Traumatised Chickens.

We have been very lucky as chicken keepers that for the last six years we have not a visit from a fox, or at least not a successful one.

Sadly that has changed, three days ago, my favourite hen was killed by a fox. (I won’t go into details, its not nice) she was in separate quarters from the others as she had been poorly and was getting the first class, five star treatment and was fully restored to health. She had enjoyed her time so much in her special quarters that she preferred them to home and when let out to roam on a daily basis went back to her new nesting site, rather than her old home.

The night after, hubby and I were discussing the problem of the fox and how it was most probably a vixen as she would be getting more desperate at this time of the year as she will be feeding pups, along with how she would be back. Just at that moment, son no.1 came tearing down the stairs screaming there is a fox in the chicken run.

And we all went racing out, (well I didn’t I let the men go first) and sure enough we had a captive fox in the hen run. We also had screaming chickens. There was much running back and forth of the fox and the chickens, whilst the fox tried to get out when realising the humans and their dogs (who were useless by the way) were about.

The fox managed to escape and we were left with completely traumatised chickens. One of which had escaped and was hiding in the garden, which is very small, but at that time of night very dark and it took us several minutes to find her.

We settled them down for the night, locking them in their house. We had always thought our hen run was fox proof, which clearly it wasn’t. So had allowed our hens the freedom of their pop hole to be left open.

The next morning the chickens were opened up, they all seemed fine physically, mentally though, well, I’ve never seen anything like it before. They remained on their perches and even though I was wandering into the garden regularly, given them encouraging pep talks they told me very firmly that they were staying where they were. And they didn’t move off their perches until 2.30 p.m. This morning they took an hour to come out. They are normally full of the joys and out at first light.

Hubby has put more reinforcements in and around the hen house, closing up the tiniest of gaps.

I wonder whether the urban fox, especially the female, feeding pups urban fox is becoming more desperate as now there are no sacks of rubbish around containing food as all refuse has to be contained in the new black bins. This is not a good reason to feed them. They need to get back to the country side otherwise it won’t just be hen keepers that suffer, cat owners will too.

I’ll leave you with a quick photo of two of our hens. You can clearly see how the feathers were flying.

Figs & Cherries.

Some years ago, hubby and I discovered a fig tree for sale at the local garden centre. As they only wanted two of our English pounds we decided to give it a go. The variety is Brown Turkey and as we were not knowledgeable we planted it right in a corner of our house. This was a good idea as we have since found out that the roots need to be contained for the plant to fruit well and the plant needs shelter, but was also a very bad mistake as apparently the tap root can cause damage.

Its going to have to be moved next winter. (I would have moved it this winter, but as regular blog readers will know I had other things on my mind.)

(do you think it says something about me, that if I was old and decrepit and only had a few years to go, I’d say sod the house, leave it there and just enjoy the figs!)

Moving it is a shame as this year it looks like we are going to have the most fruit we have ever had off it. In all of the books I have read about fig trees it suggests that if plants are to be kept in Britain that the larger fruits that remain in the autumn that haven’t ripened should be taken off as they will rot over the winter.

Not knowing this snippet of information, I left them on that first year, the really large ones did rot, but the middle sized ones didn’t and in the spring carried on growing.

and if you look carefully at this photograph, you can see the odd big fig and the small figs that are this years growth.

Our cherry tree blossomed a couple of weeks ago, doesn’t she look so very delicate, almost like lace.

And I think there is nothing like the vigour of hostas springing strongly from the earth to show that summer is well and truly on its way.

Baaaa, Baaaaa.

Being at a loose end, hubby and I decided to take a little trip down the lane to look at the spring lambs bouncing in the fields. Although the light was fading I grabbed my camera just as we went out the door, if I told you were we in house slippers would you believe me. Well we were, this becomes relevant.

Travelling down the lane we were slightly giddy, we are the kind of folk that will just dash off to see the sights around here, whether its spring lambs, the blue bells in the woods or shooting stars, it gives us the greatest of pleasure.

When, just as we were approaching the field of lambs that we were heading for, we could clearly see a dark object bouncing around the wrong side of the fence and a fully grown sheep the right side of the fence that was clearly in distress, calling very loudly.

“Oh no, one’s got out!” eloquent as always I am.

Hubby quickly stopped the car and we both jumped out, I still had my camera in my hand.

Wading through knee high stinging nettles (in slippers) we very quickly cornered the lamb, one photo later, (look at those ears!) and hubby carefully lowered the lamb over the fence.. Your heart is in your throat when your doing things such as this, just in case the lamb dashes into the road and a car is coming. But what choice do you have, if you leave it there, its likely to come to harm one way or another.

Mum quickly called her lamb to her and off they trotted, looking the picture of contentment.

When, from out the blue, gamboling towards mum, there was two!

All say aaaaah..

Edited to add, we then found the hole in the fence, called one of the farms we know who my father used to work for and the farmer will be telling the owner of the sheep tomorrow and just where the weakness is in the fencing..

