Tuesday, 2 December 2008

An HE moment.

I just had to share this with you all....
William, as some of you know has been using a potty/toilet for a long time now, but it only dawned on me this morning *embarrassed squirm* that even using the toilet is a Home Educating moment. Now please excuse me for the wording here...it is entirely his own and has to do with the way he categorises his animals/toys/food/drinks etc
It was pretty early this morning..about 7 I think, and he was sitting on the toilet doing a poo. He made a straining face and as he heard the noise below he said 'big poo' and this was closely followed by another noise and he said, 'baby poo'. I realised at that moment how amazing that is for a 2 and a half year old to know the size of the poo by the noise it makes as it hits the water below!!! He has been doing it for a long time but the whole science facts had escaped me until now!!!
And with that thought, I shall leave you in peace ;-)

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Just a couple of videos of the family pony!!!!

These were taken in Wales...Bob in his small paddock next to the caravan we were staying in, wound up by the wild horses on the hills!! These are the lesser rated versions!!!

Oh and a photo of a gorgeous quiche I made with David back in the summer.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

A much needed list of what we've been doing.....

I've had a turbulent few weeks and now it seems that the dust may just have settled enough for me to look back at the last few months and remember what we HAVE been doing.
It will be a bit of a jumble and there may not be any photos tonight ( they are all the boys computer and will get Tom to load them up another day, so please check back) but I feel that as this blog is supposed to be about our learning journey and not just me whinging on about things, it needs to be done, and quick!!!!
So in no particular order...
Robs new job is only 3 days a week and although initially after the sharp intake of breath and the 'How will we manage financially?' questions, we decided that it was just what we needed and we will survive, we always do and if we don't, whats the worst that can happen? Lose the house and either live in a boat or run to Wales...or both!!!
There are or have been a couple of perks already....left over bits of wood from the carpentry side of the business.....ideal for little boxes that Jonathan loves to make (and another use which I will gloat about later)and 6 free pheasants, already plucked but not gutted. So who do you think gutted those? Rob? Me? NO!!! Jonathan. Not only did he gut them but he gave a friend of ours a demonstration. Impressed? We all were!
Tom has been learning to weld...not on a course or being instructed by a proffesional, but by just getting a welder and having a go!! It started with watching our neighbour weld the horse box for the trip to Wales and having a go then. But at home, he just bought a welding manual from Ebay and was given an Arc welder ( I have no idea if that is spelt correctly)which he and Jonathan experimented with. Then we realised we needed to get a MIG welder...so much better apparently so off Rob and I drove to Peterborough to pick up the outcome of a bidding war on Ebay. They both were getting so good that instead of asking our neighbour to weld the bulkhead of the 110, Tom has actually done it himself!!! With Rob standing by on fire watch!!! The test will be when it goes for its MOT hopefully next week.

Here he is in action!

