Friday 29 April 2016

Mother Goose and the Toilet Roll Inners

I had a little helper in the polytunnel this morning.  

 Mother Goose the Hyline hen is on her last legs.  I actually think she has had some sort of mild stroke as she went from being perfectly healthy to not seeing and not being able to walk properly in the space of one evening.  Over the past few days she has been slowly getting back the use of her legs and is no longer missing her step and falling over as often as she walks.

Putting a few wriggling little worms in front of her got her instincts going again this morning and apart from perking her up a bit with the relative warmth of the polytunnel and a few high protein snacks, it showed me that her eyesight has also improved greatly.  Unfortunately she has the hunched over stance that most chickens get when they are convinced their time is up.

Oh well she is another hen that has had a brilliant life and if I can spend a little bit of time with her and make her feel better before she goes then so much the better.

I was in the polytunnel with my little companion for a mass seed planting marathon using my favourite method ... planting in toilet roll inners.  Myself,  my Mum and Mary from next door all save them  through the Winter, flattened and banded in big bunches they wait for planting time.

Then they are cut in half ...

... and placed forty to a tray.

Then  filled with sifted compost.

 I use a mix of general purpose and John Innes fine seed compost in a 4/1 ratio for good seed germination and to keep costs down.  Then I sow one or two seeds per tube and water well.

Once the seedlings are strong and well rooted the whole lot, cardboard tube and all is potted on into a small plant pot or later in the year I plant directly into the raised beds either in the polytunnel or out on the hillside.  With lots of watering and rain outside the cardboard inners soon disintegrate and are absorbed into the soil.

It's very cold here at the moment and these pictured courgettes have suffered a little bit as a result, even in the polytunnel.  They are currently back under a plastic cloche to help them warm up and hopefully survive.  They were lusciously green and healthy only a few days ago.

It's proving to be a very strange Spring, the hills opposite were absolutely white with snow and hail first thing this morning, and we have had on and off hail showers and heavy rain all morning, not good for a grower with itchy to get on with things green fingers!!

Sue xx

Thursday 28 April 2016

RIP Daisy, the Lavender Pekin Bantam

The night before we set off on our weekend away Daisy died.  

I was glad she chose that night to tuck her head under her wing and slip peacefully away because it meant I didn't miss a moment of her being with us.  She had no time when she was at home feeling even slightly unwell when I wasn't close by to watch over her.

As deaths go she had a reasonable chicken death, but as life's go she had a wonderful chicken life.

It started over five and a half years ago.  She's the little chick stood to the right of her Mum, in this their first ever family shot .... so she knew a good close chickeny family.

And she was close to her sister Poppy right until the end, although they learnt independence from each other when Poppy had a little vanishing time last year, disappearing each day for over a week and only coming home at bedtime.

She even had her very own Blog post a few months after we moved here.


She started to develop eye infections last Autumn and has been to the vets on a couple of occasions, much to the delight and amusement of the folk I met in the waiting room with their dogs and cats.  She would sit patiently on the vets table while she was examined and injected, with not a moments fuss, and then I had a supply of antibiotics at home for whenever it flared up again.

At the start of last week it did flare up again and I had just started her on another course of antibiotics.  She got used to the ritual of me washing her face when she woke each morning with her eyes stuck shut, in fact one morning I was a bit late and she had gotten herself to the fence and was sat waiting for me to arrive with the cotton pads and a bowl of warm water.  I was worried about going away and not being there for her, but I needn't have been .... the morning we were due to set off I lifted the nesting box lid to find her peacefully dead, with her head tucked under her wing as if to say  "I've had enough ..... it's time to close these weary eyes for the last time".

I don't mind admitting I shed more than a few tears over her sweet little body.

She and her sister Poppy are the last descendents of my original Lavender Pekin Bantams bought for my birthday when we moved onto our very first farm.  Her Dad, our original Caldwell was a magnificent and very brave cockerel, who laid down his life alongside his sons to protect his flock,  Her Mum was called Little Lucy, the sweetest of sweet Pekins, no wonder they produced this lovely girl between them.

