Friday, 28 November 2014

Answering comments

Although it was library day I'll leave that until next week because I need to reply to some comments from the last few days.

Stephanie asks about reasons why her hens are not laying at this time of year. There could be several reasons. First make sure they are not laying somewhere else other than the nest boxes. Second if they are a pure breed of hen they will go off lay as soon as the days get shorter. That's why we and other people who need eggs all year round buy hybrid birds, bred to lay all year round but with a shorter life span. Thirdly how old are the hens. The older they get the less eggs they lay especially the hybrids which will only lay for about 3 years at the most. Fourth question, what are you feeding them? Hens won't lay unless they are well fed. Proper layers pellets or mash and always clean water. If you just feed grain and grass that's not enough for them to lay except in the summer.If none of those are the reasons for them not laying then there could be something getting into the hen house such as rats which will put hens off laying and take eggs or there could be an infestation of red mite under the perches and in the nest boxes.
Other than that I have no more ideas.

Please don't take things I say too seriously. I was only joking when I moaned about the newspaper voucher info from blogging friends when we have no Aldi for 25 miles. Yes we miss out on bargains but on the other hand we are never tempted to go and shop when we don't really need too. The same for the Black Friday thing. What would be the point of us doing a 50 mile round trip to save money on something when there is nothing we need at the moment anyway.

Thanks to everyone for comments about moving/not moving. We don't intend to do anything at the moment. For one thing we have no idea where we would want to move to and I'm loathe to give up my lovely big kitchen that I've only had for 3 years and all the fruit trees until we really have to.
The Estate agents valuation being a bit vague was no surprise but it does mean we can't really work out what we could afford until the place actually goes on the market and we see what interest there is in it. I think most of the independent agents around here are used to selling unusual country properties and they have links with other independent agents in other parts of the country.
 It's just amazing that something bought for £85,000 in 1992 is now worth so much more, mind you it was one heck of a tip back then and no-one had done anything to since it was built in 1955.
Northsider Dave said " you are buying in the same market that you are selling in?". well I guess so.

Julee said Dreamies were Crack for cats which I thought  was very funny. Cats do seem to love them but the handy thing is they are teeny so  there are loads in a packet and cats only need 5 or 6 at a time. I always give Polly a few when she has come in when I've called her in.

I  Think that's it for now
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Thursday, 27 November 2014

Helping us to decide?

When C had the hardly-a-heart-attack we thought we might have to move to somewhere easier to manage sooner rather than later. We booked an Estate Agent to come and do a valuation of the smallholding to help us to decide what we  should do next.

Today he came and had a look round and told us what we already knew - that it is a very difficult house to put a value on.

If you go onto Zoopla website it will tell you what other homes in the area have sold for recently. It's no good doing that here as there is nothing like this place anywhere,  let alone in the same road.

The downside to selling here are our proximity to a Nuclear power station and the pylons on the neighbouring field. Chalet bungalows with sloping ceilings in the bedrooms will put some people off and we have no central heating.
On the other hand we have 4 bedrooms three of which are doubles, a large kitchen/family room plus a living room,dining room. office/craft room. A wet room, family bathroom and an en-suite and our heating is free.
The outside 5 acres put some people off but horsey people who want an equestrian property always want the stables, fencing and a manage already done. The buildings would be brilliant for anyone wanting  to run a small business but too big for people used to just a garden shed.  Some people might like the idea of a campsite income but others wouldn't. Our self-sufficient garden has been perfect for us but far too much work for many.

Estate agents like to know who the property is aimed at but heavens knows who would want this!

So his valuation? Anywhere between £425,000 and £475,000.
Has it helped us to decide what to do next.............No!

BTW it's really good to have all the info from blogging friends about vouchers in newspapers on days when we are not leaving the house to get a paper and not going anywhere near an Aldi which is 25 miles away!! Am I bitter? Grrrrrrr!

Also thank you to everyone for cat and Christmas card comments yesterday. Mabel was in the nest she has made herself in the haybales again this morning and when I started to stroke her she came right to me.She seems to be in good condition considering and I could have picked her up and brought her indoors but I think she would probably shoot straight out again and even though Polly and Mabel were in the same pen at the Cats Protection fosterers place I have a feeling Polly would object strongly to finding another cat in the house. Hmmm more decisions to make!

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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Christmas card writing.............already?

