A wet Monday, Black Friday and Family weekend.Β 

Monday: What a bloody horrendous start to the week weather wise, got a good soaking this morning despite having my full length rain coat and wellies on, the wind was blowing and I managed to get wet knees, how is that possible? I had a hat on too, though I detest wearing hats I felt that it was preferable to having frizzy hair all day, the trouble with hats is the different dimensions they turn your head into, I forget I am wearing it and bash into every door frame we have, knocking it sideways then the rain that has collected in the rim goes down my neck! It’s wet, windy and muddy, just disgusting, I shall not be going out there again until it’s necessary. Made leek and potato soup and a fresh loaf of bread. 

Still raining in the afternoon so ordered a couple of Christmas presents online. Started raining even heavier so lit the Rayburn ate my soup and decided to sit down and a) do the crop rotation plan for next year and b) go through the seed catalogues and write down my order, I am hoping that they do Black Friday again this year as I got them half price last year a saving of around Β£60! It is easy to get carried away when ordering as there are so many varieties of each crop, I managed to control myself though and go for high yields or early cropping (I have impatient customers) I also decided to go with outdoor cucumbers and tomato this year as I find I have more success with the extra plants I plant out than I do with the ones that are carefully nurtured indoors. I like to try something new each year and have gone for banana squash this year, mostly because I listened to an interview with a squash farmer around Halloween, they were talking about pumpkins but when asked which squash you should try she replied with banana squash, as I had never heard of them they had to be the ones to go for πŸ˜€ I am also trying out purple mange touts 😜

We have a phenomenon going on here, flies, they keep appearing from god knows where indoors, my guess is they have hibernated somewhere and when we light the fire they warm up and crawl out. We attract flies, not because we are grubby πŸ˜‹ but because of the nature of the place, horse, duck, chicken shit = flies, but these are doing my head in, not many of them but about 4/5 a day keep appearing, they are very dozy and therefore very annoying but also easy to swat, never had the problem before and hope it stops soon. 

The afternoon feed time came around quick and I got myself suited and booted, different coat though as this mornings one hasn’t dried out yet 😝

Smoked fish for tea and an apple pudding of some sort if I can be bothered to make it, depends how wet I get or if there is more to do outside than I planned for, i.e. clearing up after flooding, if not I will dig around in the freezer for fruit and crumble mix. 

In the end I got a small apple pie out the freezer for John and some left over bread and butter pudding for me. 

Tuesday: Not a bad morning to begin with, mild and not raining, I won’t say dry because it’s very soggy underfoot. Longer than usual routine this morning as I put in fresh bedding for some and cleaned out others, the trouble with the ducks is they just make a poo mat, put in fresh bedding, they flatten it with their webbed dirty feet then poo all over it, the chickens are a little more refined. noticed new rat holes under the front chicken hut, however the rain has also puddled up there so I am guessing they won’t stay under there very long. 

The eggs numbers have slowly started to declined, to be honest I had expected that long before now so we are doing quite well really. 

Came indoors to change the bed linen and do a bit of hoovering by which time it had started raining again, did the washing up and smiled at the activity of a large number of little garden birds all ferreting around in the gravel out the front, the rain must have washed up some tasty tit bits judging by the activity. 

Got an offer for coffee at the garden centre…..yes indeed πŸ˜€ so quickly put some washing on (the wash basket looks like an active volcano) and got the lamb shoulder ready for slow cooking, I will leave it on low while I go out and turn it up a little on my return. I won’t light the Rayburn yet as it is quite mild considering and with the oven on as well it would get too warm. 

On my return the afternoon slowly descends into chaos as often happens I find, not major stuff just a whirlwind of little things all rattling around and colliding such as the phone ringing, a delivery or the doorbell going all at the same time as I am trying to carry something heavy indoors or taking the eggs out or having a wee, this little scenario seemed to happen multiple times yesterday afternoon and I find myself swivelling on the spot not quite sure which to do first. Then a problem with one of the horses who had been bought in and rolled in his stable and got himself stuck on the ground, much banging and clattering before he manage to right himself again. Good job it’s my treat to myself night, a massage, bliss. 

Wednesday: A dry morning with a promising forecast of no rain β˜”οΈ 

Did the morning stuff and also cleaned out my feed storage as the rain had driven in and there was a soggy, messy corner in need of attention before it goes mouldy. Its an old chest freezer, ideal for storing feed so the rats and mice can’t get in, not sure how the rain got in, it’s usually dry as a bone.

This morning it was the turn of the rabbits to be cleaned out, their pen is quite large and has a concrete path around the outer edges but dirt in the middle, this is fine except that they dig burrows and the dirt pile ends up blocking the opening of the door, so I scrapped off all the mud and put down some metal grid then covered with the dirt again so that they can’t dig anymore holes hopefully, they won’t thank me for it but it will make my life easier. There are five females and they lived quite happily for a few months then fighting began between the grey one and the brown one, this resulted in an eye injury for the grey one so I moved her out, it’s been a couple of months and her eye has healed so I tried her back in with the others but the minute she was in there fighting began again so I had to take her back out. If you have never seen rabbits fight, they are vicious towards each other, fur flying all over the place, no cuddly fluffy bunnies then 😝 I really must give them names, instead of the brown one or the grey one lol

The Sun made a great appearance in the afternoon much appreciated, although it does feel cold. 

Thursday: Crap nights sleep or rather lack of, dog began yapping at something during the evening and carried on well into the night, investigated but couldn’t see anything and he won’t be told to shut up! Rats scurrying across the tin roof most of the night, inspected poison this morning all eaten, need to refill, and topped off by Hubby grinding his teeth πŸ˜– all in all not much decent sleep. Probably accounts for why I feel emosh this morning about Charlie moving out at the weekend 😭 

As well as the normal stuff this morning I scrapped off the mud from the POL hens floor, it is concrete and has a roof but the rain blows in the sides and then the hens walk in the mud and deposit it on the concrete, it soon builds up! Feel as though things are slightly out of control at the moment (rats) and the ducks not laying at all really need to get rid or cull the drakes so I am not feeding mouths that will not produce anything. Lists, that is the answer to get control back for me, make lists and tick the jobs off one by one. Cut the feed back a bit this morning as I don’t want extra lying around for rats and crows to devour. 

