Chicken-keeping

The Pitter Patter of Dinosaur Feet

It is probably a strange desire for a working class gal from Glasgow, but I have, for several years, had an inkling to keep a few chickens. What has that got to do with dinosaurs, you might ask?  Well, believe it or not, chickens are actually evolutionary descendants of T-Rex!

See: http://www.livescience.com/1410-rex-related-chickens.html

Being born and brought up in a city didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the animal kingdom. As a child my summer holidays were spent with my cousins in the beautiful Scottish Borders’ countryside. Whilst there I volunteered at a rather ramshackle place that did pony rides and this helped to stoke my equestrian passion which would lead me in adulthood to own a succession of horses and spend over two decades competing at a modest level. Chickens though? I think that particular desire formed as I became increasingly aware of the often cruel farming practices that prevailed in the production of eggs. Whilst I am not vegetarian, I believe passionately in compassionate farming methods that consider the welfare of the animal from birth through to dispatch. Friends will remember when I became aware of the cramped conditions of pigs raised for meat. I turned to eating ‘happy pigs’ – my term for outdoor-reared. The end game is the same but at least outdoor-reared pigs have a better quality of life.

And so to chickens. There can be few people that have not been moved by images of battery cages stuffed full of half featherless hens raised as egg producing machines, or sheds with no natural daylight at all, crammed with chickens destined for the table, pumped full of as much food as they will eat and topped up with antibiotics to keep them healthy in such unnatural conditions. I have for many years bought only free range eggs and free range chicken.  But could I do more?

Could I have some semblance of control over the provenance of even some of the food I eat? I already grow some fruit and veg, and this gives me immense pleasure, so eggs seemed a natural progression.  The fact that eggs are produced by lovely creatures that can be pets too gives two things for the price of one. I would have said kills two birds with one stone, but that doesn’t seem appropriate !

A spanner in the works has been that for much of my working life, I have had roles that involve long hours and/or a fair amount of commuting and travel. This made it impossible to commit to chicken keeping. Oh, and the time spent looking after and competing horses also made it a big challenge. I resigned myself to keeping chickens in my retirement. With every year that passes though, retirement seems to get further away rather than closer with governmental changes to the pensionable age. However I have given up horses and, as luck would have it, I have moved to a new job and the door to keeping chickens has now opened. With the stars finally aligned, I began to research chicken keeping.

Him indoors soon got wind of my plans as every time he looked round I was on a poultry-keepers Web site. Agreement was reached and research begun. I have to say it has been highly enjoyable looking into all-things chicken.  I soon established the coop and run I wanted and started looking for local breeders.  As luck would have it a great little firm called Hippy Chicks http://www.hippychickspoultry.co.uk is right on my doorstep.  Two visits later and my first three hens were sourced.  A Barnevelder and two Speckled Sussex.  Three is a good number for a novice keeper. Enough for the girls to have friends to interact with but not too many to manage from a space and practicality perspective.

And so it was in August 2016 the lovely folks from Hippy Chicks delivered Hamble – the Barnevelder and Florence and Matilda – the Speckled Sussex’s.  The dinosaurs had arrived.

 

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Music

How come I remember ‘Big Aggie’ but not a discussion I had last week?

I have always had the most terrible memory.  Right from my school days I was aware that I had to work extra hard to remember things I learned at school.  I blame my good but not startling exam results fairly and squarely at my erratic memory’s door.  I have never had a problem understanding what I’m being taught or shown, but ask me to recall it shortly afterwards and I’m in trouble – unless it’s something I use so often it becomes second nature.  My swotting for exams involved remembering things parrot fashion.  Almost immediately after the exams the information disappeared.  It doesn’t go completely though.  Mostly it remains in my mind but is so hidden away that it is hard to recall it.  I know the information is still there because it will pop up in my head at some random point when I don’t need it rather than when I do.  This makes quizzes a no go area for me as you can imagine.  I’m sure my brain has faulty wiring!  I like to describe it as having a very old filing clerk who takes a long time to search through the filing cabinets for the information I’ve requested.  By the time he comes up with the goods I’ve moved on to something completely different.

