Snowdrops, sunset and quail eggs

Monday: Settled back into routine now and out to do the animals first thing, nothing untoward today they all seemed to be getting used to being inside. Came in a lit the fire, Mum popped in for a coffee and I gave her some of the Camembert cheese to take and share with my brother, she is off to Southampton to stay with him for a couple of days as he has had a shoulder op. We tried the cheese last night after dinner, it was lovely, probably could have been left a bit longer to soften in the middle, I’m not sure if it gets softer or not but still it tastes good πŸ˜€After a coffee or two I went outside as it’s such a lovely sunny day and did a bit of tidying up of plant foliage on the garden by the back door ready for the new green shoots to come through, there are a lot of squishy rotting apples on there but I will leave them to carry on rotting and feeding the soil with any nutrients they have left. 

If you pick the right spot today it is beautiful outside, I picked the greenhouse next, I’m glad to see the Lemon and Orange tree seem to have done well over wintering, then I spotted some lavender seeds that needed sowing so I did that and watered the broad beans as the soil was very dry, shame there wasn’t more to do in there it could have been a pleasant way to spend the afternoon.

I did a bit more tidying outside as it was so nice, cut back the Japanese honeysuckle and then tidied up a couple of the gooseberry bushes. Then Sam arrived with Mia to do the horse, Mia wasn’t keen to sit in the stable block or watch me so I took her indoors where she fell asleep on me πŸ˜€ Sam then did the afternoon feed and egg collecting. After they left I decided to tidy the utility room up a bit and chatted to the lonely quail, I thought, it’s not moving much so went to stroke it and it was sat there stone cold dead, it was fine this morning! That’s the lot gone now and so I need to decide on either trying to find point of lay hens or hatching eggs. 

Tuesday: lovely morning, fresh but the sun was shinning so that’s always a bonus, I changed my schedule around a bit and did the indoor stuff first, made bread, hoovered, set the fire to light later then went out to do the animals while the bread was proving. All is well outside, I put the sitting dead quail in the cage out the back to see what would happen as the ‘thing’ has not been near the traps, lol and behold it has been into the cage to nibble on the body, I’m hoping I can lure it into a false sense of security and it will go for the trap eventually! We have decided to buy in some hatching eggs and rear baby quail, that way we know how old they are and won’t get ripped off buying old birds. I will get the incubator out later and make sure it’s working correctly before I order 48 eggs, they take 16 days to hatch then 6 weeks before they begin to lay enough time to put the outdoor cage up on legs to prevent anything getting in (fingers crossed) meanwhile the quail egg customers will have to wait πŸ˜” 

Ordered some new work trousers as these are going the same way as the last pair, I tried not to bend down to harshly as I can hear them going πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

I saw the critter in the back bit, it’s a rat, it ran under the cupboard as I went out there then obviously couldn’t get away and ran back out, I called the dogs in but by the time they got there it had disappeared. I got a torch and had a look under but it was gone, however, so was the poison I had put under there the other week so I put some more under, I guess we will have a stink again but at least it won’t be able to kill any new babies I hatch out. 

Wednesday: I have Mia all day today so apart from the basics not much else will get done, I did managed to set up the incubator and order 48 quail hatching eggs, both will need settling time so they probably won’t get put in until Sunday or Monday depending on if they arrive by Friday. Most don’t post out over the weekend because of no deliveries on a Sunday, the incubator is safe in the utility room and is a closed, fully automated unit so they will be safe in there, then once hatched they remain in the utility room in a bigger cage with a heat lamp until they are at least 3/4 weeks old by which time the weather may be warm enough to put them into the outside run, that’s the plan anyhow. On average there will be a 50/50 split of males and females so potentially 24 males some of which will be sold along with some of the females as we don’t need that many, the others we ought to rear for the freezer I guess but they are so small and fiddly, in the past I have taken them down to the bottom corner paddock and let them go, but they came back to the run! I’ve just had a quick look online about killing and dressing them, seems easy enough so maybe I will give it a go.

Power cut this afternoon, I tell you, you couldn’t write it, I always joke that the power goes off when I have the incubator on and lol and behold off it goes, I checked it wasn’t our main fuse obviously and prepared to shut the Rayburn right down but it was only off for a couple of minutes luckily. 

Thursday: Time to catch up a bit after having Mia for the day yesterday, trying to clean out chickens with them all under your feet is not an easy task at all, I end up treading on their feet mostly, as yet I have not tripped over and fallen which is a surprise as they stoop down and still the minute I go near them. I keep wondering the what the point of the lockdown is really, it’s not like you can control the wild birds and if they get it we are all doomed so keeping the chickens in seems a pointless exercise, if they put a stop to all movement that would make more sense but of course they won’t do that because of the big commercial chicken providers. I cleaned out the geese in the front, that was heavy work, 3 barrowfuls of wet hay/straw, my hands hurt, they have been hurting for a couple of days now, I hope it’s not the Lupus and just that they are overworked! The sun is shinning beautifully today lifting the spirits and making you want to be outside for a change. 

Came in to make bread and light the fire, check on the incubator, it has got up to temperature but the humidity is still low, the pump seems to be taking ages to pump water from the jar into the unit, I may have to force the water through to get it going properly (hubby popped in for a cuppa mid day, being a plumber, I got him on the case and success we have water pumping in to the unit to raise the humidity πŸ˜€)  

I have a massage booked for tonight, looking forward to that I will get her to work on my hands as well I think. I first went to Anette with a problem area caused by raking, sweeping and hoeing, and burning patch on the back of my shoulder, after two sessions it never returned and so every now and again I have massage to make sure it stays away, it’s a luxury but one I feel I deserve 😜 

My neighbour is having her fencing replaced in the paddocks today, I’m amazed at how quickly the old came down and the new went up with a contractor doing it, poor John spends days on ours he may be inclined to get someone in when he sees how quick it was lol, the bonus is we get the old stuff to cut and burn on the Rayburn, more wood for the pile. 

Random thought for the week, I have a ceramic egg holder that takes 9 eggs???? Why 9 when mostly eggs are bought in 6 or 12? Weird. Had the realisation that I haven’t actually left the farm since last Friday! Need to remedy that I think 😝

Gorgeous sunset this evening made me smile when I saw it through the window

Friday: I had decided this mornings job was to clean out the hens in the stable block and remove clumps of hard dirt that has built up on some of their toes. Not all of them have it and it seems to be on the right foot more than the left for some reason, I took a bucket of hot soapy water in to soak their feet then used some round ended scissors to cut bits off. Luckily none of the hens lost toes or nails which was good, in chicks it is much harder to get it off without taking a nail or two. The only injury was mine, one blister on my scissor finger and a dead thumb from pressing quite hard. Then I went to Bourton on the Water for lunch and a much needed escape πŸ˜€

Saturday: Big job on this morning, the pen at the back has become disgusting and smelly due to layers of hay on top of the mud area in the middle, this needed to be dug out and then the pen cleaned. It was very heavy very smelly work good job John was on hand to do most of the digging out 😝 Then over to clean out the front lot and put some new sawdust in their beds while John went to get some bags of sand for the birds to dust bath in.

