Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Autumn Days

Autumn has come at last to the Fens; the days are still warm and bright for the time of the year, but the mornings are colder and the evenings are darker all of a sudden! The growth in the garden is over and all that we have left is the ripening of the last tomatoes on the vines - they will have to be harvested tomorrow. To bring the autumn feeling right into the house, we have enjoyed a delicious beef stew for supper tonight and the aroma as it cooked was wonderful!

I am still processing food for the freezers - another load of pasta sauce has gone in there tonight: I have re-used old plastic hummous tubs for individual portions, as well as the usual Vitalite tubs for more family-sized meal portions. I am reduced to squeezing these tubs in to the little gaps! We must eat from the freezers for a week to remove enough food to allow the FH to "harvest" the remaining Sasso hens: I cannot afford to keep them through the winter when they are not laying, and I think that they are as meaty as they are going to get, so as soon as there is room to freeze them, their days are up. I think that there are 8 or 9 of them left (must count them!!) so that is a good few suppers for us!

Today was Adam's birthday - he was my friend at primary school until I moved schools when I was nine. I sat next to him for a year when a "naughty" boy had to sit amongst the girls in the class as a punishment and to try to stop him mucking about with the other boys but that meant that a girl had to go and sit in the midst of the boys and that was me! Adam is just two days younger than me.....haven't seen him since I was nine, but I saw his mother a year ago and apparently he is married with two little girls (a lot littler than mine!) and works in website designs. Funny how I remember dates and people like that - some people's brains seem to hold on to useless info like that!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009


To give my family some degree of privacy, I blog here in a quite secretive way - I don't mention our real names, nor exactly where we live - so I was surprised to get a comment today mentioning my name. Apologies to the commenter, but I won't publish it, although it will go into the hat for the giveaway - and now I am totally mystified as to how I let that slip - and where?!?!?

Monday, 28 September 2009

More lovely gifts

My gorgeous neighbour, who is all of 5, has been round with a bunch of flowers for me, whilst I was out this evening - I had to go and give him a hug when I got back! And my sister has also brought me flowers this evening, bless her. They are also lovely and now both bunches sit in vases in the fireplace, beautifying the room. The FH cooked a roast chicken whilst I took the EFG to band practice this evening, and I came back to a lovely meal - he even washed up - bliss!

Thanks for all the good wishes and comments - amazing to hear from you all!

Birthday give away!

How wonderful that my 300th post should fall on my birthday! So I am going to give a book away this week to mark the occasion. All commenters this week will get their name put in a hat and at the end of the week (you have until Sunday) I will draw a name out to win a copy of
The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook.

So far this morning, I have opened gifts from the FH and girls: a "Best Mum in the World" mug and coaster, a manicure set, handcream, a huge bubble bath set, bath fizzers, a wet-teabag-holder, a new apron covered in beautiful cockerels from Ulster Weavers, a keyring into which I must insert a tiny photo, and some beautiful cards. I have also had a text from my lovely friend B. Thanks everyone!

Now I have to go to school for a meeting - not so much fun!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

And another good day

Church this morning was fun, apart from one hymn which we had trouble warbling our way through because no one knew it, and it was a long one which made matters worse! My uncle came over for a BBQ - except I couldn't be bothered to fire up the actual BBQ so I cooked it all inside and we got the BBQ atmosphere from eating outside in the beautiful sunshine. We had pork steaks, chicken thighs and sausages, onion, sweetcorn, tomatoes, rice salad and garlic bread. A good while later, we had some apple and pear crumble and then we just had to sit for a while in the sunshine!

This afternoon, I had just sat down for a snooze when my dad appeared with my birthday card for tomorrow and some photos to show us. He and MB stayed for a while, and then they nipped off home and we watched some more TV. The troops had some cheese and tomato sandwiches and ginger cake at about 8pm and then I sent the girlies to bed so that I could watch Doc Martin in peace and they could get themselves ready for school. YFG has been asleep for a long time now - she should be exhausted from hours of rollerblading today. EFG is still pottering around.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Peaceful day

We have had a lovely day - after getting the washing hung out and doing a spot of babysitting for the neighbour next door, the girls and I got spruced up and went to Ely for the afternoon. I gave them £10 each to choose some birthday gifts for me!!

