Monday, 30 November 2009

The Best of Days and the Worst of Days

Saturday saw me in Tetsworth Village Hall for my Willow Weaving Course. Just one day of willow weaving, lovely food and most importantly lots of fun.
Caroline one of the girls from the Farmers Markets that I do, runs a nursery/gardening business and had been on a course to weave willow wreaths in time for Christmas last year and so she imparted her knowledge to us in time for us to do something similar this year.
Obviously I can't compete with my teacher at the Farmers Markets so all my lovely creations are for personal use at the moment. First we learnt how to make the willow more supple so it bends rather than snaps, very hard on your thumbs that one! Then she showed us how to bend and weave our wreaths into shape, building up layer after layer of willow.
We were allowed free rein to decorate our creations with any of the lovely ribbons, baubles and natural greenery and berries that were on show. And boy did we all go to town. I like things rustic and simple, some liked them glittery and sparkly, some liked to completey cover the wreath, but I love twigs and wood so I always left some on show. No two creations were even similar but all were just as we wanted them.
Then she showed us stars, some got this and some didn't, I didn't and preferred to go off on a tangent and switched to hearts instead. I have a thing about hearts as our house will testify, they are everywhere!!
Finally I made a twiggy bundle to go on our mantlepiece to replace the hops that usually reside there. Shown here on the sofa.
It was a brilliant day and as I loaded the car with my creations I felt the first stirrings of Christmas, this will be our first Christmas here on the farm and I hope in some small way my home made decorations will set the scene for a homely, warm and cosy Christmas. Christmas decorations are going up at the end of this week as we have something rather special to celebrate!

And the worst of days? Yesterday was spent at Henley Farmers Christmas Market in the worst of weather. Gale force winds and driving rain on and off all day. In the few bright spells there were lots of folks buying and if the weather had been on our side it would have been a brilliant day financially. As it was, we got wet, the poor dog got wet and worst for me the stock got wet. We spent a large part of the afternoon holding down the gazebo (or catching it as it made a bid for freedom).

And here is the stock now, drying on the bed in the spare room. Yuk, yuk, yuk is the only way to describe the day. I will be busy this afternoon seeing what I can salvage and sorting it all out. I hate packing away in a rush everything is higgledy, piggledy and gets squished.

So a busy, but (mostly) enjoyable weekend and now it's time to start planning next weekend. I am at a Craft Fair in the village of Wheatley. It's indoors, warm and dry, and with as many cups of free coffee as you can that's more like it!!

Sue xx

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Betty's Better

Thank you for all the lovely comments about Betty. She has now (fingers crossed) made a full recovery. She has been jabbed everyday by Lovely Hubby and taken it in very good spirit. As long as she's eating seems you can do almost anything to her!!
LH has been a brilliant Doctor and I have backed him up with lots of moral support. The main thing is our biggest animal is now up and about and ready, (hopefully soon) to meet her new boyfriend. We hope to have the pitter patter of tiny trotters by April of next year. So from Betty to you - THANK YOU for the good wishes and concern shown. Blogging is a lovely way to meet the nicest and most caring of people. I'm off now to my Willow Wreath Weaving Course to see what masterpieces I can create for Christmas. Sue xx

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Poorly Piggy

When I went to feed the pigs this morning only two little piggies ran to greet me, whilst Maud and Martha ate their breakfast of pig nuts and apples, Betty was still in her bed.
I went to see her and she was on her side with laboured breathing and seemingly unable to get up. Never has someone been on the phone so fast. The vet was called, the lovely Carron was called for Betty knowledge (Carron was Bettys former Mum until I came along), she gave good advice but obviously the arrival of the vet was the only way I could get an idea of what was wrong with Betty.
My hero arrived just 30 minutes later, and strode manfully through the mud (well limped pathetically really, he had a squash injury!) and gave Betty a throrough looking over, an antibiotic shot and an anti inflamatory shot too for good measure, and described her as a 'very poorly pig'.........well that's what I already knew!!
Seemingly she most likely has a bacterial virus that just needs antibiotics and bed rest, alternatively and more worrying is that it could be a twisted gut caused by a slip. After her second injection Betty with our help had struggled to her feet and made an effort to get out of her ark, but, sorry Betty, she is confined to quarters for a couple of days to make sure it's not a pulled muscle or a twisted gut that knocked her off her feet.

Bed rest and TLC with a shot of antibiotic every day is the order of the vet. If Betty does the bed rest and I provide the TLC, that only leaves the injection for Lovely Hubby to administer each day, lucky him. (Don't worry he has been trained to do this!!)