Tom has also made a snorkel for the 110...yes I am fully aware that this is not an amphibious vehicle, but apparently for off roading in any kind of worth while way, it is the only thing to stop the engine from cutting out in deep puddles!!!! EEEEEK! How deep are we going!!!! He has been very ingenious and used all recycled parts so far, and has even posted it on a forum for offroading, WITH pictures. Items used...
damaged drain pipe piece salvaged from the local village shop!
margarine tub!!!
baked bean tin!!!
I will stop there, for fear of you all either thinking I'm crazy or pulling your leg..like I said pictures to follow. ..... David has been particularly difficult in an emotional roller coaster kind of way...I don't think he coped very well with the change of Wales, talk of moving there, Rob's redundancy and then the change of routine at home with Rob doing a 3 day week. Yes, a 3 day week. Sounds positively lazy doesn't it but I can assure you that he now works twice as hard, because to live on that kind of money we have to be inventive when it comes to food, fuel and entertainment!
David has settled down a bit now and we have just made our first ever LAPBOOK!!! We have talked about doing one for ages but it never seemed to come together, for one reason or another, but we have now done it!!! It is about Knights, so no surprise there, and is basically free resources printed from this website although I have hopes of including some of our own ideas next time and then increasing them gradually. But for now, a good start, a success, David is pleased with it and he really enjoyed doing it and wants to do more! So I think I have cracked it!!!
So back to the frugal living side of things. We have only been burning wood on the fire, the heating hasn't been on hardly at all, and even then it was dual purpose because I had loads of washing to dry. The wood itself has all been free...starter wood from pallets and twigs from the branches we have regularly hauled home from the local woodlands, some 6 miles away. NO we didn't walk, although I had you going for a minute then, didn't I?!! The branches were all strapped to the roof of the car and a few wedged in the boot between the boys!!
We have also looked at Vegetarian cooking as this is obviously a cheaper option. Well, it is when you only buy free range and/or organic meat and we have tried quite a few recipes from a library book...fantastic book...just not that happy about having to take it back in 3 weeks, as I'm on my last renewal :-(
We've always made a fair few of our christmas cards but this year it will definitely be all of them...you have been warned! but a friend of mine has inspired me to make my christmas gifts again this year. It is something that I have done or should I say periodically do, but with a few of her magnificent ideas from here, I am so enthusiastic this year!! Also been re-reading some Green parent magazines and found some ideas there too...
But my best 'make' so far has been these....
Stamps for painting. I started one day with a landrover for Willie, and then I bought some wooden christmas shapes for decorations and made some out of those too. Left over lino from the dining room, off cuts of wood from Rob's job and a bit of careful cutting and sticking with the glue gun, and hey presto!! I am so ridiculously proud of myself!
I have also been to a pottery class!!! Its great, I love it and now would desperately love a wheel so that I can do it at home with the boys and get good enough to make bowls etc for at home. Anyone got one lying around in there garage from a dim and distant craft phase? No, I know it isn't likely but no harm in mentionning it!! This one is made without the potters wheel and was just experimental, my other ones are still to be glazed and fired!
Jonathan has joined in on the idea of making presents and is making special boxes...I won't give too much away here. They take a little more thought and working out to get them right but I am sure he will have enough made by christmas for the chosen recipients!
Aaah yes, and David has just started to make lego and Knex from the instructions, BY HIMSELF. This is something that he has never really done before...always too worried about getting it wrong and not being able to find the right bits, but we have turned a corner! Lego adventure cars and Knex motorbikes are the beginning! I still have yet to teach him to be more tolerant of Willie wanting to play lego too, but that seems like an insurmountable task right now.
And William... he has the most enormous vocabulary, fantastic memory for detail, excellent at puzzles, loves books and duplo, lego and animals, and has been sporting the most unlikely winter garment these last few weeks...TIGHTS!!!! He loves them. They keep him warm, they don't slip off his feet or get wrinkled in his boots and he can wear his shorts with them so that with his wellies all his legs are covered but with nothing dragging in the mud. FANTASTIC Of course the most masuline ones I could find were plain red, red with blue spots and blue with white spots, but our favourites were a 4 pack of stripy orange, cream and brown, pale blue and then 2 pairs with flowers from NEXT. Some people might be frowning right about now, but he likes them and we don't care!!
William also loves playdough and painting...he likes to choose the colour of the playdough I make and then touch it when it is still really hot and feel it cool down. The stamps have been a real hit with him...he sits and carefully covers the shape in paint and then presses down on the paper, sometimes too hard and it skids making the picture blurry, but he likes it. We also did some leaf painting which he enjoyed.
We have a new winter hen house too...room for them to be inside when the weather is really fowl ...hehe nudge nudge. Just need to rig up the light now for them. We are missing our eggs!
I have also managed to plant some garlic, onions (red and white), broad beans and peas in the veg patch. The garlic is brilliant...about 4 inches high already some of them and the peas and beans are just showing through. The onions are a little slower on the uptake but I think that may be due to the extra layer of compost they had on them. I have also planted some mushrooms in the old landy tyres, but I need to build a frame over them to keep them warmish(16 deg, I think) but airy...I'm not too sure that they will come to much, if anything.Next lot are going in the shed or the loft!!
So here I think I will end it, although I am sure there is so much more. This is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak! There are also so many things that we would like to do but just don't get around to ....there are not enough hours in the day.
Don't forget to check back for the pics!!!

