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

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I intended to post my Happiness Revolution in mid-May but I'm a little late.  Thank you Astra:

1  Not being cold all the time because the weather is warmer and so the temperature in the house is higher.  I hate being cold.  It was already 10'C when I left for work this morning and the sun was shining.  Sunshine always lifts the mood and makes you feel better.

2  Going to the shops and finding something you need at half price - like my catfood.  That is a little bit more in my smallholderwannabe coffers.  Every little helps.  Nice Mr Sainsbury also sent me four £6 off if I spend £30 vouchers.  I can spend £30 if I stock up on a few things.  £40 is harder to spend and any more than that is well nigh impossible.  I can only bring myself to stock up on incredibly good offers on something that I know that I will use and won't go off.

3  Watching the school chicks grow.  I find it incredible that in just 21 days, the egg can go from being just an egg to being a fully formed chick that is strong enough to break out of the eggshell and can live on its own.  In less than a week, the feathers are forming on the wings and by 10 days the tail feathers are becoming visible too. By 2 weeks, the wing feathers will be strong enough for them to be able to make short flights around their box.  It is a little miracle happening right in front of my eyes.

4  Watching the seeds sprout into little plants and know that we'll have homegrown food on the table shortly.  I feel a real sense of pride when I can eat a meal where we have produced the bulk of it ourselves.  The lettuce leaves are nearly big enough to pick.  We had a couple of sprout plants in large tubs that we left here at the house rather than take them to the allotment.  they never grew any sprouts but they have grown leaves all winter and spring and are now forming flowers that the rabbits just love eating.  The leaves have fed the rabbits and us all winter so I shall grow a couple of plants in tubs again next winter just for the leaves.  One of my favourite veg with an autumn/winter meal is steamed greens - a mixture of small cauliflower leaves and brussel sprout leaves, cabbage leaves and anything else green that I have - all shredded together and steamed and then served with a little knob of butter. Yum!

5  Having my son ring me up for a chat, just because he hadn't spoken to me for a few days.  No big news but lots of chit-chat and catching up : )

6  Having a meal of leftovers work out so well that it is a real pleasure to eat - and at the same time knowing that there are a few more pennies in the smallholderwannabe coffers.  That meal (or meals, as it turned out) might only have saved me from spending a few pennies but they all add up.  As Mr Tesco says, every little helps  : )

7  Spending time with my family.  We have a family birthday in a few days' time so we'll be having a family get-together at half term.  I'm so looking forward to it and seeing everybody.

8  It is my best friend's birthday today and I have found her a book that I know she will love and I spotted a card that goes with it beautifully.  Normally I would prefer to make a card but this card was so right that I just had to buy it.  I'm looking forward to watching her open the parcel : )  I love it when you find a present for somebody that is not just good but just perfect.  And I didn't pay the earth for it either.

9  Having the kids from school smile at me and say hello.  Occasionally they will do it in the corridor but just sometimes I'll run into one out shopping.  If they look embarrassed and dive down the next supermarket, I hate it.  If they just smile and say hi as they walk past then it really gives me a lift and this has happened again recently.  I can remember doing the embarassment-and-dive-down-the-next-aisle bit myself and then growing up enough to acknowledge staff as human beings.

10  Having my husband to myself for an evening without him having to do work either for school or church or the exam boards.  Such evenings are rare and I love them.

This exercise is good for me - counting my blessings : )


Monday, May 21, 2012

We went to do the shopping on Saturday at Aldi and Sainsburys.  They are close together so it does not cost extra in petrol to do both.  Just a couple of shops up from Aldi is Halfords and my husband needed some car paint.  Having got that, I wanted to look next door in Wilkinsons in case they had an offer on certain things.  They didn't but they had reduced some of their catfood to half price to clear the shelves to make way for some new stock or so the shop assistant told me.  Being a helpful kind of person, I helped them clear the shelves and came home with a big smile on my face : )

I hadn't seen the school chicks for 3 days since Friday morning. Boy, have they grown over the weekend!  They can jump on to things and their wing feathers have grown lots and their tail feathers are beginning to grow.  And they are so much taller and fatter.  And in just 3 days.  The rate of growth is phenomenal. 

