Saturday 28 February 2015

Update On Kara

Kara had to have her toe amputated yesterday after the discovery of a suspect growth, she wasn't in pain and it didn't effect her mobility, but it was growing at an alarming rate and her toe was becoming enlarged and deformed, after trying medication and there was no response the decision was taken that the toe had to be removed. A cell smear was done last week and the results showed its a Grade 2 mass cell tumour.
We dropped her off at the vets in the morning, we did continue her pet insurance when we adopted her and it is just as well as it covers all costs, because the insurance company was picking up the bill it meant she could have 5* treatment, a heated bed and kept on a IV all day to aid recovery from the anaesthetic the were also doing full bloods and clipping her nails.
When we collected her late afternoon she was still very drowsy and disorientated, we popped her on her blanket in the back of the car she whimpered and cried all the way home, getting into the house she managed a little tail wag, she was very unsettled all evening and need reassurance that we were there with her, she managed a light meal with one of her pain relief tablets very unsteady on her feet, she was still whimpering all evening and through the night Martin had to get up to her, this morning she is more alert but still in discomfort.
She has to return to the vet on Monday morning for the dressings to be changed and that continues every 3 days for the next few weeks.
Next week we should get the full results of the biopsy and we hope they have got all the tumour and she wont need another operation.
Thanks for all the well wishes for Kara :-)

Friday 27 February 2015

Five On Friday

Friday comes round really quick or so it seems, this week I thought I would share an overview of five different ways of preserving storing food the advantages and disadvantages, I use all five of these methods.

 we have three freezers and use them mainly for meat and fish, with a few home made ready meals, recently our two home reared pigs went into the freezers.
Freezing is a great way of preserving food and something most people can do, some foods have a short freezer life and you have to keep this mind also food can spoil with freezer burn if its not packaged correctly, its a brilliant for when you see reduced foods in the shops and can save you money. The disadvantage is, it costs money to run freezers so you are paying every day to keep your food preserved, also a prolonged power cut and it has all spoiled.

Drying food for storage is becoming more popular, its a brilliant way of preserving fruit and vegetables, even left overs and again you can take advantage of reduced prices and buying in bulk.
You need a dehydrator or you can use a cool oven, once dried it needs to be packaged in air tight packaging to stop it spoiling, dried foods last for years and once dehydrated keeping the food is costing anything and it takes up little space, the disadvantage is you have to rehydrate the food unless you are eating it as a snack so forward planning is needed, of course it easy to throw a few handfuls of vegetables into soups and stews, the other main drawback is you do need a dehydrator there are small ones on the market for about £30 but if you seriously want to store dried foods you need something more substantial and you are looking at about £200 they are the size of a microwave too, running costs are low about the same as a 60w light bulb.

Canning and Bottling
Canning isn't as popular in the UK as it is in other countries, I don't know why, basically its storing cooked food in jars under pressure creating a vacuum. Bottling is very similar but the foods are not done under pressure. Most foods can be canned meat fruit vegetables sauces soups even butter and milk. The disadvantage is you need a canner which is like a big pressure cooker 
No so easy to get in the UK you often have to buy them from abroad, you also need special jars and lids that will seal under pressure, but once canned the food is stored in the jars that are reusable but the seal lids cannot be re-used, you can get Tattler lids that are re-usable. It is a considered purchase going down the canning route but again the food does not cost anything to keep in its preserved state.

Smoking and Curing 

Dry or wet curing meat or fish is using a salt solution to extract the moisture from the meat, it will then be air dried, once cured meat will keep for a long time, recently I bought a smoking cabinet   to smoke cure some of our bacon, you can smoke cure using a BBQ, curing meat is something that anyone can easily to do at home there is plenty of info out there if any one wants easy instructions let me know, you don't need any specific equipment, disadvantages the food doesn't keep as long as other methods.

Pickling and Preserves

A favourite way of preserving by many and often first step into preserving, 
Jams, jellies, pickles, chutneys, sauces.
No special equipment is needed just a good strong saucepan and usual kitchen equipment, jars are easily collected, it takes patience to get a good set on jams and jellies and you need to allow yourself plenty of time to complete the process, preserves will keep for a good few years if stored correctly.
Sorry this post has been a bit of rush and I haven't gone into lots of detail, I will do with future posts as I am using the methods.
This morning we took Kara to the vet for her operation the biopsy results were not good so my thoughts are else were today, we will be picking her up later on this afternoon.

Thanks to Amy for organising the five of Friday and I hope you will have look to see what else is being posting about.

