What to do with all those eggs?

The chickens have been getting used to their new home and surroundings.  We’ve had them one month now and they seem to be very happy.



The chicken coop can be seen in the distance, at the bottom of the hill.  I’m not sure the coop is a particularly good one, but it’s certainly adequate for now.  

One of the Welsummers has taken the post of ‘chief’ and keeps everyone in check. She likes to sit on the gate and enjoys going for a wander around the outside of the duck enclosure.  This morning I thought we’d lost her.  When I came down to feed them, she was wandering around outside the enclosure.  I called her as I went in to feed the flock.  She however, decided to go for an adventure – into the willow field!

This is an acre field, owned by us, that was once a beautiful green oasis, where cows would chew the cud in the warm Welsh sunshine……. However, it is now sadly very overgrown,  the apple trees at the top of the field have been lost to a bramble jungle.  It took two of us an hour to walk down to the stream at the bottom of the field last year, wielding loppers, secatures and gloves! We are hoping to get some pigs to help us clear it, but this is definately a long term project.

I digress, sorry. So this little lady decided to hop up the bank and disappeared into the jungle that is the willow field. The kittens followed her. All I could hear was squawking and flapping.  I managed to get the kittens to come back to me, but the ‘chief’ was nowhere to be seen.  I caught sight of her and tried to lure her back with food, but the kittens came running over to feast on the chicken food and she disappeared into the thicket.

After about ten minutes of coaxing her, I decided to leave her to her own devices, and hope she found her own way back.  Thankfully, when I returned home a couple of hours later she was safe and sound in the enclosure wondering what all the fuss was.  A valuable lesson learnt by me today – leave the chickens to it, they will find there way home.



Later in the day, whilst I was cleaning the duck house out, the other Welsummer decided to help me out.  She made a nest in the corner where we’ve found eggs before, and she sat quietly watching me on my hands and knees cleaning the dirty sawdust out. 





After about five minutes she got up and jumped out, leaving behind a beautiful warm egg, nestled in the sawdust.





What makes this even more exciting, is that Mr Bumbleandme had uncovered five ducks and a chicken egg from the duck house just before I started cleaning it out.

So, what do you do with all those eggs? Make a chocolate Victoria sponge of course! 



The ducks are enjoying the company too, I would have taken some photo’s of them too, but they were too busy playing in the pond! 

We’ve Survived the First Year

Yesterday marked the first anniversary of our awfully big adventure. The memories of the move are still vivid and slightly traumatic. I remember driving to Wales with my car full of cleaning bits, the Hoover, the dog and the cat. Four and half hours it took to drive to our new house. I was terrified.  “What are we doing” was all I could think. 

The first night in the cottage was awful. It was so damp and cold, I didn’t think we’d ever be able to make it home. It was so cold, so so cold. The two wood burners that heated the house, didn’t do a good job. We only had some left over coal and damp logs for fuel. I remember making a mental note never, ever to look at a ‘project’ like this I the summer when it’s warm and dry and everything looks cosy and lovely.  





Thankfully over the last twelve months Mr Bumbleandme have most definately made this our forever home. We’ve worked like Trojans to get where we are now. With both of us working full time, we’ve only had the weekends and evenings to do things. Resting and days off have almost become a thing of the past. But, with a little bit of determination and lots of love we’re making headway. 

In the last twelve months our lives have changes immeasurably – for the better I think.  Mr Bumbleandme is now an expert log chopper, quad bike rider, poultry housing builder, duck pond builder, sheep herder, bramble crusader, and so much more. I am now kindling collector extraordinaire, chief French drain clearer, and I can finally light a jolly nice fire. 

We’ve got a long way to go, but it’s encouraging to know we’ve survived the first twelve months! 



Hopefully, the next twelve months will see the installs of the vegetable garden, some renovation to the internal walls and decorating, renovation of the summerhouse and the introduction of some more animals. 



It’s funny how a little thought that pops into your head one day becomes a reality without too much effort to make it happen.  If you really want something, you really can achieve it – it just takes a bit of courage. 

