Friday, 10 April 2009

The Girls First Free Ranging







it
It was a perfect day today and so we let the girls out of their run for the first time.
Curiousity ruled the day with Harriot immediately getting stuck between the run and the side of the house. She needed rescued and was not impressed with the great outdoors. She and Henrietta stonked back into the run and remained there after a quick doubtful peruse of just the immediate area. Harriot is the chicken top right photo. Repecka stayed out most of the morning and explored the whole garden, even digging up some small worms for herself. She's the black hen by the small water feature. We thought we would have a terrible time getting them back into their run, but we didn't. I guess there's no place like home! :-)

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Is There Anything Better Than a Bath?


EVEN IF IT'S A DUST BATH? I put mite powder in a sand tray full of dirt and sand and plopped it in the run this afternoon. Repecka was in there like a rocket throwing dirt all over herself, and so it went with every hen according to the pecking order. Oh they were so pleased! There's not much dirt left in there, but I will fill it up again and let them have another go on the next sunny day. It is such an ordeal to get mite powder on the hens and this is an easy peasy way of doing it.
Repecka has laid her second egg this afternoon. It was just a tiny little thing of perfection like her last one. This time she went off to lay it while everyone cued up to have a bath (dust that is). She already had hers and so it was an ideal time. No screaming any announcements this time. Repecka just got on with it and came right back out and on with the day. I guess she WILL be giving us a tiny egg every day and still trying to grow to her full potential. Bless.
I am totally in love with these hens. They are charming in their own sweet way. They are unpretencious and silly and yet as centered and intelligent as any animal. I just can't wait to see what they do tomorrow!


Monday, 6 April 2009

Repecka Lays Her First Egg




Repecka has been really busy all day Sunday and this morning going from one hen house to the other into the nest boxes and back out again. This morning, she spent almost all morning intently doing this. She finally settled in one and I heard alot of shuffling about. An hour later I heard loud shrill clucking and crowing and I thought, "Oh no! It must be a fox or cat attacking the hens!". I bolted out to find her in the middle of the run with all the other hens around her, telling the world, and believe me, it was the WHOLE world that she had layed her first egg! She was excited as I was! We celebrated with a handful of cracked corn all the way around, and she finally quit screaming about what she did. It's a tiny egg, but perfectly formed, warm and clean as a whistle. Bless. She seems to be relieved that it all is over for now. She's gone back to dominating the other hens and stuffing herself stupid with the big head of broccoli that I have hanging in the run for them. I don't imagine we will get an egg a day, which is a good thing considering how she screams to tell the world! LOL!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Our New Hens Are Here








We went to get our chickens on Saturday at The Hen House in Eye. So many kinds of chickens and so many choices! We came away with a Light Sussex, a Black Rock, a Cou Cou Maran, and a Calder Ranger. We named them Atilla the Hen (Tilly), HENrietta, Harriet, and RePECKa. The lady we bought them from was very impressed with our knowledge and was in awe of the box we brought with us to bring them home. We were so confident and excited. The hens didn’t make a peep all the way home. We put them straight into their house and closed the door. They did a lot of churring and looking out the window and pooing!
After two hours we let them out and it took them awhile to come down the ramp and explore. But once they started, they did all the things that happy chickens do. They scrabbed, sun bathed, ate themselves stupid, drank lots of water and ate grit. They were very quiet and then Repecka had a bit of a peck at the others. I think it is safe to say she is the Amazon of the lot.
We started to worry about them going back inside to bed when it turned 8:00. But then they started to churr at each other and then, one by one, off they went back into the hen house. They called for Tilly when she decided that she wasn’t ready to go to bed yet.
So now they are locked up securely in their house for the night and we are hoping they will remain safe through the night.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

It's Okay, It's Okay



Yesterday I had a meeting 18 miles away from my office. So I got into our very reliable old Mondeo (over 100,000 miles on her) and off I went. Well, the trip was doomed from the start. I couldn’t find the poxy place with the sat nav because all of the streets were pedestrianised. Finally I found the place but couldn’t find where to park. A half hour later, I found the parking and of course, it was chocker block.

