Wednesday, 20 July 2011

My fashion pledge...

I feel as though I have let the side down a bit in the fashion stakes. During lent, I managed to avoid buying anything that didn’t have top notch ethical and/or green credentials...this basically meant that I managed to avoid buying anything. This was fine then, I was still in the new chicken love haze and happy to mong about the house in dirty dungarees and old pyjamas covered in feathers and mud. Eco living was easy...

Since then, my ethical conscious has been ignored by the greater need to buy clothes that will allow me to pass for a teacher come September. Admittedly I haven’t tried that hard. A quick wiz round a charity shop here, a browse of People Tree there...ultimately I have ended up relying on and Zara for their wonderful, cheap, fashionable work clothes. At what cost? I feel bad, but the stress and panic of starting out in a new career and wanting to look professional and maintain my fashion credentials have momentarily outweighed my desire to buy green.

I have come to my senses. I vow to start again. Sales do not count as eco shopping. I must buy better. I am going to start doing a bit of research for good value, fashion led brands which have the same focus on people and the environment as I do. I also intend to find some high end charity shops and finally get my head around E-bay.

I will, of course let you know how my hunt goes and what I end up with...if, that is, I can stop myself posting pictures of the chickens...

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Is that it for summer then?

I guess we shouldn't have complained when there was no rain back in May or whenever those glorious sunny days were... As soon as the words "hose pipe ban" or "drought" get banded about you can almost guarantee the entire summer will be a wash out. And here I am, in July, with my raincoat and wellies at the ready. Forget your new summer shade chickens...

Last Friday, on my lovely, well earned (I might add!) day off- the sun came out!I dust down the sun cream and hit the garden. I was not the only one enjoying the brief warm spell... lovely Mildred was also out enjoying the sun. If you have never watched a chicken sunbathing you are missing out- Mildred is a pretty dedicated sun worshipper. She walks around the garden with her wings out, finding the spot with the perfect sunshine to shade ratio before collapsing onto the grass where she lies cooing. Not even the dog can move her on!

Even lovely Maude, who normally dives straight under the hedge and sets up camp, was out in the sun. She likes plonk herself right on top of my wonderful chamomile- She even picks the flowers and places them carefully on her back. She is such a hippy chicken!

Apart from the glorious fortnight in Provence that awaits me at the start of next month, (11 days of sitting at my desk away...) I am pretty much writing this summer off. I am turning my attention to Autumn/ Winter before it's too late. I may not be ready to buy my annual winter coat and boots but I am ready to buy veggies.

I normally lose interest in planting vegetables at this time of year, as I'm too busy trying to eat what I've grown, so once again lovely readers I turn to you for advice. What should I be planting right now? This weekend? That will bring me a full tummy and a bit of sunshine through Autumn and most importantly winter...

Brussels Sprouts are a given, they are my favourite...but what else? What works for you lovely lot?

Thursday, 14 July 2011

A Plea from Miserable Maudey...

Hello lovelies-

I have a problem that would love you to help me with...

Maude the Chicken is laying soft eggs. I don't mind her not being productive, she is after all, my pet and I love her whether she's laying me delicious breakfasts or not (obviously I would prefer the egg ended up in my tum rather than the run floor though!)but I just want to be sure it's not something that I am doing wrong. I don’t mind her being useless if she’s just going to be one of those awkward types but she looks like she’s in so much pain when she’s laying a softie...

So here are the clues-

She laid one wonky egg a couple of weeks back, since Sunday she’s been laying eggs with paper thin shells which obviously don’t hold up and the eggs end up being eaten to smushed about. She laid a hard shelled egg last night, in the run, but it was really rough and the colours were very patchy.

Mildred is laying fine, she doesn't like doing it as it interferes with her "pretending to be a human" activities and reminds her of her poultry status, but she's laying good eggs.

We recently moved the run from grass to bark chippings.

I changed their brand of layers pellets a few weeks ago, they haven’t noticed.

My dad has started feeding them bits of bread in an effort to train them to sit on his shoulders, I suspect this is a reaction to his narrowly missing catching an escaped parrot to keep as a pet a few years ago.

She is now laying softies in the evening, out in the run. This is not like her. She loves hanging out in the nest box. She has always been a bit of a funny one for this, when we let them free range she immediately makes herself a little nest under the hedge and stays there cooing.

I know lots of my lovely followers are chook mad too so if you have any ideas as to what’s up with my little Maudey and how I can help her I’d be dead dead chuffed and send Maude round in person to thank you with one of her special cuddles.

Monday, 11 July 2011

In which I become Handy Andy...

It feels like I'm always starting these posts with an apology- but I am, once again, sorry for taking so long to post. Work is taking up more and more of my life and I'm dreading going back to university again next year- no weekends! agh!

Anyway- an update from my weekend:

New Chook House:

Maude and Mildred's rampage of the lawn is over. We can no longer sustain their destructive digging tendencies by moving the eglu every day so we have built them a permanent patch. Normally, this would be a precision engineered, long time planned and expertly carried out Boyf job- not this time. The dad and I took a little trip to Wickes and built the whole thing ourselves- we're feeling pretty pleased with ourselves. The chickens weren't too impressed at first but seem to have settled down now. I'm so impressed with my handiwork, if that Ground Force was still about, I'd no doubt be employed to take over from Tommy Walsh...

We're a little worried about Maude chicken who has generally been looking a little down in the dumps and is laying soft eggs. I'm starting her on a regime of calcium supplements and cuddles so hopefully she will improve- watch this space!

I spent a bit of time at the allotment and came home with the usual bounty. We're pretty over run with chard, but I have no idea what to do with it- any tips? I bought a griddle so I can cook and store some courgettes in oil according to a recipe I found ages ago- again any tips welcome here!

I can't get over how many sweet peas we're bringing home! Once a week I totally strip the bushes and I come home with pots full and then a week later the bushes are full again. They really are the most wonderful flowers- I'm going to try and grown perennial ones next year as well as saving the seeds from these fellas.

I've also been taking cuttings from next doors hydrangea- with permission of course. I absolutely love these plants and the cutting a took a couple of years back is growing well in the garden.

Of course, alongside all this hard work and harvesting there was a bit of time for some rest and relaxation. Although not for my old dad...

...every time he sits down, his little friends appear waiting impatiently for snacks!

I hope you all had a lovely weekend too! Monday comes too soon eh?

Friday, 1 July 2011

Foraging for Jam...

Last night whilst out walking Alf the dog with the Boyf we came across a hedgerow full of raspberries. This particular spot is always overflowing with blackberries in late summer but I've never seen raspberries growing wild like this before. The hedgerow lines an allotment site so I assume that the bushes have escaped from someone’s fruit cage and grown like mad!

The school children had got there before us and munched their way through the easy to reach berries- no worries, I sent the boyf and the dog deep into the nettles in search of bounty.

We came away with a fair few, topped up with some of the strawberries from the garden we had enough for a jar of yummy jam!

I’m very pleased with my free hedgerow bounty! It was yummy on my toast this morning!