Friday, 31 October 2014

Review of the month - looking back at October

Mainly because of Cs 10 days in hospital with the "hardly" a heart attack, October was a bit of an odd month.
Other things of note from the Simple Suffolk Smallholding were
  • An expensive month with both electric bill and water bill for the campsite. Electric bill made even worse by being 4 months instead of 3 due to the meter reader reading it wrongly.
  • Extra expenses such as car park and phone top ups due to C being in hospital.
  • To make things easier for me working here we had to sell off the oldest 60 hens earlier than we would have done. 
  • The campsite has been tidied and everything put away for the winter. 
  • Christmas puddings and mincemeat were made.
  • also a batch of sweetcorn relish 
  • C brought home 10 IBC containers and sold 2 straight away the rest  he will be able to wash out and sell as soon as he gets back to normal.
  • We sold almost all the squash and pumpkins including the 5 Giant ones giving us a total income from gate sales of just over £200 this month.
  • A little money was added to the ISA
  • Lots of good books from the library van ( but not enough time to read them)
  • A warm month, so less wood used for Rayburn and wood-burner and the Alstomeria in the garden gave a late burst of colour to bring into the kitchen

  • I've used my £10 Craft Creations voucher received in July  to order some card making things from their catalogue
  • An unexpected prize of £20 worth of greetings die cuts also from Craft Creations
  • A rosette from the Camping and caravanning Club 
  • Another free copy of Home Farmer Magazine to review
  • We have been able to give our eldest a money gift towards her May wedding
  • Eating our own apples and our own fruit from the freezer all month means that  the only fruit bought was  lemons for the puddings and mincemeat.
  • A quick overnight visit  from both eldest children which means we got to see all three of them this month.
  • Vouchers from Wyevale Garden Centre used for Christmas presents
  • I didn't win the old stripped pine dresser that I left a bid on at the auction ( probably a good thing, I didn't really need it but it was so much nicer than the modern chest of drawers and shelf unit that makes up our current 'dresser'.)
  • Sold a small load of hay = £25 income.
 I think that's covered everything that's happened here this month.

Back Tomorrow with the library book photo and Year In Books link

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Beetroot are good for you

Beetroot are a very important part of our daily diet. We grow as much as possible to have some everyday for lunch. I find the vacuum packed absolutely foul and I'm not keen on too much vinegar so don't like pickled either.

I looked on the web for more information about how good it is for you and found this:-



  Beetroot benefits

Beetroot is a dark red vegetable with an acquired taste which has had a lot of coverage in the news. It has been linked with better stamina, improved blood flood and lower blood pressure.
But what's the truth about beetroot?

Beetroot facts

The website says the vegetable became popular in Roman times and it was used to treat fever, constipation, wounds, skin problems - and was used as an aphrodisiac.
Most beetroot on sale is round and red, but yellow, white and stripy versions are available.
The beetroot taste is described as sweet, earthy and tender to eat. It is grown in the ground and is related to turnips, swedes and sugar beet.
Beetroot has featured in recipes from top chefs including Jamie Oliver and Heston Blumenthal.
If you're considering beetroot as one of your 5-a-day, it contains potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamins A, B6 and C, folic acid, carbohydrates, protein, antioxidants and soluble fibre.

Beetroot for blood pressure management

Researchers have known for some time that juice may help lower blood pressure, but in 2010 UK researchers revealed that nitrate is the special ingredient in beetroot which lowers blood pressure and may help to fight heart disease.
In a Queen Mary University of London study, healthy participants had to drink a glass of beetroot juice while others had a dummy (placebo) drink. Others took nitrate tablets.
Blood pressure was lowered within 24 hours in people who took nitrate tablets and those who drank beetroot juice.
The researchers admitted to BootsWebMD that beetroot juice is a love it or hate it kind of drink, but found people in the study didn't mind it so much when they were drinking it every day.
People with very high blood pressure can end up being on multiple tablets, so a more natural approach could prove popular if the initial research results are confirmed.
The study was funded by the British Heart Foundation and published online in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.

Beetroot for the brain and dementia

Drinking beetroot juice increases blood flow to the brain in older people, which may be able to fight the progression of dementia, a 2010 study suggested.
Beetroot contains high concentrations of nitrates, which are converted into nitrites by bacteria in the mouth. Nitrites help open blood vessels in the body, increasing blood flow and oxygen to places lacking in oxygen.
Previous studies have shown that nitrites widen blood vessels, but US researchers writing in Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry, the peer-reviewed journal of the Nitric Oxide Society, say theirs was the first to find that nitrites also increase blood flow to the brain.

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We want to be able to eat some for as many days as possible during the year. So early and late sowings are made in the poly-tunnel and two beds sown outside. We grow round and cylindrical. In some years we've had problems with mice who move in and eat around the tops while they are still in the ground. For some reason in other years we have no problem. This year was a good year.
To see what damage they do,  look here at Kevs' English Homestead blog from a few days ago  .

This morning we were able to get up most of the decent sized beet and store them in a box of sand for winter.
 We've even got room for the box in the new  bigger garden shed so I won't need to go right up to the workshop to fetch them. Another job done for winter. There are some small and giant ones left in the ground which will be cooked up for the next few weeks and finally when the weather turns wet/frosty they will be pulled up and put in the shed in a bucket where they will keep for another week or two. Then we will use what we have growing in the poly-tunnel before using these that are stored.

Before the beetroot storage job we had managed between us to sort out the cables so that we can put electric light on a timer in the big chicken shed. The mower trailer to the rescue again, carrying the cable box and  everything up to the top of the field. The hens have gone off lay a bit over the last few weeks so hopefully the extra light will help.

The final pumpkin was collected today at last. The trailer has been moved right out of the way until it's next needed. If we are offered some plants for giant pumpkins next year I shall say thanks but no thanks!

Thank you for all the interesting comments yesterday about preparing for bad weather. Living here near the coast we rarely get much snow and since our small back road started to be used by the community bus service taking old people to day centres etc one of the local farmers clears it with a snow plough. Shame really, I quite like the idea of being cut off for a week!

Back Tomorrow

Edited to add - Why has the first paragraph changed to capital letters. On the draft it's quite normal, post it and it changes to capitals - how weird is that?

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Getting ready for winter in the country

It's a fact.......... There is more weather in the country.

For many years I wrote for the Suffolk Smallholders Newsletter and each year there would be society members who were having their first winter on a smallholding. So every now and again I did a bit about getting ready for winter. After searching around C found it on a memory stick, I've done a few alterations and updated and
this is it

Getting Ready For Winter –For newcomers to the countryside

(And a timely reminder for the rest of us.)
Getting ready for winter in a city probably means buying a new coat, if you live on a smallholding in the countryside a bit more preparation is needed  
 In towns and cities there are pavements, in the country we just have MUD! So the first thing is to make sure your welly boots are waterproof, check they haven’t cracked underneath which you might not notice until you step in a puddle.
Find your wooly hats, gloves and scarves and warmest old coat or waterproof. It's no fun being cold on the daily animal feeding rounds. C swears by a boiler suit for working in.
We may never again get a winter like 1963 or 1981 (I don’t go back as far as 1947!) but we’ve had electric off for a week on two separate occasions in the last 20 years so you never know.

If you have an all-electric house or heating that uses an electric pump, it’s a good idea to get in an alternative, a calor/propane gas heater is good or get the chimney cleaned in case you need to open up a fireplace. A couple of hot water bottles are useful.

The same goes for cooking. A camping gas stove with a spare cylinder is always handy. Everyone feels better with a hot drink.
In the longer term a wood fired Rayburn or a woodburner will ensure that you are never without warmth and a way of heating a kettle.

For lighting, keep a supply of candles and matches somewhere easy to find in the dark. Tea lights only last 4 hours but a night light candle will burn for 8 hours. Have some spare batteries for the torch or buy a wind-up torch for emergencies. A gas camping light is handy if the electric is off for more than a few hours.