Thursday 26 February 2015

Buzzard Attack

While emptying the ash pan I could here a commotion in the poultry area, so I donned my wellies and went round there just as I approached a big buzzard took off and this the damaged he had done
another chicken lost to a buzzard, I had had problems with the chickens being attacked and posted on here about it, I was told by some that buzzards don't attack poultry, well they do I have now seen it myself, unfortunately I don't think we are allowed to shoot the buzzards but I will look into this.
his now means the poultry cannot free range nature is so cruel.
I have removed the chicken so he needn't bother coming back for it.

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Clearing The Boundaries

I had a wander around the boundaries this morning, taking note of the broken branches that have come down in the wind
There is a fair amount of broken branches sitting on the fences and they have to be cleared before the fences become damaged 

I have made a start pulling some of the branches off the fences
When I as out collecting animal feed I bought myself a nice 24" bow saw to help make the job easier
I was have a good walk around the top field,
Mr Mole has been busy up there
 Some lovely top soil mounds
This area I want to plant up with trees at some point in the future 
The lower half of the top field we need to get some fencing put across soon.
The baby alpacas have to be weaned next month so we need an area to put them were they are far enough away from there mothers. 
Tonight I am putting the new chooks into the big hen house so they can all live together, just waiting for them all to go to bed, then I can do a shuffle of accommodation then have a shower and dinner.

Monday 23 February 2015

Earning Opportunity's

I have decided to make a start on selling the shop stock, Martin has been bringing up stock from storage the past couple of weeks now I have storage in place at this end 
The metal storage shed I bought Martin has erected in the barn, so the stock is well protected from rodents and weather conditions.
I am only just starting to sort the stock that has arrived so far, Its going to be long process.
Yesterday I set up a sellers account on Amazon, and I have started listing items if anyone want to check it out here it is Craft Cart at some point I will upgrade my account and have a shop front on Amazon. I will continue to add stock as I go through it.
My next step is to book a couple tables at the next village sale in the hall and take along stock to sell direct to the public. 
There will be some used workshop stock as well that I will list on preloved.

I went down to the craft group this morning and had a very nice morning with the ladies, a visitor turned up at the group a lady who it seems has been looking for me, she heard on the grapevine that I use to do craft workshops and was looking for some tutoring for her friends and herself, she went away with a big list of what classes I could do and is going to consult with her friends, if I go ahead with this it would be private classes in my cabin, this could be a good little job for me earning a bit of pin money in a bit of spare time. 

That's been my chilly day summed up, all about earning opportunity's  :-) 

Saturday 21 February 2015

Bad News For Kara

Last week we took Kara to the vet, we were concerned about a lump on her toe, after a week of antibiotics and steroid ointment we were back today for a follow up, there has been no improvement, in fact the lump has grown, the vet told us today she didn't like the look of it and had concerns, she recommended that the toe is amputated, her toe is becoming enlarged and deformed.
They did a cell biopsy this morning and she is booked in next Friday for her operation.

Now onto the tomatoes 
They all have there true leaves and have been potted up, the are coming on great, I had a 100% germination but discard a few when potting on as the were weak or misshapen.
The Aubergine also have there true leaves now so they are ready to be potted on, peppers and chillies and not ready just yet they are only just started to develop there true leaves.
So that about sums up today, sausage on mash for dinner so must go.

Friday 20 February 2015

Five On Friday

My first five on Friday thanks to Amy for organising this and putting in all the work,
 All week I have been thinking about what to post so here goes, 
My thoughts turned to five smells that I enjoy and bring that warm gooey feeling and evoking memories.
The smell of fresh hay I could easily dive into it and have a good roll around, nothing beats the smell of good hay, I always have to take in a good lungful every morning when I am doing the Alpacas hay, it doesn't bring a specific memory just a feeling of joy.

Chimney smoke, a child hood memory walking down the streets and the smell of the fires burning, knowing you were going home to warm home, central heating stole this away and when ever we were holiday in rural areas we both enjoyed the smell of those chimneys burning.

Cut wood, I love the smell of cut wood, sawdust, wood chips or bark chips, my dad use to work in sawmills and we always lived beside them, dad use to come home covered in sawdust and wood sap and I loved that smell, My sister and me use to play in the sawmills climbing over all the logs the smell of cut wood brings back those childhood memories

Lillie's nothing beats the smell of Lillie's for me, I grow them for there scent and have them as cut flowers, when the summer sun warms them and the scent is at its more powerful, looking into the middle and seeing those sticky stamens oozing there aroma. They are to me the flower of summer.

