Saturday, 24 July 2010

Mr. and Mrs. Mayhem

I am aware of a bit of a post drought on my blog the last few weeks. I thought it would be understandable why but then suddenly realised that I haven't actually even mentioned what's happening at the moment! As you may or may not know me and Brian got engaged in May last year and we are actually getting married this September so as you can imagine everything is getting a little busy with table centres and seating plans! I am trying very hard not to become bridezilla!

We have chosen to have probably the most logistically complicated wedding ever with a legal handfasting (pagan wedding) in Orkney and a blessing/reception down in Hampshire with a camp in Brighton a few weeks before! You'll have to forgive me for the lack of posts over the next couple of months but hopefully next year will be a bit calmer. You can find out a little bit more about the wedding by visiting our website at

I'll make sure I do a post after to let you know how it all went. One more thing I need to let you know about is something happening over on my favourite blog, Mimi & Tilly. Emma, the blogger behind the loveliness, is about to celebrate her one year blogiversary and the end of her creative challenge. Make sure you pop over and read all about it and you can even enter her give away while you're there :) Just click the picture to visit her. I'll see you soon (maybe as a Mrs!).

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Key to Contentment

After being sent home from work yesterday with the dreaded lurgie apparently hitching a ride with me I've found myself with some spare time and have decided to aim it at my blog. I've had a post whizzing around in my brain for the past few weeks so I feel now is a good time to get it down on paper, well keys at least. It's still a bit scatted throughout my head and not quite a fully formed thought so you may have to bear with me as I try and piece it together into something coherent.As you may or may not know this blog is mainly about documenting mine and my fiance's journey on the way to our dream of a B&B and small holding. When we tell people our plan their are a few general reactions we get.
It's either the 'Oh yes, we have a dream of living in a bubble under the sea' - in other words they don't believe they (or we) will ever actual achieve our dream but it's a nice thought to sustain you through the day whilst trying not to kill yourself with the stapler in your office job. This reaction makes me sad.

The next response is the 'I've always fancied a farm too...' which is along the same line as the first but is more of a response of regret in not having ever really had the guts to do what they wanted. They usually follow it up with some mumbling excuse about 'not enough time/money' I don't have as much sympathy for this one.

The final response is the best and it's either 'that's great, good luck' or 'brilliant, tell me all about it'. These people are the type that have their own dreams and can understand others following theirs.

Hang on...I've lost the point of where I'm going...wait...found it.
SO...what I'm trying to say (in a very round about way) is that the one thing people never say in response to us telling us their dream is why? Why do it? Why put so much effort into it? This is a question I've been thinking about a lot lately and to be honest the reason I've been thinking about it is because I came up with the answer first.

Over the last month or so I've been reading and seeing a lot about 'living simply'. Whether its on other blogs such as this one or on TV, in magazine, conversations with patients or just generally in my head, it seems to be coming up a lot. I'm not sure if this is the new car phenomenon (get a mini and suddenly all you see is minis) or just a shift in every one's thinking? Either way it's made me think 'that's why'. Reading about everyone else's love of living simply has reminded me of why I started this journey in the first place.
It also reminded me of an article I read in a local village paper many years ago when I lived at home. It was such a non-event moment at the time but looking back it was the catalyst for so much. The article was all about a lady who had lived in the village since she was born. Living in the same house, working the land with her parents and later her husband, living the simple life. She was about 90 something years old and the article was all about how happy she was with her long life. The reporter asked her what was the key to a long and happy life and the lady explained that today too many people spend hours and pounds constantly trying to buy and find happiness. She said that people no longer understand the value of being content. Content with what you have and enjoying it rather than constantly looking for more. She said the key to a happy life was being content with a simple life and that not many people understood that any more.

This article has stuck with me ever since and made perfect sense to me. A shiny new car and posh clothes won't make me content but eating my own veg and baking my own bread will. Spending a week out of a year in a tourist crammed hotel won't make me content but a lifetime in beautiful countryside will.

