Saturday, 8 September 2018

Repurposed chicken shelter

We had the last week of the summer holidays off work and decided to get some things done. We've both been a bit lost with where to go next with the house so wrote a list of a few things to get done. Now we've made some progress we're both feeling a bit better and I think we've got the motivation back.

One of the jobs we wanted to get done was a new chicken shelter. I think you'll agree the one we made 5 years ago form pallets is past it's best!

When we bought the new land last year, amongst the brambles we found an old oil tank. Unfortunately the digger driver drove into it and left a big hole, rendering it pretty useless for it's original incarnation. So like all tight asses we cut it in two and made two chicken shelters.
The girls took a while to grace it with their presence, but now they're at home.

We also decided to put up the post box we bought at Easter, so used some wood that James got from the 'goods in' department at work (rescued before going to the tip). As you can see the wee man got in on the action. Looks pretty good just inside the gate, I'll put up a pic next time.

The new lawnmower was delivered a few weeks ago and is awesome, it flies round the field and so the grass is looking lush.

Baby girl had her fourth birthday a few weeks ago and did her first day at school this week. She's been so grown up and wee man has settled back in. 

She also had her first haircut and was treated like a princess so loved every moment.

Last weekend we went to a friends wedding and the kids looked beautiful.

Lastly James has MOVED THE BOILER!!! And what's more it works so we'll have heating for winter. That means a vast network of pipes has been removed leaving the house looking tidier and greatly reduces the risk of frozen pipes like last year.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Catch up and trip to Chester

So we've been plodding along here but lack of money has caused things to slow. The grass is coming along a treat (along with many nettles).

James has managed to complete the plumbing for the boiler move, but needs a few strong men to help him move it, but you'd be amazed how everyone's offer of help disappears when asked to name a date.

He has also managed to wire everything so that the thermostat can work again, hopefully it'll be moved and operational in time for the cold weather.

I have been passing the time by making a new flower bed, some of the plants I've grown from seed can now be moved into the space we've made. I've also made a tonne of raspberry jam.

Unfortunately the mower died this week, having done us nearly 5 years service (plus 25 years before us). We've had to spend all our savings to order a new one, which hopefully will manage the new paddock with ease.

We had the week off work so booked a few nights last minute in Chester. I used to visit often as kid to stay with a great aunt and those visits inspired our life in the country. On the way we stopped at a national trust house and the candle factory which was a vivid childhood memory for me and the kids loved dipping their own candles. They sit proudly at home in all their gaudy beauty.

 Unfortunately baby girl got a vomiting bug the first night away and so the few days were spent carrying her around Chester. It was still beautiful and we walked the roman walls and visited the amphitheatre and cathedral. Luckily the house I booked on airbnb was 2 minutes from the city centre so we could go back frequently whenever she felt poorly and we needed a rest from the carrying.

We're both a bit fed up with the whole process at the moment, our progress is hampered by lack of funds and we don't have family who can help us. It's hard to balance doing the house and land and giving the kids a childhood that isn't all saving and not enjoying life. I am constantly torn between you don't know how long you've got enjoy it (make memories with holidays/days out) and work like a dog and save every penny to complete the house. Anyway I'm sure it'll pass and we'll get back to having the drive to keep ploughing on soon.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Watching grass grow

I haven't had too much to say lately, it's been busy here with just the everyday jobs of living.

We did however put down paddock seed onto the cleared field. It was starting to sprout weeds and after the expense and effort of clearing I didn't want it to go to waste. So I spent the evenings a few weeks ago putting down seed and James rolled it using a borrowed tractor.

Now the phrase 'about as interesting as watching grass grow' is pretty apt. 

Two weeks later

The endless rain delayed us clearing the ground and now the hottest summer in years is making it hard work keeping the newly sprouted grass alive. We have a sprinkler which we move about the field morning and night around work.

The kids have had invites to lots of birthday parties the last few weekends, so we seem to have spent all our time driving from A to B.

We went out for the first time in ages as a family on Saturday (for a few hours before another party). There's a local flower farm that makes petal confetti so we looked around the fields. We took my mum who adores the kids, so they all enjoyed an hour the sun.

The flower bed I spent so much time planting last year is looking beautiful and the bees are mad for it. We're trying to do our bit to keep them happy and fertilising the fruit and veg.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Further land clearances and the duck hotel

Another packed couple of weekends. 

