Saturday, 30 May 2009

We have been to the caravan which my sister and uncle own near Sheringham in Norfolk for three nights. It is cosy and easy to look after - the girls have one bedroom and we have the other, there is a little kitchen area, a sitting area and a dining table set up near the kitchen. It has all the mod cons you could want, including a freezer and a microwave, and is set in the trees.
Here is the YFG all tucked up in bed in the little bedroom - the beds are slightly narrower than normal so they have to lay still!!

The site is woodland and heath, and there are miles of walks so here is a typical shot of the path through the woodland - it is so peaceful and quiet there that you can really relax!

The caravan we stayed in is on this road in the park, just to the left behind the trees here. There is an pond here which is in an old gravel pit. Various members of my family have had caravans on this particular pitch on this site for about 26 years now, so we have seen some changes come and go. When my sister and I went to the site when we were young, we used to play in the gravel pit, but now it is a lovely conservation pond. My sister actually had her first birthday at this caravan site, but in a touring caravan rather than a static one! It is such a lovely place that I can understand people going back year after year.

This is the pond.

So, we arrived on Tuesday, went to Sheringham on Wednesday, Cromer on Thursday and pootled home yesterday. There were lots of bike rides and walks in the woods each day, and some shopping. We also had a couple of meals out, and fish and chips in Cromer from Mary Jane's - highly recommended!

Yesterday we arrived home, and found that my uncle had been hard at work in the garden, and he has done wonders - thank goodness for him and his kindness and willingness to come and house sit for us. Going away as a family is nigh on impossible when we have so many animals and birds which need care all the time. I think that it has been a pleasant change for him to have a short stay away from home for him too.

This morning, I had washing on the line, several times, and the weather has been fantastic so it has all been dried. I also went to buy canes for my runner beans, which are now planted, and a quick trip to Sainsbury's too. My uncle is coming back tomorrow evening for a BBQ so we can say thanks for looking after everything so well, so I needed a few provisions for that. Our lovely next door neighbour invited the girls and I to a girlie lunch at 1pm, so that was a treat - she forced me (ha!) to drink half a bottle of wine, and I staggered home at 4.30pm after she and I sat and put the world to rights for the afternoon.

Friday, 29 May 2009

We're back!

The few days away has been very relaxing and we have had a good time. Will find the camera and download the photos tomorrow. My uncle has been busy in the garden here and my veg beds are now immaculate! The cucumbers in the greenhouse are almost edible, and some of the strawberries are turning pink - so much can change in a few days, especially when you are not here to see it. Glad to be back home, though!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Two hundredth post!

Can't believe I made it this far!

Yesterday I seem to have spent the whole day in the garden, and today I feel as if I have been filling the washing machine and hanging out washing all day! I have planted dwarf beans out, sowed lettuce seeds, watered everywhere and tidied the house in bits, and now I am going to watch "Britain's Got Talent" whilst I attack a mountain of ironing. I have made two lemon cakes this evening, and instead of hens' eggs, I used 15 quail eggs! They are very orange yolks, so the lemon cakes should come out looking quite rich. They are on the counter cooling, next to a tongue which I have boiled. When it is cool, I can take the skin off it and put it in a tin to press it overnight. The last one we had was delicious, so I hope this one is as good.

We are going to the coast tomorrow until Friday, and my uncle is coming to house sit and look after all the animals and poultry. We'll be leaving at about 10 in the morning, so I am saying Cheerio now, until the end of the week - hope you have a good one!

Saturday, 23 May 2009

How does the garden grow?

No bells here, but there were some pretty maids eating lollipops today as the weather has been so warm. The girls were sitting out on the trampoline and then had a big bouncing session once the lollies had settled.

I have had some success with the gardening: I potted up some tomato plants - I now have Tumbling Toms (cherry), Marmande (large), Pomodoro (Italian plum) and Sub Arctic Plenty (normal!) varieties all potted up and growing to the next stage. In a couple of weeks, I am hoping that they will be sturdy enough to put outside in the troughs in the sun. I also sowed some more seeds for rosemary, cucumber and cape gooseberry. They all need to be warmer so they are in a covered seed tray on the kitchen windowsill. The peas didn't get the string over them yet, and the strawberries haven't been netted yet either, but I did spend another 45 minutes weeding them.