Made a list and it worked well, got me motivated, take pictures of the drakes and put up for sale βœ… burn rubbish βœ… put poison out under front chicken hut βœ… clean out quail βœ… put straw money out for delivery tomorrow βœ… get something out for dinner βœ… sort freezers βœ… muck up the bean bed and put down weed cover βœ… that last job was quite a big one, 5 barrowfuls of muck, shovelled up and moved from the back heap to the veg garden, by the fifth barrow I was sweating and had to take my coat off so……cardiovascular workout βœ… 

Had a quick look round the garden and delighted to see the tiny shoots of the broad beans beginning to emerge from the ground, they will be ready early next year, then water the veg in the poly tunnel, onions are sprouting and the other veg is doing fine. I noticed a fair few broccoli sproutings so went in the cage to pick them and the leaves on the sprouts that have been growing readily are starting to die back so a good time to pick them all off and harvest the sprout stalks, there are five in total, not bad at all. 

I did have some other things on the list that I didn’t get round to but there is always tomorrow besides I wanted to try out my new gadget, a wood burning pen/stick thingy. I had a spare chopping board lurking around and wanted to have a go and give it to Charlie and Macca for their new home, I was pleased with the results πŸ˜€

Friday: On inspection during my rounds this morning, all of the bait blocks have gone so I have put some more down. I was told a rat needs to eat his own weight in poison before it dies, hope there are not too many fat bastards down the holes otherwise it’s gonna cost me a fortune 😝

Off out to get my blood tests done then into town to do some shopping

Checked my e-mails and delighted to see one from Mr Fothergills for Black Friday, sat down and did my seed order, I got Β£75 worth of seeds for Β£45 plus free postage and packing, get in πŸ˜€

Saturday: A family orientated day today, moving day for Charlie and Macca, did the morning rounds while John went off to get the feed and then spent the morning moving Charlie’s stuff out of our house and into her new home, exciting times. John spent the morning cutting up yet more wood then we all spent a few hours round at the MIL as it would have been Johns Dads birthday so we raised a glass to him and ate some of his fav foods πŸ˜€

Back in time to light the fire and do the afternoon feed rounds and put the animals to bed an hour later.

Sunday: Feeling rough with a cold so John did all the outside jobs this morning and I stayed inside, did some cleaning and rearranging now that we have a spare room! Made some bread and a cake. I bet John a tenner last week he couldn’t get the eggs that the chicken in the duck pen had laid, she had managed to squeeze through a gap about 2 inches wide behind the duck house and laid about 8 eggs over the course of time, he came in with them this morning 😝 So I tested them and they were fine and I will use them up as quickly as I can, they have only been there a week so will be fine for at least another week. John did more cutting of branches and shredding etc then we went out for Sunday lunch at a local pub. Back in time to watch the last Grand Prix of the season, well actually I had a sleep 😴 and then feed the animals and get ready to go with the family to Blenheim Palace to see the Christmas lights which were absolutely beautiful, a ride on the carousel, mulled cider and hot chestnuts and now I am feeling festive πŸŽ„

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Super Moon, Cobbler and the Hokey Cokey.Β 

Monday: Temps are set to be quite warm for the first part of the week. Cleaned out the nest boxes in the chicken hut, dusted with louse powder and sprayed with thyme oil, smells lovely in there πŸ˜€Ducks in the stable haven’t laid any eggs I think they may be heading for the freezer 😝I went out to do some weeding in the polytunnel, turned into an interesting activity as I came across something I have never seen in all my years of gardening, a dried newt! 

After investigations were over on the newt I went back outside to do a bit of tidying in the garden, the bean plants were still on the canes although they were now dead so I pulled up the canes and untangled the plants to put on the compost heap. I decided that I will cover the bed in weed barrier but I need to order it first, it will save me time in the Spring, I will barrow some manure round to spread on it before I cover it up. Pulled up some of the dead asparagus foliage and cleared the now rotting squash plants. 
I was looking forward to the ‘Super Moon’ but sadly cloud cover meant it wasn’t visible πŸ˜”

Tuesday: An ok day weather wise, although the ground is now wet underfoot and probably will not dry out until spring with the only respite being frozen mornings! Did the usual morning routine, nothing untoward today, then on the clean the bathroom, well I left it long enough to see if anyone else was inclined to do it…………nope, clean the toilet and then try and sort out the office which has become a dumping ground for ‘stuff’ that has nowhere else to go. Looked after Mia while Sam went for some dentistry, made bread.

Since the clocks went back the afternoon and evening routine is my domain as well now, the birds need to be fed about an hour before sundown, they get wheat to keep them warm through the night, then they need to be all shut in as darkness descends, around 4.30 at the moment but it will be as early as 4pm in the depths of Winter. It does mean a longer evening to get stuff done, but in all honestly once we have had dinner and cleared up I just want to sit down lol

Wednesday: After the morning stuff, I decided to sort out the laptop, the one that crashed has been returned with the new hard drive which was still under guarantee but all the photos were on an old one so needed zipping and transferring. It would have been a whole lot better for me if they rest of the household had not used up all the milk in the morning leaving me with only enough for one cup of coffee and everyone knows you need at least four when waiting for files to transfer! I resorted to hot chocolate instead. As you can imagine this took up a large part of the day, I will be glad when technology is lighting fast! 

Thursday: I spent most of the day doing bits of paperwork that I had left too long and moving files from my back up drive to the repaired laptop, takes forever especially when putting software on there and having to restart it every time to install or uninstall something. 

