Silence of the Lamb

7.00pm         Mildly cold-ridden and utterly Exhausted Toddler goes to bed.

7.05pm         Exhausted Toddler rattles doorgate in token protest.

7.10pm         Exhausted Toddler sleeps

11.00pm        Ann goes to bed.

11.45pm        Ann sleeps

12.15am        John goes to bed. Wakes wife with gratuitous bottom-groping.

12.16am        John kicked by wife.

12.20am        Prevailing somnolence.

1.28am         Vixen arrives and takes up well-chosen acoustic position below the

                        bedroom windows. Cue yowling, shrieking, screaming, Unearthly Din.

1.29am        Theory that Ann’s thoughts are, in fact, unable to actually kill, is proved.

1.30am        Toddler Klaxon sounds loudly. Frightens away Unearthly Din vixen.

1.32am        John visits Klaxoning Toddler.

1.40am        John reads Aliens in Underpants to Clingy Toddler.

1.50am        John reads The Emperor’s New Clothes to Relaxed Toddler

2.00am        John reads The Gingerbread Man to Chatty Toddler

2.10am        John reads Paddington Takes A Bath to Bouncy Toddler

2.20am        John comes back to bed.

2.21am        Klaxoning Toddler.

2.55am        John icily invites Ann to visit Klaxoning Toddler.

3.00am        Ann visits Klaxoning Toddler.

3.10am        Ann unwinds Subsided Toddler from around her neck.

3.20am        Ann decants Protesting Toddler back into bed.

3.21am        Ann reads Aliens In Underpants to Clingy Toddler.

3.30am        Ann reads Brambly Hedge Spring Story to Suspicious Toddler.

3.40am        Ann reads Brambly Hedge Summer Story to Beady-Eyed Toddler.

3.50am        Ann reads Brambly Hedge Autumn Story to Relaxed Toddler.

4.05am        Ann kisses Spaced Toddler and leaves room unhindered.

4.10am        House resonates to Crooning Toddler and Snoring Husband.

4.20am        Silence suggests Sleeping Toddler.

4.21am        Lost lamb takes up position vacated by vixen.

                      Proceeds to blart loudly and continuously for its mother.

4.22am        Demented Cockerel responds with fusillade of rasping Cock a Doodles.

4.25am        Ann darkly contemplates Roast Cockerel and Lamb Chops.

4.30am        Ann realises she is indubitably coming down with Toddler’s cold.

4.40am        Mother of lost lamb lays reluctant claim to insistently bleating


4.50am        Chronologically challenged Cockerel continues with hopeful racket.

5.00am        Ann issues ‘stop snoring/spare room/die’ ultimatum to Husband.

5.15am        Lack of memory suggests Ann sleeps.

6.00am        John gets up. Departs to lambing sheds. Wakes wife.

6.15am        Lack of memory suggests Ann sleeps.

7.45am        Cheerful exclamations and loud thumping from Happy Toddler.

7.50am        Ann capitulates and unleashes Tigger Toddler from bedroom and

                      toward breakfast.

Assorted Thoughts

I am currently ranked 117th on the Lolcats NomNomNom4Fud game. I am equal parts shamed and proud. Hubby and I are both terrible suckers for annoying little blatblatblat games.

I keep dissolving into tears over the horror that is this. Harry was born the day Baby Peter died, and noticeably resembles him. There’s a special place in hell for this bunch.

Did I tell you that the last remaining hen disappeared last weekend? 

This batch of chicks are nervy little buggers, and are fast becoming a pain; I thought Harry would be fascinated by them but he’s hardly bothered at all. (Although, I very nearly died of teh cute when I saw him stretching his empty spoon through the bars, offering them imaginary food and making encouraging munchy noises to them.) They have started to jump out of the box, although they have – thus far – been sensible enough to jump straight back in the warm.


If they stray outside the bars only God can save them from A) the Toddler (aquila non capit muscas, and all that, but if one starts running about his playroom I can’t very well see Harry passing up a chance to… interact), and B) the Spaniel, who always exhibits an unhealthily keen interest in poultry.

thelwell dog poultry

The only thing pissing me off more than WordPress at the moment is our actual PC. It’s not responding properly to keyboard or mouse input (I sound restrained, but I’ve been beating the keyboard like a coked-up hip-hop star this evening) and it seems moribund – again. I think I shall start calling it Lazarus. It has more chance of long term survival than our laptop, however, which is currently dismantled on top of a bookcase


with zero (zilch, nada) hope of resurrection, and I can’t afford another one.

