Sunday, 26 April 2015

Lying down, and who is top dog?

I have been doing a lot of lying down this weekend. Spent most of yesterday asleep on the settee in the music / sitting room after having worked hard in the back kitchen trying to catch up with its messiness all morning. I think I am winning that particular battle. It's having to shift things round as Jim continues to renovate the house for us, that is what causes the tendency towards chaos. Not to worry, Lester has cleared out the lounge, and there is nowhere downstairs where things like tools, empty boxes, wood, stuff, etc..., can be put. His tools are now out in the middle barn, and there they will stay. He was going to put everything upstairs but I had a mini strop about him doing that, because last time he used the upstairs as his tool area most of the tools ended up being kept on the stairs. I am not a nagging type of person but I am quite likely to become that way if things are left lying about the place once the renovation is done to the downstairs.

As I was saying, ........ yesterday one o'clock in the afternoon came along, and down on the settee I went, there to stay until it got dark, and then off to bed I went. This morning was not any better really, but I have stayed awake, but only just. We have done some painting in the sitting room though, with Lester rollering the walls, and me lying down again, but this time on the floor as I tried to get a straight edge between the bottom of the wall and the floor tiles. Trouble was that it was slow going, and lying at full stretch seemed to encourage a feeling of wanting to go to sleep again. I didn't, but there were a couple of times when I did feel myself starting to wilt.

It has been restful weekend though, with lots to do next week.....our builder is not here so we have the opportunity to go out and about together, something which we don't do when he is working here, just it case he falls off his ladder, needs a cup of tea to keep going, or something like a chunk of wall falls on his head.....

And the view from the kitchen window:

Lester trundling to and fro with the wheelbarrow to the cow dung heap,
the piggy girls keeping an eye on him just in case feeding time has come along....

..... and zooming round to the right, and you can see the work the girls are doing to the veg plot,
and Claudine's house across the way...
she is our nearest neighbour....
after years of living close to others, first in terraced housing, and then in a semi detached house, it is so lovely to be able to make noise and do other things which a close neighbour would hear.
In other words, we have privacy!!!

Ah, and now the two rottweiller girls,
Blue on the left wearing her soppy 'I love you and you love me' look, Maz on the right in her 'What the hell do you think you are  doing!' look.

Yesterday the little brown hen, one of the two chickens who have damaged legs,
well,...there I was, sitting out in the courtyard taking a five minute break,
and up she flew onto my lap.
and what a sweet moment that could have been,
but from close right of me a mighty great paw sort of swiped the hen off my lap.
Off she went in a low arc,
yelling her disapproval,
and flapping madly so she could land properly.

The paw belonged to Mazzy, who had obviously decided that no one was going to perch on me unless it was herself. Bless....they still think they are puppies, and remain always in hope that they can climb on our laps for a cuddle, but all they can manage is a front paw, followed by the other front paw, followed by a slow creep of the rest of their body. 
It is normally at this point that we push them back down again because they are squash us with their weight, and often it is both of them trying at the same time to get up, which of course makes for double the weight.

I used to fear rottweillers, but after having got to know our girls, I find them the best of dogs to have, but maybe it is the way we look after them that helps them to have such  lovely natures.

Boolie (our male springer spaniel) has been having a moan outside the door for the last half an hour while I have been writing to you, so I had best go and walk them round the field before he drives me buts with his howling. The girls, I am sure, will be taking a nap in their beds. It is a bit of a wet day, and they don't 'do' wetness.

Hope you have had a good weekend,

Hope you have a splendid week,


Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Up a ladder, and more rat holes....

Been up a ladder all day doing this....

.... painting the dining room/music room and myself, because I am a mucky painter, always cleaning up the paint splots as I go but not bothering to get rid of the paint splattered on my person.

Now I love those shelves, but trying to get a sharp edge when wood meets wall is, to me, almost impossible, but I do my best, although it is slow going. And another thing, when a paint splot lands on the wood it is devil of a job to get if off again despite having a damp handy rag nearby to mop up with. Not to smudge the splot immediately, that is what I have learnt, but to dab gently to get the worst of the paint off, then a vigourous rub on the remainder of the paint seems to do the trick.

