Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Visitors and Gingerbread Men

Today I had a lovely visitor a fellow blogger Pam from New Life In Wales and her little dog Ben, it was a real pleasure to meet them both, Pam is a very knowledgeable lady with a lifetime of experiences a very interesting person to spend time with. 
Ben is a handsome little chappie well mannered very inquisitive well behaved he is welcome anytime.
it was great to meet a fellow crafter who is passionate about sewing, Pam is looking into getting an Innovis machine some-one for me to play with and swap ideas. 
I was playing with my sewing machine this morning, I thought I would get stuck into making lots of small gifts and home decor items, our village holds a sale in the church hall on the 1st Saturday of each month, its only £5 for a table so I hope to give it a try in October. 
I got started making some little gingerbread men
this is three of them, I still have to stuff them and add bows, I have made 10 so far they are about 6 inches tall, they are made from fleece.
These ones are girls I have some boy ones to do.
I have a few ideas for other things to make as well.
I have set my machine up in the small bedroom but unfortunately everything is still in storage boxes I therefore spend a lot of time looking for things.
The log cabin that is to be my work space is due to arrive at the end of next week, it will be a few later before it is assembled and ready to move into. in the meantime I will work upstairs.
Tomorrow I am off back to Milton Keynes for a couple of days to check out how the shop is going and sort out a few things. It will be lovely to see everyone again but I will miss not being here. My little case is packed and I have filled up with fuel using my fuel discount from Mr T.
Speaking of which did you know you can get back any unused voucher from tesco's.
I found out by accident the other day, I went on to there web site and registered my points card, you can then check your points account on the left was a button to show you any unused vouchers I had £27.50 sitting there unused, you can then print them out and use them in store. Some were from last year and some from February this year. So glad I found that out.
Its raining here this evening not just rain but throwing it down, when I went out to shut the ducklings up who are not ready for bed until its dark I was leaning over there pen shutting there door, it was pouring with rain and I was working by torch light, when I stood up I had a terrible fright there was Odd Job looking over my shoulder, his big white fluffy face frightened the life out of me, he snuck up behind me to see what I was doing nosey as usual. I yelled out and frightened him and he ran off across the field into the dark. 
We really must get some fences up to seperate the livestock, the Alpacas are so quiet on there feet you never know they are there, they have spooked hubby a few times.
Time to sign off I will be back at the week end.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Going Up and a Bit of a Down

Over the week-end hubby put the scaffolding up at the side of the house
This now means we can get the chimney repaired
As you can see the rendering is all coming away
And also get the correct chimney pots on.
Also while the scaffolding is in place we will get the end wall painted and the fascia boards cleaned up.
I have got on quote in today for the repairs.
We need to get the repairs done before winter sets in, the builder who came round today to do a quote did pull off all the loose stuff as it was very windy and he was concerned about bits of render crashing down on me. What a nice man.

There was a bit of a downer first thing this morning, when I let the chooks out I noticed Fern my white Silky had a prolapse, I tried to catch hold of her but she was having none of it, I did a bit of research about the prolapse, although it can through lots of care be repaired and putting her on antibiotics in the long term it is something that is going to recur and if I didn't see it and the other chooks spot it first she would be pecked to death by them, she also lays big eggs so the chances are it is going to happen on a regular basis, keeping her isolated from the other chooks was an option but the daily care needed and medication helped me come to the descison that it was best she was dispatched. 
Some people may find this a cruel waste of life, my view is the chickens are not pets they are there to provide us with eggs, the daily care was not something I could consider for a chicken that would no longer serve a purpose and the risk of her being attacked by the others would be cruel, chickens are cannibals and can be vicious to weak ones in the flock. She had a good life and was 6 years old a good age for a chicken. She will be remembered fondly.
Fern going about her business in happier times.

