Today was Wink’s official moving day. Her furniture arrived on Monday, so I was able to arrange essential rooms, but there’s one room and the hall that are crammed with boxes and as-yet unallocated furniture.
She had a difficult journey, there had been a fatal accident on the M3 and there was a long delay. She should have missed it but there was a missing key because a kind neighbour packed it by mistake. Behind her now, all sorted, but Wink is tired and has gone to bed early.
Back here, I found the young cockerel and a hen that I hadn’t realised had got out. I tried distracting the indoor chickens with treats, only to find a lineup of cats putting the two remainers off approaching the doors. In short, I let all the chooks out for the day, shut them up late and I hope they are all in for good.
I’ve had a few problems with broadband for a couple of days. Slow and erratic and the hub has cut out and restarted several times. So I contacted BT this morning; while I was still in bed as it happened and it’s been sorted out by text. Oh joy. In fact, it couldn’t be repaired remotely and an engineer is coming out in the morning. But it’s so easy when it’s efficiently done – I’d expect a company whose core business is internet to have a good system – with no hanging on the line while the Four Seasons is playing – and I did speak to a real person in the end, to sign up for fibre broadband.
So all is good here and it’s a new phase of our journey at the Zedary.
It’s been near freezing all day. Started with freezing fog and didn’t warm up much. Not that it mattered much to us, we weren’t going anywhere. We were, however, disconcerted to find two chickens ambling around looking hungry. They had evidently got shut out the other day and have been roosting somewhere in the garden, only eating what they could forage. I gave them food and wondered how to catch them. We left the porch door open all day, with a dish of corn temptingly on the mat, but they were too cautious.
One was Mary, the only chick of Foster back in the spring, and the other was Foster herself. I managed to get Foster in with the others this evening but I’m not sure about Mary, who’d vanished. Either she scuttled in while I wasn’t watching or else she’s sleeping rough again. Unfortunately, having to leave the door ajar to get the girls in, two young cocks got out. One of them is still out, silly thing.
Mary is so called after the Blackberry Farm series of little children’s books which I adored when I was a small child. Each book told the story of one of the farm animals – the duck was called Walter and wore a scarf to keep his neck warm. I seem to remember that the pig was Henry, but I could be wrong. Mother Hen only had one chick, Mary, so any single hatchling is given that name by me. My Mary is quite distinctive because she’s bigger than most of the bantams, very shy, and she has a single black and white feather on the edge of each wing. She’s light brown otherwise. I don’t usually name chickens unless there’s a reason for it, mostly because I don’t find it very easy to tell them apart. Thank goodness I didn’t have twins. I wouldn’t have had a clue. My facial recognition skills are better than they used to be, but still barely adequate and chickens mostly look alike to me. I do have one splendidly multicoloured one though, who’s black, brown and white in exuberant blotches. I’ll probably name her, when I think of something.
It only took a couple of hours to empty the two vans. Rob and Simon are quick workers and I helped too, because I’m not very good at watching people and not pitching in. It’s surprising how much stuff Wink has. Her back sitting room/spare bedroom/etc is crammed full and it’s a very big room, but there are a lot of boxes that will be emptied into cupboards and shelves. The rest of the house is pretty uncluttered, because she needs to have some tranquil space to live in, even if it’s only a few rooms.
She had two sofas and they weren’t very old, but she really only wanted one of them, so we’ve swapped chairs for the spare one. It took a while to get an arrangement of furniture that we liked, but it’s done now. Eloise cat is thrilled with the new arrangement. She spent a while asleep on my lap and then, when I went upstairs for a bath, she settled down in my place and has been there for the last four hours. My sofa, she’s clearly saying. All MINE.
The chickens have been good humoured so far about being shut in, but stir craziness will set in soon, I suppose. They’ll get used to it, especially when we get bad weather. When I went down this morning, one anxious chicken was outside – evidently, she’d missed the shutting in moment yesterday. Luckily, as she was only one, she was keen to get in with the others and have her breakfast, so there was no difficulty. It was apparent that the chickens eat quite a lot of the cats’ food as their plates from the morning weren’t empty tonight. Sorry as I am for the chooks, it will be easier now with them safely inside.
I nearly couldn’t be bothered to do the chicken shed work today, but then I read that there was an avian flu outbreak at Attleborough and that’s closer than I would risk. It’s 16 miles by road but less as the bird flies, of course. So I put on my wellies, coat and a mask (I always wear a mask when clearing out the hen house because it gets dusty and just did the job. Today was their last day of freedom before lockdown.
I’ve been wanting to buy more coops for them to lay in, but I haven’t had much luck online. I haven’t found anything of the quality I want – this doesn’t imply anything fabulous, just durable and value for money – and I’m not in the mood to trail round shops on the off chance. So I’ve been using sturdy cardboard boxes and, when they collapse or get dirty, I just chuck them on the compost heap. But I’ve taped some together with bamboo sticks and that should make them less likely to collapse, whilst being just as disposable. This may seem a little casual, but the chickens do like the boxes.
One hen has been sitting for the past couple of weeks and protests loudly when I remove eggs from under her. She is not going to be allowed to sit on eggs. I can’t face the thought of more chicks and this is the consolation for me, for their frustration at not being allowed out any more. No laying away for the duration.
