Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sunny Sixteen Degrees

I peeked in on the bees yesterday. They were very busy foraging and returning with at least three different colours of pollen in their baskets - white, lemon yellow and goldenrod. There is still a fat heavy frame of honey stores and the queen is laying again as I saw both eggs and grubs.
So the colony seems to be in rude health and, hopefully, will expand this spring to full size.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

R.I.P. All My Hens

The thing I didn't think possible happened last night. Fort Fox was breached and all the chickens slaughtered. I salvaged the bodies of the three young ones and spent the morning plucking, cleaning and eviscerating. Woglinde's first egg of the season came out intact (see below). The shell of Flosshilde's was too soft and it got scrambled in the poop chute. All that's left is a big pot of Brunhilde soup, a meal of Flosshilde au Vin and Woglinde is in the ice box for a later date. So tragic. We must rethink our defenses before getting more.

Monday, February 20, 2012

To Pull a Chicken for the Sick

"You must take as much cold chicken as you think proper, take off all the skin, and pull the meat into little bits as thick as a quill; then take the bones, boil them with a little salt till they are good, strain it, then take a spoonful of the liquor, a spoonful of milk, a little bit of butter as big as a large nutmeg rolled in flour, a little chopped parsley as much as will lie on a sixpence, and a little salt, if wanted, (this will be enough for half a small chicken,) put it all together into the sauce-pan, then keep shaking it till it is thick, and pour it into a hot plate."
Hannah Glasse 1747

Illustration from AgenceEureka

I am just decamping my sick bed after two weeks of fever and catarrh. I did manage to set the potatoes to chit and last week in a feeble state I drew lines in a dirt tray and sowed peppers, aubergines and 5 new varieties of True Potato Seed from Tom Wagner @ New World Seeds & Tubers.

Monday, February 06, 2012

5 Eggs...

... this year. All laid by dear old Doris. I'm getting a bit impatient with the other freeloaders and thinking this weekend there might be Poule au pot on the menu.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

SnowBound Chickens

Doris on the left and her doppelgänger Flosshilde on the right.

*Werner Herzog clearly hasn't met the right chickens. Just look at these clever faces...

Saturday, February 04, 2012

The Big Freeze

We finally have a little taste of winter, freezing temperatures at night for several days now and some snow on the way tonight! That adds up to a Level 3 Cold Alert from the Met. I have to chip through 3/4 of an inch of ice on the hen's water bowl each morning and I've put a blanket on top of the hive. I'm thinking maybe this would be a good time to get out the ice skates and head for the fens. I've just listened to a reading of Roger Deakin's 'When Fenland's Finest Raced with Jack Frost' on Caught by the River. And I've learned about champions 'Turkey' Smart and his brother-in-law 'Gutta Percha' See who reigned during the golden age of Fenland Skating in the last half of the nineteenth century. Inspirational stuff.
Or I could put the fire on and make another pot of tea...