The car gets a makeover

Before the lock-down my husband bought the materials that he needed to sand down the wood on our vintage car and varnish it. The relentlessly wet winter had taken it’s toll on the wood.

In the summer my husband sanded down the wood and varnished it and it was looking good but after a wet winter it had deteriorated to a worse condition than before he had done the work on it.

We have decided that we can’t keep a car with wood without a garage so my husband wanted to get it back to looking it’s best again with a view to selling it once things get back to anything like normal.

First my husband put an awning over the car to protect it while working on it. He screwed the legs of the awning into the concrete underneath the gravel on our drive so that it would stay secure. We have decided to leave the awning in place to offer a bit of protection for the car as we no longer need to load our vans for catering.

My husband had more time to work on the car this time round so he sanded it down further than before and took more time making a better job of it.

The view from our front window
My husband had already sanded the first side before I started taking photos
The back before sanding
The right side before sanding
The back looked really bad
The first side after it has been varnished
The other side is sanded down
The back with half sanded down
The back is now finished
The right side is finished
The whole of the wood is finished

We are really pleased with the result. My husband wasn’t sure that he would be able to get it back as it looked so bad.

We intend to eventually sell the car and one of the vans and then buy another car. The vintage car is much more saleable now. It is a shame but my husband doesn’t want to have to do this every six months/year but what a fabulous job he has done.

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Smoke has become a digger

Smoke has reminded me of Cinnamon lately in that she has taken to digging. I think it may be because I had dug the run over a few days ago, while it was dry, but after a long wet spell.

This means that the soil is perfect for digging as it isn’t wet but is still damp underneath. Smoke has two favourite spots for digging and she digs really deep holes.

At midday I cleaned up the run and filled in her holes. After lunch when I checked on the girls Smoke was digging her hole back again.

Smoke likes to dig a deep hole
Smoke pecking in her hole
Smoke standing in her hole

This seems to be Smoke’s thing at the moment. It is quite amusing to see.

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Frozen spinach for the girls

Yesterday I defrosted some frozen spinach and mixed it in two dishes of mash. The girls loved it. I wasn’t sure how they would take to it but they picked the spinach out of the mash and wolfed it down.

By the afternoon all the spinach and all the mash had gone. I think that’s a success. This is great as I have stocked up the freezer with frozen spinach and this means the girls can continue to have their daily greens.

Spinach and mash
The girls were eager to try it
They like it

I am really pleased that the girls like the spinach. This morning I decided to try it without the mash. I just put the defrosted spinach on their patio area. The girls were happy with eating it like this so that is what I will do from now on.

One problem solved quite easily. It’s great to be able to give the girls their daily greens.

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A yogurt treat for the girls

On Sunday I gave the girls the last of their spinach. I had stocked up with my chicken supplies but there was no point buying more than one bag of spinach as it doesn’t keep for more than a week at most and just goes slimy.

It is a treat not an essential but I think that greens are good for the girls and greens keep the eggs a lovely rich colour.

I have bought some frozen spinach which I thought that I could mix with their mash. I don’t know how well it will go down with the girls but if they don’t like it we can always use it ourselves.

Yesterday I decided instead of the spinach I would give them some yogurt that I have been saving for when the spinach runs out.

The girls have some yogurt
The girls love yogurt
I love to see their yogurt beaks
A very welcomed treat

It wasn’t long before the dishes were empty. I think I can safely say the girls enjoyed their yogurt treat.

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The kindness of neighbours

We are very lucky to have good neighbours. Our newest neighbours next door to us moved in in December and they are a lovely couple of a similar age to us and a refreshing change from the previous neighbours we had.

Before the lock-down our friends opposite ordered three boxes of veg plants for the three of us sharing an allotment plot. They said that the three of us could use them on our garden plots or on the allotment, whichever we felt, most beneficial.

At the beginning of this week the boxes were delivered and our friends opposite left ours at the end of their drive for us to collect ( we have been keeping in touch by phone or text ). We collected our box and left a box of crisps in it’s place.

We had the box of crisps for our corporate lunches which are no longer needed and with two boys in their household we felt that they would be of more use to them.

The wood on our vintage car had suffered terribly over the very wet winter. My husband decided to sand down the wood and varnish it to bring it back up to condition again. He gathered all that he needed before the lock-down and the project gives him something to do.

