A Brave Little Boy

https://www.gofundme.com/riley-james-therapy-suite?rcid=6e771f9f23b340eba57ac91977e1f9bc

Please share, help, donate to aid this young boy. He is my fiances nephew and due to funding cuts needs your help. Read his story. 

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Different kind of mash

Tonight’s dinner is gammon. Usually we’d have it with chips or mash potato.

I thought tonight I’d try something different and do a sweet potato, carrot and parsnip mash. 

So simple and so sweet.

Here’s the recipe I used for 2 small portions:

Ingredients 

  • 2 Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 Carrots
  • 1 Parsnip
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Salt and Pepper

Fill a pan with water and let the water heat up while you peel all veg and cut it to small chunks. 

Let this boil for about 30 minutes, until soft. Then drain of the water.

Put the veg back in the pan then add butter, salt and pepper.

Mash throughly together with a masher or you can whizz it smooth with a handheld blender.

Then serve. 

End result. Apologies for the presentation of the mash but I ate most of mine before putting it on the plate and the other half went into a lunch box for my partner.

Overall, it was extremely tasty. 

Another food to satisfy my sweet and chocolate craving. Definitely be making this mash again.

Easy recipe resulting in a delicious accompaniment to any meat dishes.

Energy, please? 

Exhaustion 

Feeling exhausted has been a huge part of my life this last year. This exhaustion led to me not wanting to do anything extra, anything creative, any household chores. Simply, all I wanted to do was sleep.

My catchphrase was slowly becoming ‘is it bedtime yet?’

I’d go to work and come home, then crawling into bed would be the only thing on my mind. 

Not being bothered to cook and craving junk food, was starting to become a regular occurrence.  

I was fast putting on weight and becoming more lethargic and heavy with anxiety. 

Even days off were full of procrastination.

Enough was enough. I needed to make some changes. 

I needed to become more focused about the present and the future, what do I truly want? What is really going to make me happy? 

What I did.

I found that pressure of work-too many working hours was affecting me. So I cut do on my weekly hours.

I found that sitting down as soon as I got home was getting me nowhere. So I would do as many chores as I could before I had my sit down.

I found that the clutter was pulling me down, my hoarded useful ‘junk’ was becoming to amassed. So I started to break in down to what could be donated, what could be thrown out, what I could give to others that they would actually use. Too many things were hidden behind closed doors and began sorting them.

The animals were taking too much time to clean and feed and I was unable just to sit with them and enjoy their company. So I designed, devised and altered their feeders and homes for easier clear up. Instead of 2 hours solid cleaning in the chicken run,its now 15-30 minutes a day.

I found that my diet was creating a sluggish version of the once productive me. So we began a new eating regime – not a diet as those are so easy to give up on – this entailed eating plentiful but substituting the junk. We cut out bread, cut out sweets, cut of processed food.

I have a huge sweet tooth and discovered a sweet alternative in sugar snap peas and a fruit filled smoothie. My chocolate cravings are slowly fading.

Previous diet:

  • Toast or cereal in the mornings
  • A packet of crisps for a mid morning snack
  • Nothing for lunch
  • Toast with jam and peanut for an afternoon snack
  • Something with chips and tonnes of mayo for dinner or soup with a pile of bread and butter or a pile of pasta with shop bought sauce and lots of cheese
  • Bags of sweets, packets of biscuits, chocolate bars, crisps for an evening gorge.
  • Bowl of cereal before bed
  • Plus a few more extras I’m sure

Now looking at this list I can see where I was going wrong. I was eating too much junk and not drinking enough. My cravings were so bad I would get moody not having those sugary treats.

New regime:

  • 2-3 boiled eggs, cup of lemon water for breakfast
  • Smoothie for lunch
  • Homemade muesli for a snack
  • Simple cooked meat with salad or steamed veg with sweet potato fries or rice
  • A yoghurt for pudding
  • Add if I’m feeling really peckish through the day, raw fruit and veg. (Especially those sugar snap peas, will have to see if I can have a go at growing them) 

We just started this new eating regime a couple of weeks ago and my energy level is slowly rising. I’m not as achy and don’t fall straight to sleep after work. I’m able to push through to get a good nights sleep. Which I need as I have to be up early to let the chickens out and sort the dogs. 

