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

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Bank holiday weekend

My but it has been a busy weekend. We have finished all that shredding.  Finally. But I am soooo tired now. We spent lots of Friday shredding, lots of Saturday shredding, Sunday afternoon after church and Monday morning. My job was to keep the shredding person supplied with stuff to shred. I've got four builder's bags full of shredding which will get put into the hens' run in the winter. That is a lot of shredding but it is so much less than those three enormous piles of brush and prunings. I am amazed how much it shrank when shredded.  It is a good job done, though.

Yesterday, after lunch, my husband and I and my son and his family all went out to our friend's farm for the afternoon along with about twenty other people from church. I took along a big bowl of twenty scones and a pot of gooseberry and redcurrant jam. I have to admit that I skived off the last morning of shredding to make the scones and really enjoyed my time in the kitchen.  It was a bit of light relief after all that bending and carrying.  Most other people who came to the farm had brought cake that they had bought but it was all the homemade things that went first. So many people do not seem to make their own any more.

My highlight of the afternoon was that I got to drive the tractor.  I had to drive it through a gateway and I did find that the big wide gateway seemed to grow alarmingly narrow as I approached it driving the tractor : ) That tractor is nothing like as easy as our car to drive. My grandchildren had a wonderful time and loved looking at the animals.

This afternoon I got to look after my youngest granddaughter for four hours. She is twenty months old now and very cute. (Biased grandmother alert!)  She hasn't really learned that word "no" yet. I tried to put a photo of her here but I'm having problems. The photo is saved in a word document on my computer. It was from a photo that wasn't very good and needed a lot of the background cropped to make it into a reasonable picture.  If anybody reading this can teach me how to insert that cropped photo then I'd be very grateful.


Friday, April 29, 2016

April showers

April has been a funny month, weatherwise.  In the last week, we have had daytime temperatures of from 5'C to 15'C.  We have had brilliant sunshine but also rain, hail, sleet and snow showers. It makes it a little difficult to plan work outside as you can guarantee that it is raining when I am free to go to the allotment.

We have hired a giant shredder for the bank holiday weekend and will be shredding the enormous piles of clippings and small branches etc etc from clearing three gardens. I'm hoping that there will be enough dry spells to get round all three houses to do the shredding.  We've also borrowed a trailer to transport said shredder as it is too big to fit in the back of our big estate car. The hens will benefit in the winter as I'll be able to spread the shredding in their runs as well as whatever leaves I collect in the autumn.

Speaking of hens, I lost another of my youngest (read "very middleaged" here but they are still my youngest) hens this week. Thankfully she went in less than 24 hours from when it was obvious that there was something wrong. That flock of seven is now a flock of three. The rest of her flock are looking very healthy and are laying just about every day still.

I've been at a school show this afternoon. My grandson, aged six, had got through to the final of the his school's "got talent" competition. I may be just a tad biased here but I do think that his was one of the best acts : )    Actually, he came second to another girl in the same year whose piano playing was amazing. Most of the other acts were good but would have been better if the kids hadn't been filled with stagefright when stood on the stage looking at the whole school and all those parents and relatives facing them. Looking at a big audience would be enough to put me off too. Proud grandmother here : )

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Friday, April 08, 2016


Cats! I've gone off them today.  Fred was careering round the bedroom chasing Barney when we were having our morning cuppa.  Fred knocked over my husband's untouched half pint mug of tea. It is amazing how far a half pint of tea will travel when knocked over by a cat at full speed. Lots of things got splashed but the real damage was done to a very expensive ( and now out-of-print grrr) book that my husband was reading. The paper soaked up the tea very readily and the book is not in very good condition now.

