Thursday, 5 March 2015

Pigs and a Barter

Hello All.
Welcome  to Alison Murphy on Blog lovin. I seem to have lost someone from the follower bar.. is it something I said?!

I have been really busy this last week, hence my tardiness with posts.

I went shopping this morning, stocking up on baking stuff as I need to make a few cakes and cookies. We are expecting quite a few visitors this weekend and I like to offer a slice of cake with a cup of tea. On Tuesday afternoon we have a work party organised for "our stretch" of derelict canal and the volunteers will need some sustenance. Then on Wednesday evening we have a large meeting at our house so tea, coffee, home made wine and cake will be the order of the evening.
I went to Lidl and found that their sugar was 49 pence a bag and butter was 89 pence a half pound, really good value. I already have a plentiful stock of flour and the hens are laying well.

We went to see the pigs I mentioned last week and put our name on 3 boars. They are Large English White and Oxfordshire sandy and black cross (though there is little sign of the latter) By next weekend they will be ensconced. Pictures to follow soon. I promised our youngest granddaughter and my godson's daughter that they could name one each. So welcome Pickle and Gregory (I have no idea!) said Godson said that he wanted to name the last one as he hadn't named an animal in many years so  Welcome Mr Grey !

I have finally found a farmer that may have cade lambs. There was a time when farmers almost paid you to take them away, but there seems to be a real shortage nowadays. I have told him that we will take 4 to 6  if he gets any. I already have a large sack of lamb milk replacer that was given to me by a friend to get us started.
The greenhouse seeding is not going too well. The tomato seedlings seem to have stopped growing. Those that are left that is.. A blackbird was shut in, I have no idea how, and knocked off a couple of trays of tomato seedlings, most of which have snapped off. she also knocked over the onion seedlings and dug up some broad bean seeds. Goodness knows how long she was in there or indeed how.

As you know we DO like a spot of barter -
Here is a picture of the load of branches from the back of our godson's pick up truck.. He bartered these for a nucleus of bees. Good swap methinks.
Today and yesterday David has been cutting the branches into lengths for the fire, and grading them for thickness. When cut  we have put them into tonne backs to keep them together and get an idea of how much wood we have from this load.  So far we have two tonne bags full of one foot lengths and still cutting, grading them for size.         These logs will be for next winters burning.
Reading SimpleSuffolkSmallholders blog about downsizing or reducing jobs I realise that we are probably doing more (pigs!) and really should be thinking of doing a little less. We do have regular monthly break though. If you call travelling to Cornwall for a weekends fishing a break!

Talking of fishing , the first trip is set for the Easter weekend. Our youngest daughter will move in again while we are away. She hasn't actually said that she doesn't like pigs (or lambs or chickens or rabbits) but her eyes did go skyward when we said we were thinking of getting some.
All for now, hope not to leave it too long before I next post.

Monday, 23 February 2015

What if you develop Dementia?

  Hello All
Many thanks for your comments on my last post.
Welcome to Chris Moorwood on the Follower bar and Crafty Mum, Sharon Deasy, Beth and The Pumpkin Life on Blog Lovin.
                                                        Last week I popped in on an dear old friend of ours. We have known S and his sweet wife C. since our eldest were little. They are smallholders too, buying their place the year before we did ours. For many years C. has been the carer for S. who has mobility and sight difficulties. They have mucked along well, with a busy lifestyle and many friends. Unfortunately C. has developed dementia, which has raced along . Reluctantly S. has had to make arrangements for C. to go into a home. (racing after someone who has "escaped" again in the middle of the country when you can only shuffle a few steps is an impossible task) Finding the right place for an active "fit as a butchers dog" 70 year old has been problematical as she won't stay in one place long and is constantly finding things to do..... "helping" other residents in and out of bed, moving the fire extinguisher, packing other residents belongings up etc.. you get the idea. As yet the right place hasn't been found that can meet C's needs. As a retired Social Worker I have a pretty good idea of the difficulties of finding a good "fit" for residential care and individuals and feel for S as he has to deal with his anxiety for C's welfare and the "guilt" he feels because he can't look after her himself.
How many of us make plans for our retirement, often moving to the country or the sea, thinking that we might eventually have to downsize a little or cut down on the number of animals we are going to keep,We then see our future as just doing a little less, as we knit and sew and go for little walks or out to lunch with friends as we slow down? Do we give any thought to be mentally unable? I certainly haven't, I now have food for thought.