We mooched around the shops and the market at a very leisurely pace, and I picked up some bits and pieces I had been wanting; they spent their money in a flurry of "Don't look, just stand there!" and "I'll be back in a minute!" which was amusing and touching at the same time. I do know that there is a manicure set in amongst the gifts as the cashier had to check that I was the responsible adult and paying for the scissors in the set, but apart from that, I can't wait until Monday to find out what they bought!!

After the shops, we went down by the river and walked along in the sunshine, eating ice creams and looking at all the beautiful boats moored on the side of the river. There was the odd one ploughing along the water, but the scene looked so peaceful with the weeping willows and the footpath - it was so relaxing!

Then we went to Tesco where the YFG still had £3 left and was desperate to be parted from it! I was delighted to find Philippa Gregory's new book, The White Queen, on sale for less than £10, as I had picked it up in WHSmith but put it back as it was over £18 in there. I have bought that for myself and I am looking forward to reading that very soon. I find that it is always worth buying her books in hardback as I read them time and time again and get something new from each one every time I read it! I did buy the first ones I read in paperback, but they are looking rather tatty now. We picked up pizza for tea for the gang, and headed home, via Littleport.

At Littleport, the tyre fire I reported on 21st August is STILL burning! The pyre has died down but the temperature in the middle of the piles of tyres was reported to be about 700 degrees Centigrade at the height of the fire. Local firefighters are recorded as saying that they hope to have the site completely put out by the middle to end of October! Some fire......

This evening, we have watched Merlin, which frustrates me somewhat: Guinevere (or Gwynhyfr) was a Welsh princess, not a servant girl, and Arthur becomes King in the legend when his father, Uther Pendragon, dies - there is not all this malarky with him and his father together at Camelot. The FGs pointed out that the BBC altered Robin Hood as well - Marian should not have died, for a start, but then perhaps the BBC likes changing things to make "good" television. Strictly Come Dancing was good and I always like watching the professionals twirling about the floor - shame about a couple of the contenders, though - and the one I wanted out at the end stayed in, last week too! The YFG's favourite is Anton Du Beke, the FH likes Kristina who partnered John Sargeant last year, and I think Erin Boag is a great dancer! The EFG doesn't watch.

Church in the morning and a BBQ at lunchtime, so hoping the good weather holds on for at least one more day - two would be better!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Macmillan Success

The Coffee Morning today was a success - we raised £190 for Macmillan! About £110 came from the raffle, with the rest coming from the donations for the cakes and coffee and then a little from a small cake stall we had. Although we live in a small village, I was very pleased with the turnout of people - a lot of older people came along in little groups to chat over the coffee and have a morning out, and some younger mums popped in straight after dropping the children off at school. It was a very sociable and enjoyable morning - we'll do it again next September!

Flip side of that success is that all I really want to do now is to go to sleep. There is no gym tonight so at least I don't have to go there and be energetic. I'm taking advantage of the free couple of hours to get the school uniforms in the wash, and I'm going to throw some baking potatoes in the oven for tea and that will be that for the evening - I shall be putting my feet up and either reading a book or watching Strictly Come Dancing.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

I'm back!

I would have been here yesterday but Blogger didn't want to let me in and I got fed up trying!

Anyway, I am about to start the marathon of baking which I need to do to provide enough refreshments for the Macmillan Coffee Morning which I am holding in the church tomorow morning. I have hung out the washing, cleared the dining table and covered it in cooling racks in preparation, sorted the chickens and I am just going to nip off for a quick shower and then I will be getting started. I have sent the FH out for this morning, so that I have a clear space in which to bake! He will be back at lunchtime, and will be able to come and help me set the tables and chairs out at 3pm. Tea will be something quite quick and easy and then I think the evening will be spent icing cakes! I am looking forward to a lie in on Saturday as there is no gym this week...