I wore the contact lenses for two and a half hours when we got home this afternoon, and getting them out was much easier as I went to Boots and bought a magnifying mirror which stands at just the right height so I could see what I was doing much more easily. I have three pairs left now, so keeping one for the day of the appointment means that there are just two more occasions on which I can try them this week - possibly Monday and then next weekend. I want to spread the sessions out a little and not do them all at once. Being new to this, I am not really sure how long it will take my eyes to get used to it - and I am finding that looking at my face without glasses is taking a lot of getting used to!!

We have the week off from gym so I am planning to get a lot of the paperwork done for the exam this week, as well as the lesson plans for the next couple of weeks.

Weeks fly by

So much happens in a few days sometimes.

The chicks from the utility room have been rehoused in the workshop in a much bigger pen so that they have more room to move around, and they seem to be enjoying the space. The transition went smoothly, thank goodness, and the best thing is getting rid of the smell from the utility room - poor things couldn't help it but they did pong, even with fresh shavings daily!

The Silver Wyandotte bantam chicks are growing more grey feathers, and looking more gorgeous by the day. Their mum is very intent on showing them how to scratch for food, so as soon as they get let out each morning, she is tearing up the grass looking for morsels to munch on, but the chicks head straight for the chick crumbs before they go to see what she has found.

After school on Wednesday, the EFG and I went to town and fetched our new glasses. Mine felt rather tight so there was some adjustment to do. Both of us are very pleased with them, but as we both have a slightly stronger prescription than we had before, it took a few minutes to adjust to seeing more clearly - somehow life got sharper in those few seconds!

I went out on Thursday and sold a few books so I earned myself a few pounds, which was as well, as I had taken the EFG to WHSmith after the optician as she is looking for the sequel to a book she read ages ago. We didn't find that book, but we found a few others! On Thursday evening, I received a telephone call from one of the other coaches at gym to say that her husband had died that morning. This was a terrible shock for her, as although we had known that he was terminally ill with cancer, it had been expected that he had some months left. Our coach has a 6 year old daughter and is about 16 weeks pregnant, so she is in our prayers and thoughts all the time.

Friday the EFG had to go to school but the YFG's school was closed for staff training, so she had to come out and about with me. First was a return visit to the optician to try the contact lenses. What a palaver - getting them in is OK, but I am not so keen on fishing it out again! He had me put them in twice, get them out twice and then leave them in for a couple of hours. I then drove to Peterborough, but took them out after two hours before I drove home. I'm going to try them for a little longer today, but I only have four pairs to try with, and I have to be wearing a pair when I go back to the optician on the 1st June, so that leaves me three. I would try them for gym this morning, but we have the air track up this weekend, and it dries the air out in the room terribly - I always get a sore throat - so I know that the lenses would probably be quite uncomfortable quite quickly.

This afternoon, after gymnastics, I am hoping that the sunshine we are enjoying right now holds so that I can do some gardening - I have beans to plant out, strawberries to cover with nets, peas to string and tomatoes to pot up. It's lovely to see things coming on in the garden!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Tuesday update

It's late and I can't think of anything more inspiring to entitle this post. Just a couple of things to say: the Buffs are doing well in the utility room, and the broodies are all sitting tight now and I have got everything crossed that they stay like that!

I made the rhubarb pudding last night in the Remoska, and it was very well received. I cooked the rhubarb off with some honey first and then I put the cobbler topping on - which was interesting - made with flour, sugar, margerine, ground almonds, milk and a drop of vanilla essence. It smelled lovely, and the FH ate it in two portions, one yesterday and one tonight. I will be making that again and the substitutions I had to make to the original recipe obviously weren't detrimental. It was supposed to be rhubarb and strawberries, but in our basic English gardens here, the strawberries won't be ready for about another month, so it is not a combination I can do right now. If there is still rhubarb in my uncle's garden by the time the strawberries are ready, maybe we'll try them together. It was also supposed to be served with mascarpone cut with orange juice and sweetened with icing sugar - sounds divine but I hadn't got any mascarpone, and it isn't something I tend to buy. The FH thought it would be good with custard - man of simple tastes!

