Friday 30 June 2017

Sheep, Lambs ... and a Sheep Coloured Pug


We've had three of Will's ewes and their twin lambs (nine sheep) in our fields for months now, moving them from one field to the other alternately as the grass has needed time to recover.  Yesterday it was that awful day when the lambs were taken from their Mums, they were gently separated and before the ewes had even realised what had happened were driven away in the back of Will's van.

At first the ewes mooched about, ate a bit of grass and wandered around, then they realised that something was really amiss and started to get upset.  They ran from one end of the paddock to the other looking through the fences thinking that their lambs could not be far away. 

As a trio they checked under and around bushes, behind the manure heap, they looked in places no large lamb would ever fit, in much the same way that we search in ridiculous places when we have mislaid something.

When I went into the paddock with the dogs for our evening perambulation they came running over baa'ing at me as though asking me if had I seen their babies, or noticed anything untoward.  I petted them all on the head, something I can only usually do to one of them, the other two younger ewes being much more wary of anyone.  I apologised for the way of the world and the loss of their youngsters and I walked the dogs around the field as is our usual way. 


They followed for a few moments, paying even more attention to Suky than they usually do .... she is after all small and almost sheep coloured.  But they soon lost interest and went away mournfully chewing on the wet grass with the occasional glance in our direction.

Most definitely a Pug.

This morning however it was a different story, they had decided that Suky would do in the absence of their boisterous lambs and as soon as we stepped into the field they charged over like a pack of maternal maniacs focusing in on Suky who ran as fast as her little legs would carry her to the other end of the paddock.  The sheep followed and soon Suky was cowering while all three ewes gave her a very detailed once over before deciding that no, she wasn't going to drink their milk and they might just as well go back to eating grass and leave this very confused little sheep coloured animal alone.

We'll be back over there later, I think I'll take them a slice of bread each, it's a poor consolation for the loss of your babies, but at least they'll realise that someone cares ... and maybe they'll leave poor Suky in peace.

Sue xx

Thursday 29 June 2017

Aga On, Aga Off

The Aga has been switched off for the last month or so because the heat of the mini heatwave we had plus the Aga being on in a very well insulated house was simply too much to bear.  This year I decided to treat us to one of these mini ovens to use while the Aga was off as we cook most things from scratch and the Remoska simply wasn't enough, even with all it's back up friends.

This was an absolute bargain and will no doubt be in use every year if and when the temperature means the Aga can have a holiday. In fact this was cheaper than most of my other gadgets ...

...and Ginger got to claim the box as his own until it went on the bonfire last weekend.

I've used it for all kinds of cooking, both in the oven and on the hotplates, although I do have to remember to adjust the temperature control and read the back of packs of things that we have bought that need warming up, something I'm really not used to doing.  My flapjacks were cooking much too quickly round the edges thanks to me not remembering to adjust the temperature, so remedial action was called for.  The only downside to it that I can think of is that you cannot use the hotplates and the oven at the same time.

Now though, typically, the temperatures have plummeted and yesterday I caved in and switched the Aga back on to warm the house up.  I'd rather have the Aga back on than the central heating as it does so many more jobs other than just heating the house.

So my task today is to declutter one of the kitchen cupboards enough so that this mini oven can sit happily behind closed doors until it is called into action again ... hopefully sooner rather than later.

Sue xx

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Waste Not Want Not

In a 'waste not want not' moment I took three little potatoes that I found sprouting in the potato bag in the kitchen cupboard over to the polytunnel ....

... and stuck them in a large plant pot full of compost.

I was in a free potato mood as I've just harvested a few meals worth of free potatoes that had grown up in the top raised bed on the hillside.  No matter how careful I think I've been I always seem to leave a few potatoes behind when I dig up a bed, so as we weren't putting anything in this particular top bed for a while, I left them there to do their thing.  Their own thing turned out to be a large colander full of smallish but perfectly formed potatoes  :-)

I was stood at the conservatory door this morning and I thought I saw movement in the chickens food trough.

I did!!

It was this cute little squirrel, he sat there for ages contemplating something before he spotted me zooming in.

