Thursday, 31 October 2013

Review of the month - looking back at October

The last day of the month so time to look back at the ups,downs, ins and outs of another month on the Simple Suffolk Smallholding

  1. Him Outside continued to get his strength and stamina back and is now back to how he was at the beginning of the year- Fit and Well.
  2. We earned enough to cover next months budget ( see our budget here)
  3. A couple of cheques were popped into the ISAs for winter
  4. We've sold almost all the squash and pumpkins - an income of over £100
  5. We've sold bags and bags of cooking apples, spreading appleness all around!
  6. Lots of  pears and cooking apples have been put into the freezer.
  7. We have enough eating apples to last us for many weeks, or months if they will keep that long.
  8. We now have 4 chicken sheds ( 3 out on the field) so will always have enough grass for our chickens. And we will be able to have one empty in rotation for good  health and hygiene.
  9. Egg sales are still very good.
  10. I made a few jars of Red Onion "marmalade" Chutney.
  11. Wood has been bought for building 2 new sheds.
  12. Christmas puddings have been made.
  13. More Christmas presents have been bought or organised.
  14. We received another rosette for being nominated in the "Friendly Welcome" category, from the Camping and Caravanning Club.
  15. Lots of good books from the Library Van again.
  16. We had a surprise visit from our son.
  17. We were almost Self- Sufficient in vegetables again this month ( less than £2 spent for carrots)
  18. We were almost self-sufficient in fruit again this month.( less than £6 Spent on fruit all month)
  19. We were able to buy some cheap coal from a friend in case of very cold weather.
  20. We gained a builders bag of oak logs from the fallen branch across the road.
On the other side of the coin

A huge amount has been spent on more things for the smallholding for chicken sheds,tractor repairs, pressure washer, campsite and the garden shed. We seem to have been pouring money into this place since we moved here 20 years ago!
Our son didn't get a job he tried for in this area.
Food spending was over budget. ( Christmas stores)
The  wind blew the fence down - more expense.
The mild weather and rain has made the weeds grow everywhere.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

A beautiful blue sky and Christmas puddings!

What a lovely day we have had here today. Wall to wall sunshine and blue skies. At 7.30 there was a grass frost in places but that soon disappeared. The washing dried easily and I got some weeding done.

I also made some small Christmas puddings to give as gifts as I realised I still had two large puds in the cupboard from last year. I used half the recipe today which filled 2 x 1pt basins and one smaller one.
In case you don't have a pudding recipe of your own, this is the one I've been using for several years.
Sorry it's not metric but my brain is still imperial  and this recipe is very old, passed to me from the mother of my sister in laws husband! It is nicer than the recipe that I had before which my mum was given by an old lady on a bus. Isn't it funny where recipes come from.

Christmas Pudding
12oz white breadcrumbs
12oz suet
30z plain flour
9oz dark brown sugar
Mix well then add
1ib chopped raisons
12oz sultanas
8oz currants
6oz mixed peel
3 eating apples peeled and grated
4tbsp black treacle
3 large eggs
Juice and grated rind of a lemon
Cold tea to mix ( add a little at a time)

Mix everything together really well
Spoon into pudding basins, level surface, don't fill right to the top.
Cover each with greaseproof paper, then foil and tie around with string, making a lifting handle.
Steam for 3 to 6 hours depending on size
Check and add boiling water as required
Re heat by steaming for 1 to 2 hours depending on size.

3 small puddings made using half the recipe, pudding 3 is hiding at the back!
 I realise that this is a rather vague recipe and relies on things looking right which if you've not made a Christmas pudding before might be a bit daunting.
The full recipe makes 1 large pudding and one small one, but even that sounds a bit vague too!
Because I have the Rayburn alight I can steam these at no extra cost and as I don't own a pressure cooker I can't give you details about using one.

Him Outside went off with the trailer to pick up a load of wood- new wood this time- ready for building two sheds. One will be another toilet for the campsite, so we can keep gents and ladies separate.  I've found that men are much muckier in the loo than women! They don't wipe their feet, they never clean the loo when they've left it in a mess, they can't put a new loo roll on the loo roll holder, and they tend to be smellier! this is my experience after cleaning campsite loos for 17 years!
The other shed will be a new garden/potting shed as the one he built 19 years ago is all rotten at the bottom and has never been big enough and since we had the extension done, it is in completely the wrong place. The wood from the old shed will not be wasted as it will become kindling wood and firewood.
That's Wednesdays news, back tomorrow with My Review of the Month for October- I think over- spending will be the theme!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Loving this blogging thing!

I've only been blogging since April but I'm really enjoying the contact with people all over the country and around the world. Take yesterday for instance, we knew what effect the storm had here and there were pictures on TV but it was even more interesting to hear from blog friends. So thank you to Pam, Buttercup and Dc, who are  in the Eastern half of England, Kris in the US, Vicki who is just down the road, Bridget in Dorset, Pam in Norway, Alison on the south coast, Em on Dartmoor, Kev in Malvern and also Attila who is somewhere in the UK, but I'm not sure where! Everyone had survived the storms without too many problems but it sounds as if many places had a lot more rain than we did - as usual. We are always one of the driest parts of the country.

Our chickens have been moved from the fixed shed to their new accommodation (the old campsite toilet block) right up the top of the field. We are wondering if they are the only chickens with vinyl flooring! We moved them yesterday afternoon and left them shut into their new shed until after they had laid their eggs this morning. This is what we always do when we move hens so that when it gets dark tonight they will know where they have to go to find their perches. It will be good for them to have grass again as they had turned their old chicken run into a mud bath.

Despite having 5 acres of land our apple trees are all squashed together, the trouble is when we planted them we thought they looked far enough apart but of course they grew! Anyway, it's turned out  as an advantage this year because the very, very, late apple tree is so sheltered that even after all the wind they are still hanging on.
  They are a duel use variety, sharp cooking apples early then eating apples if left long enough.( No idea of their name)  I think we will pick them soon and wrap them in newspaper to store in a box so we can leave them out in the shed as I've already got several trays of apples indoors.

I hope there is a bit more passing traffic tomorrow. It's half term here so quieter than usual and we have lots of eggs unsold. Even with the stormy weather and trees down we sold out as usual yesterday. Snow is the worst thing as lots of our egg buyers are elderly and they all stay at home.

That's it for today
Back tomorrow

Monday, 28 October 2013

It was all OK until 8.30 am, then.................

I went out to let the chickens out just after 7.30 and there was no sign of any damage, the electric fences were still upright around the chicken runs, trees all looked fine. All was OK. Then at about 8.30  the sound of the wind went up several decibels, the front fence blew down, two  branches from  oak trees over the road came down, one of them bringing with it our neighbours phone wire and practically all the leaves came off our horse chestnut tree- all at once!

Then just as quickly the wind died down and we were back to a normal windy October day. Weird.

Quick as a wink Him Outside was out with the jeep and a chain to pull the branches off the road and into our driveway, then the chainsaw was soon out and the wood was ready to go into a builders bag to store away for a couple of years to season.
 So we got away lightly. I think it will take a lot longer for our neighbour to get her phone line back. As for our fence, the posts have broken so new holes will need digging and that will be way down the job list.
I'm glad we were not traveling anywhere today as there were lots of trees down on several roads around us.
I hope everyone in blogland is  safe and sound with not too much damage done.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Just a simple Sunday

I hate the day we put the clocks back. It means winter is on the way and I'm not good in the winter. I shall have yet another fight with nasty black depression that sometimes sees me falling into a black hole. It's a lack of a chemical in the brain that does it, easily controlled by a small dose of happy pills but annoying all the same.