I spent some time doing some admin this morning and then this afternoon I was working on the log book and lesson plans for the gymnastics coaching exam I am taking in June. At the gym tonight, I was working with some of the girls I will be taking to the exam, so it was focussed and full-on, so consequently I have come home very tired and with a headache!

Tomorrow, the EFG and I are getting our new glasses, so we are looking forward to that trip after school.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Changes in the maternity section

Two of the broodies are sitting "tight" on their eggs, and are no problem. They each have a pot of water as well as one of corn which they are able to access whenever they want. The other broody has been less successful. She didn't settle onto her new eggs in the house we gave her for her confinement, and whenever I let her off the nest for food, she didn't seem very keen to go back onto it. Luckily, I had another broody hen, a Buff Sussex, so she has been put on the eggs and the unsettled one, a Barnvelder, has been put back into the run with the main flock. She will have to go off the idea of being broody if she isn't going to do the job properly! So, all in all, there were 24 eggs under the broodies - there are now about 22, although I haven't been able to count them all, but I know that at least two have been broken. Fingers crossed that we get about 15-18 to hatch successfully in three weeks' time.

The Buff Orpington chicks are fine and happy. At the moment, they are living in the utility room under the lamp. They are eating, drinking and sleeping, so that is all I can ask, really!

The wanderers are back from their cruise around the Baltic states and Russia today, so we will have to give them a ring tonight and catch up on their news. I am looking forward to seeing their photos, and may share some if there are any good ones.

Gardening outside is on hold at the moment due to the weather. I have been doing a bit in the greenhouse, but it is too cold, windy and wet to do a lot outside. Unfortunately, the bad weather doesn't stop the weeds growing, so there will be plenty to do when I do get out there again. My uncle brought us rhubarb, asparagus, lettuces and radishes last night - I have a recipe for a rhubarb cobbler from the Good Food magazine which I think I will try to adapt. It calls for several ingredients that I haven't got at home, but I think I can improvise! I also like the look of the Mennonite girls' pineapple pudding, so I will be adding that to my recipe notebook (see sidebar).

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Fen garden photos

Greenhouse shot - the lovely bright geraniums at the end, the just-pricked-out lettuces behind them, and some tiny sage plants there too. All growing well!

Sideways shot of the lettuce in the raised bed - conveniently placed right by the back door. Plot to plate in this instance is less than 15 feet! Can't do better than that....and the pea sticks in the background marking the lines of Feltham Earlies and Kelvedon Wonder peas - racing to see which makes it through first.

The autumn sown broad beans are developing well - looking forward to a nice piece of boiled bacon, new potatoes and broad beans in white sauce. I know that'll be ready by the end of July as it was the meal I had to put in the bin on the night of 25th July 1999 when the call came to get to the hospital for the transplant - I always think of that night when we have bacon and beans!

Tomato plants just potted up and growing on slowly. I still have more to pot up - maybe tomorrow I'll get around to that! My uncle is coming to lunch tomorrow so I know the garden will get an inspection.

New kids on the block

I went to pick up the Orpington eggs today, and had a bit of a palaver getting K to hear me bashing her front door down! Her lovely Newfoundlands and Retrievers weren't bounding around the garden as she was busy in the back kitchen, frying up some bacon, so no one heard me at the front. Consequently, the YFG and I nipped into Wisbech to Asda and then came back an hour later. They heard us that time! We picked up the eggs, and K asked if we would like these little cuties. They are Buff Orpington chicks, three weeks hatched, and living under a lamp.

Right now, they are in a big plastic box on the kitchen table, waiting for the FH to sort their lamp out, but they are fine and will be rehoused very shortly. I also have to rehouse the 3 broody mamas tonight, and give them their (hopefully) fertile eggs - and I must remember to mark the calendar for three weeks' time!

Friday, 15 May 2009

A satisfying day

The coffee morning today at church raised £229 for the church funds, so I was very impressed with that. There was a good trickling of people coming through the doors all morning, and it was generally well supported - and I had a good chat with a couple of friends during the morning.

My visit to the optician went well, in that I will be getting a new pair of glasses - at significant expense, unfortunately - but there is an improvement in the clarity of my sight through the new lenses, so the cost is justified. I am also having new lenses put into my current pair, so that I will have a spare pair. And I have asked to try contact lenses - just for gymnastics. The kids have knocked my glasses off just one time too many lately, and it really hurts the bridge of my nose - I have seen stars a couple of times! So I am going back next Friday morning for another appointment to try them out. Fingers crossed - but it is going to be "well weird" as the EFG put it, to see my face without glasses as I have been wearing them for 22 years!

