What came first- the chickens or the blog?


In another blog post I hope to share with you the antics of the hens looking at themselves in a mirror for the first time. But since my chief technology advisor (Gillyboy number1) is away on holidays that will have to wait. Sorry.
Now they are in their new home, one of the accessories is a large mirror. And boy do they love looking at themselves in it!


PS it was a clean mirror but is now covered in cement dust. As is the rest of my house and all the windows! The joys of getting work done.


Scratch and Peck

Summer is here! The blue skies and hot sun have coincided with a very busy week with a wedding, the last GCSEs, gaily boy number two returning home from Uni at the end of first year (yes, already) and a few farewell events as Gillyboy number 4 prepares to leave primary school.
The Gillybirds are keeping cool with watermelon and strawberries and some 5p lettuce from tesco. Yesterday we had three eggs laid for the first time in ages. Just a pity that one of them was soft shelled but that is progress!
I just thought if you were interested in chicken blogs, the very best one is

The blogger writes and illustrates her flock with wit and a great observance not just of hen behaviour but of us humans too. She has a great wee dog called Marky who considers himself part of the flock and regales us with tales of Pigeon, Lucy and the rest of her girls.
You can also find Lauren on Facebook.
The Gillyboys bought me Lauren’s book for Christmas last year. If you are ever looking for a gift for a henkeeper this is the one.
Lauren’s book “Once Upon a Flock” is available on Amazon
Lauren Scheuer, you are a wee genius! Keep up the good work!

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Eggcellent News

Very pleased to have two pretty eggs this morning following an early night, strict supervision, peace and quiet during laying time (it’s raining today so no noisy building work), lots of soft straw to drop the eggs onto.
Col. Saunders at the bottom of the pecking order appears in good form, no more tail feathers pecked out and no signs of further attack.
And here we are, two years to the week since the Gillybirds arrived to brighten our lives!

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Mrs Gillybirds Abroad

At the end of February I enjoyed a wonderful week of skiing in Folgaria, Italy. We had beautiful sunshine, fresh snow, plenty of laughs, new friends made and old friendships reinforced, and my wee legs got lots of exercise. Thankfully I managed to follow these instructions on the boot room door in the right order

And just about avoided this happening on several occasions

And in the evenings, there were always interesting options on the menu

It was a lot of fun!

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A worthy winner


Just to bring you completely up to date, the great British Bake Off was worthily own by Frances Quinn. Often accused of “style over substance” during the ten weeks of high pressure baking, Frances excelled in the final which included the technical challenge of a layered pastry picnic basket pie, making pretzels from scratch (really who does that?) and a three tier wedding cake. Frances for me has always stood out for her original presentation of cakes and breads, particularly her “secret squirrel” cake, which when you cut into it had the shape (in sponge) of a squirrel. I can’t work out how she did it. Anyone who makes biscuits that look like buttons is worth watching.
Well done Frances! But what am I going to do on Tuesday nights now?
PS I wish I could get a photo of me looking as good as that with my baking implements! 🙂


Carrot, Egg or Coffee Bean?

I thought you might like this story I read today on the internet.


A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that as one problem was solved, a new one arose. 

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word. 

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She then pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. 

Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, “Tell me, what do you see?” 

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied. 

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. 

The granddaughter then asked, “What does it mean, Grandmother?” 

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity — boiling water — but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water. 

“Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?” 

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity? Do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? 

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? 

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor of your life. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level? 

How do you handle adversity? Are you changed by your surroundings or do you bring life, flavor, to them? 
Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?Image

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Consider Poor I



Apparently in the corner of a little graveyard in Martha’s Vineyard there is a small headstone which is surrounded by model chickens of all shapes, sizes and colours left by well wishers on the grave of a local folk hero, Nancy Luce.
When in her early twenties Nancy took seriously ill, her parents both died and she was left poor and alone with very poor health for the rest of her life on a small farm. Nancy was threatened by covetous neighbours who wanted her land, she was tormented by the local boys and was generally considered to be a local figure of ridicule. And despite her frailty she stood up to the abuse of the neighbours. But Nancy had her hens. And boy did she love them. Each one was known by name and loved to the extent that when they died she spent what little money she had on small coffins and granite headstones for them.


