Sunday, 22 March 2009


Not coping terribly well at the moment - upping the escitalopram has given me an expected wobble whilst my brain chemistry rebalances. Some rocking, some sobbing, blah blah blah ... all boring stuff. I am spending as much time outside as possible; luckily it's been very sunny.

In summary:

1. Chickens shagging - check! (Yay!)
2. Eggs hatching in borrowed incubator two days earlier than expected - 8 (Yay!)
3. Eggs doing something peculiar in my own, thermostatically incompetent, incubator - 42 (Boo! Hiss!)
4. Wonderful husbands - 1 (Yay!)
5. Barking Mother's In Law - 1 (Round Two The Sequel has taken place in the last forty eight hours - Boo! Hiss!)
6. Broody boxes constructed - .999 (Yay!)
7. Toddler tantrums - infinite (Boo! Hiss! Screech!)
8. Cats having thyroid gland removed tomorrow - 1 (Both Boo! Hiss! AND Yay! as we have finally worked out what is making her poorly and it's quite easy to fix by taking the over-active gland out of her neck)
9. Exhausts that have dropped off car during past week - 1 (Boo! Hiss!)
10. Visits to Ma's in coming week to talk to planners - 1 (Yay! On all counts)

Early nights are where it's at at the moment ... I go a bit bonkers in the evenings otherwise. So for now, that is all.

Monday, 16 March 2009


I've spoken to our GP today - she has advised that I double the dose of escitalopram that I am taking, which will effectively take me from a 'maintenance dose' to a more regular dose.

I am pretty miserable about it - but I'm starting to struggle to deal with everyday things like the laundry and paying the bills and feeding the children, so I guess it's one of the things to tweak and see what happens. In the however-many-years I've been taking it, I've lost all my previous hang-ups about antidepressants, so I don't have the feelings of failure that I did when I first went on it. I suppose that that is progress of a sort.

It's been a beautiful day and I've been watching my cockerels shagging. Not for pleasure, I hasten to add, although there is something very uplifting about the idea that the sap is rising and spring is coming. But to monitor their effectiveness.

I have nine hens and three cockerels. Until last week I had nine hens and ONE cockerel. But he's simply not interested in the laydees. He will find them bits of corn and beetles and what-not and call them all over and court them assiduously. The all come running and bustle around him like an obedient harem.

But when it comes actually giving them a good seeing-to, he is simply not interested.

So, I have put him in a pen with three young hens, in the hope that if the girls don't get a head-start when they come out of the house in the morning he might be able to keep up and jump their bones. And I have bought two young cockerels who are hopefully going to either stir him on to greater endeavours; or, in a worst-case scenario, take his place.

Young Cockerel One is too young. So he is hanging round like someone's son at an Anne Summer's party and running away when any of the hens look at him.

Young Cockerel Two is slightly older and knows what it's all about. However, he clearly has had no *actual* practice at it - rather like a chap from an all-boys boarding school in his first term at university. He waits until the hens are all eating or drinking ... and then he circles round behind them, takes a running leap, grabs them by their neck feathers and jumps on board.

Rather like some of the chaps I dated in my late teens and early twenties, to be frank. It's like watching the last half hour before kicking-out time in a particularly seedy club in Fresher's Week. If the hens see him coming they turn round to face him in unison, like a group of middle-aged women on a works outing and face him down. You can almost see them saying "Do you MIND, young man!"

However, I am hoping that a few weeks will see the young boys get the hang of it all and learn to court the ladies and my breeding programme can continue apace. If 'apace' isn't a particularly up-itself word to use, particularly in relation to chicken sex. In the meantime, I have four two-week old chicks that are feathering up nicely, ten eggs due to hatch this time next week and (ahem) forty-two due to hatch the week after.

I am investigating additional chicken accommodation for full-sized birds as well as for chicks.

For today, that is all.

Sunday, 15 March 2009


We have been fiddle-faddling around trying to make an outside brooder box for chicks today. They need some kind of heat until they are about six weeks old and it's also good for them to be able to run outside on grass rather than be shut in all the time.

In the absence of a broody to foster them, I have found some plans for a wartime brooder that is basically an insulated box with a hot water bottle on the top, that you change twice a day. The chicks cuddle under when they are cold and then pop out again when they've warmed up. I think it will be a) healthier for them and b) cheaper to run than a 250 watt bulb on for six weeks - which works out at about thirty pounds.

My plan is to keep them inside until they are partially feathered - at two or three weeks - and then transfer them outside.

I have various orders for pullets and growing cockerels from people; so some planning at this stage will save us stress later on. Forty eight week old chickens take up soooooo much more space than forty day olds :).

Leo has been helping. It slowed us down considerably.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

dig for victory

We Dig For Victory!

Are YOU digging for victory?

