Only, I have no new photos, so you'll have to imagine the rural idyll. Sorry about that.
We now have nine laying hens and a cockerel. The hens are:
1 speckled sussex
1 light sussex
3 cream legbars
1 exchequer leghorn
and the cockerel is a speckled sussex.
We have had a light on an automatic timer in the chicken house since early December, topping their daylight up to fourteen hours a day - much less than that and they stop laying. We gave them a bit of a break in the autumn - egg production gradually ran down from mid-September until they stopped laying completely towards the end of October. So they had a few weeks rest, and then we put them on artificial light.
We are now getting half a dozen eggs a day, a beautiful mixture of different shades of brown, creamy-white and greeny-blue. We are able to sell all we can produce and from that point of view the poultry are virtually paying for themselves.
Also, I have gone a bit mad.
I have bought (at great expense - just have a look at the prices of hatching eggs on eBay!) a dozen light sussex, half a dozen maran and half a dozen cream legbar eggs. I am going to set them off in the incubator this weekend. I have an order from a family friend for half a dozen laying hens; we need some to fatten to eat ourselves; and this autumn we will need to replace seven of the above-listed ladies, as they will have just completed their second year in lay and their egg production will start to drop off a bit*. I am really interested to see what their hatch-rate is, as apparently it can be very variable after posting. Watch this space in about ten days, which is when I will candle them to see if they are fertile.
We are moving the hen house and pen to the top of the garden, in order to place the LARGE shed (eBay. £119. Frodsham. Don't talk about the transporting of it to B, please, it still upsets him) where it currently is. We are also going to move the second chicken-house ('Death Row') to a pen beside it.
For these operations to take place, we need to move the bees.
The bees will be going to lodge with a friend of ours a few miles away. She also has a couple of hives and the plan is that she and I can work the hives in tandem when our respective husbands are away - there is quite a bit of heavy lifting involved in bee-keeping.
This will have the added advantage of reclaiming the top of the garden from the bees - last summer they were so busy, and so prolific, that it became a bit of a no-go area on hot days. We are a bit wary about the idea of Leo launching himself against the hives and getting stung.
So. We will have two nice-sized pens of chickens, one fattening on, and one producing eggs.
Tomorrow. Laying out a vegetable garden in a VERY SMALL SPACE. Please put on your thinking caps.
I may even draw a diagram.
In other news: Leo had his first set of jabs this afternoon. I've just dosed him up with some Calpol and B is cuddling him. I think he's okay; it was quite traumatic, though - I was quite upset that HE was so upset about it all.
Now, I go to do an experimental install of Puppylinux.
* I will be looking to rehome them, for a reasonable price, in the first instance, rather than make them in to soup - so if you fancy a few hens, in late August / early September-time please contact me. Three or four of them will still lay more than enough to keep a family in eggs.
A manic couple of weeks, involving plaster being knocked off the walls, Leo starting at a childminder in the village for two three-hour sessions a week, the chickens coming back in to lay, greenhouse repairs and an Animal Psychic visiting us to see if she could help with Mrs Three Leg's stress-related incontinence.
All good, interesting stuff that I haven't had time to blog about.
However, FROM NOW ON, consider my leaf renewed and well and truly turned over ...
So, I have finally got my arse in to gear to do HedgeWizard's Meme, 'Songs Of Sadness'. Do pitch in if you fancy it - there are no particular rules, just talk about a song that resonates with you, and link back to his original post, and include his wizzy button if you want to.
For me, The Bangles 1989 song, 'Eternal Flame' sums up a particular period of my life that was particularly full of shattered glass.
I was nineteen and in my first year at University. I ended up in halls of residence with someone I had been to school with and was very fond of. During our first term, I fell in love with him and one thing led to another. He ended up date-raping me after I'd had one too many glasses of wine.
It was a lousy year, all things considered, particularly since what I think of stoically, as "The Date Rape Incident" didn't mean that I immediately stopped loving him*.
The culmination of it all was the end of term ball.
Most of my social crowd were going (I'm not in touch with any of those particular people now, fifteen years later - what does that say about them, or me?). So I couldn't not go**.
It was in some posh country house place near York, that had an 'Orangery'. The starter was avocado and some kind of marmalade thing and I can remember the shape of the slices of green avocado fanned out with precision on the white plate, with the orangey-coloured drizzle artistically trailing across them.
Kev, The Chap In Question, was sat two places around the round table from me, with his back to the luxuriant foliage that lined the room. He was wearing his father's dinner suit. I was wearing a dark green silk Jaeger-pattern ball-dress I had bought in a charity shop for £12 that hung off me like a rag because I'd lost so much weight through stress-related vomiting. I can summon the smell of the compost the plants were in, underlying the smoke and the sweat and the chatter of a couple of hundred excited students.
Our table was all couples except for us. I couldn't even look at him, let alone talk to him - situation as normal as the last nine months had been. Not great when we were in shared accommodation. The last dance of the evening was the usual smoochie, schmaltzy item; and The Bangles were IT.
He and I were the only ones left at the table. He because he had two dickey knees and was on crutches and me because I still had periods of paralytic shyness at that point in my life and was so stupid that I was still hoping he'd stop treating me like a piece of meat and want to go out with me. Or even dance with me.
My chest hurt. I thought I might faint. Or vomit. Or burst in to tears.
We sat there, grimly, through Eternal Flame, not making eye contact.
And then it was over. The evening was finished. We all trooped back towards the coaches, the couples arm in arm. I was the last person on to the bus.
The only spare seat was beside him, right behind the driver. And on the radio was playing The Bangles 'Eternal Flame'.
I sat down.
He turned his head and stared out of the window.
I stared the other way, watching the reflections in the glass.
I know it's a good song. But I still can't listen to it without getting that same pain in my chest as I did then.
1. Firstly, Happy New Year. 2. We have just started on our Christmas cake - I never got round to icing it, but it was worth the wait. 3. We will not be driving anywhere after eating a slice each because of the pint of rum I have fed it with. 4. Kate weepily embraced me on the doorstep at midnight yesterday and proclaimed me a wonderful daughter in law and thanked me for producing 'her baby'. 5. Next year we will be celebrating New Year at home. 6. This evening we are reorganising kitchen units and hewing sofas out of chaos. There is dust. But it is VERY nice to be home. 7. The hens are back in lay, because we have been giving them artificial light. 8. We had smoked salmon and scrambled egg on toast for tea yesterday. Yum. 9. B has just picked a YELLOW toilet and handbasin up from freecycle for our Downstairs Facilities (tm). 10. There are so many quite unpleasant shades of yellow, aren't there? 11. The bin men didn't come this morning. Should I take our bags in again, or leave them out there and hope that the local foxes don't discover the two rabbit carcasses? 11. There are two memes (1, 2) that I want to do this week. And I still have questions to answer from Before. Hmm. 12. Leo has nappy rash. Does egg white really work?
Tomorrow. Something non-listy, with whole sentences.