smallholderwannabe

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

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter has come - and gone too

The Easter celebration is over for another year. I never got to go on the Procession of Witness on Good Friday because an elderly lady had fallen and cut her leg quite nastily on something at church  and I was the chatty distraction while her leg was cleaned and dressed.  Then when we got home again, I mentioned something about the two Sunday morning services and my husband said, " Oops, I forgot to tell you that I said that we would prepare and serve the breakfast following the early service...".  Did I say that he was taking the early service as well?  And since we had been at a different church on Palm Sunday, nobody had thought to put out a sign up sheet so I had no clue how many we were catering for...  Sunday was a great day but so very, very busy.  I went shopping on Saturday and decided that I would prepare for 40 people with an extra box of cereal and an extra loaf "just in case".  And I got it about right.  We also went down to church and set up the tables and chairs and cutlery and organised as much as we could.  Then we were down first on Sunday morning to get the urns on etc.  My husband led the first service and afterwards I beetled out as quickly as possible to the kitchen and boiled the eggs while everybody had their cereal.  I had detailed somebody else to stand over the toasters and keep refilling them. The same kind person supervised clearing away afterwards because I had to move on to the next thing.

Then before I had quite finished eating my breakfast, the music rehearsal started so I had to rush up with my toast still in hand.  Ever tried singing with a mouth full of toast crumbs?  Don't, because it is not a pretty sight : ).  My husband picked up his guitar and he started a nose bleed.  A mega fountain (ok too much info, I know) which kept going for just short of half an hour.  I got him out to the gents where there was a plentiful supply of absorbent loo roll.  It is somewhat difficult being a lady and needing to go into the gents...  I got another man to keep going back to check up my husband but my mind was not exactly on the rehearsal much and especially so as time went on.  We had finished by the time my husband came back to us with a very soggy shirt where he had tried to wash out the front.  And the gents looked like a mass murder had taken place in there.  Then after that service we had jacket potatoes and salads (prepared by somebody else : ) ...) and we made my husband sit down for a while.  Then there were all sorts of games and I made my husband sit and watch lots rather than joining in.  After a while he admitted that he had a tremendous headache and was glad to sit out and just watch.  And after we had cleared up and tidied, we went home for a peaceful evening and early to bed.

My farmer friend went home then too - and then rang me to tell me that they had gone out to the hens and found that something (probably a fox) had got in and killed them all.  What a sad end to a lovely day.

On Monday, my husband was right as rain and just as well because he had promised to go and help a friend move some furniture.  That took all morning and he came home with a present of a bag of wood for the woodburner.  What a nice way to say thank you to us!

This morning, my husband had been detailed to go and help our daughter and her husband to lay some floor tiles.  While he was out, I happened to open the front door and heard the joyful sound of a chainsaw being used close by but out of sight. Then I saw a man come round the corner with a wheelbarrow full of logs...  I grabbed a key and rushed off to see what was happening.  The council had sent a team round to cut all the branches off a tree on the pavement that they wanted taken down as it was starting to lean a bit too much.  In that road, the trees had been planted a long time ago, so they were big but they are not really a suitable type to grow on a narrow pavement and close to the front windows of the houses.  There were two men standing to the side with their wheelbarrows and taking the pieces of branch as they were offered.  I was asked if I wanted some too, so I rushed back for our wheelbarrow and joined the queue.  I ended up with four heaped wheelbarrows worth of lovely big pieces of branch which will be wonderful.  I'd have been happy to take away some of the smaller branches too but the treecutters shredded them.  One of the other men told me that there is a tree being taken down in the next road tomorrow so I'll be listening out for that chain saw music : )

A lot of wood is better for drying out for two years rather than just one before burning and we are filling up our garden with wood.  My husband has built several wood stores with pallets (airflow) for sides and and some lap fence panels as a roof to keep off the rain.  We reckon we have enough wood drying for next winter and we are now working on the winter after.  It is not all brilliant wood like we have acquired today, but it was all free, which is very important.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter is coming

Tonight we have our first service of the Easter celebration at church. It is a joint service with various other churches in the area but we are hosting it at our church.  Tomorrow, Good Friday, the same churches will gather for a short service and then a Procession of Witness up the High Street to another church where there will be an even shorter service.  In the evening, there is yet another service.  Then on Sunday there is an early service followed by breakfast (eggs for Easter!) and then a brief interval (music rehearsal for us) and the main service.  Then a bring and share lunch and an afternoon of fun for everybody.  We are not providing music for just one of those services...

