Thursday, 31 July 2014

Information on chimney sweeping + other stuff

Although C weeded the strawberry bed when he took the net off several weeks ago it was full of weeds again. So that was my job this morning, lots of runners cut off too and a few pegged down to root.

Our son came round for dinner last night which was handy as he helped C to move all the chickens up to the big shed at the top of the field. They've really gone off lay over the last two weeks so hopefully a nice clean shed and new grass will help them start laying again.

We sat out for a while this afternoon and I started reading a new library book. I've got to the end of all my fiction books with a week left to library van day and the only non-fiction book that I could get into was 'We can take it: Britain and the memory of the second world war'. It takes a look at how things were reported then and how they have been remembered and portrayed in films and books in the years since. A bit heavy going but a different slant on history.

I'm very honoured as Leigh from Five Acres and a Dream has just become a follower ( I enjoyed her book) and Kim is a new follower on Bloglovin' .

Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday, Jill at Loving the Frugal life asked about sweeping the chimneys.
 We have a set of draining rods that double up as chimney brushes with the addition of a screw on brush. C sweeps the living room chimney ( wood-burner) from the top down. He can stand on the flat roof of the dormer windows upstairs and from there it's only a short step up to the ridge.
I'm not keen on watching him up there! The living room chimney is a brick chimney lined with metal flue. We are always surprised at how little soot comes down into the woodburner - doors shut until it settles.
The Rayburn in the kitchen has a double lined flue pipe right up through the roof and this has to be done from the Rayburn upwards, so things close to the Rayburn are covered. Because we don't have a fire night and day -unless its Very cold - the metal flue expands and contracts which helps to loosen the soot. Most of the wood we burn is old scrap wood so no sap which is the thing which gums up flue pipes. When we do use tree wood we make sure it's several years old .
 In our 22 years here we have only ever bought wood a couple of times, right back at the beginning before we knew how much free wood there is around - just for the asking. We collect old pallets from a company in Leiston. When C worked for the council he used to get a lot that was cut down from around bridges that were being repaired, we have lots of dead elms around our boundary that we cut, branches from other trees sometimes come down in the wind. We have cleared up the wood from 2 old houses that were being demolished in nearby towns - several years ago now. When the extension was built 3 years ago there was wood from old window frames etc. Nothing is wasted.
Some years we get a bit low in our stored wood, but something normally turns up.

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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

More free winter warmth

The lorry from the skip-hire place turned up with another load of scrap wood, we weren't expecting anymore and didn't really need anymore, but when you heat your house with wood you NEVER turn free wood away.
C was in the middle of sorting out the baler so it was me who had to shift it into the shed out of the way.

No worries about being cold this winter!

With the help of a hoe to pull the branches down, we've picked off the rest of the apricots and put them in the freezer. I gave up on trying to squash everything into one deep freeze and have put the second one on. There will be pears and plums to go in a month or two and I want to go to the cheap butchery place for some chicken wings and thigh joints ASAP.

This afternoon it was more irrigation equipment moving for C and he's taken the baler back because we are not doing the barley straw for a few weeks and we've not got room under cover for it here.

I've just realised that Friday is the 1st August, where on earth has July gone?

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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

A mouse a day!

Every day for the last week we've been sitting in the living room and noticed a mouse dashing about. Every day we've managed to catch and 'dispatch' it. Every day I've moaned as Polly brings in another one and loses it under the settee, there's one around somewhere again now. I hope we can catch it before too long... ' Dear ' little cat!

 Thank you to every one for comments about pensions yesterday it seems the consensus is that it's unlikely there will be  pensions available for anyone under 40ish. Start saving now is my advice!

The Commonwealth games have been on for almost a week and |I've not mentioned them at all, although we've watched several different things. The people who do the Triathlon are amazing and this afternoon I saw some of the mens mountain biking - ouch - those rocks they ride over must do some damage!

C is back to shifting the irrigation equipment twice a day, I'm not sure how long this will last for, it depends on the weather I guess, he also cut the grass at our neighbours and got the 24 chickens who live in the small trailer shed moved up the field. We had them on a part of the field that's not big enough to get into for haymaking, but now they can go back onto the edge of the field amongst the trees. His next job will be to sort out the electric fence ready to move the other group.