The quail eggs arrived in the post all bar 1 was intact so 47 eggs to put in the incubator, I will leave them to settle for 24hrs before putting them in.

Sunday: I don’t feel so good yesterday afternoon so I had the rest of the day off under a blanket while John looked after everything, consequently I have much to catch up on today, up early to make bread and put washing on etc. We have Sunday lunch out later to celebrate my Sisters birthday and I have made a fresh loaf as a present for her together with some goose eggs and maybe a slice of home made cheese, hope she likes it. 

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Scotland, dead quail and roast dinner.Β 

Good morning πŸ˜€ normally I write notes each day as I go along for typing up into the blog but as we have been away this week I am winging it and hope I don’t forget anything.

Firstly, Scotland, what an amazing place that was, Eagle Brae is the most fantastic place I have stayed, the log cabins were huge, made from hand sawn Cedar from British Columbia, the whole place is sustainable and the ethos is very much on local, organic, eco friendly, in an amazing location to boot πŸ˜€ I can’t recommend it highly enough if you fancy a stay there, you won’t be disappointed.

As you know Mum looked after the place while we were away and I am hugely grateful to her for that 😘😘 She said she enjoyed it, I hope she did and wasn’t too cold trying to get the Rayburn lit! On the morning we were leaving I found a dead quail in the cage with its neck stripped, I figured one of two things happened, either something had got at it through the bars or it had got its head stuck and de sleeved itself trying to get out. When Mum told me that three more were in the same state I knew it was the first option. The evening we came home Mum had covered them with a blanket and put a heavy lock on the door but in the morning I found two more dead, the remaining lonely quail is now in a small cage in the utility room and I am going to have to find some more. I set two traps, one live trap and one snap trap but to date nothing has been caught, we know it’s there though as we actually heard it squeak while we were stood in there, the cheek of it, laughing at us I reckon 😝 

John spent the weekend cutting down more branches from the huge trees and cutting /shredding them, I helped in between feeding the animals, washing, cooking etc, this task seems to be taking forever but it’s cheaper doing it this way than paying someone to do it I guess. 

We have had an update on the bird flu situation and there are now zones in place for the end of March when the birds should go out, we are on the very border of a high risk zone and so are expected to keep them in until further notice although the situation changes every day. 

I got a piece of beef out for Sunday roast, it’s huge, I think I should have cut it before I froze it but often we don’t have time to do that as the cow is usually killed in the summer and when the beef arrives it’s usually in the evening so we try to get it in the freezer as quickly as possible without re cutting it. 

Not to worry I’m sure the kids will make short work of it when they arrive later for dinner πŸ˜€

Apart from the fate of the quail everything else was all in order, the ducks have started laying more eggs, the geese are laying well now too, I spotted the rhubarb shoots pushing up through the ground, we are marching towards Spring thank goodness 🌱🌱🌱

While I was waiting for dinner to cook, I looked through my seeds to remind myself what I had bought, then I decided to make a list of everything I grow to see if there was anything obvious I was missing.

Apples x 3 varieties plus a cooker, Pears x 2 varieties Cherries x 2 varieties, Plum x 3 varieties Grapes Apricots Raspberries Blueberries Strawberries Black currant Gooseberries Rhubarb Blackberry Kiwi

Potato carrot peas beans (broad and runner) asparagus artichoke onion garlic tomatoes pepper cucumber beetroot spinach radish lettuce courgette parsnip pumpkin cauliflower cabbage leeks spring onion sweet corn 

Also trialing asparagus pea, butter beans, chick peas, celeriac and banana squash this year and the edamame again. 

Shout if I’ve missed anything I should be growing πŸ˜€

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Salt, furry cheese and goose eggs πŸ˜€

Monday: Good morning πŸ˜€ it’s not as bad as I expected it to be after all that rain and at least the sun is trying to shine a little bit. It’s a whole week since I bought my cheese home and I have been turning the Camembert every day as instructed, it’s definitely taking on a different smell and texture although it still has a week to go. The Caerphilly is sitting in the cupboard and that also has another week left until it’s ready, it’s a long process lol I hope it’s worth it at the end. 
The morning routine was as normal today, I still worry a little about the geese and hope that after the next 20 something days the enforcement is lifted for their sakes if not any of the other birds.

I’ve been thinking about salt lately, I was intrigued by the use of it at different stages of the cheese making process and it got me thinking. If I don’t put enough salt in my bread dough it’s quite bland, also if you don’t salt your cooking it’s bland, so I began to wonder if what we taste all the time is just salt in which case does food generally not have any taste of its own? I know, there are more serious issues going on in the world lol, but once I began thinking about it, I needed to know, so I did what we modern folk do and googled it. I found the answer quite quickly and found it very interesting, I also found I wasn’t the only one wondering 😝

‘Salt is used as a universal flavour improver because at low concentrations it will reduce bitterness, but increase sweet, sour and umami, which is desirable for sweet recipes. But at higher concentrations it suppresses sweetness and enhances umami, which is good for savoury things. It’s also easily obtained in a pure form without any interfering flavours.’

I wonder what other random thoughts I will have this week? 

I decided to clean the oven this morning, I don’t know what possessed me but I soon realised I made a mistake choosing that job lol. I wasn’t 100% committed to it and soon got bored, yawn, so it was a half hearted attempt, not that it was too bad but it does have all the little brown splashes all over the walls etc you know the ones that probably wouldn’t come off even with a nuclear blast. Anyhow it’s a little cleaner but still has some remnants there, I’m not one for presenting a shiny clean oven to people so it really doesn’t matter that much, I’ve found the best thing is not to replace the oven light when it blows, you can’t see in there then 😜

Tuesday: I have Mia later today so a whizz round to get everything done in the early morning, feeding, watering, light the Rayburn, make bread, collect eggs and sort the egg shed out for the day. The egg numbers have increased despite the chickens being inside, the ducks have finally begun to lay more eggs, the quail are laying regularly and today I spotted the first goose egg of the year at the back of their hut whoo hoo πŸ˜€ To me that indicates the seasons are on the turn although we still have a few weeks to get through yet before the temps start to rise slowly. 