Sue xx

Sunday 25 June 2017

Sowing Seeds for Car Boot Selling

This year for the first time I've been selling flower plants at the car boot sales we've had a stall at, as well as the vegetable plants that I've been selling for a few years, and they've been really popular.  It's been a good way to use up some of the seeds that I've gotten free on magazines and from my seed stash.  This Saturdays big sellers were these Cosmos plants, (the photo was taken over a week ago ... they were much bigger and chunkier by Saturday) ...

... and the French Marigolds that I picked up from Tesco for 20p.

I only made £14 selling them at 50p each, but it was money we wouldn't have otherwise had and it all helps the food and plants fund.  I also sold the last cucumber plant for a pound, they have sold really well this year.  I'm keeping records of what I sell and when I sell them so I can hopefully do the same or even better next year.

Over in the polytunnel the spinach plants from last year have irrevocably gone to seed, so the lucky chickens have been getting one plant each day to have a good peck at.  I hang it on the big hook on the henhouse and they gather round to attack the leaves, they love it.  Luckily this years spinach crop is already big and in daily use, so there's been no gap in spinach availability for us.

They also got this wonderful specimen to eat last week ...I'm good to those chickens  :-)

It's a Kale plant from two years ago, the flowers had been attracting bees and pollinating insects into the tunnel for a couple of weeks, and it's cheerful yellow flowers made me smile every time I stepped in.  It was finally a sight for sore eyes, with all the flowers dropping off and the leaves lacy and browning ... and as I needed the space it was in for more salad crops the chickens were welcome to have a final peck at what was left before it went to the great compost heap in the sky.

The car boot sale on Saturday was a real success, this time we had lots of books and bitty bits which I thought would limit the money we could take so I was amazed when I counted the takings when we got home ... doubly amazed that when added up the takings on 'housey' stuff was exactly £100 ... we couldn't do that again if we tried!  With £14 on plant sales and another £4 on eggs (we only took four boxes), it made a grand total of £118, not a bad mornings work.

Now it's time to carry on sorting through the house ready for the July sales, and I've already potted on the Ox Eye Daisies that I hope to take with us next time.

Sue xx

Thursday 22 June 2017

Two Cupboards Done ... and Dusted

I thought after Tuesdays post I would just put up the photos of the finished cupboards for you to see ... before I move on to two more later  :-)

This was how this cupboard looked 'before'.

This was the 'after of this particular cupboard (I forgot to take a before ... oops) but by the time I had done the top wall cupboard I had half a shelf of free space so I moved our Aston Pottery set to that one instead.

So now this is the 'after' shot of this particular cupboard, ... even better.

Confused ... yeah me too, and Alan won't be able to find anything when he gets home tonight   ;-)

The excess has been priced, wrapped and popped into this weeks two large car boot sale boxes that I am determined to fill by Saturday, and the cupboards have been dusted and wiped out and everything seems fresh and clean ..... and so much lighter on my mind.

Sue xx

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Too Little or Too Much

How true is the statement above!!

So many of us seem to acquire much more than we need to get through this life ... which sits well with many folk who love their stuff and like to be surrounded by their collections, their souvenirs of days out or holidays, things they might use one day, spares of things they use regularly, or not so regularly just in case the original decides to give up the ghost.

I would have fitted into most of those categories at one point or another in my life, but now the story is so much different.  Over the years, as recorded on the blog, I have decluttered a few times, had large sweeps of the house, sorted through clothes, taken part in Project 333.  I've read books that inspired me to have yet another go, Marie Kondo and 'The Life-changing Magic of Tidying - a simple and effective way to banish clutter forever' springs to mind (yes I still fold clothes her way ... and things are easy to let go of if they do not spark joy) but I obviously didn't do it its completion as I still feel there is excess in the house.

Well not for much longer!! 

This quote sums it up well.

I'm currently working my way around the house emptying out cupboards, giving the empty cupboards a quick clean and putting back only that which is absolutely necessary.  I'm being ruthless, if we haven't used something in the past year I really don't think we need it.  I don't need ornaments to dust, things to hoover around that don't need to be there and we certainly don't need things just because someone has given them to us thinking we needed them.

