Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I've just put the chickens to bed and their little house is looking decidedly roomier now that there are fewer of them. Earlier tonight we bid farewell to the rooster and one of the Malines hens, and both are now in the fridge.

The experience overall was a good one, and one we'll certainly remember. The farmer (can't remember his name) killed them both after admiring them and saying they were healthy, good looking birds. I felt tears welling at one point and held Steve's hand but I had to let go and concentrate.

Then Steve and the farmer totally hit it off and they seemed like the best of friends, especially once Steve donned the bloody jacket and plastic apron and got stuck in de-feathering the second chicken. Meanwhile, his wife, Madeleine, and I took the first up to her kitchen and she showed me how to 'process' or prepare it (I need to learn the lingo in English because all this was done in French.)

Then it was my turn... I got the rooster. I had worried I'd be a bit queasy but not at all. I loved it and the whole thing just felt so right. I won't give any more detail here, but we'll be writing about this so we can reread it before the next time.

Steve was in his element listening to and asking the farmer about his life and land. He even accepted a cigar when he was offered- a part of the experience and a special occasion I guess!

Anyway, here are a few pics from the last couple of weeks.

This could be the first layer. I can't believe I used to think of chickens as ugly birds, I don't know what I was thinking.


Although the ladies may miss their man for a bit, I like to think they may appreciate not being chased around and pecked at constantly, and will soon get used to not having him around. I think the pecking order lower down is pretty much established but, after the rooster, the two white ones seemed to be on a par but I guess one may re-establish herself as the boss now? It will be interesting to see how it pans out.

So the next couple of days will include a lot of sitting with and watching them and, most importantly, cooking and sharing a very important meal with friends.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Our first egg!!

Our very first egg was laid this morning! This will hopefully be the first of many and was a very exciting moment in our house, and I think it's safe to say that Steve and I were even more excited than the boys:)

We took it straight in and fried it up to share. Brendan was a little concerned about it's small size but I assured him that they will get bigger once the hen gets into the swing of things. I hope I was right there because I really haven't a clue.

This is sort of a symbolic event and a big deal for us. At a time when we are slowly moving towards a more simple and earth friendly way of living our lives, these first eggs just put us more firmly on that track. And tomorrow Steve and I will learn how to kill and prepare our own chickens. I'm half thinking that once we've eaten the first one, we should just never eat a bought chicken again... but maybe we're not quite ready for that. Buying local, free range chickens will do for now, until we have more space to keep some more in a few years time.

Need to find some new egg recipes now!

Friday, August 26, 2011

ups and downs and nuclear families

A favourite moment this week- joined by Jelly Mouse and Robin Bear for an easy lunch of eggs and maple beans.
This week has been one of extremes in terms of our moods. A couple of sleepless thundery nights were followed by very grouchy days, at the lowest point of which I called Steve and he actually took the afternoon off to come home and take the boys out so that I could sleep. I was having flash backs of sleep-deprived early baby days and found it hard to function without yelling or being a bloody awful mum basically, and wondering why on earth I'm still thinking about homeschooling. Not enough sleep does funky things to the brain. The main problem though, as I was seeing it, is the almost total lack of support or community here. I know, I know, we should just try harder. But when it's difficult being in a new place without any close friends or family, sometimes I wish it was all a lot easier and we could live a less itinerant life and just settle somewhere and be surrounded by people we love. When I'm having a down day and feel a bit alone then I sort of repeat an angry mantra about how it's not natural to live like this. The whole nuclear family thing and migrating away from family sucks, as Steve would say. My kids should be out playing with other kids and running in and out of other people's houses and I should have other women stopping by for a chat or walking to the park with us and there should be aunts and uncles and grandparents nearby to take over for the odd hour here and there. The lack of all that is just another annoying aspect of our culture that we have to put up with. Until we are ready and able to do something about it that is :) Dreams of the future are being blown around and sculpted every day in this house.
Maybe we're just really missing Paddy. On a lighter note... the other extreme has involved some wonderfully peaceful and beautiful moments, and some good parenting in there too :) If I send everyone out to the garden, myself included, it usually calms us all down and can work miracles after a stressful argument inside. And I've made a commitment to bringing out seldom seen activities, games and crafts from the back of the cupboard or the bottom of boxes to inject a bit more creativity into our days. And we're slowly filling some boxes of unwanted or unneeded "stuff" to send off to the thrift store- always a feel good moment. Another "solution" is to lock up the TV in a cupboard and only bring it out for movies once a week but Steve will have none of that! I think I may snap one of these days and do it though. I think the TV has been on every day this week and it's driving me crazy! Not the TV so much, or the endlessly repetitive episodes of octonauts on youtube, but my irritating lack of will power to say NO. It's just so easy to put it on but it is usually sooooooo not worth it. Just remember that Siobhan!