Also, I have learnt to pace myself with the kitchen timer: 30 minutes painting, then 30 minutes doing something else, then 30 minutes painting, etc. This seems to stop the feeling of climbing Everest, which tends to come upon me after only a few minutes with the paint brush. By using this method I have managed to do quite a lot today although it doesn't look like it because all I have done are those shelves, which took ages to do because of having to marry the wood with the wall.

I am now in the rest zone, so thought I would have  a chat with you, although I shall have to walk the dogs in a minute because they are restlessly padding around me.

..... the small black lump is Maz in her dog bed, sulking because I wouldn't let her chew the paper cake tin liner from the cake I had just baked. The rottweiller girls sleep in this room, but soon we shall have to move them into the back kitchen.
Anyway, this is the lounge.........the grey mass on the lower right is the fire surround which has just been made, and today our builder has been filling in the gaps between the beams and the walls, which are rat runs. (top left, the dark bits in between the cross beams). Mentioning rats..... Lester heard movement in the back kitchen last night. Went to look behind the storage shelves and there was a rat hole, newly dug. It was big, and upon investigation with the torch, Lester was able to report that the hole was being used as a larder, and that it went through the wall out into the middle barn. Oh dear. Well, that was last night, and put us both into a frump with each other, although I don't know why we were like that, because neither of us had asked the rats to come and live with us. But we were tired, and it had been a long day,........
So, first job today was to put cement into the hole, and then went on to block loads of other, smaller, holes both in the back kitchen and the middle barn. And it has been decided that we cannot risk the rats burrowing through into the house again by digging out the stones in the walls, and that we shall put a lime mortar plaster (or some such.....I can't remember exactly what the stuff is called) over the walls and cover all the stones up so the rats can't burrow through again. And we are going to look out for a Jack Russell type of dog to help us with this war with the rats, who, after all, were here before us and had established a haven of rat runs both inside and outside of the house as well as in the actual walls themselves and really would like to continue co-habiting with us, but we think not.....the war continues.
On a more cheery note, a couple of photos of the front kitchen......
......please excuse the vacuum cleaner, but it is waiting for a good fairy to come along and use it.

...... and the sink area, still without its curtains which I have not had time to make, but even if I had made them I wouldn't hang them yet because the house is still full of dust. Yesterday, for instance, it was like a desert sand storm in the house as the walls of the lounge were cut into with an electric thingy. Although all the doors were shut the dust refused to be contained and it covered everything.

As I mentioned yesterday, the plate rack has not fallen off the wall despite being fully loaded with plates, most of which are in the dishwasher at the moment, hence the empty plate rack!

So off over the field with the dogs now, with instructions from Lester not to walk through long grass. While on his mini tractor cutting the paths round the back field this afternoon he said he saw several snakes. He said that one in particular did not look the same as the others. He said it was an adder. Hokey dokey, I shall only walk where he has cut, and I shall tread heavily so that any snakes will go away from me tout suite.

The biting flies are zooming in on the udders of our two cows, who have been coming in from the field quite wounded from their attacks, their udders full of lumps and scabs from those horrid flies. So he has had to put a fly, tick, flea, etc.... product on them. Not sure what we could have otherwise done. We don't like using chemicals on the animals, but if we don't then the animals suffer. Anyone else have any ideas about what to use to help protect our cows out in the field? Any info would be welcome.

Off for the walk now....surprisingly I did not get bitten by any mozzies on our walk last night, neither are they trying to get us while we sleep, which is a good thing because I still haven't got the muslin curtains back up on our four poster which protects us from insects wanting our blood.

Bye for now,


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Been doing things.....

Today I spent a portion of my day up a ladder in the dining room / music room, where I was painting the walls. I should be painting at this actual moment but I am not because my legs are getting cross with me, and I don't want to upset them because they are the only pair of legs I've got, and I don't want them coming out on strike, which would be a nuisance, because I would have to stay in bed and not do anything because my legs wouldn't be travelling me to and fro wherever I needed to be. That would not do at all. They have lots of work to do yet, so the compromise I made with them was to have a five minute sit-down, so here I am.