Monday, 25 August 2014

New Fruit have Arrived

I placed an order for a few extra fruit trees to add to the collection this is what I got 
This Fig tree is a bit different to the normally available Brown Turkey figs trees.
The fruit is attractive with variegated stripes and is self fertile.
It is called Panache also know as Striped Tiger and grows to 1.50m the one I had delivered is only 30cm tall so has some way to go, the fruit can be eaten straight from the tree.
it is best grown in containers and is a late season it will be interesting to see how it develops.

Next out of the boxes was a pair  of apple trees
Malus domestica Baya Marisa also know as Tickled Pink, it was the pink flesh that appealed
Suitable as an eating apple,
but can also be used in cooking properties such as dried apple chips, sliced apple for fruit salad
and applesauce.
 Not only is the skin and flesh red but it also produces red to violet
flowers in spring, again they only grow about 1.50m 

Last out of the box were these 
1 Grape Blue - Vitis Boskoop Glory, 1 Grape White - Vitis White Pinot Blanc
I plan to grow these on trellis across the top of the boundary fence 

We hope to have the fencing in place in a few weeks, I can then get planting these out along with my other fruit trees the fence will be south facing so they should all do well.
All the trees I have arrive are only young ones I am happy to wait for them to grow, I got them from 
It was a very quick delivery and the plants were well packaged and look in good condition.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Our Latest Additions (cute warning)

Say hello to newest additions to the homestead 
They are the cutest fluffiest little ducklings ever 
5 little Aylesbury ducks, I got them today at the poultry sale
The Alpacas didn't really know what to make of them
They will be destined for the table but I hope we have at least one boy amongst a few girls then we can keep a trio for breeding our own table birds, time will tell.
They are not old enough to go into the water just yet, we plan to get our neighbour K around with her JCB to dig out a pond at the bottom of the field. 

This morning at 7am while I was making the first cuppa of the day still in my dressing gown, I could hear the Alpacas making there alarm call, thinking it was a fox I ran out to investigate and there in the field was no not a fox but two piggies gleefully running around, they had broken out of there enclosure, I yelled for hubby to get up the pigs are out, it was a quick dash upstairs to throw some clothes on, even I draw the line at chasing pigs in wellies and dressing gown, we eventually managed to round them up and enclosed again. It was then back to the house for a cuppa while we discussed how to secure them from future break outs, after breakfast we set out to move there ark over onto fresh ground and rebuild them a new run with reinforced sections  on the hurdles which are the week point. 
I did video the moving of the ark and will upload it tomorrow. 

Friday, 22 August 2014

Making It Hot and Safe

Last Saturday we had the chimney sweep out in preparation for winter, first up was the Rayburn
It took him an hour, he was a very helpful chimney sweep and told me a few things I could do to maintain the flu and prevent big build ups of soot and tar, he had been to this house before after they had a carbon monoxide problem and were all taken to hospital, the fire brigade condemned the Rayburn until they had a sweep out, it hadn't been done for 6 years and the flu was solid with tar, it took him 5 hours to clear it. and he took away 8 sacks of soot and tar. He then went on to do the log burner, he couldn't access it before on his previous visit, its just as well we hadn't tried lighting it the chimney was packed solid with soot an hour later he had it clear. He pointed out that the cowl on top of the Rayburn chimney is the wrong one and it should be a basket so we need to get it changed.
The Rayburn worked brilliantly after he left. £95 well spent.

Today I had the Rayburn engineer out, the parts that were needed had now arrived, so he came back to do a complete service and fit the parts
First up was a new thermostat on the oven door, the old one was so gunged up you couldn't read it, 
next was the firebricks
The firebricks were completely missing from the Rayburn, hence we had issues with the water overheating in the boiler, there was 7 fire bricks to put in.
He then lifted off the hotplate (it was cold I let the Rayburn go out yesterday) gave it all a good clean out and again showed me so maintenance I could do to keep it running efficiently. He replace all the old fire rope as well and replace some old fire cement. She now works like a dream today's total bill £380 

It may seem a lot but no were near what it would cost to replace the Rayburn,
 if it is not serviced regularly it will develop problems and it could be a hefty bill.
  A lot of the cost is down to neglect by previous owners. 
I spoke with the previous owners and they never had it serviced  didn't realise it had to be serviced.
It does say to have it serviced annually in the manual they left for me I can only suppose they never read it.

