Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The first strawberry of the season

Gratuitous hen photos

The chickens are doing well. We need to get them in and out ourselves morning and night at the moment as they haven't realised this is what they should do yet. So once they're out they stay out and when put in at night they stay there. I think it will be a monumentous occasion when they go up the ramp and inside of their own accord, or likewise venture out on their own. They also don't know where to lay so eggs are just on the grass at the moment. Not sure if they are using their perches at night yet either but it is early days for them. They are showing signs of starting to settle though. The feistiest hen will now walk around me when i'm in there and seems to be feeling a bit braver. Its so good to watch them start to explore and relax a little. It was far easier getting them out this morning as they seems to be a bit more chilled. So i could pick them up without them being so terrified. They still try to run but with less conviction. I do feel mean doing it but they need to get fresh air and eat. I'm very gentle and i'm sure they'll learn to love us.


We were amazed to find on our first day with the hens yesterday they laid eggs! There were three in total but one was so thin it had broken - a sign of calcium deficiency. We have oyster grit in there with them so hopefully this will help. I really can't believe that the poor girls have been loaded up, travelled for hours, handled and put in a strange place and still managed to lay. We got another this morning, and there may be more by now as i have yet to check on them this afternoon. We don't actually eat very many eggs and are trying to cut down on animal products. The hens are really just pets. :-D But will have to find something special to make with them.


I just wanted to share these two inspirational posts by wonderful mama bloggers Gina and 'NettleJuice. I read and felt their words so deeply. Thank you both for sharing.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Plant Labels

Phoebe and I made plant labels this week for our veggie patch. I wrote the plant name and drew a picture and Phoebe helped with the colouring (a bit - she wasn't too interested). Then we laminated them, which she was very interested in, cut them down to size and glued them onto big craft lolly sticks. There are a few more to be made because we ran out of glue but we finished at least half. Today we put them out in the garden. It looks really nice. :-)

Little Homestead in the City

I don't know if any of you have seen this but I am completely inspired by Little Homestead in the City. It is a blog charting the Dervaes' family's self sufficient lifestyle but has grown into more than that. Their garden is only 66' by 66' but they have over 350 different vegetables, herbs, fruits, berries and produce 6000 lbs of food annually.
They have also started a website called Freedom Gardens to help fellow self sufficiency enthusiasts share information, skills and produce.

There is a film about them and you can watch the trailer, along with many other videos they have made here.

Here's the trailer:

Book Sharing Monday: My Brother Jimi Jazz

A day late but oh well...

I know this book has already been shared by (I think) Gina but I thought i would share it too as its one of our new books and has a particular relevance for us at the moment.

My Brother Jimi Jazz is a self published picture book telling the story of a homebirth from the perspective of a little girl. There is much Phoebe can relate to in this book, aside from the fact that I am also growing a baby and will birth at home, and she too will be a big sister. There is also the washing of cloth nappies, sleeping together in a family bed and this is one of the rare books for children that actually includes breastfeeding. :-)

Phoebe loves this. The illustrations are beautiful and I love the style of writing. It really is a lovely book which she can relate to.

Rhubarb Soda and Rhubarb Ginger Smoothie

I found a great recipe for Rhubarb Soda last week. It was on the sidebar of Soulemama's blog and as soon as i saw it I knew i had to try it. Yes, ok it is fairly sweet and sugary but most cooking with rhubarb is. So i whipped up a double batch of syrup.

On pondering what to do with the leftover stewed rhubarb I deciedd as it was a hot day a smoothie would go down well so threw together my own recipe using ginger and soya milk. Yum!

We have chickens!

We have been mentioning for a while now that we are going to get chickens. They are finally here. We arranged to adopt some ex battery hens which had been bought from a farm in Norwich by Little Hen Rescue. 181 hens were rescued yesterday and brought to an address in Ramsey Heights, which is just 15 minutes away.

When we arrived there at 4.30pm there were lots of people there and we were told there had been a delay. As it turns out we waited 2 hours in the car park/outside area of an old farm cottage with about 40 other families. There were lots of children about and Phoebe had some fun watching the other children and jumping about in their large gravel driveway. In the end, Petra, the organiser, had a phonecall and found out the driver was still stuck in traffic in Kings Lynn so we came back home for dinner before heading back out (with Phoebe still, who was keen to see our new pets) at 8.15.

When we arrived the chickens had been unloaded into a holding area and people were queuing up with their cages and cardboard boxes. We had already signed our papers and given our donation earlier in the day so Russ joined the queue and i held Phoebe at the side so we could watch. It was really sad to see the state the poor hens were in but I was also so happy that these girls would be given nice new homes. Talking to families earlier in the day many of them would now be free range, or at least have a very large run.

I was really proud of Phoebe as well who coped very well with seeing so many distressed and partially featherless birds. She kept repeating what I had told her, and told anyone who was nearby "They poorly. People taking chickens home. They look after them. Make them better." She watched eagerly as it was our turn and we got our five ladies, thanked the organisers and carried them back to the car.

When we got home we decided to put them out in their run initially, though the light was fading, to see if they would eat and drink. They had spent many hours cramped in boxes on the back of a lorry and we had no idea if they had managed to get near the food and water whilst in the holding area. Its a bit nerve wracking the first time you pick up a chicken, especially a bony one without many feathers, but we are getting used to it.