I've been trying to sort out a few more little corners in the house. My total of things that have left the house is creeping up very slowly. In fact I am about six weeks behind schedule already. Still, looking on the bright side, some things have already left so I'm still winning : )

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Tuesday, April 05, 2016

After Easter

Easter has been and we have enjoyed it.  The celebration is the highlight of the Christian calendar and can get rather busy. On the Wednesday before Easter, we had a shorter lunchtime service at church and lots of people came in for that including all the children from the nursery school. On Maundy Thursday, all the local churches in our group get together and have a service and we rotate whose church we all go to and which minister does what part of the service. On Good Friday all the churches in our area, of all denominations, get together and pack out our church for a service and then process about 150 yards up the road to the parish church where we have a short service in the village square before tea and hot cross buns in the parish church hall. We rotate which church is responsible for both the services and this year it was our turn. This meant that we had to be at church very early for a music rehearsal. We also have a service just for our church on Good Friday evening. Saturday is free but I had to do the shopping for the breakfast after the early morning communion service on Easter Sunday which my husband was leading. So we were down early to set up breakfast (boiled eggs to represent new life) , have the early service and serve breakfast. After eating a very rushed breakfast, there was a music rehearsal for the main service and then the service itself followed by tea and coffee. 

We were not quite free after that because all three of our kids and their families had rented together a large holiday home in Cornwall for the week and we were on cat duty. After a little tour of their houses, we went home for a rest and also a late lunch when we had recovered enough energy to get it. I have to admit that I am really pleased that all my kids and their families get on so well that they go out and do things together. They rented a house about five miles from Callington where my mother-in-law used to live and where my lot spent happy holidays for several years.

Easter is a week ago now and we spent the rest of the week pottering through various jobs.  We did a bit of work on the allotment and did a few jobs around the house. To be fair, it was me that did the pottering because my husband had a deadline to meet in his exam work and he only did a few jobs as a change from being glued to the computer.

I've let my two cats outside now that they are bigger.  After my last two cats were ill and crept downhill slowly to the end, there has not been a cat presence in our garden for around three years.  There are a lot of cats in our neighbourhood and they all think that our garden is now part of their territory. I knew my new cats would have a job on their hands to establish the garden as their territory and was worried about setting two young cats up against a large number of adult cats. So I waited until mine were a bit bigger before letting them out. When I have had young cats before, we always had an older cat with the garden as their established territory so I felt this was a very different situation. Well, the young cats are loving their freedom - now what a surprise : )

They have conquered the cat flap, both in and out and are spending their days exploring the wider world.  They both pop back in the house about every 10-15 minutes to check up on us and then sprint outside again. They only seem to have two speeds at the moment - full gallop or asleep in a heap, exhausted. They have met the rabbit and the hens and survived the shock and they are having fun : )

ps BT have finally got the internet working at church again. Hurray!

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

BT blues

I've been reading recently about Dawn's troubles with BT over at

Now we are involved in trouble with BT too. Their customer service is really appalling. The problem is at church and my husband is the one with responsibility for sorting it out.  BT said that there was a problem, there was not a problem, an engineer was coming out, not coming out because there was no problem to sort etc. We didn't know where the wiring entered the building nor could we answer various other questions, so somebody else who did know  went down to church. This chap is self employed and gave up six hours of his working day to sit at church and wait for the BT engineer because BT could only offer a five hour window for the appointment. After it was obvious that the engineer was not coming, we rang BT who said that there was no problem so the appointment had not been made with the engineer. Nobody told us that.  And there was still no internet connection despite there being "no problem". Then we were given a date by which the problem would be fixed. No, of course it was not fixed by then. Apology?  What apology? Nobody seemed to care. We were annoyed on behalf of the chap who is self employed and had given up most of a working day to help his church but to no purpose because of BT.  So my husband got on the phone to BT and had a very long phone call getting passed continually to someone higher in authority until somebody had the decency to apologise. Only words but it is a start.

And the internet connection is now back and working albeit some considerable time after the problem began..  I am left with the conviction that I will never willingly have internet connection through BT.