I will be back tomorrow afternoon to let you know how much we raised. Keep your fingers crossed for me, please, that lots of people will come and the three stalls I have organised to come sell lots so that they can donate lots of commission to the Macmillan fund as well. Thanks!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Sick day

Yesterday I had both the girls at home suffering with bad colds. The EFG is a little worse, but at 13, she coped better than the YFG, who woke up feeling rough and just howled for about half an hour! They sat on the sofa and watched "No Reservations" yet again, and played on their DSs for much of the day, although they did also get their knitting out again!!

Both back to school today - YFG has swimming and then her Performing Arts after school club, and EFG had had friends texting her, wondering where she was, so they both felt the urge to get better!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Highs and lows

Several things to report: the hatching is over. No further black chicks have emerged and so we have turned the incubator off. Some disappointment there, but you can't help but be entranced by the two that did hatch successfully - they are like little balls of black cotton wool, and quite vocal.

The Gold Partridge five are now in their second home as they have been moved out of the lounge and into a more suitable rearing pen in the workshop - I think that they will find it quiet there as they must have got used to the sounds of us talking and music as well as the television. Hopefully they will get used to the noises of the outside world as well.

The older chick, Coco, is still in the house as we can't put him in with them; we tried and they ganged up on him and a swift rescue had to be effected. He'll be moved as soon as another suitable pen can be constructed. The two black ones have been moved from the lounge to the utility room: I will be so glad to get rid of the chick smell from the lounge as even though they were cleaned out daily and the window was frequently open, there was an inevitable pong!

I have to admit the tragic demise of one of the very first hatchlings from the first incubated clutch of eggs, the Light Sussex. The five of them were growing well and we needed to move them up to a bigger house and pen, so I prepared the new pen on Thursday and we moved them over on Thursday evening, once it was dark and they had gone to roost. We have always found this to be the best time to move them as it is easy to pluck them from the perch in the old house, and they can settle in the new house overnight. They were all put into the new house and the lid put down. As I walked around the garden, I did hear some loud banging from the house, but I presumed that it was the chickens sorting out who was perching where, and it soon stopped.

When I went to let them out on Friday after their first night in their new home, only four emerged. This didn't worry me as sometimes one is apprehensive about coming out into the new run, so I opened the lid of the house, expecting to be able to shoo it out into the run. Instead, I found it hanging by its neck from the top of the wall of the house; as I had put the roof down, it must have stretched up and it caught its neck under the roof. As there is some felt overhanging, and it was dark, I hadn't seen the head. And the banging I had heard must have been the death throes of the bird. I was in pieces on Friday morning after finding this - I know that we do kill the birds to eat them, but that is after they have had a suitably good life, and it is a swift and merciful death. That poor chicken should not have died like that, and it was a terrible accident, but I still feel impossibly sad that it happened that way.

Saturday saw us at gym, working hard, and then relaxing a little in the afternoon. An unexpected phone call at 5pm about today's church service soon had me busy, though - there was no preacher available for our service this morning, so we had to have a DIY service; I have mentioned this before. However, last time we had this arrangement, our service was very basic - hymns, readings and prayers, and it lasted barely 20 minutes, compared to the normal hour-long service. So, given the chance to pad it out this time, I worked until 1am to prepare a service which would last as close to the hour as I could make it. The YFG and I worked on a Bible Bingo game until she went to bed and then I finished it up, and I spend some time on Methodist websites, gathering resources and ideas. All in all, the service did last the allotted hour, and it was well received by the congregation so I was very relieved, and pleased that it had been acceptable. It was my first time leading the worship, so I was nervous!

Today is my uncle's 70th birthday - Happy Birthday to You! - and he popped over this afternoon on his way to my sister's house. Once again, he didn't come empty-handed, so we have fruit and veg to sort out tomorrow but we were able to give him some gifts: a new shirt and jumper, and some Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

School uniforms to iron now, so I had better get busy. Good night all!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Lavenders saga

We waited the extra day but the FH opened them tonight - of the twelve eggs (pure Lavenders and split-gene Lavenders) only one had been fertile and had developed into a chick but it seems to have started pipping at the wrong side of the egg and couldn't get out. There was a tiny tiny crack on the underside of the egg. So, whatever went wrong this time, went wrong before the eggs got here as nothing had developed at all in 11 of the eggs. Shame as they were the "expensive" ones, too.