We seemed to have been spared the horrendous downpours that were forecast and the horses spent the day doing the Hokey Cokey, in cos it was supposed to rain, out because it wasn’t gonna rain till after lunch, in again and out again when it was apparent the rain was not coming, this was even after checking with the met office site. We did get some pretty strong winds that blew everything around mind you but at least it wasn’t wet and soggy at the end of the day. 

Friday: Not a bad start to the day, not as frosty as I thought I was going to be, filling up the water bowls was easily done with the hose. The ducks are still not laying although the new POL hens have started to gift us with pullet eggs, they need to have a quiet word with the ducks I think πŸ˜‰ Made bread including French baguettes and sorted out one of the crockery cupboards, you know how they get with items being put back in willy nilly. I dug out the gold Christmas platters from the back of the cupboard I will leave them out now as the season is fast approaching.

I made the most delicious beef cobbler for dinner, it tasted amazing though I do say so myself 😜

Saturday: I put my wellies and coat on at 8am and didn’t take them off again until 4.30pm, we worked outside all day clearing, burning, shredding, chain sawing and log splitting, the area is almost tidy now just a small pile to burn tomorrow. Hubby went off at one point to pick up a van load of logs that were going for free, they turned out to be already well seasoned and after splitting will be ready for the Rayburn. We left it a bit late to light the Rayburn and consequently it’s a tad cold in here this evening as it takes a while to heat the place up, I’m wrapped up in my blanket smelling of bonfire smoke and eating fish and chips πŸ˜€

I did manage to singe my hair a little today too, I bent down to pick up some debris and the wind whooshed the flames in my direction, I could hear and smell the singe then realised it was my hair 😜

Sunday: Much the same as Saturday really, more log splitting, more burning, apologies to the neighbours for the smoke! Although today it was much colder than yesterday, my toes and fingers were absolutely frozen, and I welcomed the chance to go in and warm up occasionally. We seemed to have missed the bad weather that was warned of again, it was a bit windy in the night but nothing too bad and it was a bit wet this morning but again nothing major. 

The dogs had to have a bath tonight, they were disgustingly dirty from charging around the farm, we have dug out their comfy beds too, now that the temps have dropped. 

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Cranberries, Oca and the bloody fox again.Β 

Monday: Still a North wind but not as cold and at least it’s sunny, a decent day for November I reckon. On my morning rounds I found a beheaded goose in the large paddock, we were hoping that these three males would be able to fend off a fox attack but clearly that is not so. After picking up the body which was probably too heavy for the fox to drag over the wall, I found the head and then set about making the pig ark into a secure hut for the remaining two, these will have to be shut in from now on. While I was about it I decided to make the front goose hut more secure as well, it’s getting to the time of year when foxes get hungry and so the more I can deter them the better. I also put clean bedding in for everything and took a barrowful of hay for the bunnies.We were given some old tools and a workbench, which I immediately put to use putting new heads on broom handles, the simple things give so much pleasure lol, normally I would have to precariously balance the handle somewhere while trying to screw the head on, not anymore, and I can’t tell you how stupidly happy that made me 😁😁😁 

It was a bit of a rigmarole getting the geese to go into their new abode, after three attempts at herding them in I decided to wait for John to come home and help, three more attempts and numerous times running round the field in the dark and we finally caught one then the other and secured them inside for the night. Chilli for dinner tonight, mince and potatoes for John and left over apple pie for pudding. 

The evening topped off by two walkers in hi vis with a flashing walking stick coming up the drive at 9pm to buy eggs! The dog was going berserk, maybe I am going to have to close the gate so we don’t end up as a 24/7 😝

Tuesday: Another cold hard frost, last year I could count on one hand how many frosts we had all winter long, this year we have have three already, I prefer a cold hard winter to the wet, soggy, muddy one of last year. The geese survived the night in their new home, although we know the fox was around all night as the dog was continuously barking. It’s raining leaves this morning, after the frost the trees are shedding and they are falling in such numbers that you can actually hear them, lovely carpet of colours on the ground as well. 

Lit the Rayburn early today as it’s flipping freezing, made the most of it by getting dinner prepped, chunky roast chicken and veg soup, using left over roast chicken, I always freeze the carcass and remains to use in soups at a later date. I must admit we will eat a fair amount of stews, soups and casseroles in various guises over the colder months, you need something hearty and warming after a days work. 

As I had picked up some cranberries in the shopping last week ( I have a plant but as yet it has not produced anything) I thought I may as well make cranberry sauce and freeze it ready for the big day, it’s very easy to do, smells amazing.

300g cranberries

1cup sugar

1/2cup water

1/2cup orange juice, I used fresh squeezed orange 

Shake of cinnamon 

Simmer for 10/15 mins until it breaks down 

Cool and freeze, will keep for a week in the fridge if you want to make it in the run up, or freeze and get it out the day before you need it. 

The midwinter feast as I like to call it, is a serious affair in our house, it’s not just dinner it’s a celebration of good food, family and something to look forward to and brighten up the dark days of Winter. Most of what we will eat is home grown or homemade and the table setting is equally important, and as I have decided to slightly alter the table decoration this year, I have spent the evenings on Pinterest forming the look I am after, it will be exciting putting it all together on the day. 

Had to chase the geese around the paddock in the dark again tonight, and physically catch them to put them away, I won’t need a gym session for a while 😝and John got a whack on the nose from a wing 😜

Wednesday: So America has a new president this morning, makes no difference to the morning routine, except it was a little later as I watched the story unfold in breakfast tv. All was well in my little Kingdom overnight, the rainfall was more than I expected though at least an inch judging by the various buckets and bowls around the farm. Obviously it’s slightly warmer today if a little tacky underfoot. I checked the rat bait boxes on my way round, few signs of the bait being eaten in most boxes, one or two need a refill. 