This post contains some live action of them when Daisy and Poppy were just eight weeks old.

She lit up my life with her funny little antics and her lovely Pekin Bantam waddly walk, and even when the antibiotics worked the first few times and meant she led me a merry dance to give her her last injection I never got cross ... how can you when you are chasing a feathery bundle of fluff and they turn around just when they are out of reach and smirk at you.

RIP my little Daisy .... you were a very special little chicken, from your first days until your last.

Sept 2011 - April 2016

Sue xx

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Our Home for the Weekend

We're back!!

This was our home for the weekend ... from Friday until Monday morning we could pretend we lived in this lovely little Welsh cottage.  As lots of you wanted to see inside this cottage after you followed the links on my last post and learned all about it I took quite a few photos, some of which appear here and the rest will be included on a separate stand alone page at the top of the Blog.

For much more information about Treleddyd Fawr Cottage see THIS blog post done a couple of weeks ago.

We were welcomed into the cottage by this lovely photo of Mr Griffiths, the gentleman that left the cottage to the National Trust, and his cat Nadolig. 

Round the wooden partition was the little sitting area with the original settle that Mr Griffiths owned.  In total three pieces of his furniture were restored and returned to the cottage, I thought this was a lovely touch.

To the left of the settle and inglenook fireplace was the dining area being shown to us here by a certain little Pug, who loved her stay in the cottage as much as we did.

In the living room simplicity but comfort with a two seater sofa ...

... and a cosy armchair which Lovely Hubby swiftly claimed as his own.

If you are wondering what he is doing here in the photo, he's sharpening his colouring pencils!!   

We forgot to take a pencil sharpener with us and Lovely Hubby embarked on a colouring-in marathon, so we bought one while we were out.  That it happened to be bought off a Guide Dogs for the Blind stall and was in the shape of a little dog ... and to sharpen your pencils you had to insert them in the dogs mouth and turn his tail to work it ... only added to the holiday fun .... and Suky's fascination.

On the wall above the armchair was a sample of some of the many layers of wallpaper found in the cottage when the renovations began.

Up the little blue staircase ....

 ....and you come to this lovely big room, which showcased the cottages lovely old floorboards.  The gaps in them meant that the heat from downstairs rose up beautifully keeping the cottage cosy and warm.

Turning round completely you can see into the bedroom of the cottage.

Where Suky found a little window sill that gave her a wonderful view of the cottage garden.

Back downstairs and into the kitchen, being very careful not to bang your head, Lovely Hubby nearly knocked himself out twice .... then he learned to duck.  I was a bit luckier and remembered every time :-)

The back door opened out onto the little side passage that led to the outbuildings opposite and the back garden to the left.

The bathroom, which along with the kitchen are in the lean-to section that was the original dairy of the cottage.

Which you can see with the black roof in this photo taken from the back garden.

The cottage with its outbuildings.  The one attached to the cottage on the left of the photo is the log store, the two red doors on the other side were locked to us, but further along to the right was the shed containing the rubbish bins and further along to the left was the converted utility room with all the mod cons you just wouldn't want to see in the cottage itself.

Our car had to be parked in the little walled area opposite the cottage as the cottage is frequently photographed by the walkers on the footpath that runs across the front of it.  We got used to people standing opposite the windows and marvelling at the cottage, them doing this and taking photos was no problem but the few that came right up to the windows and peered in gave us a bit of a start, Lovely Hubby took to waving at them which made them jump and move sheepishly away ;-)

We had a brilliant time and it was a sad moment when we had to lock the door for the final time and drive away.  

But, and this is a big BUT it was lovely to get home to our Welsh cottage, rested refreshed and full of ideas of getting back to the simplicity that we enjoyed while we were away for the weekend.  We could never live our day to day lives doing all the things we do with so little 'stuff' but we can continue on our journey to whittle away at what we have until we reach the point where we have everything we need and our wants our minimal.