However, I also needed a break from the fumes of the paint. Crikey but it kicks up a stink. And the window has to stay closed because the swifts are back, and house hunting furiously, and for years they have nested in the house, it being full of beams and handy holes, so they do not see any reason not to carry on the same as they always have. It is very sweet to hear a chirrupy male bird and his lady chatting as to whether this beam was good to make a nest on, or that beam over there. Shame that we have just sanded and oiled those beams and are not fussed with having slithers of bird poo everywhere, including on the cream coloured settee we have just bought. So I have to just drink in the paint fumes and hope it doesn't addle my brains anymore than they are already.

So.....we have five hens left. They are still in the courtyard. A family pow wow decided that we will not have any more hens until a proper henhouse is built, because we want to tidy up the courtyard. This has been the decision since Christmas. And then Lester accepted a bag of fresh eggs from a neighbour who he had given a lift to. And then I was marched across the road to another neighbour who also has hens who are laying at the moment. More eggs were received.

A few weeks ago Lester said it would be a good idea to get a new incubator, the small one we had started off with having been donated to friends of ours so their small son could enjoy watching chicks hatch and grow. This purchase has proved handy, as Lester went into smallholding mode today. We now have a load of eggs in the new incubator. Reinforcing the family pow wow decision not to have hens in the courtyard, I spoke loud and clear to Lester, reminding him of that decision, and when was he going to have time to build a proper henhouse. Bless him, he said he would get one done. He has also got his mini tractor out of the Middle Barn, and is at the moment clearing out the cow pens, using the tractor to tow the remoque , which is loaded with spoilt hay and straw, out back to the pig paddocks. When this task is done, he has mentioned that he might plough the veg plot. Oh! So it looks like we shall be doing some veg after all!

Meanwhile, I carry on painting and drinking in the fumes. The kitchen is nearly finished, and is just waiting for some more oak shelves to be made. I continue to oil the oak work surfaces. The plate rack is now on the wall, and has not fallen down even though it is now fully loaded with plates. It is a relief that it has stayed put. The kitchen is also being used as a music room as well at the moment, so is housing my two keyboards, and Lester's violin, mandolin, and banjo, plus sundry piles of sheet music. We are supposed to be playing at a hog roast the first weekend of June. Heyho, it will be alright, .....I hope!

I seem to be missing a lot of the Spring this year, but not to worry, the house is coming on. Our builder is now working in the lounge, and then he is on to working on the hallway, and if funds permit, the back kitchen. Rat holes are being blocked up, which means that all the rooms will be rat proof. I doubt they will ever be entirely mouse proof though, but when you have had rats messing about in the house mice do not seem quite such horrors.

And then there was the dead rat in the ceiling of the Half Barn, which is where we sleep and work. Unfortunately the flies weren't about, so the carcass just rotted slowly. A couple of flies doing their job would have prevented the odour for hanging around for so long (flies > meat> eggs> maggots> meat eaten> maggots pupate> flies). We left the doors and windows open twenty four hours, but still the odour hung in the air, which was a bit unfortunate because it happened just at the time I was trying to finish painting the ceiling above our bed, which was the area in which the rotting was taking place, as could be smelt by the wafts of dreadfulness oozing from out of the several holes between ceiling and beams. Yuck.

Not to worry, that smell has now gone, to be replaced by paint fumes. Ah well, it is nice being tidy, and it really is a treat to walk through three rooms which are now more or less done, apart from painting, and making them homely. All of a sudden we seem to have a lot of space around us.

And now I see that sun is starting to slide behind the nearby hills, so I had best go and rescue my paint brush before it dries hard, and get the girls out for a walk on the field, and no doubt get bitten to pieces on my legs as well as I walk them. We have had thunder storms. It is Spring. Everything is waking up, the recent wetness enabling all those biting insects to wake up as well.

Saying bye for now, and wondering how many bites I collect tonight. Not to worry, such is life when one is living in the countryside!

Love and blessings,


Sunday, 12 April 2015

Lists, surprises, and what a weekend!

