Sunday, 18 June 2017

When worlds collide 🌻🌾🏎

this was a special weekend for me!
Most of my days are spent quietly making things and growing things, tending to my animals and learning to be self sufficient. Just occasionally my other self comes to the fore.
This weekend was the 24hour race at Le Mans. On Friday we went to the classic British welcome at a town near Le Mans. Hundreds of amazing cars arrive and park around the leisure area. Each year a different car is featured and has pride of place in the exhibition centre. This year it was Marcos, quite a rare car. Loads of Ferrari, Porsche, Corvette, and other sports cars. There are English, French, German, Dutch and American. Many people come to view the cars.
Later that day we drove down to the circuit in Le Mans to meet up with a friend who is part of the Corvette pit crew. He gave us a pit tour which was fantastic. We then had a lovely drive home through the French countryside.

On Saturday we drove back down to Le Mans to see the start of the race. Home again for the night and back down again today to see the finish.

I absolutely love this weekend! It does not fit at all with my green side but the atmosphere, the noise of the cars, the car fanatics and the friends we meet up with each year is amazing.
Each evening I have come home and picked the ripe raspberries for that day, watered the veg and pottered about! It has been lovely to come home to the peace. I do know how fortunate I am.
Lost another chicken this week. I have left them locked in whilst I have been out. It makes me sad to lose birds. This year I have lost four chickens and four ducks to the fox. I know it is part of nature but I cannot accept it. It is my choice to free range them and I know it is a risk!

Tomorrow life returns to normal

Monday, 12 June 2017

C'est la vie

Last week I lost a much loved cockerel. Yes I am very attached to all my birds! I am sure it was a fox. He was out in the field with some hens and I know he would have died protecting the girls. The girls came home ok. He was a very big chicken so I am surprised he was caught. It must have been a big fox!

Today I was sitting quietly at home doing some crochet when I heard the other boys alarm call. I rushed into the garden and realizing they were in the field below I headed for the bank in time to see a fox run from the higher field down to where my chickens were grabbing a girl en route! I slid down the bank under the barbed wire shouting and clapping ( foxes think it is gunshot). The fox dropped my chicken and ran into the woods. I rounded everyone up and did a headcount. All were there but the chicken who was caught has awful wounds on her back. She has been eating ok and moving around but I am concerned I will lose her.

On a positive note I have two broody hens. They have six eggs between them! I have put them in the omlet house on top of the puppy cage. I have put wire around the house and tiles across the door. This enables me to check them and give them food and water. I will turf them out once each day. The issue is to stop other girls going in to lay eggs. I need them to hatch at the same time. Hopefully in three weeks I will see some fluffy chicks! There is something really lovely about seeing them hatch and watching them grow! I currently have three boys but could gain more when these hatch! I will keep them all as I cannot bear to think they could be killed and eaten!

Yesterday I met an English lady who shares my passion for ditching chemicals and all things green. She has a B&B in the next village. I feel we will become friends! Most people who know me just smile at my principles! This does not bother me but it will be good to compare notes with someone who understands what I am trying to achieve!

Tomorrow my brother in law and his wife arrive and will stay just over a week. This is always difficult as they are materialistic, the complete opposite from us. This will be the first year though that I do not feel stressed about my building site. I have made it look as good as I can and that will have to do!

The honey extractor arrived today so at some point this week I hope to collect the first of this years honey.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

🌼πŸ₯‚

I now have five bottles of Elder Flower cordial in the pantry. Along with fourteen jars of cherry jam.
I love filling the pantry shelves with home made things. I am slowly using up the kilner jars I was given.  I have kept some ready for the chutney I will make when the courgettes start arriving. My plants have flowers on them so I hope we get loads!
The raspberry canes are laden so more jam will be made later this year.

My sock adventure is going well. I am just about ready to start on the toe part. I need a block of time so that I can complete it in one. It uses something called the Kitchener stitch...this creates a seamless sock which is more comfortable. Having never done this before I will need to concentrate on what I am doing. I have to confess to ordering more sock wool. I will do the second one for this pair before starting on another pair. My plan is to have four pairs for winter. I think the second pair I will make a bit smaller as the current ones are a bit too big. This is something I hope to perfect before too long.

The days are long now, it is still light at 10pm. I am very aware though that we are getting close to the longest day after which the days start shortening again. It enables me to get so much more done. I am often in the garden until almost dark! This means less knitting and crochet which is why I save that mostly for autumn and winter.

We are due a heatwave which is not welcome. It makes it hard to keep the veg garden watered and the water butts go dry quickly. Our old stone farmhouse stays fairly cool due to the thick walls so we hide indoors at the hottest part of the day. I cannot use the Esse now which makes meals a challenge. I have the halogen oven and a gas hob. We have more salad just now which makes it easier. Over the next winter I plan to make meals for the freezer that I will just reheat as needed. I do use the slow cooker when we have a heavy work day but it will be vegan and him indoors does like his meat! He is very good about it though.

We seem to be in a good routine now with seasonal work. It will be so much easier when the building work is finished and all our energy and money can go on being as self sufficient as possible.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Eyes down...a new project on the horizon

just when you think there's nothing new left.....I am working on getting some raw fleeces straight from the sheeps back! I will process it myself and knit it up! I can lay them out in the sun to dry out the lanolin. I will then put them in the washing machine inside a pillowcase to clean them up. I will then card them and spin them into usable wool. I may try natural dye too to give me some colour!
I am very excited with this one. I missed out on some Alpaca fleeces that were being given away so am really pleased about this. It seems the commercial value of fleece is rock bottom. Most sheep farmers almost give them away to big business. Also smaller farmers do not get any financial aid from government they have to have a minimum of 50 sheep. I find this very sad as I feel small farms are better for animals and the community.
I have worked at getting away from big business as much as possible. Mostly this is achieved by making things myself and growing what I can! If I can buy direct from someone I am happy to do so. Like with the fleece. Who knows where this will lead!