If you raise your own meat losing all your freezer stocks can be a real problem if the electric is off for a while. Try not to open the freezer. You might think of investing in a generator just in case. 

If you know you are in an area that could be cut off in snow then a good stock of food will be needed.

Make sure your animals have some shelter. Chickens hate drafts but need good ventilation. Put a shelter around the feed hopper if you feed them outside. For a few sheep, lay out some bales in the shape of a cross, this will let them get out of the wind, whichever way its coming from. Elderly goats will appreciate a goat-coat and some warm water to drink. Lag outside water taps if you can to stop them freezing up. Carrying buckets of water from the house to your animals soon becomes hard work. Try not to run too low on feed stocks but make sure spare feed is in a dry, rat proof container.

Rats and mice can be a big problem in buildings and in the compost heap (and in the house sometimes too). Ideally bait boxes should be laid much earlier in the season but they will still work. Using proper boxes means less risk to pets. 

On the house – clean out guttering and make sure drains are not blocked by leaves. If you have a septic tank check that the outflow is clear.

If we do get snow, be careful clearing paths, shoveling snow in cold weather can aggravate heart conditions! ( This has suddenly become relevant here, when I wrote it I was only thinking of old people!)

 In cities "Chelsea Tractors" are much despised but nobody will complain about you having a 4 wheel drive vehicle in the countryside when the roads are covered in snow and you are the only person who can pull someones car out of the ditch or get through to the shop.

Finally, a battery or wind-up radio will keep you in touch with what’s happening if the electric goes off. Local radio stations usually give information about school and road closures during bad weather.

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 Copying something written 10 years ago is a lazy way of filling a blog post, but as John at Going Gently always says" Hey Ho !"

 Welcome to jeannie a new follower via Bloglovin'.
Thank you for comments about C and ideas for what the book was, I still don't know.
 Back |Tomorrow

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

More campsite clearing and a book question

Welcome to Tara, a new follower in the  Google Pictures over on the right.

Thank you to everyone for comments about mincemeat. I think some people didn't realise that there is a link there to the recipe which is online as well as in her book.

Dc at Frugal in Norfolk asked if I could remember a book I recommended a while back, a war time diary, maybe about an RAF wife. I can't for the life of me remember a book about an RAF wife.
 This is my picture of my WWII books , which was on the blog early last year is it one of these?

These are the diaries that I have picked out from the shelves, is it one of these?

If it was a library book some are pictured under the label of Library book pictures. Otherwise I'm stumped.

This morning, while the bread dough was rising, we went around the campsite and took down all the pitch markers and other signs to store them out of the weather. C rode on the mower with the trailer on the back and I unscrewed all the signs. Some will need a bit of paint before next season We even managed between us to roll the picnic table onto the trailer and store that away too. Then we went up to the empty chicken shed and cleared up a few more things that were laying around including one roll of electric fence. There is still another 50 metres to take down and put away sometime.
This afternoon while I was collecting and sorting eggs C used the ride on mower again to cut the grass in the orchard. We would be lost without that mower!

Before he cut the grass I nipped round to pick up a few more windfalls.
I haven't done a "what home grown and home produced food is available to eat today" list lately so here it is for the 28th October.
From the garden:- Cabbage ( red and green), Chard, kale,parsnips,leeks, last of the carrots, swedes,beetroot, apples both eating and cooking
From the poly-tunnels:- last of the tomatoes, lettuce, radish and salad leaves, a few late peppers.
From Store:- Squash, pumpkin, onions, potatoes
From the freezer:- Lots of apricots, apples, pears, smaller amounts of raspberries, strawberries and cherries. Peppers and broad beans
From the kitchen:- Home made bread, jam and cakes.

C had a phone call today from the heart aftercare nurse. She had read through all his notes  and it seems that the traces of the chemical in the blood that shows a heart attack was so small that it was almost not a heart attack! If he was employed somewhere not doing heavy work he would be back at work in 4 weeks. What good news. His tablets may need some juggling to see whats best for him and the doctor will need to organise some other checks too. So he is feeling very reassured.

Back Tomorrow

Monday, 27 October 2014

Christmas Mincemeat

This is the recipe I use for my Christmas mincemeat for the all important mince pies

From Delias' Christmas cookbook

I used three-quarters of the recipe because the vegetable suet that came from Approved Foods are in 6oz bags ( a hundred and something grams - I don't do metric!) I used just 1 lemon and one orange. As with the puddings the cooking apples were our own, raisins and peel from AF, sultanas Tesco value range. I didn't bother with cinnamon as mixed spice has that in anyway.

It was started  yesterday and finished it today. While  cooling, before potting up, the kitchen smelt delicious.
There are two large jars for us and one for a gift.

 Lots of jobs done today. C decided he would be OK doing some grass cutting on the ride on mower and did 3 half hour sessions, with a rest in between, which has made everywhere look much tidier.
I did another bit of tidying in the polytunnels, every wheelbarrow full hauled out will make the final clear out easier,also got a basket full of ironing done and chopped a couple of sacks of kindling and a bit of cleaning too.We've had a lovely sunny breezy day and the washing was soon dry and indoors.

Yesterday a man came to collect the largest of the huge pumpkins, using a bit of board as a bridge he was able to roll it into the back of his van. I've no idea how he will get it out at the other end. I asked him what he was going to do with it, he said that his daughter liked to decorate the whole house and outside, so he was going to stand it by the front door with some other big pumpkins round it. He paid me £15, I was happy but he's obviously got more money than sense! All the four that I have sold have gone to people who want to display them outside in a " Look, We've got a bigger pumpkin than you!" sort of display. Well, if that's how they want to spend their money who am I to disagree. We still have one left which is due to be collected on Wednesday. The trailer has now been moved away from the front drive and kitchen window and we will go back to anonymity after weeks of having people stopping to look and take photos.

Thank you for comments yesterday
Back Tomorrow

Sunday, 26 October 2014

We never fear the post dropping through the letterbox

I've seen programmes on TV about people in debt, worrying about everything that comes through the letterbox. Hiding bills and final demands in cupboards, refusing to open them and sort out their problem.

We don't have that worry here. If a bill arrives it has been budgeted for, the money is available, the bill is paid as soon as possible. I don't like owing or being owed money.

So on the whole we welcome things dropping on the mat, letters from friends are best, garden catalogues are for winter reading, charity mailings often have pens or cards in, even unwanted junk mail is sometimes useful and most things get looked at and either put in the recycling bin or burned.
Often the postman brings  surprises
Like these on Friday and Saturday
The rosette is from the Camping and Caravanning club. It means that a visitor to our site has taken the trouble to nominate us in the Certificated Site Friendly Welcome category, and I will display this rosette, along with the two we got last year, in the recreation/information room next season.

The die-cut banners are my prize for winning a competition in the Craft Creations Summer magazine. There are £20 worth of different greetings. Enough to last forever I think.

Coming home from Woodbridge yesterday we saw that there was an extra car boot sale today, so we popped up the road early. Not many car boots there, so C managed a slow walk round. No exciting finds, £1.99 for 3 pairs of thermal socks for C, 50p spent on a cross stitch book mark kit ( Did I say somewhere NO MORE CROSS STITCH KITS EVER? - whoops, I shall ebay it I think) and C spent  £1 on 5 wet/dry sandpaper block things and 50p on an extension lead socket. According to the sign there will be two more boot sales - weather permitting - on the first 2 Sundays in November.

Two more followers via  Google, goodness me, up to 223. Welcome Laurie and Laura. Bloglovin' is up to 217 and I think the new follower there is Finola - welcome to you too.

