catching up

Oops already 3rd December and I realise I missed my monthly round-up of “hen happenings” . . .

not that there was much to report.  Gals are all fine but on something of a go-slow.  A total of 51 eggs for November (with 3 hens) – I think that’s an all-time low.

Non-hen related chat

concerning Ziva.  Here she is sporting a lycra body-suit because I took her in to be neutered on 1st December.  She’s not quite 7 months old and weighed in at 2.8kg but I wanted to get her spayed as early as possible.  Tis done.  She’s getting used to the body suit which is a much better option than the one the vet staff made.  And with colder weather on the way, she seems quite happy to stay indoors.

And, last but not least . . .

I’ve cast on a new knitting project.  This is a free pattern I stumbled across years ago, and for which I have had the yarn in my stash since xmas 2018.

The pattern, being a Rowan, actually calls for “worsted” weight and I asked Mr Tattoo for a lovely King Cole Comfort Aran back in 2018.  Tension obviously won’t work, and that’s why this yarn and pattern have been sitting in the drawer all these years.  However, I did some maths, and am going to make the pattern work with my aran yarn (I hope).  It’s very easy knitting, just knits & purls, and growing very fast.


cancelling xmas (cards & decorations)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been busy in the run-up to Christmas, in my sewing room, making little tree decorations that I post, along with cards, to family & friends.

An example from back in October 2016.

However, for this xmas, I’ve made an executive decision, prompted by lack of time, motivation and needing to keep a tighter budget:  there will be no xmas crafting or seasonal greetings posted from this house this year.   So, to all my blogging friends who usually receive some festive mail from this corner of France, my humblest apologies.

Christmas is going to be very low key for us this year.  We do plan on having a family gathering on 25th, and the tree will be put up, but there will be only token gifts for family underneath.  I need to save our euros (even what I save on postage stamps & crafting supplies will help) because December is going to be an expensive month with our four-legged friends.  I will need to make an appointment to have Ziva neutered, but the really big expense is because we’ll be getting a puppy, another Flat-coated retriever.

I mentioned, last month, when Gibbs’ health had taken a turn for the worse, shortly before he died, that we were thinking about getting a pup.  And it’s now official.  Pups were born on 17th October.  We’ve filled out paperwork already to finalise our reservation, and will have an 8-week little boy pup to collect on 12th December.



animal updates

It’s been a while since I’ve done an animal update, so here goes.

First up – Ziva.  Growing, and an estimated 5 months old now.  I had had every firm intention of keeping her indoors until she’s old enough to be neutered, but she’s such a persistent, energetic little thing, I gave in. She was getting very frustrated, all teeth & claws,  having to stay indoors, seeing all the other cats enjoying the big outside world, and manifested her frustration by peeing on beds, sofa, and rugs (when there are FOUR little trays in the house!).

So . . . she’s now allowed outside, and is enjoying her new playground. She literally stays out in the garden all day, only zooming indoors for some food . . . and sleeps like a baby at night, after all that exercise and fresh air!  It won’t be long before she ventures out of the garden, to the orchard, veggie garden etc, but she won’t come to any harm.  Important thing is to make sure I get her booked in to be neutered before xmas!  We don’t want her going too far, in search of a mate!

Other news is about Gibbs.  You may remember he was in a very bad way, back in May.  This was the MRI we had done.

Showing a huge growth, which turned out to be a cholesteatoma, in his left middle ear, and caused serious facial paralysis.  That was removed, with the warning they weren’t sure they’d been able to remove it all, and it might grow back.

We don’t know if it is growing back, but, after an initial fairly good recovery, when I posted this photo (before fur had had time to grow back on his left ear)

Gibbs is going down hill again.  He’s been having what can only be described as seizures. Relatively minor, but we took him to our local vet last week.  Vet said it could either be the tumour growing back, or an onset of epilespy (which wouldn’t be surprising because of all the neurological damage).  We don’t want to take him back to the specialised clinic for another MRI.  It’s a lot of upheaval for Gibbs and even if we were told the tumour was back, we wouldn’t put him through another surgery.  If it is the tumour, it will have to follow its course, and I imagine it’ll be quick.   However, we’re also going to follow up on the epilespy theory.  I’ve started keeping a record of seizures so we can report back to our local vet in a few weeks and maybe start Gibbs on medication for that.

