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

Sunday, February 26, 2012

So we now have a spanking new non-matching toilet which is fitted but still leaks from the coupling to the old pipe that goes through the wall.  We can use it but just need to empty frequently the little tub that sits below said leaking pipe.  We've bought the cheapest toilet which was available to be taken away with prior ordering so that when we eventually get round (it'll be years if we don't find a place to move to) to redoing the bathroom, we can buy a whole new matching suite without worrying about throwing money away by chucking out a working but expensive loo.

My husband also spent almost all of Saturday helping our son fit his new (new to them, that is) kitchen.  He'll be going back to school tomorrow for a rest : )

I went to Tesco today to stock the cupboards up because they had kindly sent me a voucher for £7 off a £50 spend.  However, when I got there the shelves were bare.  That is, they had ONE of the items on my list in stock. I was not amused.  One of the things that I wanted was several jars of fairly traded instant coffee for church.  Not only could I not find it and nor could the passing assistant that I asked to show me where it was, but when I went to customer services, I was told that they don't stock fairly traded tea and coffee any more. So much for Tesco trying to say that they care about people and the environment!  I've emailed them to complain but won't hold my breath for a reasonable reply.

The hens tell me that spring has sprung because they are laying for England.  I've been going round work trying to get all and sundry to buy some eggs.  A lot of these hens won't lay many eggs at all after this spring flurry has finished and this egg money is their pension.

We're having omelette for tea: )

Friday, February 24, 2012

We had a bit of a catastrophe last night.  We went to church because we were in the music group but didn't stay for the second half of the service because I was too tired.  We got home, I packed my things ready for work in the morning and headed for bed.  In the bathroom, we found that the toilet cistern had simply cracked from top to bottom down one corner and the water was seeping out (rapidly) all over the floor.  The cistern was on a continual filling/emptying cycle

It must have happened not long before because the place was pretty wet but the water had not gone through to the floor below.  Had we stayed for the second half of the church service, we'd have come home to find the ceilings down for sure.  Fortunately, my husband is competent enough to know where the isolation switch is located so that the water supply to the toilet is turned off. 

The early night was not quite as early as I wanted because we had to try and dry things up.  Now we have to decide what to do - grey suite no longer available.  Do we put in a white toilet for around £50 (husband can do that) or contact the insurance and see what they say or what?  I'm dithering because I'm very tired.

Edited: Rang the insurance in the end and we are not covered for this eventuality anyway.  We are covered for any damage done by the leaking water, such as to the carpet but I'm not putting the insurance premium up by claiming for that miniscule piece of carpetting.

Hey ho, just got to put up with a non matching suite after all.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Home again.

We've been away staying in a cottage in mid Wales this last week having every last cobweb blown away up on the moors.  It was lovely and we really enjoyed ourselves.  We had lovely weather too - no rain at all until yesterday morning when we were packing to come home.  There was a woodburner and an endless supply of wood.  I was warm!  It felt really decadent to actually be warm all the time.  Our home is a bit of a fridge especially when we (should be "me" not "we" if I'm telling the truth) can't bring ourselves to heat the whole house just for two of us.

I miss that woodburner already.

Friday, February 10, 2012

There was a great deal of speculation as to whether we would have a snow day today or not.  Unfortunately we are in work as usual.  I would have loved a day off as this week has been more than a little tiring.  Just a few more hours to go and it will be half term.  I predict that next week will include lots of reading, crosswords, sudoku, cross stitch, knitting (jumper for a friend's baby), going for walks, cooking and maybe a little bit  of cleaning/laundry.  And lots of rest.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

School life is so busy that it is already difficult to remember being at home for so long.  Just today and two more days to get through and then it is half term.  I've been quite touched by the number of kids who have stopped me in the corridor and asked, " Are you better now, miss?".  And there was the one kid who asked if I'd been on holiday...   I wish!

Monday, February 06, 2012

I bought myself an orange when I went to Sainsburys and have made the cake.  It tastes wonderful and the smell is so good that I don't have enough superlatives in my vocabulary to do it justice.  Thank you to Rhonda Jean from Down to Earth for her recipe.