Thursday: Sunny today but with the rain yesterday a little sticky underfoot. After the usual jobs, I set about burning a bit of rubbish and doing some tidying up, leaves blocking drains that kind of thing. Then I decided to harvest the Oca, unfortunately I read up about them after I dug them up and discovered I’d done it to early😝 I was under the impression that they were harvest as soon as the tops collapsed from frost but it seems they keep growing for a couple of weeks after that so I’ve done it too soon. Not to worry I still have a harvest of small tubers to use and will try better next year. Oca are a relatively new veg to the Uk but one that is growing in popularity, they are easy to grow and very versatile, boiling, roasting, mashing or raw in salads, they don’t need peeling which is just as well as they are nobbly. They are nutritionally similar to potato but higher in Vit c, when you dig them up there will be small ones left behind but that’s ok they will be ‘self setters’ for next year, they are not invasive and so fairly easy to contain in a designated patch. 

They come is various shades, the variety I grow are cream coloured. 

Friday: Another frosty morning, thick coat and gloves but the Sun is shining so it soon warmed up. Paperwork day so not much going on outside today. Visits from the grandchildren ( and their mothers) and a lovely friend, just as the friend arrive a fire engine went past in the lane with its blue lights and siren going, ooo a fire engine I said, yes there is a large plume of black smoke out the back of yours she said, so we went off up the back to investigate, I was most relived to see it wasn’t actually us on fire! The fire was in the next field, a bonfire I thought and I’m not even sure if that’s where the fire engine went but it was an interesting interlude to the afternoon. 
Saturday: It rained heavily, that’s all I have to say about that! 

Yet another late night customer for eggs 10.30pm!!!!!!!! Really gonna have to do something about it. 

Sunday: A lovely day, temperature is ok, not cold, did the morning stuff and noticed that I was a duck short in the back paddock, a quick look round confirmed it as a pile of white feathers were in the grass. The fox had done a daytime visit sometime yesterday, so we made a stable ready and herded the ducks down to the stable block, this will actually make life a bit easier as we can put the geese back in that paddock where they will readily go to bed without being caught each night. Cleaned out the main duck house and helped hubby split a big pile of logs with the splitter. Did a bit more clearing of the hedgerow and conifers and then decided we were hungry so got changed and went off to find a Sunday Carvery, (must do that more often) came back and time to light the fire, quick Hoover, feed the chickens and put out the eggs, John loaded up barrowfuls of logs to put away to season and tided up a bit out the back. All in all a good days work I would say and a good end to the week πŸ˜€

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Frost, Fog and a cold North wind.Β 

The weather has certainly changed over the course of a week and Winter has most definitely made itself known brrrrrrr. 

Monday: Foggy morning but it’s light early so crack on with the usual chores, then time out while I have my hair chopped off, it’s much shorter now as it was annoying me when it was so long. 

Halloween, I’d be very surprised if we got any trick or treaters up our dark drive with a very large dog growling and barking, you would need to be very brave indeed lol, however during the daylight hours I had two delightful treats in the form of grandchildren come to visit with their pumpkins and Halloween vests πŸ˜€πŸŽƒ

Joshua was loving it

Mia was not! 

Tuesday: I darn well forgot that the electric was due to go off all day, until the moment that it did! I did the rounds in the morning then came in and had a coffee, looked through my e-mails and facebook, just decided to make another when click, it all went off, dang nabbit. Nothing much for it but to get outside and do a bit of clearing/tidying up, after about and hour I was beginning to hanker for a coffee so I got the fire pit out, lit it and dug out the old Rayburn kettle, sorted πŸ˜€

Sam rang a bit later and said she was going into Burford and did I want to go, the option sounded like a good one so off I went. 

We came back with still a couple of hours until the electric came back on, and by 3.45 with it due back on at 4 I was pacing up and down, it was beginning to get cold and the fire needed lighting but as it’s a pumped system I couldn’t do that either, then it came back on around five minutes early, fantastic, first things first, put the kettle on. 

Wednesday: A day out shopping, lol to start with this is all I wrote for my notes because we were out until 3.30pm partly by choice, partly because of roadworks holding up the traffic and an altercation between a school bus and a 4×4 down the narrowest of lanes and we were caught up in the back log. That meant by the time I got home it was all systems go, light the fire, feed the birds, collect and put out the eggs before the customers start coming, and get the dinner on. Day to day I mostly potter about on the farm, see the occasional customer, have the occasional visitor but needs must when Christmas approaches and a trip to town is necessary, there is only so much online shopping you can do, although I do quite a bit. The contrast is vastly different, busy, noisy, crowded, cramped, speedy, and I’m glad I only have to dip into it a few times a year 😝

Thursday: Hard frost this morning, that calls for a thicker coat and gloves, the hosepipe was frozen so had to bucket the water to the chooks instead. Will have to fill up the water properly on the afternoon run when it’s warmed up a little. Cleaned out the new ducks then clean the house, the dust is getting a bit too settled for my liking, made some bread, got dinner prepped and then caught up with The Walking Dead 😫

Light the fire before going out into the Sunshine to do the afternoon feed and collect the eggs. 

Friday: Today I had Josh for a couple of hours, then went to get my blood pressure checked ( came home with a machine to monitor it) and went for coffee and a sandwich with Sam and Shelley, for some reason I am very partial to goats cheese at the moment, if we ever get goats I would have to get a milking goat and make cheese, there is a thought for the future. 

Saturday: Bloody perishing North wind! After doing the animals in the morning we decided to do a bit of tidying the trees we cut down a few weekends ago, there was a big stack of branches to process and a lot of shredding to do, John was on the chainsaw and I did the shredding and barrowing. This took up the best part of the day and by the time we came indoors I was cold right through to my bones, it took hours to get warm again. Of course today is November 5th, Guy Fawkes and I am usually very keen to go and stand in the cold and watch the fireworks but not tonight, tonight I am staying in the warm instead and listening to the ‘bangs and booms’ Next year I must remember not to work outside all day so that I don’t mind getting wrapped up to go out and watch the fireworks. 

