Thursday, 31 July 2014

Sunshine and Showers...

The day started of grey and overcast and a nice cool temperature, ideal for some heavy digging in the garden so a start was made on the Lavender border
First it was marked out and the turf skimmed off then time for a cuppa
Then roughly dug over and a sprinkling of fish blood and bone meal then another cuppa
Then out with the Mantis Tiller to break it all down and yes another cuppa
In with the first of the Lavender plants a good watering tidy up and then the rain started 
just what the plants needed.

While the rain came down I retreated indoors, last week I bought a freestanding unit from Ikea for the bathroom so I got it put together 
 
Now it is filled and another couple of small boxes are empty, I do like Ikea units they are so easy to put together, this unit has glass shelves on the top and underneath in the cupboard are another 3 shelves, I like the fact that you can adjust the feet to make it stand level, it only cost £24 so that is another job done.

When the rain eased I headed out the back to tackle my herb garden project 
up came the slabs 
I plan to reuse the unbroken slabs 
I skimmed off the lumpy bits and got the first of the membrane down 
Then it rained again, so it was back indoors to empty a couple of boxes,
it has continued to shower so I have called it a day outside.
I have been sorting out this little corner under the kitchen window 
Its looking a bit dull the chairs need staining once I get some space in the barn to do them, and the side wall of the utility room needs a coat of paint it will be done in a Buttermilk like the other outside walls when we get them done. For now its a nice place to sit and think and enjoy the view.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Water Water Everwhere

Not such much water as water pipes, in order to move on with plans for the back garden I needed to sort out the maze of water pipes, they would pop up from the ground coil round then go back down again, these pipes all feed water to different water troughs in the field, some were no longer in use, I needed them above ground so I could lay the weed membrane, as at some point the water pipes will be gone and we will have a couple of standpipes instead, 
 Down here
 Up there and across
 Down into that hole and out the other side were I dug it all out
It ended up here in the field, I have found were one leads to but no the other, at various times connections were coming apart and I was getting soaked, not bad really as it has been such a hot day.
I now have a water feed going up to the greenhouse and tunnel, I have cut pipes and re-connected dug ditches to find pipes, so tomorrow I hope to make headway into getting something done.
I had to enclose Odd Job this afternoon and with the help of K we managed to purple spray him, he had rubbed his sore open and was being troubled by flies
It doesn't seem to bother him at all
The two boys are happy supervising the chickens making sure they behave.
Here is a cheeky little face peeping over his nest 
Our young swallows in the porch are coming on great I think there is 4 in the nest.
I made this short film yesterday while having a cuppa, its the view across the drive
I must now hit the shower try and get rid of the purple spray that ended up down my arms have dinner and catch up with what everyone else has been up to :-)

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

A Little Imagination Needed

I am still pondering over the back garden, its a view I observe many times a day from the kitchen window and the its the first view of the day from the bedroom window.
Yesterday I cleared the paving slabs that created a stepping stone path down the garden, this morning I sat out there having a cuppa and gave the area some thought.
This were I sat its the corner between the utility room and the kitchen, I want to make this area a nice place to sit and admire the view down the valley it also gets the sun in the morning, the utility room walls will be rendered and painted a nice warm buttermilk colour.
This part is in the middle of the back garden, it used to be some sort of pond, my first thoughts were to make it into a fire pit that we could sit around, I have now decided to make it into a herb garden, its too close to the house for a fire pit but is ideal and withing reach as a herb garden, so it needs clearing digging over and filled in with a soil and compost mix before planting up, it will be mulched with bark chippings after planting.
Beyond the herb garden is a ramshackle collection of old lean to sheds, they will be taken down, the branches from overhanging trees will be cut back, this will be an ideal area for a BBQ and brick oven
On the opposite side is this embankment made up of soil rubble and rocks, this part I am going to turn into a rock garden, the barn beyond it will be closed in and on the outside I will grow some climbing plants.
This part is backed with a low brick wall, you cant see it for weeds but it is there, apart from a Rhody there is nothing else but weeds, so I think a nice deep curved bed planted up with roses and spring bulbs 
On the other side there is a neglected Butterfly bush that I will keep and again a curved bed will be made and planted up between the two areas the slabs form 2 steps down, this is where an archway will be put in.
The path leads down to the old mobile home, after investigating we have decided its not staying, the trees and bushes will be cut back to make a nice tidy hedge, a base will be put down and a log cabin will be built in its place, this will become my work place, and hopefully be in place in the next month.
After all the ideas were noted down today, I thought i better make inroads, the area around the herb garden is full of weeds and I really don't need another lawn there are other lawns around the house, so the weeds have to go, as much as I hate using weed killer as it was a still day so no drift, I sprayed the area with a weed killer that goes down to the roots, tomorrow I am going to take up the slabs, I bought some rolls of weed membrane that I am going to cover the area with re lay the slabs as stepping stones then gravel it all from the house to the low brick wall. I picked up some seeds for rockery plants so September will see those on the go, 
A little imagination is needed, I can see it all in my mind so over the next few days we will see what evolves.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Its Like Magic .......

