Sunday, 19 July 2020

May To July

How did that happen suddenly it’s July, although I will admit things have been a tad busy here as always.
Every time I think I must write a new post my time gets snatched away with something else.
It seems most people during lockdown have had lots of time on there hands it hasn’t happened like that for us, in fact lockdown hasn’t really changed anything apart from not going out to do craft fairs, on that subject I am thinking I won’t be returning to the craft fairs and if I do it might just be a couple of big events next year.
I have started setting up an online shop we’re I have been selling lots of my makes, still more to list.
We have been doing all the usual stuff Shearing Alpacas and sheep has been done, Buffalo have calved, ducks have been hatched, pigs being raised for the freezer, new goat kids, started milking again.
Poly tunnels have been busy.
Something new we have been trying is drying buffalo dung pats to use on the fire during winter

We gather up and lay them out courgated sheeting to dry, once dry they are very light weight no smell and burn really well giving off a good heat, the idea came from Martins trips to Nepal Up in the mountains, were they dry Yak dung for cooking and heating As there isn’t a supply of wood readily available.
We have also been trying out a home made log kiln.

The frame is built from scaffold tubes as we have access to those,  it has metal sheeting painted black on the roof, sloping south, we have used heras fence panels for the sides and front, the logs are all stacked in from the back and raised off the ground on a wire floor.
Air circulation is important this set up helps season the wood quicker reducing the moisture content, now instead of waiting a year or more until its ready to burn we can have logs cut during the year ready for winter, Martin checks the moisture content with a probe thingy and when the logs are ready they are moved to the log store. The whole set us has worked really well for us.
Something else we are trying 

Making our own mini silage bales , areas of grass we cut and scythe we bag up all the cuttings into black sacks and wrap them with silage wrap, we hope this winter this will help supplement animal feed.
Back in April /May I had a clear out of flower seeds mixed them up together and scattered them along a section of the field I use to grow animal feed 

There is a good mix of poppies corn flower larkspur and lots of other all now flowering, they will be left to self seed and I hope we will have a nice wild section for years to come. 
Martin has back in hospital for what we hope is the final operation on his shoulder, he has been battling with a constant infection since his first operation back in December, they have now removed a foreign object and we hope things now just move on and we can put all this behind us. He has been very poorly with it all and it has made things difficult here at times.
We have some big changes afoot here, I will post more on them at a later date when things are in place, but I can say we have decided the sheep are to go we are up to a flock of 26 we are selling off the ewes and will just keep this years lamb rams for the freezer and will just get in a couple of bottle lambs to raise each year. 
Lots going on lots of changes here at Stickle Tarn.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Time Is Flying

Even during lockdown time is flying by, I haven’t left the smallholding for 8 weeks now and don’t feel like I want to go back out there in the big wide world.
There is always so much to do and never enough hours in the day, although I am looking forward to hubby and grandson returning to work and having the place to myself.
There has been more new additions since my last post.
My great granddaughters made a very early appearance, obviously in a rush join the family

Hope and Lily arrived 11 weeks early eight games in at 3lb 5ozs and 2lb 9ozs, 

Mum and babies are doing fine after a few days in NICU they moved into high dependency, they are now breathing unassisted and now moved into the nursery.
They are now 16 days old, were does the time go, we hope they will be home in a few weeks and as soon as lock down is over the family can get together and celebrate there arrival.
We have now finished lambing, 12 lambs all arrived unassisted, fine and healthy, all lambed outside.
The boys have been ringed and the girls are all wearing earrings
We also had arrive 
A lovely set of twins from Thelma and our billy Elvis, we are still waiting on the arrival of more kids.
We have been sending Enid goat and the two little female runts from last year round next door to help clear a yard, they have to earn there keep.
They are brought back at tea time
They were all suppose to be going to a new home then the lockdown started and they are still with us but hope to move them on soon.
The usual growing is going on in the poly tunnels, buffalos are being strip grazed so being moved every few days onto fresh grazing, Turkeys have been moved to a new home up by the goats as the men folk had issues with Stanley attacking them, the little chicks are all feathered up and moved to a chicken house and run in the poultry area, and we are getting ready for some piglets to join us in the next couple of weeks.
Grandson had a lockdown birthday
So there is plenty going on, so glad we are here and not in a town, hope you are all keeping safe and bearing up under the current situation. 

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Spring Additions

It’s so glorious you wouldn’t believe it’s only April, I do wonder if the fantastic weather is the result of lower pollution levels with the lock down or is it just coincidence.
We had a lovely new arrival 

Lavender presented us with a son, 
This is Boris son of Johnny and what a little smasher he is.
As he was arriving into the world on the other side of the fence we had a ewe delivering twins.
We still have four more ewes to deliver, we have had lots of lambs this week.
The garden shed got an unplanned spring clean,  I was looking for an attachment that eluded me in the shed and in desperation the whole shed got emptied
It gave me chance to go through everything, de clutter pass on to others what I didn’t need.
Then re organise the whole shed making it easier to negotiate and find things
Plenty of space and the tools are easy to get to, the old wooden units that were damp and warped gone on the bonfire replaced with plastic storage units that have been in storage.
And yes I found what I was looking for.

