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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Aarrrggghhh.  I am feeling very frustrated and ready to scream.  I have just spent 15 minutes failing to find how to contact blogger.  They sent me a series (15!) of emails about legacy accounts and when I followed the instructions, each time I was informed that the action could not be performed because of something with the error code bX-5dofzz and could I please report this to blogger support.  Well I tried and could not find anywhere to email.  Clicking on "contact blogger" just got me to a list of help sheets - not of which helped.  Grrr.

While I was doing this, my husband was in the office next door phoning our bank.  The conversation went something along the lines of:
- I 'm phoning to find out about x that doesn't seem to have been done.
- That has not been actioned
- Yes , I know.  Can you tell me why it has not been done?
- That has not been actioned.
- Yes but can you tell me why it has not been done?
- That has not been actioned
- Please can you tell me why it has not been actioned?
- That has not been actioned.
- Can I speak to your manager please?

I could hear the frustration in my husband's voice through the walls.  He was trying very hard to remain calm and polite.  The lady was just parrotting her response and obviously hoping that if she kept repeating the same phrase then we would get fed up and go away and leave her alone. This is the third phone call we have made to try and find out why they have not taken a certain action and what can be done to rectify the situation.  It annoys me that this is costing us a fortune in telephone bills as each phone call has taken over an hour.  Each call has ended with somebody promising that the matter is sorted...



Friday, April 27, 2012

I've just blown the food budget for April.  My farmer friends took their last year's lambs to the abbatoir this week and I have just filled the freezer with a whole (in joints) lamb.  At least I know that this lamb had a good life - and I know its mum and dad although its dad was very old and is now gone.  This lamb was dad's last season and afterwards, dad went downhill rather quickly.  Poor, old lad.  He was a lovely, friendly ram.  Their new one is a feisty fellow and I'm staying well clear!

We don't actually buy much meat, but I'm happier knowing the provenance of the meat we do have.  I have to admit, all my scruples have a tendency to go out the window on days like my last visit to Tesco when I got there when they were reducing the already reduced items to a quarter or less of the original price.  If I'm paying proper money, though, my scruples go back on duty.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

My poorly hen has gone now.  I got her down this morning from where she sleeps and put her beside the water container so that she could have a drink.  Sometime during the day she managed to get up the ladder and laid an egg in the nest box.  She is the only one in that run who lays brown eggs so I know it was laid by her and it weighs all of 10g.  Bless her.  I feel so guilty because she must have put so much effort into laying that egg in the correct place but the growth was increasing so fast now that her whole underneath was dragging on the ground and was plastered in mud.  I know we made the right decision but I just feel so guilty now because of that egg.


Friday, April 20, 2012

How to Invisibly Seam Granny Squares

There is a lot around on the subject of crocheted granny squares at the moment and I came across this recently and thought I would post it as an aide memoire for me at least.  This bit has far too big a font but I just can't see how to reduce the size.

How to Invisibly Seam Granny Squares

April 19th, 2012

I love granny squares because they make it so easy to play with exciting colors. Often, my squares end up with different colored borders, so how do I choose a shade to seam them? The answer’s easy: I can use any color because I use an invisible seam! This super easy technique creates a durable seam that disappears into your crocheting. Ready to get started? Gather your granny squares and follow the steps below!
How to Invisibly Seam Granny Squares
Step 1: Gather your materials: finished granny squares, a blunt needle, and your seaming yarn (I used a contrasting yarn for demonstration, but you may want to use matching yarn). Lay your granny squares side to side with the front side facing up.
Step 2: Insert your needle into your first crochet stitch from the back to the front.
Step 3: Repeat Step 2 on the opposite side. Continue this process on each stitch, alternating between sides. It’s sort of like lacing shoes.
Step 4: Ready for that seam to disappear? Lightly pull on both ends of your seaming yarn.
Step 5: Repeat with all squares, and that’s all there is to invisible seaming! Remember to weave in your ends and enjoy your new granny square project.


