Saturday, 26 July 2008

Shed extension and other stories..

It's been a while since I have any time to go down the new place and actually do any work - the big summer holiday from school has hit us like a freight train and to be honest I'm still in a state of shock trying to adjust to all day every day having the boys around...

...that's not to say, of course, that I have any problem with having the boys at home, it's just it's a little hard leaving Jo on her own with both and going out, so I try to take what time I can when I can!

The shed has been neglected, as far as doing any further work to the mini extension that has been mutually agreed by Jo and I. So the other day, I had a meeting with our project manager on site, and I realised this was my chance to do something constructive.

I've been digging the hole for the base to go onto/into - I say into as the main shed/workshop is on a slope, so I've had to dig into hardcore and MOT stone, which hasn't been too bad but hard work - especially when I'm digging about 15 minutes at a time. It wouldn't be too bad, but every shovel full means 5 minutes using a pickaxe to loosen the stone!

Friday I visited one of the builders merchants I used to work for and bought some timber for the base, made a frame approx 10'x8' and started to noggin it out (noggins are the short bits of wood between the long bits of wood - in case you didn't know!). As you can see from the photo, the noggins are at one end so far - that is the end where the doors will go onto, and therefore the noggins are where the mower/tractors wheels will be going over, they will support the weight nicely.

What I'll be doing next is to continue the alternative noggins across the frame, then put it in situ and place concrete blocks under the frame making the whole thing nice and solid.

Once that has been done, the 3/4" OSB board will go on top to make the floor, then a small frame, then I'm going to use the internal doors that I managed to salvage from the house to make the walls. If it needs weather proofing after I'll get some 6" feather edge timber and clad it.

Anyway - at least it's progressing slowly!


Thursday, 24 July 2008

One man and his chickens wins blog award!

Yes, thanks to Little Veg Patch, both myself and Jo my wife have won an award for our blogs!

The rules state to name 7 other blogs, but since I've only just done something similar, I shall point people to my post below this one and hope to get away with just doing that!

link - Tag I'm it!

(I hope I don't get into any trouble for this!)


Sunday, 20 July 2008

R.I.P Polly.

I'm sorry to announce that Polly has passed on.

Very sad about doing this today.


Saturday, 19 July 2008

Tag I'm it!

I’ve been tagged! My friend Don at A view from the Green Barn tagged me to share six random things about me, and then tag six others.

I probably won't be as good at this as him though...

So Here are my six random things:

1. I learnt to play the drums at 8 when my Dad let me use his set.

2. I have really small hands!

3. Even though I shave my head, my hair has lasted me longer than my Dads hair has lasted him!

4. The thing that made me sit up and notice my wife when I first met her was her beautiful green eyes!

5. I used to help Zak score goals at 'Seagull Specials', which is a football team for kids with special needs, supported and run by Brighton and Hove Albion - our local team.

6. One of my old motorbikes won 'Worst Rat' at a bikers rally- which means it was the worst bike in the entire rally. (think Mad Max type of bike! Matt black and using beer can for air intake)

I’m tagging:

Jo my wife at Jo Blogs - it's amazing how she thinks up all those ideas - and I'm so so proud of her for being asked to have her designs published in international magazines! and she has another blog too - Jo Blogs Outdoors (Love you Jo!)

Connie at Cetta Cheese Chatter - she is my friend in Hawaii who is in Television, also does a lot of crafting - her charms and jewellery is fantastic!

Greta at Little Brown Hens - she says she's a 16 year old stuck in the body of a 50 y/o. She really cares for her ex-battery hens, as you will see when you visit her blog!

LVP at Little Veg Patch is another on my blog list, she has a town garden that she has transformed into a hive of activity, with her ex-battery chickens and vegetable patch.

Angel at Stormdreaming - she has firm opinions and will let you know about them! She loves art and graphics, and takes some cool photos.

Math from Ramblings of a Technomage - he and Angel are online gamer friends, Math writes programs and stuff for his Mac PC including some stuff he develops. Math is also an accomplished cook, and loves to share recipies for cakes!

