Saturday 31 January 2015

Little ones, hobbits, brocantes.......

Time to move! Lester, the dear man, issued the orders to move position and take the washing up production line to its new home. Oh kisses, kisses, and more kisses did I shower upon him. Well alright then, just a little peck on his cheek did I give him but at least he got a kiss.

And here we are.....the new sink now in operational mode. However, I am now being made to feel like a hobbit. Really, 'tis true. Not that I mind, but I am made to feel tiny in comparison to the size, height and breadth of the sink and worktop. Really, I do. And I love it. Anyways, I feel like a lucky girl. Now all I need to do is get used to feeling like a hobbit, and try to sort out in my head the right colour curtains to go in front of the openings. 

And a word about the Rayburn Project. Its dead in the water again. Lots of reasons, but we are chugging our way through towards the last month or so of winter, we are now hardened (and very much so) to the cold, and we need to put our resources into getting the dining room, lounge, and front hallway sorted out, so the plumbing in of the Rayburn will have to wait and we shall have to stay chilly for a while longer. Not to worry. It should be the last winter without heating. At least we are dry........

......and so is the mum sheep who had twins out in the field four days ago and had refused to come into the barn at night ever since and so had allowed herself and her little ones to get chilled and soaked through by the wind and the rain. Not to worry, Lester decided that enough was enough, and I think that she must have also realised the error of her stubborn ways because she allowed herself to be shepherded back up to the barn, and the rest of the flock.

Went into the sheep barn to give the white sheep and her black lambs some hay, and found another mum snucked round the corner with her newly arrived black and white twins. 


The half barn:
(which has been our only tidy living accommodation for three years)
And our very own brocante (second hand / antique shop)
But we are not selling anything, just trying to find a home for everything as we empty out the storeroom which was the dining room. 

Going to be tackling the dining room today. 

Hope you have a good weekend,


Friday 30 January 2015

Jammed Door!

The hole in the wall has now been filled with cement and the door. At least the wind does not howl through with such a blast, which is a good thing because last night we were under orange alert for 100 km/h gusts of wind, which is not good and might have meant the wind whistling through with such force that we became all lifted up and taken away in the night time sky. Ok, Ok, I know that is an exaggeration but we have a fear of the wind after being stuck in the eye of a hurricane the first winter we were here. Being buffeted about in the caravan by fearsomely strong winds has left us rather fragile when it comes to wind. ( the eating of our harvest of artichokes a couple of years ago also left us fragile in the wind department, but that's another story.)

Not to worry. All was well. Our builder did the work, and got the hole in the wall shuttered for cement, the rest of the space being filled in with the door. My oh my but that door looks huge......

.......but Lester said it was an external door so would be bigger than the size of the indoor doors, but that it was a good job that it was on the wide side because then we can get big things in and out of the house. Presumably he does not mean the mini tractor which is parked just outside this door.......

I have been dawdling with doing things in the house. I always feel unsettled when we are having work done on the house. But I did go shopping, which is quite something for me to do nowadays because Lester is the one who is out and about and so picks up things from the supermarket as needed. It felt quite strange to be travelling faster than my normal walking pace, and it felt quite weird seeing the world go by so fast, and even faster when I got to third gear. Just kidding. But I need to get out and about a little bit more. I don't want to go doddery with my driving skills until I am heading up to the 100 year old mark. 

Lester and our builder are off to Tarbes today to get the pipe work for the Rayburn. Looks like they will be starting plumbing it in next week. Crikey, just 'crikey'. I shall try not to worry about them doing the work. I shall engage my head with doing other things. I shall ask the Universe to give me a project all of my own, hopefully something to do with writing. I have been waiting for inspiration for ages. It has not been forth coming. Perhaps today a spark will be ignited, and streaming out will come the words, but for the last nine months I have suffered writer's constipation.

Bonny is with calf. Six weeks since her last season, so it looks like all is go. Twin lambs born yesterday, that makes five in total so far. Shame that the lambs are starting to arrive just as the wet season arrives as well. But it is nice to see the youngsters arrive. We missed having them around last year due to the demise of our ram the year before. But this ram looks like he has done his job, and out the lambs are popping. 

Off to get some breakfast, so bye for now. 


Wednesday 28 January 2015

The hole in the wall.....

June 2014,
and the food storage area is starting to sprawl across the back wall of the temporary kitchen.

And this is what I have been doing the last few days....
getting all the stored jars of food over to one side,
so the wall at the end is now clear,
and emptying two of the three freezers out so they could be shifted to better positions.

