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.
Friday, 27 May 2016
Party plans amongst other things
Thursday, 26 May 2016
Preparing for winter.
Wednesday, 25 May 2016
Rhubarb and ginger jam
I am rather impressed with myself tonight. I have made rhubarb and ginger jam using our veg plot rhubarb and a jam making pan that I bought years ago but never got round to using. The pan was made for the Aga I am sure and I thoroughly enjoyed making it. I found it really relaxing and the smells were divine. Tomorrow I shall have some with breakfast and hope it tastes as good as I am expecting. Another rung on the self sufficient ladder, or at least a baby step in the right direction. This will last us right through the year although if it's nice I may give some of the kilner jar smaller ones in hampers for Christmas.
The weather here is being enoyed by the ducks and the fields! So much so that the ducklings decided to hatch and we have at least 2 but will leave Mam to do her thing and check tomorrow if we can. What a fabulously 'smallholding like' evening.
Tuesday, 24 May 2016
First free meat by our own hands
***Pictures of shot pigeon warning***...
Well, from Steven's hands if I am being pedantic. He shot his first pigeon tonight and it'll be going in the freezer with some others which we were given, to go on our bbq for our housewarming. We will of course be offering other meat that people associate as normal bbq food, but we want to show people the lifestyle we've chosen and are trying to adopt as we're very proud of it. We've spoken many times in our last home about shooting our own food and now we have managed to. One less pigeon to eat my veggies and one more meal for us. A nice balance I would say.
PS do I even need to warn people of the pictures, it's polite to I guess?
Monday, 23 May 2016
Normal service resumed
Thank you to everyone who took time out to comment on my last post. I feel like I have made huge strides this weekend despite not doing anything major. So without further ado, let's get back to normal but with the addition of incorporating some if your lovely ideas into my daily and weekly routines. Routine and planning seems to be the key. More to follow on this.
I don't think I posted about out latest Freeby. A wheely bin with a tap on the bottom of it. We have hooked it up to the rain flow off the greenhouse and tonight I started using this harvested rain water to water the greenhouse. Simple and effective and best of all free. Especially as we're on a water metre here.
Tomorrow we will purchase our next round of chicken feed but it won't cost us a penny. They have literally paid for themselves in eggs. How fabulous! I hope you've all had a lovely Monday and happy new week!!
Wednesday, 18 May 2016
Back to basics
I seem to have lost all ability to stay on top of the washing, ironing, getting tea out of the freezer, housework and anything else remotely associated with being a good mum, wife, daughter and so on.
I have never been one for too much tidying although I do appreciate it when it's done. Life is for living and most of the time the balance is just about ok. Not this last week though. I think it's partially down to the lighter nights as we're outside so late thay I come in, do my work that I have to do (5 hours evening work a week from home Tues, Wed and Thurs in total) Then shower and bed. Some nights I battle to have a shower as I am so tired truth be told! Then of course I am tired the next morning so getting up as early as I need to is a pain in the rear. On a morning there is just me as Steven is out to work before we get up (I get up at 6) so I have the animals to let out, skip out, feed etc etc (this morning I had to put a very smug looking pony back in the field he should have been in) Then breakfast, kids ready and school run starts at 7.30.
I don't watch TV during those nights now as I don't get to sit down to and it doesn't bother me one bit. What does bother me is feeling completely behind in everything this week. The washing is piled high, ironing is a mountain and the house looks very untidy. I really didn't want this to happen in this house as I had so many hopes and aspirations of how I would be able to manage it. The kids help with things like recycle and tidy their rooms (hah!) And Steven is out working on essentials outside the whole time he is home so it's not easy. I prefer to be outside at the moment, I am happy out there. It's amazing. I think I just need to devote a bit more time to the house. In the January when we moved in I did somehow but again, the weather didn't make me want to go outside and it was dark by 4pm!
Bit of a rant tonight, sorry! I find it always helps to get things down on paper. I should be in bed but I'm waiting for the washing machine to finish as I didn't put it on in time 😕
Soon be Friday!
Tuesday, 17 May 2016
A smallholding weekend.....we're getting there
Friday, 13 May 2016
What a lovely way to have spent Friday afternoon into early evening. I've had a couple of hours in the greenhouse planting up the tomatoes into their final resting spot for some. Others that were planted later have gone into the middle size pots and will go into their buckets in a few weeks. They were all planted with half manure half compost from Tesco and had a good feed with Tomatorite. I love the smell of the tomato plants, it makes me think we might actually get a harvest!
My lovely Dad spent an hour digging over the dreaded stony veg bed. It's still in huge chunks but makes life easier for me tomorrow digging it down further.
We had a dead pheasant in the woods today which is the third unexplained death around here. Firstly was Mr Fox, secondly was a rabbit in the middle of our drive and today a pheasant. None of which had any marks to suggest how they died!
We had a wander around the small holding tonight and took in the prettiness around us. The fruit trees are in bloom, the bluebells out and life couldn't be better. Have a lovely weekend everyone.
Thursday, 12 May 2016
Escapee geese and other things
I went to check the veg plot once all the animals were accounted for and found the asparagus has gone crazy today with one having gone to seed. They grow at a crazy speed. Does anyone know if it can freeze?
Ryan the adopted gosling is enjoying his new home, our home! He loves following Steven about. The dogs aren't so happy about that though!
I was looking through the small paddock tonight and noticed the nettles are taking over as is this ivy looking plant. Both are going to have to be strimmed back at the weekend and kept on top of as there is very little grass in there anyway and I will have to keep supplementing hay if we don't sort it. At least they can use it to stretch their legs. Anyone any ideas what the ivy type plant is?