Which should bring me neatly onto the whole Going Back To Work Because We Are Flat Stony Broke topic, but I don’t have the energy for that one just now. It… isn’t going well.

Harry’s one word: ‘Geese’ is getting much more reliable. He says it about 150 times – at least – a day to practise, triumphantly. He has other words – which are not words. ‘ISS! ISS!’ I suspect is a bastardised ‘this!’ and means ‘Do something NOW with whatever I am pointing at. Open it/Give it here/Turn it on.’ A funny little Akkhh! sound in the throat is occasionally meaning No. He won’t shake or nod his head, and still refuses to make eye contact to denote a choice, glaring instead at the desired object with combustible intensity. He has a try at saying ‘teeth’, too. In fact, he’s big on sibilants, full-stop. He’s not given to sticking his tongue out at all – I’ve checked for tongue-tie any number of times – but he now seems to think that all words must begin with his tongue stuck quarter of an inch through his teeth. When he is trying particularly hard to attempt a word, I can see his tongue rolling into all sorts of contorted shapes. The speech therapist is allegedly coming Tuesday, and not a day too soon. I am feeling alone.

I found Harry trying to feed a Shaun the Sheep DVD – his favouritefavouritefavourite thing ever – into the slot, with a fair degree of success, despite the fact it was still closed. I was, oddly, delighted by his multimedia progress.

Harry is stoically coping with the fact that his lip is, essentially, pierced. He is my tiny brave soldier who has had to suffer far more than his fair share of mouth-trauma, and I have no words to tell you how much I am in love with him and his infinitely awesome cuddly-kisses. But not his tantrums. Not loving the ‘trums at all.

Earlier this week, I discovered hazlenuts where hazlenuts had no right to be. My focus pulled back and I realised the little terror had been climbing on top of his cooker.

cooker ladder

It’s cool. It’s not like there’s a glass door nearby he could smash straight through or anything.

Today an aeroplane flew overhead and Harry pointed at his cheek (should be his ear, but he abbreviates!) and then pointed upwards to tell me what he heard. I did the arms-wide universal aeroplane impression, which he copied. A minute or so later, Me Too! came onto CBeebies – a program with a sweeping CGI bird’s eye view of a city for opening credits. As soon as he saw it, he whipped his arms out into an aeroplane impression – and made a brrm brrm car /truck /tractor noise. 

How the buggery bollocks did he know that’s what a city looks like – from an aeroplane? I’m hugely impressed. But also very puzzled.

I keep starting to cry when I hear the Timmy Time theme. Because Timmy leaves the farm (sniff) and goes out into the world (lip trembles). You see, I have been making brave noises about booking Harry into nursery when he is 2 – the nursery, that is attached to the pre-school, that is attached to the primary school he will almost certainly attend. So, when he does start, he’ll be there continuously until age 11. And his birthday is only 74 days away.

That is all.


I want a bigger glass!

Thank you all for the kind words. I am feeling rather more cheerful now, particularly as the sun came out and we had a pleasant and relaxing Sunday at home together.

John might dispute this and mutter something about Brummie pessimism, but I feel I have a naturally optimistic disposition, given circumstances that are fair-to-middling. It’s just not a disposition quite as pathologically optimistic as his. John could be Optimistic for England. John’s glass is not only always half full, but he can also see a clear route to the bar – where there are plenty more glasses simply frothing over with free beer. He always, always, wakes up cheerful, which is reassuring when you’re a sensitive plant like me, because I am rather osmotic to gloomy and temperamental atmospheres. Having a unbudgeably even- keeled nature in the household is comforting.

However, John’s character trait can be frustrating for me when a catastrophe is blatantly inevitable. When circumstances are clearly looming dire and dictate a sharp reality check of 1) coffee smelling, 2) head-from-sand extraction, and 3) marked re-adjustment of goals: he is generally either blithely oblivious to the topic, or – and the last weeks of my pregnancy were a good example of this – refusing to seriously engage with the distinct possibilities of Much Badness and Impending Doom.