While we were letting them roam about a bit Phoebe tried her hardest to talk to the chickens and get them to eat - "Hello chickens! You want some food? It nice."

A couple of them had a peck at the food but as it was getting late we decided to put them in their coop for the night, along with their food and water, and give them some peace and time to settle. Though even at bedtime Russ was looking out of the window into the darkness wondering if they were ok.

Phoebe had a very (very) late night (and was up early sadly) but was full of chicken talk at bedtime. "Tell me story 'bout Phoebe and Mummy and Daddy and Chickens Mummy".

This feels like such a worthwhile thing to do. Many people tried to convince us beforehand not to do it, saying that they would look awful, could be really ill and wouldn't lay us any eggs and we should just go and buy some point of lay hens from a local farm. Although they were well meaning they did miss the point of why we chose ex battery hens. It brought tears to my eyes this morning watching them drink and eat for the first time and seeing them explore their surroundings. I'm so glad we did this and am looking forward to nurturing them back to good health.

Thank you Little Hen Rescue.

Phoebe and Daddy

Last week

Phoebe puts her trousers on herself. :-)

A little low art table I set up (and Phoebe has shown very little interest in as yet) lol

"I got big long trunk"

New books. :)

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Loving this


Did i say we're getting chickens on Sunday?

Five ex battery or barn hens from Little Hen Rescue. We're just putting the finishing touches to the coop and run. Very excited about giving these poor girls a new life. :-D

Monday, 18 May 2009

Book Sharing Monday: Jasper's Beanstalk

Here is our first book sharing Monday. After a nudge from Gina I thought we'd join in. Phoebe insisted on posing with the book...

Mummy: What's your favourite book Phoebe? Can i take a picture of it?
Phoebe: I hold it. You take picture of mine hands holding it.

This is a lovely book about Jasper, who decides to plant a bean. He's enthusiastic and can't wait for his beanstalk to grow.

It takes a little longer than he thinks, but eventually Jasper's beanstalk does grow.

This is a really sweet little book which shows the virtue of patience and also gives an introduction to plant growth. Phoebe really likes it. :-)

Here's a link to Book Sharing Monday on Alex's blog - Canadian Home Learning.

A space for play

This weekend Russ has spent some time putting up shelving in our playroom. The units we had in there were random 'that'll do' shelving from the charity shop and an old deep cupboard that was mine when i lived with my parents. Basically it was far from ideal and made it hard for Phoebe to see what she actually had let alone get to it easily to play with.

So we now have some fitted shelves in the alcoves and i took the opportunity to sort through Phoebe's toys. Some i have moved upstairs to her room for now, not that it is used much, and they'll go in her cupboard when Russ puts shelves in there, or in the sun lounge. Some will go on to the charity shop.

I'm really pleased with the way its turned out, though it will always of course be a work in progress. For example i'd like to make the dolly cot into a dolly bed as we don't use cots. Not sure Phoebe is even sure what one is. Here are a few pictures - if you click on each one you can see a bigger version:

Birth Preparation

Not getting much time to listen to my hypnobirthing affirmations and relaxation - but i know i must make time in the next few weeks. However I did put up th affirmations page i made for Phoebe's birth and write out something new while Phoebe was painting the other day - 'a letter to my new baby'. Its not written by me but something I found that felt right and really spoke to me. Its right in my kitchen and gives me regular reminders to be mindful of the life growing inside of me.

Breathe deeply and read

Thanks to Veronika Robinson of The Mother Magazine for this. I stuck it up on the wall as soon as i'd finished reading the magazine and its awaiting a frame. Little things can help me get through a difficult day.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

First Art

I have just had a comment on my post 'pile of books' from MaryAnn Kohl, author of 'First Art'. I only got it on Friday and have yet to read it properly (perhaps i'll take it into the bath with me later for a few minutes peace) but it looks really good. Its full of ideas for activities for toddlers which are about the process of making art and being creative rather than the finished product. This really appeals to me as there are so many art and craft projects around which are staged to produce something the parent has already thought of. I really want Phoebe (and me!) to just enjoy the activity in itself without having to conform to an idea of what its supposed to look like.
Anyway, MaryAnn mentioned that there are free samples of pages from the book on her website, brightring so you can go take a look if you like. I thought i would post about it here as people reading might miss the comment. :-)

Phoebe Quotes

Phoebe, after washing her hands: "Look! I got clean elbows."

Daddy: "Give us a kiss Phoebe!"
Phoebe: "I try not to."

Phoebe: "Yesterday... no, on Monday... on Monday at Nanny's house, Uncle Jonny sat in chair, and he just sit and do nothing. He just sit and got big boots!"

Phoebe spent quite a while on Friday carrying around a couple of wooden pull along toys, apparently "The want to be carried Mummy".

Phoebe, talking on the (play) phone to Becky: "I got no lemons. I got oranges and bananas but i got no lemons."
Phoebe, talking on the (play) phone to Uncle Jonny: " He not answer."
Mummy: "Try again. Ask him if he's working hard at uni."
Phoebe: "No, he say he not work hard."

Phoebe, wearing yellow tinted sunglasses: "Its making everything look nice!"

Transplanting some of our tomato plants

Phoebe and Daddy working in the garden after dinner.