I've had a headache for the last four days that has increased in ferocity, culminating with me being woken up by it twice last night. I have no idea why it is so persistent, despite taking ibuprofen every 4-5 hours for the last two days. I took a hefty dose of co-codamol this morning so I could get on with my work.
Is this a trapped neck nerve? A food allergy? No idea, but when the pills wear off the front of my face is numb.
Just in case I have caught a bug from someone (I went into the office on Monday) I lit the log burner first thing to keep warm, and managed to get some soup up onto it to cook slowly - curried lentil, parsnip and apple - to last me a few days in case I am ill and don't want to cook. Along the same vein I've also chucked a lump of beef brisket into the slow cooker with some onions and potatoes so that can cook slowly today for tonight and tomorrow night's dinner, maybe even Sunday if I bulk it out with a lot of veg. That lump of beef cost me grand sum of £1.05 (reduced from £4.20), in the reduced section in Tesco when I zipped past on Monday night, so if I can get three meals out of it I shall be well pleased.
Even as I'm typing this I can feel the damn headache is coming back again! Enough, it's wearing me down. If it is going to be a migraine, I wish it would hurry up!
I went into the office yesterday for my monthly 'show your face' day for the company's home workers. It meant the alarm going off at 4:15am so I could be in by 7am and I didn't get back until about 8:30pm. Despite sleeping for a good 9.5 hours, I still woke up tired this morning and with a headache that no amount of food or caffiene would get rid off. By the time it made it into my neck late morning, it was too late for ibuprofen to do anything so I had to go straight for the co-codamol to knock it out before it became a migraine. I haven't had one of those for a long time.
I had plans to do some hedge trimming after work, as the sun was shining and I could have got through a few dozen metres quite easily, but I realised I would be pushing it given how tired I was so instead I unpacked some of my hobby boxes, redisovering some half finished projects along the way, and darned a pair of socks.
They were Martin's socks with enormous holes in the heels courtesy of his job. It's very difficult to find socks for him that don't cost the earth and last any length of time, as even the most robust expensive pairs don't seem to be able to stand up for daily 7-10 mile delivery rounds. I used to darn them, but he has problems with darned socks rubbing blister onto his feet, so I have them for myself. By the time I've shoved my feet in slippers no-one sees the darning and they do a turn for me.
There are a lot of reasons why it makes good sense to reuse something, from reducing your carbon footprint to spending less disposing of waste. It probably isn't a surprise to you to know that the major reason for me and Martin reusing things is purely from a financial point of view. The less money we spend, the sooner the mortgage will be paid off and we can retire.
With that in mind, I'm currently training myself to look at everything with fresh eyes to see what can do double or even treble duty, and have identified the following:
All leftover stocks or cooking liquids are recycled into soups.
Coffee grounds and tea bags saved as growing medium for mushrooms. I've been wanting to grow mushrooms for a while, and hit upon the idea of combining tea and coffee grounds with some chicken poo and some chopped up straw chickens bedding. Watch this space.
Any vegetable sprouting is given a go at a second life. This is a shoot I pulled off a lump of ginger.
As you can see from the picture above, all large yoghurt pots are recycled as plant pots.
Ditto plastic milk containers. I'm currently saving enough to make a large salad garden like the one below. I also cut them up to use as pot labels.
T-shirts and sweatshirts are recycled into cleaning cloths when they are beyond redemption. No pants though. I draw the line at dusting with Y-fronts.
All paper and cardboard is being saved for using in the log burner, first to help light the burner and then when swept out and combined with the wood ash to go into the chicken pen for them to dust bath in. Triple use!
Any large boxes are broken down and used when sheet mulching vegetable beds
Pallets are used for fire wood and this year we're going to try them as a raised floor in the pig ark, putting down a large piece of plywood over the top
Plastic chinese and indian takeway boxes are washed out and reused as food containers for lunches and for the freezer
Egg shells are washed, roasted and crushed to add extra calcium to the chicken's food.
Fleagle's used litter is being recycled onto the compost heap to make mulch for the garden.
Top to tail bedding - I usually only change the bottom sheet of the bed, using the top sheet of the bed as the bottom for the next week.
Grass clippings are routinely left on the garden beds to act as mulch and rot down to feed the plants.
Animal bones are routinely made into stock. Sometimes I save a whole heap of them in the freezer and then do a massive cook down.
Self sown and bird sown seedlings are potted up as free plants
Broken pottery and crockery is recycled into the bottom of pots for drainage. Sometimes the crockery looks good as part of a plant display, particularly in alpine beds
Full hoover bags are added to the compost heap.
Pallet collars are used as raised beds
Old tatty curtains are used as dustsheets for decorating and for wrapping delicate engine bits in the barns
The only thing we struggle to re-use is plastic packaging. I'm saving the milk bottles for a project, but there's only so many I can save and eventually they will have to be out out. Also, that thin plastic packaging that everything seems to be wrapped in. I try and buy loose whenever possible.
Anyway, I have one more recycling confession, which I saved to last and I fear may firmly place me in the 'mad as a box of frogs' category.
Mole hills. I recycle mole hills.
The soil that the mole pushes out is lovely and fine, perfect for mixing with some grit and using for germinating seeds. I collect it when it pops up, let it dry out and then store it in a compost bag in one of the barns. Sooner or later I will get sunken patches in the ground as the tunnels cave in, but I'll brush over some standard compost off one of the heaps to sort that out.
She's been sick for a while, not very ill, just depressed, ruffled and losing condition. I tried all the obvious things - courses of antibiotics and anti-virals, wormers, vitamins, but she just wouldn't recover. She was still eating and drinking, not with enthusiasm though and she just wasn't right. I brought her in the house and set up a 'camp bed' for her in the corner of the kitchen. As usual, my heated seed propagator did double duty as a warm bed, and there she stayed for about a week.
She died quietly in her heated bed early that evening. She wasn't in pain or suffering, just very sleepy. I'm glad I brought her in so she was warm and cared for, rather than shivering in a coop feeling ill.
Chickens can be very difficult to diagnose. Some things are simple to spot and correct, like sour crops or impacted crops caused by eating too much grass, but even then there could be a more sinister reason behind it, such as a tumour or lash egg that has got stuck and is pressing on their organs, preventing food moving through. Personally I think Moonlight had a liver problem, as her poo was yellow and very sulphurous for around a month and it didn't improve with anti-bacterial or anti-viral treatments. That's often a sign of liver failure.
Hybrid chickens are bred for their egg-laying ability, not for health and longevity. Unfortunately, we live in a society that, on the whole, prizes quantity above quality and breed to get the maximum number of eggs possible.
So, we go forward. We have our two youngsters - Nerys and Ginger - and of the old girls we still have Midnight and Twilight, although we can't get eggs from them. Midnight still lays, but she has a defective shell gland and they are soft-shelled. They get eaten pretty quickly by the hens before I get to them. Twilight has sterile egg peritonitis, indicated by a large bloated abdomen, but she eats and drinks with enthusiasm. Sooner or later though, it will kill her.