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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

I can do better!

It's not been a great day if I'm honest!
After a silly fall on Sunday my Fibro has kicked off in a big way. Today my back just got worse and worse as the day progressed and despite managing to do a little painting in the bathroom, I found myself in tears of pain and frustration. Getting angry with my condition is a pointless waste of time, but it inevitably, on occassions, it happens.
I know that in the warmer weather I'm so much better, hence the move to a warmer climate, but before I feel the benefit of that warmer weather, I have to deal with an increased workload with double the animals to care for.
I know that I can improve the way the animals are fed and the current system is currently being reviewed but for today, it's been one long hard slog after another. I need to get my thinking cap on work out some much needed solutions to these issues.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Ouch.

So tonight I fell over. I've been really good and managing to get everything done that needed to be done, but I guess I overdid it! I sat down to start knitting some presents and fell fast asleep, under the duvet with Bambam purring beside me. I really should have stayed there. Moomin and her brother sorted the ponies with T, but the alarm went off for the bread and I roused myself, probably a bit too soon.  Walley needed to go out for a wee and that was fine, but on the return I slipped on some mud and ploughed along the drive on my hands and knees. To most people that would be enough, but the shock caused a big old muscle pain and I was very sorry for myself. Not to stay down for long, I consoled myself with a chunk of a fruity breakfast bun! It helped a lot!

 The white loaf was also very good and not quite as burnt as it looks in this picture. I'm finally getting the hang of this oven.

In a couple of days it will be the 10 year anniversary of when I lost my beloved Oliver.  He was all I ever dreamed of in a horse. We were best friends, confidantes and soul mates. I still feel the pain of his leaving as badly as when he first went. I don't live with it daily, but sometimes the loss just hits me. A great big absence of feeling.
I'm giving him Reiki in this picture and he loved it. I would hold my hands out and he would just put his head where he wanted. It's a bad picture of me, but he looks so gorgeous <3
 We had so much love and trust between us. We spent 20 very happy years in each others company, often riding but also just hanging out.
 This was a very special day for us with so much love and joy.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Post office.

Today I did it. I finally braved the Post Office. Not the one close to me where the parking is awful and the shop hard to get to. I went to my favourite tiny town and walked in. All French phrases left my head and I said to T that I would listen to the person in front of me and it would all come back! Unfortunately for me the person in front was English and had managed to raise the ire of the Postwoman who babbled a lot in fast French. I understood a great many 'non's and 'pah's and the man stomped from the building uttering a lot of four letter words which were unfortunately very clear in any language.

I took a deep breath, walked up to the counter and said goodbye!!! Bonjour is hello, bonjourno is have a good day! Thankfully the postwoman laughed and told me to say it when I left, or was I leaving already. Some of this in perfect English, so she clearly understood the previous gentleman and was just being awkward! This had quite an effect on my confidence and I managed to send out a few Christmas cards without any further embarrassment. I'm going to make that my usual Post Office as not only is it a delightful little town, but I'm no longer terrified of the Post staff and need a good service for when I re-open my internet shop in the new year.

Meanwhile, back home at crazy acres, as I sometimes call it, the hay was fast running out and the ponies were planning another jail break. The two separate herds had broken the fence and were in togerther, the Eriskays had T's horses backed up into a corner and wouldn't let them onto the meagre strip of grass remaining in the paddock. Moomin and I gave them large buckets of feed and planned to ration the hay to last the weekend. Tempers were frayed, human and horse. I came in, soaked and cold and poured a large glass of Pastis and water. This is normally a summer drink and served with ice cold water is very refreshing, however, I've found it to also be quite warming after a cold day in the mud! As I started to unwind for the evening, I noticed an email from my lovely farmer, Pierre (I kid you not), the hay was on it's way. So, back into wet boots and outside to move the remaining hay ready for the delivery.

Pierre arrived on his Ferrari of a tractor (I'm no expert, but it's better than my car any day) and in less than half an hour I had five huge rounds of hay unloaded and covered and my pockets were a good deal lighter. It's good to know that we have hay until the new year, the cave is well stocked with food (50 kilos of potatoes from Pierre and cupboards full of cat food after a stock sale) our freezer is stuffed and we have over half a tank of oil from Jean Luc (honestly). We fired up the boiler this evening and mercifully have a working central heating system. It was such a huge luxury to feel warm and as the temperatures are due to drop after the weekend, it's quite a relief to know that we won't freeze like little match-girls!!!

