Monday 26 January 2015

Planning for pigs and a Birthday Boy

 Hello Fellow Frugellers and especially Mumasu on the follower bar and Suzanne, John Gray, Natalie Lash, Louise Tomlinson and Mobe Stephenson on Blog Lovin.

I don't give a blow by blow account of my days. I'm lucky enough to lead a pretty busy, interesting life (well I think so) but only post when the mood takes me and today is one of those days!.
The bees are out for cleansing flights again today, but it looks as though they will be tucked up again for a few days as a cold front approaches. As always we have enjoyed getting ready for the "worst" I know we should be more grown up but we like to prove to ourselves that we can cope with anything that life and the weather throws at us. I suppose it is the Self-Sufficient side of us.
David has cut a lot more logs today on his new cutting bench that our eldest daughter and her husband bought for him at Christmas. It is so much safer to use, with a holster and blade guard that frees up one hand if needed.

The ground has been a little dryer the last couple of days, so I have covered the strawberry beds that the chickens have been decimating with some coarse compost and then netted them. They should pick up by spring (the strawberries that is) I have also been digging up the jerusalem artichokes, while the ground isn't too muddy.
 David and I have also been moving laying boxes and rabbit hutches around the barn to make room for the pigs that we hope to get in the next couple of weeks. We have been giving a lot of thought as to how to feed them as cheaply as possible. Obviously we must feed them with a proper pig food to ensure that they get all the nutrients they need. If we feed them entirely with pig food we estimate that the meat will cost us as much, if not more, as pork bought directly from the butcher. Clearly they will have a good life with us and be reared with respect and love (yes, and why not?!) But my blog doesn't have Frugal in the title for nothing. We aim to supplement their bought food  and make the rearing of them cost effective i.e. cheaper.
Feeding pigs is a serious business here in the UK and governed by strict rules. Feeding scraps to pigs is illegal. Feeding pigs any food that has seen the inside of a "food room" is also illegal. "Food room" means my kitchen, a restraunt or anywhere where food is prepared that may have had any contact with meat. So, for example, if I pick a bucket of apples and take them into the kitchen to sort the blemished from the keepers, I cannot then feed them to the pigs. If I sort them outside then I can. I can feed rejected peas from a local factory because they only deal in peas and no other product, so I have asked them if we can have their sweepings, but haven't heard yet. My friend works in an old mill and keeps the sweepings for us. We have now saved several bins of this wholemeal, organic flour, which are also allowed. My several stands of artichokes are going to come in handy as apparently pigs love them. As I have said I am currently digging them up while they are at their best, cleaning and drying them and putting them aside. All the small and misshapen potatoes, apples, pumpkins and parsnips that are currently in store outside will go to the pigs too. Finally we now have, courtesy of our Godson, several bags of spent maltings a week from a local micro-brewery. So bring 'em on!! I'll keep a careful account of the cost and share it with you.

The family, plus our friend that cuts everybody's hair while she is here, were here for tea on Sunday. This is usual but this time it was in the nature of a birthday tea for David. His birthday is actually on Tuesday, but what's a day or two? This birthday is a special one as he is 70. He was told that he would be lucky to make his sixties some years ago when we was fighting cancer. Since then he has had several health hiccups and open heart surgery and has proved them all wrong. The wonderful NHS, being bloody-minded and having a wife that practices a "studied neglect" has helped!
Here he is, sans Freddy Boswell hair, with the dog's breakfast that is a chocolate fudge cake. Looks weak doesn't he?
He here is with YGD doing Sudoku from the book she bought him. They enjoy doing these together.

