Monday, 13 June 2016

Making our own luck, being prepared and Radio Derby

People often tell me that I am lucky to live where I do. I don't feel that luck has anything to do with it! We are here through hard work, being very very careful and going without while we worked and saved our way from a rented terraced house when we were married 50 years ago to our own house in two beautiful, Derbyshire acres where we hope to end our days. David and I have never inherited any money or property, nor had any lucky win. Though I WAS lucky to have fabulous parents who taught me how to sew, cook, garden, make do and mend, value education and be caring of others.
 I lived all my life up to my marriage in the same council house that my parents were happy to get when they married in 1939. Over the years it started to dawn on me that my dad was disabled. I honestly didn't realise it for years! I thought that everyone gardened on their knees (which is how I do most gardening myself today) He used his walking stick (or shooting stick) in such a debonair way that he made it look like a fashion accessory, which went well with the cravats he often wore - he was quite a snazzy dresser! Dad always worked, even though he could quite easily have been considered too disabled to work. and was preparing for retirement when he died, aged 64 and a half. He had bought a greenhouse, a new record player and new artist materials (he was a passable water colourist) which he never got to use. Mum on the other hand lived until she was 88 and while still pretty fit, was beginning to show signs of dementia. She died getting ready to go to the pub with us (she was considered to be our skittles mascot!) which is a pretty good way to go, only to be bettered, I suppose, by dying on the way back from the pub !
I realise that I have rather digressed from what was suppose to be a preamble to how we can be prepared for difficult times, be they famine, flood, power cuts or whatever. There are many ways that people can prepare, without living on a smallholding like us, indeed most people live in towns and cities with little or no garden and limited storage space.
 I promise that my next  post will be about preparedness, but must digress again as I have just received a telephone call that prompts me to ask my fellow bloggers and followers for their views. Radio Derby have called me again, this time to ask that I go into the studio to talk about older(!) woman who blog. They tell me that there has been an article in the Sunday Times about the upsurge in older women who are blogging and being very successful in so doing and are interested in talking to a local older blogger about why she blogs etc. I have agreed with the proviso that they don't try to make me out to be some batty old woman ( I can do that for myself thank you) I told her that I was neither popular, nor successful, whatever that may mean, but that I did fit the bill as an older blogger and  have agreed to go along next monday at midday for what will be my fifth stunt for our local radio station.
I have since read the article and it is about older women Vloggers who are Vlogging about beauty tips for the older woman!! I never wear make up and jeans and teashirts are my clothes of choice, so I now identify even less with the women in the article, but I DO feel that there are many older women who are taking up blogging and who have many followers. So dear bloggy friends, what do you think is the reason for this increase? Is there something you would like me to tell the listeners?
On countdown for our BIG party this weekend and praying that the rain will let up a little for us.
All for now, looking forward to your views on older bloggers.
P.S I have proof read this but may still have missed words distorted by a sticky"m" on the keypad!
P.P.S  re. being an older woman I was 70 last week, so probably qualify.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

A Huge Swarm

Hello All
Still busy here, but making progress with all the tasks that have built up. But as usual the best laid plans of mice and men etc...
Just about to attack the nettles around the outside of  the field when we recognised that familiar sight and sound of a swarm.
And it was HUGE!!!
Normally if it lands in a tree (which it usually does) David will climb a ladder up to the swarm and will knock it into a box, which I will hold underneath. He will cover the box with a cloth and I will hold onto it until David comes down the ladder and takes it off me. We then place it close to where they landed and leave it there for a few hours, giving all the bees that are flying time to join those in the box. HOWEVER..
There was no way that we could physically do this as the swarm was on a large branch of our old apple tree. It wrapped half way round the trunk as well as along the branch. The bees would have to be swept into the box and would weigh more than I or David could manage above our heads . Here it is...

So how to capture this valuable swarm? In good smallholding ( but NOT Health and Safety) practice, we used.. PALLETS!!
The photo shows David placing the box on the top pallet. He pushed it back closer to the trunk and directly under the middle of the swarm. David then stood on the ladders while I steadied him and, using a soft brush, he swept the bees into the box. It took several sweeps to get the majority in and be sure that he had the queen. When it was clear that she was in there, he partially covered the box and we left it for several hours. ....Until we got back from the quiz night at midnight. We then carefully bought the box down and carrying it between us we sited it at the bottom of the garden.
We are very pl;eased to have secured these bees, which is the largest swarm we have collected in over 40 years of beekeeping.