Just one warning - don't go for the most enormous orange you can find or the cake batter will be too liquid.

I'm back at school today.  I could not believe the size of the pile of post waiting for me or the 3 million - only slight exaggeration - emails waiting in my inbox.  I predict that I will sleep well tonight : )

Friday, February 03, 2012

I was going to make this easy sounding cake today so my husband could have a treat for the weekend but when I went to the fruitbowl, the orange had vanished.  I know there was one lonely orange there yesterday...

The recipe is one of the free ones from Rhonda Jean's book here

I would love to read this book but I'll have to wait until it comes out in this country because the book is over £20 and the postage from Australia is more than that again.  Maybe I can do a few surveys and I'll have enough credit to buy it from Amazon in a few years : )

Angela from Tracing Rainbows was having difficulty opening the page so here is the recipe for the cake:

Whole Orange Cake

Free Recipe from Down to Earth by Rhonda Hetzel, Whole Orange Cake, page 294.
This is one of the easiest cakes you’ll ever make and it’s full of flavour and orangey goodness. It’s all mixed in the food processor too, so there is very little washing up. Simple!

(Wash the orange thoroughly, particularly if it’s not organic or from your backyard.)

1 orange, washed and quartered
3 eggs
180 g butter, melted
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour or 1 1/2 cups plain flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C and grease cake tin – I use a large loaf tin.
  2. Put the orange quarters into the food processor and process until they’re completely broken down and no large pieces remain.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and process again for about 30 seconds, or until everything is mixed together.
  4. Scrape the batter into the tin and bake for around 40 minutes or until the cake is golden brown, and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool on a cake rack.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

I've been a bit worried of late because of the foxes round here.  We get a lot of foxes passing through here because there is a golf course very near to us as well as a canal and a nature walk place and so there is a lot of green area close by ( this is a small area where kids used to race up and down mounds of earth on their BMX bikes but the council have recently "upgraded"it - not been there long enough to have developed much for foraging yet ).  It seemed like two foxes had taken up residence just a couple of doors up the road and didn't just pass through.  As I've been off work, I could see the garden well from my seat by the window and could watch them as they came many times a day to size up the possibilities of chicken for dinner.  They would check out all the hen runs and the rabbit hutches and I got so worried for them.  One fox was red-brown all over and quite big.  The other was redder in colour and slightly smaller and had a white tip to the tail.  They didn't seem bothered by me unless I ran at them - and I wasn't capable of running.  In the garden, several times they passed within 8 feet of where I was standing.  I was a bit gobsmacked that they were so bold.

One day, when I was out in the garden, one came over the fence from next door on one side, just where I was standing by a hen run. I waved my arms and hissed at it - no voice so could only hiss.  It didn't like the hiss so popped over the fence the other side and stood and watched me through the wire for quite some minutes.  Obviously the spectacle of a mad woman waving her arms was found to be very entertaining.  There was nothing to hand to throw at it so over the next couple of days I made little piles of sticks and stones around the garden so that they would be there if needed.

We have several pieces of heavy duty wire netting apart from those that fit under the hen runs, so we placed them around the hen runs, as well as planks with bricks on that would be hard to dislodge.  We hoped that we would make it very difficult for the foxes to dig underneath the edge of the runs*.  The runs and garden look very ramshackle but at least the runs were made more secure.  It took my husband and me a couple of days to do this as we were not strong enough to do it all in one go.  Afterwards, I could look out the window and watch the foxes but be fairly confident that chicken would not be on their menu.

I hate foxes as they kill indiscriminately just for the joy (!) of killing.  They make an unearthly noise too - usually just as you are dropping off to sleep.  I haven't seen or heard them for almost a week now so hopefully they have moved on, or been moved on if some homeowner got the council involved.  There are at least two other henkeepers around here so they will be relieved too.

* The pieces of heavy duty wire mesh have large size holes so the hens can still scratch happily and do what hens like doing.  However, on several occasions, I have come home from work to find that the fox has been digging holes under the wall of the run only to be stopped from getting at the hens because of the wire over the floor of the run.  This has happened several times during the daytime, but only once at night.