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

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I am soooo tired. We have taken a party of 70 Year 5 kids from the local primary schools on a trip to Snibston Discovery Park in Coalville in Leicestershire. It is part of our school's community involvement programme. Snibston is a fabulous place and the kids were great but it is HOT today. I get prickly heat if I go out in full sun so I was trekking round today in long trousers and a button-up-to-the-neck long sleeved shirt and I am cooked. I am slumped in front of the computer with a restorative cup of tea and my husband is likewise slumped in front of the tv. It was a great day out and I would thoroughly recommend Snibston to anybody near Leicestershire but not on a hot day like today!

Snibston was a colliery owned by George Stevenson and his son Andrew, the Victorian engineers who built the Rocket steam train and also built the first railways here. They paid £20 an acre for the land in the 1830s. Now land in the Midlands is going for a minimum of £7000 an acre. Superb day out with so much to do and see. It is very much a "hands on" sort of place and parents will be kept amused as well as their children. We have been on this trip nine times now and enjoyed every one - even the rainy ones.

Our church had planned a picnic in the park for everybody tomorrow after the service but the weather forecast says it will be even hotter. Much as I love a picnic, I think I might just be hiding inside at home after the service. Our house faces the wrong way for catching the sun and it might be a problem for the rest of the year but the coolness of the downstairs room is a real blessing on blistering hot days in summer.

I've had my cuppa and caught up on my email and written here so I need to go and feed my animals. When we got home, it was beyond me to do anything without a bit of a break first. I can't begin to say how pleased I am that I got enough ironing done last weekend to last through this week at work and so I don't have that job to do. Just got the music for church to practise for tomorrow and tea to eat (too hot and too tired to eat a big meal) and I can put my feet up for a bit and then head for an early night.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I saw my grandson this morning. He is 10 months old now. He can stand and balance without holding on to anything but has not taken the plunge and walked without holding on. It won't be long until he is off and away. He has a new party trick - he can blow kisses and make a smacking sound and I can tell you that it is guaranteed to melt a grandmother's heart. Not that it needed melting because I am definitely biased where my grandson is concerned! This will be a good week because I will see him again tomorrow. It is fathers' day so we are going to my daughter's house for tea and the rest of the family will congregate there to see Dad.

My husband's asthma is a bit better and he has today finished a course of high dose steroids and hopefully that will get things back better under control. It helped that we had 2 teacher days this week so he did not have to talk all day for those at least. It felt strange on Wednesday because it was the third day of the working week but the first with the kids so it seemed like Monday but wasn't, if you know what I mean. I got such a lot of work done on Monday and Tuesday when there weren't staff meetings. I felt that I achieved such a lot and planned what I would do each of the rest of the days and sorted it all out - and then a fibre optic switch broke and we had no access to the internet or to any of our files stored on the network...... And of course, everything I had planned meant that I needed access to both the internet and to our network. The best laid plans of mice and men...... and me...... They assure us that it will all be fixed when we go in on Monday.

The hens have not liked the weather this week and their laying reflects the changes in the weather - 13 eggs on one day, then 7 the next and then 10 and back to 7 and 10 again. I sold three boxes on Friday again so there will be enough to pay for some sacks of feed when they are needed. The new hens' eggs are getting a little bigger now and are just "medium" sized eggs instead of micro eggs. They are averaging closer to 55g now whereas the older hens lay eggs that are 70-80g. When I bake a cake, I just weigh the eggs.

With my husband being poorly and the exam marking to be done, we have not got to the allotment. I dread to think how bad the weeds will be. Next weekend, we will be working at school all Saturday so it might well be the following Saturday before we get going on the weeds. At least a lot of the crops are well established now so might withstand a bit of choking by the weeds without succumbing completely. My peashoots at home are doing grand and we have a few in with the lettuce every time we have a salad. I like the taste as well as the cost and convenience and freshness. We'll be doing peashoots most of the year at this rate.

I must go and get to grips with the ironing as with next weekend being busy, I need to get as much ironed as possible so the shirts will last into the following week as far as possible.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I filled my washing line yesterday and it all dried beautifully. Some of it was washed by hand and some by machine but even the wetter handwashed things dried. I love not having the house draped with half dried washing. I often wonder how they (the wives and mothers) managed 100-200 years ago when housework followed a set pattern each week and the clothes were washed on a set day each week: one day for treating stains, one for washing, one for starching and ironing, one for baking etc etc. There was no leeway for the weather so whatever did they do with all the wet washing if it rained?

My husband's asthma has played up dreadfully this week and he could hardly talk on Thursday and Friday - a bit of a problem for a teacher! He has been better yesterday and today because he has not been at work. He's been marking exam papers all weekend though so he is not exactly relaxing. You can tell he feels bad because he took very little nagging to agree to get in touch with the doctor to see about changing his medication.

The hens seem to be laying lots of eggs on the warmer days and fewer on the colder, damp days. One day this week I had 3 dozen eggs sitting on the side on the kitchen. Several of my regular customers at work had gone on a field trip with the pupils Mon-Fri and so my eggs were building up alarmingly. Fortunately another customer rang up and wanted 2 dozen extra because she had lots of baking to do for a family event. Phew! The backlog of eggs is now back to manageable proportions. I couldn't normally provide 2 dozen extra but I could this week as the other customers were away. Isn't it funny how well things work out sometimes : )

We have two teacher days on Mon and Tues. There are a couple of staff meetings but I'm looking forward to catching up on lots of jobs that I've been putting off and doing lots of admin uninterrupted. That'll be a treat!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Where has the week gone? It never ceases to amaze me how fast time flies when we are on holiday. We've had some fun, done some jobs, done some work at the allotment, mended a few things, done some washing and lots of ironing - but it still feels like it ought to be Wednesday or Thursday, not Saturday.

Yesterday was a Fun Day. My friend at the farm asked if we wanted to come and help shear their sheep. They only have 9 and as they have no market for the wool from just 9 sheep, it did not matter if we mangled the fleece. It is such hard work. Everything is done with you bent over the sheep so your back starts to protest after a very short space of time. I've clipped our dog with electric clippers before but a sheep is very different. Once you get it tipped up so it is sitting with its back up your legs, the sheep is quite docile apart from a few wriggles. My husband managed one and a half but I just started one and did its front. They are heavy to hold in place and I knew my back would suffer today if I did any more. Besides, my sheep was a Zwartble and is black (very pretty: all black with a white blaze down the face and white socks) - so I couldn't tell easily where the black wool stopped and the black skin began. I was really worried about cutting the sheep's skin. It was the first time I had used such big clippers and they were newly sharpened. Hopefully, if we are invited back next year, I'll get a bit further. I'll also ask for a white one!