Saturday 27 February 2010

My Birthday Boy

On this day twenty three years ago at exactly 8.24 pm a very special little boy was born. Weighing in at 7lbs 1.5oz he had the cutest grin and the most amazing sticky up hair. He brought love and laughter to his big brothers life and gave us all a boost when we needed it most.

With his big brother.

He was to grow up to be the nicest, gentlest, friendliest and most compassionate of men. A man any Mum would be proud of and one that would enhance the lives of all those that got to know him. I am so lucky he is my son.

Graduation day with his Grandparents. On his brothers birthday I did a post about cars and vehicles, as everything in his childhood was dominated by these things. Jasons childhood was dominated by balls!! He was sports mad, if it had a ball in it he wanted to watch it, play it, act out the matches, from ping pong balls to rugby balls he played with them all. He learnt to play snooker at 18 months old...properly!

With Sophie, who adores him.

At his Grandparents 50th Anniversary Party.
Helping build the first chicken pen on the farm.
Clearing the pond.
When he grew up he represented his schools, primary, secondary, and the village at football, rugby, table tennis every sport imaginable. Went he went off to university he represented them on the rugby field. Now this is very good but here on the farm we have a distinct lack of balls (even most of the animals are girls....sorry....couldn't resist that one!!) so all I can do on his birthday post is show you some pictures of the birthday boy. I have carefully edited out all the embarassing ones....I know, I must be getting mellow in my old age.
In Rome with Alan, his stepdad and friend.
All I want to say to Jason on this his 23rd birthday is.......thank you for being my son, thank you for being there when I needed you most, and thank you for the fun, laughter and love that you have brought to this family
We all love you SO much, you are truly a man to be proud of.
Happy Birthday Jason.
Love from Mum xxx

Friday 26 February 2010

It's a Dogs' Dinner......

Recently whilst browsing through Blogland, I came upon this recipe for Homemade Dog Food. It's brilliant, I've been making it for a couple of weeks now and both dogs love it. So I thought I would share it. It's tasty (Lovely Hubby will vouch for that, he thought I had made a giant pan of stew and had a taste!) and easy and cheap to make.
1 Kg Beef Mince
1.5 cups of raw Rice (brown or white)
1 cup of Barley OR Lentils
1 cup raw Pasta
2 cups of chopped Veggies (any except leeks or onions)
1 spoonful of vegemite or Peanut Butter
Simply put ALL the ingredients in a VERY large pan (I use my jam pan) cover with the water, give it a good stir to break up the mince and bring it to the boil. When it has reached boiling point, turn down the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. At the end of this time top up the pot to the rim with water and leave to cool.
Once cold, put into portion sized plastic containers (fill your dogs dish with the first portion so you know how big to make them) and freeze until you need them.
I make this once a week and it feeds both dogs their evening meals. We add either a piece of brown bread to their dish with the mince or some dog biscuits. They have Bakers Dry Dogfood available during the day if they get hungry. But since eating this it has helped both dogs to become better eaters.
Rosy - a satisfied customer, on the dog sofa.
Well worth a try if your dogs are fussy eaters or you just fancy giving them a nutritious change.
I'm off now back to the polytunnel to plant my tomato seeds.
Sue xx

Thursday 25 February 2010

Music while you work......

This week has seen me mostly doing lots of 'bitty' jobs but today I am back in to the polytunnel to continue with my planting.
I have invested in a wind up radio to keep me company. For one minutes winding, I get 30 minutes of music, it also has a built in torch and a mobile phone charger, so definitely something to take to a desert island.
It is very solitary working in a polytunnel, voices outside and the dogs running around chasing the clucking chickens are all muffled and you start to feel very isolated. But with a bit of music while you work you find yourself, (well I do anyway) jigging around and joining in.
What the folk outside think of my renditions of 'My Way' and 'Bohemian Rhapsody' I have no idea and quite frankly I don't really mind!!
They can laugh all they want....I will continue planting to music, if it helps the plants to grow (as is popularly thought) then so much the better. It keeps me happy.
Reflections on the pond.
(It may look like a puddle but it's 4ft deep and 25ft across!)
Sue xx

