Sunday, 31 August 2014

Little escapees

So I was off to pick some sloes, 

....turned round the corner of the house,
and look!

Six little piggies the wrong side of the fence......
So round they turned, but not too far,
because they needed to rethink the situation,
little piggies being unable to two things at once,
which is run and think,
so they do one thing at a time,
which is stop, think, then run.




Round the corner of Mum Pig's paddock,
down the side of Dad Pig's paddock,
through the hole they had dug under the wire in his paddock,

...... across his paddock,

...with no time to say hello to him,
as they raced to the gate between the two paddocks....

.... under the gate....

...and home, with relief, to Mum.

So the immediate project was to barricade them in with planks of wood, 
which Lester nailed at ground level.

And so it was that the day started, with Lester in a marginal grump because he does not 'do' mud because he was born and raised in South Africa which does not have much ongoing mud because of the quantity of hot days, unlike the UK where I was born and raised whereby the tendency to rain and make mud outweighs sunny dryness. It had rained here overnight. He was very muddy by the time he had done the planking. 

His mood went further into grumpiness when I interrupted him while he was sanding the beams in the kitchen, saying it was time to leave for a mid day BBQ up at Castelnau village. His mood took a quick upward turn, though, when a cup of punch was given to him by our mayor. I don't know what was in that punch but it sure packed a wallop. Being part of the community for a while was a grand experience for us, made us feel less like the foreigners we are. 

Meanwhile, the new Jacob ram is continuing to moan about not being with the girls. He is supposed to be kept away from them until we reduce the numbers of the flock by another four, the loss of winter grazing due to flooding making this a necessity. But Jakey Boy thinks he should be with the girls. He thinks he should start procreating, making new sheep, doing what nature has intended him to do. He is not a happy lad. We are starting to worry in case he loses condition because of stress because this is his fifth day of moaning........

It is six in the morning. I love being up at this time of the day, and feeling the hours of the day stretch ahead of me while everyone is still asleep. It is a lovely cosy feeling having all this sleeping life around me. Dawn is peeping in the distance, so I had better have a shower, make tea and toast, and get Lester up before Lissie starts yelling her head off about having a full udder. The boy calf is now in a small pen beside her at night, so we can share with the bounty of the morning milk, Lester taking the first litre or so and the calf having the rest, so he gets the cream which comes as the udder is milked out. Not to worry, we can wait for that cream. At least we now have raw milk coming into the kitchen. 

One of the bee hives is failing. I don't mind that it is doing so. It has given several swarms to the world, so has been a success in its own right. Managing the bees so they are part of the smallholding cycle of life is something we aren't doing at the moment, not through lack of interest but through lack of time. Not to worry. We shall get to being beekeepers eventually, and hopefully share a honey harvest with the bees. 

Ooops..... just heard a request from the dogs about wanting to go to the loo, so had best be on my way.

Hope you have a good Sunday, and bye for now, 


Monday, 25 August 2014

The lost hawthorns, a newcomer, and milk.....

Continuing on with Wild Foodying.....
The Hawthorn Project, 
the gathering of the leaves and berries. 

..... it hasn't happened, because we did have hawthorns alongside a portion of our woodland, but now there is not. Was it the constant flooding from the river last winter, do hawthorns not like wet feet? Or is it the bully-boy tactics of the robust blackthorn bushes, which are romping away, growing much more of itself, thereby suffocating the hawthorns into non-existence. Anyway, I was quite disappointed that my foraging expedition turned out to be a failure.

However, there is one hawthorn left, and that is on the side of the veg plot, which Lester had earmarked to be dug up because he wanted to shift the fence line and it was in the way. Oh so now it has become protected and untouchable, because I am expecting great harvests in the future from that little bush.

But I did pick up on another Wild Foodying Project, and that is the harvesting of the blackthorn berries, sloes they are called. A search on the internet as to what to do with them came up with the info that they can be used very successfully to make sloe gin, which apparently is a super duper drink to have a Christmas. This does not appeal, so further searches came up with the info that jam and chutney can be made from the sloes, but only after they have had the frost on them. No use waiting for frost here because the birds would have had them away long before the cold spell arrives, so I shall pick them and keep them in the freezer until I have time to do something with them.

