The chimney turned into quite a worry. We waited a couple of days and then lit the fire again. After a while, it smoked heavily again. The sweep couldn’t come until Thursday and, on Wednesday, we tried again. It was fine for about twenty minutes and I cancelled the appointment, for quite five minutes; but then the room filled with smoke again.
It’s still a mystery. He swept the chimney thoroughly and almost nothing came down – soot wasn’t to be expected as he swept it back in the summer, but there was nothing untoward. The chimney had a stainless steel lining installed before we moved here, so 34 years ago and, as soot is corrosive, it’s possible that a new one is needed. This is a highly depressing prospect – not so much because of installing the new one, but getting the old one out. However, we gave it one more go … and the problem has been cured, it seems. Our theory is that a bird tried to build a nest and sticks got stuck, the first few fires we lit consolidated the debris so that, after a few times, it jammed the chimney. However, it was still gradually being destroyed by the fire and, when Leigh put his brush up, it flew up the chimney rather than down into the grate.
Not very convincing, I know, as an explanation, but it’s the only thing I can think of.
The chickens are still fine together, though the old ones are a bit unsettled by all these youngsters rushing round. When I go out to the greenhouse, the big black ones hurry up to me and tell me all about it. I’ve added a couple more perches, which has helped accommodation. There’s plenty of room but they don’t all want to cuddle up. The two big black hens are laying in the other greenhouse, by the grape vine; the big brown hen is off lay at present and I’ve no idea where, if anywhere, the bantams are laying. When we get a few days of bad weather, I’ll keep them in. Then, at least I’ll know if they are laying at all. Right now, they’re really not earning their keep.