Wednesday 30 December 2020

Back Online Again

 What a time for the phone line and internet to go down, 20th of December started having issues with the phone, within 24 hours the phone and internet had died, cutting us off at a time when we really wanted it, with all this lockdown stuff, no contact with the outside world no shopping, the advised date for repair was 4th January, neighbours were in the same predicament.

A little man from BT came out yesterday and by the end of day we were up and running again. The problem we have here is our lines are all over land and run through parts of the forest, branches from trees cause issues with the phone line. They need to get some cutting back done but with COVID causing staff shortages, (don’t understand that one) it has been overlooked this year.

Christmas was very quiet and uneventful we took the dogs to the beach, the place was deserted. 

The pigs went off on there final journey, we raised Berkshires this year very placid easy to handle

We had the first back the week end before Christmas, the other two won’t be back for a couple of weeks they are becoming bacon, gammons and ham. 

I have been rendering the fat down as lard and I did a mamouth sausage making session

The pesky badgers are back ripping up the field, it seems the only solution is going to be a strong insecticide drench to kill off there food supply, I am so reluctant to create a field devoid of life, but might have to bite the bullet 

This week I have cleared out the last of the Tomatillos from poly tunnel number 1 and made up a batch of Salsa Verde 

On the subject of poly tunnels we have just ordered number 3, this one is 14ft x 50ft and will go over the area of the raised beds, putting all our growing area under cover, the new poly tunnel will have mesh ventilation sides, creating a cooler growing area. 

Number 1 is kept dry and hot, Number 2 is more humid and shaded, I love having ing the different growing areas, The hoops down the side of poly tunnel 2 which are used for growing climbers are to become a net cage , we will only have a few small pallet collar beds that will not have any protective covers. 

This will be the last of the big alerterations in the growing area. 

While I wait I have plans for the back garden and front garden that I will share in later blog posts. 

I hope you have all stayed healthy over the Christmas season and I will catch up with you on the other side of 2021.

Sunday 29 November 2020


 I now have a new working phone, yeah great news, it means I now have a camera to hand when I doing things, funny thing it was the camera I missed more than the communication, I don’t really use my phone much and defiantly don't do internet or apps on it. 

We have had some glorious frosty mornings, I love days like these I get some much done,

New phone was not the only new thing this week,

I needed new boots, my preferred boots are Derwent Muckboots with neoprene upper, comfy to wear no rubbing, great for fat calves, Keep my feet warm and dry and best of all they were on Sale this week. 

my old boots were just over two years old, and considering they are almost daily worn they have done well, the seam between the shoe part and the neoprene upper was coming adrift,  

But they haven’t gone to waste, I have cut off the uppers now I have some comfy shoe boots perfect for the garden and very timely as my old cloggies are now ready for the bin.

I have made up feeders for the hives and started feeding, I like these feeders as they just push into the door and the bees can feed from inside.

I have diluted down some bee sugar paste for them.

It’s also very easy to see when they need topping up

My grandson who has been living with us since December last year, has been spending his time when not working, converting a horse lorry to a tiny home that he hopes to go travelling with.

This week he wanted to make some new seat covers, I don’t think he expected it to be so involved

But between us I think we did a grand job, now he just has to do the bench seat.

One of the rams went into the freezer this week

Being Hebridean they grow slowly so we do them as Hoggets between 18 months and two years.

We still have another two to do. 

All in all it’s been a busy week with lots of jobs getting done, I have been gathering bits up for a garden project in the next day or so I hope to get it put together, lots of soups have been made, a bit of baking.

I hope you have had a good productive week. 

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Sea Water and a Birthday

 Something I have been wanting to try for ages is now ticked off the list.

Making our own salt from sea water.

