The little things

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It was brought to my attention via a really helpful facebook group I belong to, that last week's budget is going to make things a LOT harder for a lot of people.

We worked our socks off  few years ago to get ourselves into the position where by the skin of our teeth, we don't receive any 'help' from the government at all. While I am proud of us for achieving that, it certainly does hurt, as the minute you are free and clear, you are also one of the seemingly vanishingly small number of people who actually pays for your prescriptions and dental check ups.

This seems to shock and fascinate the reception staff. I don't know if it's because almost no-one pays, or because I look destitute.

This means we won't be hit by the introduction of UC, despite being self employed.

I don't have a problem with those who need it receiving in work benefits,or the fact that from my barely above the line income, I must pay for them to have them. I do have a problem with people abusing the system by ploughing the gains from the sale of large tracts of land, inheritances, and other big chunks of cash into 'businesses' as 'investement' and then throwing their hands up in sorrow at their low income the next year, and living on tax credits which I have to fund.

So if the new system stops them, then hurrah. I do however feel for those at the lower end of the spectrum who get by on low earnings from self employment for years as they build, and will now find they get no help from tax credits.

Overall though, I do think things will get worse before they get better.

Neil currently works all the hours there are, and H is now working with him for a year, before going off to Uni. I work part time (2 days a week) as an administrator in a Christian Care Home, and struggle to be honest to keep all the farm work up together.

The biggest millstone round our necks is a huge-ish loan taken out to keep HMRC quiet when they made a monumental you know what of our taxes, and then demanded we pay for their mistake without delay.

We've often said we need me to give up working off farm. We really do. Someone should be holding all this together, but we never get to a financial place where I can jump. I'm wondering if really, I ought to go back to my phone work, and actually work more off farm, for a season, to help clear this loan, so that then I can work totally on the farm. Short term sacrifice for long term gain.

The problem is, being indoors too much makes me ill. It just does. I know it's weird, but there you have it.

Meanwhile, today, the adding up of little things will hopefully help us to stay in budget.

I spent a punishing hour in the polytunnel tending to tomatoes, and then managed to get stung, by a wasp I imagine or a horsefly. I go very funny indeed when stung, so had to locate an antihistamine. Unfortunately, I go quite funny when I take antihistamines. So the afternoon wasn't best productive.

This evening though after watering, I made more bread, which not only provides bread, but stops interim trips to supermarkets, and I made raspberry jam (one pot at a time as I pick them) and finished, but for the hem, a skirt I'm making out of an old length of lightweight denim.

Little things add up. Lets hope they add up to enough.

The Summer of Real

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I don't know, I'm just not checking in.
I'm so engaged with real life, that blogging is not especially happening.

Like Mel at Wuthering Heights Farm I'm feeling kind of happier out in the real.

There's a lot going on - Duke of Edinburgh's Silver Expedition, Senior Prom (Junior this coming Friday) and all manner of changes and adaptations, and I'm trying to reach that point where we all believe we can fly and I take flight and farm for real and forever.

On Friday Aida had twins (one of each) and on Saturday afternoon, darling Linnie and Lacey having ended up by dint of being last to kid with the twin stalls (I think that was planned) waited until Neil came down to do some work in the afternoon and was close at hand in case anything went wrong, and promptly settled down and had a pair of twins (one of each, each) within ten minutes of each other.







Faces were washed

Feeds were delivered (in this little guy's case, before he was dry or standing up!)


and then everything was done and dusted and tea was expected, and a large bucket of fresh chilled water please, because I'm awfully clever.

They never cease to amaze me. I adore them.

Thank you - Taffeta Tallulah, Aida Jane, Linnie Matilda, and Lacey May. You are all stars.

AWOL

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Absolutely. Absent without leave. Gone. Not here.

Well, it has been hot, and we have been shearing, and there is so much going on, I've not found time to update.

I have soundly slapped myself on the wrist and will try to do better.

Meanwhile, this little poppet, together with her brother, arrived.


She is currently looking down the barrel of being called Elizabeth.

Our purebred goats are all named after fabrics, but crossbreds don't need to be. Last time we crossed to a Saanen, and we picked up a Larkrise to Candleford theme - Minnie, Alfie, Timmins and the crew have now all gone onto pastures new, and my darling daughters have decided these floppy eared Boer crosses, unless anyone has a better idea, will be Pride and Prejudice goats. So meet Elizabeth, and her brother, who can't be called Darcy because we already have Darcy the sheep and Darcy Bussell the chicken, so given that Fitzwilliam is a bit much for a goat, his working title is Colin.

They were born to Taffeta Tallulah, (Taffy to her friends) efficiently and uneventfully on Saturday.

Aida Jane looks likely to be next, whilst Linen Matilda and Lacey May are holding out for a little longer.

My Fabric goats all have middle names, too, but I draw the line at staying up trying to think of a good middle name for Colin.

No Money in Poetry

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“There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either.”
Robert Graves

There's no money in farming either. Not the hard, peasant way that we do it.

But like poetry, farming is a calling, it's in your blood, and that can be a bit of a turn up for the books when you didn't get born on a farm.  Oh well, call me a throwback, I've been called worse.

We have been so  beset by the getting done and the not getting done, the wasted grass and the growing list of jobs undone, that it has all become a bit now or never.

So it is now.

Or almost now.  When a certain financial constellation comes together, we must take a leap into the unknown. This constellation? It' s not Ursa Major, OK? It's not even Orion. It's like, Cassiopeia, at best.


So we won't be in any way safe. It will be borderline possible.

Meanwhile, we will be managing expectations - quoting from the excellent post from The Henhouse :

And at the end of the day, we pray that our priorities and expectations line up with God’s call on our life and the life of our family.  In a culture that is consumed with more more more, it is hard to diverge from that busy road and say, “No,” I am going to do less.  I am going to spend less time working so I can spend more time enjoying.  Slowing down, really seeing, truly listening . . . these are the things we are practicing.

