Friday, 31 July 2015

Poorly laptop

Hello All
I'm sorry that I have not answered your comments. I have only just got my laptop back from laptop hospital. Hopefully all is well now. I have been bereft and really missed you all. I will be on catch-up for several days, reading my favourite blogs and a few new ones on the way. You know how that goes don't you? you visit blog A and see a comment by a follower B and click on their face and suddenly you have been all over the world and several hours have disappeared.

Anyway here I am and I must welcome Janice Foehring on Bloglovin and Lilacgumtree and Matt Jarvis on the Follower bar. Matt is a neighbour of mine, so I bet you will get the the inside story now and then from him!!

  I am in some haste tonight, we have been really busy in the gardens and with the bees, having had two more swarms this week. This is the end of July for heaven's sake! Mind you there is a strong honey flow which does seem a little late. We have been unable to collect the second swarm and it is still high up in a tree. We put out a bait hive to encourage it to house itself, with no luck as they are still stuck up there for the second (cold) night. I'll let you know how they get on.
We have a busy weekend in front of us. Tomorrow we off to the World Hen Racing Championships which are held at the pub where our grandson works. It is also our youngest granddaughter's birthday weekend, so we will be over there for tea. We also have to move some bees to Hathersage were they are to have a new home with some first-time beekeepers.

 Tomorrow morning I have a bucketful of redcurrants to process into wine, a bucketful of honey to  jar for sale and some lumps of wax to melt and pour into ounce bar moulds(?) for an order. I do love this time of year. It is what we work all year for!
 Must go now, my hot milk calls.
Gillx

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Pension Pot.


                                                                                                                                                                      Hello Everyone!
Especially new followers Carol, NannyAnny and Undomestic Diva on the follower bar and jangray, Bronzewing and Rebecca on Blog Lovin. It is really good to see you here.
I recently saw a couple on the TV who are going to use a draw down from their pensions to travel the world. This couple both had pensions and my guess were a professional couple, probably with decent pensions. They appeared to have done their homework and good luck to them, though it is not a move that I would make, nor equity release.
I must admit to being anxious about draw-down. I am concerned that some older people might be taken advantage of. You might think that I am being patronising here and that people know what they are doing. I agree that many do, but my experience as a Social Worker tells me that some older people are vulnerable from fraudsters with "investment" advice or likely to be targeted/befriended by family members and so-called friends and neighbours.
"Bless him, my grandson is having a difficult time. He has finished college and would like a year out before he settles down"
"My granddaughter says that if she had a car she could get a job"
"My son needs a short term loan for a holiday. He works so hard he deserves a break"
"My nephew has been using drugs but says he isn't using them anymore and needs a bond to get himself a flat and make a new start"
Now there is nothing wrong with helping family out. That's what families are for, helping each other, but I have heard these statements and similar so many times when an older person has cashed in an insurance policy or similar. They are so pleased to be able to help their relative out and I suppose if they never see the pay out again (they probably wont) it was money they never had (though have paid into) but draw-down reduces the amount of money they need to live on in the long term and the loss of it will impinge on a person's standard of living.
For those not familiar with Drawdown, put simply, a person can take a percentage of their pension pot as a lump sum. Clearly this will reduce the regular pension payments afterwards.

 A headline in my Sunday paper a couple of weeks ago stated that "People in their 20s have retirement mapped out - but they aren't saving" The article says that twentysomethings expect to retire at 63 on an annual income of £23,000, which many plan to spend travelling the world. They believe that they don't need to start saving until they hit 30 and almost half believe that they can rely on a state pension to give them a decent income.  Just how much of that is likely?!

And am I the only person who doesn't want to travel the world?!

Just watched an article on the news about a young woman who is the first apprentice Bee farmer. She works on her dad's farm and hopes one day to take over the business. Good for her! I was especially pleased to see the old cobbled together hives that are still in service after many years in the elements. It made me feel better about our apiary (after looking at some of the hives of beauty that I see on other blogs)
 We took our first honey harvest this week. Hive No 1 yielded  60lb of honey, which is a good start. We hope to find time remove the supers from Hive No 11 and 4 today.
Having seen the projections for the winter weather as a result of a very active El Nineo (how do you spell it?) I shall be kicking into Prepper mode for the next couple of months, putting stores away....oooh I do love harvest time.
Enough of my ramblings for now.
Hope to be back soon
Gillx









Thursday, 16 July 2015

Daughter to the rescue wearing her big girl pants!

