Saturday, 31 October 2009

New Blog Shop

After much deliberation I have decided to close my Typepad Blog and move my little Blog Shop onto Blogger which I find much easier to use.
It is called Lavenders Blue 2, the second re-incarnation of my lovely little shop in the Ulverston, Cumbria. In it I will be selling a selection of the lovely lavender and associated items that I currently sell at the Farmers Markets and Craft Fairs that I attend here in the leafy lanes of Oxfordshire, England.
The Original Lavender's Blue... in Ulverston, Cumbria.
I will strive to keep all postage costs as low as possible and will also use this little shop to offer special offers and 'last of lines' to all my lovely readers.
A lot of the items that I sell are handmade and unique to Lavender's Blue and although I do not mind in the slightest you copying any item for your own use I would prefer that you did not mass produce to sell in this area. If, however, you live abroad or at least outside of England......feel free to be cheeky!! (In fact email and ask for help if you need it!)
I will add to the shop on a regular basis and leave items for sale until I have no more stock, so please scroll back to find older posts to order from. Once stocks are gone I will post on the relevent page to let you know.
As a special offer to start my Little Blog Shop off on the right foot, I am offering a free Goody Bag of Lavender Lovelies to the fifth Follower to sign up to the shop.
Thank you for reading this interruption to life on the farm, normal service will be resumed on Monday.
Have a brilliant weekend.
Love Sue xx

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

RIP Mona

Today another of my lovely ladies went to meet her maker.
We're not sure exactly how, whether it be a fox or one of the many Red Kites that have been circling the farm so low each day looking for food. Her body was left behind so there is more reason to suspect a Red Kite swoop, she would have been a bit too heavy to carry off I think.
Whichever way, she is gone and now there are 7 White Girls, already they are staying closer together and close to the house. Tonight there will be a gap on the perches.
Missing you already, my Mona, the noisiest and most complaining of the chickens, so glad that you spent so many happy days here on our farm.
Sue xx

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Autumn Days

The days are shorter now,. and soon to be even shorter when the clocks go back tonight. My mornings are now taken up by the feeding and cleaning out of the chickens and the feeding of the pigs. It seems pointless to go in and get cleaned up straight after this so while I still have my muddy wellies on we wander the fields the dogs and me. Noticing in detail the changing colours of the leaves and the different light in the sky.
A few last blackberries cling to the brambles but these cannot be picked, for according to an old tradition, they have been 'wee'd on by Satan'! No, I hadn't heard of that one until recently, very strange, but I'm sure the birds appreciate us leaving the last of these lovely fruits for them to feast on before the winter rolls in.
I am having a mini Blogging break for a couple of days as Jason is home from Uni for the weekend and my lovely folks are heading down the motorway to stay for a few days from tomorrow. We intend to have a relaxing time, catching up on news, maybe a spot of tidying in the polytunnel, definitely a bit of retail therapy and most certainly a few good meals.
Have a lovely weekend...back soon.
Sue xx

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Raining Apples

What do you do when everytime you go out you get rained on by make apple and pear puree.
Our inherited apple tree is SO prolific at the moment, the apples on the uppermost branches, that were way past our harvesting reach, are now being thrown with gay abandon by the tree on to the heads of anyone daring enough to wander too close.
Mum had given us some lovely pears on my last visit and there were three left in the bottom of the fridge, so together with a basket of windfalls (jettisons) from the lovely old apple tree that is near the chicken house, I got stuck in and made a huge pan of Apple and Pear puree, some of it was consumed that same night with a crumble topping and the most divine toffee and vanilla icecream.
The last jar (of this batch) is to be saved for a repeat pudding when my lovely Mum and Dad visit next week, if I can resist the temptation long enough!
Sue xx

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Guest Blogger

Hi, my name is Archie and I used to have my own Blog, called Archie...Shop Cat, but it seems to have vanished. So my Mum says I can have a go on hers today.