And I was thinking of replacing the original blog photo with this one but not sure whether to or not...what do you think?

Monday, 10 November 2008

New look for the blog page...

So what do you think?
I'm feeling a little quiet and thoughtful at the moment. Reflecting upon this last year...yes I realise its not New Years Eve or anything but it has been a year of much change and development. A mix of good and bad but I need to look at my blog to remember the good as the bad is all too prominant.
So a quieter, more toned down look to the blog page. Although that doesn't really reflect our life as a family!!! Ever busy and full of projects and things to do.
Its funny that when we started the Home Education journey it was more for David than anyone else, but it seems that the others have benefitted so much more. It is over David that I have my worrying days and my bad patches. The doubting days and the 'Why am I doing this?' days.
So in an effort to regroup and recharge my batteries and to look at things in a calmer, more laid back way, I have decided to start here. Funny how the vibrant colour of my blog and the Chicken Out campaign banner with its sound effects were preventing me from blogging. I have missed it. I almost started to write a journal instead!!! But a text from a friend asking me how we all were, made me remember how many people use this as a way of keeping up with our antics!!
I can't begin to catch up with the last few months now but I hope that writing this will spur me on to blog regularly once again. I realise how important it is to me to look back at all the things we HAVE done, so that I don't just sit and think about all the things I HAVEN'T got round to doing.
And how can it possibly be only 6 weeks to Christmas?!!! 3 birthdays to make and bake for before then. And I had so many plans for craft activities...best get a move on, eh!!!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Survival is the name of the game

Nearly 2 months since I last posted....goodness me. Where do I start?

Well, we went to Wales at the beginning of September to house sit for some friends...for 3 weeks!!!! Mid Wales. Beautiful hills and mountains, streams and rivers, waterfalls and rocky outcrops. Gorgeous. 5 acres of smallholding with a shetland pony, 3 dogs some hens and a goose to look after...heaven. There was a little hassle with 'our' field before we left, so a friend of ours lent us their horse box to take Bob with us...sort of swopping one woory with another really!! I've never towed a horse box before, let alone for 150 miles down windy mountain roads!! The weekend of the severe weather warnings too!! But we made it. In one piece. Bob travelled beautifully and it was a great experience for us all to have Bob just outside our window for 3 weeks. The boys rose to the responsibility of looking after all the animals and cutting the grass etc There rae lots of pictures so will add those in a minute.

We went to CAT twice and became members so that we can go back again and again. I just love the whole wind turbine, solar power and composting thing. I felt so at home there. I want to live off grid. In a self built house. Simply and as low impact as possible. It felt so feasible while we were in Wales. We even found a couple of houses we were interested in and I even applied for a job at an organic dairy farm!!!! Although I didn't get it :-( No surprise really. We spent 4 weeks in a mobile home ( we stayed on a few days longer!!)and not once did i miss our house. Well, maybe the chickens!

The boys were all keen on the idea of moving to Wales and while we were there, our closest HE family friends moved to Pembrokeshire...we shall miss them and that in itself is enough to keep us focussed on moving to Wales.

So what else did we do? The boys had several trips to the beach and went in the sea, crab catching, visited the Red Kite Centre ( even though they flew over our heads all the time at the house!) and took Bob for a few hacks and even a picnic! Oh and we took the Landy down the Strata Florida byway as directed by Tom!!

We just lived really, but in a beautiful place with plenty of space. I certainly didn't want to come home, and when Rob was made redundant on his return to work, I certainly couldn't see any point. We had already put the house on the market by then. What a month.

We had 2 visits to the vets. One with one of their dogs and one withour own after she picked up the crab catching bait and ran off with it...hook and all. A barbed one so no chance of getting it out ourselves. EEK.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Good versus Evil

Should we allow our children to watch TV?

This is always a hot topic in our house. I do hate it when the boys sit and flick through the channels and then settle on watching something I consider to be rubbish. You know, those horrible cartoons on POP? Police, Camera, Action or worse the American ones!! Pet Rescue is another one I hate. There are lots that I don't know the names of and it turns them into vegetables, unable to move until I insist they get up and do something else.

