Wednesday 30 September 2015

Wednesday's Life Changing Thoughts ......

Do you like your own company? 
Living in a rural area you do spend a lot of time on your own, if you are a social butterfly you will struggle, I enjoy my own company sometimes too much, to the extent I could easily become a hermit cut off from civilisation, you don't have to become a hermit, I don't think it is really healthy to spend all your time alone.
Before we moved here I ran a shop I would deal with people day in day out and craved time alone, when we moved I had that time alone and loved it, I chose when I mixed with others and I did, there is lots of opportunity to meet with others in a rural community, if you have kids you will meet other parents at school and have the opportunity to get involved with after school activities.
Not having dependents at home makes it a bit more difficult
There is of course the WI 
There are gardening groups, walking groups, the local pub, local history group, book groups
You have to make the effort they are not going to find you, we have a local newsletter that is circulated by e-mail, it lists lots of things happening each month.
If you do have a smallholding and you have livestock your social life will be even less, days out will be non existent, holidays and week ends away you can wave good bye to, anytime you do want to get away you will need to arrange for some-one to care for any livestock you have, unless you have some really good friends or family to house sit.
I can go for days and have no-one but the animals to talk to, even more so in winter, I do even talk to myself, I am not the sort of person who needs to speak with my husband every day we don't even text a lot when apart, I really do enjoy my own company and I enjoy the company of my husband and when I choose friends and family.
Do you enjoy your own company or are you a social butterfly ?

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Just A Normal Day

Today was one of those normal days, 
 Got 2 loads of washing done out on the line drying in the sunshine
 Painted some of the display units that I will be using for craft fairs
 Got the two fleeces out of the fermenting bin, rinsed them with rain water and left them drying in the sunshine
 picked a few caterpillars off the brasicas and squashed them
 updated my laptop to windows 10, that was fairly straight forward and painless.
Just got back from walking Sol in the woods and brought everything in to start extracting honey tonight a bit of a sticky job.
I have only taken some of the frames, want to leave them plenty for winter, I will do a honey post later in the week.
Yesterday I spent time in the cabin sewing, Martin was getting grass cut we then scooted off to the beach, fish and chips in the sunshine sat on the harbour wall a lovely end to the day, Sol had a bit of swim and rolled in the sand he was a very tired doggy when we headed home.

Saturday 26 September 2015

Gobble Gobble Gobble.......

I haven't really said much about the Turkeys, although they have a lot to say, I love the noise they make, they sound like Red Indians and all call out together in unison.
 They are getting to be a lovely size
 We haven't lost any of them, they are in good shape and very healthy
 Martin extended there run area today for them
They have been really easy to look after and put themselves to bed every evening.
While Martin was working on the turkey run, I was in the fruit garden
 weeding down the rows of Raspberries and any stray runners digging up and putting them in a row,
They have all had a top dressing of Alpaca manure, these raspberries have been with me for 18 years, and whenever we ave moved I have taken some runners with me, I have no idea what they are called, They have always fruited end of summer and provide a really nice fruit of a good size, I also have some Autumn fruiting ones there from Bovey Belle, now the rows are established we need to get some supports in place for them, before we build the fruit cage, we are picking some fruit off them but they are still young and were only planted in the spring, they will come into there own next year.
We had a measure up for a fruit cage the area is bigger than what I thought, 42ft x 16ft, if we are to stand any chance of getting soft fruit we will need to protect it with netting from the birds.
 The late planting of peas are now starting to flower, I am still hoping we get a crop from them
Crayfish, Martin set his trap during the week using the duck carcass left over from dinner as bait, he managed to get a haul of 25 American signal crayfish, dinner tomorrow evening sorted.
He has had a few hauls this year, the last lot were cooked up and in the freezer for a later date, he might just manage another couple of hauls this year before they go into hibernation.

Its been glorious sunshine today, ideal for spending outside and catching up on jobs in the garden, I picked some runner beans I am just about t pop them in the freezer, harvested another 6 cucumbers there are only two left on the plant now, picked the last courgette the plants are now spent, I have been taking some of the largest squashes off to give the others a chance to come on, the squashes I have sitting on the bench in the greenhouse for there skins to harden off, this way they will store better for use during winter. I have also been taking off the chillies as soon as they start to change colour and leaving them to ripen indoors.