The rain continued this morning, so the garden is looking very well-watered, and there is talk of more to come. Not sure when I will get the heap of wet washing dry, but that is a small price to pay. Tomorrow I am going to get the Orpington eggs for the broodies so I am excited about that!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Grateful for the rain....

The rain has been wonderful for the garden, and I will have to get out there as soon as I can to remove all the weeds which are springing up now that they have had a soaking. It did rain most of the night, and it has been humid today.

I have had the "indoors" day which I have been needing - ironing, paperwork, packing books, cleaning that bathroom, washing, changing beds, etc - and I am relieved that I have done it for this week. I'm still struggling with housework, but I am getting better at being more willing to get on with it. I did have a minor moan at the FH this morning at having to come home from the school board meeting last night to find all the dishes from dinner still piled up in the kitchen as I had thought that he and the girls could at least have put them in the dishwasher if they didn't want to actually wash them. Anyway, I set to last night and the kitchen was clean before I went to bed - and I love to get up in the morning to a clean and tidy kitchen, so that has become my aim each night, to leave it clean and ready for the morning.

I have made some biscuits and chocolate buns for the coffee morning at church tomorrow but I just need to ice the buns in the morning. I'll be up soon after 6 so there will be plenty of time. Better head off to bed now, so I can catch some sleep - busy day tomorrow: coffee morning from 9-12, optician at 2pm to discuss contact lenses (kids at gym keep knocking my glasses off and it hurts!) and then gym from 3pm through until about 8 or 8.30pm if I am needed at the boys' class.

Must just say that the chicks are now a week old, doing very well - I saw them eat a worm today for the first time (Huge excitement - could just see the poor wee thing thinking, "This is food - but how do I eat it?!?") and they are becoming black and grey instead of black and yellow, so I think that that is their "silver" feathering coming through. It is easy to spend half an hour watching them and not notice the time fly past.....

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Rain - a good rain

The ground here has been crying out for rain; every time I turned over the soil with my trowel yesterday when I was weeding, a fine mist of soil blew away. Tonight we are getting a decent, steady rain - and I hope it goes on through the night!

And another.......

Yesterday was such a lovely day that I had to do more gardening! It was windy, as forecast, but the sun was shining and it was glorious. I started off in the greenhouse until the sun really got up, potting up the cucumbers that I bought on Monday, and sowing some sweet pea seeds, and some other bits and bobs. Then I came out and hit the weeds, hard! One whole bed got weeded and readied for planting, and another got tidied up again. That leaves just one bed to be prepared, but there is no rush for that one as the beans are not up yet. I also finished sowing peas straight into the ground - the FH has made me more pea sticks to criss cross over the rows in an attempt to keep the birds off the young seedlings as they emerge.

All this gardening is good for the garden, but it hasn't done the house any good as I haven't had the time to keep up with the housework, but I guess I can do that when it rains! I also got two loads of washing dry in the winds yesterday, so there is a little heap of ironing to do as well. Today therefore really needs to be an "indoor" day, and reading Rhonda Jean's post about baking this morning has also nudged me into thinking that perhaps I should make some more biscuits for the troops.

Going back to the beginning of the month, and my "no-spending" month, I have to report that I have unfortunately spent the budget already several times over. We are only at the 13th of the month, but the FH being ill from the 19th April has really hit me hard in the pocket. Naturally, when someone is ill, there are things which need to be purchased that I don't always keep in the house - he wanted lemonade and other drinks which I don't usually keep in the house, then I was told to give him soup, I had to get more cleaning cloths and disinfectants to clean the bathrooms thoroughly on a daily basis (I clean them regularly normally but not daily!) and then there was the problem of me just not having time to do all the things that I would usually do as I was running about up and down looking after him, so there were a few more basic purchases - I haven't made bread for weeks, baking in general has slid to a halt, and I have been more weak-willed with the children's "asks" as I have been so tired! Having to nip into the supermarket as the FH has fancied x or y has meant that I have seen z on offer and bought it too - so that hasn't helped! The freezer is jam-packed with meat, I have enough washing detergent for about six months, and we shouldn't need another jar of lemon curd this side of Christmas, so there is hope!

