what a clever boy!

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A rather blurry Gibbs in above photo, but a very happy Gibbs.   We’ve been taking him to the park/obstacle course every day since July.  And I am pleased to say, he can now do all the obstacles on the course!  Hurdles and tunnels are easy peasey . . . what took more work, and concentration is

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the see-saw.  Learning to wait until weight redistributes so it swings down before jumping off is the difficult part.

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Then there’s this “bridge” which needs to be taken quite slowly since the plank is only 10” wide.

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And for a young energetic dog who always wants to run, Gibbs has to learn to walk more sedately across this one. 

Gibbs is now 14 months old and a very healthy 38 kilos of glossy coat and muscle. 

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Unfortunately, he’s also got a bald patch on his pretty face again – 2 vet visits later and a swab done, he’s on anti-biotics and anti-inflammatories because the area is now infected.  We hope it’s just a minor infection that will sort itself out, but vet wonders if there isn’t a “foreign body”, like a thorn, stuck inside.  If things don’t right themselves with medication she is going to have to sedate, and go exploring. 

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best layer of the month # October

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All I can say is “Hourray for Miss Moneypenny!”  If it hadn’t been for her, we’d have been very short of eggs this month.  Total egg-count is at an all-time low with only 33 eggs from the coop in October.  Miss Marple laid 7 of those (before she died earlier in the month); Miranda, who is currently moulting, laid 8 . . . and Miss Moneypenny  laid 18.  Here she is again

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The star of the coop!

The two new gals have been settling in . . . and I haven’t noticed too much bullying recently.

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Mauricette and Miss Plumpton tend to stick together, but they are out and about scratching and getting lots of fresh air.

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A close up of Miss Plumpton, our young Sussex.  And a close up of Mauricette

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who is a French Blue and has a gorgeous black head & collar but smokey grey body. 

Oh and we’ve moved the guinea fowl to a slightly different set-up.

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They’re now inside the larger plastic green-house in the veggie patch.  Not sure if this is going to be viable solution as the nights get longer and colder.  It keeps them dry and safe from draughts during the day, but it gets pretty cold in there at night.  Guinea fowl being guinea fowl, they refuse to use the straw-lined sleeping quarters I have provided, but choose to perch on top of the mini-green house with only their plumage to keep them warm.

and then there were two . . .

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Miss Marple (above) is now pecking & scratching in chook heaven.  I’d noticed she was under the weather a few days ago, and I probably didn’t react in time.  By the time I did  react, she was suffering from an enlarged crop (so google brought up various issues like “impacted crop” and “sour crop” for that).  Husband contacted a few vets in the area.  None of whom seemed to know much about hens so it basically became a DIY lesson in hen health (or ill-health), sifting through various articles/videos on the internet to find out what to do.

We isolated her from the other gals and adminstered a small amount of olive oil in the first instance, hoping this would help the blockage.  This was then followed, by some gentle crop massaging to help her vomit and empty her crop.  I thought I had got the hang of things, and was managing to help her bring up lots of foul-smelling gunk . . . but sadly, it was a case of too little, too late.

Miss Marple will be remembered as a very prolific layer, a very good-looking black & tan hen with a bit of an attitude. 

So for now, there’s just Miranda and Miss Moneypenny in the coop  . . . but hopefully, it won’t be long before a couple of new chooks come to join them.  I need to phone our local breeder to find out if there’s still time to reserve a couple of birds for this month, or whether I’ll have to wait until March next year.

In the meantime . . . guinea fowl are growing and seem to have settled in well.

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Here they are, aged 9 weeks, sunning themselves in the back garden. 

We’ve been having an Indian summer this past week with temperatures around 23°C and gorgeous blue skies.  An opportunity to take a few colourful photos

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of what’s flowering outside . . . and one, just for laughs, of what Ducky is up to indoors.

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I know it doesn’t look like it, but he’s actually fast asleep, with his eyes wide open lol. 

best layer of the month #September

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Autumn is on its way, therefore hens have been moved back into their enclosure in the veggie patch.  Here they are, enjoying all the fresh grass and vegetation that grew while they were in the orchard.

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The coop-move didn’t put them off their laying at all . . . and total egg count for September was 65 eggs!  18 from Miranda, 20 from Miss Marple and 27 from Miss Moneypenny.  She’s the Marans Cuckoo hybrid to the left of the following photo.