Once the rain stopped Him Outside brought in a bookcase that was in the old campsite toilet block. It was painted purple  but he has painted it white and it is now beside the bed with a kettle on it - so I can reach out and switch it on - Luxury!

Next job was to shift some logs that Bts - the tree cutting people, had left behind when they cleared under the pylons. It's not our land but nobody really knows who owns it. We know who farms it but the land was sold off several years ago to some big insurance company or something similar. So we've claimed the logs which have been added to the huge heap that we already have seasoning ready for a few years time.

Other than those jobs and the normal egg collecting etc, we've had a quiet restful day.

We have heeded all the warnings, put things safely inside sheds and generally prepared for whatever weather comes our way tonight and tomorrow. The last I heard the storm had been down graded to a once in 5 year event rather than a once in 200 year storm like we had in 1987. I was 8 months pregnant back then and our electric was off for a week. Because we saw no TV for a week we had no idea what effect the wind had in other parts of the country. Our son remembers unwrapping presents by candlelight on his 6th birthday.
Which reminds me - he didn't get the job that he was interviewed for last week. I'm sure things happen for a reason and as the job was a 3 year contract with one year in Norfolk, one year in Suffolk and another year in Hertfordshire it would have been difficult to know whether to move 3 times or travel which would have made life complicated for them both. I'm sure something will happen that will enable them to move back to this area at sometime - just not yet.

Thank you for comments yesterday, it's lovely to hear from people all around the world who have connections with Suffolk. Also welcome to new followers on here and via Bloglovin'.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Saturday tidy up

With a £6 off £40 spend till slip voucher from Tesco due to run out tomorrow it seemed sensible to do Novembers shop a few days early. I wanted a couple of lemons to do the Christmas puddings but they only had organic at a silly price, so I asked and a girl trotted off to look, but none had come in. Seems a pretty basic thing to run out of or is it because the ordinary lemons were on a special offer at half the price of organic? Cynical person aren't I? So pud making will have to wait a while.  I could have popped over to Waitrose I guess, but as it was just about to rain I decided to wait until I'm in Coop next week.

In between showers we got all the bins etc off the campsite before the predicted gales. It's unlikely we will have any visitors now as the one caravan that was booked in rang and cancelled last night. I can't blame them - who wants to sit in a field in the dark and dampness of late October when they could be at home in the warm? We close at the end of October anyway. I shall cover all the toilet seats, cisterns and washbasins with newspaper which helps to keep them clean over winter. It's the spiders that make such a nasty mess.

Him Outside has been resting all afternoon. Some different tablets he was given last time he went to the doctors seem to be giving him vivid dreams so that he wakes up several times in the night. He has also been working extremely hard around the smallholding. I have suggested that he should slow down a bit, but it does no good. Perhaps next time he has to go to the Doctor they can try some different tablets. The hospital doctors suggest one thing and the GP says another. There is a sad lack of coordination between the two.

I'm now going to do a bit of cross stitch and have a proper look at the Christmas food magazines that I picked up at the car boot sale last week.

Back tomorrow.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Yet another chicken shed

Selling eggs at the gate is one of our main income sources. We live on an unclassified backroad but it is used by people from several villages who are heading to Saxmundham and as we've sold eggs on and off for 20 years we knew that when Him Outside went self employed we would increase hen numbers.
The trouble is that in the fixed shed the chickens soon turn the grass to mud which is not good for clean eggs. So plan " turn old campsite loo block into chicken shed" was hatched (!).  Everything was stripped out, cleaned out and tidied up. Him Outside sorted perches and nest boxes, our farmer friend came with his loader and big trailer
 and just a few minutes later the old shed had been shifted right up to the top of the field and as soon as we get more electric fence we will move the chickens.
They will love  to have more grass, the fixed shed and run will have a rest and the eggs will be cleaner.

This is where I was while it was raining first thing this morning, at my "work station" chopping kindling ready for lighting the Rayburn and woodburner. It is something I will be doing regularly from now until April.  It keeps me out of mischief .
 I wonder if we really will get the weather that is forecast for Sunday or Monday. It sounds as if it will pretty rough, but sometimes when the weather is from the South West by the time it gets to us on the Eastern  edge it has worn itself out.

Thanks to everyone for Pasty and Autochopper comments yesterday!
Back tomorrow.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

A Low Tech Gadget and more meat stretching

Over there in one of the columns on the right it says that one of the ways we are frugal is to avoid gadgets- the sort that are run by electric and are really unnecessary.

But here is one of the low tech gadgets I have - it's very old and I've had it since before we were married. It takes apart for washing up easily too. I think they are still made in an updated version.
 You just put your carrot or potato inside the bottom bit and bash the handle up and down  and hey presto tiny bits of veg are produced. Just right for mixing with minced beef to make a batch of pasties.
Yet another good way of stretching meat. 9 pasties made using 12 oz mince, 4 carrots 5 medium potatoes and a good dollop of brown sauce. All squidged together by hand. Home made  shortcrust pastry, rolled out and cut into rounds with a small saucepan lid. Cooked for about half an hour on highish temp then another 15mins a bit lower. ( I'm vague as I just do them until I think they look right).
I wrap them individually in foil and freeze them. Then pop them into a couple of plastic boxes. Him Outside prefers his cold but I usually reheat mine in the microwave for a few minutes. Lots of good gravy and some green veg. Delicious.

Thank you to everyone for comments over the last few days and welcome to new followers on bloglovin. I see I'm heading towards 100 little pictures, click and follow - make my day!

Plus I think a small fanfare is in order as this is post number 200!!
And they said it wouldn't last. :-)

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A trip out, a chance meeting and a surprise visitor

We needed chicken feed so decided to do a charity shop trip around a different town while we were out.We are still looking for jeans for Him Outside and still without any luck. If we don't find some soon he will be forced to buy new. That will come as a shock!

While we were buying a new DVD player. Who should appear in the shop but Him Outsides brother. He was in the town for a opticians appointment and had spotted us going into Argos. It's always a nice surprise to see someone we don't get to see often. I thought we would have to save up for a new DVD player because I had no idea they were available for £17!! So we didn't need to save and now on a cold winter afternoon I'll be able to watch my favourite Good Life DVDs and the Green Valley one I mentioned the other day. Plus Him Outside is pleased as he will finally get to watch the Phil Tufnell On Tour DVD that he found at a boot sale during the summer.

This was my spend today, in the Heart Foundation charity shop I found this lovely Advent calender. I've always been very anti advent calenders with chocolates in - much to the disgust of the children when they were little, and when I saw this I decided that even though there have been no children here for 7 years, it reminded me of one that I had a long time ago ( before anyone even thought of putting chocs in advent calenders) and at £1.50 it didn't break my frugal bank. I shall open the windows and enjoy it all through December.