Sunday: That North wind is still here and after the morning routine I decided that I was going to work indoors, after yesterday I thought, I’m buggered if I am going to get that cold again today, there are after all plenty of things to do inside, in the warm πŸ˜€ John worked on the tractor, turning the muck heap completely, the dogs caught and killed another rat and I made apple pies, cake and bread in the cosiness of my kitchen. 

I lit the Rayburn around lunchtime which warmed up the whole house, Rosie seems to have settled right down after five years, normally you have to get the measure of her when re lighting her for the first time again but this year she does not seem so temperamental, we are back to lighting her every day now as the weather seems to have suddenly got a lot colder, still not having to keep her going 24hrs a day yet though. Today’s dinner will be cooked in her oven along with the apple pie, she will provide a nice tank of hot water and dry the washing overnight, fabulous when the wood is free πŸ˜€

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Rats, puddings and pumpkins πŸŽƒ

Monday: Did the usual routine and found yet another quail dying, so I got the indoor cage ready and transferred the birds that were left inside, I have no idea why they are dying there are no physical signs of injury or illness, so it may be an external factor such as stress. I will be able to monitor them more closely if they are inside, they seem fine then just go downhill and die within a day, it could even be bad breeding but as yet I haven’t got a clue! The duck eggs have gone even further down in number 😝 the older ones at the back that have been moved only laid 3 this morning as opposed to their usual 5, that sometimes happens when they have moved home so hopefully it will pick back up, I still only got 1 egg from the new ducks. Busy morning sorting out doctor appointments and booking in my flu jab, also had my laptop chap come out as that has gone kaput, it’s getting old now but limps along from one failure to the next lol. Then off out for lunch with my sister and cousins for some much needed down time. Back in time to light the fire and get dinner sorted (bubble and squeak) out to feed the birds and collect the eggs, feed the dogs and the day is nearly done. 

A phone call from my laptop man and it’s not good news the hard drive is knackered and unrecoverable that means all data lost 😫😫😫😫😫😫 it also means I will have to spend tomorrow with my fingers crossed that the external hard drive has a recent back up otherwise I’m dooooooooomed captain. 

Tuesday: Well what can I say, my day went from bad to worse! The hard drive on the laptop as you know was knackered, that meant trying to retrieve information that was supposed to be backed up on the external drive……….nope πŸ˜– I managed to retrieve enough enough to lower my blood pressure but still it means I have some inputting to do. After spending a day trying to download programs onto a spare laptop, which took foreveeeeeeeer, so I decided to buy a new one, meanwhile my granddaughter came to visit and in the space of 10 minutes chaos happened. Sam went out to do the afternoon feed and collect eggs, I stayed inside, I had bread in the oven, Mia in my arms, an egg customer at the gate waiting for the 4pm egg collection (at 3.45), Mia promptly threw up straight down my cleavage, the phone rang and the bank Fraud office had cancelled the business card thinking it had been nicked, f**k my life. At times like these I wished I had more to puff on than a vape stick!!!! Ah well tomorrow is another day and as Shelley said ‘at least your life is not boring’ no it’s not but I would like something in between ‘all or nothing’ a steady flow of problems and solutions would be much appreciated, I guess that’s where the darker evenings become a good thing, shut the door on the day and relax, until the next situation rears its ugly head. Consequently there was no dinner ready for the evening and I very dared anyone to even wonder what we were having 😜

Went out to get a bit of shopping after shutting the birds up for the night and the lane had fog pockets all the way along very eerie.

Wednesday: Looking after Mia this afternoon and early evening so I need to be organised early, got the feed routine done, sorted out what we were gonna have for dinner and got a bit of ironing done. I also got started on the Christmas pudding, I have made my own for years now and although I vaguely follow a recipe, I also chuck in whatever takes my fancy or what I have in the cupboards, first step is to get all the dry ingredients together and put them In a bowl along with spices and citrus zest and juice and then a good gluggin of whatever alcohol I’m am going to use. This year I have used some of the rumtopf together with traditional brandy, that will soak over night, then it has long been tradition in our house to stir the pudding for luck so that’s exactly what will happen once the rest of the ingredients go in. The stirring is something I have carried with me from my primary school days, our school cook (a jolly round, rosy cheeked lady) used to bring the pudding out for the whole school to stir, three times one way then three times the other and make a wish, when I had children and started making them I decided to do the same and we do it every year, this year the grandchildren will have a go though they are more likely to try licking the spoon lol.

Joshua arrived with his mummy and then Mia and her mummy, so grandchildren take priority, well they will only be little for a short while and so you have to make the most of it don’t you 😍 

The days are getting colder and the nights colder still but the rain seems to be staying away for the time being, this time last year the fields were already rather trashed but this year they are still nice and green with plenty of grass covering them and we have a warm weekend forecast so Winter will seem a lot shorter this year hopefully.

Thursday: To be honest I didn’t even realise it was Thursday until I’d seen that I’d already written Wednesdays notes lol. I thought today as I always write ‘did the morning feed routine’ I would photograph it as I went round so you can see who and what I am feeding.

First stop on this foggy morning is the cats, Molly was nowhere to be seen but Diesel was waiting in the feed room for his breakfast.

Then onto the Geese and the ducks in the back paddocks, also fill up thier water buckets.

After that back to the feed room to fill up the bucket for the new ducks

Back to fill up feed buckets again for the chickens in the orchard and the front paddocks, I added some poultry spice to their feed this morning as it’s a bit damp and gloomy.

Feed the rabbits and Aaron the Pekin and his one eyed girl friend, you can see that the rabbits have dug their own burrows despite the lovely home John built for them.

Then onto the main laying flock of chickens, top up the water, feed them and scrape off the overnight poop from the floor (this gets done everyday)

Let the geese and ducks out then, back to the utility room to get the dogs breakfast and take any eggs I have collected and wash them ready to put out. On the way back check the quail who are now indoors.

