This blog is mainly a rambling kind of diary of the transition from smallholderwannabe to smallholder.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Free food : )

I read a post on Facebook that says that there is likely to be another coupon in Thursday's Sun newspaper for Morrison's - for £5 worth of free fruit and veg with no strings attached.  I shall be popping round the corner to have a look on Thursday to look at a copy of the Sun to see if this is true. 

I do hope so! I've told my son so that he can get his copy as, with another little person in the house, anything that stretches their budget will be very welcome. And we've been out with them to the park this afternoon to run a bit of energy off the children and get a breath of fresh air for the grown ups.  They let my daughter-in-law out of hospital yesterday at 9pm(!) and she has had both the doctor and midwife visit this morning so she really wanted a gentle saunter in the park for a few minutes before sitting on a bench to watch the rest of us run after the older children and push swings etc.  It was lovely and sunny and probably did her a bit of good after four days in hospital.

I got some more blackberries and was given a bag of windfalls so I've made some more blackberry and apple jam.  I've also diced up the cucumbers I bought for 24p from Lidl and have them sitting in salted water before I pickle them tomorrow.  I've got marmalade to make and hopefully jam from the little not-quite-damson tree we have that a squirrel kindly planted for us.  I've also got some half price peaches and nectarines from Lidl and want to make some jam from them.  Guess what is going to be in the food hampers for my friends at Christmas? I've got a recipe for apple marmalade (with some grapefruit and lemon in as well) that I'd like to try.  My son has a small apple tree and I can't see that he will have the time or the inclination to do much with the apples this year. That is where my bag of windfalls came from and I'm hoping for more.  Mind you, I was sat for ages with the bag of windfalls, a bowl for the nice bits, a bowl for the reasonable peel and cores, and a very large bowl for the bits for the compost heap - and when I got to the bottom of the bag, I'd filled the compost bowl, got a decent pile in my "reasonable " bowl and a measly 16 ozs of prepared apple to go in my jam.  I cooked the peel and cores to mush and sieved it, measured it and added that to my jam too with an apprepriate amount of extra sugar.  I do like some apple in with my blackberries because it ensures a good set, the apple takes on the blackberry flavour and as well, it kind of spreads the pips out, if you know what I mean.  Small blackberries can mean that there are an awful lot of pips in the jam and I don't like too many pips.

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Friday, August 15, 2014


My newest granddaughter who was born today.

Rebecca Rose Law, born today by planned c-section at 11:38am. Weighing 8lb 1oz, both Mum and Baby doing fine. With Peter Law.

She is about two hours old here.


Thursday, August 07, 2014


I've been picking blackberries.  Yum.  They have got to be one of my favourite fruits and they are free too - my favourite price.  I got some windfall apples so I've made blackberry and apple jam today.  That is the first for 2014. I won't be making so much this year because I made such a lot last summer.  Two summers back I didn't get my hands on any fruit at all so I didn't make any jam.  So I went a bit overboard last summer in case this summer was a poor harvest again.

I find homemade jam to be a versatile commodity.  It is good to eat but it is also good for giving to somebody as a thank you present or to put in a hamper as a Christmas present.  And it keeps for years - literally.  Earlier this year, we found a small number of pots which my husband had decided to store at the back of the shed, for reasons best known to himself, and they had been completely overlooked. They were dated 2001! But they were absolutely fine and have now been eaten.

Still on the subject of food, I had a lovely find in a charity shop when we were away last week.  I found a cast iron griddle and I was so pleased.  I shall be using that on the top of the woodburner to cook soda farls in the winter. I'm not sure that the lady in the charity shop knew what it was because she looked quite bemused when I took it to the till and was obviously delighted with it.  I used my frying pan on the woodburner last winter but I was a little worried in case I damaged it as it was quite expensive.  Griddles were invented for the sort of job I have in mind and a cast iron one will last me the rest of my life : )

Lidl had their cucumbers ar 29p this week so I've bought 5 and my next project is cucumber pickle.


Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Holiday : )

We've been away for a few days and we are back now.  My older granddaughter wanted to go and stay on the farm in Wales where we've been before.  She wanted to help with the animals and her parents didn't really want to stay for a week so they took her down, stayed for a weekend and then we went down and took over and then brought her home.  Not that there is very much work involved - it is more a case of being around and then providing meals. My son and his family went down on the Sunday and stayed one night so their children got to see the animals too.  They love being there.

We managed to go for a walk on the moors on three of the days and we loved that. There are a lot of areas of moorland around there and I love a quiet walk with just a few sheep to talk to. I am not surprised at the lack of people in February when we last went, but I had expected to see a few walkers in July/August.  I suppose because we work in a school and are always coping with teenagers that I really value the times when we can get away and be a bit antisocial : )

One of the oldest goats is losing her teeth and can't chew hay any more so we were asked to save any veg and fruit peel/cores to supplement her diet.  That goat is very knowing (and very friendly and gentle) and when she sees anybody coming her way with a tub in their hand, she is suddenly very interested.  It was fun! I could cope with a small goat in the garden if the council weren't so dead set again anybody keeping cloven hoofed animals...

