My mornings

I am lucky.  I have 2 mornings.  1 at home then another at work.  I prefer my mornings at home 😉 I thought I’d share with you some photos from my morning’s this week.
I go outside around 5:30 making a mental note of what the weather has turned out like (and usually cursing the forecast if they have it wrong).
This week we have had dry mornings, though one was that foggy it felt Autumnal.
Outside our back door
Beyond the trees you see in the first photo
Looking back up to the house from the little paddock
This is where the farmers cows normally are but on this foggy morning, you can’t see them.
Normally they are very interested in what I am doing.
Whilst taking note of the weather, I head straight over to the big barn to feed the horses, saying hi to the sheep on the way.
 
The sheep know that they don’t get fed first, they are in to the routine now, so they generally just look up at me but don’t get up.
The horses are always very pleased to have been fed. 
Ryan, our female goose (I know) sleeps in the barn and she follows me around on a morning until I feed and water her.  She prefers the sheep food to her own.  Typical!
Hello…feed me please
This water looks like mine
I also give the free range chickens (fully free range) their breakfast, heads down, bottoms up.
Notice the dominant cockerel and the less dominant one…
After the chickens, horses and Ryan, come the sheep.  By now they are at the gate waiting for their food.
After the sheep, the pigs are up.  They are usually awake and rootling around when I turn up with a bucket for them.  By gum they are boisterous now.  No manners and you better hope you don’t get knocked over when feeding as I’m not convinced you’d get back up again.  Needless to say the kids are banned from going in there!
The look cute though.
Foggy morning
Sunnier morning
Beautiful afternoon
Once the big animals are taken care of, I open up the chickens, ducks and geese in the rest of the areas.
By now the cows have followed me along the edge of the field and watch intently.  These are young cows and most probably as stupid as last years, so we’re going to strengthen this area as I don’t want them getting into the chicken and orchard areas.
There are lots of them.  The gate in the below photo is where the bridleway (opposite direction to the gate) is, which is at the front of our house. 

 This is the orchard where the hens are, where we don’t want any cow interruptions!

There is a bottoms up theme here.
 The ducks and ducklings are let out (this is before we moved them) and the make their way busily to the pond.

Over on the other side of the smallholding, I make sure the plastic pond is refilled for the geese who are often too impatient to wait.  The sound of running water entices them.  They can be mean, so are separate from the ducks.

The female joins the male.

She sees what he has in mind and makes a sharp exit!

 I make sure everything has food and water, which we usually top up the night before but sometimes we don’t manage to complete them all or ‘life happens’, but I never leave without making sure all is well.
The Vorwerk hens usually settle down anywhere to lay their eggs just as we’re leaving for school and work.  We’ve had some fun times trying to locate where they are laying!  It’s just as well there’s only 6 that free range so much.  The rest free range, but are restricted in their areas.

Once I’ve done this, I get myself, the kids and the dogs sorted, make packed lunches, load the car, forget where I’ve put my phone, dash round for 30 seconds looking and then leave on time, wondering most days how I managed to pull it off.
I wouldn’t change it for a thing though, and no, it’s not too much like hard work.  For now, we have to go out to work as we do to pay the bills and this is how we make the most of it. 

Smallholding is in our blood, I’m sure of it.

Christmas preparations and home raised meat for the table

I’m still chasing my tail but my head is just above water and I’m happy as Larry.  Whoever he is.

So this weekend started off with a frost on Saturday morning.  It always makes me want to stop and get a photo as frost makes everything look so pretty.

The frost mean the sheep had a bucket of hay between them which they happily munched on. 

My Mum came over and had some of my homemade jam (the few that didn’t turn mouldy!) with a wholemeal breadbun.  She sadly has a, let’s say condition for ease, where she is restricted on what she can eat.  So homemade jam is one she can have, which makes us both happy.  It is her 67th birthday today (20th), Happy Birthday Mum xxx. (I am a day late with actually publishing this post!)

I noticed my garlic and onions are starting to come through, you can just spy them in this bed poking through the soil.  The Purple Sprouting Broccoli is also in the same bed which I planted as an experiment to tell me if it’s worth doing on a bigger scale for this year.

I finally got round to making some fudge.  I’ve never made it before and followed a recipe from bbcgoodfood for white chocolate fudge.  Now I don’t like fudge myself, but Jack loves this one.  I am going to try and get another flavour made and hand them out as Christmas gifts to people when they visit or as they leave after Christmas dinner.

Yesterday I put a ham in the slow cooker and we had some for tea with pasta and a garlic sauce.  It was really nice and different to what we’ve been having, so a refreshing change.  Now I confess, I always say to myself I must do something with the stock that’s left.  Then I don’t and I wash it away, so last night, I sent Dawn a message and she told me to freeze it on ice cube trays for use another time, so I have done just that.  Why I haven’t done that before, I don’t know.  Thanks Dawn.  We got loads of lovely shredded ham off it.

I’ve been wrapping gifts as often as I can.  I’m using brown paper and decorating with my own items.  I love this look.

