Thursday 27 June 2013

Hello all I'm back !

Well here I am back at the PC at last. Not that I haven't been at the PC this week - I have been quite a lot, but not blogging! We have much going on in our Civic Society at the moment and as the secretary I have much to do. The rest of my time has been spent gardening and chicken counting/feeding/sorting.
When evening has come round I have been getting orgainised for the Family Festival. (sorry Frugal in Suffolk it does go on until midnight!)which is on the 6th July. YD and myself have been getting the stuff orgainised for the games and races. It would be easy to just buy stuff, but I'm unlikely to do that....being a tighta***! So the men's obstacle race gear is coming along nicely now and the paper plane making gear and instructions are done. All the children's stuff is ready from last year. So after I get back from fishing in Cornwall ( Yes AGAIN!) on sunday it will be more gardening and baking. I'm secretly hoping that D. doesn't catch too much fish, as we drive home late saturday night with any fish in our travelling fridge/freezer and then I process it on Sunday morning. SO, if he has caught a lot I might spend 3 to 4 hours gutting/filletting etc when I need to be doing other stuff for the following weekend. (and I'm not sure I have too much space in my freezers too)
 This afternoon we are meeting some others on the derelict canal to do a spot of weed/shrub clearing. We are then meeting with the Greenways officer for the district to explain why we don't agree with her proposed route. That will mean more note writing and emailing I suppose.
 I was glad to see that Frugal in Suffolk is selling her gooseberries and what she is charging. I usually sell my excess, but haven't too much this year (see old blogs!) but I do have SOME. I have googled the price of gooseberries and can't find anywhere selling them to compare with. SO seeing F-in-S's punnets is good enough for me. That's what I will charge! Iv'e already sold all my rhubarb, which I'm pleased about.
 Off to attack the jungle with the guys now and I shan't be away from my blog so long next time.
Thanks for reading
Gill x

Friday 21 June 2013

The goosegog saga- Part 2

Well, my goosegog situation is getting worse!
I noticed that a very small chick (can't keep the blessed things in the orchard as they keep squeezing through the  fence) was jumping up at the gooseberry bushes. So I thought, perhaps there are some left at the top of the bushes. Taking my picking basket I set about seeing if there was anything to salvage. Eeeeek! what has happened to the leaves ?! A few years ago I had a lot of problems with Gooseberry Mildew, so I grubbed out the plants and replaced with a variety called "Invicta" which are resistant to this mildew. SO WHAT IS THIS I SEE?
It doesn't look like mildew. The leaves are dry and silver...... Any ideas Blogfriends?

 On a more cheerful note I went into the paddock garden to see how the gooseberries are faring there. Hurrah ! They are looking good and some are ready to I did !
 Next, into the orchard to see if any elderflowers are ready, and some were.. so I picked some!

So tomorrow I will make some gooseberry fool with elderflower.. Oh yes, a taste of summer.

 The weather has been so good today and the jobs going so well that we carried on working well into the evening. When we did stop I felt I couldn't go another step. Then I realised we hadn't eaten since lunch and I had no idea what we were going to eat. So I did a most unusual (for me) and unfrugal thing... I drove to the chippy and bought us fish and chips! There, I admit it. I fell off the Frugal wagon !

 EGD and myself went through the bees yesterday and put supers ( Frames that the bees store honey in, that is usually surplus to their needs and consequently honey for us!) on two of the hives. If the weather isn't too dire this summer, we might well get some honey this year. Last year they only just made enough for themselves, which we didn't mind so long as they stayed healthy (while pollinating our fruit trees)
I need to correct a mistake from yesterday. I said that YGD gave me the idea for the coathanger book holder, when obviously it was the elder GD. (YGD is only 7) Soz to her!
Welcome Rachel
Bye for now Frugal Friends

welcome rachel

Thursday 20 June 2013

Of Beans and Goosegogs

YGD found this idea on Facebook and immeadiately thought of me. So I had a go and took a pic. You may have seen this idea already, but I needed to share it in case you haven't, as it is SUCH a good idea!

  We Have FINALLY collected all the hens into the orchard and new Uber-run, so that I can finish planting. Hurrah!!! So today in went the bean plants - Runners - Scarlet Emperor, Moonlight, Firestorm and Prizewinner. Climbing french bean - Blue lake. Heritage climber -Lazy Housewife and some Borlotti. As I finished the rain came pouring down, which saved me watering  the plants in!