 I know that I have have been tardy posting recently. The gardens, Civic Society and various projects have been taking up so much of my time.
We are also now on countdown to our annual "Festival", the large family party that we host in our field each year. I have posted about it before, but if you are new to my blog it is a weekend when our daughters's and our friends join us for a two (for some, three) day party, when many camp (hence Festival) and we have games and races and friends and relatives who sing and play for us. We play rounders, dance, swim in our river and play huge games of rounders (50 a side). All very sophisticated, cocktail party it is not!
Making a smallholding a safe place for 150 people is quite a task, thus much of my time (when I'm not baking and freezing stuff) is being spent tidying up around the place. Our smallholding is nowhere near as tidy as some that I see in Blogland, so there is much to do.
  I have my youngest daughter's old black lab to look after for the weekend, while she and her daughter are walking the Yorkshire three peak challenge to raise money for "Labradors in Need" They have taken Coda, the young yellow lab with them, but Sammie isn't up to the walk.

All for now fellow bloggers, back as soon as I can. I may not be posting much, but I am reading your blogs. Before I close I must welcome Julie, Carol Flood and Jane Berry on Bloglovin . I seem to have lost a follower or two on the side bar, but can't work out who.
I'll close with a pic of Dixie, the bold explorer, skulking around on the bund in our neighbour's field.

Love Gillx

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Grandslaves and Reynard strikes

Hello All
Here I am again a couple of weeks since I last posted. The time has flown by and much has happened and been achieved, especially in the vegetable gardens, which are now looking pretty good. David has nearly finished the pallet-wood fence, which will keep the dogs off the gardens and tidies up between two spaces
.Here is one of the reasons we have started to get on top of the gardens... grandchildren!

 I have questions about two bloggers-
Does anybody know why I am no longer following Frugal Queen? Have I missed some change?
More importantly, where has the lovely Weaver gone? She normally posts daily, but hasn't done so for well over a week. Her wonderful posts are missed.

When we were in Cornwall for a spot of sea fishing the blasted fox paid us a call. He dug his way through our (substantial) defences and slaughtered 13 hens. My granddaughter, who was looking after the smallholding, found them on her morning rounds. I feel so sorry for her, it must have been an awful sight! We have spent many hours beefing up the fencing and have changed how we lock up at night to add an extra layer of defence. Fortunately the hens have been in the orchard run and not ranging over the whole holding for three weeks as the gardens are being planted up or it could have been even worse.
If anybody tells me that foxes have to live I will not be responsible for my language!
 Just been out to gloat over the veggie gardens (the rest are in an awful state) and see that the b****y rabbits have trimmed the early pea row!
Need to go out and net the peas now.. back soon.

P.S I have been nominated for the leibster award thingy. Hope there is not a time restriction on responding, which I will do soon.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Spring update

Hello All
Welcome to Susan Telford on Blog Lovin. Good to see you here.
Alright enough already! Snow, hail, thunder, bright sunshine, frosts overnight. Make your mind up ! It's been very difficult to settle to any job and know what to wear over the last few days. The lambs should be out all day, but some of the weather has been so inclement that we have been bringing them in at teatime and leaving them in overnight until 9.00ish the next morning. On a couple of nights we have even put the heat lamp on for them.
The drive this lunchtime...

I have been trying to deter the hens from going broody and for the most part have succeeded. apart from Mavis who is doggedly sitting in an empty rabbit hutch on who knows how many eggs. The hens are pretty skittish at the moment as the fox paid us a visit a few days go and killed two hens.      ( I'm not in the mood to hear that the fox has to live at the mo!)

My friend's funeral went well. It was good to see a good turn-out. She was of Welsh decent and she would have loved the rousing "Guide me O thou Great Redeemer" at the service. (and also the good "Ham Tea" afterwards)
Sadly, a dear old friend died that same afternoon as the funeral and I am really struggling with this. His service is next week, it will be sad to say goodbye to him. We have known M for 45 years and will miss his calm kindness and affection.

I went my school reunion on Saturday night. It was interesting to see how we have aged, some better than others! I did struggle to find something in common with people. I did resist the conversation I had with someone at a friend's Golden Wedding a couple of weeks ago. We were talking about getting old and what it meant. I said that I feared losing my marbles over everything and he asked if I did anything to combat this. I told him that I read a lot, am secretary of a Civic Society and a couple of interest/ campaign groups, was researching for a local history paper and wrote a blog. I told him about the Smallholding and how it kept me on my toes. I said that I couldn't relate to just going out to lunch (pensioner's specials?) or the occasional game of whist as it sounded like a living death to me. "What do you do ?" I asked. "I'm a member of a luncheon club and play the occasional game of Bridge" he replied ooooh er whoops!