Here is a rare photo of me and the 2 girls.  I don’t often post about the horses specifically but they offer the smallholding bountiful amounts of super manure (I was going to use a double S there but I restrained) which in turn feeds the land, which feeds us.  So they have earned the right to a photo 😉  They can be my sanity at times when I feel like I could scream.

Finally to the Christmas meat, please do not scroll down if you’re offended by the sight of birds being prepared for the table.  As you will know by now, this is our lifestyle that we’re aiming towards, so I make no apologies for it, but will always give you fair warning if there are photos as I understand that we’re not all the same.
On Sunday we dispatched a goose and a duck ready for Christmas Day.  We did 2 chickens in the summer and they were a pain to pluck, so we hung them up after dispatch, covered their heads to keep things tidy and plucked them hanging from the small barn roof.  It made the job a lot easier, though it still took a long time.  I can totally understand why hand plucked birds cost so much and doing it makes you realise even more about respecting the process and the end result.  We’re doing both birds for Christmas lunch.  The goose will be done in the Aga as per Mary Berry’s instructions and I need to look up how long to cook the duck for – I have an alternate oven which I may use for that, as I will need space in the roasting over for the veggies.

Both kids helped with plucking of the goose, they soon got bored to be fair, but I am pleased they were involved.  I do try my hardest to ensure they respect the animals and are not squeamish about being able to provide for themselves. I am really pleased with the end result.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!  How about for you?

New tack / storage room

My gorgeous husband has outdone himself again. He’s managed to put a new tack room up over the last 2 days. This means all the stuff I have, my worldly horsey belongings, now have a home.  At the moment they are stacked around the barn in a fashion that means I never know where anything is.  Thank you. It’s the best valentine’s gift ever.
 
 
Staying on horsey news, sorry for any non horsey people, we managed to get them all in the field for a little while over the weekend. This is a big deal for us and is a huge step forward. I’m really pleased we paid to get the fence done instead of trying to tackle that one ourselves. Great job on the fence too by a firm in Durham.
 
 
This afternoon I spent an hour with my daughter planting the next lot of seeds. We have put in more tomatoes including the beefsteak which I am really hoping make it, aubergine, onion seeds, more cauliflower, mint and chives. I’ll then take the advice of notjustgreenfingers and Caroline from thehousehoarder and plant them in pots so they don’t become unruly. Thanks guys.
 
We have also candled the eggs that are in the incubator and we think we’re on for 15 of the 18. 3 were duds and went the distance. They are due on Saturday and I can’t wait for their arrival.
 
The geese have settled in magnificantly and merrily wander around the smallholding all day. They love their water, which at the moment is a kids paddling pool and they happily chat along to each other all day. We are still not sure if they are the boy and 2 girls we asked for but they are lovely all the same.  I love this life :).
 

Moving week! 4 sleeps to go….

Happy Monday!

Moving week is here finally!

This week sees the work start with solicitors and vendors again.  We’re waiting to hear where we will be collecting the keys from and if everything is going smoothly with solicitors/lenders, so fingers crossed there.

All being well we should get the keys just after lunch on Friday and be making a cup of tea by 3pm!  Having said that, with the amount of things we have to shift, I don’t think there will be time for tea!

Hopefully we will have everything moved in by Friday night, Saturday lunch time at the latest, all depending what time we get the keys and make it to the farm.

Saturday and Sunday will see lots of visitors of family and friends combined with trying to put fences up for the puppies (our older dog won’t wander off) and making the hen house safe.  Hopefully our girls should be back with us shortly after moving in. 

We plan on getting a few fertilised eggs when they become available, a few chickens and some geese.  We will then continue to breed them through the year.  The boys will mostly become Sunday lunch and the girls will be kept mostly as layers.

Pigs and possibly sheep will follow and again we are hoping if we give them a good life, they will give us a good freezer stock.

All animals and “plants” that we bring in will be for a purpose.  By that, I mean they will need to feed us or help support feeding us.  The horses however are an exception!  They are purely for our pleasure :D.  We have 4 coming with us.  Not all are ours but we are lucky enough to have a friend bring hers too.

The horses stables are arriving on Tuesday as is their bedding and the hay is coming on the Thursday.  I can’t stop myself getting excited but until everything is completed on Friday, I need to keep a lid on it!

Welcome to our new adventure….

We are about to embark on an adventure that we’ve dreamt about for a long time.  There’s never a perfect time to do anything, something can always hold you back if you let it, so we’re taking the bit between the teeth and letting nothing stop us.

‘We’ is myself, Tracy, husband Steven and children Grace and Jack.  It doesn’t stop there as we have Buddy, our black Labrador and Rodney and Buster.  They are 2 Jack Russell’s who joined our family on Friday just gone.  There are 4 horses and an extended family & friends in that mix too.

Our ‘adventure’ is moving to a new home, a smallholding.  We have had an offer accepted on our current house and our offer on the smallholding, or farm as the kids call it, has also been accepted.  Formalities have started and the wheels are in motion.  We hope to be in this side of Christmas and can’t wait. 

So why don’t you join us as we sell our lovely family home on a main road in North East England and move to a small hamlet, still in North East England, where broadband is the latest thing.  All 2mb max link of it…..