And then this has now happened.....

A hole!
Yes, and what a grand hole it is!
And how much flipping colder the house has got!
Not to worry,
the hole is temporary,
and I can always climb into bed for a warm up with the electric blanket,
or I can go sit on the loo for ages, 
(a heater is kept on in the bathroom all the time
because I refuse to  let my necessarily exposed skin shiver when I am on the loo)
and as a last resort I can always 'borrow' my husband's longjohns.

But hey! Why has this hole thus been made?
To beat back the mud from the farm, that is why,
my thoughts being, 
( and the hole was my idea in the first place)
that if there was a longer trek coming inside from outside, 
then more of the mud would be left outside the house,
rather than being deposited in clumps around the house.

Now I must say that Lester is very good about not adding to the indoor mud,
all he does is leave his boots / shoes / slippers at various doorways,
which I tend to trip over as I scurry hither and thither,
with my boots on,
inside or out,
because I have flat feet,
and multi task,
so it is not always possible to keep taking my laced up boots on and off
off and on,
all the day long,
as I scamper about my work.
And then there are the three dogs with their twelve feet,
which can leave quite a trail of mud,
especially when the rottweiller girls have been digging holes.
They do have big feet.

And so in my head a plan was hatched,
and that was to have a door put in the end wall of the larder area,
which would give us access into the middle barn,
and from there, the outside,
thus giving us a back door,
which should keep the mud, shoes, boots, etc,... all in one place
and keep the front door and hallway clear of mud and boot clutter.
Well that's the plan.

And so the hole is done....

And this is what we were left with this evening,
the wind it doth blow
with a fearsome cold that chills the bone,
and I dare not think of any nighttime visitors 
that might scurry through such a lovely big hole.
And it is just as well that we don't have any heating on,
because it would be wasted in this draft.

About the Rayburn Project:
Lester and our builder are going to do the pipework themselves.
They start next week.
Meanwhile, we are already sitting beside it,
as if it is lit  and oozing warmth already.....

A bit about the cows:
They are doing well,
but do not like being indoors so much.
Lissie is with calf.
Bonny is as well, we think.

....and the sheep:
three lambs have now arrived,
black and white twins,
and a little black one. 
More on their way.

..... and the holy terrors, the piglets?
After their recent bust out, they are confined to their smaller electrified pen,
until Lester has time to repair the fencing on the big paddocks again.
Mum pig and Max are doing well.

...oh, and the goats?
There aren't any.
We had our reasons, which were valid to us.

And so January dances itself onwards,
the end of this month possibly being a bit on the wet side,
as the soup mix of rain and higher temperatures,
so favoured by nature at this time of the year here,
create excess amounts of ground water,
and cracks the snow into avalanches.
some of which goes away to the sea,
via the river,
which runs past our house.

In other words, 
it is the time of the floods.

But we are dry for the moment,
so all is well.

Lester's mini tractor waiting for spring to arrive, as seen through the new hole in the wall.
I am not sure how he got it into the barn,
and I am even more unsure of how he is going to get it back out again!


Friday 16 January 2015

We couldn't do it! But our builder does!!

And so it came to the second day of the demise of the goats.
Two now in the freezer, two more to go.
I stood ready to help Lester,
round the corner of the hay bales he came,
with Blossom in tow.
I could see by his face that it was hard for him,
after all we had raised her,
and named her.
But it was her time, 
so we did the job.

One left to do.
So indoors for a cup of tea, delaying, that is what we were doing.
So I stood and waited for Lester,
and round the corner of the hay bales he came,
with the red goat in tow.
We looked at each other,
we looked at the goat,
she looked at us.
"We could put her in with the sheep," I said.
So we did.

Goats and us do not work here.
But we still have one.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen,
and water flows!
Crikey, a proper sink with proper taps, and a proper work surface!

....which won't be used yet because the oak needs oiling,
but I can wait.
I have the curtains to make for the front openings anyway,
and the shelves still need to be made.
But wow!

And its the turn of Smeggy today,
who is having a work top put in beside her.

And we have rescued the table and chairs from beneath a pile of packing boxes.
We brought it from the UK with us,
and it has somehow managed to survive despite all that has been done to it.
It fits well in the kitchen, so there it will stay.

And Bools and Blue having a lovey dovey moment.


Wednesday 14 January 2015

Kitchen Project.......yippeeee!

So the kitchen is moving forward,
but the Rayburn Project is, at least for the moment, not.