I got the apricot chutney made although I'm not sure about it as it took an age to thicken up. I'll try it with a curry next time we have one. Tonight's dinner is our once a year meal.......Aubergine, pasta and cheese bake. It's once a year because it's a bit oily and Aubergines are only used here if we've grown them. Our 8 Aubergine plants in the poly tunnel grew really tall, looked very healthy, had lots of flowers BUT only a few of the flowers set. So far there have been just 5 ready. 4 smaller ones sold but one sneaked up and became huge, without me noticing it - that's the one we are eating of course because it's too big and pale to sell.

Nothing else of note to write about today
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Monday, 28 July 2014


I've just discovered a comment that was left by Lizzie on this post  asking why we don't have a pension. It's because we are not old enough yet! C will get one from the County Council eventually and we will both get the state pension although mine will be very basic. I think I  missed out on getting the state pension at age 60 because I was born 16 days too late! They keep moving the goalposts and I think I will get about £100 a week at age 66, it's a good thing I'm not relying on it. We know that we  won't be able to live here on our smallholding once we are unable to manage the upkeep, so that will be the time to drastically downsize and then we will have some money to live on.
The County council gave lots of people the option of early retirement a few years back but C was  3 years too young so when he stopped working  we lost his income - hence the self employment using the smallholding and doing odd jobs.

We have different weather here today, some rain, although not enough to do any good and several degrees cooler than last week.
C was out this morning as he got a call to move the irrigation equipment on the onion fields down the road in Friston. He got home with just time for a coffee before going to get oil filters from the car parts place ready for preparing the jeep for it's MOT. and then onto a doctors appointment and errands to do in Leiston.
I got on with bread baking, ironing, housework and probably the very last picking of the summer raspberries.
This afternoon stayed damp and very grey after all the sunshine recently.

We are having a quiet few days on the campsite, which means the loos and shower don't need so much cleaning. Things pick up once we get into August and then we are full up for the following weekend probably because of Aldeburgh carnival. After that we go very quiet again which is unusual. A lot of retired people seem to avoid holidaying during the school summer break but not everywhere is busy.

I've brought in some jam jars for cleaning this afternoon ready for making apricot chutney tomorrow. I'm going to use a recipe that's normally for Mangoes but I think apricots will work well and make a nice fruity chutney to go with curry.

There's an interesting sounding programme on tonight at 8pm on Channel 4. It's looking at the secrets of Aldi and Lidl's success  and how the Big 4 supermarkets are fighting back.
We have heard rumours of an Aldi or Lidl coming to Leiston but I think it's unlikely as the catchment area probably isn't big enough - one of the problems of living on the coast. They would be popular with me if they did as we can't do the 50 mile round trip to Ipswich very often.

Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday.
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Sunday, 27 July 2014

Restraint at the boot sale.

After my post last Sunday with" rules to avoid having to do a carboot sale" . I had to be very good at todays visit up the road. I resisted some craft and card making paper packs quite easily as they were new prices of £5.99 a pack. I picked up and put down some notelets and Christmas cards - have enough at home already and walked past all the plants this week - and there were hundreds for sale.
So what I bought were all very useful things
 A pair of linen shorts were £1, the pie plate, colander and bun cases were 50p each and the biggest bargain was the giant roll of Lakeland cling film for £2 ( it's usually £10.99). I try to avoid using cling film as much as possible and usually store things in boxes or bowls with a plate over the top when I put them in the fridge. But sometimes cling film can be handy and I use these giant rolls in a cutter box so have one in the cupboard already. Now I have many, many years supply!

We had a hot and airless night here last night and I realised what it's been like for everyone further inland over the past week, it should be cooler after today I think.
After a restless night and  yesterdays bale shifting we had a quieter day today and just got the onions up and put to dry in the  greenhouse. Some look OK and will probably store but the ones that had gone black and mouldy all down the  stems, also had no roots - or rather the roots had rotted away. We've kept these separate to use straight away. We've been selling a couple of bunches of onions everyday and have easily covered the cost of the sets and made a good profit. We will carry on selling some in case they don't store well.

Now the hay is cut we can get the youngest batch of 60 chickens back onto the field in the big shed. They've gone off lay a bit, there may well be some red mite on the perches so it will be good to move them into a clean building and onto some fresh grass.

Thank you to everyone for comments about the hay making, I'm not really very fit but can shift a few bales although I can't lift them very high so am not much help getting them up onto the trailer. What is wonderful is that C is so fit and well, this time last year he could barely lift a bale and we had to have a lot of help getting the hay in. Thank goodness for the stents in the arteries that they were able to do at Papworth.

