Thursday, 14 December 2017

Repairs to the Henhouse

Alan has been busy recently, both in his workshop and doing the day job, which he now does from home, but last week he found time to do some running repairs to the henhouse.

The house has sat there in all weathers and in constant use for the last few years, and the thing that gets used the most by lots of little feet and sits there in all weathers ... usually rain ... is the ramp the birds use to get into their house.  It had started swelling as it absorbed more and more of the rain we get here in not so sunny North Wales, and basically it was about to fall to pieces.

So using the old one as a pattern, he used wood he already had to manufacture an exact copy and last weekend, after it had had many, many layers of varnish to weatherproof it, he fixed it in place on the henhouse. 

Here he is on the way out carrying the old ramp in his right hand and his kneeling mat in the other.

I don't know if anyone has noticed but we have also added a corrugated roof to the henhouse ready for this Winter as the wooden one, even though treated, was starting to let in rain.  The new corrugated one was put in place over the original to give the birds an extra layer of protection from the elements.

It has proved a godsend over the last few days.  As you can see from this photo the snow sat on top of the roof, meaning that the warmth that the birds generate themselves overnight by huddling together, stayed in the house keeping them warm rather than dissipating and melting the snow on the roof.

I don't know about you but I hate to see houses, whether they be henhouses or human houses, with no snow on their roofs during a cold spell ... it's a sure sign that the occupants are paying to heat the world instead of keeping themselves nice and warm.

Sue xx

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Ruthless Clearing of the Food Cupboards

It's still absolutely picture perfect here today ...

... although at the moment there is a distinct 'drip, drip, drip' sound so I think the big thaw is on the way.

Sorting out the kitchen cupboards is proving to be very rewarding, I found these two jars of forgotten about blackberries in alcohol yesterday ...

... and while I was looking for a suitable bottle to strain them into I found this  :-)

HOW did I forget a bottle of champagne!!

Anyway the alcohol is now bottled and the blackberries are in a jar in the fridge for having with ice-cream as a quick and very decadent dessert over Christmas.

The cupboard was looking much tidier, so I started on the next one.

And found this ....

... just a little bit out of date then  ;-)

What a waste, unfortunately it didn't smell too good so it's been chucked.  I'm being really ruthless with this big cupboard clean out, after all if we haven't eaten these things through two 'eat down the cupboards' sessions they are never going to get eaten are they and looking in the cupboards and seeing them 'full' is no good if you need to actually want to eat the contents!! 

So this time I have gritted my teeth and gotten rid of quite a few jars and packets of out of date and unused foods, mainly fermented things actually, so that shows me we do not like them no matter if a recipe says they are needed, once that recipe has been done the leftovers don't get used up, and sometimes I don't even get round to making up the dish because when push comes to shove we don't really fancy the dish enough to actually do it. ... so no more buying of them. 

After a spot of lunch I'll be back to work in the kitchen, there's just one final cupboard to do.  Alan won't be able to find anything in the kitchen cupboards when he gets back tonight ... he'll be glad when this snow is gone and I can get out and about again and the place stops getting re-organised  :-)

Sue xx

Monday, 11 December 2017

A Snow and Ice Day

Today we have the same snow, but now with a crunchy layer of ice on top, that hopefully the glorious sunshine will start to dissolve soon, but I'm not holding my breath .... it's freezing cold out there.

The blue skies were wonderful as I walked over to the paddock with the dogs but Suky ran through the gate and then stood still on three legs as  if to say 'I'm not getting ALL my feet that cold'.  She couldn't wait to get back to the snuggly warmth of Dad's big jacket on the sofa, left behind while he works away from home today

The next job of the day was to take copious buckets of hot water to thaw out the chickens drinkers, everything was frozen solid.  Then I had to thaw the catches to the poly and net tunnels and battle my way through the doors so I could get inside to dislodge the vast weight of snow that was starting to make the roofs dip in a most alarming fashion.  I have a sad feeling that despite my covering the polytunnel netted windows with a layer of polythene, and draping fleece over the spinach and kale I will be losing most of my plants ... oh well I did my best.

Once all the necessary outdoor chores were done, I came in to join the dogs in the warmth of the house to thaw out my toes and fingers ...

... and start on a big pan of soup for this weeks lunches, using some of these carrots ... still in good condition although well out of date  :-)

Now this pan has had lots of stock added to it and is simmering away nicely in the bottom oven of the Aga, and I'm upstairs enjoying coffee and blog time in the office before I do todays main indoor job, which is to empty out all the food cupboards in turn, clean them and see exactly what we have in stock both for Christmas and for into the New Year.

