Sunday 27 December 2009

Lovely, Long Christmas

Our magical journey home from Peebles on 24th.
We are having THE most wonderful Christmas. It started on the 21st with our trip to Peebleshire, in Scotland to help the lovely Jessie celebrate her 80th birthday and will only end on the 30th December when my Mum, Dad and brother hit the road for home.
On the way to Peebles we stopped by Workington to visit my son Simon (and yes you are LOVELY!!) and his gorgeous family, ate cakes and drank coffee and then dragged ourselves reluctantly away to drive through blizzards and snow storms to reach our destination just in time to tuck ourselves up in bed. We woke to a magical world of white. We helped Jessie prepare for her birthday on Tuesday and squeezed in a bit of last minute Christmas shopping too, wandering through the streets of Peebles in the falling snow and then we had a wonderful night out with our family on Wednesday.
On Christmas Eve we hit the road again to head for Manchester and a wonderful meal at Mum and Dad's, we swapped pressies with them and my brother and then once again we hit the road. Passing lots of other motorists also heading home for Christmas we drove through the evening and arrived home just in time to go to bed and wait for the man in the red suit.

We left a clear car and woke up to this on 22rd!

Of course you saw on the last post, he did not disappoint!

We are keeping on top of all the usual farm jobs, but taking the time to chill and relax. Which Dvd we watch next is decided by 'Santa Racing', me and Lovely Hubby both bought each other wind up Santas for our stockings, so any decision is decided by 'Santa Racing', arguments once Santa has spoken!!

Beautiful Peebleshire

We had a wonderful Christmas present off one of the Welsummers, when she produced her first ever egg on Christmas morning, the pigs have settled into their new winter quarters with gusto and up to now have managed to dig up the concrete floor in two places!!
Normal blogging will be resumed next week, when unfortunately we will not be able to spin out this holiday any longer....sulk. sulk....haha!!
Hope you're enjoying yourselves. Happy continuing Christmas!!
Sue xx

Friday 25 December 2009

He's' Been.........

Wishing each and every one of my followers, readers, lurkers, family, friends and the whole wide world the very best Christmas and a Happy and Peaceful New Year.
Merry Christmas
Sue, Alan, Jason, Toby, Sophie, Archie, Rosy, Betty, Maud, Martha, Milly, Molly, Jemima, Latte, Capachino, Little Lovely, Big Lovely, Nutmeg, Bourneville, Coco and last but not least Fudge xx

Sunday 20 December 2009

Walk this way..........

The barn - bathed in the early evening sunshine, obviously the warmest place on the farm as all the snow has melted here, and only here!!
Today was moving day for the pigs and boy were we a bit apprehensive about it, but what happens when you dread goes like clockwork (well sometimes). We first thought about moving the pigs in the trailer as the barn is on the other side of the pond and the pigs would have to pass by two planted fields to get to their new home, major temptation for hungry piggies! But then we decided we would chance it and see just how well we had 'bucket trained' them.
Basically if you have a bright bucket (in our case orange ones) and the pigs see it and hear the same noise everytime they are fed, we shake the buckets and shout the words 'trough trough' (because that is where we are usually leading them to), they will 'follow the bucket' wherever you go.

The main bedroom.
So we set off armed with the usual bright orange piggy feeding buckets calling the obligatory 'trough, trough' and they followed. Followed us through their main field gate, past the sheds and raised beds, past the house and round the cars, on the pathway between the two ponds and when they saw the barn up ahead, they broke into a trot and overtook me and Lovely Hubby and went and made themselves right at home!!
Panic over pigs rehomed...phew!
Feeding area.
Smaller 'Bedroom'
'Mooching About Room'
Happy Hubby after a move that went like clockwork!
The rest of the animals are still enjoying the snow and ice.
Latte in the snow.
Fudge looking to see if the others are following.
The beautiful Nutmeg posing in the snow.
Archie heads for home.
Bourneville and Coco head back to the woods.

We are living in an ice world at the moment, but even this extreme cold is better for us and the animals than the wet and miserable weather we have had until recently. The temperature yesterday was -9 degrees, it is slightly warmer today -6 degrees at the moment, but we can wrap up and feed the animals warm foods and make sure their water isn't frozen for too long. The chickens have lots of layers of paper on the floor in their house to act as insulation and plenty of straw in the nesting boxes, and now that the pigs are in residence in the barn they will be much more comfortable.

