What came first- the chickens or the blog?

Blogging 101 – Pinsperation

Today for my Blogging 101 course our assignment was to write about how visiting a neighbouring blog yesterday inspired us.
Please jump to my card making blog Angill Cards to see how I got on!


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Blogging 101

For the next few weeks I am taking part in a blogging 101 course hosted by the Daily Post.
Today is Day One.
Allow me to introduce myself…on this blog I refer to myself as Mrs Gillybirds, a play on my actual name, and the fact that I am an urban hen keeper.
I live in Ireland, with my husband, Mr Gillybirds, my four sons, the Gillyboys, two dogs – Mr Buttons and Naughty Lucas, and my three hens – Apollo, Darling and Colonel Saunders.
The Daily Post suggests I address you, the unsuspecting first time reader, on the matter of the following questions
Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
What topics do you think you’ll write about?
Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

Those of you who have been with me from the beginning know that I have actually been blogging since April 2012. The hen keeping was a completely new interest and blogging seemed to be a good forum, as I could not only keep a diary of my efforts, and also seek on line free guidance and encouragement from more experienced chicken keepers.
Apart from that, I can be a bit of a show-off and love an audience.
Keeping a hand written diary in a beautiful moleskin book would never get “likes” on social media. It would just get chewed by Naughty Lucas.
My blogging topics started out primarily about the Hens, or the Gillybirds as I refer to them, but this blog has morphed into a more random account of our family, dogs, my heros, my new found compulsion to run, holidays, cooking, lack of eggs being laid, and life in 2014.
My other keen interests are crochet and card making, and I have blogs specifically geared towards them – Crocheticipation and Angillcards. Also in 2012 Mr Gillybirds cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats and I kept a blog of his epic journey to keep his poor worried mother up-to date with his progress.
Through all three blogs I enjoy responses from family and friends near and far, hen keepers, crocheters, card makers, crafters, anyone who stumbles upon my ramblings by accident. I have made genuine friends through my blogging.
We live busy lives and if someone gets a laugh, learns something new, is challenged to try something different, finds a new recipe or book to read, brill!
Thanks for taking the time to stay on my page. I’m honoured. Of all my followers, the crocheters are by far the most responsive. Thanks ladies!
Blogging over these past years has been a wonderful way of sitting down, taking stock, cataloguing highs and lows, good days and bad, all the changes that occur as part of life in all it’s richness and fullness. Of course, it’s very easy to self edit and paint a rosy picture (or not) and I have to bear in mind that Grandma and Grandpa Gillybirds are keen blog readers and some of our crazy family stuff is best left unwritten
Having a small soft voice in the blogosphere, writing hopefully wholesome, happy things (most of the time), bringing positivity when there is so much darkness, sadness and destruction online, on TV, beyond my front door. I’m not Pollyanna, nor am I the Great Oracle.
To misquote Julia Roberts in “Notting Hill”….I’m just a girl, writing in a blog, asking you to read me

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Antique Antics

this blog post is written in response to The Daily Post’s blog challenge on writing about the oldest object in your house, from its point of view link to daily prompt on WordPress

Where once I was carried and cuddled, cherished and beloved, I was almost consigned to a bag in the far corner of the attic, banished, cast out, a creature of shame.
Back in 1969 I was stitched with love, red, blue, black, a jaunty bow tie, tail coat and a cheery smile; a gift for a four year old girl, made by her mother, the gentle click of knitting needles soothing the child growing within her, a longed for second child, a brother to the freckled, pig tailed, eager future big sister.
I was to become her companion, firstly as her mother disappeared quickly in the night as the pains of birth grew strong. Proudly brought to hospital to meet the wrinkled brother, I became more of a playmate than this useless squealing boy, my long knitted limbs climbing trees, tied to scooters, always off on adventures and picnics.
I had a second exciting trip to hospital, bringing comfort as the ache of tonsillectomy went undiminished by ice cream and jelly.
As she grew my smiling face and jolly clothes always brought a smile. Stabilisers came off and my soft stuffed limbs shook in the bicycle basket. I was a friend. I was loved. I belonged.
When my seams spilt my creator quickly sewed me up for my absence was noted. I was refilled and once my happy smile underwent a speedy repair.
The brother grew, and another came along. There were other toys, teddies, dolls, space hoppers, etch a sketch, Mastermind, Rubik’s Cubes, but my girl remained faithful to me.
Over time though, something changed. Not her, but those around her. The world turned and suddenly almost overnight I was banished from the street, hidden upstairs, out of sight, no longer welcome. People began to talk. My smiling jolly face was racist, reviled, contentious.
But her love remained. I sat quietly upstairs, where other toys were dispatched, thrown away, replaced by posters of pop idols, make up and white stilettos, I watched and waited as she met a boy, fell in love, got married.
As she packed to leave home she shook the dust from my curly black hair and gently placed me with her most precious things. She remembered my arrival, the curve of her mother’s full belly, my reassuring smile and soft hugs. And all the years in between.
And so I found a new home. And discovered that this new smiling man in her life also had a lifelong special companion who looked just like me. His stuffing may have long since disappeared but we are a match made in heaven it seems.
24 years, four sons, two dogs and three hens later, we are together, still smiling.




