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

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Oops. Missed a week again. I'd promised myself that I would at least do a weekly posting but I've not managed it. It has been another one of those weeks - the ones that feel like all you do is get up, go to work early, come home late, eat and go to bed so you can get up and do it again the next day. I'm not sure this week will be much better. Four weeks until the holidays! Now there is a juicy carrot to hold up in front of me. I'm no better than the kids.

I let the hens out for a short run around when I came home from work a couple of evenings back because it was a dry evening (for once). After about half an hour, I told them their time was up and five of the six trooped happily back into their run when I showed them the tub of mixed corn. The last one was in a rebellious mood. Bribery wouldn't work. Telling her that chicken soup might be added to the menu didn't work either. I tried to corner her and blocked off various paths but she just flew over every obstacle put in her way. It took me forty minutes to capture her and get her back in the run with the others - by which time chicken soup sounded very tasty indeed.

My mini egg that I mentioned in the last post proved to be a proper egg, with a mini yolk. When it was so very small, I'd wondered if it would be all white and no yolk. The eggs since have all been around the size I expect but I do find that they don't lay so many for a day or two after torrential rain so numbers are down. It is just as well that a couple of the friends who I supply with eggs, were away on holiday this last week.

I see that Melanie from bean-sprout's blog has been trying out some of the washing balls. They look interesting but I'm waiting until I have a voucher given to me (birthday...?) to buy them. I don't find that I can do without washing powder at all in most washes as the clothes just don't come out clean. But I'm having consistent success now with 1/4 to 1/3 the recommended amount. And that is good for the smallholding dream as well as for the environment.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

I went out to collect the eggs today and had 8 eggs from the 11 of them - that is really good. However we had one slightly squashed shape egg from the Warrens which weighed 75g and one from the bantams which weighed just 7g! If I knew how to post a photo on here, I'd get the camera out so I could record little and large for posterity.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

I've made an interesting discovery. When I was first married, one of the cookery writers whose books I liked reading was Shirley Goode. She was very popular for a few years and often appeared on TV on "let's cut the budget" type programmes. How-much-food-can-you-prepare-with-£5 type of thing. She seemed to drop out of sight after that. I've googled for her every so often to no avail. Last week, I thought of her again, after using a recipe from one of her books - and there was her blog. I was thrilled! She seems as down to earth as ever. She started writing her blog in September 2006, so needless to say, I've read it all now.

Her books are among the most used on my shelf of cookery books. The best used one is "More for Your Money" which is nearly falling apart but I can't seem to find a secondhand copy to replace it. There are very few of them around - which probably means that other people have used theirs until they've fallen apart too.

I've also been reading forum threads too. In the moneysaving Old Style threads, there are treasures to be found in economical recipes/menus. I find that reading things like this reminds me of dishes that we haven't had for a while. I haven't found a brand new recipe idea for a while because I've had a lot of years of practice at that. But I like to be reminded of recipes because I forget. I've had lots of practice at that too! I find that we eat lots of a particular style of dish over a season and then it just doesn't seem to appear on the menu for a while. Perhaps because the main ingredient just hasn't been on special offer or maybe one of us says that we are tired of that and we just don't cook it for a bit. Whatever the reason it is encouraging to read what others are doing to eat well but economically. Food is one area where it is relatively easy to economise - and the more pennies that stay in the coffers, the sooner that smallholding will become a reality rather than a dream.

Friday, June 01, 2007

It is a lovely afternoon and I have the washing line full of billowing clothes. I've been waiting for a dry day to get through lots of the washing. I tried to do some earlier in the week but the rain stopped me doing more than just the one load. I hate washing just hanging around in the house when there is no heat on. It doesn't dry quickly and then goes a bit smelly. Yuk! And I love the smell of sheets and towels that have been dried outside. And it is environmentally friendly too.

I've been trying to cut down on the amount of washing powder that I've been using. A friend had a problem with her washing machine and the repair man said that she was using too much powder. Our water here is very soft and he said we only needed to use a third to a half of what it said on the packet, depending on how dirty the clothes are. Now that is good news for the family coffers as well as for the environment. So I've cut back to between a quarter to a third of what it says on the pack and been careful about measuring the amount I use. One quarter for normal soil and one third for heavy soil. And the clothes are fine. So I'm happy.

I only use fabric conditioner if there are a lot of clothes in the load which are made of polyester. So a bottle of that lasts me for many months. Some of my more respectable clothes for work are polyester. I prefer cotton but it does crease and that is fine for eveything else but not for still looking smart at the end of a working day. But I will cut back a bit on the fabric conditioner and see how that works too.