21st.May - 4th.June 2007

Phew, wot a scorcher as the tabloids would say. Six days ago I had a heater on because of the rain and wind, but this weekend has been completely blue skies with the warmth of the sun on my back.

Because of this, the garden has gone silly; the grass is growing just as quick as the weeds and has been a hard job to keep up with.
The stinging nettles in the Chicken Run have also got a bit out of hand, but despite a somewhat horrible back, I managed to clear at least some of it over the weekend.
Having the nettles around the fencing doesn't concern me too much. Being they produce massive creeping roots, it can be quite a good deterrent against predators digging their way in.
They have some fairly lush grass to mill around in, so all's well.

One of them is unwell though which is a shame. I believe she's just got old. I don't know exactly their ages due to having so many come and go over the past 7 years. But she's showing signs of age, rather than illness. I've seen it before, they tend to start slowing right down, go off their food a lot and keep themselves to themselves. She's in no pain it appears. I expect to find the worse every morning.
Like us, the creatures are not immortal. She's an ex-battery hen, so she's had a far better last half of her life, than her first half.

Shane Warne came and went with the Hampshire Team and again gave us his usual entertainment of passionate cricket and good PR with the fans.
On Tuesday I'm off to Tunbridge Wells for 5 days and will stay in a Hotel up there. This is good as 3 hours on the Moped every day would not be good news.
It's always a splendid week there. The ground is one of the most beautiful in the country and once again the Rhododendron bushes will be in full colour.
We're playing Yorkshire for 4 days, so will be looking after the likes of Mr. Gough and Mr. Gillespie.
Then - it's yet another game against Hampshire! At least it promises to be a full house every day.
I shall of course make the best of my 5 nights of relative luxury; a fine walk around The Pantiles and sampling one pint of Fine Kentish Ale, then returning to the Hotel, getting completely bored and going to sleep by 11pm.

With my back playing up so much and the obvious inability I have to do certain things like decorating work, I am having to re-think this winter.
After some deep thought, I have decided the best position I could undertake with my talents is to become an aging International Rock Star.
After all, I have what it takes - grey hair, gaunt look of a misspent youth, partial loss of memory and a voice like sandpaper against a saucepan. I can just see me doing The Town Hall, Cleethorpes with an audience of ten.
Well, it's either that or taking over from Sir Alan Sugar - lesser of two evils really!
I've had to bang my original winter plan on the head. I think the Bank Manager found a £15,000 gift to the 'Down the Lane Life Benefit Scheme'' a bit too hard to take. But, it's always fun watching them cry isn't it.

It's been a good frugal time over the last couple of weeks. The Maintenance guys at work had to cut down a diseased Cherry Tree and loaned me the Van to bring some of it back the other night.
I brought back 80 logs and hardly touched the stack. If there's any still after anyone else has had a share, then I'll bring those back as well.
At two logs a night on the Rayburn, things are looking good.
I also found a few old Sunbed covers in a Skip. This was most welcome as our old one has been scratched by the cat once too often and the contents used to bung up a drafty hole in the wall where I made a six inch diameter hole to fit a half inch cable through!

The vegetables are all coming up now. The beetroot in the old tin bath are sprouting everywhere, the Broad Beans (although having their first attack from Black Fly) are about 30 inches tall and we've eaten our first strawberries of the year.
I've planted out the young cabbages and courgettes - the tomatoes are all in the greenhouse earth and I've only the Squash to get going now.
The Sweet Corn is also in and with a healthy breeze of late, will pollinate each other nicely.
It's a bit of a mess to be honest, but everything's coming up 'roses'.

Since the last entry, over 20 more people have joined the new Forum. It's really pleasing there are so many sharing and caring about things to do with searching the better life through more self reliance
Especially nice is there are lots of people either about to be, or new to Chicken Keeping.

This life isn't for everyone, but vive la difference; we can't do without 'business' people and they can't do without us. It's all a balance really, some and some and everyone to their own.
We're only here once, so we've got to make it a happy once!

