Category: Chickens

Tangling it All: Make, Bake, Create (by )

Chillies on the window sill close up

It's March and as I am not a hardy gardener, March is the beginning of my growing year. Which means that we have been along to the allotment and I've (yes me!!!) dug a bed over and harvested a load of leeks and so on but mainly I've been potting seeds up and transferring things into bigger pots with the two girls.

Jean and Mary potting up

They both love this - but Mary most of all - I took over the dinning table for three days and she spent hours each day filling plant pots for me 🙂

Mary taking care that she gets the soil in the plant pot Really? Mummy you want me to play with the mud? Mary in dispair over gardening Mary looking into the plant pot Mary filling the pots with compost

She also loves watering them all, as does Jean so I have to be careful not to end up with little "floods". Mary also thinks that watering can is a musical instrument - she is not wrong and I am glad I don't use it for any fertalisers or anything!

(photo)

This weekend was heavy on the garden stuff - I sorted out the chicken run so that we could use the old flooring as stuff to dig into the allotment. This is quiet heavy work and I also have to sort out the wormeries and see how much compost I have ready to go in them. The answer was several bucket loads! I also had to fix two of the sumps which is a bit ick as they are by nescesity under all the liquid that settles at the bottom of the wormeries. This stuff is basically liquid plant food which is why I collect it and my tones of tomatoes last year proves that it works!

Chillies on the window sill

And though I now have new funky plant pots on the window sill in the dining area I also have various pots that have been painted either by me or the girls. This for me is an interesting cross over of the craft and the gardening. I even have two that I painted back when I was a Ranger (top section of Guiding).

Space invaders plant pot

Painted plant pot Squid Side Painted plant pot jelly fish side Painted plant pot Turtle side

That was not the only craft cross over either - I'm having a finishing projects month and though not a project that was already started - I have had this idea for ages (years) so we went ahead and did it 🙂

Knife herb markers

We made plant or seed markers out of knives by dipping them into metal paint we have left over from Alaric making his ladder. We also did some spoons to make Easter Eggs for plant pots decorations and the garden.

Knife markers in place

Alaric and Jean set up a drying rack by using an old kitchen tidy and a length of metal and clamps. Clingfilm was placed beneath to catch drips.

Alaric and Jean setting up the drying rack

He then showed Jean how to dip the spoons.

Jean being shown how to coat the spoons in metal paint

She then had a go and was very careful and patient.

Jean dipping the spoons in the metal paint

She did all the spoons and knives and Mary helped Daddy find the right size dog clips to pin them all up to the drying rack.

Jean carefully painting the spoons

The paint is supposed to be touch dry in an hour but it was on quiet thickly so we left it over night.

Painted Spoons drying

The next day we took sharpies and took to decorating the spoons as easter eggs and the knives as seed markers (ok so I did all the knives but we all did the eggs including Alaric and Mary).

Decorated spoons drying

I'm not sure how well this will work and this first lot are going out without varnish, the sharpie pics we did on the chair at the allotment have faded but that maybe due to the under laying paint flaking - we will see - it's an EXPERIMENT!!!! mwhahahahahahahaha

Jean decorating the spoons with Sharpies

Jean spent ages on decorating her ones.

Painted knife seed markers

I am very very happy with the seed markers 🙂

Close up of painted seed markers made of knives

Infact we are going to have to do a couple more batches as I have a lot more stuff planned for the growing!

Close up 2 of painted knife seed markers

I coloured the inside of my Easter Egg spoon with a chick - Mary decided she had to do one too and demanded the colours "ellow, norange and black" and then with a stroke of genius announced that the back of her chick needed to be fluffy yellow as it was already crick crack hatched!

Easter Chick spoon garden ornaments

Well I was impressed - I was equally impressed by Jean's sheep and tree 🙂

Insides of the spoons

I love these Easter Egg Spoons 🙂

Easter Egg Spoon garden ornaments

I don't think you can tell which one of us did which egg to be honest 🙂

Close up of Easter Spoons

The only issue is that you can't let them touch each other or various plastics as they stick.

