Z doesn’t like Saturday

Last night, when I went out to shut up the chickens and feed the feral cats, I heard cheeping. I didn’t realise the significance, but thought it was rather silly of tits to build nests where there was a possibility of cats getting to them. I wasn’t being very bright, of course.

I told you – twice, I’m afraid – about the young hen that went missing and was caught by a fox. Well, I saw her again this morning. I didn’t realise at first, I thought it was her sister, but I did see her alarm at being spotted and where she went to hide. I fed the cats and let out the hens and, when I turned round, saw the chicken again, eating from the feeder. But was it? At a second look it was her sister.

I left it for an hour and went back. And, on checking the hiding place, I spotted a chick. I felt pretty stupid. The pullet that went missing was barely over five months old, but evidently she had laid her eggs and brooded her chicks and I’d fed the cats ten feet away and not noticed her. I came indoors and asked Tim for help. We moved the bigger coop and I went and fetched the chicks into a bucket Tim was holding, and carried the hen as well to the new coop; which I’d furnished with chick crumbs (thanks again, Tim), corn, grit and water. I named the very young mother Slapper.

Slapper would not care for her chicks, but just stood there, while they were getting cold and despairing. I left them for ten minutes so that she could calm down, but came back to find one chick floppy and cold. I put her in my bra while I panicked. I did have alternatives, which were to find foster mothers or borrow an incubator, but the latter seemed too worrying for a first-timer and, luckily, Canasta’s daughters are all broody at present. So, with Boy’s help, I put two under one girl and three under another, shut the henhouse door and left them for a while. In the meantime, LT and I set up two more coops (the first one is really better for bigger fowl) and then went to have some lunch.

I’ll fast forward to later in the day; not least because I don’t want to relive the anxiety of it all. All chicks stayed where they were for a few hours so I opened the door because I didn’t want any chickens to be put off coming home to roost. But then, I found two chicks following Slapper. I put them in a coop. I checked on the rest. One had died, I’m sorry to say. The other two were under their aunt, whom I’ve called Foster. I put the three of them in another coop. Slapper was fussing about her two babies, so I opened the coop and she jumped in.

When I last checked, at dusk, the two chickens were each settled down, each with two babies. Fingers crossed there. I came in for a very long, hot, relaxing, healing, destressing bath. And I’ve warned LT, there may be no limit to the wine I drink tonight. But only “may” because I really could do with a good night’s sleep.

Later, I practised the hymns for tomorrow’s church service. There was no sign of the fourth hymn in the book. I had already mentioned that I didn’t know it, but any competent person can learn a hymn in fairly short order, so I wasn’t too concerned – but if the congregation doesn’t have the words and the musician doesn’t have the tune, confusion is rather on the cards. So I rang the Rector, who said he’d look into it…a phone call five minutes later – he’d thought the name of the hymn was line three rather than line one. And I knew the hymn after all. So, all in all, I’m mostly glad that I checked in advance and didn’t try to wing it on Sunday morning.

Darlings, that was my Saturday, in which nothing at all went as I thought it would. Much as I appreciate random and unpredictable, this was egregious. I’m surprisingly cheerful about it all, however, and certainly deeply appreciative of LT for doing housework while I was otherwise engaged.

Z pipes down. Or clears a downpipe, which is the same thing

We went out for lunch today, which is not unusual, but we took it as a small celebration. For the last few weeks, the washbasin in the bathroom has become increasingly sluggish to drain. So has the one in the downstairs cloakroom, though I didn’t necessarily link those two facts. I put washing soda and boiling water down in the bathroom and it helped a bit, but not much. Tim’s theory was that it was the outlet that was blocked, but I doubted that as the bath shared the outlet and that was fine.

Tim was right.

I’m so glad he was right. It was just a few leaves, nothing much at all, and it only took a few minutes to sort out. Then the water just ran away and, after all the time I’ve spent rodding out drains in the last few years (there’s a toilet paper theory to account for that, which I may well tell you later), to have a simple solution brought me joy. I’m easily pleased, you might think, but it’s not the joy you should focus on but the awfulness: that is, it’s the contrast.