I have recognised what was happening, and I am regaining control of the situation! I have made changes in the house to take account of the problems - the FH's constant waking through the night and TV watching were disturbing my sleep, so I have temporarily moved in to the spare room until he feels better, and able to sleep through the night again. That has improved the way I feel during the day, and makes me better able to cope with the work. I have also looked more closely at the things I "ought" to be doing in a day - and like this week, I have told myself that the weather dictates that the gardening must be done now, so that is what I have concentrated on, and to hang with the hoovering - it's not going anywhere! And, strangely, I have stopped using the dishwasher as I HATE unloading it. I can't get anyone to do it for me without moaning, so I have reverted to washing up by hand a couple of times a day, and I am enjoying that more.

Today I have to do the housework, a bit of baking and some ironing. At some time, I have to process a book order for a local school, hopefully before 3pm. After picking up the YFG at 3, we have to go and get the EFG and get her to the optician's for 4pm, and then there is a school board meeting at 6.30 so tea is going to be a casserole to be eaten in between. After that, knitting will probably be all I want to do!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Another day in the garden

Dropped the YFG off at school, came home and checked emails and selling on ebay and then hit the garden. It has been a lovely day, windy but very sunny, so I have had a productive day in the vegetable patch again. The runner bean seeds I planted ages ago are not growing, so I have planted another batch, ditto with the french beans. Also sowed some onions and peas. At lunchtime, I had a break and went to the nursery again! Bought two cucumber plants, four strawberry plants to plug the gaps in the strawberry bed, five celery plants, another load of lettuces, some Romanesco cauliflower, and some sage plants. There were four "plugs" of sage, but I have potted them up and made eight plants, as there were a lot of seedlings in each plug.

After school, I took the girls to town, for band practice and a shopping trip. I left them at band and went to Focus, where I needed to buy some plant labels (we don't eat enough lollies here to use the sticks!) and a packet of sweet peas. I also had to get the YFG a new swimming cossie as she is going to go swimming with the school for about 8 weeks, starting tomorrow. She's nearly 10 so I got the 10-11 size, but it is too short in the body. So that will have to go back and hopefully they do some nice ones in 11-12. Came home, cooked sweet and sour chicken with rice, washed up, shut up all the quail and hens, etc and am just about ready to go to bed!

Have finished my first knitted square!!!!!

Miracle of mobile phones!

It's probably not a miracle, but it seems wonderful that my dad can call me on his mobile from the deck of the cruise ship in St Petersburg! It was 11am there, only 8am here, but he thought it would be the best time of day to catch us in. There was quite a delay on the line, and I was replying to one question as he was asking the next - I suppose that was the sound bouncing off the satellites! They are having a good time, going to a Cossack evening tonight and then a river trip tomorrow. The ship returns to Southampton next Monday, so they are half way through their holiday. Hope they are taking some good photos!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Plodding along nicely

Yes, it has been another steady Sunday, just the kind I like. The girls slept the night in the tent, until I woke them at 7.45am. The sun was already getting warm and the promise of a beautiful day was already obvious. I hung the load of white washing out whilst they were coming round and then we had some breakfast. They ate sitting outside and really made the most of the outside today.

The social evening at church last night was successful, raising £100 for the church funds. There were some cakes left over so the congregation enjoyed them with tea and coffee this morning. The attendance at church is improving slowly, and it is lovely to welcome new people into the church. This morning's service was about the fruit of the vine, and the "bad" branches being cut away. It gave us all plenty to think about.

After church, I got changed and started on the garden, weeding, potting up tomatoes and pricking out lettuce plants. The FH has been pottering a little as much as he feels like, and has been helping a little bit. The YFG made macaroni cheese from scratch for lunch, and made a good job. She will happily follow a recipe, and doesn't like too much help! This afternoon, I continued weeding, planted some broad beans out, and cut the front lawn. We have had a lovely roast dinner tonight, and I have finished the ironing...and there was a spare half hour to sit and knit too. It feels like one of those days when I have had a lot to do, and managed it all. Yet, I plodded through and didn't feel overwhelmed.

