Thursday, December 27

Star of the Show!

Christams Day was a great success. The family met Bing for the first time and what a star he was. He loved the attention and behaved himself impeccably.
I must admit I wasn't feeling 100% but the preparation I had done the days before kicked into operation.
The menu was as follows :-


Melon pieces in a orange blossom jelly **


Roast leg of lamb
Roast Potatoes and Parsnips *
Vegetable Bake **
3 root mash **
Brussel Sprouts *
Mashed Potatoes *
Yorkshire Pudding *
Chipolatas **


Cheesecake Scones with Blackberry **
Raspberry Trifle **

** Made day previously
*  Prepared

Everybody ate well and we are just making our way through the leftovers.
The vegetable bake is my take on the ones we get from Marks & Spencer's.
Here is how I make it:-

Half a white cabbage - chopped and lightly steamed.
1 large onion - chopped and lightly steamed.
4 large potatoes partly cooked
2 Big hand fulls of green beans chopped
4 carrots cooked and chopped
3 tomatoes finely chopped
1 cooked cauliflower finely chopped

Stir all together and add 3 beaten eggs, half a pint of milk and grated cheese and season to tastle.
Place in a casserole dish and cook - you will thank me for this recipe it is awesome.

Enjoy the rest of the holiday.

Sunday, December 23


I am more or less ready for Tuesday. I have also put down the stick I was beating myself with. Watching Kirsty's Homemade Christmas was not helping, neither were the comments from my neighbours "Oh Denise wasn't the same without your card!" or "I have saved your cards - wasn't the same getting one you had not made!" SO taking a positive move I phoned a couple of close friends in the village and we are meeting here in January having a sherry ( or two) and will make next year's Christmas Cards - using this year's cards! Watch this space! Yay! Positive thinking rules!

On that note's Goodnight from him.....

Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2013 from all of us here in the Nesbitt madhouse!

Friday, December 21

The good, the bad and the indifferent.

Bing is settling in well. He is using the newspaper for his jobs, is getting along well with Elsie and Freida and his overall character is absolutely fantastic. He loves to sleep at our feet and is a lovely little soul to have round the place. He is fascinated by Ella and barks at her - but we are not worried as we know Ella will keep him in his place and remind him who is boss.
Today (Friday) is his 8 week birthday. To celebrate we took him to the vet for his first injection and a dual flea/worm treatment. We received a puppy pack with a free sample of puppy food. We have always fed our dogs a mixture of wet and dry food but with Bing he will be on the Pro plan puppy food.
We have introduced him to his cage - often he will go into it for a lie down. This will be for when we have to go out. We have not really been far since we brought him home as we wanted him to settle in - which he has done. We had thought he would cry a lot when he was first plucked from his original surroundings and his little family, but to our amazement he settled in straight away.

I have managed to catch the flu and have been feeling dreadful for the best part of the week. Jobs which needed to be done have been half heartedly attempted and abandoned. Fortunately Jon is now on his Christmas break and is helping out. He just advised to leave until I feel better, good advice and I am following it. I do feel slightly better today, thanks to a dose of "Day Nurse" by taking it every 4 hours I know it will see me feeling better day by day.

Because I have felt dreadful I had a sense of indifference about certain little niceties associated with Christmas. Each year we have a village carol service in the village pub. This normally puts me in the Christmas mood and it gives me inspiration to do all the christmas preparations with enthusiasm, but I didn't go as my throat was very sore so I missed out on some Christmas spirit. Normally I make my own cards, but this year I could not summon up the enthusiasm or energy to do this normally cheering job. I know many people do start to make cards with plenty of time to spare but because I am not such a person I do mine in December. The long and short of it is I bought this years cards - again without any enthusiasm so when I come to write them out the task lacked any enjoyment because I didn't really like all of the cards, trouble with buying a mixed box I guess. So in January I will sit and make some cards! Infact I think January will be a very crafty month.

Monday, December 17

W is for…water and something wonderful!

Hen drinking water

It is important to have a ready supply of water for the chickens. Apparently if chickens do not get sufficient water their egg production and overall health can suffer.
Chickens do not drink as much water during the cold months and ours have a ready supply of fresh water in many places round the garden.
We have had a good supply of rain (understatement over the past few weeks and this when collected in the various buckets and containers we have round the garden are ideal drinking stations for Ernest and the gals.

With only a few more remaining letters of the alphabet left in my ABC of life with the Nesbitt chickens I was thinking about what I could focus on for the next round of this addictive meme...
well wonder no more....for my next ABC Round I will be focussing on the Wonderful addition to the Nesbitt household.....Bing, our 7 week old German Shepherd puppy.