We do this regime 6 days a week and usually on a Tuesday we have a pig out day. Also known as a cheat day. 

Example

Here’s an example of one of the many explanations as to why a cheat day is good for you and the benefits from incorporating it into your diet or new eating regime:

Rule cheat meals – medical daily

And it really does help. A food cheat and chill day really helps to plough through the rest of the week.

Is it working?

These slow and steady changes have given me the boost I needed. Luckily; my partner in crime wanted to alter his eating habits too and as a result, our team work is showing results.

Will let you know how things go. 

Have you got your own eating regime you’d like to share or ideas for delicious meals. Then let me know, I loved to see some. 

Thanks for reading.

Morning Release

Every chicken keeper whose birds free range will agree that the best part of the day is the morning release.

Opening that gate or door to release your girls in to the garden or field is an wonderful event. 

You know they are there waiting for you, waiting for their freedom.

Those excited cluckings as you approach, them talking to you and you talking to them. Makes a dreary morning worth it.

Watch this video for the moment the gate open and the gurglies come rushing out.

 https://youtu.be/kFhPBKyAIfk 

Well hello there…

It’s such a flurry that everyone’s a blur.

The straggler:

Straight to pecking and scratching:

This is the moment that a lot us look forward to the most. Your girls who work had to provide you and others eggs, getting spoilt. 

Over the winter season, for nearly 3 months here in the UK our birds had to be locked up and under cover due to the avian flu threat. The normal quality of the golden yolks were affected and the birds were going stir crazy. The cost of feed almost doubled. 

But on March 1st, that moment of the first release. Was such a heart warming and fulfilling moment.

Benifits of hens roaming:

  • Contented birds, less disagreements between them. Reduces pecking at one another
  • Exercise and exploration 
  • More for them to find to eat to raise their protein levels
  • Free grit
  • Lazy way to eliminate those weeds
  • Brighter yolks
  • Stronger shells
  • Free fertiliser 
  • Reduces feed costs with the supplements they scratch up
  • More sunlight

All of these elements equals:

Fluffy butts of happiness.

Chick Issue -Food

When you get your day old chicks into a brooder box. Everything is set up cosy and warm. The one thing they are missing is a mother so let’s face it, you are now the proud adoptive mother hen. 

It is now your responsibility to teach this tiny baby like the mother would. From dipping it’s beak into the water, pecking your finger into the food dish to encourage them to eat and most importantly to keep it warm and clean.

I will do a post later on about how I set up my brooders. Outside and inside. 

This post is about crumb chick starter food.

The day old chick would naturally have its mother showing them where the food is. The hen picking up the bits and breaking them up for those little beaks to consume. 

From all farm animal supply stores you can pick up a bag of chick crumb. A high protein crushed pellet mix.

This is ideal to start them on but for me the main issue stemmed from the first couple of days: the crumb is actually to big for them.

The size creates a lot of waste, within seconds of them digging in.

So here’s my little tip for the first few days:

This pestle and mortar is perfect for 3-4 chicks but for large scale, I recommend a blender. 

All I do is crush the crumb up further into more of a mash. 


So there you have it, in doing this one simple change, I have found that they waste less, brooder is cleaner for longer and they can manage the tiny chunks more easily.

Resulting in happy babies. 


More Chicks.

It was never my intention to hatch more chicks for myself but when a chook goes broody, they mean business.

As it was Bisky’s first time. Me being me, I couldn’t say no. 

So here we are 21 days later, 3 more chicks and possibly another 2 on the way. 

The problem with this is that I really need a few more large egg layers. My bantam egg count is higher than that of the large fowl hens. As you can see we are over flowing with bantam eggs and that’s just in 3 days.

 So I’ve decided to let Bisky keep the large maran cross chick and remove the bantams to a brooder, so these can be rehomed when old enough.

