Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Chicken Run building and my lovely little Ex Battery Girls

Hi Everyone,

well its been a busy couple of weeks here and I haven't had a chance to catch up in blogland or write a post. But I wanted to spare an hour today and share what's been happening here. Saturday afternoon we drove to Dorset to pick up our Ex Battery hens and I have to say that no matter how much you research and read and see photo's nothing can really prepare you for the sorry sight that greeted us as we entered the re homing barn. My eyes were drawn straight to a run with some really poorly looking hens inside these girls had been separated and were going to be taken home by the volunteers to be looked after and hopefully brought back to health and life they looked so sad and vacant.  We waited in line with our dog crate and cat basket and watched as the ladies caught the hens and handed them to their new owners when it was our turn the first hen that came into my arms was such a featherless and bold little girl who reduced both myself and the volunteer to tears I was asked if i minded a bold one NO I said.  I named her Rosie, five more girls came home with us 2 more in a pretty poor state with hardly any feathers and bold and 2 girls although they had a couple of bold patches actually looked like hens. Our girls were kept in a barn that was dark and was one of the worst they had seen. They had Flat white combs, bold bodies, scared vacant eyes and trimmed beaks and they broke my heart.

But before I let you meet them I thought I would share their new home with you and how we built it. We obviously wanted to make it as fox proof as we could. Here is where we started.

If you remember I levelled over the area as it had been used for dumping the rubbish out of the hedge rows.  Nearly everything we used has been from recycled materials. While at Mole Valley farmers collecting some hen bedding and feed my husband made an inquiry as to where we could buy Henra's metal fence panels like the ones they had fencing off a goods area. The man he spoke to said its your lucky day were selling them off cheap next week as we no longer need them. So we bought 10 including some fixtures ( we didn't use in the end as they left to many gaps in the sides ) for £60. And between my husband and my best friends husband on a wet Saturday morning they put them up digging them into the ground 1 foot deep. They also put them onto the floor of the run and also on the top as a roof., using thick black cable ties to hold them together as that way there were no gaps. Then my husband and myself stared getting the rest sorted out.

In the garden we have a load of things that were taken from the house and also my husbands friend has his own gardening business he dumped a few fence posts and panels that were going to be burnt on the fire we rescued those posts and used them as a frame for the main door and also at the end of the run.  Can you see those stone blocks top right photo well we used those around the inside of the run at the sides to stop Mr fox and also to help to keep the chipping in but will get to that in a minute.

Top right photo you can see the recycled posts for he door frame, we bought a slightly broken fence panel as they are cheaper it cost £15 and a door that was in the broken area to nothing wrong with it it just needed trimming down to size it cost us £10. I chose a colour scheme of purple and painted said door :-)

My biggest expensive was my chicken coop. I managed to sell some vintage goodies and raised enough to buy it £109 then I got to painting it purple and picked out the door and window in a light shade of blue.

We used those stone blocks around the outside but inside the run and then covered the base with a breathable membrane which we put holes in for drainage and then put 10mm gravel pea shingle down throughout the run area. I have researched so much about what to use but felt this might work better for us so I went with it. It should be easy to keep clean hopefully. We set 8 slabs in the middle of the square area of the run to put the house onto.

And this is what the finished Home and enclosure looks like now.

I have put a wooden cutting block that was actually in the wood shed in which they can perch on a stepping stones of 4 tree trunks which were also in the wood shed and a mirror I picked up for a £5. Which I have to say the mirror has been a huge hit :-)  We also put 1"1 welded mesh around the whole outside fencing and dug it into the ground.

Put some slabs to the front and some wooden panels that were left over from the scaffold men we dug into the ground close to the enclosure to give it extra support from Mr Fox. My bench is there to along with a some hanging baskets I have plans for more bedding plants to.

As you can see the house area is covered over with some blue tar polling to give the hens a dry area as well as an open area to play in. My deck chair is currently there to so I can sit with them.