These are the occasions when my need to make Plans (A, B, C, and frequently D, too) and Lists (John shies backwards like a terrified pony when he sees me waving a new list at him; he’s often only just got over the shock of the work that the last one outlined for him) – is helpful. It doesn’t make me a pessimist. Had Harry not happily bagsied the last intensive care cot at our regional hospital, John would theoretically have been able to immediately follow Harry’s ambulance anywhere in the country complete with a small bag of his clean undies, toiletries, high-energy snacks and an emergency £10 note. Because Ann saw the inevitable coming! And assumed she would be c-section immobilised and baby-separated. And therefore planned. And packed. And kept our mobile phones charged up. And kept the car half-full of fuel at all times for weeks. And left his bloody bag at home in the actual event, but still

I digress. The point I am windily making is that I have cheered up again. I can sustain mid-range tense and worried like a complete pro for months, but actual horrid depths of Woe-Is-Me tend to pass over fairly soon, as it’s emotional hard work and the atmos round here is not precisely conducive to indulging in self-pity for lengthy periods. If Harry begins to say some more words soon, then I promise to be dementedly upbeat for the foreseeable. But if he doesn’t, I shall be fragile, and you may confidently expect another episode of complete misery and plan your blog-reading accordingly…

To illustrate the new air of chirpyness, I give you… chicks!


Of the 18 eggs I purchased, 11 were fertile and 10 hatched: which is about what I expected. One didn’t make it through Saturday and expired sadly on the palm of my hand, convulsively defecating blood into my palm as it did so. I deposited it calmly onto a plastic bag, dry-heaved into the sink for a while, washed my hands in OCD-fashion for several minutes, and then placed the tiny body out on the fence post for the buzzards, who will doubtless soon have a young family to feed. Strangely, although their cries are enormously melancholy, their mewings to each other as they soar through the blue sky above our garden perceptibly lighten my heart.

Anyhoo, we are now proud foster parents to 4 silkies, 3 lavender cochins and 2 lemon pyle brahmas chicks, who will now have to have a proper hen-cage built for them, to stop them becoming fox-food. Bah!

Cough. We were all about the cheerful, weren’t we? Sorry. Forgot.

Pressure Cooker

How to spend your bank holiday weekend in a fairly mixed fashion, including hysterics, cooking a 4 course meal for twelve, and the whirling pit.

Friday: Poach pears, make cinnamon ice-cream, make creme brulees and slow-cook beef for several hours. Shriek witchily at anyone who steps inside the kitchen. Go to bed at midnight, worn out.

6am: Suffer acute tummy cramps. (Not the uterine kind. I know this because I’ve already had that kind for 10 days. AND spotting. Bastard things.) Sit huddled miserably in bathroom awaiting diarrhoea that does not arrive. Cramps subside. Crawl back to bed and groan pitifully at Hubby. Child kicks me in face. Curse and groan some more. Hubby leaves to farm. Ignore gestured pleas from child for Downstairs! and remain resolutely under the covers.

9am: Arrive downstairs and eat a white chocolate creme brulee for breakfast. Discover to mild horror and zero surprise (a new recipe and I experienced… problems) that they have not miraculously improved overnight. Flavour good but texture gone awfully, horribly wrong. Eat another in case the first one was a fluke – it wasn’t – and now feel sick. Offer taste to husband, who justly critiques texture, and to child, who recoils immediately with an expressive ‘Tssicckk!’

9.30am: Clear dining room table, which was made to my size specifications in order to seat 14. I curse my inability to perform mathematics – not for the first time – as the 12 chairs still manage to look cramped. 

10am: Despatch grumpy teething child and husband to town. They load into the car and disappear, with John’s frustrated cries of ‘You silly little boy!’ echoing down the drive. Harry’s tantrums have turned… quantum… lately. He has nearly knocked himself out twice already this morning with his own thrashing.

10.10am: Try to persuade myself that the tablecloth – a behemothic thing hunted down by my mother amongst the Cypriot linen shops, and selflessly hauled back home in defiance of excess baggage charges – does not require ironing.


10:20am: Fetch iron from upstairs, come to look at blogs, curse self for wasting TIME, godamnit.

10.30am: Iron tablecloth in situ. Tablecloth sticks unpleasantly to nameless gunk smeared on table that I was too lazy to scrub off as HEY! I’m only going to cover it up wth a tablecloth! 


11am: The After photo looks identical to the Before photo. Wasted hour. Go me! Start on ratatouille veg chopping.

11.30am: John returns with only half his To Do list done, and a sleeping child. He deposits sleeping child in cot, and settles down to enjoy a nice cup of tea. 

11.40am: Finish chopping. Hand throbs.


11.55am: Two large pans of ratatouille are bubbling nicely. John’s tea break ends when the diarrhoea that threatened me earlier finally makes its unwelcome appearance, and he is required to take over stirring. I emerge staggering, and proceed to clean hands obsessively. 

