Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Eschewing Clingfilm - making bees wax wrap


Hello All

I don't know about you but his wet weather is starting to get me down a tad. I have huge amounts of brash and prunings to burn and there is not a chance at the mo. I am also trying to help the lock-down hens be happier, but am slipping and sliding in the mud and making little progress. Pushing a  wheelbarrow about in it is such hard work.

 We are trying to get the fruit trees pruned too, I guess some may have to go without this year. Let's face it, it might be poor gardening but it isn't life threatening so we will be philosophical  and do the best we can.

Continuing  my sustainability theme. Here is a sort of "tutorial (get me!)

I have never been a fan of cling film. Though it is a very convenient, it is single use, and un-recyclable .  An alternative way to cover dishes etc is to use bees wax wrap.  As I keep bees it is s no brainer for me. If you wanted to make your own I would say that an ounce of beeswax would do two dinner plate size wraps. The first pic shows what is needed, Cotton fabric off cut cut into shape with pinking shears., a block of bees wax; a grater to grate the wax ( in the jar) two sheets of greaseproof and an iron and ironing cloth.

pre heat iron to high.
on your ironing cloth place a sheet of greaseproof,  a sprinkling of grated wax, followed by a second sheet of greaseproof
Iron over the greaseproof , as the bees wax melts use the iron to spread ir over the cloth evenly.
The wax  will spread outside the fabric as it melts ensuring all is covered
Peel off the top layer of greaseproof from both sides and hold the cloth up for a minute and when cool it is ready to use. Here is is over a bowl .
The excess wax on the greaseproof can be peeled off and put back in the jar.
Hope that was clear.
Enough for now
Back soon

Friday, 15 January 2021

A new gardening year and stopping in


Hello All

A new gardening year starts !  Yesterday I started 70 Shirley Tomato Seeds off in propagators in the front greenhouse. I also started 4 trays of seed onions off. a tray each of Ailsa Craig, Marco, Red Baron and Sturon. There are approx 200 seed to a tray. When they have grown large enough to handle I will prick out into plant pots with 10 to a pot and grow on until large enough to plant outside. There should be some onion plants left over to either give away or sell.

Today I am starting off Sweet Peas. I have all sorts of odd seed which I am going to mix together and grow as a mix with two  to a pot which I will plant  when large enough as they are to one pole and disturb the roots as little as possible. 

Mind you this might have to wait a day or two as I have a really bad cold and rather need to stay indoors to nurse my runny nose and shivery self. As I have been shielding with David and haven't left the holding since  before Christmas (apart from yesterday to post some letters ) I have no idea where I caught this cold!

If I don't go out I have plenty to do inside ( no surprise!) So today I hope to..

  •  Transfer 2020's honey from buckets into jars for sale.
  • Make three birthday cards for the family January birthdays.
  • Knit the front band for a cardigan I am making from my wool stash
  • Find five matching buttons from the button tin for said cardigan
  • Take photographs to illustrate my next blog
  • Do a spot of internet shopping (hacksaw blades/ 2 pint basins/ blue shoe polish and research microwaves as our has gone kaput.

 You will note that there is absolutely no housework on the list !!

On my sustainability theme, I have found that old tea shirts make the best floor and polishing cloths.

Enough you cry.

Back Soon





Monday, 11 January 2021

Sustainability and a missing cat


Over the last couple of years I have tried to be mindful of the impact I have on the earth. (gosh doesn't that sound "noble" ?!) Being  a facebook user. it hasn't taken long to find groups of like minded people and I have picked up quite a few ideas and bits of information that I can apply to my own particular circumstances. I do find some of the folk go a bit far for me. I'm an advocate of "good enough" (achievable) parenting and reckon its a good place to start in attempting a sustainable lifestyle. Obviously as a smallholder, who aims to be as self sufficient as possible I'm in a pretty good place to start and have indeed been practicing some of the ideas for years. However, these have been mostly for our- own- little- world -type stuff. Thinking beyond this to the wider good is something else. So my word/ mantra is now Sustainability with a view to to decreasing the amount of waste  and/or pollution we make.. I've always been a bit of an eco-warrier, but there are aspects of being environmentally aware that I hadn't considered .

I don't know how many folk are interested in this but I thought I would share my "journey" on this blog. Just in bite sized bits so as not to bore you too much and if you aren't interested just scroll on by to the rest of the dross I post!

Easy bit first. For a couple of years now we have had our milk delivered in glass bottles. Thus really has made a difference to the amount of plastic that goes into our recycling bin. The milk is from a Derbyshire farm, thus cutting miles and supporting local farmers (and milkmen!) There that wasn't too preachy was it !?

This weekend our cat Baloo went missing. Now I'm not too fond of Baloo as he is half Bengal with full Bengal trait of fizzyiness. He is prone to the odd bite if you approach him from the wrong side, which David calls a love-nip (it isn't!) and has been known to suddenly get hold of your face with his long claws, which David says is holding you close (it isn't!) I decided that he hadn't been stolen as they would have returned him within a couple of hours and would be identified by the scratch marks. He went missing at tea time on Saturday and though I am not fond of the boy I wouldn't wish him harm and really wanted to know if he was well. I don't think we thought of much else but him throughout Sunday and I visited neighbours to ask them to look in their sheds etc.  At 7.15 this morning a cold cat a wailing banshee walked across my face. He was home! Given the time I suspect he had just been let of a shed or garage by someone on their way to work.  Here he is the little love. Incidentally he is a great mouser

Enough for now

Back soon


Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Lockdown for Family, Chickens and Santa


Hello Again

Here is a pic of our first great grandchild. She was born mid August and we have only been able to hold her a couple of times, but have seen her on several occasions outside. We are really struggling with this aspect of lockdown and all the Covid restrictions, though we do follow them properly without "cheating". She is wearing her Christmas Elf costume and looks a little serious here.  