So this is how it was done, first I had to take a trip to the beach, just as well it’s not too far away, I went with some ladies off a group a run 

It was a sunshine and showers day but being the. Day after our welsh firebreak lockdown we didn’t care 
I collected about 5 pints of sea water, also lost my phone in the sea, but it was no big deal, I only ever use my phone for occasional calls and text and some photos but photos and videos are moved off it on a regular basis. 
Anyway sea water collected, I strained it through a paper filter then into a pan it went, brought to a good rolling boil

And left to simmer for several hours, this is were the rayburn is a blessing

It needs to simmer down and the water evaporates away until you are left with a slush

Being careful not to scald and burn the salt, I tipped my slush into a dish and popped it into the bottom oven left overnight to dry off, good old rayburn again, you can just leave it to air dry or even pop it in a dehydrator. 

Then what you are left with is lovely sea salt, I filled my grinder and a small jar. 

I loved doing this and it’s so easy I will definitely be doing this again when salt runs low.

During the week I had a birthday now 61 were have the years gone, there is definitely natly signs of age, joints ache and things seem to take longer, it was a very wet muddy day, Martin was away at work, he left me a card and some money , got lots of chocolates sent to me and given to me, books and some new plants for the garden. I treated myself with the money to these two beauties 

Lucifer and George they are metal garden ornaments, and going to be part of a mystical garden I am planning, now most things are established along with routine on the smallholding I am starting to sort the garden and have lots of ideas I want to implement, I often go through Pinterest in the evening and save ideas that I think I can work with. Over winter I have lots of structural stuff I want to get in place and start some planting, one thing is a planted moon border, which compromises of plants and flowers that reflect the light of the moon Mainly whites and lime green and are night scented, so if anyone has any suggestions or has a moon garden let me know. 

Sunday 8 November 2020

Chicken Plucking

 A fellow self sufficient friend who lives fairly local and me bought a poultry plucker between us, I am happy for it to remain with her as we are getting ready for the building works now and the less stuff I have about the better.

Anyway we have been having a play with this bit of equipment and to say it’s been a learning curve is an understatement, here is a short video of one of our attempts 

Chicken plucking

It took a few attempts before we had success, 

The instruction leaflet was lacking in proper instructions, lots of you tube videos later, we have discovered the optimum temperature  the water should be for scalding.

I am now out of chickens, but we have some friends with plenty of poultry waiting to be plucked. 

These were the light Sussex birds we raised this year for meat, they are suppose to be a dual purpose birds, next year we are going back to Ross Cobbs for meat.

If anyone else has used a poultry plucker advice is most welcome.  

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Preparing For Winter

 Well it’s been a pretty wild week end with the weather, thank goodness that has now passed and we are back getting some sunny spells.

Yesterday we headed down to Pendine Sands with the dogs, to blow some cobwebs away 

Yes it was very blowy but nice to get some sea air and a change of scenery, everything was closed and there was no one around very much a ghost town. 

I had harvested the last of the apples last week off all our young trees, so three crates later all mixed up we decided to have a go at doing some cider with them 

We have never done cider before, I don’t drink the stuff, I am not even sure that it should be that colour, thank goodness we are only doing a gallon, if anything it can get used for cooking I suppose.

I have got a sourdough starter on the go 

It’s now been going almost a week and I haven’t managed to kill it yet, It’s the one from Paul Hollywood’s book Bread.

I have been busy prepping the poly tunnels for winter 

poly tunnel 1 has been cleared out and Some reflective insulation has been put up on the lower part of the tunnelfirst time trying this.
When clearing out I came across some self seeded tomatoes so I have planted them up and I am going to try and keep them going over winter, not expecting them to fruit but it would give me a head start if they did survive.
Also trying to keep the chilliest and peppers alive over winter.

All the beds have been mulched in a deep layer of Alpaca poo, one side has been covered over as it won’t be used this winter, I have small beds of some veg on the go, and bringing on more plants that will be planted out in a few weeks, pots of tender plants have been brought in to over winter, and the early strawberries have all been brought in. Grapes pruned back and the tunnel has been washed down inside and out. Now I have just have to get poly tunnel 2 done, I have made a start on clearing and cutting back.