That's all for now :-)

Friday 25 September 2015

Just Enjoying The Sunshine

We are having a lovely spell of good weather,
 ideal for doing all those end of season jobs out side
I picked a selection of flowers from the garden
I am no flower arranger, they get popped into a jug and that's it.
Friday is when all the animal houses get cleaned out, 
its a lot nicer doing them when the sun is shining.
Thelma and Connie are settling in fine
They are getting used to the feeding routine
The now come up and investigate whats in the feed bucket
In about a weeks time I will start handling them
I hope to get them to walk on a leash and stand while being groomed and for feet inspections.
It will be a slow process but there is no rush.

I have got Odd Job and Nick Nack booked in for castration in a couple of weeks, the vet is going to come out here to do there operations and they will be put under general anaesthetic, In a months I will start re-introducing them to each other again and then the next step will  be letting them run with the girls, one herd together it will make field rotation a lot easier.
I nipped out today and got a few Tulip and Crocus bulbs and some winter flowering pansies, I have made a start on planting up the half barrels they are in place at the end of our drive.

I have been working away at stuff for the craft fair, a few people have asked about ordering some of the things I have added a new page to my craft blog with prices and ordering details.

They are promising us a lovely week end weather wise, I intend making the most it.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Wednesday's Life Changing Thoughts

Nearly had a day mix up and didn't do this post, never mind.

Money that is whats this weeks thoughts are on, when you throw off the shackles of your old life and plan to live off the land, no matter how much self sufficiency you plan to be you WILL need money, how much money you need all depends on the life you plan to live.
If you grow your own food
Raise your own meat
Go off grid and supply your own services 
Paid off your mortgage 
you will still need money, Council tax still has to be paid, vet bills have to be paid, Animal feed, transport/fuel costs are just some of the things you need money for, unless you win the lottery you will have to come up with a way to earn money to pay for your get away lifestyle.

Kev from English Homestead is a carpenter and his wife a teacher, they swap roles with childcare and Kev works during school holidays and does some work at week ends and evenings, its hard work for the both but they have worked out a good balance.

Sue Quiet Life In Suffolk her husband has been doing work locally for farmers and neighbours they also run a campsite and Sue sells produce from the gate. Another good balance.
Bovey Belle deals in antiques and her husband restores antiques, they spend there week ends going round fairs and events and week days are spent sorting stock. Another good balance.

My husband Martin still has to work away through the week, I earn from crafting, it is tough being here and coping with all sorts of problems on my own, its tough on Martin as well, he works hard drives hundreds of miles a week to and from home,  we are still working on the balance but have plans and we will get there.

So what do you plan to do for money, have lots of chickens and sell eggs, REALLY in a rural area just about every other driveway has a sign up eggs for sale, why will they buy yours, what if your place isn't on a busy route selling from the gate would be very difficult, whatever you decide to do there will be some-one else in your area doing it already, that's not to say you cant but if you go in all gun ho slash prices to get the work you will only get up the backs of local people and in a rural area you need friends not enemies, there are lots of crafters around me, I got to know who was selling what by attending local events, doing some research making friends then doing something a bit different to others, you might have to take on a little cleaning job, be prepared to do some seasonal work, its only by getting to know others and getting involved with local events you will hear of these jobs. Fact of rural life is they are more likely to take on some-one they know locally rather than a stranger and you will be the stranger, it may take years before you are considered local i some places you may never be considered a local.
Selling on line means you can sell to the world, but selling on line in a rural area has its draw backs, Internet speeds and connections may be patchy, there have been occasions we have lost phone and Internet services for days, posting out items can be difficult, we have a mobile post office van come to the village for an hour a day on week days, I have to set the timer on my phone to remind me of the time and down tools and dash when the van is coming, nothing beats visiting the post office van in your wellies and your covered in muck.
There have been times it hasn't turned up, its broken down, the driver is sick and if the weather is bad in winter I may not be able to get to it. 
No matter how much you save or how frugal you are you will always need money, if something major goes wrong you need to lay your hands on money fast. You also have to think what if your partner is not well enough to work, what if you lose your partner.
We know some-one who recently lost his wife they have been living there dream for only a few years, seeing how this friend is now having to make life changes was something that we discussed what if we were in that situation, its something you will have to discuss, how will the one that's left cope, you never know what is round the corner.

