Monday, 13 November 2017

Of the garden and the kitchen


Hello All
A special hello to Clarissa, who thinks I'm being tardy with my posts (I am)
Firstly a garden update (for Clarissa).
As I clear the gardens I am tipping horse manure onto the the cleared area for the chickens to sort. Son-in-law took the trailer and filled twenty bags to the top as he poo picked his daughter's ponies field (yes she has to pick up too!) The bags are so heavy they are impossible to lift so we have to take out half of the brown gold with a spade before we can shift the things.
The tomato plants are finally finished by a light frost. There were still plenty of tomatoes on the plants, many of which I have managed to save. I have made some passatas for the freezer and we are having tomatoes with whatever we can . I have put a bowlful of ripe ones in the fridge to keep longer but this certainly affects the taste, so I need to remember to get them out to warm up.
In the garden ready at the moment we have brussels, black and curly kale, celeriac, beetroot, corn salad and chard. To eat, in the greenhouse, there are several mixed lettuce plants (split up from a living lettuce tray) parsley and the last chillis. As small plants to produce next year we have spring cabbage, purple sprouting, sensyu onions, leeks and garlic. I shall be starting some broad bean seed off in the next couple of weeks. At the weekend Adam podded all the ripe bean seed pods and got several pounds of seed, some for planting next year and some for eating through the winter. After Adam had de-husked the cobnuts a couple of weeks ago my son-in-law and EGD's partner have doggedly cracked them until they are now all ready for eating/preserving.  This morning EGD and I have included chopped cobnuts into our oat biscuits and our cookies and very nice they are too. The remainder are in chinese food containers in the freezer, in a jar in the fridge for immediate use and the rest in jars of honey to pour over yoghurt, cereal etc. Cob nuts keep just about forever stored in honey I have found.
 So that's about it for the garden, methinks.
So to the kitchen -
I've already mentioned the passata, cookies, biscuits and preservation of cobnuts and dried beans, which is kitchen related I suppose. Yesterday we processed the fruit for the marmalade we are making today. This will be used for Christmas presents but also for the house as we are fond of marmalade, both on toast and in cakes (and a very nice steamed pud) As I write this it is simmering away nicely, with the jars in the oven to warm and bread rising from the borrowed heat. If I was really clever the marmalade will be ready and jars out of the oven in time for the bead to go in, but I bet it doesn't work that way! As we had roast chicken for tea yesterday the ubiquitous chicken soup is also bubbling away. I wish I liked it, but I don't. Fortunately David and the shared lives guys love it and will undoubtedly have a bowl or two for their lunch one day this week. The leek and potato soup that I have made today is much more to my liking. I wish I could say that they are my own leeks but they are not and I will have to wait a while longer for those, if they make it at all. So that's about it for the kitchen today, apart from the sausage and bacon casserole that I have made for our evening meal, which we will have with some homegrown potatoes and kale.
We now have semi-permanent signs out for eggs, honey and kindling. As the chickens have decided to go on strike I could done under trade descriptions, but I won't take them down again as they took some getting ready and erecting. I don't suppose it will be long before they oblige again, especially as they are now out of the orchard and roaming all the gardens and the paddock.
I don't know if I have told you about the kindling (skip this paragraph if I have) As you know, we often take delivery of a van full of pallets. These David turns into fencing, beehives, gates etc etc Pallets don't always break up easily and there are mountains of bits of wood to be seen to. These David turns into kindling. He cuts them to a certain length which he passes to Don (shared lives) who chops these lengths into sticks. Colin (shared lives) who loves things to be tidy, then puts the sticks into bags.  Colin then tidies up all the sawdust/shavings etc which he bags for the chickens and rabbits. This team work produces more sticks than we could ever use and so we decided to see if they would sell, the money going to the tea fund. So inside the kitchen next to the honey jar and the egg jar and the garden produce jar is the "stick jar"! The guys really love this activity, in fact would do it every hour they are here. They sit at their respective stations in the workshop, field kitchen lit, kettle on, Radio Derby playing, like a gang of elvin shoemakers!
I reckon that's enough for now. I'm about to jar this marmalade and then fetch David in to sit down. He was very poorly last week, with an infection in his leg. Today is his first day outside and he is overdoing it, so I'll go and nag him to come and put his feet up.
My last post, which was it's usual random rubbish, had double the usual views. I have no idea why, as it wasn't even the Russian spike I sometimes  get (don't we all?!) There is no understanding the wonderful world of blog is there?
Back soon
Gillx

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Up to date and a discussion item for you.

Hello All
Firstly, welcome to 99to1percent, Elaine Baron, Hannah Williams and Jen on Bloglovin.
Thank you for your comments about my Dixie tribute. For some reason I am not receiving any notifications that there have been any comments. I am trying to find out why.
 I am also having difficulty following people as "frugal in derbyshire". Whenever I try to follow someone it comes up with my personal details/identity instead, which for family reasons I don't want. As there have been some really interesting blogs I would like to follow I am finding this frustrating.