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Monday, March 14, 2016

A good day

It was a lovely day yesterday. My husband had been asked to preach at a church about 20 miles away. They are a small church family and no longer have a fulltime minister. A lady who was at our church for over 30 years retired to this little town to be close to family. So this church asks my husband to preach each year in the run up to Easter. They are a lovely fellowship and we enjoyed our morning with them.

Then we drove on another four miles to a Countrywide store and bought ten sacks of hen food. I reckon we saved about just over £30 on the price that we usually pay at our nearest feed merchant. The fun bit came next. We found a very small lane and parked in the least muddy field gate - and ate a picnic in the sunshine. Oh I did enjoy that! It was so warm that it could have been early summer instead of mid-March. It is amazing how much better life seems on a dry, warm and sunny day after a long wet and grey spell. I had made bread rolls which turned out really well and we ate them with cheddar and salad and cherry tomatoes and followed by some homemade banana cake with chocolate chips. We went for a wander along the lane and picked a bagful of goodies for my rabbit as we went and enjoyed the sunshine.

On our way home, we passed the big Tesco and called in to see if there was anything interesting in the rugby scrum that happens just before closing time and they mark down the chilled goods to silly prices. We managed to find enough meat for 11 dinners for the both of us (ie 22 portions) for an average of 11p per portion.  Those portions are unstretched and there may well end up being a few extra portions when it is served. I also brought home a bagful of goodies for my son and for my friend.  There were so many things on the bargain shelves that people took everything they wanted and there were loads of things left over.  I would like to know what happened to them and hate to think of them being thrown out.

When we first arrived at Tesco and had just parked, I spotted my friends from the farm just getting back into their car so they said to call in on our way home . They had their first calf of the year born on Friday and it is just beautiful.  Mum is a medium black Dexter and dad was a red Dexter and the little heifer is a beautiful red. Mum is not doing too well on the milk producing front and the little calf has to have supplementary feeds and, well, somebody had to do it : ) 

What a lovely day.  A good service at the little church, a really enjoyable picnic in warm sunshine, lots of hen food and Tesco goodies which have saved us lots of money and gladdened the hearts of three families and a cuppa with some good friends to finish. And the icing on the cake was giving that beautiful little heifer a bottle of milk.  This day was good from start to finish and I shall look back on it and remember it with pleasure.

This isn't a brilliant picture but it will have to do.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday was fun. We were at church, as always, in the morning and every lady was given a bunch of daffodils, which was a nice treat. I can't bring myself to pay the price for cut flowers very often so this was a nice treat.  My husband reacts to the pollen of a lot of flowers so that is the major reason for not having flowers in the house, with the other reason being the price.

We had lunch at home and then my son and our three grandchildren came to visit. This visit was both a treat for me and a treat for his wife - she had a nice long soak in the bath on her own with no interruptions from small children wanting something : )

Unfortunately they had forgotten to give antihistamine to the eldest and he reacts to cats so the visit was not as long as I would have liked or my daughter-in-law either. But it was fun while it lasted. And my present was a voucher for an Indian meal cooked by my son on a date to be arranged.  My husband hates anything even slightly spicy so I never have anything spicy and this meal will be a real treat.  My husband will probably end up with baked beans.

Then we went to dinner with one daughter and her family.  That was good too.  She had baked me a cake for a present. It was nice to sit and have a quiet evening together.  I had seen my other daughter the night before, at a quiz evening at church.  She came to be part of our team for the quiz.  For a present, she had brought me a thoughtful present as she knows that I would far rather have a practical present than another "thing" and the traditional flowers and chocolates are not appropriate because of me trying to lose weight and my husband reacting to pollen. I did have to laugh though as I was given a large bag of recycled jars for my jams and pickles and a large bag of tumble dryer fluff which is great for lighting the woodburner. I also had a box of all the woodchips that she had saved for me from her woodcarving which she has taken up as a new hobby in the last year, also destined for the woodburner. Definitely not a traditional present but one which had a lot of thought put into it.

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