Since the new lockdown David is back to shielding again, though in truth he has kept safe throughout the whole time. It is really more of the same for us.
What IS different and not in any way welcome is the Lockdown for the hens! There have been several outbreaks of Avian Flu and now all birds must be kept in such a way that they do not come into contact with wild birds or their droppings. This means we must ensure that they are covered overhead, not an easy thing to do when you have a 40+ free range flock! Apparently this lockdown will be until April. I question the welfare issues with this. Looking at how some people are going to have to keep their birds I suspect they will have issues with pecking/bullying and possibly chest/lung issues.You can explain to humans why they have to stay in with restricted horizons but not chickens! I'll try to get some shots of our set up to share with you.
David normally does several charity sessions as Santa. Obviously this couldn't happen this year, so to give his cossie an airing he sat on our front wall on Christmas Eve and waved at anyone passing. He received many shouts, cheers and tooting of horns. We hope that some children on their way to bed might have caught a glimpse of Santa before he set off on his busy night. For some reason it inspired a couple of blokes from the village to join David with a  socially distanced beer  😉 Here he is..

Enough for now I reckon or will become one of my rambling posts. 
Looks like I'm getting my blogging mojo back.
Love Gillx

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Loofah (luffa) Update


Update on the loofahs (luffas) before I start the whole process off again

This first pic is taken slightly later than the one in my last post. You will note that there are two different types. To the left the fruits are marrow-ish shape and plain green. The plant to your right is longer, thinner and has black stripes down it.  I wasn't able to get them to the brown, dry phase, when you are suppose to hear the seeds rattling, so I went back to the good old internet and found that you can still succeed with green fruits so long as they were fairly mature.

This next pic shows how I peeled the fruits.In the stripey plants the seeds were black. The plain green fruits had pale brown seed. These peeled fruits I put in a bowl of water . I squeezed, rinsed and teased off any flesh, while changing the water daily, for about ten days. During this time the seeds kept floating out, these I fished out and dried. I saved an awful lot of seed this way, which I am hoping will be viable next year. 

When all the seeds had floated out and the ;last vestiges of flesh had gone I gave the loofahs a final rinse, dried them and....Tah Dah !!...
I harvested twelve from two plants. Three are ,missing from this picture as my daughter has snaffled them.
 The scrappy bits I have tied together to make splendid pan scourers.
If anybody wants to have a go growing some next year from my (not guaranteed viable ) seed I am quite happy to send them some for them to try. I started mine off on the 9th February 2020. so allow for a longish growing season.
 All for now. Just off to search for a picture of my first great grandchild to bore you with !
Love Gillx

Monday, 28 December 2020

 Well Hello It's me!!!

It is many weeks since I wrote here. I completely lost my blogging mojo and have been somewhat overwhelmed with keeping on top of things here on the smallholding.

I confess to not even visiting my favourite blogs, apart from one day when I found out that Sue from Suffolk had sold her house and I didn't even know she was wanting to move. I realised that it had been so long since I visited blogland that I would never be able to catch up so fresh start here both writing and reading as we move into 2021.

I'm going to have a go at blogging (and reading blogs) on the same day each week and see if I can get back into the swing of it.

So for now dear bloggy friends, if indeed there are any left reading my ramblings


Love Gillx

Saturday, 8 August 2020

Clunk Click every trip

  I bet many of you remember the campaign to get you to belt up when you were in the car.
At the time of this campaign I was working for a market research firm. We were tasked with engaging with divers who were pulled into a layby by police officers. While asking them how many miles they were expecting to travel, how often they drove and other such mundane questions, we observed if they and any passengers were wearing a seat belt. We returned, I think a month later, to do exactly the same exercise. Between these two sessions the Jimmy Saville ( yes I know!) campaign had hit the TV. This had followed other campaigns with Shawn Taylor, but it was considered that the saying "Clunk Click Every Trip" might be super catchy. Indeed it was, and in the second session we noted many more people wearing seat belts. Over the next year it was demonstrable the decrease in deaths and serious injuries from collisions and this was attributed to the campaign. If you wonder why I have suddenly thought of this it is the number of people on the TV shouting about having to wear a face mask, how uncomfortable they are and that it is an infringement of personal liberty. Sometime after the CC campaign the wearing of seat belts became compulsory and people were then saying they weren't going to wear them because they were uncomfortable and it was an infringement  of their personal liberty blah blah blah ... just saying!
Back to the smallholding and my luffas!. Oh my have they grown. I am SO excited about them. I have now stopped the two plants in the greenhouse and they have 6 luffas each. I have been showing them to everybody I can and most have been impressed. Several have said they are going to have a go next year. Here they are. All I have to do now is try to get them to ripen. I guess that might be the most difficult part.

All for now, a few more photos to load and will be back soon
Look after yourselves out there