Back inside for a coffee or two 😝 and decide what is on the agenda for today. 

I need to put in some fresh bedding for some and others need cleaning out so that’s what I will be doing this morning probably. I realise how lucky I am that my day is more or less entirely my own, I decide what to do or not and when to do it, however it does mean that I need to be self motivated to or nothing would get done at all πŸ˜‹

The sun came out and so on such a lovely day it would be rude not to work on the veg garden, I did a bit of clearing, the courgette have all but finished and the rhubarb has now started to collapse, I needed to cover up the cabbages as something has been eating them , probably pigeons, chickens or both, I won’t get anything for my hard work if I don’t salvage them now. I also planted some broad bean seeds, some outside and some inside in pots just in case the seeds outside get eaten by mice before they have a chance to grow, I covered them with mesh so the chickens don’t scratch in the fresh earth and dig them back up. 

Then back indoors to do a quick hoover, get the fire ready for lighting later and sort out what’s for dinner, a couple of steaks I think. 

Friday: Flu jab day πŸ™ƒ and get my blood pressure checked as it was high at my last hospital appointment, well guess what, it’s even higher! 😝So sod the farm and lets go for lunch, I did opt for goats cheese and beetroot bun, chips with no salt 😟 

Usual jobs later in the afternoon and also the annual stirring of the Christmas pud mix followed by 5 hours of steaming it! 

Though you can hardly tell the difference the picks are actually one of Shelley and Josh and one of Sam and Mia! 

Saturday: Feed and let out then fill up all the rat bait boxes with poison blocks, this was after I went to let the ducks out and saw a rat sat by the door, I picked up a handy brick and lobbed it missing it but it ambled off further down the outside of the hut so I picked up the brick and lobbed it again, direct hit, however it didn’t kill it but the rat was slow so I am guessing he had been feasting on the last lot of stuff I put down. 

We had an idea that the rats were living in the compost heap as the dogs are very interested in that area most days, so we decided to move the heap build a new raised bed there. It took a while before the first rat came scuttling out and would you know it the dogs caught and killed it, a big fat one got clean away to the stable block but the dogs caught a second one a bit later, who knew they would be good at ratting! We spent all day moving vegetation at various stages of decay and were just left with a good pile of lovely compost which is now mostly inside the walls of a new bed. We found a good couple of pounds of potatoes growing in there so that was a bonus. The problem with the heap I think, is that I covered it with a tarpaulin instead of letting the elements get to it, that left a nice dry, cosy home for vermin πŸ€

Hubby picked up 25 new POL hens this morning ready for sale and by 10am we had sold the first two.

Heard an almighty racket from the stable block after the horses had been taken in, ran round to find one of them had frightened himself while tied up and pulled the ply wall clean off its frame, luckily no harm done to animal or otherwise.

The ‘kids’ have been busy carving the pumpkins and making Halloween goodies to eat

Sunday: Mostly a repeat of Saturday, back breaking stuff, we must have moved around 4 ton of compost, riddled and bagged up around 1 and a half ton, moved a ton to the new heap after it was riddled and filled the new raised bed with the rest of it, raked, shovelled, barrowed, tidied and eventually finished. We didn’t see any more rats today, any that were left have probably moved on, will have to wait and see where they start making themselves known. The new compost area has been relocated so that we can get the tractor in to turn it, we have so much that we need a big bin and it needs to be turned regularly so that it rots down fast. It is one of the gardens little miracles, you put old vegetation in a heap and it turns to soil, a marvellous thing πŸ˜€

Hubby also turned the muck heap with the tractor, it is very dry, needs some rain on it lol, but it can wait a while πŸ˜‹. He also repaired the piece of wall the horse ripped off yesterday and fixed the back door so that it actually closes without having to lock it, all in all a fabulous, if hard, weekends work. 

And now the darker nights have arrived πŸ˜” boo, that means everything needs to be done and dusted by 5 o’clock, I’m not one to wish life away but roll on the shortest day. 

If you are getting your broomstick out, make sure it has a valid mot πŸŽƒπŸ‘»Happy Halloween. 

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New ducks, Sloe Gin & Autumn colours πŸ˜€

Monday: Back to the day job, on my rounds this morning I noticed how well everything had been looked after while we were away, chickens and geese in the front had been cleaned out, everything looks happy and healthy. Made some bread today, but used a different yeast which did not work as well as the fast yeast so I will be going back to that, it’s still edible just didn’t rise as well as it usually does. Put out some Butternut Squash for sale in the little shed along with the recipe for the soup I put on here. Sometimes when people encounter a veg they have never had before they won’t buy it because they don’t know what to do with it and so I find printing off a recipe encourages them to try it, especially one that I have tried and tested. I have ordered some broad bean seeds but they have not arrived yet, last year I decided not to grow Winter veg but come Spring I really regretted that decision so I am on the ball this year, the cabbages and leeks I planted a couple of weeks back are coming on nicely and the poly tunnel is full of kale/cauliflower (both of which I could have planted outside, I just didn’t have the room at the time) carrots, peas, spinach, hopefully I can pick these throughout the Winter months. Also in the tunnel are the sweet potato, there is a lot of foliage and I have not been tempted to have a look under the soil yet to see what, if anything is there, you are supposed to leave them in the ground for as long as possible and fleece them over once the frosts come, but as we haven’t had any frost yet and the leaves are beginning to die back, I reckon it will soon be time to dig them up. Sweet potato are incredibly good for you full of vitamin C, thiamin, potassium and manganese, and if you have never tried them I would definitely recommend you do, one of my favourites ways is as a baked potato with cream cheese and spring onion topping, delicious. Chicken casserole for tea, I am trying not to use salt at all so plenty of herbs etc for flavouring. 