12.10pm: Hurry back to the bog for another go. 

12.15pm: Start to hum a Johnny Cash song.

12.20pm: Finally make escape from loo. Rigorously sanitise all areas of self. John disappears to complete his to-do list. Wonder why he is so cheerful about being sent into the town centre on a Saturday to shop. Realise that he has got his MGB out and is now driving away from the kitchen – with the top down, in the warm sunshine. 

12.30pm: Begin to work like buggery fuck. Pan fry chicken and cool. Make chicken casserole sauce and cool. Chop french beans. Chop runner beans.

1.15pm: My mother arrives to mind Harry. John returns from town and goes to wake Harry up. Lets Harry play with purchased top hat.


Continue to work. Make a rhubarb crumble. Make ANOTHER lot of Creme Brulee to tried-and-tested recipe which also, inexplicably, goes yukky-textured. Womanfully resist urge to cry. Make salmon parcels with cream cheese, soured cream and dill filling. Make beef bourguignon, experience a slight setback adding red wine to pan,


 and cool. Make butter curls. Attempt to chop butternut squash and remember I am allergic to the sap. Summon Hubby to chop instead. Start to arrange crocks on table, aesthetically cringing at the necessity to use soup bowls that Do Not Match my dinner service. Bloody Wedgwood. Receivership is No Excuse. 


Assess fridge and consider how to fit a quart into a pint pot.


 5.30pm: Make fishfinger dinner for Harry, who has been playing on the tussocky grass with Mum, and has fallen and hurt his leg. Is crying and struggling to walk. By now, I want to sit and cry too. Prepare bowl of watercress and rocket instead.

6pm: Mum goes home, frazzled by Harry. Put large tray of butternut squash cubes on to roast. Put 3 saucepans of new potatoes on to boil. Fold napkins into uncomplicated shapes. Arrange bread rolls in a bowl. Put new potatoes into heated hostess trolley. Cook beans and peas: into trolley. Arrange watercress and rocket onto plates. Open the carCOUGH!tons of soup and pour into saucepan. Discuss Who Should Not Be Sat Near Whom with John, while Harry watches Night Garden. We allocate the laminated place-cards I photoshopped for our 2007 party.

white-ann-baylis1  mustard-john-baylis2

If you think I’ve made our faces look bad, you should really see what I did to our friends’.

7pm: Under the impression I have 45 minutes until guests appear, I sit down for the first time since I emerged from the bog this morning, to blog speed read. Ain’t no-one getting comments today.

7.10pm: Turn squash in oven right down. Attempt to go upstairs to bath and change, but Hubby is reading a story to Harry with the bedroom door open and I dare not be seen. Print ‘Do Not Ring Doorbell On Pain Of Pain’, etc, sign and affix to front door.

7.15pm: Hubby creeps downstairs, shutting Harry’s bedroom door and I creep up, treading on our absurdly creaky floorboards as I go. Harry whinges. I rootle hurriedly in wardrobe to sort out vaguely cowboy-ish clothes.

7.25pm: Hear first guest knocking quietly at door. Remember I have actually told everyone 7.30pm for 7.45. Sound of new voice downstairs sends Harry into full-scale roars. Guest is unceremoniously left to entertain herself whilst John and I attempt to sort out costumes in total silence. Abandon all thought of bath, and Hubby is now hogging shower. Apply facial cleansing wipes rapidly around sweatiest sections, liberally apply bodyspray and perfume, and scramble into clothes.

7.35pm: Rip label off pink cowboy hat, don cowboy boots (which between the ages of 14 and 16 never left my feet) and creep downstairs past intermittently-grumbling child. Laugh at guest’s costume, ruthlessly delegate clue envelope handing-out, and scurry off to unwrap salmon parcels and place on salad, which has gone limp. Camera flash turns salmon an extremely unappealing colour. Add purchCOUGH!ased sauce.


7.45pm: Put soup on stove to heat. Apply chicken to casserole sauce, beef to bourguignon sauce, and place on stove to re-heat. Stop to pour glass of wine and swig deeply while guest number 1 spots cars and races out onto the drive in order to organise and pre-shush (predictably and thankfully late) arriving guests.

8pm: Relax somewhat and decide cannot be bothered to decant food into Wedgwood serving bowls and will serve it in pans instead. Pour self a larger drink in celebration of acquiring this new wisdom.

