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

Sunday, June 22, 2008

It was raining all day yesterday when I wanted to wash and dry the sheets and towels. The weather forecast said that it would be dry and blowy for most of today so I got a load on washing and pegged it out before church this morning. Then I left a load washing and pegged it out when we got back from church. Those two loads have dried beautifully in the breeze and smell lovely. I did a third load and pegged it out after lunch but I've just brought it in half dry because there is now a smattering of rain in the breeze and with all the clouds now quite grey, I thought it would be better to quit while I was ahead.

The hens have broken three eggs over the weekend before I got to them so I only just have enough eggs for my Monday customer. These eggs were quite thin-shelled so it is obviously time for a top up of calcium. The mixed corn contains crushed oyster shell which helps as grit for the digestion as well as calcium to help the shell quality. Every now and then I bake some eggshells in the oven when it is on for something else and then put them in a really thick and strong plastic bag that I keep for this purpose - and stand on them and jump up and down until all is finely crushed. Then I make up a mash with hot water and some layers pellets (preferably the powdery, end of the sack bits) and add in the crushed eggshell. They love it and see it as a treat but they won't eat the eggshell readily any other way that I've tried.

We've spotted a suitable house with 4 1/2 acres of land. If it is still up for sale when the school holidays start, then we'll go and view it. I'm determined not to get excited because I've fallen in love with too many places only to be really disappointed when we've actually gone to see them. I never cease to be amazed at how estate agents' particulars can make the most unprepossessing place sound wonderful on paper.

I'm well through sorting all the books in my Library. The Grand Opening Ceremony is on Friday next and they still can't tell me when the replacement shelves are coming. And I can't put books on shelves that have not arrived... I'm so tired! Moving books is hard work. And my wrists ache lots. One of my pupil librarians who has just finished his exams, came in last Friday and spent the whole day moving books for me. I was so pleased and very grateful. I would not have been so far forward without his help. And I've got 4 1/2 working days left to have everything just so.

Must go. The ironing beckons.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I'm really tired today. I've been working all day moving books and they are heavy. It will take me several days to move them all and get everything set up just right. My new Library is having a grand opening next week and so everything has got to look good for then. Hopefully the replacement shelves (for the wrong ones delivered) will have arrived. It is difficult to sort all the books properly when you are missing some shelves.

I've lost two hens since I last posted. One hen was looking under the weather one day and was gone the next morning. The other one was the sister of the first one and she has been poorly for some time but seemed happy enough just pottering around. As the others were not picking on her, I just left her to enjoy life as best she could. However, one week to the day after her sister died I went out to check on the hens and she had taken a massive turn for the worse. It is the second time that we have had to "do" for a hen but the first time we have done it ourselves. The first time, we got a farmer friend to come and show us how to do the deed. I feel we have passed another milestone on our journey to urban self-sufficiency. (Not that we will ever be self-sufficient but we might become a bit more self-reliant. ) The funny thing is that the remaining hens have laid more eggs since those two went. Even one of the bantams laid an egg. That makes a grand total of two eggs from the four bantams in 2008.

I'm making hay. My husband thinks it is funny but I feel really proud of my little bit of hay. On dry days, I cut a stripe across the lawn which we haven't mowed so the grass is about 15 inches high. I spread it across the garden bench to dry because air can flow underneath and the grass dries from both sides. After a day, it has shrunk to about half the quantity and after 3-4 days it has shrunk by about another half. Because it is only made in small quantities, I gather the hay up in the evening and put it in an old laundry basket in the shed to keep it dry. When the grass is as dry as it is going to get and is definitely hay, it is stored for the winter in paper sacks that held layers' pellets for the hens. I'll have at least half a dozen sacks full by the time I'm finished. I know it is not a huge quantity but the rabbit will have our hay made in our garden in the winter and that gives me a nice little glow inside.

I'm going to have a really early night tonight or I'll never manage to be up for work in the morning.