It might be hard

to watch your man work this hard, this many hours.
It might be tough, to deny your children things, in the interests of keeping the important things. Like horses, and dreams.
It might be cold, and there may be too few daylight hours, to tend to all that need tending.
But it will be OK. My market garden will flourish, right by the school, in the centre of the village, and because of that, some children, somewhere, will eat fresh vegetables instead of utter rubbish.
I will eventually find the time to license my goats milk soap recipe, and people will be able to buy the pure luxury I take for granted.
I know this, because tonight, a kid I have worked with since she was not much more than a baby, looked me in the eye and said, I've almost done it. I've nearly finished my BP Challenge. This girl has every disadvantage known to man. I can't tell you the details. She is up against the biggest pile of you-know-what in the world. But she has nearly done it. She has nearly gained the highest award a Guide can win. She will prevail. She will break out of here. And if she can do it - my big hearted, neglected, abused, damaged little girl - I can darn well do it.
Watch us go.

Tagged by Cottage Smallholder!

Tagged by Fiona at The Cottage Smallholder.

The rules are that you answer the eight questions posed to you and then you send your own eight questions to eight other bloggers of your choice.

Here are Fiona's questions to me:

What have you learnt from blogging?
That life is actually fascinating in all its minutest detail, and there is always something to write about.

What was your proudest moment and why?
I have two of them, and they're ongoing. Both my daughters.

What is the naughtiest thing that you have ever done?
There is no possible way I am going to tell you that here!

Who or what populates your nightmares?

Do you have “me time”. If so what do you do and why?
No, not really, although a hot bath and a good book always appeal.

The one food or ingredient that you fret about running out and why?
Flour/home made bread. None of us likes bought bread.

The best book that you have read in the last five years and why?
The Christmas Mouse by Miss Read because Mrs Berry is my hero and sums up contentment OR The Irresistable Revolution by Shane Claiborne, because it's what christianity is really about.

If you could erase a person/experience/mistake from your life who/what would it be and why?
How long have you got? I possibly would not belt my four front teeth out aged twelve, jumping a horse without a martingale. Maybe :D

So here are my eight questions:

Why do you blog?
What was your proudest moment and why?
What is the silliest thing that you have ever done?
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up, and why?
Now what do you want to be when you grow up?
If I started my perfect community, living on the land, why should I include you in it?
The best book that you have read in the last five years and why?
What is the great truth in your life?

And my eight bloggers are ...

Rachel at The Far Side of The World
Jo at Pioneer World cos she's gone quiet!
Lynn at Raising Little Shoots because she's come back
Catherine at Kids and Capers - cos she's gone quiet , too.
Affi'enia at Blue Frog Sticks
Ellen at The Bluestocking Belle because I want to hear more from her
Cat at Scita > Scienda if she can sink to our level for a minute
Jane at Prairie Days - when she gets back!

Please leave me a comment if you're going to take part!

PS If I didn't tag you but you fancy taking part, please go ahead, and leave me a comment anyway!

Loving the Autumn Weather

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...even when I'm just dashing by, on the cusp of the morning's farm jobs, and the afternoon's household tasks. It's just a joy, this crisp, sunny woodsmoky autumn Saturday afternoon weather. It makes everything more fun to do!
I have a major photo problem at the moment - my camera's not working and I can't seem to download pictures from my phone. I'm working on that, as I have some good moments to share!

Join in ... Choosing Contentment


OK so I thought every week or so, I would post a photo in some way representing my choice to be content (lets see how long it lasts!)
My first picture is the button above - it's a primrose I planted in a my favourite mug - when it (sob) broke. So choosing to be content with a pretty new flower pot, then!
Please join in!
  1. Post a Comment
  2. Grab the button above (please link it back to this post)
  3. Once a week (or so, you know, it's a relaxed feature!) post a picture or small thought reminding yourself and all of us to choose to be content.

For I have learned ...

Leave a Comment

Well, after a week of upheaval, prayer and struggle, it seems that Neil will be driving a taxi (US: Cab, I believe) at least for the winter months. It's not what we'd hoped for, but it's a job, and it means we can pay the rent and eat.
After the first company offered him the job, he went to see the company he works for now, who offered to do him a better deal, so in short, he will be buying into a franchise on a weekly basis, and once costs are paid, will then keep the takings - meaning that he has more incentive to work hard, and should be able to increase his earnings.
Times are brutally hard - for those not in this country, suffice it to say that our previous government left us broke, and with a global recession as well - it is going to get harder and tougher for all of us, the employment figures worsen daily, and we couldn't afford to pass up this offer of a means of making a living.
I will have to run what is left of the farm myself, and hopefully, God willing, will attempt to make some small amount of money out of egg sales, goats milk products, and so on. I also plan on getting the garden more up together (where have I heard that before) and am determined to feed us as much as possible through this hard time. My ultimate aim is to have surplus enough to restart that market garden idea - but this time I'll wait until we have more than enough for ourselves before I plan big!
Anyway, this all led me to thinking, that really, contentment is a choice. These days are not going to be what we'd hoped, if we keep our dream alive, it will be underweight and fighting for life, and every day may well be a battle. However, we're alive, we're thus far all well, we have a beautiful place to live, the potential of which has been wickedly wasted by us over the years, an which may now come into its own.
Like my hero, Mrs Berry, I can choose to be content with my lot. Of course, there is disappointment, and of course there is envy - I am currently surrounded by people due to give birth or just having given birth, and my greatest regret is not having been able to have a larger family - but I can and I must get up every day, give thanks for what we have, put on a smile and choose contentment.
Hmmm. Might just start a wee blog project with this one ....

