Bruce the Spruce

Many commented very kindly last week about the lovely green decorations that the resident teenagers created for our porch, and after I had tried to assure one commentator that not all of our decorating is up to that standard, she basically challenged me to show her the goods.  So, Union Homestead – this is for you:

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This charming decoration has been a family tradition for about 14 years.  Bruce sings Jingle Bells at a fast pace in a tinny sort of Dean Martin voice.  He is motion activated and in the beginning the girls took great delight in ambushing anyone – parents, the cat, the dog, visitors, etc by placing Bruce in strategic locations around the house.  That all stopped when I used the same tactic to ambush any nighttime/early morning visitors to the Christmas stockings. I am told those flashing eyes are “freaky” when in a pitch dark room.  Frankly, I find the whole idea of a singing flashing Christmas tree with a name a little freaky, but that’s just me.

I just found out this year about the Elf on a Shelf fad going on these days, and I’m thankful at least that we created our own tradition without help from a DVD, a website, or a game, and that even though it involves a freaky flashing fir, it does not require me to buy any other “stuff” to make the tradition work.  To be fair, some people have been very creative in how they make the whole Elf thing work. Our 16 yr old babysat for a household recently where a visiting youngster had accidentally left a toy behind.  The family gave the toy to their elf upon going to bed, in the hopes that it would be communing with the elf residing in their little friend’s house, and lo and behold, the next day at school it transpired that yes indeed, the child had her toy back, thanks to the busy little elves.  I mean, that’s pretty creative stuff.  I would have just packed it in my daughter’s backpack to take to school the next day, but there you go – our creativity clearly peaked with the arrival of Bruce in our home more than a decade ago.

It might be unfair to sneer at the Elf thing.  Advent calendars were once all the rage, from my childhood ones depicting a sunny sandy looking Bethlehem with windows opening onto a paper background with a little picture of a candy cane or a candle, to the Spiderman and Dora chocolate calendars currently popular.

Then there’s the Pickle tradition I only learned about last week.

For lots of people this time of year is being marked by Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Christmas, or maybe some other cultural celebration I’ve not heard of.  Though I’m Christian, and therefore for me, this is the time to celebrate the birth of Christ, for many, it’s simply a time to gather family together, to feast and have some fun.  That’s awesome.  But regardless of the why for celebration, it seems to me that we should be a little choosier about what we decide to make a tradition.  I mean, a pickle??? And doesn’t anyone else find this elf concept a little close to spying?   And while we’re on the topic, why DO I have those lights up on the outside of the house?  What possible tie in to Christmas made us all buy into that tradition?  I think I should maybe not do them next year, and save myself hours of ladder work, not to mention sanity…maybe I’ll leave a note for a Christmas elf to find asking him(are there female elves?) to hang pickles from my eaves next year, thereby starting a new tradition.

Christmas Decorating

Family tradition decrees that we don’t start our decorating here until Advent begins (4 Sundays before Christmas.  If things go according to plan, we decorate a little at a time – well, that’s my plan anyway – hubby is more of an all or nothing kind of decorator.  At this point in the calendar however, we’re still on my schedule.

Today, the 16 yr old put together a lovely centrepiece for the advent wreath.  There is no way I can safely light even my tallest candles with this arrangement, lovely though it is, so I think I will use separate candle holders placed well away from the greenery – most of our meals would not benefit from the flambee treatment.

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Earlier in the week, the 19 yr old decorated the hand rail of the porch – lovely don’t you think?

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Last Sunday, the younger one made the door wreath for me – gorgeous.

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And then there’s my effort… Mine is the exterior Christmas lights on our house.  10 strings, each 25 ft long of LED lights secured along the eaves of the house on two sides, the road and driveway sides.  I realize you only see a very small portion of the total length in this picture, but how many bulbs do you see shining there?

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I can confirm that yes indeed, the single red light you see there is the ONLY light that comes on when I turn on the outside lights.   I spent three hours battling with these lights last Sunday and I was not in a very Christmassy mood by the time I finally gave up, having convinced 4 of the 10 strings to come on.

I moaned about this to hubby over dinner, he who used to be responsible for this particular aspect of Christmas decorating until this year, who said brightly “oh, you know what, that happened last year too – they don’t work well when it’s cold”.

