Thursday 30 July 2009

Neglected blog...but a puppy getting lots of attention!!

I've been told off by my Mum, she arrived on Sunday (with Dad) and rushed to greet the sturdy little dog she thought I had. I think I forgot to mention the sturdy little Jack Russell/Miniature Pippin cross is actually only six inches tall on her little tippy toes!!

The photo on the last post (my Mum says) makes her look big and sturdy. I keep trying to get her to pose next to things that will give a true perspective (the puppy that is, not my Mum), but you know puppies, by the time you have clicked the camera she isn't even in the shot anymore!!

She's settling in well and joined in on the walk this morning with Sophie and Archie, although she had to be carried for two thirds of it as the wet grass was taller than her.

Progress is being made on the polytunnel now that I have a little band of helpers, the raised beds were assembled on Monday and most of them filled in yesterday morning before I jetted off to do my stint at the charity shop. Tuesday saw us all going to the Farmers Market in Aylesbury and a lovely day it was too, although fighting with a tarpaulin on a breezy day makes for a stressful start!

Today we are dependent on the weather, it's beginning to look quite promising with the sun peeking her face out from between the greyish clouds, there is blue sky in the distance and therefore hope for the onions that will be again freed from their blanket of weeds.

The new chicks Nutmeg, Bourneville, Fudge and Coco have settled in well, last night they had their first taste of freedom. We decided to let them out of their run an hour before dusk so they could have a quick explore before bedtime. It worked brilliantly and they tucked up themselves safely in bed in their little Eglu as soon as it went dark like the good little chickens they are. Today they are having their first full day of freedom, being bossed about by the Big Girls and rounded up on a regular basis by Sophie, could be quite a stressful day for them!!

Have a good and productive day, we will ... hopefully!!

Sue xx

Saturday 25 July 2009

Everything's Looking 'Rosy'

Yesterday we went to pick up the latest addition to the family - Rosy. 

She is a cross Jack Russell/'Pippin' and is just nine weeks old today. She is booked into the vets later for her first jab...but shush.....don't tell her!

Mmm ... all this for me?

She enjoyed her journey home from Southampton, sleeping most of the way with just a pit stop for a drink of water and the toilet. She quickly made herself at home, exploring everything within reach and meeting Sophie and the cats for the first time. Had a yummy meal of puppy food and then sat with us watching television.

Trying Sophie's' bed out for size.

After trying the big dog bed she sensibly decided the little doggie bed was the cosier option and settled down to a full nights sleep. She woke at 5am had a drink and a mad half hour and then dragging her bed over to be closer to ours she quickly fell into another deep sleep and let us lie in until 7.30am, (a rare occurrence in this house).

Trying out her bed, later moved to our room.

Now she is fast asleep at my feet after a morning of exploring the house and the garden, she's met the chickens and strangely they are scared of her!  They must think she's a little rat. Sophie is quickly getting used to her and Toby thinks she's just another little animal for him to watch from the distance. Archie is unsure, he's never known a dog smaller than him and is just baffled!!

Back with more pictures of our new cutie next week, in the meantime have a lovely weekend.

Sue xx

Thursday 23 July 2009

Weather ! !

Two little helpers, Cappuccino and Mona.

What unseasonal weather we've been having this week. The chickens were huddled together under their little house one minute and basking in sunshine the next, then they were soaking wet, then thankfully the wind got up and blew them dry.

That's when they decided to help me tidy the side of the house. I weeded and cleaned out between the flagstones and they unearthed all the little creepy crawlies and turned it into a little picnic. I swept all the gravel off the path, and they dug it out and flicked it all back onto the path.

Between us we managed to get the back of the house looking like this, a bit bare but tidier and much safer to walk on. The two cast iron bench-ends are a bargain Lovely Hubby picked up and are awaiting some new slats of hardwood to make us a lovely seat to sit on at the back of the house......we have BIG plans for this area.

Sue xx

Tuesday 21 July 2009

Polytunnel Progress - ongoing!

