Sunday, 28 June 2009

the girls

this is a post especially for all my friends and family who helped make it possible for me to finally own some chickens. they have been a little late coming, 1 year to be precise but instead of living in an eglu (which was the original plan) they live in the custom built luxury that is "cluckingham palace".

we were very keen to rescue some hens and have ex-bats, so we got in touch with the battery hen welfare trust which is all run by volunteers who do amazing work.

but it was not meant to be! in this part of the country there are not many regular rescues, as most farms are free range, and also i am pleased to say that there was quite a long waiting list.

so we packed the car with cardboard boxes and headed to a reputable chicken dealer who had been recommended to us by a fellow chicken keeping friend. we bought home 4 girls.

adriana - a leghorn
the chicken man told us that the white leghorns are prolific layers, but that they are very skittish and aren't great company. adriana does lay a beautiful white egg every day, but on top of it she is one of the tamest. she is currently vying for top bird position and has become a little bit of a bully.

ginny & janice - speckled marans
these girls have yet to lay. they are currently around 20 weeks old and should start laying dark red rusty colour eggs soon, we hope! ginny is slightly lighter and has feathers all down to her claws,very sweet, she is also quite plump. janice is quite dark and very bossy. they tend to hang out together and like to have dust baths in the afternoons.

carmela - a sussex rock
we were told that this girl will make a good pet and lay around 300 eggs per year. currently this is true on both counts. her eggs are speckled and normal egg shell colour. she is currently at the bottom of the pecking order.

the pecking order has not yet been fully established and carmela has been having a bit of a rough time, receiving some very serious pecks and feather loss. she was looking a little sorry and the other day we noticed an open wound on her back. after much research and advice hunting i decided to concoct my own chicken healing ointment and then paint her feathers with anti-nail biting lotion. i am very pleased with the results so far. she seems much happier and the other girls are leaving her alone a bit more.

recipe for aromatherapy chicken balm.
3tbs vaseline
1tbs cocoa butter
12 drops of tea tree essential oil
16 drops of lavender essential oil

melt the vaseline and cocoa butter together in a pan, remove from heat, stir in the essential oils and leave to set in the fridge. for easiest application use at room temperature

we have also been keeping them busy by hanging up cabbages and cauliflowers just out of reach. it is great fun watching them jump for it, or climbing up on the logs and trying to balance to get a good peck. it keeps them very fit. we have also just started letting the out in the garden. they love exploring and having a good scratch about, except my vegetable patch is off limits as much as i can help it.

we have all got chicken fever, the good kind,and francisco is loving his new pets. this drawing of adriana is one of my favourites.

we are all also loving the fresh eggs. this is the very first egg that was laid at the palace.

thank you all once again, and keep looking here if you want regular updates on the girls.

ambika x

Monday, 22 June 2009

making tea and other things

i recently collected some elderflower heads on one of our walks to make tea. i got the idea from my spanish aunt who did the same when we visited her. she says that it is a good tea to drink when you have a cold in the winter.

i laid them out on some paper to dry. this only took a few days. then i took as much of the stalk off as i could and placed the tiny flowers in a glass jar. only enough for a few cups i reckon, but i look forward to using it later in the year.

we've also been drinking smoothies lately. a very thirst quenching drink on a hot day. i consider this a break through as i have tried them on stanley before but he wasn't having any of it! it's a great way to get fruit down him, as he quite often refuses to even try food if he doesn't like the look or smell of it, which i find quite frustrating especially as his diet is some what restricted anyway due to his food allergies. he is allergic to all dairy products and a few types of nuts. so i am thrilled that he has taken to drinking these whizzed up concoctions of mine.

i know it's pretty straight forward but this is what we put in ours:

3 handfuls of soft fruit, we like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries,
half a banana,
half a pint (or enough to cover the fruit) of soya milk
a spoonful of honey, maple or agave syrup
blend it all up and there you have it, a delicious summer smoothie.

this makes enough for two glasses, we have to add more if daddy is around. and most importantly, it needs to be served with a straw, that's the essential for this little customer!

the beauty is that you can really put anything into it as long as it tastes good. I might experiment further by adding avocado, silken tofu, some nut or seed butter into the mix to make them extra nutritious before stanley's taste buds find me out!

we have also been making stuff, stanley has been finger painting non-stop and while he sleeps i have been sorting out my small fabric stash and working on some birthday gifts.

here's a sneaky peek, i need to finish them this week so i better go right now and work on them some more!

see you later
Sarada x

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

etsy & me

i have finally solidified my relationship with etsy and become more than just a passive dreamer.

my etsy shop "sumbuddy" is now open and filled up with all the stock that was left over from the market stall i ran back in may.

i hope you can take the time to stop by and take a look.

ambika x

Monday, 15 June 2009

a walk up the mountain

these are some flowers and grasses that we picked to make our house look pretty for the many special people who recently came to visit. we got them from the little woods on the hill behind where we live.

we often go up to this bit of scrub land for a walk in the afternoon. it's just so close to us that it only takes 5 minutes to walk up to the top so it seems really manageable to just pop up there before dinner time when its too sunny to be indoors. we call it a mountain as in proportion to stanley it seems really big. usually he'll ride on my shoulders as i slowly climb up the steep steps, then i'll put him down and together we'll wander along the bramble lined paths looking for ladybirds and bumble bees. we never know what we are going to discover.

when we get to the top you can see the whole of the city surrounded by rolling hills looking out to sea. we head towards the old bench and stanley uses the chalk that's scattered in the soil around these parts to draw on the wood or sits with me and has a snack, while i take in the surroundings, breathe deep and appreciate the moment.

i really enjoy these walks and find it so peaceful to tip toe past the bushes peering in and looking at everything in detail. sometimes i feel as though we spend most of our time racing to get from one place to another so slowing down and taking it all in on our walks is just what we need.

then he's up on my shoulders for the meander down through the wooded area to look for the snails that live high up on the tree trunks. stanley loves snails at the moment and spends the whole time pointing them out to me where ever we go. before we know it, we're out onto the road and the pace quickens once more as we make the small walk home.

sarada x

Monday, 8 June 2009

the hare and the tortoise

who will win the race?

the weeds are racing ahead especially the bindweed, forever climbing higher and finding deeper corners away from my destructive reach.


the vegetables which are plodding along very very slowly.

there is one last candidate in the race. the slugs..... each year i grow less patient and more barbaric with my slug disposal methods. i will not tarnish this lovely and special space with them.

so amongst all the gardening and general day to day living, we have been finding a little time to lie and relax in the hammock. the weather has been amazingly warm and i am now so excited about the prospect of the summer ahead.

before we left for spain my dear friend and i ran a craft stall at the local may fair. we had a great day selling our home made goods and got loads of really great feedback. I will be putting some of the left over stock onto my etsy shop soon, so watch this space as i hope to get it all up and running in the next week.

it feels good to be back here after such a long break.

ambika x