I used two old metal baths and filled them up with the ash from the fires for them to have dusts baths in.

And I am pleased to say the girls love it :-)

Here they are on Saturday looking scared and vacant.

My little Rosie huddled up in the cat box

Me looking just as shocked and upset after an emotional day holding my little Rosie

I am pleased to say that the girls have been eating and drinking and have started to explore their new home and their characters are already forming. I do have some very serious bullying isues with Petunia who wants to be top hen she boots Marigold, Henrietta a bold and weak girl and Poppy out of the house as soon as the door is open and then stands guard and wont let them back in or let my little girl Rosie or Bluebell out both these girls have hardly any feathers and are weak. Yesterday morning she had them cornered in the house and had them both wedged up in the nest box both had their heads buried in the ground bottoms up it was horrible she wont let them eat or drink. So after a phone call to the British Hen Welfare Trust I had to crate her for an hour that was Tuesday. Yesterday morning when I went to open them up the same thing happened the booted the 3 girls out and then when I went to look in the house I saw blood everywhere and thought don't panic I found the source my poor little Rosie had pulled a claw out must have happened when being chased around inside and she caught it while trying to clamber over the wooden nest box sides. I managed to wrap her in a blanket and clean it up and put Vaseline on it, I also cleaned up the blood that was in the house. I rang my friend who keeps chickens and is a chicken judge she came round and checked the girls over and also witnessed Petunia bullying. She said my weaker 3 girls wouldn't stand a chance with her around she was concerned by them.  (she also applied some aloe vera gel to Rosies toe).  And she said see how she is today well she didn't learn from yesterdays time in the crate and started on poor Rosie and Bluebell again and poor Poppy who does stand up to her Petunia grabbed her by her comb and nearly lifted her up of the floor. My friend has offered to take her and put her with her flock and I am seriously considering it as I really want to give my 3 weaker girls a chance they must have been hen pecked all their lives and its not fair its under my control to a point but if she goes, i know Poppy will become top hen and she is so much more gentle with everyone.

Let me introduce you to the girls :-)

 Miss Marigold gently watching over Rosie and Bluebell while they eat. As you can see Marigold looks like a hen she is such a quiet, gentle soul and likes her own company but she has formed a lovely relationship with Henrietta.

Little Henrietta

Poppy Having her first ever bath and deciding she is queen of the coop
Petunia the biggest of them all and the Bully
This has to be my favourite photo and moment so far Henrietta on the left and Miss Marigold on the right these two have become firm friends and spend all day together you can always find them here especially Miss Marigold who loves that Mirror :-)
That's it from me for today I have so much to share moments with the hens but the sun is calling me and I am itching to get back to my little girls. Milly and Kia hounds have been very interested in them especially Milly who ran up to them like a bull in a china shop the first 2 days now I say slowly and today she was brilliant.
Take lots of care until next time
Bye for now dee xx 

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Our cosy cottage vintage style Bedroom transformation

Hi Everyone,

can't believe another week has flown past its been a windy, wet, muddy and boggy one here the greenhouse is under water again after the storm last night and the stream at the bottom of the paddock is raging when its normally empty or just happily trickling along. The snowdrops and daffodils are appearing everywhere around the grounds up here and that's a cheerful and lovely sight if you can look at them and not the mud and boggy ground. I keep thinking spring isn't far away now get February over with not that I am wishing time away at all but the dryer, warmer and brighter nights will be very welcome right now.  Exciting news here my little ex battery girls will be arriving a week on Saturday and I cant wait to go and pick them up and meet them. So its all hands on deck this weekend to build the hen house and get the enclosure built so they will hopefully have a safe and secure place to roam around. I have a swing idea to build and also a stepping stone out of logs and also a dusty bath for them to enjoy. Will share the building plans next time, tonight my husband and myself are going to be armed with a paintbrush as we paint the house a lovely sunburst yellow before putting it all together :-)  Today I wanted to share our finished bedroom make over with you, its been a finished a few weeks now although there is another picture yet to hang but I love the peacefulness of the room and hope you will like it to.  But before I get the pretty part here's the before photo's.