It's difficult for me to do this, mainly as I don't have time at the moment to go blog surfing, but I hope those that are mentioned here will get a few more readers!

Tag Rules:
Link to the person who tagged you.
Post the rules on the blog.
Write six random things about yourself.
Tag six people at the end of your post.
Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Emergency at the coop!

I went down the new place last night and found that one of our chcikens had had a prolapse while laying an egg.

Not a very nice thing to experience, I can tell you.

I cleaned her up as best I could last night and made her as comfy and as clean as I could - after pushing everything where it should be.

Polly, as I've named her for obvious reasons, was a little better this morning when I got there earlier, she still had a prolapse, but it was only half as bad as it was the night before.

I found our plastic pet carrier and took a towel down to the new place along with a nice clean newspaper. Once there I managed to catch her quite quickly and easy (my confidence at picking them up is improving every time I do it) and put her gently into the carrier, where she sat nice and quiet on the newspaper.

I put her in the back of the car, and driving carefully so not to let her slide around in the back, I drove down town to get some Preperation H. Prep H is a hemorrhoid cream, non greasy. (I used to use it on my tattoos to keep them nice).

When we got home, i brought her out of the carrier and covered her front half with the towel so I could work on her back half. A washing up bowl filled with warm salty water was by my side along with lots of sheets of kitchen roll to dry and clean with.

Once everything was clean, and covering the tips of my fingers (I wore surgical gloves) with prep H, I made sure everything was where it should be. Holding my hand there for a few minutes, she sat nice and calmly.

Polly was then put into our old rabbit hutch, a lovely big hutch - 4' x 18" x 2' high, that I had transformed into a comfy rest home for her for a few days. She had everything she needs, food, water and a soft towel to rest on, plus I put a black bin liner over most of the door so she remains calm in the darkness, but can still see enough to eat and drink.

Hopefully tomrrow it will be better than it was this morning, and maybe soon she will recover totally - I hope so, because the alternative is not a good one.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Highly trained chickens!

This morning I went to see the chickens after taking Kane to school...

...I was rather pensive as the holding pen is an unknown as far as safety from Mr Fox is concerned.

As I walked up to the run from the veggy plot, I noticed something strange... of the chickens didn't have a chicken wire pattern on it.

It was a few seconds before my brain put two and two together and realised that the hen was actually OUTSIDE the run!

I hastily unlocked the gate and ushered her inside...PHEW! I thought, and I suddenly couldn't see the other four... my mind raced as the worst situation possible came into my mind - Mr Fox must have taken them...

... it was only after I looked round the back of the coop that I found the other ladies...PHEW! I thought for the second time.

We went to a fairly local big supermarket and decided to pop home to eat a spot of lunch, then the idea was for me to go back down the new place and put the netting over the top of the holding run so no more could escape.

It was weird, I looked at the runs, and could have sworn that there was more in one run than I had previously thought.

Indeed there was - one of the new ladies had done something so clever that I now don't think chickens are so stupid after all.

What this hen had done, was to jump up onto the old coop, walk along the apex, jump onto the netting over the main run, then she had walked over the netting (the holes are just over 1" square) and managed to fall down a hole right by a corner!!

I put the one I thought was new, but unfortunately i made a mix up and put the 'leader' of the new ladies in with the old lot.

Why I say unfortunately is because the leader of the new ladies didn't only get angry at Rhydian the cockrel, she absolutely kicked his behind into next week!

It was like looking at a spitting cobra - her feathers all around her head and neck exploded into action, making her look very scary (even to me!) and she made short work of getting Rhydian... he was cowering and running away from her she was so viscious!

I managed to get her away from Rhydian and into the holding run - but BOY was she miffed!

Later that afternoon I managed to cover most of the run with the netting, but one hen still tried to get up on the top of the coop again.

A very strange day.

Chickens saved from certain death!

Yesterday was the day we went to fetch our 'rescue chickens'. Above is their 'Chicken Limo'.

We were told to meet up in a local park, where we thought we would be going off to help catch the birds and put them into boxes for transportation.