I'm not sure that I like this new form of Blogger at first glance.  I could find my way around the old one so right now, I'm just confused.  Hopefully the new version will grow on me.  Don't think I've got much choice there : )

I've got a poorly hen and this weekend, I think we are going to have to make a hard decision.  I'm pretty sure she has a growth low in the abdomen area and as it has grown, her legs have spread out and she is waddling like a duck.  Yesterday, she could not make it into the house to sleep.  The thing is that she does not actually seem in pain or particularly distressed - that would make the decision a no-brainer.  I'm really fond of my animals but this is definitely the downside of keeping them.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Back at work again.  We did get away for two nights at the end of last week and that was great.  Our daughter and family had gone to the farm where we stayed in February half term.  They had to leave earlier than planned so they suggested that we went down on Thursday and we all squash in for a night and then they would leave and we would have a day to ourselves.  However, granddaughter was having such a great time helping with all the animals that they didn't leave until 10pm on Friday night and we had to be out of the cottage by 10am on Saturday morning...

We arrived for lunch on Thursday and went for a walk (4 miles-ish) over the moors.  That was lovely.  The sun was shining and the ground was really springy underfoot so it was a very pleasant walk.  On Friday, we went to the Elan valley and the plan was to park at the Visitor Centre and walk around the nearest reservoir.  Well, we started off along the designated foorpath but then we had to leave the edge of the lake because of a river coming in.  This river used to be dammed into a smaller reservoir and was blown up in 1942 by Barnes Wallis as part of the trials for blowing up a major dam - remember the Dambusters film?  Anyway, we had a disagreement as to where the path went at the top of that hill.  Obviously the first part of the path is well used but then people look at the gradient of the next bit and go back to the Visitor Centre for a cuppa instead, because the path is less well defined. So we took the path voted for by the majority of our party.  They were wrong!  We went up and down every little valley for every stream and river that flowed into the main reservoir instead of ambling along the top of the hills...  I'd tripped over a root up on the moor the day before so it was not long before my back was protesting loudly.  I was so grateful when we stopped to eat lunch because I could sit on a nice rock and take the weight off my feet.  The view was fantastic and we could see very clearly where we should have been walking.

Where the reservoir narrows, there is a road bridge across and my husband and I said we would take the short(er) route back, leaving my daughter and her husband to go on round the original route.  So we split up.  We walked about 3-4 miles back to the car and they did about 8-9 miles.  We walked downhill to the bridge and then back to the car along a level cycle path - absolute bliss for my back after all those steep ups and downs.  They walked on the steep paths and then on the cycle path for the last bit.  I was getting slower and slower and they got back to the car just 20 minutes after us!  We had a flask in the car and that cuppa tasted like nectar.  Had we gone on the intended path, it would have been so much easier.

Granddaughter did not come on either walk, nor on any of her parents' outings - too busy helping with the animals on the farm.  She was so busy on Friday night that she did not come back for dinner until 9pm and they left at 10pm to drive back home. 

On Saturday morning we woke up (having slept very well) to find that it was snowing heavily and that the snow was laying.  So we packed up quickly as we had to leave by 10am because there was another family coming in later that day.  We stopped up on the moor for a cuppa for a last look at those wonderful hills which look absolutely fabulous with snow on them and the sun shining down.  Then we drove home after stopping again for a sandwich up on Clee Hill to admire some more views.

Then it was home and feed the animals and unpack and my husband went over his sermon for Sunday morning.  Our minister had taken a group to Spring Harvest and my husband, being the associate minister, was taking the service.  In the afternoon, after a very quick sandwich, we went to the big Tesco where we struck gold - also known as yellow reduced stickers.  We got there as they were reducing the already reduced things.  I got 24 portions of meat at an average price of £1.20 per kilo as well as lovely bread at 10p a loaf.  And I had a £5 off a £40 spend voucher too.  The freezers are groaning now.  We went to that particular branch of Tesco because it is on the way to my friend's farm where we were going to see how the lambs were doing and to see the 3 little calves born that week, one just the day before and still all wobbly on his legs.  They have black Dexter cows and had borrowed a red Dexter bull last year.  This produced three fine bull calves, two black and one absolutely beautiful red one.  Being bull calves, they are all destined for the freezer but it doesn't stop them being very cute.

