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Saturday, 14 July 2018

Tired.

Too tired to write now, maybe tomorrow.

Here's something I finished earlier. I'm so very happy with it that I'm keeping it. I'm a rubbish business woman!!!

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Big Giveaway.

I'm having a big Giveaway on my Facebook page. I'm giving away some art prints, fibre goodies and if I reach 100 shares, one of my wire wrapped paintings.
An A5 print of my little barn owl is one of the prints and I'll add more items after I reach over 100 shares. Please spread the word.

My page is here IntotheWildewood

Monday, 9 July 2018

Big difference.

What a difference a good nights sleep makes. I watched the youtube I posted yesterday again before going to sleep and it seemed to seep into my mind. I got out my permaculture book this morning and started the chapter on water harvesting.
All of my answers were there on the page. I need to organise my plants and beds around a water system. I'd love a couple of ponds, but T needs a little convincing. He doesn't say no to anything, he likes to think it through, but I know when an idea is pushing him when he says nothing at all. If I give him space to think it through, he sometimes comes up with a compromise or his idea of how something will fit in. I love his approach to problem solving, it's never negative unless it's something that really won't work and even I can see the truth in it when he points out the flaws in a plan.

Moomin and her brother are going back to the UK for a couple of months to see their friends. It's a gentle cutting of the apron strings for us all as they move on with their lives. This move to France was never going to be a permanent one for them, but they both wanted a year out of studies and a chance for a French adventure. They'll be back for Autumn and then off again for Christmas and New Year parties, they have so much fun to look forward to :D
 The weather is still very Scorchio, but so it is in many countries at the moment! Of course, many  people I know back home have had a hot month and are now worried because they need the rain! My mum has even been told to expect a hosepipe ban! Seriously, after 1 month???

Most nights we take the dogs down to the lake and Walley has a lovely swim. Manchee will dip his toes, but he's not keen on all over wet! I've been in up to my knees and the water is so warm. I'd love to swim, but this part of the lake has strong currents.
 Bambam has the perfect way to cool down! She's changed so much since we've moved. She's extremely relaxed and is so visibly happy. She won't like it when the young people aren't here though, she struggled with that last time and pined for them. At least she has Walley to cuddle now that she's fallen in love with him <3



Sunday, 8 July 2018

Making a plan.

I wish I could say making a plan of any kind is easy, but it's not for me! My homesteading book talks about making a business plan, and I've done my best with that. I know what my resources are, what I want to get out of my business ideas and how to go about it all. So far so good, now to the practical stuff. Where do I site my vegetable beds?
I've moved several plants and changed the plans a few times now and I'm just not happy with how it's flowing, or not flowing. The big vegetable bed with the beans is my best one but I want more and fitting them in is not easy due to the trees and shape of the paddocks. The ponies take up a lot of space and on the whole are the biggest drain, financially and timewise but if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be here. I'm thinking in circles and changing my mind constantly, it's not helping me at all. I wish I could find a more detailed description of how to lay things out!!!

 For now, it's too hot to do anything much, even thinking is out of the question. Dexter has the best idea <3

Edited to add:  I think I may have found the answer I'm looking for, how wonderful is this?

Ourganics

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Slowly finding my direction.