Over the weekend Lovely Hubby did more to the polytunnel.  He managed to put together the three doors, two for the front and a single for the back and get the front ones dug in. Also in place now is the long raised bed that will be under the workbench area, this has been filled well rotted horse manure and will be topped with sifted soil from our spoil mountain.

Progress is quite slow as there is actually so much to do, lots of bitty bits that you don't really think of and the strange weather we've been having hasn't helped much. We do what we can between showers and the actual polythene will have to wait for a completely wind-free day. Hopefully this will be before next week when our new workers (oops.....I mean guests) arrive.

Cappuccino, Jemima and Little Lovely at work.

He has had some little helpers, they are busy sorting out the well rotted horse manure that is waiting to go in the beds, this was picked up by LH from some stables in the village. My Hubby has taken to accosting strange women on horseback and asking if he can have their manure (well the horses' actually not theirs'). This is mainly in preparation for the worm business that will be kicking off in autumn, but I have managed to cadge quite a bit for my polytunnel and veggie beds.

Me, my girls and my muck.

Who'd have thought a year ago that this would make me happy!

Sophie is still obsessed with the new arrivals and is constantly running round and round their Eglu, I think she will be fine once they are out and about and she can have a good sniff, but we can't let them free yet, they are still so small, and with Archie the hunting cat and the Red Kites and Buzzards they wouldn't stand a chance.

Gratuitous shot of handsome son and gorgeous Sophie.

Have a lovely day.

Sue xx

Sunday 19 July 2009

The Pitter Patter of Tiny Feet

Now who should live in a house like this?
I did a Farmers Market in Tetsworth yesterday, and a lovely 'buzzy' morning it was too, the sun shone and people were out and about getting their lovely homegrown produce and treating themselves. When 
 I got back to the farm I had the wonderful sight of four more little pairs of feet scratching at our grass.

We should live in a house like this!

Lovely Hubby had been out and bought us four gorgeous Welsummer chicks. They are beautiful little girls, just five weeks old, their birthday was 10th June. I have seen them every week since they hatched, in the petshop in the nearby town of Thame, I just couldn't resist popping in to visit them every time I was nearby. These were the last four and LH didn't have the heart to separate them, so now they all live with us.

Sophie, the dog thinks they are just objects of amusement for her and has spent all of yesterday and today sitting watching them, and running round and round their little Eglu. The other girls are not impressed and Cappachino has been doing her best cockeral impression off and on since they arrived
They are just beautiful, and their names are Coco, Fudge, Nutmeg and for the more discerning chocolate eater, Bourneville, chocolatey names to suit their gorgeous chocolatey coloured feathers.
We're very happy here on the farm, each new addition makes the family larger and happier, we all muddle along and somehow it just works!!

Sue xx

Friday 17 July 2009

Farmers Markets and Committee Meetings

The plant stall.

Our lovely Farmers market is held monthly in the Village Hall, there are eight stalls plus the refreshment 'stall' run from the village hall kitchen, serving tea, coffee and bacon butties.

The cake stall.

But there is a chunnering in the village, the Village Hall Committee have decided in their wisdom they may want to hand over control of the Farmers Market to the Farmers themselves.

Lovely Lavender on the plant stall.

It could be because of the comments by us (the Farmers) at the last Committee Meeting (which we were invited to for our 'input') that the Committees' stall the 'Refreshment Stall' should be paying the same price for their table as us and donating to the monthly raffle in the same way that we are expected to.

There is a lovely Lavender Stall too!!

They have been a wondering where the signs advertising the Farmers Markets have been vanishing to from the roundabouts and kerbsides of the neighbourhood, and it was pointed out by some of the Farmers that already run other towns Farmers Markets that you do actually need permission to go around erecting roadside signs all over the lovely English countryside.

Oooh.....the cheese stall.

So maybe they thought in their wisdom, that 'oops some of them there Farmers know slightly more about this than us and maybe they can do better' ... can we ... only time will tell.  However, if this goes ahead there will be more work for some of us, but maybe more control would also be a good thing

Mmm....did I mention the cake stall!