Wednesday: My goodness that is soggy out there and more rain forecast πŸ˜– The laying of eggs has certainly increased by about 1/3 I would say and we have plenty to put out in The little shed. The birds seem happy enough and I have topped up and cleaned out this morning, I did let the geese out while I put in fresh bedding and picked up the egg from their hut, I shouldn’t but it’s almost impossible not to mention stressful for them if I try to get in there with them. They made the most of the puddles and had a bath in them πŸ˜€ then I shut them away again with fresh bedding, water and feed. It is very mild out, yesterday by late evening it was very warm in the house as the heat builds over the day, this morning I was getting a bit hot doing the rounds with my big coat on and I will probably wait until later to light the Rayburn so it doesn’t get too hot again. 

I’m going to roast a duck for tea tonight, probably with orange, I think that will be tasty, I will let you know. 

Exciting news on the cheese front, I have been turning the Camembert everyday and it is now beginning to develop the characteristic white furry mould 😜

Thursday: The rain still keeps coming down and now the paddocks are saturated with the familiar lake in the bottom fields πŸ˜– 

This morning I had an early visitor in the form of my Mum who came to walk the rounds with me as she will be looking after everything while we are away for a few days. It’s very hard to explain everything in detail on paper so a walk round and seeing or even doing it is much more likely to stay in her mind than reading a list. As long as everything gets fed and watered and nothing gets forgotten it will be fine lol. It is the worst time of the year to look after the place to be honest as with the rain everything wooden is swelling which means gates, doors etc are hard to open or close, last night I had to get John to move the bolts on the duck stable as once I opened it they no longer lined up to close them again. This is due to the amount of ground water pushing the wooden uprights upwards just slightly, even thought they are concreted in! Hopefully after this wet spell it will dry up and we will have to move the bolts back again. The duck we had for dinner last night was delicious, there is more to cooking a duck than I thought, it needs turning three times during cooking, it needs the skin pricking but taking care not to prick into the meat and needs resting before carving, all in all I think I achieved that as it was nice and moist, very enjoyable. I cooked it with orange and honey, it seemed like a good combination, and there was just enough to feed two of us with Kai being treated to the carcass when it had cooled down.

Well the wind is picking up which is great as it will dry things out abit, don’t want it to get too strong mind you, I don’t want any structural disasters before I go away. 

Friday: Another goose egg this morning πŸ˜€ nothing to untoward on my rounds except that my fears were confirmed about something that woke me in the night, I had left the tap from the water barrel into the back chicken pen on and had flooded it! For some reason I woke up in the night and suddenly realised that I had asked Sam to turn it on as she went past and I had forgotten to turn it off when I came out of the pen πŸ˜– 

When I was putting the horse out the gate seemed a bit stuck and the actual pinned hinge has come right out of the post it was knocked into, a job for John first thing tomorrow morning. I bought the chickens some reduced greens with the shopping yesterday, they ravaged them in seconds, the rabbits were happy to have some greens and carrots this morning too. I burnt some rubbish, paper feed sacks and cardboard rubbish then I spent the morning doing some paperwork while getting bread mixed, proved and baked and in the afternoon my seed potatoes arrived whoop whoop we are getting nearer to planting season. This year I have opted for Kestrel, Pentland Javelin and Picasso, I will leave them in the box for now and set them to chit when I come back. I have decided to have a go at growing chickpeas as well this year after reading a fellow Facebookers post, I had no idea you could grow them in the UK but apparently it is possible so along with the butter beans and the edamame beans I should have some pulses for next year.  

Saturday: Did a lot of cleaning out this morning in preparation for going away, the amount I need to get done means I will be ready for a change and a rest, lots of little things as well to make sure things run smoothly while we are away, bolts on doors that should have been done months ago etc. Another goose must be laying as there was an egg again today, each goose lays every other day just need the other two to get going and we will have lots of yummy eggs, mind you they are getting snapped up as soon as they go out for sale.

The rest of the day was spent cleaning and packing, I did have a taste of the Caerphilly cheese, it is delicious, I have left a slice for Mum in the fridge to try as a treat, hope she likes it too. 

We have a plane to catch in the morning so I am posting this tonight as I will be leaving the iPad at home 😜😜

Have a good week x

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Tired, forgetful but still going πŸ˜

Monday: Have loved telling everyone about my trip to River Cottage πŸ˜€ I followed the instructions we were sent home with on what to do with my cheeses, the Caerphilly is in the cupboard out the back ripening, the Camembert is sitting on the side with salt on ready to be turned and salted later and the ricotta is in the fridge waiting to be eaten. I made fresh bread this morning, so I will try some later on.Had an odd visitor looking to buy a duck for duck soup, something didn’t quite add up with him, did it Sally? lol. I told him I wasn’t selling because of the government lockdown and he thought I meant Brexit! He was also looking for a local Ag company to pick up a car from, he said, but he had a flat bed lorry, the type builders use, not going to get a car on there I thought, that’s the kind of thing you pick up on when something doesn’t seem right, suspicious minds 😝

I didn’t realise how tired I was from yesterday’s activities until I sat down with a cuppa in the afternoon, had to have a little nap 😴

The day did more than help me learn to make cheese because I met some likeminded people on the course who are also smallholders, there were others there who went just for the experience, some who were hoping to go into artisan cheese making businesses as well but when you start swapping stories and experiences with people in a similar situation it helps to underpin the way I think and do things. In this particular area of the country we are few and far between, compared to Wales for instance, which is a shame as there is no network as such, that’s one of the reasons I started the Oxfordshire Smallholders Facebook page, to try to link people up with goods, services and others in the same situation. 

Tuesday: This morning, just so I can say I walk on the wild side 😝 I decided to do my jobs the other way round, normally I go straight out and do the animals after breakfast and then come in and tidy up the breakfast things put the washing on etc. It was quite nice coming back in to an already tidy kitchen with the washing ready to be hung up on the Shelia. I had an extra job to do which I will be doing everyday for two weeks, turn the Camembert, not a big job but an important one and I have left myself a note on the chalkboard to remind me. It’s cold, foggy and frosty again this morning but I’m kind of getting used to it now, if I can remember to fill up the water buckets in the afternoon when the pipes have thawed I will be doing well. 

If anyone reading this in the area knows where I can get milk direct from the farm I would love to know, I have been looking online for a while but without much success the nearest is a good 40 mins away, not good for carbon footprint really but there must be something out there hidden away that I’m not aware of. 

Wednesday: Another foggy, icy morning, I did the rounds and on the way back in noticed that the concrete areas were like an ice rink, I was practically skating, obviously the roads were to as the phone was ringing to tell me that my son in law had crashed and rolled his van on black ice, thankfully he is ok but it’s very treacherous out there these past few days. I’m hoping the sun will come out again as it did yesterday so that I can get water buckets filled later on this afternoon. There are press reports of another bird flu outbreak, I was hoping they would slow down to a stop but it seems that is unlikely, for the most part the hens are doing ok indoors, the ducks are not too bad either although they are still not laying, I think that is due to lack of privacy, the geese in the back paddock are becoming aggressive due to being shut in and the geese out the front are getting more vocal though not aggressive as yet. The quail are used to being brought in over winter so they are fine with it in fact they have started laying regularly so quail eggs are on sale in the little shed. 