As the title says, I think I'm finding my true North. In the past I've felt torn between my love of growing things and my need to create art. I've realised lately that I have to sort out the timings but with careful planning I can do both. Because of the Fibro I need to rest in between strenuous jobs so that's my time to make art or spin. I'm settling into a kind of routine of work, rest and work and it's all coming together.
My growing started out great but the mini-greenhouse was in the wrong place so was difficult to water and I lost some of my tomatoes and beans. The slugs started to take over and so I had to have a big move around. The greenhouse is now right by the house, tucked into a hedge in a place that I thought would be far too shady for anything to grow. The fact is, this spot is perfect, it gets afternoon sun and is cooler than higher up the field so the seedlings are thriving instead of roasting. I have enough plants left to catch up and chalk this up to experience. It is after all our first year of growing and the time to make little micro-climate maps of the the land so that we can  find the best places for our plants.
The beans are struggling in this heat, but with some wool mulch and a bit of care, I think they'll pull through.
 The spaghetti squash and spinach are doing really well, so this is clearly a good spot for squash.
In the background, behind the chicken house is the new haystack. Our neighbour along the road had their field cut for hay and we knew from the start that it was going to be beautiful hay. We were so glad when they asked us if we wanted to buy it and I may be imagining this, but all of the neighbours at that end of the road seem to be more friendly. Maybe they thought we were odd getting our hay delivered from another village, but in truth, that was the only farmer I had contact with. Now slowly we're integrating with the farmers in our own village and it feels good to belong already :D
 I'm in love with dyers Coreopsis, but these little plants won't be enough to dye anything so I'm hoping to collect seed from them and have more success next year.
 At least the woad is doing well and the dyers greenweed too. The rhubarb also had to be moved down from it's place up the field as the slugs were ruthless. I don't do battle with nature, there's no point. I just find somewhere that I can protect the plants and go for simple solutions. Slug traps are next on the list.
 The dirigible plums are doing well and will be ripening soon. I love these little plants (physalis) and thought of them immediately the plums were mentioned in Harry Potter. I often forget what they're really called when people ask as I've been calling them dirigible plums for so long :D

So my garden is doing well, my plans for the future are taking, a sort of shape and today I started writing the first draft of my book. It's not going to be a Homesteading/Smallholding bible it's not going to be a how to find the best life possible (although that would be nice) and it's not going to be a self indulgent look at how we're trying to change the world. At the moment, it's a mish-mash of ideas that I'm trying to pull together into shape. If I sort through it all I could have at least 3 books covering lifestyle, knitting and healing for starters. It seems that being in this peaceful place, my thoughts and inspirations are going wild! Now I just have to find the dicipline to write it all down.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Whoosh!

Well June certainly flew by me in a massive rush! The weather suddenly turned very scorchio and I decided that it was the perfect time to wash and very importantly dry my stash of fleeces.

So my studio started out like this.
 I did a lot of this (look at those curls!).
 And now the studio looks like this! Time for a massive clear up session! The trouble is, see the cupboard door half open and wedged with the chair? It was holding my vacuum packed fleeces and all was well until a couple of bags failed and the door popped open!  If I can't vac pack these fleeces, I can't store them!
 At the beginning of june we managed a quick trip to Pontivy and had a lovely dinner out. It was a wonderful evening and I adore these bright umbrellas.
 Back in the studio I fanally managed to do something I've been wanting to for sooo long. I started painting on the slate from the land around us.
 I had in my mind a method of wire wrapping the slate so that it can be hung on the wall and I've totally fallen in love with this method.
 I even like the back design. I'll be wrapping everything in wire if I'm not careful!
I've been doing a lot of jam and chutney making as well. Fruit is cheap at the moment so it has to be used up.
Lots of bottled oranges too.
Our two cherry trees have given us a good haul and there are still enough berries to keep the birds happy :D
I hope July will go a little slower as I'm worn out after all my labours. I do have to fit in cleaning the outside walls though and that's not a job I'm looking forward to!

Monday, 11 June 2018

Taking it easy.

Well, easy-ish! My lovely man was off early this morning to go and help his Dad mend a roof! I did something I haven't done for a looong time. I took one of my knockout pills and went back to bed. I was quickly joined by the animals and we had a lovely lie in. It's done me a power of good and I'm feeling ready to tackle cleaning some of the fleeces. 
I've been looking at the natural dye book again and have found that fruit trees give some lovely colours, so I'll be doing a little pruning (I know it's the wrong time of year!) and gathering some leaves for a series of experiments.
I don't think I've shared these pictures before. This is my lovely little spin dryer. I use it to get the excess water out of my wool. In the past I used the washing machine, but the anti tangle function
could lead to felting the fibres and it's not a risk that I want to take any more. I have too much time and energy invested in my wool for that!
 It's a cute little machine and perfect for my needs.
 At the weekend I was given a lovely surprise. T made me a wrap around desk. It's a super corner to sit and work and yesterday I actually got all my accounts up to date. I have three ledgers, one for our overall business expenses, one dedicated to house costs and finally one for the wool and soap business. I'm not sure how the French tax system works, but at least I'll have all of our information easily to hand.
Before I get stuck into (litereally) the wool, I'm going to plan our menu and budget for this week. I really do love sitting in this space while thinking and planning :D

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Quiet.