Wait, what did you say – they don’t work when it’s cold?  THIS IS CANADA!!!! Are you kidding me?  Christmas is cold in Canada.  Always.  Even here, in the warmest corner of the country in the winter, our night temperature is typically hovering around 0 C this time of year.  Last week, when i was up and down the ladder a million times tweaking and adjusting and replugging and swearing…the night temperature was -3.

But sure enough, as long as the temperature is above 0 C, they seem to work OK.  Not right away – it takes a couple of hours for the rest of the strings to come on, but if you wait all night, you might get to see both sides of our house lit up by midnight.  If only I could stay awake that long, I’d see them too.

Winter days = Book days

The short days/long nights combo has finally arrived, allowing me to accumulate a stack of books without too much guilt. I look forward each evening to my post-prandial cup of tea, and the luxury of dipping into my pile, perhaps scanning and flipping, perhaps choosing one to settle in with and forget my surroundings.

I don’t read a lot of fiction during the spring and summer. I don’t dare. If I start one that suits me, I can’t put it down. No will power at all. Everything stops while I devour the chapters. I’m not a speedy reader, either, so we’re talking a couple of days, not a couple of hours.

So the winter then, is when I really dig into reading with gusto.  I’m pretty eclectic, but with a definite bias to farming/homesteading type books, some foodie stuff, light happy ending old fashioned fiction, and a fair amount of children’s literature.  I like a classic whodunnit, and will happily re-read favourites.

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Here then, is the pile I had going last week.

The Awakening of Miss Prim – this was recommended to me by a colleague, and I thought it would fit the bill for bedtime reading.  Indeed it ticked all the boxes:  light, wholesome, happy ending (ish), and slightly boring (so it can lull me).  It turns out to be one of those books that is philosophy dressed up as a novel.  I suspect the author has set herself up for a sequel, but I won’t be following Miss Prim into the next chapter of her life.  It did however, work admirably as a bedside book, and sent me off to sleep very quickly.

L.M. Montgomery – this is a short biography of the famous author of Anne of Green Gables and many other books, by a well known Canadian writer.  I haven’t started it properly yet, but have dipped into it enough to know that I will enjoy the writing.  I am something of a LMM fanatic, owning all of her books, including her 5 volumes of journals which were edited and published posthumously.  I have read 2 other biographies, and look forward to this one.  If you’ve never heard of her, see if your library has Anne of Green Gables, her first book. It’s usually in the children’s section, though the author did not intend it as a children’s book.  Give it a go, and trust me, it’s better than the Wikipedia blurb implies.

A Flannel Shirt and Liberty – This one had to wait till I was finished Restoration Agriculture, so I’ve only just started it.  The subtitle is:  “British Emigrant Gentlewomen in the Canadian West 1880-1914″, which pretty much describes the book.  It is a collection of articles and excerpts written by these women about their experiences and opportunities, edited by a history professor at the University of Alberta.  My maternal great grandmothers were just such women, which is why I picked up the book.  Though I have some family anecdotes and pictures, it is hard to imagine how they felt about their changes in circumstance, and this book is helping – most of the excerpts are from journals and letters from women who came out to the West and wrote home.  Well educated, genteel, accustomed to maids and cooks and washerwomen, and with few other skills besides embroidery, watercolour and music, these women were in a difficult place in England at the time – gold rushes world wide and emigration to the colonies meant that there were a million more women in Great Britain than men in that time period, and since “gentlewomen” were raised solely to be suitable wives, and most definitely not to work at menial tasks and jobs, many of them were likely to become spinsters living off the beneficence of male relatives or worse, become destitute.  Societies sprang up to chaperone these women to the colonies, where they might find opportunities of their own.  Both my great grandmothers came out with a sibling to stay with relatives on the Prairies, and it is clear that the idea was that they were to do their best to find someone to marry.  Which they obviously did, since here I am…The book is fascinating and my current mealtime reading.

Restoration Agriculture – Fabulous book.  I had seen a couple of YouTube videos of the author, Mark Shepard, speaking about what he calls “broad acre permaculture”, so I was somewhat prepared for the material in the book.  Mark writes very much as he speaks.  He’s forthright, down to earth, slightly impatient with people who worry about the grey areas – he’s all about doing.  Since his whole notion of restoration agriculture involves planting a LOT of trees, he’s got a point – they take a long time to grow, and the sooner they’re planted, the better.  It is not, on the other hand, a recipe book for how to create a permaculture farm – he describes all the elements, he describes what he’s done, and then he wants you to go out and get started planting, get trained, get educated from the resources in your area.  Agroforestry, silvopasturing, permaculture – they’re all part of what he calls restoration agriculture.  If you don’t have time to read, go listen to him on one of the podcasts he’s done for Permaculture Voices, or one of the many YouTube videos he’s featured in.