Thank you for cheese comments yesterday. Being frugal I should have taken the cheese back but it's a matter of taste with cheese , some people may have thought it OK. Anyway C chucked it on the fire before I had decided what to do with it so that was the end of that. Driving to Saxmundham would have cost me more than £1 and I'm not sure if I will be going that way this week anyway.

Several blogging friends have asked how C is. He is OK apart from lacking energy and short of breath, with horrible indigestion every time he moves. We don't know if the symptoms are connected to the heart attack or something different, so more checks will have to happen sometime.
 He will be extremely fed up by the time we get to the end of 4 months of  recuperation.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Value cheese - taste warning and a morning out

I saw this in Tesco, new to their value range and for £1 thought it was worth a try

OH Yuck and very yuck, really nasty.
Something seriously wrong with the taste. Not like any blue cheese I have ever tried before.
 I was debating whether to chuck it or if I could hide it in a quiche and had left it in the fridge. C opened the fridge told me it stank and threw it on the fire!
On reflection I think that was probably the best place for it.

Our morning out was to the Wyevale garden centre via the Auction rooms at Campsea Ash. Saturday mornings is when they have the viewing for their Monday general sales.
I have left a bid on one thing which, if I win, will be my Christmas present.
Onto Wyevale to use the £5 off £15 voucher, and I found 2 small things to go with money for our two nephews and bought some Tomato feed ready for next year.
The Garden centre has started to fill up with Christmas stuff
Do people really buy a whole new colour scheme of decorations every year? I suppose someone must buy them all or it wouldn't be worth their while taking up so much space.

Welcome to Boud, a new follower via Google and thank you for comments yesterday. Cro really made me smile :-)

Back Tomorrow

Friday, 24 October 2014

New socks..... I'm so easily pleased

Great new walking boot socks arrived today, I'm easily excited!
When I tried on my exorbitantly expensive new comfy boots a few weeks ago they gave me a pair of socks to use, they were lovely and comfy too so I bought a pair. All my old thick socks which I also wear with wellies were either lumpy on the heels where they had been mended, horrible around the toes because the seams went straight across or fell down when I walked because they were too old and stretched. I looked online and found the new Ecco socks with a 10% off voucher which made them cheaper than buying in the shoe shop. Now the old ones can go and my feet will be comfy for several years.

Also in the post another Christmas catalogue, all the way from the Inverawe Salmon Company in Scotland. We visited when we had a holiday there several years ago and now get a catalogue every year which is useful as it provides a present for our neighbour. She is a wealthy lady and doesn't need Things, so a pack of smoked salmon and various other bits from their smokery makes an ideal gift for her. She is very worried about how she will manage without C to do her odd jobs and gardening but hopefully he will get back to working for her in the spring.

Today was spent bread baking and moving chicken feed ( and a few other jobs too). We also took wild bird seed and peanuts over to our neighbough, they had been sitting here since we brought them home from the mill when we got chicken feed about 3 weeks ago. By scooping some out of each sack into another sack it made them easier for me to lift and tip into her bins. C took them in the trailer on the back of the mower and I did the lifting. I think lots of jobs will be done like this for a while.

There is only a week to go until Library day and I still have nearly all my books unread. Seem to have been a bit busy lately! This was finished this afternoon
Historical crime, the sixth in the series set in the fens during the 11th century. Her other series was set in Kent at the beginning of the 13th . Both have elements of the old pagan religions and supernatural happenings. It's interesting to read about the old ways of healing and how far people were able to travel, of course being fiction they don't need to be factually accurate but the author studied  archeologist at university so I hope they are well researched.

You will be pleased to know that this "mystery" plant growing under the bird seed feeder has gone in the compost, we didn't want to be raided!

Thanks for comments yesterday
Welcome to another Pam, a new follower on Google.
Back Tomorrow

Thursday, 23 October 2014

5 seconds of fame

Our son sent us a text on Monday to say that ITV Anglia television had filmed him where he was showing a party of schoolchildren around an old WWII airfield and it would probably be on the local news programme. We were still waiting in Ipswich Hospital so had resigned ourselves to missing his little bit of fame. But then there he was on there last night, looking and sounding like a proper archaeologist  ( which is handy as that's what he is!) The community archaeology job that he has for the next couple of years includes lots of involvement with schools, airfield preservation groups and general public so he may be on again.
I had my own 5 seconds on Look East the local BBC news programme several years ago when they came to speak to me during the last chicken health scare thing ( I can't even remember when or what it was called) we thought we would have to keep chickens under cover to stop contamination from wild bird droppings. I said something like....... we have to abide by rules even if it does seem cruel keeping free-range hens shut in their shed- and there was a five second film of me throwing some corn in and going to collect the eggs and that was my brief spell on TV all over - thankfully no-one saw it!

Today I drove C down to the doctors so they could check his BP, look at all the information received from the hospital and see if he needed any changes to tablets. I popped into the Co-op for a bit of shopping - blinkin' place has moved everything round in the last couple of weeks, there were people everywhere wandering around looking for things. I completely forgot to look for molasses for making brown sugar as mentioned in yesterdays blog. None of the local supermarkets according to My Supermarket stock it so if it's not in the Co-op I shall have to stick to buying brown sugar. When we kept goats, molasses was always in the cupboard to put in warm water for goats that had just kidded, they love it and would drink a huge bucketful which was good for helping with milk production.

No other news today

But I mustn't finish without welcoming Sandy and Maria who are 2 new followers over there in the Google Friends pictures.

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

It's Christmas Pudding Time

Last year I used half my Christmas Pudding Recipe because there were still 2 in the cupboard from 2012, this year I used 1 and a third times the recipe to make 6 puds of various sizes, some will be given as gifts.
  With the Rayburn alight it means I can steam them for free.
3 puds steaming and some fruit de-frosting with a pasta/salmon bake in the oven
 The suet, mixed peel and raisins were from Approved Foods, flour is Aldi - the cheapest I can find, value sultanas from Tesco,  eggs were thin shelled or odd shaped ones we can't sell, apples were our own windfalls, all these are small ways to keep the cost down. I'm still using some brown sugar that I had bought before I saw Dawns tip on making brown sugar. Something I shall certainly try.

I've had 3 or 4 Christmas catalogues in the post so far this year but I doubt I will be buying anything from them even if they are charity ones. Things always seem so expensive.
The Friends of the Earth Catalogue has a bag of 15 pine-cone firelighters which seem to be a cone attached to a a small wax circle with a wick to light them for £9.00, mind you, that's cheap compared to some I looked at on t'internet which were £16 for 12! There's money to be made from fir cones obviously, but £16 - Heck! If you look HERE there's info on how to make them. But why? because  a bit of scrunched up newspaper and a few pine cones would light a fire anyway without faffing about with melting wax and cup cake cases. This is a no faff household!

Today's post brought yet another voucher, the 4th in 2 months, from Wyevale Garden Centre. I'm beginning to think they are desperate for our custom. We had a £5 off £15 spend for September, same again for October, and another £5 of £15 to be used during the last two weeks of October and now £2.50 off anything. We will be popping along there again soon for another Christmas present.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

A quiet Tuesday indoors

Some wild, windy and much chillier weather here today, luckily I managed to get the outside jobs done in between the heavy showers.
We've both had a quiet relaxing day, I did a bit of cleaning and made an apple crumble with yet more windfalls from the Bramley and kept The Rayburn and the wood-burner  alight to keep C warm after the hospital heat.

Tomorrow I want to really get back to normal life and normal blogging but first I need to say Thank you to all these people who left comments over the last 10 days

Simple  Living
Mary in Bath
John Grey
Judy Y
Pam in Texas
Nanny Beth
Julie Grey
Bovey Belle
Wendy P
Dawn McHugh
Everyday Life On a shoestring
Compost Woman
Vintage Maison
Suffolk girl
Connie S
Out my window
56 Steps
Jan Butcher
Shrimpton and Perfect
Shoestring Cottage
Shirley McLauren
Sue@New life in the country
Gill at Frugal in Derbeyshire
Countryside Tales
Julie at Dragonfly gems
Red Setter
Michelle H
Diane Oart
Down by the sea
Elise Griffith
Kate Steeper
Saver of Surburbia
Em Parkinson
lah 2563
Sweet blondie Blue Eyes
My Shabby Chic vintage Frugal Life
Phyllis Weaving
Dc at Frugal in Norfolk
The Reason I save
Judy Y
Live Cheaper day by day.

