Friday 28 February 2014

Frank the Pug

After my doggy post of yesterday I feel I really have to do this one today.
I know what I would feel like if my gorgeous girl Suky had been stolen, so my heart goes out to Frank's owner Phil.  Imagine coming back to your van when you have just nipped into the supermarket for a quick shop and your beloved pet was no longer there.
Frank had only been in the left in van for the fifteen minutes it took him to grab some essentials, because Phil had been burgled three weeks earlier at home and he didn't want to risk leaving his beloved pet in the house by himself.  How cruel is the hand of fate sometimes.
Today there are around fifty Pug owners and their Pugs visiting Asda to give the thief someone to hand Frank back to.   The idea is that we will all be wandering round with our Pugs and if someone comes up to us with a Pug we simply take it and return it to it's rightful owner.  No prosecution, no questions asked, we are just trying to get Frank home where he belongs, at his Masters side.
Photo: "Share" if you agree! <3 -- I Love Pugs --
Yes, me and Suky are travelling to Manchester to help in any way we can, and my lovely, lovely Mum and brother are going to meet me there to see what is going to be a rather large gathering of Pugs and hopefully tucked away in their midst will be little Frank.

A link to the Please Find Frank the Pug Facebook page
Fingers crossed for a happy ending to this sad tale.
Sue xx

Thursday 27 February 2014

Naughty Doggies

That sweet little innocent face .....
... the ring leader.
Yesterday I was doing a mad flurry of housework, you know the sort of hour, you damp dust, bits fall onto the floor so you hoick out the hoover and hoover the floors then decide that now the rugs look nice and clean the tiles need mopping, while you've got the mop out you might as well do all the hard floors.  One thing leads to another and suddenly the house is all sparkly clean, you look in the mirror and yes, that red faced tired out looking person IS you ... so you open the door the get a breath of fresh air.
Then the dogs dash out ..... !!
Rosy has found a rabbit burrow, no it's more of a housing estate for rabbits in the woods, and there are entrances to this lovely bunny smelling paradise all over the place, if you take your eyes off her she disappears to check if anyone's home and available for snacking purposes.  Well this time Mavis followed her!
I was due to leave for the gym any minute, it's just a two hour slot every week with the local over 50's (yes ... sob... I'm that old) for the bargain price of £3.50 and it's invigorating.  I get to chat to the locals, work my butt off, try lots of 'new to me' equipment and generally just have a break from the old homestead for a couple of hours AND there's a cup of coffee and a custard cream at half time :-)
I climbed to the top of the hill calling nicely, nastily, offering titbits, bones, everlasting life etc etc to any dog that would return home, but NO the lure of the rabbits beat me hands down.  Mavis had made for the fence at the top of the hill and vanished and Rosy had gone down a hole. 
Now I was in a quandary do I stay, seethe and wait for the dogs to decide to come home or do I leave for the Gym with fingers crossed that they could survive for two hours on a Welsh hillside without me holding their little grubby paws.
I'm a bad doggy Mummy .... the Gym won.!!
And when I got home ... sat halfway down the hill scanning the horizon were two little grubby looking dogs, pleased as punch when Mum's car pulled in and out got the naughty runaway Mum. Well I mean, after all you just take yourself off for an adventure and your Mum goes missing ... it's just not on is it, more Mummy training is obviously needed!!
Sue xx

Wednesday 26 February 2014

A Surprise Parcel from a Lovely Blogging Buddy

I came home the other day to find this long parcel carefully balanced in my letterbox, 'Geraint the Post' is a very thoughtful postman, he knew it would stay dry given that we have the overhang of the front porch but he didn't want it to land with a thud on the mat.
With a smile on my face at his thoughtfulness I quickly took a photo before ripping into the paper.
Inside was this lovely sign, handmade by Sarah at Land Cuckoo, a brilliant craftswoman and doggy Mum to the gorgeous George who was Sophie's pin up boy for so long.  She's one of my brilliant long term Blogging Buddies and she obviously knows us so well ....
... as is evidenced by this lovely little mat she also enclosed with the sign and her lovely card..