Just as we were about to start for home we had a phone call from our son who was in the area to go for an interview and thought he would surprise us on his way home. He is an archaeologist and currently lives and works in the Milton Keynes area. The job he is interested in involves working on a community project connected with WWII airfields in East Anglia. As this was the subject of his university dissertation it would suit him well and bring him closer to home where he still has lots of friends. His partner has a business degree and she  has worked in various marketing jobs so I'm sure she would soon find a job in the area. We will keep our fingers crossed for them.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Stretching sausages

I've said before that we have cut down meat eating since we stopped producing our own and since prices went up. So now when we do have it I make it stretch. But is it possible to make 4 sausages feed 2 people three or even 4 times?
Answer  = Yes!
And can I keep Him Outside well fed with one sausage?
This is what I made today to feed us today, tomorrow lunch and tomorrow dinner and maybe another lunch too.
A toad in the hole and a sausage plait.
And is one sausage in the toad in the hole enough to feed him?
If you add in lots of  vegetables,mostly homegrown, then yes it's plenty.
Roast potatoes and squash, carrot and courgettes make a big plateful,enough for anyone.

Obviously the sausage plait has more in it than the meat from 2 sausages!

Sausage plait
Third of a pack of puff pastry (I buy from the chilled counter and divide into 3 before freezing)
2 sausages skins removed
2 tablespoons of value stuffing mix.(  about 15p a box, I tip boxes into a storage jar)
1 small onion chopped       }    Home grown
1 small courgette chopped  }      "           "
1 eating apple grated          }        "           "
Soften the onion and courgette in a spot of water in the microwave ( or in a teenie bit of oil in pan)
Add the stuffing mix and enough hot water to make the stuffing wet.
Leave to cool, then add the grated apple and the squidged sausage meat, and mix it all together.
Roll out the pastry into an oblong and put the meat mix down the middle.
Make cuts in the sides from the meat, out to the edge about an inch apart.
Fold the sides in alternately and stick it with water or beaten egg.
Brush with egg or a little milk.
Place on a greased tray
Cook in hot oven for about half an hour, turn it round to cook evenly.
Best eaten cooled a bit or cold.
( home made shortcrust could be used, but ready made puff can be rolled thinner)

With a plate full of delicious home made food, is it no wonder we rarely eat out?!

Small money saver tip -- see the jar of mustard on the table, I always buy powdered mustard and mix a little with water in a jar. Cheaper than buying a jar of ready made mustard.

Thanks to A Suffolk girl, Em, Attila, Compostwoman, Pam,  Angela, Buttercup, Cro, Bridget  and Kev for comments yesterday. Everyone is in agreement about waste from shops and in the home.

It was fine all morning so some outdoor jobs were done. Him Outside had a dentist appointment and actually got given a tube of toothpaste - handy. Then he went to our neighbours to fix an outside tap to a wall and to  a friends to re -fit a pane of glass in a shed.
My jobs were hoovering, cleaning and then some weeding, which I was in the middle of when a motorhome arrived on site for a couple of nights. So an unexpected extra income.
By lunchtime the promised rain had begun but just like yesterday it didn't last long.

That's today's news
Back tomorrow

Monday, 21 October 2013

So a supermarket wants to save us money? Really?

Thank you to Angela in Norfolk and Susan in Canada for comments yesterday. Lovely to have people reading from near and far.

What do you think of Tesco's announcement of how much food  is wasted from their stores. Read about it HERE. 30,000 tonnes thrown away in 6 months. I wasn't surprised at the amount, there have been a couple of programmes on TV about supermarket waste, but up until now they have been very secretive about these figures. Then they do a little twist in the tale that tells us that  customers waste food too. We throw out fruit, salad leaves and bakery products apparently. It has been estimated that every house hold throws out £700 worth of food each year. NOT THIS HOUSEHOLD!

Now there are just two of us, very little gets wasted, I cook what we need and no more. Years ago it was possible to feed food waste to chickens but if you sell eggs this is definitely against the law and even if you don't it's not advised. Garden waste is fine and our chickens get all the outside lettuce and cabbage leaves, squishy tomatoes, unwanted marrows etc.

One of the causes of customer food waste according to Tesco is the way they do 2 for 1 offers on things. We are tempted by BOGOFs then chuck some out because we've bought too much!

What I have noticed is the way their Value range is often in bigger packs. Carrots for instance             ( something I do buy as they don't do well here on our clay soil.)The value range is the cheapest way to buy, yet the bag is huge. This is fine if you know that the best way of storing them is to take them out of the bag and lay them on a clean tea-towel in the salad draw of the fridge. But my guess is a lot of people would leave them in the bag, where they would sweat and soon go mouldy. Bananas are the same- value range = biggest bag. How many people would know that its best to keep then separate from all other fruit and how to make a banana cake with them as the start to go brown?

Tesco say they will change the way they offer bargains. Doing more of the buy two things and get a third thing free over a range of products.As they do on home baking products every now and again.
Perhaps this will be better for customers but what I'm sure off is that it's probably a lot better for Tesco. If you buy a bag of apples for a pound and a bag of pears for a pound and a lemon for 25p then its the lemon that will be the free thing. Customers will need to be even more canny with what they buy to get a bargain, maybe putting things through the till in separate bits - and how many busy people with no time to spare will do that?

I promised an update on library books read this month. I'm not getting on very well. Authors I've read before have been OK but trying some new authors didn't work - I couldn't get into any of them.
These are the ones I HAVE enjoyed so far
The Jacqueline Winspear one is the newest in a series of crime set in the 1920/30s. The first one was called Maisie Dobbs and it's best to start at the beginning if you haven't read them before.
The series by Nicola Upson, also crime, features Josephine Tey ( a real writer) and these are also set in the 1930's. Again it's best to start at the beginning.
Rachel Hore writes fiction which always links two periods in history in some way or another. Each is a stand alone novel. This one - The Silent Tide- starts in the 1953 floods in Suffolk.

The weather forecast for today was horrible and it was raining early this morning but then it stopped so after I had got a couple of loaves of bread started we  picked some more cooking apples to sell and got the sides of an old shed ( rescued from a friend) cut into bits ready for me to turn into kindling wood.We had a bit more rain at about 10.30 but since then fine all day.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The final car boot bargains of 2013

It was fine first thing, so off we went to the last boot sale of the year.
Not a lot of boots there as rain was forecast for mid morning. Him Outside bought a tub of 75 large metal washers  for a bargain price of £3. I only have his word for them being useful and a bargain!
However his other purchase of a pair of virtually new wellies also for £3 was a good buy.
My big spend was 50p.

I rarely buy magazines as they are such daft prices and full of ads, so was pleased to get these to have a look at for Christmas ideas.

Before the rain arrived we managed to get a chicken shed cleaned out.
While it was raining  I made a couple more cards using the craft papers, peel offs and toppers that I got from Craft Creations with my £10 voucher ( for having a card featured in their readers gallery.)

When the rain stopped we uncovered the path that was concreted yesterday.

Can you imagine walking up and down here between house and farm buildings for 35 years without ever putting down a decent path? We got a concrete path done after just one winter of walking through mud and puddles.

Thank you for comments left over the last few days and welcome to new followers. Thank you for popping in to read about our simple Suffolk smallholding.

My idea for a note about what homemade and home grown food is eaten here each day got a bit repetitive so I may just do it now and again.

I hope your Sunday was quiet an as peaceful as ours. Back tomorrow

Saturday, 19 October 2013

They didn't forecast rain all afternoon- did they?

Mucky weather here this afternoon. Wet and nasty.

Before the rain started we picked more cooking apples and then got a bit of concreting done.When the mini digger was here Him Outside pulled up a bit of concrete path between the house and buildings that seems to be in a frost pocket because it keeps cracking and breaking,with grass growing in the cracks. So now its been replaced and will look tidy again.
 This house and the original farm buildings  were built in 1955, but until we moved here in1992 no one had ever got around to putting a proper path through the vegetable garden between the house and buildings, yet  it must have been walked thousands of times. I think a bit of shingle was put down at one time but the "path" made from frequent walking was about 4 inches lower than the grass each side. Every time we had rain it was like walking up a stream. Needless to say a concrete path was soon installed.