I’m doing this as, over the past year of raising my own chicks, I’ve found it’s easier to integrate a youngster, with its mother for protection into a larger group of hens. Also raising the chicks to rehome from the brooder method makes them easier to handle and not so ‘wild’.

For example: Bisky was raised in a brooder box, so she has no issue with me picking her up and stroking her but Cyndi on the other hand her younger sister from the same parents, was raised outside by Cookie, as a result she is so flighty and hates being picked up or even stroked. 

These are purely from my own observations of raising chicks in various situations.

So really it depends on what behaviour you seek from your flock. Whether they be more cautious and flighty or to be all over you like an excited puppy. Each individual flock has its own requirements. 

The more handling, the more friendly. The less handling, the less friendly. 

Having 30 plus girls, I really don’t mind that the odd few are stand offish. Or else I’d be walking around like the crazy cat lady in the Simpsons or the pigeon lady from Home Alone 2. 

One day, maybe.


Hatch Day

Came down to an awesome surprise this morning. Two chicks have hatched and another is currently on the way.

Cookies daughter Bisky, decided to go broody at not even a year old. Bisky, not being as ferocious as her mother, my first job once they’ve all hatched is to move her to the broody pen or she may lose the babies with over 30 other chooks in the run.

She had 5 eggs to hatch and now has 6. So the next job will be to fire up the incubator and put some eggs in. It’s only been with the last couple of days since the last egg slipped in but as hatch day was fast approaching I couldn’t check to see which was the new egg. As the majority of eggs are fertile I can’t just abandon this potential baby. Any excuse ay. 

So now we play the waiting game to see how many we get out of 5.

We all Dream

We all have that dream. The dream of a better life. The ideal life.

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Working towards that better life seems so far off in the distance at times, you feel like you’ll be old and grey before you even get the chance to really live it.

The Issue

Every day you wake up doing a job that’s not really suited to you only because it’s the thing that will get you there sooner. This can be a real drain. It can cause you to feel like you’re in a never ending cycle of mundane. I did and still do. What I found was that I was working myself into a tired heap of nothing. I’d finish work and not want to move from my bed in the evenings because I was exhausted. It was really getting me down. Down to the deepest darkest depths of which I began to think there was no return. If I hadn’t given myself a good shaking up and a severe talking to, I may never have gotten out of that hole; there was, indeed, a light at the end of the tunnel.

Apologies

So first of all: apologies for taking so long to write a post but I’m back to tell you the steps I took to pulled myself out.

Step 1

The first step was to analyse my job situation. I’m in a job with no chance of promotion, no incentives just a simple run of the mill job. So I asked myself: Is this what I want to be doing for the rest of my life? The simple answer was no.

Because I’m one of those people who give 100% whenever I do any job; that was the first part I needed to address. Sometimes it’s okay to only give 75% it doesn’t need to be perfect every day. Other people work there also so leave jobs for them to do. There is no I in team.

I was at a point where if I kept pushing myself to hard I would continue to break. In taking a step back I’ve been able to enjoy the job a little more and don’t feel so pressured to be the only one to do things.

Who and what am I doing this for? I needed to put the job into context in relation to our life. I’ve gained all the skills I can get out of this job, I’m doing the job to simply earn money so we can begin to fulfil our dream and future family. I have to keep telling myself it’s just a job and each day is a step closer to the dream.

Overall, it’s just a job to save and pay the bills.

Step 2

This analysis then gave way to the next step. The dream and how we were going to get there.

Step 2

The next step was to begin planning and improving chores. So instead of taking hours cleaning the house, it would only need one hour (or a little more for deeper clean). Chores can have an adverse effect on you, as you get to a point of feeling that all you do is go out to work and clean, having no time for anything else. So now instead of tackling it all at once, I do it a little at a time and often. I integrate chores normal movement patterns. Going to one room, take something that should be in there with you. Going outside, take the bin on your way, wash up while you cook, take compost down when locking up the chickens to get them all back into their run easier. All these alterations have help to maintain an acceptable standard of cleanliness and my mind is not at more ease.