How Not to Be Wrong – subtitled “The power of mathematical thinking”.  I got this one for my younger teen, and ended up dipping into it myself.  It’s really about how all that math we learned in school that we think we’ve never used, is really all around us.  How using it intentionally can be powerful.  I read a couple of the anecdotes and the foreword.    I always read forewords and prefaces.  Probably why it takes me so long to get through a book.  That said, I haven’t done much more in this book, because it disappeared upstairs.  Which was the plan.  As long as I get it back before the due date…

How To Grow Perennial Vegetables – I got it after I started Restoration agriculture, because I was wondering what besides rhubarb, asparagus, nuts and grapes would be perennial that normal ordinary folk eat – and it turns out, quite a few things.  The book also includes a bunch of things I’ve never heard of, but in the main is full of actual possibilities.  I also realized once I’d read the foreword, that I knew who Martin Crawford is – he IS the agroforestry guy in the UK, and has written more than just the book in my stack.  His forest garden is quite well known in permaculture circles.  This was not so much a reading book as a browsing book and it went back and forth with me to work for a few days till I’d got through it.  I will probably get it out again after Christmas.

The Third Plate – this is also my third attempt at this book, and a failed one at that.  Dan Barber is probably known to many – he’s a famous American chef in the New York area, who has embraced the locavore trend and sustainable agriculture.  He also has numerous articles in papers and magazines, and you can find him on YouTube as well.  The reason I keep trying with this book is because he wrote an article just before the book came out in which he described a recent epiphany he’d experienced wherein he’d suddenly realized that sustainability was more than just eating the whole animal (a popular sustainability mantra), but also included the food and energy that goes into the creature and the farm it comes from.  I was interested in that thought and wanted to learn more about his perspective on it, but it turns out that The Third Plate is not really about that at all, or if it is, then he’s gone in a direction I’m not ready to absorb just at the moment, interesting though it is on the dust jacket.  The book reads as though he’s trying to channel Michael Pollan in style and format and it just doesn’t feel right in this voice.  I’m trying hard to get past this evidence of my superficial nature, but I think this one is going to get put aside till after Christmas as well.

Easy Upgrades Kitchens – this came home on a whim after a late night conversation with hubby about our future plans.  I love looking at pictures of beautiful kitchens.  I am never going to have a kitchen like any of them – I’m too messy, the word easy in the title is relative, and while I am not happy with many many aspects of my existing kitchen, I also don’t really know what I do want.  The book has given me one or two ideas though, which was kind of what I was hoping it would do.  The problem is that I’m inclined to want a recipe book solution – I want to be able to point to a picture and say “that’s what I want”.  But most of the kitchens in the book would occupy most of the first floor of my house, and “bumping” out a wall, as the featured homeowners seem to do as part of their “easy” upgrades isn’t an option.   Still, they are lovely…maybe my house would qualify for a This Old House makeover…

Delia’s Happy Christmas – now THIS is a recipe book.  I have avoided Delia (Smith) for years – when I first heard of her through her TV show, her cooking style seemed fussy and apparently used every cooking pot in the kitchen.  That was years ago, and perhaps my cooking has improved or something, because this book didn’t look intimidating at all, quite the contrary in fact (though her idea of casual holiday meals to pull together between Christmas and New Year’s involving oysters, pheasant and venison are just a tad out of my league).  In fact, it is from this book that my 16 yr old daughter pulled her recipe for hors d’oeuvres for a fundraiser she was involved in – puff pastry tarts, half with goat cheese, red onion and thyme, the other with pancetta, a slice of olive and a sage leaf.  They were delicious.  And amazing.  And simple!  She made them again for us to eat for supper one night (a whole dinner of puff pastry is delicious but not terribly good for the digestion, as it turns out, still totally worth it).  There are other easy and delicious recipes that also don’t use pheasant or oysters or every pot in the house, and her writing style is very easy to read.  A lovely book.

