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

Friday, May 27, 2011

I'm still having issues with blogger. It will let me compose but most of the time I can't actually post it. Anybody else find this?

Last day and then half term for a week. Yay! I am so ready for a break. I still haven't quite shifted this bit of a long lasting bug so work is seriously tiring and I am really looking forward to a rest. I'm not ill but not well either - just ailing. Bit of sunshine (hopefully because the allotment is shouting for attention) and a rest should see me right.

There is a lot of windy weather around the last couple of days and it is coming from a northerly kind of direction so that ash cloud might be coming from Iceland after all. My husband's asthma/hay fever is certainly playing up more. Our sympathies go out to other fellow sufferers.

School should be rather quieter today. A substantial proportion of Yr 7 are out on a trip, Yr 8 came back from a outdoor pursuits residential course last night and hopefully will be too tired to play up, half each of Yrs 9 & 10 have gone on a trip, Yrs 11, 12 & 13 are on study leave. Yay! Just so long as it doesn't rain at lunchtime and they have to stay in again like yesterday.......

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

We had a haircut after work yesterday and I feel a great deal better for it. I hate being really overgrown as my hair is really fine and just ends up straggling and not at all respectable. My friend cut a good two inches off my husband's hair and he is looking better for it too. I try to keep the haircuts down to a minimum but I can't happily go beyond 8 weeks.

Our son had invited us round for a meal on our way home. While dinner was cooking, our grandson took us into the garden to play cricket, which means that he throws the ball and we hit it back to him with the bat. He loved this game. His mum plays cricket for one of our local ladies' teams so he thinks playing cricket is obligatory if mum does it. I was impressed by how well he can throw a ball for a little lad not two until August. And his conversational skills are improving too because I don't always need somebody to act as interpreter : )

Maybe I'm just a really biased grandmother.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The modem and I have both been poorly this past week and a half. The modem's illness was terminal and it is now in the bin and a new one installed whereas I am perking up nicely. I'm glad such drastic measures were not necessary with me : )

It is exam season now. My husband has been at 5 days of examiner/revisor meetings in the last fortnight so he is about to be snowed under with papers. When I got home from work last night, I almost couldn't get the door open because the postman had stuffed so many envelopes of papers through the door. My husband is going to have to be very organised indeed to cope with everything. He does not usually do this much but with the smallholderwannabe coffers needing to be filled, he did not like to turn away paid work. It is one of those occasions where it is the last year of a particular syllabus and the first year of its replacement.

Having glimpsed behind the scenes a bit more now, I am amazed at just how much effort goes into making sure there are as few mistakes as possible in an exam paper and how many revisions it goes through and how every word and phrase is checked for accessibility of language etc. It is a more costly business to produce an exam paper than I ever imagined.

The hens are laying fewer eggs now that spring is giving way to summer. That basic instinct to lay lots of eggs to keep the species going is waning. That instinct is not actually any use to my hens as I don't have a cockerel - the neighbours would have a fit!!!! The youngest hens are still laying 6 or 7 each day from the 7 of them and they have now passed the age when an egg farmer would have sent them off to the babyfood or the petfood factories. The middle aged ones (7 of them too) are well past the catfood factory age and are now down to 1 or 2 a day with the occasional 0. The pensioners (just 2 of them) haven't laid for years but are still eating their little heads off, subsidised by the eggs that the youngest ones lay. I didn't plan on having so many hens - it just happened, honest, guv, they just fell into the box in the boot of my car at the auction. Next autumn and winter, though, I shall have a high feed bill and not many eggs at all. This spring, I have been salting away my egg money to subsidise their feed for later on.

It is nice to be back in blogland again.

Edit: I tried to publish this yesterday and the day before but Blogger would not let me. They must be having some issues again.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The lamb we had for dinner was absolutely lovely. We really enjoyed it.

A shorter week at school again. I definitely could get used to this... just so long as they pay me for a full week, that is. It is quite cold in school in the mornings at the moment and I just can't justify putting the heating on in May. So I'm wrapped up in layers until lunchtime when the sun gets round to my room and then I'm sweltering the rest of the day. Some people are just never happy unless they have something to complain about : )

My daughter was in B&Q yesterday and found the seed potatoes reduced to 20p a bag and bought me 3 bags. Three different types too. Definitely a bargain! So she had a couple of potatoes to grow in a bag, my friend down the road is popping in after work to have a few and we shall find odd corners/bags for the rest. I have a feeling that we will be well potatoed next year. We had already bought what we wanted and planted them... Still, if needs must, the hens love them. We still have a small box of wrinkled things left from last summer's crop which we are plodding through, although they are getting to the stage when I may give up and let the hens have a feast.

We did very well yesterday for bargains as our son rang up from Tesco and offered to bring me a pile of assorted veg all at 20p or 25p a bag. I succumbed to the thought of asparagus at 50p a bag. My husband won't eat it so the whole bag is mine. Yum! As a treat for me, I planted asparagus at the allotment last spring but not all the plants have survived the winter, which is a real shame. I can have a small helping next spring but it will be the year after before I can really tuck in. The rabbits will be delighted to help with the cabbage bought by my son but I think that stirfry is going to figure largely on the menu for the rest of the week. Quick and easy for instant meals when we get home tired after work and really economical as well. We are blessed with welltrained and thoughtful children! (And every little saving helps to swell the smallholderwannabe coffers.)

Sunday, May 01, 2011

We've just bought half a lamb to put in the freezer from a friend who keeps sheep. It is the first time we have done this. The one time we had some cockerels (bought in error...) that we fattened and then put in the freezer as soon as they started crowing, the meat was a revelation. The cockerels got to be about 5 months old instead of the not quite 5 weeks of standard supermarket birds. So they had actually developed a bit of muscle which required one to chew properly, unlike standard supermarket ones who are genuinely only babies. And the flavour was incredible. So we quite liked the idea of trying homegrown lamb. I don't think our friends knew what to charge us because they have only grown meat for themselves before, so I think they probably gave us a bargain and diddled themselves. I shall have to provide some jam for them to make up for it. they will appreciate that. Even so, the meat will have to be rationed out because each meal from it will probably cost more than we usually allow.

The lambs that I probably played with when they were newborn and our cockerels all enjoyed a bit of life and had both rain and sun on their backs, as they say. So I was looking forward to trying some lamb for dinner this evening. It will have to be shop bought mint because I seem to have killed off my mint as it has not reappeared this year. If I have got lamb in the freezer, I need some mint growing. Shop mint and homegrown lamb just don't sound right together.

So we took delivery of the meat, repackaged it into two people size portions where necessary, relabelled it and my husband volunteered to go and put it in the freezer in the shed. He came back in and said that the reorganising of the jigsaw (chest freezer) to fit it in had gone a lot better than he had expected. So yesterday evening, I go out to fetch something from the shed and spot that he had taken a whole tray of frozen food out, put it down beside him and forgotten all about it... so it is completely thawed in this warmer weather. Last night's dinner, lunch today and dinner this evening now needed to be whatever is considered vaguely salvageable. The rest of the tray has been binned. NOT frugal and my half a lamb has become an extremely expensive purchase. Grrr!