Well, this is rather an extreme scenario, as it doesn't happen very often. The boys are far more interested generally in being outdoors but when the weather is bad, or one of them is a bit poorly.....we find it hard to play games and do puzzles etc at the moment. Willie is at the worst stage I think. The 'I want everything that you have' stage, the 'scream and shout until I get it' stage....or worse...the 'bang my head or bite myself because i'm frustrated' stage (What is that all about? None of the others did that!!) so it makes playing anything involving small pieces difficult.

Sooooooo.... we have taken the TV out of the living room for a while, leaving just the small one with DVD player in our room. The big boys have the PS2 in their room (minus a few games that I loathe) which means they can watch DVDs together in there occaisionally.

I don't mind the actual TV watching if they are watching a film or series on DVD that has a definite beginning and end. A set timescale to it.

Its funny how there has been a pattern emerging...
Tom has been re watching the Long Way Round/Down series (motorbikes/off roading/geography/adventure) and David always wants to watch films that have goodies and baddies or adventure films...Lara Croft, Indiana JOnes (the old ones) and Power Rangers, borrowed from a friend while he is on holiday.

So should I still worry? I hate Power Rangers because of the fighting aspect but it is the old fashioned Cops and Robbers however unrealistic the characters are!!!

So we are thinking of putting the TV back in the living room, but minus the TV aerial ( even might go so far as cancelling the TV licience...not sure yet.

I certainly won't miss it generally...although I hear Hugh is doing a River Cottage Autumn.....but I think I can watch that on line!!!

And now for a couple of pictures..

Our next door neighbours are away this week and have left me in charge of the chickens, fish and cat! One of their Silkie bantams had been sitting on 3 eggs but they hadn't hatched on day 21 so went off on holiday leaving me to sort out the removal of the eggs, when I was sure they wouldn't hatch.

Hee hee!!! So I had to find her a house and run, and some food and water for her beautiful, clever little self and her new babies!!

Our hen Buffy that successfully hatched 3 earlier this year is broody again so we have given her 4 silkie eggs and one of her own AND one from our laying teenager to incubate. Trouble is they will be due to hatch the day after we go to Wales, so we will miss it!! :-(

This is Bob trying on his new rug for when the nights get a bit chilly in the autumn. Doesn't he look smart!!!

The Discovery has gone in for its re test today for its MOT....it just needed a few minor things doing. Rob and Tom handled them easily!

And the 110? Well they have drained the oil to flush the system through twice now (the first drain was thick and black full of gunk and bits), they have fixed the leaking water hose and the other couple of very obvious minor things...and guess what? It runs brilliantly!!! It sounds so much better...ticks over fine and so much less smoke now too! So just the doors to sort out and they reckon it will go through an MOT too! We could be going to Wales in convoy!

I made Chocolate Courgette cake the other day...yummy! The best way ever to use courgettes, which by the way, are growing prolifically in my garden. I need a bigger veggie plot for next year for certain. One way or another, I will have more veg and goats, even if we do move to Wales to get it.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

A few pictures,

Sophie sleeping in the sun in the kitchen, looking so much like Sonny!!!
Now for some veggie pictures.... 8 tomato plants! One of the tripods of beans growing in the old Landrover tyres, and 5 more tomato plants!
The tomatoes are coming!!!!!!!!!
Tom, picking a few beans for tea...think the knife is a little over sized, but hey ho!!! BIG pumpkin.....

Medium pumpkin!

Courgette plant...

4 yummy courgettes!This is my NEW leek patch with leek seedlings from Freecycle! With hens in background eyeing them up!
3rd sowing of carrots, still under netting as protection from the chickens!!!!The beetroot, looking a little over crowded and...yes! 4 more tomato plants. I must confess to there being a least half a dozen more in the mini greenhouse!!! A tomato plant fetish? No, just burnt by the loss of last years crop through blight :-(Newly potted Lemonbalm and Oregano...probably not a great partnership but until I get another ornamental pot they will have to share.This is David's latest collection of money. Dollar bills printed off from Enchanted Learning and coloured in. He just loves money!!!!And that is all for now. A verbal catch up another time.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Return of the eldest son....or order is restored.

