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

Sunday, 14 June 2015

This is Me (sorry)

As promised a picture of me - I told you that I was a 69 year old weather beaten old bag Kev!
Here is the seat I use when drinking my early morning cuppa. it is a bit mizzly today, but you get the idea. The next two pictures are my view whilst drinking said cuppa.

Looks ideal doesn't it? and indeed it is, as nothing beats the Derbyshire Countryside.
I'll take some pictures of my corners of shame another time to balance them up!
All for now, cooking tea for the festival fairies, who are currently pulling nettles.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

A NEW Mower and Party Preps.

After the demise of our trusty grass cutter and weeks of trying to get a second hand replacement we have finally taken the plunge and bought a NEW ride on mower. The reason we have bought new after looking for ( and failing to find)  a good second hand one is that we will be here for a few more years yet, so we will get our money's worth. This piece of kit is powerful enough to pull a trailer as well should we want to move heavy stuff in the field. You might wonder why we don't just keep sheep or beasts on it all year, which would indeed keep it down. We have found that keeping poddy lambs is more manageable for us as we really haven't the backs for shearing, foot trimming, worming etc that goes with keeping adult animals anymore and we can rest ourselves AND the paddock over the winter. The winter resting up means that we can stay here a little longer, neither of us wants to leave yet. David says he is going out feet first which is a little extreme!

Last week David played with his new toy and cut most of the paddock, picking up the grass too in half the time it usually takes. He has cut much of it extra short as we have our "Festival" in three weeks time when a couple of dozen tents and 200 odd people will be gathered in our field, playing games, singing, dancing  (and maybe the odd drink or two) and generally having a good time.

 Friends and relatives, who call themselves "Festival Fairies" will drop in over the next few weekends to help us get the place safe and tidy. these sterling folk will also help us to clear up afterwards.

It is dull today, but I'm hoping it will be better tomorrow when I will take a selfi ( or get one of my lot to take a pic) of me for Kev ( An English Homestead)  who asks us to show our faces ! and I thought I would also take a picture from the seat that I use for my morning cuppa as per Sue (Our New Life in the Country) I might take a pic of the new mower to in case you are interested.
 Just seen a picture of Prince George with his little sister. Do little boys still wear long socks with their shorts when they are not page boys or in school uniform?
Back Soon with the promised pictures

Friday, 5 June 2015

Of Swarming and Pickled Eggs

It's been a warm day today and I have little energy for digging, but it must be done...maybe tomorrow!
We've had another "swarmy" week which means that we are now back to the number of hives we prefer to keep with a couple of colonies to sell.
Here is a view of bees leaving Hive \No 11. My view was from the rear so you cannot see that the front of the hive is covered with bees just about to take off, though you can see plenty in the air.

This next shot is of them deciding where to go next. If you look at the shadows the bees show up well against them.

Here they are settled. You can just  make them out hanging from a branch in the pyracanthus hedge. David has placed a brood box of frames under them with three frames removed. He then knocked them in, replaced the frames and put a lid on. They are now snug as bugs in rugs!.
Note the fine piece of patching on David's hood.

I have been doing a fair amount of dog sitting this week for one reason or another. Here is my youngest daughter's dog Sammie snoozing on a sofa with my cat Dixie.

 We are still getting quite a few eggs from the hens, though we have sold less this week as the road has been so busy. So yesterday I made some pickled eggs. Even if people don't like them to eat as just pickled eggs they can be turned into tasty egg sandwiches with a spot of mayo, when we are short of eggs later in the year
For these two jars (Mayo jars)  I hard boiled 22 eggs.
I heated together one and a half cups of white vinegar with one and a half cups of water and a teaspoon of salt. Into this mix I put a tablespoon of pickling spice, a bay leaf and two crushed garlic cloves tied up in a small piece of muslin. While this was coming to the boil and simmering for ten minutes I put the peeled eggs carefully into the two sterilised jars. When the pickling liquid had cooled slightly I removed the spice bag and poured it over the eggs and closed the lids tightly. These should keep well for quite some time. Some people keep them in the fridge, but I don't until I start to use them.

So sorry to hear of the death of Charles Kennedy this week. I considered him to be a good, principled man. I felt the same when John Smith died. There appear to be so few "proper" politicians nowadays.
The sun has gone in so I might do a spot of digging
Bye for now

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Pink and Purple Flowers and Goodbye to the Pigs

Hello All
I know it has been a while since I last posted, but life has been frantic here.
The blossom has been wonderful this year and presently the purple and pink blossom seems to be everywhere I look.
Here are just a few of the pink and purple blooms around the holding.
This first is of Thalictrum Aquilegifolium I have a line of these. We have had these flowers for many years and it took me some time to remember and be able to pronounce the name of this pretty flower. The year after I mastered this David and I were walking around the gardens at Heligan and some knowledgeable middle aged posh women were looking at said plant, clearly not knowing what it was I leaned towards them and said "I think you will find that it is Thalictrum Aquilegifolium". I fooled  myself that they gave me an impressed look when they thanked me. They probably turned to each other as I walked away and retorted "Smart A***e!"
 Here is the Wisteria on the front and south side of the house
 And the view through our bedroom window
 Here is one of our lilacs, this one is in our outdoor eating area ( a couple of tables on a few slabs at the back of the barn)
 This is the wisteria on the barn. The flowers are different to those on the house, they are slightly lighter with a darker tip to each bloom.

