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Friday, 25 March 2016

Good Friday Fun!


We had a lovely day today. The sun was shining and it was absolutely glorious!
We went out to the RSPCAs fun day at the local animal centre, it was really busy! Manically so! The kids had really good fun and the RSPCA reported raising well over £1000 for the animals today :)

Afterwards we went to the Hurricane and Spitfire museum to see the lanes, and we had a spot of lunch  in the cafeteria.


Cheeky boy!


The weather was beautiful, and the kids had a run around on the grass with their new toy planes.

Then we went across to the RAF museum


Look mummy! Its a tank!


All 3 kiddos sitting on a Wessex RAF search and rescue helicopter. The smell of this thing takes me straight back to my childhood. My daddy used to work on the sea kings. I had an almost overwhelming urge to crawl into the cockpit and curl up in a seat. 

The chicks are doing well, they are a week and a half old now, and are double their original size, and their wings are feathering up nicely. They are starting to get little stubs of tail feathers too They will get more and more awkward and straggly looking over the next few weeks until all of their adolescent feathers are in.



Imi loves her chickies!


And we have sunflowers poking through in the conservatory!

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

My Messy Garden

Its been neglected a bit over the winter.




The dividing fence blew down, the rubbish has built up, there are coops in need of repair and everything is a tad overgrown.


Our lawnmower died last autumn, so i need to replace that, and i need a new garden fork.

School holidays are coming up fast, and i have some time off work, so i will spend as much time as i can out in the garden sorting this mess out. The kids can run around out there with me.

I'll post progress pics as we go.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Springy spring!

Ostara activities abounded today!

I know we are a little early, but they are at school tomorrow, so we had a day of spring related crafting and planting.

We planted Echinacea and Sunflowers for summer colour. (I wanted those pots for veggies,but the children wanted flowers, so we did flowers. I'll get more pots in the week.)


They painted Bunny and Chick masks, and once they were done, they carried on painting spring pictures until dinner time.


All supervised by these cuties.

Blessed Ostara everyone!

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Chicken Upgrade!!

Well, their home anyway.

The big chickens got a new run at the weekend.

Its been sat in my shed since October waiting to go up, but we finally got around to putting it up.

Old Set up:





Pros: Moveable
         Compact

Cons: Too low
           Have to dismantle the run every time i need to clean it.
           Narrow. The chickens always pill their water everywhere trying to get past each other, which              waterlogs the floor of the run.
           Pretty broken now to be honest.  The coop is salvageable, but i think the run will end up on the            allotment as seed protection.


New Set up:



Pros:  Walk in! Much easier for cleaning. Birds have the use of the height of the run as well as the                  length and width.  I will be installing chicken furniture soon for them to climb on.
           More space means they are less likely to push past each other and knock their water                              everywhere.
           I can deep litter the floor of this run as it is a permanent structure that wont need dismantling              every couple of weeks. This should make cleaning easier.
           More sturdy.  The old one was getting very rickety and all of the catches that held it together              were either broken, or heading that way rapidly. This new run will be much more secure.



It as a lovely day on Friday, so i just decided to go for it.
                                                                       Nymphadora likes to sit on the top of  the coop. I think                                                                       she likes that she can see everything from up there. Speckles                                              cant quite figure out how she manages it.


Imogen said she would help.


But I think it might have been too much for her.


The frame was finished on Friday, but I had to stop there.

Saturday saw me wrangling with chicken wire. My hands are shredded, but we got the main body of the run done.



Sunday we got the ends on, Pressure washed the courtyard underneath and got the girls settled into their new home.



Chickachick- Ah!


Up above we have these guys brooder. I only had a little box, i will get them  bigger one over the next couple of days. One cheeky chap has popped out from under the brooding plate to have a look around.

I prefer to use a brooding plate rather than a heat lamp for my chicks.  I feel it gives them a more natural experience, as hiding under a mother hen they would be warm and cosy and dark.

The brooder plate also uses less electricity than a traditional heat lamp, at only 20watts. There is also less risk of it causing a fire, which is a really big concern of mine as they are in my house.

They will stay in here for a few weeks, after which i will transition them with their brooding plate to the outside coop, separate from the older ladies until they are of a size when they can hold their own
 

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Hatching Day!

