Category: Animals

Country File Live photos 2017 (by )

Country File Live was an amazing event with just so much going on - because I was working there I barely got a chance to snap things as I passed - the girls and Al also had a fab time but still felt that they had barely scratched the surface - Jean took photos on her iPad which we'll pop up in a different post. These are the snaps I took on the first day.

Snake with the reptiles and amphibian group Country File Live

This beautiful snake was part of a demonstration including handling by the Oxfordshire Amphibian and Reptile Group (I think!).

Blue dragonfly at Country File Live

I caught this blue dragonfly whilst taking a nap on some bails in front of the bee hive (head injury recovery means I have to take random naps but it is very surreal to conk out in public but I think it's working well).

Birds on the lake Country File Live

There was a lake with a wibbly wobbly bouncy but secure temporary bridge across it. It contained various birds and plants coming and going.

Tree face Country File Live

There were some great flower displays in the Wild Life Zone.

Metal Duck Country File Live

I love this duck - it is exactly the sort of thing I would buy Al if I had more money 🙂

Bikes and flowers in the wild life zone Country File Live

This bike display cheered me up even though it had just been bucketing it down!

tractor tractoring country file live

Tractors! I live like machines like tractors.

Ye old tractor Country File Live

I love old machines like tractors.

Vintage tractor Country File Live

Probably a good job I didn't have more time or there would have been hundred of flower and machine pics!

Old tractor Country File Live

I'm working on a series of machine colouring sheets for an event in the autumn as well to be fair - but I would have still taken all the photos regardless.

Tractor! Country File Live

I like the gubbings of machines.

Tractor bits Country File Live

I think they are pretty

Tractor parts Country File Live

These were all from a huge monster of a machine

Tractor gubbings Country File Live

Many people were taking photographs - elderly men mostly and a press officer.

Tractor swirls Country File Live

Everyone feels they need to ask me why I am taking photos of tractors or make jokes about it - this happens at car shows too.

Being a little bit batty at the Garden Stage with Oxford Mammale Group at Country File Live

We got Batty with the Oxfordshire Mammal Groups.

Foxes and Badgers with the Oxford Mammal Group at Country File Live

And met the cuddly foxes and badgers.

Oxford Mammal Group explain mice with cute cuddlies

And a squeaky little mouse 🙂

Mouse, fox and badger skulls country file live

And skulls of said animals - well actually in the photo there is a mouse skull, fox and badger.

Giant papier mache stage beetle at Country File Live

Insects also featured heavily including butterfly nets creches, many types of bees and this giant papier mache stag beetle!

Milk churn urn flower pots country file live

Milk churn flower display - this is similar to what I wanted when we lived at The Bakery though I was going to bare paint them so they didn't rust away.

Sheep sculptures at Country File Live

Sheep sculptures - love these though more from a making point of view if I am honest - I remember going to a Garden Show and seeing large metal dragons like this which I adored! If we ever get to do the Salaric Emporium idea and have a tea garden then this sort of thing will be in it (along with dinos and fairies!).

yellow water lilies on the lake Country File Live

These beautiful yellow water lilies where on the lake.

Go Wild Country File Live

Loved the giant Go Wild sing 🙂

Water plants Country File Live

Water plants on the lake - oh I probably should have mentioned that this was at Blenheim Palace.

Geese arriving on the lake at Country File Live

The geese kept landing and taking off from the lake and were pretty impressive!

Geese at Blenheim Palace Country File Live

There was plenty of garden ideas - especially those to help you have a greener more wildlife friendly garden - I like this shed but I'm pretty sure ours is falling down and couldn't take the extra strain!

A shed of flowers for the bees Country File Live

Food is a huge part of the event too - I caught sight of this fab cheese stall!

Cheese at Country File Live

And Kendal Mint Cake Laqueur!

Kendal Mint Cake Liqueur at Country File Live

And to end - more animal sculptures 🙂

Horse and deer sculptures at Country File Live

Good Solstice :) (by )

Re-reading Women in Roman Britain on the Summer Solsist

Do to the heat I am letting the chickens roam around the garden meaning that they come to see us when ever we are in the garden or stupid enough to leave the kitchen door open. Jean has declared I am an embarrassing parent for calling them Dinosaurs - especially when I do so on social media - parenting achievement UNLOCKED!