8.10pm: Warm tureen, empty soup into it. Tell guests to get out of the bloody kitchen and sit down. Soup is served; I do last visual sweep of the kitchen. See huge pot of ratatouille, gasp, put hastily on searing stove setting to heat up. Go into dining room and read scene-setter out loud. Start the round off. Return to kitchen every 2 minutes during soup to frantically stir ratatouille.

8.25pm: Serve fish. Only one Fish?! refusal and one played-with plate. Relieved.

8.35pm Serve main meal.


Peas have turned hideous colour in trolley, but everything else as planned. Spy forgotten and uncooked rhubarb crumble on worksurface and quickly turn the oven back on. Pour self another large refill.

9pm – 2am: Hazy.


2am: Final guest leaves and I take stock of surroundings.


2.15am: Find hubby asleep in the office and gently usher him towards stairs. Has a few false starts and is obliged to tackle the stairs at a crawl, but rolls into bed intact. At no point notices I am filming him.

2.30am: Snores.

5.10am: Child screams loudly. I awake to discover I now have the whirling pit. Nudge Hubby with foot and ask him to pat child back to sleep. Repeat several times, getting jabbier with foot. Hubby, entirely drunk, blunders next door and starts talking chirpily to child. I vaguely think this is odd. Hubby appears with Happy! child in doorway, whereupon I inform him it’s only 5am. He attempts to return Unhappy! child to bed. Experiences failure. Re-appears with Happy! child. Child makes determined lunge for boobs and is firmly rebuffed. Roars.

5.15 – 5.25am: Excessive rampaging over parents. Repeated attempts to access boobs.

5.25am: I leave in drunken stupor, taking my alcoholic boobs with me, and retreat to the spare room. Sleep for further 2 hours.

7.30am: Hubby appears with child. Announces that he ‘may have nodded off for a while’ and that Harry has trashed the bedroom, broken his specs and emptied his wallet. He cannot find two of his credit cards. He is feeling too ill to cope and retreats to the sofa downstairs.


8am – 1pm: I give Harry two scrambled eggs and blearily watch him happily play with the dogs. John eventually returns to bed whilst I start to clear up. His hangover appears unaccountably bad, until he tells me that the first bottle of Port he rootled out of the drinks cupboard at midnight was already open, sedimented and tasted odd… but they drank it anyway.

1pm: Next Door Neighbours appear for lunch of leftovers. I have cleared the table, cooked some fresh chicken, and heated leftover potatoes and veg. Am beginning to think I am wonder woman.

Afternoon and evening spent quietly playing and TV-watching with intermittent wearing tantrums from child. 

Bank Holiday Monday, 6.30am: Child kicks me in the head, headbutts me in the mouth, and finds it funny. I leave for the spare room again in a strop.

11am: Go to local retail park in order to purchase gift for Father’s birthday tomorrow. Retail park is extremely busy. Cannot find suitable gift. Go to town centre instead. Get mildly stressed but also finally buy David Attenborough’s autobiography for self. This takes away much of the pain.

12.15pm: Child falls asleep in car and is left to doze in peace.

1.30pm: Harry wakes without us noticing and works self into proper state before he is heard. There is much screaming and complaint.

2.15pm: I drive him to my friend’s house.

2.50pm: The bank holiday traffic is heavy and I arrive annoyed. Harry immediately has another meltdown the moment he walks through the door. He does this nearly everywhere we go. He Does Not Transition Well. I am becoming extremely exasperated, all the more so because I realise he cannot be blamed.

3pm: I am struck dumb with surprise when I hear my friend’s daughter ask her Mummy for ‘more juice, please.’ Harry has no exact contemporary among the children we see often, hence I have always managed to avoid comparing his speech. I become increasingly upset and aghast as I hear the little girl carry on basic conversations with everyone there and realise to what an advanced degree she can understand sentences and instructions. She has begun to inform her mother of impending bowel movements. (Her own, naturally. Anyone else’s would be even more impressive.) She is apparently not considered a big talker by her parents or nursery, but Harry still has no real words that we can clearly recognise and to me, she is Cicero. I start to want to cry.

3pm – 5.30pm: Harry kicks off again. And again. And again. Pushing. Hitting. Screaming. Grabbing. Kicking. Roaring. There were 3 other toddlers all having the odd strop because of various minor combinations of all those behaviours, particularly THEY-TOOK-MY-TOY-WAAAH! sad and teary red-faced episodes, but Harry… Harry is simply in a different league altogether: frequently catching himself violent wallops on hard surfaces as he throws himself about. I suddenly become aware of my own body language: I have retreated to a corner seat, I have unconsciously picked up a cushion and am holding it across my tummy. I emerge only to re-site Harry’s tantrums into more padded areas.

