Thursday 24 December 2015

Just a quickie.....

Just to say:
That I wish all my blogging friends a lovely Christmas,
which is full of food and contentment,
...... that everyone stays in good humour,
even if stuffed full of food,
so much so that one's tummy feels stretched to the limit,
.......and good wine,
sufficient to bring a bloom to the cheeks,
and a tiny totter of the feet.
With all best wishes for a good festive season,
that is what I wanted to say.

Monday 21 December 2015

Rolling the hay, and the Pulley Maid

I am all out of puff,
and have a shakiness within the body which had to have some chocolate and a cup of coffee to be made well again.
What have I been doing?
Rolling hay bales about, that's what.
Not little knee sized bales,
but stonking big things, dropped off a few days ago by a local farmer friend,
and left out on the drive, but they needed to be got under cover because hay is like a dry sponge when there is the merest hint of wetness about, and will sop up that wetness, whether it comes from the ground or the sky, and soon become a rotting mess which none of the animals can eat.
with much heaving, cussing, smiles, jollity, yells, and with many "For crikey's sake, Vera, PUSH!!" from Lester,
we have got four of the five bales under cover.

The tractor was useless because the bales were too heavy for it to lift them,
its wheels kept skidding, it kept tearing the bindings of the bales,
and a couple of times it threatened to topple over.
I knew the feeling,
I, too, felt like toppling over several times,
and I knew when I had had enough because I started fantasizing about drinking a steaming mug of  sugary coffee loaded down with our cream, and having a nibble at a couple of chocolates 'borrowed' from out of a posh box of choccies which was supposed to be donated to a friend for Christmas.
And this was only after having help shift the first bale.

Another sunny day here, and the long stretch of warm weather continues.
The temperatures are averaging between 15C and 20C, and look set to continue for a while.
Meanwhile, back indoors.....
This is a Pulley Maid.
It arrived in the post yesterday,
and within an hour Lester had it fixed to the ceiling,
and voila.....
..... within a further hour I had brought the washing in from outside and gave the Pulley Maid a test
Now perhaps you would not like airing your clothes in the middle of the kitchen,
and I must admit to wondering if it was going to clutter the place up,
but no, it has not,
instead it has given the kitchen a farmhouse cosiness.
Our kitchen is coming along.
It has no matching units,
nor has it ever so long counter tops,
instead it is becoming a place all of its own self.
I still have lots of sorting out to do,
but I am at last getting a home which is not full of packing boxes and general muddle.
Coffee and choccies have done the trick,
so I must away and do something outside in the sunshine,
perhaps cut brambles,
cut down some hedging,
prep the herb garden for next year,
weed the veg plot,
um, well, no, that can all wait,
I am going to sit and spin,
or knit,
or just watch the chickens get up their normal mischief.
Bye for now,

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Sharing our spot on the planet.....

.....and here is our little homestead,
looking across to it from the woodland beside the river.
I was supposed to be gathering twigs and bits of branches,
requested by Lester to do so because we now have a fire to get lit every day,
so need kindling.
The Rayburn is doing well,
although the wood pile, which looked so very big a few weeks ago,
seems to be shrinking alarmingly fast.
Anyway, out in the sunshine I went, full of energy to go gather some bits of wood,
but I didn't because I was foolish enough to take my camera,
so I went sight seeing around our place instead.

---- and turning slightly left of my view of the house,
...... and slightly left again....

...and left again after having walked a little way towards the end of our property,
with the Pyrenees showing themselves a little bit.
And here is an odd thing...
although we have had weeks and weeks of sunshine, something is brewing up in the skies,
because there is a strange sort of cloud system starting to build up every day.
It is ominous in the stealth with which it is happening,
and I don't suppose many people are taking notice of it,
but something is definitely brewing,
of that I am sure.
I think that when this lovely weather finally breaks it is going to do so with a grand flourish of weatherly temper,
which most surely must match my temper as I continue to try and make cheese.
Oh sorry, got off topic there,
but just to say that me and cheese making are not happy bed fellows at the moment.
Meanwhile, back outside....
and on out into the side field to walk the dogs,
night is falling,
the mists gather,
it is magic,
makes me think of olden days,
of knight in armour and damsels in long pretty frocks,
waiting to be rescued,
or something....
Dog walk done,....
Bye for now,

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Still burning, and a hole is done with.

We are still burning our way through the huge pile of rotting wood,
several days ago the heap was almost as high as the wall and stretched the length of the wall as well.
The heap was began in 2008,
It is making a grand exit by way of the ongoing bonfire.
I am starting to get fascinated by the making of fire.
Yesterday I was too enthusiastic when trying to pick up a plank which I had not managed to throw right into the heart of the fire,
crikey but it was hot close in,
hot enough for me to back away tout suite as I felt my face starting to take on a glow.
Not to worry, I remain un- singed......just about.

The other side of the courtyard wall...
and another ongoing job is now finished......
and a big hole was dug and lined so we could eventually have a fish pond in the courtyard.
We thought that it would look pretty, and that it would be nice to sit and dangle our toes and fingers into the water on a hot summer day.
The pond was to be about the length and width of this caravan,
which is the one we used for cooking and eating in between 2009 and 2011...
Once the caravan was given away....that is when we hit upon the idea of making a pond, and the hole was dug and lined. And so it remained....neglected and unfinished.

