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!