Hello All
A warm welcome to Jessica Schlenther, Rebecca, Sandy Humphreys, Striving for Simplicity and Clemcat on Bloglovin.
Yesterday I was getting tarted up (  aka shower and wearing non-gardening clothes) to drive to Derby to see my youngest granddaughter's school production of "Grease"
 My youngest daughter had arrived for a spot of lunch with her dad and that  familiar sound and sight in the sky meant... A Swarm!
The swarm quickly settled high into a large damson tree and I'm stood there knowing I can't let our granddaughter down.
"You go mother, I'll help dad" says YD. I quickly collected together all they might need ( I know were everything is) and set off as YD was phoning work to negotiate a longer lunch break!
I texted her just before the performance and she texted back to say that the bees were boxed, the slight hiccup being that David managed to drop a branch full of bees on to her head as she footed the ladder! (apparently she dropped the "F" bomb when this happened)
This swarm was spread over three branches, which David had to cut off and lower ( or drop!) to YD individually. The bees were then shaken into a waiting brood box that David had placed in a hastily cleared site.
 Here is the swarm settled in the tree, as you can see a good large bucket full (the yellow line is one of our washing lines)
And here is a video of them as the third branch has been shaken into the box. Note the frames to the side, these will be placed in the hive with the others once the bees are definitely in there with their queen.

Jobs a good 'un Thanks to YD for the help and the photo and video.
Back soon, lots of things on my mind at the moment.
Gillx

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Peas

Hello
Thanks for your comments on my butter making efforts.
Is it something I said? I lost a couple of followers this week, surely butter making isn't that controversial! However I am pleased to welcome Laura to the follower bar. Hello Laura!

 I have started picking peas this week and am pleased that my pea plans (!) seem to be working, ensuring fresh peas for some months yet. Mind you I think peas freeze particularly well and am hoping to put some down for winter too. Here are the peas that I am growing this year.
 Firstly Kelevdon Wonder. I am picking these now. I notice that a few mange tout peas have found their way in among the two rows. I have no idea how they got there, but am happy with their appearance. I have used sycamore twigs to support these.
Pictured here are Alderman peas these are a very tall pea, with  quite a lengthy cropping season. This year I have strung baling twine across bean poles, next year I shall go back to using netting as the stringing has been quite time consuming. These peas are still growing and look as though will make 6 to 7 foot.
The third pea is Sakura. this is a marrowfat pea that is grown commercially. I hope that you can see that they are self supporting, which is essential if you are growing acres of the things, and are ready more or less all at once, making them perfect for freezing or drying for the winter. I will do both.
I thought I would share my, rabbit - pidgeon- cabbage white butterfly deterrrent. David made this for me last year. It is a glassless greenhouse, cobbled together with bits and pieces of old greenhouses. Last year David covered it with chicken wire to keep the rabbits off the peas in the paddock garden. This year we have moved it to the top garden and covered the whole thing with fine plastic netting. I have planted brussel sprouts in here. This way I can stake the brussels and let them grow as tall as they like (In the past the plants have often been weighed down by netting) and get in to tend to them with no problem.
My final picture is of some of blackberry flowers. We have several yards of blackberries around the holding and it looks like it is going to be a bumper year. I am planning on making plenty of jellies and wine, as it also looks as though there will be plenty of damsons and apples too.
I have just finished "Hovel in the Hills" a book about life on a remote Welsh hill farm, I thought life was tough for us when we moved. Next to these folk we had a walk in the park! I am looking forward to reading the next two books.
All for now folks
back soon
Gillx

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Festival and Butter Making

Hiya
Last weekend we had our annual Bash which we call our "Festival", we have been holding this party for quite a few years now. It started as a small family party (can't remember the occasion now) over the years more friends joined us and camped so that they could have a drink, the numbers grew as we and our daughters added more friends. One year it absolutely poured and someone said this is just like Glasto and the term Festival was adopted.
This year there were thirty tents and a couple of hundred souls. Everyone brings a plate of food, a drink and a chair and/or a tent. This year we had four barrels of real ale which we ask for a donation of £1-50 a pint. This covers the price of the beer and if donations exceed cost the difference goes to our chosen charity. ( as does the proceeds a a little raffle we hold with gifts that guests bring if they wish.
They start arriving on Thursday night and Friday night is almost as big as the day itself. This year our godson made some great braziers from tyre rims (picture to follow) and these were stood on slabs and served as campfires for groups dotted around the field.
  The field is now back to normal except for a tent that is to be waterproofed and the large marquee that needs some attention.
  Quite a few people that bought puddings also bought cartons of cream, which we keep in an electric cool box on the tables with the butter. On Sunday morning there was a litre and a half remaining so yesterday I decided to make some butter. I have made small amounts before (mostly by accident) but made an effort to make some, assessing if it was a feasible/ frugal way to make our butter. We love butter in this house and only use margarine for cooking.
 I am sure many of you have made butter so bear with me!
Here is the double cream. I don't know how much it cost so I have googled a price site and it would probably be about £2-80 a litre (much cheaper if it was on offer of course) which equals £4-20 for these.
I put this into the Kenwood  and whizzed past the thick stage to the sloshy stage (when the water was thrown across the kitchen!) I strained this all through a fine sieve over a bowl. I but this liquid - buttermilk- into a measuring jug.
I washed the butter in running cold water, squeazing it until the liquid ran clear from the butter. I added dampened salt and bashed it into a rough butter type shape. This weighed one and a half pounds.
As you can see there was a yield of one and a half pints of buttermilk. I have split this into half pint cartons and after checking that I could do this, I have frozen it to make soda bread.
 In summary
From one and a half litres of double cream and a tablespoon of salt I have made one and a half pounds of butter and one and a half pints of buttermilk. I reckon that if I had bought the cream at full price I would have broken even, with some yellow sticker cream it would have been worth doing financially (obviously it didn't cost me anything on this occasion)
 Off to now try to beat the birds to the cherries and tie up the broad beans which have decided to go horizontal on me!
Back soon - hopefully with my post on retirement Sue.
Gillx

