best layer of the month # January 2019

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First month of the year has simply flown past!  Can’t believe it’s already 31st January (and incidentally, also the 31st birthday of Eldest Son).  Hens have had to put up with very cold temperatures, what with snow, and drinking water freezing over. With the cold plus lack of daylight (although days are growing longer), egg count was more modest than during the warmer months.

It’s Mauricette, our French Blue, who takes the prize once again though, with 26 eggs this month.  Miss Plumpton laid 16 and old Miss Moneypenny 11.  That makes a total of 53 fresh eggs for January, so still enough to distribute amongst the neighbours.

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best layer of the month # December

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Ooops, I almost forgot to tot up the egg count for December!

Total egg count was slightly down in December because Miss Moneypenny decided to have a massive moult.  There were feathers everywhere, for several weeks, and she was walking around looking somewhat naked until the new feathers grew.  With the cold spell we had, I was slightly worried she would catch cold, so have been giving extra treats and vitamins to help.  Miss Moneypenny is fully-feathered again, but all her energy went into growing feathers, so she only laid 4 eggs this month.  Miss Plumpton and Mauricette (above) did very well though.  Miss Plumpton (the Sussex) laid 22 eggs and Mauricette (our French blue) laid a grand total of 30.  Which means 56 eggs were collected in December.

And just because I like statistics . . . I  went back over archives for 2018.  Miss Mauricette may have been our best layer for the past few months, but Miss Plumpton wins the crown for Best Layer of 2018.  Miss Moneypenny laid a total of 194 eggs in the past year: Mauricette 316 and . . . drumroll . . . Miss Plumpton laid 333.

we’re having an Indian Summer

Hmm, looks like we’re having an Indian Summer in our part of the world.  Blue skies, sunshine, and temperatures have been around 26°C during the daytime, although it is getting a bit nippy at night.

What do we do when weather is fine?  Well, if you’ve got a lively dog, like we do, then you go to the park and take photos.

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Here’s Gibbs, our Flat-Coated Retriever, now 2 years old.  A healthy 40 kilos of pure muscle, and enjoying our daily walk/run around the park and obstacle course.  We walk, he runs.

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Please note the lovely blue sky, as well as a very agile Gibbs who has no trouble going up and down all the ramps, and over hurdles.

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And yours truly, in a sleeveless cotton shirt – it’s just like summer!

best layer of the month # August

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Miss Plumpton did it again!  She didn’t take a single day’s rest this month and produced an amazing 31 eggs!  What a clever Sussex hen she is, eh?

Other gals did very well too though . . . Mauricette with 28 and Miss Moneypenny, despite her age, laid 27.  Total egg count this month: 86.  That made quite a few omelettes for us, plus a couple of baking sessions . . . but I also gave fresh eggs to neighbours since there’s no point in stock-piling.

We seem to have something of a barter system going on with neighbours lol.  I’m happy to just give eggs away rather than see them go to waste, but this month we were given a couple of litres of milk in exchange AND

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some fresh crayfish!  Now, I have to add here . . . we’ve got a new neighbour in the Close, and as well as holding down a paid job as a teacher, he also works for the Fishing & Forestry commission on a volunteer basis.  In this role, one of his occupations over the summer holidays was to set traps to catch a foreign variety of crayfish, an American variety, I believe.  These were introduced (no idea when or why) into local waters and have been breeding like rabbits to the detriment of the European crayfish.  The American cousins are considered as pests so people on the fishing commission have been busy trapping them all summer.  

You can’t see exactly how many of the little blighters there really are in this photo, as they’re in an ice-box and are all piled on top of each other.  I’ll spare details for the squeamish, but we spent several hours prepping these for the freezer, and then received another bucket-load the following day which we had for dinner.  They’re fresh water creatures so taste nothing like prawns.  However, they were very tasty cooked up with fresh tomatoes from the garden and served on a bed of rice. 

best layer of the month # July

July has been hot hot hot!  Not as dry as in some parts of the world since we’ve had a couple of storms and rainfall.  The other week, we had one hell of a storm with high winds which caused havoc: bringing down tree everywhere, which in turn brought down powerlines.  In our orchard, two tree were brought down by the wind

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Hen coops were blown over, and needed immediate repair.  Hens got totally soaked

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but were unharmed.  And Cléo’s trampoline was whirled up in the air and landed about 20 metres farther away, down in the stream!