But our thoughts changed about the pond as we realised that it would be a breeding ground for flying insects, and that no, we would not be able to sit beside the still water and dangle bits of ourselves into its calm depths because we would be bitten to pieces.
.....and so the Pond Project died a death,
and the hole became filled with tangles of old fencing wire.
It did not look very nice, but then the courtyard was always a mess anyway because of the amount of building work which was going on from time to time.
But now.....
...a flat, clear, space, and a determination to keep it clear, because I am now looking forward to planting out that space.
It will be so nice to come out of our front door and see flowers rather than piles of sand, bricks, wood and other stuff, because we are going to continue getting the place tidied up.
And I might even buy myself a sunbed next year so I can loll about in the sun when I have a few minutes to spare.
this gang  will soon be moving into their new accommodation:

No longer will they be sharing the courtyard with us,
because the Chicken / Geese Project is on the move, and I shall tell you how far we have got in another post.
Off to have a ride on my bike,
but not outside on the lanes where I might get chilled as I cycle,
no, I am going for a ride on my indoor bike,
which is a stationary bike so I shall not get into any mischief,
although I did fall off it a while ago,
not sure how I did that,
 but all of a sudden I found myself, still in the saddle and still with my feet on the pedals,
taking a topple sideways.
The bike came too.
But the dogs made a slurpy fuss of me as I lay winded on the floor,
waiting to see what injury I had done myself,
which was actually nil,
which was a surprise because the bike is quite high in the saddle.
Anyway, off I go.....
Bye for now,

Wednesday 2 December 2015

My chair, the wheel, pips, and Boolie's lump.

This is my chair.
It is normally parked by the front door so I can sit outside on the front doorstep and take in a few rays of sunshine when I get a few minutes break from indoor tasks.
But today my chair is not parked anywhere near the front door,
it is parked up here.....

......... out back, 
ready to be sat upon when the task of moment becomes too much for one's bod,
the task being to haul rotten lumps of wood from the decaying wood pile by the back gates,
plus sundry other bits of wood like rotting pallets, etc, left by recent renovation work, 
The sun is shining,
it is a good day to do such work.
It is also a good day to sit and have a rest when one gets out of puff,
which I must say, was done frequently. 

And of course one had to watch the fire in case it got out of hand.

Now the thought might have arisen in you mind as to why we were burning wood when we now have a wood burning stove to feed.
Well, the big wood pile was made up the wood which came from the house six years ago.
Instead of burning it at the time we kept it for when we got a stove installed.
It took much longer than we thought.
The wood therefore rotted.
We need the space where the wood pile sits,
plus it is a wonderful place for rats to inhabit so they need to be evicted,
but I don't think that chickens are going to agree with the removal of the wood,
because they use the heap to climb up on so they can hop over the wall into the courtyard when the gates are shut.
Not to worry, soon they shall be having another place to live because the Chicken Project is on the move, but I shall write about what is happening with this project another day.

....and Lester attending to the needs of Bonny and Lissie.

..... and later on that day he was fiddling about with the box on the cheese fridge,

setting the temperature because I had made this.....

...a Monterey Jack cheese.
It does not look all perfectly round and smooth like professionally made cheese does,
But it is DIY cheese, so therefore carries a distinctly artisanal look!
I think this might turn out quite a crumbly cheese though because the curds did not seem to knit together very well, hence the lumpy look. 
Not to worry,
It certainly smells cheesey,

........... and a glorious messiness as I slathered melted DIY lard all over the cheese wheel, then covered it with cheesecloth which was also soaked in melted lard.
I thought that I had too much lard in the freezer,
so did not make any more from the recent pig we slaughtered,
instead we donated the fat to the chickens and wild birds.
After seeing how much lard I used to cover this cheese,
I think I should have recycled that fat into lard.
Ah well, live and learn!

The wheel now covered. 
I hope that the fact that the cheesecloth was still damp before it was soaked in lard does not hurt the maturation process of the cheese,
still, as I say, 'live and learn'!

And the cheese now in the cheese fridge,
with bowls of water either side to help keep the humidity up to 90%

Now all we need to do is to purchase a small fan to keep the air circulating in the fridge, 
and whooppeee! The Cheese Project takes another step forward.

And other bit of messiness...

My three freezers are absolutely full to the brim,
and I had a cockerel to find space for,
and then I found a bag of blackberries I had picked last July,
which were destined to linger in the freezer forever  because of the pips which get between our teeth,
the picking out of these pips spoiling the eating of the fruit itself.
A thought popped up into my head.....
I do not drink enough water,
so why not cook the blackberries up to make a juice drink,
So I did.
To remove the pips I put the slush into a sieve,
which promptly blocked up,
so, oh bother, don't have the time to stir the slush around,
upended the sieve and put all into a bowl,
put a few spoonfuls of slush into a glass,
topped with water,
and down into my tummy it went.
I don't know why I can drink lots of water laced with juice, but not water on its own.
I used to buy supermarket juices to help solve this problem,
but don't any more because of the additives which get put into commercially produced fruit juice.
I do not even trust the Bio brands.
But I now have a DIY juice drink. 
As for the blackberry pips,
well they just slip on down and through my system just fine,
with no stopping to stick in the gaps between my teeth,
however,,,,,and may I be so bold as to share this with you
....... my food transit system seems to have perked up resulting in a very healthy and fulsome trip to the loo this morning.
Which is good.

Our Springer Spaniel.
He has a tumour on his ear.
It is an inoperable tumour.
The vet said so. 
He was a very kind vet and said that since Bools was fifteen years old it would be kinder not to put him through medical procedures which would possibly cause him more physical and mental suffering.
So we are letting nature take its course.
Bools himself is still full of spaniel spirit,
and is in no pain. 
But I feel pained inside as I watch that tumour growing,
and sometimes I want to get a vet to fix it,
but most times I have the strength to let things be.
Should he feel in pain,
then we shall act,
meanwhile we keep blessing the days that we still have him.
and try to be patient with the hurt we feel inside as we watch his time clock of life ticking away.