Friday, 8 December 2017

Blogging.

I'm back from England and back to my blog again. I've had a couple of heavy work days before I could even switch on my laptop, but I think we're catching up now and I'm allowed a little pc time before bed. To be honest, I'm finding it hard to wind down after all the frantic activity.

We caught up with lovely family in England and there were so many people to see that time just ran out. It didn't help that I booked my car in for a service and repair to the windscreen wipers only to have the brakes go on the journey back to where we were staying! The wipers weren't even fixed!!! I complained to my garage and the car was taken away the next day. Great! Two days without a car and a heap of things to buy to bring back home. I was so stressed when the brakes went that I managed to coast into a supermarket and begged to use their phone (of all times this was the best for my phone to break!). I wandered around the shop in a daze and bought four boxes of tea and three packets of bagels, that goes to show where my head was at!

Do any of you other bloggers find that you start a post with an idea in mind only to have the words tumble out into another direction entirely. I do! I've been determined not to prattle on about my car troubles, and yet there I go, off on a wild ramble!

Anyhoo, I was originally thinking about blog friends over the years. I've made so many and lost touch with quite a few. Some for some reason stop blogging and others stop responding to comments for no reason that I can fathom. It's such a strange thing when you think about it, pouring out your thoughts onto a page and hoping someone will take the time to read, much less comment on it.  I was friends with a lovely lady for years, who very sadly passed away. But her blog wasn't finished, I said over and over, it was hard to deal with her loss when she always had so much to say.  I suppose, where my mind is going with this is that it's so important to live our lives to the fullest, to maintain friendships wherever they occur and to be the best we can to everyone in our lives.

I'm going to sleep now before I start to sound all preachy, that wouldn't do would it. I've learned my lesson about being on my laptop late at night after accidentally posting a slightly dodgy picture to Instagram that had Moomins eyebrows raised so high I thought she'd had a bad facelift. Stay away from multi-media after a couple of glasses of wine, that's the moral to this story :D

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Going back to Blighty.

I  don't really want to go back to England but I have things there that need to be sorted and I am at least looking forward to doing a bit of shopping. Some things here in France are very expensive, yet horse feed isn't one of them. I'm still only paying the same amount to feed seven horses as three!!!

I love this little tree in the orchard garden, it's the only eating apple tree we have, the rest are all cider apples, I may have to buy a couple more apple trees, especially a cooking apple.

 This is how the orchard paddock looks at the moment, a bit bare! We took the laurel shrubs out to the far right of this picture, but it's not clear where they were from this angle. I'm glad they're gone, I don't like their toxicity and they don't have much to offer to make up for it, in my opinion!  Yesterday we planted some dogwoods and a couple of plumb trees. I have hedging whips to plant when I get back. We also uncovered some huge rocks and discovered that they extend a very long way under the top soil. I'm wondering if this is the reason that many of the trees are failing, because there is so little good topsoil. If that's the case, then a year or two of mulching and manure will make a huge difference.
 While we we labouring in the garden, my dear bf T was building a chicken house.
The cats thought it was their new climbing frame :D
Can you guess what I'll be doing on the ferry? This is an example of a perfect gusset decrease, as I described in an earlier post.
And this is a prime example of SSK (slip, slip, knit) gone wrong, again. Maybe for the next sock I'll remember how to do it properly!!!
So, for now it's off we go to pack, back soon.x


Thursday, 23 November 2017

Stormy.

We had an incredible storm last night. The wind was ferocious and while Moomin and I struggled to pull the tarp over our hay bales, we almost took off as the tarp filled with air like a parachute. I'd like to say it was fun, but I was very grumpy and swore a fair bit! I finally lashed the tarp to pallets under the bales and used a sort of crochet stitch through the eyelets with hay twine. It worked and Moomin and I came in for a cold beer. It's so funny to think of her as an adult now, but when she pops open a couple of beers for us, it brings it home :D

While the wind built itself into a frenzy, I sat and cracked on with the next sock. This one is flying by but even so I'm needing to refer to Youtube for a couple of tips. My pattern is quite simple, but seems to assume I know how to pick up stitches properly. I looked at this tutorial for shaping the heel and then learnt the proper method for picking up stitches in the tutorial for shaping the gusset. Well, It was an inspiration and if you could see how I originally picked up stitches you would either laugh a lot or feel very sorry for me :D 

I'm knitting properly now and loving it so much. It's incredible that a series of tiny loops made in wool can create such a lovely garment. If the stitches are created in the right direction as in shaping the gusset, you get a lovely patten along the sock, if not, as in my earliest attempt, you get a messy decrease that looks bloody awful! I have a couple of new projects lined up for when I finish the socks and I think that's spurring me on to finish. I even have more sock wool waiting to be transformed!!!