Anyway, after this was done, quite late in the morning because I’d been avoiding the issue in the expectation it would be an Utter Bastard to deal with, I said I would take Lovely Tim out for lunch to celebrate, which was where I started. And we had exceptionally good fish and chips at one of our preferred Yagnub pubs. And, because I’m on a No Food Waste kick, I wrapped the leftover fish skins, batter and chips (there is always a bit too much food, neither of us has a massive appetite) in our paper napkins and they will be fed to the chickens in the morning. They will be thrilled.

We had a modest masala omelette for dinner. No question of a big meal. And, because it was quick to cook and quick to eat, we conducted an impromptu quiz afterwards – poor LT had no idea what to expect when he married me and I’m not sure he knows, day to day, even now – and we came out honours even. Though he did not know in which year Foinavon won the Grand National, but he was out of the country at the time, so fair play.

That’s been our day, darlings. In other news, young Perdita had regained her birthweight after a week, which is very good. Weeza is visiting this evening – indeed, she probably has already visited, whether with the whole family or not I don’t know, and all is well with Ro and Dora. I hope to go over again soon and post another picture. I’m always welcome but don’t want to impose …

Which gives rise to another paragraph – the balance between barging in and being aloof. I’ve never known where it stands and I wish I had that instinct. If one doesn’t, is one insensitive or too sensitive? I don’t know that either. I suspect that the answer is to be able to be honest with each other and not be hurt if the reply is not what one hopes and to be equally honest the other way. In this case, it’s less complicated because I can, in fact, ask if it’s convenient and if it isn’t, another day will be suggested. All their friend want to meet Perdita, after all, but Granny is welcome, I know. So is Tim, almost a grandad.

Z cuddles baby

LT is home again, after a few days at his place in Reading. We’d planned to go together but, of course, that changed when Perdita put in an early appearance. I shopped for lunchtime food and went and spent the day cuddling her on Monday – on Tuesday, Ro took Rufus to nursery and then went back to bed with wife and baby. Nighttime feeds are fine. Child on the go all day is fine. The combination is pretty tiring.

It all caught up with me yesterday and I started panic-cooking. That is nothing to do with needing food but with needing to do something practical. But all this surplus energy gave me a lovely Indian-style meal last night, which was added to this evening … and the leftovers will probably feed us tomorrow as well, unless we can’t face them and put them in the freezer (or give some of them to the chickens) instead.

Plans to have a new fence down the drive are going ahead and I hope we’ll have a starting date quite soon. I’ve had friendly conversations with the farmer whose bullocks broke in – they’re no trouble when they stay there but they’ve damaged the wire so much that they can get onto the drive any time they want. When someone appears, they jump back, which does more damage. Yesterday, I told him that I simply can’t repair the fence any more. It looks all right but they can knock it over any time they choose. He’s tried to put them back on his own field many times but one of the four is a wild boy and runs back before going over the bridge. Today was the ultimatum and somehow this got through to the bullock and he allowed himself to be *steer-ed* across ( a dreadful play on words, sorry). So now we can go ahead, whenever the fence guy can fit us in.

After letting the chickens out this morning, I stood chatting to Boy, Rose’s son, for a few minutes. For the first time this year, we could bask in the warmth of the sun. That is, the sun has shone on other occasions but we couldn’t really feel it. I left the porch door shut but the side door open, so that the house was warmed by the sunshine. This evening there was a fabulous pink and blue sunset, though the temperature had dropped markedly. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a light overnight frost, but still no sign of real winter weather. The birds are singing as if it’s spring already.

Just another winter’s tale…

At least I know I haven’t told you today’s news, though some have picked it up from the hint the other day, Pictures to start with.

Perdita Hedera was born on 29th January; her due date being 23rd February so she’s slightly premature but not worryingly so. All the same, she’s been under a lamp to forestall jaundice and is being monitored for a couple of extra days before she and Dora go home. We hope that will be tomorrow.

It’s a good job I don’t sleep much. I’d had a nap for a couple of hours but I was awake when Ronan texted me at about quarter to two on Tuesday morning. Dora was in the early stages of labour and the hospital wanted her to come in. I didn’t wait to be asked, but got up and dressed and was over at their house in less than 45 minutes. We all thought that the 28th would be the birthday, but she hung on until late morning the next day. And she is adorable and perfect. She is my last grandchild and Tim’s first (that is, born since we married, when his family became mine and mine became his, though we were already together when Rufus was born, so I’m splitting the finest of hairs) and I love her dearly. Tim will meet her once they’re home.

