Sunday, 24 May 2015

Doggy Fat Camp ... and a Non-Peaceful Bank Holiday Weekend

Image result for fat pug

Thank you for all the comments yesterday, you really helped me to think this through.  After lots of reading, including your helpful comments, I do not think I will be taking any of the dogs for their annual boosters next year.  They are all covered until January 2016 which gives me plenty of time to check with the kennels if they can still stay there when we need them too.  I have been informed on good authority that as they were vaccinated and we showed proof of this on their first stays, this will not be a problem.

If by any chance that changes it will not be the end of the world.  Lovely Hubby will be giving up his 'day job' not long after that and if we do go away anywhere there will be so many animals to look after here on our smallholding that farm sitters, either professional, friends or family, will be the only option anyway.

Suky is a bit better this morning, as she ate no breakfast yesterday, refusing to eat at all and then ate her tea and brought it all back up immediately afterwards last night we decided to weigh her this morning.  She had gone from 12.1kgs on Friday evening to 11.6kg this morning.  I thought that while her tummy was so empty this morning I would reduce her ration of dog food and start her on her diet to lose this excess weight.  She ate her breakfast this morning and kept it down and even trotted happily around the field with Lovely Hubby and the other dogs and Ginger, when she got back she didn't even attempt to eat Mavis's leftovers, so I think it has worked with the smaller measure of food filling her up enough.

Her poor little knee is still puffy and swollen where the vet manipulated it, and I am very cross about this .... we knew it was a problem and we have always taken great care not to exacerbate it and then along comes someone who makes it ten times worse just to prove a point.  If at all possible I will not be letting her have an operation.  If it suddenly 'goes' on her or gets worse in any way of course I would get her veterinary help immediately, but I am not prepared to put a dog, especially a Pug  through a general anesthetic and an operation that involves shaving part of her shin bone unless it is absolutely and totally necessary.

Suky updates, including weight loss will be ongoing :-)


Meanwhile, outside on this not peaceful Bank Holiday weekend we have had the constant churning of a cement mixer as the retaining wall has been going up, layer by layer.


Rosy inspecting the work at close of play at 7pm last night.


This morning the guys are all back, two welders and two brickies.  The mesh gets inserted on to the uprights that are inbetween the layers of blocks and welded into place.  Then the front wall will be bricked up a few layers higher and once this has set, concrete will be poured between the blocks. 

 Once this has set another few layers of blocks will go on top and concrete poured into the gap, and this is repeated over and over until the retaining wall is the right height and can be topped off.  The back of the wall will then be infilled with a lot of the earth that was removed before it was built.


So one thing we are not having is a quiet and restful holiday weekend, although we are braving the rain this afternoon, leaving the builders to their own devices and taking ourselves off to look around Plas Cadnant, highly recommended by our neighbour Mary and somewhere we tried to get to when we holidayed on Anglesey earlier in the year, but it was closed on the day we visited.

As it's called the 'Hidden Gardens' we are just hoping they are not too well hidden ;-)

Sue xx

Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Animals Today ... Baffled, Sleeping and Poorly


Rosy was peering into the Eglu watching one of the Hylines busy laying her egg .....


... this shot shows Rosy watching the hen running off at great speed just 30 seconds later :-)


Yin and Yang, or in this case Ginger and Mavis.



And poor Suky is not well at all  :-(

She went to the vets yesterday for her annual booster.  She went in a completely healthy dog and after the vet messing about with her knee repeatedly before she gave her the vaccination (she limps slightly after long walks as she has a loose kneecap, which we do know about and hence we don't overwalk her if at all possible), she came out obviously in pain with her leg and for the rest of the evening she was obviously very off colour and had the runs.  This morning she has refused all food and is fast asleep in her bed.  The vet is talking about an operation on her leg, but I think losing weight will do more to help the situation, and be much less traumatic and invasive for her.  I have signed her up to 'Doggy Fat Club' at the vets, which will no doubt mean I get lectured about her food, but I'll trot off to the first one and see what they have to say., 

After reading various articles about vaccinations (see HERE for one) I think I am coming to the conclusion that we will not continue to vaccinate the dogs.  They will of course continue with other treatments, flea and worm things, but no more yearly vaccinations for the time being.  Seeing Suky so poorly and totally at our doing is not nice.