Maybe not everyone will understand this and that's fine but I feel I've found the key to my contentment and I'm looking forward to opening the door...

Sunday, 13 June 2010

The first of many sad hurdels

This is a post I know I have had to write for weeks now but couldn't bring myself to do it because it is so sad but alas the longer i leave it the more seems to be added to the sadness so here goes. In my last post I was bubbling with the joys of chicken keeping and excited to be on the road to our farm. We knew getting chickens there would come a time, as with any pet, or life for that matter, for sadness but we hoped it would be many years (and eggs) away.

The first stumble came when my poor little Tullulah became egg bound. It was our first time of seeing this and took us a while to work out was happening. She was so poorly and the vet wanted to put her down but we nursed her through it and she managed against all odds to lay the egg. She got better so quickly after that and, after a bout of bully, settled in with the others again and started growing feathers at a rapid rate.
Our next blow was a big one and came 5 weeks after getting the girls. During the day they stayed in the secure run but when we got in from work and at weekends we would let them out in the garden to free range. At first we nervously watched them like new parents but as the weeks went by we would nip inside the house for something and relaxed as all seemed ok. On the bank holiday Sunday evening we had gone in the house to sort out tea nipping to check on them every ten minutes or so.

After tea I went to look through the window and saw a mass of feathers on the ground and knew what had happened straight away. I couldn't bring myself to go outside so Brian went out and slowly walked round the garden from chicken to chicken shaking his head. Suddenly I spotted movement in the top corner of the garden. A young fox was jumping up and down at the 6 foot high, barbed wire fence trying to escape! I knock on the window and pointed to it. Brian looked at the fox not knowing what to do just as it managed to pull itself over the fence. It had killed Tinkerbell outright, Tullulah was very badly injured and Brian couldn't find the other two. I was so upset and felt like we had failed them.Brian found Ginger under a bush with lots of feathers missing but we couldn't tell how injured. We decided to put her in a box until we had found Tikka and sorted Tullulah who was in a much worse state. Brian walked around the coop where he had walked a few times before. This time he spoke as he walked pass the bushes and there was an answering cluck from inside! Tikka had managed to fly 5 foot up onto a branch and hide there silently inches from where the fox escaped on the very day we talked about clipping her wings! Tikka hated being picked up more than the others put together but Brian held out his hands and she jumped into them completely unharmed.One look at Tullulah and I knew she would never make it to the vets (who I had on the phone). Both her wings were broken and her lungs punctured. Brian made the brave decision of putting her out of her misery himself. I was so proud of him for being able to do it as I knew I couldn't. We know we will have to face things like this on the farm but 5 weeks in seemed a bit too steep a learning curve!

We looked at Ginger and at first she seemed ok and we hoped we have two left but then I heard the tell tale wheezing sound as she breathed and knew her chest had been punctured too. We took her to the vets who put her down for us.
That left us with one brave little chicken all alone in her run. She spent all Monday morning looking for the others and we knew we couldn't leave her on her own. We found a farm close to us that re-homes ex-bats and so went up in the afternoon to get two new ladies.
The lovely Suki
and beautiful BellaI wish I could say that's the end of the sadness but unfortunately it's not. 2 weeks after getting the new ladies as they started to settle in we noticed the tell tale signs that Bella was egg bound. She had laid 2 shell-less eggs since we got her so we were expecting a problem with her first proper egg. She was obviously struggling to lay but was still sat up and walking around, unlike Tullulah. We hoped she would be ok but unfortunately she didn't make it through last night :(
Callum pointed out that out of 6 ex-bats we've only lost 1 to illness which is about average but we are still feeling like the unluckiest chicken keepers going and are pretty sure we've been cursed by the chicken gods.

We know that life and death are part of farming but to have so many deaths and very few lives left in such a short space of time is disheartening to say the least but we will travel along our path with the new lessons we've learned on the road to our dream. I guess a dream wouldn't be worth it if it was easy to achieve?