Work so far
Before in my little tropical jungle.

Right spit spot work to do.

Wednesday 28 October 2020

It’s Getting Very Tedious

 Yes we are back in lockdown here in Wales, it’s becoming very tedious every time you start getting some normality back in your life they snatch it away, considering we have such low numbers in Wales it makes no sense. 

Before lock down we started taking Paige and Mia back out the beach, 

It was great being out with them but of course now we can’t go.

We have just been through this years round of TB testing

All went well and we passed, we had the females scanned for pregnancy but only scanned in calf, we will repeat in December.

The light Sussex pulleys are all now laying like it’s going out of fashion, and the silly turkey has got her seasons mixed up and has also come into lay.

On the subject of chickens, we have started culling the Light Sussex cockerels

There weights are not to bad, and they there is a lot of meat compared to bone, not as much as the Ross Cobbs and I think come next spring we will raise some more Ross Cobbs to bulk out our meat.

We made the descion to sell all the Hebridean ewes, we had a flock of 26 and we needed the land for the Buffalo, the last of the ewes went last week end, we still have the rams, there for the freezer this year and three for next year, we may just go down the route of raising a few bottle lambs for our own use. We will see. 
Elvis our Boer Billy is back from his holidays, he was away with some ladies.
Now he is back he is in with our ladies 

He is a big fella, but as gentle as a lamb.

Thank you for all the messages after the loss of of our beloved Tess, 
She is so missed, 
She was a big part of our life here, her legs went completely and we were having to help her up all the time and the crunch came when her front legs went and she couldn’t even get up for a drink of water, we think she had a stroke as when we found her in the morning she was in a bit of a state, so we took her straight to the vet and said good bye. 
They allowed us to be with her, and she went to sleep for the final time in the one place she really loved in the back of the car on my knee. 
We cannot thank our vets enough for the kindness and compassion they showed to Tess and to us. 

She is now laid to rest up in the woodland field beside Sol and Kara and her place is marked with a Sweet Chestnut tree.

Sunday 18 October 2020

Goodbye Tess Sweet Dreams

 The time came to say goodbye to Tess it was heart wrenching, Tess was my dog, my shadow my friend, now there is a big empty hole that my little chocolate pudding use to fill. 14 years old was a good age, 4 years she had been at my side but it was like she had been there forever. 

Sunday 6 September 2020

Did We Have An August


I don’t really recall the transition into August and then September, I just feel like time is so unimportant to me these days that I don’t notice it. It’s like the clock on the wall it is unimportant, the animals are very good at letting us know when it’s time for feeds, the seasons tell us what we should be doing.

BankHoliday we set up the marquee, and welcomed a collection of family and friends to join us for a lamb spit roast, the whole day was done in accordance to Welsh Goverment COVID guidelines, plenty of social distancing, no fingers in food we bought loads of tongs, disposable compostable table wear, we got to catch up with family who we haven’t seen at all this year, and I got to meet my great granddaughters 

While the marquee was in place I put it to use and ran a food preserving taster day for a group of local ladies

We had a great day smoking cheese and garlic

Steam juice extracting grapes that I picked from the poly tunnel

Canning kidney beans

Dehydrating a selection of things that are to be used for our fruit and herb tea blending day

We sent a buffalo off early on in August and we have just got the meat back from the butchers

Our second buffalo went last week, 
We are dispersing the sheep

We need the land for the buffalo, so the sheep have to, we still have 3 rams to cull this year and we will keep on this years 3 ram lambs for meat next year, half the ewes have now gone.

Tess, Paige and Mia have enjoyed trips to the river, we have stayed away the beaches as they have become tourist magnets.
All in all we have just carried on with life, what ever is happening else were has little effect on us. 
I think winter will be interesting, coughs, colds, flu and Covid.
Hope everyone out there is staying safe.