Close up 2 of Easter Spoons

Mary is most pleased with her flower pot 🙂

Easter Spoon pot decorations

And it is great fun to mix the crafts in with the gardening, things like bird scariers and wind chimes are fun to make and practical too. But this weekend kind of had the cake and the icing and the eating 🙂 For a start CHICKENS that lay stoopid numbers of eggs which always equals cake but second...

Dairy, Gluten, Soy, meat free curry made with home grown veg

I grubbed up some potatoes that I've been growing in the big bags we used to move with three years ago. This is the third year of potatoes in the garden. They are lovely new tatties so small and firm and Alaric being the whizz that was whipped them up into a gorgous curry that was dairy, gluten and soya free and found naan breads I could eat too! There were even star anises in the top 🙂

Purple Chillie

And this? This is my purple chilli 🙂

Purple Chillie close up

I basically grew the chilli plants from seed all the way through the winter and autumn and I had chillies in Feb! And as promised by the packet they are all different colours 🙂

I am so excited about this, I have never managed them from seed before!

Basically this weekend we managed to do gardening, craft and cooking and the boundaries between them were blurred and in truth there was DIY too which crossed over very nicely too 🙂

p.s. we also took Jean to two different sporting clubs and a sleep over.

Of Chickens and Candles and Holes (by )

This weekend has been absurdly busy, for a start I have finally been putting the attic back together after the whole roof fixing of last year! Then there were chickens! It was time to fetch our new rescue chooks - these ones are slightly less rescued than the previous lot as they came from a free range farm and so are a lot perkier than the first lot were initially. They also look better with already red combs and wattles.

Rescue chickens galore!

It was getting dark by the time we got back with them so photos are not brilliant I'm afraid. Felix who is one of the original four, is not impressed as she is in the rabbit run whilst they settle in.

Chickens exploring their new home

She was always quiet pecky so we shall have to see how introductions go!

We had planned on getting four hens but when we got there they had spares, so we ended up with 6. Their names are:

1) Squwashy - apparently this is something minecraft related that Jeany has picked.

2) Rose - named by Mary, she didn't give a reason

3) Chris - a chicken scheme programmer as picked by Alaric

4) Pete - another chicken scheme programmer

5) Tardis - this is my chicken 🙂

6) Firefly - this is my dad's chicken and apparently the most intellegent of all the dinosaurs.

They laid an egg on the way home and have since laid 3 more - we had fried eggs for dinner. The run looks so much better with chickens in it 🙂

1st egg from new batch of hens laid on the journey home!

The weekend also saw Alaric drilling holes in the walls.

Whole in the wall

Apparently I didn't want this part of the house! No he isn't just randomly destroying the house - he is network cabling so that we can have proper internet in all the rooms in the house etc...

Preparing for newtwork cabling!

Also the compressor was the best buy EVER! It now unsurprisingly has a hole saw attachment.

Alaric and the Nuematic hole saw

Last but certainly not least - Jeany has been wanting to do some more of her candle making for ages, in sorting the attic I discovered just how many candle ends we had accumulated - to be fair friends do post her candle ends to melt down.

Jean and Alaric making candles

This is her main craft activity that she does with Alaric, and it is also her little business which she started years ago now 🙂

Candles in the moulds

Infact the square moulds that came with the starter kit that... erm... started it all broke, so this is the last batch of square candles until she sells some candles and buys a square mould with the money.

It was a pretty epic weekend to be honest.

RIP Chook (by )

RIP Lilly the Chicken 🙁 Was clucking around this morning went for the pre-Jean home from school check and there was a sadly still form. She was the one who grew her feathers back last, and the one who had not laid a proper egg - last few months after a bout of being so ill we thought she would be gone before Christmas (she's the one we were keeping in the shower) she began laying the smallest little perfect eggs and her plummage was at last brown and full like the others. I hope the last year an a half outside of the battery farm was good to her.

