Well, it’s about time

So here we are again, snow scattered on the ground this morning, the nights well and truly drawing in and my duties on the farm reduced to the milking of the goats now that the pigs have enjoyed their final meal. In theory I now have time to blog, although in truth it’s more about making time than having time and I’m the master of procrastination. Continue reading “Well, it’s about time”

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Tales from the village #2

Its a long time since the first tale, but after hearing this one I thought it deserved a post.

But first of all apologies for anyone who received multiple notifications of my last post We are not vegetarians or indeed didn’t receive a notification or did and then couldn’t find the post, technology, time zones and schedules got the better of me.

So back to the tale, from our neighbours who have the diary farm, and as such they grow there own crops for animal feed, one of which is potatoes. Now the thing with potatoes is that the wild bore like to eat them and if they find your field they can do some serious crop damage in one night, so it’s common for the spud fields to be surrounded by an electric fence.

As the farmer employs a crop rotation system, this year the potatoes are in the field adjacent to his barn separated only by the road, but as  a canny farmer he had put a drain pipe under the road when it was tarmacked about four years ago, meaning that he could power the electric fence via mains power, if only he could get the cable through the pipe.

Long sticks, compressed air, bits of stiff wire, he tried everything but couldn’t get the cable through, but then he had a light bulb moment and grabbed one of his three cats. As you can imagine there was quite a bit of fur flying as the tied the cable to the cats tail and it was only Bandziorek (the third cat) that tolerated, or perhaps understood, the plan and happily scuttled down the pipe with cable in tow.

I haven’t tested the fence but I’m assured it working, plugged into the mains!

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A pregnant pause

I have no idea why I haven’t posted for so long, nothing I can put my finger on anyway, but I do know that I have no intention of giving the blog up; I know this may come as a bit of a disappointment to some, I’m sorry, but I intend to carry on and this is my attempt to get the ball rolling again.

I had the best intentions of walking you around Jersey, taking in the views and discovering the history of the German occupation in the 1940’s, alas I didn’t really get out much. I borrowed the occasional dog to take for walks, always returning them in one piece and occasionally without the owners knowledge, but even then time or the weather  conspired against me; pictures of hidden German bunkers, beaches and the slowly disappearing countryside will have to stay in my memory.

The work at the garage had it’s moments and I managed to get involved in some of the projects that the boss had lined up for me, including a stint as Santa during the run up to Christmas! Although setting up a website (blog) for the garage was probably more in my comfort zone; a lot more content required, but the scene is set for the garage to play on the internet stage.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Mr Men; Chatty, Clever, Small and Strong, not to mention Little Miss Sunshine, all of whom made my stay and work in Jersey less of a chore and more of a pleasure than I could have hoped for.

My trip back home to Poland was without event, which surprised me considering the disruption that the weather is causing in the UK at the moment. I did stop off in Yorkshire on-route to say hello to family and to help me to acclimatise to the sub zero temperatures ahead of me; it’s always good to catch up the the goings on in the Dales and finding out first hand what my sisters and nephews are up to beyond their status updates on Facebook.

So here I am, back in the land of snow and ice, although since my arrival the outdoor thermostat has been turned up and the winter covering has all but melted away; hat and gloves remain in my pocket as I walk the dogs over a wet and muddy landscape with only the occasional white scar deep in the irrigation ditches that cross cross the fields. I am secretly hoping that winter is over and work can resume on the house sooner rather than later and of course the lack of the white stuff will make the dash to the hospital, any day now, so much safer and easier!

Not been with Gosia for such a long time was a bit of a struggle and on seeing her and her bump on my arrival at the airport I was truly amazed at the change over the last four months; despite the fact that we spoke and saw each other every day via Skype, I didn’t seem to be prepared. I hope I am for the next stage!

As the day draws nearer I do kind of wonder how I am going to cope, although I’m not overly worried, as Gosias confidence about bringing up baby will pull me through, I just have to remember to do as I’m told and make sure my nappy skills are up to scratch!