The two Black chicks are spending a lot of time sleeping - so sweet - and they are slowly finding their feet. No sign of any further mates for them from their clutch of eggs....

Terribly tired tonight, so will leave it there. Must be some other news to tell you that is non-chick related, so perhaps I'll be able to think of something more interesting tomorrow!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Blacks are hatching tonight

The cracks have developed and now I have come home from the school meeting to find two wee chicks, staggering around the incubator on very wobbly legs. They are black with a white/cream patch on their undersides, and they are so sweet! I am relieved that something has hatched from this batch as I was beginning to despair. There may be more out of the eggs overnight, as there are a further 10 eggs in there. Fingers crossed!

The school meeting went well - but we are desperately short of members. We are supposed to have 15 governors but we only have seven! It means that those of us who are there have to do quite a bit as all the jobs still have to be covered. Several incidental meetings have gone into the diary already.

Off now to scurry the girls up to bed. Waves to those up north and those overseas!

There's a crack happening!!!!!!!

Unfortunately, it is not in the Lavender eggs but in one of the Black Orpington eggs which were due today or tomorrow - so this one is beginning bang on schedule.....will open the Lavenders tonight, I think, as three days overdue is long enough for a hen's egg to go, surely.

I had tonight's supper cooked by 10am this morning - cottage pie, cooked to perfection, now resides in the fridge, ready to be reheated in portions later. We have a bit of a dash as we have to pick up the YFG from school at 3pm, get to one town to pick up the EFG at 3.20pm and then head off to the other town for a dentist's appointment at 4.10pm. In the first town, I also need to pick up some medication from the doctor's for the kids, and then I have a little bit of shopping to do in the other town after we have had our check-ups. Then there is a school board meeting at 6.30pm so you can see why supper had to be quick! Tonight there are 21 items on the agenda so it may go on a little, I fear.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Still waiting...

There is not even a suggestion of a crack in any of the Lavender eggs - yet. Perhaps I am kidding myself but I am going to leave them until tomorrow before I do anything like opening any of them to see what has happened. To say that I am disappointed is an understatement as I was really looking forward to this hatch. Having an unusual colour was going to be exciting, and it was going to be really interesting to breed from them when they were old enough, next year. Older and wiser people may have said that this was too late in the season, but the successful hatch of the Gold Partridge chicks means that that is not always the case. It's a mystery why they haven't hatched, but I am no great detective and it seems that we just have to keep having a go!

The weather has turned distinctly autumnal here now - some crisp, sunny days and some cloudy ones. Today looks like a cloudy one! The YFG has her first school swimming lesson of the year today, and has gone off on her bike looking rather like a snail as she has a huge rucksack on her back with all her usual stuff as well as the swimming kit. I am very proud of her, going to school on her own; she was so shy and timid as a small child that I never thought she would have the confidence to do things like this but I believe that gymnastics has brought her out of herself and done wonders for her confidence. She scared me on Friday night as she literally flew over the vault - she has developed such flight in her handspring vaults that she is in the air longer than I am comfortable with!!

I'm doing OK with the grocery budget - keeping to a menu plan based around what I already have and making a shopping list to just buy what is needed to pad it out means that I am spending less than £40 each week. The "Spend £40 and get £4 off" vouchers from Sainsbury's are doing the trick - I have used three and have three left. There is space in the freezers for the first time in ages as we are using stuff faster than we are putting things in there for a change. I did make two pots of tomato pasta sauce yesterday, but we are having one of them with meatballs and spaghetti for tea tonight so that won't take up room.