 + penfriends who read in Canada, Scotland and Birmingham
(and, as they always say -  anyone else who knows us!)
( I hope I've not missed anyone)

 With all those good wishes zooming around the blogosphere it's no surprise that C got better and home again safe and sound.

Back tomorrow

Monday, 20 October 2014

Yes, we are home

We finally got home just after 8pm. C was told he could go home at half past 3 but we had to wait until after 7 for his new tablets to come from the pharmacy! Even more bed blocking.
He had the angiogram and they found...........................Absolutely Nothing!
So the only thing that showed he had had a heart attack was the blood test.
They've changed his tablets, no driving for 4 weeks and 6 months of gradual recovery.
A lovely quiet winter for us I think.
Nice to have him home.

Back Tomorrow

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Avoiding gadgets

I started this post about 6 months ago and it's been sitting in the drafts folder ever since. Then Jill who is  a new blogger at Loving our Frugal Life did a post on the same subject  several weeks ago which reminded me about mine. Although it's still taken another month to get it posted.

 Our son was about 8 and at primary school when he got told off for not doing his homework properly. He was supposed to go around the house and write down what was run by electric in each room. Which he did.
The problem was that in the kitchen all he had listed was the light, the food mixer, the radio and the fridge. He was right but the teacher didn't believe him. She said what about the cooker and kettle. But our cooker was gas from a cylinder and our kettle was heated on the gas hob.
This memory always pops back into my mind when the Lakeland catalogue drops through the letterbox. They really like their gadgets at Lakeland ( other catalogue shops are available but no one sends as many catalogues as Lakeland!)

We've got more electrical things in the kitchen now than we've ever had before but even now I'm guessing we have a lot less than many people.
So ...............Oh lovely -- I can make a list!
In our kitchen, powered by electric, we have
Deep fat fryer
Trusty Kenwood Chef
Electronic ignition for the gas hob

Before the new kitchen we had an old  propane gas cooker with an eye level grill so we didn't even have a toaster and had we have been able to find a built in oven that would run off propane gas with a separate grill made by Cannon like we had back in the 1980s then I would still not have an electric oven or toaster.
You can get a machine or a gadget to do anything and all run by electric and every replacement seems to have a way of using more electric than before, with lights, timers etc.
Every one of those items has been made in a factory, usually abroad, using electric and water, each will need disposing of at the end of it's life. How many people think about that when they add a shiny new gadget to the back of their kitchen cupboards- That's where most of the ice cream makers, cup  cake bakers and other odd things get put.

And before everyone shouts at how handy their slow cooker and bread maker have been, let me say this is only my opinion as a person who doesn't go out to work and I can fully understand that for folks out every day then some other gadgets could be handy.

Back to normal Tomorrow

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Summery Saturday in October

It was really warm here this morning, the thermometer on the outside of the kitchen window and in the shade said 19 degrees C, later the breeze got up and we had a bit more cloud. With such a good morning it would have been perfect to get started on pruning the gooseberries, but I just could be bothered! Instead I  nipped to Saxmundham for shopping, tidied a few things up from the empty chicken run, looked after the chickens we still have, chatted to our eldest who has come up from Surrey for the weekend,  looked at the Papercraft mag that H brought for me and my new Craft Creations Magazine which arrived in the post this morning and Whoopee Do! I have won a prize in one of the competitions - £20 worth of die-cut banners from their catalogue - very nice

I had 2 people call in to find out how C was and a phone call about the giant pumpkins. As long as the people who want them turn up to collect they are now all sold- thank goodness, as I'm fed up with looking at them outside the kitchen window.

That's my  news for today, just a quiet day, H took our youngest up to visit C and he is still OK.
I'm going to have a quiet evening watching Strictly.

Thank you once again for the comments and good wishes.

Back Tomorrow


Friday, 17 October 2014

The kindness of blogging friends.

I cured the computer charging problem by blowing in the hole on the side of the laptop and in the bit on the end of the cable that goes in the hole and hey presto all OK.

 Here's a message from the main man -

Thank you to everyone for your kind comments. We discovered Ipswich  Hospital has free WIFI so I now have my laptop with me and I am able to read your comments and blogs. It is lovely for both Sue and myself to read all your kind wishes from all over the world, this blog thing brings everyone close and into a large friendly family. I am still here in Ipswich hospital run by our wonderful NHS or as it turns out the No Hurry Service. The echo cardio results were good  as the new one matched the one I had 14 months ago. My Angiogram is due to take place on Monday but no promises have been made- Fingers crossed everyone. The food is reasonable good, a nice selection each meal time with fresh salads made on the ward and jacket potatoes at the evening meal which are delicious. Rice pudding, Semolina, Tapioca and other delicious delights for afters as we call them in Suffolk. The veg is the biggest disappointment as they are all small sliced or cubed frozen and boiled to within an inch of destruction. One thing I was told last time I was in was DO NOT EAT THE SAUSAGE.  We had sausage the other night and that warning still stands. The staff are brilliant and several are still the same as when I was here 14 months ago and it amazes me that when they first come round and see your name and face they say " what are you doing here again". How do they remember us all?  I am dreadful with names although I do recognize a face. 
Once again thank you all.

So that is a message from him, STILL in hospital STILL waiting to go for the angio-gram, although he thinks he is now pencilled in for first thing Monday morning although one man in the ward was due for an angio-gram on Tuesday and finally got there this morning. We are not sure when he will get home afterwards.
There is no point in either of us getting worried, annoyed or fed up with the situation so  I'm just chugging along here.

Our friend came along this afternoon and took away the 60 oldest hens, he sells them on to someone else. So that's one less shed for visiting 4 times a day, one less feeder to fill, one less thing  for me to think about.

I've put another few bags of cooking apples into the freezer, which is now full to the brim with fruit. That's going to be a huge money saver for us through the winter. Talking about money saving, being a person who likes to Be Prepared, I've been looking at Our Budget and seeing where we will make savings when we haven't got chickens etc. C is already thinking that we won't need the Jeep(hooray) if we don't need to pull a big trailer for hay. That would be a huge saving. We are not planning to do anything in a hurry and will see how he is in a few months. I've realised that without dozens of chickens it will be so much easier for us to get to our daughters wedding next May. Thinking positive is the thing!

Thank to everyone for saying what a handsome husband I have, Gawd knows why he married a short plump person, but as we've been together 35 years and had 3 lovely children I guess it must be all right. 

Back Tomorrow

Thursday, 16 October 2014


He is still in hospital, waiting for an angio-gram, a echo-sound or ultra sound or what ever test showed nothing different to a year ago, so there seems to have been no damage to anything. He is a bit of a mystery!
But he says Thank you for all the get well wishes.

Have just noticed that although I'm ( the lap top! not me personally!) plugged in to the mains it isn't showing up as being plugged in. So I might have a problem.
So If I disappear that will be why!

 I've been busy in the poly-tunnels this morning doing a bit of tidying, and all is OK here.

I'll go now to save the battery. Thank you again

Back tomorrow, battery permitting

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The news is just the same

Sorry, just a short  post, the day seems to have flown. C is still in hospital, I visited him again, no new news to report and it looks as if he will be stuck there for a few more days as the angiogram department is running about 2 days late and very busy. Ho Hum.