I left the meeting half hour early as it turned out to be not as worthwhile as I had thought it would be. Motoring on along a country road, the car jolted with a hug bang and it took everything I had to control the car. Ah yes, lovely winding narrow East Anglian road. Where to pull off safely? Finally I was able to pull off the road and got out to check the car. TWO flat tires, one with a hole the size of a 50p coin and both rims smashed in as though someone took a sledge hammer to them.

With shaking hands I dug out the recovery service number and my mobile phone. No signal. Sigh. I just got a new work’s mobile phone yesterday . Pulled that out, no signal. Clenching teeth I looked around for any stores, etc. Ah yes, a huge herd of sheep across the road, and on my side two houses that look like they haven’t been inhabited in 15 years. About a mile back I thought I saw a paper shop. So off I went down the road to use the paper shop’s phone. I was to do this again 5 more times in the 3 and a half hours, desperately recalling my insurance company asking where the *&^% wrecker was?????? The rest of the time I spent standing by my car shivering and forlorned. Two men stopped to change my tire until they saw that it was two tires. One of them, Russell, bless him, stayed with me the rest of the time until the wrecker came. He said he wouldn’t leave a woman in a “muddle”. I really don't know what would have happened to me if it wasn't for those two blessed souls (Russell and the lady at the paper shop).

Edwin and I have been married now for several years and there has been precious little cause for him to become cross with me. Any heated arguments we have seem to be over silly things like turning the heat up and down or where to locate our hen house. When this happened, the old feeling came back, and I could see my ex-husband’s face two inches from mine, screaming at me and hating me for my folly. When the wrecker finally pulled into the dealership’s I could feel hot tears on my cheeks and the poor man driving asked if I would be all right with my husband. My lip trembled and I muttered that my ex-husband was abusive but that Edwin wasn’t and all would be well. I was horrified that Himself could reach out from my past and make me feel so horrid. I hated him for sewing seeds of doubt in my mind.
When Edwin pulled into the dealership he held me, told me that he was so glad that I wasn’t hurt and that we would sort it out. No fuss, no anger, no blame - just quiet, warmth and that blessed wink. The whole three hours that I waited for the wrecker I pondered why this happened out of the blue and though I knew in my heart that Edwin would not react badly . . . . still. Now I know that it probably helped to remind me that this marriage truly was different. Life can be easy even in times of trial. I really am worth someone’s love and care. BIG Reminder! Lesson learned.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

The Great Chicken Run



















I thought I would share this wonderful story with you now that it is complete. I am an avid participant in The Allotment site. It has two chicken forums, and I am forever on those too! At the beginning of the month, one of the people on the forum needed to rehome two of her Bantam roosters. She lives in Devon. There was a person on the forum from all the way up in Darlington that said that he would be glad to take the roosters. How to get them all that way as it is too far for the chickens to travel in one go without being stressed? Members started to pipe up saying, " I can get them as far as such and such." Then someone in that town said, "I’ll keep them for a few days and then take them as far as such and such." and before we knew it, The Great Chicken Run was created. I believe there were about six different families that pulled together to get these chickens safely to their new home.
So here is the web address for the forum: http://chat.allotment.org.uk/index.php?topic=32299.0.
When you get on that page, look for the topic "Chicken Run Start Today?" It is wonderful to follow the chickens’ progress and how excited everyone was! The pictures I have here are of the roosters, William and Anri Paul. The picture is of them in their carrying crate. It is one of those stories that is as delicious as a cup of hot chocolate! Enjoy!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