We were suppose to be fishing at Looe from Thursday to Saturday, but high winds were forecast so that all the boats were cancelled for Friday. This meant that we would be home to help our godson and granddaughter to load and ship our pigs on their last journey. The date for their move  was non-negotiable as our local butcher will be processing the meat for us with help from our granddaughter, who used to work for him, who will be making the sausages and next week is the only time he has spare to handle three extra carcasses.
I have been struggling with the paperwork to move the pigs. It is now done electronically and the website isn't too helpful. With much help from the helpline "How can I put a loading time when I am not here and don't know how long it will take them to load?" being just one of the questions. I finally managed to fill the form in to a degree that Gds and EGD would not have any difficulties. This form needed printing out to take a copy with them to the abattoir and my printer wasn't working!. The form cannot be saved as a document, fortunately ED found away to send it to herself at work so that she could print it out for us.
 When I found on Thursday morning that we wouldn't be going fishing I was SO relieved as I would be here in case of any hiccups.
Here are the said pigs Pickle, Mr Grey and Gregory doing what they did best.. lolling around and sleeping after a spot of weed eating. It isn't a very clear photo as I took it through the barn window.
The move went well with very little stress for the boys. I was pleased to hear that the guys at the abattoir were gentle and respectful of them.
We expect rain tomorrow so I will be planting in ernest today. All those tender plants can now be planted outside and be watered in tomorrow by the rain, which is by far the best way. When planted up I shall take some photos of where we are on the holding. I am very behind with most things but they usually catch up, so I shan't stress too much.
Off to get down on my knees with a trowel in my hand.
I will not leave it too long until my next post, I have been very tardy lately.
Love Gill

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Pickled Walnuts(again) Watercress and Bait Hives

Hello fellow bloggers, funny weather we are having, lots of energy in it with wind and sun and hail and thunder.
With reference to the Pickled walnuts we discussed in my previous posts....
We sat around the table with a bowl of the little darlings in front of us and only three of us actually managed  to put a tiny sliver of one in our mouths ! ED said that they looked like a combination of an olive and a cooked mushroom -both of which she dislikes intensely (as do I) But we gamely tried a bit. Cro is right in saying that they were very vinegary, which sugar would counteract. It was the feel of it that we disliked, sort of slimy. Perhaps when Phyllis gets to us with her recipe using them it might be good. That said, there were only seven large walnuts in the jar for £2.50 which was pretty expensive for an accompaniment. I would need to love them to pay that again. All that being said I am glad I tried them as I've reached this tender age without one passing my lips.

The watercress in our pond, which is fed from rain water from several roofs here, is doing extremely well this year. As you can imagine we have had many egg and watercress sandwiches, but I quite fancy using it for something different. Has anyone any recipes for watercress they would like to share?

 Leigh from 5 aces and a Dream commented on bait hives after my last post. Coincidentally and quite by accident we made one last week!. After the first swarm of the season I assembled another hive ready to house the next swarm, should we get one, as being ready is essential to ensure collection. I  said to David that we could  put it in the front garden as a bait hive, but we didn't and left it outside the garage ready for swarm collecting. A few hours later I walked past the hive through a goodly number of bees and saw that the front of the hive was covered in bees. Yup a swarm had found the hive and put themselves in! Swarm number two all settled in their own way and time. Now to get another box ready in case we need to collect another swarm!

 As the days get busier in the garden and with the animals growing apace my house gets more and more untidy. I'm not particularly proud of this but there are only so many hours in the day and something has to give. Then Frugal Queen does a post on being tidy and organised and I wonder why I can't be that organised. It is so bad here at the mo that if someone I didn't know well knocked at my door I would have to hide behind the sofa and pretend to be out!
Back soon

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Pickled walnuts and Apples

In my last post I asked people how they kept their walnuts from the squirrels. Some suggested I pickle the unripe walnuts before the squirrel got them. Cro suggested I try some before I waste my walnuts on something I don't like and yesterday as per his suggestion, I bought some Opies pickled walnuts. Looking at them reminds me of my friend J. a district nursing sister (now retired) She always referred to the offerings (in bedpans) of her constipated patients as "pickled walnuts" !!  I can see what she means and it's rather putting me off to be honest.
 Yesterday we collected our first swarm of the year. Not large, but looking good. It swarmed onto the damson above the front greenhouse and was easily collected.
Here is David with "Bob" one of our Shared Lives guys helping him. Bob is  getting to be a good help with swarm catching. This activity is risk-assessed of course in line with Social Services policy (ahem)

 The blossom has been wonderful this year. Here are a few pics of some of our trees
The first two pictures are of our pollinator crab apples - Golden Hornet and John Downie.
This tree to the rear of the artichokes and rhubarb is "Golden Hornet"
 This is "John Downie".  These two crab apples cover the apple blossom time for all our apple trees.
Here is "Grenadier" an early cooker.
 This is one of our two " Jonogolds" with "Elstar" fanned on the fence to the left (both eaters) and "Bramley" cooker to the right.
We have more apples, but I guess that is enough for now as you are probably getting bored. But I have to show you this huge cooker/eater that is in our front garden. it is obviously very old. We sent a sample to Brogdale, who don't recognise it and say that it was probably grown from a pip many years ago and that we could name it ourselves. David calls it "Gilly's Pippin".
David has had to start cutting the paddock today. Those five little lambs certainly can't keep it down and it is getting too long for them. this one cut should be sufficient as the lambs grow. The biggest problem is getting rid of the cuttings, which if left in a huge heap, becomes a huge heap of black slime. So with the help of a friend I have been layering the cuttings between pig, chicken and rabbit muck, mole hills and some old straw. Next year this should make good compost.

Off to fetch David back from Quiz Night.
Before I go I must welcome to Judy Kiesow to the follower bar. Lovely to see you here.
Back soon