Well, as ever, I have been quite some time between blogs. it seems that whenever I am busy doing lots of (to me) quite interesting things I don't have the time to blog about them!!
 In brief...
 * We have been extremely busy in the garden, planting the overwintering veg and with produce still coming in thick and fast. This needing processing and preserving...freezing and drying, pickling and made into jam and jelly, juice, cider and wine.
Here is Adam (shared lives) de-husking the cobnuts
 And the state of the"Snug" while we are taking advantage of the gas fire being on. (Honey is easier to manage when kept warm)

 * We have been to Cornwall for our last fishing trip of the year.

  *  The bees have taken up much of our time too. Though a little late, we have taken the honey off six of our ten hives.We have left four to what they have as the hives weren't too strong. From the six hives we have spun, strained, and jarred 246 pound of honey! Our best ever honey harvest. Today I am processing the wax, which I will sell as little ounce bricks while reserving some for balm and polish.

  *  I am also supporting my youngest daughter, who lives on her own, who is moving house on the 29th of this month. At around this time her daughter (EGD), who is currently living with us, will be also be moving to the house she has bought with her partner. When they moved in with us two years ago, I took half of what I would have asked for, for board on the understanding that they banked the rest towards a deposit. This they have done and with this amount added to by careful their saving they are on now on the housing ladder!! My eldest daughter now tells us that there is a possibility that she too will be moving house. Come on girls, give me a break, even more tip runs, curtain altering, packing etc!!

 * September and October is quite a busy time for our Civic Society, so I have been/am pretty busy assembling newsletters, exhibitions etc and preparing for/holding meetings.

 *  Last weekend was my eldest daughters 50th Birthday!! How did that happen? I was a child bride you know.

   I think that brings us up to date-ish.

   Last week I watched " Homes under the Hammer". One buyer was asked why he had bought this particular house. The buyer replied that he had bought it for his son. "Will he be helping you?" he was asked."Oh No" the man replied "He doesn't like work"
  As they say .....  DISCUSS  .....          (You know what I think!)
  Back Soon
  Gillxx
PS Did I say this post was going to be brief?!


Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Tribute to Dixie

Hello All
After a goodly gap I am back to the blog.
This one is picture heavy as it is my Dixie tribute!
If you read my last post you will know that we lost Dixie last month. Here are a few pictures of her from my blog. I have had to select a few as there were many!

Here she is on one of her favourite places ..my laptop.

 And here she is with my youngest daughter's rescue dog Sammie
 Another favourite spot is on any current sewing projects. Here she is with my eldest granddaughter , testing a quilt that she is making.
 Dixie was definitely the queen of the smallholding. She kept the dogs and the sheep in their place. In this pic I just missed the moment that her paw connected with that cute lamb nose.
 Not one to be camera shy, whenever I set up a piece for the blog (in this case some of the books I received for Christmas) she would often get in shot and refuse to move.
 Here she is looking cute on something we actually WANTED her to sleep on.
 Not too good a pic, but around that black hen are several tiny chicks. This pic demonstrates that while she was a good ratter and rabbiter and often bought moor hens through the cat flap (feet first - with wings outstretched on the other side of the door) she never touched the hens or chicks.
 Dixie  testing another quilt in progress
 Dixie demonstrating she can be kind to sheep too (so long as they behave)
 Dixie doing what she did best. being cute and kind and lovable.
 Rest in peace sweetheart. 
We miss you
Back soon
Gillx

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Losing our dear cat.

Hi All
I'm sitting in my friends conservatory in Cornwall (while David is fishing ) feeling a little low, so thought I would talk to you, my virtual friends.
While here, my daughter is looking after the old homestead. Our dear cat, Dixie, has been unwell and "under the vet" for a couple of weeks now. Last night YD rang to say that Dixie had taken a turn for the worse and that maybe the time had come (we had already discussed this between us and the vet) As she was talking to me Dixie fitted in her arms and then drifted away. I'm so sorry that we were not there for Dixie and for YD.
Dixie was about 10years, we are not exactly sure of her age as she was a rescue, but she was a young cat when she came to us. She had a great character and was a fearsome rabbiter and we are going to miss her dreadfully.
As I am away I can do little more that post these few words, but when I get home I will gather the photos of Dixie that I have posted over the years to put up as a sort of tribute