Instructions from our builder for the weekend 'to do' .......
- oil the new section of worktop, top and underneath
- oil rest of worktop section, top and shelves
- oil new smaller shelf above cooker work surface
- oil side panels of work surface
- oil plate rack
- clean everything out of the lounge, apart from his tools. This includes a large pile of floor tiles, big pile of wood, Lester's shelves of tools, dog beds, ladders, paint pots, etc.......etc....... There is a lot of stuff to clear because this room has been used as an indoor work shed for the last year. The dogs also sleep in there.
-clear out the hallway of our stuff, which is a big box of shoes, boots and wellingtons, all of which are no longer worn because they are old and most have holes in, but we don't like to throw them away. There are also a few boxes and bin bags full of fabric which was supposed to be taken upstairs several months ago but never were so are covered with thick dust, plus several boxes of kitchen things, and one box of my thermal underwear which were not worn over winter because I couldn't find them when they were needed so I wore Lester's thermals instead which were more comfy anyway.
- think about the front doors....that they need to be ordered because it will take three months to make them.....he recommended a French carpenter for this.....
- perhaps to start getting a coat of paint on the dining room walls would be a good idea, just to keep things moving.

What we also wanted to do...
- finish painting the ceiling above our bed so that we can get the four poster of the bed back to where it should be rather than having it tucked away in pieces on the floor. Flies, mozzies, and anything that else will shortly be on the wing, and we need to get the muslin curtains back up for protection during the night. We are also missing the boudoir effect that sleeping in a muslin tent gives us. So, to get the bed back together is a priority.
- get some hay from the piles of spoilt hay laying all over the place out front and get it round to the fire pit. The front is really looking a mess after the winter. The chickens have not helped, their love of scratching about having spread the hay and straw further than where it should have been.
- mow the front lawn. Can't. No petrol. So cross this one off the list.

What we actually did:
.....well, we started off the weekend at a goodly trot. Needing to save the grazing for the rest of the animals we have to reduce the numbers of lambs, which is something we don't like doing but have to anyway. So, two lambs were caught, dispatched, disrobed, prepped, then off to deliver them to friends of ours so that they can cut them up and put them in their freezer.

Three hours later, and after an unexpected lunch which was finished off with a bowl of  fruit crumble and ice cream laced with melted Nutella, of which I had two bowl fulls because I could not help myself, and we left our friends, feeling joyfully replete.

Off to the supermarket for some bits and pieces for a BBQ that evening because Sara, down the lane at La Maison des Chameaux, had come along before we left for our friend's house to invite us to her place for a BBQ that evening, because it was my birthday, she said. I corrected her band said that my birthday was the following day, but she said not to worry, we can still have a BBQ anyway.

Left the supermarket, then on to the local winery, the place where you fill your own containers up with wine. Two large containers filled up. It is now nearly 5pm. No time to do anything on either of the lists, so had a lie down for an hour to stretch our still full tummies, then raced round putting the animals to bed, then off to Sara's place.

Home at 11, after having had an evening under the stars, with good company, and a tealight candle nestled in amongst a tray of strawberries for my birthday cake. I was greatly moved. As I sat amongst my friends I thought what a wonderful life I have, and how blessed I truly am. So thanks to Sara, Paul, Fred, and the visiting American girl whose name escapes me. Love and hugs to you all.

Up not so very early this morning, then back to bed again feeling vaguely hung over, which was mostly due to the food I had eaten yesterday, but felt guilty because nothing had been done on either of the lists. Not to worry, it is my birthday today. I like that I am now 68 and wouldn't want to be any other age.

No real lie-in though, as dogs to be fed, and the keyboard to be packed up because I was playing at a monthly held local church service. Worried about whether I would be wanting to go to the loo mid way through the service, I asked my nether regions to hold fast until at least half past twelve when I should be back home again. Normally this is not a problem, but there was still a lot of food being processed in my digestive system and I didn't want to be caught out by having to make a quick dash outside in the middle of playing for a hymn. There was no need to worry. All was well in that department.

Long chat in the sunshine outside the church afterwards, then back home to find Lester watching over a bonfire made of some of the spoilt hay. Ok, so one of the things could be ticked off one of the lists. So, still not feeling quite right after the feast of food from yesterday, I lay on my bed. And, honestly, I did think about giving the ceiling above my head that final coat of paint, but then Lester came along with a cup of tea and said 'Why don't we go to the vide grenier down at Estirac'.

