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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On Christmas morning, we went to church as we always do. However, the minister was ill in bed with flu so my husband took the service at the last minute. He did fine. It is never easy to take over something like that when you've already got all your time planned out.

We had a lovely time all together as a family on Christmas Day. There were 14 members of the extended family at my daughter's : ) house on Christmas Day. One of the benefits of grownup children is that Christmas dinner can rotate around the various homes. Each household was instructed to bring various items like a cooked joint of meat or a pudding or alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks to spread the workload and the cost. There were also some much needed nibbles as with that quantity of food to cook, dinner got a little behind schedule. We had 6 vegetarians, 1 veggie/fish eater and 7 omnivores. There was turkey, salmon, pork, gammon and nut roast served with 18 different vegetables cooked in many different ways. There was also homemade bread sauce and cranberry sauce. There was certainly something to please everybody. We had a lovely meal together.

In our family we all love our vegetables - no trouble getting us to eat our brussel sprouts! Each year it has become a tradition to try to serve as many veg as possible but I think my daughter has won the laurels with 18, though.

After the main course, we exchanged and opened the presents and a couple of hours later, we had Christmas pudding or sherry trifle or honeycomb cheesecake. Some people had a little portion of each. Some people (the menfolk) had a large portion of each.

A good time was had by all. My little grandson thoroughly enjoyed himself handing around the presents. One of his favourite new toys was a little red and yellow car that I spotted in a shop when we were visiting Liskeard in the summer. I was so pleased that he liked it.

That was a good day and we made happy memories.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas to everyone!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Yesterday we had a family trip to the German market. It is magical in the dark with the lights. It was a fun trip with nine members of the family there but, boy was everything expensive! With having had 7 to 8 inches of snow, the market was quiet and I think the German stallholders might be going home with less in their pockets than they hoped for. We ate a slice of toast each before we set out so that we would be less tempted by the extortionate but delicious foods on offer. We did succumb to a little but not much and we shared that and I had a bottle of (tap) water with me in my bag. We had a bit of supper when we got home, too. It was an enjoyable evening. If the kids invite us to go with them, I know I'm going to have to part with some money... I'd rather that than not be invited.

My husband has had to go to a meeting in Cambridge today. I hate driving in snow myself and I shall have a niggle of unrest in my mind until he is safely home again. I understand that the roads around Cambridge are ok but they are not so good around here.

The hens are not keen on snow and cold and are not laying many eggs as their energies are more directed towards keeping warm. It is a job to keep the water unfrozen so that they and the rabbits can have a drink. The bantams have not ventured outside of their house at all.

Right, I've had a teabreak and caught up on blog reading so I'm going back to do some jobs.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It is just as well that I am typing and not trying to talk as I am all croaky. The local shopping centre asked us to come and sing carols today. So we went and did an hour and a half's programme. Lots of people stopped to listen and some joined in too, which was really nice. On Tuesday evening, we've been booked to go and do a carol service for a warden controlled unit in the neighbourhood. Then Thursday evening is our main carol service by candlelight at church. It is also our carol service at school that evening so we will miss that which is a shame. I want to go to both but I am needed at church so I can't go to school. I love to hear the boys sing.

There has been precious little washing, ironing and cleaning done these last couple of weeks, let alone presents and cards sorted. We finish work on Friday and I can see that the week leading up to Christmas will be manic trying to get everything sorted and some semblance of order restored in the house.

There is also a war going on in the house. When I had three cats, before last Friday, the "pecking order" was all sorted. There was Top Cat, which is the one that died and the other two were united in being undercats. Now, however, cat number 3 has decided that she wants to be Top Cat and cat number two thought that she had inherited that role... Stand well clear because the fur is flying and you don't want to get in the way of those claws.

The hens are still expending their energies in keeping warm rather than in laying eggs so there have not been many laid this week. Half my customers have had an apology delivered instead of a box of eggs. Not that I blame the hens because I've been cold too! I've chosen to give the eggs to the customers of longest standing. It is hard to choose who to give the eggs to and quite embarrassing constantly giving out apologies. And I've had somebody new ask me for eggs this week so I've told them that they will have to wait for the spring when laying is properly under way again.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Yesterday we had a half day at school because we were back in the evening for prizegiving. That actually means that by the time we were ready to leave, we had the best part of three hours at home before we were out the door again. And we came home at 10.30pm in a blizzard. Thankfully it turned to rain overnight and a lot of the snow is washed away.

It is great to see the boys going up proudly to collect their prizes. Last year's upper-sixth formers look so grown up now they are out of uniform. It is nice to chat with them and hear how they are getting on now that they are at uni or out in the big, wide world.

The hens are pleased that the weather is a tad warmer and laid us 7 eggs today. We have had 4 and 5 eggs each day this week and lots of my regular customers have not had eggs. However do egg farmers manage to meet the demand of their customers? We have either feast or famine and I don't suppose it is any different for egg farmers.

I've been out carolsinging today. There is a farmers' market not far from us on the first Saturday of every month and they had asked our church to provide some carol singers today. My husband and I get to arrange all the carol/Christmas/music related things this year. It was raining and there was no electricity supply available for us so we could bring neither guitar nor keyboard so it was just voice. It went fine and lots of people stopped to listen for a bit despite the wet. I was thrilled when the person in charge of the market came up to us at the end and gave us all a £5 voucher each to spend at the market. That was totally unexpected but what a bonus! As we had one voucher each, that meant £10 for us and I was able to get a couple of "half" presents - to be made up with homemade goodies to a "full" present.

Tomorrow, I really hope we have a dry spell because with the meal preparations last week, the hens did not get cleaned out and today it was getting dark by the time we had lunch - so that job really has to get done tomorrow afternoon come what may. Even in the rain because it will be next Saturday before we see them in daylight again. Hens are quite fastidious and they always lay fewer eggs if their house is dirty and with fewer hours of daylight and cold, wet weather as well, my customers won't be getting many eggs again.

I've made marmalade this week. Just Mamade but I added 3/4 of a pint of apple juice made from apple cores and peel and 3/4 lb of sugar extra. I got an extra jar of marmalade by doing this for the cost of the sugar. The marmalade is not cloudy at all and the flavour is lovely. I got sugar on offer at an Asian supermarket not far from our church so the cost of the marmalade should have been 44.5p per lb plus gas to make it. The extra jar cost 20p plus the cost of the gas to boil up the apple cores/peel. Just pennies saved, but every little helps.