When we got there at 10am, we were told to put a name on the box and how many chickens we wanted. The idea was for the organisers and a few helpers to take the boxes, fill them and then to bring them back to us.

We went home for a bit to have some lunch, and were back at about noon. There were a lot more cars and people milling about, and the park Rangers were not happy. They kept stopping and coming over to the organisers and asking how long they would be as they'd had complaints about the parked cars along the road.

At about 1:30/2pm we saw the horsebox containing all the boxes arrive, and without further ado we went and waited for our name to be called so we could collect our new ladies.

We were finally called, and Jo and I took one end each of the box and carefully took it to our car.

Once the windows were down, we set off, and I very carefully drove to our new place.

I gently dragged the box in the 'holding run' and opened the box to let them out - they all seemed more than happy to stay in there!

After a wiggle of the box they came out - the box was moved, and i put some corn and grass on the floor for them to forage through.

Meanwhile, one of the Silkies - the smallest most picked on and most broody one - went to say hello to the new ladies, by scrambling under the middle gate!

All in all a good day!


Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Blackberry or Raspberry or maybe something else...

My parents visited the new place last week, and one of their observations was that the Blackberries didn't look...

...well, Blackberry-like.

After a little tasting session, my Dad decided they were Tayberries.

I tasted one, and I must admit it didn't fill me with joy, or make me see angels or anything...

...still, they were ok, and I imagine with copious amounts of sugar they could be quite bearable!

Oh and the reason I mentioned this, is that they are the fruits that are safely tucked away under the netting away from the birds!


Networking in the veggy plot

We went down the new place earlyish today, as we knew we had some work to do.

Personally I wanted to do a bit more to the shed extension, but after sitting down with Jo for a drink, we noticed a bird swoop down and take a bit of our fruit!


...well maybe not exactly those words, but I knew I had to get off my behind and sort something out!

One of the end posts had to be replaced, so I concentrated my efforts on that that - making a nice sized hole with my pointed heavy metal bar, I made sure that I'd made it nice and deep to support the wires with the stems hanging off them.

Unfortunately I wasn't tall enough to hit the post in, so using some bits of scrap sheathing ply and joists, I made a makeshift step about 1' high.

"AHA!" I thought - NOW I can do the job!

Standing on my pedestal (I think Jo was swooning at me at this point - or maybe it was just the heat) I was able to use my small club hammer to help the post on it's way into the ground.

Once the post was in nice and firm, I transferred the wires from the old post, and fixed them as tight as I could. Then I found some old metal poles we were using for our peas (they were eaten) and put them at diagonals against the posts.

After they had been bashed into the ground with my trusty club hammer, we started to fix the netting, with a length of wire linking each post, acting as a ridge pole.

Once over, I preceded to join the ends, which were carefully 'stitched' together with wire sleeving, and VOILA! It was finished!

Save the chickens!

Today we were told by our site manager at our new place, that there are 13,500 freerange chickens going to be slaughtered unless people go and help to rehouse them.

I just couldn't believe this, but it gets better....

...the chickens are being slaughtered, not because they are sick, not because they are old, but because the shells on the eggs they lay are TOO THIN FOR THE SHELVES!

Yes - you read right - our favourite supermarket Tesco has stopped getting these chickens eggs, because the shells are too thin to be packaged and put on the shelves!!!

You can see our local animal welfare group here -

Unfortunately I haven't got round to renovating our vintage coop - I'm going to have to work on our existing shed/coop to fit them in - but I'll be blowed if I'm not going to do anything at all!

Here's the local paper quote;

Lay-off for hens
By Simon Barrett

A charity is trying to find homes for 13,500 free range chickens which are being given away because their eggs' shells are too thin for supermarket shelves.

Animal lovers have a month to claim them before they are sent to slaughter for dog food.

The 18-month-old birds from a farm in Brighton are now too old to eat, but could lay eggs for another six years. Tara Maher from Brighton Animal Rescue said: "Supermarkets don't want eggs from older chickens because their shells break more easily during packing

It's strange how peoples values change - before I had kids I wouldn't have even bothered to read the article - let alone care enough about it to do anything to help!

Just makes me glad to me me NOW!