I have arranged to pick up the Orpington eggs next weekend, so that gives me this week to sort out the accommodation, as some of the houses need cleaning out, and two of them need some slight modifications to the way the doors open. The chicks are hale and hearty today - I sat and watched them whilst enjoying a cuppa and a rest from the weeding. It is just so relaxing to just watch them!

The YFG went out for the afternoon to play with a neighbour's child; they are both in the same class at school, and enjoy playing together at home too. Most often they are on our trampoline but today they were in the other girl's garden with her little sister too - it was weird to be able to hear the YFG playing but in another garden - our gardens back on to one another!

The EFG will be returning to school again tomorrow. She had to have Thursday and Friday at home as I had to take her to the Out of hours GP at the hospital on Wedensday night. She was quite poorly with a high temperature, headache, etc so the doctor diagnosed a flu-like illness and told me to keep her at home until tomorrow. She is concerned about the amount of work she has to catch up on but I spoke to the welfare lady for her year on Thursday and asked for as much help as possible for her to catch up. It won't have done her attendance figures any good but she is so rarely ill, and it just can't be helped. I am hoping that she will be healthy for the rest of the term now!

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Crazy children

Usually, my two darling daughters are arguing - they compete for attention and really don't get on terribly well. On occasions, though, they will become close for a couple of days and do things together. Tonight is one such a time - they are keen to spend the night in the garden in the tent! They are out there now, all wrapped up under a mountain of duvets and sleeping bags, with a hot water bottle, playing by the light of a torch. This is not even a "proper" tent but a cheap (£5) Tesco two-person tent, recommended for warm summer nights or playing in the garden, not 7 degree spring nights..... I wonder whether they will last the night!

The chicks are still both alive, eating and drinking, and tucked up for the night now under Leah. I am pleased that she is turning out to be a good mama so far. I have texted the lady near Wisbech who has the Orpingtons and she has some eggs available for my broody hens to sit on. We will be sorting out some suitable maternity accommodation and ordering some eggs this week. Also delighted to report that the greenfly-like thingies on the tomato plants are gone - I sprayed them with the washing up liquid solution so I presume that it did the business.

Tonight there was a Social Evening at church to raise funds. We weren't able to actually attend, due to all the other stuff on the agenda, and the FH still being in dubious health. I did, however, make a chocolate slab cake for the refreshments, and I took a book in as a raffle prize. I bought a couple of strips of raffle tickets so I hope I don't win my book back! I do hope that the evening is successful as the church's finances could do with a boost. We are also holding a coffee morning next week, so there'll be more cakes on the agenda.

They've just come in as they have heard "noises" in the garden. Refilled the hot water bottles and gone again. They are safe in the garden as the big gates are locked and no one actually knows that they are out there - and to be honest, no one will be expecting people to be camping in a back garden in May.

Just got a basket of laundry to fold ready to iron tomorrow, a bit of washing up to do and then I am going to knit for half an hour. I just cast on 50 stitches on Thursday and I am knitting a "square" - maybe if I get enough squares, I will be able to make something. Rhonda Jean has some patterns for squares on her site (Down to Earth) so if I improve, I might try one or two of them. I did make a cardigan in moss stitch once, and I enjoyed that pattern.

Isn't it amazing how you remember things? I dropped off a birthday present to a dear friend of mine last night, and I wanted to be reminded of her mum's name, as she looks after H's boys and I sometimes speak to her on the phone if I call and H has got a day's teaching somewhere. It is embarassing to me that I can't ever remember her mum's name. I knew it was unusual, and pretty, but all I could think of was Guinevere. So H told me, and I was surprised to find that it is Sabina. On the way home, the YFG and I were talking and she said that Sabina rhymes with Ribena, so we can call her the Ribena lady and we will instantly recall that her name is Sabina. Brilliant! Haven't forgotten it yet...

Friday, 8 May 2009

Rabbits update

Here's the younger mama with her two babies - they must be about six weeks or more now (must check the calendar!!) and they are both getting on very well. They are beautiful rabbits, nicknamed Champagne and Martini although I have no idea why.

This is Bubblegum casting a wary eye over me with the camera in her face! She is a lovely mother and very protective of her offspring.

Food is obviously the highlight of their day - they seem to spend a lot of time with their noses in the trough.