I have been taking photos of the progress and will do a post on it when it’s finished. Our new neighbour is a part time painter and decorator and when my husband was running short of sandpaper he left some on our drive. We in turn left them a couple of tomato plants on their drive.

We have all exchanged numbers and said that we should call each other if we need anything. It is good to have supportive neighbours.

Veg box

The missing spaces are where we have given our next door neighbours some tomato plants.

In the box are broccoli, red cabbage, sweetcorn, tomatoes – red, yellow, regular and tumblers, Courgettes – green and yellow and chilli peppers.

We are intending to sell the car when things return to anything near normal as we feel it needs to be kept in a garage and we don’t want to be doing the wood every six months/year.

We also plan on selling one of the vans and eventually buying a car instead.

We have had a think about our business while we are on an enforced retirement period and have decided that we will not be starting back with the corporate lunches. We will just continue with private functions and afternoon teas. This will mean we will no longer be committed and can choose which functions we want to do.

If we don’t want to do a function we can always say that we are busy and we can accept some functions when we need a boost. This will put us more in control and will make it easier to retire completely if and when we wish to.

I think a lot of people will be rethinking their lifestyles during these difficult times. We are keeping in contact with family and friends and trying to stay positive and above all we are all in this together.

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Chicken news

We have been getting an average of between two and four eggs a day from the girls. Yesterday was unusual as none of the girls laid which was the first time that has happened in over a month.

That meant that all of the laying girls wanted to lay today and all at the same time! Smoke had been very vocal for the last couple of days and I knew she was ready to start laying again. It has been a week since she came out of broodiness which is the usual length of time before she starts laying again.

Smoke settled in her favourite nest box by the chicken shed. Flame settled in her favourite nest box next to the store cabinet. Ebony settled in her favourite nest box by the gate which is also Salmon’s favourite nest box.

Salmon stood on the ramp to the nest box that Ebony was in and made a mournful sound. Every time she got the courage to go up the ramp and try to sit in front of Ebony, Ebony would peck her away. Most of the girls will share a nest box but not Ebony!

Salmon tried several times to get in with Ebony but each time received a swift peck. I tried putting Salmon in with either Flame or Smoke but she bounced straight back out again. After a while Salmon settled in a corner of the chicken shed instead.

After hearing a whole load of shouting from the girls I went to check and found that Ebony, Flame and Smoke had all laid. I checked the chicken shed and Salmon was just in the process of laying and was being watched over by Spangle.

I am amazed that all the girls can lay in sync like this. I took a few photos of Salmon and Spangle and a minute later Salmon had laid. Another four egg day. It is good to have Smoke, our best layer, back in lay again.

Salmon in the process of laying her egg in the chicken shed
Spangle was watching over Salmon
Spangle watching me

Spangle is always the easiest girl to photograph because she gives me her full attention.

Another bit of good news is that Salmon has finally stopped wheezing. Over the last week or so I had noticed that she was wheezing much less. Over the last few days I noticed that she had stopped altogether but didn’t want to say anything too soon in case she started again.

I haven’t heard her wheeze at all for the last few days. It has taken since the summer for this stop and I had thought that maybe it was permanent. I am so pleased about this. This bodes well for her future. Well done girls!

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It’s worming time again

I always worm the girls in March and September. Now that we are between broodies it’s a good time to do it.

I like to add the flubenvet powder to mash as all the girls love mash and it is an easy way to get them all to have a share.

On the first day I put it in one large dish. The big girls had the first go and the little girls couldn’t easily get a position around the dish. I then remembered that I usually put it in several small dishes.

As the flock is smaller than it’s been in the past I decided that two larger dishes would work. I spooned half the mixture into a second dish and this worked fine.

I have now been dividing it into two dishes each day since then and it has worked well with all the girls getting a share and both dishes empty by the afternoons.

This needs to be done for seven consecutive days. I took some photos on the first day.

Worming the girls
I soon realised that we needed more than one dish
Two dishes of mash with worming powder
This worked much better

I think the girls actually enjoy the worming process. They look on daily dishes of mash as a treat and it makes the process so easy.

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We are done with being broody

The day before yesterday I shut all the nest boxes and the chicken shed pop hole after Spangle and Salmon had laid their eggs.