Well, feeling a little better after that rant. Actually a lot better... It's 9pm and Steve has just come back from a walk into our village centre to check out the first night of our local harvest festival. He said he felt a bit silly being on his own and the only person not drinking beer :) But he has brought back chips so I'm off to make sure he doesn't encroach on my half of the portion!

Happy weekend!


Her name is Belle, sort of short for Belgique and sort of similar sounding to Bill. (Very similar to "Bill" in both Steve's and Tadhg's accents.)

She is beautiful and has a lovely temperament. She puts up with the boys but can also run fast and squeeze into tiny spaces if she needs a break. Only problem is her serious lack of interest in the litter tray. I suppose that's not surprising given that her first couple of months were spent outside. We've had to temporarily lift the rugs and refrain from dumping the clean laundry on the living room floor (and leaving it there for days) like we usually do!

Wild Weather

We've had some really wild weather this week. Yesterday, Tadhg and I went out after supper for a walk along the closest road to our house that gets any sort of elevation and has a decent view of the sky. We ventured into a corn field, not for long though, who knows what has been sprayed on there!? :(

The sky was spectacular, I must get my 'proper' camera charged up and try to get some better photos of the clouds.

This photo below was actually taken at 2 in the morning by Steve. He was trying to catch some clear "fork" lightning but didn't quite manage. The following morning another storm passed through at 9am and it was so dark it felt like late evening. Tadhg says "no need dat fumber noise"...he uses "need" instead of "want" or "like" a lot these days.

And interspersed with the stormy weather we've had some lovely sunny periods. Yesterday it brightened up in the afternoon so, despite a rather rainy, grumpy morning all round, by the time Steve came home from work we were all outside in the veggie patch. Summer evenings spent in the garden have to be one of the highlights of this year. It's such a peaceful time when we all feel truly relaxed and content.

I have quite a few blog posts in draft form waiting to be finished- most are either pictures or words but none complete. I'll try to get a bunch of them published in the next few days so there may be a glut.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A new addition to the family...

Came across this cute little barn-kitten at work and everyone started talking about who would take her home. Before I new it... I took a picture, emailed it to Siobhan, followed up with a quick phone call then boxed her up. She's on her way to ours!

The boys (including Paddy) were all excited when they saw her. Brendan already had a name pick out innocently enough but I had to say 'lets think of a few more'!

We'll let you know her name once we figure one out this evening.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Belgian Experience

A sneaky peek at goings on next door.
It's 2.30 in the afternoon and, though it may not look it here, these boys are all totally smashed! Steve took the boys for an early morning swim this morning and upon returning at 9.45am was invited over for a drink by our neighbour, Maurice. I looked at my watch and asked, "does he mean a drink drink or a cup of tea?" We guessed he meant beer, it always does with Maurice, so off toddled Steve with a strange grin on his face. The boys and I got on with our day. We made fresh play dough, used chalk on the patio, had races with our bamboo cars, and all the while I could hear Steve and Maurice on the other side of the hedge getting a little louder and the laughter becoming a bit more frequent. At noon, I started a banana bread, forgetting that Steve had finished the eggs yesterday, so I yelled over the hedge to ask for a couple of eggs. Steve staggered in with three eggs and reported that he'd had three beers (and we're talking very big, very strong Belgian beer here) and was going back for more. At about half past 12, Paddy came home, bleary eyed, possibly still a little drunk, having finished his shift in the bar at 4am, following it with a few beers and then a short sleep in someone's flat. I suggested he go join Steve and Maurice, but only if he was up for some more strong beer. He hesitated for about half a second, and then said, "well, I'm up for the Belgian experience" and went off to join them. They proceeded to get louder (and Paddy's french was sounding pretty good) until Steve phoned (!) to slur at me, "defrost some chicken, Maurice is on his own today, but he's very drunk and has to drive to pick up Christiane tonight so we'd better feed him."
At about 1.30 I took round the warm banana bread, realising that if Christiane wasn't there they were probably not eating with their beers. We had a strange drunken Frenglish conversation and I realised that they were not only the beers but there was also an empty bottle of champagne and some other bottle of whisky-like drink. I left them again. At 2.15 I heard loud guffawing and peeked over the hedge to see that Maurice (72 years old) had fallen off his chair and Paddy was helping him up. Then I watched as Steve forced everyone to drink some water. At 2.30, Steve and Paddy manhandled Maurice into his house and put him into his bed.

Ok, it's a few minutes later. Steve and Paddy have just come in and gone straight into the garden for a pee. Here you go... why not?
So now they are recounting the goings on and can't stop laughing. And Paddy has just said, "so... who wants a beer?"