Today is the Solstice - it is also a heat wave here in the UK - my attic was getting up to the 40's when I realised that the heater I have up there is the aircon unit we got when I was pregnant with Jean and couldn't breath properly etc... so that went on complete with pipe to the outside - it got the temp down to high 20's when I switched it off this evening - cooling the attic is important as it is a) my art studio and b) it will have a knock on effect with the rest of the house.

I am warm enough - starting to get a bit too warm - mainly worried about kids, cats and chooks!

Means I get to sit in the garden and draw and read and write - re-reading Women in Roman Britain at the moment which I read nearly 20 years ago for my Classical Civilisations A'level course work. I also made myself iced coffee with decaf filter, coconut milk and sugar free dark choc syrup. It tasted pretty good to me 🙂

Writing little snippets of story ideas for The Punks Universe and a kids story and researching the Middle East via podcasts and documentaries.

Jean got to Scouts, Mary had a bath, I cut down and pulled up stinging nettles - remembered to feed everyone - so winning at life.

The Jan Recap… (by )

It's the end of January so what has gone on in the household snell-pym in the first month of 2017?

For a start there was the end of Christmas, I am still making the last few Advent vids ready for Christmas next year. We delivered presents though sadly not all the presents so we still have a back log!

Also mine and Mary's birthdays - mine involved a coffee, meal and shopping with Al before hospital stuff but we have only just done the proper celebration with kids and friends this weekend just gone which was also Mary's birthday. There was also posh vegan/Gluten Free brunch. Mary has so far played in the Waterstones cafe with her friend Lilly as her party is going to be in two weeks time. We've planned the party and got stuff ready for it.

This includes me working out how to make upcycled unicorn head bands and tail belts and little roll and pop up horses for the kids to make.

My mother was hospitalised so there was a trip to Essex and the adventures of getting home on the train which were unexpected.

DIY wise we have fixed several toys, remounted a coat rack which had pulled off the wall, dealt with networking and upgrading Jean's computer.

We got a telescope - an amazing thing which was a pool of Christmas money instead of presents for Al and Jean and part of mine and Mary's birthdays. We've seen binary stars so far. It was an undertaking to assemble and we now need to build a storage/transport box but it is assembled and being looked through though we've only had like three clear nights!

I've had three lots of testing at the hospital which took it's toll and norovirus hit the household. I missed a theatre meeting about performing a monologue and a poetry recording evening but I am being given second chances at those so that's all good.

I also missed my Krav self defence one off class and a poetry book launch which made me sad but on the other hand I was live streamed reading poetry at Food For Thought.

Talking of poetry I have also been typing up and editing poems from the BOOKCASE (Not shelf) of notebooks I have. The shear number is insane obv. not all of it is usable but a lot is so I have been organising Turquoise Monster and have even started submitting work again (as in 2 poems so far). I've written three poems this month predictable all about Trump. Of course I am doing my poetry writing challenges so I've drafted a good few more mostly not about Trump.

Jan has also been me gearing up for the poetry writing challenge that I host over at Wopo.

I have also designed, refined and created mini poetry scrolls, story scrolls, made bookwallets etc... for blank scrolls for others to write poetry on, personalised pencils and made write your own poem kits, made and put together 100 mini zine surprise pouches, story boarded two more zines, drafted half a short story, edited a couple of flash fictions, tried to write daily on this blog and started on the mammoth task of trying to sort out the Salaric Craft blog.

Also Storystorm - what used to be Picture Book Idea Month has rebranded and moved to Jan. so I have been idea generating and expanding on those ideas for kids books.

Alaric has been making a cufflink holder for the cufflinks I made him for Advent, the girls have been making invites and decorations for Mary's party and we have all been working on the cosplay outfits for True Believers Comic Festival which is this weekend coming. This has involved sewing, sticking, painting, metal twisting, papier mache and buying new wellys.

I had to get a third print run of my colouring book Love: A Stranger Dream made and in general have been trying to sort out The WigglyPets Press.

I have been teaching myself origami and have folded lit. hundreds of things from geometric modules to make bigger things from to little stand up foxes to pretty little boxes.

We've organised things for getting back down the allotment, so just sorting out containers for soil etc...

I've knitted four hats, made an Ironman craft kit, taken the kids to two (not us) birthday parties. Three projects are still currently being designed and refined including mending a rocking horse that is older than me. I accidently made a pair of slippers from an old coat whilst trying to make a portal gun (please tell me this happens to other people!).

Alaric made my laptop usable again (for now) and we had a chicken fatality 🙁 and we had to fix the chicken run and stuff and general animal stuff to sort out. We've got our new electric car and there was pie making!