The picture of the kitchen cupboard is a 'before' one by the way ..... such is my new found ruthlessness!!

I think this ruthlessness has been inspired by finally having our new 'investment/pension pot property' and seeing it empty whilst it is awaiting it's first tenants.  The space there is so calming, the empty rooms even though they are small are invigorating, the cupboards empty of contents so calming.   I have been round with the dogs on a few occasions and just sat on the carpeted living room floor with the patio doors flung open watching the dogs playing in the garden and imagined us there in years to come.   And of course to live there when this place becomes too much for us, hopefully many years from now, we will have to whittle down even more what we own, so my thoughts were why not do this now and enjoy some of the sense of peace and lack of responsibility that owning less brings.

So while car boot sale season is in full swing I am sorting out, clearing out and generally giving the house a good shake up.  It's very therapeutic  :-)

Sue xx

Saturday 17 June 2017

Loving My Cucumbers

I love cucumber plants.  From the minute the seedling bursts forth from the compost, sturdy and self reliant looking with the two leaves still encased in the split open seed casing, there is something very satisfying about them

Strong healthy plants that drink water like it is going out of fashion.

They even tie themselves up for you their strong almost elasticated tendrils reaching out for any signs of support that you have placed near them ... it saves on string  :-)

In front of mine this year I have planted a few clumps of Rocket ...

...and to one side a French Marigold.

The burst of orange colour and the strong scent that the flowers will bring makes the polytunnel a lovely place to be and they attract beneficial insects to the plants that need them.

This year I have planted just three Cucumber plants in the polytunnel bed as last year I had four on the go at once and we just couldn't keep up with the numbers of cucumbers that we got.  Although hopefully next year when the farm gate shop is in full swing I will be able to sell any excess, so I will be able to have more of one of my favourite plants growing away.

Sue xx

Thursday 15 June 2017

Just Two Hens

"I don't know what to do with myself, the corn was nice, the water was cool, I've laid an egg but there's no one left in the henhouse to talk to ....

... oh hello where are you going?"

"I'm going this way."

"That way ... oh I was going the other way."

"Oooh  which way should I go?"

"Come with me if you like .... I've heard there are lots of worms and grubs under the old apple tree."

"Worms and grubs .... oooh yes, wait for me."

Just Two Hens xx

Tuesday 13 June 2017


I've picked up some brilliant plant bargains just recently, perhaps it's been because I haven't really been food shopping so much and have had my eyes open for other things.

The two large plant pots in the top photo were a really good find early on a quiet Monday morning at Tesco.  They had obviously just been given a good watering as they were dripping wet and by the time I had arrived were already perking up nicely.  They both contain four plants, Lavender, Rosemary, a Pepper and a Tomato plant, annoyingly it doesn't give any information about the plants but they are healthy enough and I think I'll repot them into their own pots soon.  At the moment they are stood on the patio looking really good in the big terracotta pots they came in.  The pots alone are worth the £2.50 I paid for each pot.

There were four for sale at this price but I left the others for someone else to grab a bargain.

A couple of days later also at Tesco I came across these trays of French Marigolds reduced from £2 each to just 20p each ... and you know me I had a PLAN  in mind straight away  :-)

My plan was to take one of the trays of marigolds and plant them where I need them to attract all the beneficial insects for my crops ...  and then use the other along the lines of yesterdays post ... making money from virtually nothing.

Potted up in some old black plastic plant pots that cost me nothing, the marigolds will be added to either this weeks or next weeks car boot sale stall.  Hopefully I will be able to get 50p each for them now they are already getting bigger. 

So I should be able to make £3 for my 20p outlay ...every little helps and adds nicely to the Food and Plants Fund.

While I was at Tesco there just inside the doorway there was a wire tray full of these boxes ...

...all reduced to clear.

So altogether for the marigolds and these packs of flower bulbs I spent a grand total of £1.50, the full retail price should have been £14.  If I make the hoped for £3 at the car boot sale I will be £1.50 in profit and have lots of flowers for us ....and the bees.

