From Running Late for a Fur and Feather Mart to 2 Kitchen Chickens in one easy step…………How ?

Last Friday evening I mentioned to my beloved husband that there was a Fur and Feather Sale in a town about an hours drive from here, that I would like to go to the following day. So a plan was hatched to rise early get the gaggle of children fed, dressed and with their teeth brushed so that we could leave the house at 9am at the absolute latest……yes the best laid plans and all that…

We actually left the house at 9.45am with two of the children taking their toast with them to eat in the car, daughter who is known as Bean had dressed herself without any input from an adult and as a result looked liked a shorter version of Margot from The Good Life complete with scarf in her hair all that was missing was the kaftan. Nobody had any recollection of helping Rhino – the youngest child brush his teeth so we are still unsure as to whether he left the house with clean teeth or not, personally I suspect the latter.

So we arrived at The Mart late, there were so many people there already it was quite impossible to get a good view of what was in the cages and the bidding had already started and was marching on at a terrific pace. So we did not start from a promising position, my husband then asked for our bidder number and before I could issue instructions as to what had managed to catch my eye in the brief minute we had been there he was gone at speed and very quickly unable to be seenĀ  by any of us. The minutes ticked by and I managed to keep The Gaggle amused looking into the cages and cooing adorably at all the cute, fluffy, furry things and suddenly Husband was back looking slightly bemused and winded.

“How did you get on?” I enquired,

“Well, I bought a couple of things” he replied and then started to look shifty and started mumbling.

“Shall we all go and get a cup of tea?” he asked. Now I am not certain but I am sure that some of the wise old sage like Farmers who were stationed close by started to giggle and they too began to mumble something unintelligible to each other.

“How about you tell me what you bought?” I asked a little more forcefully now and through gritted teeth aware that we were acquiring an audience with every second passing

“I would rather not” came the reply. Well to cut a long story short, I finally managed to prise out of my husband that he had bought 4 Marans, age unknown but I suspect about 16 weeks old and 2 slightly stunned looking 7 week old Chicks….yes that’s right he bought chicks that had probably still been on heat lamps just days before. Well they were scruffy, needing to put some fat on and lacking in feathers which is how they came to be our resident Chicks in the Kitchen for 4 days whilst we waited for the coldest weekend in recent memory to pass.

Obviously the Gaggle of Children were thrilled to have them in the kitchen on a semi-permanent basis rather than for the usual few minutes stuffed up their jumpers which is normally what happens if I turn my back. I on the other hand as Chief Chicken Vet was less than thrilled with the arrangements. I desperately wanted to liberate them from the confines of the kitchen as the smell which greeted me each morning was horrific, chicken poo is one of the smelliest substances known to man. So after much discussion with The Gaggle I managed to palm them off onto one of our older hybrids Daisy on Day 4. She took to her instant family without problem but as a result of this enforced motherhood has now gone broody….I suppose I would be wise to laugh at the bizarre moments in my life and will not be letting my bidding card out of my sight if we are within 100 metres of a Mart thats for sure.

In my Husbands defence he claims that he bought the Chicks as a humanitarian act. Whilst he was looking at the birds in the cages a teenager kept poking the two little chicks and he felt sorry for them…… more bidding for him I think or our 22 girls, yes you did read that correctly our 22 girls will complain!

Meet Rose, she is about 8 weeks old here and the size of a bag of sugar, including feathers.

Silver Mist the little white Mille Fleur Bantam and Delilah a Black Rock. With the dog in the background plotting revenge on a squirrel……







Desert Island Discs………your thoughts please?

Try as I might the notion of music playing in the house all day generally brings me out in hives, it stops me from concentrating and after a while can make me somewhat snappy. I find that my musical tastes do not generally collide with that of my husbands; a fact for which I am very grateful as he is old hence the gaping chasm that exists in our differing tastes. If I want to subject the house to a rather disparate mixture of music I have an iPod which does the job perfectly well and thankfully remains unchanged from one year to the next and so I never need to be troubled by the dreadful sounds that appear to be permanently on Radio 1.

Instead I find great comfort in the gentle background ramblings and hum of Radio 4. The radio gets switched on first thing in the morning when I boil the kettle for the first coffee of the day and it then stays on until the last person heads upstairs to bed at night. It entertains the dogs who are I believe huge fans of The Afternoon Play, they nod sagely to the various up and downs in The Archers and have probably gained some invaluable advice on Inheritance Tax from Money Box. I adore Radio 4 and Desert Island Discs has a particular place in my heart. I love the guests who have just picked their eight favourite songs that mean a lot to them and I don’t really care that people find them low brow and I secretly adore listening to the insufferable snobs who have chosen their tracks as they think that it will make them sound learned and intellectual when we all know they actually listen to The Birdie Song and know Agadoo word for word.

Well in case you were wondering my list in no particular order would be as follows;

1. Samuel Barber – Adagio for Strings but very partial to the trance version by William Orbit as well. <<appears learned for a second and then introduces the notion of trance and lowers the tone>>

2. Blue Oyster Cult – Don’t Fear the Reaper. << lowers tone slightly further >>

3. Metallica – For Whom the Bell Tolls << blog explodes >>

4. Delerium featuring Sarah McLachlan – Silence <<……>>

5. Gotye Somebody That I Used to Know – a friend recently posted a link on Facebook about this and I adore it.

6. Beth Orton – Don’t Need a Reason. << not me being snippy but the actual title >>

7. REM – The Great Beyond.

8. South African National Anthem – if you ever watch it on You Tube it tends to be sung by The Springboks with the rather yummy Lock Victor Matfield singing his heart out.