This headstone is in remembrance of Poor Tweedle Deddle Bebbee Pinky Died June 19 1871 at 1/4 past 7 o’clock in the eve. Aged 4 years. Poor dear little heart sore broke in her. I am left broken hearted. She was my own heart within me. She had more than common wit. She is taken from the evil to come.
Nancy must have found so much companionship and love in her hens, it is very touching to read her tributes to her elaborately named feathered companions. She made money for herself by writing, self illustrating with what we would now call folk art, and publishing little books of poetry about her hens and selling them to visitors. The covers of these books were made from old wallpaper. The first was entitled “Poor Little Hearts”. Her notoriety grew. Anyone who calls her hens Teeddla Toonna, Lebootie Ticktuzy, Jafy Metreatie, Otte Opheto, and Aterryryree Opacky (to name but a few) is worth visiting!
She had photos taken with her hens to sell to these tourists which was very enterprising- it’s hard to believe in 2013 when we all have cameras on our phones that back in the 1850’s cameras were very rare indeed.
We know most of this information from a book about her life entitled “Consider Poor I” written in 1984 by Walter Magnes Teller.
Sadly at age 75 Nancy fell at home and lay alone for several days before being found. She died shortly thereafter. The words courageous, indomitable, brave, devoted and loving come to mind when I think of Nancy and all she dealt with in her humble life surrounded by her adored hens.



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Bird Baby


This was a very interesting story I picked up on the Internet in the last couple of days. (If you dont like medical things or are a bit squeamish I suggest you click away now)
According to ABC News, a Kansas couple noticed their 7-month-old daughter Mya’s neck start to swell.
At first, they thought the problem was just a swollen gland. Then, overnight, the swollen area “doubled in size” and a small bump resembling a pimple appeared on the end of it. But it wasn’t a pimple. Doctors, believing Mya had developed a staph infection in her lymph nodes, tried to drain the area. Nothing came out.
Hours later, Mya’s parents noticed what looked like a “half-inch string” poking out of her chubby baby face.
Her doctor put on gloves and pulled out the feather.
“It’s a feather,” she said.
In retrospect, her parents remembered their daughter crying and pulling at the area under her ear for the past few weeks. They thought she might be teething.
According to her pediatrician, Mya likely inhaled or tried to swallow the feather, causing it to become lodged in her throat. Then, in the words of her father, Mya’s body “just being crazy, just started to reject it and force it out the side of her neck. The little girl is said to be “almost 100% recovered” now.
But she will never fly.
[ABC News // Image via Whittington family/ABC News]


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Living the High Life

Some readers didn’t get the full blog post last night. Here it is again!


This past weekend Mr Gillybirds and I left three teenagers “home alone” and the smallest Gillyboy was being cared for by some responsible adults and went off on our own to London. Mr G works in the capitol city most weeks so it is no novelty for him, but very exciting and much anticipated by me!
One of Mr G’s thrills is to climb the highest building/tower/structure in any city visited, and he closely watched the construction of The Shard in London, towering tall at 309m, the highest building in Europe. For Christmas I bought him two tickets to The View from the Shard. I’m not great with heights but I wasn’t going to miss out on an excuse to get some time together for two days.
The day was bright, a little cloudy, we emerged from the Tube looking up, and up again at this glistening jagged spire that…

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Gone with with Wind Two

To save you all googling, here are photos of the airplane weather vane, and the one in Jerez, Spain.


And for the sake of completion, the largest standard design vane, 48 feet tall, in Montague Michigan. With some helpful people below giving you an idea of just how big it is.


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