While washing the dishes and looking out of the window over the back garden, my thoughts were wandering, I have to start making in roads, I could see there was once a paving slab path through the garden.
So armed with the lawn edgers I started, defining the slabs was satisfaction, its like magic suddenly there is a path under all the overgrowth
It takes you down the garden down 2 steps, to one side there is a part of a brick wall and the other side there is an embankment that would make a lovely rockery, I am thinking of an archway were the steps go down, and roses along the small brick wall. 
Its a start but there is a lot to do.

I popped down to check the bee hives this afternoon, we wont be taking a harvest this year, with splitting hives and moving them I would rather they built up a strong colony.
Here is some new comb being built in one of the top bars, I love seeing new comb being built its all so perfectly formed. Now they are settled in there new home and the split hives are going well I need to tidy the top bars, there is a lot of brace comb to sort out. Brace comb is were they build across between the combs, so if I am taking out the bars the comb breaks, they need to be encourage to form there comb straight.

Here is a photo of the new signage at the end of the drive
The drive way leads to our house and the two barns that are being converted, hubby made the sign, clever man, He used scaffold boards and wooden letters from my shop, he has made it to look like one of the forestry signs so it blends well with the area.
That's about it for today :-)

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Give A Man A Tractor .........

I have back down in Milton Keynes for the past 4 days, got home last night, it was lovely to catch up with family and friends, Thursday I went to London for the day with friends on a pre arranged trip to an art show, Friday and Saturday were spent catching up on what has been happening in the shop doing orders and such like, it was lovely to get home again last night. 
While I have been gone hubby bought himself a compact tractor
It came with a grass topper and box thingy to carry stuff around and a mole drill what ever that is for, he has spent the past few days cutting the field.
he also bought himself a ride on mower
His new toys, he got them off e-bay.
He has cut all the front lawn so now I can get stuck into doing the lavender border.
Today was pig ark building day
First the floor got put together
Then the ends and beams went in place
Then the roof went on and he used his tractor to tow it into place, he has now put up the electric fencing, we hope to get the pigs next week-end.
I did cook a nice roast leg of Lamb today in the Rayburn
studded with garlic and thyme
served with some of our container grown carrots 
and some of the container grown potatoes.
Apart from catching up with hubby doing washing and house work I haven't done much else today.
We have now got the signage up for the house I will take some pics of it tomorrow. It looks really smart hubby has been making it while he was in Milton Keynes through the week, he has also been making post boxes they will go in place next week end.
The Alpacas had a bit of a fight the other day when I was away, Odd Job has had a chunk taken out of his cheek, I had a good look at it this morning the concern being it get infested with flies, he is now wearing a purple face, I sprayed the injury with purple spray which hopefully will deter flies and is also an antiseptic.
I am going to chase up about getting some lady friends for them, they can then be separated and hopefully we wont have fights like this again, they usually get on great I think its the hot weather that makes them tetchy and they start getting irritable with each other.
Hubby is now packing to go again in the morning back to work we can now get into a routine. 
He doesn't like going back but needs must. I an thankful I only have to return once a month.
Right off to check what you have all been up to while I have been away :-)