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Bees overheating.

Hello All
This is not the post I was going to do today, I was going to write a "deep and meaningful" post about retirement. However I thought you might be interested in seeing what can happen to a strong hive when the weather is really hot.
This morning a neighbour knocked to tell me that she thought our bees were swarming. We went into the front garden to see many bees gathered at the front of hive No 1. They were very quiet and I realised that the bees were hanging around outside the hive to keep cool. This hive is extremely strong with three supers on and ready to receive another. The heat builds up in a hive on hot days and the fanning by the bees is not enough to keep the hive cool. So some bees come outside the hive to make more air space.

 Here they are at about nine o'clock
And by lunchtime.
The temperature rose and rose
And by teatime
This phenomenon is known as "Bearding" A very descriptive word don't you think? It is now 21.30 and they are still covering the whole of the front of the hive, with a beard of bees underneath.  I have only seen this once before in over 40 years of bee keeping.
Interesting don't you think?
Back Soon
Gillx

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Saving the Bell

Hello fellow Frugellers
 Over the last few days I have been pushing myself to do the myriad of jobs on my HUGE list. We are  less than a fortnight away from our big bash in our field, on Thursday we make a swift trip to Looe in Cornwall for a sea fishing trip, we get back Saturday afternoon and friends arrive on Saturday evening, we are out for a gig and then they will stay for a while. The gardens are calling, the goosgogs are ready for picking and so and so on....
I have also been very busy with the civic society. We have launched a sub-group with some independent folk (engineers, architect, Councillors, canal experts) to influence the development of a large brownfield site in the midst of our area.
We formed our society in 2009 in response to the proposed development, We have no issue with development, but did want to influence the type of houses built and the manner in which they are built. The line of a canal runs through the site. We campaigned for the line to be protected so that nothing was built on it , that way the canal could be reinstated when the funds were available. We succeeded, so far so good. Then earlier this year we were told by a respected engineer that the canal would never be put back in water as when the houses were built there would never be enough room for spoil and movement of plant and that infrastructure would have to be heavily disrupted to ensure that the appropriate drainage etc  could be put in place.  Mmmmm what to do? campaign for the developers to reinstate the canal at the same time as the development! Anyone who knows anything about planning, housing developments engineering, etc will tell you that this is no small order. In fact it is a HUGE ask. The sub-group we have set up is getting a lengthy and learned document together to demonstrate the feasibility of such a project.
This has taken up much of my time and I thought it manageable as we tend to reduce our meetings through the summer. Then we heard about THE BELL.............
 The old Mission in our village has been derelict for six or seven years now. Two years ago when we found that the war memorial ( WWI and WWII) was still in the building festering away and deteriorating.We set up a campaign to save it and re-site it in our little village hall. This we did and have had two wonderful Remembrance Day events since. Outside the church hung a bell and we have hoped that the folk at the mother church a  mile away would do something about it before it was stolen. They now have and they have put it up for auction!! This bell was bought by public subscription by the residents of the area years and years ago. So here we go again another campaign!!
We have set up a fund to buy the bell back for the village.  Over the weekend I cobbled together and printed a letter and over a couple of days with three other committee members posted nearly 400 letters to residents of the area explaining what had happened and asking for pledges. I am pleased to say that I have had several phone calls today already. So fingers crossed !
 Yet again my post has nothing to do with Self Sufficiency or Frugality ! I will try harder next time.
Off to get ready for our fishing trip before our shared lives guys arrive. We have a couple of tip runs to do (a favourite job) and when we take stuff to the tip is really is rubbish!
Back Soon
Gillx