The next project……

Our weekend was a really productive one.  On Friday Grace, my daughter, had her friend over.  It was lovely to have her here.  She fit in perfectly, she felt right at home with the animals, enjoyed the food I made (making their own pizzas too), helped with the jobs and had girly fun.  They had a lovely time together.  One of the jobs I asked them to do, was to find the nest that my rare breed chickens have made.  The chickens are called Vorwerks and are gorgeous.  They free range anywhere they like which makes finding eggs fun.  The girls did a great job discovering 18 eggs hidden in a warm part of the barn.  We’ve removed them and they keep on laying there.  She doesn’t seem broody so we will keep taking them away and maybe just leaving one or two, to let her know it’s ok to keep laying there.

Saturday morning I went out for my usual hack out and despite it being brisk and showery, it was great.  Blew the cobwebs away and set me up for the day.  I came back and Steven was up and the kids were all having fun.  I made them pancakes and we said goodbye to Grace’s friend who had to leave for an appointment otherwise she would have stayed all day.  We had some really nice comments from the friend’s Mum who is originally from Yorkshire.  She misses it and said our smallholding in the country reminded her of it. You could see her appreciation in her face as she looked around the fields and took a deep breath in. 
We then trooped off to the agricultural store where we had sourced some wood for the new project – more raised beds!  To which most people have looked in shock and said, “what do you need more for?”.  The answer is simple.  We would like to be self-sufficient in veg all year round and I have an area of land that is being turned into a mud bath due to the high travel through it.  We pass over it multiple times daily to let the animals out, in, feed, water, muck heap etc etc.  That means barrows, buckets, big wellies, kids pounding around and animals, lots of animals.  The animals are being moved to a new location in January so that will solve that.  We’re putting a purpose built pathway in for the high travel area and in an effort to make every part of our land work for us, we’re adding more raised beds.  5 big ones and 4 small ones.  The amount and size was dictated by the amount of wood we could get for the price we could afford.  I will do a detailed post when the time is right but the plans right now are potatoes in the largest bed, peas, beans and such in bed 2, brassicas in 3, a pumpkin patch in 4 & 5 and then the 4 smaller ones will be salads, radishes, kale, tomatoes, etc etc. 
I am currently reading up about rotating your beds and companion planting.  I don’t understand how you can companion plant with something outside of the rotational group though, as then you may plant that companion plant as the main crop in that bed the next year. 
Anyway, after we got the wood on Saturday, we had people arrive to collect a trailer full of muck which took the rest of the daylight so we locked up and went inside for the night.  Sunday was due to rain all day but it didn’t!  Steven got the first big bed made and we agreed on the design for the rest (always work in progress!).  We sat outside and had a hot cuppa and a biscuit in the cold looking at what he’d achieved.  He really is a clever and handy husband. 

The start of the new beds.  getting the sizing right after putting all of the wood together

The plan is to get the rest of the beds made, put plastic on the inside of the sides before the muck goes in, to try and save the wood in the long term.  We’ll turn the grass that’s there into the ground and fill them to rest until Spring.  Hopefully the Spring worms will do their jobs over the next few months and they will be ready to plant up come the growing season.
Yes, this is in addition to the 2017 poly tunnel and the veg plot we already have, so I will need to plan it into my daily activities to be able to tend to it all.  If we’re going to do this, we’re doing it properly.  After all, that’s why we waited so long for the right place.
More pics to follow of the finished beds, these were just a couple I snapped in between jobs as I was dashing by with barrows of muck to fill the other veg beds.
We also bought a sheep trough which they put straight to good use and my Dad and Father in law came over to fix our ride on mower.  It now works a treat and I’m going to do a final topping of the nettles in the little paddock which can then dry out and the sheep will move into the for a while.

Lucky thought I had food on me and still needs to figure the trough out.
Sorry for the poor quality but you get the idea 🙂

Monday’s post that didn’t post !

12 sleeps until my 2 weeks off begin, well 11 but I have to be in work on the Friday so it doesn’t officially start until Friday 3pm.  I can’t wait!


4 weekends have now past since I announced we wouldn’t be having any more takeaways and I am super pleased to be able to say, we haven’t!  We have had a meal or 2 out at a local pub however I don’t see this as a problem.  For me, that’s getting out into the community and supporting local businesses.  Although buying a take away is supporting a local business, I don’t think the food is generally very healthy and it’s certainly not good for the grocery budget.  Whilst we’ve had a day or 2 off work, we’ve enjoyed being able to get out and about together.  Sunday night was a tester for me though, I was tired from the weekend and didn’t fancy making a Sunday lunch, so I did homemade (there’s that word again Louise!) pizza instead and it was delicious.  I made the tomato base from the greenhouse tomatoes that were ready and I haven’t tasted a tomato sauce so lovely before.  Next year I want to grow even more so that I can fill the freezer up with it for all year round “go to” tomato base.

On Friday we all had the day off together that we hoped for and took the kids to a theme park for the day.  They had so much fun and made the most of it.  We managed to get a discount voucher so it wasn’t too hard hitting, though those places aren’t cheap!

We sold 2 of our top grade chickens over the weekend, they’re only 15 weeks old so not laying yet.  It was a pair, boy and a girl and the family seemed nice so off they went giving us £25 in our pocket towards the next lot of feed.  I’m sad to say that one of our female ducks was attacked by our geese on Thursday and she’s still limping however they’ve had another go at her, so I’m bringing her inside into the dog crate for some TLC.  I’ll post an update on her soon.   She doesn’t look too good.

Both Saturday and Sunday we had family over visiting for one reason and another.  It’s nice that people take the time to visit us, as we rarely have spare time to visit others but we do try as it shouldn’t always be on them.

I also found 3 cherry trees that I didn’t know we had!  The black ones are laden however they are so high up and out on a limb that I couldn’t pick them all.  We’ll figure out a way to get them though.  For now I have half a tub waiting to be weighed and turned into something delicious.  I’ve also got lots of the white currants stripped off the bush and I am going to make jelly from them to go with meats.  I also discovered a huge supply of sloe bushes when I was out riding, there are a ridiculous amount, so I hope we like them!  There’s bramble bushes a plenty too all along the bridle routes (which, selfishly, I’ve not seen anyone else use).  Our pantry will be overflowing with goodies and I hopefully have the start of the Christmas hampers.  Cherry brandy is apparently a real treat, so I’ll get a few small bottles to decant them into if I make some.

I can’t tell you how excited I am about the free food I keep finding!

I’ve also got some late season purple sprouting broccoli to put in.  It may be too late but we’re behind people here anyway, so I’ll give it a go and put some in asap.  I’m right in the middle of sorting one of the fields, so I will try and spend at least an hour in each area a few nights this week.  I am realising how much I really need to look after the small fields we have otherwise they will be no good in a very short space of time.  So taking out the horses muck is a daily task now.

I managed to get the raspberry vodka made too, it was very easy and I hope it tastes as delicious as it looks.

Finally, I am pleased to say I learnt how to use the manual lawnmower at the weekend.  So now I can crack on and get that done instead of adding it to Steven’s shoulders. 

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)


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?