Hens and Chickens

Hens and Chickens

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Catching up!

It has been such a long time since I wrote anything on here.  So much to do, so little time to do it all in!  

Not that I hadn't been busy.  Life had decided to deal some heavy blows.  In May we were devastated to learn that our eight year old Doberman, Ozzy, had an untreatable heart condition.  

Reading up on his condition (DCM), we were somewhat comforted that it was possible for us to have around six months together.  Sadly this was not to be, and our beautiful dark muzzled boy deteriorated so quickly that he had to be put to sleep just one week later.  Our remaining Dobe, Xena, has shown no signs of missing him at all, and has quite simply become another dog.  No longer does she feel the need to assert herself constantly as top dog.  She is now just content to simply be. 

We were lucky to find a wonderful cremation service locally, where Ozzy was  dealt with in such a kind and courteous way.  It was without doubt one of the saddest days of our lives when we went to collect his casket, but he now has pride of place on the dresser, just behind where his bed was, and we are happier knowing that he will always be with us in one form or another.  The thought of him still reduces me to tears, but we can now laugh about the silly things he did.  How he tried to move home when we put the insectocuter in the kitchen.  He didn't mind the blue light, but was absolutely terrified everytime a fly was zapped.  We found him in the farthest corner of the garden, quivering under a bush.  How he would sit and guard his chewie all day, then inevitably, after a brief session of tossing it in the air, he would relinquish it to Xena, and then come begging for another one.  He rarely ate them, just played with them.  How he would stand back and let Xena eat his food, and how he never minded sharing his food bowl with the cats or the kittens.  Xena still leaves a space for him on the rug at night, and I like to think he is there, exactly where he always wanted to be, with us.

Progress on my Blue Ribbon Sampler has been nil, I'm afraid.  I am on the last third of it, but due to kittens, and now building work, I have packed it away until things return to normal.  I have found it hard to sit at night without actually doing anything, so I pulled out some wool from my stash and started crocheting - first a couple of wraps and then onto a shawl in Cashmerino wool. 

First wrap in shades of blue and grey

Second wrap in purple and red

Shawl in Debbie Bliss' Cashmerino in Lilac

We also have some new arrivals here.  After losing our chickens at Xmas, thanks to Mr Fox, we decided to wait a while, and bring their living quarters a bit closer to the house to hopefully deter predators.  We needed a new coop, so we decided for ease of cleaning and maintenance to buy an Eglu Cube.

Delivered and installed in around an hour by the Omlet people, it should hopefully be nice and warm and snug for the chooks in winter.  We decided to opt for bantams this time around, as I had heard that they could free range without causing damage to flower beds - the rabbits and slugs cause quite enough damage!  Hopefully they will also deal with the massive slug population too.

Our Pekin Bantams at around eight weeks old.

I collected a gold laced frizzle Pekin cockerel and one buff and two cuckoo Pekin hens locally, and they were duly installed into their new home, where they were quite freaked by their first experience of the outdoors and grass.  A couple of weeks later, they were joined by three Polish Bantams, sex to be determined.  I hope they aren't all cockerels!  The Pekins were pretty awful to the Polish for about a week, but finally they all settled down together.  Plans to free range them have been put on hold, thanks to the unhealthy interest my two cats have taken in them.  Perhaps when they have grown a bit more?

Having a root around in old storage boxes, I found this rust coloured chenille yarn, which I must have bought around twenty five years ago and never used.  I am now using it to crochet another shawl.  The texture is different, and it is not particularly easy to work with, but I think all will be OK.  

I also found some lovely yarn on eBay, 75% lambswool, 25% silk - unfortunately I didn't notice that it was also chenille - but at £1 per 50g ball, I can't complain.

I love the deep aubergine colour, and it has slight flecks in it.  I think it will be easier to work with than the cotton chenille.  At least I hope so!

We have also been busy with the garden, and have had some super new potatoes, cucumbers, onions, lettuce and garlic so far.  The peas and beans have just started cropping, which is a miracle considering how the rabbits damaged them after I planted them.  We have also just had our first tomatoes.  This year, for the first time ever, I made strawberry jam, and now the blackcurrants are ready, I will be making blackcurrant jam too.  The hot weather kept us busy watering the vegetable beds and all the pots and hanging baskets, but we now seem to be in the midst of a wet patch, so only need to water the greenhouse.

In the house, we have finally managed to pin our carpenter down, and our long awaited media centre/shelving is finally going in.

 Martha inspecting the new shelving.

We are very pleased with them, although we still need to paint them.  They are not at all intrusive in the room, and finally I have somewhere to put my burgeoning collection of DVD's, Blu-Rays and books.  Thanks to my new Kindle, my book collection will not be growing much in future.

With the doors on.

We bought a TV bracket to wall mount the TV, and inspite of being assured it was only a ten minute job, it took us three and a quarter hours.  Never ever trust a built in spirit level, that's all I am going to say!

We have still to decide on the new sofa and chair.  We would ideally like a sofa bed, so that our daughter and her family can come and stay, but so far we have been disappointed in the quality of the ones we have seen.  Hopefully the redecorating will be done soon, and then I can finally get back to my Blue Ribbon Sampler, with a new sewing chair to sit in.  