The weather today is very subdued, most definitely the calm after the storm! All ponies are accounted for and the two greys, Merlin and Bo, look a good bit cleaner as I sneakily rubbed a bit of shampoo in their manes and tails before the rain started!

Thank you all for your kind comments. I'm still feeling a bit rough, but that's probably because of all the tarp wrangling. I'm typing from my bed in the company of the two dogs and Bambam. For the sake of animal care, I'll stay here a bit longer because they clearly need me to ;)

Monday, 20 November 2017

Not much today.

I don't know how much work I'll get done today, but I'm sat in bed waiting for painkillers to work or my neck to un-freeze and I'm actually starting to seize up more than ever!
I have so much planned for today, but it may have to wait. I wanted to plant a couple more trees and fix the rest of the electric fencing for the ponies. I often try to plan a quiet day and the animals put a stop to it, but today, I think they will have to make do. Thankfully my lovely children have done the morning feeds and water, so I'm going to slap a heat pad on my shoulder and snuggle down with the animals.

Dexter is so in love with Finn, can you see he's almost holding on to him <3  Finn doesn't mind at all, it keeps him warm :D

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Quilts.

This snow picture is for Leeanna and was taken in the Uk a few years back. In those days I actually walked from home to the ponies field as all of the roads were too dangerous to drive on. This is the lane up to their field.

I'm in a quilty kind of mood and would love some inspiration. Can anyone recommend any good quilting blogs? I want to make a simple no fuss comforter for my bed. I've made small quilts in the past, but this time I want something luscious. Of course, all my sewing things are back in England, so I'll just be browsing until I can pick them up, but that's fine as I've little time to finish the things I'm already working on!!!

Yesterday the horses broke out again! Today will be spent putting up new fences. There are three lots of fences each with their own solar powedered energisers and most of the time this works, but yesterday I forgot to turn one on and the big boys went for a take out from a neighbours field! I hope they ate plenty of grass before we caught them as there's precious little forage in our own fields until next spring!

Saturday, 18 November 2017

You tube.





I've started a You tube channel to talk about my life here in France and
share some images of our home and animals. I'd be interested in your comments but please be kind to me, it's the first time I've tried it and I hope I'll improve with practice, I think I sound a bit self conscious!!!

Also, I think I need to keep the videos shorter!

Friday, 17 November 2017

Christmas is coming!

Here in France we've been protected from the usual race supermarkets in England have to get their Christmas decorations out first. One Garden center near our old village was advertising it's grotto in October one year. I'm not a Grinch but I do find that it starts too soon.

Saying that, it's almost passed me by here as there are so few adverts for the coming festivities.

Imagine my surprise then when I walk into a favourite shop to be hit with a huge wooden grotto! I had to take pictures and was almost overcome at the cuteness of it all.
It's not actually that long until Christmas and if I want to make presents for people I need to get a wriggle on! 
We've been so caught up with working on the house that the changing seasons are almost passing us by!

I was reading a lovely blog this morning, unfortunately comments are switched off, but the writer was talking about her morning routine, cleaning and feeding the animals, baking bread and cooking a lovely stew. I felt comforted and worn out at the same time, lol! Some mornings I'm just glad to get up and feed the animals before lunch time! Winter is always a struggle for me and sometimes I wake up and can barely move, but here there is no stress and I can take my time, drink some tea and ease slowly into the day.
Yesterday I was up early to collect my children from the Ferry, they'd been to England to visit family. Today I need to recover from all the driving, so I'll stay close to home, make some bread and finish Manchee's coat in between feeding the ponies and walking the dogs. A simple day for me <3

Sunday, 12 November 2017

A lot of weather and stairs!

