Sunday 30 December 2012

Just back from Lidl. They have large mushrooms (250gms) for 42 pence and Branston baked Beans for £1....Bargain !
Just getting ready for the family to descend for the afternoon, and then we are out tonight so not a lot of time to sit at my computer. I do, however, have to find time to write the New Years' message to the members of the Civic Society (I'm the secretary). Most of the members have the internet, but I have to print out and hand deliver for those that don't. These members are all quite elderly and always seem to be sitting at their window  as I approach the letter box ! So I have to allow  at least two hours to deliver 6 letters in the village ! At least I can check all is well and see if they need anything. I will go tomorrow morning before B one of our Shared Lives guys arrives in time for lunch.
Will dig up some Jerusalem Artichokes today. If anybody has recipes they want to share re. these I'd love to see them as it is good to ring the changes. Also if you live in England and would like a root I'd be happy to send one to you. The tops make good rabbit/goat food and if left to flower produce a spray of blooms like small sunflowers/helianthus. They grow extremely tall and are a good windbreak throughout the summer/autumn. Oh and yes they are not called "Fartichokes" for nothing!
 Am recycling  some shelves into my sewing room/spare bedroom tomorrow. I have taken a picture of this room as it  is now and will take a picture when I have finished - as soon as I find out how to do that !
Also need to find a picture of me to put on this blog. ( NOT a pretty sight) perhaps one of my daughters will take one today.

Thursday 27 December 2012

The day after Boxing day is almost my favourite day of the holiday week. Christmas day we entertain the family and close friends, Boxing day we spend with a dear friend and her family and today we are "Home Alone" and I attack the left overs!! Several meals put down in the freezer - sliced meats with stuffings or sauces, Pie and pasty and pancake fillings and good old turkey broth and bubble and squeak.
There was a large french stick left over which I have turned into two garlic breads. I have frozen these.
This afternoon I dug up most of the remaining leeks as the Chickens have taken a sudden fancy to them. Tomorrow I shall make large quantities of Leek and Potato Soup and open freeze the rest of the leeks and then bag them so that I can take out the exact quantity I need. I shall also do some sweet baking.
 Have mended two pairs of trousers  this afternoon, while watching Time Team good excuse for a sit down !
 Phoned friends to arrange the loan of their trailer next month, when the last two lambs go to the butcher. They should have gone over a month ago, but he is in such demand because he is a caring man who only takes a few animals at a time, one day a week, which he handles and dispatches humanely.
 D has been chopping wood for the fire, I think he must have done enough for the rest of the winter, which is a good feeling.
Will put the presents we received at Christmas away tonight. We had some lovely presents, some of my favourites are the home made ones made by the young people. Hand knitted scarf, needle case, sampler, biscuits and a needle point picture in the likeness of our cat Dixie. How lucky we are to have such youg people in our lives.
10 Eggs today! whoop! picking up!

Monday 24 December 2012

Out of the shower and ready to join friends at the pub, after dropping off a couple of presents for one of our Shared Lives guys.
Veg all processed ready for tomorrow, with thanks to youngest daughter. Digging up those parsnips and picking the brussels was a challenge in the bog that is our garden ! Hen laying continues to improve.
 Made industrial quantities of pastry for the freezer, so that after Christmas I can make quiches and pies with any leftovers. Left over Christmas pud is good sliced sandwiched between pastry sprinkled with sugar, baked and cut into squares.
Upsetting to see those firefighters shot in the USA. (my elder daughter is in the fire service) for goodness sake!!
Sounds like D is ready, so will sign off and hope that everyone has a peaceful and loving Christmas.