I used to write all about my adventures from leaving my pussycat Mum to moving in with Mum and Hairy Human. But now I am older there are some things that Mums are best not knowing (especially when it makes Mum cross, like when I catch and eat the tasty little birds), so I didn't go to my Blog very much and now it has gone.

Now I live on a farm with Mum, Hairy Human, Big Dog, Little Dog, Toby the Big Black cat, 8 Big White birds, 4 Big Brown Birds and 3 Big Pigs, it's always busy and always lots of fun. I have my own little door that me and Toby use to come in and out of our own room where our food dishes and little beds are.
Today I went on a walk with Mum and Sophie (Big Dog) and Rosy (Little Dog). It was wet in the long grass and the sticky things got in my tail, like they always do, so Mum kept pulling them out......OUCH!
We run together and sometimes roll in the wet grass, Little Dog vanishes into the ditches and Big Dog likes to chase the sticks that Mum throws. Me, I'm happy to walk with Mum, sometimes I run on ahead so I can have a lie down and wait for everyone to catch up.
Sometimes I climb high into the trees, I've heard wussy town cats have to get the Fire Brigade to get them out of trees but I can get to the very top and then STILL get down.

When we get to the end of the track around the field we turn around and head back towards the house.

Big Dog usually runs ahead, she likes to get back first the round up the Big Brown Birds, me and Little Dog stay close to Mum and we play chase, and stick fetching. Little Dog finds lots of things to sniff at, but me I listen for the little birds in the hedges and sometimes I go to see if I can catch any.
Sometimes I get in front of Little Dog and have to watch out for her running up behind me.

Then we are home, and it's time to go in for milk and Gravy Bones......I love Gravy Bones!

The Big White Bird comes to tell Mum that there are eggs for breakfast, so we go and get them before coming in for a warm and a snooze.


(was Shop Cat - now Farm Cat)


Monday, 19 October 2009

Take one man...............

Take one man and a barrow load of tools...................
A brilliant days work went on yesterday we both just got stuck in and went for it. It was a crisp, cold, but lovely and sunny day, the ideal weather to do outdoor work, you don't get hot and sticky but you don't feel the cold either as long as you keep going and keep going we did.
Lovely Hubby managed to get all the fence posts in along the house side of the orchard and round the corner to the gate, with stock fencing and two strips of barbed wire fitted at the top and bottom to make the orchard nice and secure for the pigs.
He even managed to get our nice new gate that leads into the neighbouring field hung and working. And whilst he was doing that I planted 240 over-wintering white onion sets in one of last years potato beds and made it chicken proof. Now just a similar of red onions to plant.
Today I am going to sit and draw plans of all our beds, both the raised beds outside and the polytunnel beds and even the tyres at the side of the house so we can list what we have planted and what we plan to put in them next year. I think it's time we were slightly more organised, so we intend to have our own growing book and write down what we plant and what it cost us and what return we get out of it.
Should make for interesting reading in a few years time!
Sue xx

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Fencing and Trees

100 trees to go down the lefthand side and bottom of the orchard.
The main job today for Lovely Hubby is to do the final bit of fencing for the orchard, once that is done we will have the option of letting the pigs out of their enclosures and into the whole of the orchard. Once they can do that they will be able to forage all over the orchard and supplement their pig nuts with whatever yummy goodies they can find.
After he has completed this he will get on with planting some more of the trees to help suck up some of the excess water in the orchard and screen the pigs from the winds that can howl across the from the paddock.
The big new gate to the orchard is now hung and I just have to get used to not being able to cut through whichever trees I'm nearest and head to the gate to gain access to my lovely piggy friends.
The White girls (chickens) have now moved into their new luxury accomodation with the Brown girls, although one, Latte, forgot which direction to head in last night and went to sleep on top of the old chicken pen. Luckily LH's ladder was nearby and he climbed (in torchlight) to reach Latte and put her securely to bed in the right place.
My jobs for today include planting my winter onions in the old potato bed and clearing out the veggie tyres of the last of their crops, there are a couple of remaining courgette/marrows that can be turned into some more Courgette and Tomato sauce, and I spy a good handful of lettuce leaves that can be added to rocket from the polytunnel to go with tonights salad.
It's very good this feeding yourself from the garden lark, it opens your eyes to all sorts of possibilities with food and makes us much more experimental, who knows what we'll be trying by next year!
Well I'm off out now that the temperature has risen slightly, I'll have lots of little helpers, chickens and dogs mainly, who always like to see exactly what I'm doing and in the case of the chickens as fast as I plant something they pull it up for a taste and a closer look!
Hope you're enjoying your weekend too.
Sue xx

