Sunday, 1 March 2015

Muddy March.

March has started the way March always starts: plenty of rain and plenty of mud. There's a northerly wind, but the bitter winter wind is easing off somewhat. This is the month where spring begins! Less than three weeks! But there are flowers already - snowdrops, daffodils, and crocuses. 

I started February by saying that reading and blogging wise, January had been a good month. So it was, and so too was February, but there's been some sadness this year. My little hen Annie died in January, and in February little hen Daisy died. This led to a frantic effort to get a new hen friend for Charlotte who was left alone, and fortunately we managed it. I don't have any pictures yet but as soon as I do you'll see the new edition - Ruby. She's not an ex-battery hen, she's actually a type of Old English Game (there's a picture here of an example of the breed). When she came she had a few little marks on her comb and leg which might suggest she was picked on a little bit, but all the marks have healed and she's really settled in. She's vast! She's such a big hen. A very good nature, very sensible, and at present still a little serious. An absolute beauty. And on the hen front - we still want to keep ex-battery hens and on Friday we'll be getting two little ones who will be rescued from the battery farm this Wednesday. I'll make sure to take pictures and I'll share them on the blog. As ever, it's a bitter-sweet time getting new hens. I'm happy and excited, but also very sad and I miss Annie and Daisy a great deal. It's still a bit fresh and I didn't want to blog about it, but I did want to share the news of the new hens. Let it be known: Annie and Daisy were excellent hens. They both were very good and sweet, and what they lacked in sense they made up for in affection. Superb hens, and a real miss. Charlotte's doing well, though. She was very unhappy and visibly distressed at being alone, but fortunately this was only for two days. She loves Ruby and after the initial settling in period (mercifully brief) they're now inseparable.

As for reading: well, February went well. Reading the John Ford plays was probably the biggest achievement, and I also managed to read Émile Zola's Les Trois Villes novels (I'll be blogging about Paris later in the week, and also The House of Fame by Geoffrey Chaucer, which I read a week or two ago). I've read a lot this weekend because I had set aside time for gardening but I didn't go out because of the rain, and I'm not sure how today will pan out. I'll have to go out at some point because there's some ivy and a shrub (I forget the name of it) which do need to be planted. If that's all I do, I might have a good few hours to read. I started The Nibelungenlied yesterday (only a few pages in) so I'd like to read some of that today, and I'm half way through Denis Diderot's Rameau's Nephew, which I'll finish today (it's very short, just about 125 pages). But my big March read I hope will be Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, which I'm reading for the Enlightenment month of Fanda's Literary Movements Challenge (I'm also keen to read Volatire's Letters on England). I've no reading-plan for Smith: it's big (900 pages), on economics, and looks tough, which is all scary stuff. I think two or three chapters a day (some of the chapters are fairly short) would get me through March! It's a good opportunity to read it, so I'm firm on this plan!

Other reading plans - other than a determination to finally read Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford, I've no real definite plans. I'd like to read another Trollope this month (probably Rachel Ray) and maybe another Zola (I have L'Assommoir on my mind). Also, I was looking at Elizabeth Gaskell's Mary Barton with interest last night, so I will probably end up reading that. After reading Rameau's Nephew I'll read D'Alembert's Dream which is included in my one Diderot edition (another very short one), and after which I don't know! Plenty of authors are on my mind - Hardy, Woolf, Charlotte Lennox, Samuel Johnson... I would love to read Johnson and Boswell's A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland & A Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, but I'd also love to read Boswell's Life of Johnson:  it's fitting it all in! So many books...... Oh, and I also started George Eliot's Scenes of Clerical Life. Many many books on my brain...

For now, I'm going to brave the rain. It's marginally lighter, so I'll sort the ivy out. I'm trying to prove that it's possible to have a nice garden and keep chickens. Fortunately we've got a big greenhouse the chickens don't go in, so that's where I'll be growing the delicates.

Happy March, everyone!


  1. You certainly have great plans reading-wise! :) Good luck with Adam Smith, I bet it will be a complicated but fascinating read.

    I'm very sorry about your hens - I know how affectionate one can be towards pets. I send you a hug.
    I'm sure Ruby and the two little new ones will be very happy to join your home :)

    1. I'm getting nervous about Adam Smith - I started it yesterday, managed all of two paragraphs :S I might not finish by the end of March....

