Tuesday, 26 August 2008

The new woodshed and other stuff

It has been a couple of weeks since I last blogged but we have been very busy with the drying out and also took the chance to go to the West Coast to see how Jouster had fared after all the rain we had . On the Friday when we arrived the weather was lovely and we took a leisurely sail down the Loch to a spot just short of Crinan where we had a picnic at anchor while gazing at the Paps of Jura in the bright sunshine. On our way back to the marina we were passed by a lovely old Clyde Puffer belching black smoke everywhere. Jouster was fine but the weather was not kind after that and we spent only two days at Ardfern, the heavens opened once again on Saturday, combined with Force Eight winds and we ran away bravely back to Fife on Sunday morning in time to see the Grand Prix on TV.

The byre sitting room is drying out gradually but it is still like living with the worlds largest and noisiest air conditioner in your sitting room. The only plus side I can see from being flooded is that our lovely neighbours have brought chocolates, flowers and wine to dull the impact of the chaos!

Herb has made a start to the wood shed in the cattle court, it is going to be a truly magnificent structure complete with a reclaimed pantiled roof.

The doves have started being much more adventurous and a great deal more amorous too. They are spending longer and longer on the doocote which is nice and also a fair bit of time on the ground, bathing in the shallow pan of water I placed for them. Young Potter the baby hare joins them most days foraging under the cote. The doves are flying in ever widening circles and the other day performed some great aerobatics for Diane and Paula up the track.

The chickens now have another new house, named the Little Hilton. It has an integral covered run so will be brilliant for the worst of the winter weather and will keep the girls dry if I shut them in. Sadly today it is being used as the Hospice Hut for Daisy. When we got back on Sunday we noticed Daisy was looking very poorly indeed, she was very hunched, her legs were splayed well apart and she just sat with her head hanging low. Her behind looked all dirty too so yesterday I bathed her rear end in Tea Tree shampoo and saw that she has a huge saggy and very swollen underbelly. Through the skin it is a very strange colour and looks like she has a lump the size of a melon in there. After looking at the Omelet Forum I think she has Peritonitis. She has not laid an egg for months as far as I am aware and I think that the Peritonitis may have been around for a while. When she had the dreadful louse infestation it was suggested that to get so bad she maybe had an underlying problem as well. Peritonitis occurs where the yolk fluid remains in the abdomen and slowly starts accumulating. Peritonitis can be caused by a number of things, most often by yolks missing the "funnel" and falling directly from her ovary into her abdomen. Other types of infections and sometimes cancer can also cause peritonitis. Whatever is the cause she is an extremely poorly hen . Last night I put her into the nest box in the Little Hilton and this morning she has not moved at all, her wattles have turned a horrible shade of bluey gray and I think the kindest thing we can do is let her go gently. When I stroked her head this morning her eyes closed and she never moved. She was a great chicken, we have had her nearly three years now and she was a lovely character, always in the thick of things and being the boss.

Sad times then for the chicken family.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Update on the flood damage

Just a quick note, the damage in the byre was far greater than we first thought. The drying out team sent by the insurers were brilliant and ripped out all of Herbs perfectly laid floor in three hours. The water was under the full length of the floor, the soaked carpet is currently being blown dry by a huge noisy machine that will be in situ for the next two to four weeks along with a big industrial dehumidifier. The carpets should dry out and not be too damaged. We are awaiting the arrival of the insurance assessor to see how much they will be giving us to redo the floor. Luckily it was not sewage or really dirty water, they called it black water.

On a brighter note, the council have given us some pick up your own sandbags so we have blocked the barn door and helped the neighbours to make their house a bit more watertight, they too had water in on Wednesday night. We are forecast for more of the same this weekend

The bridge is fine and withstood a second submerge in three days! Yesterday evening some lovely neighbours came down with a bottle or two to help us drown our sorrows.