The Balance



There’s so many contrasts in life. For months now, Edwin and I have been preparing for the arrival of our chicken in two weeks’ time. I’ve read books en nausium, been frequenting forums nightly on chickens, but the most striking information came from one of my neighbours from our estate. He lives on the other side of the estate but we are friends through his seven greyhounds and his back garden chickens. We stopped to talk last Saturday as I was coming back from the butcher’s and he was peddling by ready to do his shopping.
One of his chickens was taken by a fox. The fox dug under two foot of wire mesh that he had put in the ground around his hen house. Then he proceeded to tell me that three of his neighbours’ cats have been killed by a fox within the last few weeks. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he told me that the gentleman that lives across the street from him heard an awful fuss in his front garden and went out to find his cat up against the brick wall of his house with two cubs trying to kill it. This was very unnerving and I pondering this new information for the rest of the day. But then the most chilling of all news came from a woman that I once worked with that I saw at B&Q last Sunday. She asked me if I got my chickens yet and said that hers were fine so far, BUT one of her neighbours lost a cat to a fox and the *&^% thing bit the cat’s head off! She lives in our estate too quite a ways away from my other friend. Edwin and I spent all of this past Sunday shoring up the hen house and run. We’ve moved the whole lot onto concrete so there won’t be any digging by foxes. Very concerned now.
Then there’s the other side of this life. I walked down to see “my boyfriend” and his mates yesterday with my carrots. The two young ones were way in the back of the pasture and there was my handsome boy waiting by the fence for me. I haven’t been at the office for four days and so there hadn’t been any carrots for quite a while. That dear gentle soul came softly up to me and took the carrot and then stuck his soft nose gently out for me to kiss it. Bless. Ah yes, and I almost did it until I saw the tick on it! LOL! Maybe next time. I just adore that old boy. He is my heart. The only competition Edwin has!
It’s moments like that, that remind me that there is a balance in life and nature. There must be dark and light, pain and bliss. The world is not a healthy place without both.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

The Seasons According to Poo





Anyone living in England outside of the major metropolises can’t help measuring the passage of seasons by the spread of manure in the local farmers’ fields. I swear the first sign of Spring for me was last month, when the farmer next to my office mucked out the cattle barn and flung the refuse far and wide on all of his fields. There are practically nothing but farm fields between the little village that I work in and my estate. They ALL flung the stuff on the same day. I’m quite sure that this went on for three days straight. The cattle, then fattened up, went off to auction . Job done.
Right about now it is lambing time. So the farmers bring their ewes into the barns. Round two of the poo flinging has begun. Last Friday to be exact. All of them. Admittedly, the smell was gone the next day. But what to my withering nostrils should appear this Thursday, that smell again! Ah yes, they’ve all turned it under into the soil. Stink the high heaven and the sea gulls are lovin’ it!
I work with some farmers’ wives and they passed messages on at the beginning of last week of bringing the “machines” over on Wednesday, and then have it back on Friday? I believe that the farmers share their machinery to do each other’s fields. So Spring here in East Anglia is marked by the preparation of fields, barley coming up light and fuzzy near to the ground, and the illustrious poo flinging. There won’t be any more of it until Autumn now. At least I don’t think so . . . . . Hhhmmmmm, not so sure about that, better retract that statement! Who needs Morris Dancers to herald the coming of spring when you have poo to do it so thoroughly!

Thursday, 26 February 2009

New Moon


Yesterday was the beginning of the New Moon which means that the whole surface of the moon is in darkness. The moon surface that we see will continue to grow until it reaches a full moon. This process is called a Waxing Moon. I love this time of the month because it is a time when I concentrate on manifesting wonderful new goodness in my life. It is the time of month for new beginnings, love, romance, good health and job hunting. I think of beginnings, birth, emergence, and clarity. It is the time in the cycle of the month that I concentrate on taking new actions. The new moon is for starting new ventures, new beginnings.
It’s so easy this time of year because the ewes are in lamb, the birds are singing, staking out their territory, and spring flowers are starting to bloom. It is a precious bonus that I am honoured to experience and cherish deeply. This life that I have been given on the earth is so full of beauty and hope. I only need to be quiet and centred to bring it to full realisation. I pray that I will always be aware and grateful of the changing cycles of the earth.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Thirty Eggs





There are times that I get myself into a pickle by the most innocent of actions. Today I saw a sign next to a pretty little house in the country saying, “Fresh Eggs £1 for half dozen”. In an instant, I pulled into the drive with visions of a lovely discussion about hens and possibly seeing hers too and coming away with fresh local hens eggs from someone’s garden. I smiled to myself and got out of the car. After knocking on the door a little boy around five years old stuck his head out of the his living room window next door and told me that everyone used the back door and that was where the eggs were. So off I tootled to the back door feeling a bit intrusive. There was a big box with the eggs in it and a sign saying to put the money in the mailbox and to help myself. It was then that I discovered that I only had a fiver. I felt even more guilty sticking my hand in the mailbox feeling for change. But I did. Wouldn’t you know . . .no change. I was the first customer. So there I was, hauling thirty eggs back to the car. THIRTY EGGS!
So tonight we had quiche and I think there’s going to be some eggy bread for breakfast this weekend. Any other ideas, please feel free to tell me!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