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Martha or Maud?

This is either Martha or the moment they are pretty interchangeable. They have not shown, (to me anyway) a definite difference in their characters. Both have come out of their shell considerably since 'big sister' Betty arrived and showed them that virtually everything is edible and troughs can be upturned and moved around the pen.
Feeding time now consists of finding said trough, and putting it the right way round whilst resisting the bulk of a huge Berkshire pig desperate to tip the contents of the feed bucket all over the ground.
My little trick to foil this is to sprinkle a handful of pig nuts just by the water trough to occupy them while I dash in and do the righting and filling of the feed trough, luckily Betty is a well trained pig and although knocking over the bucket is a game she is careful not to push us too hard. Her reward for her gentle manners is a tickle behind the ears and a good scratch along her back, something she loves.
Pigs have opened a whole new world up for us, they are SO clean and SO intelligent, a pleasure to have and a joy to watch. As I was warned by lots of readers of this blog I spend far too long watching (and scratching) my pigs, they truly are fascinating.
Sue xx

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Posh New Residence

Well here we have it, our newly assembled hen house.
The Brown girls (Welsummers) moved in last night to give them a head start on the White girls (White Star Hybrids). Usually they are bossed about mercilessly by the White girls so I thought if they got their feet under the table first they might move slightly up the pecking order
....we shall see!
It went together like a dream and is lovely and sturdy, a good deterrent against Mr Fox and protection against the cold winter nights to come. It has the slot shown above to pull out a moveable floor, so cleaning is a bit easier, just above that is a little ventilation window with wire mesh behind a closable door, and round the side to the right is a person sized door so you can climb in if necessary.
The front of the house is being modelled by Rosy, my beautiful assistant, showing the raised lid of the nesting boxes and the delightful little heart shaped glazed window so my girls know when daylight is approaching.
It was fun and easy to assemble, although we did do it in the rain on Sunday afternoon, I'll let you know how the continuing 'moving in' schedule goes (although one of the White girls did lay an egg in the nesting boxes yesterday, so it can't be too bad!!
For information this is the Maggies 24 Henhouse from a brilliant company that we use for all our chicken supplies (including egg boxes). No, I am not being paid to advertise, I just think that good design and excellent service deserves recognition in this day and age.
Sue xx

Monday, 12 October 2009

A Touch of Xmas at the Farmers Market

A much needed coffee before the doors open.
This Sundays Farmers Market had a slight festive fair, some stall holders braved a bit of tinsel, others had order books at the ready for Christmas cakes, puddings, turkeys and hampers. Me, I showcased (and sold) quite a few of my Christmas gift ideas and lovely cinnamon scented sachets that I had over from my shop in Cumbria last year. Assuring people that there would be much more 'Christmas' at the next Market in November.
It was a pretty buzzy fast moving morning, with most people in a good mood, outside the weather was fine until the last half hour and then the heavens opened.
Luckily for us stall holders this made some people hang on inside the cosy village hall, taking the time to enjoy a freshly cooked bacon butty or turkey roll and an extra cup of steaming coffee. Then suitably refreshed they shopped again, seeing different things on their second trip around the hall and making extra purchases.