Tearfully
Gillx

Friday, 8 September 2017

Safe after Irma

Thanks for the helpful comments re.. the judging. I have all my "props" to hand now and ready for the morrow.
The fishing gear is mostly packed tho' it is possible we won't set off tomorrow as the weather doesn't look too good for fishing as winds are forecast for Sunday, Monday and possibly Tuesday, so we won't be rushing off.
In truth this all seems a little petty after today when my youngest  daughter and I have been tracking Hurricane Irma every few minutes because her daughter  (the young quilter Weave) is hunkered down in an hotel on the north coast of Cuba!!!!
 The worst seems to have passed now, so she is safe thank goodness, but as yet they haven't been allowed out of the inner, windowless hall that everyone was ordered to stay in until the hurricane had passed. She tells us, by text, that they must stay in a little longer yet  (they have been there since lunchtime) and that they are told that the lobby is destroyed and at least some of the roof has gone, with water is running through the hotel.
What an awful time they are having in that part of the world. Three current hurricanes (and an earthquake today in Mexico) We are so lucky living where we do and yet no one complains about or discusses the weather as much as us Brits!
All for now, keep safe our American friends
Gillx

Monday, 4 September 2017

Judging at the Horticultural Show

Hello All
I might do a bit of an update on my last post soon, discussing the animals, crops , money making schemes etc.
But for now I have a request.
Has anyone judged at an horticultural show and have they any tips?
I have been asked to judge the three preserve categories at our local horticultural show. At first I thought "Who? Me?" thinking I didn't have the experience. On reflection I probably do. I entered my first jar of jam at the Kingsway Hospital Show aged 10. I remember the jam was raspberry, made from fruit that I scrumped from a derelict orchard and I came 3rd. Not a bad start against the WI brigade!. Since then I have pickled, bottled, brewed and dried, salted and jammed and jellied year after year, sometimes in huge amounts.
The show is next weekend and I shall arrive as staging finishes to judge my classes and then set off immediately from the show to travel to Cornwall for a weeks sea fishing. David that is, I will be car booting, charity shopping, sewing, painting and all the other activities I follow while himself is on the briney.
So wish me luck with the judging and if you have any experience please share. The only thing I am absolutely sure of is that I shall find something positive to say about each jar, whatever the quality of the contents.
Back Soon
Gillx

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

How we bought our smallholding


How we bought our smallholding... A bit of a ( drastically edited) life story really.
Are you sitting comfortably? then I'll begin...
 I met David when he moved into a council house 12 doors away from our council house. I was just 14 and he was all of 15 and a half.
Nearly six years later (1966) we married. My parents, who had to give consent as I was a minor, weren't too keen, but I informed them that if we didn't marry soon we might well have our children as bridesmaids.. that did  it! We rented a terraced house a couple a streets away from our parents. The house had an outside loo and a long back garden, which we never used for anything "useful" that I remember. A couple of years ( and a daughter) later we had saved the deposit for a new house on what was then, one of the biggest new private estates in the midlands. My father, a staunch socialist,  was taken aback and not a little disappointed by us being "owner-occupiers" he thought we had overstretched ourselves, a sentiment we had to concur with a couple of years later when fuel prices went through the roof and the interest rate on our mortgage rose to 15%! Those were the days of  real hardship and only the skills taught to me by my mother, much ingenuity and a frugality that had helped us raise the deposit for the house in the first instance, helped us to hang on until things got better. Around this time our second daughter was born.
Living on a new estate meant that most of our neighbours were of a similar age and we had a really good social life. We met people who are still dear friends today. Two people, in particular, we became close to. Newlyweds, they moved in five doors away.. After a while we saw them daily, went on holiday together, played cards into the night and generally lived in each others pockets. By now David and I had started to grow vegetables, keep bees in a friends large garden, rear rabbits for meat, forage, make wine (I had always cooked, baked, made jams and preserves) and yearn for "The Good Life". Our friends became interested too and when we watched the serial "The Survivors" together we were agreed that we were the types who would survive. Coming across John Seymour sealed our growing ambition which was held back purely for economic reasons! As we spent so much time together we reasoned that we stood a good chance of living together and we began to search for a property that our joint incomes could afford and that was big enough for two families (though they still had no children at this time)
Over the next few years we looked at properties, bought "useful things"  for our future life from car boots, read up and practiced skills that could be useful and after many false starts and horrors we found a property that could, with work, meet our needs.
 In the summer of 1981 we sold our houses and arranged to move in the September. One buyer fell through and we decided to take our chances with a bridging loan . Crikey that was financial fun for the next nine months!  Moving two seperate houses and households into one house (that we had yet to convert derelict rooms into liveable accommodation) in what turned out to be a bitter winter is another story really, as this one is telling of how we afforded our little bit of land.
Twelve years later our lives had changed in many ways and we decided that we and our friends wanted/needed/prioritised different things. We bought our friends out and the smallholding became ours alone. (they remain our close friends and we see each other at least weekly)
In short, we moved from council house, to rental , to owner occupier, to joint owners and finally sole owners of a Derbyshire stone cottage with two beautiful acres bounded by a river.
Here I sit feeling pretty smug in our little piece of heaven, bought entirely by our own means (we have never inherited nor won anything) it hasn't been easy at times for all sorts of reasons, but it has always been worth it.
Anybody want to share how they afforded to buy their dream?
Back soon
love Gillx