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

Saturday, July 28, 2007

It has been a lovely day today and lots of work has been done in the back garden. We have the aching backs to prove it! And, I have a whole lineful of DRY washing. I just love the smell of towels and sheets that have been dried outside.

I also cut a patch of long grass with shears and laid it to dry on the garden bench. We have heavy rain forecast for tonight so I have filled my old (and very broken) laundry basket with it and put it in the shed. It will get put out to dry further when the suns comes out again. We have sun forecast for Monday onwards. My husband smiles at this but even a couple of bags of our own hay for the rabbit for the winter is a tiny step further towards self sufficiency. And that gives me a little warm glow.

I was reading about bottling on One of the ladies there reuses jars that have been used for preserves and have one of those buttons in the lid. She bottles her tomatoes for the winter in these jars. I've also read a book on microwave bottling that reuses this type of jar. And a recipe book from the 1970s too. American websites seem to give instructions for bottling just about anything if you have a pressure canner. These seem to be a step up from our pressure cookers and just don't seem to be available here. And in Britain we don't seem to advocate bottling anything other than fruit in case of poisoning people with botulism. (Have I remembered the correct name there???)

I'm interested in bottling but it seems a very expensive method of preserving if you have to keep buying special lids for the Kilner jars - which is why this method of bottling by reusing jars with lid buttons caught my eye. Once bottled, the food keeps for a long time with no electricity involved. Freezing the food does seem simpler but then you have to pay for all that electricity and it does have limited life when it is in good condition (12 months or so for fruit). I'd really like to talk to someone in Britain who already preserves food by bottling and ask them if they think it is cost effective. In rural areas where there may be interruptions to the power supply in poor weather, having food bottled rather than frozen sounds jolly useful.

See post 7 on this thread:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The weather is much better here today. The sun is shining right now and the place is drying out a little. However I have two lots of friends who are on flood alert because of water coming downriver today. It must be a dreadful feeling just waiting to see if you are going to be flooded out of your home or not.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

School's out!!!

Well, we've got there. But there was a point in the middle of the week when I did not believe I could ever survive to the end of the week. And I was soooooo tired that I slept for just under 12 hours last night. And 8 hours is usually a lie-in for me.

But our holiday is cancelled. We were supposed to be going away tomorrow but the place where we were staying is under two foot of water. So we are staying home in the dry. Our sympathies are with the people in our holiday area because they are in trouble with flooding. Apparently many people had to be airlifted to safety last night.

Anyway, we are at home - dry, safe and off work for 6 weeks. Yippee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And my poor hens are wet, bedraggled and unhappy. But they'll dry out if the rain stops. If.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The rain is back. And some of my washing is still wet from yesterday. I hate having washing drying slowly in the house because it often ends up smelling less than fresh. It is different in the winter when there is a bit of heat around to help it along.

One of the kind people who tried to help with the dishwasher problem posted this helpful list of white appliance info:

There is a reference to soap nuts and those eco washing balls too. And they recommend that we use separate powder, salt and rinseaid in the dishwasher rather than tablets.

I forgot the important bit at the end of yesterday's post.........FIVE days to go!!!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

I've been doing a little research on the internet about fridges as ours is on its last legs. It is not completely dead but it won't be long now so I thought that I had time to learn a bit about modern fridges and what is on offer and the price etc etc. So we come home from work on Thursday and went to empty the dishwasher - and the door won't open. Nothing would make it open. My husband took off the outside bits (note the technical jargon employed :) )that he could in the hope of reaching the inside bit of the door latch mechanism but no joy. I posted on a forum about the problem in the hope of finding somebody with brains who had solved this kind of problem before. Unfortunately the nice folk who replied all said the same as my husband - break it open if you want your dishes back. So he broke it open. Fortunately he was able to remove the door closing bits (jargon again...)and we can use it again - with an old net curtain wire hooked around it to keep it closed. It is not pretty but it is certainly not an eyesore and it WORKS which is the main thing. Now we could have thrown that old curtain wire out years ago but we kept it in case it might come in useful and now it has.

So we once again have a working dishwasher. And I can go back to my research on fridges now. I had changed to doing some frantic research on dishwashers because as we both work fulltime with lots of church commitments, we decided that if the dishes were going to get clean, it was more likely to happen with a dishwasher than without. We are undecided about the argument of lots of hot water versus dishwasher but time and clean dishes won in this case.

And my washing machine has just pinged to say that the load is done so I had better go and peg it out quick as dry days are a bit of a rarity at the moment.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Another dry evening so I let the hens out for a runaround and put the rabbit in his run for a bit too. After being cooped up for quite a few days because of the rain, they all enjoyed the extra bit of freedom. We are not having so many eggs at the moment - probably a reaction to having wet feet so much of the time. I'm only just managing to supply all my customers with none left over for us this week. Still, come the end of term and my half my customers disappearing until September, we'll have more than enough. Hopefully I'll be able to freeze a few for the winter.

All this rain means that when we've been free, there has been too much rain to go to the allotment. When we eventually get down there, we will probably need maps and a compass to find it underneath all the weeds. I just hope there are some veg surviving down there too.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

On Saturday, we went to Snibston Discovery Park in Coalville, Leics. The site used to be a coal mine and there are still the above ground buildings. It was the 15th anniversary of the opening of the site as a park and they had lots of extra attractions. It was really good fun and the weather was much better than it had been at home. We had a great time but we were really tired by the time we got back home again. We had taken a party of 65 ten year olds so we did not get to sit down much except on the coach.

My poor hens need wellies. They don't like getting their feet wet all the time and they are laying fewer and smaller eggs as a consequence. Our soil is heavy clay and there has been far too much rain for the water to all drain away. So the poor souls have been paddling - and the eggs are covered in mud. We've put lots of bark chippings down but it is not enough. And the rabbit has not been into his run for days until this evening.

Two weeks and three days to go.........