Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Sacrificial Altar

I was wondering if the children had taken up voodoo.

Yesterday I was once again reduced to wandering the site with my Tesco Halloween bucket, desperately trying to locate eggs... Seriously, you start to understand why egg farmers restrict movement of these feathered hide and seek experts. As my girls are proper unrestricted free-rangers, my production line is occasionally challenged when their hiding is good and my seeking is poor!

Anyhoo I decided to check the sproglet's field shelter Den, which is dry and cosy and lined with straw. A perfect place for egg laying. (Even if it does pong a bit where they've been making mud pies with horse manure! They're inventive OK! We've had no rain for mud pies and they needed a moist material....but I 'spose they ought to be called poo pies...... shudder)

All looked neat and tidy, no eggs sadly, but then I looked a bit more thoroughly..... there were dead bodies everywhere, rabbit pelt, moles and weeny mice. 'Scusting. What were those children up to?

I asked the 8yo and the 6yo for an explanation when I picked them up last night. They looked blank but it all became clear today.

As we headed off on school early this morning we spied Benny carrying the biggest rabbit in his jaws. It was so big he was walking like he was wearing a full nappy and the bottom end of the rabbit was dragging on the ground.

He was heading in the general direction of the den....... to the sacrificial altar..... Yuck!

This is how the evil monster looks most of the time....

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Dilemma Problemma - The Bungalo.

As predicted here, joining Archie and his two girlfriends to the main flock was always going to be .... well, interesting.

For the first five nights Archie resisted the lure of the coop at dusk, preferring to roost in the branches of the surrounding rhododendron. Duly each night I, balanced on the hefty rockery created from the Shropshire boulders that erupt from our fields, reached up and plucked him down. After a chat and a stroke I put him to bed with the others and shut up the coop.

By day six this routine was getting tired. Hubby and I watched from the window, willing him to settle with the rest. The girlfriends seemed to have sussed it, or so we thought, in actual fact they were just more subservient than Archie. They put up with the nasty pecking from one or two of the last intake.

Archie clearly thought this was a hideous trial and continued to take to the tree.

Hubby came up with the solution, building a granny-flat on the side of the existing coop. It took almost an entire weekend to complete but Archie loved it, as did his two girlfriends. Once it was completed those three happily went to bed.......... for exactly two nights, then they all went and joined the rest of the chooks in the main coop and were made quite welcome!!

The beautiful bungalo is vacant. I'm very tempted to pop out and go to the poultry sale in Hereford to get a couple of toilet brushes silkies who are, by all accounts, excellent at sitting on eggs and raising babies. We could have ourselves another couple of Archies..... what do you think?

Slightly more concerning is the fact that either we have a bi-sexual rooster, (we're tres modern here) or Archie is actually Archinda...... Us Archers are learning every day. Learning that we know nothing!

Sadly I had to wring a neck on Sunday. One of the girls has been getting more and more sickly. I'd been feeding her soft porridge and making sure she got a good amount of water but finally she couldn't even sit on her perch and didn't want to eat. Her time was up. I hate to do it but it's my job. I near as damnit pulled her head off but her foot kept twitching - It was very concerning although I presume it was just nerve endings. But in future I think I'd use the axe for an immobile, sickly chicken. I think it would be even quicker and I'd be sure I'd done it first time, the twitching plays on your mind.


I need a new greenhouse as I've filled this one but Hubby won't sign my purchase order! Boo.

BTW, does anyone know what this flower is called below, I did know, but I've forgotten.(I think it comes out in May)... Thanks.

The tadders have started hatching, 4,000,000 hatched... 120,000,000 to go. I watch the newts, they swim like mini crocodiles, circling their prey. My very own safari.

It's the end of term on Friday, with more than three weeks off! Then, when the babies finally go back after Easter, there's an obstacle course of Bank Holidays and Royal Weddings to circumnavigate.... I'm not complaining, I just hope it's going to be sunny. #justsaying.....


Thursday, 17 March 2011

I'm off to Jimmy Choos.... Choo-chooo...

I am so lucky! I got this email today....