Chips smothered in salt and vinegar, some-one could be walking don the other side of the street and you get a whiff of fresh chips, your mouth waters and you want some, they never taste the same at home, it has to be outside wrapped in paper even better on a drizzly cold day, a real warm comforting food, that has been there all my life, I remember going into chippy s as a youngster and not having the money for chips and they would give us bags of scraps, all those little bits of batter and the odd chip doused in salt and vinegar 

pop into Amys blog here and how about joining in, full details on Amy's blog

Thursday 19 February 2015

Repeling Invaders

Some one has set up home here in the hedge bank next to the poultry area
It appeared today, it wasn't there this morning, the netting is the electric netting that surrounds the poultry area
and whoever it is is stealing the eggs 
I think it may be a Mink or a Pole Cat, whatever it is we have to trap it and dispose of it.
Unfortunately it was raining so I couldn't see any foot prints.
Rain meant another day indoors, but I didn't waste it this time.
I set about blacking the log burner
After almost looks as good as new
It was a bit tedious to do but I am pleased with the results
next time I do it I will invest in a set of soft brushes, I think that would be lot easier to get into all the nooks and cranny's.
I did do some baking today as well, the usual bread two loafs today and a upside down plum cake
I have popped it back into the dish now its cooled and saving it for the week end.
I did also tidy bookcases and came across a couple of duplicate books so next week I am going to do a give way.
If anyone has any ideas on my invader please pass them on :-) 

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Zilch ...............

Yes that's what I have done today Zilch........

apart from the usual round of feeds, poo picking and bringing in logs,
The day has been cloudy overcast with a real cold wind blowing through and occasional drizzle, not very nice for being out doors.
I went to reading group last night, a very enjoyable evening and have now met a few others from the village, we had some discussions on historical books we had taken along, I took Pioneer Women and was told of a few others similar that I might like, next time I must remember to take a note book as I now cannot recall the titles.
The stuffed fox in the photo was done for me about 25 years ago, it was run over and a friend of mine was learning taxidermy so stuffed and mounted the fox for me, it has moved from home to home and this move his ear was a casualty, I still have the ear and this week I am going to re-attach it then the fox is going to be re-homed in the local pub, the pub only opened a few months back and one of the bars is called the huntsman they have a few other stuffed things in there, last night I asked the landlord if he would the fox to add to his collection, he was overjoyed with the idea and was saying about having a glass case made for it.
Back to today I have spent the day crafting, playing with an idea of things I want to make and sell 
  These are by no means finished and details are on my craft blog.
apart from that I have been stitching the fourth block ready for the craft group 
tonight there is a program on TV I want to catch Junk Food kid's Who's To Blame ch4 10pm, should make interesting viewing.

Tuesday 17 February 2015

More Fence Painting

The weather was lovely here on to of our mountain, ideal for fence painting
Its a boring job
but a job that has to be done and hopefully not for about another 5 years
I am almost at the half way point now.
Once its done I can get started on the borders and planting, I am so looking forward to getting in the shrubs and climbers.
The ducks are still laying and the chickens are all getting on well together although the new ones still go into there house to sleep, I will have to move them in a couple of days as I want them all in the same hen house, I will wait until they are all roosting then move them into the big hen house with the other chooks. 
Tonight I am off out, I thought I would pop along to the local reading group, this month its bring a historical book either fact or fiction.

Sunday 15 February 2015

A Day Working Together

I started off the day cleaning out chicken and ducks houses, I also let out the new chooks to run with the others, I have kept them quarantined for the first week, they seemed fine so it was time they all got to now each others, the new chooks started laying yesterday.
 We both headed into the vegetable garden while the weather was good to get some jobs done, 
Martin put together the remaining raised beds and I helped him lift them into place, 
I was working at getting some of the pear and plum hedging planted
They are looking rather spindly but there is signs of them coming to life.
I also got the last of the nut trees planted out.
We moved one of the garden benches round to the front of the shed and some slabs for it to sit on its a great pace to sit and catch some sun with a cuppa and take in the view and watching the Red Kites.
Once again we are racing against time to get things done in the veggie garden so we will be ready for the growing season.

Saturday 14 February 2015

Does My Bum Look Big In This

Kara had  a visit to the vet this morning and he gave her this present, 
I had noticed the past few days she kept licking her front paw but it was causing her to limp at all, this morning we had a good look at it and found a lump that didn't look like it should be there so off to the vet we went, it turned out it was a cyst but were she had constantly licked it she had caused a small ulcer on it, so its steroid ointment, antibiotics and a lampshade for the next five
days then a return visit next week-end.
Wandering around feeling sorry for herself, Odd Job was taking a lot of interest in her 
He looked like he was snickering at her :-)
Tonight we are having fish and chips, Martin has just gone to get them, we don't do the valentine stuff anymore, we leave it to the young loved up ones.
I did get some of the soft fruit bushes planted out today an finished off a raised bed so that is ready for planting up now.
I spent a bit of time down in the cabin as well while Martin was doing some logging.
That about sums up our day here.