Her arrived home, snuggled inside my coat on Saturday and I can tell you these facts about him to date.....

1. He LOVES Ella the cat's bed, though how long he will fit inside it I can not tell - but it will be fun observing!

2012-12-15 16.23.33

2. He loves to nuzzle up next to wherever we are sitting.

2012-12-15 19.04.13

3. He has a "thing" about slippers!

2012-12-15 21.02.50

4. He loves to sit on our lap....will he turn out to be a lap dog? Only time will tell!

2012-12-16 10.39.36

So - there you have it....hope you are prepared for the amount of photographs, comments and obsevations coming your way!

For more ABC fun follow the link in my sidebar!

Sunday, December 16

Bing's Day 1

He settled in well. A little nap in the snug.

He has a "thing" for Jon's slippers.

He ate his food and told us when we wanted to use the toilet - he is paper trained.
Notice he measures 1.5 kitchen floor tile.

He likes to curl up on knees!
More pictures to follow!

Saturday, December 15

Bing is home!

We collected Bing this afternoon. He came home tucked into my coat - his little head and front paws resting on my lapel. Considering it was his first venture out of the comforts of his mother, father, brothers and sisters, he did well. Arriving home we introduced Elsie and Freida to him. All seems okay but we are monitoring the situation. Ella has no use for her luxury cat bed since she discovered the wine hamper last year, so Bing quite happily snuggled in! Here goes this space as I share the moments involved with the new kid on the block!

Wednesday, December 12


My new phone arrived today! My nephew is on his way! Boy do I need him!

Tuesday, December 11

V is for Vegetables

I grow herbs, vegetables, fruit and flowers alongside my hens as season follows season. Vegetable-growing works well with hens. Think back to the Second World War, when many families grew veg and kept chickens. Nothing goes to waste as you can always feed surplus vegetables to chickens.

You must plan where to grow your vegetables and how to protect seedlings, young plants and some vegetables if your hens are free-ranging. Netting is an option, as is a vegetable cage. Low fences are also an idea – you can get rolls of green, sturdy chicken wire 2ft high – hens can't really fly over these. They fly onto fences, such as post and rails, because they can perch on rails on their way, but they can't perch on chicken wire. Alternatively, you can use raised vegetable boxes, tunnels, cloches, containers or hanging baskets. Some people mulch around precious plants and seedlings with rough gravel, use crinkly lawn edging or twiggy sticks – all should prevent scratching feet.
Another idea is to use an edging of box or rosemary but this would, obviously, take some time.

To a large extent, what hens eat in a garden depends on how much grass they have access to. The more land they have to free range, the more likely they are to feast on weeds, wild herbs and grass and less likely to eat precious plants, flowers and herbs. I can't emphasise enough how important grass is – my sister in law bought two 20-week-old hybrids recently which had been kept in a barn and put them in a run with grass and they went crazy, pecking at it ferociously as though it would be taken away at any moment. If hens have only a little space to roam and a small area of grass and greenery they will soon eat all the grass and anything else green. It follows that if you keep your hens enclosed and let them out to free range every so often they will eat anything that's green, including vegetables, herbs, weeds, beech hedges and some of your flowers.

Our hens won't touch snowdrops, crocuses, primroses, violas, buttercups, daffodils or tulips. Other flowers they shouldn't be interested in include lavender, roses, asters, camellias, dahlias, azaleas, hydrangeas, chrysanthemums and iris. Most evergreen shrubs, especially prickly ones, are unlikely to be eaten. Strong-smelling herbs such as rosemary, mint, lemon balm and feverfew are not attractive. Mine don't eat parsley or chives but I know of hens that do.

Hens shouldn't touch carrots, parsnips, leeks, onions, potatoes, squash, pumpkins and courgettes. Climbing beans should be fine, once established, as they won't be able to reach most of them (protect seedlings). Hens love surplus sweetcorn.

You could also grow sunflowers and feed them the seeds. Spinach, chard, kale, broccoli, cabbage and lettuce (except for spicy oriental leaves) will be popular; beetroot leaves are relished and my hens also eat beetroot and love Jerusalem artichokes, which I let them nibble on when I have a surplus. They shouldn't, however, eat the leaves, so this is a good vegetable to grow.

On the berry front, hens love strawberries, raspberries and all edible berries except blackcurrants. I managed to video my hens stripping elderberry branches - a whole 16 seconds before my camera packed in!

Hens love weeds such as chickweed (so named because chicks love it). Your hens will also eat dandelion, comfrey, sorrel, horseradish and dock leaves if desperate. Perennial geraniums, hollyhocks, nasturtiums and their seeds, busy lizzies, lobelia, pansies and hostas are all said to be popular.