5.30pm: I leave, managing to hold back my tears until the car is moving.

6pm: I arrive back home, worn out and distressed. John greets me on the doorstep and tells me regretfully that Mrs Brahma has been eaten by the fox. I sit and cry. He takes Harry out from underfoot to ride in his trike in the garden.

6.10pm. I chop an onion and put rice on to cook. I am chopping mushrooms when Harry and John return. Harry is hungry and tired, and has always been tricky to handle at this time of day. He runs up to me and violently pushes my legs. I take a deep breath. He does it again. I burst into tears, which almost immediately turn into proper I-can’t-actually-fucking-breathe hysterics. John removes Harry, plonks him in front of the tv – always a winner to calm him down – and returns to attempt to calm me down. Today, because I am tired, worried and upset, Harry has – to borrow a clever phrase that struck a chord – become reduced to the sum of his quirks.

Harry, at 21 months, has no real intelligible speech yet. His sense of balance isn’t all there by a long stretch. He has, as they told me when he was born, possibly suffered some mild brain damage. His behaviour is most likely due to communication frustration.

It’s hard for both him and us. It’ll probably get worse. But I’m so indescribably sad that my son, my beautiful and precious son, still can’t talk to me.

 harry-hat-2  harry-hat

And the one hen I was genuinely attached to, who was old and tired and wise, has been ripped apart by the fucking fox.


Pullets & Bullets

Half-way through Friday afternoon, I saw a flutter of feathers out of the corner of my eye, and glanced up to see a fox in my hen run. I am all about Economising on things these days, so I’ll re-use my phraseology from last May’s post.

I nearly dropped my cup of coffee as I swelled with fury. A small shriek of indignation may well have escaped me. I galloped to the front door and erupted out of it like an enraged jack-in-the-box. I’d have booted him heavily up the arse if I could’ve got enough speed up, but I present a fair amount of surface-area wind-resistance these days, and I was therefore confined to roaring BANG! at the top of my voice. He took off like a rangy red ballistic missile heading for next door, and I suspect he will not be back to dine today.

There must be a local litter of cubs catalysing these daylight parental raids. I have no rancour towards the foxes themselves, as feeding your young is a fairly blameless occupation; I’d tackle a woolly mammoth sporting an extra helping of pointy tusk if it stood between me and my child’s starvation. But there’s any amount of other prey about at this time of year, so they can keep their damned dirty paws off my hens.

I cursed, but all my hens were ok – albeit shaken and suffering ripped-out feathers – and I reckoned I had scared him sufficiently in order to buy myself a couple of days in which to improve the electric fencing (trans: change the power unit and switch it on); I noted he had jumped over a section where a branch had fallen over the white tape. Clever bugger.  

Saturday morning, shortly after breakfast, John trailed upstairs with bad news.


All massacred apart from my original Brahma hen (a clever old girl whom I noted had gone to ground to hide somewhere during Friday’s attack: she is now a wizened veteran of at least 4 fox incursions) and one of her sons, who came wandering back some hours later looking dazed.


I shall borrow again, because I’m tired and lazy, from last spring’s near-identical poultry perils:

Fox #1: ‘Did you ever manage to get out to that lovely little place I told you about? Divine menu, darling, simply divine. Can’t believe we’ve not discovered it before.’

Fox #2: ‘Well I did, Reynard, and thank you so much for the recommendation. The electric fencing isn’t effective, you’re quite right. I popped in for a late lunch yesterday, and had a simply marvellous cockerel.’

Fox #1: ‘Yummy, yah?’

Fox #2: ‘ Totally, darling, although I was a leeetle disappointed that hens were off the menu. I think someone was a bit greedy before, yah? I could only see one and that was a Brahma, and I always think they’re tough.’

Fox #1: ‘You’re just too picky, darling, it’ll be lovely with a spot of slow munching. Meet you there for lunch?’

I am out for most of the day. Very tempted to tuck Mrs Brahma under my arm and take her with me. Leaving her in the run is tantamount to making a present of her to Foxy. Hairy hubby reacted badly when I requested a proper hen run, with a wire ceiling. Poor henny-penny, what shall we do? 

I have lost Mrs Brahma’s sole remaining daughter, from whom I hoped to breed. Mrs B is a tenacious survivor and responds well to male companionshipCOUGHCOUGH, but I have no unrelated cockerels left, and I doubt she will still be laying by the time I’ve bought some unrelated brahma eggs to hatch. She is now being assiduously courted by her own son, whom I have unimaginatively named Oedipus. I could theoretically hatch their eggs provided that the next generation had fresh genetics to breed with – I know enough people that do – but it seems… icky.

