Posted in Chickens, Gardens, Pets

A spa day for the hens

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Mabel, Jemima and Dottie enjoy a dust bath

Over the last couple of months, the hens have sometimes looked as if they are moping around, complaining about the rain, wind and cold. The soil is too compacted for them to dig into properly (even though I keep forking and digging it). They cluster together under the pear tree, moaning about the season of winter and wishing for spring – their favourite time – to arrive.

And then, one day, it was as if Santa had arrived (this was before Christmas) with a big bag of goodies. It was actually Simon with woodchip, but when this simple substance was scattered on top of the damp, slightly sticky earth, the ladies came over curiously, with mounting excitement.

This needs investigating, they pondered.

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Ava and Florence investigate the wood shavings

Then Jemima revealed all.

‘It’s a day at the spa!’ she proclaimed.

At that, the hens got stuck in, quite literally. Rubbing and rolling themselves into the woodchip, having a luxurious dust bath.

They often have these baths in spring and summer, when the earth is dry, but don’t have this opportunity so much in the winter.

For some reason, Dottie kept appearing under Jemima, which caused her friend and pecking order leader some frustration, understandably.

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Ava wonders just what exactly is Dottie doing?

All in all, it was the height of luxury and this day at the spa was just what they needed to cheer themselves up during the cold, dark winter months.

In one of my chicken books, there is guidance on making a permanent dust bath for hens which I think would be much appreciated by Jemima and co.

Fact of the Day

Dustbathing helps to keep chickens free of parasites.

 

Posted in Gardens, lifestyle, self-sufficiency, environmental issues, adventure

Merry Christmas from Cosy Cottage

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Merry Christmas to everyone from all the residents at Cosy Cottage. We hope you all have the Christmas you most want – whether peaceful or fun, lively or relaxing. I can’t believe a new decade starts next year! I was hoping to publish a few extra posts this month but time has once again escaped me. I will be taking a little break until January but hope to catch up with your blogs in the meantime 🙂

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All the best for 2020 🙂

 

Posted in Chickens, Gardens, Gardens, lifestyle, self-sufficiency, environmental issues, adventure, Pets, Self-sufficiency

A chicken’s guide to keeping warm

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The Cosy Cottage citizens are lucky in that we live in a relatively temperate climate (usually), even in the winter. But life can still get very chilly, especially for these chickens who live out in the garden coop. Thankfully, they have a lovely fluffy thick plumage so that helps. But the more heating aids, the better…

Every morning these days I scatter porridge on the ground. It used to be leftovers from the pot but the stickiness was not pleasing to my hands or the ladies’ beaks! So now I buy porridge that’s reasonably priced and scatter it from the packet. The foraging helps stop them getting bored too.

Corn is given in the afternoon, a couple of hours before bedtime (although these days, bedtime seems to be about 3pm and getting earlier and earlier). To avoid rats, it is given in the coop when the girls go in for the night.

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Plenty of straw is always needed for bedtime. Although I’m sure half of it seems to get kicked ‘downstairs’ when the ladies get ready for bed.

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Keeping an eye on the water supply is always vital. No one can drink frozen water after all!

Making adjustments to the coop to make it warmer is useful to do during these cold months.

And lastly, a tip from the ladies themselves – early bed and snuggling together helps fight against Jack Frost.

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Posted in Writing

Proofreading service

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I am working on a personal project which requires a case study. I would like to offer my proofreading services for free in return for some feedback. It can be creative writing or something non-fiction, a complete work or part of something else. The word limit is 2,000 words but this can be negotiated. If you’re interested, please email clarekelly2002@yahoo.co.uk

Posted in Fitness challenges, Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures, Walks

Preston Guild Wheel: Part 3

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Walking along the River Ribble, towards Avenham Park

Day one of the Guild Wheel, seven or eight miles of it, was relatively easy, certainly compared to the 14-mile stretch which faced me today.

From the Tickled Trout Hotel, I walked on along the River Ribble towards Preston city centre. Some ways into Preston are less than beautiful, but the three miles along the Guild Wheel takes one along the scenic river route and into Avenham Park, what must be Preston’s hidden treasure. If you ever visit Preston, seek it out. It’s down the side streets but well worth the detour.

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One time I walked this way – via the River Ribble – with Mum (just to the city centre, not the whole Guild Wheel route). There was a nervous moment when we came across a herd of cows but there were no calves and they ignored the strange two-leggeds. This time the bovine beauties were safely in a field, enjoying their grass.

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I had a little tea break at the cafe in Avenham Park and then set off again.

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Past the New Continental Pub, a popular entertainments venue, into Broadgate and here I continued along the river.

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Eventually this took me to Preston Docks. Now it has pubs, cinema, shops and residential waterfront living but it was once a major industrial point, which opened in 1892. Cotton, timber, oil, coal and fruit were among the products imported and there was even a ferry service to Northern Ireland. By the 1970s though, the Docks started to decline until it eventually became today’s leisure and residential centre.

This was where I thought I would get lost but the trail is so well signposted, with clear markings on the road itself and on signs, that it was remarkably easy to find my way.

The Guild Wheel also passes a railway track – the train sets off from the Ribble Steam Railway Museum.

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Circling the Docks, I found myself next to a main road. For the first time, I doubted my map-reading skills. And for the first time, the signs seemed a little lacking compared to before. The road section is a tad boring but then I found a sign and realised, thankfully, I was on the right track!

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After crossing a bridge over a dual carriageway, my river and dock stroll turned into a canal ramble, along Lancaster Canal.

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And then it was past the university sports hall, and into the world of suburbia and new housing developments.

