Monday, 25 January 2021

Rough Start To The Year

 2021 I was expecting things to improve, but no we started the year in another lockdown, I don’t think I can remember what normal life was like, meeting with friends and family, having a laugh, sharing the ups and downs of life over a cuppa. 

Going to a shop and browsing around , going to an event seeing new ideas and products. Days out when and where you want, going to new places and exploring all just dreams from the past.

We also lost Nick Nack at the start of the year, he was one of my original Alpacas that I bought 7 years ago this month and he moved here with us along with his companion, Odd Job. He wasn’t that old about 9, It was a Saturday and we were doing the usual winter vitD injections and feet trimming, did a body score check and he was very low, we decided to bring him in and feed him separate to make sure he wasn’t being bullied off food, By Monday his condition seemed to have deteriorated, checked his mouth and eyes nothing untoward, checked him all over nothing, decided on a trip to the vet, they ran a worm count, blood tests, checked temperature  heart lungs etc gave him a shot of multi vitamins, Results came back and nothing stood out as abnormal, everything was fine and clear, by the end of the week he had deteriorated even further, vet came out and gave him a few shots, Saturday he picked up and spent a few hours in the sunshine with his. Herd, Sunday he was flat out, Monday I made the phone call to the vet, would they come out and euthanise him.

You can’t win all the battles no matter how hard you try. 

We have had a fair bit of snow this month

It’s lovely to see but terrible to work in when it freezes over, it seems to take an age to thaw up here.

I am using the snow to clean a woven Alpaca fleece rug, and some sheepskin rugs that came from our first lambs many years ago.

It’s a method I read about on a post from Pocket House Studio up in the Hebridean islands who wove our Alpaca rug.

Snow Rug Cleaning

I have got my pepper and chili plants started

They were started off indoors in the propagator, now under the grow lights along with some tomatoes and lobelia, over the coming weeks lots of seeds will be started off ready for another season.

A bit of a change is taking place outside in the growing area, or will be when the weather improves,

Polytunnel number 3, this one is 50ft long twice the length of the others, I am really looking forward to getting started with this one. 

We have plans afoot for this year more will be revealed when we start to put them in action.

I will do another blog post in a few days as there are other bits I would like to share, this post is long enough as it is. 

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Back Online Again

 What a time for the phone line and internet to go down, 20th of December started having issues with the phone, within 24 hours the phone and internet had died, cutting us off at a time when we really wanted it, with all this lockdown stuff, no contact with the outside world no shopping, the advised date for repair was 4th January, neighbours were in the same predicament.

A little man from BT came out yesterday and by the end of day we were up and running again. The problem we have here is our lines are all over land and run through parts of the forest, branches from trees cause issues with the phone line. They need to get some cutting back done but with COVID causing staff shortages, (don’t understand that one) it has been overlooked this year.

Christmas was very quiet and uneventful we took the dogs to the beach, the place was deserted. 

The pigs went off on there final journey, we raised Berkshires this year very placid easy to handle

We had the first back the week end before Christmas, the other two won’t be back for a couple of weeks they are becoming bacon, gammons and ham. 

I have been rendering the fat down as lard and I did a mamouth sausage making session

The pesky badgers are back ripping up the field, it seems the only solution is going to be a strong insecticide drench to kill off there food supply, I am so reluctant to create a field devoid of life, but might have to bite the bullet 

This week I have cleared out the last of the Tomatillos from poly tunnel number 1 and made up a batch of Salsa Verde 

On the subject of poly tunnels we have just ordered number 3, this one is 14ft x 50ft and will go over the area of the raised beds, putting all our growing area under cover, the new poly tunnel will have mesh ventilation sides, creating a cooler growing area. 

Number 1 is kept dry and hot, Number 2 is more humid and shaded, I love having ing the different growing areas, The hoops down the side of poly tunnel 2 which are used for growing climbers are to become a net cage , we will only have a few small pallet collar beds that will not have any protective covers. 

This will be the last of the big alerterations in the growing area. 

While I wait I have plans for the back garden and front garden that I will share in later blog posts. 

I hope you have all stayed healthy over the Christmas season and I will catch up with you on the other side of 2021.