Thought you might like to see the fence that David is building across the veggie plots to keep the dogs off. Made of pallet wood of course and very sturdy it is too. It will keep more than dogs off. As we say here "In the event of a nuclear attack crouch behind....(whatever David has built)"

Cro has a picture on his blog of his Wisteria, it is glorious and he is so much in front of us. This is a branch of ours presently. Way behind.
 The false quince that is next to it is looking good tho'

All for now, will update you on the Radio Derby/chicken saga soon.
Love from a breezy Derbyshire

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Radio Derby again!

 Hello All                                                                                                                                                                I'm about to sit down for a much needed cup of tea after a visit from Radio Derby. They wanted to talk to some chickens! Apparently a study is being carried out about... I'm not too sure actually..., something to do with playing sounds to chickens for some reason. The reporter wanted to know If I talked to my chickens and if I understood the sounds they made. I was somewhat wary, not really wanting to be seen as the dotty old chicken whisperer! He asked if he could feed them and I gave him some feed to sprinkle on the ground as I let them out of their night time run. He then put the mic next to them and asked them to talk to him, which they didn't. I told him that they were well bought up chickens and were taught not speak with their mouths full.! Did I really say that?! I did explain the chickens DO make several different sounds which can be interpreted by us but that it was unlike;y to work the other way round, other than as a Pavlov's reaction ( i.e me shouting chick chick chick as I feed them means that they associate that sound  with being fed.) I have been interviewed on the TV/radio several times for various reasons but this was the most bizarre.
 Tonight we are hosting a meeting of the great and the good about how to fund the reinstatement of the canal through a envelopment site I shall make some biscuits and get out the home made wine and we will see how it goes. I have to assemble and print out the agendas yet and a quick dust and vacuum wont go amiss!
The last week has been very busy but when I leave it several days between posting I lose the momentum to write about it as it is finished and done with. Suffice to say I haven't been bored!

I'm feeling rather mortal at the moment, so many of our contemporaries are seriously/terminally ill,  Last week a neighbour called round to say could I help her with a friend of mine who is also a neighbour. When I got there I found that she was at the stop of her stairs and had been dead for some time. She had been fighting cancer for sometime, but we did not expect her to die so suddenly. I feel so sad that she died alone.
I have quite a bit more to write but some friends have just arrived so will sign off for now
Before I go a warm Derbyshire welcome to
Cafe with kids, Katie Walters, Helen Egg, Rebecca Pick. on  Blog lovin and L Efting on the follower bar .
Back Soon

Friday, 1 April 2016

Hello All
Here I am again after another little break. I am SO rubbish at regular blogging.

I thought I ought to make an effort as today we are off for our first sea fishing trip of the year and it will be Monday at least before I get a chance to post something. My daughter and granddaughter will be taking over the seedling watering, lamb bottling, parrot and cat sitting and egg collecting duties until then.

We looked over the bee hives last week and have lost two, one where the bees had starved only inches from some honey filled comb and one that was abandoned. The other eight are all now fed and looking good so far.

I have cleared most of the gardens ready for digging/rotovating and have some plants set in the  greenhouse, so here we go for another year's gardening. I hope to share some of this with you over the next few weeks.

My 15 year old "Stoves" cooker (seven burner, two oven) has developed a problem that can't be fixed. The terms of the maintenance agreement say that if a fault can't be rectified they will replace the cooker. They were unable to provide me with another Stoves, but have provided me with a Belling on a like for like basis.
Here it is
Adding up 13years maintenance payments and checking the cost of this cooker I have done quite well out of this and I guess that if this cooker lasts as well as the last one it should just about see me out!

My youngest granddaughter and I went to the fodder rooms today for more lamb milk replacer. They asked if we wanted a BIG bag of carrots for a pound as the bag had burst? Of course we did! There was approx 30lb of carrots and now I have to think of what to do with them - ideas on a postcard please!( as they used to say)

Next week sees me buckling down to organise a public consultation to attempt to capture local people's views on our Civic Society's newest campaign. This means a newsletter to write, print and post to 400+ housing ( I don't do all the posting!) a public meeting to organise, with all the attendant issues. No pressure there then!

Anyway bloggy friends after another random blog I'm off to pack the fishing rods and sandwiches for the trip.
Back Soon

Friday, 18 March 2016

Adorable X 8

Hello All
It's that time of year again...
So meet..
Cookie, Cocoa , Cheeky, Cheese and Chives  the girls
 Chester, Corbyn and Cameron the boys

Yes I know some of the names are weird, but I didn't name one of them!
If anyone is passing all eight are on bottles and help is gratefully accepted!
Back  Soon