This afternoon I fiddled about with some new craft papers and eventually made a card and then tidying up the craft room/office. Him outside was in the shed cutting some firewood.

Homemade, Home grown and home produced food eaten today:- Bread, tomatoes,cucumber, lettuce, salad leaves,pepper, beetroot, cheese scones, cake, eggs, parsley, chives. Apples, pears,autumn raspberries. Apple pie

For sale on the stall today:- Eggs, Pumpkins, butternut squash,Cooking apples, red cabbage, white cabbage.

Hope the weather is better tomorrow or the very last car boot sale will be cancelled.

No other news today

Back tomorrow.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Cycling in the fog

As I said a week or two ago I really want to get cycling again. I'm just 2 and a half miles from our two small towns so just right for biking and I did it regularly for years. So I set off to Saxmundham this morning and it was just a little misty here but the further I got inland the foggier it got.
No bargains in Tesco- no surprise there. And I only needed milk and a few other bits. Then into the factory shop to get some pretty things for the Operation Christmas Child shoebox, which I must get finished soon. A quick visit to the charity shops and I was soon on my way home again.
I popped my camera in my bag to take a picture of the hill out of the town which, if you are in a car seems to be just a bit of an incline, but on a bike it's STEEP. I've never been able to cycle up it even when I was 20 years younger!

 It doesn't look to bad on a photo but I walked up.
At the top of the hill you can see right across the fields to the pylons near us- Usually!

But not today. Just a bank of fog.

We had a disappointment today because the people we've been going with to a few charity quiz nights don't seem keen on doing it this winter. Shame, as I like quizzing and don't take it too seriously. We are not sure who else would want to have a go.
Anyone for quizzing?

Lovely to see some new followers in the little pictures over there on the right - Welcome. Do leave a comment sometimes.

The other day I said I wanted to make a regular feature of the things we eat that are home grown, homemade or home produced and then I forgot - hopeless!
So here we go
Home grown, homemade and home produced eaten here today; Bread, Tomatoes, cucumber, courgette,sweet pepper, lettuce, salad leaves,beetroot, red onion, cheese scones, potato, cabbage. Apple, pears and autumn raspberries.Apple pie.
For sale on the stall today; Eggs, squash,pumpkins and cooking apples.
That's it for today, I have a good book to finish.
Back tomorrow.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Oh Happy Day

Him Outside is never happier than when he is outside and riding around on a bit of machinery of some sort. So today he was a happy bunny as he has hired a mini digger to lay a new water pipe for our neighbour.

I'm happy too as the sun shone and I have  got a load of washing dry outside, done a whole lot of hoovering, baked a few fruit and a few cheese scones, poached the last of the pears  including the small odd shaped ones, picked a small tub of autumn raspberries, brought in all the eating apples off the next to last eating apple tree ( the birds had found them) and generally had a good day.

32 years ago I was also happy, having given birth to our son after spending a day and a night fiddling about in hospital trying to persuade him to arrive. I had gone up to hospital thinking he was about to arrive but when he didn't they wouldn't let me home again as my blood pressure was a bit high. Our daughter of 17 months stayed  with her nanna and wondered when we were going to come home. Now he is a 6 foot plus archaeologist.
Happy Birthday M.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Winter preperations and getting Christmas sorted

This morning we spread some compost on some empty veg. beds and covered them with plastic. The worms will take much of the compost down into the ground by spring and the plastic is a bit of protection against too much wet weather and weeds.
I have now finished putting apples and pears into the freezer for winter, another job done.We also have a box of cooking apples in the shed. The very late eating apples will be picked,wrapped and stored as soon as a frost is forecast. Onions are in nets in the shed, potatoes ( the few we have) in sacks. Beetroot is in sand in a box. Parsnips, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and leeks are in the garden. Mincemeat, jam and chutney made and stored in the cupboard. Wood in the shed, some cut and plenty still to do for the woodburner and Rayburn. Coal in case it's extra cold. Hats, gloves  and coats are all OK.  We have a spare cylinder of gas for the hob. We have a wind-up radio and a wind-up torch and plenty of candles and matches and some batteries. Before the end of the year we will also store some extra chicken feed and some petrol for the generator.

We like to be prepared because  twice in our married life we have been without electric for a whole week, although it hasn't happened lately.  I'm sure it was easier  to manage without electric years ago as our old gas oven could still be used by lighting with a match. Now we have an electric oven but even most gas ones need electric connected to be able to light them.We still have our old telephone in a drawer just-in-case as the new one with answerphone also needs electric to work.
And then we have this
We found this at a car boot a few years ago and we knew what it was. But do you??
Answers at the bottom of the page! 

  I had a catalogue in the post today for the Inverawe Smokehouse in Scotland. They do the most delicious looking, expensive hampers for Christmas. We visited the smokehouse and museum, which was fascinating,  when we were on holiday in Scotland about 5 years ago and I must have filled in a form or something as I get these catalogues every year. Our neighbour, who has been a great help to us over the years we have been here - especially when we had goats - said the only presents she needs now are ones to eat or drink, so maybe one of their smoked salmon boxes would be a good idea for her.
 Phone calls yesterday sorted out who is going where and when over the Christmas holidays and our two eldest and their partners will both be in other parts of the country, so we will be having a New Year get together in early January. The 25th will be quiet with just Him Outsides Dad and brother coming for the day, unless our youngest and her partner decide to pop up as well. Presents for lots of people are in the cupboard but I still need ideas for 3 grown up children, their 3 partners, one elderly Dad and one 54 year old bachelor brother.

Answer to mystery object- Its a thing for doing toast over the flame of a gas hob or camping stove.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Missing gloves and reminders of Tales of the Green Valley TV series

Under the chair, just inside the back door we have a small plastic box to keep the work gloves in .But look what happens
5 right hand gloves and only 2 left hand. So where do they go? An unsolved mystery!

A Warm welcome to two new followers - The Gardening Shoe and John Wooldridge.  As I'm interested to "meet" new followers I clicked to see more about them and on the link to Johns blog was another link taking me to a living history reconstruction in Australia and on there was a mention of one of my favourite ever TV series  - Tales from The  Green Valley. This introduced some of the people who went on to feature in the other Historic Farm series.( Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn). The Green Valley Farm was a project started in an old farm in Wales to show what life was like on a farm in the 1600s. Stuart Peachey - also in the Green Valley series was an author and one of the instigators of the project. Unfortunately there was some sort of disagreement after the TV series finished, so although he wrote a book about the reconstruction project he was not allowed to write anything about the series. Then came The Victorian Farm, The Edwardian Farm and the dreadfully badly produced Wartime Farm which had so many inaccuracies in it that we almost refused to watch.
These have not been repeated on TV ( at least not that I have noticed) but luckily we have the DVDs of the first 3 - the Wartime one is not worth watching again! I often watch these during winter afternoons when I'm stitching. Then I remembered that last time we wanted to watch a DVD we discovered that the blinkin' DVD player has packed up. Definitely something to save up for before winter sets in.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Multi tasking on Monday

Does anyone ever ask you what you do when you are at home all day?
This is what I would tell them today.