This is the latest litter which Bubblegum's mother, Rosie, gave birth to on 19th April. They will be three weeks old on Sunday. This photo (above) was taken when they were about a week old.

Now they are scampering around the hutch and having great fun together - such energy!

We haven't sexed them properly yet although the YFG is pretty sure that they are all boys. Rosie has a patch of black on her white neck, which shouldn't be there really, for perfection in the breed, but we love her anyway. Two of these have patches too - one larger than the other. Needless to say, I am sure that one of them will end up being named Patch!

Photos of chicks as promised

Leah brought them out this morning. There are just the two of them, as the other eggs were either not fertile in the first place or the jiggling about through the post didn't do them any good. Either way, we have two lovely bantam chicks - they are Silver Wyandotte chicks, which is a breed we have never had before, so that is another first in the Fen garden.

The blurry line through some of the pictures is the wire netting of the pen, so I apologise!

They are just beginning to get the idea of eating the chick crumbs here, with a good deal of help from Leah. It is her first time as a mother, so I think she is doing a good job so far. She is typically fiercely protective of them.

Above is probably the best shot of the pair of them - still a little blurry - funny, they will keep moving!

And this last one was Leah in the nest with them.

Hope you like them - I borrowed the camera from my neighbour as mine is on a cruise in the Baltics, so I will borrow it again next Friday and take some more.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Yay - we have chicks!

Just dashing this off before I have to go and pick up the YFG from school, and will be back later, BUT there are chicks! I have seen two tiny black and yellow heads poking up from between the wings of the lovely mama bantam. I am so pleased and excited - I will be hovering around her pen now until she brings them out so that we can see exactly how many there are and how healthy they are looking. May have to wait for that until tomorrow....

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Anticipation in the air

Yes, tomorrow may be hatching day for the bantam and her chicks. We have everything crossed that she manages to bring off at least a couple of chicks from the clutch of six eggs.

Yesterday was another day of nursing and chores around the house. All these things just have to be done each day, and there is some comfort in the routines. I got a lot of washing done, although there is still more to hang out this morning. I have found a couple of new customers for eggs, and the FH has asked for egg custard today, so I will get that made soon - and it will use up maybe half a dozen eggs too. I think that I may pop a cake in the oven whilst I am at it, as the YFG was bemoaning the lack of cake in the past couple of weeks.

The rain has been and gone - and to be honest, the ground doesn't seem to have benefitted very much at all. My uncle has advised putting a straw mulch around the strawberries, partly to keep the fruit clean and off the soil, but also to conserve moisture in the soil.

The EFG was back at school yesterday after her week at home last week - and has come home with a disconcerting rumour that a girl in Y9 will be returning to school today, fresh from a holiday in Mexico. Whether that is true or not, I will have to wait and see. I am beginning to think that perhaps people coming back from affected areas should stay home for a few days to make sure that they don't develop any symptoms before they mix with the world at large, and especially in a close environment like a school. According to the BBC map, there aren't any cases in East Anglia yet, and I was hoping that it would stay that way!

Monday, 4 May 2009

Rain at last!

Yes - we should have known that the rain would come today on the Bank Holiday. It held off most of the day, but it is a steady rain now, and I am hoping that it will continue into the night, as the ground really needs it!

I am becoming overwhelmed with eggs now; there are about 4 and a half trays of them sitting in the cool of the utility room. I looked into using waterglass to preserve some of them, but having read a report about an experiment, it seems that refrigeration will keep them fresher more reliably for up to about 6 months which seems amazing! Maybe it is time to look for a cheap secondhand fridge and just keep them in there. I remember my grandmother using waterglass but it was a long time ago and no one seems to know much about doing it these days, much less where to buy the chemical, sodium silicate, to do it!

The YFG has been on a 20 mile bike ride with her friend, T, and T's family. It took them about 4 hours, with a stop for lunch in a park, so that was quite good going, considering that the youngest member of the party was a seven-year old. The EFG and I have done a few jobs around the house and had to go on a shopping trip; the FH is still ill. I decided that some probiotic drink might do him some good, and he wanted some treacle tart. Normally, I would have made some, but there just isn't time at the moment. He has had a sliver of it for tea tonight as he says that he isn't really hungry but just wants a taste of something nice.