Piece Together Peace

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Better late than never, my piece together peace commitment for October is just to be outdoors more, to work more in my garden. It brings peace to my soul, and therefore to my relationships with others, and gives me more time to talk to and more importantly listen to, God.

May You Live in Interesting Times

Oh boy, our lives are complicated.

We have to ask, have we gone wrong somewhere - and we have to consider all the things we are doing, and how we may be out of God's will.

Today, I caught sight of a taxi job in the local paper, and Neil phoned up about it. We're still waiting to hear, but it's a chance of a full time job, barely above minimum wage, but regular (oh, I'm almost excited about the notion of having a regular income to set against regular outgoings) - and I would have to run the farm sinlge handed - I can do that, if I have to.

What is really testing us is whether we have made a mistake in sending the girls to school - it's a very small fee, more of a co-operative funding arrangement, and they've been incredible lenient to us in our hardship - but is this time of trouble to do with being out of God's will? Where do we stand on school?

Academically, they are gaining with French and Spanish, losing with History and Geography (ow, Mummy's and Daddy's pet subjects respectively), breaking even in most other subects (though H is getting away from me in maths, so that is probably a gain) and then gaining from those things we couldn't provide - PE, Drama, Choir - in this country, there IS no christian home ed community locally. Not for us. That's where we went wrong before. Isolation is not nice, and both of them love all that 'group' stuff.

We do feel we are losing them to some extent to our family vision - but on the other hand, they are learning to develop their own vision - which of these should prevail? The travel element is nearly killing me, and of course, it costs a lot of money. Which at the moment, we don't have.

They are in school all day, and doing homework all night. They almost never ride. It is hard to teach them to keep home, to take part in our business, to do the chores they're committed too. Something will need to give. I've been aware for some time that we're trying to live two lives. And they don't fit.

If Neil gets the taxi job, we may have to take them out of school for at least a term, if not two, while we catch up with the backlog, and stop spending all that money on diesel for a while. Perhaps that will make us all think.

Tonight, Cormac got colic - he's been really poorly, and another huge vet bill looms on the horizon. I am sitting on the sofa at nearly midnight, waiting to check on him, before going to bed for six hours of not much rest. Vet again tomorrow.Late on into the process, I decided that no one was going to school tomorrow. We're too tired. Harrie is too harrowed. We'll catch up on homework, all being well with the boy.

There is a shred of optimism. If we can get this job, just for a few months, while we build our business. If I can run the farm, and make a little extra and ... if we can ... keep up with school? Go back to homeschool? If we can get our feet back on dry land?

We value your prayers, and all your support.

FlyLady says, chuck out all your magazines.

Ruthlessly. It's the habit of the month.


I have just discovered, that in the absence of funds to buy this October's edition, LAST October's copy, rescued from the downstairs loo, is almost as satisfying. I can probably find 2008's, if I try.


Day in the life

A few weeks ago, we got a bit of a shock. Neil is self employed, but for two years, he has had one major client, who has bought up most of his time, and there was no reason to suppose that would change.
At the beginning of September, this man's younger son went to senior school - an expensive private school which, rather than requiring of his mother a long haul school run as had his prep school, provided a bus, which picked him up, along with his older brother, and thus has freed up Mama - as she put it after the event - to go back to working with the sheep.
Without warning, our income disappeared. The usual Sunday evening phonecall, which would have confirmed three to four days of well paid work, asked to book him only for the week of half term - to cover for their holiday.
Insult to injury. They obviously knew that was what they would do. They were so selfish, that just in case - just in case - Neil should prove so dishonourable as to take a hike when they mentioned their plans, despite the fact that he has never never let them down and has been nothing but open and honest - just in case, they decided to let another family suffer terribly, and give us not one minute's notice.
Since then, we have been selling what we can, surviving on nothing, and making hard decisions about our lives. And to stop us from starving completely, Neil has been out taxi driving. Last night until 3am and then today again from 7am.
So the girls and I had a day of doing .. well everything, and it was always going to be a busy day, anyway!
While they got up and fed chickens, I quickly put the sloes picked yesterday to soak - for sloe wine, which I think I am right in saying, is not so much a table wine, as a remedy, one of the many traditionally made from hedgerow fruits - the girls picked blackberries today, so the blackberry vinegar (our cough remedy) will be brewing soon.

Next, Boo and I set off to the landlord's travelling chickens - this is a job we have as a trade, it lowers our rent - and Neil does it normally, but we had planned that it would be 'my' job, so I am just getting used to it - today was the first time I'd done it without Neil's help.
After the chickens come the goats - I milk in this awful position because my back refuses to use the stool - it's on my list to build a milking stand, to put this situation to rights. Sadly my list is very long. H took this photo and I have to say I am more than a little concerned about the perfect tonal resonance between my hair and that goat's bottom!

We came home and loaded tack up, and for the first time in far too long, went out for a ride, all three of us together. Not far, it has to be said, since poor old Arch has been lounging round in his dressing gown for weeks and is all blubber and puff. But at least we got out.

Home again to clear up, make lunch, put together supper, chiefly from the contents of the garden with a little help from Lidl. Using up apples, so an apple and sultana crumble added to the bounty.
After supper, the girls and I pitched into some tomato bottling Yes, this is bottling, not canning, oh my American chums, straight out of the Rayburn Cookbook, as more than likely carried out by our own dear Miss Marple. Whole, unskinned tomatoes, placed in the oven for an hour and half, before topping up and sealing.
I must admit, I did actually revert to some techniques from the Ball Blue Book - for example I did add lemon juice, as I understand that modern tomato varieties are sweeter than old fashioned varieties - and therefore may just miss out on being acidic enough for non pressure canning.

And so finally to bed. Been a long day. Still many garden and kitchen jobs waiting to be done. But we made a start!
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