It's only water, it is going to dry, but meanwhile the byre stinks, the machines are noisy and the house looks a tip with furniture and stuff everywhere.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Rain, rain and more rain

After all the fun of the birthday celebrations we have come down to earth with a bump, overnight on Saturday we had in excess of 35 mm of rain and last night even more. We awoke to find the burn had overflowed yet again, this time taking in the fire pit, tables and chairs and making a move on the hen run and raised beds. Upon checking round the house we also found that water had come up through the floor and into the byre at the fireplace end of the room. The large and expensive Persian carpet is soaked and the laminate wood flooring has become somewhat spongy. At present I am awaiting the arrival of the Drying Out firm appointed by the insurers plus an assessor to gauge what damage has been done to the floor itself.

The bridge has withstood the floods even though after the first night of the Great Floods of 2008 a large tree trunk had been deposited on it making a wonderful white water rapid effect over it. Today we have yet to see if the bridge is still there but are hopeful it will remain when the water recedes.

The chickens don't seem to mind a bit of rain though and are happy enough fishing for worms. The doves are totally unperturbed by it all and remain tucked up by the electricity supply quite happily waiting for it all to subside.

Yesterday before the rain I was able to plant some Charlotte Potatoes for Christmas eating and also four varieties of broccoli and kale for the winter. This morning some bugger had eaten half of the broccoli. It is all now covered on fleece and I will hunt out the cloches to protect it further when the rain stops.

The Wattson is having the desired effect and we now turn everything off religiously, at this rate it will have paid for itself in a couple of weeks. Herb loves it, I hate it, especially when I am told every ten minutes how much it costs to watch a soap!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

The Harvesting Begins

As you can see from the picture I tipped the first of the tub grown spuds today. They were the variety 'Orla' planted back on the 6th of April. From 3 seed potatoes I got just over 3.5 kilos of wonderful looking spuds. We will be eating some tonight to see how they taste, but they are blemish free and look brilliant. I have also started tearing out the strawberries, the ones we had were really tasty but not really a big enough crop to warrant the space they have taken up in the raised bed. I harvested the shallots today too, they look really good and are laid out to dry in the barn prior to storing. They went in at the end of March and have done really well as have the Red Baron Onions. I have taken some out of the ground as they seemed to want to come out themselves but have put them in to the barn to dry off for storage, I think they would just rot if I left them on the top of the soil as advised. Still picking masses of courgettes in three colours, and have today made courgette pickle as sold in a famous San Fransisco Burger Bar!

I checked the hens yesterday and all the lice have gone, they all got another session with the louse powder and the house got another deep clean. After a week on extra protein feeds and liquid poultry tonic drink they all look better and Daisy is back to her previous form. She is single handedly ensuring that Trinny and Susannah never get any good treats, except when I sneak some in for them. This will all calm down soon, it is just good to see Daisy back to her usual bossy self.

The doves are spending longer and longer in and around the cote, it is lovely to see them looking so relaxed. Lily is still a home bird and after she has fed gets into the comfortable surroundings of the cote and sleeps! I had been wondering where they spent the night and discovered that they roost at the gable end of the house away from the weather just under the eaves on the electricity apparatus and wires.

Other than that all quiet here, Sam gets back from the Dunlin Field Oil Rig on Monday, the rig is some 150 miles North of Orkney. He rang the other day to say that as he was swinging on a rope high above the sea, two enormous whales swam by. Next weekend is someones 60th birthday so as we have friends coming from Germany I may not be blogging. What to get a 60 year old who claims he has everything? Well don't tell him but I have got him a Wattson!

A Wattson is a wonderful device, as stylish as an iPod and as useful as a, well as a jolly useful thing. It recently won an award in Stuff Magazine Top Ten Cool Stuff of the Year. It is a state of the art device for telling you how much power you are using and how much it is costing, it even lights up red if you are using too much but stays a nice gentle blue if things are OK. It claims to be able to reduce bills by 25% as you begin to get obsessive about switching things off, my Ganga would have loved one. I have an awful feeling that I am going to be sitting watching TV when the Wattson appears to tell me just how much it is costing to watch rubbish. Perhaps a bad move on my part but socks did not seem to cut the mustard for this particular birthday!

No rain today and after the deluge yesterday when we had 10mm in 15 minutes that is a blessing, off to do more digging!