And at 3pm on Sunday, I reached home. A full circle that was 21 miles long and took about 28 hours (with a night’s sleep in between).

And if I wasn’t tired on the Saturday after 8 miles, I was definitely ready for a sit down and a cup of tea after my 14-mile stretch on the Sunday!

Posted in Fitness challenges, Walks

Preston Guild Wheel: Part 2

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It was raining, my friend was too ill to join me on my Preston Guild Wheel walk, I was alone and wondering if I would get bored and then…

I saw a deer (pictured below). Of course, with my rather average camera phone, it doesn’t look like one unless you enlarge it and then you might see a little blob. But it really was a deer and I saw it with my own eyes. This part of the walk is suburbia but a path leads onto a large open space of green that has been left for people and dogs to enjoy, and wildlife to live. The Woodland Trust looks after part of it.

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This curiosity (below), and others like it, can be found in the parkland. I think it’s an ‘insect hotel’ for bees etc to live.

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The Guild Wheel took me through both a natural and industrial landscape.

Sometimes it was a path with railings on either side, hiding behind were factories and offices.

Other times it took me on a detour of beautiful greenery – despite a motorway just minutes away.

Along the way, I entered the exterior of Preston Crematorium, a peaceful place, and continued along a tree-lined path which took me to Brockholes Nature Reserve.

But first I encountered the now disused site of Courtaulds, a manufacturer of rayon. Built in 1939 and closed in 1979, it was the largest site in Britain to produce rayon (according to Wikipedia). At its peak, 4,000 people were employed there and when it closed in 1979, 2,800 jobs were lost (Keith Johnson, Cherished Memories of Old Mansion and Rise of Industry, https://www.lep.co.uk ).

There also used to be an old mansion in this area but alas, it is no more.

It always surprises me how brown belt land often seems to be reclaimed by nature.

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The trail continues towards Boilton Wood, neighboured by Nab, Redcar and Tunbrook Woodlands. Boilton Wood is a site of special scientific interest and forms part of the biggest stretch of ancient woodland in Lancashire (information from Visit Preston website).

When I reached Brockholes Nature Reserve, I spotted this delightful fellow.

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And another colourful resident can be seen here…

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Brockholes is a fabulous and unusual 250-acre nature reserve, owned by the Wildlife Trust. It’s such a peaceful natural haven that you wouldn’t think it is so near to the M6 but it is. The former gravel quarry actually supplied materials to build the motorway and only opened in 2011, after being bought by the trust in 2007.

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‘Village in the Reeds’ Photograph by Jim Beattie. Courtesy of The Lancashire Wildlife Trust. http://www.brockholes.org

It’s located on a flood plain of the River Ribble so has a unique floating visitor village!

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After a delightful and filling leek and potato soup at the cafe, I continued the last mile along the River Ribble to the Tickled Trout Hotel in Samlesbury. I was lucky enough to have a lovely pastoral river view from the room window, and was able to watch the cows munching the grass alongside the River Ribble.

I was glad I embarked on this journey after all!

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Part 3 coming soon..

(For more information about Brockholes, visit https://www.brockholes.org)

 

Posted in Fitness challenges, Walks

Preston Guild Wheel: Part One

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Near me is a 21-mile cycle route called the Preston Guild Wheel. Although I don’t ride a bike, I think it is a marvellous route, connecting the outer ‘green ways’ of the city, courtesy of founder and keen cyclist Peter Ward. Happily for me, it is an inclusive path and cyclists, families, dog walkers,  canines and intrepid ramblers can co-exist as we explore the natural highlights of the city.

As a dog walker, I have walked a little of this circular pathway several times. I have also rambled a stretch of it with Simon, family and friends on various occasions to the fabulous Brockholes Nature Reserve and back. But this year, a friend and I thought we would walk the whole route.

All 21 miles of it.

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Courtesy of Google Maps

It is possible to do it all in one day but we thought we would make a weekend of it and stop off at a hotel en route. A new swanky hotel was due to open in the city centre and we thought we might be able to splash out a little for one night. But alas, it turned out it would not be open by the time of our adventure so we opted for The Tickled Trout Hotel instead, three miles out of the city and overlooking the River Ribble.

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The start of my Preston Guild Wheel walk

The date was set – June 1. Maps were printed off. We agreed to meet near a point of the wheel and either walk 8 miles the first day and 13 miles on the Sunday, or vice versa.

But sometimes things don’t go according to plan.

The afternoon before, my friend texted. She was feeling ill and didn’t think she would be able to make it. She hoped she would but was alerting me that, just in case, she might not be up to it tomorrow.

I felt a sense of disappointment and, if I’m honest, was tempted to cancel the whole endeavour and snuggle down on the sofa with a good book.

It may have been June but the weather wasn’t very summery.

But the hotel was booked and, as it was so much short-notice, I would have lost the money.

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The start of my Preston Guild Wheel walk

So that decided the matter.

Ever the trooper, the next day, when I received confirmation that C was too poorly to do the walk, I put on my walking boots, lifted my rucksack onto my back (including a paperback thriller which I swear got heavier and heavier with each step) and left my house, heading to the start of the Guild Wheel, a mere 10 minutes walk away.

Now, I love spending time by myself on walks. However, these are usually for shortish periods of time, and rambling, ruminating, musing and daydreaming for an hour or so is very pleasant but a whole weekend of listening to my own thoughts? Will I bore myself?!

And to match my mood, it was raining, a miserable drizzle….

But I will persevere… Preston Guild Wheel, I have arrived and I will explore all 21 miles of you. The adventure begins now! ☺️

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See Part 2 coming soon ….