I've been absent from my blog for a little while but I'm forcing myself to sit down and write.
I suppose you could say that I ran out of words. My head was so tired that thinking was almost painful. I've needed a little time to retreat into myself and sort out my head.
I've put myself under such a lot of pressure lately, cleaning the never ending messy house, trying to learn French, sorting the animals, moving into the Studio and all while dealing with more than a dozen dirty fleeces. I guess a little breakdown was inevitable!!!

 I was getting worn out and my neck seized up, forcing me to book an appointment for a massage. I had a Reiki session at the same time and it ended with me in floods of tears. It was a great release and I realised that I felt like I was carrying the world on my shoulders. I had to start saying no to people. Slowly now I'm beginning to get back to normal, but I still have a little anxiety in the back of my mind about the jobs that still need to be done. I have seedlings growing out of their pots and an army of slugs waiting for me to plant up the veg beds!!! Some of my courgettes have already fed a good many slugs, but when the rain stops, I'll get my revenge!

The Studio was finished last week and I spent a lot of time painting the walls and ceiling, which only made my bad neck worse! It was lovely to see it finished though!
 The dresser that was left behind was given a facelift with a pot of home made chalk paint.

 I love it now and want to get another one for the kitchen but T isn't so sure!
 I love my Studio, it's such a calm and peaceful place to sit and work. I've managed to do so much spinning and knitting :D
 The cats are beginning to visit the Studio, but Piper claimed her spot as soon as the mats were down!
The outside has been tidied and landscaped by my lovely son and soon I hope to have wildflowers growing all along the front and roses at the side.
I'm taking it easy today, just a little spinning and reading :D

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Washing up with soap.

The soap I made last week is just about ready and I'm almost out of washing up liquid. I would ideally leave the soap another week as it's a bit too alkali for my liking, but I'm not sure how much that will change over time. To be safe I used rubber gloves. I'm not sure how well this experiment will work really. I'm not using plastic bottles, but instead I need rubber gloves!!! To be fair though, I usually need rubber gloves anyway as I get excema on my hands from washing liquid!

So, here is the result. Very hot water with the soap rubbed on the sponge. The plates and cutlery were good and clean, some dishes needed soaking and the greasy pans needed a lot of soap and extra hot water. This will take a bit of getting used to and possibly the convenience of washing liquid may well tempt me back, especially as it's pretty cheap for a bottle compared to the hassle of getting the ingredients and making the soap. However, the soap is excellent for washing clothes and costs around 25p a bar. 
I'll see how I last through the week.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Coming together nicely.

It's been another full on week filled with hard work and organising.

