Tuesday 29 June 2010

Harvesting the Veggies

Carrots pulled up this morning
(and a Courgette that hid under the leaves til it turned into a little Marrow)
It's that time of year, the time to start bringing in all the veggies that have reached their peak.
Don't panic if you're thinking that yours are a bit behind, it's mine that are in front. A mixture of living in the South of England, and having the bonus of the polytunnel to get things started so much earlier means that crops are in sooner.
Onions harvested yesterday drying in the sunshine.
To be honest I don't enjoy the thought of doing the harvesting but once I get stuck in it's not too bad. To see the freezer filling up with boxes of veggies labelled 'our carrots', 'our spinach' etc, it makes the work worthwhile.

This year to make the job a little bit easier we have our outdoor washing station. It's simply an old Belfast sink with a bucket underneath the plughole to catch the water and a short length of hose from the outdoor tap next to it.

We give the veggies (and plant pots, wellies etc) their first rinse here and it saves the pipes in the kitchen sink from getting clogged up with soil. The soily water drains into the bucket underneath and we use this to give the veggies in the tyres a drink. Very environmentally friendly in my opinion as the soil goes back to where it should be. It's surprising how such a simple idea has improved things.

And of course because we are outside we can rinse the veggies that are for us......

...and immediately give all the trimmings to the chickens, so they get a fresh tasty snack too. You should see them lining up by the fence to watch me preparing their salad!

Sue xx

Monday 28 June 2010

Caldwell Has Found His Doodle!!

Caldwell with Nellie, the New Hampshire Red.
Yes, at last Caldwell, the little Lavender Pekin Bantam cockerel has found his 'Doodle'. Since he was twelve weeks old he has been 'Cock a Do-ing', but last week for the first time he 'Cock a Doodle Do-od'.
# Well worth waiting for, I love the little sound he makes, I love
that he fluffs up his feathers and jumps on the chair to do it, and the fact that he does it bang on 6.45am is a bonus, although with his volume, earlier wouldn't matter! #
Caldwell's ladies (from left to right) - Isabel, Little Lucy, Alice and Prudence. We feel like a 'proper' farm with our very own cockerel crowing every morning, funny how the littlest thing can add so much pleasure! Sue xx

A New Cow on the Farm.

Now, temporarily, we have a cow on the farm, but it's not like any cow you've ever seen before and soon it will be painted green.....sulk, sulk!!
Lovely Hubby set me the task of finding a caravan to be used as a shed, to keep the mice off the animal feed and bedding, (they have eaten their way into the wooden shed). So I had a look on Ebay......and what should I see but an advert for a 'Cow-avan'.

Of course me being me, I had to have it, and two hours later I was the proud owner of said Cow-avan

That it matches my lovely little Rosy perfectly is completely coincidental!!
Sue xx

Sunday 27 June 2010

Oops......did you miss me?

Lofty - the Light Sussex
I've been missing from my Blog since last Monday.
Our Internet has been down, it vanished into thin air on Monday night just after I had been showing Lovely Hubby the fruits of my labours, (our brand new company website), and life has been strangely weird since, especially without my Blog.
So much has happened in the past week, no great mind blowing news just lots of little happenings here on the farm, lots of sorting out done for our 'simplifying' mission, lots of little animals stories with no one to share them with. I promise I'll be back tomorrow with my 'cow' picture, in the meantime I have over 400 emails to deal with!!
Nice to be back.
Sue xx

Monday 21 June 2010

Butch Returns Home

This morning in the polytunnel. Butch has gone home! Things just didn't work out with him and our ladies. Betty, the Berkshire who should have been his 'wife' wasn't that interested, so then we thought a Middle White/Berkshire cross might have been a winner. Unfortunately, Butch had other ideas and hated our Middle Whites on sight. Before he did them any damage we decided not to push things and to return him to his former home. So now we are back to just the girls.
The lovely ugly, brute that is Butch.
Betty will be turned to bacon if no purchaser comes forward in the next week, and the Middle Whites soon after. We have made the decision to specialise in Large Blacks and are currently searching for another girl and a young boar of a suitably rare bloodline, so we will have our own little breeding herd.
Elsewhere on the farm lots has been happening including the polytunnel turning into a re-enactment of the 'Day of the Triffids', put your coffee cup down if you dare and it will be covered over by a rampant courgette plant!
I also have a new 'cow', I'm making the most of it, Lovely Hubby says we must paint it green next weekend!!
I'll show you tomorrow!
Sue xx

Sunday 20 June 2010

My Dad

Happy Father's Day Dad
We all have one, but mine's special.......to me!
Sue xx

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Walking away........