If you click on the photo's they will appear larger

The bedroom had wallpaper on the walls which actually I didn't mind it been there for at least 40 years along with the carpet on the floor unfortunately I didn't manage to get a photo of the carpet as it was ripped up to help air the house. There were some impressive cobwebs everywhere especially in the window see top right. As you can see from the floor they must have had a rug in the middle of the room and had painted the outside as carpet was a luxury item back then.

As you can see here we set to stripping the floor and also the paint off all the woodwork this included skirting boards and doors masks were needed as there was lead in the paint and it gave me a terrible headache the first day. The floor took a while but with a handheld powerful electric sander used by my husband it started coming up a treat.

I found 2 rolls of vintage 70's wallpaper a while ago and new I wanted this is as my backdrop and colour pallet for the room its so pretty and although its not my usual style I thought it would be perfect for the style of the house.

Remember those crochet squares I showed you a few months back they were pale pinks, lilacs and blues and I said it wasn't my usual bright colour pallet and that I was struggling with them a bit well I finished it and it's also part of the main colour focus for the room and I really love it now and think it works lovely in the finished room.

Its folded up at the end of the bed and used as a runner or rolled out if its cold at night. What do you think?

Now time to step through the bedroom door

As you can see the sanded floor came up lovely we just gave it a few coats of clear varnish as I loved the natural lightness. My lovely 40's wardrobe which gave the men kittens so to speak trying to get it up the steep and narrow staircase sits perfect in the alcove and is house to my vintage suitcases.

We decided to not knock back into the chimney wall and reveal the chimney hole we added the 70's wallpaper as a main focal point teamed it with one of my Veron ward Bird prints, my little old 40's wooden table and few little knickknacks. To the right side of the chimney wall sits my 40's wooden dressing table I have had these a few years now in fact when I split up from my boys dad it was the first item I bought all on my own it cost me £60 and I put a deposit on and the kind man let me come back 2 months later when I had saved up enough money to buy it :-)  You can just see some white patterned lace curtains at the window to soften up the room. We painted the walls a soft rose.

The wooden shelf in the corner by my dressing table used to be on the landing in my old house but this time I thought it would look really sweet by my dressing table. It holds my collection of Enid Blyton and ladybird books some of the Enid books were mine from when I was little.

My little 50's cream bedside table sits to the left side of the bed with my Sara Moon print on the wall above. The embroidered cushions that sit on the bed were made by my lovely mum. And the little one I made using up some of my vintage 70's sheets.  The candlewick bedspread used to belong to one of my mums neighbours lovely Nurse Mansel sadly she passed away last year. It had never been used and I love the colours and I know she would love to know I was actually using it.

As you can see the ceiling no longer harbours any black or damp and I love the shapes I hung a pink 60's fibre plastic lampshade  which is actually a shade that's in the paper. As you can see up stairs we stripped the door of its paint back to the dark wood underneath and just coated it with clear varnish.

My little 50's white and gold etched ottoman sits on the wall as you come into the room it houses our blankets. Sitting on top is another embroidered cushion made by my mum a vintage patchwork one made by myself and my old family teddy, Rupert the bear and doll.

I made the patch work quilt a few years ago from my little stash of vintage 70's bed sheets, and it used to be in my summerhouse, but I felt the colours blended in really well to the room and I love seeing it every day.

All that's still waiting to be hung is this lovely vintage flamingo tapestry I found on one of my hunting trips a couple of years ago its going next to my ottoman.

I love the room its much larger than our old bedroom. My 2 favourite things is opening the blind at the window first thing in the morning and looking across at the fields and skyline of trees and if the sun is coming up you can just see it through the trees and the lights that it casts and the colours is truly beautiful. I also love looking up at the ceiling and looking at the shapes of the ceiling silly I know but simple pleasures are indeed just that.