There is always a way to earn money you just have to be prepared to turn your hand at just about anything and unskilled labour is low pay, so how do you plan to earn some money when you throw off the shackles and flee to live your dream.


Tuesday 22 September 2015

Strange White Powder

Yesterday we had a visitor expected, he was the previous owner of Thelma and Connie, he brought me a tub of white powder
Not sure what to make of this gift until he explained to me what it was
DE powder (Diatomaceous earth) I had often come across this being mentioned in various circles but never seen it and asumed it would be earth coloured.
Here is an extract from Wikipedia
diatomaceous earth consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. It is used as a filtration aid, mild abrasive in products including metal polishes and toothpaste, mechanical insecticide, absorbent for liquids, matting agent for coatings, reinforcing filler in plastics and rubber, anti-block in plastic films, porous support for chemical catalysts, cat litter, activator in blood clotting studies, a stabilizing component of dynamite, and a thermal insulator.
Here is another extract off the web
All livestock, Horses, Cows, Pigs, Sheep, Goats, Rabbits, Chickens and others will benefit from the use of Diatomaceous Earth. It is completely safe and nontoxic. Some of the benefits are; Control of fleas and ticks, stimulates basic metabolism, converts feed better, reduces odor and moisture in barns and stalls, results in better coat and hoof condition, keeps fly larvae from developing in manure, noticeably reducing the fly population, reduces annual vet bills, controls worms and internal parasites without chemicals, better egg production, stronger eggs, and reduces overall animal stress. Diatomaceous Earth can be mixed right in with the animals feed.

I am now trying DE powder on all our livestock including Sol.
If there is anyone else using it let me know :-)

Yesterday we had the smallest of the ducks we had prepared, along with a couple of these
 Globe Artichokes, cooked in boiling water for 15 mins and drizzled with melted butter, there is a lot of them coming on I dont expect we will get round to eating them all, buts thats alright when the heads open up to revel there lovely thistle like flowers the bees will enjoy them. They are a perennial plant so there will be plenty more next year.
 Martin got the holes dug for my two very special fir trees, and managed to get them out of the half barrels for me, they should start to put on a lot of growth now I have had them for 8 years and watched them grow from little spindle trees.
The half barrels I am going to re-use at the end of the drive planted up with bulbs for spring and some geraniums in summer. I want to re-paint the metal rims first, once planted they will be too heavy t move I might pop in a few soalr lights as well to show our entrance.

Today I popped out and met up with another small holder who moved to the area 10 months ago and came from just 7 miles away from were we lived, she is a goat keeper it will be handy to know some-one I can call on for advice, speaking of goats Thelma and Connie are settling in, this evening when I walked Sol I collected a load of Willow Bay Herb for them and had them eating from my hand, all steps in the right direction :-)

Sunday 20 September 2015

Thelma and Connie

Here they are Thelma and Connie
 This is Thelma the darker one
 And this is Connie
They are both sister's and are still a bit stand offish, there first time away from the herd so I expect it will take some time for them to settle in, we are hoping they have both managed to get caught by the Billy we will know in a few weeks. They are Boer Guernsey cross.
They have been named after Lake Thilmere and Lake Conniston in the Lake District as our house has been named after a place there. All future addition's will be named in the same way.

 While I was sewing toilet rolls in the cabin (craft blog for details)  Martin was bottling his Dandelion wine, its lovely and clear and should be ready for drinking Christmas
 He also got some pea pod wine on the go, I have been keeping the pods in the freezer for him finally today he had to time to make a start on it.

This afternoon we dispatched plucked and dressed the last four table ducks for this year, we having the smallest for dinner tomorrow, it weighs 4lb the others came in at 4.8lb's, 5.8lbs and a lovely 6.4lbs, they are now in the freezer for another day, we should have got them done a few weeks ago but just didn't have the time.

