Oh dearie me, too much speed ?

Since yesterday, I am on full stable duties, thus giving Nicky more time to take Max up to the meadow. Yesterday was hard work as it was ‘wet day’, that is the day that Nicky takes all his wet shavings out of his stable. I helped by removing all the dry stuff and banking it up around the edge of the stable, leaving just a big patch of wet for Nicky to cart off to the muck heap.

Proves just how soft my hands have become over the last five weeks, as, after moving all those shavings, I had the start of blisters on my hands!

Was up bright and early to give Max his breakfast before Nicky  arrived, so she could just change his rugs and take him up to his field. I mix his feed with water in the kitchen in the morning and then hook the bucket onto my crutch, and with difficulty as I am lopsided, hobble out to the stable. Yesterday, chucking around all of those shavings I found that my shower cap, over my orthopaedic boot wasn’t protection enough, so I tied a carrier bag over my boot first, then slipped on the shower cap. Felt quite chuffed with this arrangement, safe in the knowledge that I would keep the boot clean! It wasn’t until I had negotiated the stepping stones on the gravel outside my backdoor, then hopped across the yard, through the gate to Max’s stable – until I took the bucket off my left crutch, in order to open the stable door – that I could see my left foot. Oh dearie me, I still had my slipper on! Oh, how silly. Then had to hop back indoors to change into my wellie.

Fancy going outside with my slipper on!

Fancy going outside with my slipper on!

Mucking out, scrubbing manger, feed bucket and water bucket, sweeping up outside the stable, filling the hens’ hopper, was quite enough in one go for my unfit body, so decided to just fill the birdseed feeders and come in for breakfast.

I used to fill the bird feeders up every day or so. Today was the first time I had filled them for over a week. Oh, where have all my birds gone? Only seem to see great tits, a robin and the odd greenfinch on the feeder nearest the window, these days. Have they all disappeared to another garden in the village, that has a more plentiful supply? Are more people feeding them, so they are spread more thinly among the gardens? Or are there fewer birds? I do so hope it’s not the latter.

It’s a beautiful day and the sun is streaming in through the French windows. Only trouble is, that it shows up all the dust (and the dirty windows). After breakfast, before I sat down and put my foot up, I decided I would do some dusting with my super duper anti static wand thingey. Was a bit gung ho pushing it around behind a china candlestick, but, at the same time, being careful not to hit a rather precious blue and white meat charger hanging on the wall. As soon as I touched it, I knew that, with my reduced mobility, I wouldn’t be able to nip around and catch it, and it was destined to hit the floor, with a disasterous result.

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Oh dear, now that was really silly. Thinking that I ought to quit while I was ahead, I decided to sit down, put my foot up, and check my emails. Seems to me, a far safer occupation in my present frame of mind! Ho hum, these things happen, never mind, like Humpty Dumpty, I can stick it back together again!

 

Yet another day of firsts!

Well, we really are galloping on apace. Yesterday I had my first shower for nearly five weeks and today I went up the stairs, on my feet instead of my bottom. Hurrah, I would have never thought that such small things could bring so much pleasure!

Yesterday I made another Victoria sponge, which came out of the oven a little over cooked. My cooker must be 20 years old, and I think it might be trying to tell me something! Nevertheless, it is very yummy. Next time I think I’ll try my hand at a lemon drizzle cake, which I love, but have never made. That’ll be fun!

Little Alfie had a telling off this afternoon as he went barging off on his own accord, through the catflap. He had heard Nicky arriving to bring Max in and he has become rather fond of her!

I can’t have him doing that, not just because he could get out on the road, but because I’m afraid he might get stuck. He is becoming rather portly (all my cake that Nicky is feeding him when she thinks that I’m not looking) and I have visions of him getting stuck with this little legs left dangling in the porch. I would have to call out the fire brigade, and as I used to work for them in the days of yore, it would be rather embarrassing! Come to think of it, most of the firefighters I worked with have probably long since retired! Ha ha.

Must keep my ears tuned to the noises outside, as our local school is having a fireworks display tonight and I need to go out and check on Max. It’s about half a mile away so not too close, not like one of the firework parties in the village on Saturday. I thought that they had invited a tank regiment or an artillery regiment, sounded like mortars going off. Poor Max, he doesn’t like the bangs, though I think he quite appreciates the pretty aerial displays. He has a lovely big sky to watch from his stable and his eyes are out on stalks. He is so funny. Alfie, thank goodness doesn’t seem to worry about them. He really is very good, and is no trouble, well, until he decides to take himself off outside!

Who said keeping hens is easy?

I’d like to say that Ruby and Nellie, my two new ex-battery hens have settled in happily, but I can’t.

My previous experience of introducing new hens into my established flock, was when dear Buffy (rip) and Polly came four or five years ago. At that time the alpha hen was Hettie who, although she was boss, was a very kind hen. Everything went very smoothly and they were accepted into the flock only a few days after their arrival.