Hope you have enjoyed the little tour around today. I ordered a lovely book and it arrived yesterday and I am loving the story so far all about a lady who rescued her first ex battery girls and her journey and experiences with them its really delightful the antics they got up to and where it led her to and also all the tips of looking after and caring for these girls. I found she has a blog to if you want to have a read you can find it here.

And that's it from me for another week. Thank you again for all the lovely comments and for those that just stop by for a read I really do appreciate it.

Enjoy the rest of your week

Until next time bye for now

dee xx

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The gift of the country life the gift of peace

Hi Everyone,

well its a beautiful sunny day here although very windy but its nice to see blue skies and the sunshine. Good to get January over with I embrace February and the lighter nights its starting to bring us.  Again I have lots to share a finished bedroom, chicken news and outside news to and I didn't know where to start but thought as you have already seen photo's of inside I would share outside this week. And will start by sharing my chicken news :-) As you know when moving here chickens were a must for us  and one of my little dreams I have done so much research the past few months and spoken to a dear friend who has many breeds and shows them and is also a country judge. She offered to hatch me some chicks and I thought that would be really sweet but I had to be sensible and look at the long terms plans we know we have Hazelmere to rent for a minimum of 2 years which is in the contract and we know we have it for a possible 5 years. So taking that into account  and the fact that like dogs there are many chickens that need to be rescued I put my name down on the British Hen Welfare Trust list for 10 ex battery girls 2 weeks ago. At the age of just 18 months old these gorgeous girls are deemed no longer fit to produce enough eggs for the retail market and are then sent to be slaughtered. The thought of this actually breaks my heart so with so many hens looking for loving homes i couldn't bring more into the world in the form of chicks. As you know i rescue greyhounds when we can and i help with our local branch of the RGT i run and manage their official facebook page amongst other things so rescue really is the only option to me. These girls will arrive needing some TLC some may not have feathers and wont know how to perch but it wont take them long to learn and they will also reward us hopefully with eggs so what could be better ;-) They are very docile and friendly and they should live very happily for another 2 -3 years which fits into our plans here. I have been selling a few vintage items online and have raised enough money to buy a hen coop and all the other bits i needed. So i ordered the hen coop last week which arrived at the weekend but needs to be built so will share that when its done i am also going to paint it a pretty colour, i have bought the feeders and feed etc and this weekend we have some solid metal fencing arriving to build a safe enclosure for them where they will be safe from Mr Fox we hope. So last week i started clearing the area where they are going to be going and will go out after writing this post and do some more, its on a lumpy piece of ground so needs levelling out. So hopefully in a couple of weeks time once its all up together i can invite some chickens into our lives and i am so excited i cant begin to tell you.

Hazlemere is in a beautiful location surrounded by fields and having 2.5 acres ourselves seemed a bit daunting to start with but now we have lived here for 5 weeks we have started to get used to it and how it can work for us with its ever changing light with the weather. We decided to enclose an area for ourselves on the back of the house and make a garden for ourselves somewhere we can let the dogs out to the toilet at night and not get lost in the huge space and also somewhere we can have a lovely seating area and be able to relax in. So we started erecting fencing at the weekend just gone will share that in a minute.

Hazelmere has changed a lot outside since we first saw it and i don't wont to flood this post with photo's so will try my best.

The photo on the left was taken the first day we saw Hazelmere back in February 2015 and the photo on the Right was taken this morning. As you can see its had a few major changes one which i am sad about but was out of our hands. The landlord wanted to make a drive way in which did need to be done as you cant see at all when your pulling out onto the road and we did need somewhere to park. But what i was upset about was how far over they came with the drive and as you can see the left flower bed was taken away. But i have worked out what i am going to do.