Almost the weekend and I can't wait!!
|Spot the geese? Top middle!|
|Cowslips and nettles!|
An unplanned productive evening.
I set about in the veg plot digging over part of the remaining bed that I've been avoiding. If I take it an hour at a time, it's more manageable than the thought of doing it all at once. It's about 1/3 to 1/2 done now so I am really pleased. I've added more rotted manure in to the bit I've done tonight and hopefully come the weekend I will get the rest of the plants in there. Then that leaves one more bed plus a space that's previously been used for burning god knows what. That will become my potato bed very soon.
So in between the veg plot, I had a guy come and collect some manure which combined with another couple over the last week has made an even bigger dent in the muck heap. Once he had gone and I'd done what I set out to in the veg plot, I spent an hour in the field picking up a barrow of poo. It's back breaking work but it was actually quite therapeutic as it is so quiet, so relaxing that in the end I almost enjoyed it.
In the greenhouse the tomato plants have started showing lots of the yellow flowers which will become the fruit so I am now getting excited!! How long until I can harvest my first tomato!! Rhubarb & asparargus were divine, I wonder if the tomatoes will be!
Finally I watered my plants then put the animals to bed before collapsing into my own bed, ready to do it all again the next day, what could be better!
|Dad started digging the bed for me last night which spured me in to doing more tonight.|
|This is one of the many muck bins, look at all those mushrooms growing!!|
|Close up of one of the mushrooms|
|The muck heap has caved in as it's started to rot. 3 months old, good stuff this sh1t!|
Wednesday, 11 May 2016
Veg plot update
The rhubarb has taken off in a dramatic way so any time tested recipes will be greatly received. I do love rhubarb crumble but that’s all I ever have made. I made the rhubarb cake recently which was lovely so anything else anyone recommends I am happy to give a go.
There’s more asparagus ready to harvest, it’s shooting up left, right and centre and tastes divine!!
The remainder of the veg plots are coming along nicely but there are 2 which I just cringe at every time I look. They shout “painful back, blood, sweat and tears” at me every time I look. They are going to take a lot of TLC to get up to speed but I need them up and running so let’s stop moaning and crack on. One is going to be for the broccoli, more caulis and cabbage. The other bed will be for squashes. I have some started in the greenhouse and the remainder are going in this weekend.
Tomatoes are doing well and some are flowering already! The plant which we didn’t know what it was? Well, I think may be a bean plant of some description, looking at how it’s coming along. I have more tomato seeds in which are late but I will ripen them off the vine if I have to.
Aside from these 2 veg beds there is one that only has currant bushes and rhubarb in (the one I made the cake with, yum) and nothing else, so there's a lot of wasted soil space to me. I have done the lasagne method with the spare space. Anyone seen it? I put newspaper down over the weeds (didn't bother to pull them out, will soon know if that is a bad idea) and then lots of our lovely horse manure over the top. This will compact and rot over the coming weeks when I will add another layer of newspaper, grass cuttings and manure and in a few months time we will dig the bed over in the hope for good soil and no weeds Or we'll have some cracking weeds that thrived on the manure when the newspaper did nothing! It's an experiment and saved my back doing that bed
On a night when I’m locking all of the animals up, I wander round the veg plot and close up the greenhouse and my mind is already drifting to next year and what I want to start off early in the greenhouse, when can we afford a polytunnel, what should we put in each bed to rotate it etc. I love it growing our own things. We have so much to learn, it’s fabulous!
Tuesday, 10 May 2016
Time for an update on the goslings that were hatched.
After losing the one to the pond, the remaining 4 are doing extremely well and following the adult geese everywhere. They seem to be thriving and enjoying life. The day or two after the first lot arrived saw a few strange things happen. Firstly, the other Mother Goose abandoned her eggs in favour of walking round with her friend and her friend’s goslings. So the remaining eggs in the shed went cold and we thought were goners. Anyway, as we said we would, we let nature take its course and left them there. We had a couple that hatched ok but died for one reason or another and some that died trying to hatch. A day or two later, when one was trying to get out and struggling, we decided nature had its own way for long enough and we helped the little dude out. Mother Goose has already rejected a couple of goslings that hatched after the first day (that accounted for some of the deaths I mentioned), so we decided to pop Ryan as he is now called, in to the incubator and see if he made it. He did and now Steven and I have been adopted by him as his parents! His favourite past time is swimming round in the sink.
With this in mind, when 7 Vorwerk chicks (breed of hen) came up for sale a day later, I thought they would make great friends for Ryan and we were right. For now anyway, before he gets too big!
It wasn’t a silly move though as I now have the 2 breeds I really wanted, Lakenvelder and Vorwerk. I shall breed these myself over the next year or so, when I introduce some from a different blood line (some people say it matters, others say it doesn’t).
May Day Bank Holiday
Thursday, 5 May 2016
A sad day
Today we had one of our questions answered. Mammy goose can look after the goslings but only to an extent. Sadly, we lost one of our 5 to drowning. He was only a day old. We've taken it quite hard as really, we could have prevented it. Poor little thing. He's buried near where he would have lived. Needless to say, tonight Steven has rigged something up to help them stand somewhere safe if they need to whilst they catch their breath and made it easier for them to get out the pond.
In other news, we've started moving a load of crap from the pony paddock into the woods. We were going to burn it but decided it's too close to the woods already plus if the ground underneath it isn't already dead, it soon would be with a fire on it. Once that's done it'll really make a difference to the size of the paddock. I'm suffering now mind you, midgie bites!!
To cheer us up after a sad day, here's a couple of pony and horse pics.
Oh and I wrote a huge long post in response to being nominated by Louise for the Liebster awards and bloody lost it. So I will redo it asap. I quite enjoyed it!
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 ...