Friday, 28 December 2007

Happy Christmas!

Not much posting going on in the run up to Christmas! Preparing Christmas for the family combined with extra work, both the paid kind and that involved with being a church secretary, leaves very little time for much else! But all the urgent stuff is done now and I can take a breather before it all starts again in January!
We've had a quiet family christmas, just us for christmas lunch and the grandparents on boxing day. Good job really as the house looks like a bomb site :-)
Managed to make the most of the few nice bits of weather we've had and got out for a walk across the fields. Lovely blue sky, a hard frost on the ground and steam rising off the fields.
The chickens are thriving. Everyone is now laying - Bambi the cream legbar hybrid started laying lovely blue eggs. And Rosie the araucana hybrid - is laying beige eggs! Oh well, they did say there was an 80% chance of them being blue layers. Beryl and Bertha have all their feathers back again and have also started laying again, so nearly up to full production - lots of eggs to eat again!

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Ruby Tuesday sings the Blues!

Ruby Tuesday

Whole Lotta Rosie
Finally - yesterday morning I found a blue egg in the nest box. At first I though it was Rosie's as she was sitting in the cube. But this morning I caught Ruby actually on the nest. Two lovely 50g, bluey-green eggs!What a lovely selection of egg colours I'm getting now! And Rosie and Bambi haven't started yet, so it can only get better.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Grown up time

Mr Owl and I have just returned from a wonderful short break sans children. Courtesy of my Dad and Stepmum (who also took care of the children) we have just spent two nights at the Blakeney Hotel. What luxury! We got out of bed when we wanted, ate when we felt like it and shopped without wondering where the children were or what they would break next!

We had a very grand room overlooking the estuary (you can see the windows of our room on the first floor, to the left of the chimney stack, in the curved roof). The bed was enormous, plus we had a lounge area with a couple of comfy sofas overlooking the bay. Dad and Stepmum had arranged a bottle of chilled champagne to be waiting for us in the room and the hotel provided a beautiful basket of fruit as a gift (it was supposed to be an anniversary treat, but we were a month early to coincide with half term). This was our room - behind where I stood to take the picture was the six foot bed! There were two more windows overlooking the bay to the right of the room out of camera shot, and three more windows to the left!

The food in the restaurant was wonderful, customer service second to none - nothing was too much trouble. On the way we had stopped at a pub for lunch. Mr Owl had a ploughmans with a tiny piece of bread and a huge piece of cheese. When he asked for another piece of bread he was told he would have to pay extra! He just had to try this again in the Blakeney Hotel! They serve beautiful, home made bread rolls with their meals. So he asked for another. And he got it, without a murmur. And wine on the house the second evening because our starters were delayed on the first evening. And after dinner coffee served in our room because we didn't want to go to the lounge. Completely pampered - bliss! This was the view from our window:

And Blakeney itself is a lovely place. We wandered the streets, browsed in the gift shops and went out on the seal boat from Morston.

But enough is enough and this morning I really needed a cuddle from my boys. It's lovely to have a bit of grown up time to ourselves and we plan to make this an annual thing - two nights a year in a posh hotel to touch base and rediscover us as grownups. But heaven is hearing that shout "Mummy and Daddy are here!" and feeling little arms thrown around your neck and legs around your waist and being hugged as if lives depended on it.

That feeling lasted approximately half an hour. Oh well, will have to wait 'til next year now!

More Moulting

Oh dear. Since all Beryl's feathers fell off, Bertha has come out in sympathy. Beryl has always looked a little tatty so I was pleased to see her finally moulting. But Bertha always had a beautiful, thick, fluffy coat of glossy black feathers. And now they have also fallen out! Admittedly not as drastic as Beryls, and already she has new little jet black feathers appearing on her neck.
But Beryl started to look worse before she will look better. She has now lost all her tail and was looking very unhappy (probably cold).

But today I can see that all her new quills are opening with little tufts of ginger feathers poking through. She'll soon be fully dressed again! In the meantime I could stuff a duvet with all the feathers around the garden!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

A new coat for Christmas

Poor Beryl is moulting. I thought this would be a gradual process but she's starting to look a little oven ready! Mr Owl keeps making insensitive remarks about Paxo but I don't think she's heard him. I don't think she will be cold at night - the cube is well insulated and she snuggles in amongst the other girls. But she does look a bit forlorn through the day - it must be draughty with no frilly knickers left! But hopefully she will soon be fully feathered again - you can just see the beginnings of tiny new feathers coming through on her back. A new coat in time for Christmas!