      And thanks. I miss Annie and Daisy. Ruby's doing very well, though - really getting her confidence :)

    2. Well, it is tough. I remember reading bits and pieces of it that were in my history textbooks, and I can honestly understand your struggle... But if there's one person who's gonna read it from cover to cover, that's you, I'm certain ;)

    3. I wish I had your certainty - I haven't touched it since that one paragraph! :)

  2. Aw, I'm so sad about Annie and Daisy! Chickens don't live that long, do they? Do ex-battery hens mean that they have finished laying? I always buy my eggs from places that let their hens run free. Whenever I see a truck going along the highway with the birds in little cages I always want to run it off the road and set them all free ........ of course, I also want to set the crabs and lobsters in the tanks at restaurants free as well. No, I haven't been arrested yet ..... ;-)

    We've had quite a lovely start to spring in February and the weather has been much warmer than usual, although we've still been getting cold nights now and then. I've seen robins from the beginning of February, so I'm hoping we'll just slide right into spring without a shock of snow or really cold weather.

    Both A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland & A Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides and Mary Barton have caught my eye. I've been wanting to read both of those for ages. And Voltaire's Letters on England have been mentioned in Rousseau's Confessions that I'm reading, so now I'm keen to read those as well. I'm quite enjoying Rousseau, cementing my conviction that I should stay pre-mid-19th century in my reading.

    Have fun in your garden! It's nice and sunny here today so later on, I want to sit outside and read, either Rousseau or Keroauc's On The Road, which sadly I'm not enjoying as much as I expected.

    It's fun to hear about your reading plans. You've been posting so much that I haven't been able to keep up with commenting but I've been reading all of your reviews nevertheless. Again, you're introducing me to so much new material that I've already started my 2nd classics club list without even being half-way through the first!

    1. With hens their lifespan depends on their breed. The average hen lives about five years or more (the oldest hen, apparently, was 16). But with battery hens it's totally different - they often die within a year of being rescued because of their poor quality of life in the battery farm (no light, no movement, no proper nutrients). And of course the intensively farmed birds bred for meat only live 39 days before they're slaughtered. When the ex-battery hens (bred for eggs) are rescued they get checked out properly (this is all at the rescue centre) and when we get them home they get good food, supplements, and special care (I had to teach Annie how to walk, Daisy always had problems with her feet and not being able to stretch them and move her claws properly but I did manage to help a bit with that, and Emily had a lot of problems with her beak because it was badly trimmed - I couldn't do anything about that) but it can't make up for what they've suffered. I wish we could rescue more but there's not the space. Four is our limit in order for them to properly 'free range'.

      As for the weather - it's snowing! It's been snowing all night, but we've got less than an inch :)

      I'm looking forward to the Johnson and Boswells, a lot more than I'm looking forward to Wealth of Nations! I think my reading plans are on hold this week, though - I started Parade's End yesterday and cannot put it down! I'm a few pages away from finishing the first part, Some Do Not... and I'm going to jump straight into the next one!

      I wasn't fond of On the Road either, but I do love Dharma Bums - have you read that?

      And yes, lots of posts - I've been reading short things recently to accompany the long books! :)

    2. Early care is important for how long animals live, I think. We've had three rabbits, the first 2 were pet store rabbits and lived only until 4-5 years old. The present one I found on a trail, but he had been outside feeding on grass and real rabbit food for the start of his life, and probably because of it, eats tons of vegetables. He's now 9 years old and still seems young.

      Snow! Yikes! I still keep worrying that we might get some.

      I have read The Dharma Bums and I found it charming, which is why I'm so disappointed with On The Road. I can't quite pinpoint why I loved the first book so much and hate the second with a passion. I cannot wait until this book is over!

    3. I've just read the hens we're getting on Friday were rescued today - it's here on Facebook. Excited to see them, rather sad though that one of the hens she rescued died already. Man, I do not understand this world...

      And I felt the same way about On the Road! :)

  3. I am sorry you lost Annie & Daisy - it's hard even though you know it's going to happen.

    You've had a wonderful month reading and blogging. Not having as much time during the summer for the blog (too hot) my commenting is very haphazard but I have read and enjoyed all of your posts.

    I started Mary Barton last night......and have Rachel Ray ready for next month.

    Happy March reading!

    1. Thanks, Cat :)

      How are you enjoying Mary Barton? I'm thinking I'll start it over the weekend or next week :)

  4. I have had company for a month so just now catching up on your blog posts. You have really done an incredible amount of blogging, reading and posting. So interesting, all of it . I was sad to hear about Daisy and Anne. I remember when you got them. You did everything you could for them. There are strides being made here in Tasmania banning caged hens but a bit of a ways to go but everyone I know only buys free range eggs. Hopefully it will continue to get better. Looking forward to seeing what else you get up to: reading, posts and with the new hens.

    1. Thank you :) I'm hoping to have some chicken pictures up for Saturday. I'm looking forward to meeting them :) I do miss Anne and Daisy, though. Very much. I loved those two, it's awful when they go. Daisy was so young.


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