Sunday, 16 May 2010

Why I will never make it as a songwriter

With sincere apologies to Freddie Mercury...

The Farnsworth chickens
We are all feathery
Live in an Eglu
Sometimes we will get corn for tea

Open your eyes
Cluck in great surprise and seeeeee
Oh look it's Elphie
She's falling out that tree
Because she's meowing high, meowing low
Scratching at the sofa - 'NO'!
Vomming up a hairball
What a very naughty Elphieeeee
Bad Elphie...

Hello - a Sussex Star
The hybrid that I am
I lay eggs oh yes I can
Hard work!
It takes a while
To lay them nice and make the humans smile

Chickens! Oo-oo-oo-ooooo!
We like to run around
We eat them dandelions, so fresh and tasty
And they're good for our health, and they make our yolks all yellow

Oh dear! It's raining now
Don't want to be all soggy
The run floor is getting boggy
Maybe at the weekend
They'll move the run
And then we'll get a brand new place to poo...

Tabby cat! Boo-oo-oo-oooo!
That isn't Elphie, no,
We'll scare it off and make this garden Elphie's!

[guitar solo!]

We hear a little sound of footsteps on the lawn
It is light! It is light! It is time for getting up now!
What a night it has been, need to have a bit of grit!

I need water! I need dust bath!
I am flapping! I am preening!
I am hungry and I need...
Mash would be nice and it's rather yummy
And we'd like weeds and also some kitchen scraps
Maybe some grapes and a slug or two or three

Eglu blue, Eglu nice,
Elphie catching mice

(A live one!) 'Noooo! Don't bring it in the house!'
Let it go!
(A live one!) 'Noooo! Go outside with your mouse!'
Let it go!
(I like it!) 'Not wanted in the house!
'I do not like your mouse
'I do not like your mouse
'Now take it out the house and let it goooooo...'
Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!

Cat in the garden, the back garden
Where we're eating all the weeds
We're gardening! And the compost heap it likes our poo-oo-oo, our poo-oo-oo
Our pooooooooooooooooooooo!

[guitar solo!]

We are digging for worms since we're clipped and can't fly
Levitation for us? No! No route to the sky-y-yyy!
Weeeeeee're grounded
That's okay though as long as
We can free range
We can free range before bedtime

Oooo-oooo-oooo! Broccoli! Broccoli!
We are happy ladies
You can see it's true
Happy happy chickens
Cosy in our royal blue eglu....

(Can we have some corn now?)


Wednesday, 5 May 2010


Artemis: Something IMPORTANT is happening and I am telling everyone about it.
Athene: I agree.
Rachael: Please be quiet. Seriously.
At: I agree.
R. Stop. Trumpeting. *changes water*
Ar: But but but but!
At: What she said.
R: !!!!!
Ar: See. Told you. Tooooold yoooou...
At: She did...
R: It's an EGG! A tiny little EGG! Who laid this?
Ar: Well we're not telling you that.

[approx 1 hour later]

Ar: *is in Eglu*
R: I don't think they are, Athene. They thought you were near laying, but not Artemis...
Ar: Anything you can do I can do bettah...
At: I'm a clever chicken. I KNOW THINGS.
R: Believe me when I say you are not a clever chicken, my darling.
Ar: I can do anything better than yoooou...
At: I'll eat a dandelion then.
Ar: Yes I can, yes I can, yes I can
At: Should've called me Cassandra
Ar: Yes I can. I'm like Barawkbawkbawk Obama
At: I agree.
Ar: I shall now remove my feathery little bottom and show you that I TOO HAVE LAID AN EGG. And mine's bigger'n all.

Day six with us and the eggs have landed! They were teeny weeny - Athene's 36g (pale) and Artemis' 41g (brown) and let me tell you internets they made perfect poached eggs. I'm so proud of the girls!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Cluckingham Palace

I have chicken news! After much to-ing and fro-ing and umm-ing and ah-ing we concluded that the Eglu's advantages (no corners for red mite to hide in; easy to clean; it looks like a computer) outweighed its disadvantages (eyewatering price; it looks like a computer). Then we umm-ed and ahh-ed and to-ed and fro-ed over the Go or Classic (I still haven't worked out what makes one cheaper than the other) and prepared to part with a lot of cash.

Fortunately I happened last week across Omlet's marketplace - where they allow people to sell and buy pre-owned Eglus, which strikes me as a canny move - and thought I'd be bold and ask if anyone had a coop I might take off their hands. One journey to Luton later (a journey made about twice as far as it actually *is* by those pesky roads) and I returned in a blaze of glory with a used-for-four-months blue eglu.

I'm really pleased with my shiny new purchase! It's in great condition and it's not as 'wow look at me look at meeeee' as I'd feared. And the run is really tough. I should know: trying to bolt it to the coop itself was a bit of an experience so - fingers crossed - any foxy visitors will be put off. That's if they haven't had their arses handed to them by Elphie first, of course.