And now it hangs in pride of place in the hall so we get to see it and it's wonderful words whenever we go down the stairs.
Thank you Sarah for such a wonderful surprise.
(If you would like to buy some of Sarah's lovely things for yourselves she has a lovely website - Land Cuckoo go and take a look.)
Sue xx

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Leaving the Cats, Dogs and Chickens

There were a couple of comments yesterday asking about what we do if we have to stay away from the place overnight and if we have neighbours that would look after pets for us.  Although we have now met quite a few of the folk that live on our hill there are none that we would ask to look after our furry and feathered family members if we go away, mostly because they are either elderly or working full time.
We tend to do what suits us and our animals, we know what they are like and we have tested the waters very carefully over various time scales and found a system that suits us and more importantly them.
The chickens are fine for up to three nights as a maximum although we are rarely away for that long.  Their house is dry and warm and if we go away we leave the large window closed, they sleep well away from their pop hole so this means they are not in any draught.  (Chickens can cope well with cold but not with draughts.).  Of course they have their electrified fence around them to keep out any unwanted visitors.
They have their large black food dispenser at the left hand side of the house, a smaller one that they treat as a snack wagon and a safe and secure large food dispenser inside the house, so they have at least one that is not accessible by any wild birds or animals.  They have two large water dispensers outside the house and another smaller one inside it.  There is also the large trough that fills with rain water after every shower.

The dogs are NEVER left on their own overnight.  The longest we have ever left them is for around eight hours, they coped well with that occasion but it is a very rare occurrence that means they are not either with us or in kennels if we are going away for any length of time.
Ginger is also okay for up to three days, although this as I said before is very rare. 
I'm sure he would be okay for longer actually but I would never push this.  He, as most of my cats have been, is very independent and loves his own company, but even solitary animals can get lonely and I've noticed that after he has been left for two nights he is craving our attention for a few hours the day after we return, a sure sign in my opinion that he likes our company even if he choses to rarely be with us when we are actually here.
He has access to the house through his cat flap, so can come and go as he pleases, we are happy that he chooses to mooch about at the back of the house and on the periphery of the woods rather than venturing near the road.  He has this type of food dispenser on top of the chest freezer out of the reach of the dogs and eats mostly dried food, which he regulates himself with very well. He shares his water with the dogs usually, so a great big bowl of fresh water is always left for him.
If our animals and birds weren't happy we would make alternative arrangements, but this is suiting us just fine at the moment.  Of course once we have pigs again  and maybe other animals there will be no nights away for both of us at the same time without using the services of farm sitters or being especially nice to family and friends, or maybe offering a free holiday in Wales to anyone who is willing to feed and look after the menagerie.
Now there's an idea for the future.  We could nip off for a week and Blog readers could have a free holiday in return for animal minding duties ..... of course you would also have to update the Blog on a daily basis !!
Now that would be a good idea, I could read Our New Life in the Country from someone else's perspective :-)
Sue xx

