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 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 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 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 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 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 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!!!

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Pictures from Australia!!

I talk to Tom quite regularly on MSN while he is away in Australia. It is great being able to talk to him in that way as I'm sure telephone conversations would be awkward and stilted. The other day he went to a wildlife park and saw Roos and Koalas....I'm going to try to add the pics he sent me from his phone.....Yay!!!! There they are!!!I still can't believe he is actually there!!!! 12,000 miles away or more. Loving it. Lucky boy. I wonder if he will actually want to come home, and whether he will spend the next few years working on a way to move over there!!!

Technical Fault.

You know when someone says that their computer breaks down or the hard drive dies and you say, 'Oh,poor you,that must be awful. Have you lost everything?'
Well my laptop has done just that. We have what they call the BSOD and we are currently unable to access anything. But it isn't just awful. It is a nightmare. An absolute disaster. All our photos are stored on it, all my HE documents and downloads, emails etc etc
I have stuff on there that I have no othe copies of. Music. David's Word program. I have internet access to my bank...but only on there!!! (Can't remember our number off the top of my head) I have contacts I have made for HE and goats that are only on there!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAh!!!
Luckily I have a friend who has a gadget that we hope will be able to retrieve all my stuff. But she lives 8 miles away and I am currently suffering with a knee injury that happened last week so I can't drive!!!! (Someones 5 and a half stone labrador came full pelt across the field and slammed straight into the side of my knee whilst playing with Sophie.Ouch!)AAAAAAh!!!!
We use our computer so much downstairs and it now means that I will have to sacrifice my new laptop that Rob got me just after the CD drive went on the other one (although I foolishly didn't put all my stuff on to it yet!!!! Too busy with garden and animals etc!) to be the downstairs computer or we will have to get another one as the boys use it a lot.

But at least I put the most recent photos on here!! And I still have all my bookmarks I guess which I thought initially I had lost.Phew. But email addresses are a bit elusive so if you are reading this and not heard from me for a while then you'll know get in touch!!!!

Saturday, 7 June 2008

And here we are today.

Another pictorial blog entry I'm afraid. There has been lots going on and at some point I will catch up on the behind the scenes stuff, but for now here is the garden as it is today. Its like a balding middle aged man!!!!Lush growth around the sides but patchy in the middle!!! But then I think lawns are highly over rated anyway!!!
And now for some pictures of the good bits!!
Potatoes, onions and then carrots.....

Large carrots, next generation carrots and then beetroot. All looking good!! I must confess that I haven't gone in for thinning the seedlings as we have had so many eaten by slugs and birdies that I'm hedging my bets!!! I'd rather have lots of small, slightly mishapen carrots and beetroot than one or 2 large perfect specimens!!And these are a couple of my beautiful pumpkin/courgette plants....I planted a tray with half anf half and now can't remember which half was which, so it will be a nice surprise!!And on first glance this is a good photo of the strawberry plants, lavender, chives and mint by the water butt....but I have now just noticed a horrible reflection!!!!! AAAAAAAh!

And now for the animal pictures.....This is our little mallard duckling that we hatched out from an egg we found abandoned on the bank of the canal!!! It is obviously very tame and enjoys waddling about the house and cleaning up after the boys have made their lunch!!! Not sure if its a boy or a girl yet but it is soooooo cute and very funny to watch.

This is now the chicken run....note the distinct lack of greenery surrounding the pond!!! They have eaten everything in sight!!! All that remains are the plants in the middle of the pond!!Some of them are enjoying the greenhouse which is waiting for its fate to be glass or not to glass? that is the question. Will it be better to buy perspex or abandon the idea completely and just let the chickens enjoy it? Watch this space!Is this chicken trying to work out how to get to the plants in th emiddle of the pond? Does it know that it is water under the green duck weed?And the quail....not the greatest picture but it is very difficult to photograph such tiny fast moving creatures!!! We have 2 dark males, 2 dark feamles, one pale male and one pale female and the little female in the front corner of the picture which is neither buff nor pale!!! A mix of both, although it started off white with the little patches.They are enjoying their aviary that we managed to construct last weekend, and are now starting to lay eggs!! So our egg tray in th ekitchen looks like this....

We currently have a full incubator, after the failing with the last 2 quails and the call duck eggs :(

In it we have some quite sought after eggs that another HE friend acquired from a farm school, and we have 14 out of 16 that are due to hatch next week. There are 6 Cream legbar eggs...which have a blue tint to them so will add even more interest to our egg tray!!! and 8 Old English Pheasant Fowl eggs which are reputed to be rare and only 100 adult females living in the country!!!! I am going to try to upload some pictures from the web of each breed to add here if I can.

And finally, a picture of Rob's new motorbike.....

It is a BMW 1100RS I think. Not our first choice of colour, but you don't look a gift horse in the mouth do you!! You never know, I may even get the chance to go out on the back again some day. 'sigh'

Oh and another photo to add....This is Jon and Bob (and friends) visiting us one evening while out on a hack!!!! Lucky boy isn't he!

A few piccys.....

A picture of the chickens when they were first put into the area by the pond....note the lush green plants!!!
Buffy and her babies out for a scratch about.
And the incubated babies in the toblerone house and run. You can still see the green plants behind if you look carefully.
Will holding a quail only a few days old...the quail that is!!
And Bob, on his way to his new home!!!
These photos are all about a month old. New ones on their way soon!! Duck, veg patch, chicken run, grown up quail and Rob's motorbike all to follow shortly.