It made me think yesterday about making the best use of our food pounds and of the food itself. The FH suggested clearing up the tomatoes and picking all the green tomatoes to make chutney but I thought about it for a minute or three and realised that I would rather make pasta sauce from ripe tomatoes than use the green ones for chutney - why? Well, chutney is a condiment, something you put on the side of the plate and we honestly have enough of that anyway. On the other hand, pasta sauce is a meal when added to a plate of cooked pasta (cheap as chips!) and maybe with a tiny sprinkling of cheese. So making the pasta sauce provides the family with several very cheap but healthy meals, whereas the chutney is a nice addition to the cupboard but not really a necessity. If it comes to the point where the tomatoes are not ripening any more, then I will consider the chutney suggestion.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Sad news to report

One of the Gold Partridge Orpington chicks which hatched on Thursday has died.

It was noticed on Friday when we did the bum inspection that it had a protuberance near its bottom which seemed to be some sort of hernia we thought. We inspect daily for pasted vents, and this one was OK in that department, but had this lump in the area. It was fine in itself and eating and drinking with the others. Unfortunately, it must have gone downhill overnight last night, as it was found lying on its back, rather damp, near the water saucer this morning.

We immediately removed it from the box with the others as they have no compassion and were walking all over it. Putting it back into the incubator to dry out and warm up seemed to be the best plan, and we gave it water from a syringe at half-hourly intervals to try to keep it hydrated. It wasn't enough to keep it alive though, and it passed away within the last hour. The YFG has just tenderly wrapped it up in some kitchen paper and buried it in the garden.

The other five are all hale and hearty at this point and we are praying for no further calamities.

The Lavenders are due to hatch sometime very soon although there are no signs of anything happening in that incubator just yet. Watch this space!

Friday, 11 September 2009

All's well

Just a note to say that the hatchlings are doing well: eating, drinking, cheeping, sleeping - it's a hard life...there is another hatch of Orpingtons due on Sunday, although these are going to be a different colour - Lavender and lavender/Black. The Lavender/Black ones will actually be black but some of them will carry the Lavender gene and will pass it on to their progeny, should they have any. It's all a bit complicated, but quite exciting.

Got to go to bed now as absolutely tired out from gymnastics today!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Cheeky chaps here

The eggs began to show some cracks on Tuesday night and by Wednesday morning, there was a chick hatched already. I kept my fingers crossed that it would soon have some friends!

By 9pm last night, there were two chicks, and then by 11pm, there were two more! Overnight two further chicks hatched and so this morning, all six had made it out. We are thrilled - this is our very first 100% hatch - and so late in the season, it is even more special. Whatever went wrong last time, it didn't affect this hatch. What a blessing!

We left them in the incubator until 10am so that they could dry out and start to get fluffed up, but the last two out were still a little damp when we transferred them to their new home.

For the first few days, we are using this fetching green mat to stop their legs splaying - it is slightly bumpy and means that they can get a good grip - and it is a good job that it is washable!

They have had a drink and something to eat and have spent this evening flaked out with their little heads on the floor, fast asleep. Coco is mystified as he can hear them but not see them!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

And still it comes...

Today has been a busy but productive day. I got the jam labelled up and put away, the pears are syruped and in the freezer, and the crumble was made and eaten! I picked some more of my tomatoes this morning and they were very swiftly transformed into the pasta sauce, and tucked away into the fit-to-burst freezer. I had to clean the cooker after the jam boiled over yesterday and boy, did that take some scrubbing!?! Then I relaxed with a book and a cup of tea for half an hour.

This afternoon was the return to gymnastics after the summer holiday - and some of the girls are as stiff as boards after seven weeks off! It will take a week or two but they will get back to normal quite soon. And then, as we were clearing up, the HC said, "I've got some stuff in the boot of my car for you," and when I went to get it - well, harvest all over again - runner beans, dwarf beans, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, a marrow and a squash, and more rhubarb. At least some of it will keep without being processed immediately, but the beans will have to be sorted tomorrow. The potatoes are a variety called Picasso - and they are amazingly good - and huge! I want to try to grow some here ourselves next year. They make the most delicious baked potatoes and roasties imaginable.