I've come across this website in the .sig of a friend of mine - and it looks like a good grassroots movement to join. Put the icon on your website or blog if you grow some of your own food; or eat seasonally or locally where you can; or buy from small local shops to support your local economy.

Spread the word - this way of life is a choice for us. To keep it as a choice for our children and not as the only way they can survive, we need to change the way we think and behave about our food NOW.

For today, that is all.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

when we were very young

Oh. My. Goodness.

The Terrible Twos are F-ING TERRIBLE, aren't they? How long do they last? Given that we are starting them six months early? And can I put my head in a bag for the next x number of years until he leaves home?

DO children leave home these days? Because if they don't, I am.

Friday, 6 March 2009

doomy doom doom

Today a friend came over and helped me to tackle The Room Of Doom. We went through various Boxes And Bags Of Doom and have consolidated, thrown away, tidied and generally gone through everything like a dose of salts. I reckon that there is about twice as much still to do as we did today. I am very, very excited about starting to be able to see the floor - and also very conscious that we need some storage space for things like curtains. I am thinking of some kind of old-fashioned clothes press type thing.

On my to-do list for the weekend is to put all the stuff that we decided could be ditched on to Freecycle ...

B is back and also went through loads of old business files that can be chucked out.

We rock SO MUCH.

No laundry got done, obviously ... but who cares!

I'm off to bed.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

aims, method ...

Things I have concluded today:

1. Pint tankards do not bounce when thrown down the stairs
2. It is probably impossible for a toddler to remove a baby's eye with a tea-spoon, however hard they try
3. Removing the last bits of meat from the chicken carcass for stock is a yukky job
4. Having a cupboard full of chutney you are too scared to eat is a waste of space
5. Bread can rise too much
6. Actively disliking ones mother in law is not a cardinal sin
7. You don't have to enjoy coping, so long as you ARE coping
8. A dyson can suck up more than 100 raisins before conking out
9. It cannot suck up sheets of lighting gel or whole oak leaves
10. Going to bed early doesn't make getting up in the night any less awful

B's gone to Daventry, did I say? Like Coventry, only slightly further and less full of naked ladies on horses.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

it's not that

Sometimes I still feel as if I'm stuck in the headlights of a car, in the middle of the road on a dark, wet night. And although I can see the car coming and am blinded and dazzled by the beams and their reflection on the wet road, the driver of the car has no idea that I'm there and is going to drive right through me.

I am having a really difficult week. I think it's depression - I wake up each morning and instantly want to burst in to tears. The feeling stays with me all day. Putting one foot in front of the other, dressing the children, feeding them, putting them down to sleep, making sure they have some relatively clean clothes to wear; some days it's really hard. I just want to sleep. Sleep sleep sleep.

B has got three days work this week - two nights away. He went this morning. It's the first time he's been away since Nenna went in to hospital at the beginning of December. Things are very different with the two children now - it's much easier to manage the two of them by myself.

So it's not that.

We are settled here in the house. I like it. B likes it. We are gradually getting ourselves sorted out.

So it's not that.

Money is okay.

So it's not that.

We are enjoying being a family and enjoying being together with less stress to deal with.

So it's not that.

The most ridiculous things leave me overwhelmed. For example, in a minute I need to put my shoes on and go and feed the chickens. And then I need to take the dry washing down from the rack and put the wet washing up. And then I need to sort out the two chicken carcasses I've got boiling for stock in the pressure cooker. And make Leo some tea. Feed Nenna a bottle. And put them to bed.

Just routine stuff. But looking at that list, I get stuck at the bit about the washing. I just can't imagine making myself do it. Washing is my Bete Noire anyway - I just about manage to put the dirty stuff in the machine; but putting it on the dryer is hard to motivate myself to do; and putting it away mostly never happens. Ironing I don't do - it's against nature. It's like the washing is a great, mountainous hill in every single day of my life that reduces me to a gibbering wreck.

Isn't it peculiar what makes you realise that you're not really coping?

The Health Visitor is trying to get us some extra help to come and look after the children or help with the house. I went to see someone on the Mental Health team a couple of weeks ago to try to see what practical and emotional support might be forthcoming from them - and got treated so poorly that I am making a complaint; more of which later once it's sorted out. Suffice to say that I don't think that that is going to be any good to us practically.

I just want to weep. And then can't do that because I feel hollow inside and there's nothing there. I've got a GP appointment next week to talk about hormones ... I think I probably need to discuss post-natal depression as well.

On a cheery note, we had four chicks hatch from the incubator on Saturday. It was a very poor percentage - there were thirty six eggs in there. I am giving the cockerel a repreive for now, as it's early in the season and he's young ... but if he doesn't buck his ideas up, there'll be pot-roast for tea one night soon.

We are weaning Nenna. Photos soon.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

conversations with my mother #090301

Ma: Hello dear! How many holes should there be in a cat's bottom?
Me: [speechless]