I made fleeting mention of the gooseberries not being ready last week and earlier in the year showed a pic of  gooseberries being scrumped by Sky the lamb. Today I found that we have a far greater threat to the goosegogs... Chickens ! They have completely stripped the berries from the three large fruit garden plants. Thank goodness they didn't get access to the six bushes in the paddock garden and are now safely away in the orchard. I have to decide now wether to make jams or sell the berries - I usually have enough for both.

It is only a couple of weeks until our big family party and the girls and I are starting to organise the races and games for the children (and adults) We are being very frugal and the cost will be NIL! I'll give you a run down of it when we are organised

 For no particular reason other than I love her lots, here is a picture of our cat Dixie on her new furry mat. I have no idea where it came from - it just arrived with some materials given to me I think.  Whatever - Dixie LOVES it!

Thanks for reading my somewhat rambling blog
Bye for now

Monday 17 June 2013

Shared Lives

As I often mention Adam and our other "Shared Lives" guys I thought I would explain about the scheme as I realise that while ensuring confidentiality I often sound just cryptic!!
 The Shared Lives scheme is sometimes called Adult Placement (and probably other things in different areas). Here in Derbyshire it is Social Services run and funded. Putting it VERY Simply it is like fostering for Adults with "special needs" (don't like that term but I guess you know what I mean)
The term Shared Lives is quite new in Derbyshire and I quite like the term because that is exactly  what we do we share our lives with the guys.
Some people provide full time care/support  while others (like us) provide daycare and respite and short term care.
 In this blog I have called the guys Adam, Bob and Colin. Adam has been coming to stay with us at weekends since he was 18 and he is now 43! he has learning difficulties and some personal care needs.
 Bob, who has been coming here for nearly 4 years and is also in his 40s, is a family man. He has a head injury which impairs his a ability to lead a completely independent life and affects his mood. he comes to us as an alternative to a day centre. Colin, who has been coming here for over 4 years, is also in his 40s and  has health problems and some learning difficulties.He also comes to us for "day care". As we live on a smallholding there is much to get involved in and the three guys can do "real" work of which they are justifiably proud. D. calls them his Work Experience group, which suits the group well and doesn't stigmatise them with negative labels.
The guys work with us on the smallholding and canal and other community work that we are involved inand generally join in with anything we are doing, consider our friends their friends and our family as theirs too.
 When the children were young and again after they left home we used to foster, so our children and grandchildren have never known any different from sharing their lives with others less fortunate.
 So there you are. I hope that this will explain the odd cryptic reference!! It might well be something you have considered doing. If so why not ? The people I have met in blogland have SO much to offer.
All for now, back soon
Thanks for reading

Friday 14 June 2013

Picture at the top of my page, Chicks and Adam

Have you noticed I have a picture at the top of my blog page now? YD helped me to put it up,...truth to tell  I did nothing, she did it all.
The picture is of YGD doing a jigsaw with the help of our deeply missed bantam Marjorie. This was taken last summer in our fruit garden, where we often eat and play and craft.
It is one of my favourite pictures. I hope you like it too.
Adam's mum is unwell so he has come to stay for a while. We have sat and worked out what we are going to eat and I have decided that he is naturally frugal ! Last night we had Chicken Pie (his absolute favourite). He has chosen Toad in the hole with mash and cabbage for today (will cook extra for bubble and squeak)  and meat balls for tomorrow. He says if he is still here the day after he would like fish! Don't you just love an "easy" guest ?
 I keep finding eggs all over the place, so I collected a few random ones the other day and put the ones that floated in the incubator. Worth a try !! This afternoon I had a peek and there was a tiny black chick, completely dry and cheeping his heart out. Lifting up the broodies (Oh the indignity!) I have found a newly hatched chick, so have snook the incubator chick in with it, so that hopefully the broody will look after it. Worth a try eh?
I took Adam to the hospital today for a scan. He had to go without food or drink ( apart from water) for 6 hours. So as we were shopping I asked him what he would like to eat in the car straight after his scan. He chose sausage roll, so I bought some from Lidl. Blimey, I was not impressed ! I could have made some as cheaply, if not cheaper I reckon. I must make some and cost them out.
 The elder flowers are just coming out here. Some reckon they are late. If they are, so are the gooseberries as I usually put some elderflowers in my gooseberry jam and the little green darlings are nowhere near ready yet.
 Dinners just about ready, so will sign off for now
 Have a peaceful Evening