7th.- 21st. May 2007

I've promised it for just about the last 9 month's, but have finally got around to sorting out a number of glitches around the website.
All page headers are now more uniform, pages are all now the same width, so you shouldn't get that moving around feel when flicking through. Each page in each section now has the same navigational heading which should save a lot of going backwards on the browser and whilst about it I've edited quite a few pages and added new photograph's to many pages.
With the worry of not excessing my 'free' quotation on the Forum lifted, this is now linked from every page, so I really hope it will attract new members and take off to a healthy and striving community.

A lot of this is due to the recent form of Kent County Cricket Club! We polished off Sussex in a 4-day match in less than two days and yesterday sent Glamorgan back at 2.30pm in an all day game, winning convincingly. Doesn't do the earnings much good mind you as I'm 'casual labour', but working in a winning environment more than makes up for that!

For the past few days, a huge wasp has appeared in the front garden. It really is the biggest thing I've ever seen, about 4 - 4.5cms long. In expectation of 17 TV Crews turning up, I sent a picture of it to The London Entomological Unit, who duly replied with an email saying it's a Hornet!
I am now in search of the rarely seen Kentish Yeti. Many have spotted this before, but usually confused with Joe Smith, a 60 year old bearded ex-hippy and Blind Faith fan who lives up the Lane.

Having quite a few days off should have motivated me to spend more time in the garden. The motivation was there, but the physical ability not! I have however spent about an hour a day tending to digging needs and general tidying up. It's probably in the least organized state for a good few years, but the vegetables are growing nicely amongst my huge and colourful selection of common weeds.
I've finally got some Beetroot growing in the old Tin Bath Tub which had the Strawberries in up til we moved them elsewhere last month.
Autumn would not be the same without Roast Beetroot on the Sunday plate.

The chickens, all bar one, are looking well. My 'Sussex Star' has bad eyes ate present, possibly caused by something in the air. They aren't runny, so I don't suspect any illness as such. I'm keeping watch on her poor thing.
But eggs are abound and the rest of the flock are busy scraping up dust bath holes the size of a manhole cover! I wonder how many people have seen their chickens doing this for the first time and wondered what on earth's going on! They dig the hole and sit in it motionless for ages before suddenly flapping one wing whilst laying on one side.
In the early days of keeping chickens I seriously thought one of them had left this world, touched it and got a face full of dust for my cares!

Although I've up-dated the 'Feeding Chickens' page, I'll let you know that I got around to working out the actual cost of feeding mine. I brought one bag of Mixed Corn and one bag of Layers Pellets on 31st.March and let it run down to zero before replenishing on 18th. May.
This means that the 40kg at £11.80 total lasted me 47 days, for 9 chickens. Thus a total of 25p per day / 2.7p per hen per day.
Naturally this may vary and I feed mine quite a lot of leftovers etc. But it will give you some idea.
Then work out what an egg costs to buy in a shop and yours will probably give you 4 or 5 eggs a week - !!!
Plus you've got some pretty loveable pets as well.

The Cricket Club has launched the 'no smoking' policy early and it is now restricted to, more or less, the Car Parks only.
I don't have a problem with the forthcoming ban; it certainly cuts down smoking for healthier living and doesn't upset other people so much etc. What gets up my nose is that it's a Government 'fashionably friendly' policy.
Maybe they should look at the respiratory problems in people caused by stepping outside a shop in a busy town centre and being confronted by the fumes of 'far too bigger car than I need' gas guzzling machines which diminish the Ozone Layer by 10 square feet every time they start the engine in the morning?
Maybe the money would be better spent on Solar Panels!
Just one of my annoyances - any for's or against's can be posted on the Forum!

So, this week sees the 4-day game against Hampshire and I will be delighted to have Shane Warne in the Dressing Room again. Beside being just about the best spin bowler the world has seen, he's a legend for how he spends time after each days play talking and signing autographs with his young fans. He'll ask them questions, have a picture taken with them and generally give them the feeling that they too could be as good as him one day.
After that, it's off to Tunbridge Wells for 6 days of Cricket. We always play there when the Rhododendrons all round the ground are in full bloom and there's no where like it -
except my slug, black fly and weed ridden garden in mid summer of course!

Going back to look at the future

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