We are going to put grass turf on the right hand side of the path to bring it level with the drive and the left handside flower boarder we then put to 2 width worth of rag role turf either side of the flower bed closest to the grass to bring the beds smaller which will be easier to fill with pretty cottage smelling plants. We will also put fencing around the outside to make it a proper garden area and cut it away from the drive :-)

Still outside the front of the cottage the top 2 photo's are to the right of the cottage behind all those tall brambles and weeds in fact is a garage. The bottom left photo is the area now :-) and as you can see its a huge space and is behind my vegetable patch which you can view in the bottom right photo. This area is where Dillis an Bill used to put their ash from the fires and the soil is actually lovely. I have decided to give myself another challenge and dig this space  and use it as another vegetable patch area :-) Its a wasted space and will lend itself well for this i feel.

This is the drive way before and now obviously i prefer the before photo on the left i loved the natural way it was but i know needs must. Its yet to be finished the old railway sleepers need to put into place and the the black layer snipped and made neat and tidy.

This is part of the area at the back of the house you can see from the top left photo how over grown it was and the more we chopped away it revealed 3 sheds that are falling down but are actually full of logs and kindle which we are using. The plan is to built another area to stall the logs and then pull these 3 sheds down before they fall down on their own.

This is also the back of the house the top left photo on the right is a lovely large shed which is full of vintage gardening tools and furniture which i need to sort out. On the left the corrugated metal building is the old coal shed which you still see is fall with coal and wood. The garage you can view in the bottom left photo and then an old lawn morrow and the old metal sink i rescued from the landlord before they will thrown in the skip i have plans for them :-) We are going to pull down the coal shed to its a terrific eye sore and will open the space up for us.

And this out and about outside in the rest of the lovely space if you click on the photo's they will appear larger for you. Every day is different here depending on the weather and the way the sun an the light casts shadows through the trees its truly beautiful and the girls love it here.

Our beautiful 12 year old girl Kia has decided since we moved that she loves to dig and oh boy when she gets started there is dirt flying everywhere :-) It does make me chuckle she is nearly completely blind now and was so nervous living in the town of the lorries rumbling past on our walks and she would rattle and shake at any bangs or loud noise, she adores it here and it brings a lump to my throat knowing she will see her twilight years our here in the peace she craves and that we were able to give both our girls that gift.

And as for Milly Moo you wouldn't believe the difference in her she is confident and more self assured now. Milly Came to us scared stiff of men and strangers and the outside world. living close to the town and walking the streets to get to the park was a nightmare for her and i had to keep her close as she was liable to slip her harness to if men approached us. Taking her away from all that and giving her peace and open spaces well she is just loving it and life is less stressful on our walks.

So the weekend as i mentioned at the start of my post we decided to build a back garden area for ourselves

The little black iron gate came from my old house

We used the decking panels that had made up my vegetable boxes at my allotment ( Which i have decided that i cant manage now we have moved ) for the actual fence panels and a friend of my husbands gave us 5 posts for free. We re used and recycled the old black metal farm gate from the front of the cottage rather than it being thrown away we needed access from the garage to get the tractor out.

The space to the left of this photo is the area for my chicken house and run area it will run up and into the main garden area.
This back garden area will be great and give us some space away from the rest of the garden which we are going to leave its to big and its lovely the way it is already with the trees etc i will plant some fruit trees and bushes though and if i had my way maybe a couple of pigmy goats to live there to.
And we put our little vintage caravan Bertie at the bottom of the paddock which is directly at the bottom of our enclosed garden area. We have plans to erect some decking to the front of him along with some flower pots etc so will can still tow him away for our little holidays. But it will be nice to use him and when my parents come to stay they will sleep in the house and my husband and myself will sleep over in Bertie :-)
And well that's it from me for another week i was kind of dreading writing this post as i had so many photo's to share and i didn't think i would be able to not over load the post ( But think i have managed it )  but i still wanted to share the beauty that Hazlemere has given us the gift of the country life the peace and the quite and the gift of living our dream. Yes i am still pinching myself.
Thank you for all your lovely warm comments on my last post. Have a lovely week what ever you are up to.
Bye for now
Dee xx