I have been de cluttering seed packets as well, I have sold a lot on my little stand at the end of the drive, I have been mixing up seeds with some wild flower seeds I have and they have been scattered in a cleared strip in the field it will be lovely if some of them come up.
On the little stand Alpaca poo and herb plants have been this weeks best sellers, we did end up with a wait list for Alpaca poo.
In the veg garden growing area I am setting up new additional grow beds 
A couple of the beds are for growing on natural dye plants,
I have started som Japanese Indigo from seed and bought in. Madder and Woad plant to start things off.
Other new beds as for growing on herbs I have been asked by a local restaurant to supply them with fresh herbs and edible flowers.
Last Year I had a go at growing Gourds for crafting with.

They grew really well in the poly tunnel and the whole effect of them growing up the supports and hanging down was fantastic.
They were harvested in Autumn when the leaves started dying off, 
Everything I read about the drying off said to just leave them a mould will grow over them and the skins would harden, 
Winter is damp in wales and I had doubts they would dry off, above the log store Martin put in a mezzanine floor for me to store fleeces up there, so I laid out the gourds and left them for the winter
 Got them down the other day, all covered in mould and yes under all that mould is a nice hard skin.

Now I am just cleaning them up ready for decorating, I am so impressed with them, I have now got more seeds sown for growing on this year.
We have enjoyed a few treats this week
Home made cream teas, 
Lots of BBQ
Hope you are all staying safe and have managed to enjoy some of the good weather 

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

It’s A Busy Time Of Year

No matter what is going on in the world and as devastating as it is life has to carry on, here at Stickle Tarn it’s doing just that.
20 little fluffy Light Sussex chicks joined our little farm the other day, I have been wanting Light Sussex birds for some time, they are a dual purpose bird, we are going to raise them for meat and eggs they will replace our mix of chickens as they are getting on now.
We have done Ross Cobbs for a few years now a fast growing commercial breed with ferocious appetites, now we want to try with something a bit more slow growing that we can breed from.
 The other month I got a Kumquat tree to add to my citrus collection, it came laden with fruit 
The fruit has now been used for a Kumquat Liqueur, should be ready for some parties when this is all over and things start getting back to normal, the fruits will be dipped in chocolate as a nice tasty treat.

My grandson salvaged an old sign and repurposed it for the end of the drive 
Then made me a stand to put eggs out on as we have a bit of a glut from the ducks and chickens at the moment 
I have been adding herb plants 
Seed trays greenhouse sundries 
Packets of seeds
For the locals to buy when passing
It’s going really well, over the coming weeks I will put out veg plants and then any surplus veg we have.
One of the ducks had to be culled yesterday as she had a ruptured prolapse so crispy duck is on the menu for this week.
Yesterday was a great day for the Buffalo Mamas

Time to turn them out after a winter indoors 
Lily had a great time yomping  around the field the two mamas are heavily in calf so there wasn’t much leaping around from them, Lavender is starting to bag up so it won’t too long before she calves.
We have given them the run of the gorse field which they enjoy using for a good scratch.
The boys will all be turned out later this week and Humphrey will go up to join them.
End of there winter lock down. 

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Watch Out There Is AHumphrey About.

12 weeks and counting, 
12 weeks or 3 months or 84 days or quarter of a year, however you look at it, its a long time to be at home away from fellow human beings. The Welsh government are saying it might be extended to 16 weeks for people like me, high risk, elderly etc 
I have Martin here and my son and grandson, staying in touch with female friends on group chats and family has become an important part of life.
I am lucky I have space I have fields I have the forest to wander around, I have plenty here to keep me busy.
I know only make a point of watching the news in the morning with a cuppa and then catching the evening news, I was finding watching and listening to the news too much, the numbers rising was upsetting a constant reminder I might never see my children grandchildren family and friends again and I was having panic attacks. When your out there in the sunshine pottering about or enjoying some fresh air and the views it’s hard to believe what is going on in the world.
This is Humphrey, he is 21 months old and Martin collected him yesterday, his previous owners were having to off load stock since losing there jobs they couldn’t afford the upkeep, while Martin was there he was in the queue of livestock being collected calves sheep lambs, very sad that they were having to sell off there stock 
Humphrey will be joining our water buffalo boys, and is earmarked for meat later in the year. 
The Alpacas love this weather all fluffed up and clean 
They have come through the wet winter fine

And are looking in great shape 
As the water buffalo are enclosed for winter, they are too heavy footed for the wet fields, the Alpacas have had the freedom of the buffalos fields and the wooded copse areas.
All the brush wood from logging is getting chipped up straight into the growing areas to replenish some areas that are wearing thin.
The biscuit tin was empty and grandson decided to make some from a WW1 recipe he found going through my books, he thought the recipe was appropriate to the times we are in now.
They are very much like a flapjack and were quickly devoured I now need to do some more baking.
I haven’t done much crafting just lately as my mind has been else were and I have found concentrating difficult, I am now trying to get back into it, as craft fairs and events are all cancelled for the foreseeable future I am looking into setting up a web site and might take this route in the future rather than go to events.
I have had a bit of windfall and going to invest it in setting up a new crafting venture.
 More on that as it comes together. 
Take care everyone. 

