Monday, April 03, 2006

A lady like Monday to give my bones a rest - ish

A wonderful perfume greeted me when I went out to feed the chickens today. And here is the source. The clumps of bluebells in between the daffodils and narssisi under the patio door are coming into bloom. One year I picked a bunch for a flower arrangment and did it in my conservatory on the table - only to find seconds later, the table was covered in tiny black shiny beetles. Hundreds of them. I now leave the bluebells outside - and the beetles.

Norfolk Lasses Eggs Total to Date: 348 Day:152

KoKKo 117 Personal best egg weight 86grms 29.11.2005
Adelaide 116 Personal best egg weight 80grms 26.02.2006
Ginger 115 Personal best egg weight 80grms 27.03.2006

London Ladies Bantam Eggs Total to date: 28 Day:21

Dilly 10 Personal best egg weight 36grm 27.03.2006
Freckles 10 Personal best egg weight 37grms 28.03.2006
Pumpkin 8 Personal best egg weight 35 grms 01.04.06

Two eggs so far from Ginger and KoKKo, but none from the others. They seem to be laying later in the day now - maybe it is all the rain we are having so it is darker in the mornings and it was very cold when I went out before 7am

I ventured into my garden studio and unwrapped and cut up the block of soap that I made.

The dark spots are the orange zest. It smells wonderful, and I understand that it goes paler as it cures and dries. I rather like the big chunks, which I made by pouring it into a goats milk carton so it set into a block, then cut them into chunks.

I am going to have to invest in a variety of essential oils so that I can make all sorts. It probably is a hobby for the winter months, but I want to make more before then as the soap takes 4 - 8 weeks to cure.

I have been looking up lots of recipes for all sorts of creams so will grow some herbs to go into those I think.

As I can hardly move due to hip pain today, (serves me right, but it was worth it, well maybe not), I have got a big batch of bread on the go, and want to sow some seeds but that is a standing up job too so I will see how I go.

It is a great feeling to have got all that work done up the allotment though and torrential rain yet again in the night, will have watered everything in nicely.

Off to search the net for some supplies I need for my soapmaking whilst the bread is rising - back later.

I ended up with all girls laying eggs today - so I was a happy bunny. More so because I have spent time late afternoon changing the pen around.

I now have one Eglu facing one way and the other the opposite way. I have decided to split the run in half and to let the hybrids have one side and the bantams have the other side.

There was no serious bullying or pecking, but the past couple of days the Norfolk Lasses have been chasing the girls when there is food about, or maybe it is just when I am about. I read a poultry forum recently where a person's hybrids had suddenly attacked the bantams and killed them, after seeming fine for weeks. So that worried me, and I was not prepared to take the risk. I would rather that they both had their own space and lived happily in it, without any niggles or stress from each other at any time. I am probably over reacting, and the banties were very cheeky and used to pinch food, so there was a risk that if they invaded what the Norfolk Ladies considered their territory, they might not tolerate it one day or perhaps not.

Ginger was getting a bit fed up with them, and then Adelaide - haven't a clue why, and the banties did not seem scared and would crouch and get a tap on the back then get up and run off. Perhaps I spent far to much time watching their every move.

But they all seem very quiet and calm and happy this afternoon, and laying their eggs in their own Eglus for a change - rather than each others and arguing about it.

I have ordered some more special fencing off Omlet, so that I can let them free range on the lawn in the summer. Separately. The pen is plenty big enough for them all to have a lot of space, and run around, but I like the idea of them getting to run around on the grass for a change - and it will be good if I take them up the allotment on my little meadow. That was another thing on my mind. If I take three of them up there for a few days, would it upset the status quo, so best to have them separate so that it made no difference.


When I made the bread this morning, I did it on auto pilot as I usually do, no recipe to read as I know if off by heart. BUT the little old plastic measuring jug that I normally use, I comandeered for the soap making so did not like to use it again, instead I used a big white plastic jug. The measurements were hard to see, even with the water in it. I filled it to the amount I wanted and just poured it in as usual. It was not until my fingers plunged into a pancake type mixture of lots of water that I realised I must have got the measurements wrong.

So not being one to waste food - especially organic wholemeal flour, I threw in some more flour - another pound and a half actually, and another pack of dried yeast, mixed it and kneaded it and hoped for the best.

This is how it turned out!

The loaves are rather larger than I usually make - in fact they were really large, and rustic looking.

Pat cut some for tea, and he just kept saying - 'This is fantastic', 'perfect', 'brilliant' and other nice comments!

I didn't tell him that it was by pure accident, but nice when it does work out don't you think.