My chickens eat elderberries with no ill effects, although these are said to be toxic. We have a beech hedge in the garden that the hens do not touch; however I have noticed a neighbour's hens, which are enclosed with no grass, have stripped all the leaves from the beech hedge as far as they can reach.

Other flowers chickens will tuck into include marigolds (the petals make their yolks even yellower); violets, border pinks and sweet peas. There are always exceptions. Some hens eat parsley, lavender and even artichoke leaves which mine have never touched. On the whole, hens will eat anything that tastes similar to grass.

Unfortunately they won't eat nettles (although I have read that some do eat wilted nettles), bindweed, plantain, moss, ground elder, mallow or anything too bitter. I sometimes see mine eating dandelion or dock leaves, but these are not favourites. Hens will be useful in the garden – they are very good at breaking up soil after you have dug over the vegetable garden in the winter; they forage for pests and produce droppings, an excellent fertiliser.

My hens love following me around when I am digging the vegetable garden and are practically under my fork as I turn the soil so that they can grab worms. Whist we should also allocate bare earth where your hens can enjoy their dust baths – ours love the soil areas under the hedges - hens clean themselves by flicking dry soil into their feathers and this helps keep them free from parasites. For more astounding facts follow the ABC link on my sidebar.

Sunday, December 9

Meet Bing!

Bing 2

This is our new boy – we bring him home next Saturday. We decided to be pro-active rather than reactive with our thinking.
Both Elsie and Freida are not young anymore and whilst they have many years ahead of them we felt it would be good to introduce a puppy. We have always had rescued dogs but this time we decided we wanted to be part of the puppy’s development – both physically and emotionally.
We have been looking for a while and knew we would sense when the right one came along – and he did today.
We had planned to look at 3 pups in various places Northallerton, Bradford and Lincoln. We didn’t get past Northallerton. The parents of the litter showed great calmness and tranquillity and the pups were free to explore and play – which they did with confidence.
Freida LOVES other dogs and we feel she will be a great mother to Bing. We feel she will form a bond and will be a good companion.
We decided we had to find a German name for new boy on the block, so as we were having lunch Bing Crosby came on the radio singing “White Christmas”. I said the name “Bing” to Jon who said it was perfect as Bing are a German carburettor manufacturer! Well what do you expect from a precision engineer! lol!
I am warning you well in advance my blog will be displaying ENDLESS photo and stories of Bing the new Nesbitt German Shepherd boy – so watch this space and please don’t yawn too loudly! We don't want Bing’s sleeping sessions being interrupted!

Bing with brothers and sisiters

Bing with his brothers and sisters (he is at the top – noticeable because of the little white patch on his nose.

Hot off the press - Bing tonight with his mum and brothers and sisters. (The large white dog is an older brother - mum's last litter, she is being speyed when the current litter leave for their new homes.

Thursday, December 6

December–outside and inside!

Garden visitors

Just a few minutes ago I caught our friend Phil the pheasant nibbling away at some corn which had been knocked out of the chicken’s breakfast dish. If you look closely you will be able to make out the visiting robin. This is the robin who prefers custard creams to bourbon biscuits.
Yesterday I opened the hatch to the henhouse around 2pm. The chickens made a quick dash for their food, returning to their house a matter of minutes later – wise I would say.
The snow stayed with us all of yesterday and whilst the roads are clearer the threat of ice forming is always hanging in the air.
I tend to get my jobs and shopping done early as possible and return to the comfort of our snug. We purchased a new unit a month ago and we are so pleased with it.

As my mum would say “In for the night now!”

Tuesday, December 4

Understanding the Chickens Weather Forecast

Cold hens 1

Cold hens 2
It is going to be a very cold night! The gals are cuddled together in a pile in an effort to keep warm. Ernest remains at the opposite end of the henhouse, next to the door.
I was talking about this with my neighbour who explained that penguins also keep warm this way.
The emperor penguins secret is huddling. Really just an extension of the "be big" method of surviving extreme cold. Emperor penguins have developed a social behaviour that when it gets cold, they huddle together in groups that may comprise several thousand penguins. That way for most of the group, where their feathers end, instead of all of them having to face the biting wind and relentless cold, most of them have another warm penguin blanket to shield them instead. The surface area of the group is greatly reduced and a great deal of warmth and body fat conserved. Of course it's not quite so great for the individuals on the outside of the group as they only have a part of their body protected and warmed by the other penguins. So there is a continual movement of penguins from the outside of the group to the centre so displacing the warmer and more protected penguins to the outside where they will take their turn in the worst places against the wind and raw cold.”

We learn something new every day!
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