And we did. And came home to have a nap because it was hot here, and then it was too late to tackle anything on those lists at all.

But what I did was have a jolly good birthday weekend which was totally unplanned, and was topped off with a phone call from my daughter Karen and her husband Darren, who are leaving the UK to go live in Spain full time in three weeks time, calling in on us as they pass through France.

And some photos for you.......

The original cupboard in the dining room....

...... and work being done to it....

...... after all the wood had been stripped out, including the lintel, all of which was rotten,
this how it has finished up. The wood is all oak.

And this is the sink in the dining room, as it was....

.... and this is how that has turned out, again after having had all the wood and lintel replaced, plus the walls having been patched up. 

And this is how the doorway is coming along. The arch was not the same height on both sides, so our builder has made an oak surround to the arch to balance the look of it. This is the first time this room has had a door on it for a lot of years.
And in between the door and the shelf on the left, by that upright plank of wood, is a small alcove.
I do not know for what purpose the house had this little space,
but it might have possibly been connected to religion.
I put a candle each day in that space,
and ask for peace for us all, which always makes me feel better.

This photo is a bit blurred, but I thought you might like to see how the whole room looks. 
The walls still need to be painted, but everything else is now finished, apart from the doorway.

And this is what our builder has made for the kitchen.....

..... a plate rack! It needs a couple of coats of oil on it, and then up on the wall it goes.

All in all it was a lovely weekend,
and I feel full of warmth and love,
and ready to tackle another year of my life head on. 

Bye for now


Friday, 10 April 2015

The burning of the wood

In an effort to reduce the untidyness of our place we have started burning the huge pile of wood just outside the back courtyard gates, a pile which was started by the builders when they cleared the house of all its debris, (2008) then another set of builders came along and encouraged the pile to grow when they added the old roof timbers from the barns (2009).Over time more wood has been added, including some tree trunks which were rescued from the river, which has encouraged the pile to spread out.

During the lifetime of the pile several people have wanted to take away the wood to use on their own fires, but we have refused because, for us, that pile of wood meant that we no longer be cold during the winter, and yes, for two winters Lester cut some of the wood up to use on our fire in the sitting room, which was the only place in the house which was 'habitable', although had a tarpaulin for the ceiling and a tarpaulin of the floor and walls which continually shed themselves everywhere.

And then we shifted our lodgings into the half barn, which is the other side of the kitchen to the house, and the fire became retired because there is no chimney in the barn, so no wood was cut....

Wood pile 2011

And then we shifted our lodgings into the half barn, which is the other side of the kitchen to the house, and the fire became retired because there is no chimney in the barn, so no more wood needed to be cut, and the wood pile was left to being its own self.

Time passed. Years went by. Rain fell. The sun shone. Nature went to work. So the pile became covered over with a vigorous vine which intertwined itself in and amongst the wood, as did some slower growing bramble shoots, as did a bed of nettles, and all became a joyous tangle of vegetation so that most of the wood became hidden, becoming damp under the leafy greenery, which promoted the cycle of life within the stored wood so that some of it started breaking down, preparing to make a return into the earth which once gave the tree from which the wood came, life.

In a nutshell.....the whole pile was covered over with stinging nettles, prickly brambles, and a vine whose shoots made everything into a tangle. The wood is now mostly rotten, and what isn't has things growing on and in it, and really, well..........I have a nice kitchen for the first time in seven years, and do I want rotten wood burnt in the Rayburn stove (when it is connected and working of course, which it isn't at the moment, but hopefully will be by the end of the summer), no I do not.

Wood pile 2012, and vegetation growing

....and growing....

....until now, 2015

...with all the front of the pile totally covered over,
and only the back pile to be seen....