Yesterday the family came for tea as usual. EGD had found a site that has a sale of dress patterns. We had already decided that we were going to make dresses for ourselves this year and had drawn a blank at the CSs. We spent a happy hour choosing patterns and are now looking forward to the patterns arriving and us choosing the material. I think we will have to go into Derby for the material, as there are a couple of large material stalls at the Eagle Centre Market. So long a they don't make me go into the HUGE shopping centre which used to be Westfield.(don't know its new name) This centre is a huge soulless mall that has all the "big" names and absolutely no character or individuality. If ever I have to go there (M&S Jeans) I emerge a husk,  The site we used was  "Sew essential" - New Look patterns. The patterns were half price which is a great saving.

Last week, after I got back from visiting S., David and I started to get the veg beds ready. A good start was made, after a shower I started the emails that I am tasked to send on behalf of the Civic Society and I really felt we were getting on well. Huh!
The next morning I could hardly move as my back had "gone", I shuffled around like a cross between Quasimodo and Julie Walter's serving soup. That put paid to any heavy gardening, but here was till much to do in the house. The next morning (Friday) I woke up rolled over and was immediately sick. B****r. the sicky/fally-over thing that put me in hospital a couple of times last year was back. Fortunately I have some anti-sickness pills for it (which don't seem to work) and an understanding of what was happening to me. So I have been sitting down getting increasingly frustrated while I got my balance back.
Today I am more my old self and feeling positive that I am on the mend.

Tonight David and I are going to view some pigs. I am very excited! Will let you know how I get on.
Take Care all

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Gay Gardening - the book.

Hello Again.
It has been sometime since my last post (that sounds like "It has been some time since my last confession"!) I'm getting worse instead of better at this blogging.
I have been reading blogs however and keeping up with what is going on in blogland.
I hope you like my title.. almost worthy  of John Gray I reckon.
This refers to one of the books given to me at Christmas by DF, the friend that I knitted the dishcloth for. ( I blogged about this 17th January)
Here are the books he gave me. They are all second hand as is our agreement (to spend as little as possible)
 The John Seymour book speaks for itself and a great read it is too.
 To the fore of this is 100 Sandwich Varieties, published in the mid 1930s. I intend to share some of the "recipes" with you.
To the top right is Mrs Rundell's Domestic Cookery - "formed upon principle of economy and adapted to the use of private families" Published 1861. The opening para says " In every rank,those  deserve the greatest praise, who best acquit themselves of the duties which their station requires" 
This book actually has some good recipes and some great advice about being a good woman.
The fourth book belonged to DF's mama and is about the arrangement of beds, planning herbivorous borders etc "written with an ease and cheerful  enthusiasm which will match the mood of the veteran and inspire the novice "
Quick post today as I need to rush off to the fodder rooms. The hens are SO hungry at the moment.
 I also need to pick up some sugar so that I can make some more marmalade.
Welcome to Beth on Bloglovin
Back Soon.
I have just seen those animals push that black guy off the train and chant their pride at being racist. I am SO upset and angry. I hope they find them and throw the book at them, the b*****ds.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Bookshelves and my Quilt

Hello All
Many thanks for all your comments on my last post. I still have a few to answer, which I will do a.s.a.p.
A warm welcome to Kathy Allstot on Bloglovin.
Sue - from Simplesuffolksmallholder has been showing pictures of her bookshelves. They are really interesting and VERY tidy and organised. They demonstrate that she is a retired librarian (and a smallholder) Other bloggers have joined in and they are ALSO tidy. I have told Sue that I will post pictures of some of my less-than (to say the least) tidy bookshelves.
 Here are the bookshelves in "my" room. This room, which is next to the kitchen is always warm as our parrot Percy lives here. I have my lap top in here, a TV, my knitting bag, portable sewing machine and most of the Civic Society stuff too. At the moment the incubator is plugged in here too.- in the bottom right hand corner in this pic.
Here is the other side of the window. I couldn't get the bottom row of books in shot of either of these shelves because of stuff in front.