Many thanks again for comments and good wishes.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Shutting the campsite for winter

Having decided to shut the campsite  2 weeks early I've been clearing up  ready for winter.
First job was to empty the dustbins and put them into the shed out of the weather. I've turned off the electric to the loos and shower, picked up the mats and put them in the recreation room and  cleared lots of old magazines from there into the recycling bin. I'll do the leaflets and pile all the books from the "library" into a box tomorrow.
The loo brushes all come into the utility room and have been washed in bleach and put away, floor bucket and mop into the shed. Shower curtain in the wash......and I was horrified to see how grubby it was on the shower side, I've only seen it from the other side so didn't realise, and I have a spare indoors so could have changed it.
Then I covered all the loos and basins with newspaper, after putting all the plugs less way for spiders to come in. They are the critters that make the most mess over the winter.
That just leaves the water to be drained out of everywhere sometime later.
Although we enjoy running the campsite it's always nice to have the place to ourselves again for a few months. I think we will be able to keep the campsite going, because now we have new toilets and the shower they only need a coat of floor paint each spring and the grass cutting every week.

Stepping out of the back door this morning I glimpsed a HUGE bird of prey circling just over the hedge in the  next field. I stood and watched for a couple of seconds wondering what on earth it was then realised it had a wire attached. It's a bird scarer! I knew the new farmer used them but we hadn't had one so close before. I'm not sure what the chickens will think about it.

I got around to shelling the Very Few walnuts that I managed to scrounge from the squirrels. They are going to be extremely fat squirrels this year, from a tree loaded with nuts this was all I got. So many were rotten or shriveled once they were shelled, the blinkin' furry tailed rodents have had all the good ones.

Look how words can come back to haunt you, this is what I said a week ago

It is so pleasing to know that if the chickens stop laying and if C does no work for anyone from now to April we will still be able to survive!

Cleaning out the big  chicken sheds is too big a job for me and C will not be able to do it for a while, so the chickens will have to go. We'll just keep a few in a small shed for eggs for us and friends. He'll also be banned from hedge cutting and strimming for a while so he won't be able to do much work either.
Just imagine if we had used all our summer income towards a shiny new one of these

Or a brand kitchen like this

 Or we could have had this in the garden

Phew! Thank goodness we put the money into savings for winter!

Thank you so much for all the comments again, sorry for not replying individually to everyone but I have read all good wishes and told C about them too.
He discovered this morning that the phones connected to the TVs that hang over the beds are free to use to land lines for a few hours each morning. So it was good to have a chat, we communicate by text most of the time. C hasn't bothered with shelling out for a TV card as its expensive and he has plenty to read anyway. That must mean that the people who do pay to watch TV are covering the cost of everyone else to phone! We don't mind that.

Thank you again for the thoughts and prayers, it's lovely to know people are thinking about him stuck in his bed.

Back Tomorrow

Monday, 13 October 2014

We have rain..........all day.

Rain and more rain and then even more.
I braved it to drive up to hospital this morning while C was still in the assessment ward - longer visiting times there. He has now been moved into the Cardiac ward, to await various tests, at least it's a bit quieter, not so many people coming and going.
Well, the "heart event" was a heart attack. Not good news for a fit 57 year old, so a few changes will need to be made here that's for sure. For a start he is not allowed to drive for a month and it will take a few months for him to get anywhere back to normal. More tablets too.

We had no one else booked for the campsite so I've shut the gate and closed up early, that gives me one less thing to think about, then I added our son-in-law to be  to our car insurance for a month so they can help out with visiting or whatever. I think we may go back to NFU Mutual insurance as I spent half an hour trying to get through to Saga, whereas NFU have real people in real offices locally who answer phones in the normal way, although Saga were much cheaper than NFU . So maybe not.

We will need to decide what we can carry on with and what will have to go, that will wait to sort out when he gets home. We would like to stay here for a while, because we've only just got all the fruit trees and bushes producing enough to last us through, I can't imagine anywhere else that would have a fig tree, raspberries, gooseberries, pears, plums and all sorts of apples.

Once again thank you to everyone for all the thoughts and prayers and the positive vibes from Bridget!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Have You got a Money plant?

First of all I must say a HUGE thank you for all the good wishes everyone left in comments yesterday. C is still stuck in the assessment ward as the cardiac ward hasn't got a free bed, so they won't let him out of bed even to walk to the loo, although  he feels absolutely fine.
 ( For anyone who wasn't reading the blog last year C, who had never had a day ill for years, had something which started off as bad indigestion, turned into angina and ended up with him in hospital for 2 weeks waiting to go to Papworth heart hospital to have 2 stents done. After which he has been really fit and well for the last  13 months.)
I did suggest the other day that breaking up 4 inches of concrete with a sledgehammer wasn't a good idea and I expect he will swear that wasn't the cause of the new problems anyway! I had a try and couldn't even make a small dent. We shall be hiring an electric breaker and I will push the wheelbarrow to get the job finished! He can stick to driving the tractor.

Anyway back to the title of the blog. The weather is supposed to turn cold so I thought I had better bring my money plant in from the shed where it has been for it's summer holiday.
My money plant, jade plant or Crassula Ovata or Argenta ( I think) was sent to me in the post over 10 years ago.  A lady named J.K Sinclair wrote a book called " How I saved £3,000 a year from the household budget."which I borrowed from the library. I wrote to her to say I'd enjoyed the book and she sent me a tiny  plant, saying that ever since she had had a money plant in the house her finances had improved.
My plant is now so big it won't fit on the dining room windowsill where it lives in the winter and has to stand on this little table.

  I am normally hopeless with houseplants but succulents are very forgiving, they can manage for ages without water when I forget. As recommended by the lady it stands on 3 coins for extra luck. And yes, we are better off than we were 10 years ago!

Our son and his fiancee set off this morning to meet friends for lunch and then visit C. on their way home. They went out the gate and discovered the car was making a terrible noise so pulled into our other gateway to see what was wrong and discovered the suspension had collapsed, spring sitting on the wheel. So they came back and had lunch here while waiting for the RAC to turn up and take them right across Suffolk to their home.

What next?

Back Tomorrow

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Here we go again!

Yesterday morning was all normal and yesterday afternoon was OK until 3pm, when C started to have chest pains, which didn't go away. So off he went in an ambulance to hospital just like last year! First lot of blood tests all OK but the second lot of blood tests showed what they called a  " heart event".
So here we go again, he is stuck in hospital while they do tests, of course being a weekend there are not many specialist people there, we will await news next week.

I'm still no keener on driving far than I was last year but plucked up courage to drive up to hospital this afternoon to take him things that we'd forgotten yesterday and realised that I could save myself 20 minutes stress by going the back way through the villages, leaving me only 10 miles on the main road. I came home on the main road and survived!

Our son and fiancee are here tonight to go to a birthday party and they brought a veggie Lasagne with them which saved me cooking - very delicious.

Back Tomorrow

Friday, 10 October 2014

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Money Savers on Wednesday and Thursday

Thank you to everyone who left comments yesterday about the story of the way we ended up on our smallholding. It was lovely to read about others who had done the same sort of thing.

Yesterday the forecast was for showers all day so we decided it was the ideal day for going to the hospital for my follow up X ray to make sure all was OK after the pneumonia.
It wasn't just showers!
It started raining just as we left home about 9.30, it rained  really hard all of the 25 miles to hospital, and for the 20 minutes I was in the hospital ( nice and quick). Then it rained  hard all the while we were at Sainsburys and all the way to Wyevale Garden Centre in Woodbridge and then all the way home and right up to 2 o'clock when it changed to blue skies and sunshine. We rarely get so many hours of continuous heavy rain here in Suffolk.
You should have seen the mess down the road where they are stripping the turf off the fields, mud everywhere.

Before we went out the Rayburn was lit to give us enough hot water for the day and we cooked up a saucepan of beetroot on the top. That's free hot water and free cooked beetroot.