The most exciting of all days!

Yesterday evening, we had a pip. A little hole in the egg where the chick has used its egg tooth to crack the surface slightly. Exciting!

But... when i got up this morning, nothing had changed. Disappointed face.

About 9:30 though, this had happened.


The crack grew wider as the chicken unzipped (or slowly pecked with its egg tooth in an anticlockwise direction around the egg)



And he's out!


 He hatched around 10:30 am


The white spot on his head declares this one a boy.

video

Here he is!

The second to hatch was egg no4, and this one looks to be a girl, but we will see better when she's dried out a bit.


Hey Bro! Get off my egg! I'm trying to hatch here!


I'll update here as the others hatch.



UPDATE

2 boys and a girl so far. 1 more egg to go. So far the remaining egg has had a few wobbles, but no cracks have appeared yet.

UPDATE 2
So we are all hatched out. 2 boys. 2 girls and 2 that didnt develop.

That seems to be a pretty typical hatch rate for me. The past couple of years i ended up with a chick that died at the hatching stage, which didnt happen this time, so thats a bonus!


I have another batch of eggs here ready to go in, so the incubator wont be empty for long. I'll get it washed and sterilised and on the go again!

I'll put up a new post with cute chick pictures.


Monday, 14 March 2016

Disaster! (but i hope not!)

Our electric ran out overnight.

Silly me thought it would last till this morning, but we must have used more than I thought over the weekend.

I threw a towel over the incubator, and rushed to get more. It was only off for an hour, but it was long enough for the incubator temperature to drop to 31 degrees Celsius :( . I hope that the internal egg temperature didn't drop too much and that they will hatch as expected tomorrow. Only time will tell.

Its going to be a nervous 24 hours.


UPDATE!

We have our first pip!!

And so it begins!


Saturday, 12 March 2016

Chick Update!

3 days to go!!

Today I stop turning them in their incubator. This is so that they have a chance to orient themselves in their eggs so that they are in the correct position for hatching. If they are in the wrong position, they may not break out into the air sack, and drown. We don't want this, so we give them a couple of days to sort themselves out.

We also need to increase the humidity inside the incubator. The egg has an inner membrane which is very soft and flexible which the chick needs to break through. I am sure you have seen it at some point when cooking eggs, that membrane you can peel away. Have you seen it once the egg has been open for a couple of hours? This membrane goes really tough and hard to break. We increase the humidity to stop it going tough. A chick can take up to 24 hours to hatch from its egg, and if that membrane goes hard, then it can be fatal for the chick. So we need a little extra moisture in the air.

My incubator is a Brinsea mini eco.  Its a basic model, but it has been such a good incubator.  It holds a temperature really steady, I only ever have to adjust it during the setting up stage.



The water pot on the mini eco is divided into 2 halves. During the first phase of incubation (up until now) we filled half of the pot. This is so that the air sac in the egg could develop properly while still keeping the air humid and warm. Now we need to fill both sides to make the humidity rise for hatching.

Im upgrading the adult chickens living area at the moment (details to come in another post!), but as soon as i am done with that i will be setting up the brooder for when these little ones hatch. Not long now!

Drying Chillis

I bought these chillies last week from ALDI, as they were on offer.

We don't use chillies often, but I like them, so I thought for that price, i could dry some and have them on hand, which is what I am doing today.

My lot don't like spicy food, so I am removing the seeds to cool the heat down a bit, and i am laying them out on a baking tray.




I preheated the oven to 130 degrees, and the chillies went in quite low down in the oven. I left them for around 3 hours, checking on them sporadically, until they were completely dry.

(I think I might have left them a little too long! Ooops!)



I then just popped them in a sandwich bag, and into my spice drawer to use later.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Still on a making kick!

I'm on a crafting mission at the moment.

I had a new delivery of roving wool on tuesday, so i have been doing more spinning. I really love the colours on this corriedale wool.



These pictures make the colours look a little washed out, but believe me they are so jewel-like and beautiful. Keira wants some of this wool plaited into her hair for her Prom.

I have also been crocheting. I have finished Keiras blanket, and moved on to Imogens.