Sue xx

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Bric a Brac Markets and Charity Shop Work

As well as doing my regular Farmers Markets, I also do at least one Bric a Brac market a month in the lovely town of Aylesbury.

The atmosphere is always buzzy buzzy, and everyone is after a bargain or that special little 'something'. I've been doing them for the past couple of months with Jason, who is busy raising funds for his trip back to University in Autumn. Although he finds the getting out of bed at 6am in the morning a real pain, he enjoys it when he's there and he's a whiz at charming the ladies into parting with their money and buying the cute little teddy bear they didn't realise they needed!

We don't make a fortune but we do have a laugh, especially yesterday when the heavens opened and huge blobs of rain descended on the Market Square causing mass evacuation in 5 minutes flat. Luckily we are under a council erected gazebo for the event, so we stayed relatively dry! The sun came back out after half an hour and business was resumed as if it had never stopped.

We always come home with slightly less in the van and slightly more in our purses so it's a good day all round. Once Jason is off to Uni and our house is de-cluttered I will be giving this little side-line up and concentrating on the farm and the Farmers Markets.

Today I'm off to do a volunteer stint in the local charity shop in Thame.  After a break of a year or so I feel ready to face the madness that is the charity shop again and do my little bit for Cancer Research this time. In a former life I was a Charity Shop Manager for many years and for numerous charities, although never this one. So for one afternoon a week I'm dipping my little toes back into the world of the Charity Shop. 

This could yield a whole other blog!! Haha.......wish me luck.

Sue xx

Tuesday 14 July 2009

Not going Egg-actly to plan!!

Our little Broody House

Well, we have our little broody house installed in the chicken run and in it are the 6 fertilised eggs and 2 of our girls eggs now hard-boiled for longevity.  But our fussy little ladies are evicting the fertilised eggs and leaving theirs in the main cosy nesting box. Ironically the chicken that is the broodiest is Mother, so we'll give her a go.

If this doesn't work the next step will be to buy a couple of POL chickens instead. We have a brand new Eglu sitting outside the chicken run so we will have to integrate them into the flock gradually but let the newcomers live in the Eglu.

Last nights peas.

In the meantime we are busy harvesting the peas on a daily basis, and yummy they are too, especially the ones that are cooked. Lovely Hubby is getting in the habit of picking and eating a pod full every time he passes by so all kisses are pea flavoured at the moment!!

Just off to pick some more for tea. 

Have a lovely evening.

Sue xx

Monday 13 July 2009

Our Weekend

Lovely Hubby and his Mum - Jessie.

Our weekend was spent as usual rushing from place to place, pillar to post, achieving lots and all with a sprinkle of teasing, lots of laughs and lovely homegrown food around the farmhouse table.

Lovely Hubbys' mum has been with us for the last two weeks and has experienced life on the farm for the first time, I think (and hope) she was impressed at our little set up. I know she enjoyed the laughs and the animals the most. She was woken up many a time from her afternoon nap by an irate chicken demanding to know when corn would be available. Or a soaking wet cat on her knee demanding attention and petting.

During the two weeks she has experienced baking hot sunshine, gale force winds, torrential rain, RAF flypasts on an almost nightly basis, wandered around the farm on her own at her own insistence, while I sat at home with bated breath as if my toddler was playing out for the first time as she's extremely short-sighted due to Macular Degeneration.  She learnt to cook on the Aga and proved herself a whiz at making the many cups of tea and coffee we get through, washed enough pots to restock a restaurant kitchen, learnt to talk 'chicken' and generally behaved like the perfect houseguest.

On Saturday while I did a quick run to the shops (this takes at least 3 hours, thanks to our being slightly off the beaten track) she went with LH to fetch two trailer loads of manure from the stables on the farm (not something we subject all our guests to I hasten to add), sat patiently while he fixed a flat tyre on the trailer then 10 minutes later watched (and felt) with amusement while the trailer sank into the mud.

She came to visit the Farmers Market in the village hall on Sunday morning, sampling the delights of the Great Haseley bacon butty ... a much revered Sunday tradition. Then after a homecooked lunch we drove her to the airport for her flight back to Edinburgh, a brave journey for an almost blind lady in her 80th year.