Plant bargains make me just as happy as food bargains.

Sue xx

Sunday 11 June 2017

Making Money from Nothing

At the moment my head is in a space of 'making money from nothing'. 

It's car boot sale season for the next few months and we are both having a good sort out of the house and jettisoning all sorts of things that once we would have felt were necessary and useful, but are now most definitely not what we need or what we want in our lives.

It's interesting sorting through the things you own with fresh eyes and a totally new perspective and sometimes when you are looking at things slightly differently you spot things that have been right in front of you for a while that have merged into the background.

The Aloe Vera plant in the top photograph was a case in point.

Bought from a car boot sale a couple of years ago for 50p with the large green mug it sits in also from the same seller for another 50p ... although she hadn't thought to put the two together until I slipped the plant into the mug to free my hands to put my purse away ... it has sat just as it was purchased on the bookcase next to the sofas ever since.  Moving it over to dust after a sorting out session the other day I noticed how very top heavy it was and had a closer look.

It had a mass of baby plants all around it.  I was pleased ... this is the first Aloe Vera plant I have ever kept alive  :-)

I took it over to the polytunnel with me this morning and spent a pleasant half hour repotting it.

Ten plants from one pot.

Yes, I feel totally guilty that this lovely family of plants once resided in the tiny black plant pot to the left of this photograph. 

Seven small plants that I hope to sell for 50p each ...

... and two larger ones that I'm hoping will fetch a pound each.

So a possible £5.50 in takings.

And the lovely thing is that I still have my original 'mummy' plant along with the one baby that did not have a root system of it's own so was not ready to detach.  So the green mug is back in it's original position on the bookcase and nothing has changed in the house.

Except that hopefully once we have done a couple of car boot sales, or popped them out at the farm gate on a sunny day, we will have made some money from nothing to pop into the Food and Plants Fund.

Sue xx

Thursday 8 June 2017

After the Weekend ... Polytunnel Progress

Of course after a weekend away there's the inevitable catch up needed back at home ... mostly in the polytunnel.  

(This picture was taken from the back doors of the tunnel .... the opposite way to how I usually take photos of the tunnel.)

For the last few weeks the polytunnel has had it's doors open during the heat of the day to make the temperatures bearable for both plants and gardener, so although I wanted dry, sunny weather for our little jaunt down south, the grower in me had her fingers firmly crossed for cool overcast weather knowing that the doors would be shut and the temperature inside would rise.

I think I just about got away with it. 

Although the small tomato plants in the hanging baskets were decidedly droopy they, and indeed everything else was quickly revived with a cooling drink of water.

I set to yesterday potting on all the seedlings that had grown large and strong in my absence.  These trays have the Cosmos seedlings and the Sweet Peppers.

In the bed to the left of them I have four yellow marrows and a small run of beetroot seedlings.  I totally forgot to sow any pumpkin seeds this year, so I am officially declaring 2017 the Year of the Marrow  :-)

The three pots in the green tray have Cucumber plants in them ready for the next car boot sale, or for sale at the farm gate. I held them back in case my three planted cucumbers failed but mine are well established so someone else will be able to benefit from these.

On the workbench I have a few pots of mixed 'edible flowers', just potted up and looking pretty healthy.  I could have put them into the beds but I think there is more chance of them being used in the kitchen if I have a pot or two at the back door.  They'll brighten the patio up and be handy for picking to add to salads etc.

Also on the bench, still in their pots are the smaller Kale plants, they will be added to this years kale polytunnel bed tomorrow when my back has recovered from todays hard labour.

The salad leaves obviously had a good weekend!! 

I gave everything a real over-watering before I left and they obviously enjoyed having their feet in water for a few days.  These too will be planted into a polytunnel bed tomorrow.

In this photo are (clockwise from the left) Sweet Basil, Mizuna, Cos Lettuce and Rocket.  Just in shot at the back is a tray of Broccoli rescued from the 'dead plant section' of Wyevale last week when I was there with my Mum.  Well you can't say no to a tray of veggies for 50p can you?

I better get on with a few housey post holiday chores now before I nip up the road to cast my vote.

Sue xx