Advent Eve

Today was a total whirlwind, in all senses of the word.
It was the day of our local town's Christmas Light Switch On. We are happy because what has for a few years been the 'Winter Festival' has been reclaimed and is now the 'Christmas Festival' - complete with camels and donkeys and nativity and carols. I don't expect anyone of any other faith or none feels any the less welcome. But it's our own heritage at play, and it all looks lovely.
Or as lovely as you can look in a gale force wind with horizontal rain.
Our church had two main events - I was involved in the second and less glamourous, whereby a  lot of people sang carols and my friend Jo and I organised the giving out of an awful lot of hot chocolate and cake to passers by.
We did this last year and are now getting it down to a fine art. We gave out nearly 100 cups of hot choc (Lidl's instant hot choc and an awful lot of compliments we got for it too) with marshmallow - and handed out gazillions of small, delicious squares of cake - mars bar cake, malteser cake, Emma's legendary brownies, jam tarts, coconut cake ... if there's one thing our lot do really well, it's make cake.)

Earlier in the day though, the church was transformed as the little people of the town were invited to come and have their picture taken with a princess or a super hero!  In they all came, free to take as many pictures as they liked - and although one daughter was working so unable to attend, I do have a 'Tangled' Rapunzel in there!

These guys did the most amazing job. They bought their costumes, decorated (and cleared up) the hall, looked absolutely amazing, (I do think Rachel actually *is* Snow White) and made the day of dozens and dozens of little ones.

They are just the best.

Cinderella, Wolverine, Snow White, Hulk, Elsa,Thor, Anna, Batman, Rapunzel, Captain America and lovely Belle.

Now Storms Have Names - Meet Barney

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Well, Barney has been and gone (I think) but it's been a heck of a day.

I decided to spend the day house cleaning, not before time, due to the horrendous weather conditions, and got the kitchen, the sitting room (including a bit of a move round to get us all closer to the fire for winter!) the hall and stairs done.

I also managed to spend some time picking over my plans with my trusty sidekick and have almost decided to make some major changes.

Evening rounds was the big thing though as by then Barney was on his way in. I went and picked up H from the decorating job she was on, and we started with the goats, but by the time we were done it was nearly dark. We arrived at the field with chickens, turkeys, and sheep to see to only to find the turkeys had sabotaged the electric fence and the sheep were out.

It's kind of important they stay in, since Owen (named for Owen Farrell!) the Oxford ram is in with the Oxford girls, and I'm not sure my older Jacob ewes could cope with Oxford lambs, never mind the ewe lambs!

We got them back in and hassled the turkeys into their house, and then it was on to the ponies, who are currently at livery down the lane, because We Are Mud.

Unfortunately, so is the land down the lane, and the woman who runs the yard is taking the wotsit out of  H, who is working for her to pay for livery, which is a bum deal. It will not carry on as I cannot stand by and watch the sheer incompetence. 

Anyone who knew me more than 20 years ago is hiding behind the sofa when I tell you the yard looks like a rubble heap, the  mud is hock deep (and hock pulling)  and the flipping woman is all about alternative this that and the other and effectively doing anything not to ride, not to keep horses sound and basically lives in la la land.

Yesterday I swept the bally yard myself, because if someone didn't, I was going to need medication.

Let no one tell you country living is simple!


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Waiting for sourdough bread, which I rushed and therefore will not be best, to cook.

Funny old week. Neil had some blood results - they were looking for arthritis, which he did have in a foot following an injury, but as it turns out is not responsible for his current crop of aches and pains.  What they did find was a low white cell count.

Of course, this could be nothing more than him fighting a low grade infection, but you have to remember I lost both parents and a brother to cancer, tragically young in all three cases,  and I have a terrible fear of losing those I love.

I do what I do. Today I did all the animal chores, with the faithful, incredibly beautiful, incredibly strong H in harness alongside me, despite her being down with a horrible cold.  I made bone broth, I made a stew of good homegrown things. I made cheese, and whey with which to lacto ferment carrots, grown in the garden.

I am awake waiting for good, solid, sourdough bread to cook.

I cut kale, minutes before it was to be cooked, and beans, by the basketful, and cooked them lightly with seasalt and piled them up alongside the stew.

For me, to love is to nurture. I am almost afraid that tomorrow I have to go into work in the office, and I won't be here, to make everything as wholesome and strength giving as I can.

I pray. I trust God. It will be as He intends.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose

Midnight strikes.
Another day. How blessed. How wonderful. 

Nan - Nandos, Ninja, Nandy Pandy, Ninny Noodle Noo.
Great clarity of identity for a working dog.

Chickweed Salve

First, gather your chickweed.

Chop it roughly into a jar

then add just a ziz of apple cider vinegar. My home made version is on the dark side, but smells good.

Let sleeping dogs lie. Add oil to cover. (Make tea.)

Place on a sunny window sill

This will steep for two weeks or so, shaken daily, before being made into a salve for sore and itchy skin.


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and later, what I did with it!

On Contemplating Loss

I am worn, and weary, for another night’s poor sleep.
The goats bring a light to my eye with their antics, their cheek and chancing. The hiss of spectacle-misting warmth into the chill pail, and the have a go, get an extra scoop shenanigans of every morning.
Taffy is first on the trailer. Taffy is always first. If we walked in and yelled ‘vaccinations, big needle, painful stab in the butt, who’s first?’ Taffy would head the queue. She’s so afraid of missing something, she’ll always take the risk.
The others slope off under the walnuts, and wait ‘til bossy pants emerges, dribbling molassed grain and looking smug. Then Lacey.
Lacey’s bum does in fact look big in this… trailer. We turn her round in the narrow gap and she settles to be milked. She is not in a hurry, she loves human company. She tells tales and sings songs. And she is Poppy’s oldest daughter. And I love her.
Linen Matilda next. They all have middle names (Taffeta Tallulah, Lacey Mae, Linnie Matilda, Aida Jane) and of them all, Linnie Matilda most often earns hers. Gentle to the point of heartbreak, all heart and soul, with tender feet and eyes like tomorrow, Linnie bumbles through her food and waits. If it’s windy outside, she’ll wait ever. She likes the warm and dry and quiet.
Alpine memories stir. I almost yodel for Aida, Ai …. Da….Aida-oh-ha-da.
And she runs like a faun through the grasses, happy to be last, happy to get the last lick of the bucket, happy to be just a little tricky to milk, due to having been designed for either earth shatteringly huge twins or a milking machine. Aida Jane, my Aida. Poppy’s other girl.

How will I ever say good bye? Who to? How will I ever part from them? How will they not be family, under the green canopy, where their (great) grandmother died in her sleep, one sunny day  beneath the walnuts?

Forgive me, if I sometimes talk in shadows. Their amber eyes haunt my seldom sleep. I cannot bear their loss.

Dig This

Well, I made a start.

I started with digging. Digging, in case you don't know, is profoundly unfashionable. No dig is where it's at. And raised beds - or permanent at the very second best - no allotment stylee digging please, we are permaculture.

Guess what? It doesn't work on my plot.  One of the truisms of permaculture is that the edge is productive, and the edges of all those beds? Are productive. Of endless, endless grass. Because we are surrounded by cow pasture. Well managed, organic, cow pasture.

So this little war time garden is going back to digging.

In other news, I am close to signing up once more  with my phone job, because we do need to bust the debt, and fund the dream.

Fired by sudden confidence, although it means my doing more than I am doing, in less time, I somehow believe this is actually the true meaning of less is more, and it will work.

We'll see.

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