Wednesday 31 December 2014

2014 Making The Big Switch

The decorations are down and its the end of the year, what a year it has been
2014 the year we made the big switch, leaving behind a rural living on the outskirts of a growing city, it was nearly 30 years in the planning,
 there was many a time I became disillusioned and thought we would never get there,
We trundled on battling against the odds and 2014 was the year it happened.
The year started with the sale of one of our rental properties, at last there was hope and we could start seriously looking for a new home, we had our wish list
minimum of 5 acres
Rural location not in a village
Set well back from main roads
Smallholding / small farm
Land suitable for paddocks not seriously sloping
Wooded area
3 Bedrooms
Open Fires
Solid Fuel Rayburn /Aga
We were sure the place of our dreams was out there somewhere, estate agents sent us lots of information, we went on trips and looked at potential properties nothing seemed to come close, on our last viewing trip we had 6 properties lined up, it rained all week end, again property after property I was starting to think we would have to re-evaluate what we were looking for,
 heading up the drive on the last on the list in sideways rain and wind we suddenly realised this was it, this was the place we had been looking for.
It ticked all the boxes and was in our price bracket, that was in March, we put in an offer at the same time we had an offer on our house, 
July the 4th saw us leave Milton Keynes and head out to a new life in Wales
 I never thought we would get to the end of the boxes
2014 also saw us venture into livestock 
January we took on two Alpacas that were looking for a new home 
Nick Nack and Odd Job, we have now increased our little herd to 7
With the additions of the girls.
2014 also saw us trying our hand at home reared meat for the first time 
With the addition of our 2 pigs
 we now have freezers full of home reared meat.
Five fluffy ducklings also joined us 
After a fox visit we are left with a breeding trio 
Next to come was Lambert
Then of course was Kara
It has been a big year of change for her too, retiring after 8 years of service.
2014 saw us putting up the shed
 Recycling an old greenhouse
 rebuilding and re-using the little poly tunnel
 Building the craft cabin
 putting up fences
Put in raised beds
 2014 saw the closure of my shop
2014 we have discovered new places
 2014 has seen us make new friends
2014 we learnt new skills

I want to thank every one of you for taking the time to read my blog throughout 2014, taking the time to comment and taking the time to follow our journey, it has been a great year there has been some moments of despair but I would rather end the year remembering the good things.
Reading others blogs has inspired me, they have filled the space when I am here alone, I have picked up lots of hints and tips, there have been moments of sadness and lots of laughs.
I raise a glass to everyone out there and wish you all in blog land, new friends and old lots of joy, good health, wealth and happiness and what ever troubles you have I hope they are small ones.
Its exciting to see what the new year brings.
Here's to a roller coaster ride of 2015.
Its going to be a good one.
Lang mey yer lum reek.
Mey the best ye hae iver seen be the warst ye'll iver see.
Mey the moose ne'er lea' yer girnal wi the tear drap in its ee.
Mey ye aye keep hale an herty till ye're auld eneuch tae dee.
Mey ye aye juist be sae happy as A wiss ye aye tae be.

Tuesday 30 December 2014

Smoking and Slicing

I bought myself a new slicer and it arrived today 
it is to replace my old worn out one that I have had for 20 years plus, this one is a bit more heavy duty and does the job just fine
I have been happily slicing up some more bacon, just in time as I used the last of what we had this morning.
I have another 3 lots of bacon to get sliced up and that will be packed and popped in the freezer.
I also treated myself to a Smoking Cabinet
I have been looking at various models for some time and have settled for this one
It is free standing, comes with racks, it has an electric element but you can also use it with hot embers or as a cold smoker, it also has a thermometer.
It all seems fairly straight forward to use, tomorrow I am going to set it up in the open barn and give it a run with some bacon.
We have had friends visiting for a couple of days, it was great to see them and spend time together, we even managed a bit of snow for them, weather wise it has been really good, dry and still although cold but that sunshine has been great.
Hubby has been building shelters for the Alpacas and I have been down in the cabin get even more stuff unpacked, I am becoming ruthless now and a lot of stuff is being disposed of, tomorrow the decorations are coming down all will be packed in plastic storage boxes and sent into the attic, as I am emptying plastic storage boxes in the cabin I am re-using them for re-packing anything that is going in the attic, I am not having cardboard boxes any more.
I did finally get round to ordering the garden tunnel today, I have been procrastinating over it, I keep looking at various sites and just couldn't decide which to have, anyway its now ordered and should be here in a few weeks, it wont be long before its time to get started with the growing season again, I must spend some time planning what we are going to grow and check what seeds I need.
We are eating our way through leftovers in the fridge at the moment, mainly cold meat and salad so no cooking for me at the moment. 