The shopping trip was also to get some wool as the FGs decided that they wanted to see if they could still knit - they learned many moons ago, and wanted to have another go. Unfortunately, they seem to have forgotten all they knew, but they are slowly getting the hang of it, with some teething troubles - the YFG keeps increasing her stitches quite dramatically, and the EFG is keeping hers much too tight, to the stage that there was just nothing I could do with it at one stage and we had to undo it. Practice makes perfect and all that, so we will be doing plenty of practising. I haven't knitted anything seriously since I knitted a cardigan whilst pregnant with the YFG. I was very into knitting back then, and knitted vests for the EFG whilst pregnant, and made a couple of cardigans as well. I'd love to get back into it - one day, I will! I have a project to finish, if nothing else: I began a jumper for myself when I was about 16. I have the back done, and the sleeves, but the front has been half-done for too long! Luckily it was a classic rather than a fashionable design, so it'll be good to wear when I do get there.....

Sunday, 3 May 2009

A Slow Sunday

Yes, it has been good and slow!

I took the girls to church this morning and then came home, got changed and have been pottering in the garden all day! The ground is getting drier and drier and some of the beds are in a bad way - the clay soil has just dried out into the most unco-operative of large lumps! I used the electric rotavator on some of it today to try to break it up a little but it was hard work and not terribly useful. The worst bed has just had the squashes planted in it - courgette, butternut and pumpkin - as they don't demand terribly friable soil. I weeded the strawberries yet again, finished strimming around the beds and have started weeding one of them ready to plant the peas.

I have now got three broody hens, whom I have to fight each afternoon for the eggs which they are sitting on! I am hoping to get in touch with a lady near Wisbech to get some more Orpington eggs for them to sit on. We had eggs from her last year and had a good hatch rate.

The ironing heap has been left to rest another night, but there is a good night of TV tonight, so I think that I can use the ironing as an excuse to watch TV all evening.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Pottering along

Today has been a good day where I have had a lot to do and got most of it done! Started with a trip to Ridgeons (local builder's merchant) where I picked up some wood and other bits and pieces for the FH, who still can't go too far from a loo, then it was gymnastics for the rest of the morning. We popped to the shops afterwards for odd items like apples, walnut pieces and turkey legs, then came home. This afternoon has been spent in the garden, cutting the lawn, strimming the edges, talking over cups of tea, etc - all in a very pleasant manner. The YFG has been busily playing with her friend on her new Street Gliders, and then they have done their homework together....hope they didn't make too many mistakes at it! Now I am considering another heap of ironing - but I may keep considering and leave it to rest another night...

I am looking forward to having Monday "off" from the routines of the school run and clock watching, but on the other hand it is reassuring to know that I will have the regular things to do with the chickens, quail and rabbits - some routines are comforting, but some are intrusive. Roll on the summer holidays, I say!

Thanks for the good wishes about our health - with me it is just an overwhelming tiredness which I can't get over yet, and the girls are both well and healthy now, thanks. If we could get the FH sorted, we'd be laughing. I think that the doctor will look at the test results next week and maybe something will improve. Let's hope so.

Friday, 1 May 2009

All kinds of bugs

The FH is still ill, so that is one kind of bug I could do without. Sleepless nights, disturbed nights, whatever you want to call them, I've been having them! Consequently, I am Tired. With a capital T. I snatched an hour on the sofa this morning and was very glad to hear the bin men come as I wouldn't have woken up to get the YFG to school.

The cherry tomatoes have got green fly - I think. They definitely have small green creatures on them, so I have ousted them from the greenhouse before they share them around, and will have to look into ways to get rid of them. Spraying them with soapy water has been suggested, so I am looking for a spray bottle now. Apart from that, the garden is growing very well - too well, in the case of the grass - I am going to have to do some mowing and strimming this weekend. The beans I planted last week are germinating slowly, the lettuce seeds have sprouted through and the courgettes are growing their second, true leaves.

No more photos for a couple of weeks as my dad has borrowed my camera for his holiday snaps. He's off on Monday on a cruise around the northern Baltics, I think - Russia gets included, and Talinn, but I am not sure where else they will be going. They have been on this cruise before, but I am sure they will see different things this time. They brought me a Russian calendar with pictures of all the lovely palaces and their gardens in St Petersburg the last time they went.

Eggs - still being laid at an astonishing rate - I am looking for more customers!