We are Tracy & Steven and along with our 2 children we moved to the countryside in the North East of England in 2016. On our smallholding we strive for a more self reliant life by growing our own food, raising our own meat, cooking, preserving & foraging all whilst working full time.
Wednesday, 30 December 2015
Goodbye social media
I will miss following friends who I don't see in person (Hello Scotland, Bedford and Australia), but I have other ways of communicating with them.
I think that the plans we have for the next year will keep me busy enough!
Tuesday, 29 December 2015
2 weeks, 3 days to go!
The TV, electricity, water and phone line/broadband etc will all be done on moving in. When I looked in to the phone and broadband, they set you up within a day or two. Also we won't be paying for any TV packages at the farm but will pop an aerial on and get Freeview with our current TVs.
We are wondering what to do re heating the water as the boiler heats a huge water tank which is a lot bigger than a standard tank tat we have been used to in the past. The showers are electric and the washing machine heats the water as it goes. Therefore the only water we foresee needing is to wash the pots and wash our hands which makes me think it is a complete waste of resources to heat a whole tank just or those reasons.
Aside from this I am planning for Christmas 2016. The cards from this year will be recycled to make tags for next years presents. This will work two fold in that I will use them to create my list of people to send our cards to. I'd like to do home made cards for family so will give some thought to the design of those.
This whole process is a lifestyle change for us. We know it won't all happen on day one, or even day two, but by day three we should have it sorted ;) and with that thought, I'm off to drink my merlot and do some more dreaming and planning.
Tuesday, 22 December 2015
3 weeks, 3 days to go!
Yesterday I made a spicy butternut squash soup. It has a kick to it and may be even too much of a kick so next time I will reduce the chilli's slightly. It is very nice though. Recipe/method for my future reference:
Golden butternut squash soup with a kick
Dice an onion and sweat in olive oil with a small amount of garlic paste (I don't have any fresh garlic here) and 1 flat (mine was heaped) teaspoon of cheat's chilli flakes.
After 5/10 mins, add a chopped up butternut squash with 2 chopped up sweet potatoes (mine were small, 1 large would do).
Cover with stock (I used veg, chicken may work to, I'll try next time), bring to the boil then simmer until tender, approximately 30 mins depending on size of the veg.
Cool slightly then blend thoroughly.
It will be a lovely golden colour with flecks of red chilli and is perfect when you have a cold and need help blowing your nose!
I saved the seeds of the butternut squash so I am going to google what I need to do, if anything, before sowing them (whenever that may be!).
I also made a casserole which was onion, beef, tomato puree, gravy (not stock), carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and peas all in together, added according to their cooking time. I served it with home made Yorkshire puddings. It's the first time I've made them in this temporary house and I was impressed with them if I do say so myself. The whole meal was very warming and enjoyed by all the family. It felt cosy and comforting which is just what we need, despite this unusual mild weather!
It was the shortest day yesterday, so here's to lighter days ad the countdown to Spring....well, just moving will do!
Monday, 21 December 2015
I've shopped at Aldi almost exclusively for the last 5+ years and I love it. I don't love it in the sense that I rave about it, but I love it in the sense that I know where I stand. It had the basic foods every week that we use and doesn't flash 20 of the same food in my face to make me choose. I can be in and out in 20 minutes with a weekly shop in toe. However I've often wondered if I would like to try Tesco and co, but on those few occasions that I have ventured in there, it's left me feeling stressed and skint! 2 's' that I don't like putting together.
However yesterday I nipped in to Sainsbury's to pick some flowers up for my Mum on my way to hers as it was her birthday and I took the opportunity to be very naughty and pick something easy up for tea. The shop was well laid out and didn't leave me feeling seriously stressed.
Weighing everything up, I will continue to shop at Aldi but every couple of months I might have a wander around Sainsbury's if I have the time.
The shopping budget per month on the farmhouse (starting end Jan) will be £300 per month, regardless of how many weeks.
Sunday, 20 December 2015
Counting down to D-Day!
We are almost done with the Christmas shopping which includes a treat to myself of seeds. My Dad has kindly offered to start some off for me, specifically the onions. I bought a couple of different varieties: Onion 'Kappa', Onion 'Bunton's Showstopper' and Onion 'Rossa di Toscana' - Vita Sementi which are a red variety. He has planted a few of the today and we will stagger more over the next few months.