Sue xx

Friday, 22 May 2015

Battered Pots ..... and Keeping the Postman Busy



The total sum of my purchases at the car boot sale was a plant for £2 and this gloriously battered pot for a whole one pound.  I just couldn't resist it, there's something about things with little fancy feet that I love .....


... and that it's feet go in all directions after obviously being dropped and having a very hard life makes it, in my eyes anyway, even more appealing.  

So I spent £3 and Lovely Hubby spent £3.50 .... oooh what a spender!!  He bought an old wood working plane, and some other rusty bits of metal which he assured me were also tools and well worth his three hundred and fifty pennies.


In other news, the postie has once again been bringing me unusual boxes ....


... this one contained my free Lime Tree and fruit tree fertiliser from my Kitchen Garden Magazine.


It's a lovely little thing, lets see how long it takes me to kill this one like I did my last two lemon trees :-(


The next day two of these arrived.



How neat is that!!


A total of 96 little tiny Lavender, Antirrhinum and Salvia plug plants.


After standing them upright and giving them a little drink, as per the instructions,  I have carried them over to the polytunnel this morning to plant into bigger plug plant trays and they are just enjoying another little drink while I blog..

Getting plants through the post could get seriously addictive, I think will have to put the brakes on this new obsession ..... soon!!   ;-)



My little bargain car boot pot has been called into action this morning to hold yet more Rosemary cuttings, I popped a lidless jam jar inside it to hold the water, so it doesn't suffer anymore.  


I wish this was 'smellovision' as the house is smelling gorgeous at the moment with all these cuttings dotted around everywhere,  I did some Basil cuttings last night, simply because my Basil plant on the kitchen windowsill has gotten SO big.  It was a good supermarket buy at just £1.25, I bet with a couple of pots of cuttings I will more than get my money back.

Off to plant up my little Lavenders now ..... I may be some time :-)

Sue xx



Thursday, 21 May 2015

Selling the Clutter and the Veggies


Last Saturday saw us busy at the Rowen Car Boot sale, held once a month throughout the Spring and Summer it is a lovely venue on the village green.  The hall is open for teas, coffees, hot dogs and cakes, and I think it is a brilliant way to raise money for local amenities.

The sun was shining and folk were happy and chatty and we did a roaring trade .....


... so much so that one of us needed a lie down and fell asleep in the sunshine.


As well as sorted out clutter and excess from the house, yes there is still some of that, I decided to sell some of the plants from the polytunnel.  There was no way I would need 18 Courgette plants for just the two of us, so 12 of them were taken to the boot sale along with 8 Pumpkin plants.  I sold them for just 50p each as I wanted to come back with empty trays not make the most possible money and this price more than covered the cost of plant pots and compost, with some profit on top for us.  It worked and we returned with just two of the Pumpkins.  So there's now a starter of £9 in our vegetable fund.

I was the only person selling anything other than tomato plants, so it got me thinking what else could I sell that was just a little bit different and that would be snapped up by buyers to the car boot sale.


As I have LOTS of Rosemary plants about the place I decided to take some cuttings from them.


So now my little jugs are dotted about the house making the place smell gorgeous and hopefully they will all root in time for the next car boot sale and raise us a little bit more money in our bid for gradual self sufficiency.

Taking baby steps this year and then hopefully building on them will help us to see what is popular, what sells well and how much I could potentially make as a little sideline for when Lovely Hubby gives up the day job.

Sue xx


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Welcome To My World



Welcome to my world.

Behind these doors, usually open when I'm working in there unless a bitterly cold breeze is wending it's way across the hillside, I spend a good percentage of my time.  There are always jobs to be done at the moment.  A spot of weeding, which easy work while the only weeds are teeny tiny little things, so I keep on top of it each and every day.  Planting seeds, successional sowings are the order of the day now as well as some crops that have had to wait until the days and nights, have gotten consistently warmer for their seeds to be popped into the soil.