Yesterday Cluckingham Palace received its royalty - I drove through beautiful countryside (marred by chuffing great VOTE
DAVID CAMERON signs) to Cotswold Chickens where I chose a beautiful Sussex Star and a Speckled Star (both hybrids). They are much better behaved in the car than Elphie is, let me tell you.

They are Artemis (speckled; chatty and very much the boss) and Athene (sussex; more serene and slightly smaller than Artemis). Only about 16 weeks, so a couple more to go before eggs, although Jude reckoned Athene was nearly there. No egg this morning though.

Let's round off with a picture, and I'll report back on them forthwith (so far? They are AWESOME)...

Monday, 19 April 2010


I spent two days out in the glorious sunshine this weekend. This is potentially a record - bright sun normally has me running for the shade before I turn tomato-red and develop a migraine, but no! I gloried in the warmth and I wish I was back out there!

The husband and I are taking a bit of a break from the internal DIY while the weather is beautiful to sort out the garden, which has been a bit neglected of late. We're planning a vegetable plot, a new shed*, a better lawn and a chicken coop. Or at least I am planning a chicken coop. The other members of Rarnzington Towers seem not quite so sure. Anyway - the end of the garden is dug up and covered with sheeting to kill the weeds and the raised beds are hopefully arriving soon, so at that point we'll site them and make paths with weedproof membrane and bark chippings. It's going to look great.

Tonight's job will be sowing seeds into cells - although we've had cloudless sunshine this weekend (one positive side effect of the Ash Cloud o' Doom) my neighbour-across-the-fence informed me that we had a frost on Friday night (and he correctly identified my damson sapling as the other day without having seen the label, so I reckon he knows his onions) so I'm growing stuff indoors on the spare room windowsill (since I am sans greenhouse). Plans vary on what we will be growing, so watch this space.

In the meantime, my tomato plants are sunbathing in their grobag (Gardener's Delight, Moneymaker, Cherriettes of Fire) and I rescued a sad-looking Garden Pearl and a chilli plant the other night, so they are recuperating indoors.

Exciting times - the weather has made such a difference to my general outlook of late and long may it continue. It's been a very productive weekend!

*That it's still standing amazes me given Elphie's penchant for mountaineering on top of it. And it wasn't particularly stable when we acquired the house, either.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Ada Lovelace Day

So really, Ada Lovelace Day was the reason for the sheb log being set up and it is currently March 24th in the UK - so herewith my pledged blog post.

As Simon Farnsworth put it, celebrating women in science and technology should be an irrelevance. We should not, in this day and age, need to be doing this. But we do, and so I am.

I've thought for a while about who I plan to celebrate. And my conclusion is that I will celebrate one woman and one group:

I celebrate the late Rear Admiral Grace Hopper of the United States Navy and developer of the first compiler. What a woman. Seriously, what a woman. Her impact on standards and on computer language were enormous as well the popularisation of the term 'debugging', having found a moth in a computer. Grandma COBOL, today I celebrate you.

The second group I wish to recognise and celebrate is potentially a bizarre choice and not necessarily technological. But it has taken the Internet by storm. And so I celebrate the ever-expanding group of female bloggers. They're everywhere. We're everywhere. Women writing about their lives. Women documenting recipes. Women designing. Women writing about feminism, about technology, about politics, about science. Women providing plans for others to make their own furniture; breaking high-end furniture designs down and showing that they're simple constructions with a lot of marketing guff. Women supporting each other through the bad times and taking pleasure in the good.

Women communicating.

I celebrate you all. And may you continue to be celebrated.

Happy Ada Lovelace day, everyone.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Ground control to blogosphere

"No you can't post on my blog! Get your own!"

Such were the words of my darling husband this evening when I suggested that, since I didn't have a blog of my own, I could borrow his on Ada Lovelace Day in order to fulfil my pledge. Since it didn't go down too well, I resolved to make my very own blog - my sheblog. It is supposed to be 'she' and 'blog' but I keep reading it as 'sheb log' which I think I like better. So, Internet, welcome to my sheb log.

I have no idea what my sheb log will be yet. I hope it will be good. In time honoured tradition, I shall tell you about myself, anyway:

I am 27 years old and British. I am northern but living in the south. I am married to a very lovely chap who is tremendously clever and currently fixing the Sky box (I hope). We have one cat, Elphie, who fights foxes. We have an orange car and a house with a playboy room. The playboy room is a story for another day.

I am vaguely middle-class, atheist and a big woolly liberal. I am a feminist in the original sense. I am pro-choice. I'm not prone to political rantings, though.

That's me, then. Must work on a better layout for my sheb.