Thursday: I need to get paperwork done today so I rushed round and got the feeding and watering done first then came in and lit the Rayburn, it gets cold sitting down all day at the computer. I was busy adding up figures when I heard a noise rather like someone dragging a wheelbarrow round, knowing that only myself and the dogs were here I got up to investigate and suddenly realised that I had not turned on the pump πŸ˜– and the water was boiling and banging. That’s the first time ever that I had forgotten to turn in on, I rushed to flick the switch and then shut down the spin wheel trying to get it back under control before I cracked the boiler casing, luckily with the pump now on it soon calmed down but it could have been a proper disaster. I will have to leave post it notes for myself I think 😜 I spent until mid afternoon getting every bit of paperwork done, bills paid etc I always feel cleansed when it’s done because it means I don’t have to think about it at all and can enjoy the weekend without stuff jumbling around in my head. Although now I have been in the warm all day I’m not looking forward to going back outside to do the afternoon rounds brrrrrrrrr. 

Hells bells that wind is cold out there, did the horse as well today, finished doing all the feeding, and domestic stuff like putting the rubbish came in sorted the eggs and got the stew in the Rayburn, sat down feeling smug at all I have achieved today and read some post on Facebook (a smallholder) and she was talking about bread, suddenly realised I hadn’t made any today and there is none left, always something to do 😝

Friday: A run of the mill day with not much to write about to be honest 😝

Saturday: The rain has passed over and it’s quite warm in the Sun, I set about doing the morning feeding and watering, I also made up three lots of dust baths for the chickens in the indoor pens, some dry compost, DE and sulphur went in and I’m glad to say they got right down to using them. I cleaned out the quail while John cleaned out the birds in the rabbit run and cleared the leaves off of the roof, it was collecting water and making it wetter than it ought to be in there. The hen that had the poorly eye before has it again so I took into the boot room to clean it up, it was quite swollen and I had expected pus to come out but it was clear that this was a sour crop infection that has gone up through her nasal passage to her eye. As this is the second time it has happened I made the decision to cull her, I didn’t waste the meat (not that there was much as she is hybrid) but I cut out the breast and took off the legs for the dogs to eat later. While I was in that mind frame I decided to start on the drakes, unsure how it was going to go as we hadn’t done one before, I was surprised at how easy it was, easier than the chickens in fact. Then comes the plucking which takes a while especially as they have a lot of down which we usually scorch off with a blowtorch, I could just cut out the breast but I think a whole roast duck gives us a better return. Just on a coffee break because my feet got very cold, then I will be off out to do another and then hang them overnight to be gutted and dressed tomorrow. I will probably do a couple a day until they are done, that will just leave the surplus to requirements geese πŸ˜– While I am busy doing that John is cutting down trees and getting the fire lit, he will probably be on feeding duty later while I get dinner sorted. 

I did three ducks in the end, I won’t traumatise you with the before and during pictures, just the oven ready ones 😜, dry plucked and scorched, the last one was a bit older than the other two and had masses of beautiful pure white down, soft but a bugger to get off. In all honesty the ducks will probably only feed two as they are not meat birds but they will make a good meal when the time comes πŸ˜€ 

The fly mystery has returned again, yuk we have filled in a hole in the wooden floor, with some left over concrete, that I think they are coming through but there were still some on the floor after we did that so either they have found another way out or they are not coming from there just migrating to the spot. I have watched for them but they never appear only later when I’m not looking, it’s weird. Obviously if we have dead things in the wall, which we do, they are going to be around what I can’t work out is how they are getting out! 

Tonight we have roast shoulder of lamb for dinner but I have already been looking up duck recipes and googling how long duck fat keeps for. πŸ˜€

Sunday: Got up and on with the morning rounds then inside to gut and finish the ducks that have been hanging overnight. I should have gone to spec savers or at least worn my glasses when plucking them as there was quite a bit of down left on the wings, as there is not much meat on those anyway, I cut them off and put them to one side for the dogs supper.

Now don’t expect it to look all clean and sharp like it does in the shops as I don’t have the equipment they do lol but it will taste just fine. 

John spent the morning outside cutting up more trees, it sounds like we have a forest here but it takes a while to process just one. 

I think it’s fair to say that it pissed down for the rest of the day and so we didn’t do anymore outside apart from John did the afternoon feeding and egg collection. I stayed indoors and made some bread 🍞 and I had some notes to make for the running of the farm while I’m away next week. 

It’s still raining into the evening which means it’s going to be orrible out there tomorrow, great, a soggy Monday morning is something nobody looks forward to 😝

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Spring shoots, moody skies and River Cottage πŸ˜€

Monday: Well the cold temperatures didn’t arrive at the weekend either, beginning to think the powers that be have no idea what they are talking about, they can’t predict elections and they can’t predict the weather accurately either 😝
Today is Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year apparently, one thing they get right. I certainly know that these next couple of weeks will be the hardest to get through, it’s grey and wet and you can’t get much done constructively without getting covered in mud. However, I just keep telling myself that Spring is on its way, the lilac buds are just beginning to form and there are signs of green shoots around the place so we are heading in the right direction. 

Did the feeding for the first time in three days and all looks fairly well, everything is still alive at any rate so that’s a bonus πŸ˜€ I also fed the not so welcome livestock, I noticed a couple of new rat holes so filled them with poison and covered them up, they are a continuous pain in the whatsit. I think the one in the house wall has met his maker, there is a slight odour of unpleasantness and we haven’t heard him for a while. 

I went out into the greenhouse and did a bit of tidying up, sweeping out trays etc and decided to take the plant markers in to give them a clean up and remove any writing, while waiting for the bread to prove and bake. As I was cleaning them I began to wonder why there is a hole in the bottom end, couldn’t find the answer on google so asked on a gardening forum, will wait and see what answers I get. I’m guessing it’s so that water doesn’t puddle around the end of it but not sure to be honest. 

We have Ostrich steaks for tea, they were on offer and so I thought why not give them a try. 

Well the holes turn out to be for putting string/wire through so you can tie them to a plant, and the Ostrich steaks were ok, not what I expected they are like beef steak rather than bird meat, taste was indifferent and there was no fat whatsoever on them. 

Tuesday: Beautiful Pink sky this morning, should have got a photo really but they never to it justice. Also had a huge buzzard on the ground in the paddock, it took off shortly after, magnificent sight. 

