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

Monday, February 28, 2011

We've been away for half term. We went to a cottage on a farm in mid Wales and it was wonderful. We went last year and the year before and the year before that to this same place so you can tell we enjoy it. There are lots of places within 5 miles of where we were staying where there are areas of common land and we could park, go for a walk, come back to the car and have a cuppa from the flask and read a book or do a crossword or sudoku. Books were borrowed from the school library and crosswords and sudokus rescued from newspapers from the school library too. It was a wonderful week and my husband's asthma is incredibly good after a week of clean air.

There was also a lot of mud around so we got muddy but we had taken our wellies and older clothes with us so it did not matter too much. One expects mud on a farm in the winter but there had been so much rainy weather of late that there was far more mud than I was anticipating. The farm has lots of animals so I was in my element - horses. ponies, donkeys, llamas, alpacas, sheep (lots of varieties), goats, ducks, geese, hens, parrots (!), pigeons (some special type that I've forgotten the name of), dogs and cat. A lot of the animals are rescued and some have been hand reared and virtually all are friendly and enjoy a scratch. I'm only too happy to oblige.

We'd taken lots of food with us from the cupboards and freezer so we only spent a small amount of money in Aldi in Llandrindod Wells on the one day that the rain came down relentlessly all day. I have to admit to a smug feeling as we sat in the cottage on the farm eating our homemade bread with our homemade butter and our homemade jam in front of a woodburner with homegrown potatoes and homegrown veg waiting to be cooked for dinner. We'd taken some of our eggs with us too.

I looove that woodburner. I was too hot. I have never said that in my house in the winter half of the year ever. I want one! I'm not sure it is really practical in the town but it is definitely on the "maybe" wish list. Wood supply would be a bit of a problem although we would be happy to cut down some of those neighbours' trees that block so much light from our garden...

Anyway, I reckon we spent about £200 on the week, including petrol, plus food mainly from the cupboards and freezer plus a bit of salad and suchlike from Aldi - probably less than £220 in all. Lots of rest and health benefits = priceless.

And our daughter and her husband came down for a day to visit so that my granddaughter could help feed all the animals. Fabulous!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Yay! Half term. We made it - just by the skin of our teeth : )

Thursday, February 17, 2011

This is me being a total non-techie (read incapable) but I have totally failed to spot how I edit the blogs I follow in blogger. I have wasted quite a bit of time failing to find a delete button. This morning I find that I have inadvertently clicked on something on another website and I have hundreds of their posts suddenly on my blog post list. I'd like to delete them so that I can go back to the small number of blogs that I follow.

Please tell me how.

ps afternoon update: I've managed it now - after much frustration.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

I nipped across the road to the shops after church today. I wanted a new chopping board, if I could find one locally. I did - a wooden one for £2.49. My daughter gave me a swanky new kitchen knife for Christmas called a santoku which I had not heard of before. However, I have glass chopping boards and I was seriously worried about the continued safety of my fingers as the knife was slipping around on the glass. So now I need to learn a new chopping technique with my new knife and a wooden chopping board. My husband is forbidden to even think of putting my new chopping board in the dishwasher : )

I also happened on a few reduced items while in the shop - a turkey drumstick 700g for 80p; 400g of pork liver for 33p; 5 "cornish" pasties for 75p. These pasties were not the extra cheapo ones but the medium quality which might actually have a suspicion of meat in them. Anyway, my husband loves them, which is why I bought them. It is hard to deny him a big treat for his lunch at 15p a go. He had one for lunch today and the rest have gone into the freezer. Bought pasties always give me horrid indigestion although homemade ones are fine so these definitely have his name on them. We cooked the turkey drummer in the slowcooker and had some of the meat for dinner tonight with veg. Some more of the meat is going into the freezer to form the basis of a pasta sauce sometime and the rest will get transformed into turkey stew with the stock in which it was cooked. I was amazed how much meat there was on the drummer as I had expected there to be much more bone and tendon.

Spring must be thinking about coming as the number of eggs is creeping up. The newest group of 7 are laying a reliable 5-6 eggs each day and the middleaged group of seven are now laying 2-3 with the occasional 4. The hens are not keen on all this windy weather but at least it a warmer wind and doesn't feel as if it is coming straight from the Arctic.

Friday, February 04, 2011

I'm feeling rather more like myself today so I'll be back to school on Monday. I was thinking today that since we both work at the same place and there are no extra travel costs involved in getting me there and school is heated and I have to pay for heating at home, it is therefore probably cheaper for me to go to work. Hmmm.

I bought a halogen heater in the autumn and it is brilliant. With just the one 400 watt bar on, I get two and a half hours heat from one unit of electricity. This means that normally, I don't feel so guilty putting the heater on in the bedroom for a few minutes first thing in the morning or last thing at night. And it has been wonderful while I've been at home poorly. However, one bar went pop, flash, bang this morning. Is it possible to buy replacement bars? I need to find out. I expected it to last longer than three months even if it was just £12.95. It still works on the other bar but I'd like to know if the bars can be replaced. This heater has saved a fortune on central heating and I am very fond of it. I don't understand how it works and why it gives out so much light as well as heat on just 400 watts. But I like it anyway.

My son called in and left me a present in the hall last night on his way home from somewhere. He had texted me to say he was going to do this so that I would not panic in the bedroom when I heard the door opening and footsteps in the house downstairs. He had left me a "posy", he said. It turned out that he had been to visit an Asian grocer and bought an enormous bargain bundle of coriander. So he left me a bunch of coriander and the stalks from all his coriander that he had used/frozen. You should have seen the rabbits perk up when I took them out the coriander stalks - they just looove that stuff. It so happens that I have a big bag of carrots so I have plans for making a concentrated batch of carrot and coriander soup this weekend so that I can freeze several meals worth.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

I'm obviously a bit low after that fluey bug because I've gone down with a heavy cold and am off work again. It is a good job that I work in a school with understanding senior management!