That about sums up today :-)

Saturday 19 September 2015

Saving Our Backs

Martin got a new attachment for his tractor
 A hydraulic log splitter
 It is so easy to use
 no effort involved
No more back ache from splitting logs
Once he got it set up and showed me how it works, he got stuck into cutting the logs with the chain saw and I did the splitting, it was fun to use, within a couple of hours we had cut split and stacks two trailer loads of logs a job that would have taken us a week end.
Martin has had a bit of back problem for a couple of years, so anything that makes things easier and save time is a real god send.
He bought it second hand, we bought the tractor second hand when we moved here and the money saved buying used has meant we could buy lots of useful attachments so far her has got
Link Box
Mole Drill
Log Splitter 

You don't always need to buy new, the vat you pay on new is a killer.

We have just got back from collecting the goats, I will introduce them tomorrow when I can take some photos.

Friday 18 September 2015

Part 2 of 2

Apple Cider Vinegar continued from last night, 
Once the apple bits turn brown pop into a wide mouth jar
 add 3 tsp of sugar give a good stir and
cover the top with some kitchen paper or muslin held on with an elastic band, it needs to breath and you need to keep pesky flies out, pop it somewhere warm and dark to ferment for about 6 weeks write it on the calendar so you don't forget it.
Then strain the liquid discard the apple, return the liquid to the jar and re-cover and put back in its hidy hole stir every few days for the next 2-4 weeks, taste it weekly once it reaches and acidity level you like bottle it and start to use.

Next my Blackberry fruit mix, left for a couple of hours the peaches soaked up the liquid and plumped up
 I popped some bottling jars in the oven to sterilise and the lids into some boiling water, brought the mixture back to the boil
 filled the jars, see on the jar above air pockets you want to get rid of those
 use a knife or a lid lifter if you have one and slide it down the sides getting rid of the air pockets, fill the jars leaving about an inch head space, wipe around the edges of the jar with a damp cloth, you want to get a good seal
 pop on the lids into a large pan with a t-towel at the bottom, make sure the jars are not touching each other or the sides, fill with boiling water you want the jars covered by about an inch and boil for 25 mins.
 Lift out the jars they will be hot that is a jar lifter in the picture, place the hot jars on a towel and leave to cool, there we go a fruit filling for pies, crumbles what ever takes your fancy and its not taking up freezer space and will keep for a couple of years. I buy in new jars to do this I never re-use jars with lids for bottling. They are OK for jams  or chutneys but not bottling, new lid every time to get a good seal.

I had some of the mixture left over so I used it in an upside down chocolate cake
 I used this recipe Chocolate upside down cake its egg and dairy free
I halved the ingredients
It looks great and smells great Martin will let me know if it is any good.

I have done my bread baking as well today, I am not really a cake maker so that's me all baked out for a while.

Thursday 17 September 2015

Part 1 of 2 Post

Todays post is in two parts, the reason is I have been sewing all day so not getting anything done until the evening, I started this cooking this evening and will finish off tomorrow morning
First Off Blackberries 
 We dont need any more jam or jellies we have plenty in store so I wanted to make up a mix that could be used in pies or crumbles,  wash the blackberries throw them in the pan with some home made brown sugar  cooked until the juices were running then 
I added 3 tablespoons then I added some
 dehydrated peaches and a good spoonful of dried orange zest
 peeled cored and chopped half a dozen apples and threw them in as well, brought it to the boil remove from heat  then left for the peaches to soak up the lovely blackberry juice. 
I will show you what happened to them next in tommorrows post.

Now the apple peel and cores I could feed them to the chickens but would rather use them for us
I am going to make some Apple Cider Vinegar, leave the peel and core on a plate to go brown.
will continue tomorrow.

I cooked myself up a treat for dinner 
Double eggs and chips, real chips made from real potatoes, you know the ones you peel slice chop wash drain and pop into hot oil with lashings of vinegar and a sprinkling of salt, I was thinking of it all day, egg and chips yummy and home produced.

I had a little visitor at breakfast this morning 
can you see him on the back of the chair
 I happened to have the camera sitting beside me
I tried zooming in on the little robin but it hasnt come out very well

cooking continues tomorrow :-)