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

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Anniversary Party Footnote

We had a lovely surprise present for our anniversary from our children this week.  They were disappointed that it arrived after it was supposed to because they wanted to give it to us at the party.

Our daughter invited us round for tea a few weeks back.  While we were out, our son nipped round to our house, borrowed the photo albums, scanned the photos and then returned the albums so that we were none the wiser.  Then this week we were presented with a properly bound book of photos telling the story of our wedding and all the years since.  It is absolutely lovely and so nicely done.  I've looked through it so many times this week and I still smile at all the memories.

: )


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Party time

Last weekend was Party Weekend.  We had the three grandchildren's party in the middle of the day in the church hall, complete with bouncy castle, and they thoroughly enjoyed it.  Then we cleared up and cleaned the hall and went straight into preparations for our party in the evening.  I have to say that two parties in one day is Jolly Hard Work!  We had over 80 guests and that is a lot of food to prepare. Our daughters had made lots of cake and I provided the savouries.  We had various friends play (guitar and keyboard) and sing and then we had the food with recorded music playing and then two friends of my daughter's played and sang for the second session. They were really good and we all really enjoyed their playing.  It was far more easy going than it sounds and I think people enjoyed it all.  I know we certainly did. But I was soooo tired afterwards.

On Sunday morning, we had to be at church early because the service was the last session of the holiday club.  So when we got home after setting the church back to rights, we had lunch and then just sat, like zombies who weren't up to walking. We've both slept well all week : )

We've been doing lots of jobs all week and then yesterday, we went to my daughter's to put up guttering on her garage. I pottered round while the work was in progress (managerial role again) and found a nice bramble just covered in ripe blackberries.  So I came home with a nice bag of various snippets that my fussy rabbit will eat and a bag full of plump juicy blackberries.  I had thoughts of putting them with the bag of windfall apples that I was given on Friday but I don't think that they are going to get past puddings after dinner. I shall have to find some more blackberries to go with those apples.  The blackberries in our garden are nowhere near ready yet.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Busy non-stop days

I've been doing lots of "busy" things recently.  We've tidied up the allotment so that it looks a bit more presentable and have picked more fruit.  This means that I've made more jam with Christmas in mind as well as our year's supply.  So far I've made raspberry, blackcurrant, gooseberry and elderflower, and gooseberry and redcurrant.  There is still plum to come as the little damsonlike purple plums are not ready yet.  My husband's favourite jam is raspberry but mine is damson so we are both catered for.  I'm not sure if the tree is really a damson but the fruit are small and more like a damson than a plum both in size and in flavour.  A kind squirrel planted a plum stone in our garden border and we transplanted it to see if it would grow - and I did and produces a nice crop each year.  I want to have a few bags of stewed damson plums in the freezer for the winter because one of my favourite puddings is to serve them with a dollop of greek yoghurt. Yum!  I've also made lots of marmalade and it should be enough to have some to put in Christmas presents and to keep us going for most of the year.

I'm still beavering away on the tidying and aim to do a little bit each day.  I find the whole process quite stressful so a little bit each day is enough.  Many a mickle macks a muckle, though, and it IS necessary. I'm not at all sure how to spell that phrase but I'm sure you've all heard it said and can understand : )

We've built one and a half more sheds in the garden to house things and now there is a lot less grass available. When I say "we", mine was the managerial role... We were given two sheds for firewood o whatever.  My husband managed to replace the rotten parts from our stash of useable wood and has made them useable again.  He and our son have also rebuilt a trailer which was borrowed from a friend so that our son could use it to go camping.  Three children and a tent plus equipment won't all fit into their car and the top box any more. However the owner said that we would have to repair the rotten piece of wood to make it fit and safe to use...  It turned out that every bit of wood have some part that was rotten so they stripped it down, repainted the metal frame and replaced all the wood - from his great wood stash. (And he has been known to comment about the quantity of craft stuff I have.......)  After a couple of coats of wood preservative, the trailer looks pretty much like new.  The owner came to have a look and took a photo to show his friends at work who have now all asked if we would like to borrow their trailers too : )

Last Saturday was my grandson's birthday.  This Saturday is youngest granddaughter's birthday and the following Saturday is middle granddaughter's birthday. So there is a grand party this Saturday for all three.  Then we carry on into the evening to celebrate our wedding anniversary which is a rather big number. We have about 60-70 guests coming to that and I am surrounded by lists and time sheets to enable me to cater.  I have the feeling that I am going to sleep well after all that.

This week is Holiday Club at church - Polar Explorers. We said that we couldn't help this year but they had a couple of leaders with hospital appointments etc on Thursday so we've agreed to help on Thursday only.  And we've got to go to the bbq for families on Friday.  Well, we don't have to but we feel that we ought to.  And then Sunday is the final holiday club meeting with a revamped service so we'll be helping with the music for that.  So I'll get my good night's sleep on Sunday. I'll certainly need it.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Halfway there


I promised myself that I would part with 1000 items from the house in 2015.  I reckoned that even if I didn't make it, then I would still be winning because I would have parted with that number of items. And here I am halfway there and just three weeks late.