Not sure how Jean is going to take this 🙁 She has been looking after them and is very proud of what a good job she has been making (hence I check up on them because she is only 9 and she sometimes forgets stuff like water). And of course Lilly was her chicken specifically.

What A Lot of Allotment…. (by )

This week we made it too the allotment twice during the evenings and Saturday we were there from lunch time until the night was closing in and as I think that was the longest day that is saying something!

beans and med veg

During the week I also used up the produce we had harvested last weekend - namely the raspberries and the broad beans - the raspberries are the main reason we are going during the evenings as there are more ripe ones every few days. We have already gotten to the point of making smoothies and stuff 🙂

Raspberry and Banana smoothy

We also got to try out are roof rack for the first - I told my Dad that we needed a chair for the allotment or a bench or something and that I had been trying on Freecycle to get one for ages - we talked about making one from the spare decking and old table that is lurking around our garden. But what happened is when he went home he restored a chair frame he'd been given for fire wood and made a seat for it and painted it so it would last outside and sent it down with my brother. I kind of didn't believe it was for the allotment but it was! So it got tied on the roof rack.

The white chair

We picked up some coloured sharpies on route so the girls could decorate it.

Jean and Mary decorating the allotment chair

Jeany did get a bit frustrated with her sister as she kept scribbling over bits Jean was trying to do nicely but it all worked out well including decorations from Alaric such as a castle and rocket and snake that he and Jean did together.

One decorated chair

There is still more to be done on it but that is fine as we can just keep taking the sharpies with us 🙂 Jean also made sure we all knew what the seat was for 🙂

SIt on Me says the seat

Whilst there I did so much weeding I lost count - I know I did at least 7 buckets full and filled up the new composter we had to buy on Friday (or rather Al bought whilst I was walking Jeany to her drama group). To be fair the first of the buckets only was weeds and all - the others were damage limitation (ie cutting the tops of the thistles that wouldn't pull nicely) but the last two buckets where veg bed weeding and I even managed to do some hoeing and raking whilst Al was off getting shopping.

Jean collected a bag of lemon grass, a bag of hay and a bag of dandelions as well as harvesting the raspberries 🙂 She was most excited about dandelion stalks that were as tall as she was 🙂

I have crowned her Jean Bean the Allotment Queen 😀

Jean Bean the Allotment Queen

We were also gifted some french bean plants by one of the other allotment holders which we planted along with the spare tomato plants and the runner beans I got fro Prinknash Abby last weekend. These are in were the sweetcorn has failed to come up. Radishes and spring onions are doing well and we are quiet happy with it though there is still a lot of work to do to get the site maintainable. Alaric brought dinner back to the allotment which was great 😀

We were also given a load of peas and half our fridge was full of home produce - this is the way we like it 😀

Sunday morning I cleaned the chickens out and made pancakes with home grown eggs, I picked the strawberries in the garden - unfortunately breaking our bench chest that the neighbours gave us. And I made a coolie from some of the raspberries 🙂 We also used the neighbours home made cherry syrup and it was fab 😀

Home grown breakfast

Lilly - Jean's chicken is sadly still ill and sadly producing soft shells again - she is the only one of the four rescue hens not to have grown all her feathers back. I found the rabbit eating the soft shells so we decided he had to come back out of the run which is unfortunate as they provide him with company, but with Lilly sick as well we just thought it was best.

Jean and her chicken Lilly

Of course the hutch which was origonally Blacky's now has no doors so we've bought him a little run thing for now whilst we build him a run that is big enough for him and a friend and he is being let out for supervised time to hope around the whole garden.

Bunnies tempery new home

(it's just as well we are growing lots of food as it cost our weekly food/domestic shop budget!)

ALso we have discovered that we have corn and wheat and stuff growing in the garden where we used to feed the chickens and rabbit before their new run was built!