Sunday, 29 November 2020


 I now have a new working phone, yeah great news, it means I now have a camera to hand when I doing things, funny thing it was the camera I missed more than the communication, I don’t really use my phone much and defiantly don't do internet or apps on it. 

We have had some glorious frosty mornings, I love days like these I get some much done,

New phone was not the only new thing this week,

I needed new boots, my preferred boots are Derwent Muckboots with neoprene upper, comfy to wear no rubbing, great for fat calves, Keep my feet warm and dry and best of all they were on Sale this week. 

my old boots were just over two years old, and considering they are almost daily worn they have done well, the seam between the shoe part and the neoprene upper was coming adrift,  

But they haven’t gone to waste, I have cut off the uppers now I have some comfy shoe boots perfect for the garden and very timely as my old cloggies are now ready for the bin.

I have made up feeders for the hives and started feeding, I like these feeders as they just push into the door and the bees can feed from inside.

I have diluted down some bee sugar paste for them.

It’s also very easy to see when they need topping up

My grandson who has been living with us since December last year, has been spending his time when not working, converting a horse lorry to a tiny home that he hopes to go travelling with.

This week he wanted to make some new seat covers, I don’t think he expected it to be so involved

But between us I think we did a grand job, now he just has to do the bench seat.

One of the rams went into the freezer this week

Being Hebridean they grow slowly so we do them as Hoggets between 18 months and two years.

We still have another two to do. 

All in all it’s been a busy week with lots of jobs getting done, I have been gathering bits up for a garden project in the next day or so I hope to get it put together, lots of soups have been made, a bit of baking.

I hope you have had a good productive week. 

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Sea Water and a Birthday

 Something I have been wanting to try for ages is now ticked off the list.

Making our own salt from sea water.

So this is how it was done, first I had to take a trip to the beach, just as well it’s not too far away, I went with some ladies off a group a run 

It was a sunshine and showers day but being the. Day after our welsh firebreak lockdown we didn’t care 
I collected about 5 pints of sea water, also lost my phone in the sea, but it was no big deal, I only ever use my phone for occasional calls and text and some photos but photos and videos are moved off it on a regular basis. 
Anyway sea water collected, I strained it through a paper filter then into a pan it went, brought to a good rolling boil

And left to simmer for several hours, this is were the rayburn is a blessing

It needs to simmer down and the water evaporates away until you are left with a slush

Being careful not to scald and burn the salt, I tipped my slush into a dish and popped it into the bottom oven left overnight to dry off, good old rayburn again, you can just leave it to air dry or even pop it in a dehydrator. 

Then what you are left with is lovely sea salt, I filled my grinder and a small jar. 

I loved doing this and it’s so easy I will definitely be doing this again when salt runs low.

During the week I had a birthday now 61 were have the years gone, there is definitely natly signs of age, joints ache and things seem to take longer, it was a very wet muddy day, Martin was away at work, he left me a card and some money , got lots of chocolates sent to me and given to me, books and some new plants for the garden. I treated myself with the money to these two beauties 

Lucifer and George they are metal garden ornaments, and going to be part of a mystical garden I am planning, now most things are established along with routine on the smallholding I am starting to sort the garden and have lots of ideas I want to implement, I often go through Pinterest in the evening and save ideas that I think I can work with. Over winter I have lots of structural stuff I want to get in place and start some planting, one thing is a planted moon border, which compromises of plants and flowers that reflect the light of the moon Mainly whites and lime green and are night scented, so if anyone has any suggestions or has a moon garden let me know. 

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Chicken Plucking

 A fellow self sufficient friend who lives fairly local and me bought a poultry plucker between us, I am happy for it to remain with her as we are getting ready for the building works now and the less stuff I have about the better.

Anyway we have been having a play with this bit of equipment and to say it’s been a learning curve is an understatement, here is a short video of one of our attempts 

Chicken plucking

It took a few attempts before we had success, 

The instruction leaflet was lacking in proper instructions, lots of you tube videos later, we have discovered the optimum temperature  the water should be for scalding.

I am now out of chickens, but we have some friends with plenty of poultry waiting to be plucked. 

These were the light Sussex birds we raised this year for meat, they are suppose to be a dual purpose birds, next year we are going back to Ross Cobbs for meat.

If anyone else has used a poultry plucker advice is most welcome.