Well, the most important piece of news is that Tom has returned from his exciting adventures in Australia. He had a fantastic time. He went to school, took part in Venture Scouts and passed the practical part of a boat safety certificate, got a job trimming vines, drove the Jackaroo, saw Koalas and Kangaroos, bought a new camera and took lots of photos. He came home, took the photos to Scouts the next day to do a slide show for them and whilst transfering them to one file on his USB, he lost them!!!!!! What is it with us and photos at the moment? Poor boy. It is just the excuse he needs to go back and do it all again though!!! He does of course have his own pictures in his mind and the memories will stay with him forever I am sure. Such an amazing thing for a boy of his age to do.

He has brought back one really great thing. He has always been a good lad and helped around the house but an insight into their way of doing things has been a god send!! He has come back and taken charge properly of the younger ones and is getting them to lay and clear the table, wash and dry up and to do as they are told!!! Fantastic! They have been really bad about helping regularly but in Oz they all had to take turns so he has brought it home. That said, he was only back for 2 days before they all went off to survival camp with Scouts, so back to the regime tomorow!

My ankle is feeling much better than when I last posted but is still very painful and a little swollen, 4 weeks on!!! Is there a light at the end of this dark and dismal tunnel? Thank goodness Tom is back to help keep my chin up. It has been very difficult for me here without him. I really miss the conversations I think the most. It has been a very difficult 2 months here. First my knee and then a really long list of things going wrong and then climaxing with the horse incident. Things must begin to get better now surely.....

So a few good things to post about.....

An afternoon at the Warriner School Farm making a willow yurt and a felt covering for it from real wool from their sheep.

Here they are squidging the wool with their feet. The wool is soaked and then trampled under a sheet!!! David really enjoyed doing this part!!

And here it is!!They had beautiful Anglo Nubian gaots there too....I really do love them and it reminded me about my quest for goats. So further discussions ensued at home. There were also some little teeny weeny piglets just a day old. 17 of them were born in the field to one sow!! 3 died straight away and these 3 were considered too small and weak to survive in the field yet. So cute!!

The weather having been so beautiful the last few days, I have been filling up the old sand pit with water for Will to play in. He has been loving it!!! We also found some face paints that they had some fun with...especially Will!!

In the background you can see the pumpkin plants growing like Bongleweed (anyone else out there read that book as a child?By Helen Cresswell I think)along the veggie patch, about to overshadow my third sowing of carrots!! I'm so pleased with my vegetable patch this year. Carrots are doing well, beetroot looking good too. The tomatoes are flowering and the beans are forming!!!! Yipee!!

There are lots of things going on in the garden at the moment, but no pictures as yet. It looks a bit like a building site. Or a war zone. Or both!

Workshop under construction. Chickens moved temporarily. New fence for veg patch (can just see it in the pic above!). Gate on th eside where my tomatoes and beans are. And,......

the front garden is about to become a home for this!!!

The new Survival Family vehicle!!! It needs a little work for it to go through an MOT (but then so will our disco!) but it is great!!! 12 seats! Sunroof! The windscreen folds down!!! and a roof rack too! So cool! A great project for Tom and Rob. Can't wait until it is up and running!! Thats a while away yet though as they are going to do it all themselves.

We went to see some ferrets today too, after we picked up the boys from camp. They had a great time and no rain!! They ate rabbit and fish and cooked over fires with no utensils. Jonathan is actually saying that he will join scouts too. Wow. The ferret lady was lovely and has 3 that she is looking to rehome. She has a gill that is pregnant and due in a couple of weeks but Jonathan fell in love with the 3 adults so it looks as though we may go and fetch them sometime this week. Could they be taken to Wales? Or maybe nextdoor will look after them for us. Hmm. We'll see. Maybe we should wait until we get back. More thought needed.

So need to rehome the Guinea Pigs really and possibly the quail too. Any takers?!

Oh and Kim came to collect the chicks this week too. The Cream Legbars and the Old English Pheasant Fowl. This was taken just before they went! We'll miss them but we have so many here and with going to Wales in September we need to get someone to look after them all!!