Now she is burning better she doesn't need re-fuelling so often, the Rayburn and log burner are now ready to provide us with heat and hot water through winter and they are both safe to use.
We just need to build up that fuel store.

Hope you all have a lovely Bank Holiday week end :-)

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Catch Up on The Week (photo overload)

Its been a strange week, having visitors has thrown my week out, I seem to have lost a few days.
I started today baking 
A granary loaf and a mincemeat slice cake.
Lunch was 
Cucumber sandwich, slice of cake and the last of this years figs.
I picked a couple of cucumbers this morning, considering I was late getting the cucumber going and only ended up with one plant in a container that got moved, bashed, neglected and left outside until the tunnel was up it has done very well I have had 6 cucumbers off it and there is another 3 coming on.
Delivery today of another 2 tons of gravel for the herb garden and 1 ton of a smaller 10mm gravel for the greenhouse and tunnel.
I have got the tunnel done 
It now looks nice and tidy in there 
The tunnel is only 9ft by 6ft but its surprising how much you can get in there, 
this is what is in there at the moment
 A late season Blueberry, the fruit is just starting to ripen, the others are now finished so they have been moved outside, so far I have had 4lb of blueberries.
Guavas there is one large plant and 6 smaller ones waiting to be potted up.
Oca's (New Zealand Yams )this is the first time I have grown them they get harvested in the Autumn
Two troughs of purple mange tout they were just left over seeds
Radishes again just left over seeds
Mix Salad Leaves 
Cucamelons another late starter but I am now harvesting them
This is a mixed container, Black Tomatoes and Purple French Beans 
My neglected cucumber plant
A lonely Pumpkin now brought in so I can feed it up
The squashes have also been brought in to feed up
Sweet Potatoes sharing a container with sweet corn
Chillies almost ready for picking
Bell Peppers another late starter 
There is also 2 hanging baskets of cherry tomatoes hanging from the centre beam but I forgot them 
here is the tomatoes and cucamelons I picked this morning
Sorry for the photo overload, tomorrow I hope to get the greenhouse gravelled, I have just seen on the weather that we may even get a ground frost this week end, I am glad that I have most things under cover now, the seasons are defiantly moving on.
I do feel that the garden side of things is starting to shape up now, still a long way to go.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Fun with the Family

My daughter and two grandchildren came down for a couple of days, we all had a great time, the kids loved it here getting to know the animals and having the freedom to run around. A trip to the Books for Free shop they loved the idea of picking themselves three books and not having to part with any money. The collected a basket of hazelnuts for the pigs, visited the neighbours miniature ponies, were taking out on the quad bike and had a go on the tractor.
My granddaughter was given the opportunity to drive grandads pick up around the field
Its a manual drive and for her first attempt at using gears she did brilliantly, she didn't stall the car managed the gears and didn't hit anything
Grandson got involved making a bonfire with grandad we then toasted marshmallows on it.
He loved it and even went and checked there was nothing left of his fire before they left this evening.
We went to the coast yesterday evening for ice creams a play in the sea exploring caves and finished the day with fish and chips.

Today there last day we headed to Haverfordwest for the Pembrokeshire County Show, the weather stayed good, we watched the dog agility the horse parade the cattle parade and checked out the poultry after the judging there was lots to see and two very tired youngsters are now on there way home.
They had a brilliant time and are making plans for there next visit.The weather was very kind to them
Now everyone has departed hubby back to work, family gone home, just me and the critters left on the farm.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Everyone is Happy on the Homestead

Yesterday was a lovely sunny day a proper happy smiley day.
The chooks are happy scratching around the field
The Alpacas are happy guardians watching over everyone
The pigs are happy in there mud hole
The tortoise is happy now at last he has moved into a bigger area, bless him he has had the right grumps since we moved, having had free run of the previous garden he has been kept in a small 6ftx6ft run until I could enclose an area for him, now I have almost finished the immediate back garden and planted up a herb area I tortoise proofed the whole area just for him
now he has all this space, got to order another couple of tons of gravel, to do the other side, the herb garden in the middle is now planted up
The borders still have to be dug over and planted, and those old lean to shed thingies are to come down, but i feel like I am getting some-where now. 
That about summed up my day yesterday, let me leave you with a cheeky Alpaca photo, Odd Job was playing hiding seek with me yesterday,
Tomorrow we have our first visitors coming, my daughter and her children so I am looking forward to seeing them, her husband is only coming for the day unfortunately but she is staying for a few days.