We are pleased to inform you that your e-mail address has won the Swiss On-line Lottery. Therefore you have been approved for a lump sum payout ( 750,000.00 ) Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand Pounds Sterling in the Swiss On-line Lottery program held on 14th March 2011, and released today 15th March 2011. The online cyber lotto draws was conducted from an exclusive list of 21,000 email addresses of individual and corporate bodies picked by an advanced automated random computer search from the Internet, no tickets were sold. After this automated computer ballot, your e-mail ID emerged as one of the winners in the 3rd category.
You are therefore been approve to lump sum of ?750,000.00(GBP). To file and claim your winning, please contact our Fiduciary Agent for the processing of your winning particulars, with the following information's below.
To file for your claim, please contact our


United Kingdom Lottery Fiduciary

Contact Person: Mr Micheal Blair

E-mail address: nitwits incorporated.... dot com...

Provide him with the information below:

1.Full Name:..................................

2.Full Address:.............................







9.Country Of Residence....................

10. Bank Details...............................

Congratulations once more from all members and staff of this program.

So it's bye-bye bloggers and hello Monaco, fast cars and champagne......... hang on, hubby's just telling me that he thinks this email might be a fake! .......... Nooooo!! Who would do such a thing!!!!!??

Seriously though, wouldn't you just love to be able to send a reply WITH an I.T. worm to ruin the computers of all dodgy emailers.... or maybe I'm the only one nasty enough to scheme their downfall...

Gardening in Pictures - March

Monday, 14 March 2011

Last Friday I forgot I had children....

Last Friday the writing was going well, ending the week rather nicely: A week in which I'd handed out almost all of my World Book Night books and I'd lost a bit of weight too, all while remaining teetotal for Lent...I'm guessing there's a link between weight and carousing, darn it! Also, the sun was shining and a weekend of sowing and planting beckoned......

I had a couple of errands to run before pick-up, but calculated I'd still be early for school. I even stopped to pick up two packets of those Love Heart sweets for the sproglets..........

I had however, completely forgotten that on exeat weekends pickup is earlier than normal, as there are no after school activities,..... I knew that! I just happen to have FORGOTTEN IT that afternoon...

I'm not great at checking my phone, the signal is dreadful most of the time, so I didn't see the missed calls. As I pulled into the school car park feeling fabulously early, my phone rang and it was hubby: School had called him and within seconds I realised that I was actually hideously late. I was instructed where to find the orphans....

Rehearsing my best grovel I made my way toward the headmaster's house, fortunately I was headed off at the pass by my children who'd spotted me from the the after-school care cottage. The 6yo dissolved and the 8yo looked furious.

I. Felt. Awful.

The 8yo boarded the car coolly but the 6yo was in floods, heartbroken, even the sweets didn't placate him. I put my arms around him and I sobbed too. The abandonment he must have felt was dreadful and it was all my fault.

To make matters worse, or better, I was spotted crying by a teacher and the Head's wife. The kinder they were, the more I cried. Pathetic really, but I just felt like an awful mum.

As I drove from the car park trying to contain my sobbing, I valiantly attempted to soothe the children..

'I'm so sorry I was late, I'll never make you sad like that again..'

Through heaving breaths the 6yo struggled to speak..

'We're not crying because you're late, we're sad because we wanted to play at the Headmaster's house.'


Friday, 11 March 2011

The Avian Integration...

Today, sporadically, warm sunshine bakes the stone walls of the kitchen garden. Tens of years of weather has caused the lime rendering between the stones to crumble and it is lovely to watch the sparrows who have long since colonised cosy, south facing holes.

Scores of noisy, would-be parents are fluttering passed the kitchen window, beaks chock with twigs and softer materials. They bicker constantly and I fancy I know what they're saying.... 
..........I was here first,.... Yes, I may have been gone a while, but that's my place and I put that feather in there.........  You must be new to the area.... our family have nested in that hole for generations, hop it!


.............There's just half a day to go plus one more night: ..... Archie and his two adopted sisters were beginning to look stir-crazy in their day nursery, so I've imposed a chicken lock-down. The three youngsters have joined the others.

For the past two nights and two days all 14 have been cooped up in an effort to create one flock. The pecking order (funny to really understand the origin of such phrases) will no doubt be sorted by the time I let them out to free range tomorrow morning and hopefully the three newbies will comprehend where their new home is and wander home to bed with the rest each night, after free roaming all day. I do hope so.

To be honest I fully expect to be wandering the garden with a torch on Saturday night, seeking out three confused chickens. This may prove more of a nightmare than previous integrations, due to Archie's colouring, so much easier to find light coloured hens in the dark....... Still, the clocks change soon, so the longer evenings may prove a blessing to my night vision.