In the meantime, we’re facing up to the fact that Gibbs has gone from a lively, healthy, energetic 5 year old, to a very unwell 6 year old.

Above photos of Gibbs looking rather sorry for himself today, in the orchard.

Anyway . . . whatever the outcome (long or short) for Gibbs, the husband and I have had many a discussion and (after learning that our local Flat-coated breeder is expecting a litter of baby Flats any day now) . . . we’ve put our name on the reservation list for a puppy!  The breeder knows all about Gibbs’ health and agrees a puppy might help stimulate Gibbs. If it does turns out that Gibbs has epilespy, then we will manage that the best we can and there’s no reason he can’t live a few more years, so having a second dog as a companion might not be a bad thing.  And if it’s not epilespy, well, then Gibbs might not still be around to meet the new pup.

To be followed . . .

another un-birthday (and more)

It’s just as well we don’t grow another year older each time we celebrate an un-birthday, because I had a second unbirthday celebration in September.  Thanks to Angèle, the second time with more lovely gifts.

Angèle sent me a denim tote bag, that she embroidered with cherry blossom, two pieces of fabric, 2 skeins of embroidery thread (the white DMC one is a “glow in the dark”), a pretty card, and a pins badge.

So a big “merci” to Angèle for all those lovely goodies!

I feel very spoilt, and I’m not the only one!  Ziva has got more toys than she knows what to do with now after I had a quick sewing session.

Using a couple of fluffy dusters, some ribbons & rick rack, toy stuffing and “cat grass”, I made some very simple toys for her to chase around and practice her hunting skills on.  I didn’t even try to make them look like mice, or anything, just sewed pouches & stuffed.   We’ve got cat toys galore in the house already but Ziva tends to lose them under the furniture.  Hopefully these new ones should be bright enough to spot easily.  She enjoys playing with them already, throwing them up in the air, carrying them around in her mouth.

And when not sewing cat toys, I managed to sit down and finish the back of my poncho.  Which has gone from this

to this

Now to cast on and knit the front which will be more interesting, since this will be my first ever cable project. Just a band of cable up the front centre, like this.

I’m not using the recommended yarn because (as I tend to do) I shopped around on-line looking for alternatives, and am knitting with this. Midway between DK and Aran, but I’m making it work to Aran tension for the purpose of this project.


a bit of this & that

A bit of this & that today . . . first up, Ziva!

Feeling very at home here these days (and it’s less than 2 months since she joined us).  Here she is, enjoying the wet food I put out for Ducky, leaving Ducky to make do with the dried food.  Ziva had her third vaccine this morning, and her micro-chip. She weighed in at 1.850kg, so that’s +300g in 3 weeks.  She’s not quite 4 months old . . . next visit for her will be at the end of the year to be spayed.

Ducky is the only one of our three cats who is prepared to be in close quarters with Ziva, and only when food is involved. The rest of the time, he’d rather be outside, enjoying the dandelions . . . along with Le Bleu and Abby who won’t come indoors until they know that Ziva is shut away for the night.

Ob (Mr & Mrs Tattoo’s cat) is the only cat who puts up with Ziva during the daytime . . . and even then, he doesn’t like her too close.

I doubt she’ll be allowed in the Tattoo’s bedroom again soon though, because she had another “accident” and peed on their bed AGAIN!

On the crafting front . . . my poncho knitting project is growing, very slowly.  Has progressed from this

I’m past the 43cm mark, and have placed markers for the start of armhole section, and have to carry on knitting straight for a total of 70cm, so quite a few rows to go.  It doesn’t look very wide, because it’s all scrunched up on my straight needle, but it’s 171 stitches across.

