Sunday 12 February 2012

Silent Sunday at The Larches

Cold but stunning
Best place for dust baths for the girls..

Fat new Buff Orpington girl

Come on Spring!

Mrs Bradshaw Geum

Sweet Pea

Friday 10 February 2012

Free Range Egg Collecting... the proper way

Take a suitable receptacle, (bucket basket shape,) pull on your wellies, [Lou checks that this tricky little word hasn't been spell checked by the computer. Computer is obsessed by sex and keeps changing wellies to willies, really annoying.]

Where was I? ...Oh yes.. wear appropriate clothing. Currently my appropriate clothing comprises two pairs of sox, one pair of saggy crotch thermal long johns, one pair of tight jeans, (to keep the thermals up,) several jumpers, a light windproof coat, a wool scarf, gardening gloves and my sturdy fake fur. I will, of course, put other layers on when I actually venture outdoors to collect the eggs.

Now, it's best to try to look innocent when egg collecting. We don't need to alert the girls to the fact that you're stealing their children, so practise sauntering. Imagine it is late spring and you are admiring the flowers. Walk in a zig-zag towards the coop so as not to be too obvious.

When you arrive at the coop exclaim loudly,

'Gosh, I'll just lift up this nest box flap and peer in, purely for the purpose of checking if the coop needs cleaning.' [Remember to smile in a nice way.]

To be honest, none of this am dram stuff really works. The girls are wise to the fact that chickens only lay eggs in the nest box when they have no where else to go. When they have access to acres and acres, it's much more fun to play hidey-seeky with the fat girl, [I'm not actually that fat, it's my coat, it makes me look poofy.]

In reality the nest box is usually the last place I check.

Ideally you need to 1.find bucket, 2. dress appropriately 3. make a coffee. All this to be done before you open the hen coop in the morning. Dressed correctly and clutching coffee and basket, pop outdoors and let the girls out. Spread a little food about and make sure they have fresh clean water, rather than a block of ice!

Then sit/stand back and sip coffee. Sure they'll all start eating, drinking and rooster will be doing his thang to the ladies, (urgh!) but sooner or later one of those girls will crave a bit of egg laying.

This is the time to employ your 'innocent look' and ideally you should appear lethargic.

She'll look surreptitiously around, probably give you a stare before picking her skirts up and running like a 6yo who needs the toilet. Here at The Larches the favoured spot for off-piste laying seems to be up behind the compost heap, so said hen, (usually Archie,) darts from the coop area, towards the house, past the front door and up the drive.

As soon as she passes me I launch into commando mode, lethargy forgotten. By tip-toe running up the drive after her, I soon reach the cover of one of the cars before she turns around to check if anyone is following her.

She stops. Checks.

By this time I am slammed against Dizzy Discovery, hardly breathing for fear of being exposed and therefore evade her beady eyes.

Off she goes again and this time I am forced to run for the cover of the Monkey Puzzle tree. Bloody spiky that tree! Again, I am undetected.

Off she goes again but this time it is clear that she has reached her destination; the hollow of the tree in the hedge behind the compost. Ah ha! I will return there later to collect that egg.

All in all, very successful, except I have 20 hens and there are approximately ten nests that are used on a rota basis. I don't need to join a gym really. Clearly the girls confer during the night in order to test my resolve. Last week they lay eggs behind the huge mountain of logs in the woodshed and the saying 'I saw something nasty in the woodshed!' has never been truer. I made it to the top of the unsteady pile and spotted 6 eggs but then the pile moved and I ended up on my derriere. Apparently country folk are taught from an early age not to climb bales or wood stacks, this wasn't mentioned in St John's Wood, London.

Anyhoo, I hope this egg collecting malarkey is now as clear as day. I shall look for an equally challenging subject shortly, possibly regarding hand-rearing lambs as I understand that the sproglets have finally worn their father down.

Till next time. Over, And. Owt! 

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Far from the madding crowd.....

The Farmer has a fab field opposite ours. It's perfect for sledging as you will see in the video. It takes a bit of effort to walk up it, but coming down is just fine.

You know I love you to read my blog, really I do, but I also like you to experience the pictures and the daft videos I post too. Sometimes Blogger, computers or iphones block perfectly safe video or picure content, which can be annoying. If you don't see the video above, PLEASE click on the blue title of the post and you will be transported to the internet to watch the sproglets sledge.

That was Sunday and now it's Wednesday and the snow has almost gone. The sun is shining this afternoon and having spent the morning writing, I'm now off to open up the green house and check on the girls' egg production before setting off for school to watch the netball.

Catch you soon. Next blog post will be an in-depth analysis of how to collect eggs..... dead serious... not!

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Near.....[wipes brow] -ly Finished....

Kitchen is almost finished, just some touching-up left to do on the painting front. It has taken the best part of a month, Hubby and I working at night and weekends, but we're proud of our results.

So, just 15 more similarly sized spaces to complete in the house then..............[blank stare]

Anyhoo putting the finishing touches to the kitchen is the fun bit: We're off to procure curtains and a big clock this weekend and if we have time we'll go to the best lighting shop in the whole wide world. Legacy Lighting near Ludlow is the most wonderful treasure trove ever.

To find Legacy Lighting one must drive through Ludlow's Race Track (horses of course,) while trying not to run over a golfer. This is the road to Much Wenlock, [the setting for the fantastic book Born out of Wenlock by Catherine Beale - about William Penny Brookes and the British Origins of the Modern Olympics. Amazon 2011]

After twists and turns, Legacy Lighting may be spied, (if you haven't already passed it,) in what can only be described as a green shed set back a meter or so from the road.

When Hubby and I first visited this workshop/show room one damp Sunday in December we were amazed. The owner was about to close up and her dog was patiently waiting for a walk, lying on a cushion in front of a stoked log burner....

'Come in, come in,' she urged.

Our mouths dropped open at the jewellery dropping from the ceiling. Chandelier after chandelier with gorgeous Italian glass and on every wall antique fittings and fixtures. There was every conceivable style and age of unique lights. (Although maybe that's not true, I didn't see anything similar to the stuff you see in B and Q.... hoo-ray!)

We were there almost 40 minutes (poor dog still waiting patiently,) and saw several pieces that could work for the kitchen. We can't go too bling, as the ceiling in the kitchen isn't that high and we might be done for manslaughter, but surely there might be a little chandelier that might suit.... surely?

I'll let you know how we get on this weekend. 

The Archers at The Larches

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Snowy and Moon

Snowy and Moon