What a week it's been! Remeber last Sunday when I talked of a lovely day pottering around and maybe a picnic by the lake? Well, all thoughts of being outside were halted by a very black sky and icy winds. I settled in the conservatory with Dexter and tackled the dwindling walnut mountain, while listening to a bit of Spandau Ballet (I have to be alone to listen to that as no one else much likes it, but I'm such an 80's girl). Suddenly there was heavy rain pounding on the roof which turned to large hailstones. Dexter hid under my seat while Finn and Fae dashed in to shelter.
An almighty clap of thunder had all three cats running outside to hide in the barn. When it had calmed down, dear BF came rushing out to say that he could hear galloping from the loft where he was working and we discovered that the ponies had broken down the fence in their panic. There was a lot of drama and my three monsters took off across the fields where we found them an hour later on the road down to the lake! Thankfully the roads on Sundays are even quieter than during the week!

We were soaked through and exhausted by the time the fences were restored and all ponies fed. I was worried it would set off a fibro flare, but luckily a hot shower and a long sit by the fire seemed to do the trick. I was very sore the next day though.
We've been lighting the fire every night now as we still don't have enough oil for central heating. It's been flipping cold, I can tell you.  Poor Manchee feels the cold when it's just a bit chilly, so this week has been really hard for him. Here he's under two blankets and still needed a hot water bottle!
The solution is simple. I'm making him a little dog coat for inside the house. He has an outdoor coat, but of course I can't find it!
It took a couple of hours to warp up the loom as I'm still getting used to it. It does make my back ache, but as this is going to be a square weave, it's easier to do it on the table. Longer items are attached to a door handle and that causes a whole different set of problems!
I love these colours, green, brown and orange although the green looks more grey in this picture. The wool is just standard acrylic as it needs to be easily washable and I'll probably line it with a fluffy wool when it's extra cold.
So lots of inside jobs to do this week. The stairs to the loft started out like this.
Then they were crafted from floor boards and somehow we attached them to the loft (by magic, I think)
Once the props were secure, BF created the curving steps. Somewhere on my phone I have the finished picture, I'll share it tomorrow. But believe me, these are the cutest little stairs I've ever had and I love them to bits <3
In my mind I'm already decorating this little corner of the house but I have to wait for the walls to be plastered first.

I have a favour to ask, please can you share any pictures of winter weather on your blogs, especially snow for Leeanna of 'Can we have a new Witch'  as she's missing the snow now that she's living in Texas. Maybe leave a message here or on her blog. Thank you friends.x

I'm writing this post from the warmth of my bed. The rain is hurling leaves across the garden and I'm not terribly inclined to get up. However, if I don't feed the ponies soon, they'll probably stage another breakout!

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Sedimentary my dear Watson!

We walked along the lakeshore a couple of times this week. From the footpath we could see the beach below where the level of the water has dropped. I really wanted to get down there and walk along the shoreline as it's normally all underwater. I wish we'd been here when the lake was fully drained. My neighbour has pictures of it and the village that is underneath is remarkable.
 The rocks here are mostly sedimentary and the lake was once a slate quarry. Our house was built from the slate in the lake. How awesome is that?
I love the white lines of quartz, the stones are lovely up close.
Here you can see the beach clearly on the other shore, but on our side it was tough climbing over the rocks.
 We managed to make it under the tree here, but what you can't see is how steep it is and how the rocks drop off into deep water at this point! We had to admit defeat! Today we may explore the far shore and see if we can get to the beaches there.

 
Back to the house and this is what the loft is looking like now. My BF has put down new joists to raise the floor above the tangle of pipes.
Here we've laid down some floorboards to see how they'll look and it's so great to imagine this beautiful space when it's finished. It's so silent in the loft and will be perfect when the windows are in.

The roof will be lagged and boarded with the same boards as the flooring. It will be sooo cosy when it's done :D

The Mairi paid us a visit while I was busy (throwing junk out of the door) tidying up the cave! The place really couldn't have looked worse, but he was very gracious and agreed to come back and see the house when it was finished. He was so friendly and said that we could do pretty much anything we like inside the house and only need permission for the Velux windows in the roof. We can also build the field shelters for the ponies which will make them a lot happier. I do worry about them when it's wet or windy.

 I've also managed to fit in a little sculpting time. My fibro has been a big naggy lately, so I've made myself sit down and get back to needle felting. These little mice are from a tutorial on You-tube and are helping me to flex my stabbing muscles, haha, I have some designs of my own to work out and as it's Sunday, I may get to try them.
Have a good Sunday everyone.x

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Back to the drawing board.