The Bible, ah yes a tricky one this my initial reaction to this was definitely not. A very strict Convent School Education has meant that I am out the other side and a committed atheist so it would be little use to me….however I could always use it as a door stop if I built a house to let the sea breeze circulate or to kill large spiders with as I am assuming my Desert Island will be off Africa so for that alone worth packing for. << waits for a large bolt of lightening to strike >>

The Complete Works of Shakespeare – I am not a fan, I hold my hands up and admit yes I am a philistine but I put that down to being dragged to a Theatre many miles away in Newcastle on the same night as Anthrax a band I was particularly fond of in my youth were playing at the next door theatre so the cards were always going to be stacked against dear William, but maybe now is the time for a rematch?

My Luxury Item – oh, this is so difficult a photo album of my family or a pen and paper, after much reflection the album wins.

My Book – without a doubt it would be Rainbows End by Lauren St John, a memoir of a childhood growing up in what was Rhodesia. It has the freedom that I wish I could give my children and which I experienced to an extent growing up in Hampshire however it would be definitely be without the violence and bloodshed St John experienced.

So there you go the Desert Island Disc choices of womaninabarbour, what about you…….?

Well you can stop fretting for yes, the mystery of the missing eggs is finally solved……hurrah!

Here at the Barbour residence we could be described as having a somewhat fundamentalist approach to our chickens. Some 18 months ago whilst I was driving my oldest child home from a party on a Saturday evening, conscious that my wild and boozy child free days were very much a dim and distant memory I popped into a friends’ house to buy some of her eggs and have a cheeky glass of dry white and so the madness began. Chicken keeping is in my opinion more addictive than crack cocaine. We started with four chickens, Celia, Meadow, Daisy and Megan; 3 hybrids and a Dutch Bantam. Today we have 16 and counting, there is a Fur and Feather Mart next weekend so the numbers will inevitably rise. To date our ever-expanding flock has decimated an entire, well established vegetable patch, cost me more than I will admit in coops, layer pellets and poultry tonic and means that I am to be found of an evening poo-picking, far less glamorous than it sounds and involving me in rubber gloves removing chicken poo from the garden. The girls now have two very comfortable coops which on days when the children are driving me insane I seriously consider sitting in just to get a few moments without somebody needing a backside wiped, plaster applied or an argument settled.

So when I looked at the laying chart stuck up on the kitchen wall last Monday and noticed that numbers were down I began to worry. A laying chart perhaps suggests I have some sort of control freak tendencies to my personality and run a very tight ship here, alas nothing could be further from the truth. We lurch from one lost riding boot to the next missing gum shield and I frequently dream of the day when order descends upon us. Instead the idea came from one of the ancient farmers I always seem to get talking to at the local Fur and Feather Mart which we go to with alarming regularity. My husband finds it all very amusing however these old farmers clearly feel my muddy wellies, battered Barbour and my gaggle of ruddy cheeked children give me the air of somebody who knows what she was talking about. If only they knew, it is for the most part seat of your pants stuff which happily seems to be working since we have only had one fatality in the last 18 months which was due to old age.

Anyway I digress, the egg numbers were down; the girls were eating all the kitchen scraps and layer pellets as usual, the sun was shining and they were all in rude health. So yesterday morning eldest son and myself were sat in the garden enjoying the sun and chatting about all things chickens when one of his chickens – Megan, excitedly announced that an egg had been laid. After a thorough examination of the coop revealed nothing we tailed Megan down to the bottom of the garden, through all the tress and then there was an excited yelp from oldest son. Pass me a bucket Mummy came the slightly alarming request accompanied by lots of mutterings. Son emerged with much shrubbery in his hair and 15 eggs in their many differing colours in a bucket!

So I seems that Megan may have ‘gone broody’ and given that there were different coloured eggs in the nest in the trees may well have encouraged two or three of her feathered chums to do the same……I shall be having words with them all and will, of course keep you posted as to progress.

Gosh….I have a blog

An introduction would seem polite I would suggest. I am a married, stay at home mum with a husband who irritates me and amuses me in varying degrees and more small children than hands. I am in my late thirties not in the least bit glamorous, have very little interest in clothes viewing them as an alternative to nakedness. I have no idea what is and what isn’t desirable this season and even less desire to find out and have every intention of being buried in my beloved Barbour jacket. In fact my only hint towards being female is an inability to leave the house without my make up on.

I am of the get a grip school of parenting coupled with a hugs as needed, believe in sports day being competitive, am an advocate of fresh air as an aid to life’s troubles, am a stickler for manners and correct spelling and always have a cake of some description nestling on top of the fridge for anyone to help themselves to. We have dogs and far too many chickens that either wander around the garden, appear in the kitchen under one of the children’s jumpers or sunbathe.

I am also slightly too obsessed with Africa for it to be healthy and have vowed to visit every country there before I draw my last breath on a motorbike on my own, once the children are at University, in a career and less in need of clean socks than currently.

So the reason for this blog is three-fold; firstly to awaken my slumbering brain, it is nearly ten years since I was in any form of paid employment and I fear that the world may well have carried on without me and progressed somewhat secondly to have a record to bore the next generation with and finally it’s an interesting alternative to housework which I do sporadically under sufferance.