But not to worry, all the pipe work for the Rayburn will get done,
but other things are happening,
such as a door being fitted between kitchen and dining room,
and the sink being put in,

and the work surfaces being sorted out....

...and the hallway is no longer the home of the Rayburn,
but is the home for the wood for the kitchen......

...while I, meanwhile, float here and there,
trying not to get in the way of the work being done,
but still having to keep the home, (kitchen included) functioning.

We have had lots of sun this winter,
so I often retreat to the front garden for a bit of lawn cutting,
just to try and keep everything control before the madness of the spring growth,
which sends the front garden
into a sea of deep meadow grass,
which then has to be cut with the scythe,
but hopefully will not have to be,
if I can keep mowing it.

And for Lester's parents...

...Lester and the Rayburn!

Bye for now,

(and whispering ever so quietly that the sink might be put in today!)


Thursday 8 January 2015

...and rising up!

And upwards the pipe doth riseth up,
upwards towards the sky.
However, to get to the sky,
the roof has to be punctured.
Which means a hole has to be put in the roof,
which is quite a scary thought because once upon a time we did not have a roof at all,
but loads of fresh air and a full view of the sky,
and then builder men came and filled in the roof,
the fresh air remaining via loads of drafty holes hither and thither in the walls,
but the sky became outside,
which is not a bad thing,
because of the rain which comes along with the sporting clouds,
which does make things wet.
So, for us, putting a hole in the roof means going back to as it was,
in the before time,
when roof there was none,
silly, I know, but we have a fear of being made roofless again.
...and then all became done,
and the pipe is now finished,
and all that needs to be done is the sealing of the piles
so that smoke does not waft its way into the kitchen through the gaps.
I can't believe that the Rayburn is finally in.
And now it is on to getting the plumbing sorted out,
and the pump put in!
And joy of joys,
our Christmas Tree has been found.
Up in the upstairs of the house it was,
(in the box in the lower left hand corner of photo),
must have been there for a year or so,
and me thinking that it was gone forever,
and then finding it,
and so it will be put up for Christmas next year,
that I have promised it!
And some of the rest of the upstairs.
We have a long way to go!
Not to worry,
we may, or may not, run out of money,
so maybe it will never get done.
Hey ho, but we have downstairs and that will be sufficient for us,
plus we have a smallholding outside,
so, all in all, we have enough.

Wednesday 7 January 2015


And so the Rayburn is in place!
And it took two men to shift it,
although there were supposed to be two more, but they were still in bed,
so their Dad fetched up with his friend,
arriving just as Lester and our builder were lifting the Rayburn off the trolley,
so at least there was some help at the end.

No floor tiles were broken.
The trolley worked fantastically well.
The Rayburn remained intact and undamaged throughout.
The only mild problem was me, 
because I couldn't stop dithering around,
trying to be of help,
but, in truth, probably getting in the way!

The chimney pipes are now being put in,
and it is up through the roof today or tomorrow,
depending whether it rains or not.

The Rayburn has a presence in the kitchen already.
It is small in comparison to the Smeg range cooker,
but it oozes a sort of power.
Long way off to having it working though,
but at least the hallway is clear,
and the Rayburn is in its forever place,
and I am relieved that all went well.

Meanwhile, I do not mess my head up with wondering about what kitchen cupboards to buy,
whether to have free standing or fixed units,
shelves or cupboards,
I find my head focussing on where to put my chair
 so I can have a warm up when the Rayburn is finally operational!


Sunday 4 January 2015

The trolley, the black kettle, and the sunbed stays put......

Operation Move the Rayburn: Latest update:

It's made!
It took a lot of thinking about,
and also involved a pulling apart of the first one to make the second,
but the trolley, 'tis done!

It is a maiden trolley,
which may or may not survive having the Rayburn put on its back,
this being the first time in use. 
And hurrah for Lester for persevering with the making of it.

And it came to me that this day I really ought to make an effort for our kitchen as well,
so this is what I decided to do:

which was get our kettle cleaned up, 
having already fished out the whistle from behind one of the freezers, 
from where it has lived for several months,
so the kettle was not only blackened over,
but whistle-less as well.
How, you might ask, could I have been so horrid to this workhorse of a kettle
to neglect it thus!
I hang my head in shame, and say "I do not know"!
Not to worry,
and internet search came up with bicarb of soda, or crumpled aluminium foil as an aid to getting the muck off,. 
Tried either, and no, no cleaner did the kettle become.
but  using the two together and look!....

..... a glimmer of stainless steel from beneath the grime.