And it’s all a waste of bloody time anyway, if next spring is going to wipe the lot out again. Sigh. Why can’t I get myself a hobby that involves fewer mass killings? I can’t even leave my spaniel on guard in the garden, because he’s a little devil and worse than the bloody fox for killing my hens, and, embarrassingly, next door’s hens. Sigh. And an even bigger Sigh because – and some of you won’t like this – I have rung John’s cousin, who owns the field in question, to tell him that the gamekeeper thinks the vixen and her cubs are living under a large bale stack. If they are, they will now be shot.

I’ve never been mad on shooting things, but I am, after all, married to a farmer, and pest control is all part of the farming gig. I have shot rats and fluffy bunnies with both air rifles and shotguns, but I have never to my knowledge killed a mother with young, and I’m fretful about it. 

But I’m also mithered about my poor hens, who were still distressed from the previous day’s attempted assassination when they were slaughtered, and it’s a straight it-or-us scenario. I don’t have the wherewithal to construct a 12ft fox-proof fence around the hen run. I have 11 fertile eggs incubating in the kitchen, and as the current situation stands, I’m just rearing fox-food.


Harry shrieked like a bugger last night, after 3 nights of sleeping straight through til 6 – 7am, and he’s complaining again now, a mere hour after bedtime. I thought we’d cracked him, but no. I’m having an early night (good book, warm drink, small snack, electric blanket set to High Roast. Wifey heaven) to prepare myself for the rigours of house-cleaning and dinner-party preparation, and if he wakes me up tonight I shall go spare, because I’m propping my eyelids up on matches here.

Rancid coloured chicken Coq au vin has now been replaced with a bland chickeny-whitewiney-mushroomy-tarragony thing, and a beef bourguignon. I hope this is ok with the shed.

I am tired. Harry’s tantrums have moved up a gear, and I now sport bruises. The house is a pigsty. The laundry is still on the line, in the dark. You can’t put a plate down anywhere in my (5+ metres x 5+ metres. Don’t hate me, my MIL owns it all) kitchen. My dining room is still a playroom. I am really tired.

Night night.

Echoes Inhabit the Garden

Did you know that 3am is the new 6am? Yes, it is. And our son hates his naps, his cot, his room, his bedtime, his sleeping bag, all of his teddy bears, and most of all, his parents.

We’ve gardened hard today. Some people use lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, secateurs, and the like. We feel they lack vision.


I drove the blue tractor & trailer on the road to bring them here, and I’m worryingly out of practice. I had a brief insight into how those pensioners who end up driving 10 miles down the wrong side of the motorway must feel, and there’s a helluva lot more sticks and pedals on a tractor. There are also snags to using tractors as everyday vehicles when your (exceedingly lardy) spaniel only has one hip joint.


My hens were a little alarmed by the machinery influx, and retreated to squawk at us from a distance. I’ve decided I need, yes, need some more hens to entertain me. My Golden Brahma and Gold Laced Orpington chicks are all grown up now,


happily shagging their friends, siblings and mother (poultry are Bad for this sort of thing), the weather is getting kinder, and Hubby has just blown silly amounts of cash on a camera lens, ergo, I am totally allowed to purchase some more fancy breeds with crazy feathers; I have recently borrowed my SIL’s incubator again.   

I’m bidding on some Silkies, because they have mad hair. I have mad hair.  John has mad hair. Harry has a double crown, and madder hair than either of us when it grows longer. These’ll fit right in.


I’m also bidding on some Lemon Pyle Brahmas


 and some lavender/splash cochins


Hubby is alarmed at the (unlikely) prospect of my winning all 18 eggs, which then all prove fertile and hatch. He should have thought of that before he bought the lens, yes?

The Proud HFF Motto: Nunquam Paratus

In retrospect, my period should not have taken me by surprise last night at all. I wasn’t particularly expecting a pregnancy, you understand, despite copious amounts – too much, in fact! – of encouraging EWCM earlier in the month. I knew it would be along at some point. I just wasn’t expecting it right now. But I should have expected it, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I have fallen behind with the laundry, so I have no appropriate big baggy grey underwear or clothing to hand. And in the last two hours I have soaked a super-plus tampon, used the hell out of two nightime towels, stained my jeans and saturated two pairs of knickers. I am now wearing… wait for it… cream trousers. Coz they are the only clean and dry things I have that conceal my unshaven legs. And we’re leaving for the soft-play barn shortly!