Soooooo, bonfire time! For three days we have had a bonfire after having to hack away at the green stuff to get to the buried wood. Today we did not, though, because we needed to dispatch a couple of lambs. Having eighteen lambs plus twelve ewes plus one ram is making our fields sparse with grass at a time when the grass should be showing quite a good rate of growth. We prefer to let the lambs grow to almost a year old before we put them into the freezer, but this year we have had to take action if we are to have any grass left on our fields at all. So, the two we did this morning are to go to our builder (they are about 20 -25 kgs each), we are doing two tomorrow which will go to the couple who sold us our two rottweiller girls, then we are doing another one for Sarah down the road, then another one for our band friends. We sold three live lambs to a French lady the other day. We think that should leave us with nine lambs. We hope we shall be able to manage with the grazing.  We only need five ewes and a ram. We shall continue getting the numbers down over next winter. Meanwhile, I am becoming adept at  finding ways to cook lamb/mutton so that it does not get monotonous. So far, I have managed.

Back to the bonfire.......... got up this morning at daylight. Took the dogs out back. Saw that the bonfire was still red at its heart. Couldn't resist seeing if I could get it going again, which I did. Went back indoors to get dressed, thinking that perhaps feeding a bonfire in my purple dressing gown might be going just that bit too far for the passing cars. Went back outside to have a look at the fire, but saw that the smoke was making a serious effort at getting over to Claudine's house, who is our nearest neighbour. Therefore, regrettably, I let the fire go out. But I cut some brambles, nettles, and vine down so we could get to the buried wood.

And it is as if the burning of the wood has come to reflect on how far we have come. That the burning of the wood signifies a new start for us and the house, a new chapter soon to begin perhaps, as work continues indoors and we continue on our work outside, but minus any veggie growing, just cleaning things up, finishing things off, getting ready for what is to come.

and the fire pit, now asleep and resting,

and the geese, who, for some reason known only to themselves,
took it upon themselves to fly at full speed into the fire pit.
Fortunately the fire was out, 
although the embers were hot enough to singe the feet of the foremost goose,
as could be seen by the speed at which he vacated the pit. 
Not to worry, that was yesterday, and today he looks alright.

Been a bright and sunny day here. I am glad that Claudine (our neighbour) could open her windows today without fear of getting her house full of smoke, and that my washing on the washing line will not have the faint whiff of smoke either. And I am glad that we are getting the wood pile sorted out because it reminds us of how the house looked during the first stage of its renovation, and of how we used to worry in case the house would fall down before we could get her mended. She was a very wounded house when we arrived. By the burning of the wood pile, it feels that we have finally got her patched up. Tomorrow we shall on that wood pile again!

Bye for now,


Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Digging up the veg last!!!

The as yet untouched veg patch,
with not a clod of fresh earth exposed to the glorious sunshine,
and weeds starting to romp away,
especially dandelions
which I did think of harvesting seeing as how this is a veg plot after all:
1) I could make jam out of the flower heads.
2) I could pick the fresh green leaves and use them in a salad.
3) I could lift the roots, roast them, then grind them down to make dandelion coffee.
Of course I shall do none of these things,
not this year. not fear, we have not relinquished our desire to be smallholders,
and to prove this point,
at long last we have started work on the veg plot. be more accurate, we are not actually doing the work,
we have employed others to do the work for us....

....... Mum pig,

and her piglets....

Ah, but we do have a slight problem,
and that is that it is very warm here at the moment,
and the pigs seem to have hit a lazy streak,
seeming to want to only work on the veg plot for an hour or so in the morning,
then collapsing in a heap to sunbathe until supper time.
This means that the rate of work on the veg plot is minimal at the moment,
but we know that sooner or later it will rain,
which should encourage our team to get their snouts into the ground.
especially if they have their food rations reduced to encourage them to get digging.

Meanwhile, back at the house,
I have  managed to paint quite a decent amount of the half barn ceiling,
and Lester has sanded and oiled the beams in the dining/music room.
We are making progress.

Took the cows for a walk this morning,
up and down the path to the river we went.
It was lovely,
couldn't do anything other than stop, look, and enjoy our surroundings
as we walked beside the cows as they grazed.

Saying bye for now,
as can't keep my eyes open,
so time for bed.


Sunday, 5 April 2015

Veggies? Um........