 

Mundane Monday

The title is borrowed from my friends at Union Homestead, and suits the day perfectly.  Mondays are often my catch up day, as my official work shifts at the library are Thu/Fri/Sat.  I usually have at least one other work day as well, so even my “weekend” is not always 2 days together,  It can make it hard to stay focussed on larger projects, hence my marathon 5 day challenge with the chicken house a while back.

So, how did my mundane Monday shape up?

The morning was not too bad for outside work – the sky was looming a bit, and there was the odd spatter of rain, but by and large it was not unpleasant working outside.

My current project is taking out the fence that is between run 1 and 2 of the hen house.  If you were around for my 5 day challenge, I repaired the fence between run 4 and run 3.  After the challenge, I just kept going on fences, and managed to get the fence between 3 and 2 repaired fairly easily.  The one I’m working on now is a different matter – the wire was down in one or two places and grass, thistles and brambles were growing through, making it difficult to remove.  All the posts but one have to come out as they’re leaning so badly, and part of that fence is actually part of an old “temporary” cattle chute put in about 20 years ago by the guy who used to do our hay before Hay Guy took it over – the other guy used to put his dry cows on our field after the hay season was over.  The posts for the cattle chute have rotted underground and the whole thing wobbles when chickens land on the top bar before flying over – clearly a piece of fence that is not doing it’s job.  I’ve done about 2 mornings on this fence so far, and this proved to not be the final day.  The wire is off as far as the cattle chute, and the T posts are all out.  I’ve started hacking the blackberries away from the wooden part of the fence, and there I’ve had to stop. I still have to remove the cattle chute and quite a bit of blackberry before I can start putting fence up again.

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Fence 1/2 before I started work this morning.

 

Mid-morning, a customer came to get the last three of the point of lays hens I’d advertised last month.  She had come a few weeks ago, and asked me to reserve some for her, as she wasn’t ready to receive them at her end – she has an existing flock, and was worried that one or two of them might have an infection, and didn’t want to bring home new birds till she knew her birds were clear.  Last week, she made contact to come and fetch the three I’d held back for her.  Gillian and her husband have a small acreage in a community just north of me, and have a cottage bakery business called Willowtree Bread, from which they make and sell artisanal breads, veggies and plant starts, and honey…and probably, if my hens are up to scratch, eggs as well!  We had a good chat while catching the birds and stowing them in their dog crate in the car, and later, when I’d had glanced at her website, I realized my chickens don’t know how lucky they are to have landed up there – they will be free ranging, and living out their days to a ripe old age with a great deal of TLC.

Lunch with a book was blissful – melted cheese on bread with the scrag ends of some pancetta left over from some fancy hors d’oeuvres the high school teen had made a couple of days ago as her contribution to the finger food at the fundraiser for her Global Perspectives class.  I don’t mind leftovers like that one bit.  I could see it was doing a bit more than spattering out, so I had a second cup of tea while I turned a few more pages in my book (Restorative Agriculture – Mark Shepard), and when I looked up again, it had settled down to a steady rain, so I got out my duster and started on house work.  An hour of that was more than enough, and I was rescued around 430 by the arrival home from school of the 16 yr old.  A cup of tea and a chat later, she disappeared to do homework, while I nipped out to get the last of the eggs and shut the hens in.  Have I mentioned we’re finally back in eggs?  About 13/day, all tiny pullet eggs – it’s a bit like russian roulette cracking them open – some are mini double yolkers, some are yolkless altogether.  We did our first egg sales on Saturday in fact, and hubby took a couple of dozen to work today.

Thanks to hubby’s cooking effort yesterday (a magnificent crockpot meal of smoked pork hocks in cabbage and ale, with roast veg and mashed potatoes on the side), there were tons of leftovers, so  today’s supper was a no-brainer – hash. While I was slaving over that, I remembered belatedly that I was supposed to be contributing baked goods to a staff bake sale tomorrow, a fundraiser for United Way.  So I got going on some cranberry muffins and swotted up a recipe that would make a lot of cookies with the ingredients I actually had on hand, so I could dig into that after supper.  Only two of us home, so it  was a casual meal and some convivial washing up. She stuck around till the first batch came out of the oven and then settled into more homework, warm cookie in hand.

The cookie factory wound down around 9 pm, and the kitchen looks normal again.  Hubby and the university girl (he was with clients, she was studying late) are finally on their way home, so we’ve packaged up the ones for the bake sale, stashed the remainder in a cookie jar and kept one or two out for the latecomers.

