Friday, September 30, 2011

Goodbye to the chickens...

        OK so that's another one of my misleading post titles, what it really should say is 'Goodbye to the chicken's house, Poultry Towers'. But hey if it grabbed your attention then mission accomplished me thinks.


       But yes today was the day when 'Poultry towers' ceased to be. The obvious and most labor saving method would have been fire me thinks, and after today's pantomime I'm beginning to think that would have been a good choice. Firstly I should explain the reasons behind the ending of said chicken coup, remember that we started with just two cute n cuddly bantams (with a hint of loveliness)? then one of the buggers went all broody, and then my friend (?) Mr. J. Grey cajoled me into taking six fertilized eggs and then all the buggers only went and hatched (damn Penny for being such a good mum)? OK so one sadly didn't make it but the other five mini dinosaurs have positively thrived and now require larger accommodation - bugger. Mini dinosaurs you ask? bloody right they are, have you ever seen the veloceraptors in Jurassic park? could have been my chickens I'm telling you straight!


      So back on tangent it was decided to donate Poultry Towers to a deserving cause, and what better cause than the bugger who finally got me hooked on chickens, especially as he's suffering from a case of the worst illness known to mankind - yep man flu.





    Having carefully deconstructed said creation to enable easy (ha)  reassemble   it was then loaded into the Fun Cruiser and trailer (yep that big) and off we set. At this point I should just perhaps mention a couple of things about my trailer: firstly it's old - me and my dad made it when I was 12 ish, secondly its number plate does not exactly match mine (OK it does not look anything like mine), and finally I don't plug the lights in because they blow me brake lights. Yes I know as a engineer I should fix this but do you know of a green keeper who likes gardening? Damn thing is though it's about 15 miles to John's abode for chickens and other fowl and I swear to god that in that short journey I have never ever seen so many bloody policemen sitting in their jam butty cars, talk about a fraught journey! Needless to say tomorrow I'll be working on the trailer repairs, bugger.


      Once the Beverly hill billies (that'll be us and our trailer) safely descended on John it was quickly apparent that he wasn't at deaths door after all and was able to provide a hot brew and plenty of moral support and chicken advice as I manfully struggle to erect my temple to chickens.







      After a brief construction process Poultry Towers was finally relocated in its new home, I'm sure that it'll give plenty of future chickens a safe haven, especially with John looking after them.




     Oh and another thing just crossed my mind, you know how I damn well struggle to take furry animal pictures when upon the trials? Well ha, no I think a double is required here so Ha ha mortals. For your perusal a selection of photographed animals from John G's menagerie ;-











       OK so I didn't take the feathered ones, or the cave man in the earlier photo by Poultry Towers, but the pig ones? mine all mine I tell ya. 


      Oh and what of my own, coup-less chickens? fear not dear reader for I can take great pleasure in unveiling;-




Fluttering Heights - ta daaaa


Right that's enough bunkum for one post, as always thank you for reading and until the next time take good care.


Your friend, John


     





Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Couldn't think of anything better....

        Tis indeed a hot and beautiful day as I shrug off the woolen headed feeling left around me head from last nights show of horrors called 'the grind'. I've being contemplating my 150th post (yes I know 149 too many) with all manner of classy, humorous, sharp, jaw dropping and general captivating pieces, but for those you'll just have to wait, probably for a long time and on somebody else's blog for that matter!


I thought that I'd just show a short video clip of what's been happening within the dark recesses of the sanctuary to all lost boy scouts and whittling type folk, known to you simply as 'the garage';-


video


    Sadly this was the last bottle from my cider making of 2010, but do not fret for already there are several gallons fermenting of 2011's hopefully fine batch......

Monday, September 12, 2011

Short but in no way sweet...

        Afternoon folks, tis just time for a short post before I headeth out into the howling gales that are battering me newly erected fence (you just know that's going to come down...) and take meself and the Warthog on a truly cobweb clearing walk. Hoping to pick up me new (well new to me at lest) 'puter this week so blogging, e-mailing etc. may be in short supply whilst I get to grips with it. Hopefully not too long before you have to put up with more of my babbling ramblings but you know me and modern technology, we just do not mix..


         Me next post will be me one hundredth n fiftieth, can you believe that? and that I've managed to spout so much drivel and still have folks reading? Guess I'll have to pull me finger out and make the next post a good un then (that'll be a first).


        Seriously though, I'd just like to take the opportunity to offer a heart felt thank you to all of me readers, for your time and sometimes even your comments ;o). It truly does amaze and humble me the response that I get here. Right enough of that, time to go and get windswept.....