NB pie was not chicken Al is veggi!

Jean is still at Scouts, Jujitsu, and Drama and Mary is doing her Ballet, both girls are missing climbing but for one of the parties we did get to go "caving". Alaric is still doing Krav and Hackspace each week. Oh and of course we had to do my tax (sobs!).

There were also visits from and too various family.

So that was January - it snowed and it rained and there was scary fog.

And Then There Were Three :'( (by )

And then there were three chickens

Friday night about 11:30 pm I awoke in a panic, I was suddenly convinced that something was very wrong with the chickens, I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep so I went down to check on them. Only three came out to great me... and there was a smell. I checked in the nest box and it was gross, one of them had obvs. been ill but there was no forth chicken in there. I eventually found her dead and huddled and stinking in a little hollow. Her tail was devoid of feathers, the meat/flesh look fresh but she stank and what the hell happened to her feathers?

So I proceed to set up the remaining three in a little hutch and run thing we had for rabbits because the hen house was in just too much of a state. There temperatures were still hovering around freezing. So what had happened? Had I miss counted that morning?

It had snowed so I went out and checked on them before the sun came up but maybe I miss counted, maybe we'd missed her when she died? I'm sure there were four apparently healthy chickens in the run when I went to check. I think I woke up because I forgot to check for the straggler (dead chook is the straggler), she was the under chicken but the bullying wasn't bad enough for me to take her out, she wasn't being pecked but sometimes they wouldn't let her near the food so I would make extra food piles for her and sometimes they wouldn't let her in the hen house so I would go and put her in at night. I can see from the kitchen when this needs to be done.

In hind sight I hadn't seen her when we went out there with kitchen scraps mid afternoon but that is often when they are laying or sitting and we try not to disturb them so I wouldn't have thought it odd that their were only three chickens 🙁

So... I assume she was ill and then curled up and died, I don't know if the other chickens then plucked her bum trying to get her to move or just because she was there or what. I think she was there when I checked in the morning, I am sure all four came out to great me. Now they are in the medium run because there was a bird flu out break and it is covered where the big run isn't so it keeps them safer from wild bird contamination so was it bird flu?

The others seem fine. Did they bully her to death? Did I miss judge? Did she stink because I'd missed she'd died or did she have egg perinonitis which I had missed and the rotten egg inside had finally ruptured? Al reminds me that they are rescues and they are around the age of being to die anyway and that the other three look fine.

She looked fine though - this is them on Monday.

Chickens in the Kitchen

I get lonely so I go and get them and they walk straight into the kitchen and keep me company and yes I have poos to clear up but it is a moppable surface.

Feeling guilty about it, a stuck egg is the most likely, all the chooks we've lost from this batch have died from that - one of them laid an shelless egg the first evening after rescue and never woke up. They have all the suppliments and things and I know this is normal for old hens but I feel it's my duty to analyse it so I can look after future and the remaining hens better.

Here are the remainers again jostling to get in.

Chickens coming into the house

Geo Bake Off – Geologist Despair (by )

Sisters and their epic geo-cake

I mentioned the Geological Society's Bake Off to Jean - this is the result - she's been planning it for weeks!

cake top view complete with zome in sections

The girls are seriously proud of this 7 cake monstrocity.

Cakes all bakes for the geo bake off

They have certainly enjoyed eating it 🙂

Mary eating geology cake

Jean eating geology cake

There is a lot of hidden stuff that went into this cake.

One of the themes was mud which is why there is chocolate orange mud flows 🙂

The chocolate mud flow on volcano cake adding chocolate mud flows to volc cake

But there were all sorts of challenges and Jeany decided she wanted to try and complete as many as possible.

So within the river valley there is structure for a cross section.

The river valley complete with internal cross section

And then she just got plan creative - with the structure of the cake and I believe some youtube research.

Within are the mazi-bones

These are the marzi-bones fossil human ancestors or related species buried in a cash by volcanic ash - they may or may not have already been dead when this happened some more excavation will have to occur to find out!

What's within the mud close up cake

The top layer of the Mud Tower is a chocolate gravel lens between a sandy mud and a volcanic ash.

chocolate gravel lense between the sandy mud stone and volc ash

You can see the colour difference really well in this photo.

Mud tower with slice talen out

Here is Jean cutting open mud tower to reveal whats within.