However, the job was not finished,
Lester called me to help with something or other,
and then there was the cooking of the dinner,
and then a popping along the lane for coffee with friends,
and so the day went, and disappeared into the night,
and still the kettle remains in its blackened state,
....but at least I made a start!

And the sun, it did not shine today,
so the sunbed was left in its position on the stairs,
defending the upstairs from the rottweiller girls,
who seem to think that the cavernous upper parts of the house,
need filling with pee / poo.

But it did get an outing into the sunshine with me yesterday,
and we had a delicious roasting,
me and the sunbed,
ancient that it is,
and of a decent age that I am,
two together,
enjoying winter sun.

And so it is off to bed that I go,
with another day done,
and gosh, how 2015 is galloping by already!

Bye for now,
Lots of love,

Friday 2 January 2015

A phone call starts a mild panic.....

We were going to set to work on another sheep this morning, then I was off to sing at a funeral in the afternoon.
Then a phone call arrived, and all of a sudden the day went topsy turvy,
with Lester getting into a bit of a mental fluff about wheels and trolleys,
and me getting in a state of mental stupor because in my head was a plan for the day,
and now the plan had gone all haywire.
Re: The Rayburn:
The very same Rayburn which has been sitting in the hallway for over a year now,
the plan being to have it running for hot water, cooking, and heating for this winter,
but it looking like it was going to be next winter now.
Not to worry, we are managing,
electricity for hot water,
Smeggy for cooking,
and no heating.
So, as I was saying,
another day of harvesting the sheep was planned,
and then the phone call arrived:
Monday. Rayburn Day!!!!
Crikey, but it is surprising how quickly one can go into panic mode.
1) How is the Rayburn to be shifted from here to there, it weighing a ton.
Easy: make a trolley. Already got the wheels, got the wood, might have the screws, not sure.....
And so how then would we get the Rayburn on and off the trolley.
Ah, no probs. Four strong men should do it.
And so where would those four men be found?
Ah, not sure. Will think more on that one.
2) The Rayburn is supposed to be going on a plinth.
Easy: had one done in mega strong concrete.
But then we changed our minds about where the Rayburn was going to go,
so the plinth was unmade,
and a new one never done.
Now time has run out, and I have vetoed Lester's thoughts about making a plinth out of wood,
seeing as how the Rayburn burns wood,
but best to have that wood burning in the proper furnace of the Rayburn rather than underneath it, this is what I thought.
So upon measuring my old calor gas cooker, the Rayburn was found not to be excessively low, although in comparison to Smegs it is ten centimetres shorter,
but then Smeg is quite a tall beast,
so I think that the Rayburn's height will be alright.
Anyway, I think I shall be using Smeggy and Rayburn differently,
so the heights should not be a problem,
they do not stand side by side anyway.
So it was all systems go to make the trolley,
but when lunch was mentioned by Himself I could find no plan in my head as to what to cook,
so off we went to a local eatery,
and then on to do some much needed shopping,
then back home to screw the wheels on the trolley,
by which time I had missed the start time of the funeral,
so I lit a candle and quietly joined in with the funeral remotely,
sending blessings of love and light to all concerned,
including the newly departed.
Then off out to do a short spell of bramble control,
romp the dogs round the field,
make a fuss of Lester who had jabbed his eye with something in the hay,
(not sure what),
observe the general mayhem in the kitchen (larder end and proper kitchen end)
and decide that all would wait until tomorrow,
then into the dining room in which is kept a huge pile of stuff,
all of which needs to be shifted into some sort of order,
because, hopefully, the Rayburn will be making its way,
on a trolley,
through the dining room
 and into the kitchen
 on Monday.
I have sorted out a sort of cooking area for myself around Smegs....
The green shelving to the side of Smeggy is an old bookcase,
destined for the tip before I caught Lester just about to put it into the trailer.
I have made an extra shelf in it by 'borrowing' a plank of wood,
and resting it on some jam jars.
The wire tray holding the saucepan lids is a 'borrowed' basket from our freezer.
We brought the dresser with us from the UK,
where it once stood perfect, polished, and full of ornamental plates, ornaments, and pot plants.
Now it is battle scarred from all its experiences since we arrived here,
and is now full of sensible kitchen requirement.
The ornamental plates, ornaments, and pot plants are all long gone,
but it has somehow survived.
I must now away to my bed to have a warm up,
my toes and knees are now feeling quite numb with cold,
not to mention a streak of ice along my back,
so leaving you with a view from the kitchen window,
I bid you a fond (temporary until the next blog) farewell!