Talking of nappies, as one does, we have made the decision to go with the reusable type. Now  I know this won’t come as a surprise to some of you and it’s hardly a news worthy item to mention without getting all eco on you; I’ll leave that for another post. But I did feel that the composting toilet subject hasn’t graced the pages of the blog for quite a while now and so the nappies have to get a mention, as all of that goodness will be collected in biodegradable liners and popped on the pile of poop ready to propagate the peas of the future. I did propose running a separate pile to see if baby compost was better at growing tomatoes than adult humanure, but the look on Gosias face was reason enough not to go down this route; getting more excited about baby poo than the baby herself is a big no no!

And that’s it for now, my first post in quite a while, a bit erratic with no real theme running through it, but a post non the less. This mornings sowing of chilli seeds may get a post of it’s own later today as I would like to go back to the roots of the blog and document some of the things we are doing to doing to become more self sufficient. Mind you I also need to catch up with a few of my blogging friends, it’s been a while and I have some reading to do.

Streaming or running?

Not a common modern day dilemma but one that we have faced over the last month or so. Running water or streaming internet; we have both, sadly in different locations!

First of all we lost a bucket, well not so much lost as left it in an unreachable place; the bottom of the well. For three years I have turned the handle 49 times to retrieve another 10 litres of ice cold crystal clear water to be used in brews, broths and baths, and not once did I check to see if the plastic coated steel wire cable was showing signs of wear or rust. Of course after hearing the crash of the bucket as it descended 25 meters to the bottom of the black holed well I swore that I would check the next cable at least once a month.

Several, unsuccessful, attempts with hooks and magnets to retrieve the receptacle narrowed down our options to calling the fire brigade, telling them that we suspected a child had fallen down the well ‘and whilst your checking can you get our bucket’ or employing the local well cleaner to don his harness; which we had to rule out as he is still recovering from his latest fall (from a tree).

Of course we could have simply purchased another bucket and sent that down for water collection, but when you have the modern day wonder of running water available only 250 meters away in a house that provides protection from the elements, it seemed sensible to move up to the house, leave the bucket to rest and if we needed the internet then we could always go back to the stable and log on as required. Mind you the half kilometre walk and the isolation of the stable for an hour or two, when there is work to be done, have left these pages blank and without comment for quite a while now.

A poor excuse I know, not that I have to excuse my absence from the blog, but I have missed it, the people the reader and the comments and for those of you who have commented then thank you; I’ll try not to leave it so long next time to reply 🙂

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Early May

Ok, I’m trying out my new idea for the format of my posts to see if it works; it will also give me an opportunity to catch up on events, if not for you then for me. And if you are wondering how I have found the time to type this then it’s down to the weather and administration; the weather has turned wet and Gosia is in town ticking boxes for those nice people at the EU donations office. I don’t have long, so I better work quick!

A couple of things from April first, things that need to be recorded; the wild plumb tree came into flower on the 26th of April, the sweet cherry, sloe berry and plumb not far behind on the 29th. Apple, pear and quince just starting; looking over the valley you can spot all the fruit trees in flower indicating a house, occupied or indeed derelict. One worrying thing seems to be the lack of bees, I have only spotted bumbles so far; Gosia recalls a lot more buzzing last year, I guess the proof will be in the crop as it is highly dependant on pollination, although I not sure if this is exclusively from bees though?

The swallows are here at last, although they don’t seem to have taken up residence in the barn, not to worry; I know they must be nesting nearby as they are taking mud from the pit on the building site.

The coppiced trees seem to be doing very well, I’m getting about a 50% success rate with the silver birch and almost 100% with the willow. We have also had unintentional good luck with the elder which I cut two years ago to get rid of them; they have all coppiced and we now have an abundance of greenery soon to become flowers and berries!

Wild plumSweet cherry treeBlossom across the valley

5th, 6th of May: Looking at the 10 day weather forecast we convinced ourselves that we should be frost free from now on so we headed for the garden and top field; I think we also needed a bit of a break from the house. 45 or so pumpkins in along with maybe 20 butternut squash. These were joined by about 20 courgette and 20 sweet corn on the 10th. I will check for damage later today when we return, I think we are tempting fate by not putting up the electric fence.

