Monthly Archives: January 2014

What is ok to feed your chooks!

I think this has been an ongoing debate for ages. I know forums I am attached to, people I speak to have very firm opinions on what is ok and not ok to feed your birds. For example there is a debate regarding the feeding of eggs. Some say the egg shells are a great source of calcium. I personally wash them out, boil them and grind them up, many say boiling them tricks the chickens and they have no idea they are eating egg shells. Others say this will cause your birds to eat their own eggs. The whole time I was feeding my chooks egg shells I never had a problem with them eating their own eggs. Was I lucky? I guess it is up to the individual. However I know I will be feeding my new birds egg shells once I have them. I see no point buying oyster when according to many egg shells provide the same calcium required. Besides I hate throwing anything out and this way, every part of the egg is used.

Anyway I found this article and thought it was extremely interesting, not saying you should all follow it and everyone entitled to their own views but I found it a good source of information

The no-dig vegetable grower

This is something I am doing this year. My husband dug the allotment over last year and it was rotavated. I know my granddad dug the entire plot over twice a year, I have followed quite a lot of his advice but going to give this idea a go. This year I have horse manure, leaf mulch and some chicken manure over the plot. The soil there is quite good anyway but I want to give it good nourishment before I start planting out in a couple of months. I have been up to the plot periodically to check how things are progressing and I have to say it is looking quite good. Weeds are under control, the leaf mulch is breaking down and the horse manure has settled and with a bit of forking I think the soil will be just perfect. What are people’s opinions on the no-dig method?

Back in the saddle!

I am at a place in my life whereby I feel I can start thinking about my future career. Obviously I would love to garden and write for a living but until that takes off I feel I need to study for something. I love to learn, I loved being at school and college, best days of my life. I love completing assessments and realising I have done better than I first thought. I am a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ girl so I do leave things to the last minute but I love working under pressure. Would possibly explain why I take on so many projects with so little time. But there is nothing better than saying you are busy, you have a list as long as your arm, you are tired from being so busy. Who wants to sit around doing nothing? I know people may think they do and I also know many people do but I just can’t. This became more apparent recently when I did damage to my right shoulder (I am right handed). Doctors are undecided whether it is the start of frozen shoulder or a cuff tear, I think this basically means they haven’t a clue. However it meant for four weeks I couldn’t do anything and now I am on light duties at home and at work. It is an absolute nightmare. I am so fed up of seeing all the jobs mounting up, sitting around resting my arm, not able to do majority of the jobs I want to because it either involves heavy lifting or movement that I just cannot do. I was hoping for some miracle recovery but sadly this hasn’t been the case.

With this in mind it reminded me of when I first looked to go back to work. I had a career, shorter than some, longer than most, but I had one, I was top of my game and earning a sizeable sum and did not need to worry how I was going to pay for the broken boiler, the new tyre, or the latest request for payment for some trip or another from school. I gave all this up to have my children and other than some part time work over the last 10 years that is pretty much what I have done, been a full time mother.

Now for those that may not see being a mother as a ‘proper’ job believe me it equips you with so many skills in a very short period of time, ones of which you have no idea you have learnt them until you realise you can suddenly do something you couldn’t before!

So a full time mum, a past career, a driving licence, relatively medically fit, no criminal record, volunteer work under my belt, member of the school governors and a job history with no breaks of employment until I had my children I thought I would be ok. I didn’t think I could go back into what I did straight away but I thought I would be ok. Oh was I wrong.

Apparently at 35 you are over the hill, according to temping agencies I visited I might as well find myself a comfortable spot on the scrap heap now. One even said they didn’t have any ‘unskilled work and their clients would only be interested in younger graduates’. Well excuse me for taking a career break to bring up my children!. I wasn’t actually looking to go back into the rat race. My youngest is just 2 but I felt I wanted to make a start so when she sets off to school I might be able to progress within my employment and further my career. I am open to training, I am a fast learner, I will put in the hours and other than having my children I have not been out of work! Apparently none of this is enough. Unless you are 22, been in education forever and willing to take bottom rate wages they aren’t interested. To be fair I wasn’t asking for a huge wage however I think for those sorts of positions a decent wage should be given. I felt I was worth a bit more than minimum wage but it came to light a trip round some temping agencies and a  bit of job searching at the job centre left me demoralised. To add insult to injury when I went to sign on whilst I was looking for work I was told I did not qualify for job seekers because I hadn’t worked in the last two years. WELL YES I WAS HAVING CHILDREN! However I paid considerable tax and NI prior to that, does this not count? Obviously not!

So there I am out looking for work, not allowed to claim to be looking for work and unable to get anyone to accept me because of course I am over the hill!

I did find a job in a local supermarket and I do enjoy it, I like being in employment earning my own wage, I like meeting new people, having grown up conversations but I still feel that to many I am ‘just a mum’ and I still don’t feel I am being taken seriously. I have commitments at home which make ad hoc overtime with a moments notice difficult however I do put in the hours where I can and I work really hard when I am there and my work is praised but often I still feel and get the opinion ‘I am a mum’.

