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Aaaah, still loving our life!

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Poultry Panic Stations And Other Stuff!

Good afternoon.

The weather here in mid-Wales is glorious today - 

quick translation: mae hi'n braf means it is fine.

I am currently childless as the boys are on half-term; they are spending half of it with Jon's mum and half with his dad with us fetching them home on Saturday. Jon and I are going out for a SHOCK HORROR meal on our own this week. 

We had guests in our Airbnb room at the weekend and I decided I would make some Welsh cakes in readiness to add to the breakfast. I've made them before but have not always come out too well. However, I'm quite chuffed with my recent effort.

I used the recipe from A Cook's Year In A Welsh Farmhouse, thanks as ever to Sue for sending it to me, by Elizabeth Luard.

Apart from putting in an extra egg by mistake they came out very well.

I bought these tulips at Lidl on Friday to keep me going until my dafffs are blooming.

The main lot of daffs are not in flower yet,

but I spotted this little bunch at the back of the Poly House.

This photo does not do them justice but the carpet of snowdrops has come out, love them, and these ones have come up on their own near the daffs.

Now, this was the chooks doing some free-ranging earlier today. I cleaned them out after lunch and then did a necessary garden job.

It was time to sort out the compost bins so the one completely rotted down was put into one of the huuuge tyres. Nowhere near full but will add some goodness before we get the top soil.

Whilst outside I took a look at the garlic which is coming on well.

Now, back to the chickens. I came inside and was half-way through getting my overalls off when there was a knock at the front door. It was the people who we bought the house from saying the chickens were out! Two had made a break for freedom down the road towards our field and it took us a little while to get them in the enclosure. They were just leaving then called out to say another was at the side of the house and she got it through the gate. I wanted to get them all in the enclosure and shut the gate so went to our neighbours-but-one and thankfully they came to help. We were missing two but found one in the front of the Canolfan across the road! In the confusion I had forgotten how many we actually have so wasn't sure if I was indeed missing the second. I went outside a little later to take photos and I heard this noise behind me and there was the last one; luckily I didn't have too much trouble picking her up.I am now searching the internet for poultry electronic tags!!

The weather is apparently due to change to very cold, again, tomorrow. Hope it's just dry!

Bye for now.


Friday, 9 February 2018

Catch Up Before The Weekend.

Good afternoon or prnhawn da - always practising my Welsh just now. Was doing so at the village shop yesterday and when I went food shopping today. I choose people who I know will help me and not think it strange that after two and a half years I am suddenly making an effort with the language. Have to say I am loving my lessons!

So I just thought I'd do a little round up of the last few days.

Our weather has been really quite cold of late and mostly wet but we have had wintry showers, too, making the garden look lovely - just for a little while.

The first Eisteddfods which the boys are taking part in are coming up soon with the first I think on St David's Day - March 1. They are both working on poetry to recite as well as some creative projects. Alfie is making a model of Devil's Bridge which is not far from us.

This is the basis which he took to Wednesday's Craft Club at school to do more work on. I think it will involve papier mache and modelling clay! Harry is working on something like a commemorative sword out of wood which will have pyrography on it; I look forward to sharing their finished efforts. 

I am trying to use up some things out of the downstairs freezer so brought up two boxes of stewed apple with cinnamon and as I had some sweet pastry upstairs leftover from Christmas I made an apple pie.

There is not too much going on outside in the garden just now but a bit of prep has started in doors which means the potatoes are chitting in the conservatory.

Altogether I have 73 tubers in total so really hope I get a good harvest; this of course does not include the Christmas spuds that will be planted later in the year. I do hope I'm not blighted by blight again this year!

This weekend we hope to get the top soil for the new bigger tyres that came last week and we'll be able to fill up some of the other areas, too. Very exciting that prep is coming along well and as long as we get some dry, and I have to say not so cold, weather soon as there are other jobs to be done in readiness for Spring.These include strimming, pruning and covering the fruit patch, cutting the laurel back at the front of the house and weeding behind said wall and covering so weeds do not return. 

Also there are a couple of areas in the chicken enclosure that need filling in as we get some puddles when there is a lot of rain. Talking of chooks we lost one this week; it had been looking a little out of sorts for a few days and had kept an eye on it but I went to collect eggs on Wednesday afternoon and she was sitting in the hen house and when Jon went to look a hour or so later she has died. I have to say that the white chickens we have are definitely quite a bit more sensitive than the brown ones. Ah well nature doing its thing, but laying is definitely on the up and sold a second box of eggs yesterday.  

Ok, I have to do a few jobs and be ready for when the boys plus a pal from school are home later to have tea together then go to Youth club.

Happy Friday to everybody and, as ever, I look forward to seeing what you get up to over the weekend.

Bye for now.


Sunday, 4 February 2018

Outdoor Jobs Yay!

Good afternoon.

