gillybirds

What came first- the chickens or the blog?

Ending term with a Big Pop!

Smallest Gillyboy, number 4, leaves primary education tomorrow. An occasion filled with happy memories, sad partings and nervous anticipation of the transfer to “big school”. And that’s just me, I’m not sure how he is feeling.
Yesterday he came home and dropped the bomb that today his class were to provide healthy fruit based snacks to be sold in aid of charity to the rest of the school at break time.
Some boys were making smoothies, others providing fruit kebabs. Our idea was to make healthy popcorn. Popcorn seems to be enjoying a revival as a healthy snack these days. The Gillybirds just like the Unpopped variety. Having never tried savoury popcorn there was a lot of googling and then a trip out to Tesco for ingredients.
We have a popcorn maker which was an excellent and well used birthday gift many years ago. It works by a concentrated blast of hot air, so there is no oil or butter involved at this stage. It’s one downside it that it is very noisy.
The dogs quickly learnt that not all the popped corn ends up in the bowl, they sat eagerly with their tongues hanging out waiting for a stray piece to chomp.
To the freshly popped corn we added-

Chilli powder, lime zest, juice of 1/2 lime, about 2 tsp of oil to bind, crushed sea salt.
Or
Chopped fresh garlic and rosemary lightly fried in a knob of butter, sea salt, Parmesan cheese.

Nothing was weighed or measured, just chucked in and taste tested until we got it just right.

All very healthy and extremely tasty. Little Gillyboy has quite a mature palette. I was hoping his school chums did too.
We bagged it up and labelled it, fingers crossed that it would stay fresh and crisp overnight.

He came out of school beaming today as the popcorn had sold like those proverbial hot cakes. All for a good cause.

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I am passing on these toppings as some of you may be spending your nights watching a certain global football tournament and looking for some lower calorie nibbles.

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Cute Chicks

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I was very excited to hear that in Gillyboy Number 4’s school they have been incubating hen’s eggs and this week the hatching began. The said Gillyboy proudly brought me to see the new arrivals. Chicks are so small and fragile, I cannot believe they grow so quickly into robust fully feathered noisy birds like my own.
The first chick hatched on Tuesday. When the classroom was quiet the boys could hear cheeping coming from with the eggs that were yet to hatch. Quickly the first chick was joined by a few others pecking their way out of their shells.
By the time I saw them on Thursday there were 9 chicks of all colours all chirping noisily in their heated enclosure. There were a few chicks freshly hatched, still looking damp and wobbly, and only a couple of eggs left in the incubator looking still and silent. Not all eggs hatch.
But the school boys are all very excited about their new friends, who will be moving to a farmyard at the end of the school term in two weeks time.
The school did offer to give me as many as I wanted to take. But cute as they are I think we have quite enough mouths and beaks to feed here at Gillybirds Manor.

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Early to bed, early to rise

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Well, the alarm clock is set to “stun” for early tomorrow morning as the smallest boy returns to school after the so-called summer holidays. Name tapes have been sewn on by yours truly, pencil case restocked, new shoes bought. Still, getting up and being fully functional while there is still a 7 on the clock will be a challenge.
But what about the hens? Haven’t I been getting up to let them out as the sun peeps over the horizon? Frankly no I haven’t. I discovered early in the holidays that if the coop door was left open a teeny weeny bit somehow the ladies would squeeze themselves out as soon as the first shafts of light hit the coop, ready for their day to start, probably some 2 1/2 hours before I felt ready to face the world. In the past few weeks there have even been eggs already laid by the time I tootle across the garden (still in my pjs) with fresh hen feed, getting accusing looks as if to say “don’t ever say you’re a morning person!” Hens have poor eyesight so they naturally do all their eating, laying (and pooping) when there is adequate light, and then head for bed when it is dark. In winter I suspect their days will be extremely short!
It has crossed my mind that the sleeping hens may be cold or getting a draught through the gap, but it really is so small, and they do sleep at the furthest side of the coop, all in a big pile of brown feathers, like the aftermath of a rusty pillow fight.
Modern technology has developed light sensitive coops doors set on timers, the Internet is full of ideas how to adapt electric curtain pulls to be used on hen house doors. Is it just me, or does a device called the “Poultry Butler” not sound more like a stern gentleman carrying a silver platter with a freshly roasted and carved chicken?
While it is still mild I will stick with my technology free method at weekends, but on school days, from tomorrow, I should be down early enough to let them out manually, shooting out of the coop door like wee brown corks fizzing out of a green plastic champagne bottle.
And how will I myself readjust to the new regime? Either I get a rooster, or there’s an app for that 🙂

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