Disaster struck again this morning when Coco's light went out! Thank goodness that we are having some very mild and muggy weather here at the moment so that he can survive until more lamps get here tomorrow. Sourcing them locally, the one that failed cost me £6.99 and I can't find any cheaper than that, so I put a call in to a Smallholding supply company in Wales and they will do me next-day delivery - thanks be! - and so there will be 5 here tomorrow costing £3.95 each, less 5% for buying five. Coco is actually beginning to get feathers on his wings - I must take some more photos tomorrow to show how much he has grown.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Exhaustion in the kitchen

With all the provisions with which my uncle blessed us last night, today had to be a kitchen day! The FH stoned the plums and peeled the apples, so I cooked the apples up and had 5 tubs to put in the freezer, and there are another 7 jars of plum jam to go on the shelf - this time it is Monarch jam. The tomatoes made 2 tubs of GTM's pasta sauce - an onion went in this time, no courgettes and less garlic, so it is a slight variation. There are some cooked plums in the fridge to be made into a crumble tomorrow, and there are also some peeled pears which I will make a syrup for and then they can also be frozen. Then I made a chicken pie for supper with the leftovers from last night and it all made a mountain of washing up!!!!

Apart from all that, D has been round for a chat and I gave her some plums (well, I did have 14lbs!) and three loads of washing have been done. There's a little ironing needing doing and then I can collapse in a heap with "Goodbye, Jimmy Choos" by Annie Sanders, and a cup of tea.....bliss!

AND - I think that the Indian Summer has arrived! We are forecast a week of warm, dry and settled weather - hurray!!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Poultry auction today

The poultry auction was at Holywell Row, near Mildenhall in Suffolk. There is a weekly sale at the same venue but this was a quarterly auction of pure-breed poultry, as well as pigeons, waterfowl, quail, parrots, and some equipment and hatching eggs. No, I didn't buy anything!! There were hundreds of entries and the auction went on and on and on - there were two auctioneers, Fabian Eagle and his brother (I'm told) both selling as fast as they could draw breath. The prices were good, I think, and I particularly wanted to see what the Buff Orpingtons went for - a pair sold for £46, and then a pen of three hens went for about the same, so it seems to depend on the birds as well as demand. It was a very interesting day out, and the FH and I enjoyed it, but the girls were bored with the waiting and watching.....

On the way home, we stopped at a roadside stall and picked up some beautiful veggies - bunches of new carrots at 50p each and cabbages as big as footballs, also for 50p each. I got two bunches of carrots and a cabbage, and I am really looking forward to eating those carrots - they are the best! They smell wonderful - fresh and earthy like a good carrot should.

This evening we have had Uncle J over to tea and he has brought his bounty again to share with us - Monarch plums, runner beans, blackberries, pears, tomatoes, cooking apples and some more Laxton Fortune eating apples. The harvest just keeps going - but the freezers are full! I jokingly said to the FH that we would need a third one and he said that I should find other ways of preserving the butter might be a good way for the apples as that has been very well received; the beans will get eaten in the next day or two, the tomatoes can be eaten and some more pasta sauce made as I should be able to squeeze a pot of that in somewhere but that leaves the plums! I can't make more jam, I just can't!! Plum crumble will be on the menu, and maybe stewed plums for breakfast too. I am just so grateful to be given it all that I shouldn't complain at all.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Another Saturday

This was our last "home" Saturday for a while as the YFG and I will be back at gymnastics next week, so I made the most of it. Four loads of washing were blown about in the wind and sun and have been ironed this evening; the chicken which was killed yesterday has been cooked and partially eaten; the older Light Sussex hens have been promoted to the laying pen; we found a "lost" broody bantam - she was in hiding with nine eggs - we have re-located her to a safe place, and will see what we can do about getting her some fertile eggs.

The YFG has spent the day playing with her friend, and the EFG has done some homework and been helpful. Tonight we have all sat and watched "Australia" on DVD - and it is a seriously good film. The girls enjoyed it - and I am pleased to say that there is only one single incidence of the F word in the whole film - Hugh Jackman says, "Crikey" quite a lot, though! He's rather nice to watch too! The Aboriginal background to the film is very interesting.