Z has reasons to be cheerful

Nothing to share, I’m sorry. But maybe a touch of grumpiness for another reason altogether, but only for the record because I’m over it.

When someone wants something and you say no, and explain why, and a while later they want it again and you say no and explain why, you don’t really expect the matter to be raised again. But it has been and their explanation changes several times in the telling and I still said no and clearly, it hasn’t been accepted as NO. And techniques have been used to attempt to bring me in and make it my problem too (this has changed from the third person to the first) which I’m too old not to be aware of, and it’s still no because I’m not engaged with problems of other people if they are actually nothing to do with me, not any more. I don’t suppose I can do a rolling eye emoji here, but perhaps you can imagine it.

In fact, I’m quite cheerful tonight. And my hairdresser, who is my temporary hairdresser because Nikki is on maternity leave, is a very good alternative and she cut my hair today and I’m pleased with it. So then I toddled into three of the lovely food shops that are cheek by jowl with each other and I bought lots of fabulous food. The only reason I didn’t go into the fishmonger’s was that we already had fish. But now I have deli stuff and wholefood stuff and greengrocer stuff too, so that’s another reason to be cheerful. I also went into Crocks, which is a very nice gifty homey crafty sort of shop and I bought some things there, which never fails to please.

Z didn’t get much sleep last night

I’m getting hopeless at remembering what I’ve written here and what on Facebook. So I either say something twice or not at all. I told you about the real pot eggs a couple of weeks ago, I’m so sorry. I don’t think I’m senile. But how would anyone know? I’d get away with it for ages because they’re all used to me as I’ve always been and the difference is merely a matter of detail.

Anyway, hope to have good news for you tomorrow, but not yet, so I’m somewhat distracted. But at least I’ve read my daily book – sometimes, of late, this has been more a fortnightly book, so it feels a welcome return to normality, to have started and finished one in a day. I’ve still got 100 pages of the book I couldn’t find earlier (which was why I started another) to finish tonight. The more I read, the more calm I feel, which is a lesson relearned.

Eloise cat is being particularly loving at present. She actually does lie on my lap and gaze adoringly at me and it’s so sweet. Doesn’t stop her completely blanking me if she feels like it, of course, but I recognise that’s part of a cat’s nature. In other ways, cats remind me of toddlers with a short attention span combined, or perhaps alternated, with complete absorption in some random thing that might catch their eye. I find it hilarious. She does have an appreciable vocabulary; not just asking for food or purring, but a particular sound for a greeting – Rose came through for a chat earlier on and she used it to her, just as she does to us – and various others including, Tim says, swearing at him with a short, sharp f-you. She doesn’t do that with me, but then I clearly don’t deserve it.

I used to speak and understand pretty fluent dog, which includes use of lip and eyebrows, but I don’t have occasion to use it any more and I’m probably rusty. You can’t just do it with anydog, in case they are disconcerted. Like a shared glance between people who know each other well, it doesn’t necessarily work with those you don’t.

Happy Blogday to Z!!(!)

Two posts today because I just realised it is my fourteenth blogging anniversary. Here’s my very first blog post, when I had nothing to say and I just sat down and had a go. I thought I’d mostly use the blog to record the books I read, the music I listened to, the plays and films I saw. There’s been a bit of that but, mostly, it’s just been waffle.



I read in the paper the other day yet another article about how much food we waste – at home, that is, as well as what’s thrown away from shops and restaurants. It’s an alarming quantity, but surely the figures are guesswork? How does anyone know what food is thrown away if you bag up your rubbish? Or whether it’s really waste or simply inedible, in the sense of genuinely useless rather than gone bad because you didn’t use it up?

As I said the other day, we’re pretty good about using up food. If I’m preparing vegetables for a casserole, for example, I keep suitable peelings and make stock at the same time, with any meat trimmings or bones etc and this gets used at once or frozen. After that, they go to the chickens or on the compost heap (which the chickens pick over anyway) and only bare bones go in the bin. So is that counted as thrown away food or is only stuff that’s gone bad counted, I wonder – and again, how do they think they know?