Thursday 13 June 2013

Swarm Spotter, Frugal Mince and a Crafty Minx

Hello Frugal Friends,
Good growing weather here, which is code for warm and wet!
Below is a picture of our local "swarm spotter" L. he lives across the road and often comes over to help D with tasks around the smallholding. When he and his parents spotted a cloud of bees in our garden L. dashed across to tell us. We managed to find some bee gear to fit him, so he was able to take a look close up.  I am sure you will be meeting again over the summer.
 When we were away last weekend, YD had a BBQ. She put the leftovers in the fridge. We had the cold sausages in sandwiches and there was a bowl raw veg which was crying out for a frugal sprockle!
 Here are the ingredients that I had in store. The meat is a kilo of the Ox heart I froze earlier in the year. There is a tin of tomatoes, a couple of onions, stock cubes, garlic powder, the bowl of veg and a couple of crusts.
Using the mincer I had for my birthday I minced the heart and then the veg. I then (as my mother taught me!) "cleaned out" the mincer with the crusts. I seem to remember that she used to be extra vigilant cleaning out her mincer in difficult times with more crusts! In this case I thought it also lightened up what is a fairly dense meat. I browned off the meat in a little dripping and put the meat in the slow cooker. I then fried the the veg to soft, added the tomatoes and garlic, the breadcrumbs and a pint and a half of stock and poured the mixture over the meat in the slow cooker. This I left on all day. I now have 4 pints of basic savoury mince, which can be turned into a chilli or a pasta dish with other seasonings. (any other ideas?)
Yesterday I was clearing round our Wisteria and look what I found....Craft Minx !
EGD and her boyfriend are a Frugal pair, who have recently found Pinterest. EGDB has found section on using Pallets. As you know we are fond of a pallet or two around the smallholding. It's a smallholding sort of thing you know, pallets and baling twine! So I have determined that I shall take pictures of the uses of pallets here to see how inventive D has been ! I reckon I better not show him the Pinterest section on pallets though or I may never get the current jobs finished!
All for now folks. How do you use pallets and baling twine?
Welcome Andrew, glad you have joined us here

Monday 10 June 2013

Youngest Daughter's fun day and a spot of bartering

YD had an interesting weekend looking after our smallholding. On Saturday she started the day by finding a newly hatched chick cheeping from the very top of the orchard chicken house. It was sitting with a few unhatched eggs making a huge noise. YD phoned me....."any ideas?"  "Are the eggs still warm? because if they are, mum is not far away" YD went towards the chick and eggs and a white screaming bird came back to "save" her baby and sort YD out! Once the mother had been identified (no brainer) YD covered the lot with a cloth and removed them to a safe pen in the barn, where they wouldn't be harassed by others, nor would the chicks throw themselves off the high-up box to their possible deaths.
After feeding the hens, chicks and rabbits she gave the lambs their bottles before watering the greenhouses and trays of veg plants waiting to be planted. After a spot of shopping for a BBQ she was hosting  that night in our fruit garden, she went into the front garden to watch the bees while she had a coffee. She, like us, can watch them for hours they are so interesting. She could hear that they were noisy and realised that our second hive was probably about to swarm! She then watched something I have never seen in 40 years of beekeeping. -- A swarm actually leaving the hive - I AM SO ENVIOUS!! I have seen many swarms as they are in the air and as they settle and sometimes when they fly away again, but never the moment they leave the hive.
Remembering that Gdson is now keeping bees she rang him " Mum and dad's bees have just swarmed"  "On our way" he says and within 20 mins he and his dad were in our front garden knocking the bees into a new hive, where they settled happily.(the bees that is!)
Here they are, they have knocked the bees from the pyracanthus and are placing a lid on the box which is on the ground among the golden rod and just a  few feet away from where we gathered a swarm from an apple tree last week.
When" all was safely gathered in " YD phoned us to tell us what had happened and that she thought that she had probably had enough excitement for one day!
 So we now have 2 extra hives. D and I had decided that we would probably sell a swarm, to keep our numbers manageable and perhaps realise a bit of cash.
 Gdson phoned us to tell us how friendly the bees were and how easy to box. He is currently working on some woodland management  and wondered if we fancied a spot of bartering ? He and his dad wanted another hive and we want logs for next winter.Can you see where this is going ?!
So a deal has been struck that suits us all. Gdson has collected his bees tonight and tomorrow D. will take the trailer for our wood.
And YD ? er.. I had better think of a deal for her too .. A demi-john of wine should do the trick I reckon !
And so to bed dear blogland friends
Thank you so much for visiting my blog

