Monthly Archives: December 2009

30th December 2009

Sheep in the snow - some time between Christmas and New Year

Even more snow yesterday, loads of it. It was expected and had been forecast that by 9am yesterday morning we would have about 4″ of it so that  the rain that we woke up to and continued all morning was not what we were expecting. The rain did a good job, it cleared all the last little corners of frostie snow and then carried on for a few more hours, soaking everything. Then it turned to sleet then snow which just carried on but didn’t settle as everything was so wet.

Until about 3pm when everything turned white, Rhys was sent home from work as they closed because of the amount of snow falling and now settling. We made a rushed visit to the donkeys, topping up their hay, whilst others went out to top up on people supplies, coal and toilet roll.

Facing up the valley from the donkeys field, the snow doesn't settle as much here because the river is so close - sometime between Christmas and New Year

On the way back from the donkeys we tried carrying on to collect Rhys from the bus, to find that we couldn’t carry on up the hill. We slide back down the hill to home. Calls were made to others “come home now or you won’t get home, anything you haven’t got we can live without” and then I sat on hold to the bus company to see if in fact Rhys was able to get home. Not that there was anything I could do if there buses weren’t running.

Luckly the bus got him within about four miles of the village and onto the road where he was collected by the others on their way back home.

I’ve got a cold, so after everything was done I curled up with lots of blankets and started knitting up the wool I spun. I’m still not really sure what to make from it, I’ve seem a hat design that I like and I thought I could make something similar (I don’t have circular needles big enough to make the same) and maybe some mitten type things to go with it? But then this morning I started thinking maybe I should just knit the whole lot into a scarf. Any way after casting on and knitting two rows I broke the nice wooden needles that I was using so I don’t have to make up my mind right now as I can’t carry on with it until I have some more.

28th December 2009

Cows eating hay - Christmas Eve 2009

Well, that is Christmas over with for another year, and it passed in an unremarkable but pleasant way. The snow and ice stayed around to make it a white Christmas day but then cleared on Boxing Day to give a few days rest before the four to eight inches of snow that is forecast to fall tomorrow morning reaches us. The week between Christmas and New Year feels a little like limb and seems to last longer than it really is.

Donkeys eating hay – Christmas Eve 2009

On Boxing Day I got up to find that we had had a fox attack during the night, some left dead, two injured and others fine still in their house. Unfortunately I think it was my fault as the door wasn’t done up properly. The two injured ones are in the house by the stove and doing ok.

 Other than the fox attack it has all been quite, I got some lovely presents including a jacket and a woven scarf or wrap. I got my new camera but they sent the wrong model, the one up from the one that was ordered, but it doesn’t record sound so it is going back.

Winter Solstice

The lane back from the cows field - 20th December 2009

 

It snowed during the night on Thursday, when I collected Rhys from work the gritting lorries were out in force along the main roads and by midnight the un-gritted side roads and lanes were cover in a thin dusting of snow.  

The road in and out of the village hardly ever gets gritted, and only ever gets ploughed if the JCB business that are in the village have a delivery. By morning the light dusting of snow had been compacted and made the road very slippery in places. Me and mother went out early to drop Rhys at work and then collect extra hay and straw and visit all the animals in fields. 

We didn’t get back from our rounds until mid-morning and by mid-afternoon the road in and out of the village wasn’t passable as the snow was partly frozen and very compacted. Rhys caught the bus to the next village home and walked back, and then walked into the next village to caught the bus into work this morning. 

Over night more snow fall but for some reason we had a gritter come up the road just before lunch and so were able to get out of the village to visit everyone in fields and top-up their hay again. If we know that there is going to be a cold spell or snow we leave extra hay and have friends near the field that can go and check them and top hay up if we can’t get out of the village, but it is always best if we can go and check them. 

I booked the day off work today, I had planned to spend the winter Solstice planting out garlic, plant on the shortest day to harvest on the longest day, but the ground is frozen. My back-up plan was to spend some of the day spinning or knitting, or possibly even mending my gloves, and watching TV while eating yummy things but I only got round to the watching TV and eating yummy things parts after all the animal and outside jobs had been done.

Christmas shopping

It snowed again whilst I was out Christmas shopping yesterday, when I arrived in town it was coming down quickly and settling and I was worried that I would have to leave to get home safely but it didn’t come to anything and as I left town there was just a light sparking in the corners that we left undisturbed, which could just as likely been the remains of a hard frost as snow.

I’m pleased with my Christmas shopping this year; most of it has been bought online but not from big store websites. Some have been from Folksy and others from individual websites of the people who make the items. And of course there where the presents the came from the LETS market.

