Thinking of next year (again)

I haven’t been on everyone’s blogs for a day or two but I will catch up this weekend and am looking forward to it. 
This week has gone by quickly, looking back.  My mind has been wandering into next year again thinking of the things I’d like to get done on the smallholding.  There’s the easy sounding, but more than likely a pain in the butt jobs of putting automatic drinkers into the fields and stables, maybe even the poultry and the preparing for the pigs. 
Starting the incubator in February, we need to get our table bird stocks up and have decided on a specific breed to cross with our big cockerel to hopefully produce some nice big birds. 
I’m hoping to have a poly tunnel by April time frame and that means agreeing on the area it is going to live but we think we’ve decided.  Preparing the ground for the poly tunnel won’t be an overnight task (if we put it where I think we will). 
We hope to really get to grips with heading in the right direction for being self sufficient in veg at least.  Eating seasonally will be on my mind all year.
If we don’t manage to this year, next year we need to put some sort of hard standing at the field gate entrance as it has turned to a quagmire already.  There’s more fencing to go up for the horses and stock fencing to keep the sheep in.  There’s gates to make to keep the ducks and geese separate (the geese beat the ducks up sometimes) instead of the pallets we have resting there at the moment.
Inside the house, I’d like to get the kids bedrooms done as my daughter at least, will be too old to enjoy the kids side of it in a year or two when she turns towards the dreaded teenage years.
Hopefully next year something will present itself in offering us more land too.  I’ll work on that by inviting all of the neighbours round at Christmas and cracking open the mulled wine!
These are my rambling thoughts for the day, not a great post for you guys as readers, for which I apologise, but useful for me.  At least you all can keep tabs on my progress 😉
Have a lovely weekend all.

This is the goose shed!  The sheep are inspecting it….

See the difference?  The horses are on the left side and this is only after a couple of days.  The right side is resting.

The hard standing would need to be on both sides of the gate I think

Onions and garlic and the weekend

Where’s the weekend gone? I know people say that every weekend but this one has left me feeling like I really need another day to get my stuff together.  We have got lots done so it’s not wasted of course.
We planted onions and garlic, I just make a note of their names. We tidied up some of the veg plot, still lots more to tidy and dig over.  I’m hoping to get my hands on a tiller to reduce the physical burden of turning all of the beds over.
I’ve sectioned off part of the field to put the horses in. We’re calling it the sacrifice paddock as we’re sacrificing it to the mud bath that it’ll become. The horses are living in their stables now and just having the odd hour out in the field but we’re riding them 4 times a week to keep them entertained.
I did ask the farmer next door if he’d rent or sell us a bit of his hundreds of acres but in what seems to be true farmer style, he said no. Of course the seed is planted  now and time will hopefully work in our favour but I’m not complaining if it doesn’t.  I wouldn’t swap what we have for   the world.
It’s been a strange weekend weather wise, we’ve had lots of rain which has kept the temperature up. It’s not as cold as I expected it to be. The wood burner has been on though.
We’ve had the eggs from the chickens that have just started laying. They were rather small ha but the kids enjoyed them.
Here’s the view from my stairs window. The trees are all changing colour. Lovely to see. Hope everyone has had a lovely weekend. Back to work for us tomorrow. Looks like a very early start for us. Up at 4.45 but I’m just not tired yet (despite getting up early).

Onion racks & reduced grocery budget!

It’s a new pay month for us (July’s pay paying for August’s food etc).  I’ve reduced our grocery budget for the month to £250.  That covers the next 4.5 weeks.  I’ve done this as at the moment we’re getting as much food for free as we will this year, so I’m making sure I make the most of it.  Let’s see if I can make it work. 