Saturday 22 December 2012

Quick post tonight.
Annie, our goat, who I hoped would just drift away in her sleep was distressed this morning. Called the vet who helped her on her way to a peaceful and dignified end. I feel about cried-out now and will take myself to bed. Not looking forward to the morning rounds, but, bless her, she was ready, 16 is a good age for a goat and she has been completely blind with cataracts for 2 years now. Earlier this year she walked into our river and nearly drowned ! My youngest daughter had to jump into the freezing water to save her and it took three of us to get her up the steep bank.
Anyway enough ! to bed!
As I can't sleep I thought I could use the time to update this blog.
On countdown for Christmas. We wont be seeing our Shared Lives Guys, Adam, Bob and Colin until the new year, they have plans with their families and we are busy too.
Had another busy couple of days, mostly getting ready for Christmas. I'm not the most houseproud of folk, so I usually have a mad dash to get the house ready and make room for the onslaught at Christmas.
Looks like we are 18 for Christmas lunch with another 10 or so joining us in the evening. Just about all the food is ready, just need to bang it in the oven. Most people bring something towards the meal. A friend brings the Turkey, youngest daughter brings the pigs in blankets and the pudding, elder daughter brings crackers(both kinds!) and a piece of beef for the evening buffet and friends bring shloer, wine and Cava. I have bought a piece of pork and a ham for the evening.We have parsnips and Brussels in the garden and I have made the stuffing out of saved crusts and my onions, sage and thyme. So just need to add peas, broccoli, carrots and potatoes and jobs a good un ! There should be LOADS of left overs which I will have fun processing and will negate the need to go to the shops for a week.
Getting a few more eggs now, hurrah! have been letting my customers down, but free ranging brings no guarantees. My god son called today and helped me dispatch 3 young cockerels that are causing trouble in the flock (curry in the slow cooker tomorrow). We have had so many broody hens this year, which means at least 50% cockerels hatched and while they are great to look at they become aggressive and competitive at quite a young age when there are quite a few. There are still more to do but they are behaving themselves at the moment.
The river that is the boundary of our field has burst its' banks today again and all the gardens are sodden. Fortunately the field then climbs up to the house which is not in any danger of flooding. I feel for those whose houses are flooded.
Anyway, will try to get some sleep again, especially as my youngest granddaughter is staying the night and is a VERY early riser.I have promised that we will make flapjacks as soon as we have fed the animals and let the hens out and before her dad collects her.
Sweet dreams.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Just finished wrapping the last of my home made presents. Shan't say what they are now as friends and family might read about them before Christmas ( Unlikely as they don't know that I have started a blog!) Not all the gifts are home made, which is  something I will aim for next year. This Saturday my eldest granddaughter will be here cooking her presents. Each year she makes cakes, biscuits and sweets for most of the grown -ups and they look forward to their box of Ellie's goodies. And each year Ellie tries new recipes alongside the old favourites. She is a chip off this old block, interested in cooking and making things. She also loves the chickens and helping with the bees. She will be 18 in a months time, aren't I lucky!?
 Have been watching " Home Farm Christmas" .I love the Home Farm series, we can learn much from them, though I do find myself disagreeing with how some of the food prep..." Nooooooo! grate that carrot much finer than that, woman !!" or  " That's going to need to cook longer than that ". But on the whole it is a self sufficient smallholder's ideal programme.
 Annie, our goat is pretty much the same as yesterday. I tried her with several different treats today to get some goodness into her and ironically she did deign to eat half a Ryvita! She is still drinking warm water and dibbling half heartedly at good hay. I shall try her with a "porridgy" meal tomorrow.
 Each Tuesday a couple of friends and a couple of guys from "Shared Lives" meet here to work on our smallholding or on the derelict canal that goes through our village, which we are keen to see returned to use. As this was our last tuesday before Christmas we had our Staff Christmas Lunch. Leek and Potato Soup with tomato bread and mince pie with a meringue top instead of pastry for afters.. and of course, crackers!
 Will close now as I need to collect D from Quiz night ( I don't enjoy quiz nights but do enjoy the gossip afterwards)
PS Have just read Mean Queen's blog, Hope she is okay

Sunday 16 December 2012

A rare quiet Sunday here and after my sister's surprise 70th birthday party last night not unwelcome! D (my husband) took Adam. home after cheese on toast for lunch and then we were "Home Alone" until our youngest daughter joined us for tea. We had home grown lamb shoulder with parsnips and leeks fresh  from the garden, peas frozen in the summer and Lidl carrots and potatoes. She then took  plate meals home for her children, if you call 20 and 17year olds children ! who were dog walking (20yr old) and waiting-on at the local restraunt (17yr old)
 To explain Adam (not his real name) to you. D and I are part of the "Shared Lives" scheme and offer respite and day care to adults with special needs. Adam came to the party with us last night. He has been coming to us for weekend respite since he was 18 and he is now 42. So he is more like a member of our family and is the same age as our youngest.
 This morning after letting the chickens out and feeding the lambs and rabbits and of course our very old goat, Annie, I wrapped a few presents and made the stuffing for Christmas day which I put in the freezer, with a couple of pints of cheese sauce for the same meal. It is especially welcome by vegetarians (as is the stuffing) but everybody seems to want cheese sauce too. I always hope that some sauce is left so that I can make savoury pancakes with leftover vegetables.
 I'm really worried about Annie, she is nearly 16 now and is eating less and less and feeling the cold. I have made her a jacket and D has put the chick's heat lamp over her bed. heavens knows what the electricity bill will be, but what can you do? I am tempting her with her favourite digestive biscuits and offering her warm water to drink throughout the day. She is just old and feeling it. She reminds me of my mum the week before she died aged 88 " I'm getting fed up with this Gill, I'm ready to go " So I'm making Annie as comfy as possible and giving her lots of love and attention.
 Enough for now, off for a shower and then over to friends a few miles away, so that D can go out for a "boys" drink while my friend and I gossip.

Friday 14 December 2012

Hello Frugal and Self Sufficient World!

Hello.  My name is Gill and I live in the Amber Valley in Glorious Derbyshire.
Each evening I have been reading blogs about living a frugal and self sufficient life, eager to add to my knowledge and keep me motivated too! I'm a blogging virgin, but am eager to join in, so please bear with me!
A little bit about me
We have lived on our two acre smallholding for 31 years now and as each day dawns I am as excited about living here as on my very first day. We grow vegetables and fruit, keep bees, chickens and rabbits. We used to keep goats and sheep, but now just have a (very) elderly goat and rear orphan lambs. I love cooking, sewing and recycling and making something out of nothing.