Everyone else seems to be pushing on towards the new growing season, getting the land ready, the compost sorted, seeds bought and some planted, and there is a general air of busyness in the blogging world especially in regards to smallholding / homesteading folk. But not here. We are still trying to catch up with ourselves, although we have bought some seeds, but not all. The land has not been tilled, but we have cut the front grass, but the flower beds remain full of things which are native to this part of the world. In other words, they are full of weeds.

Oh dear. Normally we are raring to go, often planting ahead of when we should in our eagerness to get things growing and sometimes paying the price because the weather has done a downturn and rotted the seedlings.

So why have we been slow this year? Because our minds have been occupied with other things, all of which are mostly connected to the house, although the pigs have shown a consistent naughtiness about wanting to get out of their paddocks as do some of the lambs and sheep when they are out in the field. If there is a weakness in the fence, then they will find it. The weather has been unfriendly as well, which does not encourage us to make the effort outside. But really, in truth, the mental effort of getting the house sorted out is taxing our energies. Not to worry, once this phase of building work is done, then we can relax and enjoy being snug and tidy, and already I am feeling more organised in the kitchens, with the back kitchen / larder area starting to develop specific working areas which speed things up a lot. The front kitchen is not finished yet, but already it is looking better than I ever imagined.

The dining room / music room / snug is coming along. All the walls have been sorted out, and the floor is now having its tiles laid. All the old cupboards, which were inset into the walls, have been refreshed in plaster and oak and are going to be open bookshelves. We have bought the doors for the room, and they are in oak as well. The white walls, oak ceiling, oak woodwork and oak door will be a good backdrop to the patchwork furnishings which I shall be making. The room should look warm and cosy, and wrap itself around you so you will feel protected from the outside world as if you were in a cacoon.

Meanwhile, with our head spaces being taken up with the indoor work, the smallholding is wallowing in a trough of non-doing. Not to worry. Our meat supplies are very, very, good, with more supplies to come from our animals this year. This we are doing well with. But we do eat a lot of vegetables, and this we are not going to do well with this year because there is too much else to do. Not to worry, hopefully next year we can reduce the high crest of our meat yield, and pull up out of the trough our vegetable yields so we can be on a more even keel with both types of produce. Such is the life of a smallholder who carries both meat and veg.....getting the right balance requires a steep learning curve, with inexperience making for lots of errors of judgement.

I have also caught up with myself in regards to the high workload that running a smallholder's kitchen requires, and am finding that I get easily bored if I have nothing to do. This I found out after a short spell of ill health brought on by the  amount of wood dust in the house recently, which I couldn't help but inhale. Lester insisted I do nothing for a couple of days. I lasted one whole morning before I was back on my feet, shuffling around for sure, but I could not for the life of me stay in bed and slouch. It would seem that smallholding life is addictive, that the long list of things which have to be done each day at first seem endless, making one feel bogged down with the weight of things to do. But over time this work becomes an enjoyable way of life so that even when I was given time out I didn't take it. As I say, I have become addicted to this way of life..........

Somewhere amongst the days ahead I shall be squeezing another birthday in and I shall be landing up two years short of seventy. When I was younger seventy seemed the most ancient of ages to be, but now I have arrived at this age it hardly seems any age at all. People often look back on their lives, saying that they would prefer to be this age or that age. I don't. I always seem to have been striving towards a settled future, which I have never had. Perhaps that is the key to not allowing age to be a noose around one's neck, to keep on accepting the challenges that the Universe lays down before one which makes for a very interesting life indeed. It would be nice, when one's eyes are to be closed for the very last time, to look back and think that one has got value out of this particular lifetime.

Anyway, must be on with the day. Going to do a bit of painting on the ceiling of the Half Barn and front kitchen, Lester is going to be sanding the beams in the dining room/ music room, I want to go out and do some work in the front garden, we shall probably have an after lunch nap because it is Sunday, I have a fridge of milk which needs sorting out, and I want to start on the curtains for the front of the oak kitchen units.

I hope you have a lovely Sunday, and wishing you a happy birthday, belated or otherwise, because we are all going to be one year older this year! WahoooO!

Bye for now.


PS. Tim, thanks for the nudge. x