We are off to Peebles in Scotland tomorrow to help the lovely Jessie celebrate her 80th birthday, leaving the farm in the very capable hands of our prodigal son, who has returned from university in the nick of time. His wellies have been dusted off and put to good use already and once again we have an extra farm hand to lighten the load for Christmas.

Sue xx

Friday 18 December 2009

First Proper Snow

We woke up today to a blanket of snow gently covering the farm. For Rosie it is her first snow and she is a delighted little doggie. Running in circles and tasting everything. She attempted to walk over the puddle and discovered you can still get wet feet once you're through the surface so she swiftly hopped back onto the wonderful white stuff.

Sophie, who's seen it all before, just ran over to the chicken house and sat herself down waiting for the release of her favourite friends. The chickens, once the pop-hole was opened refused point blank to come down their ramp. To see eleven little heads poking out of the door was a sight to behold.

In a minute I am going out to do my little bit to drag this country kicking and screaming out of the recession and spend, spend, spend. It is my duty as a UK citizen to help the retailers of this land get rich and stay in business.

Have a good day folks.

Sue xx

Wednesday 16 December 2009

'Christmas has Been Delivered'

To quote Margot Leadbetter....'Christmas has been delivered......'
As I was in the kitchen putting finishing touches to the little garland that is decorating the stairs the Parcel Force man knocked on the door, amidst a flurry of barking dogs I signed for this parcel, with a growing grin on my face.
Once again the lovely company my Lovely Hubby is currently working under contract to has sent us a Fortnum and Masons hamper for Christmas. Last year was the first, and a delightful surprise, delivered on the very day we were loading the removal van with furniture to bring to this lovely farmhouse.
Last Christmas was spent camping out in an almost empty town house in Ulverston Cumbria, whilst our furniture sat in a heap in the farmhouse we now call home and the hamper was a little ray of luxury. Contents eagerly devoured whilst sitting on cushions on the floor watching a portable television and sleeping on mattresses on the floor.
This year it is a lovely reminder of last Christmas's fun and laughter amongst all the chaos and a lovely treat we can sit and savour in the luxury of chairs, whilst watching a full sized television and eating round a real farmhouse table. Knowing when we retire it will be to a king sized bed at least....oooh 12 inches off the floor!! And to top off my lovely Christmassy has just started snowing, this picture catching the first few flakes as they fall on the frozen puddle and as I type my car outside the window is turning white with a blanket of snow.
Hope you're enjoying your Christmas preparations as much as I am.
Sue xx

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Saving my Piggies Bacon......Thanks to a Fellow Blogger!!

Sometimes when you are in despair about a situation it pays to Blog about it. Yesterday I was in the depths of despair about the living conditions of my lovely ladies, Betty, Martha and Maud. The mud in their orchard is swifting turning to a porridge-like consistency and whilst they don't seem to mind that much (although Betty is more bad tempered than usual), I do.
My despair resonated with Max from Rural Idiocy who's escapades in France echo ours here. Although I must say he sounds much more professional about his approach to his new lifestyle than I ever could AND he keeps his Blog on track about the farm and doesn't go off on a tangent on such a regular basis as me!!

His brainwave......for us to use any available barn space for winter quarters for the girls. Sounds so simple, why didn't we even think about this. Well our barn is on the periphery of our land and has a road running through it and is currently divided into three stables and a wood store, so it was (in our minds anyway) already fully utilised and unsuitable. But last night after reading Max's comment I redesigned it in my head, and after discussions with Lovely Hubby (who would have to do most of the work) we think we can do this.

The plan is to take the doors off the three stable enclosures but leave the walls in place, thereby making it virtually open plan but with cosy 'bedroom' areas. To fence off the back of the gap and to put a fence on the front with a gate in the centre for our access. And then to purchase some electric fencing to make a small outdoor area for the girls. This area was to be our worm bed area so we can, with a bit of planning, maybe still do that and it may even help as the pigs will root out all the weeds for us and make the land even more fertile and flat Then for next winter we can electric fence off the other side and leave the new worm beds in place.

We will have to move all the supplies into the wood store (the little room on the right in the top picture), but it would mean the pigs straw can also be stored nice and close to their living quarters. The only other thing is there is no water supply to the barn...but what's another hosepipe trailing along the ground between friends!! We already have a 'spaghetti junction' of hosepipes so this will just be one more to trip over in the dark.