When dear Hettie ‘fell off her perch’ Polly, the Light Sussex took over as alpha hen, or ‘top dog’ ! I’m afraid I can’t say that she is a kind hen. She is a busy, neurotic, precocious hen that is bossy,and really ‘in your face’.

Polly, alpha hen

Polly, alpha hen

She is the only hen I have had that squats when you wave your hand over her. This squatting is an invitation to the cockerel to mount her! She must be more highly sexed, maybe than the other hens. For this reason, when she gets too hyper she tries to mount the other hens. Poor Buffy, was always the one that she picked on. Buffy was at the bottom of the pecking order, but she was a big hen and could take the weight of a mature Light Sussex, which is a large hen. Polly only did it now and again, so I didn’t perceive it to be a problem.

Poor Ruby, the larger of my two ex-batts, but still only half the size of Polly, is the one that Polly keeps chasing.  If she corners her, she jumps on her.  So far Ruby seems unscathed, no loss of feathers, nevertheless a frightening experience!  I am sure that if I had a cockerel, he would sort Polly out, but that would be yet another mouth to feed. As it is, I now have five hens and Polly is the only one laying.

Needless to say that Ruby and Nellie are still going to bed each night in their little broody coop that is inside the hens’ run. They do go in and out of the main coop during the day, just not at night. Yet.

Oh dear, why do I always make my life more complicated? I just want an easy life!

On a more positive note, this week more swallows arrived, so the sky around the stables is full of them swooping, circling and chattering! Such a lovely sight.

The first cuckoo and a very lucky mouse!

The day started badly. Was dragging on my clothes when I noticed Minnie scratching under the bedroom door. Thinking that her sister, Maisie, was on the other side I closed the door to have a look, but was surprised to see a little mouse scurrying away under the dressing table. Eeek, I thought, bleary eyed, I can’t catch that now! I sighed, fearing yet another corpse on the dining room floor later in the day.

As I went downstairs, I congratulated myself  that I had decided to put a wooden floor down in the dining room, rather than a new carpet. Much easier to clean up behind  the trophies that the cats seem to  be bringing in with sickening frequency.

I was late rising as I had stayed up to watch the new BBC2 detective series. It promises to be good, and was pleased that I had made the effort. But it meant that I was later to bed than usual with the obvious result in the morning. I need 8 hours sleep and my internal clock always wakes me up eight hours after I have gone to sleep.

Max, my horse, is very patient and accepts my irregular hours with equanimity. Always happy to greet me, with a nicker and a smiley face! I turned him out in home paddock as the weathermen said that it was to be really windy and rainy in the afternoon. He can be quite a handful bringing him back from the meadow with wind and rain driving into his face!

After taking delivery of a large number of bales of bedding for the stable, two men from the roofing company that installed my new roof last week, turned up to clear away the rubbish.  I have to say that I would highly recommend the company, Anglia Roofing Solutions. Have never had such polite, tidy workmen before! They were a pleasure to have around.

At last I got into the garden and carried on with flowerbed number two. For once I didn’t have my headset on, listening to Radio 4, so I was lucky to hear it. A cuckoo heralding summer, as it started to rain ! How wonderful, was so pleased as they have, sadly, become a rarity these days. Though I expect the local bird population are pleased at their decline, as, without them, they will only have the magpies, and my cats to contend with.

As I looked up from my toil, I saw Maisie sauntering past with a fledgling blackbird in her mouth! Oh my goodness, did I shout at her! But she didn’t drop it, just bolted off down the garden. Five minutes or so later, one of the roofers clearing the rubbish, who had heard me scream blue murder at her, called out to say that he saw her drop the bird on the drive at which point…. it flew away! Phew, I thought, one less little corpse on the dining room floor!

My poor garden, after night time temperatures of -14 degrees this winter,  so many shrubs seem to be dead or dieing. My bay tree looks decidedly dejected, as does my honeysuckle halliana and I think a well established variagated wigelia, in the bed I was weeding, has seen better days, too.

Distressed bay tree

Distressed bay tree

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Fortunately my spirea arguta is flourishing.

Spirea arguta

Spirea arguta

So many plants can’t cope with such low temperatures. Last year I lost a ceanothus, so planted another in a different place, but the new one looks as though it’s struggling. Will have to research carefully the new plants needed to fill all the spaces in the borders.

Well, here I was sitting writing this post. Max had his tea and my supper was in the oven. There was a rustling under the desk. Thinking that it was one of the cats, I peered into the gloom. Nothing there, only a cast-off cellophane wrapping, that had missed the wastepaper basket. So I carried on typing. There’s that rustle again. Strange I thought, I hadn’t moved my feet.  So I looked under the desk again and eeek, guess what, little mousie was sitting there looking up at me, as bold as brass.