The chickens are out!

I was planning to clean the chickens out this morning, then make them a small enclosure within the duck enclosure, so the chickens and ducks could slowly get used to each other. However, Mr Bumbleandme had other, as usual slightly more realistic ideas! He just opened the door and let them out!

They were reluctant at first, but one of the Welsummer’s (who we think is boss) was poking her head out and then she gingerly stepped down the ramp and onto the grass. The others slowly followed.

It’s been snowing on and off here most of the morning, but they don’t seem bothered by it. They’ve been happily pecking away at the ground and getting used to their new surroundings. They’ve found the duck house, which they seem to love and when I left them, three of them were firmly making themselves at home in there! I’d managed to bribe one of Silkies out on a promise for some broccoli. Although she didn’t have it she ventured back over to the duck feed for some pellets and then had a wander around.

Austin the cat came to the fence to meet the chicken. There was a staring match and then the chicken just wandered off. No-one seemed very bothered. Austin wanted to go inside as he doesn’t like wet weather, and he’d been meowing at me for the last 20 minutes.

The big question is whether we’ll be able to get them back in their coop later or not. I’ve tried offering them food from my hand, but they are not interested. I guess I’ll just keep trying. We’d like to get them tamer than the ducks are. The ducks won’t come closer than about three feet. We made the mistake of not being around them much when they were little I think. They’re fine with us being in the enclosure and often come to nosey at what we’re doing, but if you walk towards they run off in the other direction. We’re determined not to let that be the case with chooks.

Any how’s, here are some photo’s I took this morning:

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They are very lovely little things – I think we’re going to get quite fond of them.

Branching out in the Poultry World

Every last Saturday of the month is the Ffairfach Poultry Auction in llandeilo. This is where we bought the Khaki family back in the summer.

We’ve been talking about chickens for a while now. Initially we’d thought about allowing them to roam free in the wood, which sounded lovely and romantic. They could rummage around in their natural environment. How lovely. Then we soon realised, Mr Fox would be very pleased with this. Dinner on a plate… We decided it would be better to put them in with the ducks, where it is safe and there is plenty of space in there for them.

So, we had a look on the good old inter web for a hen house, which we found for a reasonable price. We know it’s not ideal, but it’s a perfect starter coop which cost so little it really doesn’t matter if it only lasts for six months.

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Mr Bumbleandme, a lovely visitor and myself set about building the coop. The weather has been atrocious so we decided to build it indoors and bring it outside to paint (yes we measured the door before starting to build!). As usual, the instructions were very vague, but we managed to get it built relatively easily and without much trouble.

We’ve painted it the same dark grey as the duck house. It was painted in the garage and then left to dry.

So Saturday morning arrived and we set off to the auction. We’d planned to be a little more restrained this time. We wanted some Indian Runner ducks if we could get some and then a maximum of four chickens.

We’d read up that Welsummers were good layers as were Warrens. Of course, as soon as we arrived and started looking at the birds we forgot all the practical bits about if they’re good layers etc. and concentrated on the pretty ones. We spotted some beautiful chocolate Indian Runners and a very pretty fawn and white Indian Runner on her own, looking particularly scared. The chickens were a little harder to pin down, but we narrowed our choices down to around five lots, including some pretty Bluebells.

When the auction started it was so exciting, all the bustle and hustle and the auctioneer talking so fast, you can’t hear what they’re saying. It was all going so quickly I could hardly keep up. I was very relived at one point when someone stopped the auction to ask which lot we were on! I had to do it myself on one occasion (slightly embarrassing). It didn’t help as the catalogue and the lots didn’t match up (that’s my get out clause!). Anyway, the auctioneer reached the Indian Runners, the pretty fawn and white one didn’t sell as it didn’t meet the reserve. Next up were the chocolate Runners. Mr Bumbleandme put his hand up when no-one was interested and with a small amount of haggling we outbid the others. They were ours! Beautiful little things. We were so happy.