Did the morning rounds and it’s much the same 😜 although I’m a bit worried about the geese now, they are staring to lose condition due to lack of exercise, I can’t do much about that but I will probably have to order goose breeder pellets to keep them as well as possible. In the big stable block when I was filling up water buckets I noticed something moving in the banks of one of the stables 😝 I don’t know what is living in there but definitely something. Trying not to be too depressed but looking around everything is quite frankly a freaking mess, mud, mud, mud, yuk roll on dry days when we can start clearing up. Meanwhile keep on trudging through it and trying not to notice is the plan. Cleaned out the quail, they are easy to do now I have the cage back that I put them into, they are happy to be fully cleaned, and have started laying a couple of eggs every few days again now as well. 

I have a funeral to go to this afternoon, Uncle Horace, I hope it stays dry, it is being held at one of my childhood home villages, Swinbrook, Uncle Horace, Aunty Doll and Jayne lived next door, such a lovely village and one that I have very fond memories of. I should write them down really or they will be lost forever and it was a time when villages were full of local people who all knew each other’s families, the people in ‘the big house’ were landed gentry, Lords and Ladies, but they knew everyone as well. We lived in the Post Office (yep even villages had post offices) with what seemed like a very, very old Aunt, very Victorian in her manner and looks, she had a wooden leg if I remember rightly which is why we lived with her, my Mum looked after her for a while. When I was 5 I got on the school bus which stopped outside of our house, on my own, can you imagine, and went to Burford Primary School. I could go on for ages but I think I will definitely have to do a whole piece on that subject alone. Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing the village even though the occasion will be a sad one. 

I did extra feeding this morning and collected the eggs so that I didn’t have to do it in the afternoon as I was having Mia from 4pm, after she had gone home, I did the horse and fed the dogs, I decided to worm and flea them all as the stuff had all arrived. All went well except the wormer for Patch, despite the fact that I had put tinned meat in with his biscuits and a broken egg he still managed to lick off everything and leave the wormer tablets (even though they are yummy bone flavour). Next step try and do the flick it down the throat manoeuvre, nope, not happening, so I get a lump of cheese from the fridge and press the tablet into the cheese, eats cheese off and spits tablet on the floor, hmmm out of ideas but then he proceeds to play with it tossing it around and bit by bit he absorbed it, I did have to stand there for seemed like ages to make sure it was gone mind you.

Wednesday: Up early and had the dogs, quail, chickens, ducks, geese out in the stable and back pens and the horse all done by 7.30! It was quite nice wandering around in the dark and early morning light I must do it more often. In for coffee break before doing the front lot when it will be light enough to see what I’m doing. Doing the back lot in the POL pen was good though as it was still dark they stand still so I could get in easily without tripping all over them. 

Another Pink sky this morning.

Thursday: The sky was foggy and menacing this morning, I thought, lets see what this brings, then the Sun burst through and it’s a lovely day so far πŸ˜€ I have noticed more and more green shoots peeping through the soil, that makes me very happy 🌱

Had a bit to catch up on as I went out to get some country new boots yesterday ready for our trip to Scotland, then had Mia in the afternoon. I cleaned out the hens in the stable and put fresh bedding in and also put fresh bedding in with the ducks, will have to do a major clean out for them at the weekend I think, still not heard from the chap who is going to dispatch them will send him a text later to remind him. I feel the need to start a list of jobs as there are too many to keep in my head.

I thought I ought to do paperwork today but looking at the dates I can get away with leaving it until next week and as it’s sunny I will get on outside, but first the list.

Mucked out Jacks stable now stink of horse wee, hands are hurting this morning though, I feel quite tired but determined to press on. 

I went out to check the egg money and I knew exactly what was in there as I had not long put them out, someone is not paying the correct money for their eggs, they took 2 lg at 1.50 a box and left Β£2.52 ?????? 

Moved a pile of old straw from outside the goose hut from when we clean them out, it shouldn’t have been left there but you know how it is sometimes, then cut down a couple of willow whips to put in gaps in the hedgerow, some of the hawthorn is beginning to rot away and there are holes, the willow will hopefully take root and fill the gaps. 

Picked my job and spent a very pleasant couple of hours in the garden cutting down the two rows of Autumn Raspberry canes and tidying up, even took my coat off. I noticed a lovely patch of chickweed growing so I pulled it all up and took it to the chickens inside the stable block, greens πŸ˜€ they were very happy. Came in for something to eat and at this point I should have stayed in and made bread, wash up etc but it was soooooo nice that I went back out for another hour πŸ˜€ These are the days I’m glad I have some portions of stew ready in the freezer πŸ˜€ I don’t have to spend time making the dinner and can get outside. Came back in, lit the Rayburn, made bread and then sat down for a well earned cuppa till I have to go back out and do the afternoon feeding. Oh yes I caught the cat napping in the sun on top of the straw bale, no wonder we can’t get rid of the rats! The dead one in the wall proper stinks now when you walk past 😝 

Friday: Lovely crisp, frosty morning, cold but hopefully the sun will shine again today. 
Got routine blood tests this morning but first the morning rounds, after doing that and a quick coffee (decaf these days 😝) I went back to clean out the chickens in the rabbit pen and the chickens in the front pen, (they get their floor cleaned every day).

I used my new secret weapon after cleaning them, Neem Oil, it’s supposed to render red mite sterile and so I thought might as well give it a go, it’s much cheaper than the preparations you buy off the shelf and I’m not sure they work very well at all. I mixed up a 1:50 solution and sprayed everything with it, I had a fine mist sprayer and even the chickens didn’t mind being sprayed, mind you they are captive so can’t get far lol. I expected it to have a strong smell but it didn’t seem to, mildly garlicky I would say, in comparison the thyme oil, which I will also still use on alternative cleans, has a strong smell which I find pleasant. We will see over the warmer months if it really works or not, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Put a pile of fresh hay and some carrots in for the rabbits and back indoors to wash up and clean out and set the fire for lighting later.

Saturday: Another frozen morning, John cleaned out the geese in the back paddock and I got started with the feeding, the aim this morning is to clean out both sets of geese and the duck stable which we did. Then onto cleaning the flue and the Rayburn before it gets too sooty, having had two chimney fires before, one that we were seconds away from calling the fire brigade, we are much more careful and systematic about cleaning the flues now even in mid winter. Then I finished off cleaning the seed markers and John went off to fetch a new light fitting for the back toilet, before that he mended the back door which moves so much (wooden building) it has to be altered every couple of weeks, bought in some kindling, and burnt the cardboard/paper rubbish. 

Spent the afternoon getting everything ready for my big day at HQ πŸ˜€ the girls will be doing shifts on the farm as we leave about 6am for a 3 hr drive, I sure hope the cheese is worth it. 