I started by putting the eggs out for sale on the stand and then went round to let out 3 lots of chickens, give them fresh water and collect the first of the eggs. While I was outside, Him Outside was actually indoors lighting the Rayburn and having his breakfast, then putting the squash and pumpkins out for sale.After that he washed up while I wiped. Next I started the bread and while the dough hook was doing it's job peeled some cooking apples . Him Outside went out to take down the netting and gate from the front of the hay shed ( where we moved the chickens out of yesterday).

 Then we had a coffee.

 While the bread was doing it's first rising we got all the shed cleaned out with a nice lot of straw and poop wheelbarrowed around to add to the compost heaps.He finished the sweeping out of the hay shed while I went back indoors and made a batch of pastry ( It's OK I did wash my hands!). The pastry became an apple and a-little-bit-of-mincemeat pie, two baked blind quiche bases (one to eat and one to freeze) and an unbaked flan case also for the freezer. By which time the bread was ready for its knocking back and while it was doing its 2nd rise I baked the quiche bases, cooked the pie, softened an onion, pepper and courgette to make a filling for the quiche and washed up.
Him Outside was still outside but had moved around to the old campsite toilets to start emptying it prior to dismantling the inside.(It will in time be another chicken shed, if we can shift it without it falling apart!) While the bread and quiche were cooking I was sorting out all the things  that he had brought in from the loos, taking some clothes off the airer that's over the Rayburn and sweeping the kitchen floor.

Lunchtime and a sit down and blog reading.

After lunch he washed up then went off to collect a large trailer big enough to put the tractor on and I wiped up,collected the eggs, picked raspberries, pulled up some beetroot, cleaned and boxed the eggs.
He got back, loaded the tractor onto the trailer and we had a cuppa. Then he was off again with the tractor to take it to get the hydraulics repaired ( properly this time we hope). I got some potatoes peeled and cabbage prepared and put the beetroot to cook on the Rayburn. Then I went outside to check the stand to see what had sold, check the chicken sheds for late eggs and to pick a few more cooking apples and bag them up ready for tomorrow.

He returned home again and after lighting the woodburner we watched Countdown on 4+1.( Some of the time he watched with his eyes shut - Not asleep he said!) He then sent an email to advertise the things we have for sale in the Suffolk Smallholders newsletter and I started this blog.

Time to go outside again to make sure the chickens have fresh water in their sheds before they go to bed and to bring in the things from the stall.

Dinner and Eggheads,Strictly takes Two,Washing up.Wiping Up. Shut up the chickens, University Challenge, Only Connect. Reading. Bed.
Another day gone!

For fans of chickens and sheds
The new little movable shed converted from an old cattle box

The fixed chicken shed

The big chicken shed on skids so it can be moved around the field

I wish I had thought of this before, it could become a regular feature.
Home grown/Home produced/Home made eaten today:- Tomato,lettuce,radish,beetroot,courgette,onion,pepper,potatoes,cabbage,apples,pears,bread,jam,eggs, quiche,cake.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

A no news day

We have  had more rain in the last few days than we've had since May. At least today we managed to get some jobs done outside.

The 24 newest chickens have been moved from the indoor hay shed to the converted trailer so that they can be out on grass tomorrow, some more firewood has been cut and another wheelbarrow full of pumpkins have been brought around to the house from the field.

I've read in a couple of places that according to the Express newspaper we are in for a long,cold,snowy winter starting in November. The Express are always over the top when it comes to weather forecasting so I'll believe when I see it.

It's a no news today here really, so I'll be back tomorrow.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Crossing the border to Norfolk

We packed our passports and crossed the border into Norfolk this morning. My sister moved from Mid Suffolk to south Norfolk last November and we still hadn't got around to seeing their new home. We are  hopeless at visiting family! ( Although they were away in Europe all summer so if you discount those 5 months it doesn't sound quite so bad.)
Being us, we didn't just visit them, we also called in at a Norfolk Library to collect a book that we wanted to look at which was not in stock in Suffolk libraries( plus a visit to a charity shop of course!)
During the summer we bought these two prints of Suffolk villages, previously mentioned in a blog in June.
They are prints that were used in railway carriages to show people all the interesting places they could visit by train. Our friend P put new glass in them and replaced the backing and we now have them up on the wall.
I was interested to find out where and when they were used and Him Outside tracked down  this book.
Hence the trip to a Norfolk Library to borrow. I've had a quick look and it seems our prints were distributed for use between 1948 and 1955. Which is later than we thought as they were labelled as being from the 1930s.
The charity shop visit was also useful as Him Outside found a pair of jeans and also a pair for our youngest daughters partner. They came around for dinner in the week and he was telling us how he was down to one pair of work trousers after his others split and he was working Saturday and Sunday so couldn't go out to get any. Our daughter had looked in the charity shops in town with no luck and mens clothes shops are something we don't have anywhere near.  In the lovely big charity shop they have in Harleston I also  spent 50p on a tub of bicarb. Isn't that the weirdest thing you would expect to see in a charity shop?

Nearly forgot to say welcome to two new followers and thank you for comments yesterday.

Friday, 11 October 2013

A wet Friday

Thank you to Dc at Frugal in Norfolk, Pam at winkle#39;s Crazy Ideas, Morgan at Growing in the Fens and Cro for comments yesterday. It seems I'm not the only wife who gets landed with all the Christmas organisation and I'm also not the only person who doesn't really need anything for presents anymore.

We had more wild and windy weather over night and again today and we honestly couldn't remember when we last had rain two days running. More cooking apples and peppers have been put into the freezer and the ironing has been done while Him Outside has done a bit of tidying of the workshop.Those last few words ought to be in capital letters as it doesn't happen very often!
He also took the trailer to town and came back with 6 empty IBC 1000lt containers. These will be pressure washed, advertised in the smallholders newsletter and hopefully sold for a good profit. They are ideal for catching large amounts of water from a shed or house roof.
 This afternoon he did a bit of firewood cutting while I lit the woodburner and did some stitching.
First I cut several inches off the sleeves of a Cotton Traders roll neck cotton top. I love these for winter warmth and snap them up from charity shops whenever I see one. Ones for men are best as they are longer. The one I found in the Sue Ryder Shop in town the other day was £3.95 and lavender coloured but the arms were made for a gorilla! It's a bit too big all over really, which is fine except for the sleeves.

It seems there are so many worrying things in the news just lately. Energy companies are putting up their prices and then there is the threat of  blackouts if we have extra cold weather. I heard that in Liverpool the food banks are having to give out food that doesn't need heating as so many people cannot afford to use a cooker.How are so many people slipping through the safety net? As for all the goings on in the US government.....well who knows what effect that will have on the world if they can't sort themselves out.

Then I read that Ilona, the Queen of mean at Life After Money was fed up with reading about money saving, frugal living, debts etc etc and thought " goodness me what is the world coming too".

Seriously though it does look as if more belt tightening may be needed for many people. I sometimes feel overwhelmed by hearing of so much poverty in this country without even thinking about the rest of the world where poor really means having nothing.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Colder weather brings on thoughts of the C word

What a wild, wet windy day we have had over here on the edge of Suffolk. I thought the lovely mild weather we had been having was too good to last. We've really moved into Autumn and it feels like winter is on the way.

I spent the morning peeling and putting all the pears into the freezer, but my hand seized up before I could do more apples so that will have to wait. After the gales there are now plenty more windfalls to pick up.