It took an age for the auctioneers to get to the chickens, but he finally did. There were several lots which we thought were ok, but as soon as they went above £9, we stopped as they weren’t ‘that’ nice. In amongst several lots of Warrens there two pretty little chickens which were obviously different from the warrens, but we weren’t sure what they were. When no-one was bidding on them, Mr Bumbleandme put his hand up, then someone else bid. It was all over in a flash and Mr Bumbleandme was flashing his bidding card at the auctioneer! He’d bought them! I have to confess I initially thought they were Warrens, which was fine, but on closer inspection we could see they weren’t. They are very pretty. We think they’re Welsummer crosses.

It all got a bit boring from then on – I’m not good with crowds and after a couple of hours I’d had enough of the jostling down the aisles trying to keep up with the auctioneer. Mr Bumbleandme was I it for the long haul however. He’d spotted some pretty little speckled chickens and he stuck his hand up and won them on a maiden bid! They were described as Silkie crosses, which we’ve since read are not the best layers! Oops.

We’d purchase six birds in one auction! Our menagerie had gone from nine to 15! Oh my word!

The next thing to do was to get them in a dog crate we’d luckily remembered to bring with us! It wasn’t a little dog crate, no we don’t do sensible things like bring a small crate with us, we bring an enormous dog crate with us that will only just fit down the aisles!! Luckily we managed to get them all in without much trouble at all. It was quite uneventful, thankfully!

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Once home, we settled the chickens into the coop – which may be a little small, but I guess for the winter they’ll be cosy. They seemed very happy and were cooing away, drinking water and eating the pellets we left them. We’d decided to be brave with the ducks and just put them in with the Khaki’s. They too seemed very happy and the Khaki’s didn’t seem bothered. After a lot of peeking and checking they were ok, we finally decided to leave them alone – it was hailing, windy and very cold!

Of course I woke up very early this morning, eager to let the ducks out and check on the chickens. It had been snowing and hailing in the night, so there was a pretty quite dusting on the ground this morning as we ventured down to duck enclosure. We could hear the usual banter going on inside the duck house and as usual when we opened the door there was a frantic rush, flying of feathers as they raced down to the pond. Only this time they were followed by two beautiful chocolate Runners! All seemed well, the Khaki’s seemed happy with their new friends, so we moved our attention to the chickens.

We’d been advised to keep the chickens in the coop for a couple of days before letting them out, so we decided to keep them in for today. We lifted the lid and found them cuddled up in the nesting boxes, looking happy. We topped up there water and gave them some more food, which they happily started eating. This mornings offerings were broccoli and cabbage which they enjoyed (so did the ducks!).

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We’ve been checking on them throughout the day. The chickens seem fine, if a little cooped up. We’re debating whether to just let them out tomorrow with the ducks, or keep them separate for a few days with a little fenced off area. We’re not too sure what to do yet.

The ducks are ok, there is a bit of pecking going on, but nothing that looks too serious. I guess it’s to be expected, after all the khaki’s are all related and have never known other ducks. We’ll keep a close eye on them, but I think they will be fine. They have been following the Khaki’s around and they are funny when they walk, like penguins! They walk so tall and upright!the Runners have been having lots of fun in the pond, their little tails have wagging away and they’ve been flapping their wings. Lots of preening has also been going on.

Getting the ducks in tonight was fun. We accidentally managed to separate one of the runners and it took us an age to convince her she would be better off in the coop. Poor thing, she just didn’t know where to go and I think we may have rushed her a little. I ended up having to catch her and out her in myself. Such soft feathers. They’ll soon get used to it.

Unfortunately I’ve not got very good photo’s, but as we all get used to each other, I’ll post some more. Watch this space……. and please feel free to leave advice. Thanks as always for reading, it’s great to know people are interested in our little adventures!

Looking For Spring

As Mr Bumbleandme both woke up this morning feeling very stiff and a little weary from our hard labour yesterday, I decided to give myself the day off and take the opportunity to look for spring in the wood. Armed with a cup of coffee, my iPad and two kittens in tow, I set off starting in the paddock.