Now we have a double bedroom available, the next guests are only a few days away, so come on down, the farmhouse holiday of the year know who you are!! We have spare spades and wellies in every size....there are NO excuses!!

Sue xx

Friday 10 July 2009

Bountiful Basil and Special Friends

One of the herbs that I love the most is in abundant supply this year. 

I have 5 pots of the glorious stuff dotted around the kitchen and the stall holders at the Farmers Market meeting the other night were saying how well theirs is doing.

I can see lots of lovely tomato and basil pasta sauce coming up and lots of pesto being made in this kitchen.

Overnight a magical friendship developed, with Baby, the Hedgehog leaving the safety of his little carrying home and taking up refuge in the arms of Rosie the Rabbit! I came down to a slightly more crowded windowsill.

Aw ...we all need a special friend.

Sue xx

Thursday 9 July 2009

Royal Mail I Love You!!

My potential new babies.

The things you can get through the post ... amazing!!

Yesterday I took delivery of six fertilised eggs, hopefully they will hatch out and increase our little flock of girls. They will make the flock look a little more interesting as they are six different pure breeds. We have one of each of Rhode Island Red, Black Copper Maran, Light Sussex, Buff Orpington, Cuckoo Cochin and Legbar. 

Hopefully they will also help Lovely Hubby with identification as I am frequently being asked...'am I cuddling Milly or Molly' or 'is that Lovely or Angel laying the egg on the sofa'.

I am hoping and praying there will be some girls amongst them, imagine the noise and the problems with six cockerels and the thought of having to cook our first little babies would be dreadful. Now I just have to hope I can keep one of my little ladies nice and broody until the Eglu that is to be the new families home arrives on Tuesday.

 A couple of our freshly laid eggs will have to be sacrificed today for one of the ladies to sit on and practice keeping a brood warm.

Then just as I was typing this post, the nice Parcel Force man has brought me a big box full of egg boxes and a big tub of oyster grit. Yes our little egg selling empire has begun in earnest, I managed to sell four and a half dozen on Sunday and used up the last of our recyled boxes, so I had to put in a much more professional order in of 300!

And lastly, the nicest thing to arrive in the post was this beautiful little girl below. Bought from the lovely Nicky at The Vintage Magpie.

When I went to the Vintage and Handmade Fair, I had limited funds (haha...not what LH would call them) and had to make the choice between a gorgeous ragdoll 'Ruby' from Nicky at Nostalgia at the Stonehouse and a teddy wearing a little cream cardigan from The Vintage Magpies' gorgeous stall. My mind flashed to the beautiful little rabbit that resided on Nickys webshop, so at the fair I chose the doll, knowing on my return I could order this lovely little girl.

So Rosie is now sitting quietly after her long journey taking in all the new sights and sounds of this madhouse, when she is suitable acclimatised she will take up residence with a VERY special little friend that is just 'itching' to meet her!

 All will be revealed!!

Sue xx

Wednesday 8 July 2009

Chicken Dinner

Ha ... I bet you thought, I'd eaten one of my girls, well let me tell you if I wasn't such a softy (and a virtual non-meat eater) I might have.

Well they ate my dinner!! 

 My planned cauliflower cheese has vanished and turned into the skeletal thing you see above. The chickens leave things alone and then suddenly one of them will have a nibble and it's like a message goes round and suddenly they are all there nibbling away until there's nothing left.

 Oh woe is me ... I am truly cauliflower-less! 

 Sue xx

Monday 6 July 2009

Windy, busy day.

Today started lovely, so we got stuck in.  Lovely Hubby with more work on the polytunnel and me attacking the weeds on the onion beds, then the rain came bringing with it the wind. So LH decided indoor work was the order of the day.

The finished windowsill - I love it!

I was despatched to buy tile edging while he got to work measuring and cutting the tiles for my kitchen windowsill. While he was busy the wind got worse and decided to blow away our table and umbrella, needless to say the umbrella is no longer in one piece.