What’s that got to do with Big Aggie I hear you say?  Who is she and why am I able to I remember her?

Well, ‘Big Aggie’ represents one of the things I am able to recall – songs.  I don’t need scientists to tell me that it’s easier to remember words when they are associated with music.  It has been obvious to me for a long long time.  The song about Big Aggie was one that my mum used to sing.  My mum passed away many years ago, when I was a teenager, so I can’t ask her why she used to sing it – maybe it featured in some amateur operetta that she was in – but I can still recall the lyrics and the melody.  It’s a humorous little ditty about a rather large lady trying to dance…

Oh the night I took big Aggie to the ball

Well she couldn’t dance, she couldn’t dance at all

When I asked her to reverse

Well she fell and skint her ‘erse

Oh the night I took big Aggie to the ball

While researching this blog I came across the following Web site for Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o Riches which is a collaborative project that has been set up to preserve, digitise, catalogue and make available online several thousand hours of Gaelic and Scots recordings. This website contains a wealth of material such as folklore, songs, music, history, poetry, traditions, stories and other information. The material has been collected from all over Scotland and beyond from the 1930s onwards.  “The Nicht ah took Big Aggie tae the Ball” features here…

http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/fullrecord/52842/1

The first record I ever owned contained two children’s songs:  The A-side was The Big Red Bus and the B-side was The Thirsty Mini.  Decades later I again remember the lyrics and the melody.  I was chuffed to find that someone has posted recordings of these songs on You Tube and recently I had a little sing-along.  My recollections of the lyrics were spot on.  I hasten to add that at no time did I overtly try to learn the lyrics, it just happened auto-magically.

It doesn’t stop there.  Him indoors creases up when I sing the Matey advert – word perfectly.  Matey was (and still is) a bubble bath for kids.  Last week it was the John Collier advert that got a vocal airing – a man’s outfitters of the 1970s if anyone’s interested.  I don’t stop at adverts.  Obscure songs of the past are also easily recalled: Car 67 for example, which popped up last week in the reruns of 1970’s Top of the Pops and which I could sing from start to finish!

So here I am, still memory-challenged with the mundane, everyday stuff but able to sing-along to copious songs and adverts of the past three decades.

If only we sang rather than spoke our everyday conversations, I would win every quiz in the world.

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Uncategorized

Well that’s a strange name isn’t it?

Hello there!  Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog.  I’m a newbie to this world so bear with me.  Anyway, here we go; my first ever post in my first ever blog…

I thought I’d start by explaining why I chose the name Gallusgal for my blog.  It’s all the fault of him indoors, before he rose to that heady position.  Our wedding invites you see, were fashioned to look like posters that would have been used to advertise music hall acts in the early 1900’s.  WHY?  Good question!  We have an affection for all things music hall, we volunteer at one of the world’s oldest surviving music halls in Glasgow, and actually had a music hall ensemble as the entertainment at our wedding.  So back to the wedding invites… as the stars of the bill (it was our wedding after all) we included our names and ‘bill matter’ on the poster/invite.  The bill matter was a brief description of the performer/act on these posters of old.  Him indoors decided that ‘The gallus gal frae Maryhill’ was spot on for my bill matter.  In Scots slang, gallus is defined as “self-confident, daring, cheeky”.  I’m assuming this is what he was referring to since the alternative definition is a derogatory term meaning “wild, a rascal, deserving to be hanged (from the gallows)”.  And yes, I’m from a place in Glasgow called Maryhill.  I considered using a name more in keeping with what I will be posting on the blog but that’s going to be diverse, so Gallusgal it is.

And now to the sort of things I plan to post…  I’m a bit of a jack of all trades in so far as I am passionate about a number of things.  I want to write about what I’m passionate about, so you can expect me to cover gardening, music, moggies (animals in general I would say) and to show my more serious side, Product Management.  If you don’t know what Product Management is, you soon will if you read my blogs :).

I’m flying by the seat of my pants, but hopefully I won’t crash and burn.  Hopefully this will be interesting, funny and insightful enough to make you want to read it and, dare I hope, come back again?

And so ends my first ever post in my first ever blog.

Take care and come back again soon.

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