Here are the bookshelves in our "main" lounge. I suspect Sue will need to lie down in a darkened room after looking at this! I promise that I won't show you any more of my shelves, but hope that other bloggers who are  untidy and cluttered  will feel that they could be worse after looking at these pics!
As you may remember my eldest granddaughter has started quilting. I helped her with her first quilt before Christmas.Apparently her mother helped her with her second quilt before Christmas and here it is .. it was for me!!! My favourite colour and with farmyard animal print included.

Every evening I sit knitting or hand sewing while I watch TV with this quilt on my lap, thinking how lucky I am to have such a thoughtful granddaughter.
 Tomorrow I shall have said granddaughter's dog for doggie-day-care. Coda is a large yellow lab. He is three and a half years old and beset with health problems. he has arthritis, allergies and is accident prone. We reckon that he is the most expensive dog ever! He is also the sweetest natured, funny, lovable dog and worth every penny. I was so upset today to read that Cro's dog, Monty, who is so like Coda in every way has had to be put to sleep. I just sat and cried feeling for Cro and his wife and their other dog, Bok and for me and mine too as we know that Coda will never be an old dog either.
 Enough for now I'm off to print some stuff for an important meeting we have here tomorrow night.
Take care all

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Of Distressing World News.

Hello There!
It has been quite some time since I last posted, though I have been reading  blogs and commenting from time to time.
I am have been feeling rather morose over the last few days and this is NOT like me. I'm just struggling to cope with the news. I'm quite a politically inclined person and I keep up with the news, either on the BBC news channel on the TV or on the PC, several times a day, but I'm starting to avoid it as I find it so distressing. Those who know me, know that I usually take up the case for the underdog, I try to understand where people are coming from and champion groups that face discrimination. For years now I have argued against racist comments from all and sundry about people's right to live their life according to their culture or faith.(I'm proud to say that my daughters ... too consistently support the "underdog" and those who are discriminated against for one reason or another) HOWEVER I really can't find anything that justifies the torture, executions, killings (not to mention the  abuse of women)  that we are witnessing presently. Yes I know that these acts are perpetrated by a minority in the name of Islam, but you would think that the other 2 BILLION Muslims could sort them out wouldn't you? Yes, I know that other faiths/cultures kill and I don't agree with that either, but nothing is as extreme as that which we are witnessing presently.

I'm really busy with Civic Society stuff at the moment. We have had a couple of meetings and have launched a new campaign over the last couple of weeks. I am hosting a meeting of the "Great and the Good" at our house next week. As everybody who has been invited is able to come I guess I will need to have a bit of a sprockle in the bigger lounge to make room. We usually have our meetings around our kitchen table, which sits ten at a squash, but as we are expecting sixteen we will be more comfortable in the lounge methinks. To get to this lounge it is necessary to go through the kitchen, along a little hallway thingy, down three steps into an "office" (box room with computer) and out the other side into the lounge. So that is three rooms that will need a bit of a dust (!) I have just finished the agenda for this meeting and emailed it to the attendees, which is why I am finally posting, having the essential PC stuff out of the way.