The acorns are now dropping off our numerous oak, so I did another internet search to see if they were harvestable for us, but no, I do not think so because of the many steps that has to be done to make them usable to eat. Therefore, they are to be harvested for the pigs, who fall over with delight whenever acorns are given to them.


10.30 this morning saw us on the road.
11.45 saw us back home again,
with the mission of the day being unsuccessful.
What were we up to?
Getting a boy for our girls,
in other words,
getting a ram for our ewes. 
Emailed directions concentrated on looking for a 'Virgin Mary' and a pigeonnier.
We saw plenty of 'Jesus on the Cross' statues,
but none of Virgin Mary, and defo no pigeonnier.
Still, it was a lovely drive....

Not to worry.
A phone call to the current owners of the ram remedied the situation,
and a second foray was successful.

2.30 this afternoon,
and I was holding on to a hot and sweaty ram,
who was sat in the back seat of the car.
He did not much like being there.
I was not much fussed about having to hang over the back of the front passengers seat,
having been instructed by Lester to "Hold onto him".
Good job I have strong fingers,
a result of hours of practice on the accordion and piano.
But I did feel queasy.
Going backwards was not something me or my tummy liked very much.
Anyway, he is home now,
but has to be kept away from his girls for a few weeks,
this he does not like either.
We have to put four ewes into the freezer before he can do his thing.
It is the way of life on a smallholding.


And we have milk coming into the kitchen,
Lester having milked a litre from Lissie,
who did not mind at all,
although the boy calf did not look too fussed about sharing his supper.

Tonight he is in with his half sister, Bonny,
because Lester is going to try milking Lissie tomorrow morning instead of the evening.
Yahay!!! Milk!!!!


Friday, 22 August 2014

Planks, stiffness, concreting still.....

And we are trudging on with the cementing. No camp yesterday, just did house jobs in between filling the concrete mixer......and it was late afternoon when I started turning into a plank...... and I was made to move about as if I was an elderly lady,...... but then I do have a quantity of years behind me, so should not be so surprised when my body reminds me of them. 

..... but, nevertheless, we carried on with getting the kitchen floor done. Only one  section remains undone, which is work for today. Then it is the filling in of the joins tomorrow (Saturday), and then we are finished.  Hooray!!!  Sunday,  being the day of rest for some,  will not be for us, as we head out into the paddocks to get the fencing finished so that the piglets and their mum can get out onto grass.They need to stretch their legs, and the food bill is escalating now the piglets are eating grain, so they need to get onto grass so they can root around and dig holes, a past time which little piggies love. This will also reduce the cost of keeping them.  I have also earmarked Sunday as the day I am going to have a go at sourdough, as inspired by Horst (see his blog in the side bar). all I have to do is get my butt out of this chair, get dressed, and go start that cement mixer, fighting the inclination all the while to catch a nap, preferably back in bed. Lester is out and about getting the animals sorted out for the day, and I know that he is as tired as I am. He is building a handsome set of muscles, though, which are very much appreciated by myself. I am also firming up, and will have benefited from the concreting work once the planky stiffness goes away. All in all, this is a good lifestyle to get one fitter and trimmer, better than going down the gym or vegetating in front of the telly, although vegetating in bed is a very seductive thought at this precise moment.... I need to get going otherwise I shall remain fixed into this chair for the rest of the day, saying bye for now, and hope you have a good day. 



10.30 pm, and it is now the evening of the day. 

..... and despite being cross eyed with tiredness we got that cement mixer going, and the last portion of floor has been laid,
which means that the floor is done,
although the seams need to be filled in,
which is lighter work compared to the rest of the floor. 

We finished just in time to celebrate our efforts,
so it was off to our local winery to get five litres of red wine straight from the vats, 
which cost all of about £5,
and then off the to the local supermarket to buy chocolate among other things,
because we felt the need to pamper ourselves,
which we don't often do,
but then it is not often we concrete a floor!