Stream was turned into a fast flowing muddy torrent

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Anyway . . . the day after the storm, everyone was out with chain saws, local council were out, as well as the electricity company, and power was restored.

Hens don’t seem to have been put off egg laying, despite the heat and storms . . . egg count for this month totalled 89 eggs!  28 laid by Miss Moneypenny, 30 by Mauricette, and a staggering 31 by Miss Plumpton.

best layer of the month # June . . . and then there were three.

A bit of sadness in the coop this month.  From four hens

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we are now back down to three.

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Who’s missing?  Yup, our lovely red hen, Miranda.  She was suffering from “fly strike”, also known as myiasis, earlier in the month (very gruesome, I’ll let you google if you have a strong stomach).  We did our best to treat her, but to no avail, and we had to make the decision to put her out of her misery.  I say “we”, it was actually the husband who did the deed quickly and efficiently – for which I can never thank him enough.  It would have been inhumane to let her linger.

I really miss not seeing her lovely golden plumage, when hens are all strutting about – she was a lovely hen with a great personality, and in the 3 years she lived here, she laid a total of 726 eggs, so she was en excellent layer too.

Anyway, I’m pleased to say the other gals are all healthy.  Miss Moneypenny has finally got over her broodiness (which seems to affect her every May & June) and is now back out, strutting her stuff.  She’s mainly there just to look pretty these days though, aged 4, we’re not relying on her for our egg supply.

For June, the total egg count was 58 eggs.  1 laid by Miranda before she got “ fly struck”, 3 by Miss Moneypenny, 24 by Mauricette and a staggering 30 by Miss Plumpton, who never seems to take a day off.

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Saying that, Mauricette laid a 110g whopper only the other day – no doubt a double-yolker, but I haven’t cracked it open yet.

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Anyway, our three gals are enjoying the shade of the apple trees in the orchard.

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Temperatures are hot.  35°C today, and forecast says we can expect 37°C tomorrow.

The orchard really is the best place for the hens in the summer months as there’s always a bit of shade.  Apple trees look as if they’ll yield well this year.  I have no idea what varieties we have, but there are two which seem to be cooking apples

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And one which gives nice eating apples.

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They’re not ripe yet, but if they can all stay nice & healthy-looking like that, we should be in for quite a harvest.

Pear trees aren’t doing so well.  We’ve got 2 in the orchard, and 2 in the veggie patch.  The latter are totally without pear, but in the orchard there are a few (probably about a dozen in total).

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The question is: will they ripen, or simply fall off beforehand?

a bit of this & that

Summer officially arrived on 21st June, but we’ve already been enjoying fine weather for a while.  Our spa has been set up in the back garden

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Here it was being filled, but since then, I’ve been enjoying refreshing bubbles late afternoon every day.  I’ve also been doing a bit more cross stitch, with my feet up,  and lots of secret sewing.  Sadly, because of the latter, I realise I don’t have time to make un-birthday gifts this month but hope to have some made for July.

While I won’t be sending any gifts out, I was lucky and received some surprise mail in the post though.  A lovely hand-stitched card from Cathy

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and a little cross stitch kit, plus hand-made card from Carole.

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This kit was a free gift with Cross Stitch Crazy, and Carole thought I might like to stitch it (which I do! ).  Seeing that lovely design, spurred me into going on the internet and checking out subscription costs for UK xstitch magazines.  I let my subs run out several years ago because I was stock-piling magazines and not really having time to make the most of all the lovely designs.  However, I did miss the delight of receiving a magazine through the post . . . so I’ve just signed up for a 12 months subscription for Cross Stitch Crazy (so thanks for giving me the idea, Carole). 

Most of my stitching time, of late, has been spent trying to make progress on “Getting Ready” for the SAL.  But I did also finish up a small design.

permin robot

A very cute little robot, kit by Permin.  Three shades of grey, black and a bright green.  I’m thinking I might stitch the design a second time but using three shades of a different colour.  Maybe blue, or pink, or green.  In the meantime, I need to get my thinking cap on and decide how to finish this little fellow.  The Permin kit came with enough aida plus a lining fabric and instructions to make a pouch for mobile phone but I’m not too keen on that idea.