A really good break from school - lots of jobs done (not enough but still lots achieved), Easter celebrations, a mini-holiday away, an incredible Tesco shop, a visit to the farm.  The two weeks went by too quickly but I have some good memories to store up.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sally Cat has caught a young rat.  Second one this week.  Only this time she did not kill it before she brought it home and she has let it go.... : (


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It is mid-April so it is time to write my second list for the Happiness Revolution.

What makes me feel happy right now?

1   Easter!  Celebrating the risen Lord.

2   Two weeks holiday from work - but I must have blinked because how did it get to Tuesday of the second week already?

3   Sunshine and blue skies today but with the odd April shower to water the plants on the allotment and in the tubs at the back of the house.

4   We spent a wonderful afternoon yesterday with my son and daughter-in-law and my little grandson out at our friends' farm.  And there were lambs and a new calf.  One lamb needs a bottle three times a day because its mum doesn't have enough milk for it so we just had to go out and feed it... : )  Unfortunately, when you are two years old, being up close and personal with sheep and lambs is a very scary experience although it can be enjoyed from a safe distance.

5  Baking a cake for everybody to enjoy at the farm yesterday afternoon and having it turn out really nice looking.  Mind you, driving to the farm with the car full of that just-out-of-the-oven smell was torture.  It was a banana cake but when I went to the fruit bowl, there were not enough bananas so I grated an apple in too and that made it beautifully moist.  I think I'll be adding in apple again deliberately next time.

6   We'll be away for a night later this week and I'm really looking forward to it. A mini-holiday : )

7   I love these lighter evenings and mornings and the way that the daytime stretches slowly out as the year moves on.

8   Being able to dry a load of washing on the line outside.  In early spring, we spend time at the weekend pegging it outside and then bring it in still damp and have to spread it round the house and wait for days for it to dry properly.  Now a load will dry outside in a day and the sheets and towels can have that lovely fresh outside smell.

9   Having a friend round for lunch because there is time in the school holidays which does not exist in term time : )

10 Watching the increased spring activity of the birds in the garden.  Right now I'm watching a blue tit on the ivy on the fence by the window and a couple of blackbirds turning over some leaves further up the garden.

It is good to remind myself of all the little things that work together to make life good so thank you to Astra for making me stop and take the time to ponder.


Tuesday, April 03, 2012

We're on holiday for two weeks.  Yay!!!!!

However, there is an ENORMOUS backlog of jobs to be done.  Never mind, at least I can plod through them at my own pace.  My husband has made a good start on the garden in the last two days.  He really wants to go down to the allotment but he is being very good and helping here first.  I've been sorting through all the stuff that gets left in the living room and found some things that I'd mislaid : )  And the living room actually looks tidy now too.  I've also reduced the washing pile considerably but as a result of that the ironing pile has become a mountain :(

The hens are still laying for England.  The oldest hens have cut back on their output and are laying just the one egg a day between the three of them - taking it in turns to lay.  When the spring flurry of laying is over, I don't suppose that they will lay more than the occasional egg again.  The young ones who took so very long to realise what laying was all about are now producing a reliable 7 a day from the 7 of them.  So I am stockpiling eggs, persuading the kids and their families that they want eggs with everything and giving them away as presents.  I was wondering about pickling some eggs.  I've read how to do it and about leaving them to mature for a couple of weeks but I haven't found any info on how long they keep once the jar is opened or how long if the jar is not opened.  There is no space in the freezer for some packs of beaten egg.