Eeek (again) what could I do? Looking around I picked up an old shoe box and scooped up mousie, before he had time to think and whacked the lid on. Phew, saved him. I rushed downstairs, got into the kitchen and realised that there were two mouse-sized holes in the ends of the lid (presumably to help the shopkeeper to pull the box out of a stack). Eeek, did he jump out on the way down the stairs? Scooping up the kitchen towel I draped it over the box, grabbed a torch, as it was getting dark outside and rushed down the drive to the long grass area on the corner.  Took the towel off and then the lid and shone the torch into the box. Little mousie, dazed by the bright light was looking up at me. “Go on scoot,” I said as I tipped him out. He didn’t waste any time to say thank you and charged off into the long grass. As I walked back up the drive I had a big smile on my face! Ahhh, a happy ending, I thought.

A magic moment with Max

One of the many tasks horseowners have to undertake is field poo-picking. I do it every day to keep the grass in the meadow and turnout paddock, sweet. If left, the poo areas will get bigger and bigger and the grass areas smaller and smaller. So, every day I scan the meadow for his dung to pick up with my super duper horse pooper scooper.

One day last week I was hunched over concentrating on the job in hand (no pun intended!) and I felt a weight across my shoulder. Max had walked silently up behind me and rested  his chin on my shoulder. He then nickered quietly in my ear. The vibrations went through my whole body. My legs went weak and my heart pounded. He has never made such a soft, tender, gentle gesture before and it made me feel so close to him. It really must have been the magic moment of a lifetime!

Max in the foreground with Pippa  rip

Max in the foreground with Pippa rip


A memorable week #R2BC

Monday evening last week I was busying myself in the feed shed mixing Max’s tea, when I heard it. Could it be, I thought? Straining my ears, I stopped what I was doing. There it was again. My heart soared. They’re back, I thought. Then I heard it again… the unmistakable chattering of swallows. My swallows, back from Africa to spend the summer with me. I went out into the yard and there they were, a pair of them swooping and soaring,  chattering away. What joy, I was thrilled.

They have staked their claim on the stable next door to Max’s. The more dangerous one, I feel, where marauding cats are concerned, as the nest is on the gable end right in front of the door. Whereas Max’s door is on the left of the stable, the opposite end to the nest up in the pitch of the roof.

How lovely, now my family is complete!

Swallows born summer 2011

Swallows born summer 2011

Thursday was my last day working for Orchard Toys, after 5 years plus.  It was also the last day of my working life. I am now a retired person! Wow, my life is now my own. It still hasn’t really sunk in. Will now have time to ride Max, garden, grow my veggies, take photos and sort everything out. Whether I’ll have the energy is another thing!

At 11 am on the Thursday everybody was ushered into the canteen for my presentation. My boss said some really lovely things about me and I mumbled a thank you, not having prepared anything to say. Silly me.

I was gob smacked when I opened my leaving gift… It’s a Nikon SLR digi camera. I was, and am, absolutely thrilled. How kind of everybody!  I will now have the time to leisurely snap away and maybe drive off somewhere to get some shots. Hitherto, because of time constraints, I have had to take photos around the cottage or up at the field. Now, the world is my oyster! Can’t wait.

Another surprise was my card. Especially designed by Nicki one of the company’s illustrators, which shows me in my favourite cardi holding my mug. Apparently she has captured my stance perfectly. I had no idea I stood with one hand in my pocket!  What a lovely keepsake to remember my happy days at Orchard Toys!

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Another event that made this a very positive week, happened on Friday night. I was sitting eating my dinner. It must have been about 8 pm and it was dusk outside.  I heard one of the cats trying to get through the catflap. It kept going ‘click’ but the cat didn’t come through. (It’s one of those that is operated by the cat’s microchip. So every time they get close to it, it goes ‘clunk’ and it opens.) I went to investigate and it was Maisie, with a baby bird, or a small bird, anyway. I managed to scoop it up as it wasn’t flapping around, unlike the bird she brought in the other month.

It looked like a dunnock. I put it on the tray on the bird feeder. Maisie followed me out there so I picked her up and shut her in the bathroom.  I kept watching the bird feeder until it got dark. The bird remained there. I really thought that I would find it still there in the morning, dead. The forecast for that night was for frost.

This morning I went to check and it had gone. So I hope that it flew off. I haven’t seen a sparrow hawk in the garden for several years, so I’m confidant that it is still alive. Hurrah!

Then today when I was digging bean and potato trenches on the veggie plot, I saw a peacock butterfly, the first I’ve seen this year! Hurrah again!

Lots of reasons to be cheerful, which is kindly hosted by Michelle at Mummy from the Heart

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365 #16

Every six weeks the farrier visits to remove Max’s shoes, trim his feet back and replace the old shoes with a set of new ones. But, as he has not been ridden this winter they are not worn very much, so this visit I got off lightly as his old shoes were replaced.

You couldn’t wish for an easier horse to shoe, Max is such a good boy, perfect for my farrier’s new apprentice, Sarah, to practice on!

Although, in case you should wonder, this shot is of Steve burning the shoe onto Max’s foot.

A visit from the farrier

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