Wednesday, 20 October 2010


Well tonight it's happened, I've given in and finally switched the central heating on.  After weeks of trying to get by with just the living room fire lit, I've had to face reality, it not longer works to just add another layer to feel warm.  The internal house temperature is at an all time low of 14.1degrees.  I know this because we have a baby room thermometer in our bedroom and at the moment it's telling me 'Too cold..' that and the fact that tonight my eldest at 13, is currently walking round the house wearing three layers plus a sweatshirt, scarf, hat, bed socks and boots! 

Last weekend, in an attempt to build up our winter supplies of kindling, my husband and I, the four kids plus baby in pram and dog headed to the park. During recent dog walks we'd noticed a large supply of pine cones and had talked about going back to get some for the fire, and this weekend with all the kids with us seemed an ideal time to put the plan into action.  The next few hours saw us scrabbling through hedges and foraging under trees with the occasional cry of 'found loads here...' as we gaily filled bag after bag with various sized twigs and pine cones.  I hadn't really stopped to think whether it is in fact legal to go wood collecting in a public park or indeed what we might look like strolling out of the park with the back of the buggy filled to the brim with five large bags of wood and two of pine cones and the baby snuggled up front.  I think one of the best memories from that day was rounding a bend to see my husband and all the kids, underneath a solitary tree by the side of the path, with their bums in the air, bent double, furiously picking up pine cones with not a care in the world.

Along with the wood came an unexpected foraging bonus in the form of mushrooms, or so we thought.  My husband has a couple of foraging books, the edible seashore and, handily, Edible mushrooms.  It seemed like a good idea to pick a few, for identifying back at home, with a view to returning and picking the bumper crop.  What I hadn't realised is just how similar the non-poisonous mushrooms are to the deadly poisonous ones.   Leafing through the book I could feel my confidence falling as we debated exactly which of the mushrooms we had picked were what.  Sadly after some heated discussions in the kitchen over common field mushroom versus it's deadly counterpart, the mushrooms were consigned to the bin with an agreed, 'think we need to get the help from an expert to start with'..We might have been a little braver were it not for the fact that, my foraging friends mother, herself an expert forager, had made herself extremely ill with self picked wild mushrooms.  Either that or it was the frequently labeled 'Deadly poisonous' in the book that did it.

So as I sit here with the fire burning, thanks to the pine cones, and the heating on, I find myself reflecting on the idea of keeping chickens.  We live in a Victorian terraced house and our back yard is, for the most part, paving slabs.  The exception to this is a small piece of ground just behind our down stairs shower room.  I had intended for this to become my veggie patch, however when we moved in and my husband dug it over he discovered that the soil was only a few inches deep and sits on top of a concrete slab.  This made it useless for anything much other than salad leaves.  So it's been left to grow the odd humongous stinging nettle and become the local cat and, I have to admit on occasions, our dog's litter box.  For several years I've been an avid exponent of free range chickens and eggs and with joy watched as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall brought his 'Chicken's Out' campaign to the public eye through his TV programme and online campaign.  I've been known to send out emails to my friends encouraging them to buy free range over 'battery' hens or as they are now more media savily called 'caged' birds.  I've also more recently, watched with some degree of envy as several of my friends have taken on their own chickens and stood and discussed the merits of an 'Eglu' over home made wooden hen houses and fences.  Most recently I've seen my own vision of keeping chickens realised through some friends who have turned their veggie patch into an amazing chicken pen.  In true scuttering style they've used wood they collected from a local forest and made a Robinson Crusoe style fence and five bar gate, and  have turned the middle of a carnival Chinese dragon into the chicken house with fantastic bobbly style wooden peg handles. It really is a work of art and completely plays to my love of re-use, looks fab, cool, funky and is without doubt extremely practical and I just know the chickens are going to love living in their Eco home. 

It would seem both my husband and eldest have taken themselves off to bed, one because it's bed time and one I fear because he feels he's become a blogger widow??...However this does give me some time to polish up my plan to house chickens in the back garden before presenting my case.  I might have enough time to flesh out this cunning plan, and have a glass of vino whilst catching up with my favourite programme of the moment 'The Good Wife'... before heading to bed myself, no doubt to dream of chickens and how to blend them in with four kids, one cat, one dog, one baby and a husband.  Hmm might have some work to do.
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1 comment:

  1. I have one thing to say, get chickens and I *will not* visit! Me + Birds = Screaming


    PS I can't believe how many views you've had, fantastic tho must admit I'm extremely envious hehe