I have bought DH an incubator for Christmas :D and we can't wait to use it. Ideally I would buy fertilised eggs to start asap but we couldn't keep them warm on moving day, so really we should wait until we're in.
Monday, 30 November 2015
We've sold.... 6 weeks, 4 days and counting before we can move in though!
What a huge relief. I cannot beging to tell you how stressed we have been over the last feww weeks or so. I can feel it melting away though I have been left with the worst headache!
We don't actually move in until 15th January but we are counting the days 1 by 1. Currently we're living at a family member's house who is working out of the country for the most part of that time, so we've very lucky in that respect. Having said that it isn't easy to up sticks into temporary accomodation, only to do it again in 6 weeks and 4 days!
So in the mean time, we now need to order the stables, plan the deliveries required to get the horses to the farm and think about what livestock we will want and when.
I'm going to keep a notebook with me for the next few weeks as I have a feeling "good ideas" will come at the most inappropriate times.
Let the countdown begin!
Tuesday, 3 November 2015
So now the packing in earnest begins. We're moving everything from the top of the house to the bottom, specifically the dining room. It's hard to know what to pack and how - it has been a while since we last moved! As I'm packing the boxes, my mind if drifting off to what meals we can cook in the farm house kitchen and how we will get on using the Aga.
Hopefully the Christmas decorations will be going straight up if we move in this side of Christmas! Saves on the dusting anyway :).
Friday, 2 October 2015
The farmhouse we hope to get
|Hopefully our new house.|
Wednesday, 30 September 2015
The long wait
Tuesday, 29 September 2015
House number 2!
Sunday, 6 September 2015
Whilst we are waiting
Rodney and Buster, the two latest additions to the family are settling in very well. They are 12 weeks old tomorrow and have now had their first injections. An awful experience for them as the first one is a stinger but it is for the greater good.
In smallholding news, well smallholding to be news, we had a valuation completed on Friday which means we should get the results back by Wednesday. Fingers crossed they say it is worth what we need for the mortgage.
I wonder what this week will bring? Will our buyers finally get organised and get some paperwork through to the solicitor? Will our purchase property find her onward house as she hasn't as of yet. She will move in to rented if she needs to but by when is the question! We are hoping to move on Bonfire night.......It will be a Guy Fawkes we certainly will remember, remember.
Tuesday, 1 September 2015
We are amazingly in the process of buying our dream farm!
Please follow us on the new link:
Thank you :)
Welcome to our new adventure....
'We' is myself, Tracy, husband Steven and children Grace and Jack. It doesn't stop there as we have Buddy, our black Labrador and Rodney and Buster. They are 2 Jack Russell's who joined our family on Friday just gone. There are 4 horses and an extended family & friends in that mix too.
Our 'adventure' is moving to a new home, a smallholding. We have had an offer accepted on our current house and our offer on the smallholding, or farm as the kids call it, has also been accepted. Formalities have started and the wheels are in motion. We hope to be in this side of Christmas and can't wait.
So why don't you join us as we sell our lovely family home on a main road in North East England and move to a small hamlet, still in North East England, where broadband is the latest thing. All 2mb max link of it.....
Wednesday, 15 April 2015
Middle of the week yeah!!
Well it's official. I made it half way through my first week back after the holidays. Work has been ok though today has been testing as I've been told my job is changing. It's not for a while so I'll keep my head down and earning those pennies until I'm told otherwise.
GH has been busy working on another piece of woodwork. This one was more testing than the first as the letters couldn't be completed the same way. It's all good learning for him though. I'm very impressed still.
The chickens are in full swing and are giving us an average of 4 a day. Egg recipes in the near future I think.
I'm trying to get myself up a bit earlier each morning. I'd love to class myself as a morning person but there's nothing I want more when I wake up than to nod back off to sleep! So with that in mind, I'm off to read a bit of poirot then sleep. Alarm at 6:00 rising at 6:10 maybe? Place your bets!
Monday, 13 April 2015
Utility bills and keeping the costs down.
Well hello! This is my first attempt to post to the blog from the blogger app, so forgive me if it doesn't look as it should.
Ok so today's thoughts revolve around the gas and electricity bill that I've just had to pay. It was expected of course. I just hate parting with hard earned cash to the utility companies.
Our energy usage for the gas is up 12% on last year. This is due to the cold weather we've had this month and the hot weather we had last year. Polar opposites it would seem.
The energy company rang me with a better deal and I refused as I don't trust them! So I logged in and decided to find one myself. We used to pay £170 a month when I was carefree with money (useless more like). Now we pay £90 as I've just moved over to a new tarrif from pay quarterly.