Thats the OEPF and Ican't find one of the beautiful legbars :-(
Oh yes, here they are!!!!
So that about wraps it up I think. The 2 middle boys went on holiday with my parents for 10 days to Dorset and so there hasn't been a great deal happening really!!! Hehe!

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

My left foot.

Here it is.... Yuk. Pretty grotesque, huh? This was taken at 3pm yesterday about 24hrs after the fall. Well, I say fall, but really it was more like a jump as I bailed out before i fell. I was exercising Bob, as Jonathan is away on holiday, and we had been out for about an hour and a half. It was hot and the flies were awful, not to mention the fact that we went out alone and went on a new route....oh deary me. All it took was a pigeon to fly out of the hedge while we were trotting on the grass verge, Bob took a side step, stumbled, I lost one stirrup and then he bolted!! We were only aboutt 5 minutes from the field so I guessed he wouldn't stop until he got there, so I figured I would be better to jump off at canter than fall at gallop on a bend with a car there. So off i jumped. Landed on my left foot, heard the crack noise and then fell backwards and hit my head on the road. Bob went off like a rocket without me on top to slow him down and i managed to get up on my feet and hobble back towards the field, turning my foot over again on the uneven road surface on the way. OUCH!!

So, cup of tea and bucket of cold water later, it had swollen up an was excruciatingly painful so I got a lift home (and a carry into the house!!!) and then off to A & E we went. I couldn't put any weight on it so I was doing an embarrassing kind of hop into the hospital, but was not once offered a wheelchair or crutches to assist me. They sat me in a chair with my leg hanging and no ice and then made me hobble my way to x ray. The tears were rolling by then and a nurse had the sense to lift up the foot and put some ice on it. 'Its ok, only a sprain' says the doctor whilst walking past and 'just a tubi grip and off you go!'. Gee thanks. It took half an hour to get that, and I had to ask!!! No painkillers and i had to beg for the crutches.

Then yesterday it started to go blue and purple, and over the top of my foot too. It probably didn't help that i had to keep on my feet and looking after William. Up and down the stairs and out down the garden. But today I have managed to get the day in bed. Possibly a little late but I'm not entirely sure of the diagnosis.....think the noise i heard on impact was a tearing ligament and the swelling over my foot indicates a fracture possibly. Ugh. I will leave it for a few days to give it a chance to improve before i make a fuss.

This is the last straw in a line of disasters.

First the laptop a couple of weeks ago. Then the goats last weekend. I won't go into detail, but it seems that we have some things growing in and around our garden that makes it unsuitable for goat keeping. I am totally gutted and still raw from the experience, so it has made me more determined to find a field to rent somewhere or something. During last week I candled the eggs in the incubator and as only one was fertile I had to make the decision to turn it off, as I can't justify the cost for just one possible chick which could then turn out to be a cockerel anyway. Then on Sunday morning our little duck squeezed through the fence into next doors garden, and their dog got hold of it and killed it.

So all in all it has been a very streesful few weeks. My thanks to Joe, Hannah and Sam for being there when I needed them and my apologies to those that I have failed to do my best by. My brain hasn't really been very with it.

On a positive note though, I went to an open afternoon at our village nursery and was pleasantly surprised. I don't really like pre school etc any more than i like school, in fact probably more so , but in my quest to find some time for David on a One to One basis, it could be a short term solution. William seemed to like it and once he found his feet he payed with the other children and didn't worry about where I was. It is a very small nursery, only 12 children I think and he has a place for 3 afternoons when it is vey low key and relaxing/laid back. Well, we will try it and see. William has been enjoying going to play at Sam's house and the last few times he has been, we have had no tears at all!!! So maybe he is more like Tom after all.

At this point I will add a couple of pictures that I took before the run of bad luck when i was still feeling enthusiastic about things. Who else would take photos like these?!!!

And what is that one all about? Me thinks my camera is on its way out....just to add to the list of woes!!!!

So today is a River Cottage day and maybe a little bit of the Good Life in order to restore my enthusiasm and dreams for the future. Maybe even a browse through some of my back issues of Country Smallholding and Permaculture.