I'm walking away from the Blog for a couple of days to go and spend a bit of time with my Mum and Dad. Lovely Hubby will be holding the fort, the chickens have been informed and had a meeting behind henhouse number two yesterday, the outcome of the meeting has not been divulged to me. Oooh.....I do hope they are going to behave themselves. I think they could have planned some mischief............
.............maybe that's why they are doing the Monty Python walk!!
Sue xx

Meet Rachel Rock Star

Meet Rachel Rock Star.........she's one of the newer girls, bought from a farm sale at the end of May, reared by a young boy who buys day old chicks with his pocket money and sells them at Point of Lay. How did she get her name.....well she's a Black Rock chicken, one day I just knew her name was Rachel, and the next she was being such a little sweetie I said 'you're a star' and there you have it
... Rachel Rock Star!

She runs to greet me, whether she's hungry or not. If I pick up another chicken she wants a cuddle too, if I sit down she wants to sit on my knee, and when I'm cleaning out the chicken house (usually on my knees through the back door) she sits on the back of my legs. When I move from one house to the other she follows me and oversees all the work. Chunnering all the while in her unique little two note call. And then when I've finished she goes and joins the other hens for her breakfast.

A little star is Rachel Rock Star. How do you name yours? Sue xx

Tuesday 15 June 2010

The Good Life, or The Simple Life?

Lots of thinking and re-jigging of ideas is going on here on the farm at the moment. Life is what you make it and we are making it simpler. We are taking the elements we love, keeping them and streamlining everything else, be it ways of thinking or possessions.
What caused this shift is our perspective? One contributing factor for me was some friends losing everything they owned. While we were away on our little birthday holiday in April their beautiful thatched cottage burnt to the ground, taking with it everything they had worked for years to acquire and held dear. Because they had the good sense to have smoke detectors everywhere in the house, the family and all their pets were safe, their belongings were not. They are now having to re-locate miles from the village while the insurance company oversees the complete re-building of their much loved home.
But now, just two months later, they have smiles back on their faces, they discovered during this terrible process that have SO many friends in the village. People they barely knew came forward with offers of help, both physical and material.
Something like that makes you take stock. Well it did me!
And we have.......
As I looked around our home I tried to think what would I be most upset to lose, and when it came down to it there wasn't very much. Our photos and important documents have all been moved to metal filing cabinets (just in case), and our insurance documents were checked for adequate cover for our essentials.
We all go through life acquiring things and looking after them, some things we bestow lots of love on, dusting, polishing, and giving so much care and attention to. Now, I'm not saying it's wrong to love your stuff, just that I have decided I would rather love the folk I'm with and cherish my animals for the love they give me in return.
So we are in the process of returning to a more simple life.
We will have the time for nuturing what is right and what is good. We are therefore, paring back on EVERYTHING. You will see at the top of my sidebar on the right, items popping up that I have loved for a while but that I am now hoping will find new homes, homes where they will be appreciated for the lovely things that they are.
All the other unnecessary bits and pieces are being sold at the Car Boot sales that we are doing over the Summer this year. Some of my books I have listed for sale on Amazon. The things that don't sell by the end of Summer will be donated to the charity shop I used to work at.
The things we are concentrating on are:
1. Loving each other
2. Loving and caring for our animals
3. Growing our own food.
4. Taking care of our new streamlined home.
5. Planning our future.
6. Spending quality, enjoyable time doing all the above.
So.......The Good Life or The Simple Life? By this time next year we hope to be living both!!
Sue xx