It's got me thinking again about how to reduce the cost of the gas and the electric. We've already done a whole host of things including getting rid of the tumble dryer, ensuring lights are off, use the woodburner, only wash dirty clothes opposed to just because they've been worn once. We reduce water use, shower time, bath use etc, I cook more than one meal when the oven is on, make sure the freezer is full to run efficiently, run the dish washer on the quick cycle for the most part and use the economy setting on the washing machine. These are just to name a few but I need to get back into that way of thinking.
It's not just for the gas and electricity either, the grocery bill needs to stay low and can only be done with planning. Fuel consumption needs to be brought back in check and general spends need to remain low.
So combined with an hour or so work tonight, I shall be getting my brain working as to how to keep or get the bills down.
Starting with the heating is now off until the winter. We have the woodburner for emergencies, but it's physically off at the boiler now. The kids will stay warm in their beds on cooler nights with extra blankets such as this gorgeous one my amazing mum crocheted for them.
Friday, 10 April 2015
The end of my week off - but I'm still smiling.
Last night I made the largest bread that my new breadmaker will do - it's called XL and it is that for a reason! I know you can buy some huge loaves in the shops but I personally have ever made one, until last night.
|It doesn't look big in the picture but it is ginormous.|
The kids and I have been to a local free outdoor play area and place of natural beauty today with my Mam. We really enjoyed it and it was a nice couple of hours out.
I have a few midgie bites for my troubles though.
Farm life is now 1 year and 8 months before they can become real!
Wednesday, 8 April 2015
We came home and the kids visited grandparents for an hour whilst GH and I set about getting his car warning light sorted. All fixed now for the decent cost of £10.
I've just made a quick but tasty tea of pasta with tuna, leek, sweetcorn, garlic and mushrooms. It was really tasty and cheap so a great combination.
The great big spring clean is coming along slowly though I think we will need to break it down into more chunks as the house is too big to tackle on a sunny week off. I've still got an inventory of the pantry, fridge and freezer to do. Then tomorrow I'll shop at aldi for a small top up as we've ran out of cordial and dishwasher tablets.
It's a bit chilly tonight so instead of putting the heating on GH has put the woodburner and it's lovely.
Tuesday, 7 April 2015
Doggy update (plus GH's woodwork starter pieces).
|Can you see the size of my left ear? :(|
In the mean time GH has bought himself a scroll saw and has been practicing on some items to keep the kids happy. Hopefully we can end up making a few pounds on this once he manages well. Not bad for a first attempt?
New breadmaker, poorly dog & Easter holidays.
|4 out of 5 looking the right way!|
|Buddy's head with deer in the background.|
Poor Buddy had a haematoma in his left ear though today. It happened a couple of days ago and now the vets is open I'm heading over to see what we can do. He's had one before and they do self heal but this has come back worse than the first and is causing him discomfort. I'd like to find out the root cause which is why he's shaking his head which results in the haematoma. We already know he has allergies but depending on what the allergy is (expensive to find out and requires a GA) there may be nothing we can do anyway. So I'm going to find out and pick up his latest prescription of steroids (which he has to control the allergies). Wish me luck.
In other news though, my lovely parents bought us a new bread maker for Easter and after a tester loaf, I now have one in for them as a thank you. It'll be done in four hours so a late lunch maybe.? It's a Panasonic SD 2500 and looks great. It will see us through our time in this house and hopefully beyond. The first loaf turned out a bit light. This was done on rapid bake for a large loaf.
Tonight I will post he pictures of GH's new adventure, he is doing great with it but I've just not had time to upload them yet. For now I am off to the vets, then on with the great big spring clean, stables, tea and relax.
Thursday, 2 April 2015
Happy April - Let the holidays commence!
I have already spring cleaned the master bedroom and hoovered and steamed downstairs. I pulled the bed out (no mean feat) along with the bedside tables, hoovered under the wardrobes, under the bed, did the skirting boards and washed the windows and sills. Then I only put back on the bed side table what should be there and gave the other things a home. I'm really impressed with the results and hopefully it will stay like that for a good while.
I also steamed the carpets though I am not entirely sure what that achieved.
Downstairs and the stairs got a really good hoovered and then the kitchen and hallway steamed. I'll wash the steamer cloth and do it again when I get round to doing the kitchen and hallway's deep clean. I thoroughly enjoyed it, how sad some would say!