I expected the two broody girls, Smoke and Marmite, to settle in a corner of the chicken shed once I had opened the pop hole at bedtime. To my surprise both girls perched at bedtime. Hurrah! That is a good sign.

Yesterday morning I could tell that both Flame and Ebony were ready to lay. I recognise their vocal calls when they want to lay. Flame has a mournful call and Ebony has a shouting call.

I opened up both Flame’s and Ebony’s favourite nest boxes. Ebony is the only girl to favour the nest box by the gate. I must say the girls were being very cooperative. Both Flame and Ebony settled in the nest boxes straight away after I had opened them.

I expected Smoke to join Flame in the nest box but to my surprise she didn’t.

Flame is ready to lay her egg
Ebony is ready to lay her egg

Ebony has placed a few pine shavings on herself. Great camouflage, we can hardly see her now!

When I checked back about twenty minutes later both girls had laid their egg and I closed the nest boxes. This was all going rather well.

At bedtime Smoke and Marmite were again perched up in the chicken shed. This was great news.

This morning I decided to try opening all the nest boxes and Smoke and Marmite took no notice. We are done with being broody! That’s probably the easiest I have ever broken broodiness. I think the key is to do it quickly before they have really settled into it. Hurrah.

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Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day Mum xx.

Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers.

It is a strange Mother’s Day with the current situation meaning no socialising. My Mum is in Norfolk so already at a distance. I am in the south east, outside London. I sent Mum a gift and card through the post and phoned to wish her Happy Mother’s day but of course I like to put it here too.

My eldest son is also at a distance in Cambridge. He too sent me a gift through the post and we talked on the phone too.

My youngest son lives near by. Even so we were careful. He and my daughter in law called to give me a gift but insisted that they wouldn’t come in. They stood at a distance outside the front door while we stood inside the front door.

It felt very odd but as they are both still working at the moment and mixing with people they wanted be to careful and we are staying in and not socialising.

Mother’s Day gift from eldest son
Prosecco, favourite chocolates and ginger chocolates
Mother’s day gift from youngest son
Brushed metal egg cup with glass dome cover

I was truly touched by my gifts. I hope everyone was able to have a good Mother’s Day despite everything.

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Two broody girls

The day before yesterday Marmite laid and then yesterday she went broody. Marmite has laid fifteen eggs in twenty eight days compared to Smoke who laid thirteen eggs in seventeen days.

Smoke is the best, little girl, layer and the most broody. Marmite is the second best, little girl, layer and the second most broody.

Spangle and Salmon are both fairly erratic layers but have never been broody.

Usually, these days, I just leave the broody girls to get on with it. I lift them three times a day for a break and I had to lift both Smoke and Marmite from the nest box to the chicken shed at bedtime last night.

During the current circumstances the girls’ eggs are much more important to us. It wasn’t so bad having one broody girl but having both the best laying, little girls, broody at once isn’t so great.

I decided that I would try to break them from being broody to get them back to laying more quickly. If I leave them to it they won’t lay for three to four weeks. If I can break them out of it they will start laying again between one and two weeks.

Also the sooner I start this process the shorter time it takes to break the broodiness. Smoke has been broody for two days and Marmite only for one day.

As it happened Flame laid yesterday, late afternoon, for the fourth day in a row which is the most days in a row this year and Ebony also laid yesterday and she lays every other day at most. Salmon and Spangle who are more erratic both laid this morning. This meant it was the perfect time to close the nest boxes as none of the girls would need to lay. I closed all three nest boxes and blocked the chicken shed’s pop hole.

I will unblock the pop hole just before bedtime. Smoke and Marmite will probably settle in a corner of the chicken shed at bedtime but once it’s dark enough I will lift them to the perch.

I hope that I can stop their broodiness fairly quickly. At least I am home all the time to keep an eye on proceedings. The other reason this would be good is that I worm the girls in March and it will be easier to do this with no broody girls. While spending their days in the nest box they may not get their share of mash with flubenvet mixed in.

To brighten up a post of just text I thought I would add a photo of our winter hanging basket. It seems to have suddenly gone from no blooms to a mass of blooms.

Winter hanging basket

It is lovely to see all the signs of spring in the garden during these difficult times.

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