 I apologise to everyone who doesn't like the mention of the C word before December the 1st, but I can't see the point of pretending there is nothing happening on December 25th. Any sensible frugal person will have got quite a lot planned already.

To start with you need to know how much you are going to be able to afford to spend. Life will be much simpler if you can save a little every week/month and then if you see just the thing in the January sales or in a June car boot sale then you will already have some cash in the kitty to buy it. If the people you are buying for wouldn't like a present from a car boot sale don't tell them! and if you make some of the presents that you give, then leaving everything until December would be silly.

I have a note book that I started way back in 1979 that has the families names down the left hand side and the  presents that we gave.It's moved with me 6 times, been hidden so the children couldn't find it and repaired with sellotape when it fell apart. It also has pages with lists of who we send cards to. I say we, but actually if Christmas was left to Him Outside to organise then not a lot would happen.
This year, I'm happy to say, lots of the spaces besides names are filled in already. His Brother and his Dad are my problems! I shall have to ask for suggestions.

The children moan at us for being difficult to buy for. I didn't think I was but its just because I hate people wasting their money on unwanted gifts. Take books for instance. Because we like books people think we like ALL books. But we have so many on the subjects we enjoy that we've been bought duplicates a couple of times which is sad.
"Smellies" are often given as gifts but apart from an unscented soap, shampoo and a moisturizing shower gel I don't use anything else so that's no good.
There was a time when we needed things for the smallholding but after 20 years here we have acquired everything we need.
I used to like cross stitch magazines and kits but the magazines are just full of ads and I have enough kits and bits to last me a lifetime.

Oh dear- the children ARE right, I am difficult!

The problem is that I like thinking of ideas for giving to other people but I'm not so good at receiving
What a miserable old woman I am!
( PS Lindt Lindor chocs are my favourites and we need a new microwave!)

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Cheap Heat and remembering childrens books.

Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday. I did reply to all but some of the replies have vanished into thin air - very odd. They were there and then they weren't!

Mostly we burn wood for heat. Our woodburner in the living room only needs a few bits to soon warm us up. The Rayburn in the kitchen also uses wood and anything else you like really. We get through a lot of wood every year and it's mainly free, except for buying a new chain for the chainsaw or a new chainsaw every now and again. We've got hedges and trees all around the field which we thin out and we can pick up old pallets for free from a couple of places locally.
BUT the problem with wood is that unless you are lucky to have some nice big bits of oak, you can't keep either the wood burner or the Rayburn in overnight. Which means by morning the house is cold - sometimes VERY cold. When I was younger this didn't matter but I certainly feel the cold more now I'm heading towards 60 and we started to get a few bags of coal in each winter to keep the Rayburn in on very cold nights.
Years ago every town had a coal merchant and we were able to get loose cheap coal or similar locally. When the last man retired we just bought a few bags where ever we could. Then a few months ago when our friend P brought the 9 chickens and a load of wheat over for us as he was giving up hen keeping he said he had several coal bunkers full off coal and Homefire ovals which he had got in return for work done, and as he would be moving soon he said we could buy it cheap if we went and collected.
So off we went early this morning with a big bundle of 50 paper feed sacks, 2 wheelbarrows and a shovel and our old horse box trailer.We came home a few hours later with enough coal for about 10 years! all for £200. Bargain.

This afternoon we picked the rest of the pears off the tree before the windy weather hits us tomorrow. I think I will be spending the day putting them and more apples into the freezer. We came to the conclusion that we had to turn on the second chest freezer if we wanted to keep all of this years bumper apple and pear harvest. Once we had 3 chest freezers, back in the day when we bred sheep we would have up to 8 lambs in half lamb packs in the freezer waiting to be sold. The second  chest freezer hadn't been used for a year but luckily after a bit of juddering it got going and seems OK.

Morgan at Growing in the Fens did an interesting post about reading and as she put a link into to my library book picture, I thought I would put a link in to her blog!
People often say that children need to have lots of books at home to get into reading but I love books and reading and yet we had very few books at home. My Aunties would get me a book for Christmas or birthday and we had one every year at the Sunday School Anniversary as an attendance prize.There were some Enid Blyton books around but I don't remember my mum or step dad ever reading a  proper book, although Mum read magazines and Mills and Boon type books when our neighbour lent them to her. She certainly never ever took us to a library. It must have been primary school that got me interested in books, I remember  Swallows and Amazons and of course all the Narnia series being read to us and  sometimes when the Schools Mobile Library came round we would be allowed on to choose some. The series by Will Scott about two families and their holiday adventures were my favourites and  several years ago  I found a copy of one in a charity book sale. I was so excited to find it and remember those stories. One year, on a visit to Hay on Wye we went to the Childrens book shop as our son was into collecting Biggles books and there I found another book that I had loved as a child. So had to buy it to relive those memories again. Just seeing them sitting on my bookshelves makes me smile.

GOOD HEAVENS ABOVE - I just looked on Amazon to see if there are any other Cherrys books and one like mine is £180!!!! I'd better put it under lock and key!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Windy weather on the way

Goodness me, now up to 76 followers. Welcome to you, and I haven't even checked the bloglovin bit to see if there is any one new there.
I'm very bad at remembering to say " Thank you" to people who have commented. I sometimes don't find comments on old blogs until several days later. - Hopeless! It's because I'm always in such a rush to do a new blog.

We were watching the weather forecast which is predicting a change to  much colder weather with strong North winds here from Thursday. So it seemed a good idea to get the best of the cooking apples off the smaller of our two Bramley trees and into a box.  I've wrapped them individually in newspaper and put into a good solid cardboard box. Then I found a flower pot carrying  tray to fit tight over the top. When it gets colder we will wrap an old sleeping bag around the box. They usually last pretty well like this right into February. We've sold all the apples off the big Bramley already and all the decent windfalls are in the kitchen or shed waiting for me to get them into the freezer. There are still quite a lot  to sell from the smaller tree.

Him Outside has been turning a small, cheap, wooden, livestock trailer, bought off ebay, into a moveable chicken shed for our newest 24 hens. Bodging something together with bits of wood is his favourite sort of job. At the moment the young hens are still in half of the hay shed but we want to get them out onto grass as soon as possible. The plan was to get rid of the very oldest hens but as they are still laying a few eggs we will hang onto them a bit longer.

We still have a few visitors coming and going on the campsite which is unusual for October. Sometimes we go dead quiet after August Bank holiday but September was good this year. I do begin to get a bid fed up of looking after the toilets and bins, and will be glad when it's all over for another year.

Not a lot of interesting news today.
Back tomorrow.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Onion Marmalade ( Chutney) Recipe

This chutney recipe is a little bit different. The consistency is like sticky marmalade but if you make it to sell it through a Country Market (what was WI Markets) you have to call it chutney.

The recipe was given to me by a lady who makes chutney for a living and originally needed 10lb of onions, needless to say I divided by 4! I've made it several times using ordinary onions but for a change decided to use some of the red ones we have grown and red wine vinegar too.

