Lambing Nights

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Given we only had ten ewes to lamb this year, lambing has gone on forever. We had an outlier at the beginning and we've got one at the end, so the four hourly checks go on. And on, and on, and on.

Yesterday was Mothering Sunday, and I was very glad that as a result H was cooking - feeling a bit fraught and over-tired, it was nice to be pampered a bit. I sat and read, with my new slippers on,  with my flowers and my brownies, and it was lovely. 

We still aren't back at church - services are taking place but we're in two minds about whether it's really in the spirit of the rules to drive as far as we do, to attend a service we can watch online. As a result, the simple breaking of bread we have shared as a family since lockdown began once again followed dinner.

A small glass of wine, and a torn crust of home made bread.

Then to bed for me at 9.30. I'm not sleeping well, waking up far too regularly, as well as when Neil comes back from the 10 o'clock check, and when he goes out at 2 am, I seem to have a love hate relationship with the hour of  3. I look at the clock and it's 3.05.  I go back to sleep, I'm sure I do, for ages. I look at the clock, it's 3:16. I think about John 3:16, go back to sleep. Some hours later it is 3.28. And on we go.

Up at 5, I stumble downstairs and make coffee - one each for H and me in travel mugs, and a small cup to take back up to get dressed. The bread lives in bread bags I made years ago. One's red gingham, the other a flowery number, made from an old pillow case. The bread today is Three Malts and Sunflower, I bought the flower from Shipton Mill with the last big order. It's dark, seedy, and malty. It smells delicious in the toaster, where I leave it as I head up to get dressed.

A small pile of clothes waits on my chair in the office - there are clothes all over the house, as people try to get dressed and undressed at stupid hours of the day and night without waking anyone else up - and I layer tights, jeans, t shirts and sweaters. H is buttering the toast and slathering home made marmalade on it. I made twelve jars, half of them in nice, bought in jars as potential gifts. Some hope. I made it in January and we're half way through it now.

We're in the truck by 5.30, and off up to the top of the world to visit the ewes, housed in Charlie's barn, where they came to escape from our flooded pasture a couple of months ago.

The remaining ewe, in the pen with old Frankie, the grandma of them all, looks at us and blinks. Nothing doing.

It's getting dramatically lighter each morning at this hour, and a quick glance round tells us we've still got all the lambs we should have, and everyone's happy. We sit in the pale morning light, drinking our coffee, and watch two young stags amble placidly across the track, barely 50 metres from us. They gaze back at us, and saunter off. These days we're a bit late to catch the barn owl returning to her box.

Both of us have work to do. We drive back up the track. I hop out to re-lock the gate. A grey partridge creaks in the grass beside it. The lights of the industrial estate on the edge of town, down in the valley, lose their brilliance as the sky turns pink. 

Monday.





Still...

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 Lockdown number three.

An awful lot has changed. Untold hurt, only three of us here now, and our income about to be slashed by my having fallen for a bunch of lies.

But it's time. Time to come back. I miss the other bloggers - I've just had a toddle through my bookmarks down there ! I miss the common sense, the day to day, the journal angle.

I used to call them my library book bloggers. They weren't changing the world, so you'd notice. They let you know when they changed their library books. Fat chance of that now, but you know what I mean.

I've got a tall order coming up keeping up on social media for the farm at www.chestnutsfarm.com and also our other business, so I can't say how much I'll have to say, and how often, but this is a start.

I'll let you know the minute I'm able to change my library books.

Covid 19 and the return to all that matters

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Over the last month, all of us have seen the world change. No one is untouched. No country unharmed.
This little group of islands is taking a proper battering. As I come back to my online home, I suppose for comfort, and familiarity, our Prime Minister is in Intensive Care with the virus which is ripping apart the world.
We live in a kind of stilled, empty space, and yet time races on. We are nearly a third of the way through yet another year, the weeks pass at a terrifying rate, and yet nothing happens, to us anyway - which is really good. Because all the stuff that is happening is pretty bad.
We stand on the promises of God. Both girls work from home, Neil, with no work at all for his business, works all day on our land, and I - I go out every day and work in a care home. Thankfully not just any care home, but the light on the hill, a place hedged around with prayer, and upheld by the prayers of the righteous, which availeth much. We just go on.

Everything begins 'if we get through this...' which I believe we will, or 'when things get back to normal...', which I pray they won't.  This is an extraordinary time. A time like no other in history. A world suspended.  Let's never, never, got back to normal.

Two decades ago, we were led to come here, led to the land, led to work on it.  We're a bit off message, to tell the truth, it's all gone a bit awry.  But, per force, Neil is now working, working to put back together the resource we were blessed with, and we have time, time and more time to work out whats next.