What would you rather do? Sort laundry or spend the day in weak Autumn sunlight sorting out your garden? Well, of course, any outdoor activity is probably better than sorting laundry, but the air was warm and the sun occassionally peeped out between the clouds and I made my choice. I started laying cardboard for the second bed to go in the Potager. My lovely neighbour came over to ask if he could take some of the manure for his Potager and I gladly agreed. Any help cleaning out the paddocks is welcome. He asked me what I was doing with the cardboard and I tried to explain. There was a long pause and I tried again making hand movements to show the layers of mulch (I need to look up Mulch in French). He looked at me again for a long time, finally, 'Pourquoi'? Why? For the Potager I replied, oh no, he said emphatically! It would seem that the arrangement between the farmer and the previous owners does not extend to the new owners of our house (me). I can graze the ponies on it, but not put anything permanent on the land between the houses. It was an awkward moment for both of us. Could he still have the manure? Of course I said and helped him with a couple of barrows full.

I then had to scout around for another suitable area, which should be easy, but it really isn't! At the back of the house (which is kind of the front as it's on the drive up to the house from the road) is the orchard garden. It's mostly shrubs and edible fruit trees and a lot of lawn.The orchard garden is big enough, but right in the center is the Septic tank and it's runoff. We all agreed that we didn't want our vegetables to be grown there!  So I decided to extend the orchard garden and pinch a bit of the reserve pony paddock.
 Viewed from the side of the house is the two new beds and the ponies hay under the black plastic cover. To the right of the hay and in the center of the picture is the grassy area fed by the septic tank. It takes up a large area and isn't fit for a great deal. I may let the goats go on it during the summer (when we get the goats!) as I don't know what else to do with it. On the very far right is the driveway up from the road. We planted two of the pear trees there and then dear son broke the shovel!
I have some ornamental trees to remove as they're poisonous to animals and people, but I need someone with a chainsaw to cut them back. I only took out a couple of branches with a handsaw and was exhausted! So today wasn't a great success but at least I still have the laundry to look forward to (yuk!) :D

On reflection, I may plant clover and edible wild flowers in the septic tank area to attract bees and pollinators and give the goats a little diversity in their diet. It seems to make sense!

Monday, 23 October 2017

Doing it in the rain.

The weather here is still so mild and even though we have a steady drizzle, I've been out starting the first of the beds in the Potager. To the side of the house, between us and the neighbours, is a small piece of land that was gifted to the original owners of my house. I had confirmation last week that I may continue to use the plot. I have enough land, don't get me wrong, but it will be good to have a separate piece away from the livestock and the trees. It will have a completely different climate to the rest of the small holding and as it's been used as a potager before, I'm told the soil is great.
This is the image I have in my mind.
 This is the reality! I'm going to use the no-dig solution as I'm a good deal older than when I had my small veg plot at the ponies field in England. I wish I'd read about mulching back then, not just as a top dressing, but as a way to start plant beds from scratch without too much effort. I've laid down a layer of cardboard, straight onto the grass. Covered it with spoiled hay and then a layer of week old horse manure. It should all break down together, encouraging insects to do my work for me while at the same time minimising disruption to the soil structure. Lets see if it works. I've used the traditional method in the past and now I'm ready to try anything that cuts down effort while, hopefully, increasing the yield.  I'll make one bed a day and carry on adding to each as I clear out the pony paddocks.
 The second of my socks is coming along quickly now. I think I've actually got the hang of this :D  I'd like to try the magic loop method one day, but for now, I'm doing it old school.
This afternoon I'm treating myself to a pair of wellies. My old rigger boots are leaking like mad and while I don't mind a little drizzle, I can't stand wet feet! While we're out, we'll be buying the wood to board the loft. I'm so excited to see the house grow into it's new shape. Hopefully we'll be a lot closer to having our loft finished this week.

Edited to add:

I've also been planning Swales on our land. The article in this blog explains how the Swale can be used on a small scale. I'll give it a go in the garden before trying it in the field. I think it would be a great solution to our boggy fields in winter and dry pasture in summer. There are so many great gardening tips on this site, that I think I'll be dipping in to visit a lot. I found it on Pinterest.

Tenthacrefarm

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Permaculture of a sorts.