Sunday: River Cottage day πŸ˜€ well what can I say, the day was fabulous, it totally lived up to my expectations, it was great to see the place for real and the cheese making course was superbly run, the food was excellent and plenty of it, I had a great time. Thank you to the girls for looking after the farm for the day and leaving dinner in the oven for when we got home, it was a long day, we left at 6am and got home at 9pm, knackered but happy. We made 3 cheeses, a Camembert, a Caerphilly and Ricotta from the whey, we also had Camembert left over which didn’t fit in the mould so we have that as well which can be eaten straight away like the ricotta, the other two have to be nurtured and ripened over two weeks before we can taste them, I hope I get it right. If you have ever thought about doing it then I recommend it highly. 

I had a little taste of the Camembert this morning before it goes into its two week process, it’s delicious, very fresh and pure tasting, can’t wait for them to ripen now. 

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Rain and Snow but not as much as predicted.

Monday again: This morning I spent a good couple of hours as I went round making sure the pens were cleaned out a bit and fresh bedding put down on the floors. I still haven’t heard back from the chap about the ducks and now we are coming into mating season they are trying to get into the buckets of water to do what comes naturally. Unfortunately that usually results in the bucket of water going over and soaking the floor, I’ve tried various ways of limiting the water spillage but ducks need to get there eyes under the water and so a wide top is necessary, catch 22. The chickens are not doing much better but for a different reason, they are scratching around in the bedding and dirt floors but they get a build up of mud balls on the ends of their claws, which if not removed can lead to the loss of a toe, I have put a pile of stones in there to try and give them something hard to scratch on and hopefully remove the dirt. I cleaned the quail out, sort of, because I usually put them into a holding carrier while I do it but at the moment I have a hen who is stressed in there, so I had to try cleaning their cage out with them still in situ, not easy, they are flighty birds and easily frightened into bashing themselves against the bars. Worn out trying to keep them all happy and healthy, and still there are new cases of AI being reported, the last two in back yard flocks whose owners have not housed them because they think it doesn’t apply to them 😀And on top of that we have reports of temps going down to -13 at the weekend, I will look forward to that one πŸ˜–

Just about missed the rain on the pm feed, took the eggs out to the shed and collected the money, I had made a mental note this morning of how much should be there depending on boxes sold, we are Β£1 short today. I will be monitoring this daily as I’m getting to the point where with all the extra work I’m am wondering if it’s even worth it, especially as the ducks haven’t even begun to lay and I’ve been feeding them all winter, will I ever get any return, need to be a bit more ruthless 😞

Tuesday: Had Mia for the day while Sam was at work so had to get a move on to everything done before she arrived, feed and water the birds, put the horse out and do his stable, feed the dogs, do the eggs, get the Rayburn ready for lighting, start the bread off and put some washing on, mission accomplished, then entertain and look after Mia for the day πŸ˜€ She had a good sleep at lunchtime which gave me time to read my monthly mag, Home Farmer, I love this publication it always has something relevant in there, new recipes to try and has thought provoking articles. The sun is shinning and so while I have a spare minute my thoughts turn to the coming growing season, it is at this time of year I start getting impatient about getting started. My seed order is sat waiting patiently, my crop rotation is all drawn up, I read an article on growing lemons successfully, I have a young lemon and an orange tree, I have managed to keep them alive over two winters now and am hoping that they might produce a least one fruit this year. The grapevine I moved into the polytunnel at the end of last year so also hoping it will produce this year and am ever hopeful that the kiwi will eventually produce something, last year it flowered but the frost got to them so need to be on my toes this year and cover it with fleece before that happens. We could do with a good spring and a not too hot summer, I’ll put my order in now πŸ˜‰ it’s a waiting game. Very much looking forward to my cheese making course at River Cottage at the end of this month, I hope to learn a lot, I know there are books and the internet but nothing beats learning like actual hands on sessions. 

Ordered, wormer, flea treatments and shampoo for the 3 dogs and 2 cats, came to Β£70 nearly fell off the sofa! 

Wednesday: Not good today, I woke up with what I can only think is vertigo, related to this damn bug which has taken weeks to shake off. Staggering around the yard my first visit to the ducks led to banging my head and promptly bursting into tears, obviously not feeling well so I called for back up, now this is rare, on a table of 0-10 the amount of times I have actually said, I’m struggling and need help here is precisely 0. The main thing I felt I would not be able to do at all safely is the horse, Jack, there was no way I would be able to bend down and do up his tummy belts on his rug and remain in the standing position when I got back up, so help was needed. I did the rest as best I could, which is a shame as I intended to get a fair bit done today, but spent the day sat or lying down. I did manage to get the sofa covers off and washed to dry over night so all was not lost. 

Thursday: I feel a bit better today, not great but not like yesterday, just as well really as I have work to catch up on, trying to clean all the pens or make them a bit nicer for the hens, the ducks trash everything anyway but still got to try. I was on Horse duty this morning and so turned him out got his stable ready and kept an eye on the weather forecast, at the moment it says rain at 11am but it’s that now and no sign just yet, I don’t want to take my coat and wellies off only to have to rush back out when it does start so trying to find stuff to do outside until it starts. 

I had an escapee this morning from the front shed, ‘ginger Dave’ snuck out as I tried to get through the door 😝 managed to catch her with a net and deposit her back inside quickly. Trying to clean out the hens while they are all in there is difficult to say the least, mostly it’s a game of trying not to stand on them, they have a lovely game of pecking at the bottom of my wellies and they follow my feet everywhere I tread, it’s very irritating a bit like the drip, drip water torture method I imagine. Wherever you try to put a water bucket down, one of them is always underneath it then they go into ‘the stance’ and won’t move still its more annoying for them being in than it is for me I guess. I bought a big wheel of hay to use for the rabbits and also for bedding and ground cover in the hen pens, I found it’s better than straw because the straw doesn’t soak up any wet whereas the hay does also the hay being cut while has seed heads for the chickens to peck over while the straw has already had the seed harvested, just a small thing but hopefully a useful one. 

Well the rain came β˜”οΈοΈβ˜”οΈοΈβ˜”οΈοΈ bucket loads of it, luckily I was indoors with the Rayburn lit by then, had a loaf of bread in the go and got the sofa covers back on and cleaned the bathroom. John came home early so we shot off to get a bit of shopping before the store runs out of milk pending the ‘big snow in’, bought junk food for tea today lol well a pizza anyhow, sometimes you just fancy processed carbs 😜 any today seemed like a good day for it. The temperature has dropped a fair bit but still no sign of snow yet. Came back and skipped the horse out and gave him his tea, fed and bathed the dogs, put the rubbish out, I always nearly forget to do that and have to do it in the dark, collected the eggs and topped up the water buckets, hung the washing on the lazy Shelia and ate pizza. 