I am looking to go back to university but even that is a minefield. It is all done online, references required from school, a lot of my old teachers are dead. Qualification details and grades which I have to say some I have forgotten or a bit of a blurry past memory. I finished school in 1994, I doubt my records even exist anymore. So today I have been struggling through a UCAS application not having a clue whether I will get anywhere with it nor a clue what they actually want but actually desperately wanting to learn to make something of myself now my little ones are grown up. Does no one else do anything when their kids have grown up? Is there a gap where us mothers fall into and get lost in the system? I attempted a career advisory place but I am not under 25 so didn’t qualify for their help. So where do ‘older’ people go for advice, guidance?

Seed Sowing Guide

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Another gardener on an allotment forum I am part of posted this and I thought many of you might find this quite useful. I have a good knowledge of when many things can be planted but I think it always helps to have a reference for those days you forget or pick a new vegetable to try out and a little unsure. Also I have found when buying seeds from a discount store there aren’t any instructions or incomplete instructions on the packet. Hope it helps. Please let me know if you need any clarification or assistance on seed sowing timings.

 

Ready to incubate!

I am always really cautious ordering online, I am quite a luddite with technology if I am honest. I will just point out luddite was my husband’s term not mine. I don’t trust it, it just doesn’t ring true for me. Putting all your personal details online, moving money around online at a simple click of the button, contacting people online in real time. Hand written letters are dead, phone calls are dead, nobody seems to communicate face to face anymore simply because they don’t have to and I just cannot completely agree with how things are going.

However I will agree this is the way it is going so I my new years resolution this year was to get on board with it all. Firstly as I started my blog last year with some gentle persuasion from a friend I decided I needed to get it back up together and make it more of a regular occurrence in my life. Trouble was I just didn’t seem to find the time but the last few days I have been fitting it in and I hate to admit I am enjoying it. Secondly I decided to get my finances online, not online banking, no, no, no that is several big moon steps too far but I discovered a app to help the family with their budgeting. We aren’t great with money and we have been guilty for spending where we don’t need to or spending far too much on items we did need. My husband will say its all my fault but I am grown up to admit yes I am at some fault but he is just as bad if not worse sometimes. Hopefully this will help. My husband did have a spreadsheet to help us budget (he loves spreadsheets) but he spend hours on it and I just didn’t see the point in spending that long on something that was supposed to help us. And to be honest if I asked him about a direct debit or the balance he wouldn’t know off the top of his head he would have to check the spreadsheet which resulted in several more hours of ‘working on the spreadsheet’. Drove me crazy and I have to say I am a little scared to show him the app in case it sets him off number crunching again.

I have also found several other apps for gardening and cooking in the hope I can learn more without having to buy anymore books. To be fair the gardening books were getting more of an obsession rather than a requirement. I am pretty sure if I look through them all together they probably pretty much say the same thing. What can I say I love gardening!

Anyway back to my chain of thought. We incubated some eggs last year, didn’t get too far with the ducks but did get some chickens and fortunately ended up with three hens and one cockerel. The poor birds lost their lives to Mr Fox a few months ago and I am now ready to start again. I wasn’t going to go down the incubation process again for various reasons. It is a 3 week, daily commitment, there are no guarantees any will hatch and you can end up with all boys which isn’t what any chicken keeper wants. It just means you have several cockerels to get rid of which isn’t easy! On top of all of that you have to wait several weeks for them to start laying, around 20 to be exact, it seems a lifetime and by the time they start laying the cold weather starts and they go off lay again.

However I like the life cycle processes of any animal and its so interesting for my children so I decided to get some hatching eggs. As I didn’t have much luck with my ducklings I decided to look elsewhere. After a lot of reading and looking around I found somewhere online with good reviews to order. There are downsides to ordering online, eggs could get broken, eggs could be infertile (although that could be the case if you pick them up yourself), and you have to pay delivery cost. But I have been getting impatient and nobody local currently has hatching eggs other than where I have already been. So I went online and ordered some.

THEY ARRIVED TODAY!

Got everything set up to find the power supply for the incubator was missing so off I went to my local electrical specialist and bought a new one, we are ready to go. As I have not mentioned anything to my husband yet about this decision I have hidden the eggs and incubator in my indoor greenhouse out back. I want to surprise him with some chicks in a few weeks!

So shortly I am hoping I can set the eggs, and hopefully the temperature and humidity is just right.

Get to Blooms on the double

A trip to blooms to have a little look at the new things in ended up with me obtaining quite a lot of bargains.

I got my English gardens calendar for 99p, these calendars were still priced at a tenner in some places up until new years day! So I have lost a few days, I have saved a few quid as well.

 – Now I don’t know how people feel about tools, I know many swear by going to the pound shop, wilkos etc, and I admit I use those places for many things but tools I have been bitten more than once and I am definitely more than twice shy. I now will only have Joseph Bentley tools and I would highly recommend them to anyone. Yes they are a bit pricier but they last so much longer so long term they actually save money. And if you manage to pick up a bargain like I did today it will save you even more. I paid £7 for a trowel and fork set, yes £3.50 each, I accept they would be a pound each in poundland but these do not bend as soon as you put them in the ground, they do actually last forever. They have been put in my travelling trug of bits (that I did buy from poundland) and I am just about ready to go!

– I also purchased some 50p plants, I bought a hanging basket full of strawberry plants for £3 and an orange plant for a fiver.

– Add to all that some cuttings I found lying around that I will make an attempt to grow on I am one very please lady.

So try and fit a trip in as soon as possible, their new stuff is coming in very soon, and the clearance shelves were looking quite empty already.