And the job I love most ... potting on.  

Taking a small seedling with it's first true leaves and popping it into a plant pot of it's very own to grow on without being crowded by neighbouring seedlings.  They thrive and grow quickly once they have their own bigger space, it's magical to see.

Would you like to come on a tour ......


As you are looking at the doors of the tunnel this is what is on the right hand side.

First at the back of the tyres a tall silver coloured planter planted up with Jerusalem Artichokes, the tyres have been planted with peas, 'Kelvedon Wonder' is my pea of choice for this year.  Two plant pots full of the Ocas that I mentioned in yesterday's post.  In front here is a pot of Snowdrops, moved in the green as they were about to be flattened by building work.  I will find somewhere safe for the little bulbs to rest the Summer away and save their strength to amaze us with their perseverance next year. 

To the very right of the picture is a Genista, we have had to dig up the whole bed that we planted near the fence (see here 8th picture down) as the Magnolia was suffering.  We took a leaf to our local nursery and John's expertise told him immediately that the soil is too poor for the plants.  All the goodness was being washed down the hillside, past the plants and with no retaining wall is simply washed away, so a bit of care and attention and placing them all somewhere else is the only option.


On the left hand side of the doors, the matching tyres contain more peas, behind them is another silver planter.  Currently there are a couple of pots of recovering Primulas sat on the top of it, but nothing actually planted in it.  Being nursed back to health on this side is the Magnolia in it's temporary home of a plastic trug, and just peeping it's pretty red flower into shot is the Azalea, also being fed and molly coddled until we erect a fence behind the new entrance wall that will have a flower bed for them all to settle their roots into.

I think we'll have to name this area Mollycoddle Corner ;-)


Would you care to step through the doors .....


We are filling up nicely now, and it's all starting to take shape and look like a proper (and very neat) working polytunnel.


To the left as you step in are the potato plants, they coming along very well and have some new neighbours in the French Marigolds that I have planted here, there and everywhere in the tunnel.  You can't beat a bit of their lovely orange brightness that will appear soon, to brighten up the tunnel and also attract beneficial insects and their scent should deter other less welcome visitors.

In the next bed along I have a pea wigwam, just a bit of experimentation to see if peas will like being in the tunnel, I will be able to compare them to their sisters in the tyres.  In the same bed, more Marigolds and a few rows of carrot seeds sown directly into the bed.  Beyond them the green bottomless pots have my Tomatoes.  This year I have a mixture of seeds planted, some red and some yellow tomatoes just odds and sods that I wanted to use up.  There is plenty of room in front for a few Rocket plants and some Basil, which grows wonderfully well near tomatoes and of course is delicious to eat with them.

The last bed on this side is full of Beetroot and a pot of Sweet Potatoes that I am trying for the first time.


Switching to the other side and we have the workbench full of seedlings and propagators full of recent sowings.  Beneath the 'nursery' section there is first of all an empty bed, then the bed full of Leeks and finally the Radish bed.  This is turning into the 'snack' bed, every time I'm working in there I end up eating a few of the big fat fresh Radishes, I just can't resist their peppery loveliness.


Back to this picture to show you the middle.

The first bed is full of Mixed Salad Leaves and Spring Onions, with an single Garlic Plant and three Shallots as another indoor experiment.  The middle section has just become home to four Cucumber plants, one is a bit sickly but I'm hoping the other three will be more than enough to feed us throughout the Summer months.

The final bed in the centre is temporary home to the recently potted on plants, I like to have them down on the soil so that excess water is going through and keeping the ground beneath moist.  Now luxuriating in their own pots are lots of Cape Gooseberries, Butternut Squashes and some replacement Courgettes for the ones that have been eaten from the outside raised bed.


Hanging above the first bed is a basket of Strawberries, with a couple about to turn red, and at the other end of my hanging shelves there is a similar basket full of tomato plants.

It's a busy place, lots of growing taking place and always lots to do, it's my world and I love it.  I'll be back tomorrow to tell you where two big trays of Courgettes and Pumpkins ended up.

Sue xx