How happy am I? Finally I've found a book that lives up to expectations. Colette O'Neill has written a journal of her time creating a beautiful Eden on a neglected piece of land in Ireland. She saw the little cottage and knew how to go about turning it into a haven for wildlife and people using the permaculture principles. How inspiring is that?
I've been planning my own garden using my copy of Gaia's Garden. I've made lists of plants from my Wild Colour dyeing book to include in the garden as I'd like everything grown here to have a use and purpose. I'm bringing my lovely Magnolia tree from England and it's purpose is simply that it makes me happy.

Here is a rough sketch of the land and how it is at the moment. I've made an overlay on tracing paper to show the wind directions which change according to the season. I also need to mark any boggy or dry areas. I'll do a similar design for the gardens in detail and another for the pony paddocks.

Oooh, look, Gaia's Garden again, I must be enjoying it! I've got lots of plans for the wood that is already growing here and I've just bought some dogwood plants so that I can get back to basket weaving. I haven't done it for years and it can be a bit tough on the hands, but it's so enjoyable to have a basket from your garden. In England I used to cut long whippy stems from my Jasmine to hold bean wigwams together. It looks nicer than string and is of course, free.
I also want to have a go at whittling. I've had the knives for years from when I tried my hand at spoon making. I may even give that a go too!
Crikey, when will I fit it all in???  I'm still finishing the socks I started in February and I want to make some Christmas presents too! I need another Me to get it all done!

Friday, 20 October 2017

Share and pass it on.

This is a little idea that just popped into my head, it happens sometimes.

I'm going to share some of my favourite blogs and then ask that the owners of those blogs pass it on.
So it goes like this, I share the blogs and write why I like them, then the blog owners (if they wish) share a link to my blog and choose some of their own blog friends to nominate. Have I explained that right?

It's just a way to expand our blog friends and is totally optional.

So, my first blog friend is BB and Codlins and Cream.  BB and I have been friends online and in real life for over 10years. Her blog is about her wonderful and varied life in Wales, making lace, quilting and sharing some wonderful recipes.

Next is Kim at Thread Tales. I think we've known each other online for nearly 10 years too! Kim is an extremely talented quilter and has the most beautiful Ginger cat helpers.

Up next is 5 Acres and a Dream. I love this blog, it's so full of interesting stories and recipes. I've not been following for long, but I recommend a visit.

Pioneer Woman is another homesteading blog, filled with lovely recipes and ideas for living sustainably.

Being self sufficient in Wales is the blog of Dawn. A friend of BB's and someone who I am glad to know online. She's full of inspiration and works so very hard at everything (I mean everything!).

I was going to stop at 5, but I just have to share A New life in Wales as it's just a great blog with knitting, cooking, crafting and everything you want to read when you need some down time.

Ok, so these are only a few of my nominated blogs, all of the ones in my sidebar I love to visit and I haven't even started on my arty friends blogs! Maybe another day. So please don't feel  left out, these are just the blogs I'm sharing today, maybe I'll do more soon. Can you tell I've missed having the internet???

Oh dear, I knew this post might have a drawback! How can you nominate a few when you love reading so many blogs???

I have to add Rains Garden, not as an afterthought, but because Rain has become a dear friend in so short a time. Her blog is mouthwatering and fun :D




Thursday, 19 October 2017

Who am I?

Do other people ask this question of themselves, I wonder? The last few weeks have been so difficult and I've had down days and days when I just wake up fighting fit and raring to meet the challenges. Today is one of limbo. I don't feel low or like fighting. I feel like sitting quietly by myself, thinking, of all the things that have changed me during my lifetime and all the changes yet to come.

I've been in this house just over two months and already I feel different. I'm more aware of the weather and the season changing outside my window, I'm letting nature show me how to make small changes to use the best features of this landscape. I'm watching the trees blow in the wind and noting the areas good for planting and those to be avoided. It's another part of the journey I'm on, a good part.

The wind is building up outside and there feels like a storm brewing. It started at the beginning of the week with the strange yellow sky and that feeling of waiting, of the land holding it's breath. The days since have been unsettled but today it feels like the storm may well be here. Birds are tumbling through the sky along with the falling leaves and a few rain drops smack hard against the window.

