Monday, 30 November 2015

Christmas in December

Christmas in December, that's all I really ask for.  

Walking round Asda a few weeks ago, just into November I found myself singing along to the merry strains of Jingle Bells.  It took a minute or two for my brain to register the wrongness of this.  Looking around me though I could see exactly why they were playing this music.  For the first time the 'Seasonal' aisle was bustling with people filling their trolleys with selection boxes, Christmas sweets and tins of biscuits.  I wonder how many of them got home and thought "what are we going to have for tea tonight then".

My first Christmas purchase was this jar of candy canes last week.  I don't eat much sweet stuff these days but every Christmas I am partial to a box of candy canes.  I was going to resist this year, honest ....  indeed I did until the other day when while I was in Home bargains there were these candy canes at on a shelf in a jar that matches my large pasta jar (I just need to see if I can scratch 'Sweet Things' off the front of it), for the same price as the candy canes you get in the cardboard boxes..

I had to buy them ..... for the jar you do understand don't you   ;-)

The picture of the Pug in the top photo is a card Mum bought me ages ago, it usually sits on the shelf in the kitchen making me smile every single day, I just had to pop it next to the candy canes for the photo it just looked so right!!

Sue xx

Sunday, 29 November 2015

The Buoy is Back

The buoy is back .... the buoy that can be seen dangling from the tree in our woodland that is.

The previous owners of this house had two youngish boys and I guess either they or their Dad put this up for swinging on.  As it is on a tree that is so tall and with such a steep drop in front of it we have no way of getting it down, save shooting through the rope to release it.  But I don't think either of us would actually ever do this as it's something of a local landmark.

When anyone local asks us where we live we used to say the house with the trailers parked in the field, then we sold the trailers.  Now we tend to say the house with the polytunnels and they know immediately which house we are, but there a few folk that simply know us as 'the house with the buoy hanging in the woods',

That'll do nicely, we don't mind at all ... but it only works through the late Autumn and Winter months when it's visible from the road, come Spring when the leaves reappear on the trees and the huge bank of ferns comes back to life the buoy disappears from view, and then once again we are the house with the polytunnels  :-)

Sue xx  

Friday, 27 November 2015

Random Harvesting, Bowls and Stocktaking the Freezer

A random harvest, that's what I call the things I bring back into the house after cleaning out the henhouse each morning.

There is usually at least one egg there already when I go to clean out the house, we have had three a day for the last two weeks, I'm more than happy with that it means we have a plentiful supply for the kitchen and the occasional half dozen for Mum.  Yesterday I brought a handful of Kale back from the polytunnel on the way back from the morning doggy walk around the paddock, and since the weather has taken a turn for the chilly I bring at least one bowl full of wood into the house.  

I like my big old handled bowl, we picked up a couple of these from a farm auction we went to years ago and they have proved useful for all sort of things.

The best ever use of this larger one was as the 'day bath' for the geese, Harry, Larry and Mo.  We sat it in a tyre so it didn't tip and they had lots of fun washing, preening and generally playing with the water.

Of course all the chickens, including their Mum, the Hyline hen Mother Goose (hence her name), thought this bathing in water malarky was totally ridiculous and would have nothing to do with it.  But the geese would happily take it in turns to bath or just sit there watching the world go by.

Today it's been raining virtually all day ... yet again, so I finally got round to a bit of freezer stocktaking.  The small freezer half of the fridge/freezer in the kitchen is all done now and a list of the contents has been scribbled down on to waste sheets of A4 paper (we use the back of printed out things that we have no further use for) and will be typed up neatly once I get round to stocktaking the big chest freezer.  I'm not doing it yet in case I can combine any duplicated items.  I was amazed at how much this freezer had in it.

I virtually got frostbite while going through it ,and had to make a coffee to warm my hands around after spending five minutes separating slices of lemon that had stuck together.  I found two boxes, both half full and decided to combine them into one for ease of use and stacking.  The slices were pretty stuck together but I persevered and now they are free flowing again.I think a pair of gloves will be used once I bring myself to tackle the big chest freezer.