For past chicken herdings please click here! or here!! or here!!!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

3 Lovely Lambs....

Ahhhhhhhhh...Found this from long ago. All three wearing woolly jumpers.

Come to think of it, what do you get when you cross a kangaroo with a sheep?....... 'sobvious right?


When we moved to The Larches it was clear many of our previous gadgets were rendered useless. Anything electrical for the garden was laughable...even our trusty old Dyson had a heart attack and keeled over.

We replaced said vacuum with a new Dyson, a sexier model that claimed to eliminate germ warfare..... or some such alchemy... It cost more than my first car! Briefly it seemed OK and the house looked cleaner but gradually I decided it just wasn't as robust as the previous model.

Yesterday the lack of suck sucked!

'You'll have to look at the hoover,' I said to hubby last night. (He who had chosen the purple Ferrari for the house...)

'It's useless.'

Turns out that, once in a while you're supposed to wash the filter........ I knew that! ....Just forgot to do it... for 15 months!

Normal dust extraction is resumed.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Cutting one's thumb.....doh

Sometimes in order to write my novel, there is a complicated process of prep: Prepared dinners is a must, wood for fires too, a tiny space on the kitchen table would be awesome (though I realise I'm probably pushing my luck with this one.....) Seems simple? Yeah right!

On Friday I broke off from writing to have a cooking day. This gets me ahead of the game for the following week and makes school pickup at 5:30pm so stress-free. I remember hearing Nigella Lawson calling 5pm - 7pm 'stress-o'clock.' It's not quite that, now that mine are older and can help set the table, but it's still better to concentrate on them rather than half-listening while cremating something.

On the menu for this cook-in was a vat of beef stew. Then a stockpot of spicy ragu sauce and then a tray of brownies and batches of chocolate chip cupcakes. Fab.

By 10:30am I had trays of cakes baking so I set about the stews and ragu, chopping tons of onions to gently sweat down. Unfortunately the tip of my thumb got in the way............ouch! It wasn't that big a slice but it sure did bleed.

I duly strapped myself up and carried on, but the red stuff just wouldn't abate. It didn't hurt but it was slightly concerning to see the leakage. Thames Water would have been proud. At mid-day, the post woman passed me my letters over the top half of the stable door to the kitchen. She looked a bit queasy and strongly suggested I pop down to the doctor...... just a bit of blood, I was busy cookin'! It was very inconvenient.

After changing the bandages for the third time I phoned the surgery.

'Hi, can you tell me how to stop some bleeding; I've cut a little bit of my thumb off........' I could tell the nurse wasn't that impressed with my stuff-and-nonsense attitude.

'Come down please. We need to dress the wound.' It wasn't a request, more like an order.

Eventually I bought some time; pleading a cake in the oven.... Yeah, that ol'chestnut!

I'm all patched up now but gardening, cooking and bathing are all a bit challenging, all conducted wearing a white latex surgical glove held high above my head, away from any watery substances. Very Michael Jacksonesque without the diamante! (Fortunately it is Monday today and I'm back to my less dangerous activity, writing......phew!)

The other prep required for writing is continuous warmth. Sadly over the weekend it was clear, hurty thumb or not, that we'd run out of wood at Chez Larches. So after fresh boiled eggs and local slabs of bacon  for Sunday breakfast (heart attack here I come,) hubby marched us all down the fields to the little copse. We were to search out fallen trees and gather seasoned wood. There was a lot. I quite like this job actually, you feel quite proud having foraged for firewood, especially when a similar load of delivered wood is about £75. Having gathered it all in a pile nearest the little village road that acts as a boundary on one side of the fields, we chucked it over the hedge to hubby who stacked it in Dizzy and drove it home. Brilliant plan Batman!

It is a fact that without wood I cannot write, as there is no way on this planet that we can afford to put on the oil heating in this house, just so I can sit in one room aspiring to be ..... well, me (but published.)

Last night was bitterly cold and this morning there was a hefty frost, I was glad of the small paraffin heater in the greenhouse keeping seedlings of artichoke, kale, nasturtian, cabbage and orange geum safe, and that's to name but a few she boasted. I am definitely going bonkers as I pop into the greenhouse each morning to ask the new arrivals 'Hello, how are you all today?'

Today has been stunningly warm, melting away all signs of frost, although I understand that it will be back tonight. I'm rather hopeful that soon I won't need to light the fire to write...... I may even need to open the odd window! Here's hoping.

The Archers at The Larches

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Snowy and Moon

Snowy and Moon