It has been dry for the last few days, with the odd sprinkling of snow and we have been able to get out into the garden without having to wallow and slip in the mud. it's good to get out there and do jobs that are satisfying and purposeful. we still are not ready for the pigs, but only a little more work should see their housing finished.
 As you probably know, I like to look at my stats and even when I am not posting often there is still a regular stream of views of my blog. These have dropped somewhat over the last week and I notice that I am no longer getting viewing via Frugal Queen's blog. Do you think I have offended her?!
 I do have two new followers on Blog lovin to welcome - Jill Williams and Lauren - good to see you here.
 That's all for now. I have more to say, but a car has pulled into the drive and I see, by the occupants  that I will be "entertaining" for a few hours!

Keep warm and safe dear Frugellers

Monday, 26 January 2015

Planning for pigs and a Birthday Boy

 Hello Fellow Frugellers and especially Mumasu on the follower bar and Suzanne, John Gray, Natalie Lash, Louise Tomlinson and Mobe Stephenson on Blog Lovin.

I don't give a blow by blow account of my days. I'm lucky enough to lead a pretty busy, interesting life (well I think so) but only post when the mood takes me and today is one of those days!.
The bees are out for cleansing flights again today, but it looks as though they will be tucked up again for a few days as a cold front approaches. As always we have enjoyed getting ready for the "worst" I know we should be more grown up but we like to prove to ourselves that we can cope with anything that life and the weather throws at us. I suppose it is the Self-Sufficient side of us.
David has cut a lot more logs today on his new cutting bench that our eldest daughter and her husband bought for him at Christmas. It is so much safer to use, with a holster and blade guard that frees up one hand if needed.

The ground has been a little dryer the last couple of days, so I have covered the strawberry beds that the chickens have been decimating with some coarse compost and then netted them. They should pick up by spring (the strawberries that is) I have also been digging up the jerusalem artichokes, while the ground isn't too muddy.
 David and I have also been moving laying boxes and rabbit hutches around the barn to make room for the pigs that we hope to get in the next couple of weeks. We have been giving a lot of thought as to how to feed them as cheaply as possible. Obviously we must feed them with a proper pig food to ensure that they get all the nutrients they need. If we feed them entirely with pig food we estimate that the meat will cost us as much, if not more, as pork bought directly from the butcher. Clearly they will have a good life with us and be reared with respect and love (yes, and why not?!) But my blog doesn't have Frugal in the title for nothing. We aim to supplement their bought food  and make the rearing of them cost effective i.e. cheaper.
Feeding pigs is a serious business here in the UK and governed by strict rules. Feeding scraps to pigs is illegal. Feeding pigs any food that has seen the inside of a "food room" is also illegal. "Food room" means my kitchen, a restraunt or anywhere where food is prepared that may have had any contact with meat. So, for example, if I pick a bucket of apples and take them into the kitchen to sort the blemished from the keepers, I cannot then feed them to the pigs. If I sort them outside then I can. I can feed rejected peas from a local factory because they only deal in peas and no other product, so I have asked them if we can have their sweepings, but haven't heard yet. My friend works in an old mill and keeps the sweepings for us. We have now saved several bins of this wholemeal, organic flour, which are also allowed. My several stands of artichokes are going to come in handy as apparently pigs love them. As I have said I am currently digging them up while they are at their best, cleaning and drying them and putting them aside. All the small and misshapen potatoes, apples, pumpkins and parsnips that are currently in store outside will go to the pigs too. Finally we now have, courtesy of our Godson, several bags of spent maltings a week from a local micro-brewery. So bring 'em on!! I'll keep a careful account of the cost and share it with you.

The family, plus our friend that cuts everybody's hair while she is here, were here for tea on Sunday. This is usual but this time it was in the nature of a birthday tea for David. His birthday is actually on Tuesday, but what's a day or two? This birthday is a special one as he is 70. He was told that he would be lucky to make his sixties some years ago when we was fighting cancer. Since then he has had several health hiccups and open heart surgery and has proved them all wrong. The wonderful NHS, being bloody-minded and having a wife that practices a "studied neglect" has helped!
Here he is, sans Freddy Boswell hair, with the dog's breakfast that is a chocolate fudge cake. Looks weak doesn't he?
He here is with YGD doing Sudoku from the book she bought him. They enjoy doing these together.