Outdoors, we decided on a weave three piece suite and a coffee table and parasol, which is just perfect for lounging in on a summer evening.  We also decided on a chiminea, which we really like, as it just takes the chill of the night air and is handy to dry off by after coming out of the hot tub.

Things finally seem to be coming together here after six years.  The top garden should hopefully be finished this year when the seating area is completed, just leaving the bottom garden to be redesigned and landscaped.  That is then officially the end....or is it?!!

Ms Divers x

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Looking ahead already!

I've had such a wonderful time stitching my Blue Ribbon Sampler, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed my sewing.  In fact, I have enjoyed it so much that I already have my next project in mind - Dorcas Haynes, Scarlet Letter Sampler, which I hope to start soon as part of Nicola's Scarlet Letter Challenge.
Another sampler I have wanted to stitch for many years is Moira Blackburn's Time and Season Sampler, so I have finally got around to buying the chart and kitting her up in silk - wow, expensive compared to stranded cotton, but I hope will be worth it.

Next on my to do list is the Rhapsody in Red Sampler, again in silks, using just two shades of reds.  This sampler reminded me ot BRS in layout, but I liked the idea of the limited palette.

I also treated myself to some charts to add to my stash.  I picked Chatelaine's Egypt Garden, as I love the country and the history so much.  The Chart arrived with one page badly copied so that I could not see any of the speciality stitches, but a quick email to Lisa at Sewandso and a freshly scanned copy was on it's way to me - superb service!  I highly recommend SewandSo.

I also found a nice French Openwork Band Sampler, which was just different enough to the Just Nan charts I already have in my stash.

Lastly, I fell in love with this Bagatelle Chart, which is whitework but all done in Cross Stitch and Holbein Stitch.  I think I would have preferred the challenge of some speciality stitches though!

I am now going to try to be good and not buy anything else......for a week or two!

Ms Divers x

Friday, 1 March 2013

Blue Ribbon Sampler progress.

I have been working on the satin stitch section of my BRS Sampler, and have nearly finished block four. Just need to do the eyelets, I will save the filet panel until I have finished the sampler. Unfortunately I have run out of stranded cotton and had to order some more, along with some super sampler charts to go in my stash. I have also ordered a selection of stretcher bars for my Millenium Frame, and they arrived very promptly. I am now all prepared for starting my Scarlett Letter Sampler, Dorcas Haynes, as soon as I finish BRS.

Ms Divers x

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

It's snowing outside but sunny inside!

I am having the most wonderful time in the snow - indoors stitching, what else?!  Whilst the temperature plummets outside, I am all cosy in my little snug, stitching away, and loving every minute.  I think I spend more time just looking at my sampler than actually stitching.  The photo below doesn't do it justice, but you can see that I am now nearing completion of Sampler One. 

My Blue Ribbon Sampler by Olwyn Horwood.

I'm not the fastest of stitchers, usually because I have one eye on my work and another somewhere else, but I do find it so rewarding to be able to see what I have achieved day by day, week by week.  Much more rewarding than just sitting watching the TV. 

I am slowly making the conversion to silks, and have just ordered Moira Blackburn's Time and Season chart, which is a sampler I have wanted to do for so long.  I will be kitting her up in AVAS as soon as she arrives, but I'm afraid she will have to go into the queue, after Dorcas Haynes, and wait to be stitched a little longer.

Disaster struck here at the beginning of the week when we discovered that a very determined Mr Fox had managed to get into the hen house and dispatch all our poultry, cockerel included, bar one.  The remaining hen seems very traumatised, so we are giving her lots of TLC and as soon as the weather brightens, we will try to find some more ex-battery hens to keep her company.  We were so sad about our cockerel, as although he was a huge Cuckoo Maran, he was the ultimate gentleman, around both his girls and us.  RIP Rocky, we shall miss you.

Ms Divers x

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

A very belated update - sorry!

My sincere apologies for not posting for a while. Christmas and the New Year have occupied me, along with hubby's various ailments, and I have had no time at all to sit down and write.
We are awaiting yet more test results for my husband's poorly chest which has wreaked havoc on him since October. Hopefully we will know by Wednesday what is going on and all will be good.

We were very sad to lose one of our ducks just before Christmas. The other five seem well, and are quite partial to a bit of snow, but do not like it when the ground freezes. Neither do I!

Christmas was over in the blink of an eye.  We spent the day at home with our eldest son and hubby's brother.  My grandchildren visited in the morning and were such fun. No sewing for me that day!

My new sampler, Dorcas Haynes has arrived, but I will post more about that on Nicola's Scarlet Letter Challenge blog.  I am not tempted to start just yet, as I really want to finish my Blue Ribbon Sampler.  My new Millenium frame arrived, along with a new stand, which has been invaluable for working on the BRS. 

My Blue Ribbon Sampler so far.
I have managed to place the first three of the nine smaller samplers, and I am slowly working my way through them all, from left to right.  I love the colours in this sampler, they are both subtle and vibrant.  I have managed to interpret Olwyn's charts correctly, apart from one mistake made in the right hand corner, when stitching the dark green border.  Thankfully it was relatively easy to unpick and redo and didn't impact on anything else. The right hand border is a pleasure to stitch and I can honestly say that (so far) every stitch has been a pleasure.  My eyes are feeling the strain though!

Wishing you all health and happiness in 2013 xx

Ms Divers x