Hi, this is me in September, obviously I've just been tangoed!! A rare sight is the 'lesser-spotted Sue', take it in while you can!
September was another busy month, kicking off with the delivery of our new chicken house, the sad (natural) death of Mother, our head chicken and a visit to River Cottage to meet our hero Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. We spent a day there for the Autumn Fair and then a day in Lyme Regis. We got back and then delivered our main farm hand, Jason, back to his real life at University. He's now studying for his Masters in Document Analysis.
Another delivery landed on the farm in the form of 200 Lleylandii trees, destined to drink up the excess water in the orchard.
The pigs arks were assembled in their positions in the enclosures in the orchard, now we were starting to look like serious farmers.
After all that hard work what is a farmer to do but curl up with one of his favourite little ladies.
The Welsummers were showing their fantastic plummage now and really coming on in confidence, Sophie spent her days herding them together, something they didn't seem to mind too much!
We were amazed by the polytunnel, I planted lots of seeds expecting only a percentage to come up, but everything did and we were snowed under by crops. Things seemed to appear and then double in size overnight. The radishes were especially amazing, growing to the size of tennis balls with a glorious flavour. We couldn't eat them fast enough, so lots were sold bunched up and tied with rafia at local carboot sales along with our free-range eggs. The money made by the radishes more than covered the cost of all the packets of seeds used in the polytunnel (for ALL the veg)!
October saw the apple tree we had inherited with the farm literally throwing apples at us. The dogs thought it a great game and spent many happy hours chasing the apples around the farm. The chickens saw it more as an attempt on their lives and stopped hanging around under the tree. Me, I saw it as a chance to fill my cupboards for winter and had many afternoons making apple puree, chutneys and crumbles.
They quickly made themselves at home in the orchard turning a weed filled area into lush fertile soil.
November saw the weather change, the rains came and everywhere turned into a muddy quagmire. Indoor jobs were the order of the day and a twice weekly bread making session started. The paperwork was suddenly caught up on and the house started to be tidied and straightened. Feeding the pigs was a foray into a muddy world never seen before. The chickens were bedraggled and looked like huge grey budgies.
Towards the end of November my beautiful Betty suddenly went down, literally overnight she was off her feet and unable to stand. The scare this gave us was the worst thing ever. The vet was called and injections administered. I dripped water into her mouth, tried to tempt her with her favourite foods, Lovely Hubby injected her once a day and then suddenly she was up again and back to normal. Phew!!
December came with a flurry of Craft Fairs and Farmers Markets, we acquired a (new to us) Landrover to help pull the trailer, after LH nearly killed the van pulling it out of a muddy quagmire.
The dogs both visited the vets, Sophie to have her paw looked at and her teeth cleaned and Rosy to be spayed, both recovered extremely quickly. The mud rose to new levels, with the texture of the orchard turning to porridge, the pigs wandered around looking like they had no legs and feeding them was a challenge (to put it mildly). And then, thanks to a fellow Blogger, a solution was hit upon and our barn was turned into a Piggy Paradise.
The pigs moved in just before we hit the road on our Christmas travels, making it easier and safer for the now returned Jason to feed them in our absence.
Christmas has now been and gone, our farming year has been a huge learning curve with much fun and laughter along the way.
The only sad bits of the year has been the death of three of my ladies, first Lovely, killed and taken by a fox, Mother from natural causes, (in the sweetest way, looked after by her closest friends right til the end!), and lastly Mona, killed by a Red Kite strike, a single beak stab through the back of her neck.
So, all in all a good year. We've learnt a lot, met a lot of brilliant people who have helped us with advice and time. We've spent a lot of money setting up this lifestyle, and this year with the framework in place we should start to recoup some of our outlay.
We have big plans for the year ahead which may involve a move and a huge growth of what we have started. But we do know that if you have the people you love by your side you can achieve anything, enjoy yourself along the way and if you look forward instead of backwards the future is bright, sometimes orange but always filled with love and laughter.
Thank You to -
Jason - for his help in starting our future.
Simon - for his driving and strength helping in our initial move.
Mum and Dad (Joan and Syd) - for their expertise, physical labour and encouragement.
Jessie - for her help on the farm and her company.
Robert and Jill (our landlords) - for giving us this opportunity.
The villagers and farmers of Great Haseley for their friendship and advice.
The Blogging community - for moral support and the interest shown in what we are doing, especially Max in Brittany for his help and advice.
And lastly, but never leastly, my main man, Lovely Hubby, Alan, who has gritted his teeth every time I publish a less than flattering photo. Who translates my sometimes wacky ideas into usable and helpful ways forward. Who lights up my life and makes each challenge achievable. This is something we wouldn't (and couldn't) have done apart but have achieved together. We are building our future one step at a time, with love and laughter always.
Forward into 2010 Our New Life in the Country will go, please join us on our journey, you are so very welcome!