The weather was grey and wet and depressing yet again so I decided to put the lights on in my craft room and start writing the Christmas cards. I have a couple for overseas so need to get those posted and for 3 relatives who live in and around Ipswich I use Scout Post and they need to be done by the 10th. The 1st Ipswich Scout Group have been fundraising by delivering Christmas cards in Ipswich for years, all you have to do is pop your cards and 25p per card into the special "letterboxes" in the town centre -  I use the Oxfam Bookshop. Then between the 13th and 24th there must be dozens of Scouts and helpers popping them through letterboxes all over the town and surrounding area. I missed out doing it in 2013 because we weren't in town at the right time but C has to take the Jeep to the dealers regarding the recall notice in early December so he will drop me in town for an hour and I will drop the cards in the box.

We have a Mabel cat breakthrough. If you were reading in February you will remember we adopted two timid cats from Cats Protection. Polly soon became friendly and is now very settled but Mabel somehow managed to get out of the back door before we had started to let them out. We've been feeding her outside and often see her around the smallholding but as soon as she spotted us she would be off, she wasn't even keen on being looked at through the window. But today as I came back from collecting the eggs she was sitting on the bales in the hay shed, normally she moves away but today she let me walk right up to her and actually let me stroke her. So I came indoors and got the packet of Dreamies ( I have no idea what's in them but cats love them and now people are getting paranoid about advertising on Vlogs and blogs I have to say no-one has paid me in anyway to mention them and won't it be boring if we have to do this every time we mention a trade name!) and went back and gave her a few. Maybe she will get friendlier and want to come indoors, especially if the weather turns colder but goodness knows what Polly will say about that.

Thank you for comments yesterday about veggie Christmas meals. On the two occasions I've chosen the vegetarian option for a change when eating out with groups at Christmas, one was a goats cheese tart and was really nasty and the other was supposed to be a nut loaf but just tasted like a stuffing mix.  Fobbed off with rubbishy food is what I thought!

I must welcome Anne B and Cottage Retreatest who have started  following via Bloglovin'. Cottage Retreatest has an all singing, all dancing blog about getting out of debt. ( i.e it has features like moving pictures and twitter messages that I wouldn't have a clue about!)

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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Family Fame and Vegetarian Christmas Fare

A week or two ago I wrote about our Archaeologist son being on local ITV news when he was showing some schoolchildren around an old WWII  airfield as part of his latest job. I tried to work out how to put the TV clip onto the blog but failed so if you want to see what the Eighth In The East Community Archeaology project is all about you can Find it here
Yesterday we found our eldest daughter was also making a tenuous claim to fame as she had put this picture on her Facebook page. This lady appears almost at the end of the full length  Lidl Christmas ad on TV  and our daughter was the print designer who designed the bird design on her blouse. I had a look and there it is on the  Phase Eight website.

  I've finally made it in TV!! Well not me exactly, just a print I designed! Look out for the lady wearing the bird print blouse at the end of the Lidl Christmas advert!!!!

Meanwhile back on the Simple Suffolk Smallholding we are not getting carried away by our children's fame and  our feet are truly on the ground .............very wet ground......... everywhere!

C had to go to the dentist this morning, then he worked in the poly-tunnels getting all the stakes that had been holding up the tomatoes, out of the tunnels. Next job will be to barrow in as much compost as possible ready for forking in.
I spent the morning playing in the kitchen; Baking bread, making a mushroom quiche and concocting a recipe for individual  nut and vegetable roasts ready for our future daughter in law R and her sister who will be here on Christmas day. I've layered a breadcrumb/cashew nut/celery/onion  mix with a parsnip/carrot mash with some cranberries in between. The mix I used today was just enough for 2 and  I cooked them until they were firm and golden. I'm going to put them in the freezer, take them out in a couple of days time and reheat with some mozzarella on top. We will have them for dinner and if they are tasty enough I shall then make more and freeze ready for the 25th. I will probably do 3 then I can have one as well, which will leave more chicken or turkey for the rest of December. R says that sometimes Christmas vegetarian meals in pubs or restaurants are just a pasta or something equally un-Christmassy, which means she misses out on the roast potatoes, Brussel sprouts and all the other things which go to make a proper Festive meal. I will also get some veggie sausages so R and G won't have to miss out my special honey and mustard glazed chipolatas which the meat eaters in the family all love.

This afternoon I shelled out the climbing French beans which have been drying in the kitchen for a few weeks. This resulted in half a jar full which will be plenty for sowing next year.

That's another November day done and dusted, we are certainly  rushing towards  December now.