Monday 14 June 2010

A Tale of Two Halves

Sometimes when you've let the weeds just get too far, you have to take a deep breath and get stuck in. This is what we've been doing this weekend, a BIG tidy up of the outdoor veggies beds. With all the glorious sunshine over the week before last and then all the soggy, grey rain last week, the weeds have been romping home. Well no more, I am claiming back my veggie beds for my vegetables.
There are onions under there - honest! Told you!!
It was easier to do it a half at a time, although if I'm completely honest......I'm doing the second half today. After the first half, a hot bath and an ice cold cider were the order of the day.
Well, I had already done the lavender bed,
the lettuce and broccoli bed and the sixteen square bed! Now the onions can bask in the sunshine forecast for this week they should be almost ready for harvesting soon. Some of them are looking a very good size, last year we mainly had small ones but this year we should get a nice mix of sizes. On Sunday afternoon after the Farmers Market, we started work on the Sweetcorn patch. Forty plants in - only a hundred more to go!! Sue xx

Sunday 13 June 2010

Happy Anniversary

Fifty one years ago today, two very special people 'tied the knot'.

Last year we all celebrated with a surprise party for them, had lots of fun and helped them celebrate their love for each other in style.

This year could seem a let down after all that excitement. But it's not. A new milestone has been reached, one of continuing love, of understanding the very being of someone. Of learning afresh each day to love someone for all their foibles and annoying little habits. Something we all do on a daily basis when we share our lives so completely entwined with someone elses.

Young love is fantastic, learning to love each other and adapt.

But always....the best is still to come.

Happy 51st Anniversary Mum and Dad.

We model our lives around you and respect the individual people you are, but as a couple we hold your love in awe.

Love you lots,
Sue and Alan xx

Friday 11 June 2010

Pigs for Sale

Martha and Betty
Now is the time to sell some of our pigs. We have decided from now on we will concentrate on breeding from our Large Blacks and we are on the look out for a suitable young boar to compliment our girls bloodline.

Maud and Martha in the background with our Large Blacks.

However, this means that our Berkshire, Betty and our Middle Whites, Maud and Martha are now surplus to requirements. Unfortunately, they are rather too large to be able to keep as pets, (although they are extremely lovable) and having to make our small farm pay is extremely important to our continuing to live 'the good life'.

Betty, a picture perfect Berkshire gilt, fully registered with the BPA.
D.o.B. 09/11/2008

Maud and Martha Middle White gilts, also fully registered with the BPA.

D.o.B June 2009

All our pigs have been handled since they were young and are very playful and personable. Betty is very well mannered and absolutely loves attention. Maud is very gentle and loves to watch you doing anything around the farm. Martha is the dominant sister and a bit more pushy when it comes to food, but she is easily controlled. All the pigs are ready for breeding immediately. They are only available to good homes where they will be loved and treated as well as they have been here. We can deliver locally or arrange for you to come to the farm to see them. They are also advertised for sale locally. It will be first come, first served, as Rare Breed pigs are very in demand at the moment. Berkshires and Middle Whites are both pork pigs and they are all of an age where they could be used for meat. If they are not sold as breeding girls this is what we are going to do. But we thought that first we would give someone the option of breeding from them. For more information please email me. Coming soon (hopefully) baby Lavender Pekin Bantams. Sue xx

Thursday 10 June 2010

Lovely Delivery

Usually on the farm our deliveries consist of tons of pig feed, bags and bags of Layers Pellets, wood and worms and obscure tractor parts that LH just can't live without. Yesterday, however I got MY sort of delivery.
Of course, here on the farm I grow my own lavender but with the chickens devouring the first crop last year, and then the wet winter and cold spring, this years crop is way behind where it should be.
Think of where lavender grows best, in the dry, sunny fields of Provence, and you realise I just can't match it here at the moment. So, I took a decision to buy in some more from the supplier I used to use to stock my shop in Cumbria, and yesterday it arrived.
I knew what the postman was going to get out of his van the minute the door slid back, the whole van smelt of lovely lavender - gorgeous.
As well as my basic Organic Lavendula Angustifolia (English Lavender), I had ordered a mix of Lavender and Chamomile. The smell of both is divine, I took a full Kilo bag of the mix upstairs last night and just sat it, (still sealed in it's bag) in the bedroom and we slept like babies.
To this base I will be adding my own different varieties as soon as they reach perfection. I have six different types that I'm trialing this year. So it will be fun to play with the mixing.
Sometimes you just know when you're in the right business!
Sue xx

Tuesday 8 June 2010

Getting there.......