Now the evening is windy, but sunny, the table is awaiting repair and whilst LH does a spot of ironing I am online getting the details for Linkabord raised beds, surely the best invention since sliced bread (well in my opinion). We are about to sit down and plan out the interior of the polytunnel, yes we are but a few steps away from indoor cultivation.

Doors awaiting completion.

The final steps, the polythene and the groundsheet.

Sue xx

Saturday 4 July 2009

Polytunnel Progress

My poly tunnel has now been taken out of all these packages and the metal framework is firmly embedded in the ground. Lovely Hubby has spent the day levelling the ground inside the framework and assembling the doors, I am having a double door at the front and a single at the back, so there should be a nice through breeze to cool things down slightly when needed.

I have never seen so many packages, containing so many bits and pieces, it is like a huge complicated jigsaw, but hopefully when it's all up and in action it will have been worth all the headaches and struggling the assembly has caused.

NO chickens will be allowed in to eat our veggies, at last there will be a chicken-free zone.

Sue xx

Farmers Market in the Middle of Nowhere....

Yesterday I did a Farmers Market, it was in the middle of nowhere, a railway park and ride station opening. Although it had been quite well advertised in its locality there were no signs on any of the roads leading to it to catch passing motorists (who could have been our best customers).

We were promised lots of council office workers (but who would give up their Friday lunchtime to trek to a station to catch the free train to the park and ride and then have to dash back to work afterwards). So we had the big fanfare of the opening, the Government Transport Minister came round to introduce himself and shake hands, followed closely by his entourage of men in pinstripe suits, none of whom spent a penny.

They all hopped on the next train out of there, the roving band made a half hearted attempt to stay a while and make happy music, us stallholders stood around, looking at each other and wondering why we had accepted this invitation. The food stall, busy cooking lovely bacon buns and selling cold drinks wondered why he was there when it turned out that round the corner, by the station entrance the station had set up a stall giving customers free burgers and drinks.

All in all a waste of time, almost!

I met a lovely lady who immediately on arriving home sent me an email containing a list of craft fairs for the run up to Christmas, some that she organises and some that friends of hers do, so no more wind swept car parks for me. I shall be making bookings for indoor craft fairs, in cosy village halls and see how my lovely lavender goodies go down there.

Oh, and did I mention that I paid out £34 for a gazebo for yesterdays event as I don't usually need one and was told I must have one for this, and I took the princely sum of £37 for 7 hours work (for work read, standing around holding a gazebo down against a gale force wind). 

A days profit of £3!!

Sorry for the whinge, better out than in. Normal service will be resumed shortly, I'm off to cut the grass and start sorting for tomorrows car boot sale. My de-cluttering continues.

Sue xx

Wednesday 1 July 2009

Missing....but still in action!!

Hi all, sorry for the HUGE delay in between posts, but guess what ... Lovely Hubby cut through our BT armoured cable to the house with his JCB!!

He was digging the ground at the back of our tumble down wall in preparation for my lovely new poly tunnel, when he must have gone a smidge too deep and cut through the cable. A lovely BT man came on Monday and gave us an idea where the break could be and LH dug down to it (manually), then yesterday the BT man was back to fix it all and now it's as good as new.

Since I've been missing I've been on a chicken keeping course (with LH) in South Cambridge, done one Car Boot sale, one Bric a Brac market, dug up two thirds of our potato crop (we got the dreaded blight!!) sorted out and cleaned the house from top to bottom and driven (with LH again) to Luton airport to pick up his Mum who's having a little farming holiday with us, we've already had her washing the potatoes ready for storage, and she kept LH company whilst he went to pick up two loads of horse manure for our coming soon worm empire.

So although I've been missing I've still been in action. Has it really only been four days?

Now I am in the middle of a HUGE clear-out, I've decided all the clutter we seem to have accumulated in the last few months has to go. So over the next couple of months I am making a real effort to car boot and sell as much of it as possible. We should be living a more simple and stress free life and I feel this could be the way forward.

Normal service has (almost) been resumed!!

Sue xx