The weather is lovely and sunny so we took the dog out for a lovely run over the local quarry and there was no one around so he had a good run and stretched out his old legs whilst the kids went on little adventures. He's now flaked for the next hour no doubt and they are busy in the garden again.
|Buddy thoroughly content|
|The kids having an adventure|
GH is at the gym, tea is cooking and after that my daughter and I will head out to the farm to get the pony rode and the horse turned out for an hour. I'm hoping the weather holds so that we can get out for another nice walk.
What a fabulous first afternoon off. Tonight when I'm back I shall be indulging in a wine or three. This truly is time to have farm life dreams :)
Tuesday, 31 March 2015
End of the first quarter of 2015
Well bad news out of the way first. I failed the exam that I took on Friday. I needed 700 and got 609. I'm lucky enough to be able to resit it and in my own time frame so I'm going to do that around September mark which leaves me 5 months after holidays which should be enough time. I know what to expect now.
In excellent news though, my lovely parents have bought us (well me) a new bread maker for Easter. It's a Panasonic which was reviewed to be the best by MSE users.
I've got a huge list ready for the great big spring clean and will try to transfer it over to the website tonight if I get time.
GH has taken up a fantastic new addition to his love of wood hobby. More to come with pictures soon.
Tomorrow and Thursday are work days for me then I'm off from Friday so I've got a few things to pack into work before I finish then I can concentrate on the great big spring clean. I can't wait!
Sunday, 29 March 2015
4 more sleeps until The Great Big Spring Clean and 10 days off work
Lots of cleaning, cooking, baking, time out, family time, organising, taking stock, selling, walking, riding, mucking out, hacking out and anything else we feel like adding.
A quick update as I need to go and menu plan. My bread maker has given up the ghost so I'm gutted and I also didn't pass my exam, double gutted. The third thing was I handed my notice in for the second job as I just can't keep it up. They were fantastic about it and I'm sad to leave but glad I did.
Today made up for it though, we had a lovely family lunch courtesy of moi, slow cooker beef and all the trimmings followed by crumble and custard. Seriously yum. Then horses fed and dog walked and now we're both flaked out and the kids are in bed. Losing an hour last night played havoc with them and they have been very short tempered all day but we did enjoy the lighter night whilst we had it.
Happy Sunday and have a lovely week ahead.
Tuesday, 24 March 2015
Gorgeous husbands shenanigans!
Catching up on the last couple of weeks, GH has made a wine rack for the kitchen. It's only supposed to be a design/draft piece but I told him it was that good, that he should put it up in the kitchen whilst he worked on the "proper" one. I think it's fabulous.
The chicken shed project is now finished and included a re-spraying of the 2 sheds and the fence in between them. We decided to keep the old shed instead of buying a new one and just repair it. Total cost was £15 instead of £350 (minimum) that it would have cost us. All money that is better in our pockets than the shops!
GH has had a week off work recovering from his operation and made good use of himself (his choice!) by redesigning the big cupboard too. This was it before and after.
He also bought himself a new toy - £2 - cheaper than a new computer ;o)
Monday, 16 March 2015
Halfway through March already!
What a lot of activity has been packed into the last couple of weeks.
Project chicken shed is complete. GH has relocated them from the shed on the right, to the shed on the left - that's how we know it anyway. The shed on the right turned out to be rotting and have mice, possibly rats, so it had to go. We had a nice newish shed which GH built a few years back and with some new roof felt and some changes inside, it's a brand, spanking new chicken home for our 7 girls.
|The shed on the right and the shed on the left and the reamains of the trampoline!|
|The new pully system to open the hatch and save me getting filthy when I let them out on a morning in my work clothes.|
In the process of doing this we decided to get rid of the trampoline as it was huge and took over the bottom end of the garden. It looks a lot bigger without it and when we come to sell the house, it's one less thing to tackle for us and a huge benefit for the buyers/ sale photos point of view.
I also took the time to start the big declutter - I listed one of the kid's toys on ebay and got £16 for it so rather pleased with that too.
|The finally got it.|
Then came the weekend away - only thing was that GH had an operation on the same day we were to go away - talk about bad luck of timing. He managed to come away with us still, given that we were not going too far.
Before we know it, here we are at Monday again. I've started my healthy eating again today, so porridge for breakfast, soup for lunch then chicken and rice for tea. This benefits me twice over, all frugal and cheap, easy to make plus the added benefit of healthy.