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Saturdays Farmers Market

Outside today the weather is ice cold and grey, so I thought instead of chilly pictures I would show the photos I took on Saturday morning at Tetsworth Farmers Market.
It is held in the Village Hall and run by Colin and Sheila, our next door neighbour farmers who have the bread and meat stalls.
There are stalls representing a local Deli and a local restaurant as well as us Farmers. So there is always a good variety of locally grown, produced and handmade goods, all fresh as can be and SO tempting. I usually come away well stocked for the week ahead with fresh veggies, cakes and the most important purchase - handmade Mutton Pies from the local restuarant for Lovely Hubby.
So I'll take you round in the order the stalls are laid out.
You step in the door and are greeted by Judy and her lovely array of handmade cards and jewellery.
Next stall is the delightful Lavender stall manned by yours truly.
Then you come to a good bit, the kitchen. Dispensing tea, coffee and bacon butties, as well as this month, to celebrate Fair Trade Fortnight....chocolate!
Next the delightful array of home produced goodies from the local restaurant The Half Moon at Cuxham.
A delightful array of preserves and chutneys.
This stall has THE most amazing selection of cheeses, honeys, oils and pates all from the local Deli.
Then - the cake stall, a temptation that just cannot be resisted. I always buy a couple of flapjacks, one to eat with my coffee at the market and two more to bring home to share with LH.
Then we have Sheila on the bread stall, a wonderful selection of hand baked loaves and buns.
And then the lovely Caroline, dispensing plants, flowers.....
...and advice!
Then we have the fantastic array of veggies from Sandy Lane Farmers Co-operative, always well set out and fresh as fresh can be.
So nice to see someone with pride in their stock!
Here is Colin, giving all the advice needed to cook the meats just right.
We don't measure our food in air miles here, these animals are off the fields a stones throw from where we live. I must point out here that I don't eat red meat, but knowing these animals have had a good life and have never been traumatisied by shipping them from pillar to post, helps me come to terms with my meat eating Hubby.
I hope you enjoyed your little trip around the Farmers Market, we are there again next month, drop by if you can.
Sue xx

Saturday 20 February 2010

Tubes, compost and planting.......

This must be my favourite moment of the year. The time to start planting, when all the looking through seed catalogues and trailing around the garden centres comes into it's own. When you pick up your first toilet roll middle and fill it with compost!! "What was that last bit" I hear you say, yes, you may think I'm mad but I've found this is a foolproof way to get my seedlings started. I have lovely friends and family saving me the middles from their toilet rolls and kitchen rolls all year. I squash them flat and store in bundles in all sorts of containers all year round ready for use at planting time. Then in February I get them out, cut the toilet rolls tubes in half and the kitchen roll tubes into quarters......... and then pop them into my seed trays and saved plastic trays from meat and things, and then fill them with compost. This year should be the last year we have to buy in our compost supplies, by next year we will have the vermiculture business in full swing and that will provide our own supplies, fresh from the farm.
Once the cardboard tubes are full of compost I put one or two seeds into each one, water them well and I try to label each one (last year some went unlabelled by accident and we had to wait to see what we got), this year I am making a determined effort to label each tray and keep the labels with the plants throughout their journey.
As the weather is still unpredictable I am giving the trays the added protection of another sheet of polythene even though they are all safely in the polytunnel.
And waiting in the wings for tomorrow.........the next lot of empty tubes waiting to be filled.
The beauty of this system is that the seedlings never need to be handled, the toilet roll tubes disintegrate before the plants need any extra space and best of all........the whole method costs no money. I am recycling cardboard, saving money on buying little pots and getting more viable plants as handling is kept to the minimum so the root system can fully develop in its own little space.
The plants can be potted on to bigger plantpots just by popping the cardboard tube into a larger plantpot or the tube can go straight into the ground outside. It has proved itself time and time again and is one system that I will always use.
Over the weekend I have planted peas, beetroot, spring onions, carrots, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, radish and mixed leaves, please don't forget I have been able to plant these early because they are all in the polytunnel and the temperature in there is even now quiet a few degrees higher than outside. Indeed yesterday briefly we reach a temperature of 23 degrees, and boy was it good working in just a sweatshirt rather than layers of woolies and jackets!!
Today the snow is back but hopefully inside the PT it will stay above freezing, I will be keeping an eye on my new thermometer just to check, if it does another layer of protection will be added to my little babies!
Here's to a happy planning and planting week.
Sue xx