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Rag Rugging

I popped into town today, its more of a planned trip really with a list as its not on the doorstep, I needed to get the address changed on my bank account and pick up change of detail forms for joint accounts as it is going to be difficult for us both to be there at the same time to do it, very easy to do lovely polite helpful young man took care of it and gave me directions for the council office, that was the next stop to organise the council tax, found the place and again lovely helpful lady from the council did all the form filling and welcomed me to the area, so different to Milton Keynes council.
It turned out to be a pleasant experience, usually I dread anything to do with officials and find them to be verging on obnoxious jobs worths, but in Camarthen they were really nice and pleasant.
I then did a bit of shopping got a lovely sized chicken to roast its in the Rayburn now, thought I would have a bit then leave it in the fridge for hubby to finish while I am away over the next few days. 
I popped into the The Works like I do when I am passing one, did you know they have started doing a Rewards Loyalty Card,
 Having a browse around I spotted these Rag Rugging kits, for £9.99 it makes two rugs
You get 2 backings they are a rubberised mesh measuring 80x50cm not a bad size and a big bag of pre-cut fabric strips in mixed colours, I have made a start on the corner and i found a pair of tweezers handy I have fat fingers, I thought it would make 2 nice size rugs for the spare room.
I have done traditional rag rugging before, cutting my own strips and working on hessian
This was one I did many years ago of a sunflower, its using two different rag rugging techniques and it usually hangs in the stair well, I haven't unpacked it yet.
I was done with different types of fabric as well. 
I did make a couple out of denim strips they were used for doormats.
Here is another that was done for a workshop
This one was made with strips of t-shirt material very soft and doesn't fray.
Rag Rugging is an old form of re-cycling it was done out of necessity in the past now we can make lovely wall hangings for pleasure.
I have got another one on the go but it hasn't been unpacked yet either. 
A trip to town took half the day up so I didn't get much else done, I have started a savings pot I had a voucher for Tescos £1.15 so the money from that has gone into the pot also I used my fuel points that saved me another £9.30 so that has gone into the pot as well, I would like to continue doing this for some time just to see how it all adds up, today's in total was £10.45.
Right there is chicken with my name on calling me :-)

Monday, 21 July 2014

Painting The Cow

Another glorious sunny day, I have spent a very restful relaxing day, apart from the usual chores, all I have done is get myself organised ready for my trip back to Milton Keynes later this week, I am going to visit the  Its All About Art event in London on Thursday details here Art Event
I am going with a couple of friends, the trip has be planned since Christmas, I am looking forward to catching up and spending some time with friends, Friday and Saturday I am spending time in the shop seeing to a few things. A busy end to the week planned.
Many years ago I was given this cow bell as a gift from my daughter,

 the poor thing has been neglected over the years, we have it fixed up by the back door, I thought she could do with a coat of paint to bring her back to life.
She now looks splendid and all new, I picked up a few small pots of enamel paint when I was in town last week, for the darker green I mixed together some of the green and black paint. The cow bell now has a another few years life in her.
Having a bit of a stroll around we have lots of wild hazelnut trees

 They all seem to have lots of fruit on them
I have been having a bit of read up about them and they are ready for harvesting between August and October, they are suppose to taste better eaten in the green, I have been looking for some recipes for using them and have found a few, One was a Hugh FW from River cottage that took my fancy Honeyed Nuts 
Hazelnut suggestions  I may be giving that one a try.
There seems to be a distinct lack of squirrels and rabbits around here so I don't think I will have much competition for the nuts.
That just about sums my day up today like I said restful and relaxing. Hope you have all had a relaxing day today, it has been a hot to doing much else.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Mini Harvests