I did this the year before last and lost 1.5 stone so I hope to do the same again - well I have 1 stone 11lb's to lose to get to the weight I'd like to be.
More on that next time as I will maybe have some progress to report.
In the mean time, I'll continue to overpay the loan and live our lives to the full. Have a great week if you're reading this :)
Monday, 2 March 2015
A frosty start to March
Today my son is off school poorly so I'm working from home in between looking after him. We are going to have the home made bread rolls for lunch which I must say look fabulous. The test will be in the taste later today so I shall report back. For now this is what they looked like when being made then after baking.
Not bad for a first attempt?
The cookies are going a bit too quickly so I've stashed them away - if they are not on display then they should last the expected 3 days. Flapjacks are the same too.
Shopping came to £35 on Saturday from Aldi and that should last us for the week. Tonight is chicken and pasta and tomorrow chicken in the slow cooker. I have a budget of £150 for the month which allows me to make overpayments to the loan and keep the date planned to make the last payment.
I have decided to do a huge Spring clean when I am off work over Easter. This is going to be a mini project and will be update regularly on the blog. There are two reasons for this Spring clean, one because it's desperately needed as the house is grubby from the winter and two to de-clutter in preparation for the big move. There will be another round of de-cluttering too but this is the big push. So plans are a foot for the great spring clean.
GH has been partaking in a project at the bottom of the garden too, for the same reason of being ready to sell. We have chickens and their shed has seen better days so we are getting rid of it and moving them into the other shed we have. We'll have a little move around and get it looking better for when the time comes. We need to turf and things so I shall post before and after shots in the coming days/weeks.
Happy Monday :)
Sunday, 1 March 2015
Goodbye February, Hello March
Today I have been to the stables with my daughter and enjoyed seeing her ride her pony and a friend's pony too. Following this we all went to the father in laws for a lovely Sunday lunch. This afternoon has seen me take inspiration from notjustgreenfingers' blog and whip up some chocolate chip cookies, flapjacks and currently in the bread-maker is a dough to make rolls. Following her advice I will slice them and freeze ready to make up for the packed lunches. Great idea!
I've been making bread in the BM weekly now when we run out of shop bought. At the moment, we rely on shop bought to see us through the beginning of the week and I top up with homemade. Eventually I may get to homemade 100% of the time but for now I'm happy with the balance.
It struck me the other day how far we've come since our journey had it's initial, dim spark. I say dim as it's taken me a long time to start living a more frugal lifestyle but the fact is, we've come so far. We don't buy things that we don't need, we make do and mend, make the most of free activities and generally live a happy yet frugal lifestyle.
So this coming week I have my meal plan done, shopped yesterday to get everything I need for it and have the treats made to fill up the lunch boxes and after tea requests. I'm going to make some rice pudding later in the week. I think I will use the slow cooker as I've never done rice pudding in the slow cooker before. That will be or Friday's soup and pudding night.
Two years time we will have our house up for sale and the farm will be in our sights.
Monday, 26 January 2015
Dusting off the January blues and looking forward to Frugal February
Well pay day finally arrived. I've been sitting, waiting for it to arrive and although it took its time, it did. A welcome one indeed.
So we have made it through Christmas and most of January and are now ready to bring on Frugal February. The idea is to spend as little as possible on groceries and get back on an even keel after the Christmas spends.
Life is good at the moment. Yesterday saw the family gather together for a Sunday lunch cooked by yours truly and I must say, it was thoroughly enjoyed. We followed it with a lovely walk with the dog and by the time we came back, the children were worn out. An early night was had by all, most welcome too!
We went to view a little property on Saturday. We're not looking to buy yet but whilst we were over that neck of the woods we called in. It was lovely and plenty of inspiration to keep plodding along and get into a position to be truly looking.
In the coming weeks I will be planting some potatoes after they have chitted and I'm on the look out for something else to plant. I don't have a lot of room, it's a small veg patch, not bags/borders etc so watch this space!
Speaking of potatoes, we have a lovely butternut squash and sweet potato soup for lunch today. I made it last night. It has a bit of chilli in it to keep us warm on these colder days. Although, having said that, it's becoming increasingly spring like today.
So, now we're starting Frugal February, I'm reinforcing we are still determined and looking more than ever to the end goal. 2 years to go!
I might even start planning a little......let's start with pigs......
Last few days in April
Welcome to the last few days in April. Here in the NE of England it continues to be changeable weather, raining again as I type this, and ...