It's February and I made a little vignette in the living room window with my Country Diary book and some hyacinths (two pots for £2), I thought it was time to brighten things up.

I've finally got some jobs done outside as for once we had no rain today. It really has been relentless recently and had no chance really to get anything done.

However I started on Friday and today I finished working on the small veg patch. I began by taking up the sweetcorn which had been rotting down along with any other weeds that had grown there; it looked like this before....

....and after all my hard work we have this. Yay! 

It is now covered, as is the main veg patch -  there I finished off putting down the last of the compost and the tarps to keep the ground warm until planting begins.

Whilst I was doing this, cleaning out the chooks and saying goodbye to our Airbnb guest, Jon and the boys were clearing all his tools, equipment etc from our shed into the tractor shed across the road we are borrowing from our kindly neighbour. Before putting anything in there Jon put the doors that were on the second Airbnb room, waste not want not, as good security along with breeze blocking up a small doorway; it looks great now. In the third photo you may just be able to see the opening prior to the doors going on (taken when we were putting in the parking area.)

Jon came home in the middle of the day on Friday, always a lovely surprise and chance for a brew and a quick chat, with two presents for me - tyres, but not just any old tyres. These are mahoosive!! Apologies for the blurry action photos!

This is their final resting place. 

The other fab thing is that we also have access to some good top soil as we are going to need a tonne of the stuff to fill these two. It looks as though the vast majority of my potato planting will fit in these two! Which reminds me, I need to put those to chit next week.

In other news we have established the Poly House will not be fixed before Spring properly begins, ie March at the earliest. This means I will be using the conservatory to start off my seeds as I did last year in the run up to Jon finishing the build. I didn't have it to use until the end of April so I will manage just fine.

It is getting very exciting, preparing everything the coming months.

Out of interest, what is anybody enjoying on TV at the moment? We are LOVING McMafia; James Norton is just fantastic, Call The Midwife is fab as ever and I enjoy watching that on catch up with my lunch on a Monday.

Ooh, one last thing. I have rearranged nearly all of my craft things into the office upstairs as we're going to move the pool table into the cellar. I'm pleased about this as I think I will do a few more projects with the stash being in the house proper if you see what I mean. To this end I've decided to attempt to make a few things so I can have a table at our local Winter fayre. I know, Winter has only just gone but I never have time in the summer so thought I'd do this and that way I have plenty of time. Hope to post anything I get round to making.

Ok, I think that is it for now. Looking forward, as ever, to seeing what everybody got up to over the weekend.

Bye for now.


Monday, 29 January 2018

Making Time, Or Just Another Ramble?

Good morning.

Some of you may know of Sam Gray. She is a smallholder in Shropshire, has written a book called Doing It In Wellies and also contributes to Country Smallholding magazine; you can follow her blog here.

In an article here she talks about how to make time. I have used it as the basis of the post - don't worry I have checked with Sam and she was happy for me to reference her.

Trying not to take on too much in the first place is a really good piece of advice. However, it doesn't stop your head being so full of ideas of every kind with regard to what you want to do that you fear there may be a cerebral explosion! I had visions of keeping pigs, chickens, having a larder full of homemade preserves and the like before we moved to Wales. We have achieved some of this but Jon works, I have the boys to look after and then there is the cost of setting up the projects we have in mind!

You have lists of things that need to be done before these projects can get off the ground. There are always one or two things which need doing to prepare for the start of any major job/project. For example, the Poly House needs re-covering after the wrath of storms Ophelia and Brian et al - thankfully it didn't get off the ground due to Jon building it so sturdily! But we need to wait for some tiles we are due to "acquire" from a roof which is to be replaced. They can then be put on the conservatory roof which means the plastic roofing will be available to repair the Poly House. See what I mean?

Following on from that I really try not to worry about the little things.. There will always be something to do so don't worry that you will always have something to do. This is the lifestyle, an ongoing life, not one that is going to be finished any time soon.

Knowing and realising this is a part of also stopping to enjoy what you have. Don't be so busy that you don't enjoy what you have around you. Try and enjoy your animals as well as them being there to provide you with sustenance or an income. I need to take more time to talk to my chooks; I love cleaning them out and making sure they are happy and comfy so they lay lots of tasty eggs for us. (Managed to sell my first box of the year last week!)

Sam started writing her book after four years on her smallholding. It helped her realise why she had chosen that way of life. She perfectly described how I felt after a year or so of living in Wales. Even though we have A LOT to do, have plans - some on hold - some sorted - some ongoing, the dream is now a reality and we wouldn't dream of living it anywhere else!

Bye for now.


Thursday, 25 January 2018

Random Bits and Pieces


Today is Dydd Santes Dwynwen, the Welsh version of Sta Valentines Day. Here is her story.