His "big" birthday present is a day out with his children and grandchildren (and me) at Harry Potter World. We are all very excited at his present. I have another "big"present to give him tomorrow on his actual birthday. I have bought him a turn table so that he can play the pile of LP languishing in his cupboards. This is very gracious of me as it will mean that I will have to suffer his marching music and folk music.
That's all for now. I am off to watch the last of the series of "Walking the Nile" which we recorded last night while we were out. We have really enjoyed this short series.
After tomorrow, I shall be busy getting ready for a couple of important Civic Society meetings and while I won't be posting I shall still be keeping up with my favourite  blogs.
Keep warm and safe dear Frugellers

Saturday 17 January 2015

Polish recipe and what to give a man who needs nothing

Hello All
 A warm Derbyshire welcome to  Trudie's Cottage, K Fan, Lisa Heath, Tree Hedgewytch and Marie Barlow on Blog Lovin. Nice to see you here. Please comment away and tell us about yourselves.

When I started to write this post I was just about to watch a Watchdog about  how to save £1,000.      " Bet I've heard it all on blogland before. However it doesn't hurt to have a look does it? I see jack Monroe is on the programme and as the family she is working with spend £160+ on food a week  you just know they are going to save loads!" I wrote.
Well, unsurprisingly, I learnt nothing new. I DID know that if you stripped a car down to a shell, leaving just the driver's seat and then drove along the motorways at a steady, highish speed you would save money on petrol, but that's of little use to us folk who use the car when we are collecting food for ourselves or the animals or making a local journey to friends, picking the children up from school with an occasional trip to Cornwall with a loaded car!.

Now that Christmas has past I will talk about Christmas presents!
What do you buy a man who has all he needs?... Answer.. Nothing!
 A dear friend of ours (DF), who we consider as family, is very comfortably off. As he always spends Christmas day with us and we have a big present giving session, I give some consideration as to what to give him and he is always the recipient of a homemade present. A couple of years ago I made him a tea cosy, with an embroidered picture of his old house on the front and his name on the back, last year I made him an apron with a drawing of his new house on the pocket and this year I knitted him a dishcloth! I found some old proper dishcloth cotton in my old yarn stash. After I knitted all the available cotton into a cloth I made a loop and put a label on saying "proper dishcloth". I then made him some polishing cloths from an old soft shirt of David's which I put with a jar of home made furniture polish. To complete the parcel David found a photo that he had taken ten years ago of DF's cats. (One of these cats went missing five years ago) he printed out and framed the picture. DF tells me that this present has been the subject of discussion at many functions he has attended and is deffo his favourite present this year!
Some of the presents I received this year were items to keep me warm. Hurrah! Have the seen the weather forecast?! Pics to follow in my next post.

 Here is a pic of the wax I processed this week.

The winter is a good time to sort out the odds and sods of Beekeeping jobs. The one ounce bricks are made in a mould that I bought many years ago and I put for sale alongside the honey and eggs. The rectangular lump is for a guy who makes his own hand cream and the round lumps are for my next polish making session. The jar, which was given to me by a friend who only uses goose fat for roast potatoes, contains beeswax polish. (I made three)
How I make this polish. -
To each ounce of wax  I use 100 mls of olive oil
  I place a metal (could be glass or pot) dish over a saucepan of water and put on the hob to simmer. Into the bowl I pour olive oil (cheapest) and bring the oil up to just hot. Keeping it at this temperature, I slide in the clean beeswax and gradually melt it in the oil. While this is happening I put wide necked jars into the oven to warm a little. When the beeswax is fully melted and stirred into the oil I pour it carefully into the warm jars.
This is my preferred recipe as it uses natural, simple ingredients and still has a faint smell of honey.

The early maincrop tomatoes, onions and tall (for cutting) snap dragons are now in the propagator, So I feel that the gardening year has started.

Back soon

Saturday 10 January 2015

More Presents for Dogs

Hello Dog-loving Frugellers.

The wind has been powerful overnight, with some fierce gusts this morning too. The first thing I did this morning was to check the bee hives in case any had been blown over. Fortunately they are all still standing. Yesterday morning there was a burst of sunshine and from all but one hive (No. 14) bees came out for a  spoiling flight. No 14 is a very weak hive and there is every chance it won't make it through the winter. Fingers crossed for the rest.