Sue xx

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Busiest Part of the Farm

The busiest part of the farm at the moment, especially first thing in the morning and last thing at night is the area around our many bird feeders. We have two peanut feeders, one normal sized and one really long one, two wild bird seed holders, an apple holder and an extra large fatball holder (it holds 15 fatballs).
Between all these, the birds have a veritable feast. Plus of course they have the remains of any food that has been thrown around for the chickens, so all in all we have a very welcome stream of feathered friends calling on a daily basis.
Indeed the other day I was busy doing something in the house and all I could hear was a veritable cacophony of bird shrieks....'what is going on out there' I shouted to Lovely Hubby, he went to the window and said 'they are just complaining because all the peanuts and fatballs have gone' I'd only filled them two days before!!
A new and very welcome visitor is our friend the Greater Spotted Woodpecker. At first we couldn't identify him and had to refer to my lovely little book 'Graves Garden Birds' from where this picture was taken. Everytime we spot him I make a mad dash for the camera and try to get him in my sights and ALWAYS at the very last minute, as I click he flies away leaving me a photograph of a bird empty peanut feeder.
He seems to love the peanuts, he discovered the holder when we had accidently left it empty for a couple of days and the last couple of peanuts were stuck in the middle where the tits and finches couldn't quite reach them, he of course, with his lovely long beak could, and since that day he comes and feeds on a regular basis.
According to my book, he is the butterflies enemy and the vegetable gardeners friend, so we will encourage him to stay around by keeping our feeders topped up, even if it is costing rather a lot of money!!
Sue xx

Monday, 23 November 2009

Cucumbers, Melons and Mud

The last of the cucumbers and my only surviving melon have now been harvested. The cucumbers although very bitter of skin, taste lovely once the knobbly, bobbly skin has been peeled away and the pigs love the skins, so nothing is wasted.
The polytunnel is still very productive, with broccolli, rocket, carrots, parsnips, herbs, red chillis and even a few each of lemons and limes all waiting to be harvested as and when we need them. The beetroot are just starting to fill out and the leeks are coming along nicely and will follow on perfectly from the leeks growing in the raised bed by the back door, that we are currently dining on.
The melon in the title - in it's own little egg cup!!
This morning the world is wet and windy, and the prospect of wading in to feed the pigs is not a good one, but the light is fast appearing and soon they will be up and demanding their breakfasts, so it's time to get togged up and wade through the lake that used to be a puddle, to the shed with the now mended roof, to prepare breakfast for the chickens and pigs.
This is the most dismal and dark morning to date, it's now 7.45 and still the sky is dark with only glimmers of light on the horizon. But saying that, we are not having the atrocious weather that my son and his family are suffering in Workington, Cumbria.
My thoughts go out to the family, friends and colleagues of Bill Barker, the policeman who died doing his job so heroically, and saving many lives last week. My son was only 15 minutes away from crossing that bridge in his truck. No matter what the weather, we are still here and life goes on, and for that we are thankful.
Sue xx

Thursday, 19 November 2009

A Draughty Night

Oops.....last night I accidently left open the chicken house pop-hole. Must have made for a draughty night for my poor girls. So this morning they are dining on warm porridge, cooked especially for them as an apology for the wind whistling around their perches all night.
One thing to remember when giving porridge to chickens.......stand well back! They peck it up and then shake their heads to get off the sticky bits, maybe thats how wood chip wallpaper was invented, feed chickens in kitchen, plaster the walls with bits of porridge and then paint over it!!
Special mix breakfast goes down a treat too, pellets, corn, mealworms and oyster grit!
Only kidding my girls get fed outside, where a splattering of porridge won't matter. A funny sight is the chickens that decide to stand in the porridge, they then spend most of the day eating porridge off their feet unless they can get a friend to join in!
Some just prefer their normal breakfast of layers pellets!
Once the porridge goes cold they lose interest and go back to their normal breakfast of layers pellets, the remaining porridge sets into a cold rubbery pancake and that provides the basis for the pigs tea. No wastage here!
Sue x