2 and half pound onions ( Red or normal). Peeled
2 tablespoons salt
Three-quarters pint of white distilled vinegar ( or red wine vinegar if using red onions)
Teaspoon of cloves tied in a square of muslin
2lb white sugar
2tsp caraway seeds

Slice onions thinly ( food processor or mandolin slicer)
Put into a couple of colanders and mix a tablespoon of salt into each. Then leave to drain for an hour.
Rinse salt off and leave to drain again. Then tip onto a clean tea towel and pat dry.
Put the vinegar and sugar into the preserving pan, tie the muslin bag of cloves to the handle of the pan so its in the vinegar ( this is so you can find it easily later) and bring slowly to the boil stirring to dissolve sugar. Simmer for a few minutes.
Add the onion and caraway seeds.
Bring back to the boil then simmer until it turns thick and sticky with only a little loose liquid.
Using a slotted spoon and a jam funnel, put the sticky onion mixture into the( sterilized) jars almost to the top. Then pour whats left of the liquid in the pan into a jug and use it to top up each jar. Pour some boiling water over a knife to sterilize it and wiggle it about in each jar to get rid of air bubbles. Screw lids on tight and label.  Keeps well but is probably best eaten within a year. I've got some 3 years old which is still OK.

 On the right hand side of the plate is some of the 3 year old which was made with ordinary onions and white vinegar ( or maybe cider vinegar, I cant remember). The spoon full on the left is today's red onion from the half jar. There is a bit too much loose liquid as I tipped the final bit into this jar. We will use this up first.

I have found it not really necessary to do the salting, rinsing and draining thing as I seemed to get bits of onion everywhere. I think it means that you just have to cook for a little while longer to cook off the liquid. I also seem to get everything sticky when I make it too.

This doesn't make a lot but is good if you want to try something a bit different.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Yet another car boot bargain

First of all I must give a warm welcome to new followers in the little pictures over there on the right, I hope you enjoy my ramblings from the Simple Suffolk Smallholding.

Those of you who have been following for a while will know that we love car boot sales. We go and look every other Sunday between April and October. We never come home with bags and bags of STUFF as we are only looking for things we need, things we know will be used in the future and things that are suitable as Christmas gifts.

Two weeks ago it was the work boots for Him Outside which he has been wearing and says they are the most comfortable he has ever had. Probably because they are really good quality and would have been at least £50 new, whereas if he goes to buy new ones from the work-wear supplier he would be wanting to spend around £35 at the most.
And the Epson Ink Cartridges which we don't need right this minute but we will need before too long and at £10 instead of £45ish they were a good bargain too.

Today my bargain was this  12 hole bun tin which was only 50p !
Not the most exciting picture to be found on a blog today!
  I do have one already but this will take up no room in the kitchen and will be handy for doing a bigger mince pie bake at Christmas. I suppose I didn't really NEED it but when I do need a replacement for my old one it will cost a lot more than 50p.
I also bought 3 new large pudding basins for £2 each. These will be used for Christmas Puddings to be given as gifts. I've been looking all year for some good second hand ones with no luck, but these were less than half price of new ones in the shops.
That was my shopping done for the day. There is only one more boot sale this season and then it will be the long wait until next year. I get withdrawal symptoms for weeks!

Because I want to do some more chutney making next week I had a good sort out of a big box of jam jars that were in the shed so as to match them up with the few remaining new lids that are left. I've made a mental note to call in at the packaging place to get a load of new lids of various sizes next time we are in that part of Suffolk. There's nothing more annoying than washing up jars ready for jam making only to find you have no lids to fit. We are so lucky to have a company that does all sorts of useful stuff like this not too far away. If you are wondering why I use new lids, it's because I've done food hygiene courses and know that an old lid can ruin a jar of new preserves quite easily!

Another job today was sorting out the strawberry runners  that were pegged down into pots to make new plants. All but two had rooted nicely so we have 27 new plants to fill up the second strawberry bed.
I spent 5 minutes deciding what we will eat for main meals next week and what jobs we are planning to do. After last week, which was all going in and out for various reasons, next week looks much quieter. Thank goodness.

Weather report today from the edge of Suffolk - Beautiful sunshine.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

A picture of Autumn.

This photo sums up the Autumn on the Simple Suffolk Smallholding

Two log baskets full of wood= free heat from the wood burner for a chilly evening and hot water and a hot kettle from the Rayburn.
Lots of squash to sell and lots still on the field.
A trug full of eating apples just ready and picked before they fall off.
A colander full of pears to put into the freezer.
A trug and bucket full of cooking apples to sell.
A big flowerpot full of windfall cooking apples to put in the freezer.

No wonder we are smiling!

Thank you to everyone for interesting comments yesterday.

Attila - could you hide the pears from your DH? :-)  I think they are nasty when hard too, so usually poach them before eating at this time of year.

Pam- Yep, I'll let you know which of the crime books I enjoy.

Bridget- We've never tried just Niger seed for bird feeding, we did use a mixed wild bird seed but most ended up on the ground.

Dreamer- we loved Scotlands Book Town when we visited a few years ago. Missed the book festival by a week but found a book I had been looking for for a long time in one of the book shops.

Sadie- Have you heard about the Clifford Road School air raid shelter in Ipswich?Open for visits sometimes, I've never been but heard it is very good.

Cro - I thought people in France ATE the wild birds rather than feeding them!

Julie- Aren't we so lucky to have free book reservations in Suffolk. It's 55p in Norfolk, another reason never to cross that border!

Cochrane Girl- Thank you for the info about another interesting sounding WWII book. It wasn't in stock in Suffolk so I've suggested it on their website suggestion page.

Fran - My library book photo is a good way of filling a blog once a month! So will keep going.

Lynda- I didn't realise that shipping via Amazon to the states was more than shipping via Amazon  from the states to us here.   I smiled at the thought of you struggling through an airport loaded down with books.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Apples and pears

I spent a while today putting apple and pear slices into the freezer. We had a storm overnight so there were some windfall cooking apples and |I want to get some of the pears done too before they are also blown off  the tree. I slice them all into slightly salted water, which stops them discolouring, drain and then pop them in freezer bags  and get them into the freezer quickly.
The plums have almost finished, the last few have been picked today and lots of squishy ones picked up off the ground and thrown into the chickens who get really excited, all rushing round with a plum in their beaks trying to avoid another chicken pinching it.

Him Outside had to trek back to Ipswich again to take the 24 hour heart monitor back, he came home via the feed merchants to pick up Octobers chicken feed and the agricultural engineers for some tractor bits. We always try to do two or more errands when using the jeep.
Earlier this week he had just started moving some soil to fill in gaps by the new path at the back of the house, when the water pump on the tractor packed up. Our tractor is an old Fiat and a few years ago he found a parts supplier over in Cardigan in Wales. After emailing and then phoning to pay, the new pump arrived less than 24 hours later - excellent service! So he has been up to his elbows in grease getting the pump fitted.( and then taking it all to bits again to cure another leak!)

Today I did my bike ride down to Friston for the library van. I went down with 3 bags full so it's a good job it was downhill. I came home with not quite so many, mostly crime fiction this month. So for all crime fans here is the regular book picture.

Most of these are ones I've ordered and are new books by favourite authors but one or two  are new-to-me authors who I'm testing out. I spotted the book about Stowmarket on the van shelves and thought I would borrow, as that was our old home town over in Mid Suffolk.
The other day I mentioned how disappointed I was with the book by Susie Hodge - The Home Front in WWII, as it just seemed to skim over things. These two books also about WWII are the complete opposite, well written, lots of details.
I seem to be stuck on WWII and modern or historical crime at the moment. Not sure why, perhaps there is some strange psychological reason!