The Perils of Brilliance


All this fluff and bother over a few chickens! They aren’t even arriving for another two months! Aaaaahhhhh! This morning Edwin and I got into a “discussion” over their home again. We have a lovely, but small, integrated house and run for them. I think the space in the run needs doubled. Edwin has been inspired to think of a diabolical alternative. Brilliant, but twisted. The man just can’t be asked to add a simple run onto what we have now. As much as it grieves me to admit it, his weird idea is wonderful, if not slightly flawed.

We have one of those small garages in our back garden that was built only because the government at one point deemed that every house here needed a garage. The driveway leading to it past the garden gate is so narrow that one could possibly squeeze a Mini in there with a lot of finesse. It has one of those pop-up doors that has home-made concrete blocks as ballasts. You can see what’s coming, can’t you?

Ah yes, it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when he cocked his head sideways and said, “I’ve been thinking” as he gazed out at the garage. All of us that raise a few hens as pets would like to have them as free range as possible during the day. And on this point, Edwin and I are in complete agreement. So when he suggested that we just “open the garage door during the day”, I immediately wondered where this was going. I swear I could hear the theme tune from Jaws in the background!

So now the chickens will be let out when we get up in the morning (from their lovely little integrated home with all the luxuries they could possibly ask for), into the small back garden. The garage door will be put up and they will have that also to roam around in if it rains, gets too hot, or they just get bored. Now I’ve been reading non-stop about raising chickens and I can just predict that those birds will make a beeline for that garage and lay their eggs in there, poo everywhere and not want to leave to go back to their luxury flat. I can see it coming. Oh yes.
And then the ultimate toad escaped my mouth. “I can cut down that big box I brought home from work and put some bedding in it, in case one of them wants to lay an egg in the garage.” Did I just say that? The diabolical light brightened in my husband’s eyes and he added, “Yes, sweetie, and I was thinking about that one ladder I have out there. They would love climbing on it.” I picked up on the energy and away we went. Planning and scheming together, thoughts clicking and synchronising, and before I knew it, the luxury digs would be used in the winter only and for sick or broody hens. The garage will be turned into the chicken house. No thoughts of rats, poo, bedding, mind you, we did discuss the red mites though and the lack of them as there wouldn’t be any wood, etc. for them to hide up in.

What my brilliant husband hasn’t realised is the reason why I suddenly spit out that toad and was totally on board with him . I can have a helluva lot more chickens in the garage that in that luxury flat! Deary me, he left himself wide open for that one. I think when we go to pick up the chickens I better take an extra transport box . One never knows!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Free and Easy



I would never trade my husband, my mundane life, or my small loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own best friend. I don't belittle myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement garden gnome that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde in my garden. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be a bit extravagant once in a while.
I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 1 AM and sleep until 10? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 &70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love ... I will.

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can one's heart not break when one loses a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when a beloved pet passes on? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have seldom laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver. As I get older, it is easier to be positive. I care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore.
I've even earned the right to be wrong.

I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it).





Sunday, 8 February 2009

Of Chaos and Serenity



Sometimes a glass is half full or half empty, but there are those occasions that it is shaken! That's my life right now. I bought a little pot of purple hyacinths for £2.50 at B&Q last week and they decided to be in full bloom over the weekend. I so needed to be able to smell their fragrance and know that spring is truly on its way. The scent reminds me of long ago trips to Phipps Conservatory back when I was a little girl on Easter morning. It was a huge place with banana trees and rooms full of exotic plants, but at Easter, it had an extraordinary display of spring flowers all set in real life displays complete with waterfalls, ponds and even a mill wheel. As soon as we would trudge through the snow in our Easter finery into the heavy heat of the building the scent of Spring would hit. That hyacinth in my kitchen just does that for me now.


