Not to state the obvious but snow, in March? 

I have taken a bit of a blogging break without meaning to. We’re not taking a break from the smallholding life though, I’ve just not been reporting as much.

We’re so over this snow now! I hope everyone is safe and warm? Our living room fire has been on every night, earning its keep. Winter is when we work through the stores we’ve made at other times in the year.  The logs are doing us proud and although we’re getting low on coal, there’s enough. We have however, gone through the oil a lot quicker than expected.  The order for the next lot has been postponed by the oil company due to the snow, so we’ve knocked heating the water off and are using the emersion (electric) for now. The heating is off too but we have the AGA and wood burners that are toasty in their respective rooms and getting plenty of appreciation!  Also the emergency oil filled radiators are helping keeping the kids room’s warm whilst we wait for the delivery.

  

Due to the weather and the fact it’s winter, we’ve been working our way through the food stores we have. There’s still a bunch of meat to get through in the freezer but the pantry is starting to look a little sparse. I’m going to do a big shop of items we’ll need to see us through to the growing season’s harvest and will get that delivered this coming week. The egg production is on the increase but we’ve lost a total of 15 chickens recently, mostly to the fox, so we won’t see the increase we expected to.

I started some tomato and pepper seeds off a few weeks ago, but as expected they haven’t all made it through this cold spell. As soon as it starts to warm up, I’ll get more sown and just hope it’s not too late to get a long crop.

The peas, cauliflowers, winter hardy lettuce and leeks are coming on well as are the broad beans and sweet peas.

The preserving jam sugar from last year was starting to go hard and I knew I had 1.5kg of blackcurrants in the freezer so I started some jam off this morn using PattyPans recipes for seedless jam.

I did 10 small jars, 2 500ml jars and some left over to use now.  The small ones are for the Christmas hampers to go with the Seville orange marmalade.

Our internet connection is dreadful here lately, so I can’t post the final picture but trust me, they look fab!  I hope it doesn’t set too hard as I was concerned there’s too much preserving sugar as the fruit didn’t yield loads of liquid.  We’ll see.  If not – I can figure out another use for it.

Heating went on and plans for the weekend.

This week has been peculiar.  Not necessarily in a bad way, but having the Halloween party Monday, then the kids had school discos on Tuesday meaning we didn’t get home until late, then Wednesday was the first night the clock change affected us as by the time we get home from school, it’s drawing in meaning we have limited time to get the horses out and do jobs that need daylight.  It won’t be long and we’ll have to do things by torchlight.  However it is lovely to have the daylight back on a morning.  I can’t believe how much more I notice these things now that we live here.  The weather and environment play such a big role on a smallholding.
The temperature dropped to 2C overnight earlier this week meaning that I put the heating on, to come on for a bit on a morning and when the kids are taking a bath at night.  Takes the chill off.

I have a sheep with a bad tummy to look after and a goose to be dispatched this weekend.  We’re also going to a local farmer’s auction as I’m after a tiller/rotivator, another incubator if there’s any on offer and whatever else they may have that would cost a fortune elsewhere.  My parents are coming to visit tomorrow night and we may have a little bonfire going for Guy Fawkes night that we can sit around and enjoy, but no fireworks obviously.  I’ll pick a few sparklers up for the kids so they can enjoy that safely and we’ll roast some marshmallows after our homemade curry that my Dad’s made.  Then Sunday we have some people coming for load of muck.  We’re invited out to lunch on Sunday so that will mean I don’t have to make Sunday lunch and clean up the kitchen afterwards – I’m not complaining.  I do love a Sunday lunch, time spent round the kitchen table with family, catching up, taking time out, looking at each other.  That’s sounds strange to say that but I think life sometimes ends up in a whirlwind, where we might be together but it’s the quality time together that’s the key.  You can’t beat a roast beef with Yorkshire pudding (google if you haven’t heard of them) dinner with bright green peas, carrots, cauliflower and roast potatoes!

What’s people’s thoughts on the traditional Sunday lunch, do you have a roast every week, or once in a while, or not bother at all? 

Central heating

Our sources of heat for the house come from the Aga which is oil fired, the stoves which are multi fuel (coal and wood) and our central heating. We haven’t had this on yet. Well I tell a lie, we put it on and then felt far too hot and sweaty when we came in from doing the daily jobs. We aren’t a family who sit down when we get home from a days work or school,  we get out and do ‘jobs’, have a warming hearty meal and then take a hot shower after locking up. We rarely sit down before 8pm and find that this keeps us warm for free, so to speak. The stoves have been on, mostly on weekends when we do make time to sit and relax together but we certainly aren’t needing them daily just yet and as for the heating, I think November will be well and truly here before that word is uttered again.
I must say however that I won’t be scrimping when it is needed. I am a strong believer that a family needs good food in their tummies and warmth round their bodies. Sometimes that’s putting a jumper on and sometimes that’s having the heating on all day. You can’t be happy and healthy if you’re cold and hungry. In my opinion anyway :-). I’ll keep you posted as to when we feel the nip and put it on. It’s good for me to have it as a record too I think. After all, we’ve only been here 10 months. We don’t have last year for comparison just yet.

The first logs

Today saw hubby fell his first tree to start filling our log pile. Obviously it will need to be seasoned but we’re off!
The heating is going off soon too. The Aga warms the kitchen which is where we spend most of our time.
We have found a local supplier of coal so plan on collection some over the next few weeks and get stocked up for next winter.
Also I have been planning the shopping list that will see us through 2 weeks. I will be ordering it for delivery on 26th Feb and will post how we manage on it as it happens. I am really looking forward to it. I love challenges like that.
The view from the end of the garden looking back up to the house. We are so lucky.