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

It’s All Started

Early hours yesterday morning or first lamb of the year arrived
She is a little beauty, 
After breakfast we got mum and lamb moved down to the new safe paddock next to the house. Were there is plenty of grass for mum as well.
Just need some friends for her to play with now.
Harvested a load of sprouting broccoli yesterday to go in the freezer, as with the sunshine it will run to seed, 
 The stalks all get shared out between the goats who are desperate for greens this time of year.
Fresh nutritious greens are on the go fo us to have with lunches in the form of sprouting seeds
And anything we don’t eat the chickens just love.
Had a few new books arrive this past week rainy day reading

I am so glad we don’t have to depend on the shops for food here, that must be such a worry for families 
The freezers are well stocked along with the cupboards

Last night it was haddock fillets done in a beer batter made from Martins home brew, with chips and peas, potatoes are bought in I buy in a big sack to see us through until we are harvesting again they make lovely chips and peas are home grown what we have in the freezer. 
Of course you can’t have fish and chips without tartar sauce. 

Monday, 23 March 2020

Spring Is Here

Spring has arrived, the fields have dried up, buds are breaking on the trees, dandelions are opening up and the bees are flying.
In preparation for lambing which is due to start in a few weeks for us, we have now completed a new area to bring those mums to be
A shelter and paddock next to the house has been put together, so no trekking across fields at night and we have a camera that covered this are too. 
The poly tunnels are starting to fill with lots of new veg 
I love getting all the seeds on the go and growing our own food is paying off in times like this, we are still harvesting broccoli, cabbage, celery, carrots, Swiss chard, Corriander oregano thyme watercress, beetroot.
We are just getting to end of what was stored from last years harvest, onions I have about 20 left, the leeks I have just shredded up to go into the freezer
There is about 16 jars of tomatoes in the store cupboard along with other bottled and canned goods.
No shortage of food here and not having to depend on the shops.
Next rainy day will see us doing inventories of the freezers and store cupboards.
We have lots of new arrivals due soon, lambs, kids buffalo calves.
We have also got arriving Chicks, Piglets and it looks like another buffalo is also joining us. 
More on all that as it happens. 
There are advantages of being in isolation for 12 weeks 
All those long awaited jobs get done
The garden will be blooming as there is time to get it organised
There is no dashing about trying to get things done
I am not off out doing craft fairs 
I might even get my online selling platform up and running.
De cluttering is happening
Housework is up to date
Unfinished  projects are being done
Books are being read.
Of course there is lots of disadvantages
My income has dropped to zero
The Plant and seed swap is cancelled
Craft fairs are cancelled 
I don’t see any one 
I don’t see the world past the end of the drive way
The local garden Center is having a sale of plants and I can’t go.
Never mind there is always next year .
Stay Safe Stay at Home. 

Friday, 20 March 2020

A Long Time Coming

This blog post has been a long time coming,
So much has gone on, our lives have been on a roller coaster.
I am just going to outline some of the major events just to update things.
December 17th 
Martin went into hospital for an operation on his shoulder to repair a rotar cuff injury.
All went well, his shoulder an arm was totally immobilised and was going to be for 8 weeks, operation went well. 
Then it went wrong he developed an infection  was taken back into hospital, we had ART coming out daily to give him antibiotics intravenously.
During this time our eldest grandson Connor came to live with us, I also got news a dear long standing friend  had passed away very suddenly.
January 17th 
Our grandson Cameron was tragically killed in an accident 

Our world fell apart, it was a long nearly six week wait for the funeral, Martin was battling infection and having to go back in hospital, we were trying to keep things going here on the small holding battling relentless storms and rain.
March 17th 
I had to go into 12 week self isolation taking the government advice, being in the high risk group, 
COVID19 is sweeping the country, Martin should have been going in for another operation as the infection still goes on and not coming under control, operation cancelled, we have to now manage it at home, antibiotics and dressings is all the surgery can give us.
There has been good news 
Our granddaughter is expecting twins in June 

Twin 1

Identical twin girls, A high risk pregnancy but she is being well cared for and is also on isolation until delivery.

On the smallholding front, all is well, We passed the TB testing, the buffalo mamas are pregnant, the goats are pregnant, the sheep are pregnant. 
Babies and new life everywhere. 
With everything going into lock down we are well prepared, the freezers are full of meat fruit and vegetables, we have plenty stores of canned preserved and dried foods.
We are now in a new growing season although we still have things to harvest.
We are very lucky to be in this position we can still go for walks spend plenty time outside, there is always lots to do, being self sufficient puts you in a good position we can also help out others who are not in a good place.
We have not had to stock up on anything except for animal feed, thank goodness the grass is starting to grow again a few weeks and we can turn out the Buffalo again. 
With all this down time this could be the year we catch up on all those jobs.
2020 is turning into a very memorable time, good and bad.