And that’s the kind of day it’s been here at gloomy, wet, Sailors Small Farm. Definitely a good day to be in a farm house kitchen baking cookies instead of out at sea, with frozen fingers, water dripping off my nose, and damp coming through the seams of the wet weather gear. I don’t miss some of the good old days at all.

Nest Box Construction

In my dim and distant impoverished youth I bought and assembled my fair share of Ikea furniture, and today that skill set came into it’s own.  A couple of years ago, I bought a 10 hole conventional nest box set, and it came flat packed, just like the bookcases used to.

My hen house had perfectly functional wooden nest boxes we’d made years ago, but I’d bought these metal ones with a view to switching when we switched flocks.  The wooden ones are fine, but can be difficult to clean out.  My brother has the metal nest boxes, and he’d shown me how you can pop the bottom out of a single nest to clean it if need be.  I was pretty impressed with the idea of being able to raise the perching bar to close the boxes off at night, too – my brother doesn’t bother, but Salatin and many others do.  Broodies and other birds often want to nest or roost in the boxes at night, requiring more clean outs, and I’m getting tired of that.  With this new flock getting used to the patched up hen house, it was time to get the nest boxes put together.

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See the instruction sheet?  The writing on that top half of the sheet is all the writing there was.  The part that’s folded over is a very hard to decipher diagramme of where the two different types of screws are supposed to go.  The top half of the text you see in the picture is just the contents list.  The little paragraph after that is the sum total of actual instruction.

This wasn’t exactly like putting together a bookcase, however, because the contents included 73 pop rivets.  I had to go and check these out on Google.  Every single hit said you needed a riveting gun to use them.  So then I had to go to YouTube to see how the tool was used.  And then, because riveting guns are bigger and more expensive than Allen keys, and therefore not included with every flat pack of nest boxes, I had to find one that I could use.

Ten minutes later I was walking briskly down to Hay Guy’s workshop, where he was glooming over a hydraulic something or other from his excavator that has stripped threads, which even I could tell was a Bad Thing.  However, he demonstrated how to use the riveting gun and chatted for a minute before I headed back up the road to my project.

Two hours later, I was able to return the riveting gun, my nest boxes fully assembled and looking like the real deal. Of course, the birds don’t need them yet, but now I’ve got them ready to go at a moment’s notice.

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In addition to swanky new nest boxes, I’ve acquired a new skill, should the need to use pop rivets every arise again.  And yes, HFS, this project wasn’t difficult to do after all.  You were right.

Day Five – the Finish Line

It felt very odd this morning, not heading out to the field to move shelters.  I was done chores in about 5 minutes – top up waters, check feeders, and that was about it.

There are 73 birds in that hen house, way too many. At least 20 have to be sold ASAP.  That’s up to my older daughter, as 25 of these birds are really hers – she changed her mind mid-summer about having her own layer flock so decided to sell them as point of lays. Since they are due to lay at the end of November, I’d say we’ve reached that point.

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Motley crew

After chores, I drove the elder daughter to university (this is the last week of that; toes are pretty much healed), and got back in time for coffee and conversation up at Saanichton Farm around 10 am which was a nice treat after a week of keeping my nose to the grindstone.  It was a gathering of some interesting folk and our topics ranged from family history to immigrant labour to sustainable agriculture.

An hour later, with my coffee needs taken care of, I loaded up the car with empty feed sacks and empty paint cans and headed up the the recycling area at the landfill, and hit the feed store on my home.  After lunch I drained and stored all the hoses I’d been using to deliver water out to the field (5 hoses), tidied up the field shelters (lids and waters were spread all around the field, where we’d left them in the dark last night).

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It doesn’t show super well here, but if you peer closely, you might be able to discern 4 rows of greener grass where the field shelters went through during the summer. I had birds on the field in two shelters for 2 months.

I was just heading out the veg garden with wheelbarrow and fork when hubby came out and offered to help – so the potatoes were dug up in double quick time.  He went and spread them on the rack in the barn to dry, while I took the kale and weeds we’d acquired while digging over to the chickens to distract them from fighting over the pecking order.

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Prepping the garlic for planting.