Monday 24 February 2014

Matinee Perfomance

On Friday I dropped the dogs off at our local kennels for the first time, we wanted to make sure they were happy there for a couple of days before we even think of leaving them for longer, and this was to have been Mavis' first trip away from home overnight so we didn't want it to be a long one.
 I headed over the border into England and then plummeted down the motorways to stay with Lovely Hubby at his digs in Berkshire.  We treat these journeys as a means to an end and actually I love been on the (almost) open road with my music or Radio 2 for company, an apple within reach and a stop for a Costa at the halfway point.  We went out for a meal on the Friday and then set off for a whole day out on the Saturday.  With no dogs to take with us or even to get back for we were free to stay out as long as we wanted, and it's been a long time since we've managed that.
We decided to do something that we haven't done for years and that was to go to the pictures, we had no idea what was on and when we got there with it being the end of the half term school holidays there were many more choices for those under four foot tall than those over.
We took pot luck and chose 'A New York Winter's Tale'.  Luckily we had never even heard of this let alone read any of the dire reviews it seems to be getting.  We took it as we found it and really enjoyed a couple of hours of complete escapism.
Leaving the cinema in daylight always seems somehow very strange, as though you have been transported to another world briefly and then deposited back out on the pavement to continue your day, a feeling we had not experienced for quite a while and one we totally enjoyed being reminded of.
Now I'm back home and in a few minutes will be setting off to pick up the dogs.  I was suddenly wondering if they get a similar feeling when they come out of what must be a strange and doggified world, with different routines to get used to and lots of other dogs to meet and play with, and then all of a sudden they are picked up and after a brief car ride home, are plonked unceremoniously back into their familiar, normal world.  A world that consists of  their own dog beds, favourite toys and the half chewed chews that they put down only a couple of days ago and that are still waiting for them half under the sofa.
I know one thing ... the house is a quieter and emptier place without my little bundles of excess energy, although somehow I get the feeling that Ginger the cat has really enjoyed his time alone.
Sue xx

Saturday 22 February 2014

Planning and a Hurdling Pug

I was asked about the white tape visible in the photos on the last post. We put it in place to help the architect that is starting to submit plans to the local Planning Office for the planning permission for our poly and net tunnels.  That we even need this in the first place surprised us, although as they are so close to the road we are doing as we are told and waiting until we have consent  before we buy and erect them.
Once the tunnels are in place the top part of the plan will have the raised beds for the new Veggie Patch.  What a fantastic view I will have when I stand up between planting and weeding sessions, will I even get any work done I wonder or simply stand staring into space!!
Our reasoning behind putting the polythene tunnel and then the net tunnel and then the veggie patch in this order is to protect the vegetables from as many traffic fumes as possible. We do live on a very busy road, with traffic whizzing past all day long and trucks coming by very early in the mornings and if I can keep just some of these fumes away from my growing food I will be very happy.
In the meantime the tape is proving very entertaining for Suky, the Pug as she 'hurdles' her way down the hill over the tapes after virtually every doggy walk around the paddock, she'll be upset when they're gone.
Sue xx

Friday 21 February 2014

Wait For Me ...

It was raining so hard the other day Lovely Hubby decided it made more sense to leave his 'dossing around the house' shorts on to walk the dogs around our paddock.  After all it's easier to dry legs than it is to dry soggy jeans.  Well you know me, I couldn't resist getting a couple of shots of this rather fetching doggy walking attire.   :-)

They set off through the gap in the fence ...

... and then he suddenly realised he was one dog down!!

A little Pug was bringing up the rear .... 'Wait for me Dad'.

She soon caught up, and they had a thoroughly enjoyable gallop around in the rain for fifteen minutes before returning to the warmth and dryness of the house.
Then it was inside jobs for LH and snoozing by the Aga for the dogs, it's not a bad life for them is it.
Sue xx

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Chicken Spa

It obviously paid off re-organising the henhouse, yesterday I was presented with this, our first huge egg and double yolker of the year.  Someone's happy .... although not while she was laying it!!  Lovely Hubby heard the commotion in the henhouse and went to have a peek at what was going on, and found a very disgruntled chicken and this enormous and still warm egg.
Some time later while I was washing some pots in the kitchen I noticed a crowd of the girls on the steps to the shed.

On closer inspection Caldwell was there too, so not just girls, and they were all making the most of the sunshine for a mammoth grooming session.  Earlier they had been dust bathing under the shed where the soil is bone dry and very fine, so there had been lots of grey looking birds and clouds of dust as they shook it all out of their feathers.
It was almost like a chicken spa!!
Once they had finished they sat with eyes closed, faces into the sunshine ... chicken bliss.  We all have to make the most of the occasional glimpses of that lovely golden orb in the sky whenever we can and chickens are very quick to make the most of it as soon as it appears.
Sue xx

Monday 17 February 2014

Modifying the Henhouse

This weekend was all about the chickens.
Luckily for once the weather was mostly on our side and after making plans on Saturday when the rain was falling and checking we had suitable wood ready for action when it stopped, we were able to spring into action on Sunday in the lovely sunshine and begin modifying the inside of the house.