Banana and other good things Bread.

Casting a critical eye around the kitchen I noticed that there were two loaves of stale bread hanging around. Which is when I thought about my grandmothers wonderful bread pudding. They should have built castles with it, it was that solid it would have kept the cannon balls at bay, but it was very tasty and there was always a scramble for it if my mum was lucky enough to bring a tray of it home. My grandmothers was the standard bread pudding mix, this has turned into bread pudding with a little something added.

I knew there was some banana’s that were getting to the extremely ripe stage and so an idea was born.

I found dried fruit from Christmas along with some lovely candied peel and I was on the scent of hubby’s secret stash of Wood’s Rum. If you like rum, you would love that.

Recipe Ingredients,

1 stale loaf
less than a cup of milk
3 banana’s
a few handfuls of dried fruit
half an handful of candied peel
2 tables spoons (or one good slosh) of rum
2 eggs, beaten.
4 oz (or there abouts) brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 freshly grated nutmeg.

So after cutting the bread up into smallish cubes I soaked it in less than a cup of milk. Leave it to soak for a while.

I soaked a few handfuls of dried fruit in a few tablespoons of rum,

after soaking I added them to the bowl of bread and milk. Mashed three bananas together and added them. The smell of the banana’s and rum was divine. Resisting the urge to pour myself a snifter, I added the rest of the ingredients to the bowl.

I then divided the mix between two loaf tins

and placed in a pre heated oven of 180 C for about an hour. It might take longer, just make sure its not wet in the middle.

Leave in the tin to cool.

Then cut up and enjoy.

Stormy Weather.

I was woken this morning with a vast electrical storm playing its merry tune above my head. The like of which I don’t think I’ve ever heard before. Sensibly or not, I stayed in bed with a nice hot cup of tea provided by my lovely husband.

The one thing I have noticed since starting to knit, is that I stay warmer. Which was the plan, that I should stay warmer but I hadn’t realised just how much I would come to love my woollies.

Later on I decided to walk up to town which is the first time I have entertained such a thought since my operation. I knew even though I was walking (at a snails pace) I would need my winter woollies today. I donned scarf, hat, gloves, cardigan, ( and coat) and socks and had a very enjoyable walk. Okay it was slow, but that gave me more time to appreciate how wonderfully warm my woollies were keeping me and how spring was sprung. I love the spring flowers, they always seem to look so perfect and vibrant against there often bleak background.

One pot of tulips are displaying beautifully at the moment, I’m so glad the storm didn’t batter them to the ground.

I finished my Show-off Stranded Socks, which is the perfect pattern for a short row variegated sock yarn. I love the way the stitch highlights the yarn, its lovely. This is a Fyberspates Sock yarn, I have no idea what though.

But it is very pretty.

And then I finished a hat, well actually I found it. I finished it ages ago, then lost it, and found it yesterday. Its shocking the admissions that this blogger makes about her housekeeping abilities. So I quickly photographed it, before I lost it again. Its Hawthorne by Tanis Gray, knit up in Manos del Uruguay Manos Silk Blend. Its a lovely pattern and not nearly as complicated as it looks.
Hat with flash.

and without.

and last but by no means least.

This arrived yesterday, drum roll…..


Yes, my very first Wollmeise Lace, (not that I’m an addict or anything. – yeah right!)

Its called Terra di Siena. Which according to the translation on the Wollmeise site means Earth of Siena (Italian)

Laying there like a hussy,

I’m not saying I mugged my husband and forced him under duress to help me wind this into cakes as soon as he walked through the door when he finished work.

But it was a pretty close thing!

So refreshed from my walk, I shall sit down with a lovely cup of tea and work on the lace pattern called Kiri, I’m not sure about gauge or what I’m looking for yet, as this is my first lace, but I’ll know it when I find it.

Emerald Cardigan.

As I snuggled into my Emerald Cardigan the other day I realised that I hadn’t finished blogging about it. I thought I’d best get on with that job otherwise it would start to look a little tatty, considering the amount of wear it gets, before the final photographs.

Anyway this is it, with a huge button. I’d had trouble trying to find a button until I found Roles Woodcraft.

Les couldn’t have been more helpful and went way beyond the call of duty to provide me with a button that I was absolutely content with.

I only noticed after I’d taken photographs that there are a couple of water marks that had happened earlier. I’m sure they will disappear with a little wax.

It really is a wonderful button.

A trio of very warm socks to brighten a damp Easter.

I’ve been knitting socks, for me!

As I carefully placed pair no.3 that I had just finished on the ‘to be photographed pile’, my cold tootsies told me to get on with the job of photography so that I could wear a pair.

So without further ado, I did.

The trio together, don’t they look grand. I love that sock yarns come in oh so many materials, colours, densities and thicknesses.. There is so much choice, I don’t think you could Ever become bored of knitting socks. (although the Christmas knitting of nine pairs to a deadline tested that theory to the limit!)