Sunday, 28 May 2017

πŸ’ 🐦

Today we have harvested the lovely cherries that the Starlings usually beat us to! Him indoors set up the scaffolding tower under the enormous tree a week ago. We checked every day to see how ripe the cherries were. The birds were taking the odd one that had ripened early but we timed it right. I have spent the last hour or so de stoning two buckets of cherries. They are now in my maslin  pan cooking before being made into a loose cherry jam. Proper jam I have in abundance from all the raspberries and blackcurrants. The cherry is used as a sauce for a good vanilla ice cream ( once my kitchen is done I will make my own) and for the plain yogurt I make every week. We regard it as a real treat.
I feel very privileged to be able to produce our own things and love the whole process.
The veg patch is doing well, loads of peas this year which makes me happy. I hope to fill the freezer!
The courgettes are doing well too so hoping for plenty of pickle in the Autumn.

My sock knitting has slowed due to Bruno dog eating my stitch markers. Him indoors has ordered me some pretty metal bees in assorted sizes. Hopefully Bruno will not be so attracted! I have managed to turn the heel, amazingly and now have to get to grips with knitting the gusset. I will get there I just need a bit of quiet to get my head around it. Once I have done one and know how it works I feel sure I will be fine.

There always seems to be something new to learn! I do not always plan what to tackle next sometimes projects find me. If it feels right I go for it!

I have this week started using instagram as a way of sharing my photos. Still a steep learning curve but already some people who know me have found me! Sometimes it feels weird embracing the modern world alongside so many old fashioned ideals I have! Having said that most of my projects started with google. How did we manage without the internet?

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Never too old to learn

Watched an episode of gardeners world last night, such a perfect garden Monty Don has, I can but dream!
For some time I have been looking into organic ways of weed control. The programme showed the no dig method. I have been aware of this but not looked at how it works. This was brilliant and introduced in a simple way. He put a wooden frame on the lawn, filled it with compost and planted veg plugs! Basically you just keep covering the weeds around the growing veg with compost. Cutting the light kills them and they become compost as they rot. By continually doing this you eventually eradicate the weeds. By not digging you maintain the quality of the soil. This flies in the face of all I have believed about growing your own. I have even done double digging which is hard work.
I plan to start using this method. As I get older digging is harder and this method will mean I can keep growing my veg. It will be wonderful to move away from the weed patch!

My sock knitting, I managed to turn the heel but when looking at the sock realised I had dropped a stitch further back. It was not possible to recover it so I had to undo all my work and start again. I now know about the lifeline. You thread a piece of wool into a row which means you can undo back to that point. I will be using this before I turn the heel this time! Still enjoying this latest venture though.

My second bee hive has settled in and the bees are busy collecting pollen. The first hive is still strong too. Hoping for a good crop of honey this year. The next few sunny days I will open both hives to see how the honey production is going.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

And for the next project.......

firstly sorry still no pictures, just cannot figure out how to do it. I follow the instructions but cannot get to my album. One day maybe.
Meanwhile I started a new venture this last week. I have my first ever knitted sock underway! I have never knitted on a circular needle before and it took a bit of getting used to. I found a great facebook group that has been so helpful! Lots of newbie questions. I am really enjoying knitting the sock. A little concerned about turning the heel but know where to go for help. The other tricky bit will be knitting the second sock to match. There is a natural stripe in the wool I am using and I bought two balls so I can do one sock from each hoping it matches! There are some wonderful colours out there and I am longing to have hand knitted socks! No more cheap socks made by three year olds in China! It might be that I start a trend in unmatched socks!
I have also started another of Lucy's blankets. This is a ripple pattern and the colour way is called seaspray! Another beautiful combination of colours, blues, greens and silver. Him indoors just raises his eyes heavenwards! So I am now dividing my time between sock knitting and crochet. A happy place to be!
This afternoon we are off to spend time with a lovely French lady who helps us English with all things official! To fill in our tax forms. Normally him indoors does them but we have the complication of having sold our English house. It is too easy when dealing with a foreign language to do something wrong. We manage most of the paperwork but feel happier handing this one over!
Early summer is here with the days now much warmer. We no longer need the wood burner in the evenings and it is light until nearly ten pm. I love the softness of this time of year. Beginning to think of getting the shorts out!
We have an egg mountain just now! The chickens are doing well. We are not raising any chicks this year as need to reduce the number. We currently have eleven girls and four boys! The ducks are not doing so well as we have lost most of the girls this year and are left with various breeds of boys. Again I am not doing anything about this as need to restart with a small group. My pair of geese have failed to sit again but that is fine too. We are never going to eat any of the birds, they are here because I enjoy having them around.
The bees are doing well. The swarm I caught are happily settled in the new hive. The two hives are side by side  but the bees go to the right one. Even though the swarm came from hive one! Amazing little creatures. When I last checked the honey was not capped off so am leaving it a few more weeks.
The Elders are just coming into flower so I have stocked up on lemons to make the cordial. I need to make more as it did not last all year.
The Raspberries look like giving a bumper crop as do the blackcurrant. Hoping for lots of fruit for jam and bottling. It will be a busy Autumn!