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Aaaah I love our life!

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Inside And Out.

Yesterday and today I have got a few good jobs done outside and in.


I have weeded, hoed, prepared etc spaces I hope to use soon. There is a good area to be made use of in the bed where the courgettes are and this is looking ready to sow turnips.



I have a good amount of space in the main bed and need to decide what to use that for, I have an idea. I weeded and dug over these as well as putting some new compost in the spot near the beetroot. I hope the beetroot continues to grow well as don't plan on growing it next year if I have enough to pickle this Autumn.



The black polythene is still covering the area where I grew the onions and I had a peek under it and it is just needing a turn over as no weeds appear to have crept under or in. Yay!

I have prepared the cold frame area and in here I'll be sowing pak choi and wild rocket in the coming days. Really like the idea of pak choi but failed before so will look after it a bit more this time. 

Tyres have been dug over, not too many weeds of course and today new compost added and I have put in my Christmas potatoes today, too.


Like Tracy I have bought these varieties, only ones I could find but sure they will be ok.


I had a root around in one of the Sweet potato growing bags yesterday and found a fairly good sized one but will leave them for another week or so before I take any up; sooo excited as mine failed spectacularly last year!

These are my radishes and I hope to preserve them by making fridge pickles with them along with gherkins and some of my red onions. 


Talking of pickling, does anybody buy white vinegar for pickling in bulk anywhere? Having trouble getting some at a good price.


I'd like to ask some advice, too, on my container strawberry plants. These two have very healthy-looking foliage but I don't know what to do with them over Winter months.


By the time I sat down for lunch today I had vacuumed nearly all downstairs, mopped the bottom kitchen floor, had a Hermes parcel collected and had one of the meters read and written most of this post.

I'm going to try a last sowing of lettuce and spring onions in the sink outside; they grow really well there and I'm enjoying having salad for lunch most days right now.

Oh and our new camera has come. Yay!

Right I think that is it for now. I have recently been looking at some initial plans for next year, name varieties of things people have mentioned, things I will and won't be growing etc. so I am on the lookout for a 2018 diary, can you believe it?

Bye for now.

Lou.xx


Monday, 14 August 2017

A Bit of Lunchtime Randomness.

Over the weekend we were lucky enough to have a sky like this!


At 11.15pm we were stargazing in our back garden, in deck chairs, coats and wrapped up looking at this amazing sky. We saw quite a few shooting stars but one especially spectacular one which went right above us and had an almost green tail to it. 

It was awesome! 

We sat for about half an hour and then we got some cloud cover so were no longer able to see anything but it was a fab experience. Alfie was too asleep to wake up but we did get Harry to come downstairs and we were so lucky we saw what we did!

In the Poly House my piquant peppers are finally showing themselves, albeit only just.


 I have made a start on some seed sowing, too. Here you can see Broccoli Raab and then Spring Cabbage, Offenham 2 (Flower of Spring), which are already germinating and I only put these in on August 8 so very pleased with them.



Finally lots of tomatoes are ripening! These two plants are doing really well and are specifically for bottling; I have another plant for this, too, so hopefully I will have plenty.


Now outside this is how my sweetcorn is looking.


I don't remember last year's crop looking like this but hope all will be well.

I have been harvesting lots of things from the garden since we have been back from our holiday which I am loving.This little lot I took up on Wednesday and the blackberries came from me and the boys foraging in the hedgerows' getting on for a 1lb. It looks as if there are loads more to come. This lunchtime it has been great to have salad using our own lettuce, beetroot, spring onions and tomatoes.


We have now had the last of the salad blues which have been great fun and the carrots are great with plenty more to come, too. The few climbing peas you can see are always lovely but I have learned a lesson for next year. I will not be growing them in tripods. They are so bushy that it is hard to get to the pods and I don't think they grow as well. Next year I shall put them in a row against netting but in the same spot; learning all the time as my dad used to say.

Right, that is it for me as I am going to an early Slimming World group today; yesterday both the boys went to stay with the Gramps and won't be back until Thursday so I don't need to be in Aber late this evening for Harry's Sea Cadets. Jon has to go to a family funeral tomorrow needing to leave home at 5am as it is in the Lake District; he won't be home until late so I'll have a long day on my own, not that I mind, but must not waste the time and will do my best to use it wisely.

Bye for now.

Lou.xx




Rayburn Re-boot!

Over at Our Smallholding Adventures Tracy and Ste have had a spot of bother with their Aga but thankfully Ste is a resourceful man and has managed to sort the problem. Yay!

Here at Bronllan we, Jon, has been readying the Rayburn for being lit; if the weather doesn't improve it will be sooner rather than later. We have been talking about cleaning out the flu before the re- light. (I have Take That in my head now!)