Last Sunday was Palm Sunday and my husband had been asked to preach at another church a few miles away.  It was a good service and beautiful weather so we drove into the lanes behind the little town and ate our picnic in the sunshine and had a little walk.   We parked beside a field gate so that we would be off the road and other cars could pass by.  When I stepped out of the car, there was a fallen branch almost covered by the weeds that were growing so we got out our little saw that lives in the boot and the branch went into the boot in pieces.  Next winter's supply of wood for the woodburner is growing. 

On the way home, we passed very close to a large branch of Tesco that I hardly ever get to visit, so we called there and brought home lots of yellow stickered bread and salad.  I took a carrier bag of goodies to my son's house, one to my daughter's house and one to my friend down the road.  Lots of happy smiles from the recipients and the three bags didn't even cost me £3 in total. 

On Tuesday, we went to my lives-slightly-further-away daughter's house.  She has just come out of hospital after an op and that was our day for looking after her.  Family and friends are doing one day each until her partner can be off work.  It was nice to have a quiet natter with her and see for myself that she is definitely improving.  An assurance over the phone is not quite the same as seeing for myself in person.

Last night we went to our first barbeque of the year.  It was another beautiful day and most the the family gathered at other daughter's house and we sat outside and chatted until it became too cold at about 7.30.  I always enjoy seeing my family and playing with the grandchildren : )

This has been a good first week of my holiday so far.  And the list of jobs to be done has not got any shorter because I've been too busy enjoying myself.  I need to remedy that!  Maybe I need to reprioritise the jobs to make sure at least some things get done next week...

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Holidays

Just one more get-up and then it is a holiday for Easter.  Yay!!  There is lots going on in our lives at the moment:


  • My husband has got lots of bits of work on the go
  • My new little hens have laid an egg each twice this week and their eggs are getting bigger
  • There are lots of seed trays around the house and new plants coming
  • My poorly cat seems to be improving and is now eating me out of house and home
  • My daughter is going into hospital tomorrow for an op which will improve her life greatly
  • My grandson came to fetch me from work yesterday and we played tig (current favourite game) round the shelves of books and my knee survived
  • We were out of bread so I made a little flat loaf of soda bread on the woodburner last night so that there would be fresh bread for breakfast.  I used my new kefir and the bread worked (and tasted) just fine.  I'm not sure that the kefir is working properly though because it tasted vile when I tried a spoonful and I love the tang of natural yoghurt. It always amazes me that bread and scones taste so good when I've made them with sour milk
  • My husband has been asked to preach on Sunday at a church 20 miles away.  I'll go with him and hopefully the weather will be nice on Sunday and we can come back through the lanes and look at green fields.  If it is nice, I might even pack a little picnic : )
  • There are lots of services at church in the coming week to celebrate Easter
  • I've been asked to knit little "chicks" to cover creme eggs for Easter again.  I knitted lots last year but they have not given me much notice this year

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Heifer!

My friend texted me to say that they have finally had a heifer calf.  I am so pleased for them as it means the continuation of the herd.  I like the idea of being able to point out the calf's mother, grandmother, greatgrandmother etc. : )

Family is important to the cows in a similar way to people. Grandmother will mind daughter's calf as well as her own to give daughter a break.  Isn't that nice!

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Thursday, April 03, 2014

Mothers' Day etc

On Saturday, we went shopping to Aldi to spend our £5 off voucher, made 2 x 8 portion desserts for the evening, did the washing, went and collected a load of wood (for the woodburner) from an unwanted shed belonging to a friend of a friend, and went to an evening fund-raising meal at church.  One of our young people is doing a degree and needs funds to go on a far flung placement.  She only has her student loans so we ran a "pop-up restaurant" at £5 a head to raise some money to help her out.  It is the first meal out where I have had to pay for a very long time but we wanted to help too.

On Sunday, we were up and at church for a music rehearsal for 9 am.  Then the service and after that I popped over the road to Asda to buy myself a treat of the much advertised 1 litre bottles of Baileys for £12. Guess what!  There was a big gap on the shelves where the Baileys should have been.  I had had a long discussion with myself as to whether I could justify spending £12 on just myself for a treat - and I need not have bothered : (

Then a quick sandwich and out to my friend's farm.  They had their first lambs of this year born last Thursday and the first calf on Saturday.  Very, very cute!  Unfortunately the calf was yet another bull.  They have had all male calves for several years now and would really like some females to ensure the continuation of the little herd. They are Dexters so the calves are quite small.

