Monday, 30 April 2007

Thursday Apr 19 2007 17:49:46
Had a wonderful morning with my daughter (8) and her friend following the sleepover. I made them flat pancakes (crepes to you!) and put a basket of eggs on the table. The friend's family has just moved into our village and have got themselves some chickens. They are so excited and I wanted to show her how different all our eggs were. They ended up weighing them and working out how many of 'darling chick chick's' eggs make up a 'speckles' ' egg! Darling chick chick is my daughter's own belgan d'anjou (so a tiny little bantam) and she is at least 5 years old now and hardly ever lays. Speckles is some kind of industrial hybrid (one of 2 we bought to make sure we always have eggs as our 5 bantams are a little temperamental). Chick chick's eggs always weigh 29grams, the wyndotte (Phoebe) weighs in at 43 grams, Sunny's are 64 grams and Speckles a whopping big 84! And Clucky who at 8 years old is the oldest of the chickens never lays anything at all but luckily for her she submits to cuddles and songs being sung to her and generally being treated a bit like a living doll. I originally had to weigh the eggs to work out how many to use in recipes: why do most recipes say medium? My eggs are not medium at all, none of them! So the girls spent a lovely half an hour weighing the eggs and doing all sorts of complicated sums adding them together and taking them away. It was great, Mrs Parry, eat your heart out, my maths lessons are so much fun. And I am a good mother after all......

week from hell

Friday Apr 13 2007 19:47:47

It has been the week from hell. School holidays with the two stepchildren not here so my only just 8 year old all alone with me (husband having gone back to work). I took her down to my dad's thinking that it would be a treat for them both. Hmm. Drove back after just over 36 hours in a right state having completely lost my rag umpteen times. I can't even bring myself to give examples of the levels to which I sank whilst there. Suffice to say that at around 8.55 at the Amesbury service station on the A303 you would have witnessed me getting out of the car, examining the fuel filler up thingy, getting back into the car, looking for a lever or button or something. Me opening glove pocket, getting out car manual, reading it. Getting out, pressing the car fuel thingy. Getting back in the car. Calling husband (illegally using mobile phone in garage). No husband at home. Finally I enter the garage and say 'I know this sounds really wimpy but does anybody know how to open the fuel thingy on a galaxy?' Luckily the very kind man waiting to pay his bill was not patronising at all and patiently explained how to do it (you DEPRESS the fuel filler thingy in a sort of twisting movement I feel I will never again be able to repeat). I filled up. Drove out of garage...over a pavement that wasn't there last time (I swear) so probably completely blew the suspension (in my defence I was clearly stressed and there was half an arrow painted out and it was dark). Straight into Burger King (yes I do get an organic box delivered and I do make all our nutritious food and most of our bread, from scratch, well obviously I don't grind my own flour). My 8 year old is now the proud owner of a pink thing she (and I) can't open. Like mother like daughter. The journey took hours longer than normal and 8year old was exhausted but picking up my stress vibes so by Fleet on the M3 she was in tears. Stopped. Calpolled her. Valerganed her. Rubbed her feet. Took the dog for wee. Needed to take myself for a wee but don't know how to turn off the car alarm thing so couldn't leave dog in car. Brainwave! Get out phone, call husband. Put 8 year old on phone and tell him to talk to her. I run to loo leaving dog, child, bags all in unlocked car and get back just in time to hear her laugh 'I love you daddy, you are so calm and nice'. Today she slept until 11 am (!). Friend over for sleepover (it seemed like a good idea at the time) and I cleaned the house and sat in the garden office pootling on the PC. Watching the girls chasing the chickens and trying to work out how to fill up the feeders and the water bottles (they can't see how to fill up a basically upside down bottle with water, bless 'em!). Chickens running riot. Girls running riot. I order organic vegetable plants to assuage my guilt over the BK......... things will improve. My father may d...suppress that thought ....

of foxes and other things

This was going to be a first post about how we'd spent the weekend having a lovely relaxing time in the garden, planting and planning.

But instead it's about being woken up my husband early, taking the dog out before heading off for work, to the news that we'd had a visit from the fox. After almost eight years of chicken keeping in our back garden it comes as no surprise but what a disappontment. We trudged out (me in pjs and slippers) to inspect the damage. He had already cleared up the worst of it and the two of us looked around in case one or two had taken refuge in the trees but of course they hadn't. Three were fine:one broody had been shut in a wire basket overnight to cool her down, one really tiny little bantam always roosts in the rafters of the chicken house (and she is my daughter's dearest pet, thank goodness she was safe) and one, well I reckon she just got lucky. Four are buried in the area behind the hedge on the edge of the field over which we overlook. Not much to bury really.

I do so hate the fox. Two and a half years ago he (she?) took my daughter's tiny pet rabbit. I was working away and I can never forget the phone call from her on the train 'mummy, where is Toby hiding? You know where he likes to go. He's not in his hutch and there is his fur everywhere. He must be frightened without me' . I cried my eyes out (the Swansea to Paddington train) - the first time I couldn't fix a problem faced by my beloved. Of course he was gone, the fox must have had him the previous night but in the rush to get her to school my husband hadn't noticed. And last night it was back, this time for the tiny bundles of feathers that my child picks up and carries in her arms and sings to. Last Friday she was showing her friend how to pick them up and put them on their backs to calm them down when they are frightened. She demonstrated how we had clipped their wings (sorry chicks) to stop them flying into the garden to eat the plants. She sang her special chicken song. Damn them.

So I went back to the house, woke her up and took her to my room. I said that I had some sad news for her. Her eyes were open wide immediately despite the late night she'd had. I told her that the fox had visited and four chickens had been eaten but that Darling Chick Chick , Spice and the wyndotte were ok. She cried. She opened her eyes and told me that there was some good news because each of the children still had a chicken living (I have two step children) and that was good wasn't it? Then we talked about how we wouldn't have many eggs for a while and considerd how we could replace the chickens. Just the last weekend we met a neighbour who had hatched chickens from fertilised eggs and we thought abut that, but what if they are cockerels (we have long had a promise to our neighbours not to keep one as they are a little noisy for them). But we shall look into it. I hate the fox.