I hope you enjoyed this little roundup of our cottage-y holiday snaps, I will put these and the rest of the photos I took on a new page that is now at the top of the blog.

Sue xx

Sunday 24 April 2016

Sometimes .....

I feel just like this some days!!

By the time I've got the basics done it's time to do round two of them ... and there seems to be nothing done in the middle.

Oh, well it will soon be bedtime :-)

Sue xx

Saturday 23 April 2016

A 'WTF' Moment ... and then ANOTHER One!!

Mum gave me her copy of the free Tesco magazine the other day to have a read before it went in the recycling.  I was merrily flicking through the pages when I came upon this advert.

Has the world gone mad!!

To buy a box of four cups of takeaway coffee just so you can leave your door with a cup in your hand is madness, well in my book it is.  If you need to leave the house clutching a cup of coffee then make one with your usual coffee in a thermos cup, or if you really must, buy one takeaway coffee and then re-use that cup over and over ..... don't fall for this mad marketing ploy. 

They are currently on offer at Tesco at £1.99 and £2.29 and that's with 50% off, yes I guess that's cheaper than getting a takeaway but don't forget you are boiling your kettle to add to the cost of this drink, why not just boil the kettle anyway open your usual jar of coffee, get a spoonful or two out and make a drink yourself to take away with you and save yourself a small fortune.

A few pages later I came upon this Homity pie style recipe and as it looked so delicious I read through the recipe properly ....

... my second WTF moment in five minutes!!

To make this they tell you to buy a pack of ready made shortcrust pastry, dice it up and put it and some cheese in your food processor then pulse to combine the two, then bring it all together to make a ball of pastry and then roll it out.

Am I missing something here .... while you have your food processor out why not just put flour, fat and a pinch of salt in it and make your own pastry from scratch adding the cheese at the breadcrumb stage and then a touch of water to bring it all together.

I finished the magazine ... and then placed it quickly in the recycling bin before going to lie down in a darkened room before I went completely mad.

Sue xx

Thursday 21 April 2016

Lovely Hubby's Favourite Commodity

I get happy over cook books, gardening magazines with free seeds and courgette seedlings growing big and strong in the polytunnel ..... Lovely Hubby's favourite commodity is a trailer load of shit goodness to replenish all the nutrients lost with the constant rain of the Winter washing the goodness from our vegetable beds.

This particular load has a lot of straw mixed in with the sheep shit manure as it's come straight from the lambing sheds of one of our neighbours.  Next week LH will be going back for a second load of year- old rotted and nicely steaming proper horse manure that he's offered us from the corner of his field, which he will use to top this lot off and thereby get a nice hot composting pile going on in the corner of our paddock.

Some of this weeks load has already been used in the bottom of the compost bins now that they have all been turned over and put into one, with two more now available for me to top up over the course of this years growing season.

Our neighbour Mary, has just given me another contact for even more horse manure, so I see Lovely Hubby's obsession with sh*t growing all the more ... just like it used to when we lived in Oxfordshire, where he had a heap the size of a small mountain covered in tarpaulins and it was so hot we once grew Melons in it!! 

Sue xx

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Thank You .... and Books

Firstly, thank you so much for all the birthday wishes yesterday.  

I had a lovely day, lunch out with my Mum and brother in Bents Garden Centre in Manchester, where I nearly broke my spending ban but then my lovely brother stepped in and paid for the fluted quiche baking tin and bottle opener that I was about to pay for, and said it was my birthday present off him ... aren't little brothers good  :-)

I got home to phone calls off my sons, messages from friends and family on Facebook and a lovely and even bigger row of cards on the mantelpiece.

Today it would have been back to normal with a bang, but the sun is out and everything seems fresh and gorgeous.  I have courgettes calling out to me in the polytunnel that need potting on, as they are quickly outgrowing their little toilet roll inner starter pots, so after this post I will be heading off to the warmth of the tunnel before the afternoon heat makes it too unbearable to work in.