Monday, 15 October 2007

New Eggs

Major excitement yesterday - a new egg in the nest box. Not the usual size and shape. A dainty little, pale cream egg. You can see the contrast - on the left is Florries offering for today, a whopping 76g - but quite normal for her. The white eggs are Bellas and on the right the little cream eggs.

At a guess it was from Little Bo, the new white chicken. She's been getting quite stroppy with those beneath her and her comb and wattles are more developed than the others. It was confirmed this morning when I actually caught her on the nest - another egg today! Well done Little Bo! Just look at the expression on her face: 'Yes, I know I'm a stunner, I'll pose for more photos later but a laying girl needs her breakfast first'

I think it will be a few more weeks before Roley Mo lays. She has hardly any comb or wattles. But she is a really friendly chicken, very easy to catch as she just waits to be picked up! I call her Honk - she has a strange honking cluck. I can always tell which one is her without seeing her. But when you pick her up and stroke her, the honk turns into a lovely croon - she is a singing chicken! Gorgeous! Her photos don't do her justice either, the black feathers on her back are a fabulous irridescent green in the sun. And she reminds me of a Rolo sweet. She has a lot going for her!

Then there is little Bambi. Mo and Bo seem to have established themselves in the middle of the pack, but poor Bambi is most definitely at the bottom. I used to think araucanas were scatty because they couldn't see properly, but Bambi has no such excuse. She really is a featherbrain! But she is very decorative, and someone has to be at the bottom. And she doesn't seem to mind. She has dug herself a little nest under one of the hebes in the run. There she lies until she spots a food opportunity, then sneaks out and grabs it before going to ground again. I just can't wait to see what colour eggs she will lay, although it's unlikely she will produce any this side of Christmas.

The new girls have settled in really wells, only a week and there is very little pecking and they are out freeranging with the older girls and coming in for their food at bed time.

Blog Action Day

This is a challenge - what to post about for Blog Action Day where bloggers are challenged to post something to raise awareness of environmental issues. All I can do is write about something that I know a bit about and have some limited experience of.

For me, it starts at home. Firstly with being conscientious about recycling. And I've always been a keen composter and gardener (of flowers mainly). The natural progression for me was into chicken keeping and that led to growing my own vegetables. All this in a bog standard 50' x 50' back garden (which also has to accomodate swings, slides, sandpits and all the other accoutrements of young children).

Keeping chickens led me to develop an interest in the issue of battery chickens. I think this is a barbaric practice that needs to stop. I'm not entirely sure that this comes under the remit of the environment or animal welfare. I think it's probably both as it has a strong link with misuse of our environmental resources. Anyway, there are people who know far more about it than I do so here are a couple of links: and

I'd ask you to make a start by finding out more about this issue and taking the best course of action by boycotting products containing eggs from caged hens. And if you want to know more about keeping a few chickens in your own back garden - read my blog!
My home grown eggs and my very first veggie crop - some dodgy looking radishes!

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

New Chickens

Well I had so much planned for today - tons of washing to do; a birthday cake to bake; house to tidy etc etc. So what did I do? I went shopping for new chickens of course!

I found out last night that there was a supplier of pure breed and hybrid chickens just down the road from where I live! I've passed it many a time and not realised what was there (which may be a good job!) Anyway, it was middle sons birthday and he was moaning that he hadn't had any thomas tank engine toys, so I asked if he'd like a chicken instead. He was delighted, so we went shopping. The other two boys had their birthdays 3 weeks ago, so I had to get them one each as well.

In all honesty I have been angling for some new chickens for a while. I can't keep up with the demand for eggs and my older girls are laying less now the nights are drawing in. My darling husband was not impressed but he knows never to argue with a done deal!

Roley Mo is the black and ginger hen. She is a Merrydale Copperblack and should lay nice dark brown eggs.

Little Bo is the white hen, a Merrydale Snowbell. Should lay beige eggs.

Bambi is the mottled hen, a Merrydale Crested and has an 80% chance of laying blue eggs. If she doesn't lay blue eggs, she will lay a pastel egg whatever that means.

They are very pretty and friendly and so far there has been very little nastiness from my older girls. Lets hope it stays that way!

Sunny Autumn Day

Friday - what a gorgeous day! Started by letting the chooks out for a free range - they've been confined to barracks for a few days due to lack of protection for my flower beds. Today I found a forgotten roll of fruit cage netting and managed to cover all the areas that needed it. While they were out I bagged a few bucketfuls of fallen leaves and chucked them into their pen.