We are going out tomorrow to an auction of pure breed poultry near Mildenhall, not to buy but to observe! It should be interesting and I must remember to take my camera to take some photos of breeds which I may be interested in, in the future. I'll get it out now.

Friday, 4 September 2009

A Challenging Day

The weather was the first thing - it has just been so very windy here all day - even the water coming out of the watering can got blown off course! I pottered at home until about 12 and then I went into town to do some shopping, pick up some contact lenses, get a prescription for the EFG and go to the bank, the dump and the petrol station. I had all of that done by 2pm and came home for some lunch; I made some hummus yesterday and it was quite garlicky, shall we say!?! I had that for lunch and successfully kept the vampires away for the rest of the day.

I had an email conversation today with my sister and booked the caravan at Kelling Heath for three nights in the October half-term, and simultaneously booked Uncle J to come here and look after all the creatures for me. That is something to look forward to at the end of October - and to save up a little spending money for as well! There is a good bookshop in Holt which I like to visit and the most excellent jigsaw shop in Sheringham too - and there is Sheringham market where we like to have a poke around the stalls on a Saturday morning.

This afternoon, the FH killed a chicken on my instructions: she has been attacking me every time I go into the run to feed them for about the last week. She always goes for the piece of my leg immediately above my left knee and the whole area is like a dot-to-dot with peck shaped bruises. I will not have an aggressive hen in the flock and so she had to go. I cannot have any chicken attacking me or anyone else, so I really had no choice, and it was about time we had another one in the pot anyway, so her behaviour sealed her fate as the next candidate!

The EFG was also on the receiving end of some challenging behaviour on the bus on the way home from school today, so we had a long talk when she got home about how she can deal with the bullies if it happens again. It boils down to jealousy in the long run, I am sure - she got a Principal's Commendation in Assembly this morning for her voluntary work on a committee in the school, and she works very hard at school, and I know that the teachers think highly of her. Working hard and doing your best isn't terribly highly regarded in some circles, unfortunately, so I am doing all I can to let her know that I am immensely proud of her, and love her to bits!

My shopping trip was my personal challenge. I have my £4 off a £40 shop vouchers from Sainsbury's and I wanted to spend no more than the £40 necessary to get the £4 off. I made a meal plan based around what we have in the cupboards and freezers, then made a list of all the other things I needed to buy - mostly fruit and veg with the odd other bits and pieces. The whole lot came to £42, so it was £38 after the voucher - and the actual food spend was only £36 as it included some more cider vinegar for the poultry, which comes from a separate budget. 54 chickens have to have an allowance all to themselves!!

The shortbread I made last night was declared "Delicious!" and it has all gone - already! I did make it with butter as opposed to margerine, and so I bought some more butter today in order to make more, but I think that I will leave it until tomorrow evening to make it, or it will never last until Monday morning.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Computer downtime

I haven't been here much this week as it was the last few days of the girls' school holiday and I didn't want to be tempted to be checking stuff on the internet when I could have been doing things with them or for them! I made an effort not to even turn the computer on until the late afternoon most days, which worked well.

They went back to their respective schools today - EFG into Year 9 and YFG into Year 6! YFG says it is "weird" to be one of the oldest in the school, but good. She also has a brand-new-to-the-school teacher this year - she had one of those in Y4 and got on very well but that teacher left after only a year to have a baby and then moved away. I hope that this teacher is good and fair.

I have joined the "Grocery Challenge" at which can be found here although I am using a different username there! It is worth a look even if you don't want to join in because there is a whole list of budget-busting recipes and meal ideas in the first couple of posts. It is amazing to read how little some people spend on their groceries each week and month, and it can be very inspiring - there are also some fab ideas on that thread, so do have a quick peek when you have a minute.

Coco is still thriving. The next eggs are not due to hatch until next weekend so there will be an age gap of nearly two weeks between him and them. Fingers crossed that more hatch next time.

Weather is atrocious here - wild, wet and windy. The poor chooks are having their feathers ruffled severely in all this wind.

I have made some shortbread and flapjacks for the lunchboxes tonight, so I have to go and see if they are cool enough to put in the tins.........