That said, our cooker of only three years made a spectacular exit from this mortal coil on Friday night. I opened the oven door to pop in some chips and BANG! FLASH! ZZZZZZZZ! Silence. So now it is sitting there taking up space and totally useless. It blew every fuse it was connected to in one way or another and in fact fried them. We pulled the beast out and found that there is a gas connection behind it. AHA! As soon as Edwin gets paid we are going to have a gas fitter come in and sort that out and then we are buying a gas cooker. I believe they run for ever and a day. Live and learn.

Today we went down to Iceland and bought a bunch of frozen microwave food. Never a dull moment. And still, the hyacinth fills the house with that beautiful scent. Yes indeed, this glass has definitely been shaken.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Slogging Through the Molasses

In another life I taught for 15 years. This was one of the children's favourite books. It was all about a town that experienced crazy weather. The weather was always food. It rained meatballs, snowed sugar, etc. I built a whole creative writing and oral presentation unit around this book. This week, I feel as though I am in the middle of this town - slogging through molasses, in a haze of maple syrup steam, and I think there is definitely a chance of raining brussel sprouts.

I have some very important projects started right now that I just can't seem to get moving. No matter how hard I try, there is always something that needs to be sorted before it can be handled. I lost over $1,000 this week alone due to slogging through molasses. I know that as soon as this one bit gets sorted everything will begin to fall into place. Until then, I think I see those brussel sprouts forming in the clouds of mashed potatoes.

On a brighter note, however, our hen house and intergrated run are built and outside right under our kitchen window, ready for our ladies. I can't help smiling to myself every time I look at it! We've agreed on three hens, a Bielefelder, a Speckeldy, and a Calderanger. Now this IS progress, as I must have made eight lists of hens and this is the one that I can truthfully say gives me a sense of calm and finality. All this hooey over hens. Geesh!

So let's hope that the weather here for The Little Red Hen is finally clearing to candy floss and lemonade!

Thursday, 29 January 2009

My New Boyfriend








Everyday, when I am in the office, I take time at lunchtime to visit the horses at the farm down the lane. The farmer is about my age and has a job that affords him to be able to come home at lunchtime to quickly feed his chickens and gobble down a quick tuck. He’s like me with a soft touch for retired animals. His seems to be horses, whereas mine is more eclectic. He has them scattered everywhere. There’s everything from a pony no bigger than a lab retriever to a whole herd of semi-feral spotted ponies. There’s an old lad there however that has my heart, well and truly. He’s an old Shire horse with arthritis and a tattered horse blanket that is a permanent fixture. The poor old soul moves stiffly but with dignity. I imagine that he is an old cart horse that has had many a hard day of hauling heavy loads. Shires live for 30 to 50 years. There’s a pub at the end of the lane and an old mill. I fancy that he hauled for one of those. I truly have no idea!

I’ve discovered “horse carrots” and bought a huge bag of them for £2 at the local feed store. I keep them in the back seat of the car and always break a few up for the horses in the pasture closest to the lane. Two younger horses are kept in the same field as the old one and are quite cheeky. There’s lots of mud and water along the fence and he doesn’t trust his footing there. So the two feisty lads get their carrots toot sweet and then a I throw one at him so he can get it without being nudged and shoved.

His mane is almost three foot long, his hairs on his neck just about that long and his hooves are all over-grown with white fringe. His back makes a perfect crescent. But his eyes are sharp as is his hearing. He knows the word “carrot” and will come if I say, “Gee UP, laddy!” He’s stolen my heart. Plain and simple. My brown-eyed boy. Bless.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

One of Life's Little Mysteries Solved






The other day I was wondering around our back garden hoping to see some bulbs popping up and the very earliest signs of Spring about. Ah yes, I discovered a huge mole pile right in the midst of where all of my bulbs were planted. I know he doesn’t eat them. But he DOES disturb the subsoil enough that the bulbs don’t have a fighting chance. Sigh.

But then I encountered the most amazing sight! My rosemary bush was in full bloom! Brilliant bluish-purple flowers just smothered the bush – in the middle of January, in a winter that could be described as anything but mild. Well, the big question is WHY? There are no insects about to pollinate, the days are short and dark, and goodness knows the weather has been foul and cold. What purpose could this profuse blooming possibly be for?