Wink’s house has been emptied, apart from a few items that she is giving away and needs until she actually leaves. She’s seeing a few friends before her final departure and is due here for lunch on Wednesday. She has a bed, a dining table and chairs, a cooker, her computer and printer and that’s about it, apart from a picture she forgot to wrap, so she’ll bring it in the car. Her cleaner is coming in on Tuesday so that everything will be left immaculate. She’s left me in charge of organising where the removal men are to put everything tomorrow morning – they were driving up to Bury St Edmunds, an hour away, this afternoon.
So doors are closing and opening here at the Zedery.
Chicken food bought, kindling bought, gas tank filled, petrol tank filled, Christmas beef and New Year haggis ordered. And the rest of the carpets have been washed and dried. I relax when Tim is here but I get a lot done when he isn’t. Luckily, he’ll be back tomorrow.
Before that, I’ve got to clean out the henhouse, which I maybe don’t do quite as often as I should. But there is avian flu in the country again and, for fear of a bad outbreak, the government has decreed that all poultry should be kept indoors from the 14th of this month. I’ll check where the nearest outbreak is tomorrow and if it’s well away, my little flock can have a respite for a bit longer. Otherwise, they’ll be shut in as soon as I’ve mucked out. It’s not so much that I’m afraid they’ll get it as that a commercial flock will and all chickens within the designated area will have to be culled. If they’re safely indoors, they won’t be at risk.
I’ve been sorting out the presents I’ve bought and I’m not far off ready. Men are still a problem though – but when are they not?
I’ve shampooed the carpet today, which was a dull and strenuous job. I’ll go over any parts that I didn’t do well enough and do the passageway tomorrow. I had to check online how to work the machine – it was easy enough, in fact, but I wasn’t sure where to put the water as there are two compartments, for clean and for used, dirty water.
The reason for it is that Wink only wants one of her sofas. She’s only had them a shortish time and, whilst there’s room for both of them, she’d rather have the flexibility of armchairs. So I’ve swapped two wing armchairs for her spare sofa. We’d meant to buy a new one a few years ago, but unfortunately the only one we found that we liked was from Multiyork, about a fortnight before they went bust. We wished we’d ordered it as they did fulfil orders. Anyway, whilst this wouldn’t have been our absolute choice, it’s very comfortable and it’ll be fine. If ever we find something we like better, we can always change it. But I don’t suppose I’ll want to move all the furniture to wash the carpet for a while to come.
I’m still going to have to take at least one chair out of the drawing room, though. That’s quite easy – my mother bought a recliner, which is not at all attractive but is extremely comfortable and it was useful when I had my hip done because the only other chair at the right height was one I gave to Wink when she had her hip done. Rather than bring it back, I just used the one I had and I’ve never moved it out. I also have a very handsome Georgian wing armchair and I’d been going to move that back to the dining room, but Tim thinks it would be daft to move such a lovely piece of furniture to somewhere where it won’t be noticed. So some other juggling will be required. At least my big television won’t have to be accommodated any more, because I’ve swapped that for Wink’s little portable, which can go anywhere. We watch tv so little that it’s hardly worth having a big one – though Tim and I both watched High Society last night, 160 miles from each other. Togetherness, after all.
Tomorrow, I must buy chicken feed. I’d been going to fetch some yesterday, after Wince helped me unload the car. Unfortunately, because rain was forecast, he didn’t come. So I trailed back and forwards with heavy boxes for an hour and then decided against fetching 20 kilo bags of food. But the 30+ chickens go through an awful lot of it. I really must rehome some of them.
I felt quite guilty, noting all the signs on the motorway telling me to stay home and not make unnecessary journeys; yet it wasn’t unnecessary in fact. Wink has lived in that house for 37 years and has a lot of stuff. Probably unwisely, she airily thought she could do all her own packing and the removal company would just do the moving, but it’s actually an awful lot of work, once you start emptying cupboards. Anyway, I have another carful and she’s on the last lap. The removal van will be filled on Sunday and get here on Monday, and she’ll follow a couple of days later (she’s leaving a bed and her dining table and chairs behind, so will have basic furniture and can bring the last odds and ends herself. I drew up a floorplan to scale so that she can tell me where the bigger items of furniture will go and anything I’m not sure of, and the boxes, can go in the big back room to be unpacked at her leisure.
My present car has an in-built satnav, the first time I’ve had a car with one. And it also links to my phone, if I plug the phone in. Which I do, because I like to listen to downloaded radio programmes when I’m in the car on my own. However, there’s a really annoying design flaw. When the phone is plugged in, it automatically goes to the phone satnav and there is no option to use the car one. But, if I have to stop and leave the car (and lock it) then it switches off and, if it’s somewhere where there isn’t a good internet signal, the satnav doesn’t come on again because it uses internet rather than GPS. When I got lost in the country lanes of Essex, I swore mightily about it because I didn’t know what the problem was.
Tim gave me, a couple of years ago, a fabulous satnav; the best bit being that it has voice recognition. So you can programme it whenever you need to without touching it and it works superbly. But there isn’t anywhere convenient to attach it to the windscreen. I tried several places and it was not really safe to glance at it. So, in the end, I stuck it on top of the car satnav screen. Hah. I know the way to Wink, of course, but like to use it for traffic updates and to check how long the journey will last.
Tim is off to his house tomorrow for a few days, so we’ll test the absence makes the heart grow fonder aphorism. I’ve got a lot to do here and he’s going to be busy there, so we won’t sit around moping.