Guest Blogger

Mum's away in the polytunnel playing with trays and toilet rolls tubes so I thought I would nip onto the computer and let you all know she's fine, back to being my normal (but slightly crazy) Mum.
Anyone who spends their time filling toilet rolls tubes with soil stuff can't be completely normal........ she should know soil is for digging in and cardboard tubes are for chasing and chewing up!!
Have a good weekend, hope you all have lots of rabbits to chase, I have!!
Rosy xx

Friday 19 February 2010

Thank You

Flowers for you.....Thank You.
Thank you to all the lovely readers of my Blog who took the time to comment yesterday. It meant SO much.
Lovely Hubby is home from work today and taking charge of the farm. I'm off out, shopping and browsing the garden centre for seeds.
I am wearing clean jeans and fingers crossed, for one day, and one day only they will stay that way!!
The kitchen windowsill.........proof that Spring is on the way!!
Sue xx

Thursday 18 February 2010

Mud, muck and mist (with a manic depressive thrown in for good measure!).

Today it's as though all promise of Spring has been wiped out. The farm is shrouded in a grey mist and the sky is darkening as I type. The chickens are wading through black sticky mud and look like they are wearing multi-toed boots.
The pigs are refusing to come out of the barn, possibly the electric fence corridor LH has erected to their new digging area is too narrow or maybe it's just the dismal day they have woken up too.
Sophie the Border Collie is lying in the mud looking under the shed and refuses to leave whatever it is making a home under there alone, possibly a family of mice. When she comes in she is destined for yet another wash. I have just got changed for the first time today and it's only 9am, my jeans can stand by themselves in the corner of the room they are so stiff with the mud the pigs and dogs have splashed at me.
Life is yucky here at the moment, usually my posts are full of happy pictures and nice goings on, but occasionally the weight of the work gets to me and this is one of those times. Life is mucky, muddy and the days are too long. I know just how Barbara in 'The Good Life' felt when she wanted to go out and wear her posh frock!!
Only I don't want to go out, I want to go back....back to our previous life!!
To the life where vegetables came washed in bags from the supermarket and the cinema was round the corner, where takeways were within walking distance and I sat in my shop surrounded by the things I had chosen, seeing them oohed and aahd over and bought by customers. Where I went to work wearing clean clothes and came home with them (usually) in the same condition. Where a walk with the dog meant an amble around the park or up the hill to look at the view and where, when we woke in the morning, it really was morning, and the world was coming alive around us. With street lights still lit and the sounds of a town coming to life for another day.
Most likely by tomorrow I will be back on track but for once I wanted to let you into a secret.......this life is not perfect, the 'good life' is not always good. Sometimes life throws you lemons and you make lemonade, and sometimes life throws you lemons and you throw them straight back (or run over them with a tractor)!
Sue xx

Tuesday 16 February 2010

My New Shop

I've just opened my very own little Folksy Shop. Call over for a visit and see some Lavender Lovelies made by my own fair hands.
There's a link in the sidebar too, so you can visit whenever you want.
I would really appreciate if you could call round to give me an opinion of my goodies. Look forward to seeing you there!!
Sue xx

New Arrival

Edmund the bear wasn't the only new arrival on the farm this weekend. LH's new boytoy was delivered on Friday. A John Deere 3130 tractor.
Martha, Maud and Betty eating breakfast in the barn.
So now there is no excuse, we can work on our 6.5 acres paddock and get some serious planting done. We hope to grow enough greens to feed our expanding little group of pigs.
Fingers crossed, but we are convinced Betty is pregnant. She has gone all soft on us, wanting cuddling and touching and tickling behind the ears. She has upped her pebble gathering (when she is happy she find pebbles and drops them in the water trough, it always brings a smile to my face when I find them there). She is even being nice to Maud and Martha who are completely baffled by all this and it is now bringing out Martha's bossy side.
Only shiny and clean temporarily, soon to have a plough attachment and be let loose ploughing up a quarter of the paddock. Now were starting to look like 'proper' farmers! Sue xx