Sunday, 11 October 2009

To Life!

It would have been my dad's 82nd birthday yesterday and it's the first one we've spent without him, so we decided to fill our day. Partly to take our mind off the sadness and partly because, when you lose someone, you get a sharp reminder to make the most of the time you have left and dad would have wanted us to do so!

Mum and I were up early to go and get our flu jabs. The local surgery had obviously decided to get all the jabs done in one day and you could have been forgiven for mistaking the surgery for the post office, due to the queue of elderly folk! It was a very effective system as we were in, thumped in the arm (well, that's how it feels afterwards!) and out in moments!

We then went for a rummage at a garage sale, most of it was tat but I still came away with a nice little rustic garlic pot and a small glass jar. The woman asked for my knickers in exchange, I was rather taken aback and thought it a high price to pay for some bric a brac! My mum explained she wanted a nicker (i.e. £1), thank goodness, it was a cold day!

Mum and me then went to the local garden centre for lattes and toast, where we bought some bird seed and nuts. We went to feed the birds and squirrels at the cemetry, in memory of my dad. I'd much rather do something like that than leave a bunch of flowers, what better way to celebrate a life than to help preserve other life!

In the evening we (me, mum and 2 sheds) went to The Grange Theatre Northwich to see 'The Mid-Cheshire Amateur Operatic Society' perform 'Fiddler on the Roof'. One of my chicken keeping friends was in the cast. We had a bag of layers pellets (chicken feed to you!) that we needed to to give to her so we bunged that in the boot of the car and off we set.

The show was really good, it was performed 'in the round' and we were on the front row so had a great view of all the action! One of the reasons we don't go to the theatre more often is we always seem to end up with the crappy seats! Either no leg room, no visibility or sat near someone with TB or St Vitus' Dance!

During the interval we shared a bag of M&Ms we'd sneaked in. We always take our own refreshments to the theatre/cinema, I refuse to pay for overpriced snacks! Anyway, I say "sneaked" because when we got there, there was a sign on the door 'No food or drink to be taken into the auditorium". So, we smuggled our contraband in under the cover of a Co-Op carrier bag, okay maybe not so subtle but nobody challenged us.

We scoffed our illegal treat during the interval and just as we'd finished, a chap approached us and said "I've been told to come and get a bag of food off you!".
My face fell, we'd been caught red-handed! (well; red, yellow, green and brown but the blue ones are my favourites!)
I don't like getting into trouble, I'm not good with confrontation and I didn't want to get thrown out, after all, we had great seats for a change!

I was just about to confess all but it turned out the chap was my friend's husband, come to arrange collection of the chicken food!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Honey...I shrunk the bank balance...

We went to a beekeeping seminar today. Still not got any bees yet, we're still in the research stage. One of the seminar speakers cracked a joke which elicited a knowing chuckle from the audience! He said, when he was younger, someone said to his father...

"You like honey don't you? Why don't you keep bees, then you can have free honey!.

That reminded me of how I broached the subject of getting chickens with 2 sheds. I thought if I could convince him it would be economically sound, he would be as excited about the whole idea as me. Of course, at that point, I was convinced we were going to save a fortune, "Everybody on raves about keeping chickens!" I enthused!
I suggested we get ex-battery hens which would only cost 50 pence each. I also suggested he could build a run for them out of scrap wood and then all we'd need to do is buy food and a few bits and pieces. I convinced him it would be a minimal outlay for a copious egg lay!

The wooden coop we bought cost about £150 on e-bay (and that was the cheapest we could find!) and it only lasted less than a year before it was riddled with red mite and warped so badly it leaked!

We've also had to buy layers mash, poultry grit, oyster shell, garlic powder, red mite powder, diatom powder, poultry spice, apple cider vinegar, poultry shield, lifeguard poultry tonic, flubenvet, citricidal, limestone flour, mite spray, aubiose (bedding), garden lime, stalosan F, various feeders and drinkers not to mention the treats they adore like mealworms! And those are just the things I can remember, not to mention vets bills for the poorly ones.

We ultimately forked out for an Omlet cube and an Eglu as they were much easier to clean and keep red mite free but they don't come cheap, mainly because there is no decent comparable product on the market. I think combined they came to almost £700!
Then there was the wire mesh, wood and roofing for the run (we never had any scrap wood!).

Don't get me wrong, I adore our girls and the run looks fabulous (even if I do say so myself!) and the eggs taste out of this world but, pound for pound, they probably cost 10 times the price of Kobe beef, although we do stop short at massaging our chickens, but I bet they'd enjoy a beer or two!

That's another thing about chickens, people will tell you they will eat ANYTHING! Not true. Unless we have the pickiest fowl on the planet!?
They'll eat lettuce but turn their nose up at cabbage. They adore grapes, plums and strawberries but give them a banana or an apple and they'll look at you like you're trying to get them to eat arsenic!

I have been known to buy corn on the cob, a punnet of grapes or cook pasta or potato especially for the chickens!

And to think, we actually give our eggs away to friends and family, they have no idea how lucky they are!