As it was.......
Getting somewhere is very good for the soul. Slowly, bit by bit, we are taming this place, only in sections, but each little corner that we tidy makes for a little bit less work. In this case, less weeding in the polytunnel as the evil weeds have been making their way in under the edges, and less strimming to do on the outside each week to keep the weeds and grass down around the polytunnel.
...and as it is now.
Two each of Redcurrants, Blackcurrants and Whitecurrants.
Before..... ...and after.
This second side will be planted out on Friday (weather permitting) with our Sweetcorn plants, all nice sturdy little plants, currently residing in the polytunnel. Out of the 159 seeds we planted we have about 140 plants, so not too bad.
But today I am continuing in 'Goking' my wardrobe, although I did get started yesterday, I then got slightly sidetracked, and after giving my workroom a thorough overhaul ended up filling Rosebud cones for the Farmers Market on Sunday!

Sue xx

Monday 7 June 2010

Good food........

Take our home grown goodies....
Good food is what most of us are aiming for, and when you have the pleasure of growing it yourself it makes it all the more enjoyable.
Recently, as listed in my sidebar, I read the book Jamie at Home, by Jamie Oliver and enjoyed it SO much I got myself the Dvd set of the television series. It's lovely to watch, relaxing and inspiring, all the things the book is and more.
One recipe that stood out for me was the Courgette Carbonara, and with my Courgette plants giving us at least 4 fruits a day I had to find a way of making different things with them.

...add a few tasty shop bought ones.....(yes, I do sometimes make my own garlic bread but not this time) I can honestly say that this recipe is brilliant, tasty, quick and so simple to do. Get all your ingredients to hand before you start and then just go with the flow. Eaten with lovely Mozerella Garlic Bread it is a filling and satisfying meal, topped off with a glass of white wine and a dish of strawberries, meringue and cream it is a feast fit for a smallholder.

....and you have a wonderful supper!

(This picture courtesy of Jamie Oliver)
The recipe leaves you with at least two egg whites, so it would be a crime not to make meringues to go with your pudding. Mine are this colour because I used Vanilla Sugar.....yummy!!
We tried this out for the first time last week and have already eaten it three times!! It's THAT good.
If you give a go, let me know what you think.
Now I'm off to 'Gok' my wardrobe. Last weeks 'victim' had 5oo items of clothing that she rarely wore and Gok got her down to 24. Now I don't think for a moment I can be that radical, but I'm gonna give it a go.
They say ('they' being the experts I assume), that we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time, so do I really need so much stuff, I think not. What I sort out will be off to the car boot sale next week, the money made being used to buy myself just a couple of new items, what doesn't sell first time out will be going to the charity shop to benefit someone else. It's a win win situation.
I'm loving all this de-cluttering by the way, everytime we do a car boot sale we come home with a lot less stuff, and when I see the space around the house I feel lighter in both mood and mind. I think I am the sort of person who needs to travel this road lightly. And if our new plans for the future pan out, I think it's a good job!!
Sue xx

We are full........

As usual I've planted SO much. I get carried away and it's not until things things get growing or I step back for a minute that I discover that everything is full.....full of life and promise. Full of good food, goodness and good times.
We have had a good weekend, with lots done and lots achieved. We've took the first tentative steps to securing our future on our very own bit of land and we've worked hard on the farm, oh and in between all that we've had some good family time, quality time spent together, sometimes a bit of fun makes the work seem all the more bearable.
The polytunnel is full to bursting.
The strawberry tub is full and flowering.
The wigwam is full of the promisie of Runner Beans to come. Lovely study, climbing plants that are romping away in the sunshine. The furthest raised bed is full of Kale and Broccoli.
The tyres are full - this one of carrots.
The chimney is full - of flowers.
The sink is full of Comfrey.
The bucket is full - of Chives.
The farm is full - full of the sound of contented animals going about their business, pigs arguing with each other, chickens foraging for food and the little Lavender Pekins exploring their new home.
Life is full - and good. Enjoy!
Sue xx