When we got the house it had five perches over the wide shelf, and as they came right up to the edge of the shelf our birds couldn't actually get onto them, well about two of the girls learnt that if they did a vertical take off they could get up but the rest skulked on the floor of the house at night or crowded into the nesting boxes.
This was quickly altered, the front perch was sawn off and Lovely Hubby made them a ramp, this meant that come bedtime the girls could troop up the ramp and make their way along the bars.  BUT ... because the bars were so close together and all on one level once the girls were sat down on the front bars their tail feathers covered all the other perches, so the house only actually had room for one line of birds to roost...... not a good design in such a large space!!
So this modification still meant that lots of them slept on the shelf or in the nesting boxes, which made for more cleaning out each day otherwise the eggs would have been laid on dirty bedding.
So my plan was hatched to turn this .....

... into this.
By taking out another of the perches we were able to space them slightly further apart and by having the perches tiered it makes for more room for the tail feathers to naturally fall into the space between the perches thus freeing up lots of extra room.  So two less perches in this house has actually made more room for birds to use them properly.  And it somehow makes the house feel a lot more spacious inside and it is now so much easier to clean the shelf under the perches.
And it means the birds are much happier because every flock has a pecking order and the birds at the top of the pecking order usually like to sleep on higher perches to the 'lower' girls.  I say usually because I have had a few birds that were super confident and obviously led the flock during their lifetime but have been happier either in a nesting box or on the floor of the house.  Each to their own just like people.

We snuck out for a peek at bedtime to see if our little plan had worked.

It had ... for once the perches were in full use, all the birds except two who were in the nesting boxes and Poppy who has always slept on the floor in all our houses, had found a place on the perches.
Mission accomplished - happy chickens = happy chicken keepers.
And did you spot something in the top picture .... yes LH has bought the girls some fake grass to make the front of their house look nice and to make it less slippy for us when we step in and out of the house.  It looks really good, a patch of green amongst a sea of muddy grass the girls seem to really like it, they soon discovered that although it wasn't edible it warmed up nicely in the afternoon soon for basking on. 
Sue xx

Saturday 15 February 2014

Keeping Cosy

The dogs have got the right idea on the wild and rainy days.  After breakfast and a quick run round the paddock they take to their beds and while away most of the morning snoozing and keeping an eye on Mum pottering in the kitchen.
Rosy couldn't even bring herself to look up for a photo ...
... but these two little posers could.
Have a warm and cosy weekend if you can, the weather is set to get even worse in these parts, we are venturing out only when we have to.   There's nothing wrong with hours spent reading, planning and watching some inspiring films.
Sue xx

Thursday 13 February 2014

A Spash of Colour and Pattern

Those of you who said wallpapering the other day were perfectly right of course!!
Oooh look I've just spotted Ginger the cat sat on the table in the background, he knows he's not allowed on there, naughty puss I have the evidence now.
Yesterday's post about my Perfect Life interrupted the flow a bit but I did get on with the papering when I said I would.  I dug out my wallpapering accessories, they may look new but they have been in action in three different houses and are my tried and trusted decorating aids, everything I need along with a damp cloth and my well used paste table.

I had bought three rolls of wallpaper when our local Homebase in Reading shut down suddenly, they were selling off all the wallpapers at just £1 a roll, how could I resist.  I picked three that I like best, all different but I had very definite ideas in mind.   I have been collecting wallpaper samples for ages and these would boost the amount I had as well as being used in specific areas of the house first.

This one was destined for the hall, just to add a splash of colour and pattern in what is our very white house.  Just three strips hung here and two in a little area on the landing as you come down the return of the stairs and we have enough colour and pattern to satisfy my eye.  The good thing that is with a single roll of wallpaper we can completely change the look whenever we feel the urge. 