What and Barley and Rye

corn

Apart from that we didn't get the tip run done though we did build a mount for the festival trolly to go on the roof of the car (on the roof rack) and we found Elmo and a funky car.

vintage green sports car number 5

Lovely old style green sports car

Elmo

Of course I also cried because a) the pedometer and stuff shows I am active even though it hurts and long walks are with a stick and the calorie counting shows I am eating 2/3 what I am supposed to as a woman and I am still expanding round the waist :/ and b) Jean wanted a hamster and I am so broody that though I said no I really wanted it so when I didn't get my coffee I cried but it wasn't really about coffee - sigh. But mostly all fab at the moment.

Another Hectic Bank Holiday (by )

It started Friday with a friends leaving the country do in Bristol where I chatted about politics, scifi, fantasy, gaming, art and science. Then Saturday it was up relatively early to go to an audition to sing at the Gloucester Pride in June (more on that later), then it was home to work on festival trollies and to bake cakes 🙂

The girls helping daddy build a festival trolly

We found a broken trolly a few years ago and we decided that this year we were going to get it fixed in time for festival seasons 🙂 Al has slowly been buying and finding the bits to do this with. He has spent the weekend welding, sawing and tightening things 🙂

test running the festival trolly

He insists it's not a gokart.

Alaric assuring me it's not a go kart for the girls

I made chocolate orange cake, diary free choc cup cakes and lemon zest cupcakes for the family fun day to raise money for the Play House Theatre in Gloucester (more on this later too as it was a fab day with lots and lots of photos!).

Sunday was pretty much taken up with the Funday which ran from 11 until 4, we had pizza and film time when we got home.

Today I got up, cleaned out chickens and sorted the wormaries a bit - one of them had an ants nest in it 🙁 But fortunately it hadn't done that much damage. I then had a shower and we headed out to the climbing wall for Jean's Rock Mice season. She was in disgrace for wearing her shiny school shoes and the wall don't tend to give climbing shoes out for mice seasons :/

If she wants new shoes before next term she is buying them herself!

I worked on the design and illustrations of the comic book whilst she was in climbing and Mary and Al went shopping for various bits including a drill bit and strawberry plants!

Last week me and the girls cleared up the old grow bags and put the soil in the girls old laundary basic to make an upcycled strawberry planter. Jean then helped me plant the strawberries Al had got.

Jean planting strawberries

They weren't quiet the kind of strawberry plants I had in mind so not sure how well it is going to work but hey ho!

One upcycled strawberry planter

This then lead to the issue that Al had managed to get far more plants than I had expected for the tenner I'd suggested (he actually spent 12 but close enough). So this meant that we had to find homes from the remaining plants - and this meant finally getting around to mounting all the disused cabinets on the wall that I have collected since we moved in.

Alaric rilling wholes in old cabinets to mount of the garden wall Alaric drilling the wall for the old cabinets

As you can only really use good solid furniture for this sort of thing it took two of us to mount them on the wall - this meant I got to play with the power tools too as the cabinets were too heavy for me to hold up for any time.

corner unit as planter

I'm really quiet pleased 🙂

heart cabinet as wall strawberry planter

And I have space for more stuff to happen.

old shelving unit as planter

We were then going to head down to the allotment but alas the weather got in the way so instead we headed to the garden centre to get some planters - we found some galvanized ones on half price sale so got four of them plus some more terracota pots. So it turned into an expensive weekend. But I then spent the evening repotting my sage, tyme, comfrey and sorrel. I also weeded the blue wooden planter I have and put four pots of margaram, golden margaram and oragano into it. The pots I freed up I then used plant out more of my tomatoes that I have grown from seed.

I cleaned the decking up where I've put the planters and am chuffed 🙂 Also though not this weekend - this week I also cleaned the smaller planters I had and brought them in for the window sills. I planted them up with salad mixes as I have been cheerfully eating home grown salad. One night during the week I made basically the whole dinner from home grown stuff - true most of it we have to thank the person who had the allotment before us but still!

Feeling guilty we didn't make it too the allotment though :/ We plan to go after work this coming week.

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