Monthly Archives: December 2010

A visit back to my 2010 resolutions, and forward to 2011’s

I’ve done well with my resolutions/aims for 2010, even if I do say so myself, being now at the end of the year able to cross each one off the list that I made at the beginning of the year, all those months ago;

Visit the Eden Project – Last year I finally visited the Centre for Alternative Technology, the Eden Project is also on my list of places to visit so this shall be the year. I visited the Eden Project at the end of September and loved it. It just has a ‘feel’ about the place that is exciting and inspiring, I would have been more than happy to just sit around soaking it up all day.

The Eden Project - September 2010

The Eden Project - September 2010

Make my own cheese cake Cheese cake is my favourite so it really is silly that I have never made my own. Done, a few times now, and very yummy it was too. I am going to have to try making lemon cheesecake soon

Cut down the amount of needless “stuff” I own and accumulate –  I will carry on with the declutter already started and get better at not buying things on a whim. I will set up a wish list for birthdays and Christmas. I will use the library instead of buying books. I will continue using the Mooncup I have and give homemade shampoo a try again. I can’t really say that is done as it seems to be one of those forever ongoing jobs and I possibly could have done more but after reading Living the Goodlife I am inspired to keep going and to be aware of what I am accumulating. I’m getting very good at asking myself if whatever is in my hand is really something I need or if the ‘happiness value’ is really worth it when I am out shopping.

Grow more of my own food – I need to eat more leafy greens and the fresher they are the better for me they will be so I will make sure I grow more kale and look for some more recipes to use it in. By mid-April I will like to have the allotments plots ready for full use, and fill the space up with crops. Well I didn’t manage to get the whole two allotment plots up and running but one and a half which isn’t bad. This is another on going one I think, and next year I will have two allotment plots, a garden and a patio area to play with!

Potato flower - 16th of July 2010

Potato flower - 16th of July 2010

Stay in contact with friends – I know this is something I am very bad at, when I have time off work I like being at home doing my own thing and it often seems like to much effort to go out and visit people but I have some very good friends, who luckily understand I am a little odd and more of a loner than most other people my age, and I will make more of an effort to see them. Another ongoing one but something I have enjoyed doing

A few of my plans for next year are;

Finish two knitting projects – This year I finished my first ever knitting project, although I started countless things but for one reason or another, mostly forgetting what I had done or realising I’d made a mistake about ten rows after I’d made it. This year I would like to finish two knitting projects

Make my own Tofu (even if it has to be with bought in Soya Beans) – I have never really had Tofu before but it was one of the things that they made in Living the Goodlife and I have a packet of Soya Beans to try growing this year so am going to try making some myself

Make a carrot cake, using home-grown carrots – explains itself really

Save my own seed – I have saved a few seeds this year but not done so in the way that you ‘meant’ to

Furnish the new house with other people’s ‘rubbish’ (with the exception of a washing machine – I’ve already made a start on this, so far we have a sofa bed, table and chairs, some single beds for the share room, kitcheny things and I’m sure that we can make up a home without have to buy things new and save a few things from landfill as we go (I will post more about this soon)

I’m sure I will do so much more in 2011 than is on this list, this New Year is going to start a whole new chapter of my life!

Beanie babies for sale

Jelly bean babies

Jelly bean babies

I have decided to readvertise the beanie babies, I had promised them to someone but they are not sure when they might be able to have them and with me moving I think it is for the best to find them a new home somewhere they can go to soon so as I can put the time that I am going to have for my goats into the ones I am going to keep instead of spreading myself to thinly. They are also bullying Lilah, who doesn’t find it easy to eat anyway because of some missing teeth, so it will make looking after her easier if they are not here as well.

I do feel a little bit bad about not being able to keep them on like I had promised but things have changed since I said I would and so it is something I think I have to do for me and the other goats.

They have been put in kid to Knightshade and will be due to kid from mid-March. They will make someone a lovely set of milkers but must stay together as they have always lived together and are very close.

