Rain. Scythe. Paper.

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We awoke to sheets of rain, and it continued past lunchtime.

An impromptu family conference delayed us too, but we got the ponies' fence moved, the turkeys moved, and the sheep moved, and I scythed considerable patches of nettles and thistles. It is still not easy. It still doesn't look a bit as we'd like it to.

I've been dwelling a lot on other people's successes and achievements, this week, and I've concluded I must just stop. If it means leaving Facebook, or feedly, or what ever it takes, I really must inhabit my own world. There is much to do. I'm not going to get it done looking at someone else's off-grid caravan.

Scything nettles and thistles is a wholly different action than mowing grass with a scythe, and personally I find it takes more of a toll on the arms. Mine ache.

We rounded the day off with a trip to the Cinema with H, Boo, and Boo's BFK. We saw Paper Towns. It was an OK movie, the girls really wanted to see it. I didn't like the ending, not to add a spoiler!

Boo and BFK are 16, but I did think some of the conversations were a bit much for a 12 year old, and the film's certificate was 12A. There is some material there for discussion!

In which ...

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  1. We have A level results, they make the grade, and H has her place at first choice Uni, but is deferring for one year, so we have her lovely self at home for twelve more months before her adventure begins.
  2. We have stellar GCSE results and Boo considers the possibility of very heavyweight Universities indeed, but must first settle in for two more years of hard slog for stellar A levels.
  3. They go to camp, and come back mostly in one piece, though Boo's hand is broken.
  4. We do not sign up for clarinet lessons next term. See (3) above.
  5. We still do not have our hay in, and we are getting nervous.
  6. We are swamped with work, and more to the point, with rain, so are under water already in August.
  7. I re-examine my reason for being.
  8. I decide we need to get out of debt. I decide again. And it is still really obviously the first step.
  9. I get a free referral to Slimming World from my GP surgery. This time, I really will lose that pesky weight.
  10. I nearly go back to the phone gig, but don't, as no one knows how on earth we would get everything done?

That will do by way of catch up!

We are made for so much more than ordinary lives.

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Casting Crowns - Thrive

Off Griddedness

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Last week, in the middle of the night, Neil was suddenly, inexplicably stricken with the worst headache he'd ever had. It was instant onset, and followed by vomiting.  For this reason, he was rushed into hospital, but it never came to much and they decided he was ok, without so much as a scan.

Like my own health scare a few months back, this has made us think and talk, which can only be a good thing.

It has always been our hearts' desire, and our honest understanding of God's call on our life, to live simply, to the point of off grid if necessary. To hold space for the land, to honour a covenant.

We have turned our dreams into chores, and thus have we marched upon them in muddy boots, but they are our dreams, and on dreams, as we all know, we should tread softly.

The time now is to take joy.  In an instant, one evening, while hurriedly doing the chore of shutting up these darlings ...

... we suddenly decided to turn it into the great joy of spending time together, at dusk on a summers evening, enjoying the company of our beloved goats. Everything lifted.

We can do this. We can take the mundane and make it a hymn of praise. We can delight in our hours, how ever many, however few.

Today, at lunchtime, I rapidly peeled down a courgette from the polytunnel into 'courgette pasta' and steamed it in butter with a fresh egg from the rescued hens. It was sublime.

as I work, during the day, I pluck tomatoes and munch on them, their sun warmed sweetness, makes me smile.

I am blessed beyond measure that all of these things, we can share, in love, regardless of the outside world. We could live off grid if we needed to. To that end, we have decided to redouble our efforts to fit out the caravan at the field, in order that on long summer days, and inhospitable winter nights, we will have a safe shelter where we belong.

Late Harvest

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It is August now, and the time of harvest. Well, maybe, for some.
I planted a lot of things late, and will be harvesting a lot of things late, weather permitting.

We have had some very chilly nights, and I believe in some northern areas it has been down to 1C which is not really your usual August night time temp.  I have stepped outside some mornings to a chill reminiscent of autumn. It can't be autumn yet?

We haven't even made our hay yet - and I'm getting twitchy as Neil continues to put off talking to the contractor. Hay is a very key part of our operation.

As the season threatens to shift, perhaps too soon, to a new phase, I feel my own impatience to do all that I have tried and failed (or talked about and not tried) to do for year after year. It's so easy to believe that because you have tried (or talked about) a thing many times, and it hasn't happened - somehow it's too late.

It can't be.  In my heart, I know I need to make this farm be and do all it can. Some days I feel drugged by my inability, my lack of knowledge, the lack of time.

What do I really lack? Faith.

Maybe it is the time of the harvest of lost dreams and failed attempts, the harvest of wasted youth and fertile middle years, the harvest of plans and schemes, knocks and trips, sorrows and misfortune, hope and belief, of God's promises and my lack of faith in our own ability. The actual harvest.


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.
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