They soon had it well spread out and (with a few handfuls of mealworms thrown in )spent a happy couple of hours scratching about in it.

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They had a dig in the 'safe' flowerbed, and even found time for a bit of sunbathing.

The butterflies were flocking around this sedum.
Bella liked the look of my veggie beds. I caught her eyeing them up but thought they would be safe. Just after I took this picture she hopped straight over the fence! Little madam!

I was supposed to be doing some work from home in the afternoon but it was just too nice. So oldest son and I went for a bike ride. Phew! I'm not used to it - we did about 6 miles (not bad for someone who last went on a serious bike ride about 6 years ago!). I didn't half sleep well last night!

Friday, 14 September 2007

The cube has landed

It was due to arrive next Monday. So imagine my surprise (and delight!) when hubby answered the door this afternoon and said 'Your cubes here'. WHAT! Talk about excited - what a nice surprise! So we got stuck in straight away (lucky he was off work today). Here it is nearly finished.

Managed to find a position where I can get to the egg port and the door handle (important to get this right - I didn't want to have to cut too many holes in the side of the run!) I picked up Florrie and poked her through the hole. She had a really good look round. Tried out the nest box.

Then came out again. She coped OK with the branch steps I made. Better than the ladder that came with it - if I'd used that, I would not have been able to pull the cube away from the run to clean it. The cube is attached to the run with short bungee clips around the legs. Although I can hardly move it myself, so a fox has no chance.

Big Bertha tried it next. I picker her up and shoved her through the door. She went in and out a few times. Had a good dig around in the nest box - then laid an egg! What a clever girl!
Cheeky Ruby decided she could get at the food better if she stood on the branch.
Pom was not impressed. I put her inside and she had a quick look round and tried to get out again. She managed the top step, but fell down the rest.
But here it is, all finished. They are all tucked up in bed now. But that's another story.

Thursday, 23 August 2007


Just got back from a fab camping holiday in Wales! Found a lovely little camp site at Pontrug, just outside Caernarfon. Small site, garden centre (bonus!), by a river under the trees. Small trauma after the second night when the river threatened to burst it's banks and I insisted we move the tent, but it didn't take us too long and the river subsided. And then the sun came out!

There was myself and hubby, our three boys and hubby's two grandchildren, ages of kids: 15, 14, 10, 4 and 2. They all got on really well, were well behaved and great fun to be with! We rode the Ffestiniog railway; the Great Orme tram between the Orme and Llandudno; visited the Great Orme Copper mines; visited Henblas Farm Park on Anglesey; had a boat ride into the Menai strait; rode the train to the summit of Snowden and flew kites on the beach at Dinas Dinlle. A lot in 5 days! But I never did get chance to shop in the garden centre!

It was also a maiden trip for our new tent - a fabulous Vango Diablo 900xp. Loads of room; easy to put up; cosy and waterproof - highly recommended!

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Finished at last!

Chateau Cluck is finally open for business! The girls discussed the new accomodation over supper. I think they approve!

Rain stops play

I got up first thing this morning and got out into the garden to finish the run. I patched up the gaps in the netting - can you see the join? I made a chain fastener for the door. Then I stretched chicken wire over the top along the front edge and nailed it into place. I was going to run another length alongside it and use cable ties to fasten the lengths together. When I looked for the cable ties, I found out why my very helpful son had been quiet for half an hour. He had used all the cable ties to decorate his bike. I was not a happy Mummy. And then it started raining. Time for a cup of tea I think!

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Garden Redesign (again!)

Since we've had the chickens the garden has been redesigned so many times - my poor hubby must be totally fed up! But to be fair, I do most of it myself - he only comes in handy when there is heavy manual labour involved!

But I did need him this time. I asked him a while ago if he would consider building me a 'proper' chicken run. The answer was an emphatic 'no'. So I went ahead and drew up plans and costings for wood and netting etc. When my Dad came for tea I told him my plans and helped me make a start by building one side. Hubby then decided he could get some wood for me from work (old pallets they were throwing away). I got some netting off freecycle (thank you Kevin!). And hubby got to work. I never said a word - honest!!
So Chateau Cluck is nearly finished. This was how it looked yesterday - the netting was finished and door added thid evening (no time to take pictures though). Poor hubby is back to work for a rest tomorrow, so the boys and I will try to finish it off (latch on the door, more netting on the roof). Then the chooks can move in! Will post again when finished.
And on Friday we go camping in Wales - in our super duper new waterproof tent. Which is a good job as it's forecast to rain all weekend again!