If you are looking for some goats, or know someone who is, please email me alifelesssimple @ yahoo.co.uk

Garlic – a project for 2011

I think I have maybe gone overboard with my garlic buying this year. After reading up on what varieties I decided that ‘Iberian Wight’ sounds like it is most likely to do best at the allotment, but after taking the time to read up on the subject could I find anywhere that sold them  locally, in short no. So I widen my search to online but still failed to find somewhere that didn’t charge an arm and a leg for a few bulbs and then postage on top. Not for the first few weeks of looking any way, then I came across a website that not only had them in stock but at, what I consider, a very fair price. Success!

This was shortly after the seed saving talk that I went to and so my head was full of never buying seeds again, and why not apply the same to garlic bulbs? So I added five bulbs to my shopping basket and headed for the ‘check out’, with only a slight detour via the mushroom growing kits. These five bulbs were to join the nine cloves of locally grown Elephant Garlic that I already had. All adding up to a reasonable amount of garlic to grow next year.

Then came an email just one day after I placing my order that tipped the balance from a ‘reasonable amount of garlic’ to ‘where am I going to grown all this, but it’ll be fine really. And we do like garlic…” a free £10 voucher for Thompson and Morgan and so I bought two* bulbs of ‘Wight Cristo’, which is described as “English production of pure white bulbs with an elegant bouquet, ideal for a wide range of dishes. Long keeping bulbs” and two* bulbs of ‘Early Purple Wight’, which seems to be the garlic that is sold in supermarkets so much be alright-ish. 

(*This was just the amount that they were sold in, if they had sold individual bulbs I would have just bought one of each)

One of my firm growing plans for 2011 are to grow things following the biodynamic calendar, but I also love tradition folklore and have grown-up knowing that you “plant garlic on the shortest date, to harvest on the longest day”.

And it is this that has set me up with a project for 2011 as this years shortest day fell on a biodynamic flower planting day, not a root planting day. I have already planted one bulb of ‘Iberian Wight’ on the 21st of December, e.g. the shortest day, I will plant one bulb tomorrow (29th December), which is a biodynamic root day, and then one bulb on the day after (30th December), which is another flower day but not the shortest day.

I have bought a pack of flower pots so as they will all be started off in the same sized pots and using the same bag of compost, as the ground outside was frozen with about two inches of snow on top on the 21st, which only leaves when to plant them out on the allotment to decide.

The rest of the garlic I will plant on a root day, most likely tomorrow.

Growing up and moving on

The last week or so has been a bit of a rollercoaster and I haven’t known whether I’ve been coming or going really, I have been moody, sad and very, very excited with a little bit of stressed mix in for good measure.

Firstly middles died, which was different in an odd way to if she had been something else. I know about lambs or goat kids dying, I know that sometimes they are born to weak to make it and you sort of get a second sence and just know it somehow, you still try your best and do all you can to keep them going and ask could I have done more or something different. I know lambs and goat kids, I know how they should be but I don’t know kittens in the same way. I have read up on what you should do but it is not the same and still felt like guess work bringing them up and so I just don’t know if I would have spotted something, or done something differently if I had had more experience and grown up with kittens the same way as I have grown up with sheep and goats.  

Snowy tree - 23rd December 2010

Snowy tree - 23rd December 2010

Then there has been all the snow this week; which has more or less been something and nothing. It has meant more work in some ways, middle-young-sister has not been able to make it home until today, Rhys has worked from home a few times when he got sent home because of the snow but we seem to have been a lot better set up for it this year than others and so there hasn’t been any walking for miles to get to anyone with their dinner or anything like that.

And then there has been the excitement, the supressed excitement (incase full-blown shouting it excitement meant it didn’t happen) and the stress of sorting out and return all the paper work, with no working printer might I add, and then the waiting for the checks to go through…

Until me and Rhys collected the keys to our new house yesterday morning!!!! 

My new house - 23rd December 2010

My new house - 23rd December 2010

We shall be starting 2011 together in our own, three bedroom with a lovely kitchen, utility room AND gardens front and back, house two villages over. It is going to be a big change, but a positive one and I am very much looking forward to running my own home and hopefully setting it up in as ‘green’ a way as possible.