 I must finish by welcoming two new followers on Google - Lorraine and Captain Shagrat ( although  I'm a bit dubious about anyone with a name like that being a genuine follower ?! ). Plus Maxine on Bloglovin'.
This is post number 471 and I'm definitely doing a giveaway - books probably - for my 500th, become a Google friend follower now so that you're ready!

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Saturday, 26 July 2014

Day 6 of Haymaking and nearly finished.

Only a few spots of drizzle yesterday evening so no harm done and good and hot again today, still with a little breeze, thankfully.

 First load of hay bales from our field going into the hay shed. It's so easy when we do our field, no roping the bales onto the trailer, just pile them on and two minutes later unload. (One of the reasons for having a 4WD Jeep, we need something to pull a trailer load of bales over a bumpy field)
Here is our Very Old Tractor pulling the Not Quite So Old Baler, with the Decrepit Old Bale Sledge at the back. This machinery is about quarter of the size of newer stuff which is why we can't do the big round bales ourselves - our tractor would never manage it.

And just to prove I was there, either driving the jeep with the trailer on or helping to unload.
You wouldn't see many old farm workers in shorts and a vest top, but I find Hay gets everywhere whatever you wear, and blimey it was hot! I had the air con on in the jeep but I think that made getting out feel even hotter.
I'm wondering what the upper age limit is for old women shifting bales, I think I might be reaching it!

Our field produced exactly 150 bales. The field we rent in Saxmundham had 16 giant round bales and the field we rent just up the road had 27 big 'uns. ( There are roughly 11 or 12 small bales in a big round one)

We have to pay out for two lots of rent, plus paying for cutting and round baling, but hopefully we will make a good profit when it's all sold. C's next job is to help load and shift the round bales for the man who's bought them and then bale the barley straw we are buying in a couple of weeks time. I guess it will then be my turn to help bring them all back here and unload. Another thing to sell at a profit during the winter.

Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday.
Janice asked about the second home up the road. It's the next house to us on our side of the road but two fields away and is owned by a couple from London ( as are so many round here) who only come to Suffolk for weekends. When a small field came up for sale behind the house about 4 years ago they bought it so that nobody else could buy it! Then they didn't know what to do with it and asked C to cut it. C said he could either top it every now and again in which case they would have to pay him or we could make hay from it and pay them rent, that's what they decided on. Guess who got the better deal? They think country people are gullible. Ha!

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Friday, 25 July 2014

And another one bites the dust + Haymaking Day 5

I was reading a new blog called Pennywise and now it's gone, that's about the 6th that has started and stopped in just the last few months - how odd.
Thank you to Chickpea, Sue, Frugally challenged, Hilary, Julee, Mamasmercantile, Em, Jean, Rupert, Janice, Karen, A Suffolk girl and Shirley for comments yesterday.

Meanwhile here on the Simple Suffolk Smallholding we are  onto day 5 of haymaking. C went and fetched the small baler from our farmer friend W, although it actually belongs to another farmer. It's so handy having friendly people around who share machinery, in exchange we own a pasture topper which spends most of it's time down the road at the farmers being used by a few different people.
He turned our hay here and then went off to turn and row up the Saxmundham field and the field behind the second home.We saw the man who is doing the big bales for us as he went by on his way to Saxmundham.
Later C turned and rowed up the small bit over the road and got that baled. We soon loaded the bales onto the trailer and brought them back to the hay shed, that's 52 bales safely stored, by which time it was nearly 6pm.
We wondered about baling here but C looked at the weather forecast which said tomorrow will be even hotter than today so he decided to wait another day. At 7pm a bit of sea mist  rolled in, and then it started raining, b****r and double b****r!! As long as it doesn't get any heavier or last too long, hopefully it will soon dry out tomorrow.

It was an odd-job day for me as I cut some brambles that grow through one of the low spreading conifers, picked up some fallen apricots, cut off the bruised/wasp eaten bits and cooked them for  a crumble. I then discovered we had no crumble mix in the freezer so I whipped up a box full. There were some large pointy red peppers that had got damaged so they were sliced and frozen and finally I took the skins off and put the first of the huge Andine tomatoes in the freezer too. I must do a big freezer sort out this weekend, I know what's in there but it's in a right ol' muddle.

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