Rods were brought in from the shed,


and Jon began his best impression of Bert - chimney sweep from Mary Poppins.


An old towel did the trick of keeping a lot of the mess from escaping but I had to put my OCD to one side to allow a necessary job to be done. Because we burn mainly wood and not coal products we understand there was not as much soot as there could have been.


Once the flu was done and the soot cleared away Jon gave the plate, lids and flu/damper a spruce up.




He set a small fire to check smoke was escaping through the flu and out the external chimney as it should be. After half an hour or so she was good as new and ready for the off.



I can't wait to light her again. I've had a Spring and Summer? with a fairly dust-free kitchen but I will take that to have our little beauty lit again; we look forward to it once again providing us with the ability to heat, eat and bathe under our own steam, or wood!

I'm so looking forward to not using the microwave and having the smell of my bread and slow cooking casseroles filling the kitchen and the house. Aaaah, happy days.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Back Into The Swing Of Things

It is wonderful to be home and since we got back we have wasted no time in getting back into our preferred routine.

We have had two bookings in the Airbnb room, one in now with more due and hopefully extra bookings, too. I didn't mention that before we went on our holiday Airbnb awarded us 

Super Host Status!

We were awarded this due to responding very quickly to bookings, our location and the facilities we provide. All this is shown our reviews  We were chuffed to bits!

Anyhow, onto other things. There are various jobs that need doing around our little Homestead, as always, and one thing is the conservatory. We are going to refurbish this into being another room and not a glass house. We cannot use if much in the summer time as it is so blinking hot. Therefore we are planning on putting a proper roof on it and removing some of the windows and cladding a lot of the outside.

Materials for this sort of job do not come cheap but if you bide your time something always turns up. We love to recycle so we have managed to acquire windows from Jon's cousin who was having some of hers replaced - we don't mind second hand - and Jon found on a Facebook selling page some FREE Marley roof tiles.


This is almost 200 which he fetched from just down the road last night and we all helped to pile up from the trailer. He is going back for another 100 tonight and that will be enough for the job. This has saved us about £600 which is flippin' amazing!

Another money saver was the small chest freezer we had in the cellar store room. Well, we haven't used it for ages, we were going to have to move it to make room for a large chest freezer by Christmas but weren't going to get much for it if we tried to sell it. Therefore I had a bit of a brain wave; we were on our way to town to buy some clip top bins for the chicken feed when I said why didn't we reuse the freezer.


We got home and Jon put a dividing wall inside it so now houses the pellets and corn. Mint!


In the Poly House I managed to tidy up one of the benches, a little, as I had no space for sowing which I got round to yesterday. 


These are some of my peppers, looking like all of my peppers! 


Not sure if they have bolted?! There are lots of little flowers on them but they have not turned into anything of note yet - really hope they do.


The boys and I went to the library in Aber yesterday and to do a couple of jobs in town. I picked up this preserves book as I love Dick Strawbridge and have his book of self sufficiency - Jon bought it for me some time before we moved her knowing what our life was going to be like, with any luck! 

The other book is by Elizabeth Luard and I have her European Peasant Cookery book. Only after reading the introduction did I realise she lived very close to us on a large estate in a gorgeous pink house which went up for sale around the time we moved to Bronllan. In the introduction she talks about the river Ystwyth,Tregaron and lots of other places nearby which is lovely. I am on a mission to find a copy of it to buy a little cheaper than the retail price of £25 as there are some lovely recipes in it. (The gloves were on sale at 50p from the £1 shop; I need a stronger pair of gloves for when I am pruning the roses at the front door and searching behind the bamboo for eggs the chickens have decided to lay outside!)

Since getting back I've got some preserving done and pickled some gherkins and beetroot; I have more to do today. (I accidentally deleted some photos which included the gherkin pickling process...)


These are the things taken from the garden yesterday. I hope to use the salad blue spuds to make veg crisps. The peas have been added to the bag in the freezer and we have some of those every other day or so which is lovely. 


On Sunday we had roast pork with our carrots, the salad blues mashed, roasted Maris Pipers which Harry declared to be just like big round chips and both the boys thought they were delish along with some of the peas added to bought sweetcorn. Wonderfully satisfying!

The toms are coming on very well including some of the beef ones - even though I have had to ditch a couple which managed to grow very gnarly and wrap themselves around the stems!

Right must dash. The bread is on first prove, chooks are fed but need to go water stuff and maybe catch the guests before they leave for the day incase they need anything. Taking the boys to the Rec to play tennis after lunch if the weather holds.

Catch you later.

Lou.xx





Friday, 4 August 2017

Happily On Our Homestead, Once Again.





Hello hello!