It's the same with beekeeping, there's as much paraphernalia (if not more) to shell out for than with chickens. Well, even if you only have one hive, you'll have at least 20,000 little buzzers to keep healthy and happy!

So, when somebody gives you eggs laid by their garden hens or honey from their own bees, show the appropriate level of gratitude because they'll be the MOST expensive eggs and honey you've ever had in your life!

Friday, 2 October 2009

A poem...

I suppose it's about time I posted something poetry related...

I love to find images to couple my poetry with. I think, providing I find the right image, that it really enhances the meaning of the poem so if the reader doesn't immediately 'get' what I'm writing about, they can usually decipher the intent behind the words from the image.

I'm not doing it solely for readers of my poetry though, I just like the way my words 'look' with the right picture.

I stumbled across this image recently, entitled 'Sebastiana' by Stephen Hender and immediately wanted to use it for a poem I wrote in 2004!

Go placidly amid the noise and haste...

I love being silent! I have been known to text or e-mail 2 sheds...while we're in the same room! I only speak when I feel it's absolutely necessary to say something. This is possibly why I don't have many 'non virtual' friends because, while I don't enjoy verbalising, I adore writing! A colleague of mine once showed me her e-mail inbox and it was overflowing with missives from me, and she sat next to me!

I was one of those kids that had several pen pals but very few 'proper' friends. I just wasn't interested in chatting. I prefer to watch and listen but even then I often drift off into my own little reverie. I am not loquacious, garrulous or particularly interested in gossip.

I wrote a poem dedicated to 2 sheds for our wedding day, but asked someone else to read it out!

I think it drives 2 sheds insane! You'd think it would be every man's dream to have a quiet wife but then I s'pose if the only time I speak to him is to remind him to take the rubbish out or clean the chicken coop, it could be tiresome and despite me not speaking much, he calls me a nag!

My last job, for this reason, was absolute hell! I worked in a call centre. Call Centres have been described as the modern sweat shops but this call centre was the kind of place that makes a sweat shop look like a bit of a cushy number!

The company had just introduced free broadband. In reality it was a phone and internet bundle and you paid for the phone part of the package but the internet bit was advertised as being free (despite the fact that you couldn't have one without the other!).

People being human (well, most of them anyway) saw the word 'free' and it was an utter 'free for all' (pardon the pun) to sign up!

The problem was, the company didn't have enough staff to handle the calls, enough engineers to connect people up quickly enough or to fix faults so what was a clever (debatable) marketing ploy turned into an absolute nightmare for the poor saps (like me) who had to answer the phone.

The situation was compounded by the company not giving the staff the correct training on the right systems to actually be able to help the customer! Talk about being stuck between a rock and a screaming customer! It was so busy that at one point a memo was sent round telling staff how many toilet breaks they were allowed and encouraged them to wait until their lunch break to use the facilities, the company literally took the piss!

The daily volume of calls was beyond ridiculous and there were always calls holding, waiting to be answered. This meant I talked non-stop, all day long! My tongue was literally sore by the end of the day and on occasions, swollen! I came home feeling like I'd just had dental work done! I had a permanent sore throat and a cough, not to mention being stressed to the point of collapse!

I did eventually collapse and it was possibly the best thing that ever happened to me because it got me out of that hell hole (allbeit via an ambulance) and I haven't been back since!

I have concluded that talking isn't good for me.!!! To compound it all, I have developed a slight nervous stutter, so, if it's all right with you, I'd rather shut up!

Oh and if 2 sheds is reading this, could I please have a cup of tea, will you clean the chickens out and can you take the rubbish out? Thanks love! ;0) xxx

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Giz a job!

2 sheds was interviewing candidates for a cleaning job yesterday. I would imagine interviewing people can be quite tedious, but then you get the odd character that spices up the process! There was one particular male candidate who obviously wanted to make an impression and I'd say he succeeded!

Bear in mind, this guy is in his 50s and not some wet behind the ears youngster!

2 sheds asks him,"what cleaning duties do you enjoy?" (he tells me this is a set interview question, generally designed to elicit a response that tells the interviewer that the candidate takes pride in their job!)

candidate..."I hate cleaning"

2 sheds fights the urge to ask him what the hell he was doing there then, and went on to question 2!

"Why do we clean?"

Expecting some intuitive responses such as; 'To create a good impression for visitors, to avoid the spread of germs, to remove hazards...etc'

candidate..."to get paid"

By this point 2 sheds had decided his fate but had to carry never konw, he might save himself yet with a brilliant, insightful, intelligent response! 2 sheds asks, "What are the consequences of not cleaning a public building?"

(Eagerly anticipating another gem of an answer, as the tale unfolded, I wasn't disappointed!)

candidate..."I'd get the sack!"

Then 2 sheds asks the applicant if he has any questions...

candidate..."Is it mostly women?"

2 sheds answers..."There are some men working in cleaning but it is mostly women, why?"

candidate..."Well, you know what women are like!"

Ed...I don't think they'll be asking for his references any time soon!