The lake was so eerie on Monday. The birds were silent and the sky heavy.
We found rock caves and watched the leaves tumbling down the hillside.
The lake was still and the boundary between water, earth and sky was blurred.
The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

By Wendell Berry

I've posted this poem before, but today it has a deeper meaning for me.


Sunday, 15 October 2017

A full day.

What a day I've had! I started with a couple of hours mucking out the paddocks then a couple more hours pruning an apple and a peach tree. The trees haven't had much care in a good few years, so Moomin and I gave them a good dressing of hay (some of our hay got wet and went mouldy) and then a layer of manure. I didn't want to put fresh manure onto the roots, so the hay was a good way to get round the issue. Both will rot at the same time and then feed the trees. The trees have also been in need of a good pruning for some time. So many branches are crossing over and causing canker and dieback, where they rub and become diseased. I also took a few branches off the evergreen monster that I'm sure is responsible for the death of the two peach trees. I think the monster will have to go eventually, it serves no purpose and I'd love a willow hedge in it's place for basket weaving.

After some cleaning in the house and a bite of lunch, I decided to treat myself with a little arty crafty work. I made a pot of chalk paint as my expensive paint was left in England. Chalk paint here is just as pricey but nowhere near as bad as bathroom paint (£89. a tub!). I used an old salad spinner as mixing pot and put in 1 third plaster/polyfilla to 2thirds paint. I added blue, green and grey until I came to a colour I liked. The unit started out like this one, I wish I'd taken a before and after photo!
 After one coat of chalk paint and a little sanding back, the cats agreed it was good enough.
I drew on a design that I liked in a magazine and adapted it to my own style. I also added a little gold leaf to the handles. Originally this little bedside cupboard was going to be for the printer and sit in the tiny office space I've made under the stairs. Now I'm not so sure! I kind of want to show it off!!!
Just before I go, a quick word about rubbish reviews. Sometimes they can be overly harsh, but sometimes they're necessary to give a reader an idea of what a book is really like.
I've feel like I've had to post too many negative reviews on Amazon lately and I don't know if that's my fault for lack of research or the fault of people who write good reviews of bad books. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong, but sometimes I feel that people review a book because it's written by someone they know or because they don't want to be seen as negative. The permaculture design book is to me a prime example of The Emperors New Clothes. No one wants to say anything derogatory in front of their peers.
I guess I'm annoyed at spending £15.00 for something I'll never read again and was too complicated for the subject covered.

The Garden to Dye for has some good tips, but it seemed to be bulked out by telling the reader how to grow certain plants instead of explaining the many colour variations obtained by adding different mordants or modifiers. The pictures were lovely and there were around 8 or so very useful pages but again, I felt like I'd wasted my money.

I've just ordered the Bealtaine cottage book. I so hope it's going to live up to expectations. I'll do a review on here when it arrives. You can find Bealtaine cottage on Facebook and it's well worth looking at. Fingers crossed the book is a lovely as the FB page.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Walloped!

Today, I finished cleaning out the pony paddocks, did a little maintenance to the brambles along the border and set about sorting out a composting bin. Thankfully my son was able to lend a hand as the corregated iron panels I'd found were just too difficult to bend. Moomin and I jumped up and down on them for some time before Son started bashing them with a mallet. We then bent them to form an L shape and put them together to line the inside of the compost area. A couple of pallets were staked in place to hold the shape of the bin. Then the manure from the paddocks was shoveled in along with two months of kitchen waste. Later we sorted the windfalls and threw the rotten ones onto the compost and divided the rest into eaters and pony apples. It took us nearly all day to get so much done. I had to pop out to Bricomarche at one point to buy stakes for the corners of the bin. I'd wanted to use only things I could find on the property, but all the logs and branches were too rotten and snapped under the slightest pressure.
I'm trying to approach all work on the land by using the permaculture principles, but sometimes you just have to buy something new. In the long run, I'll be saving effort and time, so a little purchase now can be forgiven.
After all that hard work, it was good to take the time to sort the laundry. The sun was going down, dinner was cooking and I only had this last job to do before a hot shower and a cold beer.
On my way back to the house, I noticed Dexter having a quiet bath in the shade of the chestnut tree.
Most of the time his tongue is out, I think because of a jaw injury. However, this face was just too good to miss :D Can you see how wet his side is? Most of that is dribble and a little licking. No wonder his coat is so clean! We adore him to pieces. It's funny how quickly he's settled in, I think he was waiting for us.x