Not so much in our case working less, as working more within our calling. As it stands, Neil has to earn the money, mostly by working off site. So to me, falls the job of farmer. But that's OK. It's the only job I've ever wanted.

Today's list is : Things I Cannot Do and (Column Two) Why  

Because ' I cannot build the goat house because I can't lift the pieces' is real, and needs for Neil to come in on the job, but 'I cannot take sheep to market because I cannot reverse the trailer' has a fix. It is probably long hours in the bottom field with an empty trailer and full swear box, but there is a fix.

It's time to step up to the plate.  Your prayers are all appreciated!

Sage flowers at nightfall, all beautiful, sweet scented, and useful to the bees. 

Is it a bird? Is it a cloud?

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No, it's a soft, clean, hand fluffed pile of lovely luscious Jacobs wool, ready to make a cushion for an order. (I'm getting there, Katie!)


I am so excited to be making these cushions. I love our sheep so much, any and everything that helps to make them sustainable and viable is good by me.

They don't all have names - they are a proper flock! - but some of them do.

Bertha and Brenda, the old milk sheep crosses we got when we first bought the flock, must be 10 if they are a day.

Charlotte, who was an orphan, and who was born the day Charlotte du Jardin won Olympic Gold in London - and spent the afternoon on my lap watching the dressage!

But all of them are dear, and belong so on our little plot of land. It's my heart's desire to improve that flock, to move towards them being registered, and recognised.

Mel at Wuthering Heights Farm suggests cat toys. They could very well be next. How do you feel about a spicily scented Christmas decoration, filled with real Jacob wool? (There were sheep at the nativity, after all, and Jacobs sheep get their name from the Old Testament.)

Suddenly, I have a million ideas.

Bees and Woolly Cushions

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Ever had one of those days where a project gets out of hand?

I have been encouraging Neil to go back to bee club (or 'Bees' as it's universally known around here, much to the girls' amusement. You off to Bees then? Been to Bees?) for ages as I love having bees around for my garden and I really do love honey, but I am personally a little bit scared of the dear things.

We have a ready and waiting hive, after ours swarmed and cleared off, and he needed to get back into the swing of things, to be offered another swarm, and keep up to date with local bee goings on and bee news. No really.

So last night off he went to Bees, and came back determined to clear a path and the area around the hive, because apparently there are a LOT of swarms about, and he could get offered one quite soon if he joins the list.

This was our mission this morning, which led, eventually to the absolute wiping out of a laurel a good 15 feet tall, enough bamboo (sadly) to feed the remaining population of Giant Pandas, and about a quarter of the giant buddleia globiosa  which had spread across an area  bigger than most modern back gardens.

It was hard slog, and we earned our barbecue supper.

In other news. I've just made a cushion. I know. But it was a vague sort of a business idea and then I decided I'd make one for me, and see what I thought of it. The unusual thing about this particular cushion, is that it is stuffed to its little double seams with soft, washed and fluffed up, lovely, natural, warm, comforting ...
Jacobs Sheep Wool!

So it's an all natural product, I ran this one up from some soft cotton flannel, it's springy and comforting and breathable and really rather lovely. So I shall make it a cover and see how we get along together.



Another Day

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Up at dawn, to dwell in the word, to pray into silence,  to wander round the animals, on land we own, surrounding my home.
Meaningful work in a thriving,  beautifully designed garden, work for the draft pony, a full order book, a market stall to fill, a packing shed to sort, baskets of sustenance, flags fluttering. Chattering customers, talk with like minded producers, a web of stuff happening.
Quiet work on writing, useful articles and dream-filled stories, blog posts and business plans, epic histories and shopping list-eries. Walking dogs by rivers. Lunch on a log with salad in situ.
Busy, happy family,  full of health and wealth and fiery eyed ambitions. Coming and going, team working and building bridges to futures.
Outdoor food together, with twinkling lights and candles, a crackling fire and hot fresh pizza from a cob oven. Sweet elderflower wine and laughter. Friends, associates, and passers by.
The clean smell of fresh-painted walls and billowing clean curtains,  bats in the darkness,  a yard or two of yarn, smokey cocoa and blessing goodnight.
Sleeping early with the promise of another day of great  heart filling work.


That. Is my dream day.






Now here you see through our baby forest garden, a path, mown along what, in permaculture, we call desire lines.  (I took this photo for Mel, following the sad removal of her own desire lines, in a tragic though well meant neighbourly act of generosity incident)

Desire Lines are paths you observe, the paths you take, the ways you tread to go about your days, and as permaculturists, we observe and observe, and when we design the space, we choose to place paths where those paths want to be, where we want to walk.

Now interestingly, my dream of a day, is like a kind of life desire line. That is where I want to walk. It's not so outrageous. The elements are mostly here, I lack a little faith and a lot of application, but my desire lines are true.

What's gone wrong, is I have laid the paths in other places. I have not observed and interacted,  I did not watch where my feet fell in dreams and aspirations, and carefully carve out happy, firm foundations, dressed with firm square herringbone bricks of work and study, attention to detail. I did not look up. I walked onward and onward, and my feet wandered on and off the path.

Sometimes my harried steps linger for an hour or two on those hallowed paths, and oh! the relief! To walk on the short grass, to tread the path of intention.  Too often though, the paths I've carved are off in the rough, full of thistles and nettles, damp and clinging round my knees, slowing me down, holding me far far from those  desired days.

However. I believe it can be done. I can get back to the old paths. I must surely believe it.

Where are your Desire Lines trodden? Do you walk them daily? Or have you wandered away from your dream paths?


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