Not a bad job on a chilly December morning to be working away in the kitchen to the sound of a purring cat and two gently snoring dogs.

Sue xx

Sunday, 10 December 2017

A Snow Day

Pristine snow when we first woke up ...

Minimal traffic first thing.

Going over to let the chickens out .... dressing gown and wellies, usual weekend attire before the first cup of coffee :-)

Only one chicken even peeped out first thing ... they point blank refused to walk on the 'white stuff'.

The view from the front door.

No sign of the hills opposite .... it's a complete white out!!

Perfection ...

... but not for long, the dogs couldn't wait to get into the paddock  :-)

Suky loved it.

Pretty bushes laden with snow.

Suky and Mavis finding little bits of grass under the bushes.


The view back to the house.

And up the hillside.

Hi-jinks in the snow.

Little Puggy footprints.

And that virgin patch of snow from the very first photo .....nope I just couldn't resist  ;-)

Stay safe, stay cosy and I hope you are having a nice snow day too.

Sue xx

Back to Oats

I've come back to oats.

Well it's the time of year for a tummy warming bowl of porridgy goodness to start the day.  I recently gotten into the habit of leaving a couple of scoops of oats soaking in water in the fridge overnight, this makes the oats creamy rich in their own right without the need for lots of milk. As you can see in this photo they swell nicely and absorb all the water, meaning they are all soft and ready for a quick cook.

Which means every morning all I have to do, is to get it out of the fridge so it can come to room temperature while I sip bleary eyed at my first coffee of the day.  Add a splash of my favourite almond mylk, give it all a good stir and breakfast is a four minute blast in the microwave away.

It keeps me full until lunchtime and stops me getting the nibbles mid morning which my previous couple of slices of toast were doing.

What's your favourite Winter breakfast warmer?   Alan's is still two poached eggs on toast.

Sue xx

Friday, 8 December 2017

It Started as a Scribble ... and Ended Up as a Christmas Tree

It started as a scribble ....

... well really I guess it really started when I looked out of the window and saw this absolute decimation of one of my favourite views from the kitchen window. 

When Alan prunes, he prunes with gay abandon and nothing is safe, so down came most of the little tree and bushes that made my little shed look like a fairy tale shed nestled in the wood.  Now it's exposed I'm sad, it looks bare and un-protected .... it will grow back he said ... it was already perfect I thought ... you bloody vandal !!

Anyway I digress ... in a determined effort to make good a bad job, the smaller branches have been cut up as kindling and some of the bigger branches have been put to a very good use.

A free and totally homegrown Christmas Tree.

I left them to dry off a bit on the Aga so they wouldn't leave damp marks on the wall and while they warmed up I found some green string (thanks Dad your string stash is still coming in  handy), pulled out the one box of Christmas decorations that survived our big decluttering session over the Summer.  We had chosen to keep only the most favourite of Christmas bits and pieces, the things that meant something to us and that we will be happy to see year after year.  I had enough for a quick tinsel strewing of the living room .... and to decorate the pile of twigs ...

... that were about to be turned into a Christmas Tree.

It didn't look much at first, twigs and string hanging from a single screw in the wall that usually holds my 'cottage fireside' picture.

But the fairy lights glammed it up, as only fairy lights can.

And with the addition of a bit of tinsel, some of our most treasured Christmas bits and pieces picked up over the thirteen years that we've been together, and a wrapping paper covered flowerpot filled with Christmas crackers ...

... it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas  :-)

Sue xx

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Emptying the Sealed Pot

It's that time of the year ... when the Sealed Pot spews forth it's undigested coins and the occasional bit of paper.

Filmed for posterity.

And then carefully counted.  

We had a grand total of £325.96, as you can see from Alan's workings out here.

Most definitely not for us the paying of a machine in the supermarket to count our hard fought for pennies and deduct ten percent for the privilege, although at this time of year you see loads of people doing just that.   I have heard that some banks have cash counting machines ... but unfortunately ours is not one of them so we did it  the old fashioned way  :-(

After counting the money, double checking it all and then bagging into the banks acceptable amounts for paying into our account ...

... we decided to put the odds and sods back into the tin to see if we can add any extra to round things up before we visit the bank.  You never know a little bit more would be very handy in time for next years Challenge   :-)

Sue xx