Back from fishing and car booty

We are back from Cornwall and ready to get stuck in to the final planting push on the smallholding.
The first pic is of the fishermen gathering to to set off for the day, and a glorious day it was too. The water is sparkling in the sun in the beautifully clean Looe Harbour
 The catch was not good again. D. bought back a 7lb ling and the lovely big pollack you see in this picture. This made 6 good sized fillets and the ling I processed straight into cougon size pieces (20 in all) The second days fishing realised even less. It's a good job the weather was so nice and that D enjoys the company as much as the fishing AND that it isn't our living !
 While D. was out on the briny I was car booting and charity shopping with my friend as well as working on her allotment. We  stayed in the Callington area and did well. I actually had a shopping list. I needed working jeans as my others had patches on the patches, working shirts and was starting my search for winter clothes. Below, minus some shirts(50p each) that are in the wash, are two pairs of good strong, hardly worn jeans for a pound each and a really good quality quilted fleece for £2.99. You can also see some silks I couldn't resist (17 silks for £1.50) and some knitting needles for 20p. I also bought some fuchsias and geraniums for a bald spot in the fruit garden.
So that has bought you pretty much up to date. I shall now make myself a coffee and catch up on the blogs I follow and try not to get too distracted reading the blogs followed by the blogs I follow!!
I will then try to work out how many chicks are running around the place and who the h*** they belong to !
Bye for now

Thursday 6 June 2013

Birthday and D Day

Hello All.
Today is my birthday, and though I'm not particularly bothered about it ( I might be if it was a "special" one) I have had some LOVELY presents.
How about this Kath (Hillside House)?....I have been given a walking foot for my quilting!!
Also a wireless mouse ( I can't get on with the pad thing at the front of my laptop) NO Wires, how cool is that ? A mincer and sausage making attachment for my Kenwood; A new bee veil;  (why do I feel I must say "new"?); pants; socks; flowers; a cardigan and a memory stick. Now I am sure you will agree that that is a pretty good list of useful things that will in one way or another support my frugal and self sufficient life. I considered wearing my pressies to show you, but decided I would look decidedly bizarre, if not a little kinky! ( cardy, socks, pants and a bee veil. ummm )

By the way I am now 67. I don't feel it and on the rare occasions when I glance in the mirror I think "Who is that old crone?!"

Today is the anniversary of D Day, I was born exactly a year later. In the next door but one's garden is a  Union Jack. This is being flown by my neighbour who was at the D Day landings. he is a sprightly 96 year old who's brain is as sharp as a knife. He has a wonderful memory and many tales to tell. He flies the flag in memory of his fallen comrades. "We weren't brave, just doing a job, not much choice really!"

Tomorrow we are going to the funeral of a dear friend's mother. We got to know her well over the years and  we feel for his dad who at 93 will be at a loss I expect. Immediately after the funeral we will pick up a friend who is coming with us to... Cornwall!! What a surprise, a whole month and we haven't been sea fishing. Yet again YD will take over here, bless her, what would we do without her?.
We are told that the fishing has been poor over the last month. There is definitely a different feel to the fishing trips, with poor catches for most boats. I will let you know how we get on.
Welcome Wallace, nice to see you here.
Off to bed for me now, early start in the morning.
Sleep well frugal friends

Monday 3 June 2013

Of Pallets and a Surprise "Visitor"

Here is the Pallet Stash from Saturday. I think you will agree it is a useful couple of piles of wood. D. already has several ideas as to how it could be used. In the meantime it will have to be moved into "the Pallet Store" (of course) I shall enjoy that, especially as each pallet has to he hoisted over an eight foot fence!

The sun is shining and the forecast is good for the next few days Hurrah! We went to a party at a friends house yesterday. They have a lovely big garden and field and all the children could run free. We sat in the sun eating hog roast buns, chatting to people we haven't seen in years and watching the children play and really enjoyed the break, even though we are always moaning that we haven't time for socialising! I even had a brief spell on the bouncy castle...Hot Tip ! Don't go on a bouncy castle in a long skirt.. you will keep standing on it and falling over!
Thought you might like to see a pic of the Wisteria, we have it on two walls of the house and the long wall of the barn and it is at it'd best right now.