The hospital money saver was C stayed in the car and moved from the drop off place to the car park  and back again when I came out ( it was pouring with rain) that saved the  parking charge. I'm not sure we should admit to this as the NHS are probably in need of every penny!

Our stop at Sainsburys was mainly for their cheap bacon, beef mince and value packs of mackerel fillets. I noticed that the 3 for £10 mince had gone from 600g packs down to 500g since last time we got some which was before the summer. I looked at the value mince but it looked way too fatty. The mackerel fillets are good value too 

The Wyevale visit was to use the £5 off £15 spend October Gardening Club voucher for another Christmas present and looking through the books there I found another present.So far so good. My BIG problems every year are Cs Dad and brother. I could leave it to C I suppose in which case they probably would get nothing!

On the way out of Ipswich we made sure to get diesel at Tescos, because my till receipt after shopping there last time said 8p a litre off. We are very puzzled as we don't spend that much there and I thought you had to spend £50 in the supermarket to get 2p off at the petrol station and there is no way we have spent £200 in the last month.  I don't spend £200 there in 4 months! But we got £3.60 off the total  spend, so we'll accept that.

Yesterday evening C was talking to the man-in-a-van who has been staying on the campsite off and on all summer. He makes strange garden planter things and takes them to shows to sell. His workshop is local yet he originally said he lived in Cambridge so what the true story is of why he is living in a van we don't know. 
Anyway, he had just been to Waitrose and come back with 6 packs of spicy chorizo and tomato sausages, reduced to pennies. When he got back here he realised that he couldn't eat all 6 packs before they went bad and gave C four packs! Handy.

Today the weather was supposed to be the other way round, a fine morning and a wet afternoon  but the rain was only a couple of showers, although it was very windy.
C went off early to work for his customer in Leiston where he has now finished the greenhouse. Then this afternoon he has been breaking up more of the shed and greenhouse concrete bases and taking them off in the tractor bucket around to our rubble heap.
 I've been round picking up windfall apples again and turned some into an apple meringue pie. Makes a change from pies and crumbles.

Recipe for Apple Meringue Pie
A pastry case that's been baked blind
 3 or 4 Cooking apples depending on size
2 eggs seperated
2 tblsp Cornflour
Castor sugar

Peel,core and chop the apples and cook them, with a bit of sugar to sweeten in a tiny bit of water, until they are like a puree.
Mix the egg yolks with the cornflour and then stir quickly into the apple, keep it on a low heat for a few minutes to make sure the cornflour has cooked.
Leave to cool for a while before pouring it into the pastry case
 Whisk the egg whites until stiff and add a couple of Tblsp of castor sugar and whisk again.
Swirl the meringue mix over the apple
Cook in low oven until the meringue is crispy.
I can't give you timings or temps, I usually do it in the Rayburn and being wood fired it's always a bit random!
 Our eggs are the ones we can't sell so I count them as free, apples are free, pastry case is home made and cooking it = free too.

A few of the money savers from the last 2 days

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

We didn't get where we are today...............................

We didn't get where we are today by standing still and waiting for help!

I'm not sure if I've ever explained how we came to own a 5 acre smallholding.

It all started back in 1978 when, for £8,000,  I bought a tiny 2 bed Victorian end terraced house in Stowmarket in Suffolk using a £2000 mortgage and half the house money I got after a very short marriage and a quick divorce.  The house had no bathroom, just a shower which had been chopped off one of the small bedrooms. The kitchen and toilet had been built onto the back of the house and were a bit tatty. What the house did have was a long narrow vegetable garden and some gooseberry bushes and a rhubarb plant. That was when I started growing stuff and making jam, and luckily it was only a short cycle ride to the library where I was working.
When C and I got married he moved in and used a moped to get to work where he was  a council road man. They did things like sweeping paths and clearing out drainage channels at the edge of the road. The pay wasn't much and my pay as a library assistant was also a long way down the County Council pay-scale too. We had gas connected to the house as it was already along the road outside and tidied up the kitchen.
Then I had our eldest daughter, so we were down to one small pay cheque.
Once I stopped work it made more sense to move to the village where the council depot was, so C could bike to work. We were very lucky because house prices were beginning to shoot up and we sold it to a single bloke who wanted to get on the housing ladder for £14,000. That's how mad the housing market was, almost double in 2 and a bit years!
We found a modern 3 bed end terrace that was going cheap because it Stank! The lady bred cats and cooked up fish and liver all the time, the neighbours had complained and the worst of it was she was a health visitor! It was £16,000 so we had to have a bigger mortgage but mortgages were easy to get then.
We also had to have a bridging loan to give us time to strip all the wood from the house and re paint everywhere. C and my dad did all the work and Dad helped by putting in a Parkray fire with a back boiler and a couple of radiators as there was no heating in the house apart from an open fire. We had an allotment and then two because by then we had worked out the only way to manage was to grow all our own stuff. C worked overtime in the summer doing road resurfacing and in the winter on the gritter lorries. During this time he had changed to a being a ganger, which meant being in charge of a three man gang and driving the lorry which gave us a few extra pounds a week.
Our next move was 3 years later, just 2 miles to the next village, by which time we had a son too. We sold the house for £20,000 and everyone thought we were mad as we took two children under 4 to live in a caravan while we did up a house. The house was so bad that it had been declared unfit for habitation but a council grant of £10,000 was available for anyone restoring it. We paid £10,000 for it and got a mortgage which they paid out a bit at a time as the work was done. C did a lot of the work, and I helped when I could. The house was stripped back to timber beams, we had to dig out 2 foot of dirt floor to get the room height and all the walls had to be underpinned.
When our daughter started school I would bike the 2 miles there and back with 2 children on the bike because we couldn't afford very much petrol for the car.
C got a better job in the council as a supervising foreman, looking after all the gangs who looked after the roads. He was now supervising the winter gritting so we had to live within 8 miles of the council base to be available for emergencies.
By the time our son was 3 and going to playschool  I was biking up and down that 2 mile road 6 times a day ! So we decided to move back to the village where the school was. The house sold for £40,000 again doubling in 3 years because house prices were rising so fast.
We found a bungalow with half an acre of land in the village for £42,000, so we had to stretch to a bigger mortgage again. Cs pay was still very average and we always had to make do with what we had, no foreign holidays etc. etc. We built a utility room on the side of the bungalow and an extension out the back- again C did most of the work and then I had our youngest daughter. The bungalow was tucked in at the end of a cul-de-sac with several noisy neighbours, it was OK but not where we wanted to stay.
But then we had 2 bits of good fortune. One was C got the job of County Council Bridge Inspector, which was based in Ipswich and didn't have to be tied to where we lived in Mid Suffolk ( one of the reasons that he got the job was because no -one with engineering qualifications would take it because the pay was too low!) and secondly we realised that the back garden which had a way into it from a small lane could be sold for a building plot. So after 5 years we sold the house for £71,000 moved into a rented place back in the town we had started from and looked for a smallholding. The children were 11, 9 and 4 by then and for 6 months I home educated rather than change schools twice.
We soon found this smallholding owned by a mad woman and an alcoholic! It was a tip! and cost us £85,000 in 1992, we've been mending, making, repairing and modernising ever since. We had to have a bigger mortgage again but by scrimping and saving we managed to pay it off about 10 years ago.
Then my dad died and left us some money, some of which we used to have a big kitchen and bedroom extension.
So that's how we came to own 5 acres in Suffolk and a 4 bedroom Chalet bungalow.

Thank you to Em, Karen, Sarah, Lucy, My shabbychicfrugallife, saverof surburbia, Bob and Kris for comments yesterday.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Delivering and collecting and putting money in the bank! ( and Tree Link)

We had an hour or so out this morning collecting chicken feed from the mill, delivering 2 IBC tanks to the man who rang up the other day and putting the last weeks takings from campsite, eggs, pumpkin and squash sales and Cs work into the bank for winter and into the ISA for savings. It is so pleasing to know that if the chickens stop laying and if C does no work for anyone from now to April we will still be able to survive!. The first winter after he finished working for the council we hadn't got so organised on the smallholding and didn't have so much money put away. We could have tapped into savings but managed without - just!