I came into the kitchen and made a nice hot cuppa and went straight for my favourite big soft chair next to the radiator. It faces out the back glass sliding door into the garden. The whole wall seems to be glass. I could hear the Blue Tits tittering away to each other and soon saw them flittering into our back garden. Oh, they just love the nut feeder we have out for them there. They always drop one nut on the ground and take one to bash on the fence. I took a sip of coffee and smiled to myself in anticipation. What?? No trip to the nut feeder? What are they doing on the rosemary bush? I stood up and went to the door to get a better look. They were eating the blossoms! Relishing them, more like it! Stuffing themselves, chittering with their mouths full, and loving every second of it! I was so very humbled.

The purpose of life and the way of the seasons all go in harmony. I never dreamed that the humble Rosemary plant would bloom in the dead of winter to provide sustenance to Blue Tits. And what a sight to behold! So, I too, was blessed that day, watching the whole scenario unfold. One of life’s little mysteries explained in such a delightful way!


Monday, 26 January 2009



The Paper Shop
In the five years that I have been living in England, I have seen some of the most stable and ancient of traditions fall the way of ruin. The demise of the local pub, by no blame of its own, for instance. Pubs have been a part of British culture for thousands of years. The oldest one in the country is right here in Norwich. It dates back to 1215, and is called The Adam and Eve. Although the local pub is usually within walking distance of one’s home, the anti-drinking laws of this country put a strangle hold on its patrons not to drink more than a breath of alcohol or run the risk of arrest and driving sanctions and huge fines.
Then came the anti=smoking laws. That just about put the nail in the coffin. Imagine not having a fag with a drink in a pub! Well, it is happening everywhere here now. This is rough going in a country where more than half of the adult population still smokes.
And of course, there is the beloved post office, which for many small British villages was the other life’s blood of the tiny community. It, too, has been taken away in thousands of small villages. Old age pensioners that have lived their whole lives in these villages and depended on the local post office to have access to their pensions, find that this option has been yanked away from them when they finally came to the age when it would be needed. There is much bitterness over the closing of so many rural post offices, and rightfully so.
The arrival of the huge chain supermarkets have made it difficult for the small local shops to survive, but it seems the bulk of them are using good standard British ingenuity and finding ways to stay in business. The shops have very good local products in them. Meat, cheese, pork, milk, eggs, veg - all from local farms. The quality is always top notch if not close. As an American, I can tell you that having a local butcher shop, greengrocer, and doctor’s office within walking distance of one’s home is pure bliss.
There is one small neighbourhood shop that has not changed since its conception, and that’s the “paper shop”. These shops are always small, crammed to the rafters with ‘stuff’ and a venue for news, both written and vocal. Wooden doors with a bell, in the country, metal ones with a buzzer in the urban areas. These shops have every magazine published in the UK and every newspaper one would want too. They always take up one whole wall of the shop. Then there’s the ‘other’ necessities. Sweets (candy), milk, pop, snacks, tobacco products, lottery tickets, greeting cards, a freezer with everything from ice cream to frozen peas, always a tiny little thing packed to the top like the shop that houses it. Charity containers line the counter along with mints, gum, and small gadgets. There’s a brilliant video out on YouTube of a seagull that has learned to walk into the shop and nick a bag of crisps (chips) from the lowest shelf in front of the store.
I love watching the men of our neighbourhood tootle down to the paper shop every morning to get their papers and talk about the latest soccer games, the weather, and pick up or pass on any gossip that may be about. Men of all ages and shapes do this. The really young ones, can’t be asked to walk so they go in their old bangers with the music turned up loudly. Most of the men have a dog with them. It is a routine everyday and the dog goes along at a reasonable pace - unless there has been something happen extraordinary in footy the day before, or there is other hot gossip to be discussed. Then the dogs are having a hard time keeping up with their puffing and determined owners on a mission.
I’ve gone into the paper shop in the morning, looking for butter for baking as I thought I had enough and of course, I didn’t. A yes, the American girl, lets have a go at her! In my first few years here, no one would strike up a conversation, let alone tease me. Now, they all know me, that I work locally, and I’m married to that bloke that has his van parked opposite the house all the time down by the infant school. So as I walk into the shop to grab the butter and a small bottle of milk besides, several men who have been in a passionate discussion about Chelsea and Man U, turn and smile at me and I can see in their faces that I’m in for it. I’ve been teased about everything from my president to my country’s choice of foods. “Oy! That Bush bloke still running in the hall with scissors?” “What? No ketchup? Or did you just forget, love? Let me get some for you!” There’s no need for offence to be taken. Their teasing is much like high school banter and they would never presume to have a go at me unless I was accepted and liked. I know I mustn’t tease back, as I haven’t been part of this place long enough. But I smile, laugh, and mention something that I know they would feel comfortable talking to me about.
I decided to buy a scratch off lottery ticket one day, on a whim. I chose one and the shop owner leaned over the counter and whispered, “You know whaaaaaaaat? You don’t want that one, love. Someone over in Pakefield won over £2million on it last week. You’d have better luck with another kind. This one hasn’t had a win in quite a while.” pointing to one I never considered. I didn’t win on it either, but it was worth it just to hear him say “You know whaaaat?” in that broad Norfolk accent.
Paper shops are usually owned by families that are local and have spent their whole lives in the neighbourhood. When the wife is in the shop, then the discussion turns to soap operas, sales, and illness. The teenage children are sometimes recruited to take a turn. The son is all business, with the radio blasting in the background. The daughter plants herself behind the counter, nervous, ever watchful of anyone coming into the shop. Her service is surprisingly bored and impersonal. She wants you to bugger off, okay?
I love paper shops. I love the ambience of them, the simplicity, the clutter. Brits read papers every day not just on Sundays. Some have it delivered to their homes, but most go to the shop to pick it up. Popping over to the paper shop is giving one’s self a little treat. One never knows who will be there to greet you or what conversation you might get into. Interesting news found in the paper shop. I’m privy to it now. So tomorrow I’ll be walking over to the paper shop to pick up a paper and some other news too!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Oh the Anticipation!