Where food is wasted is in too much being served at restaurants, I think. At the lunch club I go to monthly, a big bowl of vegetables and another of potatoes is always put on each table and at least half of them are left uneaten. They may be able to use the potatoes, I suppose, but the other veg are certainly thrown away, as are uneaten bread rolls etc. And if ever you’re served chips anywhere, there are always too many and the same with a burger bun, which is always huge and discarded at once, most of it.

Russell always used to clear our plates when we ate out. Not to eat the leftovers but to secrete them in a paper napkin and feed them to the chickens later. I was usually expected to keep the package in my handbag, which wasn’t any great joy, frankly, so I haven’t been doing that since he died – but I think it’s time I started. I’ll try to remember to take a bag with me. I know one can ask for a doggybag but it rather depends where you are, especially if you specify you want the vegetables and potato; if you are sensitive to funny looks.

Talking of the chickens, I wonder if one of the young girls is getting broody. She seems to have become a fixture in her nest box – I haven’t checked during the day for a few days, but she’s there morning and evening and she swears at me, using language that such a young hen should not know, when I reach under her. Thing is, she hasn’t laid an egg for a few days either. She is sitting on two, but they’re pot eggs. That is, they’re decoys, to kid your chickens that you haven’t stolen all their own eggs, so that they don’t lay away to hide them. They are real bought eggs – I’ve tried several sorts of fake ones but they know perfectly well that’s what they are. So I’ve drawn black crosses on the bought eggs and don’t pick them up.

I’ve looked on the skip hire website and they don’t specify glass, either to be put in or not, but they do mention it in their recycling information. So if that’s possible, it would be ideal. Still no hurry though, it can certainly wait until summer and not necessarily this summer…..

Catching up

Regular posting and reading of blogs has slipped over the past week. Not entirely sure why, but I may be back on track now.

Jonny came over the other day to talk about the new fence down the drive, which I hope will take shape soon. Tim and I have also been talking about the chicken’s greenhouse, which is looking more and more scruffy. We think it will have to come down and be replaced by a mostly wire run – the main problem is the removal and disposal of the glass. I am not at all sure how that is done. The tip doesn’t take panes of glass, let alone broken panes and there is an awful lot of it. I’m going to have to make enquiries but I think it’ll be very expensive. I don’t think I may even put it in a skip, though that’s the obvious solution if it’s allowed. It isn’t urgent but it would be good to deal with it in the next year. The greenhouse isn’t really unsound but the glass is old and we lose a few panes every year and have to cover the gaps with wire or plastic mesh and it doesn’t look great.

Dora has started her maternity leave, baby being due in four weeks’ time. We’re hoping everyone can come over here for lunch before then – obviously, the baby might scupper plans but she might be along any time in the next six weeks, come to that. I hope she isn’t late – Dora is so petite that carrying a whole lot of baby is quite uncomfortable.

Left over for tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow…

Tim made his famous leek quiche yesterday, which we had for dinner with some cavolo nero from the garden. And we thought we’d have some more for lunch today and freeze the rest. However, it turned out that Rose and a friend were invited in for a drink, which became lunchtime, so I made a salad too. So we felt pretty good that we’d got a ready-made, home cooked meal all ready for an impromptu lunch party.

I don’t have the full store cupboard that I used to have, but I’m still pretty sure that I could feed a dozen with half an hour’s notice, at any time. Probably with spaghetti and tomato sauce, to tell the truth, but it could be varied. We certainly have stuff we’ve frozen that could do with being used up. It’s like a long forgotten savings account that doesn’t pay much interest but is bound to come in handy one of these days.

I made the hare into a casserole – it was an enormous one. The thing is, a bigger than usual animal means an older one, which means it requires more cooking. Six hours, it took. And it’s certainly tasty, but we’ve had it twice and there’s enough for four more helpings. So I’m sure we’ll freeze it. But when will we then eat it?

I made yoghurt yesterday and have surplus whey, which will go into the bread I need to make tomorrow. It never stops, does it? Trying hard to waste no food, I am imaginative with leftovers. But it does seem to create quite a bit more work and there are only two of us, who don’t have big appetites. This is no complaint, just an observation with no solution.