The other day I was going through another of my cookbooks, and as you can see from this top view of the book I hadn't found many recipes that I really needed and I was mentally already adding it to the pile waiting to be sold at the car boot sale .... but then I hit the final chapter ..... lots of Scottish recipes, as I guess I would have expected earlier in a book written by Scotswoman Aggie MacKenzie

The little 'Post it' labels were coming out thick and fast then and I even fancy making this alternative scone recipe .....

.... this will get bigger if you click on it.

I've never heard of melting butter and syrup together to start off a scone recipe, but as I have a whole tin of syrup in the cupboard I may just give it a go.

When I got to the end of the book I neatened up the little 'stickies' so that all the yellow ones were together and all the green ones were at the back .... gosh I'm getting so OCD .....

.... I think somebody else thinks so too!!

Sue xx

Tuesday 19 April 2016

Birthday Treats

This is proving to be a very good couple of days .... well apart from the bit about being officially another year older.  

It's my birthday today and I'm being treated to lunch with my Mum and brother.  Yesterday I was treated to a lovely day out with Lovely Hubby.  After an appointment he had first thing, we went into Llandudno for coffee and Welsh cakes for breakfast, a mooch around the shops and then lunch at one of our favourite establishments Osborne House.

While we were out I got a text to let me know my parcel had been delivered, as I wasn't expecting a parcel I thought this very strange!!  And when we got home there it was in the garage ... a big box containing a magnificent bunch of flowers and a teddy bear, which I have been reliably informed by my Mum, who is the lovely person that sent the flowers to me, is called Spencer!!

Thank you Mum they are beautiful.


I also have a little row of cards on the mantlepiece and, in what Lovely Hubby has called my Birthday Amnesty, during our year of living without books, clothes and housekeeping money, a new waterproof jacket and a card telling me that Rhonda Hetzel's new book 'The Simple Home' is currently winging it's way over to me from Australia.

Totally spoilt I am ..... and another year older.

Sue xx

Sunday 17 April 2016

Sorting Through Cook Books

We were all set to go out this morning and finally weed the messy front flower beds, but the rain had other ideas!! 
So we started indoor jobs instead.  I stayed in the kitchen after breakfast, first I moved things from fridge to freezer, a sweet and sour dish of Lovely Hubbys and a curry of mine, both leftovers from the other nights tea but not really wanted to eat again this weekend.  I prepped todays lunch and mixed up the Mediterranean veggies for tonight's tea so that, as my hero Nigel would say, 'the flavours can get to know each other'. 
While I was doing this and LH was busy upstairs on the computer doing businessy financial things the sun came out again so I rushed through what I was doing ready to venture out to the great outdoors, then no sooner had I cleared the decks ready to go out then it clouded over again and great fat drops of rain fell onto the kitchen skylight above my head.
Foiled again!!

So instead I am browsing through some of the cookbooks that I guess I always knew at the back of my mind I didn't really need.  The odds and sods picked up at charity shops and car boot sales, that I was tempted to buy due to silly low prices but that never really were my style at all ... and some of them so full of meat dishes that my first instinct is to snap  the covers shut like I used to as a child when I came across pictures of spiders in books and comics.

Any recipes, or even just good ideas that I come across I am simply photographing and I will leave them loaded on the computer for reading again or printing out at a later date.
There are some  interesting things to read ...

... and a few things that I might make ....

... but not enough to make me keep the physical book on the shelves any longer.
Car Boot sale season is almost upon us and it will be nice to once again make some more space in the house and pocket some extra cash while we do so.
Sue xx

Saturday 16 April 2016

Face at the Window

'Hello ... is there anyone there?'

" Mum, Rosy's at the door ...

... I think we should leave her there ... it's okay I'll have her bone  :-)  "

Rosy is the only one of the dogs that is allowed to remain outside on her own when we come in.  We don't have a choice most of the time, she runs off up the hill after rabbits and usually manages to bring one back with her for a snack.

   She's a sensible little thing, and although I don't worry too much when she takes off into the woods I am always relieved when I see her little face back at the window  :-)

Sue xx