Monday, 2 May 2016
Yesterday felt disjointed. Most days I move from one task to another, always prepared to accept that I've done enough if I get overtired and yet usually managing to do far more each day than I'd imagined I would be able to.
Yesterday we had a power cut, it didn't last too long in the end, but there was that odd feeling of not knowing how long we'd have to be low tech. Actually, what it did for us was to highlight just how dependant on electricity we really are. Everything here runs on mains electricity. We could do with finding a solar charged battery to run some basic equipment for those moments when there is no mains electricity. When the power first went off, we checked that it wasn't just a trip switch blowing and then I wandered next door to check that they had no power too. Not that I wanted them to be without power, but if their power was off too, then it wasn't a problem with our house.
In the back of my mind, no, in the front of my mind was the incubator that has been carefully brooding our first batch of chicken eggs for the last 19 days. Without power it had become quiet and would be losing heat fairly soon. I wrapped a towel around it to try to keep some heat inside it. I was upset that having got to day 19 out of 21, there was a risk that we would lose our new chicks before they had hatched.
Mr J checked online (via his phone) to discover that it was indeed a power cut that was effecting 88 homes locally and that the electricity was expected to be back on within the hour. Maybe the chicks would be okay for that long, we shall see.
We settled down in the kitchen to play a game of Scrabble. We used to play Scrabble every day, but since being here, we have chosen to be busy with other things, so it was rather nice just to take forty-five minutes break of quiet concentration. Before the end of the game, the food shopping that I had ordered online was delivered and we paused our game to put it away and thank the delivery driver. Shortly after the food was delivered the power came back on, the towel came off the incubator, we finished our game and the Sunday tasks resumed.
Mr J and I checked the nesting boxes of the chickens more times than usual yesterday, both of us hoping that we'd have another little blue egg (or even two or more), and that Jack would lay another egg after her break from laying. Sadly neither happened, but we continued to check the boxes as though our sheer desire for eggs was going to make one miraculously appear.
I continued to fill one of the raised beds with a cardboard layer, compost from our first bin that was bagged and sitting by the bed waiting to go into it and a little peat-free compost. Today I can add soil from a mound in the garden and mix it all together to make a growing medium for some of the plants in the greenhouse waiting to go into the ground once the risk of frost is past. Checking on the 'last frost in your area' guides online, the last frost should have been a couple of weeks ago, but it seems somebody forgot to tell Mother Nature this as we have been having frosts each morning this week.
We ate a late lunch. I had ordered an organic chicken from the supermarket (costing over £13!) to see if we could detect a marked difference in flavour and whilst it was very nice, we both felt that our own birds would probably be much nicer. After all, our girls (and boys) have the freedom to range over a third of an acre, to scratch about in a variety of soil, grass, plants, compost and fallen trees. They can wander inside if they want to, but seem to spend a large amount of the day outside doing what chickens do. We know that the pelleted food they have eaten is organic, that they've enjoyed a vast amount of worms, bugs and plants.
With this in mind, we started to plan how soon we should set the next batch of eggs in the incubator. It's been quite a big step to make the decision to move from keeping chickens for a few eggs and keeping them for meat. It has required me to not to think of them as pets that need the best care we can offer them, but to think of them as birds that need the utmost care because we are going to put the resulting meat into our bodies. The level of care that we give the birds will not change, but I know that I can't get emotionally attached to them or it will make dispatch day impossibly difficult.
Mr J and I talked about how we felt (physically) since we had changed our diet to cleaner, organic, more vegetable laden meals. I now eat gluten free and Mr J still enjoys wheat and barley based foods, but our diet is increasingly gluten free so that I'm not preparing two separate meals. We both agreed that we feel healthier, less stodgy and better for the change in not only our diet, but in our lifestyle.
We had a gentle afternoon pottering at tasks and after supper, settled on the sofa to watch some television. We needed to pause our viewing to put the ducks to bed. As we were settling the ducks into their house at dusk, I noticed a lamb in the field by our kitchen garden that was stuck on its back. I don't know anything about sheep care, but I do know that I sheep needs to be turned onto it's side if it rolls onto its back as they can't get back up on their own. So we raced out of the gate at the end of the kitchen garden into the field to help the stranded lamb. As we got closer we realised that it wasn't on its back but that it looked like it was fitting. When it stopped flailing around, Mr J tried to help it on to its front, bit just rolled onto the other side, head pulled up against its back and legs waving uncontrollably again. We went back to the house to phone the farmer to let him know that a lamb was in trouble. For some unknown reason, my phone has decided to revert to an earlier version of itself and had deleted some of the most recent numbers that I'd entered into it. So Mr J did some clever researching and found his home number. I spoke to the farmer who came out immediately. Sadly, the lamb had died by the time he arrived. He reassured us that there was nothing that we could have done to help the lamb and that it must have had defective a kidney.
So we returned home to try to regain our relaxed evening. I felt quite unsettled and before long headed to bed. It had been a day of interruptions to our gentle rhythm and having first thought we might lose our chicks, the day ended with a lamb dying. I'm hoping that the next few days bring better news for our local animal population.