Moomin helped me to clear out what was formerly the garage and is now our tack and tool room. This is the tool end, it was quite a mess as T and I both have lots of tools and gadgets. He has a good excuse, being a builder, but I just love DIY (even if I'm terrible at it!)
 We had a huge delivery of horse feed. It will save me a lot of time and money for fuel plus I like to know that the animals have food in case of emergencies. Being without a car for so long made me realise how much I rely on it to 'pop' to the shops. No more, I'm cutting back on that to once or twice a week.
 The tack has been organised and rugs hung up for the summer. We love those plastic buckets, but in time will go over to the reused car tyre trugs as they last forever which the platic ones don't. Merlin and Bo love to rip the handles off their coloured buckets when they play tug of war!!!
 My handy shelves are waiting to be filled with more homemade creams and insect gels. I've tested the stopitch cream I made on Merlin and not only did he accept it, but it didn't cause any skin reaction, so that will be made in a bigger batch.
 The front garden had become a wild jungle! We booked a builder to come and clear it and lay a proper driveway. Moomin and I took over an hour and 3 barrow loads just to clear this tiny space!
 This was my view from the kitchen the following morning as I cleared the breakfast things. This area to the side of the house was lawn and shrubs. There was no way any of us could have done this work by hand.
 The whole drive was cleared in less than an hour!
 The lawn and shrubs removed and best of all the root of an enormous laurel that I simply detested! It's not like me to dislike any plant, but laurel can be so poisonous and I just don't want anything toxic so close to the house.
 The new drive is finished and the cars are tucked away out of sight.
 The front of the house can now be enjoyed without any cars in the way. I've wanted a gravel garden for so long and I adore this one. The next jobs are, paint the house and build the gazeebo. It may seem like quite a luxury to spend good money on a posh new drive, but this is the first view people will get when they come for a holiday in our Gite and so I think it's a good investment.
We celebrated our new drive with a couple of loungers. These fold up a little too easily and have a habit of swallowing you whole if you move suddenly. I knew they were cheap for a reason, haha :D
The two faded red chairs were left here and have seen better days. I'd love a little French set in iron, but that's out of our price range for now, so I'll paint these and make do. The flower bed here has been cleared of weeds and planted up with the herbs we brought from England. It looks so sweet now and I have my morning coffee here. It's my favourite spot. Gigi likes it too <3
Just in front of the Gite is a sun trap for most of the day. It's shady but still warm in the evenings and a peaceful spot for a little knitting after a hard day. Moomin has been planting seeds like they're going out of fashion. I think I'll have a decent flower garden for once! I don't have much patience with flowers, as much as I love them, I tend to prefer vegetables!
It's a Bank Holiday here today and I intend to do nothing other than feed and play with the animals :D

Friday, 18 May 2018

Simple living.

I started blogging around 11 years ago, with a different blog and a totally different life. 
When I was a child, I loved watching The Good Life and it inspired a love of self sufficiency in me even at a young age. My Grandad always grew his own vegetables and I loved to spend time watching him work in his greenhouse.
I grew up and my priorities changed, I had a horse that I had to work to pay for and then later a family to care for. Before having the children, it made the best sense for me to be a stay at home mum. I wasn't a high earner and I could save us the equivalent of my wage by being frugal and providing in other ways. I started my vegetable garden. It seems so strange to me now, but at that time the World Wide Web was just beginning to really take off. Do I sound like I'm ancient? I think I must be!
Suddenly so many resources were available to me and I joined self sufficiency forums and found blogging. I just couldn't learn enough about changing my lifestyle.  One of my biggest new found inspirations was Rhonda Jean at Down to Earth I didn't realise that she was fairly new to blogging too, but this post was what gave me a huge lightbulb moment. I've been re-reading her blog to connect with my old self, to find again a sense of my ideals and goals. It's funny, but I find that I haven't really changed all that much. I'm older, carry a few more scars and a few more pounds but at my heart, I'm still trying to make a difference and to lead a life that I can be proud of.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

How many tomatoes?

Yesterday I did some potting up of the seedlings. The tiny greenhouse (incident tent!) needs more shelves, so I improvised. As our house was left furnished, we ended up filling the gite barn with everything we didn't want. I had a rummage around and found an old laundry basket the perfect height for a little table. A cupboard door became the top and I can put all my little pots inside when I've finished planting out the seeds.

 In total, I potted up 47 tomato plants!  I'm toying with the idea of selling some with an honesty box!
 The beans are coming along, despite being planted late, I have about four varieties and 20 plants in total.
 These are the woad babies. They've been the easiest of the dye plants to grow and they're nice and healthy too :D
(my favourtie gardening gloves from my dear friend, BB <3 )

Somehow, during everything I was doing yesterday, I hurt my right shoulder! Today will be a sewing day, I think!