We got the wee man a single bed as his legs were starting to poke out the end. As with all things IKEA, it took us most of the afternoon to put together!

James put up my oil lamp in the hallway, I'm so pleased with it and it reminds me of my holiday every time I pass. It's all looking smart now the woodwork is done.

We also did some upgrades to the compost bins that we built a few months ago. The chickens are always in there turning over the waste, but most of it ended up all over the floor. Now we've put in a front that can be taken out when access is needed to the compost. Hopefully we'll get a bit more now.

This weekend our digger driver came over and cleared some more trees and bushes from the land. We built a huge bonfire and burned all the brambles and decaying wood we could find. He also brought the plough round to disturb all the bramble roots, which we've been collecting up for burning. Next plan is he'll bring over his big rotavator type attachment and it should all ready for seeding.

I thought that picking grass would be easy but there are so many choices. I don't want to be mowing all the time, especially with our mower but the meadow mixes are so expensive I can't justify paying ten times as much. I'll just have to think about it this week a bit more.

We've also been duck rescue for our neighbour up the road. Her ducks have been getting a virus and dropping like flies. Sh'ed had a mum sitting and the ducklings had been kept separate from the flock. She asked if we would take them for 10 days to keep them out of harms way. So long as they're well at the end then they'll be going to a new home. Unfortunately as her other ducks are carriers they're not safe to go home. The girls have been very good giving up their home but they don't like having to stay in the pen with them all day. They're too spoilt!

Saturday, 12 May 2018

A beautiful May wedding

Last weekend my sister married her wonderful fiance in the glorious May sunshine. The day was one of the first warm spells we've had this year; the atmosphere was relaxed and jovial. My two were page boy and flower girl and I was bridesmaid.

Stuart's family were lovely and I'm so pleased for Emma that she's got them all on side. Unlike our wedding there were no fights!

We got ready in the morning together over a bottle of fizzy wine. My sister was excited and happy. The kids were beautifully behaved. All went well. I cried during the ceremony (not like me, I'm not a public crier).

We sat in the terrace in the sun afterwards, drinking Pimm's and chatting. We were sat with my grandpa over the wedding breakfast and he told me stories of the war and his early life I've never heard; at 97 he seems to be softening! It is the first time he's really chatted to me, when I was younger my grandparents were very Victorian, 'children should be seen and not heard' type of thing. My mum was in her element bossing everyone around.

Congratulations Emma and Stuart, wishing you a long happy life together xxx

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Not your normal holiday purchases

Now we're home we've got the post holiday blues. That said we're starting to make plans to move the house along and get the garden looking better.

I took some photos of some of the bits and pieces we bought. As always happens we had our luggage searched by the TSA security guys. To be fair whilst everyone else's suitcase is packed full of new clothes, we come home with some odd stuff that must look curious on the x-ray machine.

As you know I'm keen on having some food, water and fuel stored and doing what we can to ensure if we need to we can keep to ourselves for a good period of time. So the first picture is what I was most excited to buy.

I have wanted a mini Sawyer filter for ages and look what I've got!! I also managed to get a lantern for about £6. It burns kerosene the same as our boiler, so is ideal for if we need emergency lighting as kerosene is the fuel we have most of. We need to have practice soon to get the hang of it.
Plus ball jars, a whole tray of a dozen for another £6 odd and what's all they all got home in one piece. A £1.50 toasting fork and some ziplock bags. As you can see the machete made its through UK customs.

Anyone who's seen my Christmas posts knows we buy a Christmas decoration for the tree when we go away and this year we've continued the tradition.

My other joy is home decor and we got a few vintage bits when we were in Mount Dora at the most amazing antique mall. I always like homewares and lucky for me it's pretty common stuff so you can pick it up at a really good price. We got an old mirror, a cornbread skillet, an old oil lamp (that had a bracket that just caught my eye) and a salesman's sample stove. God know's where that will find a home.

I've also been looking for a post box forever and look what I found, I love enamel things and it will hopefully do a better job of keeping my post dry than my current one.

Last but not least, we didn't buy a whole lot at Disney as it's pretty overpriced but I had a silhouette made of the kids. It captures a moment in time. The lady does it there and then with a small pair of scissors in about 2 minutes, it's certainly a talent.

Now we need to start planning what our goals for the year are and getting started. Here's hoping that the weather turns for the better so I can get out in the garden.