Friday 13 February 2015

Poultry Feed

As our poultry stock increases so does the cost of feeding them, so I have been trying out vegetable scraps with them to supplement there feeds and cut down on costs.
The chickens will peck away at greens but there are other vegetable scraps they just just seem to play with, I cooked up some potato peelings along with cut offs from broccoli then mushed them up with the hand blender and mixed in some of there layers 
doesn't look very appetising but the chooks enjoyed it
The other thing I am doing is drying out egg shells in the bottom oven of the Rayburn
they crumble up very easy when dry I am now adding them to the chooks grit pot, egg shells take an age to compost down so this way the chooks benefit from them, on our next trip to the coast i a going to collect a load of shells to crush up for the chooks as well.
I have had a friend visiting for the past few days so have been otherwise distracted from the blog, Martin arrived back early today as well so my routine has been disrupted, back to normal for a few days then we have more visitors arriving next week end.
The weather is suppose to be fine tomorrow and I ave a few plans for out doors.

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Where Did The Day Go

The day started with  gift from the ducks
Our first 2 duck eggs, hopefully plenty more to come now they have started laying.
I had these two scrambled for dinner with some smoked salmon, they were lovely.
After doing the feed round I discovered I had lost my mobile phone somewhere on route, I retraced all my steps no sign of it, checked in the house no not there, went back out again and did a thorough check of my route and it was in the alpaca girls shelter some straw had got kicked over it, I think some-one was trying to hide it to make a sneaky call.
After a chat on the phone with a friend while I had a cuppa I anted t get some seeds on the go, Dianthus, Lupins, Nasturtiums some more Lupins and more Sweet Peas I also got some Swiss Chard sowed all in the greenhouse, the Purple Sprouting Broccoli I sowed a few weeks have all come up 100% germination, it was an old part used packet of seeds so I was surprised.
Indoors my Chillies are coming on great also the peppers and Aubergine 
The tomatoes are now getting there true leaves 
They are not under heat I have them under a grow light panel our windows are just too small to give enough light for seedlings, the panel has lots of led's giving off blue red and white light, I got it a few weeks ago and so far so good, it gets switched off over night so the seedlings have a period of darkness as well.
After a session of sowing seeds I went down the cabin and got a bit of crafting done, next thing I know its 5 o'clock Kara was wanting dinner the second round of feeds were now an hour behind, the day just flew by.
Now sat down in front of the fire going to read my Armature Gardening magazine, I have just set up a subscription for it, I used to pick it up on regular basis then stopped getting it.
Time to put my feet up :-)

Monday 9 February 2015

Attacked From Above

Went to the craft club this morning on my return everything seemed very quiet in the poultry area, no-birds in sight very unusual, I changed into my boots and went to investigate
lots of feathers and no birds in sigh my heart sank, I looked in the house of the new chooks as they are in a closed run and they were all huddled together, looked in the duck house and they were all in there huddled up together, looked in the big hen house and there was only 2 residents huddled up in the same nest box, one was missing, I looked in the bachelor pad were Gizmo resides and he was in there and with him was the missing hen covered in blood, I lifted her out and she had a lacerations on her back, I gave her a clean up and sprayed her purple antiseptic
All the birds seemed traumatised and didn't come out for several hours, I can only assume there was an attack from a buzzard or kite, both we have round here all the time, as bantams are small they would be seen as easy prey, we will now have to see about making a closed in run to protect the chooks. She seems fine now and is back in with her sisters. 
Yesterday was  fab day with sunshine, I had intended to go down the cabin to do some crafting but changed my plans to make the most of the sunshine, I moved all the pots of fruit trees down to the bee area were they will be planted, there are 14 fruit trees, the bees were active so that is good.
Martin cleared out the Alpaca shelters and put in fresh straw for them, I got my new peach tree planted into a pot were i intend to keep it.
I then made a start painting the fence with preservative
 I got this section done, there is about another 90m to do then the other side
  This is what I am using its £6.99 for 4 Lt, I have worked out I need 20 containers in total,
Now I have the first corner painted I can make a start working on a border and getting some planting done, I have some shrubs and climbers waiting to go into that area.
While I was painting the fence Martin was painting the house
We are doing away with the dull grey colour and brightening it all up with a creamy buttermilk colour, there s enough grey with the stone walls and slate roof. 
I have a friend coming on Wednesday for a couple of days to do a bit of work for us, then hopefully at the week end we another friend coming up to do a few jobs for us, we have also arranged for local handy an to finish off the back wall of the open barn that is to be Martins workshop, bit like buses they all come at once.