In my last post I said that I would tell you about another Dog present I have made. A good friend provides "Doggie Day Care"(DCC) for her daughter's dog, a Springer, who needs lots of exercise. She takes him into the wood, a few hundred yards from her home, where he gets a good run  and pretty grubby and needs quite a bit of rubbing down when he gets back. Here is a special towel I made for her to help with this.
Muddy Paw Towel
I used a new hand towel, but shall be making some for my DDC days from our towel stash.
Here's what I did... I cut the hand towel in half lengthwise. At one end of each piece I sewed, with the zig-zag stitch on my new sewing machine (show off!) five pieces of contrasting material to represent a dog paw. I then joined the two pieces together at the opposite end to the  paws. I then turned the paw ends over by 10 inches (paws inside) and sewed the ends up to make a pocket at each end. All that remained then was to hem the  cut edges and sew some tape to hang the towel up.
 Here it is .. A muddy Paw Towel

EGD made these dog treats for Christmas presents.. (No picture I'm afraid)
Veggie Dog Treats
Pre-heat oven to 180o and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Pulse or finely mince 3 large carrots with 150gs oats.
Add 1 tbs coconut oil ( we had this, but any other oil will do I am sure)
Add 1 tbs peanut butter
Add 2 eggs
Blend again and chill the mixture for 30 mins
Place teaspoons of the mixture on the trays and press down with the back of a spoon to flatten a little.
Bake for 20 minutes and then cool on a wire rack.
The instructions tell us that these treats will keep for up to a week, which is highly unlikely with the recipients being Labradors!!

 I hope you could follow the  instructions for the Dog kerchiefs in my last post.; If I wasn't clear, just tell me and I will post the method.
 That's it for now
Keep safe

Friday 9 January 2015

Veggie slice

 Hello All  
Bit of a foody post today.                                                                                                                                                              I spent a breezy half hour in the garden this afternoon. The chickens are making a pretty good job of clearing weeds etc. I managed to pick a few brussels and some tuscan kale that the chickens hadn't got into.... grrr my fault.. faulty netting!.  I dug up the last of the parsnips, a few jerusalem artichockes and a couple of very small celeriac. Then into the cool shed for a couple of potatoes, an onion, a clove of garlic and a small jack o' lantern pumpkin. Next to the kitchen where I found some swede, a lump of dry Edam and the remainder of the filo pastry  ( from making brie parcels) in the fridge.
Here are the collected ingredients. yes I know they are not very beautiful veg, but hey!

 I peeled and thinly sliced the root vegetables, de-stalked the kale and grated the cheese. Some veg cook quicker than others so I par-cooked the swede potato and parsnip and steamed the kale and artichoke, which tend to take on water.(On the white plate are the cooked veg)

 Laying the filo on a floured baking tray I layered the veg and cheese with a layer of summer chutney to add a bit of zing in the middle. Using an egg to stick the layers and folds together, I finished off with a further sprinkle of cheese on top. This roll/ turnover/slice - call it what you will, went into the oven at 160o for three quarters of an hour
Here it is ready to eat. Not that we will today, as I have a meal already cooked for tonight - pork leftover from Christmas, roast potatoes (sliced left over baked potatoes from yesterday and brussels and kale. There were a few slices of veggies left over from the slice, so I added an egg to that remaining from the pastry "glue" with some milk This I poured over the mixed veg which I had put in a small oven proof dish and added a sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese. This went into the oven with the slice.

Two more meals for the freezer.