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Wellies, Mud and Pigs

Mud and pigs seem to go together so well. Mud and me do not!
I was seriously concerned (being the townie that I am) that this amount of mud could not be good for pigs, but according to the vet who was here last week on a courtesy call, they are fine.
I, however, am not.......I hate the stuff, it sucks off my wellies, sticks to my jeans and makes the house messy. After I have been in with the pigs every morning (and afternoon) I stand in the big puddle that has appeared near the shed and rinse off my wellies. Then I take the dogs for a walk in the long wet grass using the tufts like car wash brushes to get some more mud off my wellies.
I am permanently attached to the hoover and the mop, the dogs have now (at last) got used to the routine of, enter the door, wait on the mat, get attacked by a mad woman wielding a towel, and then get a sausage for being good. They have the cleanest feet ever and by the end of winter will have little pot bellies full of sausages.
The pigs meanwhile run around on their pointy little toes loving the stuff, inside their house is immaculate (how do they do it?) dry and sweet smelling, not a bit of mud inside, when the straw near the doorway gets dirty they chuck out some more to act as a doormat.
The lovely Betty.
Maud and Martha having breakfast this morning. My wellies after dog walking.
I must take some tips from the pigs and replace all our lovely fitted carpets with straw!!
Sue xx

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Lots of lovely post

Friday saw the postman staggering to our post box with lots of lovely parcels. Well, some a lot more lovely than others!
As well as all the padded envelopes I had ordered for my little online business and the ink cartridges for all our printers (Lovely Hubby has developed a nice little side-line printing posters for the Christmas Farmers Markets on our extra large printer), I had some lovely goodies that I had ordered from some fellow Bloggers.
First a gorgeous bag from Pam at Hortensia, delightfully wrapped in pretty pink tissue and tied with a ribbon, and exquisitely made. Pam has her own online shop Hortensia Designs (access through her Blog) and there is one more left of this lovely little bag.
I am actually going to use it in my little workroom to store some of my treasures that are waiting to be turned into goodies for my Craft Fairs. I like to use pretty bags as storage as they inspire me with their craftmanship and design, and I can also hang them in the enormous wardrobe that I use to store my stock in. Of course the prettiest ( this one included) are hung on the door knobs on the outside of the wardrobe for added inspiration.
Also in Fridays deliveries was the lovely little heart pictured below that I spotted on another Blog, Tracys' Cupcakes at Home I saw this and new LH would love it. I gave it to him over a lovely meal at our local Prezzo on Thursday night. A brilliant start to what has been a lovely weekend.

Back soon.

Sue xx

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Shouted at by chickens!

Chicken World
Ever been shouted at by chickens? Told off good and proper? Seems this morning I was too eager to clean out the chicken house, and boy were they disgruntled. You'd think I had seven cockerels by the noise they were making. But the sun was shining and I was out and about early, that early even the pigs were wiping sleep from their eyes as they stumbled towards the trough and their yummy breakfast of pig nuts and apples.
Of course it was just the White girls doing all the pushing, shoving and shouting, my lovely Brown girls (still refusing to lay an egg between them) were off on their now extensive wandering forays into the neighbouring fields faster than you could say 'Layers Pellets for breakfast girls'. They are so brave now, they set off every day straight after breakfast past the pond and down into the huge field that has recently been cut but not replanted. Sometimes they are just specks on the horizon, four little brown blobs of feather, luckily with their nut brown colouring they have excellent camouflage from the Red Kites that swoop low around here. Always together and happy with their own company. On an altogether different note, last night on my way back from helping at the CS I stopped at our mail box to be greeted by, for once not just a pile of bills and junk mail but by a parcel from one of my favourite places 'DreamAcres'. The glorious scent hit me before I even undid the tissue paper. Karon had got my order out in super quick time and boy was it a nice few minutes oohing and aahing over my lovely scented goodies. If you feel the urge to treat yourselves or your loved ones (she has some lovely Christmas ideas too), pop over to to see for yourself. While you're there link into her blog Dream Country Chat, well worth a read and one of my favourites. One bad thing though Archie, the cat loves the scent of Karons things and has already run off with one of my little hearts, seems he's sulking because I didn't order him a catnip mouse this time!! Well must dash now I'm off to visit my lovely neighbour and landlady, currently recovering from a hip replacement operation, to give her the latest copy of Country Living. Guess who forgot she had just taken out a subscription and went and bought herself the latest copy from Waitrose last night? Forgetful!! Lol xx Sue xx

Monday, 9 November 2009

Missing Weekend

Where did that weekend go? It seems to have been over in a flash.

Bramble and Rosy
On Friday while Lovely Hubby got on with a bit of tree planting and general tidying around the farm, I got seriously stuck in to some Christmas card making for the Farmers Market on Sunday. Friday also saw us looking after Holly and Bramble our landlords lovely pair of mother and daughter black Labradors.

