Monday, 15 August 2016

RIP Boolie

29.01. 2001 - 12.08.2016
Just to say that I have tried to write this particular blog several times but this is all I could manage.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

A bit of a dodgy manoevre........

So what do you do when you need to cut the grass...
you get the mini tractor started up,
which already has the cutting thingy on the back of it, that's what you do.
And so as you move the tractor forward,
what do you do if you hear the loud squawk of a hen somewhere near your feet....
you stop the tractor toute suite, that is what you do.
Then you investigate....
and you find that a black hen has set up a nesting camp,
and has a huge pile of eggs upon which she is sitting,
and that you couldn't see her in the first place
because she is sitting half under the tarpaulin which is covering the bale of straw,
and that the wheels of the tractor had been exactly beside the bale,
and that she must have fidgeted a hole for herself betwixt the straw and the wheel,
so she could make a cosy home for herself
while she went into broody mode.
But the tractor cannot be moved any other way except forward,
the space being tight, but still easy to manoeuvre in.
Unless, of course, you have a hen sitting bang up against the wheel,
which naturally creates a problem.
Maybe the grass could have left for another day,
but Lester, for this is the driver of the tractor,
well he had fixed it into his head that the paths needed cutting,
so he was 'a man on a mission', and not to be thwarted.
So what to do....
you call your wife, that is what you do,
first to complain about the hen sitting in such a 'silly' position,
which would not have seemed such a 'silly' position to her,
as I pointed out,
because the tractor wheel added a measure of security for her,
unless it was moved,
which of course would then give her a fright
as her quiet world suddenly became unquiet,
this I pointed out, which did not go down too well with himself,
as I have said, he was a man on a mission,
so then I was given instructions to act as traffic controller,
or in this case,
tractor controller,
and to let  him know if he accidentally drove over the hen.
He also said to stop photo shooting the occasion
and to concentrate on the job in hand.
As you can see, I didn't take any notice of that bit of instruction.

The arrow shows the tail feathers of the hen.
Lester has inched forward slightly.
So far so good.

A bit of backward and forwarding,
and all is still well.

..... and you just about see a tiny black blob of tail feather...

Lester says "Is she still alive?"
From where I am taking this photo it looks like she is not,
but it is the manner of broody hens that they shut themselves down
and go into a kind of half light world,
where all bodily functions slow down,
and their breath is hardly there at all,
sort of like a very deep meditative state.
So I give her a prod,
and she does a 'For goodness sake, leave me alone' cluck,
so yes, she is still with us.
I pull the tarp over her.....
meanwhile Lester heads off into the distance....
...while the rottweiller girls pretend that they are not interested,
but I know they are....

So what to do with them...
take them inside with me, that's what I have to do,
otherwise they will be raiding that black hen's nest of her eggs,
and that is not going to happen,
not on my watch.
So it is the morning of the next day,
and I am out feeding the other lot of chicks who recently arrived,
and I go have a look at the black hen,
but she was not there,
but her pile of eggs were,
but there she was, just over there,
and with her were three little chicks.
So what do I do...
go get Lester and pass on the good news, that's what I do.
He has a close look at the remaining eggs,
sees that a couple look like the chicks are starting to break through their shells,
but they can't be left out in the air like this,
too dangerous for them,
so we carefully pick up all the eggs,
take them indoors,
and put them in the incubator.
For the rest of the day we watch as the eggs start hatching,
first one, then two, then three.
There is an awesome magic in watching chicks arrive.
It added an extra shine to the day for us.
Night time.
The black hen and her three chicks are now in a protected run.
She is asleep.
So we take the three chicks out of the incubator and snuck them underneath her.
She hardly moves.
They are quick to take advantage of her duvet of feathers,
and after a little bout of cheeps, go quiet.
During the night,
another two chicks hatched in the incubator,
the loud complaints of the newly hatched of 'Where's my Mum?'
alerting us to their arrival.
They went out to join the others.
And so it is a good thing that hen's can't count,
because she went to bed with three,
and will wake up with eight!
Off to go feed her now,
so bye for now,

Friday, 5 August 2016

More plums? Chain saw update? Kettle update?