We have an opportunity to learn to live on half what we were earning, a bright hope that we can get out of debt come what may, and that we will be in a place where we can follow that calling and just see where it leads. Too long we've waited to know where the road is going, before we set out. Now we must just, like Christian, set forth on our pilgrimage - and find out where it leads.

If we get through this (we will) and when things get back to normal (I pray they won't) the world will have changed forever. Our frugal ways and plain and simple days will be ... what? ... the new normal? An aspiration? A place of faith?

And yet, I came home here, to write that down.

Time has passed

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Time has indeed passed, and our lives have changed a little - we still rent those ten acres, currently under water, but have moved house.
We are still living frugally - in fact a new surge of frugalness (?) is currently underway as our situation, which has come and gone, finances-wise, has currently somewhat gone.
My intermittently empty nest is currently re-filled (and  beyond, given the size of this nest) with two young adults- both working full time, one with what we used to call a 'steady boyfriend', the other with two jobs and a full time OU Degree schedule. As they're now adults, that's probably all I'll be saying about them.
The DH is still building his own business, I am currently working four days a week, but may soon be back to five.
I am creating my own 'allotment' on the field, and already have a tiny plastic temporary greenhouse in our new, minuscule back garden, and a propagator on the kitchen window ledge, where it barely fits. Big changes from our sprawling rented farm house, and hard to come to terms with. On the upside, we are warm!
So I thought I'd pop back and see if anyone was still around, to hang around with a cup of tea and a bargain digestive and natter about frugal news, mini farms, growing your own, making do and mending, and generally getting back to blogging?

Here we are again

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So I was all set to start a new blog.  I thought about what I wanted to talk about - well - life, work, saving money to get out of debt, buying somewhere to live.
Budget allotment growing, our rented land and the critters and plants that live there.
The wonderful new world of sheep fleeces and spinning.
Growing older, and somehow making life better - losing weight, getting fitter.
My intermittently empty nest.

And I decided there was no point starting a new blog, because it's just this one continued.

The heat around here is absurd. When Neil hopped into the van to go back to church at gone 5.30 this evening, the external temp read 35°

The sheep are dealing with the heat well. The hay is in, the goat is pregnant. The vegetable 'allotment' was going well but this punishing heat means that my Saturdays and Mondays can't be spent weeding and tending for long bours so it's a bit of a mess, and drought is a tough call.

Tomorrow was to be back to Slimming World and the Library - I'm hoping for a lift to the former but the latter is off limits as my car has bitten the dust and had to be towed to the mechanic

The next question is, can gym / health club membership be justified on a budget. Discuss.

Days off, and a bargain

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Spring is coming a bit slowly. It's still cold, and things are growing cautiously. We had a frost this week.
I've got five days off work now, and the job list is growing!
Top of the list is to disassemble and recover the polytunnel. It's way past its best, and really does need an overhaul.
I've also got a lot of seeds still to plant and lots to prick out/pot on/possibly even plant out, too.
I haven't been to see Diva the welsh pony for a while - Neil looks after her while I'm at work - but if the collie's coat is anything to go by, she'll need a good spring brush.
The sheep are already sheared, as they were due to be shown at the Bath and West, but our class has been cancelled, so no show prep to do.
One hopefully pregnant goat might need some tlc, and the two 'baby' chickens will need to be moved outside.
Not to mention a bit of a house and garden overhaul. I need five weeks off !

I am usually wary of magazine subscription deals, but I couldn't find much wrong with Kitchen Garden's £5 for three issues, plus free seeds.

Today the seeds arrived! A very good deal, I think!


Out of Doors

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Plans were afoot to do work in the garden, the house, and all sorts. However, the weather forecast being what it was, in classic Bank Holiday style - that is to say that it will rain torrentially all day Sunday and Monday - we decided to focus on the veg garden while we could, and possibly pulled a muscle or two in the doing.
In the top half of the picture you can see a no dig bed under construction. We bought two 'tonne sacks' of compost from the recycling folks, and hoped it would do two good beds, but it's gone nowhere near. I've just prepared a seed bed at the near end of the next bed, and we should be able to put a 2" layer on the rest of it, and it did have some on it last year.
Every year I say I'll give up on no dig because the couch grass is such a problem. Every year I give it another go.
However, you can't be permanent no dig on our plot - it's silty, sandy soil and it caps. So within some kind of rotation, you do have to dig or at least turn over the soil now and again. At the bottom half of the picture you can see my potato bed - that's getting dug and planted at the same time.


Meanwhile Neil cleared massive amounts of blackthorn from the boundary hedge, freeing up the fruit bushes, and managed to burn quite a bit of it in my aged incinerator.  The fruit bushes have been neglected and needed a real clear out.


Newest babies are doing fine.

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