Thanks to careful spending over the last few months we had a bit of spare money in the "everything else" section of the budget so while he was getting chicken feed he also got a sack of peanuts for bird feeding. We had to stop feeding peanuts when the price shot through the roof last winter but it has dropped back again. Buying a 25kg sack is by far the cheapest way to buy and watching the woodpeckers and all the smaller birds on the feeder while working in the kitchen gives great enjoyment. Now the peanut restaurant is open  I hope it doesn't take too long for them to find it again.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Shattered, exhausted and worn out!

Many thanks to A Suffolk Girl, Gill, Karen, Ilona, Trudie, Pam, Cro, The domestic storyteller and my friend Mary in Bath for comments yesterday.

Tonight I am absolutely k*******d. Shopping in Ipswich doesn't suit me anymore. Him Outside had to go to Ipswich Hospital to have a 24 hour heart monitor fitted, so it seemed sensible for me to go too and get all the things that I can't get cheap locally, that means a visit to  Poundland and Wilkinsons,  and Aldi and Asda on the way home.
I had time to have a good look around the town centre walking almost from one end to the other. It was market day on the Cornhill and a stall had huge punnets of grapes and nectarines for £1 each.Wish we had a market like that near here. I browsed all the magazines in WH Smiths where Christmas was the main feature - but what a price they are now. The Grape Tree, which is the reincarnation of Julian Graves was still there so I got some fruit for Christmas puds and cakes. They had a free magazine( just as they had years ago) with a list of all the shops they've reopened since this time last year. 20 so far and 4 more soon, their website is The range of stuff they have is not as big as Julian Graves had- I wanted preserved stem ginger but no luck, but the lady said they were hoping to expand.
Of course I HAD to have a look at the books in The Works. Where much to my surprise I found a copy of a book (Mrs Miles' Diary) from my Amazon wish list, I'd put it on the wishlist as the library didn't have a copy. It only came out in August and the works had it for £1.99. I bought it for myself and have hidden it away for Christmas.After 34 years of marriage I've discovered that the only way to have something to unwrap on The Day is to buy it myself! I also went to M & S for a Christmas present for Him ( necessary underwear - how boring we are!).
Several other Christmas things were bought from Poundland and Aldi, so that I might  be able to avoid another trip to Ipswich for several months.
Our quick tour of a few charity shops resulted in Him Outside finding a pair of slippers but no jeans.
As his hospital appointment was midday we did something we've never done before, we crossed the threshold of the big gold arched M place to have a cheap "meal". A voucher fell out of the free paper that I picked up last week, for meals for £1.99 instead of £4.29. Him Outside said we'd got to eat something somewhere, so avoiding the beef  burgers we had something vaguely resembling chicken. The fries were hot and the coffee was OK. But I don't think we will bother again! We'll go back to our usual pack-ups.
 I've come home with a horrible stiff neck so must have sat in a draught somewhere. I'm sitting typing with my hot wheatbag around my neck in the hope it will help.
I shan't stay up late tonight - not that I ever do- I'm turning more and more into a country bumpkin who hates going to town, it's really worn me out.
Back tomorrow - Library Day!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Note to self--- stop preaching

After posting yesterdays blog I was cross with myself for turning into some sort of sanctimonious preacher. I thought about deleting it but Him Outside said "don't, as people have already read and commented and would wonder where it had gone".
So I left it.
I don't want to preach or become a sort of goody goody person, there's enough of them blogging already!
I will NOT do it again.

Anyway, back to normal.

Many years ago the Suffolk Smallholders Society had regular monthly meetings, so that even if you were stuck on the holding on your own all winter you knew that once a month you could go out and meet other like minded smallholders. However the SSS is now mainly a training group with no regular meetings. So when someone wrote in the newsletter last winter that they were feeling a bit isolated we decided to offer our kitchen one morning a month for anyone to come for Coffee,cake and conversation. There are 250 families who are members of the SSS. Today was the first get together and 1 person came - hope November is better!

Other than nattering, today I've been tidying up, putting peppers into the freezer, fiddling about reading blogs, collecting and sorting the eggs and writing my shopping list for the months food, Christmassy bits and other things.

I have most Christmas presents made or bought already. But need to shop for one or two others plus fruit for making the puddings and cakes. There were some good ideas for presents to make hampers of one of the new blogs I've been reading, but I can't remember which one!
 I must have a look through my Christmas cupboard and see what's there in the way of small presents for putting into crackers. Cards were bought at car boot sales, January sales or home made. Tags are homemade, wrapping paper from a car boot sale. I will wait until nearer to the day to ask our children and their partners what they would like.
When we go to Ipswich next we will need to find Him Outside some new trousers. He has lost weight this summer and all his old ones are too big. When I say New, I mean New to Us, as we will do a tour of the charity shops first and only as a last resort will actually buy new.

I also spent half an hour finishing a library book as the library van is due soon and it's wanted back. I was a bit disappointed by it, it just skimmed the surface of subjects, and there are  lots of repeated sentences and mistakes which I find very annoying, whoever did the proof reading wasn't very good!

  I won't be looking out for it secondhand to add to my WWII collection.
 I forgot to say that one of the books I found at the charity book sale last Saturday was a book by Dorothy Sheridan, called Wartime Women. I had read it years ago and forgotten about it. Bought for 50p I was pleased to find a copy to re-read and keep.

Going back to Christmas things. I'm hoping to do a blog about what sort of things frugal smallholders like and( more importantly) don't like for presents, to drop a hint to all our relations who read the blog!!

It seems lots of the country has wet weather today - it's still dry here. 4 months now with hardly any rain.
Back tomorrow.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

More things we don't spend money on

Reading lots of other blogs on frugal living gives a window into other peoples lives that wouldn't normally be seen. Sometimes I see spending plans by people who are hoping to pay off their mortgage or debts and wonder how serious they really are.

They want to save yet still spend money on things that I consider unnecessary luxuries. Him Outside had a job that always paid just average earnings yet we wanted to be able to raise our 3 children, buy a smallholding, pay off the mortgage and to allow him to give up full time paid work at age 55. We took these plans seriously and looked at every way we could think of to achieve our aims.

The economic situation over the last 5 years is a new experience for young people, but those of us approaching 60 have seen it before. The oil crisis in the 70s caused prices to rocket. Then during the early 80s  prices went up and house prices doubled in just a few years. Another recession in the early 90s and mortgage rates shot up to 16% . We had just bought this smallholding and it made things very tight for us. So nothing is new.

 So my suggestions for others to think about would be-

Doing without anything with a label. Clothes, shoes, handbags etc. Take a step down to cheaper brands or two steps down to secondhand.

Always do the Martin Lewis( Money Saving Expert) one step down on supermarket food.

Grow as much as you can fit in and have time to care for.

Go without expensive brands of things like shampoo, make up etc etc. You might find the cheapest will work just as well.Use less of anything you do use.

Write down every single thing you spend money on and think of ways to spend less on EVERY SINGLE THING!

Do more for yourself. You don't need a window cleaner, cleaner, gardener, etc.

You CAN manage without  all the extra spending for TV. A TV license and Freesat is all you need! Honestly THAT IS ALL YOU NEED.

Never ever buy a new hardback book. In a months time you will be able to get it on Amazon for less and if you can't wait that long USE YOUR LIBRARY.

Never ever spend silly money on Birthday cards. Where do they go in a few days time? INTO THE BIN. It's the thought that counts, write a special note inside instead.

I could go on and on as there are hundreds of ways to pinch pennies IF YOU WANT TO. Look on it as your job if you are serious about paying off debts and having a good future.

I took part in the 30 ways to Save a £1 on Money supermarket. A few more ideas are HERE


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