Secondly, I am low on sticky-backed duvets (Nuts in May ™). I am convinced that my uteri lurk, malevolent and unpredictable, unleashing the tsunami on the exact day that I am least prepared for them. They do not generally bleed exactly in sync, which puzzles… just about everyone, because they should. Obviously one of my cervi is a retentive bitch. But occasionally they do gang up and organise their collective onslaught with exquisite viciousness. For the rest of the painting and decorating episode, they fight like cat and… ummm, cat, because they are two cramping, unhappy little uteri in a space that is only designed for one.

Thirdly, I had also started to sob at the least provocation. I will spare you a long list of random and ridiculous snivels, bar three.

1) Yesterday, Hubby, upon being scolded about leaving his socks in the hallway, balled them up and playfully batted them straight at my head. They hit me smack between the eyes… there was a second’s pause in which Hubby commenced his Shot! victory dance to an invisible audience at the far end of the hall whilst I stood frozen… and then I started to cry. Aghast and dismayed by this dampener to his celebrations, he cut them short mid-prance, and hurried down the hall to administer cuddles. His self-congratulation turned to self-castigation. I wasn’t going to tell him that I wasn’t hurt, merely surprised and weepy. Why should I be the only one here to suffer?!

2) Yesterday, I let Mrs Brahma out of her run and chased her down to the garage to meet her successfully incubated (and now teenage) chicks. She was far more interested searching for the partially decomposed and entirely flattened-by-car-tyre frog that she had joyfully discovered earlier on the driveway (Mrs Black had, in fact, stolen it at this point) and refused to give them even a glance.

I kept telling her she was a Mummy – and it made no difference! It’s as if she didn’t recognise her own eggs when she saw them again! Useless hen. I eventually got sad and frustrated and started wailing.

3) Harry would hardly eat again yesterday, so I cried with rather more reason. He’s only had a few spoonfuls of breakfast and lunch today, but has finished a small helping of supper. We had an improved thursday and friday last week, followed by an indifferent weekend. I’m sure it is reflux – in fact, I know it is – and I’m pouring infant gaviscon down him, but he is still barely eating half of what he did before, even on a good day. On a bad day, he manages maybe 20% of his normal intake. Yet his activity levels are as maniacally demented as ever, so unsurprisingly he lost 6oz last week (in spite of copious application of high-calorie tooth-rotting drinks and extra Mummyboob) – and I’m dreading what the scales will say tomorrow. I have another appointment at the GP tomorrow afternoon, but I have a feeling I will walk out unsatisfied, as Harry is undeniably lively enough in himself. But I’m completely depressed about it: his weight has slid rapidly from the 25th to the 9th centile for his adjusted age, and is plummeting from the 9th to the 2nd for his actual age. He’s never been a big baby, (although he did get delightfully buddha-like at Christmas-time)

 Harry Bathies by you.

but he can’t sustain this for much longer. I think I shall be obliged to tap my finger on the GP’s desk. Or cry. Again. That’ll work. That’ll make the bugger produce the magic healing wand that they keep in the desk for special patients fast enough.

Other news in the HF Family today: the Moreton show approaches, and I have not yet A) made my pot of jam, B) decorated my cake, or C) taken the photographs for the photography classes that I have entered. The cake is, fortuitously, 

judged on decoration only.  Except that I didn’t have a 6 inch tin, so I made it with a 5 inch one and added thick extra layers of marzipan without allowing time for them to dry…

the cake has suffered blow-out and is now fighting a distinct battle of the bulge. I’m not sure I can retrieve the situation with icing, either. 

Our collie-cross-leopard:

is in season, and next door’s dogs have noticed.

It’s about -10° out there with wind-chill, pissing down, and she’s not even here. Nevertheless, he has the air of a dog who is rooted to the spot by the weight of his balls.


Annnnnnnnd I’m back from the play-barn, and I’m officially in a mood. They had to either like my stubbly legs or lump them, because the cream trousers never made it as far as the car. I suffered a slight incident – my bath now looks like this–  during which I have, charmingly, lost a clot bigger than my thumb. And I have chunky thumbs. And Hubby let Harry drop his mobile phone in the bath (a different bath!) earlier, so he is conveniently uncontactable, having fucked off to farm for ‘I won’t be very long’, two hours ago. Grrrrowl.

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