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

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I'm so glad it is the weekend AND we have a Saturday when we are not booked to do anything besides the usual jobs. I've decreed that it is a rest day apart from a few pottering round kind of jobs in the house.

I've a confession to make. We went to Sainsburys on the way home from work yesterday and succumbed to a treat supper. We bought cod portions (on offer) and McCains Home Fries (on offer) and frozen peas (on offer). And they were lovely. We only used half the peas (small bag) and cod portions and a quarter of the chips so the meal still came in at just under £2 for both of us even with some fruit juice. I can't remember when we last gave in to temptation like that. It must be well over a year ago. So we are having last night's dinner tonight instead. Smallholdings are never going to happen if I give in to temptation like that but we both enjoyed the treat.

The hens have responded to the colder weather and are laying fewer eggs but have done pretty well today. My husband has just come in from the garden to warm up. He has cleaned them all out and given them a good carpet of autumn leaves to turn over. They really enjoy those leaves and we have enough left for several weeks yet.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm still at home - much better now but not a bundle of energy yet. Yesterday was the last day of my week before I need a doctor's note. We were out of milk, my husband could not call in for any on his way home so I set off to the nearest shop about 300 yards away. I got there, bought my milk, staggered home again and just sat there for the rest of the day. I rang the doctor today and am signed off until Monday. If I could not cope with that marathon trek, then there is no way I would have coped with getting to school today let alone dealt with any kids.

One of the other teachers is away on a trip so we are looking after her rabbit. She brought it into school yesterday and lots of the pupils had a stroke and a cuddle. It is a sweet and very cuddly rabbit. We have a spare hutch at the moment so we were asked to look after him until Monday. I thought he might be a bit upset or frightened at all this upheaval and being put into a strange hutch by two strange (very!) people but he seems to be taking it in his stride. As the rabbit was in the car, I wouldn't let my husband call into Sainsburys for some milk on the way home. I was worried about him leaving the rabbit in the car in case that was the moment somebody nicked our car and you can't very well go around Sainsburys carrying a pet carrier. Well, I suppose it is perfectly possible but it does not seem very kind to the rabbit. Although after lots of pupils had played "pass the rabbit", why not? Anyway, I wouldn't let him and Thumper is happily installed in our garden for a few days.

I've taken this opportunity of unexpected time at home to do some cooking. One meal for now and two for the freezer kind of thing. I chopped veg for soup by doing a bit every time I passed through the kitchen and then putting it in the slow cooker. I could cope that way. It was very concentrated soup so it takes less space in the freezer. Tomato and pumpkin with a handful of lentils added for protein. There are 2 x two portion packs in the freezer, we've eaten a third portion and there is a good sized single portion in the fridge which, with the addition of some other veg and maybe some beans, will metamorphose into stew for two. I've also made two pies by the same method. Make pastry then leave it (and me) to rest for several hours, Chop up remains of packet of bacon the next time I venture into the kitchen to make a cuppa. Next time sort out some veg for pie. Next visit, prepare some veg for pie. In the end, my husband came home earlier than I expected so I let him roll out the pastry and make up the pies. There was one large one which will do us twice and one smaller one which is now in the freezer for another time. I don't think we have made a pie in the last 12 months and my husband was really pleased even though he ended up finishing off the preparation.

I've recently acquired a thermos cup which has been wonderful this last week. Make a drink and it is still at perfectly drinkable temperature an hour later. It holds half a litre so is a real boon when you are in bed feeling pathetic and the kettle is two floors down the stairs.

My husband had the flu jab because of his asthma so thankfully, he has not come down with my bug. And I now have three more days to improve before I am thrown to the lions.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I've been lurking with the lurgy for the past four days, tucked up in bed with my hot water bottle. Today I'm venturing out to see what the rest of the house looks like. It feels like an age since I was in the living room. The cats have been keeping me company although I wonder whether it is me they are thinking about or the warmth from the hwb...

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The new year has arrived and with it come some big challenges for us. This will probably be make or break year for us. We've been wanting to move to a smallholding for many years and actively paid off debt and mortgage for the last 10+ years and saved a deposit. What we get on selling our house will not pay for a house and field. If the new place is too far from work, then that would be a problem as regards work and income and getting a mortgage. However, the new government's changes in education could mean that my husband's income will plummet fairly shortly. This could bring more problems...

We started off thinking that we wanted to move to Wales but now that we have grandchildren, that move would mean that we would hardly ever see them. So we've been looking closer to hand but prices are higher and there is this big gap between what we want and what we can afford and there are not that many places on the market anyway.

We started along this route originally because my husband's asthma is so much better outside of the city and we wanted to produce our own food and be as self sufficient as is reasonably possible. And so the dream of a little smallholding was born. If we can't find somewhere this year while we are still working then we will be forced to give up on that dream.

My hens have appreciated the lack of snow and the numbers of eggs laid have reflected that. I felt sorry for them walking on frozen ground. We had put down lots of leaves that we'd collected but in the end they froze into a solid heap too. For each run my husband had constructed a frame and covered it with a double layer of plastic. This sits on top of the run area and lets some light through but was sturdy enough to keep the snow off the ground in the run. Made from scrap of course but it worked fine until the temperature dropped too far. Hopefully, this screen will help to keep the rain out too because our heavy clay soil quickly turns into a morass.