Knowing how many of you love your dogs and following from my last post I thought I might show you another "Doggie" present I have made and give you a recipe for doggie treats.  Next post!
 Back soon

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Time to plan and a younger sewer

Hello All
Welcome to Derbyshire Frugality  Maggie, Sally, Alison and Christine on Blog Lovin and Helen and Simple Living on the follower bar.
It is the time of year to plan, plan and then plan.
We've been perusing the seed catalogues and checking the seed we already have. I've just about got my seed order ready now and am pleased to say that we need to buy very few. I'm looking forward to the possibility of Kev (An English Homestead) organising a seed swap as I have quite a few to throw into the mix.
We have decided to buy up to six lambs this year as we ended up cutting the grass last year, with two lambs making little impact on the grass. I'd rather like to get store lambs (i.e already reared and off the bottle) I shall keep an eye out for some.
Probably the most exciting plan (to me anyway!) is that we are considering having pigs!! it's years since we kept pigs so I am very excited, I do hope we can. Our Godson would like to join us in this venture, which should be fun. We will look to altering and adapting the inside of the barn to house them.
Reference the chickens we have the use of a new Buff  Orpington cockerel, unrelated to our hens. We have put him and a couple of good BO hens in a separate run, When they start to lay we will hatch some BO chicks out. We are often asked for this breed of hen so hopefully we will be able to sell some.

YGD (and her black lab, Jed) came for the afternoon a few days ago and asked if she could sew something using my new machine. She has never used a machine before, so we were able to start from the beginning with some good sewing habits. She said that she would like to make another kerchief for her dog.
For Christmas I had made kerchiefs, that slot into their collars, for the six dogs that are connected to our family in one way or another. I made them from a pile of scrap dog paw print material, bought from a fabric shop for 50 pence. There was enough for them all with contrasting backing.
Here is Jed and Sammie on Christmas day having a power nap and wearing their kerchiefs.

Back to YGD  - she cut out  two squares of fabric from the stash - this was material sent by Weaver for our young quilters and now an even younger sewer was using the fabric. After tacking the squares together (right side facing) she machine sewed around the squares, leaving  a couple of inches unsewn,
 She turned the fabrics right side out with the help of a thick knitting needle
 She then pressed the fabric before machine sewing around the edge, including the opening
 She then folded the square in half diagonally and machine sewed two rows a scant two inches from the folded edge.

  The dog collar then slips into the opening and Voila! it's done. She is very proud of the result and so she should be. Not a very good pic of Jed I'm afraid.

I have been watching the news today. The news of the shootings in Paris is so upsetting. Where will all this conflict and hate end I wonder. I want to "pull up the drawbridge" but know that that is pathetic and cowardly.
Back soon

Thursday 1 January 2015

Bleary-eyed Frugal

    Hello Fellow Frugallers and readers of this somewhat random blog of mine
 A Very Happy New Year to you all from a somewhat bleary-eyed Derbyshire Frugeller. I didn't get to bed until 2 o'clock this morning and I'm not quite as up to dancing the night away as I used to be.      A particularly Happy New Year to new Google followers Lynn Lewis and Kim Cranson  and Lynn Gill and FrugalWench on Blog Lovin.                                                                                                           Many thanks for your comments on my last post. The consensus is that I ought to give my daughters some of the items now, while writing down as many memories as possible. So I will pass on the little things and leave notes with the bigger things (crockery and the like)

Just been over to Simple Suffolk Smallholder's blog and she mirrors my intentions (again!) There were a number of similarities with that which I was going to post, one of which is to start using my husband's name in this blog.. You know that I am Gill, so why not that my husband "D" is David. (first guess is right Sue)
I  have always referred to him on this blog as D. not being the type to refer to him as The beloved or Mr Wonderful or handsome Hunk or .Light of my Life...or.. you get the idea... not quite how we are really. Comfortable with each other since we met when he was fifteen and a half and I was fourteen. (54 years ago)
 Here are the culprits who kept me up last night. David and I with our daughters and granddaughters. When I see my girls together I feel like I've won some sort of  lottery!    
       The cousins dancing the Gay Gordons
 Enough for now, off to play with my sewing machine.
Back Soon