Learning New Tricks





Well this year it has taken until September to fulfil my New Year’s Resolution! When September comes round I like to learn a new skill or two. At the start of 2013 I promised myself I would have a go at crochet and finally Miss CC found me a beginners class to go to at the recently opened The Textile Studio run by the lovely Åsa McDowell.
For four mornings two of us learnt to chain, slip stitch, make doubles and trebles and complete granny squares. Which when joined together make lovely blankets and throws. It’s been tremendous fun. And my kitchen has a cosy new throw, and the Second Gillyboy is packing a throw for his bed at Uni.
So as the trees turn golden, the Gillybirds are carrying on laying though the days are getting shorter, the dogs are enjoying a new comfortable throw to lie on (grrr), and new crochet friends are tasting free range fresh eggs from the coop.



Very Pinteresting


At the start of last year I signed up for Pinterest, an online “pin board” of ideas, photos, recipes on a whole world of subjects including travel, food, photography, crafts etc, but somehow I never got round to actually stepping into this amazing site. And so 2013 has begun well, and my mind is blown with a whole new universe to explore on so many different themes.
You can search a subject – say hens.
Pinterest will show you more to do with hens and hen related items than you would ever need to see. (Even more than this blog)

You can “pin” an item to your own “board”; you can “like” an image, just as on Facebook; you can “follow” a Pinterest contributor just as on Twitter.
In return when you pin items of your own others can pin, like and follow you. Hopefully in a nice way 😉
So what is the point I hear you cry?
I can see Pinterest being a creative black hole that I could very easily fall into at the beginning of January 2013 and not emerge from for the next 365 days. This would not be a good thing. Perhaps like me you have bags and boxes of half-finished craft project that you promise yourself you will complete one day. Or a pile of books to be read that threaten to fall over and kill someone that you know one day you will get to read. Or a stack of recipe magazines to go through and tear out the ones you will make to get healthy, family friendly recipes. Or a bag of wool the dog keeps finding and trailing over the upstairs….enough!
While there are kids to taxi, food to prepare, ironing to flatten, dogs to walk, hens to nurture, house to clean, I may never get through this real list of What I Want To Do’s.
Pinterest threatens to introduce me to a wealth of fabulous craft ideas, hen hints, recipes, travel destinations etc etc. A million, billion things that I will like, pin and follow and never get round to starting, never mind finishing.
But then again, this time last year I had a handful of little china hens on my kitchen mantle, this year I am the proud owner of three hilarious egg producing feathered wonder birds. Anything can happen!


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Chilly Chooks

This is a Welsh newspaper article from that cold cold winter of 2010 –

Crafty Ann Duran, 55, took pity on hens left featherless after being rescued from a battery farm.
And she came up with eggs-actly the right answer to keep them warm – hand-knitted tanktops.
Ann said: “Some people think I am a little bit crazy but I didn’t like to think of chickens shivering through the winter.
“The feathers will eventually grow back but until then my jumpers will keep them warm.”
Chickens lose their feathers after being cooped up in hot sheds at battery farms.
Ann, of Neath, South Wales, heard about the featherless birds from friend Dionne Jenkins who saves retired battery hens.
And she roped pals to form the Helping Hands knitting circle – making jumpers for bald chickens across the country.
Dionne, 26, said: “It is quite upsetting to see chickens without their feathers – but Ann has solved the problem.
“Three of my birds modelled them and they fit really well. I think the chickens look really sweet in them.
The Helping Hands knitting circle have been making jumpers for bald chickens across the country. Photo: WALES NEWS SERVICE
9:37AM GMT 05 Jan 2010

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Happy birthday Hens

Those of you who know me well know that as well as a novice henkeeper I also design and make greetings cards and blog about that too. I am always reading blogs relating to both these subjects, and also dog training podcasts and blogs. There aren’t enough hours in the day.
So here is my latest hen related card which I personally just love.
You can follow my card blog at

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A Souvenir of Scotland

While the egg production has been less than expected, while Mr Gillybirds has been off cycling 900+ miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats, I have not been idle, crafting away to fill the long evenings. This French Hen cross stitch is just back from the framers. The threads were variegated which gives it a nice depth and the hen shape if you can see it well enough is made up of little chick and basket motifs. I’m really pleased with how it has turned out, and it didn’t take long to sew.

While away on my Tartan Road Trip across Scotland (850 miles) to pick Mr Gillybirds up, accompanied by my excellent navigator Son Number 4, we had lunch at the wonderfully named “Storehouse of Foulis” which had a delightful selection of hen based merchandise. It’s always nice to have a little souvenir, and what better than an Emma Bridgewater egg holder that matches my kitchen perfectly!

Just need a few eggs to put into it now.

The Storehouse of Foulis restrooms were hen based too. Great fun!




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