What I haven’t bought from these places I have tried to get locally, even if it has just been the local supermarket. Yesterday I went to Gloucester for two presents these were both things that I couldn’t find local, or didn’t have a clue what to buy the person so needed ‘browsing’ time for ideas. I have one more present on my list and then have home-made hampers to help put together for Rhys’s family.

It would have been lovely to have made more of the presents this year, but time is never on my side and I dislike starting to think about Christmas to early as having to long a build up makes the day feel almost like a let down when it finally arrives. 

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A big change around here in the last few weeks is the Rhys has a job, he is working shifts so isn’t always off on the same days as me. He also starts work earlier than me so even on the days that I haven’t been working I have been awake earlier than normal but I am enjoying it.

For the last few mornings I have got up and spent leisurely time surfing the internet, reading blogs and discovering new ones, catching up with friends I haven’t had time to stay in contact with via email and researching this that are important to me that I never seem to have time to spend reading about.

For example, since I first watched A Farm for the Future I have wanted to find out much more about grass, a subject I doubt many people even think about let alone want to find out more about which means that the information I am looking for is buried and hidden away but I have finally started to learn more.

There are ten thousand species of grass, it makes up 25% of all plants on the planet. Rice is a type of grass, which started being cultivated for food by humans ten thousand years again, with over half of the world’s population now relying on it as a food staple. Wheat, another kind, underpinned the development of Western civilization and now covers more of the land than any other kind of plant

 This morning on the way back from dropping him of I called by at the allotment to see what was happening up there, very luckily as it would turn out as one of the nets had come off the kale and the rabbits had eaten half of it, stems and all, right down to the ground. I pulled the net that was on them back over and then added an extra one, which I had to unfreeze from its spot on the ground, for extra protection.

Clouds with pink linings

A hard frost on holly leaves - beginning of February 2009

It snowed a little yesterday afternoon, not enough to settle but it is very cold.

As soon as the snow started we went to collect extra hay and straw in case we got snowed in, as we drove the snow stopped and we studied the clouds for signs of more snow.

Snow clouds have a pinky colour to them; by the time we were driving home most of these clouds had cleared.

This morning there is frost on the ground but no sign that there has been more snow over night. It feels like mid-winter now, the sun rise was spread out low in the sky and looked like it wasn’t going to bother moving any higher.

The winter Solstice is two more mornings away now. I remembered a winter Solstice a few years ago where the sun rise just hung low in the sky like this morning’s. I have lit the stove and me and Rhys have had a breakfast of left over leek and potato soup, it would be nice to stay here all day and potter but the plan is to venture out into town to finish Christmas shopping…

New arrival

The morning after she arrived - 13th December 2009

This is Chloe, she is a two month old New Zealand Friesian. She was born two months early when her twin died causing her mother to go into toxic shock. She was rescued by a farm hand who took her home and nursed her back to health. 

Now that she has out grown their home and eaten all their grass she has come to live with us. She is very friendly, and not surprisingly likes the company of people. She is still being bottle feed but will soon be weaned.

At the moment she is living with Maud for company, but is not sure what to make of her. When she is fully grown she will be our house cow but for now she is just like a new-born teddy!

Rolling along

I worked out today that I only have eight more days of work left this year, it still doesn’t make me feel like I have anymore time for anything this month though.

I have lots I want to blog about but can’t seem to manage to put anything in to words when I sit down to do so…. 

This weekend has been spent looking after a sick hen, who was christened Henny Penny, who has gone back out in with some other hens today after she learnt to fly out of her box and onto the bed, digging out the goat pen and putting up some more fencing on one of our fields.

December LETS meeting

Tuesday was the December LETS meeting and market, and the last one of this year. I haven’t been to as many meetings as I could of this year and I’m in two minds about whether it is right for me or not. While I fully support the whole idea of LETS it some times feels like I’m just converting money into another currency that I can’t actually spend on what I need.

It was a nice meeting though, there was the Christmas cookery competition which had some really yummy sprout omelet entered in the savoury food part, sadly it didn’t win though but I think I might try making it myself one day. I managed to find five Christmas presents, or parts of presents as well.

The night before the meeting I made a load of hob-nob biscuits, I thought I might enter some of them into the competition but after getting home from work at seven o’clock I got tired and just cooked two trays of them, one to take to my staff meeting the next morning and one to leave at home to be eaten.

I got the recipe from the Creative Living Forum and have cooked them a few times over the last year or so, it is very simple and yummy;

8oz oats
8oz sr flour
8oz butter
1 tbsp syrup or honey
1tbsp hot water
1/2 tsp bicarb

melt butter, syrup water together add to dry misture mix well, make into walnut sizes, flatten bake 15-20 mins gas 4 till golden, leave on tray 1min then put onto cooling rack.

I have always used golden syrup and have never added bicarb and they still taste fine. If you forget the water then they come out a little hard though!