Till the next time (may be a few days) take very good care of your selves,


Your friend as ever,

John



Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Morning walk....

            Now I have a whole host of things to do before my reluctant return to ‘the grind’ this Thursday and truly no time to finish everything, but this morning I had a little of the butterfly in me. Let me enlighten you a tad more;-

I rose early, before dawn’s first light had highlighted the gap above the bedroom curtains, after one of the most vivid and stomach turning nightmares that I’ve had for some years, it is still etched in my mind as I sit and type this tale. So I’m up early and a tad upset (yes even I have some feelings you know), I dress quietly so as to allow the house to slumber and take a brew outside to greet the morning. The wind is rising and there is all manner of debris strewn around the back yard which, with an absent mind, I clear away. I feed the chucks and the Warthog and return inside to make a fresh brew and toast smothered with proper butter and honey. Clare emerges bleary eyed with that ‘you're up already look’ upon her face. I skip over the dream and let her know that the chores are done, “tea and toast?” I ask, intending now to start upon the ever escalating ‘jobs for John’ list. “Windy morning, why don’t take Willow out for a while before you start?”, this is Clare’s way of saying “get yourself out from under my feet whilst I get ready for work you dotard”. But never one to require a second invitation for a stroll five minutes later the two wanderers are pacing the streets of Buckley heading for the outskirts and relief from the trappings of man. See butterflying, and to define this word;- ‘in all good faith intending to knuckle down and doing some serious labour but then being easily distracted and doing something all together different (and more enjoyable)’.

I must admit it has been a while since I’ve waffled on about our walking under the canopy of forests or on the skyline of the hills, but the reason is simple. Since the Warthog managed to damage her rear leg so severely it has been a long haul to return her to a level where I’m not worried about further damage occurring and her fitness had returned. So we’ve been pacing the streets of Buckley, slowly increasing distance and confidence and we’ve now reached a point where we are leaving suburbia behind us and are traversing the surrounding countryside which consists of farm fields and the odd, scattered island of old woodland. I had never really given much thought to the area immediately surrounding the town where I live but truth be told if your patient and observant there is as much, if not more, wild flora and fauna to appreciate than on the walks that usually find our paw prints in the mud. Another benefit is that I’m not using the fun cruiser as much so my affect upon the local ecology is reduced a tad and I’m also a little better off in the wallet. This is not to say that we shall not be treading the wilder trials again, bloody hell no, just not as frequently but perhaps then they will have more impact upon my soul.

Once we’d left the shelter of the built up area the freshness of the morning assailed our senses, the wind had picked up even more ensuring that there were no cobwebs left clouding my head. The odd shower was driving sidewise into us, buffeting our steps. I smiled and laughed aloud, for after all this has become my favourite time of the year when Mother Nature’s larder is overflowing with fare for those with a mind to feast upon it. The air has a freshness about it which seems to flow through and infuse your body and mind if you allow it to, the world of the grind and of chores is left behind and forgotten for a few stolen moments. Even the rain lashing against my face just added to the feeling of ….. well sheer bloody happiness to be honest. Even the Warthog seemed to be infected with the atmosphere;-




Speaking of Mother Nature’s larder it seems to be truly over flowing this year and I cannot shake the feeling that this abundance of wild food bodes for a truly severe winter to follow. But hey, in for a penny in for a pound as they say (don’t ask because I still don’t know who ‘they’ are yet), and for me it also means that there is still plenty of foraging to be done over the next few weeks as I slowly learn to live closer to nature. It is a slow journey, one that I truly wish that I stepped foot upon so many years ago but you cannot change the past only try and shape your future as the saying goes (yes I know ‘they’ are at it again!). So I guess you’ll be wanting a few pictures then to prove that I had not imagined the plunder to be had;-

Elder berry.

Crab Apples

Hawthorn Berry


Bramble or to some Blackberry

Blackthorn/Sloe Berry - now what to do with these....

Rose Hip (from Dog Rose)

Acorns of course
Small Puffball Fungus (I think)

Also we came across plenty of rabbit sign, a small field pit (with a couple of mallard, yep no photo), and some squirrel infested woodland so I think a few ‘undercover’ outings will be called for as the nights draw in, for after all a larder should hold a little meat as well.




Our time of escapisium was all to brief and we soon found ourselves heading into the greyness of town with the prospect of the ‘to do’ list looming large once more.