The day started grey but lovely and cool so I thought it would be good to make a start on one of the borders and get some of the potted trees in.
I thought this might be a good place to start, the gap in the border, our boundary is just behind it and soon there will be a panel fence going up to define the boundary, I started removing some of the grass and dug it over very soon the sun broke through and it was so hot again
I did get planted 2 of the evergreen trees and in front of them a rose bush I have left a gap of about 2 feet at the back I would like to get some slabs down at the back of the border to make it easier maintaining the fence, this will eventually become a nice big curved border at the moment I am just planting up the back of it.
I did a little harvest today
Red and white onions that were grown in a container
Potatoes that were container grown
And yet more Blueberries there is still loads to come 
I also got some salad leaf mix sown
I got these baskets for £2 they came with two smaller ones as well, I bought them a few months back.
I have been down to have a look at the Bee Hives and they are really busy, weather permitting tomorrow I may get the hives open to see what they are up to.
I am off to have some dinner now then hopefully it will have cooled down enough to do a bit of watering.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Preserving and Pigs

After harvesting some sneaky courgettes yesterday, too many for me to use up on my own I set about dehydrating them, 
Three nice trays of courgettes, they will get used up in soups and stews after the courgette harvest has finished. There is still plenty coming on and there should be some nice ones ready for when hubby comes.
Again the courgettes were grown in containers, they haven't done to bad considering. We have had a few pickings off them.
I came across some backs of salted peanuts yesterday when emptying another box so whizzed up some peanut butter as I didn't have any left and i do enjoy peanut butter sandwiches.
I got 2 jars from 500grms of peanuts, I just used the value ones, Peanut Butter is so easy to make and you can decide how crunchy you want it and what you want in it.
I pop the peanuts into the food processor, blitz them then add a little sunflower oil while it is still being blitzed up, if i want crunchy I take some of the nuts out before adding the oil, then add them after, I don't measure anything I just add small amounts of oil until I get the consistency I want, I also add a teaspoon of sugar. 
It costs out about 90p for the two jars. 
Very quick and easy to do.

The Pig Ark arrived today, what a carry on that was.
It was delivered today, by a very grumpy unhelpful driver

Firstly he doubted me at having access with his seven and half ton lorry, this conversation was at the end of the drive, I explained its the same size as the lorry we moved with and there is plenty of turning room for it.
I suggested he walks down the drive to see for himself but a few moments after he set off he decided he would chance it as it was too far to walk ( very large drivers in humid weather don't like to exert themselves)
Eventually he drove down the drive turned his lorry and proceeded to back up towards my car to unload, I stopped him and explained he couldn't unload there as my car would be blocked in, I asked him to unload in the area he turned so it was out of the way.
Mr grumpy moved his lorry again and back up all of 2 feet into the area.
So unloading began, his lift trolley thingy wouldn't reach far enough under the pallet and I could see it was not going to fit onto the tail lift, he asked if I had a fork lift , I bit my tongue and politely replied no but lets just cut the straps and unload it ourselves.
He then asked if there was a man about who could help  I smiled sweetly and said I am home alone I am sure I can manage. I produced my new pocket knife and he cut the straps, I then helped him unload all the pallet, It was stacked at the side of the drive, more awkward than heavy.
 Now I have the job of getting it into the field out of the way, if he had unloaded were I wanted, it would have been fine out of the way. Mr Grumpy who is not employed by the company I bought it from is now on his way home for an evening playing darts down the pub.
The day ended lovely I cooked myself mince and potatoes, one of my favourite meals there is enough left over for dinner tomorrow  and then any left after that will go in the freezer for another meal some-time.
The predicted storms and torrential rain didn't arrive, it has been another hot muggy day, with occasional  burst of sunshine.  
I am now settling down for a peaceful evening with the pig book that came with the Ark.
 A Guide to Traditional Pig Keeping by Carol Harris