So have now canned the plums that have been sitting in the fridge for a few days.
But I am not free of plums, because Lester brought in two more crates last night,
together with a few apples.
Meanwhile, I am supposed to be trying to empty one of the freezers of meat,
which requires cooking and canning whatever is still in that freezer,
which first has to be defrosted.
I was going to do that this morning.
Up at 5am, it would have been good plan to have started that,
but my back kitchen looked such an atrocious mess that I had to attend to it first.

One and a half hours later, the time now being 6.30 am, I had got some order into that space,
but myself said to myself that perhaps a quick nap on the settee might recharge the energies,
which it did, but the window of opportunity to get that freezer sorted out was gone.
Ah well, there is always tomorrow.
I love getting up early. Just saying.
So I have emptied the fridge of plums, got the chunk of bacon I made a month or so ago finally sliced, and felt that I had made a dent in things.
And then in came Lester with those crates of plums and apples.
And just now, at the end of the afternoon, he has romped in with half a bucket of big plump purple plums. And with a joyful shout he said he was now off to get the apples in.
We have not done anywhere near as much veg as we have done in past years, but the fruit harvest this year has been magnificent, and for that we feel blessed.
We are still dithering about whether to get a poly tunnel or not,
and if we do, where would we put it.
We have a long growing season here, so we probably do not need a poly tunnel for some of the year,
but it is the start of the growing season which is the problem. We have such a narrow window for getting the veg plots planted, Spring rains making the soil too wet to work on, and then the sun  bursts forth with a heat that dries everything up within a day or so to a rock hardness. It is then that we could really use a poly tunnel so we can get the vegetables started while the wet season is still with us, which would give the plants a head start when they are planted out. It would also help in the battle with the weeds. Planting veg seeds at the same time as the weeds are also starting to grow almost always ends up with us losing the battle to keep weed free.
It would be nice to have a tidy veg plot.
It makes us quite dispirited when we see the weeds ruling the day.
And so Lester has just brought in another full bucket of plums,
and the apples,
and harvested the sweetcorn,
and picked some more tomatoes.
Last year I didn't have the kitchen facilities that I have now,
so I am finding it a lot easier to process what needs to be done.
So am off to bed now.
Last night I had dreams which echoed my canning work.
I anticipate that that will not change for a week or so yet|!
Hope you are keeping on top of your harvest,
and that your dreams are not peppered with goings on either in your veggie plot or in your kitchen.
And one of these days I might have something different to talk about other than harvesting and chain saws! (Lester had to go to the repair man (not the one he went to at the beginning of the week), because he is having trouble sharpening the chain. He was given another set of instructions about 'How to' so he is going to try again tomorrow. The good thing, though, is that the chain saw is starting first time after the info given to him by the other repair man. Hopefully this new set of info will help him know how to sharpen the chain. He said that he is learning a lot of new things about chain saws.
 Bless him,  his days of working in an office, programming mind blowing difficult code which other people had messed up, and doing this quite easily I hasten to add, those days are so opposite to the life he leads now.
So I just smile encouragingly, knowing what a steep learning curve he is on.
But he did ask me to get the stove kettle cleaned up so he can have that bubbling away on the hob of the Rayburn once winter comes.
I did write a post on January 14th 2015 about that kettle, and did receive some very helpful hints about how to get it clean via my blogging friends.
But unfortunately the job got put to one side, and there it has stayed.
The kettle before I started cleaning it:
...and this is how far I got!

We would like a proper cast iron Aga type range kettle,
but apart from the fact that it would weigh a ton to lift on and off the hob,
they are expensive and shipment to France is high.
So we shall make do with this ditsy kettle,
which I shall clean up after my harvesting work is done,
which should be sometime near Christmas at the speed I am going!
Goodnight, and God Bless.