Jean cutting into the mud tower cake

Spoiler... the chocolate gravel lense.

chocolate gravel bed hidden between two layers of cake mix

Here's the river valley with birds foot delta - at this stage the volcano is dormant or extinct.

River valley cake close up

This is the main part of the cake with Mud Tower and the ammonite loaf as zoomed in bits and the past hidden behind the lush "hill".

cake top view complete with zome in sections

Of course there is a hidden volcano and... erm Jurassic Park toilet death scene...

icing lava and Jurassic Park toilet death scene with t-rex

Making the dude out of icing

The geologist hammer was another challenge - but being Jean it is a geo-thor hammer so is the wrong shape (to be honest she sneaked a time travel train into it so I was amazed there was no tardis). I did the writing.

Geo-Thor hammer made of icing

Within there is an ammonite - this one was completely and utterly Jean's own idea and it worked and she is soooo happy she is taking it into school tomorrow 🙂

The ammonite within cake loaf

This was the tense moment of cutting in and finding out if the idea had worked. It's a bit flatter than intended but we agreed it's had metamorphic stuff happen to it thanks to the volcanos proximity.

Jean cutting her hidden fossil cake

The cake did kind of over flow but that's not surprising - here's how it was made...

bottom layer of cake mix for hidden fossile cake swiss roll ammonite in you go ammonite loaf ready to bake hidden amaonite cake splurged

icing hammer before writing Jean's hidden fossil load with icing hammer

Did I mention that she called this cake collective - Geologist Despair.

Geologist Despair Cake

Geologist Despair the cake that rocks

Volcano before lava.

volcano cake before lava

She did try to put structure inside the volcano but it didn't work that well.

Strips within the voclano cake didn't really work Inturnal structure of the voclano cake

The volcano was fun to put together - she remembered Dino-Mountian I'd made her for her 5th? Birthday 🙂

Marshmallow fluff cake glue Filling the volcano cake with chocolate frosting

How the river valley was put together...

creating the internal structure for a hopeful cross section valley cake four types of rock ready to bake! River valley cake with ash and mud inclinded layers chocolate butter icing from different angle chocolate orange butter icing for mud base grass for the hills added to the river valley cake River valley cake with birds foot delta

One time travel train and it's in a tunnel - the tunnel was the challenge 🙂

Time travel train coming out of icing tunnel between the two time zones of voclano cake

And before the tunnel, infact she did a lot of icing moderling for this.

Train added to cake sans tunnel making lava moulding the icing decorations for the cake

Of course Mary pulled her weight too 🙂 Mainly with rolling out icing and smearing chocolate everywhere!

Mary rolling icing for the cake

She did most of the Mud Tower by herself 🙂

chocolate coating the geo-cake

Stack of cake Choclate flop Mary coating mud tower in chocolate Mary adding the chocolate gravel Cake stake chocolated Marzipan tree Mud crack cake

Mary put chocolate gravel leaking out of an erroded side and some other bits including sticking out marzi-bones 🙂

Mud tower with grit and boulders and bubbles and cracks

Mud cracks were a challenge - Jean went with the existing cake cracks and made the lonely tree which was another of the challenges.

Look at those mud cracks and the lonely tree cake

Lonely tree... did I mention the lonely tree?

Lonely mazipan tree

Other general cakey making pics...

Jean and Mary sorting cake tins for geo bake off Alaric and Jean sieving flour Jean putting cake battery into bee hive tin to make a volcano cake adding the chocolate fragments mixer hard at work food colouring and choc powder for different types of mud

Creating the Marzi-Bones...

icing sugar in mould ready to make cake decs marzi bones are go agglomerate possibly glacial deposit created with chocolate and spongue cake Ring cake with chocolate inclusions etc Jean adding the bone cash to the cake Surprise marzipan remains can see the colours of the mud tower bottom cakes better and therefore the strucuter

maripan skull

I really love this idea 🙂

The marzi bones

Creating T-Rex...

mixing green and white icing for t-rex icing t-rex needs a trim

icing t-rex ready to go

This has been EPIC - it took 3 days to make the cakes - Alaric is taking Mud Tower into work tomorrow etc... Both girls have enjoyed it so much and of course we used home grown eggs. The cakes themselves range from chocolate orange to mint to vanilla and strawberry in flavour. There are three icings and marzipan involved and some of the cake is me friendly ie gluten free (the volcano) and some is Mary friendly and so on.

Jean was a little sad as she had meant to put Mary Anning in and a geological map too but she forgot and just don't ask her about how atomically correct her loo death scene is ok.

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