Tuesday: Dark morning and raining, tipping it down, when I went out to do the rounds it was only light rain, by the time I got to the geese at the back it was tipping down and I had to come back in and change my coat for something more waterproof. The chickens in the orchard were no where to be seen, all hiding indoors reluctant to venture outside even for breakfast. I can’t say as I blame them really, I was going to go out and do a bit in the garden today but as I had already got wet once I decided against it, I have few things to order, some straw from a local farmer, some powder for the chickens as the lot I ordered never arrived, they didn’t take payment so that’s good, look through the seed catalogues and decide what to grow next year, any suggestions (legal πŸ˜‰) welcome. Made some jars of mincemeat with Shelley ready for mince pie season πŸ˜€ Gammon for tea with cheese and potato pie and runner beans, pan fried apples for pudding, as I have some of the eating apples to use up. 

If you are inclined, now is the time to make your Sloe Gin, it will give plenty of time for the nectar to develop, I have still go 2 bottles from last years batch and 2 bottles of Sloe Whisky we will have to open them and have a tasting session, I still made more today it makes great presents for Christmas, last year I made Rumtopf as well although I forgot to do it this year for some reason. It’s so easy to do as are all fruit liqueurs, vodka is a great base for all fruits, blackberry, raspberry even strawberry, and obviously cherries in brandy is a great one although I have not tried it yet. Just fill a bottle or jar half full of your chosen fruit, add two teaspoons of caster sugar and top up with your chosen alcohol, put the lid on, shake and leave for around two months giving it a shake occasionally or lay it down and turn occasionally, open at Christmas and impress your friends and family. The longer you leave it the better the flavour, just the tonic after a cold/blustery/wet late afternoon walk with the dog. 

Thoughts of Christmas then took over the day and I sorted out the Christmas pudding recipe and started thinking about presents, not bought ones but made ones, we started doing this a few years back and I have done all sorts from Meat & Veg packs to Chutneys & Jams, Home made liqueurs, oils, herbs, I even did individual movie packs for each family one year, old movies tailored to their interests along with popcorn, pick n mix, hot chocolates etc it was fun to do, in return we receive, shortbread, fudge, homemade liqueurs, bottled goods, preserves of all kinds, home made candles etc, its great fun and very satisfying to give and receive presents that have had such a lot of thought and effort put into them. 

Went to feed the cat later in the evening, and saw rats in the stable block! 

Wednesday: morning routine included filling the rat bait boxes up, damn things and we have something in the wall on the other side of the house now as well 😝

What a cufuffle, found some point of lay ducks on a site but couldn’t remember my password, round robin game of resetting password via e-mail link that wouldn’t work properly, took me about an hour to finally get the message sent! Waiting to hear back now. Spent quite a bit of time messaging and securing 20 point of lay ducks to be picked up Early Sat morning, very excited, not sure if I will be keeping all of them or selling some on yet, will have to wait and see, however I do need to organise accommodation for them so logistics has taken up the rest of the morning and obviously I won’t need to incubate eggs now. Cleaned out the ducks and tried to organise the area for when the new ducks come, came to the conclusion that I worry too much, ducks make the biggest mess you’ve ever seen not matter what you do. However I did order some rubber sheeting to put down where they feed in order to reduce the mud. 

Thursday: dry found another quail dead this morning, something def not right but no idea what, may have to bring them inside, at this rate I will have no eggs to hatch and as fertility is low at this time of year I am reluctant to try, this may be the end of the quail eggs. My original birds lasted about 5 years with no problems at all. The Diatomaceous Earth finally arrived, although I re ordered from a different company, I made a dust bath up with wood ash and soil plus the DE and sprinkled it in the nesting boxes. It is supposed to help with mites, lice etc even worm if they ingest it with food. I am not convinced it is the amazing product they say but it is useful for dust bathing so any other side use is beneficial. Did some hoeing in the cabbage and leek bed, made a mental note that the Oca have grown well and will need harvesting after the first frosts, then watered the plants in the poly tunnel. 

Friday: dry sunny day, but monthly paperwork beckons and so that’s what I have done today, I have to keep on top of it or it drives me mad, fills my head with the nagging thought that it’s still there and waiting, once it’s done I can think clearly againπŸ˜€ in the evening we went over to friends to pick up half a cow for the freezer, they rear it at their smallholding and then we share half the costs and get an enormous amount of beef for the freezer, lucky timing as we had practically used up the last one, we are also picking up two lambs for the freezer tomorrow we shall be well stocked for the winter. 

Sat: 5.30am start, hubby is off to Warminster to collect the 20 ducks, we can’t both go because he needs to be there by 8am and I will need to let the birds out as daylight breaks so I will stay behind and do the feeding etc. I made bread before the sun even came up then got on with the feed routine and moved the old ducks to the paddock at the back and got the duck pen ready for the new arrivals. They happily settled in, glad to be out of their crates after an hour and a half journey, fingers crossed they lay some eggs sooner rather than later. The rest of the day was spent on the log splitter and going to collect the two lambs for the freezer, lamb chops for tea with a good slice of home made bread. I feel that we are ready for whatever winter throws at us now, freezers full of meat, veg and fruit, and a log pile, bring it on, but not too harsh lol.

I have noticed, over the last few days, the array of beautiful colours on the trees, they are quite stunning when the evening sun shines on them. Did you know that the Autumn colour of leaves are their natural colour, so red and orange, it’s just that the chlorophyll they produce turns them green and covers up the other colours 😬