The weather got windier as the day went on but not much rain so C was able to clean out two of the chicken sheds this afternoon and he brought round some more of the pumpkins ready to sell as soon as they are a bit less green. They have been stood under the shed veranda - we knew it would come in handy for something. The squash are still selling well and we have now sold 2 of the giant pumpkins.
The wind is knocking a lot of the eating apples off the trees, this bowl full was quickly picked up and brought in, I'm not sure what variety they are but they are delicious.
Most of the poor quality cooking apples have already fallen and been picked up and another 7 bags went into the freezer and another crumble made for the rest of the week.

As it's the 7th of the month it is tree following day, linking up with Loose and Leafy . There is not really much change from last month with our pink flowered Horse Chestnut

  the leaves are turning brown and lots have fallen
  and look what I found on the ground, one of only two I could see. This type of chestnut never has many conkers.You can see why this tree is called the Buck-eye in the states.

Thanks for comments yesterday
Back Tomorrow

Monday, 6 October 2014

Review of November issue of Home Farm Magazine

Thank you to Ruth and Paul, the editors, for sending me another copy of  HOME FARMER MAGAZINE  to review on my blog.

As usual lots of different topics are covered, not too much on any one subject. I found there were only a few things that I was really interested in this month. I think we've been smallholding too long!

I was keen to look at the article on making a Stilton cheese. Because we kept goats for almost 20 years I have had many tries at cheese making. Soft cheese was usually successful and I made lots of Panaar or Paneer cheese but every attempt at hard cheese ( and yes, I had all the kit at one time) ended in failure. I'm not sure if it was me, the milk, the recipe or my small kitchen which was the cause of all the failures.
As well as step by step instructions for Stilton there are kits for sale which include everything you need. Cheese making is not a cheap hobby and I don't think saves money in comparison to buying it from a supermarket if you have to buy the milk ,but very satisfying if you can get it right.

The second thing I read was Dot Tyne's Smallholding Diary, looking back to August where they entered shows, sorted out the sheep flock and did something I always wanted to do years ago - went to The Annual Ryeland Sheep Show and sale. We kept Ryeland sheep for several years, they are lovely placid  sheep with faces like teddy bears!

Next I turned to a couple of pages all about the demise of rural Post Offices. We lost Post Offices from both local villages over the last 10 years so it's too late for an MP to say there have been fewer  POs closing recently. Then last year we even lost the local post box, when it was demolished and stolen. I wouldn't be at all surprised if we lose 6 days a week delivery in the next few years.

I turned to the back to read an article titled" Diary of an Incompetent Smallholder" by Norfolk Smallholder Richard Barr. He starts by saying  "We had the idea that our smallholding could help us to become self-sufficient with shelves full of honey  and freezers brimming over with vegetables, fruit and legs of lamb. However because of lack of money, time and skill things have not gone to plan. My message is: don't do as we say or do".
My thought was why are you smallholding then? We had a lack of money and time here but still managed to grow things, keep sheep and goats without dozens of disasters. We just got on with it, learned how to do things for ourselves and all without spending a fortune. I assume this is the first in a series of amusing tales from the smallholding.
( I'm a cynical old bag! but I'm sure some people invent mishaps just to enliven their writing!)

The other features in brief,

There is a very good piece about planting trees and another about pruning.

Some good ideas for what to grow during the winter in a polytunnel.( We've got lettuce, salad leaves and beetroot in ours)

Tips on creating a garden that will sustain wildlife during the winter. I liked the list of fifteen of the best things to grow for wildlife. For fruit eaters:- Cotoneaster, Holly, Crab Apples,Hawthorn and Rowan. We have all these around the smallholding. For Seed eaters:- Sunflowers, teasels, Scabious, Knapweed and Clematis. Oh dear, we have none of these. For nectar and pollen during the winter:- Primroses, Ivy, Winter honeysuckle, Mahonia and Winter heather. We have plenty of Ivy and primroses, a small Mahonia  but not a winter honeysuckle or heathers.

Digging a pond on a low impact plot ( by hand and hard going!)

Foraging in November. ( wish we had mushrooms but it's always too dry in this part of Suffolk)

Orpington chickens and Native British  geese.

I skipped over the article on bees, but it is about increasing colonies.
 Pickles through the ages by food historian Seren Evans-Charrington was  interesting

There are a couple of pages of unusual Potato recipes; Potato and Spinach souffle, Potato and apple casserole, Potato scones and Home made Potato Crisps.

 This months reader offer is 20 Tulip bulbs just for the cost of postage

There is a step by step guide to building a brick oven for your garden, I skipped over this too - not something we want to do.

The close up look at how to darn socks and turn up work trousers will be very useful for people new to frugal and self-sufficient living.

And finally in Next months issue which is in the shops on November 2nd
John Harrison looks at what's new and 'trending' in the seed catalogues.
There are instructions for making a gingerbread house
Potted food as they did in Georgian and Victorian times
Making birdhouses
And OH YUM - Making Fudge!

 Back Tomorrow
And a PS. Welcome to BCandIKB on Google friends (another Suffolk resident) and to Sue and retireewannabe on Bloglovin'.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Fiddling about in the craft room

I would like to tell you about all the wonderful craft things I've done today but instead I've spent an hour just fiddling about in the craft room. I really went to tidy the desk which gets things dumped on it on the way elsewhere.
Then I

Wrote down what I'd got so far for presents in my Christmas book

Looked through my card box and sorted out birthday cards for everyone until the end of the year.

Found the  list of things I wanted to buy from Craft Creations using the £10 voucher ( for having a card in the readers gallery in the Magazine), but it's been laying on the window sill all summer and all the writing had faded away, so I shall have to start again.

Looked through my 3D  Decoupage sheets to see if I had enough to make 7 similar cards for my 7 Penny Pincher friends -no.

Looked in my box of material and wondered if I would ever be clever enough or have enough bits to have a go at patch work. To which the answer is probably NO as fabric is something I never buy because I know very well I'll not use it!

My problem is that I like reading more than any other hobby.

Is that really  a problem?

Back Tomorrow

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Ipswich on a Saturday? Are we Mad?

Going to Ipswich to shop in the town centre on a Saturday sounds totally crazy. But if we start out soon enough there is no traffic on the way in and the car parks are empty. We were there before 9am and home again not too long after 11am.

I've got to go to hospital for a chest X ray next week but with no definite appointment time - just a note to hand in and join the queue - it could be A Very Long Wait. Normally we try and do everything in one trip but as we also need to go to a couple of places on the outside of Ipswich and we didn't fancy doing that and indefinite hospital time as well as the town centre all on one day, hence the decision to venture there on a weekend. The shops were pretty quiet we got round quickly, The Grape Tree had some good bargains on fruit and nuts, I found two things to make small Christmas presents and Non Frugal Shock Announcement........ we treated ourselves to a coffee and toasted tea cake for a change.
We went to Aldi on the way out of town and stocked up for a couple of months on the things that are cheaper there
And in there I spotted these, which I need for a special reason
At the risk of sounding like a very old person..........In My Day wedding guests gave the happy couple presents, but now the happy couple give all the guests a party bag or wedding favour as I think it's really known as. And my job for our eldest's wedding next May is to make biscuits, LOTS of small biscuits. ( I hope this isn't supposed to be a secret.....whoops!.....please forget you read this!) The only cutters I had were normal round ones and a set of 3 holly leaves - not much good for a May wedding. All this lot were £2.99 and now I'm ready for mass production!