Now don't go asking me for the recipe - as often happens, because I have no idea of the volume of water I used!

I also forgot to add that during the morning I spent a lot of time 'daydreaming' looking at the fish feeding and the ever increasing frogspawn. Examining all the new plants poking up and marvelling at their rapid appearance through the deep mulch I had put on the beds. Now the dark brown 'blanket' is turning into a wonderful patchwork of familiar plants.

As we are back to freezing nights and frost again, I decided to sow my onion sets in a couple of white polystyrene fish boxes I got last time I bought my fish.

I thought that they would appreciate their bottoms tucked into nice damp shallow compost rather than being stuck in brown paper bags, in a cold garage.

They can start growing their little roots ready for when they go out into the big wide world - or I should say allotment.

Don't they look sweet. (I can hear all the male viewers groaning and going 'yuk' - even cringing, but I did warn them when I started my blog that it might be a bit girlie - and it is, because I am.


  1. denise t-usa4:18 pm

    oh goodness...your poor hip! i get that lower back/hip pain when i overdue the shoveling bit...sometimes it stays for days, but hot bath soaks and a heating pad right away seem to help.

    the soap sounds wonderful, it will be a test of your patience to wait for it to age/ imagine your creams will really help the gardening hands this year...

  2. chris4:48 pm

    I was putting in fruit bushes this weekend . I noticed they were very cheap in woollies as they are trying to get rid of them now so I got 8 raspberry canes fro £2.48.
    When i got home I remembered I would have to dig a bed for them to go into.Good thing it didnt pour.
    Your soap looks a bit like that honeycomb sweet (crunchie bar).

  3. Yes denise - I am using it up quite quickly last thing at night on my hands. It smells of lavender so helps me sleep too, as I put some on my face!

    Chris - how often an impulsive purchase turns out to be hard work. I know the feeling well.

    I only started on soap as there was an offer on a forum from someone getting rid of some shea butter and cocoa butter. I never dreamed for one minute the complexity and equipment involved in making soap.

    In the photo it does rather look like honeycomb or crunchie bars - well spotted. In reality it is really solid and the dark spots are where the zest has formed little groups in places.

    Thank you both for your lovely comments

  4. I know absolutely nothing about chickens, but bread, now, that I know. And those loaves set my mouth to watering. Mmmmm-mmmm!

  5. Thank you VS. That is very kind of you.

    When I just logged onto here and 'paged down' quickly to post a response to your comment. It struck me as funny that there appeared to be a Ploughmans Lunch in the making.

    Without reading the content, the soap looks just like Red Leicester cheese, then the very large chunky loaves of bread, and the onions, set to grow!

    Well I am at that purple age and it is very early in the morning.

  6. Gotta make some bread now, those loaves of yours look wonderfully apetising...!
    I thought that the onions were chocolate and hazlenut cake or something, must get downstairs and have breakfast. (Been 'staging'the
    upstairs ready for the 2nd valuation of the house).
    On a lighter note, a neighbour of mine, who also has a allotments at the same place I did, celebrated her 50th birthday last week and had asked for garden centre vouchers/money so she could purchase stuff for her gardens. I asked her yesterday if she wanted some planters/plantpots and other garden gear and she said yes. I filled her passageway down the side of her house with all sorts of gardening paraphenalia(sp?),including 2 apple trees(dug up from my allotment, 1yr olds) a wonky wheelbarrow and loads of trays and various types of propagators! Her sister hasn't seen it yet, she' a late riser and my neighbour is hoping to shift it before she gets up!
    One can now enter my shed without having to move things first!

  7. You do make me laugh Sandie. I hope that the valuation and house move goes well.

    I wish I lived next to you to get all the garden stuff expecially the apple trees!

    Have a good day.

  8. Bovey Belle8:34 am

    I've been dallying here with planting stuff, as the soil has just been so cold (and frosts the past two nights), though warmer in the day now. I had never thought of starting my shallots off somewhere else and then transplanting them, so am off to do that straight away! Thanks for the information and nudge in the ribs - it looks like I CAN make progress after all!

    The bread looks brilliant too (I need to get some proving as well) and perhaps one of these days I will eventually get around to making MY soap . . . Never enough hours in the day!

  9. BB Thanks for your comments. The bread was an accident that worked, and the onion sets stand a better chance of surviving if they get some nutrients and start their roots off (I think) rather than being stuck in bags and possibly starting to go mouldy.

    Have fun

  10. Molly5:59 pm

    So precious! Such dear sweet little onion sets! :)

  11. They sure are - we eat lots over the year


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