Took a photo of two doves that have been hunkered down for about an hour in the tree outside the back door, I wonder if they know what the weather has in store? 

Friday: Well we had a smattering of snow, remains to be seen if we get any more but it wasn’t as bad as they had made it out to be lol. For some reason this year I’m not feeling the cold so much ( must be my age πŸ˜‰) in previous years I felt reluctant to venture outside but this year I am quite enjoying it. I did the feed and water rounds, then fed the dogs and then went back to clean out the chickens in the stable and put new bedding in for them. If I do it mid rounds I generally forget something like feeding the dogs so it’s best to do the norm first then pick up any jobs after a coffee. After that I came in and had some flour to use up in the form of French bread flour and garlic tear and share mix so I made those, then the girls turned up with the grandchildren and we went out for a spot of lunch and a browse around the charity shops followed by a costa coffee stop. By the time I got home John had done the afternoon feed and put out all the eggs for sale, bonus πŸ˜€ The nights are definitely getting lighter nearly 5pm before the dark starts to descend. 

Saturday: We had Joshua our grandson for the day and overnight so I did precisely nothing outside, that was left entirely to John, who must have done an awful lot as he avoided coming indoors all day lol, just in case he got asked to change a bum or do a bit of feeding/playing. He spent the day on the tractor turning the muck heap and by the sounds of it as I haven’t looked yet, churning up the place with the tractor wheels.

Sunday: Josh went home at lunchtime so again I didn’t do the morning feed and John is still out here using the tractor, he did come in overnight 😝 it was raining this morning so I hate to think of the mess that has been made out there, roll on Spring. This time next week I will be nearly at the end of my cheesemaking course at none other than River Cottage, I’m so excited, not only to learn about cheese making but to go to HQ has been a long held dream, that thanks to the John the girls and their partners, is now a reality. It was watching the early days of River Cottage that set us off on the journey we have taken into smallholding, I can’t wait to have a look round and find some renewed enthusiasm. Most of the family are looking forward to me bringing home my spoils, except Macca he doesn’t like cheese and John will only be impressed if it’s cheddar! I will be adding a new skill to my small repertoire, and freshly baked home made bread with home made cheese has to rank among the top ten ‘good life’ moments, perhaps I should make butter as well πŸ˜€

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Cleaning, more cleaning and groundhog days πŸ˜œ

Tuesday: Back to reality and doing it by myself, yesterday on the bank holiday John and I spent the morning cleaning out all of the pens the ducks and chickens are in, that was hard work, 6 barrowfulls out of the duck stable and it stunk, ducks slop water everywhere then it gets under the bedding and makes a stinky mess, today you wouldn’t even have realised we had done it! Still at least we know it was done and now I will keep topping it up each day with fresh stuff and we will do the same again at the weekend, hopefully the enforcement will have been lifted by then but you never know we may have to do another 30 days. The chickens are definitely getting fed up now, trying to escape through the door every time we go in and eating any green stuff like they haven’t eaten all year long. My aim to use everything is going quite well today, the roast beef we had yesterday was sliced up thinly with a slicer I was given a couple of years ago and with the adjustment of the blade I managed to slice up 6 packs of beef which John will use for sandwiches instead of buying ham from the shop, the sprouts got frozen and I used up leftovers and bits in the fridge for soup, I gave away a fruit cake that came in a hamper that John didn’t like and some fancy cheese biscuits that we won’t eat, they also came in the hamper. I got 2 loads of washing done and both are now drying on the lazy Shelia and an airer by the heat from the Rayburn and Johns dinner is also cooking nicely in the Rayburn. I went for a walk round the village with Sam and Shelley and the grandchildren, I wonder if I go on as I started, hopefully, all in all a satisfying day. 

Wednesday: Did the morning feed rounds and a bit of cleaning out water buckets etc as the weather is kinder today and no frozen taps or hoses. Took the chickens some kale I pulled up from the poly tunnel better that they have it as they are not getting much else in the way of grass and grubs etc. I looked around the veg garden, the cabbages I planted are still looking a bit pathetic I hope they pick up when the temps warm up, the broad beans however are doing really well so I am pleased about that, they will be one of the first crops available in early spring. 

I cleaned out Kai’s kennel, swooshed some disinfectant around and gave him a brush, he is moulting already, due to the warmer Winter I suppose. The bolts were rusted on his side door so I got the WD40 and a hammer out to loosen them, went to squat down and riiiipppp there go my trousers, dag nabbit, I put them clean on this morning, and they ripped in an unrepairable place 

I have choices now about the rest of the day, I need to phone HMRC about a glitch on my system but when I called before Christmas about it I was on hold for over an hour, do I sit for goodness knows how long again or because the weather is reasonable do I ignore that for another day and work outside? 

I decided to go outside for a bit, yesterday Hubby, who I usually accuse of not taking any notice of anything, reported to me that I had overlooked the road side egg board in regards to updating the new prices for the eggs, well spotted, so I went out armed with nail varnish remover and a waterproof chalk pen to quickly correct the matter.

Keeping up with the announcements about avian flu has been easy as every Tom, Dick and Harry has had their twopence worth on social media 😝 disappointed was easily the word to use when rumours began mid afternoon about the enforcement being extended to the end of February. No surprise really when the latest outbreak was only confirmed yesterday in Carmarthenshire, most of my pens and stables I am happy with its the outside run with the tarpaulin that will probably not hold up for another month πŸ˜– we haven’t even had any very windy weather yet and it’s flapping about all over the place, so this weekends job will be to make it better than it is now, how I don’t know but needs must. A cull is looking very likely to ease congestion, the old birds, rather than living out their days in the paddock, which they are unable to do anyway, will be used to feed the dogs and the drakes will go in the freezer to feed us, waste not, want not. I will have to put myself into a different mindset to get the job done, it’s not easy at all but once we get underway it just becomes another task, generally speaking one I put off for as long as possible. 

Double fail on the bread making front today 😜 firstly, at some point in time long ago my timer melted at 45mins this is ok if you notice and nudge it on a bit, but today I came in from afternoon feeding and it had stopped, not to worry if the dough had doubled it should be ready, look in the bowl, flat dough, at that point I realise I had forgotten the yeast 😀

I am worried for the chickens now, another 2 months inside is not good, the shells are beginning to thin, they have extra calcium but it works hand in hand with Vit D provided mostly by daylight, going to have to do a bit of research and meanwhile I think I will be buying greens from the shop for them, not how it is supposed to be πŸ˜”It looks like I will be feeding them yoghurt or cereals fortified with vit d as there are hardly any foods suitable for chickens, I can’t feed them fish or liver! 

The bird flu situation is going from bad to worse, with reports of Slimbridge Wildfowl now having cases and over 1.2 million ducks and geese about to be culled in France πŸ˜”

Thursday: Woke up this morning feeling a bit like its Groundhog Day! 