I will bring your attention to the egg totals in the side bar. They are down quite significantly for May. This is because of all the broodys. Hens sit for 21 days on their eggs and don't normally start laying again for another 6 to 8 weeks after the chicks hatch. So it is hardly surprising the totals are down.

  Yesterday evening before we went out again, we did a spot of lawn cutting as there was little time for anything else. So while I'm in the fruit garden D. passes me the box full of clipping to put on the fruit garden compost heap. Moments later I heard an almighty crash and turned to see a fully-grown black BULL stood on top of the heap. it had knocked down our stone wall and climbed onto the heap for the fresh cuttings!!! Now I'm no wuss but I reckoned I needed some help with this, so I shouted D. and we drove the big b****r back into his field and quickly covered the compost heap with tonne bags to lessen its attraction!
 So, that'll be a spot of wall building to add to the list then.

 Civic Society Committee meeting tonight, so need to tidy up a bit. I wonder if it will be warm enough to have it outside. That would be good, as it is tidier than the house !
 Bye for now frugal friends and many many thanks for reading.

Sunday 2 June 2013

The Best Laid Plans

I had Friday through the weekend planned. Busy, but manageable, the fridge sorting had the meals taken care of and I had a timetable written up... What could possibly go wrong?!
Friday saw D. and I ( unusually just the two of us), with all the equipment we needed to complete the new hen run. This needs to be finished so that I can put all the hens away, which in turn means that I can finish planting out. I have now completely run out of netting to protect the young plants from the hens and have all the beans, tomatoes, sweet corn and squashes still to put out.
 Firstly we had a rush of customers for eggs and Rhubarb. Some folk seem to want to discuss each egg, and can little Johnny look at the chicks please? FINALLY we get down to the jobs..
So I am cutting the front lawn, while D. is getting started. He comes into the front garden to ask if I can ""Just hold this" ( we've all been there haven't we?) and then says " Seems there's a swarm behind you" and indeed there was!
Hive No. 3 had swarmed and was looking to settle into the "Sunset" Apple Tree. Sometimes a swarm settles for a very short time before it sets off again, often to be lost. So, with no time to lose we (figuratively) drop the lawns and the chicken run and get the bee gear out.
Here is the swarm. Hope you can make it out.

 It turned out to be one of the easiest swarms to capture. We placed a spare brood box onto a dining chair   ( just the right height) and after removing a few frames and putting a piece of cardboard as a bridge over the gap between trunk and box swept the swarm into the box. Within seconds it was clear that we had the queen in the box and the bees walked into the box.
Here they are obligingly pouring in to join their queen. Within half an hour of this pic being taken the other frames were back in place, the lid was on and they were nicely settled. The downside is that I have temporarily lost a dining chair!

I got the lawn finished and joined D. to do a spot of net stretching and pinning and witht he job still not finished, we finally settled in by 9.30 when YD arrived to cut her dad's hair.

The plan for Saturday was to continue with the Hen Run. At 3.30 I was going to pick  Adam up and drive over to Rugeley to pick up YGD where she had been staying  with friends ( where she keeps her pony) deliver a couple of hens and bring Adam and YGD back here to stay the night.
So. the phone  rings, it's D's brother  "Do you want some pallets? I've got 28 8ft by 4ft pallets here, which must be collected this weekend"
So off we set and collected the first nine in the trailer, bring them home and stack them in the yard. Then off we go again with the hens in a cage in the back of the car and with the empty trailer and pick up Adam, drive over to Rugeley to pick up YGD, back to D's Bro. to pick up another 9 pallets. Back at ours it is now 7.30 and after some food and more pallet stacking, D sets off with Adam to collect the last 10 Pallets and I put the hens, lambs and YGD to bed.
So another day when nothing has been done to the Hen Run!!
Tomorrow, we take Adam home and then we will go on to a party for the afternoon and then we are meeting friends at  night. D. estimates he has approx 3 hours to give to the hen run tomorrow.. Yeah Right !!
Just realised what the time is. It IS tomorrow!
I guess I should get some sleep, so night night all.