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Monday, 24 November 2014

Our first frost

We had the first touch of frost of the Autumn overnight so that when I let the chickens out it was 4℃ compared to 13℃ yesterday morning. The sun was shining too which we certainly needed after all the rain.
Much too wet for working in the garden today except for getting in the rest of  tomatoes from the poly-tunnels. The red ones into the fridge and the green ones on a tray.

They will be put in the unheated dining room and will ripen gradually over the next few weeks, leaving a couple of riper ones in the tray helps the rest to turn red.
One other job done that didn't involve walking over any wet bits was to take the dead stuff off the rhubarb bed and barrow some compost all over.

C had to go to the doctors to make sure all his tablets were still doing their job so I popped into town and found a couple more gifts for Christmas. One of the things we do here is Christmas tree presents. I don't know how and where they started, but both Cs mum and my mum did them so I've carried on. It's just a little extra present to have after tea when Christmas day is almost finished. I try and find things during the year at car boot sales if possible but not much luck this year. So a trip to the hardware shop has sorted a couple of little gifts for some of the men of the family.

Thank you for comments about stats yesterday.
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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Looking at the Stats on a wet Sunday

We really are getting the worst of the weather at the moment, grey, gloomy and rain forecast for all day. Still no sign of frost and when I went out to let the chickens out just after 7 this morning it was already 13 ℃. Grass ( and weeds I guess) grow at anything over 6 ℃ but it's too wet for grass cutting.

10.30am and we've already been in the shed and cut some more wood, the pile is getting bigger, plenty to last us for several weeks.  I'm not sure we will bother with going far today,  just round the field to collect the eggs and fill up the big chicken feeder. I may wrap a few Christmas presents and start sorting the seed purchasing list which I've been talking about doing for weeks.

Every now and again I amuse myself for 10 minutes looking at the Statistics page.

I know.......... too much time on my hands!

The all time most viewed post is this one

I had no idea why this should be the most looked at, but now  I think I've found out. If you Google 50p Christmas decorations ( though why would you?) up comes my picture from the post.

Next on the list is "The truth about Country Living" from the other day and third is also from this month " Decisions,Decisions". So November must be a good month for writing popular posts but I'm sure it's not because my brain works better in November!

I see there have been 1,852 page views from Russia - goodness me, I'm glad we don't have a CCTV camera as I've heard they can look at us much more closely than I want to be looked at!

Interesting posts are looked at by between 750 and 800 on the same day but boring ones by only around 350 - 400. Extremely boring posts get less than 300 page views.How does anyone know if the post is boring or not?

Last time I filled a post by wittering on about blog stats I was getting around 1000 page views each day, now that's up to 1,500. Being a nosy old woman I would love too know how many page views YOU get each day?

Thanks for lots of nice comments yesterday.

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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Second to last- better luck next time?

For  2 years up until March 2013 we went to charity quiz nights that are held in local villages to raise money for churches etc. We were part of a team with our farmer friend and his wife M and a couple of other people. Then one night, for some reason M seemed to take offence because I volunteered to write the answers on the quiz sheet, she didn't join in the discussion over answers as usual, just whispering to her husband, it was so obvious to everyone else in the team that it was ridiculously embarrassing.
That happened to be the last quiz of the season but in autumn 2013 when the next quiz was advertised and C mentioned about quizzing they didn't seem keen. One day I happened to meet M walking her dog as I was biking home from the library van and decided to apologise for whatever I had done that had upset her. She wasn't very nice at all and said she found me really rather nasty.
After that I didn't particularly like the idea of spending an evening with her so we didn't volunteer to book a table for a quiz again. As far as I know they haven't quizzed anymore either.
But Hip Hip Hooray!  we now have two parts of our family in Suffolk, enough for a table of 6 people so I suggested a family night out at the quiz last night.
We were almost hopeless! 10th out of 11 tables.
But it was a lovely way to spend an evening with two of our children and their partners.

Heaven knows how C managed to chop our youngests bloke in half, but he hates having his photo taken anyway.

Our son and his partner stayed overnight and this morning he helped me barrow some soil down to fill the hole where the old shed base was, that was a great help as it would have taken me weeks on my own. We just got done before the rain started at 11.
Now we just need to level it out and chuck a bit of grass seed down.

We saw the first Christmas lights in someones front porch in the village last night, a wee bit early I thought. Although this afternoon at only 3 O'clock it is almost dark and we could do with Christmas lights here to cheer things up a bit.

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