All this will obviously rest the orchard, and in Spring the pigs could be re-instated, but after more work has been done to make it easier for us to access the pens. If Betty ever has her litter of piglets she will maybe move back a bit sooner as she would need to be in the farrowing arks.

So thanks go to Max for his comment, that raised the idea, that started the plan, that will no doubt involve much lifting, shifting and hard work, but that means we get to keep piggies here on the farm.

Thank you.

Sue xx

Monday 14 December 2009

Dadaaa.....(and Monday Musings.....)

At last the kitchen is complete. Just a few things to arrange and these lovely shelves to fill with the spices and culinary delights needed near the Aga.
All the walls, woodwork and the ceiling have been given a fresh coat of brilliant white silk emulsion or satinwood and everything is looking fresh and clean. How long that will last in a busy farm kitchen is debatable, but it is easily touched up in the future.
We are going to make pelmets to hide the blue stripey blinds that came with the house, it is not worth replacing them all (we have 3 large windows) as they are seldom used, just occasionally in Summer if the sun is too bright and we are sat around the table.

Chicken Tikka (Chicken on a clock....get it?)

Jokey pictures we bought at the Country Living Fair last year, that have been patiently waiting to be hung.


Even the coat rack is looking relatively tidy, all working coats and muddy boots relegated to the utility room, no doubt some will creep back until we get used to using the other back door more.

So it's all clutter free and clear surfaces - for now. With Christmas fast approaching and family due to visit it will soon be full of the sounds of festive cheer and the clunking of pans going on and in the Aga, lovely!!
And the Monday musing.......well I really am in two minds whether we continue to keep pigs here on the farm. The mud situation is atrocious and personally I hate the stuff. I also hate to see animals living in what I think of as yucky circumstances. I know that's probably the 'townie' in me talking but I truly find the whole thing deplorable.
We have to wade through yards and yards of mud to get to the pig enclosures and then struggle into them or tip the food over the fence into the trough, (that's if Betty hasn't upended it). I like to see animals relatively clean and cosy, and although they do keep their pig arks clean compared to the outside, they now can't help but walk mud in and then they have to sleep in it. I also like a lot more contact with my animals than is possible in these muddy conditions. Even in rain and coldl I don't mind being outdoors, but the mud is a different story.

So there will be discussions in the house tonight about which way to go forward. It has been well worth having them briefly, whatever we decide to do in the future, as they have perfectly rotorvated the Orchard and with a quick plough it will be perfect to replant with vegetables and trees.
I am also wondering whether goats would live happily in pig arks?
The rest of this weekend was spent shopping and attending a friends Surprise Party on Saturday night in the village hall, which was SO much fun. She was told she was checking the fridge for milk ready for the Farmers market on the way to the pub, the look on her face was priceless and well worth all the effort that went into the planning.
It's a long time since we've danced the night away to cheesy 70s and 80s music, so we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, even if we did have to sober up enough to clear out the village hall and set out the tables for the next morning and then 5 hours later it was back to the village to set out my stall at the brilliant Christmas Farmers Market in the same hall. And of course when your stall looks fantastic you forget your camera!!
Musing will continue. Hope you had a good weekend too.
Sue xx

Friday 11 December 2009

Progress report.....

Six coats of cream paint later........
Just a quick progress report after yesterdays post.
Lovely Hubby is back up his ladder, I did let him down overnight I assure you. Today we are doing all the walls, not too bad a job as we have lots of cupboards and windows in the kitchen.
Both doggies are back from the vets, feeling very sorry for themselves. After an uncomfortable night we have taken the bucket collar off little Rosy as she is a little touchy feely little dog and couldn't cuddle up to anything with it on. As a compromise she is wearing her little t-shirt to take her mind off nibbling at the dressing. (See Jason, I knew it would come in handy!!)
Sophie is feeling quite poorly with her very sore foot. It turns out she has broken her toes long ago in the past and the bone has healed with an extra layer of cartilidge type material and that is aggrevating her arthritis....oooh age comes to us all. Her sore pad has been stitched and is now living in a saline drip bag! She has, however, the perfect doggy grin and a sparkling set of gnashers. This is her favourite 'alone' space under the desk, where she can be close to whoever is on the computer but feels cosy.
Oh well back to work, I have a few Christmas presents to wrap ready to go in the post, then it's back to decorating.
Final kitchen pictures on Monday. Until then have a wonderful weekend and I hope your Christmas preparations are in full swing, enjoy it. Although Kirsties Homemade Christmas programme is a bit twee she has the right idea and a lovely enthusiam for the childlike side of Christmas....lets not lose that!
Sue xx

Thursday 10 December 2009

Transformations, paint and pressies......