Therefore in this week’s delivery I’ve ordered milk, cream and cheese, but no veg other than kohl rabi to try.  We’ve never had it nor cooked with it and it’s supposed to be easy to grow and something I can plant now.  That’s arriving Wednesday as usual so more to follow.
This weekend we had my parents over for a BBQ on Saturday afternoon.  It was lovely, the weather was just right for us all.  They helped with some jobs around the place before settling down to homecooked food.  We managed to get quite a lot of weeding done in the veg garden with them and I very much appreciate their help.  The menu I did was on this week’s menu plan and it went down really well.  Homemade coleslaw is amazing, I will never buy shop made again!!  Here’s a picture of the redcurrant and red onion relish I made.  First time making relish too and I’m mightily impressed with how easy it is.

Full of goodness and has a whopping great kick (which you can tone down next time!)

The kids were invited to the neighbours to play with their kids giving Steven and I some time to potter and do jobs.  We started with topping the field (taking the nettles and docks down) and to do this we used the unconventional method of the ride on lawnmower that is more suited to Wimbledon style lawns!  It rose to the occasion marvellously and we now have a topped field which is ready to tidy up and rest for a few weeks before the horses go back on it.  He was a brave man going through those nettles in shorts!

 

Jack is loving life!

A troublesome set of nettles
Took care of them!
As you can see, Jack had a lovely time just playing in the field and been had a go at driving the lawnmower (or tractor as he refers to it).  He took to it with surprising ease and no doubt will be doing it himself in years to come.

Onions ready for rain to wash them off before being stored indoors.
Steven also made some onion racks/holders for the ones he planted not long after we moved in.  These are outside to hang them on whilst they wash off and dry out for a day or two.  Then they will be transferred to the barn for plaiting and storage.  I’m really pleased with them, they’re actually huge but mild.


I also made some soup with tortellini and used up more broad beans and peas, this time including purple podded peas too.  Don’t they look so pretty?  They almost remind me of a caterpillar in their perfect pod.  I’ll be growing more of these in 2017.





Perfectly formed
Gorgeous colour


The puppies enjoying their breakfast together followed by a play on the lawn.  I call them puppies but they’re just turned 1 now so moving on rapidly!!  Rodney is the rougher haired and Buster the tan smooth hair.  Gorgeous boys.  

Buster (bottom) and Rodney (top)


Buster

We also discovered we have a grape vine.  How I didn’t know is beyond me.  I guess I don’t come to this end of the garden very often.  The grapes are miniscule so whether we’ll get a crop I don’t know, but something to look in to all the same.

Grape vine
I found a wild apple tree which looks as fit and healthy as they come, so I’ve added that to the list of items I plan to use up once they’re ready.  It’s right opposite a bramble (blackberry) bush, so it’s almost nature shouting at me to make bramble and apple pie!  An Autumnal joy.  I think that’s enough of my ramblings for today.  PS what happened to the beginning of the week?

Fences

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Jake, one of the ponies decided to hop out of his field and into another one which he shouldn’t be in, so we discussed putting a fence up when finances allowed.  Then on Friday, next door’s cows broke into the field.  It was only a matter of time.  The main problem with them doing this is firstly, my horses were in there and I have no idea how would mingle.  My horses are girls and the cows are forever mounting each other which my girls wouldn’t take kindly too.  The second problem is I don’t have lots of land (compared to the farmer) so cows churning up my field is not on the acceptable list.  The farmer is our neighbour and he was lovely about it.  Certainly nothing more he could have done other than fix the fence and hope it doesn’t happen again.  He offered to move the cows if it does happen again but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. 
We have specific savings that we allocate to jobs like this and we’ve now saved up enough to get cracking with this mini fence project.  It won’t be a super quick job as we need to fit it in around working full time and the usual running of the smallholding.  That said, Steven started on the smaller section of fence on Sunday and all in all it took him only 2 hours to remove the broken stock fencing that was there and replace it with a lovely new post and rail fence.  The plan now is to continue this fence along to the edge of the field, then save up again to do the next section.  We’ll leave the cows and the ponies to dictate which section that will be during the next drama!

I’m really pleased and proud of this job, I think he’s done a cracking job.

Here’s a quick photo to show the ponies making the most of being in their stables after their tiresome antics in the field!