Time to go now, the Ibuprofen are calling me!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Return of the Guinea Pigs

Welcome home to Bubble and Flapjack who have returned to us from a 'holiday' at one of Jonathan's friend's houses. We rehomed them in order to make room for the new arrivals back in March and it was on the understanding that if she didn't look after them properly we would have them back. Well, yesterday morning as we were walking back from the doctors ( with my miracle cure anti in flammatory drugs in hand!!!) her mum called me over said that she wasn't happy that the girl was doing a good enough job and would we take them back? We agreed immediately of course and the boys carted all the hutch and stuff back home. Then she told me that the little girl was away with the school and i felt really sorry for her!!!!

But here they are.....happy to be home i think!

And i actually got round to fixing the run that we had given them too...it was old and slightly dilapidated (oh, that sounds like a description of me at the moment!!!) and in desperate need of an overhaul.......hmm are you sure I'm not talking about myself?!!!!

So Jonathan and I took it apart ( the run!!) and replaced some of the pieces of wood and then i made a new piece for the top that lifts up on hinges......ooh! Look at our lovely 'new' Guinea pig run!

And while we are on the subject of fixing things...my wellie boots have been on their last legs for a while. They developed a split across the front at ankle height so no good for puddles anymore!! So here they are...new and improved WELLIE SHOES!!!! Don't laugh, they cost £9.99 in the local garden centre!!And my good friend has hopefully posted my letter to the LEA today. I received it about 3 weeks ago I think and thanks to the help of the oxonHE yahoo group I have managed to put together a reply that was neither too rude, too sarcastic or too short. I have given them enough information about Tom's education and his progress so that they can't possibly write back and request anything else but I have pointed out my legal rights and point of view. I wrote the original draft by hand which I was very pleased with but when I came to copy it out (we have printer problems here too at the mo!) by hand I kept changing the wording as I went so that it lost its edge!! So thankfully I emailed it to her, she proof read it for me and then printed it off and posted it!!! Thank you Han!

We have more eggs in the incubator! After the not so successful Cream Legbars and Pheasant Fowl eggs last week, we were given some blue eggs by the goat lady we visited on Monday. The hen was a beautiful brown and cream speckledy hen with a golden chest, but the father of the chicks could be one of 5 different cockerels so could make for interesting chicks!!! She said she thought it was an Araucana but it didn't have the characteristic ear tufts so I guess it was already crossed with something else! Cuckoo maran maybe? I just hope there are some girls and the blue egg gene is passed down to them!!

And here are the pictures of the two breeds we have just hatched.......Old English Pheasant Fowl,

and Cream Legbars.....

We have come to a decision as far as the goat keeping goes! We have the chance of 2 very sweet Saanen x English kids from the lady down the road, or the possibility of 2 Golden Guernsey kids about 100 miles away in Nottingham. We hope that the GG kids work out ok as they are the best goats for us ,I think but these others will be a good second if they fall through. The lady down the road is very kind and friendly so will be a good contact from the point of view of goat keeping knowledge and advice as she has been keeping Saanen's for more than 20 years. She makes cheese and butter from their milk and keeps them in a realistic home setting. She also keeps rare breed sheep and has their fleeces sent off to be spun into wool which she knits with. So all in all I could learn a lot from her!! (And she liked talking to the boys!)

So its all systems go hopefully by the weekend, either way. GG's from Nottingham or cross breeds from the lady down the road....so excited!

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Here's to new friends.

Well, this week started out pretty awful really. Laptop has died and taken with it all my photos and HE documents (at present irretrievable....so any IT minded folk out there got any ideas?), injured knee stopping me from doing a great deal....add to that a few bruises and lack of sleep and the prognosis isn't good.

BUT, at some point during the week, I joined the River Cottage forum and posted a question about goat keeping which got quite a few responses which i was pleased about. A few people responded on the forum but I did get a really nice private message from a someone who also keeps Anglo Nubians but has very limited space so it was really good to make contact with them.

After a few emails I checked out the persons web page, only to find to my complete surprise that it was a young lad of only 16. You never would have guessed it from the messages, as they were such, i dunno, old fashioned thoughts in some way. Just like my own!!!