And then in dribs and drabs the hall slowly emptied and it was time to pack away, load the van and go home for a spot of chicken house building.

Hope your Sunday was good too.

Sue xx

Friday, 9 October 2009

New Pig on the Block

A big Jointers welcome to Betty Berkshire who took up residence with Maud and Martha Middlewhite this afternoon. After an uneventful journey from Salisbury she is getting her breath back in the orchard. After having had a drink of water and a meal of pig nuts and acorns she is quickly settling in.
She put the little pigs firmly in their place (and yes pigs can fly!) and then hoovered up every trace of food they had left from their breakfasts.
She seems a lovely pig, well used to being handled and nice and friendly, quite a contrast to the Middlewhites who don't seem to have had much human contact since they were born and have taken all week to get used to us and still hate to be touched.
We're looking forward to a fun and profitable time ahead, hopefully her first babies will be born early February (little Valentine piggies perhaps).

Have lovely weekend.

Sue xx

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Best Dressed Man Award

The winner of the Best Dressed Man Award (or what to wear when you're putting chickens to bed) is.........
Lovely Hubby.
Gotcha ( I love you lots.)
Sue xx

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Piggies on the Farm

A big welcome to Maud and Martha Middlewhite, our latest little additions to the family.
We picked them up earlier this morning and they are now firmly ensconced in their great big pig ark with some bales of straw placed all around to make them feel a little more safe and secure.
If they have not leapt over the bales we will remove them in a couple of days when the girls are more at home and let them explore the rest of their enclosure.
It was a windy journey along the motorway for them from Offley Hoo, but they cuddled in together all cosy in their little straw filled section of the trailer. And on arrival one let herself be carried to the pig ark with the minimum of fuss but lots of squealing, and the other made a bid for freedom, after a bit of persuading she joined her sister in their new home.
At the moment they are quite stressed after their adventure so I will take some more pictures tomorrow when they have had a chance to get their breath back.
Have a lovely weekend. Sue xx

Thursday, 1 October 2009


It's official it's Autumn. It feels like autumn and it looks like autumn, it crept up on us unawares and settled itself in quietly, pushing the long days of Summer away. We have the warmth of the summer days briefly but then the chill creeps in and the evenings are suddenly short with a bite in the air.
The mornings are misty and eerily quiet, the leaves are fluttering down and carpeting the ground with a quietly rustling soft surface to walk on. The cats (and dogs on occasion) chase the errant leaf that skims along the path, and the best part....the glorious sunsets we have been having. Although earlier and earlier they light the sky with reds, oranges and on occasion a wonderful heavy blue light that is there one minute and gone the next.
The camera can never do them justice, so I don't dash in to grab it, I sit or stand perfectly still and drink in the sight storing it in my mind as protection from the dark dismal evenings of winter ahead.
We grab our jackets or cardigans and walk the dogs in the fading light, admiring the changing landscape all around us, drawing closer together for a warmth that is needed in the rapidly chilling evening. Then it's home to tuck the chickens up for the night, they nestle on their perches and huddle together in their familiar formation, a pecking order has been re-established since the demise of Mother and now all is organised and harmonious again.
I am slowly making the house cosy and ready for the colder nights of the winter to come. More and more we find ourselves cocooned in the living room, Lovely Hubby working at the computer, me scouring recipe books and magazines for inspirational warming foods for winter, and ideas for makes for my upcoming craft fairs.
All four pets gravitate to the living room over the course of the evening, so we work to the gentle hum of 2 cats and 2 dogs snoring and twitching in their sleep reliving their lively day here on the farm.
Every now and then one of us will look up and make the offer of "another coffee or something stronger", but sometimes the thought of leaving your warm cosy seat is too much to bear so it's a "no I'm fine" and we continue on our peaceful evening, engrossed in our separate tasks but happy in the knowledge we are together and sometimes the world is a good peaceful place.
Sue xx