Holly - a delightful old lady.
Saturday saw us, with all four dogs scrumping (getting apples, both windfalls and off the tree) they will make tasty snacks for the pigs and would otherwise have gone to waste. The best of them I may just pick out for another batch of apple puree. Then I took LH out for lunch at Bicester Avenue and it was also a chance for me to pick up more supplies for my card making (it's becoming an obsession, but at least one that makes us some money).

Sunday saw us up bright and early at the Farmers Market, me setting up stall and LH in the kitchen, it was his turn for bacon butty duty. After the market was over we drove around the surrounding villages picking up the Farmers Market signposts (it was our turn for this too). And then LH was off to collect some more horse muck and follow a new contact he has made for further supplies. Our worm business is going to start with a flourish come spring when all this has composted down slightly.

By the time we had done all this it was time for a quick bonfire, put all the animals to bed (even the chickens needed a helping hand last night as they got themselves stuck behind the orchard fence!) and then get ourselves warm and cosy for the evening by the roaring log fire in the living room.

Truly a very speedy weekend and now it's a new week, with a misty, cold and damp start. The dogs have been walked, the chickens are exploring in the pond (there's no water in it at the moment) and the cats are tucked up in their little wigwam beds. The pigs seem to be wanting a holiday in Australia, they are about four foot down in a huge hole they have decided to make. Me, I'm sitting at the computer, office work done for the day with a lovely cup of coffee and slice of buttered toast. I'm having a blog catching up session and later I hope to add a little Christmassy something to my little blog shop.

Hope you had a good weekend too.

Sue xx

Sunday, 8 November 2009


They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old.
Age will not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
we will remember them.
I look with pride at my men, Alan, my husband, who spent 24 years serving in the Royal Navy and Simon, my eldest son, who spent 4 years serving in the Royal Logistics corps of the British
Army. Both lived through conflicts and wars and thankfully returned safely home to be with their families. There are many who are not so lucky.
For their sakes we must remember.
Sue xx

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

No Post Here Today

What no post.....and we've come especially to read it!!
No post here today (and for once that's nothing to do with the Royal Mail!) but if you like having a nosy through other peoples cupboards (and who doesn't) nip over to my other Blog at .
I'm off up to my workroom now to make up some Christmas cards for this weeks Farmers Market in the village hall. Inspiration please strike me NOW!!
Sue xx

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Mud Wallowing

No photo today, I couldn't hold my camera and stay upright!!
Here on the farm we are mud wallowing, the chickens have the cleanest feet ever because they have been walking in puddles all day and the pigs have been moved into the next enclosure because theirs was thigh deep in mud for them.
When I first went over I thought their legs had shrunk to half size and then I stepped in the pen and I too sunk. Watching me would have been funny but at the time was pretty scary...who wants to be head over heels in mud. Luckily my wellies are a really tight fit with two pairs of socks on, so I managed to keep them on my feet.
A walkway was created with straw and then I could get back, so the three lovely ladies were moved next door where now their legs look the right length again!!
Luckily the sun has come out for the last couple of hours this afternoon, so the animals popped out of their houses and basked briefly in its warmth. Already it is going dark though. and soon they will be all tucked up warm and cosy for the night, and I think that's exactly what I'm going to do.
Hope you are slightly less muddy and warm and cosy too.
Sue xx

Monday, 2 November 2009

Goodbye October

Sorry Mum.......but how could I not use a shot like this?
October was a productive month here on the farm. We aquired three new residents, Martha, Maud and Betty, we sadly said goodbye to Mona, and we started on the mammoth task of putting the farm to bed for the winter. Not that work will cease, just that we are downscaling the amount of new jobs and rounding off all the half finished ones.
We had a week of help last week from our lovely Mum and Dad, who between them managed to plant loads of Leylandii trees, plant out our daffodil and tulip bulbs amongst the trees around the house and also pot up SEVENTY pots of bulbs ready for selling in the New Year, oh and in a spare few hours they had, they planted another 240 onion sets in our other raised bed.
And then they said they were sorry for not being much help!!!!!!!!!
" And this is what we call a roll of wire"
Lovely Hubby had a couple of days off work and got stuck in with gusto. Some mornings we did have a slightly later start than usual and the chickens and pigs were treated to the lovely sight below.

It's enough to make anyone lay an extra egg in shock!

The weather was kind to us and we got lots done, and best of all we did it together, all four of us, aided and abetted by 2 cats and 2 dogs, 11 chickens and 3 pigs. A message from Betty to Mum.......thank you for the bananas.. .see you again soon (and by the way I like avocados too!)

Looking forward to November....can it BE any better!

Sue xx