In fact we share so many similar thoughts that we started chatting about goats and chickens etc on MSN and he has had lots of knowledge and ideas to get me searching for a couple of kids. We may have missed the boat this year as far as kids are concerned so our plans may have to wait until next Spring. But at least I feel I can plan it now, without worrying about the limited space or lack of knowledge and experience!!! This young man didn't!!! He just had an idea and went for it. The funniest thing is that the idea is just the same as mine but I've hesitated too long...although in my defence there is an awful lot more going on for me than for him!!!! And these are his girlies...Willowmina and Geraldine.

Aren't they gorgeous!!!! No prizes for guessing which one is my favourite!!!!

She's spotty!!!! How gorgeous can you get?!!!!!!

So the goat hunt is on, although I'm tempted to hang on until this time next year when hopefully he will be having kids of his own....and you never know!! One might be spotty!!!

So the week picked up, and I got back on doing things in the garden and feeling enthusiasm for my veggie patch and wild food. Joe also has an allotment where he keeps chickens so you can see how much we have to talk about!! So this is where this post gets it's title.

On Thursday, some of the eggs in the incubator hatched...7 in fact. 4 Old English Pheasant Fowl, 1 male Cream Legbar and 2 female cream legbars (one of which has just died :-( ). The other 7 failed to hatch even though when I had a look inside this morning, 6 were good to go. They just needed to pip into the air sac. I have no idea why they didn't and it was very sad. I think Kim may try to get some more eggies and we'll have another go...she so wanted a couple of the cream legbars to give her blue eggs!!!

And today?

Well, hubby had to dispatch our beautiful cockerel this morning as it has become an increasing problem to the men in the family!! I think it was the first time Rob actually enjoyed doing the deed!!!! Kind of revenge! Cocky locky actually had another go at poor little Willie yesterday just before teatime, so he is now covered in cuts on his face again. Poor wee boy. So the cockerel just had to go. I went to walk th edog while they all watched the gruesome event. Not that I'm squeamish or anything but I found it hard to deal with my beautiful cockerel being dismembered. I had no hatred for him, only respect. So we'll be eating roast tomorrow with a toast to Cocky locky.

I planted out some runner beans, tomato plants and a couple more courgette plants, AND i dug up some potatoes!!!! 5lb of potatoes from 5 plants I think. I felt so chuffed....really pleased with myself, because somewhere in the back of my mind I was thinking that there wouldn't be any at all!!!! I planted out the left over onion sets in their place and added another row of beetroot on the end. I lurve beetroot!!

Rob made a workbench for Jonathan (pic to follow) so that he doesn't keep cutting stuff up on the paving slabs and hurting himself or cracking them!!!! It's fab....his best off the cuff build yet! Jon was trying to make me a crutch the other day (awh, bless him) and got his finger caught in the wire as it wrapped itself around the drill....ouch. It was so tightly bound that his poor finger was really badly bruised and he went into shock....very pale, and felt sick....and he probably ended up worse off than me at the time!!!!

So all in all a very good day, apart from Will being 2 of course. I have to keep reminding myself that his frustration and therefore tantrums won't last forever....God I hope not!!! I also noticed this evening when we had a bath that he has more molars coming through so that could also be a contributing factor.

The house is a constant yoyo on the clean and tidy front...it just depends on how much activity outside there has been, or how much we have been home!! Next week should be a busy week...Monday we are off to see the secretary of the local goat keeping club who is currently bottle feeding a couple of kids.....awh!!!! Tuesday Kim is coming over to see the chicks ( I'll add photos tomorrow), Wednesday the vet is out to give Bob his tetanus jab, Thursday Jonathan has what we hope will be the last visit to the orthodentist and then maybe Friday we'll have a day at home!!!

And then Jonathan and David are off to Golden Cap in Dorset with Grandma and Grandad....I'm not sure if it will be a break for me or not but I hope I'm back to normality and can enjoy a few walks and of course Bob will need exercising!!

Oh and Jonathan has found a baby collar dove to keep in his room!!! Pic to follow tomorrow of that too but bless it, it loves him!!!