We were home from our holiday early Wednesday evening and cannot be happier. 
Image result for home sweet home
It will be our last trip abroad as we have come to the conclusion, after feeling it for some time, that we are happier at home and to travel in the UK for our holidays. The weather for us was too hot, high 30's and over 40 one day. The boys were in and out of the water but they can do that at home in the river down the road; they are happy to be home, too.

Onto positive things, my sowing and growing were looked after by our kind neighbours and on coming home I couldn't wait to see what had been going on in the Poly House and outside.

Well, I had a jungle in the Poly House where some of the tomatoes had ripened, not loads but some, I had four huge gherkins so looking for a recipe to long-term preserve those if anybody has any ideas? There were carrots, salad blue potatoes - thanks chic - well see here my little harvest.


Last night Jon made us a wonderful chicken and veg broth with all our own veg and herbs and it was delicious. So satisfying - wish it could have been our chicken, but one day.

Today I tied up the dried onions; great to have red, white and brown ones.


Some that have no tops on them to tie up have been taken to the kitchen and others left down stairs.

I also took up the garlic. 


There was just no time to do it before we went away; due to the rain last night the soil was a bit cloggy therefore I think they will need a good few weeks to dry out.


I bought a lovey basket on holiday to store the finished product in the cellar room; I figure it will let the air circulate very well.


These photos are a bit random but I took them before the holiday and didn't have time to post them. Jon has been working very hard getting the grass in the garden looking smart as visitors are booking for the Airbnb room.




Talking of the room, by the time we came home we had two bookings for the room and two more came in yesterday! (I try not to think of how many bookings we could have had if we hadn't gone away!) Jon is getting everything gathered together so he can start work on the next room very soon - looks like we are going to need it!

Right, I have guests arriving shortly so better do a last minute check of the room and I'll catch up later in the week when I have actually done something!

Bye for now - so good to be back.

Lou.xx

Sunday, 16 July 2017

(Trumpet sound) Last Post!!

Hello.

This will probably be my last post, see what I did there? before we go away.

There isn't a lot of sowing going on at the moment;  I don't want to leave lots of things for our very kind neighbours to look after than necessary. However there is some growing going on therefore this is a bit of an update prior to us going away to see where we will be up to at the end of this month.

At the front of the house the sweet peas I planted have just come into flower which is lovely for when people stop to buy the eggs. 

I was thinking it was a shame that the small bed in front of the Poly House was looking a bit empty but didn't have room for much to go in it so from this.....



 to this, looking quite healthy.














I planted some carrots in a container, can't remember when, and decided to take them up the other day to have them for tea.



I was chuffed that we could eat both our carrots and our own cabbage.



I mentioned the other day to Tracey that I was "baking for the tin" and thought I would share the recipes I used,and use a lot. Jon loves a cut-and-come-again fruit cake I bake; it comes from this Baking bible which has a tonne of useful recipes in.



Here is the cake recipe. I switch it up a little depending if I have everything it asks for on the shelf.(If you enlarge it you should be able to see it better!)



The method goes as follows;







The second thing I baked were these.





What makes these yummy, even though they don't quite look the same as the photo, is the cinnamon and sugar sprinkle you put on the top just before they go in the oven.




Here are the two finished articles.


In the Poly House I have some rather quirky shaped tomatoes growing.




Nothing has turned red yet, hope there will be a transformation on our return. To be honest I am rather nervous about being away. I have great neighbours who are going to water and look after things for me. However it means I cannot pick and weigh stuff, so keeping an eye on the harvests as it is too much to ask them to do this. I have told them to take whatever they want from the garden whilst we are away and they are going to sell the eggs for us, too, taking what they need from there, too. I just can't bear the thought of things going to waste, over ripening and spoiling etc but there really is nothing I can do about it. Rant over!

Here is my sweetcorn and carrot bed. There should be cobs when we get back as no sign of anything as yet;  the carrots are coming on well, though.

 

This is a tyre hosting the squash at the bottom and climbing beans up the tripod. No beans off this as sown later than the climbing peas so hopefully harvest will occur some time after we come home.

Finally from the garden I have Swiss chard in the dehydrator. I tried some with my lunch the other day and admit I didn't like it. Sooo, taking a leaf out of Tracey's book I decided to dry it to keep for putting in stews etc. as a seasoning of sorts.


We have wonderful weather forecast for the next week so look forward to seeing how it turns out today or tomorrow.

Ok, I am off to get some jobs done outside. As I said I don't think I'll do another post before we go as will be a LITTLE bit busy!

Take care and I look forward to a loooong read of what everybody has been up to whilst we are away - I am excited just thinking about all you will be sowing, growing and harvesting in the coming weeks.

Bye for now.

Lou.xx