Sunday: What a beautiful Autumn day πŸ˜€ we got various jobs done, did the feed routine, the new ducks laid 1 egg lol hopefully more will follow soon. On sat eve we moved what was left of the chickens for sale into the laying flock and Sunday morning John cleaned out the pen they were in. We discovered how the rat was getting in there and have blocked up the hole so that shouldn’t happen again. I dug up the sweet potatoes in the poly tunnel and harvested about 5 good tubers but that was it πŸ˜– The ground was quite hard and dry which may have hampered growing so after clearing the ground I put a few loads of well rotted manure on top and will leave that to overwinter. I also picked a good selection (albeit small amount) of veg ready for dinner later. Then I decided to have a look at the compost area, I pulled back the tarp and found a good collection of potatoes, so dinner was complete πŸ˜€ Normally if you get potato plants growing in the heap, it’s all tops but this time I actually found tubers. Meanwhile John did some wood cutting and we split the logs, the pile is growing bigger and bigger. We also got the tractor out and moved the shepherds hut right into the corner of the paddock, mainly so that it is easier to herd them in at night, I normally end up chasing them round and round it if I do it ( and swearing a lot) whereas John manages to get them in no trouble. Later in the afternoon I went to have a look at some hens I had sold earlier in the year, the customer wanted me to give them a check over before winter just to make sure they were ok. They are some very lucky hens living a 5* life I can tell you, we came away with a mixed box of beautiful rosy apples and freshly made cake, can’t get better than that πŸ˜€

The clocks change next week, can’t say I am looking forward to that, for half the year John is responsible for shutting the birds away at night time but as the nights get darker earlier it will be up to me to do that as well, good job we moved the goose shepherds hut otherwise I would be swearing all winter long 😝

Home reared (by our friends) roast beef for dinner together with home grown everything including sweet potato mash and toffee apple crumble made by Shelley 😁

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The Pied Piper πŸ­

Monday: After feeding etc I spent a couple of hours doing some shredding, the pile is enormous as we didn’t do any as we went along on Sunday. In the afternoon, I tided up the brassica cage. I am still getting small florets of broccoli and picked a good pan full, they will soak in water to drown any bugs before being blanched and frozen. The sprouts are not too bad considering the caterpillars got in there, there will be a boiling or two for Christmas which will please John no end. I picked a good trug full of weeds and plenty of old cabbage leaves for the rabbits to munch on. In the poly tunnel I did the weeding, I had intended to plant onions and put in some carrot seeds plus perpetual spinach but my back was hurting so I will leave it for another day. The horses will be moving fields soon so I checked the electric fence and took out a new battery ready for connecting up when needed. The batteries have all been topped up with distilled water and charged up fully ready for Winter

Tuesday: after morning routine, plant onions and peas in the poly tunnel, moved grape vine from outside to inside the poly tunnel, cover kiwi in fleece as the frosts ruin the blossom and therefore any potential fruit. Pot on the cape gooseberries and put them in the small poly tunnel, they will survive the winter and be ready to go again next spring no need to grow these every year from seed. Put some wires up for the thornless blackberry bushes, I found they sprawl the floor otherwise and the birds readily eat them before I get to them. Peeled a large bagful of cooking apples that I was given and prepped them for the freezer. Peelings to the geese. Made bread. Lovely sunny dry day again, how long will it last??

Wednesday: got up early to get the feeding and watering done, had a hospital appointment at 10.15 and getting through Oxford is an ordeal so need to leave plenty of time. Found mr rabbit dead in his run, I have no idea why he has died, he seemed a little quiet over the last few days but still eating and drinking also in the middle of a moult, there will definitely be no babies now! 

Thursday: Old Mr Duck died overnight, we knew he was coming to the end as I had to carry him out yesterday morning and John had to carry him back to bed in the evening, fly high Mr Duck I hope you enjoyed life here. Damn mouse in the airing cupboard, keep hearing it scratching about in the mornings and evidence of mouse poo in there, have had to put poison down as there are wires for the boiler etc in there don’t want it chewing through those. Rodents are always a problem this time of year as they look for somewhere warm to overwinter and preferably near a food source, we don’t have a massive problem just multiple areas where they are living lol 

Thought I’d better sort out the cctv, the front camera got hit by a branch during tree felling last weekend and was recording the ground directly underneath it lol, gave the lens a clean and then linked it to my mobile phone via an app so I can see when I’m not there, not that there would be much I could do about it. I have a forth camera but when I tried it before it kept knocking the system off so I got a new cable just in case it was that and will give it another go, failing that I will need to try the port to make sure it’s not that that is dodgy and if that is ok get a different camera. I want to use the last one for filming the paddock at night to see what is about, hope I don’t get more than I bargained for 😝 clowns or something 😝 I have also put a motion activated light in the egg shed for the darker evenings ahead ( I know, look at me all organised! ) although I think I may have to set a time for last buying of eggs, someone came 9pm on Saturday evening, have they nothing better to do? 

Made bread and butter pudding with some leftover bread and cream to use up, shepherds pie for John spag Bol for me πŸ˜€

Had a phone call this week, the cow has gone to slaughter and will hang for a couple of weeks then be ready for the freezer, I have also ordered 2 lambs from a local farmer so need to sort the freezer space out asap! 

Friday: John went off to get the feed this morning as we won’t be here tomorrow, and a couple of new blades for his chainsaw, the old ones can be sharpened but our local sharpener takes forever, about eight weeks last time to get them back so quicker if not cost effective to get new ones. Went to visit Mum and Ken for coffee, they are now back for the Winter after spending the summer on the canal boat. Did a bit of washing and ironing and packed for a weekend away in Eastbourne. 

Sat & Sun: left the farm in the capable hands of Charlie and Macca, and set off for Eastbourne, we decided a while back we needed a break, a change of air, fresh fish and chips and an ice cream or two. I couldn’t escape the events of the farm even then, well I presume the mouse I found up my sleeve had come with us from the farm, either that or it hitched a ride from the place we stopped for breakfast and that doesn’t bear thinking about πŸ˜‹ there I was in the middle of a busy shopping street fishing a mouse out from my sleeve, good job I am not squeamish, I didn’t bat an eye lid, just carried on walking and left onlookers dumbfounded lol. Of course I had to put up with the comments from John then, when window shopping he would say, ‘that looks mice’ or do you think ratatouille is cooking the dinner tonight or “did you bring your flute” ha bloody ha. All in all though it was a pleasant weekend and the weather was kind to us, and it was nice to see, hear and smell the seaside. 

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