In the last week of the term, my hens just about went on strike and I had hardly any eggs.  Lots of my work customers were asking for extra eggs to start them off for the school holidays and I hadn't enough to give some of them their normal ration let alone extras. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw how many they had laid when we were away.  Perverse creatures!  Let's just say that omelettes won't be off the menu for some time yet.

We went down to the allotment yesterday.  The warm weather and the rain we've had recently meant that we couldn't see the crops for the weeds. There is plenty of work there to keep us out of mischief! However, the autumn raspberries are showing signs of flowering and it looks like there will be a reasonable crop of little purple damson-y plums, so I reckon I will be making jam and maybe some plum chutney. One of my summer jobs is to increase our stock of marmalade which is getting low. I haven't got my hands on any fruit for jam yet this summer but the blackberries are ripening nicely in the hedgerows...

Today we went to a house not far from us where a kind lady had said that we could have her shed as she wanted rid of it.  Not having seen it, we thought it would end up as firewood with maybe some of it being used to make another shelter to keep wood dry.  Now, however, as it was in pretty good condition, we are thinking of swapping it for the old shed up the garden.  We had to take this shed to pieces and that took some time.  Lifting the two halves of the roof off the walls proved to be a problem.  The second half slipped and I ended up briefly with the full weight of it and banged my shoulder rather so I'm a bit stiff now.  After that, I knew that I would not be able to help get the sections of shed up on to the roof rack so I sent for reinforcements.  Fortunately my son-in-law was at home and although he was in the middle of some DIY himself, he came and helped load the car roof rack and then came to our house to help unload again.  They need to do two trips so I was very grateful to him for dropping what he was doing and coming to our rescue.  The next job will be to put the shed together (after we've decided how to shift things around to fit it in because it is bigger than our current old one) and I think we will be calling on his help again, bless him.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Thinking ahead

I have had such a quiet week and I've really appreciated it.  I have got through most of the mountain of laundry.  There are quite a few things left unwashed still but there is not enough for a full load of anything.  It has been so lovely to peg the washing out and bring it in dry but this in turn has generated a mountain of ironing - and it is far too hot to be ironing.  So I'll be wearing non-iron clothes this week until I get my act together : )

Today my husband is away at a meeting in Cambridge for examiners.  That will mean about five hours of driving.  It will have been alright this morning because he left home before 6.30 and before it warmed up but I'm sure he won't enjoy the drive back this evening.  I'm celebrating my peaceful day by having porridge for my lunch.  I love porridge but my husband doesn't so I'm having it while I can.  Since it is for lunch, I've put a handful of sultanas in it and they have all plumped up nicely.  Yum!

I'm still collecting anything wooden that I find - pallets, branches, a wooden dining chair (broken) that was left out for the bin men.  I popped back into school one day this week to collect some wood that was going spare.  Some of it has already been used to mend the sides of one of the rabbit hutches.  Some will be stored for future use in repairing things and some scrappy bits will end up in the pile for the woodburner for the autumn.  We had the Health and Safety bloke come to do an inspection at school recently.  Can you believe that we were told that the Design department was storing too much wood and that they had to get rid of lots of it.  This wood is stored in a purpose built concrete store which has been made as fireproof as possible! It is our gain but I still think that it is further evidence that H&S have gone mad.

The maths department were also having a major clear out at the end of term and I have been given two boxes of absolutely ancient books which are donkeys years out of date - but perfectly fine for burning. Some of the books which had a bit of life left were passed on elsewhere. And one of the members of staff who was retiring has given me all his notes and paperwork from the last ten years of teaching and this will end up as paper "bricks" to burn next winter. Just think - one paper "brick" burnt each day over the winter means at least 200 logs that we don't have to source or cut up (or pay for).  Every little helps.  The ash from this winter has been added to the compost heap and helps to aereate our really heavy clay soil.

H&S would have forty fits at the amount of extra paper that is in my house at the moment but come back halfway through the winter and there won't be nearly so much.  Like everything else in life, it is a case of "carpe diem" and I may never have the opportunity of having so much free woodburner fodder again.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Got there!

I feel like I crawled there on my hands and knees at the end but I have actually got to the summer holidays from school.  Hurray!  Yesterday I did one load of washing and pegged it out and later brought it in and folded it but I didn't do anything else that could remotely be described as useful.  Today I feel better for the rest and hopefully tomorrow a bit better still.

On Saturday, we had the birthday party for our two small grandchildren.  My job was in the kitchen - preparing food, serving food, clearing up food...  I was so tired that when we got home again, I fell fast asleep.  I always have difficulty sleeping when it is daylight so this is very unusual for me.  I put it down to a severe case of end-of-term-itis : )


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Nearly there

Just one more day, then freedom.

Nearly there : )

All I shall be doing at work tomorrow is to finish clearing my room so that the team of cleaners can have a clear run and phoning up about some things I ordered for school which seem to have gone astray.  No kids : )

Just one more day.