Saturday 27 December 2014

When You Nag Enough

I have nagged for a few weeks about getting a curtain pole cut down and fixed over the internal door leading to the Arctic utility room, were an icy blast comes through the gaps around the old door, I wanted to get a curtain fixed up. The nagging has paid off and hubby set to getting the job done.
This is just a temporary measure, Its a solid stone wall and took a bit of drilling.
I got the curtain up that I lined with thermal lining 
It was cheaper to buy a pair of thermal linings than buy a single door lining
 These were 60" x 90"  and cost £20.95 I bought two packs of them, so I have enough to do some other doors, we have three external doors.
In return for putting up the curtain pole that was also a redundant one from when we moved in, I repaired his waterproof trousers
He had split them in a delicate area.
Today we have friends coming down for a few days, they will be arriving this afternoon, I have made a big pot of Stovies
Its another Scottish dish, made up from left over roast beef potatoes and onions, its now in the bottom oven and will be something warming for them when they arrive
I also have some bread dough proving
We will have fresh bread with the Stovies.
M who is coming really feels the cold so I have been getting the house all toasty warm and have hot water bottles at the ready for her and some extra blankets. 
I am really excited about her arriving, she is a good crafting friend of mine so a couple of days will be spent crafting in the cabin, while her husband plays with hubby and his big boy toys.
I am just going to pop over and see C senior next door as its her birthday today.
Happy Birthday C senior.

Friday 26 December 2014

Cosy and Quiet

 Cosy and Quiet was our day, after feeding animals we opened presents,
Kara needed no help in getting into hers, I got a lovely cosy dressing gown and a fab new head torch from hubby, I got him a book about Bats and a Bat detector.
We had breakfast of Smoked Salmon and scrambled eggs, did a few chores then it was lunchtime, home baked Ham, we then decided to take Kara down to the beach for a Christmas day stroll.
She had a little paddle 
explored a few caves 
She sat with me admiring the view from the cliff top
The wind was bitterly cold, the sun was shining. 
We then headed home fed the animals there afternoon feed, popped round to wish our lovely neighbours a happy Christmas, a jolly little family gathering.
We then settled in front of the fire with Mussels and Lobster a few nibbles and there we stayed for the evening,  a delightful day no stress no pressure.
Today we are forecast snow hubby wants to gets the fascias washed down so he can the scaffolding, I am just doing some sorting ready for friends arriving tomorrow.
How was your day ?

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Home Cured Christmas

I baked one of the hams today that I set in cure the other week
It tastes delicious, one of the best tasting hams I have ever tried, I am really pleased with the results.
Hubby brought home a Spanish Ham 
we have had one ever year for about 5-6 years now, I would love to be able to do a ham like that but I think its too humid here.
Hubby had an early Christmas pressie today, he knew about it, I ordered it the other week for him.
A complete butchery set, not something I will be playing with, far to sharp for me.
This morning I went down to the community shop with my lovely neighbour C senior for mince pies and mulled wine, there was a lot of people packed into the little shop, the raffle draw took place and I won
a lovely tin of Butter Biscuits.
Well the pressies are under the tree, Kara has hung her stocking 
The Lobsters we are are having for dinner are defrosting we will be having them with a selection of seafood while sat in front of the fire, we don't do Turkey, the ham is done, there is also some roast beef, mince pies and cake are done we have a few a few nibbles so all that is left is to
Wish you a peaceful joyful Christmas, If you are spending it with family I hope it is  a pleasant time for you all and if you are spending it alone I hope you have a few treats to spoil yourself, I hope your children appreciate all you have done to bring them a Christmas full of memories and cherish the time spent together.
Nadolig Llawen

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Time To Try The Bacon

Today's the day
By my calculations the bacon in the smoked cure should be ready
All rinsed off and dried 
I sliced off a few slices and popped them in a frying pan, 
these are streaky bacon, its from the belly of the pork
I like mine crispy, a bacon sandwich was on the menu 
It smelled great, and tasted great, it was so good I did another sandwich.
I got the rest of it sliced up, its now in the fridge.
My slicing machine was playing up, it played up last time I used it as well, there is a burning smell coming from the motor and its loosing power, I have had for it about 20 years, I have now ordered myself a new one it wont be hear until next week so I will have to wait until then to slice up the rest of the bacon, we have plenty sliced to keep us going in the meantime.
Our first home reared and cured bacon.

Sunday 21 December 2014

Mince Pies And Blooms

I knocked up a batch of mince pies today, I made them a little different to how I normally do them.
I topped them with a simple sponge mix instead of pastry and dusted them with icing sugar, they taste really lovely, I do actually prefer them with a sponge topping, I think will this will be way I do them in the future.
My Amaryllis has opened it first lot of flowers
Its a bit top heavy so I have propped it up in the twigs of the tree.
I came across a little Christmas tree I made last year 
Its from a workshop I ran last year, its all made out of card and decorated with beads and a mini set of LED lights, I was surprised to see it still works .
I have had family visiting this week end, Kara made friends with everyone
I think she was making a point its her place in front of the fire.
Yesterday morning Kara was having a bit of a lazy turn 
and scrounged a lift back in the trailer after we had delivered hay to Alpacas, she is becoming more of a farm dog everyday. She follows me around on the quad bike, knows the feeding routine and is very good at reminding me its time to feed everyone if I am busy doing something, while I am in the paddocks feeding everyone she sits outside the gates waiting for me and follows from paddock to paddock.
Three more sleeps until hubby comes home for the holidays, and next week end we have some friends coming to stay for a couple of days, I am all organised at this end, shopping wrapping, decorations, housework and baking all done and tomorrow hope to spend some time crafting.
Is everyone else all done for the holidays.