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I’ve got more mouths to feed here, with the arrival of

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Young guinea fowl, 6 weeks old in this photo, who, like last year, will be fattened up in time for the festive season. 

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We’ve had to be inventive after a lot of fun & games the other day.  Young guinea fowl are so small that they can escape through the net fencing enclosure as we soon discovered.  I reassure you, all ended well, but not before Gibbs got to try out his retrieving tactics and a few feathers were lost.

Anyway, the temporary set-up is: young guinea fowl inside a small plastic greenhouse.  It’s far from perfect, but it allows them to stretch their legs and eat grass, keeps them dry and safe from draughts (& Gibbs), and prevents any future Houdini episodes.  As soon as they grow big/fat enough, they will be allowed more freedom.

a bit quiet

I’ve been a bit quiet this past week . . . we had family to stay, so I didn’t spend much time in front of my computer, but I did spend lots of time drinking coffee & nattering. 

While visitors were here, I managed to persuade them they wanted a quick trip to Noz to see what latest bargains were in and . . . this is my haul.

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Three big 350g balls of Scheepjes yarn  for only 2.99€ apiece.  One ball should be enough to knit a size S lady’s sweater, but I grabbed three, because at that price, I didn’t like to leave any in the shop.  And four comic strip books (surprisingly in English) for only 99 centimes each. 

Weather was up and down during the week but visitors did get a few fine days, and managed to spend a day sight-seeing in Lyon.  During that time, I enjoyed some sun in the garden, and noticed our bottle brush plant has a new lease of life (we thought it had died last year).

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I also managed a few hours crafting . . .

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and have a finished sugar skull (Sugar Skull ref 3203 kit by Design Works Crafts Inc).  It was lots of fun to stitch and I’m seriously thinking about stitching a second one in slightly different colours. 

some monkey business and horsing around

Sorry, couldn’t resist the title to accompany a couple of update crochet photos of amigurumi.  More specifically, of zoomigurumi, since both projects are from the first Zoomigurumi book.

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Johnny the monkey, who is now a pile of body parts, waiting to be assembled.  I think I over-stuffed the body and head somewhat as stuffing is visible through the dark brown yarn, despite having used a 3mm hook (which is a couple of sizes smaller than recommended for this yarn).  However, I’m hoping to wangle things so that this lower body part is less noticeable when assembled.  Anyway in photo there is 1 head, 1 body, 2 arms, 2 legs, 1 tail, 1 face piece and 2 ears.

I’ve also been working on Leila the pony

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So far she looks a little freaky.  I have made and stuffed the body, head and white eye pieces.  And head is already attached to the body.  I still need to crochet up four legs which will have grey hooves.  She also needs ears and a facial expression.   Those 2 bright yarns in the box are two 50g balls of scheepjes “piccolo”  that I snapped up in our local Noz the other week.  One or the other will be used for Leila’s mane and tail.  Haven’t decided which one yet but I’m leaning slightly towards the purple.  Problem is . . . I’m planning on giving Leila to a certain 7 year old neighbour, and we all know what her favourite colour is lol.  Maybe I’ll give Leila pink & purple streaks?

Other bright colours in my life at the moment

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On my feet . . . I treated myself to a couple of new pairs of plastic “clogs” (which I realise are commonly called crocs these days, but these are not genuine “crocs”.  They’re genuine “hipps” – designed in France). I literally wear these all the time, and find them so comfortable.  I reassure you, I don’t go around with odd clogs, I do have matching feet!  This first one to show you two of the pretty pairs I bought

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And I also bought a pair of plain turquoise too.

Not only are my feet colourful . . . tonight’s dinner started off full of colour too.

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A harvest of chards from the veggie patch where we seem to have several varieties growing.  Sadly the leaves were all full of holes or really dry, so I wasn’t able to use them like I usually do.  And a second sadly, once cooked, for some reason, all the pretty pinks and oranges seem to disappear, so all veggies look the same colour.  Still, they look pretty growing in the veggie patch!

best layer of the month # August

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Another month has whooshed by and our three hens have all been quite industrious in the shade of the old apple trees.

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Miss Moneypenny is the Queen of the coop for the second month in a row.  Completely making up for her broody months in May and June.  In August she laid 26 eggs . . . Miranda in second place with 18 and Miss Marple a runner up with 15.   A total of 59 eggs therefore for August . . . more than enough for us, and neighbours have been enjoying our hens’ freshly laid eggs too.