-5 on the thermometer at 7.30am, probably went down to around -8 overnight brrrr, good job we have managed to keep the Rayburn going continuously for the past few days. Dug out some trousers from the back of the wardrobe to replace the ripped ones and found some thick socks to put on today. 

Determined for it not to be a Groundhog Day I decided to go for a walk around the paddocks then came back and as the sun was shining beautifully I made a cup of coffee and sat outside to drink it. I miss that more than anything during the cold months, sitting outside with a cuppa listening to the sounds of the locality, today the dog was yap, yap, yapping there were cars passing and I could hear rumbles from the stoneyard but just occasionally for a few seconds in between it was just birds tweeting, bliss. Did the morning feeding and put the horse out then decided to go around and do a bit of tidying up in the garden, it’s amazing what gets blown around, everything was still frozen and I made the mistake of trying to empty ice from the plastic trug by bashing it on the ground, result, the handle snapped off, then I tried to put the rotary washing line down and one of the arms snapped off, not doing too well so far lol, so I moved onto the front driveway and cleared stuff that had just been left for whatever reason. I was fairly pleased that I had at least achieved something on a cold January day πŸ˜€ 

Friday: Yet another cold night and frozen morning, bucketing water up from the stable to the geese shut in their house in the back paddock is not much fun. Last night I went out and bought some fruit and veg to chop up for the chickens, they were glad of something different to peck at, normally it’s the bottom of my wellies, today they have cabbage and apples. After feeding I came in to get some paperwork done, HMRC have sorted out the glitch without me having to spend another hour on hold so that’s good and I can tick that off my list. I have a fair bit of sorting out to do as John and his business partner have decided to go their separate ways after 16 years in the bathroom business, John will go back to doing small plumbing jobs on his own and I’m hoping it will mean he has more time to help on the veg garden πŸ˜€ 

By the time I finished paperwork, the temperatures had gone up and the rain had set in 😝 yuk it will be disgusting out there this afternoon, the only good thing is for a while I will be 5’5″ with a layer on mud on the bottom of my wellies, instead of 5’3″ so technically the right weight for my height 😝 gotta look for the positives. We have repeat offender on the escapee front in the form of a chicken that has become known as ‘Ginger Dave’ not because we know any famous escape artists called that but because she is very ginger and one of Johns favourite programmes is Mr Khan! She is obviously very clever as none of the others have worked out her method of getting out yet, or maybe not that clever as she clearly doesn’t know there is a flu epidemic going on, can’t blame a girl for trying though. 

Finally had a call re a message left before Christmas from a local chap that dispatches ducks and geese, messaged him with the details and waiting for him to get back with a price and date for 2 geese and 12 drakes, we would do them ourselves if we have to but this way they can all be done at once rather than over a few weekends, also we have not done a goose before so have banded about several ways to do it with the best results but happy to pass it over to someone with the right equipment. 

Saturday: Damp start to the day, John went off to get the feed, we do have 4 bags left but it’s not enough to get to next weekend so he will go to the feed merchant and get 12 bags and no doubt have a good chat and catch up. One of the things I love is the relationships you build with people when you use independents, the feed merchant, the local farmer that delivers hay and straw, the chaps at the wood yard where we buy our fencing, a delivery or pick up usually ends in a chat for nearly an hour! 

It’s still dark at 7.45am, and a quick look outside reveals that ‘Ginger Dave’ has escaped again overnight, damn chicken, may have to put her in a better lockdown pen than the one she is in now. 

As the tarp covered area has been breached numerous times we decided to split the up the hens in there and move them to the other pens, then take down the tarpaulin and the makeshift structure that was holding it up (sort of) I feel much happier now that they are all under cover and in secure pens, even though they are a little more crowded, it will be easier to clean them out etc. I renewed the DEFRA approved bio security footbaths and gave them some apples, pears and cabbage to peck at, trying to stop them from getting bored is a main concern, they will turn to egg eating and feather pecking if I don’t. One of the hens in the stable has been looking very unhappy, sitting as high up as she can get and all hunched up, a sure sign she is not liking the situation, I decided to move her to the outside pen where the rabbits are and she perked up quickly. The rabbits have now been moved out of their des res and into a smaller hutch away from the hens, hopefully they can now eat their dinner in peace.

Back indoors to get the fire lit, tidy up and make some bread, I remembered the yeast this time, I had to add it after on the one I messed up but it turned out ok in the end. Had a little sit down and a cuppa, darts season is upon us (although it never seems to go away, much like snooker and F1) so as I write this Hubby is giving me a much unwanted running commentary, apart from a 9 dart finish, I really am not interested, the best bit about the above sports being on is that I can usually get a power nap in if I need one 😜

Oh I must add that I had a dark moment or two this morning lol, frosty, frozen, sunny, dry mornings I can handle with ease, damp, rainy, muddy ones are my nemesis I’m afraid, I usually have a face like thunder and am known to swear a lot. If you ever watched The Good Life when they are trying to harvest veg in the rain and mud or thought that the lady that runs the farm in Last Tango in Halifax looks very down trodden, you can begin to understand how I feel. I have to give myself a stern talking to and pull myself together, it was helped enormously when I walked around the corner and saw a blackbird having a bath in a puddle which made me smile and then watched John desperately trying and failing to catch ‘Ginger Dave’ which gave me a giggle, she is quick and has her wits about her. 

Sunday: Foggy first thing but that soon wore off, was hoping to see some sunshine but it hasn’t materialise as yet. Did the morning rounds, nothing untoward today and then John set about cutting up wood, we were given a huge pile of old wood and pallets at the beginning of the Autumn and he never got round to cutting it up because we did some of the conifers instead, so today is a good day to get them done and cleared up. I came indoors and did some cleaning, the boot/utility/dog bedroom gets very mucky in a very short space of time and gets to the point when you can’t put it off any longer. Then I got some left over turkey out of the freezer to make turkey korma and a turkey casserole for tea, mines the korma, John is not that adventurous 😜 Lighting the Rayburn was a mission today, a combination of having no newspapers left so using the Viking direct catalogue and the kindling was a little bit damp from the condensation that drips from the metal roof, I managed to get it going in the end though. It’s surprising how many newspapers you use, we don’t have them so rely on folks we know giving them to us but of course it’s been the holidays and as people usually buy them on the way to work they are in short supply. 

Ooo as I type this, the sun is trying to come out, must have heard me 🌞

My frame of mind is altogether better than yesterday, I’m not sure what happened there, there are down days, and there are uplifting days and days in between, just have to take them as they come. 

I will try and get some photos for next week, to be honest it’s a mission just trying to keep on top of it without having to remember to take my camera out with me 😝

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