We went back to the garden and between the two of us had the garlic bed dug, weeded and ready for planting in about an hour.  It is amazing how pleasant such work can be with company.  It almost didn’t feel like work.  Of course, it’s not a very big garlic bed :).  We got about 50 garlic cloves planted, which is not quite as much as I wanted to plant, but all that I had allowed space for.  If I get a chance, I will maybe plant another dozen somewhere else.

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The soil was in beautiful shape, and despite all the recent rain, fairly dry below the surface

By 630 pm it was dark enough to shut the chickens in for the night.  Because the hen house is new for them, I keep them confined to the house and lobby for a couple of days so that they identify it as their sleeping place.  With the pecking order issues of combining the flocks from two field shelters, half the birds were out in the lobby and did not want to go in.  The good news is that most of them seem to be roosting.  Henny seems to be holding her own in the pecking order battles – no one seemed to be picking on her, and I saw her attack a rooster and take a chunk of neck feathers from him.  She did give me a reproachful look this afternoon, when I was tossing some weeds in for them.

Astute readers will notice that I have not mentioned the nest boxes that I was going to assemble.  That’s because I haven’t done it. I decided with so many birds in there and laying not happening for another month that we needed the floor space more than the nest boxes.  But I am going to get those started this week, so that we can install them when the 20 birds are gone.

Everything else got done, with a little help from family.  That feels pretty awesome.

I’ve learned a lot from this race, which I’ll delve into next post.  Back to work tomorrow, which will be quite a change of pace after this week.  I’m ready for it.

Day Four

Today started pretty early, though not on the farm.

Thursday mornings I head down to the high school for 730 to set up the breakfast club (run by the parent association), which provides bagels, juice, hot chocolate and tea, for a nominal cost (25 cents per item) – no student is turned away hungry.  It’s not so much about feeding those who don’t have adequate food at home, though there are probably a few kids in that category, it’s more about feeding anyone who skipped breakfast for any reason – many of them have to be at their bus stop by 7am, for example.  It’s a nice volunteer job, as I enjoy getting  to know some of the kids.  When the bell goes at 830, I start cleaning up, and usually get home by 915 or so, which is what happened today.

After my own breakfast and coffee – desperately needed,  I might add, I got my tools out and got going.

I got the big gate finished (wire stapled on), and I got the little gate installed and working, so that I can now control access to runs #3 and #4.  That felt good because those two gates are probably the only things from the grand plan we drew up last winter for a complete makeover on the hen house set up.  I celebrated with a second cup of coffee and got the laundry out on the line, because at that point it was a lovely breezy, sunny day.

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Gate allowing access to run #2; it swings to this side of the pop hole and secures, to allow access to run #4

I then got going on cleaning out the lobby – there was a lot of wasted layer pellet all over, I think the wild birds who find ways of getting in spread it around.  Unfortunately, the dropped feed was going mouldy, so I made sure to clean it all out.  That all pretty much filled the little trailer, so after a very short lunch break, because I could see the sky starting to loom darker, I took the trailer down and spread the load on the field.

Next thing was to spread some straw in the lobby to give the pullets something to scratch in.  I originally devised the lobby from a description of Lady Balfour’s method of chicken housing , as written of by John Seymour, but if you don’t stay on top of cleaning it out, the system is a total fail – and I totally failed about 5 years ago, and just didn’t bother.  So the straw is my way of beginning again.  It had the Henny scratch of approval.

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Henny, absolutely thrilled with the lobby makeover

Rain was imminent, so the laundry came in, and so did I, for a cup of tea.

The rain began just as I was returning from the field after delivering a bunch of transport crates to the field ready for tonight.  And boy did it pour.

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See that sky?

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Same sky, 5 minutes later, and about 30 seconds before the deluge began.

Our younger daughter (16) and I got started on loading the crates around 830pm.  Catching layer birds is not like catching the phlegmatic and heavy broilers. On the one hand, that’s good – they’re not nearly as heavy.  On the other hand, they’re much harder to catch, even in the dark.  We had escapees (daughter had one escapee and went to chase it, leaving the lid of the crate open…) we had wily hiders, we had aggressive tooth and nail types, in short – all kinds.  Hubby arrived home about halfway through proceedings and added some useful muscle to the proceedings, and by 930, we had all 73 birds in the hen house, much to the bemusement of Henny Penny, who never left her roost, but kept craning her neck down to check out the intruders.

So that’s how Day Four ended – my last day of moving field shelters this year!  Three thousand cheers!

One more day…