It's been a busy week, so sorry for the lack of posts. We have been decorating the kitchen, it's a huge room, full of farmhouse clutter and things that have never quite got to their rightful place since we moved in last year, not to mention all the wellies, coats and waterproofs needed to live on a farm at this time of year.
We have managed to finish the ceiling now and both doors. Starting tomorrow we will be having a final push and hopefully by Monday we will be done. Of course me being me, decided when I was putting up the Christmas decorations that the dark wood mirror did not look right in the living room (it never has) and decided to paint it cream. I am now on for my fourth coat of paint.....still it will look lovely when it's finished, especially when I drape it with ivy and Christmas loveliness.
Today has been spent taking our lovely dogs to the vets, Sophie for exploratory work on a sore paw and a scale and polish (I'm expecting even sparklier big doggy grins) and little Rosy to be spayed. We've decided against a houseful of little Jack Russell puppies, we have enough on our plates at the moment.
A high spot of my week was the arrival of this lovely little parcel...just for me. I ordered a lovely bag from Pam at Hortensia just look at how beautifully wrapped it was.

And inside........this gorgeous bag will be used to carry all my little bits and pieces to the Farmers Markets, it will look quite at home sat amongst all my lavender loveliness. It's beautifully made with a magnetic fastener and a gorgeous floral co-ordinating lining....I love it. Thank you Pam.

Back soon.

Sue xx

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Glorious Goodies for Sale at Lavender's Blue...2

If you are wondering what little extras to buy this Christmas take a little trip over to Lavender's Blue... 2 to spy some delightful little extras for you or your loved ones.
I had great fun yesterday trying to photograph some of my little hearts and bears in the dismal light that was Oxfordshire. So excuse the dreary day outside the window and focus on Herman bear gallantly modelling my Christmassy lovelies.
Sue xx

Monday 7 December 2009

Busy Weekend

Lavender's Blue..... the Christmas Version

On Saturday whilst Lovely Hubby was left wallowing in mud on the farm, feeding and cleaning out the chickens and pigs and then planting the last few trees, I was firmly ensconced in the warmth and dryness of The Merry Bells Village Hall, Wheatley doing what is hopefully the first of many craft Fairs to be held there.

Lovingly sewn organisers, cushions and stitched creations.

Brilliantly organised by Leanne, aided and abetted by her Mum, Anne the event ran like clockwork. With a raffle and a tombola (of which yours truly won a prize on both) and I also won the 'Name the Teddy' and now 'Jamie' lives in the living room being eyed up by a Jack Russell that has recently taken to savaging teddy bears!!

A fantastic selection of childrens books for every age.

Lots of money was raised for the Royal Marines Benevolent Fund a cause close to LH's heart for obvious reasons.

Beautiful jewellery for the party season and beyond.

LH came to visit during the course of the day, no doubt as much tempted by the thought of the homecaked goodies on the next stall as to see his Lovely Wife!!

The yummiest breads, cakes and scones.
A fantastic array of Body Shop testers.
Hand Crafted stationery sets and cards for every occasion.
What the very best dressed Barbie should be wearing this Winter.
Jams, Chutneys and Marmalades made by the fair hands of Jeanette.
Lovely personalised boxes and door plaques.
After last weeks wind and rain at the outdoor Henley Farmers Market the warmth of the hall was much appreciated and this is definitely the direction I will be going in in future. Apart from anything else my stock does not take kindly to getting wet!!
When I get home it was to a lovely surprise, LH had bought our Christmas tree on his way home. So Sunday saw us fishing the decorations out of the cupboards ready for later and then, after seeing to the animals it was time to start decorating the kitchen, no small task as it is a very large room and full of all the clutter waiting to be dispersed around the house. We got stuck in and by three oclock, when we had a business meeting and had to abandon work, we had got half the ceiling painted and the back door and one window frame done.
Now we just have two more larger windows to do, one more door and the stair spindles and banister, oh yes and the rest of the ceiling and the walls and then we have to put up some cupboards and shelves. Should keep us busy for a while then eh!!
It is nice to see the house improving a bit after a summer of outdoor work, hopefully by the end of the Winter the interior will be all complete and we can get stuck into more growing outside.
Sue xx