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Meet Bandit

Great day today!
Got an email from a lady who had an unwanted hamster that she put on freecycle – he’s ours now! Went to collect him at teatime. He’s called Bandit and he’s a Syrian (I think) long haired little puffball. Very friendly and happy to be handled by me and the boys.
Here he is:
What a sweetie!

Then Dad and Stepmum called round for tea. Dad was obviously bored sitting in the sun drinking beer, so asked how I wanted my new chicken run building. Anyway, he cracked on with it and one side is now built – only 2 more sides to go, plus a door and the wire to put on!

Made a pasta salad to go with the BBQ meat – picked French beans and courgette from the garden to go in it. Yummy!

Sunday 5th August

What gorgeous weather we’re having now! After the wettest June on record, summer has finally arrived! It’s lovely to be able to get out in the garden every day again. The chicken runs are drying out. I actually managed to strip them all down yesterday and give them the good cleaning that they needed!
Ruby and Rosie, the new babies, are growing – I’ve just realized that they are now bigger than Bella, their coop mate. And they both cluck now – gone is the baby cheeping.
But they won’t go to bed at night – I have to leave them out and wait for them to go into the run themselves! Dirty little stop ups!

The veg patch is doing well, it’s great to be able to go out and pick a selection of tasty, fresh veg for tea every evening! I’m currently picking courgettes, runner beans, peas, broccoli, salad leaves and radishes. Ripening nicely are French beans, leeks, spring onions, cucumbers, carrots, sweetcorn and tomatoes. At least I think the tomatoes are ripening – there’s plenty of green ones but I did find an orangey green one yesterday! It certainly looks very pretty anyway.

And yesterday I got carried away on freecycle and offered to take a hamster (and cage) whose owners are moving and can't take him with them. I didn't think I'd get him but guess what! Am just awaiting confirmation from his owner that I've been successful and I'll go and collect him. The boys will be delighted - not so sure about the husband though! Watch this space.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

New Babies

Yesterday I decided to let the new chickens have a taste of freedom again. I've made a small enclosure of chicken wire so that they can enjoy some freedom and still be safe from the bigger girls. Well that didn't work for long. When I looked outside they had 'flown the coop' and were happily grazing on the lawn! The big girls just ignored them!

So today I let them all out together. They were fine - Rosie has taken a shine to the top of the eglu run. Their wings have not been clipped so they can fly out of reach of the big girls if needs be. And I think their voices are starting to break. Rosie clucked at me today instead of cheeping!

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Square Foot Gardening

That Omlet forum has a lot to answer for! First it was an eglu and 4 chickens; then a second eglu and more chickens; then a veg garden and a serious bid for self sufficiency (well, mabe a bit of veg for dinner at the least). After much huffing and puffing, OH deigned to help me build them and they were ready by mid April - just in time to plant out some peas, runner beans and cucumbers that I'd already started in pots. And in just 3 months - voila!

In the far bed are: sweetcorn, runner beans, peas, courgettes, carrots and leeks.

Middle bed: dwarf french beans (note to self - this means dwarf plants, NOT dwarf beans, so in future do not plant at the back behind the broccoli), broccoli, peppers, spring onions, leeks, tomatoes.

Nearest bed: Assorted planted by my sons and eaten by the snails living in the kniphofia, radish, lettuce, cucumbers and nasturtiums.

I also have potatoes in bags, curly parsley in a window box and more tomatoes in another window box.

Produce so far = plenty of radish and salad leaves, peas, potatoes and one sweet little courgette!

It's a start anyway!

New Business

The Recycled bag Lady is born!

My bags appear to be quite popular so I've spent the afternoon making more patchwork bags; purchasing a domain name and creating a new email address. I am henceforth to be known as the Recycled Bag Lady - appropriate not only for what I do but also for what I am!

It's quite exciting really - who knows whether or not it will take off? For now I will test them on family and friends and see how it goes from there. This is the blue bag that started it all:

Watch this space!

Stuff of Dreams

This is an experimental blog for now - I haven't a clue what I'm doing; how to add links and things; so just playing and learning as I go along.!

But in the end I hope to have a boring account of some of the things that I enjoy doing and want to remember - things like days out with the kids; gardening; chickens; oh and my latest venture - making bags out of old curtains!
This is my first attempt - I'm quite pleased with it, and I've sold one already with orders for 2 more in the pipeline. I've always dreamt of being able to make things to sell, but although I am very 'arty farty' (as my husband likes to say), so far I haven't come up with anything saleable - until now. Wish me luck!