I have to be honest, the paddock isn’t looking it’s best right now. It’s looking rather messy, but the animals liven the place up and remind us it’s a working environment and it isn’t meant to look pristine!  I found some bulbs coming up by the ditch that runs along the side the paddock, next to the duck enclosure.  This area will be lovely when we’ve cleared it.  There is a little waterfall at the edge of the road that brings the water from the wood, under the road and into the paddock.  The ditch then carries the water down the stream at the bottom of the paddock.  We used this water to fill the duck pond and have a small pipe running from it that tops up the duck pond and an overflow pipe takes the extra water from the pond to the ditch and down to the stream. The waterfall is sheltered by overhanging trees and it will make a beautiful, peaceful place to sit and rest one day.

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The photo above shows the paddock from said ditch.  The ducks are in the foreground, the mountain of brambles waiting to be burned in the middle and the sheep can just be seen in the background.  As you can see from this photo the paddock is a little uninspiring at the moment.

My quest to find spring then took me into the wood.  It’s a great time of year to see what’s what in the wood, as everything is bear and the weeds have retreated to the relative warmth of the ground.  This means it’s easy to get around and see where the water from the springs flow through.  I would like to make a feature of the springs one day and create a stream through the wood by utilising the natural path of the water and creating a feature.  Where the stream runs is where the wild garlic flourish and it would be lovely to create and nice wetland area there.  There was little sign of spring in the wood until I reached the bottom where the snowdrops light up the wood in early spring.  Typically the shoots are coming up where we’ve created a path!

Spring in the wood
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There were other signs of spring in the wood.  The honeysuckle that meanders up an old tree is showing new growth.  I don’t think its a wild honeysuckle as we’re told this part of the wood was once a delightful cottage garden and I suspect the is a surviving remnant of this.  It didn’t flower last year, but I live in hope that if we clear some of the canopy enough light will reach it and encourage some flowers.

We’ve also been hearing the kites in the wood and think they may be looking to nest there.  In the morning the kite is particularly noisy, and we see it circling the paddock.  We counted eleven kites last weekend all flying together in the valley, it was a sight to behold.

the kittens also enjoyed themselves so I had to take a shot or two them.

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Happy New Year

After a quiet and restful Christmas, the New Year has seen us picking up our tools and getting stuck in. We had expected to spend the winter under cover tidying the garage, decorating the cottage and the like. To our surprise we’ve managed to spend a lot of time outdoors, so much that none of the planned indoor jobs have been started.

Mr Bumbleandme enlisted the help of his expert tree surgeon friend to advise and remove some of the dangerous trees in the wood that sit close to cottage. One such culprit was a beautiful holly tree that stood around forty foot high. This mighty old tree stood right behind the cottage to one side and it was being choked by ivy. Despite its impressive stature it was unfortunately deemed unsafe and was safely chopped down section by section. I was upset to see the tree go, but appreciate it was very dangerous and it transpires the middle was rotten and hollow so it wasn’t a well tree and removing it was definately the right decision to make. It is now being chopped by hand into little logs to season for firewood in a year or two.

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The wood around the house is now littered with branches and trunks of tree which all need to be tidied away and chopped into firewood. The branches will make great wood piles around the wood for wildlife once we get around to moving it.

This year we’ve been removing a sea of brambles that sprawl there way across a steep bank at the top of the paddock by the road. Having made Mr Bumbleandme remove a mountain of brambles behind the garage for my future veggie patch, I changed my mind (as every good woman should)! I’ve decided the previous choice was too steep and too large. So he’s been busy clearing yet more brambles to make way for my veggie patch. We’ve found some chicken wire and fence post buried under the brambles and we also found an old children’s swing frame – which will come in handy in the veggie patch I’m sure.

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At the top of the paddock it will not only be nearer the house, we will pass it every day on our way to the ducks. The area is also much more flexible. I planned to roughly fence a small area off initially, but in time if I’m inclined I can extend it and add more beds. The majority of the patch will be on the flat immediately below the steep bank with a small shed, my poly tunnel and some beds. The bank will also be utilised. I’m Hoping I can grow soft fruit, roses and lavender on it. The bank is South facing and will get baked in the summer, so hopefully they will flourish. My only concern is if the soft fruit get too dry, but I need to give it a go to find out.

