as though she was becoming broody. This would be perfect, I would love to be able to pop some eggs beneath her for her to hatch. But if she is going broody, we would need a quiet place for her to live for the next few weeks.

Back outside, I glanced over to the vegetable garden to see the ducks merrily dibbling about in it because, in my rush to find out what was going on with the chickens, I had left the gate to the vegetable area open. Not ones to turn down an opportunity to dibble, they had made themselves at home in the area from which they have been banished.

The ducks were easily walked back to their area of the paddock and we turned our attention again to thinking about the chicken issues. After tossing around several variations of 'what if', we decided to relocate the henhouse that currently houses the Cream Legbars to outside near the compost heap. This means that they will be used to going to bed from the field rather than the stable for when we get the new shed erected that they will all eventually sleep in. This has freed up some space in the stable for us to have two or three small houses with runs in it. Then if Jack and Diesel become broody, we can provide quiet, dark, undisturbed spaces for them and in a month's time, the chicks that are in the kitchen will also have their own little house and run there.

In the stable, Jack was still displaying broody behaviour and Diesel was getting nasty with the young Cream Legbars. I really couldn't fathom what on earth was going on, she is at the top of the pecking order, but I hadn't seen her so snappy with the younger ones before. Jack came back out of the henhouse, shook her feathers and ran off outside as though she hadn't just spent the last forty-five minutes skulking in the henhouse. No sooner had she left than Diesel raced in and without much ado, laid an egg. So that solved the mystery of why she was misbehaving, she was obviously holding in an egg (and that must hurt!). It still didn't answer what was going on with the yolk in the henhouse, but we'll look at what's going on there tomorrow. We decided to create several nesting box places for the chickens too, as the younger ones are just starting to lay and seem to favour the older girls' house as a nesting space, which will only cause problems if they all want to lay at a similar time. So we made the spare nesting box that we have more inviting by covering half of the front, thus offering a darker quieter box that might persuade them to use it.

We talked about what we might need to be able to put up the second hand shed that we bought about 3 weeks ago. Whilst we want to reuse, recycle and repurpose as much as we can, sometimes, we have accepted, we just need to buy new. So off we went to the local builder's merchant to order some plywood and roofing felt for the shed. We made a quick visit to the local polling station to vote and then spent a good ten minutes trying to work out where the entrance to the builder's merchant is. To be honest, by this point in the day I had had enough. I was hot, tired and feeling rather frazzled and thankfully the member of staff was helpful and efficient and the parts will be delivered to us on Monday.

When we got home we had a much needed cuppa and cleaned out the chicks' box. Little white has grown a huge amount in the last twenty-four hours (actually they both have). We are very taken with these little bundles of fluff, they peep and cheep at us from under the brooder and come out the see us whenever we wander nearby and talk to them.
We then went back out to the chicken area of the paddock and laid out some paving slabs to mark out where they will be as the base for the second hand shed that will become the chicken house. These will be laid onto sand to ensure that they are flat but for now it gives us a clear idea of where the shed will go.

It seems that the day had been hi-jacked, but it had also turned out to be highly productive and we were ready for supper.

Yesterday we took delivery of some free sample pies kindly sent to us from Pieminister, from their new gluten free range (www.pieminister.co.uk). Now, I'm not usually a big fan of pies as I don't really like pastry much, but I'm now wondering if my ambivalence towards pie was due to feeling unwell after eating wheat based pastry. Anyway, I was keen to try the beef pies that we'd been sent.
These were pretty large pies and I think that we could have easily shared one between us with some vegetables to accompany it, but being the greedy folks that we are, we had one each. Their advertising leaflet said to look into their pies, so I did. It was deep-filled with what looked like good quality beef and the gravy smelled rich and it tasted as good as it smelled. The pastry was light and crisp and didn't leave me bloated and in pain (so that's a real bonus for me). For a quick and easy meal, I think it would be worth us keeping a couple in the freezer.
They also advertise that they have a vegetarian pie option, which I'd like to try. Because I am now cooking the majority of our meals from scratch using organic ingredients, I think having a 'stand-by pie' would be useful for the occasions that either I don't have time because we've been out or when I don't feel well enough to cook.

After supper we spent another couple of hours in the garden, I'm never quite sure where the time goes when we're outside. We spent a while sitting on the deck at the side of the house and enjoyed the warmth of the early evening. Our neighbours' cat came for a chat and a fuss. This young ginger Tom cat has adopted us as his friends and is more than happy to sit on our laps and be stroked. We are very fond of his rat catching abilities and is cheerful demeanour.
 By the time we had encouraged the Cream Legbars to go to bed in their house in the garden and discouraged Jack and Diesel from doing so, and to go to bed in their house that is still in the stable, there was only about half an hour before the light would start to fade and it would be time to put the ducks to bed. So we made a cuppa, refreshed the buckets of water that are dotted around the garden for the birds, used the waste water from the buckets to water the plants that were newly planted and I used collected rainwater to water the plants in the greenhouse.

With the ducks safely locked into their house for the night, we headed indoors to put our feet up and watch a recorded episode of Masterchef while I started to write this blog.

1 comment:

  1. Goodness me you have left me feeling rather hungry. I am a massive fan of pies! I will certainly be looking out for those they look fab! Glad your day was productive but you got to enjoy the sunshine too! Cx

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