Oh, and after enjoying the instant gratification of completing the diamond painting kit of 4 Mandala design cards, I have picked up a canvas I began way back in February of this year, and been working on a larger design.



some new diamond painting

While crochet, knitting & cross stitch is what keeps me busy most of the time these days, I have been diamond painting a little too.  Recently bought a kit to make 4 cards

Bargain price, only 1.49€ for the pack which contains 4 cards, 4 enveloppes, drills, etc.  I’ve done three so far, which kept me quiet for a few hours.

And a photo of little Ziva . . . who spends her days charging up & down two flights of stairs;  annoying all the adult cats;  hissing at the dog;  sitting patiently by the French windows in the hopes that she can sneak out into the garden (no such chance! she hasn’t had all her vaccines yet, nor her micro-chip!) . . . and occasionally sitting still long enough for me to take a photo.


another Ziva update

Ziva had her second vaccination on Friday and weight has gone up from 825g to 1.5kg in only 4 weeks. Proof that she’s growing well.  She’s approx 12 weeks now, but still seems very tiny.  Skoots up and down stairs in the blink of an eye.  Has begun exploring rooms downstairs and had the occasional close encounter with our other cats. But on the whole, the other cats prefer to spend their days outdoors. I think they’re hoping, if they ignore her, she’ll go away lol.  Sadly, she’s just growing bigger, and gaining in confidence.

In order to keep the peace, I shut her in my sewing room around 9pm (with food, water & litter tray) so the other cats can come indoors and not be disturbed during the night.  Soon though, I’m going to have to let the cats all sort themselves out eventually and accept that Ziva is here to stay.

Ziva – update

The above photo, taken on 22nd July, when Ziva weighed in at 825g, just after her first vet visit.

Since then . . . she’s been getting lots of exercise, and filling up on lots of quality kitten food. And in only 8 days, weight has gone up to 1040g.

She was very skinny & underweight when she was found, so the sudden weight gain is simply because she’s now getting all the food she needs.  She’s not getting fat or anything, just building muscle and looking like a healthy kitten should.

We have set things up for her in the attic space. Don’t worry, it’s not an attic full of junk & cobwebs lol.  It’s partly furnished, with sofa, armchair, and is an extra sitting area on the second floor of the house with windows. She’s got her litter tray, food & water bowls, plus toys galore.  The door down to the first floor remains open, and she very quickly learned how to climb up and down those stairs.

She’s met Ducky & Abby close up. That went well.  Neither Ducky nor Abby showed much interest, to be honest. They had a sniff, touched noses, and then walked away.  She’s seen Gibbs (the dog) but since he lives on the ground floor, she hasn’t really seen much of him.  As for Le Bleu . . . I’m putting off the inevitable to give Ziva time to build up speed on the stairs.  Le Bleu did catch a glimpse of Ziva on the second day and had quite an agressive reaction (more towards me than the kitten) . . . so I’m not pushing things.  Our three cats already had to accept the arrival of Mr & Mrs Tattoo’s cat.  That actually went much better than expected, but it’s only been 3 months.  So I’m giving Le Bleu a bit more time before making him accept the adoption of a new kitten.


it’s a girl!

Meet the newest addition to the 4-legged family!  Ziva.

On Monday of this week, a neighbour called to say her adult son had found a stray kitten which he couldn’t keep (because he has a dog who doesn’t get on with cats).  He’d contacted the animal shelter, who weren’t taking in any strays because they’re over-flowing already. Hence the question: “do you want a kitten?”. With our 3 cats, plus Mr & Mrs Tattoo’s cat, making 4, adopting a kitten hadn’t been top of our agenda but . . . how could we say no to a little thing in need?

It’s a little girl kitten.  She had her first vet visit today, for first vaccination, and weighed in at 825g.  She weighed 750g when I took this photo on 19th, so proper kitten food and she’s putting on weight nicely.  We haven’t introduced her to the rest of the NCIS team yet . . . so wish us luck!