As the dandelions are up I had a quick wiz round with the mower before they set seed; a job that will have to be repeated more often than I have my hair cut 🙂

I heard the first cuckoo of the year and the oats that we cast are starting to sprout, giving the top field a new look of dappled green. Also noticed the Lilac tree flowering and the odd sight of horse radish in flower, which I had never noticed before. We have lots growing around the land and we are careful to avoid them when strimming as they are a key ingredient in many pickles and preserves.

LilacHorse radish in flower

7th of May: Good news, bad news; the electricity was finally connected without drama or tripping fuses, I’m all set to tackle the rest of the house now. Bad news, the plaster around the windows is cracking. A combination of vibration from the opening and closing of the windows and our poor attempt at getting lime render to try and stick to wood and expanding foam; the fiberglass mesh we used to help the process has failed to perform as we had hoped. The rest of the day was spent chipping off any loose render so that we could have another try. I guess we were lucky that we hadn’t started to take down the scaffold!

8th of May: We have been thinking about getting another dog and Gosia has looked at quite a few dog rescue websites to find a suitable playmate for Jackie (not quite true as Jackie doesn’t like other dogs) but you never know. Gosia finally found what can only be described as a Springer, Setter cross’; Zara. We headed off  first thing in the morning and she was part of the family by noon.

Zara

We think we have a solution for the window surrounds; the render that is used for the polystyrene insulation is quite flexible, so we have decided to give it a go. First coat completed by the end of the day, ready for a second tomorrow.

9th and 10th of May: Whilst the new render solution isn’t ideal in that it’s not a natural product, it does seem to be doing the job. second and third coats applied as required, then sanded down to blend in with the lime surround.

New render around windows
New render around windows

Jackie fell off the top level of scaffolding! All I heard was the thud as she landed on the bottom level, about 4 meters below and Gosia shouting for me to get there asap. I ran round the building shouting to try and find Jackie’s location, heart beating fast and a sense of dread; but of course I couldn’t find the black lifeless shape of a dog anywhere, she had already dusted herself off and was heading back up the scaffold! A heart stopping moment and a ban on dogs on scaffold has now been imposed.

Spider dog

And just in case you are worried about an overflow, I emptied the composting toilet, although this was in no way related to the events of Jackie falling off the scaffold:)

11th of May: Final sanding down of render and painting with a primer so that the lime wash will take, a good tidy up, a weed around the various plots of land and eviction notices left for the few mice that seem to think that our house is available for occupation. Chicken soup tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it.

Monday 13th of May: Catching up with the blog 🙂 Hope to read a few before we head off later today.

Time

I once read an article about the concept of time and whilst I don’t have it to hand I seem to remember the premise of the discussion.

The old saying that time fly’s when you are having fun is based around the fact that you lose sense of the reality of time as you are preoccupied with whatever it is that you are doing. On the other hand if you are bored, with little to fill your time, then time drags as you are forever conscious of time as you have little else to think about.

Oddly enough if you reflect upon the past and you have filled that time with interesting and eventful events then your concept of time is lengthened, in that you can rely on the event markers you have to give you a true concept of time past; even to the point that you may think that something happened longer ago than it actually did. Quite the opposite if you don’t have these markers and your life has followed a more humdrum path; as Pink Floyd put it ‘And then one day you find, ten years have got behind you’ and that’s just it, time past goes faster, even if it was slow at the time it happened!

So what’s my point? Well it’s only loosely connected, a tenuous link so to speak; I just haven’t had the time to blog! Not to mention read, comment or like on many of the blogs that I normally follow, not that any of these are mundane, it just the house is taking over 🙂

So don’t be surprised if my format changes a little; it may become more of a diary of events reflected on a weekly basis, which may be as unexciting as ‘the lilac tree is flowering’ or ‘I emptied the toilet again’ who knows? I keep taking the photos; I just don’t get the time to write about it.

After all one of the reasons I started to blog is because I was no good at keeping a diary; the added impetus of sharing my thoughts has so far kept me going, views, follows, comments and likes all play their part in motivating me to continue; the vanity of blogging I guess? So be warned or relieved that from now on I may only be posting once a week and hopefully without rambling on too much 🙂 And apologies if Poland doesn’t pop up in your stats as often, I try to read as and when I can, normally when I’m eating, so comments may be thin on the ground 🙂

‘And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it’s sinking, racing around to come up behind you again’