This weekend Mr Bumbleandme has been finishing off the clearing of said bank and creating a mountain of chopped up brambles and willow in the middle of paddock ready to burn. I’ve been tidying the privet hedge that runs along the front of the house. There is a section of it that’s has gone very wild and unruly so I’m taking on the challenge of turning it back into a manicured hedge so it looks as good as the rest of the hedge. I’ve been digging up rooted escapees from the original hedge and replanting them in line. I’ve also been tackling a few brambles and generally tidying up.

Hopefully the rest of the year will be as productive.

The animals are all doing really well. The ducks were laying eggs, but then since Christmas they decided the pond was a good place to lay! Then we have been eggless for a bout a week now. We’re not sure what’s going on with them, but they seem very happy. The kittens have been ‘done’ and are becoming very good mousers, although they are also far too cosy sitting in front of the Rayburn!

The Rayburn has been doing a grand job of keeping us warm, fed and in hot hot water! We have been so warm, were still in our summer duvet and have the window wide open in the bedroom most nights. It is certainly a welcome contrast to the bitter cold we endured when we first moved here.

The Welsh winter has be kind so far, it’s not been too cold, it’s been wet, but we are in Wales! Since the New Year we’ve had some quite fierce winds, but so far all has been ok. We’ve got some more severe weather forecast this week, so we’ll batten down the hatches and hope the wood keeps us protected from the worst of the weather.

Water, water and a bit more water!

Autumn is well and truly here in our little valley. The weather has turned, the leaves are changing colour and falling off the trees. The Rayburn has been lit for a month now and is heating our home brilliantly. Hot water is no longer a luxury, we have copious amounts and often forget just how hot it can get! We’re also learning fast how to cook on the Rayburn – tonight’s success was shepherds pie with treacle sponge for dessert!

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Water is a feature outside now too, we’ve had a lot of rain. The stream at the bottom of the field sounds like a river from the cottage, and we even have our very own white water Rapids. The springs surrounding the cottage are in full flow. It’s a weekly Job now to clear leaves from the french drain at the back, sweep the paths and driveway, clear the gutters and check the drains are running well. Just think of all the leaf mould!

The ducks however are loving the weather. The duck pond has finally been filled, and although it’s not finished yet, it’s functioning well. Every morning the ducks race down the hill to be first in the pond and they go mad splashing around, wagging their tail feathers like excited kids. This morning the two male ducks flew down the hill and dived into the water!! Almost every time we peer down from the road to check on them, they are in the pond. When it comes to bedtime, they run in for one last dip before slowly and noisily making their way up the hill to their duck house. It’s quite muddy at the entrance to the duck house and as its on a steep hill, you have to watch your step. It’ll make for an interesting job in the depths of winter.

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The kittens are growing quickly. I’m not sure they have the hang of being outdoor cats though yet. They are currently curled up on my lap, with bellies full of food. When it rains, they hang off the windows and meow at the top of their little voices. If we can bear to ignore them long enough they go somewhere warm and dry. They have never yet come in in the morning wet. They adore Bumble the beagle and Russ is particularly fond of her. Russ is a real fuss monster and will do anything for fuss. Dill on the other hand is more demure and prefers to quietly observe you from afar. He does however also enjoy a cuddle, but is equally happy to sit on his own. He also loves climbing trees. They are both very intrigued by the ducks and watch them intently when we go down to them. It can be quite a family outing now letting the ducks out and putting them to bed. I have the dog and am being followed by the kittens who tentatively follow us into the paddock. A couple of weeks ago when I was walking the dog around the field, the dog and I were being followed by both kittens and Austin the cat. It must have looked rediculous seeing a trail of cats wandering around a field. They were all being particularly noisy as well. The neighbours must think we are very quirky!!

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