And straight to my daughter's for an early dinner.  It was a multi-purpose family get-together. Within the last week, the family have had cause to celebrate one birthday, one wedding anniversary and Mothering Sunday and another birthday in two weeks.  So all of us met up at my daughter's house for a meal together.  It was a lovely warm afternoon so the children were all able to play outside.  I was quite tickled when my 20 month old granddaughter dragged me outside to play tig.  "You go" she said and ran away giggling and then waited for me to catch her and say "tig". My duff knee can cope with running after a small girl who runs away and then waits for me to catch up but running after the 4 year old was a lot harder!

It was a lovely weekend and I really enjoyed it but I have to admit that I came to work on Monday for a rest.  And anybody who knows what working in a school is like, will understand just how (un)likely that is : )

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

£5 off at Aldi

Today there is a £5 off a spend of £40 in the Daily Mirror.  I shall be acquiring my copy of the Mirror : )

I'm reading that lots of people seem to be buying two copies of the paper so that they have two vouchers because they are dated for a week hence.  So one for this week and one for next week if they go shopping a little bit earlier in the week.  I have trouble enough spending the £40 in one week let alone two weeks running!

They seem to be printing a voucher for Aldi in the last week of every month so I think (now that I've finally noticed the trend) that I shall start keeping a separate shopping list for the things that we want that are good value in Aldi.  I do have difficulty in spending £40 anywhere in one go so this will give me a head start.  I can only bring myself to buy something if it is good value because otherwise there is no point to going to buy the paper specially and getting to Aldi.  I have the same problem with the £so much off a £spend vouchers at the other supermarkets too. This provides no end of amusement for my husband. Well, isn't it nice to be useful for something ?   : )

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Busy weekends

This weekend was busy.  Next weekend will be busy and so will the one after that.  It is the housework that usually gets left undone because we have to eat and clean clothes are needed for work...  so don't come and visit before the Easter holiday, please, so that I'll have a chance to play catch-up : )

One of the things that we did on Saturday was to go to an 80th birthday luncheon party at a pub near Stratford.  It was a very pleasant afternoon. As we were the transport for another couple, we were invited back afterwards for a cup of tea because the other couple were, if you see what I mean.  I had not expected that so it ended up that the whole day had gone because it was not very local... It was my first 80th party.  I've been to lots of 50th and 60th celebrations but not been to a 70th yet.  It will come : )

We don't tend to go out for meals but our invitation was the verbal kind that is kindly meant but extremely hard to refuse without giving offence and besides, the other couple would not have been able to go if we didn't, so we bit the bullet and went. We had expected to have to pay but discovered that it was all paid for so it just cost the diesel, which helped towards my enjoyment, if I'm being honest. I know I'm a skinflint sometimes but I like our cooking and it grieves me to pay a week's housekeeping money for a meal that is usually not as good as we could have cooked for ourselves.  I decided to order the scampi meal because I like it and my husband doesn't, so I very rarely have the opportunity to eat it.  And there were four different veg served with it, so that pleased me too.

Sunday, we had church in the morning (with music rehearsals that means 9 am until almost 1 pm - so it is longer than it sounds...), a quick trip to Lidl for milk and a glance at the weekend half price specials (pork mince £1.14 for 500g - nice!) and home for a quick sandwich.  Then off with son to help him move something which took longer than expected (doesn't it always?) then a super quick omelette made with a large number of my new girls' baby eggs and back to church for a special event.

I did manage a load of washing on each day and it was really good to bring it in dry at teatime, even the towels.  Since we have the woodburner now, I put up with an airer or two in the living room with us in order to make more use of the heat and keep away from the energy guzzling tumble dryer but I really like not having the room like the proverbial Chinese laundry.

And mentioning the woodburner reminds me to say that my daughter rang up to say that a tree had come down this weekend in her neighbour's garden and she has kindly volunteered our services to clear it : )  It is not a huge tree but it is free wood nonetheless and will help towards replenishing what we have lost at school.  The garden and tree belong to a single mother who is very grateful not to have to pay to have it cleared or to have the trouble of working out how to clear it. Win win, I think.

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