His "big" birthday present is a day out with his children and grandchildren (and me) at Harry Potter World. We are all very excited at his present. I have another "big"present to give him tomorrow on his actual birthday. I have bought him a turn table so that he can play the pile of LP languishing in his cupboards. This is very gracious of me as it will mean that I will have to suffer his marching music and folk music.
That's all for now. I am off to watch the last of the series of "Walking the Nile" which we recorded last night while we were out. We have really enjoyed this short series.
After tomorrow, I shall be busy getting ready for a couple of important Civic Society meetings and while I won't be posting I shall still be keeping up with my favourite  blogs.
Keep warm and safe dear Frugellers

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Polish recipe and what to give a man who needs nothing

Hello All
 A warm Derbyshire welcome to  Trudie's Cottage, K Fan, Lisa Heath, Tree Hedgewytch and Marie Barlow on Blog Lovin. Nice to see you here. Please comment away and tell us about yourselves.

When I started to write this post I was just about to watch a Watchdog about  how to save £1,000.      " Bet I've heard it all on blogland before. However it doesn't hurt to have a look does it? I see jack Monroe is on the programme and as the family she is working with spend £160+ on food a week  you just know they are going to save loads!" I wrote.
Well, unsurprisingly, I learnt nothing new. I DID know that if you stripped a car down to a shell, leaving just the driver's seat and then drove along the motorways at a steady, highish speed you would save money on petrol, but that's of little use to us folk who use the car when we are collecting food for ourselves or the animals or making a local journey to friends, picking the children up from school with an occasional trip to Cornwall with a loaded car!.

Now that Christmas has past I will talk about Christmas presents!
What do you buy a man who has all he needs?... Answer.. Nothing!
 A dear friend of ours (DF), who we consider as family, is very comfortably off. As he always spends Christmas day with us and we have a big present giving session, I give some consideration as to what to give him and he is always the recipient of a homemade present. A couple of years ago I made him a tea cosy, with an embroidered picture of his old house on the front and his name on the back, last year I made him an apron with a drawing of his new house on the pocket and this year I knitted him a dishcloth! I found some old proper dishcloth cotton in my old yarn stash. After I knitted all the available cotton into a cloth I made a loop and put a label on saying "proper dishcloth". I then made him some polishing cloths from an old soft shirt of David's which I put with a jar of home made furniture polish. To complete the parcel David found a photo that he had taken ten years ago of DF's cats. (One of these cats went missing five years ago) he printed out and framed the picture. DF tells me that this present has been the subject of discussion at many functions he has attended and is deffo his favourite present this year!
Some of the presents I received this year were items to keep me warm. Hurrah! Have the seen the weather forecast?! Pics to follow in my next post.

 Here is a pic of the wax I processed this week.

The winter is a good time to sort out the odds and sods of Beekeeping jobs. The one ounce bricks are made in a mould that I bought many years ago and I put for sale alongside the honey and eggs. The rectangular lump is for a guy who makes his own hand cream and the round lumps are for my next polish making session. The jar, which was given to me by a friend who only uses goose fat for roast potatoes, contains beeswax polish. (I made three)
How I make this polish. -
To each ounce of wax  I use 100 mls of olive oil
  I place a metal (could be glass or pot) dish over a saucepan of water and put on the hob to simmer. Into the bowl I pour olive oil (cheapest) and bring the oil up to just hot. Keeping it at this temperature, I slide in the clean beeswax and gradually melt it in the oil. While this is happening I put wide necked jars into the oven to warm a little. When the beeswax is fully melted and stirred into the oil I pour it carefully into the warm jars.
This is my preferred recipe as it uses natural, simple ingredients and still has a faint smell of honey.

The early maincrop tomatoes, onions and tall (for cutting) snap dragons are now in the propagator, So I feel that the gardening year has started.

Back soon