Time to feed the dogs now and take them for a wet and muddy walk round the paddock, the chickens will be closed up for the night as we get back to the house and then the fire will be lit.  The only good thing about these short dark, wet days is the long, cosy evenings cuddled up in front of the television with snoozing dogs and the flicker of the candles on the mantlepiece.

Have a good evening.

Sue xx

Bleak Friday

It's today, the American import called Black Friday. 

A day of mass consumerism and in some cases buying for buyings sake.  After the debacles last year some shops, the more sensible ones, are changing their 'sales' policies this year, thank goodness.  Fair enough if there's something you need and you have the energy and good temper enough to brave the crowds go for it, but we won't be joining in.

The truck is booked into the garage for the repairs after Lovely Hubby's minor accident the other week, while it's being repaired we'll walk the dogs and then take them home.  A trip to the builder's merchants will see us ordering the wood LH needs to make the doors for the workshop, we might even treat ourselves to a coffee while we are out, but we will not be shopping. 

 He got a quote for doors to be made for the workshop a couple of weeks ago, the price that came back was £2,500 for hardwood and £1,500 for softwood.  He reckons he can do it himself for around £500 so that's the route we are taking.  He had never made a door frame and hung a new door in it before, so he practised on the interior control room door, it worked and is almost finished.  So now he has the confidence to tackle the outer doors to the workshop and he's going to go for it.

Bleak Friday ... a day to do what you normally do or just stay at home cosy and warm and wait for the mayhem to be over.

Sue xx

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Polytunnel Progress - November

It's now late November and in the frost free cocoon of the polytunnel there is still life, and more importantly food for us to eat.  If I needed to I could go out and pick at any time the makings of a good vegetable soup, without depleting any of the plants of too many of their leaves.

To walk you through the plants available to us at the moment.

In the central bed there are :

Spring Onions
A single Spinach plant
A single Cabbage plant
A pot of potatoes that are refusing to grow.

On the right hand side are :

Curly Kale

On the bench are some overwintering herbs in the big green tray, and an unheated propagator of seedlings that I was experimenting with ... and yes, they all came up, so more tiny Spinach, Radish, Mixed Leaves and Lettuce.  And also my very sad Lemon plant.  I think I may bring it in the house to live with the Chilli plant for the Winter and see if there is anything I can do to bring it back to life.

Funnily enough I've always been unlucky with citrus plants even when we lived down south and it was much milder.  I think a bit of research is called for instead of my usual instinctive gardening ... we're obviously not on the same wavelength me and citrus!!

On the left hand side are :

Chilli Pepper
Potatoes that are refusing to grow.
Mixed Salad Leaves

and right at the far end my Sweet Potato plant which I should be able to finally pull out of it's pot next week.  I was told to wait until the leaves went yellow and seemed to be dying off before risking tipping them out of the pot.

In the terracotta coloured plastic pot are yet more potatoes refusing to show themselves.   'Grow your own delicious New Potatoes, in pots in time for Christmas Day' said their packet .... nope it's not worked.  So I'll just save a few of our own outside grown and stored big spuds to eat with our Christmas dinner and try again next year with a different variety.  The plant at the back behind the sweet potato is a self seeded Nasturtium.  I left it there to see if can over-winter in the tunnel, but I suspect it might get too cold for it.  In the meantime I can pick one or two of it's peppery leaves whenever we are having a salad.

In the foreground of the left hand side photo are the two pots of Oca given to me by Dawn of 'Doing it for Ourselves in Wales', and she posts about harvesting some of hers HERE,  The pots were only in the tunnel briefly to avoid a really heavy downpour while I was over there, they were already saturated and I though a couple of hours grace from the deluge might be appreciated.  They are back outside now awaiting a good frost ... we were promised one last week and almost got it ... but not quite.  How ironic that in South Wales, where you would expect it to be a tad warmer, Dawn has had a good frost and here on our North Wales hillside we haven't.  Hopefully we'll get to taste them soon.

So that's this month's round up of Polytunnel Progress.

I'm pleasantly surprised that in this year of experimentation there is still so much life and potential food in there, it bodes well for next year.

Sue xx