 If ever you feel the need to find out how much mess a half tin of treacle makes when it's tipped upside down without the lid being firmly fixed on. I can tell you it's quite a lot of sticky mess! That's what I found in the cupboard when I was putting the shopping away. Useful information........The best way to clear it up is to scrape it with a flexible bowl scraper and wipe it on some newspaper, before washing everything with hot water.

The day started dry here but I heard on the weather forecast that it was already wet in South West and Wales and the rain finally got here at 3 o'clock when the sky went dark, the temperature dropped by 5 degrees in just a few minutes and we had the first proper rain that we've had for over a month. Time to settle down with the Home Farmer Magazine and the library books. Autumn has definitely arrived on the Suffolk coast.

Thanks for comments yesterday
I'm glad that lots of people like my library book photo every month
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Friday, 3 October 2014

Reading matter(s)

My Library book haul picture co-incides with the link up with Laura at a Circle of Pine Trees for the Year in Books.
I cycled down to the mobile library with 29 books in two bags - front and back baskets on my bike, and came back with 30. Of which 22 were for me.

This is what I have for October reading.
 Almost all are ordered on-line and sent to the mobile library for me to collect.
Alys Clare, Melvin Starr, Anne Perry = new historical crime by favourite authors
Ann Cleeves and Martin Walker = modern crime ditto
 A few are ideas taken from other bloggers on the link up.
Some Non fiction - three about  WWII - Land Girls and The Children's Front and Ration Book recipes.
Kirstie Allsop's Christmas Crafts 
A Slice of Organic life was mentioned by someone the other day and it's ages since I borrowed it so I ordered it for another look.
Ronald Blythe - Under a Broad Sky ( The local-ish Author of Akenfield)
A couple of Authors I've tried before, failed and am now having another go at.- Sarah Waters and Sally Spencer.
A Trisha Ashley for a bit of light reading.
A few gleaned from  the  library van shelves - Island Summer, Once upon a flock and The Blank Wall.

More than a months worth of reading I think!

Last month I read some of these

The collected Works of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
The following blurb is taken from Fantastic Fiction
AJ Fikry owns a failing bookshop. His wife has just died, in tragic circumstances. His rare and valuable first edition has been stolen. His life is a wreck.
Amelia is a book rep, with a big heart, and a lonely life
Maya is the baby who ends up on AJ's bookshop floor with a note.
What happens in the bookshop that changes the lives of these seemingly normal but extraordinary characters?

The Blooding by James McGee
From Fantastic Fiction again.
Hawkwood, the Regency James Bond, returns in this gripping, action-packed follow up to the bestselling Ratcatcher1812: Britain is at war with the United States.
Matthew Hawkwood, former soldier and spy, has unexpectedly arrived in America. His plan is to head for Canada and the sanctuary of the British lines. But when he gets to Albany, headquarters of the American Northern Army, he spots a familiar face within a consignment of British prisoners - Major William Lawrence.As Hawkwood and Lawrence make their bid for freedom, they uncover a plan by the Americans to launch an invasion against Canada. If Montreal and Quebec fall into American hands, they will gain control of the entire continent.Hawkwood and Lawrence must pass the information to the British before it's too late. First they must survive the journey through the Adirondack mountains, known as the Mohawk's 'Hunting Grounds'. But deep in Hawkwood's past is an old alliance, one which could save both their lives and Canada from American rule

I didn't finish the two James Oswald books - too weird, or the two strange non fiction books.
The cookery books were just for browsing.
Most of the others were crime by favourite authors all of which I enjoyed.

One final thing
I read this on Gills blog and SO agreed with her - I wish I could write as well as  this. She said it was OK to send people over for a look.
Frugal in Derbyshire

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Thursday, 2 October 2014

Today and yesterday in words and pictures

First of the butternut squash went out for sale, priced at 75p for the smaller ones - just under 1kg, then £1 for middle sized and £1.50 for some huge ones almost 2kg. The first lot - 8 I think - sold so quickly I had to put labels on some more  and get them out too. We also sold the last 3 large pumpkins. There are a couple of dozen big ones still  a bit green and a few small ones to sell.
I made  Sweetcorn Relish first. It's a variation on piccalilli. Brilliant with burgers both veggie or meat.

If anyone can tell me how/why this picture turned round by 90 degrees from how it was in the file I would love to know and how do I turn it back again?
The Autumn raspberries are coming to an end. Just half a basin full today, so I got some of the apricots out of the freezer for my one of my five a day. So gorgeous, what an exotic treat. C is eating stewed apple at the moment, which is my least favourite way of eating fruit. We are bringing in a few eating apples  to eat too. I don't think there will be many to wrap and keep this year, the quality is awful. Hopefully we won't get too much windy weather to knock them all off the trees before they are ready.

 Do you remember me saying that I had to buy some biros as we'd not had any free ones? Lo and behold in the post today. From the Red Cross - how many tens of thousands of these do they send out? Presumably it's worth their while doing it. Today there were 2 greetings cards, the pen, a bookmark and a little note book.
This one turned round too- very odd.
My other main job was having a big sort out in the airing cupboard. Our youngest had borrowed the sleeping bags to go to a festival and when they came back they were just shoved in any old how. So I had a tidy up. Got rid of 4 old very faded pillowcases that were lurking and a sheet that's gone to the shed for future use as a dust sheet and found 2 pillows that I didn't know were there.

C was away down to the village early to move the irrigation stuff. Then he went to work for his customer in Leiston. He was putting the glass into the greenhouse and nearly got finished just needing to get one more pane which was a different size. He took the small trailer with him so as to pick up a couple of IBC containers because yesterday we had a phone call asking if we had any left. The bloke at the factory said they had loads waiting to be sold if  we wanted some more we could have them cheap. These 1000 litre containers are originally used for water soluble stuff like car cleaner and they get sold off when the taps are no longer good enough. For water storage they are still fine once they are washed out.  So after lunch he went back with the big trailer and came back with 8 more. We'll advertise them in The Suffolk Smallholders Newsletter.
  He was back out  to move the irrigator again at 4pm and when he got home decided to load the HUGE pumpkins onto the trailer, to bring them round to the front drive. This is how we got them onto the trailer, rolled them onto a board on the front forks and then rolled them off onto the trailer. Except for the BIGGEST which went on a board on a pallet to shift it.

  we went out of the top gate with me sitting on one pumpkin to keep the biggest steady and drove down to the house drive way. No other traffic around for those few moments - thank goodness. Now they are parked where everyone can see them  but Heavens knows if anyone will want them.

And Today
There have been people stopping to take photos of the pumpkins but no one has offered to take one away yet.

C decided to tackle taking down the old shed. I was needed to hold things while he cut them up and to load bits onto the mower trailer and into wheelbarrows and to tidy up afterwards - as usual. There is now a huge builders bag of wood for me to cut for kindling, bigger bits in the shed to be cut for the woodburner and a bag of rubbishy bits for burning sometime. All that's left is the concrete bases of shed and greenhouse to be broken up and removed.

View from kitchen  this morning 
and then a while later

C went to move the irrigation equipment for the final time, it's gone back to the farm and if we get all the rain forecast for next week it might not be used again this year. Then he was cutting grass for our neighbour and some here too.My jobs this afternoon were ironing and cleaning  indoors, eggs collected and sorted.

Our electricity meter was read at the beginning of September, but no bill arrived, so about 10 days ago I rang to ask why and gave the lady the meter readings and she said a bill would be on the way. Today we got a phone call querying the meter mans readings as it was extra high so I read it again and my reading was 10,000 less than the meter man!  So I'm SO glad that someone picked up the discrepancy, I would have had heart failure had a bill that big arrived. Hopefully it's now sorted and we will now get a bill and settle up. I don't like owing or being owed money. Which reminds me we must get in touch with the bloke who had all the round bale hay, he still owes us £900!

Library day picture tomorrow, I have at least 16 to pick up. *loud cheer*

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