For now though I am very happy with the result and with a couple of our little wooden treasures, a stone off the beach collected on a lovely doggy walk and a beautiful little shell the look is complete.
A little bit of colour delights the soul.
Sue xx

Wednesday 12 February 2014

The Perfect Life ?

This comment on yesterdays post got me thinking, really thinking, thank you.
Your home looks lovely, and I love all the posts you do about your beautiful dogs, you look like you have the most perfect life.
*** *** ***
It's not perfect, no life is.
We work hard, extremely hard for what we are achieving and we are making enormous sacrifices to get to where we want to be.  I record what we do and what we have on this Blog to keep us motivated and to give us a record of how we are progressing.
Our home is lovely (and thank you for saying that), I think it's getting even more lovely because it's starting to look a little bit knocked about.  It doesn't always show in the pictures but there are now scuffs on the paintwork, little bits of chewed areas where the dogs have nibbled.  Scrubbed patches on the rugs where they have had accidents and the faint aroma in the conservatory of wet dog mixed with the aroma coming from the cat's bowl of tuna. 
But it's home and we love it.

We are making it together, it is the place we all come back to.  Me from the shops or from scrubbing out the henhouse, from walking the dogs through wet country lanes or along windswept promenades. Lovely Hubby from work or outings to wood yards or DIY stores or those other 'man' places he visits usually dragging me along with the promise of a Costa coffee.  The dogs come back here after diving head long down rabbit holes (yes, Rosy... we know where you go) and where Ginger the cat comes back to after a night hunting wildlife and dragging it through the catflap to delight us with his larder filling skills.

Home ..... we're building it between us, all of us .... humans and animals alike.  Thank you for watching our progress and commenting on it.  Thank you for loving our shade of green, I'm noticing more and more in the photos that appear as I check my Blog posts that we are very 'green' and still I love it.

We don't have the most perfect life, we have the life that we are making for ourselves.   It's not all sunshine and roses, it's also mud, despair and tears, but what we do have and what is most perfect is a deep, loyal and profound love for each other.  Whatever life throws at us we whinge about, we have a moan and sometimes a cry, we stamp our feet (this is mostly describing me if I'm honest), and then we do what we can to keep moving forward and making things better.

I guess you would just call it LIFE.

Sue xx

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Doors, Handles and Buckets

Inside I think that at last all the major work has been done, and it's been lots of little jobs that have been keeping us occupied on the wet and windy days of the past few weeks.  Little improvements ... like doors where doors should be.  Some with no handles ...
... and some being fitted with their second set of handles.
The first ones just were not in proportion to the doors and looked wrong, I found myself looking at the handles much more than is normal.  These old looking ones are much better, slightly larger and a design more in keeping with the age of the original cupboard doors.
Today I have a different sort of job to do one which I've been itching to do for ages but I couldn't get to the wall I needed to get to .... there were lots of doors leaning against it :-)

Can you guess what I'm going to be up to in ten minutes?
Sue xx

Monday 10 February 2014

Ooh Look, Tasty Worms ......

"Ooh look, tasty worms"
"Did you see something move through that window ..... ?"

"It's Mum ..... look it's Mum."
" Hey girls I've found where Mum goes to when she's not in our house."

"Look THERE she is, she's pointing that thingy at us again!"

"I just knew it, she lives in that giant hen house right next door to ours."
*** *** ***
Lovely Hubby let the chickens out to have a peck in the fresh grass that is everywhere except Chicken World, they made straight for the house and found me :-)
It was lovely to see them pecking around exploring the new place for the first time, the dogs found it slightly intimidating as they are used to having the place to themselves, Mavis just sat watching the birds in amazement, moving out of their way if they came near her. She's very good with them now having had a good telling off for grabbing the first one she ever saw by it's tail feathers, as Lovely Hubby would say 'she takes a telling', which I guess is Scottish lingo for tell her once and it sinks in!
Sue xx