Saturday, 24 August 2013

Friday Round Up

starting my maternity leave countdown - new favourite cup - a very weird egg
paint porn - 30 week baby bump - my babies
not as good as i remember them - a cuddlebug - matt takes cups of tea to the site on his mini dumper

instagram - madeupoflittlethings

Another week gone, just three left in my Maternity Leave Countdown! I don't want to seem like a slacker but I am really looking forward to it. Not working will mean one less thing to worry about because frankly, I've got enough on my plate at the minute

I've made the decision to stop driving a couple of weeks ago - after a trip to a meeting in Derby I was in total agony with my pelvis and still am, so it seems it's time to admit defeat on that score. I'll still pop to the shop and into town to visit my family now and then but my days of four hours in the car are well and truly over

I've also reduced my working hours by half, meaning that I work until 1pm and spend the afternoons laid on my bed with my giant pillow making good use of my Netflix subscription (all viewing suggestions welcome!) I've re-watched Downton Abbey and Gavin & Stacey and am now working my way through Secret Diary of a Call Girl. My bed is the only place I can get comfortable so I'm spending an awful lot of time there lately but it's my favourite place to be so it's no hardship really

The biggest news this week is that we are moving in 3-5 weeks! Despite the fact that the new house is nowhere near ready and doesn't have so much as a toilet yet, we are under pressure to get ourselves in before the baby arrives. We've timed it to coincide with my maternity leave which will mean that I don't have to worry about setting up my office and unpacking all my work stuff etc. A 'To Let' sign went up a couple of weeks ago and we have found some lovely tenants, a mature couple who are relocating from Kent and fell in love with the place as soon as they walked through the door. They were so keen and so happy to have found their new home, it was heart warming to see! They came round for a cup of tea last weekend and we sorted out the final details - deposits, moving dates, utilities etc and we're all set. They want to be in by 1st October so we've not got long to get things sorted and work on the new house has become a bit frantic! 

So we've begun a frenzied attack on finishing the house. My parents and best friend Liz are helping me with painting and Matt continues building work with the brickies. We've got so much left to do, the only way to tackle it is in bite sized chunks. As long as we have a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom that are completely finished, I'll be happy. The rest will just be a work in progress and will be finished when it's finished. I'd rather have it all perfect before we move in but as Matt pointed out, we're so far behind schedule already that if we don't move before the baby is born we probably never will!

So as well as making lists of baby stuff we need and ordering away like mad, I'm also in the process of picking paint colours, choosing bathroom furniture, changing our address, arranging safety checks and catering for the hordes of people who descend on us every weekend. I'm so lucky to have such helpful family and friends, there's really no way we could do this without them. My parents, particularly, are so giving of their time, especially as they are so busy themselves - both working full time and moving into their own dream house in two weeks time!!

The baby is getting bigger now and I'm struggling to eat a full meal without feeling stuffed as it's taking up so much space! I've got a real sweet tooth at the minute and it's hard to balance out the sweet stuff with the healthy stuff. All I want to eat is chocolate and cake! The baby suffers from regular hiccups, which feel like little throbs in my lower abdomen. Baby is positioned head down and likes to wedge his/her feet under my lower right ribs which is mighty uncomfortable. Nearly all the movement I feel is on my right side so I'm guessing it must be facing that way. We had our 28 week midwife appointment  a few weeks ago and got to hear the baby's heartbeat again - people seem to get really excited about this but I'm not sure why. I'm in no doubt that all's well in there judging by all the movement, it's like having a one man band in my tummy! 

This weekend I'll be making mass lunches for the workers and perhaps attempting to do a bit more painting if I'm feeling brave. I've had a good couple of days with my SPD - I think my reduced working hours have helped - and it's hard to know whether to take advantage and crack on with some painting or just be glad that it's eased up a bit 

If any of you are pregnant and suffering or if you know someone who is, The Pelvic Partnership have a great website, full of advice and information 

Have a great weekend!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Goodnight Mama Hen

On Sunday I was at the new house painting windows with my parents when I got a call from Matt, who was at the quarry. 'Get your dad to run you home quickly - there's a loose dog in the garden and it's killing the chickens'

My stomach dropped and I raced down the stairs and into my dads car. We drove around the village looking for the dog but to no avail. We went home and found that five out of six of our chickens were ok. I put them away so we could continue looking for the dog. But the missing chicken was our favourite - Mama Hen

Remember her? I've mentioned her a few times before. She was a little black bantam - the prettiest bantam you've ever seen. She was like a little round puffball with a beautiful green sheen to her feathers and the biggest, darkest eyes I've ever seen on a chicken. She was a friendly little thing too and made a really unique little clucking noise - we could have picked her out from a hundred chickens if we were blindfolded. She used to tilt her head to one side, gaze up at you with her dark eyes and cluck sweetly away. I perfected clucking back at her and we used to have little chats by the back door

It sounds silly to be so sentimental about a chicken and in all honesty she was the only one we had any real affection for - you couldn't help it because she was just so sweet. She was eternally broody and always used to get picked on by the other hens but she really didn't care, she was just a happy little thing