Friday, 15 August 2014

1 Down 1 to Go

Yes still on the gravel, now have 1 ton down just 1 to go,
 it was a great feeling getting to the bottom of that bag
view from the top 
view from the bottom,
now having seen how much 1ton covers I think we may need a 3rd one.
I have moved some of the pots there to break up the starkness of it, also the pots of plants have to be shifted because they were all in the path of the digger that is digging the trenches for the water supply.
This is to be our water supply, the trench continues for another 300m up the drive every 50m has been left open and each end that has now had stop ends put on so the inspector can come out and see the pipe, once he has been the fellas from the water board will connect us up to the supply junction and put us a water meter in. 
Originally ours was going to be connected to the water pipes that run to the house, but after a long discussion with the builder from the barn conversion I made the executive decision to run the new pipes direct to the house the old pipe work is smaller and was put in by the previous previous owner  about 25 years ago and having seen his pipe work with multiple joins its best we do away with it, it has also been know to freeze in winter as its too close to the surface.
So trenches have to be dug right across the garden, they cant be done until after the barn conversion gets its new electricity supply end of next week,  because there existing one runs from us across the garden to the barn right in the path of the new trench.
more trenches 
This trench that did go across the drive has now been filled in.
It wasn't only the digger that was excavating yesterday, the piggies joined in the fun
They are having fun digging over my new veg garden another week and I think we will move there pen,
after a hard days work digging 
They climb into bed for piggy dreams, you can just see them in there stretched out on the straw click on the picture to enlarge it.
I have also been doing some cooking, no pictures, I did a batch of mini lamb pasties to feed the workers and made a few larger ones for hubby to take back, also a lamb hot pot for one of his dinner next week. 
That about sums up my day. until next time ..................

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

White or Brown Sugar

You know what its like you plan to cook or bake and find out you don't have enough brown sugar or have any at all, you think about making up the extra with white, that may work but affects the taste, I have been in this situation many times, About  2 years ago I discovered how to make my own brown sugar its so easy.
You need white granulated sugar
to a bag of white sugar add a couple of tablespoons of molasses
and just mix after a few minuets the molasses coat all of the white sugar and you have this 
brown sugar, that is all there is to it, if you want a fine brown sugar use caster sugar. 
It works out cheaper and since finding this out I have not bought any brown sugar.
So that is one thing I was doing today, the reason I was making up some meals that hubby can take back with him the brown sugar was needed to add to the Tangy Tomato sauce for meatballs
I shall have some tomorrow for dinner with Tagliatelle, hubby isn't a pasta lover so he can have his with whatever he fancies, for tonight's dinner I had Tagliatelle with home made cheese free pesto sauce.
I had always fancied pesto but it always seemed to contain a cheese product,
 I don't do cheese so I make my own simple sauce.
Pine Nuts in the blender
Add fresh Basil 
blend up together with some olive oil
serve dressed over fresh pasta add some smoked salmon 
making your own is quick and easy and you can control your own flavours add more or less of pine nuts and basil and if you want you can add some Parmesan.
I have been shovelling more gravel today in between showers, during the showers I was having a read of my magazine that I picked up a couple of days ago
The latest edition of Home Farmer, this months is very war timed themed with some interesting recipes
Mock Orange marmalade that made me think of Chickpea as its made with carrots and a good article on plumbing repairs that brought Kev to mind.
Time for a cuppa and finish reading my magazine.
Hope you have all had a good day :-)