Firstly because of the sock yarns themselves but also, just when you become a little bit bored of going around and around and around, there is a little twist in the pattern that keeps you amused before you carry on to the next stage of the round and around and around. Its marvelous, I find it endlessly entertaining.

The first pair I completed were Lornas laces in Fandango, bought by my lovely friend Diane, who had carefully noted that I needed something extremely soft to soothe me whilst in hospital, she chose most carefully and I can still feel that giddy feeling I felt when the yarn arrived quite out of the blue in the post.

So along with packing my case that day, I spent a very soothing hour winding the yarn into cakes and dreaming dreams of how they might turn out. Whilst knitting them I was quite stunned by the way that the blue travelled all the way through the socks in a spiral leaving little clouds of pink, just hanging in mid air.. It was like looking at the sea at sunset with the night clouds just forming, hanging there, slowly coming together as the sun goes to bed. (and that is quite poetic for a land locked land lubber such as I) But that is what it reminded me off as I knit, memories of us and our at the time very young boys sat on a beach at sunset watching the sun go down, hubby and I pretending we could hear the hiss of the sun as it gently slid into the sea and put itself out, “can you hear the hiss” with the boys whispering back, “oh I can hear it, I can hear it”

This next pair were knit as the yarn already wound some months before caught my eye. I knew I wanted to knit it, but I had become entrenched in other knitting. This is Cherry Tree Hill super sock merino in Fall Foliage. Strangely I’d loved the skein, but once wound into a cake, I lost the love, and I never quite worked out why. I think its because in the skein I had such high hopes for it, but once wound, it lost its glamour. I started to knit , I still wasn’t sure, it took me until I was almost at the heel before I fell back in love with it. But fall in love I did, as might be evident that there are two socks here, not just one!

So, having had such a wonderful suprise and thinking I could make it three pairs of stripey socks, along with the fact that I had already wound this into a cake, I started this next pair. Which was Cherry Tree super sock merino in Country Garden. And if anyone is interested all of these socks are 60 stitches in the round with 2.5 mm needles..

I’d wound this cake before any of the others, it had been sat for quite a while in my stash just looking at me reproachfully, and after I’d had so much fun with its brother bought at the same time, I wondered quite what it would reveal to me. Even before I started to knit, I couldn’t quite fit into my mind how Country Garden was going to fit into such a dark coloured skein.. I think thats why I had hesitated for such a long time.. And some rows on, I still didn’t get it.. But the colours were interesting and I persevered..

And then it hit me, it was dianthus and lavender and the beautiful colour of lupins mixed in with dark greens of the leaves of these plants. It was lovely row after row reminded me of these lovely plants.

And so photography completed, and my poor little tootsies still feeling the cold I had to make a choice out of these three, which to wear..

There was only one thing to do, one potato, two potato, three potato… (well I do love my veg)

and the winner for tonight anyway is..

and they do feel warm.

Happy Easter everyone.

The plots in April.

Its a terrible shock for me that April is upon us already. I have an awful lot of seeds that I must get into pots/the ground this month. I am Very grateful that this year I will have the space to grow even more vegetables and one of those vegetables that I am really looking forward to growing and then eating straight off the plot is sweetcorn.

This is plot 1, there is quite a lot in here already, asparagus, carrots, parsnips, beetroot, various onions both Japanese and main crop, shallots, garlic, globe artichokes, potatoes, celery, raspberries, blackcurrants, strawberries, blue berries, rhubarb, purple sprouting, various herbs and a cherry tree.

This is plot 2, hubby and son no.1 are over half way on clearing it. There is nothing in here, but there will be I just need a little time and a willing husband to plant my seeds/plants for me.

There are peas, sweet peas, various cabbages, purple sprouting, cauliflower, brocolli, tomatoes, leeks, lettuces and brussel sprouts all happily sprouting in my greenhouse. The mice have found the peas and we have the found the mouse traps. The mice are now currently getting fat on chocolate, which they like and have found out how to remove from the mouse traps without setting them off, still at least they are not eating my peas.

The met office predicts rain for the next week, I hope in between showers and we do so need this rain I can walk up to the plot to play with seeds, compost and pots for an hour a day. You know I’m happiest when I’m playing with mud.

Two Steps forward.

Thank you to everyone who has sent me kind wishes, it makes me smile and that makes me better. Seriously I really appreciate it.

I feel very much better today. I take this as a good sign, I still have leakage but it has slowed down and I don’t feel shaky/shivery, yesterday was pretty grim. Today, is sunshiney yellow mixed in with blue. Its a happy day and happy days must be followed by more happy days.

So, I’ve just booked hubby and I to see The Gang show tomorrow night and I defy Anyone to be a miserable old crone after an evening of fun, laughter and song.

It could be worse I took him to see The Vagina Monologues a few weeks ago, sum total of men in the audience….. 3 !!