Thursday 1 January 2015

The merging of the days......

So we've done Christmas,
but in a low key manner with even Christmas dinner not happening.
I had intended to cook make the effort and cook a simple roast,
but was instructed by Lester to not bother,
that it was more better to spend the time outside in the sunshine,
than being stuck inside cooking.
So we had savoury rice and chicken.
followed by fruit and custard'
followed by a binge of chocolate (well it was Christmas!)

We are now locked into the routine of harvesting the animals,
with three piglets now in the freezer,
and one sheep.
One more sheep is lying on the freezer waiting to be made into smaller portions,
the rest are still on the hoof outside in their paddock.
It is not our most favourite work on the farm,
but has to be done.
C'est la vie.

Smeggy, the new range cooker,
what a joy she is proving to be,

..... first batch of scones.....

....... first cake......

..... first batch of bread

Scones: cooked fast, no burnt bottom (old cooker used to singe things with ease)
Cakes: Smeggy does not seem to like greaseproof paper, and will gleefully burn any sugar put on top of the cake. (old cooker used to do a nice crisp sugary topping, but would still enjoy singeing the bottom of the cake.
Bread: Cooked fast again. Had to take the loafs out of their tins to finish cooking so the bottoms of the loaves got properly cooked.

She is a glorious lady, is Smeggy.

.... and Lester marking the date on a jar of milk in the temporary kitchen.

I still do not have a sink in the proper kitchen,
but feel blessed that I do have a dishwasher to help,
and I do have a temporary table and we moved the dresser back into the kitchen 
so I do have some space to puts things on.
And in the temporary kitchen we do our grot work,
such as joint up carcasses,
cook pots of pig food, dog food, etc...
in other words,
all the messy work in done down in this space, 
which now becomes the larder and food prep area.

It is with some relief that I can now use the proper kitchen,
that I have a tiled floor underfoot which I can keep clean,
that I can do my messy work in the larder/ prep area,
and have a clean and tidy kitchen to cook in.
I am not bothered about posh kitchen units, and shall fill up the rest of the kitchen as and when,
feel blessed that I have what I have.....

No news on the Rayburn front.
Not to worry,
down to minus 5 the last two nights,
so the house is cold,
but we became conditioned to the cold when we lived in the caravan for three years,
so we don't bother switching on the fan heaters,
we just put on more clothes!


It is now the first day of the new year.
We are going to have a slow day,
well as slow as any day can be on a smallholding.
Lester has said that he is going to tuck himself in with a book after he has done farm chores,
and that he might do that in the toasty warmth of our electric blanketed bed.
I said that I might do some sewing,
and mentioned that perhaps we shall put the electric fire on as a treat.
Maybe we will, maybe we won't,
because by the time the chores are done,
the sun will be out,
and yesterday afternoon I spent a glorious hour outside on my sun lounger,
drinking in the warmth of the sun,
and then it was as a switch had been turned off,
and suddenly it was as chilly as the insides of our freezers.
But it was not a shorts and t-shirt sunbathe,
I was still in my boots, knitted socks, Lester's thermal longjohns, ever so sensible knickers, Lester's thermal vest, a thick cotton long sleeved top, another one over the top of that, a fleece jumper, a long knitted cardigan, a fleece body warmer, a long knitted scarf, and fingerless gloves.
Well I did say that we are floating around the minus temperatures!

We have had a good year.
2014 was full of ups and downs, as per usual,
after all, what would life be everything stayed the same,
but most of all, it was the first full year of Lester being able to devote his time and energy to the house and farm after spending our first six years here chained to his computer.
It was hard at first getting used to having him take over so many of my farm jobs,
which took me away from the smallholding, and put me squarely indoors, mostly in the kitchen.
This I found challenging.
Lester was challenged by the physical work of running a farm, having been used to sitting at his computer all day.
We were challenged as a couple because we were in each others company most of the time,
and the delight of being able to have meals out,
of going shopping together,
of spending time together,
of learning a lot of new things about each other,
that is what 2014 gave to us a couple, which made those challenges not really challenges at all, rather they were adjustments.

I have been yabbering for ages on this post, so had better stop.
Well done if you have managed to get this far in my ramblings,
but, ummm, just to say that the sheep we put into the freezer last night,
that one of her legs weighed in at 4.3 kgs.
And that we have decided not to sell or give away any more of our animals,
and will explain why this is in another post.

Wishing you lots of adventures during 2015,
which will stretch you,
inspire you,
and make your heart sing.

Whatever it is that you have been putting off, go do it.