I can get so excited over the really mundane things in life. My collegues at work arrive in lovely clothes and talk of exotic travel, shopping trips and thier social life. I like having new clothes and the occasional holiday. Truth told, I like to nest. There is nothing I enjoy more than sitting in one of the big comfey chairs in the kitchen and talking to my husband or a friend, hot cup of brew in hand. I love the smell of my house and its energy. I love knowing that I can just go out my back door and pick fresh herbs from the garden. My husband is the king of roosting. He likes spending his time at home too, puttering about and making up his own agenda which is no agenda at all. Who can blame him? He lives his work life by a tight schedule. It must be so very healing for him to come home and just chill and do only what he wants when he wants. I won't deny him this. If there is a problem that needs sorted he is right there and doing it well, so I think his own time should be just that . . . his own.

So it comes to no surprise that my husband and I have decided to keep chickens. For Christmas I wasn't given jewelry, perfume, or clothes. I was gifted with books on keeping chickens. I guess most women would have thrown the books back at their husband, but I was thrilled. I've read all of them through now three times. I've also started keeping a file of information from the Net that my husband warmly teases me about, asking if I have finished filing everything in categories. I didn't dare confess that I was planning on doing just that next weekend!

This is the hen house above. It is half built for easy transport. We are going to double the size of the run before adding the chickens. Right now it is in the garage, but you can see that it started its life in the middle of our lounge. We are going to go over to B&Q in a little while to check out their welded wire mesh to put under the sod under the coop. No Mr. Fox for our girls! I was leary that my husband might not be as enthusiastic about this new little venture, but today he said he didn't want to get the chickens just yet as this was prime weather for red mites. Wow! He's been doing his homework too!

Until all the prep has been completed, there will be little projects every weekend. It's so mundane, but so very rewarding to prepare to bring some new lives into our world. These girls aren't "child substitutes". We've both raised our families. They are just alittle more brightness and abundance to share.

So it's off to B&Q we go! I could spend the whole entire day in that store!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Oh No! Not Another Chicken Blog!

I promise there won't be TOO much talk about hens and the like. There's so much new in my life right now that they probably will only be featured once in a while. Right before Christmas I learned to drive (finally) and got a new job. We ARE going to get four chickens in the spring, and right now I have a half built hen house in our lounge! If I could figure out how to add pictures to this blog, I would send along a picture of it. So I look forward to blogging and sharing a window into my life with you. Bless.