Of course, I've already sorted through the easy things so the next 500 will be harder but I'm so pleased at passing 500 that I'm not deterred : )

: )


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

End of term : )

It has been busy again recently.  Term has ended and I took in the last batch of eggs for my customers at school.  I hadn't quite enough eggs so I had to "subcontract" (as my son likes to call it) and bought some eggs from my friend who got hens at the same time that I got my last lot.  It was easier than explaining to all my townie co-workers that I didn't have enough because I only have what my hens lay.  They just don't get that - after all Mr Tesco always has eggs...

I'll have fewer in future too since Clementine managed to break the wooden flap that covered the join between house and run and became dinner for the fox.  She was a really reliable layer. My other hens are either very middle aged or positively elderly so there is not much hope of them laying many eggs during the coming autumn and winter.  I'm not sure that I have enough space for any more hens until some of the existing flock have gone. I shall have to drastically cut my customer list. This situation requires thought and probably a lot of twisting of husband round my little finger : )

This last weekend, we had a church weekend at home.  For the last few years, a large chunk of the church has gone away for a weekend together and this year we decided to be different and do the same but staying at home.  So we met for breakfast on Saturday and stayed there doing various activities until about 8.30 in the evening.  Then home to bed and back to church for breakfast on Sunday morning, followed by a music practice for some of us and the morning service and then a picnic in the park.  The sun shone but there was a little bit of a breeze so the picnic was lovely. On Saturday, I was at Lidl waiting for them to open so that I could buy them out of baguettes.  I bought a few part baked ones too to make up the numbers.  I put out the baguettes that I had split,  ham, cheese, salad and fruit and a few other bits and pieces and people made themselves a DIY ploughman's.  It worked really well as people came out of the different morning groups in dribs and drabs so there was never much of a queue but people could fill the baguette with their choice of filling. For dinner, we pre-ordered fish and chips from the local chippy who gave us a good deal because it was a large order. Everybody had a really good weekend but I have to admit that I slept really well on Sunday night! People who would have found it difficult to pay for a weekend away were able to take part so I can see this event happening again.

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Sunday, July 05, 2015

Trouble with moths

We're having a lot of trouble with moths at the moment.  Anyone else suffering with moths? Every evening we "do" for about 20 or so clothes moths in the bedroom.  I got my summer trousers out the other day.  They are knitted cotton and too lightweight for the rest of the year.  This year, they are decorated by a series of little holes all down one leg where some moth or moths had dinner.  Grr. The last couple of days, we have had fewer of the clothes moths and more of a slightly smaller and darker coloured moth.  I don't know whether or not they eat clothes too but I'm not taking any chances.

Last week, I opened a cupboard door in the kitchen and some pantry moths flew out. So we had to reorganise the job list and sort the cupboards out.   There was a huge number of eggs laid everywhere and moths in every packet.  The packet (new and unopened) of coriander seeds was absolutely full of moths trying to get out.  Just about every packet was either full of eggs or contained some moths.  Yeuk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I'm so cross that so much food was wasted although the hens were happy to help dispose of quite a number of the packets.  It is not that long since I sorted and washed the kitchen cupboards but I admit to being totally horrified at the state of my food. I did discover that the packets containing any form of ginger were totally untouched so that is one thing the moths don't like.  In future, everything that comes in a packet will be going into a glass jar before going into the cupboard!

I've lost two hens this week.  One died of old age although I'd expected her to live on another couple of years as all my other bantams have been very long lived.  I could see that she was going so it wasn't a big shock.  She was one of the first two hens that we hatched at school and she lived with the other one who was much larger.  A bantam living with a Buff Orpington (a particularly large breed of hen) - they were a real comedy double act.  Do you remember Little and Large on the tv many years ago?

The other one was a shock as the hen managed to get out and a fox had it and all that I found was a little pile of feathers.  The flap of wood that covers the join between the house and the run had been broken either by the hen forcing herself out or maybe the fox helped.  I don't know and probably never will but the result is that I have lost one of my two youngest hens and a very reliable egg layer and I don't like thinking about her horrible end.

And my old cat is hanging on by a thread.  She is noticeably weaker but not showing many signs of pain.  She still obviously takes pleasure in some things but the day of reckoning is drawing nearer and I'm dreading it even if I know that it is the final kindness that I can do for her.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pasties - yum

My husband has had a birthday.  Don't they seem to come round quickly as you get older : )

One daughter clubbed together with our son to buy him enough polycarbonate to reglaze the greenhouse that we were given.  Hopefully the polycarbonate will be less easily broken than glass. Our other daughter made him 8 meal sized Cornish pasties to put in the freezer and two more to eat straightaway which were hot from the oven.  She rang her grandmother up and asked how she used to make them so that they were authentic and not like the ones that you buy in the supermarket.  My mother-in-law used to make them every week for the family.  I can still remember my shock at the size on the first occasion that I ate one as it was hanging off the plate at each end.  My husband's family are from Devon and Cornwall so they are all used to "proper" pasties. There are 4 boys in the family so when I ate my first one, my mil was used to catering for 4 teenage-boy-and-upwards size appetites.  I had to leave half of mine and ate it cold for lunch the next day.  Our daughter made them huge too so we had them for dinner and lunch the next day.  And probably the same on 4 more occasions.  Yum! Good job we had managed to eat a bit of space in the freezer. The same daughter made him a fruit cake for Fathers' Day.

The way to a man's heart is through his stomach - is an old saying.  Definitely true in this house!

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