All that was left of her was a pile of black feathers by the coop. A neighbour had called Matt to say they'd seen a terrier running out of our garden with a chicken in its mouth, I really hope she had a quick end. We managed to find the dogs owner eventually. She was an older lady who has only had the dog for three weeks, it is a rescue dog. It was hard to be angry, she was genuinely upset and the incident put her off keeping the dog 

These things happen of course and it wasn't really the lady's fault, the dog had escaped from her garden through the hedge despite the fact she'd spent the whole morning barricading her in. But it doesn't stop us from being incredibly sad that we've lost our little favourite 

Sleep well Mama Hen

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Feeding Dogs ... The Natural Way

I'm a big believer in natural feeding. Before dogs were domesticated, they hunted and scavenged in packs. They ate animal carcasses, so their diet was made up of meat, offal, bones and partially digested vegetable matter from the digestive systems of the animals they caught 

source - wikipedia

To my mind, it makes perfect sense to feed my dogs a diet which is as close to this as possible. This is why I feed my dogs using BARF principles - that's Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, not up-chuck :)

When dogs were first domesticated they were fed scraps, leftovers from whatever their owners ate. For convenience, this developed into tinned dog food bulked out with filler food such as mixer or biscuits. At some point in the past we got lazy and some bright spark decided that dog food could be condensed into little dry balls of kibble

Ever wondered why kibble never goes off? Because it's stuffed full of chemicals and preservatives, that's why. Ever wondered at the unnatural coloured pieces that some dry food contains? It's full of colouring. What for? Colours are of no earthly use to dogs, it's just chemicals after all. Dry food contains grains, wheat and fillers, refined sugars, salt and chemical flavourings. Many other, far nastier ingredients have been found in commercial pet foods - I'm not going to go into detail here but I will leave info below if you would like to research yourself

Would you eat processed food every day? Do you think it would be good for you, that you'd thrive and be a picture of health? Research suggests that a natural diet is healthier for dogs and when you think about the ingredients of commercial pet foods it's not hard to see why

So what do I feed my dogs?

I don't stick to a rigidly BARF diet but I do stick to the BARF principles for their main diet. They also have leftovers of our meals, nothing gets wasted in this house. Their daily diet consists of one meal per day, in the evening, made up of raw meat and a vegetable mix which I make myself

I buy their meat from the butcher, it's basically all the offcuts minced up. I feel better knowing that it's actually fit for human consumption (not that you'd want to try it!) I weigh it out, bag it up and freeze into daily portions. I have a huge freezer in the garage which purely houses the dogs meat and bones. They have bones several times per week - raw, never cooked. Cooked bones splinter and are extremely dangerous. They have raw, whole eggs a couple of times a week and tinned pilchards at least once

As a rule the vegetable mix consists of greens, carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, ginger, garlic and linseeds. Plus any other veg I've got lying around, usually green beans (which they love!) all blended up in the food processor

I didn't discover natural feeding until Jessie was five months old. She was a nightmare to feed, she refused to eat kibble unless it was well disguised with cooked mince/gravy/pilchards in tomato sauce .... unrecognisable basically. I was determined not to make silly mistakes that would make this worse - I refused to hand feed her and I removed her bowl after 10 minutes, whether she'd eaten or not. I wasn't going to pander to her, I reasoned that she'd eat when she was hungry. But when she got to five months old and she refused food for a week, I was desperate. She was supposed to be a growing puppy but she was skin and bone. I'd been researching alternatives and happened across the BARF diet. It made perfect sense to me so I decided to give it a go. I can't tell you how amazing it was to see how my puppy attacked and enjoyed her food once I stopped trying to force her to eat kibble. I started off gently with a pack of raw beef mince and moved on to offal and bones, starting with chicken wings and moving on to chicken carcasses and lamb ribs. She was a different dog! She started to fill out, her coat gleamed, her teeth were white and - look away if you're squeamish - she produced one small, firm poo per day rather than the three or four large smelly ones I'd become used to!

When I met Matt he was horrified when he found out what Jessie ate. He found me in the kitchen one day hacking up a beast heart into freezable portions and must have thought he'd found himself a right loon! When he told people what I fed my dog they came out with all kinds of rubbish - 'the bones will puncture the dogs lungs', 'the dog will be bloodthirsty and prone to biting' !! What a load of crap! He was soon converted when he started taking Jessie to work with him and people started commenting instead on how happy, healthy and shiny she was

We went on to get Wilson, who was munching on his first chicken wings at just eight weeks old and loved his raw diet. When I worked the dogs and spent a lot of time amongst knowledgable dog people, I was asked constantly what I fed my dogs. They were lean, muscled, shiny and fit. Even our vet has commented on their condition - I take that as a huge compliment!

Feeding your pets is a very personal thing, it's very much the choice of the owner and I'm not trying to tell anyone what to feed their dog (or cat - the same principles apply to them) But you may not be aware that there's any alternative to commercial pet food - I certainly wasn't - and maybe you'll be as fascinated as I was

I'm not going to provide any links for fear of appearing biased - obviously this is a controversial topic and there are many differing views out there. But Google is your friend! If you search terms such as 'barf diet science' and 'commercial pet food industry' you'll be on the right track

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