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dinner was really tasty tonight.  My husband had left school really promptly and left me to come home later.  He went to the allotment so I wanted to make a meal that would sit and wait happily for a bit.  His mobile battery was nearly gone so I couldn't ring to check more precisely what time he would be home.  It is so useful being able to ring each other free : )

When I checked the fridge, we had several bits of various leftovers in tubs, so I made a stew/soup with the addition of a tin of tomatoes and some tired veg.  It was one of those times when everything melds together into a delicious blend of flavours and textures and you are glad to be eating it.  That doesn't always happen when you (I...) make a concoction with leftovers.  And there is about one and a half bowls left so if I stretch it a little bit more tonight, then that will be two dinners made from some (unplanned) leftovers and about 60p worth of tinned tomatoes and extra veg : )  Maybe some dumplings (Jamaican dumplings, the fat free ones) and some Herman bread....

I also made a cake and some bread type thing.  I'd been given a Herman - a German sourdough cake starter and had made it a couple of times but now I've run out of people to pass starters on to.  My Herman had been fed several times and was enormous.  I made a 1.5 times Herman in my biggest roasting tin and have brought lots into school today.  Cake at breaktime always goes down well.  As it is a sourdough mix, I also decided to try some bread because we are out.  Even the freezer has not yielded more than a couple of slices in a bag.  Usually I make some soda farls in the frying pan when we are out but the oven was going to be on for the cake and I had so much Herman.  The starter was quite runny so I just put some flour in a bowl, stirred in enough Herman to make a dough and then kneaded it and left it to rise.  We had some for breakfast and it was really nice, if a little yeasty because there was so much Herman in there.  I reckon it will make lovely toast tomorrow.  Next time I am overrun with Herman, I shall use some liquid and less Herman to make bread.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The chicks are very cute and are growing lots.  The feathers at the end of their wings are growing already into proper feathers.  The first one hatched is still twice the size of the others although the difference in weight is not so great.  There is one that I am sure is a bantam but the jury is still out on the other three.  I was up a bit early and came rushing into school to check up on them before the others got in - much to my husband's amusement although I did notice that his first port of call was to visit them too : )


Sunday, May 13, 2012

We've got 5 chicks hatched.  I've got them home with me for the weekend and three of the chicks have hatched since we brought them home.  I managed to watch two of them hatch : )  I've spent so much time just chick watching.  The bigger ones are popping out from under the brooder (Brinsea ecoglow) very briefly and then scuttling back underneath very quickly.  One is eating and drinking but the others haven't quite conquered that yet.  They are so cute.  I've checked the pin feathers on the wing and by that method of sexing them, I reckon we have four males and one female.  I do hope there are at least two females..... 

I have to say that it is really nervewracking driving home from school with partly hatched chicks - all padded around with soft kitchen roll but nevertheless my heart was in my mouth with every bump in the road.  We'd waited an extra two hours at school on Friday evening but in the end, we gave up and came home.  It is only a ten minute drive and the next one didn't hatch until two hours later.  They were supposed to hatch on Thursday but only one obliged on the due day.  I've asked to borrow a wire so I can download and post a photo.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Everything is very exciting at school today.  Our chicks are hatching!  One hatched just before midnight and two more eggs have pipped.  We have got a little camera up and running so everything can be watched live.  The statistics show that loads of people have been watching.  I think that today, wherever I go in school, all roads lead to the biology lab...


Friday, May 04, 2012

A long(ish) weekend!  Wonderful, just wonderful.  And the weather forecast says that there will be at least some dry spells. 

Today I've lost an old friend.  I've had my hairdryer for nearly 25 years and it died this morning.  It has been there for me through thick and thin - literally as my hair has thinned alarmingly since I had an op a few years back.  I shall miss my little hairdryer.

Why do so many appliances and gadgets all go at once?  They were not all bought at once so it is not as if the shelf life is up.  The fridge freezes things on a whim no matter what the thermostat setting is and the door is getting all rusty; the dishwasher is all rusty and the door is held on with curtain wire; the cooker is 30+ years old (old when it was new to us...) and the oven temperature is not as reliable as it once was; the gas fire needs a new lever thingy as I have to use a screwdriver to press the bit that lights it - we are quoted £130 for the part plus labour plus VAT.  I know the list could be longer but it adds up to a frightening sum of money already.  Ah well.