Step 3

The next step was to begin planning out ideas and improvements for the animals, cutting down clean times so that I could spend more time observing and from some having cuddle time. Adding an extra waterer to the chicken coop means the water last 2 days instead of 1. An automatic feeding system means I only have to fill it up every 4 days and poop boards below the roosts mean a quick poop removal. Chicken chores have gone from an hour to 15 minutes daily clean up.

All these steps have help alleviate my feelings of anxiety and depression. Meaning I can actually focus, plan and enjoy.

Step 4

The last step on the list was organising finances. Now we have pretty much all we need, not including the weekly shop, to live contented. We needed to plan how much we could save a month and any extras. This structure gives us an approximate time scale for our plans to come to fruition. An important step as money certainly does not grow on trees and like many cases is a hard slog to earn it.

The Dream

Okay. So what is this dream? It began as a child. I would always have this recurring dream of owning a pet shop. This pet shop was in the round with a spiral staircase that led to varied animals on each level. The strangest part was it had a sweet shop in the centre of it. This dream spurred on my passion for animals and learning everything I could about them. So I grew up never not having an animal as a part of the family.

At 32 years old, I should be close to this by now but sadly no. Work and life decisions took me on a very different path. An experience I wouldn’t change as I’ve gained a lot of skills and has brought me to where I am today.

Anyway, The Dream: owning a beautiful house for our future children with a sizable garden so that I can keep animals and become semi self-sufficient with home grown food or if we were ever lucky enough to, have a smallholding-The Ultimate Dream.

I’m sure many of you may have a similar dream and I’m going to record how we are going to get there and what I am doing in my spare time in preparation for when the time comes.

To Summarize

  • Decipher what is causing your negativity
  • Target solutions to ease your negative emotions be it cutting down on hours worked, slowing your pace, passing workload to the team.
  • Work towards a balance between work and home life, like integrating chores naturally, not letting things pile up, breaking it down into smaller jobs.
  • Having time to enjoy your hobbies
  • Lastly, but most importantly, sorting your finances. Save all you can. Even bits of change can mount up over time.

 

Good Pet Shops Are Hard To By

It seems that the majority of pet shops these day are mainly product suppliers. The shops where you could browse around looking at all the potential critters you could add to your family, seems to be a dying trade.

I’m not talking about the large chain pet stores where the interest is solely in profit, I’m talking about the ones where the owners really know their stuff. The small business owners.

Recently I added Fat-head to our family, our beautiful leopard gecko.

wp-image-42226763jpg.jpg

His diet consists of bugs like mealworms, crickets, wax worms and I wanted to pick up some beasties for him from our local pet shop where we always get our corn snake, Cushies frozen mice. Sadly, the owner informed us that they were closing down.

cushie

I asked him why? The trade just wasn’t there to sustain the business to remain open, he told us, the passion for these animals just wasn’t there anymore either and the amount of returns he got back because the child got bored of it was ridiculous.

Sad and disappointed. Now we would have to seek out another pet shop similar to this, which, to be honest is hard to do when you live in the countryside, pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

To tide us over, we went to one of the bigger chain stores to pick the beasties and upon returning home I was so disappointed. Checking out the beasties I’d purchased, I discovered that the majority were dead.

I was sold dead food not live food.

beasties

To add further injury to our purchases, the frozen mice we bought for Cushie from here were awful. The heads fell off, there was a clean cut across the throats of all the mice. So every mouse she had, ended up being headless. Not what you want when feeding your snake a whole mouse.

I really need to find a pet shop that caters to crazy animal ladies. It is just to frustrating to go into a pet store where the staff need little to no experience of keeping animals. As a buyer I want knowledge to greet me not cluelessness.

So to overcome this hurdle, I am currently working on my next animal projects, which are setting up various breeding boxes for the beasties. I don’t want to have to experience that disappointment again.

Thanks for reading. Will keep you posted. All I can say is my first darkling beetle broke out of it pupae form last night.

Let the colony begin.