Other things going on around our little homestead are a few signs of Spring. I left some daffs and hyacinths in pots in the Poly House over Winter and they are showing signs of life.

The strawberries that were sitting outside are looking ok, too.

Obviously nothing can actually be classed as being IN the greenhouse with the amount of natural ventilation it is getting at the moment!

The sink outside the Poly House has been tidied up and looking good for the coming months.

I need to sort out the old loo on the other side of the door and sow some new seeds when the time comes and also hope to put some rosemary in.  

Jon was at Charlie's recently and he came home with these boot for me which were in the sale at £9. They are a size bigger than my feet but with a good pair of socks they will be great. My walking boots which I live in are starting to fade so these will help, but a bit big for driving in!

The beginning of sowing and growing is here as my seed potatoes have arrived from Thompson and Morgan; always fabulous service from T and M - I'll be putting these to chit next week.

A variety you can't see close up is Vizelle. They are a brand new early maincrop, a miniature early potato which apparently have a good yield and flavour.

I have gone for Arran Pilot 1st earlies as I liked them last year and Cara as they were a recommended variety and are a new one to try.

Jazzy are a 2nd early and Tracy is trying these this year, too, so look forward to comparing results! I have Charlotte 2ns earlies, of course, you can't not have some of these - were an offer from GYO magazine came with....

three growing bags and some incredicrop.

And with the order I got another offer of seeds if I ordered something I think or it might have just been a special price; always good to have a few spare seeds.

Also outside there are signs of life; here is my Lautrec garlic...

and the beginnings of White Radar onions.

Baking and Making.


Over the last week and a little more I've managed to get a bit of baking and making done so I thought I'd share it with you.

I made apple turnovers a while ago and the boys loved them. So when I saw some puff pastry on offer in Lidl I bought it to go with apples I had in the freezer from the summer.

The biscuit tin was getting a bit low so I made these cookies on Tuesday; I used up the chocolate chips, as not enough to make a brownie, and a tub of glace cherries. A really easy recipe which cook quite quickly.

Tracy inspired me to make some pea and ham soup this week. I bought some ham trimmings, nothing too expensive to go with soaked peas. It made three meals/bowls for me in the week and was yummy. This is my way of making it.

I fried off an onion and added the ham.

I drained off the water the peas had soaked in and put the ham mix in with the peas and boiled it with chicken stock.

When the peas started to soften I blended it gently as I didn't want to lose the texture.

 A lovely, tasty, simple recipe for these cold days we are still having.

Last night I threw together a pudding of stewed apple with sultanas and topped it with cinnamon and sugar croutons I had in the freezer. Jon said he was having trouble getting past it looking like soup! 

I tried it and it was lovely, even though I shouldn't eat too much of it just now with trying to lose some weight still.

Right, better get on.

Bye for now.


Sunday, 21 January 2018

Home, Family And Stuff And Nonsense.

Good morning.

You know when you just want to write stuff but you have nothing of interest to say to people. (Example my last post!😊I) like writing, I like words but I don't read that much - to be honest I can usually find something else to do apart from when I am planning stuff for the garden which I suppose is a bit of reading.

Jon and Harry have been away for the night so was just me and Alfie, it was lovely. But when he, or both boys, is in bed and Jon is not home I find it so hard to motivate myself to do anything, I mean anything. I wander around the house thinking "I really should put that pile of clothes away" or "my craft bench really needs sorting out" etc. When Jon is home or at work it is totally different; we have our 'pink and blue'  jobs to do and things we do as a family but I just can't get on with mine very well on my own. 

I did manage to make bread and do some washing yesterday and keep the home fires burning, literally. I even find it hard to settle watching TV, if there is anything decent to watch anyhow.

I suppose the weather is not helping at the moment. I always try to stay positive, about most things actually, including whatever it's doing outside but I have to be honest the rain and wind has been so dismal lately that I just want to hunker down and do zip!

The last lot of windy weather put paid to a lot of my hard work outside where I'd been covering the main veg patch with chicken manure and polythene ready for Spring. I will have to make a real effort on the first day we get a break in the weather - that will NOT be today!

This coming week I have to get things organised for Alfie's birthday - he will be 10!
Presents have been decided on, I feel sorry for him having his birthday so close to Christmas but he never seems to mind until we get to summer when he realises both occasions are some way!

Yay!!! Just spoke to Jon and Harry and they should be home before lunch. NOW I feel motivated. I'll get the burner in the living room lit, the kettle and cups will be ready for a brew when they get home and once logs have been brought into the kitchen and living room we will be ready to settle down for the day. Lunch will probably be soup and a sandwich for quickness before Columbo starts (bit a thing I have on a Sunday) and it is roast chicken with all the trimmings for tea. That all sound like bliss in my book and how my home should be - all of us together and if Alfie has his way we might squeeze in a game or two of Happy Families before baths later.

Aaaah, bye for now.