I'm using  different stitch this time. I am using Crochet Geeks abstract cat afghan crochet pattern.  It can be found here: http://www.crochetgeek.com/2009/04/abstract-crochet-cats.html

Im liking the way it is working up. Imogen chose her colours.


Also last week, i got the urge to make a friend a last minute birthday gift. I had bought her a colouring book and some new pencils, but i felt she needed something to put her new pencils in.

So I made this:

I had everything in my fabric box already, and i had thought for a while that the fabric was perfect for her, I just hadnt thought of a project for them both. Everything fell into place and she was so pleased with her gift. It made me smile.

Chick Update: They look like eggs.  But we are edging closer to the exciting days.

5 days to go! 

Monday, 7 March 2016

Day 13

8 days to go!

I checked in on the eggs this evening, and it looks like the one i wasnt sure about has definitely stopped growing. So we are down to 4 :(

I couldnt get good pics because at this stage the egg is almost completely dark as the chick is starting to take up the majority of the egg. There is a light spot toward the fat end of the egg, which is the air sac. At around day 20, the chick will break through its membrane with its beak and breath for the first time from the air in the air sac, which will stimulate hatching, so it important that this sac is developing well. If it is too small, it could be because the incubators humidity is too high.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

We lost one. :(

With every animal rearing endeavour, there are good parts and bad parts.

When I candled the eggs last, ( i know, its an extra check to the ones i said i was going to do) it was pretty obvious that one of them definitely wasnt developing. The eggs shone the light through bright and clear, when by now, there should be a large dark patch and movement within the egg. I removed it from the incubator, because i didnt want to risk it going rotten and exploding (Yes, it is possible!) and contaminating all my other eggs. So egg number 5, to you we say goodbye :(

Another of the eggs looks like it is delayed, compared to the others, but as it had changed from the previous check, i left it in. Sometimes they can be a bit behind and still hatch ok.


So i reckon we are looking at 3 or 4 chicks, some will probably be boys, so i will need to hatch another clutch this year to keep my flock going.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Chilly Chillies!

Well, heatless at least.

I know, it is march (already!!), and i am a bit late getting my chillis started. I dont usually grow chillis, because the family are a bit averse to spicy hot food. I include myself in that, because athough i love the spicy flavours, i really dont like feeling like my mouth (and then my bottom!) is on fire. Call me weird.

I do love the flavour of a good chilli though. So i looked around, and i found these heatless varieties from www.southdevonchillifarm.co.uk


They even came with a handy set of instructions.

I planted them up as per their instructions, and popped them in my new heated propagator, which I bought from ALDI for £12.99  last week.  It will live on the windowledge of my conservatory, tucked behind my wall unit so that the kids dont mess with it.


So hopefully this summer we will have some nice sweet mild chillis and everyone can stop complaining that their tongue is stinging!!


You may have spotted my plant labels in the above picture. I dont buy plant labels. They always get lost or blown away or kids run off with them to do goodness knows what with (Why do they even want them?). The joys of a young imagnation.

plant labels. Yes. Thats where i was. I make mine out of empty milk bottles. The big 2 litre ones usually, because we go though a mammoth amount of milk.
I just cut them up until i have strips. Nothing fancy to it. It serves two purposes. I am too cheap to buy labels, and fewer milk bottles end up clogging up my recycle bin. Win / win!



I hope you are all having a lovely Wednesday!

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Plot Lines

Plot lines.

So much happened during my blogging absence, that I’ll have to fill you in slowly. One of those momentous changes was my plot.

I went from this:



(Dec 2010)

To This!


(Aug 2012)

It’s a much bigger space to work with, which in some ways is good, and some ways it isn’t.

I like having the extra space to pan projects for, but it is much much harder keeping on top of such a big project, and because of this, my pot always looks pretty shabby, especially in the middle of growing season when everything is growing faster than I can deal with it.

Im hoping to show you all more here as time goes on. Maybe as the season gets started I’ll do a weekly plot pick, as some of my favourite bloggers like Soulemama.com and http://glallotments.blogspot.co.uk/  do regularly.


If nothing else, showing you all might get me to tidy the place up a bit!