 

 

Every Child Needs A Pet

This is my own personal opinion about animals within a family setting and the benefits they can  bring to a household.

Every child needs a pet.

As a child, I loved to interact with animals. Whether it was outside playing with or walking the dog. Teasing the cat until it would finally pounce and attack the toys in front of it. Handling the hamsters or simply watching them run in their wheels or scaling the great heights of their cage (for a small a rodent). Right down to enjoying the excitement of fish when they knew it was feeding time.

I was lucky to have all of these wonderful creatures in my life growing up. The fond memories I have of each and every one of them, is with me to this day and even though they maybe gone, they will never be forgotten.

Back to the topic in mind.

Over the years I’ve always heard one question asked again and again by various children: Please can we have a (insert animal)?

First of all, you maybe reading this and thinking the answer would be of course no. Which to begin with is the right answer to the child. But that answer should not be the end of discussion.

The initial ‘No’, teaches them that it is something that can’t be just bought on a whim. Circumstances need to be taken in to consideration and the overall reason why you said ‘No’ in the first place needs to be addressed.

What are your reasons for not wanting a pet?

Some reasons could be, you don’t want that type of animal in question. The time commitment. The thought of the mess and the extra work created. Allergies. Expense.

Whatever the reason, No should not be the final answer.

Hear me out:

I shall use my sister as an example here. Her daughters were constantly pestering her for various pets and her answer was always No.

Dog? No

Cat? No

Hamster? No

Rat? Most certainly No

Being a crazy animal lady, I asked her why she wouldn’t have a pet for the girls? She said ‘because I don’t want to.’ And she couldn’t be more honest and truthful than that.

Not one to investigate half a mystery, I furthered my query and asked her. ‘But if you did eventually give in and allow the girls to have a pet, what would you want them to have?’

Without hesitation, she blurted out ‘A tortoise, that would be the only pet that I would have in my house.’

And on that note, not wanting my nieces to go without a pet to grow up with. I asked her if she wanted George to come live with her.

Who’s George you ask?

gorgeous-george

George here is a horsefield or Russian tortoise, whom I purchased at about the age of 8. He lived with me for several years. The reason I asked her if she wanted George was firstly for the girls and secondly, I was at that point living in student accommodation and unfortunately had no garden on the property. So for George and myself it was a win win. He would still be in the family and get the outdoor life he needed.

Luckily, she instantly said yes.

The girls finally had a pet and to date, they still talk about the funny antics of George (I will talk more about George at a later date).

In this instance a simple, easy care animal enlightened and enriched the lives of a family who may not have had a pet.

Now take a moment to read through this list.

Things to consider when getting a child a pet:

  • What animal/s would I be happy to have in my home or garden?
  • What animal/s could be a part of and benefit he household?
  • What space do you have to accommodate any of these animals you are considering? Is it enough space?
  • What mess level do you mind clearing up after?
  • What energy level does the household have?
  • Have you researched the care and needs of the animals you’ve considered getting?
  • How much time can you spend caring for the animal?
  • Is the animal age appropriate?
  • Can you afford the up keep of the animals?
  • Would you mind if you ended up being the majority carer of the animal?
  • Life expectancy of the animal in question?

All of these questions are essential to the overall well being of any animal to come into your care. Planning is a vital part.

Benefits of having a pet for a child.

A pet can bring forth many benefits and lessons for a child.

  • A pet can promote extra physical activities, encouraging them to go outside either to play or explore.
  • A pet can promote social skills through interaction, conversations and even sharing.
  • A pet can heighten emotional experiences through love and loss, excitement and joy.
  • A pet can encourage learning through simple husbandry and wanting to know more about certain species. Can even aid artistic and literary skills.
  • A pet can teach responsibility; through caring for them, tending to their needs, taking on age appropriate jobs like cleaning them out, feeding them, walking them, playing with them.

No matter what animal you decide to join your family, if planned and considered properly, a child will have no end of joy from owning their very own special animal.

Thank you for reading. I will soon post my top ten animals for starter pets and why.