My garden - 23rd December 2010

My garden - 23rd December 2010

snow

We seem to have escaped the worst of the bad weather so far, we’ve had some snow, some ice and coldness but nothing to write home about until mid-day today when on cue about three inches came down in not much longer than half an hour.

Stressful? Not one little bit. All the rounds were done well before the snow arrived, we’ve a big pile of fodder beat, bins full of grain and the second part of a big hay delivery arrived yesterday and we have a 4×4! It is not the greenest of cars but we so need it; today I even enjoyed being out in the snow kicking my way through the falling snow knowing that getting out wasn’t going to be a problem. 

Things are very exciting right now, but I don’t want to share until the Is are dotted and the Ts are crossed incase it jinxs it

RIP Little Middles

Middles died on Friday.

Last Sunday she was off her food and when we did manage to get her to eat something on Monday was sick almost straight away so we took her to our vets first thing on Tuesday. They put her on a drip and kept her in to try to find out what was wrong. On Wednesday they got her to eat and it sounded like she might be coming home but she was sick again later.

Middles at about two months old, with Baggie - August 2010

Middles at about two months old, with Baggie - August 2010

On Thursday she was given some special beads so as they could track them by x-ray through her system, which confirmed some sort of blockage stopping food passing any further and so on Friday morning they operated to remove whatever was causing the blockage.

The kittens first meal - 1st August 2010

The kittens first meal - 1st August 2010

They found she had intercuception (not sure about the spelling) which is where the stomach or intestines fold in on themselves and carry on folding in on themselves when food is taken through the digestive system until causing a blockage.

The operation was a success and they removed the effected part of her intestines but she died as she was coming round from the anesthetic.

To hatch or not to hatch?

I am thinking about getting some quail eggs for hatching again.

I do enjoy having quail and enjoy the whole selecting a nice looking egg seller and haggling over the price to get myself a bargain, setting up and turning on the incubator in readiness, then waiting for the postman to deliver my carefully wrapped package, running final checks on the incubator before marking and carefully placing each egg inside, the heart stopping moments if the temperature changes and holding my breath to hear half-heard or imagined cheeps before hatching finally takes place.

Then the childish excitement when hatching time arrives; waiting for each egg to show signs of hatching, is that a little chip in the shell I see?  Will this chick be strong enough to make it from its shell? Should I help it?  Is that another chick I can hear?  Is it coming from the incubator or the brooder?  Will lifting the lid to take a peek again be too many times today?

Then later comes the guessing game of who is male and who is female, the surprise of the first long-awaited egg and that lovely summers day, jungly call they make to each other.

Now for the but (and where my ‘sensible head’ takes over)… I no longer have an indoor, as in in-the-house, space where I could keep them with enough light and warmth to keep them laying through the winter months, I also do not have the type of housing I would ideally like to keep them in and their lovely little eggs so often go to waste.

I know all of my ‘sensible head’ thoughts can be over come with some planning and commitment… But I do sometimes, and more often in the winter than the summer, feel over committed and sometimes a little tied down by my animals.

I wouldn’t change what I have for a second, I couldn’t stand the boredom or loneliness, the loss of identity and, well… I know it wouldn’t last long at all. None of that changes the fact that it would be much easier to fly the nest and start building my own home if I wasn’t committed but committed is just what happily I am.

 So to hatch or not to hatch still remains the question?

Snow – the start of another cold winter?

We have also had snow but gladly it has not felt like such hard work this time.

This mornings bright start - 5th December 2010

This mornings bright start - 5th December 2010

We now have one 4×4 vehicle and our feed and hay deliveries have still made it through to us.

Making the most of the corn whilsh the other hens waited by their pop hold to be re-opened after cleaning out their house - 5th December 2010

Making the most of the corn whilst the other hens waited by their pop hole to be re-opened after cleaning out their house - 5th December 2010

The animals have not been impressed and on the coldest days I have kept the chickens in.

Friday night we had our thickest fall of snow, about 2 inches in a few hours but it was wetter than the other snow we had have had and so was only really a problem when driving through it and when it froze the next evening.

Today has been the warmest and a lot of the snow has gone but any snow that is left has turned into glassy looking ice under foot and on less used roads.