Bugger

But there was just time for a little more butterflying, so with yet another brew I sat down to relive our walk and share it with you my friends, I hope you enjoyed the stroll.

        Till next time and an update on the brewing madness here, your friend,

John


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pear cider - maybe not....


            You know that when you’ve done something and it’s worked in the past but then the voices in your head tell you that there is a better way to do it? You know it’s wrong to listen to those fraudulent voices and that they’re just trying to lead you astray but still you listen. I mean to say they really know how to talk to you, a little whispering first putting doubt in your mind, just a small amount, then more smooth and silky words you cannot resist “go on John you know you want to, after all what harm could trying it this way possibly cause?”. And then the shit hits the bleedin’ fan once more….

            Readers that have stuck with my demented ramblings for some time may well recollect the fun that my friend Chunky Monkey and I had in our first attempt at making cider last year. The method was simplicity in it’s self; collect apples, mash apples with log, press juice from apples, add yeast, add lemon juice, add cold tea (no milk and sugar thank you), roughly filter juice into demy jons, wait for several months and drink cider. This seemingly unpretentious method has worked for folk since Ug first found his fermenting pool of apple juice. But stupid John here decided that he could go one better, oh yes there’s always a smart arse who thinks that they are just that incy wincey little bit smarter and ahead of the game isn’t there? But to be honest I was not entirely to blame for my misdemeanour, I neighbour of mine (who’s name shall remain hidden to protect the guilty) mentioned that using a juicer to extract fruit juice for the purpose of ‘brewing’ would be a far easier method than the pounding of apples with a piece of 4X2. See those voices jumped on this and convinced me that neighbour must be write ‘cause everyone knows more about brewing than I do, ah foolish mortal if only I’d had more confidence in my own abilities. So a day later here’s your friendly idiots new piece of cider making equipment – ta da a juicer.


            Now I’ve just been given some pears and a few apples so me thinks ‘ahaa let’s be taking the grunt from pounding the fruit’, so with much aplomb and gusto I set forth with the juicer attacking the fruit manically. I even roped in Clare to help wash and cut the fruit as the juicer devoured it so fast. “It’s a bit er frothy” says Clare, Mmmm “be fine” says me, with the first inkling of impending doom scratching the deepest depths of my mind. Carrying on regardless, well you cannot say that I’m not a stubborn bugger that’s for sure. Soon the Demy Jon is full to the required level with er… well to be honest something that looks like a bloody Quatermass experiment – bollocks, no I’ll take that back, what I meant to say was “double bollocks”! But, never one to give up, I carefully placed the Demy Jon into the garage (there was no way in hell that Clare was letting this stay in the kitchen) but then I swear to god that as I placed it on the work bench the damn thing chuckled at me, bloody hell! it was alive and had it’s own thoughts of world domination. Ok so perhaps a little exaggeration there but it did have a hell of a lot of movement in it, swirling and all sorts going on!

            The early morning light did show a little improvement but I'm not holding me breath for this one. On a brighter note though I did find a bottle of Sloe gin somehow forgotten from last year and it is to die for, absolutely bloody gorgeous my friends. Not only that there is still a gallon of Elder flower wine to bottle, a gallon of plum wine just started in the Deny Jon, two gallons of apple wine ready to consume (well they will be in a weeks time) and saving the best to the very last I’ve just started a third of a gallon of Damson gin. Now some readers may be under the impression that I may have a drink problem but please let me assure you one and all; I drink, I get drunk and then I fall down – honestly it’s no problem at all!



            Seriously though, contrary to all evidence I do enjoy a drink or sometimes two but that’s the key, I enjoy a drink. I don’t drink for the sake of getting drunk, In fact that is a rare occasion indeed. No I take pleasure in what I drink but I do not allow it to affect my life or interfere with me ‘getting out there’, ok sermon bit over.

            Oh and just one last thing afore I leave you in peace, you remember them chicks that have hatched here lately? Well I’m not one to complain Mr. Gray but what the bloody hell have you landed me with? Just look at the buggers would ya, I mean to say look at the first picture, is that truly a chicken? As for the rest of them, well I know now what happened to the dinosaurs, they’re not extinct no, they are in my back yard – raptors in miniature.






            So that’s about it my friends, another instalment in the trails and tribulations of this rotund Welsh Hobbit, till next time take care.

John

Just checked me e-mails as finishing this off and from me matey Damn, and I quote "On a cider note, don't mess with the old method. Munch up apples, squeeze to get juice, add yeast, wait, drink." don't  you just hate that when it happens?