Saturday, 24 July 2010

Mr. and Mrs. Mayhem

I am aware of a bit of a post drought on my blog the last few weeks. I thought it would be understandable why but then suddenly realised that I haven't actually even mentioned what's happening at the moment! As you may or may not know me and Brian got engaged in May last year and we are actually getting married this September so as you can imagine everything is getting a little busy with table centres and seating plans! I am trying very hard not to become bridezilla!

We have chosen to have probably the most logistically complicated wedding ever with a legal handfasting (pagan wedding) in Orkney and a blessing/reception down in Hampshire with a camp in Brighton a few weeks before! You'll have to forgive me for the lack of posts over the next couple of months but hopefully next year will be a bit calmer. You can find out a little bit more about the wedding by visiting our website at

I'll make sure I do a post after to let you know how it all went. One more thing I need to let you know about is something happening over on my favourite blog, Mimi & Tilly. Emma, the blogger behind the loveliness, is about to celebrate her one year blogiversary and the end of her creative challenge. Make sure you pop over and read all about it and you can even enter her give away while you're there :) Just click the picture to visit her. I'll see you soon (maybe as a Mrs!).

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Key to Contentment

After being sent home from work yesterday with the dreaded lurgie apparently hitching a ride with me I've found myself with some spare time and have decided to aim it at my blog. I've had a post whizzing around in my brain for the past few weeks so I feel now is a good time to get it down on paper, well keys at least. It's still a bit scatted throughout my head and not quite a fully formed thought so you may have to bear with me as I try and piece it together into something coherent.As you may or may not know this blog is mainly about documenting mine and my fiance's journey on the way to our dream of a B&B and small holding. When we tell people our plan their are a few general reactions we get.
It's either the 'Oh yes, we have a dream of living in a bubble under the sea' - in other words they don't believe they (or we) will ever actual achieve our dream but it's a nice thought to sustain you through the day whilst trying not to kill yourself with the stapler in your office job. This reaction makes me sad.

The next response is the 'I've always fancied a farm too...' which is along the same line as the first but is more of a response of regret in not having ever really had the guts to do what they wanted. They usually follow it up with some mumbling excuse about 'not enough time/money' I don't have as much sympathy for this one.

The final response is the best and it's either 'that's great, good luck' or 'brilliant, tell me all about it'. These people are the type that have their own dreams and can understand others following theirs.

Hang on...I've lost the point of where I'm going...wait...found it.
SO...what I'm trying to say (in a very round about way) is that the one thing people never say in response to us telling us their dream is why? Why do it? Why put so much effort into it? This is a question I've been thinking about a lot lately and to be honest the reason I've been thinking about it is because I came up with the answer first.

Over the last month or so I've been reading and seeing a lot about 'living simply'. Whether its on other blogs such as this one or on TV, in magazine, conversations with patients or just generally in my head, it seems to be coming up a lot. I'm not sure if this is the new car phenomenon (get a mini and suddenly all you see is minis) or just a shift in every one's thinking? Either way it's made me think 'that's why'. Reading about everyone else's love of living simply has reminded me of why I started this journey in the first place.
It also reminded me of an article I read in a local village paper many years ago when I lived at home. It was such a non-event moment at the time but looking back it was the catalyst for so much. The article was all about a lady who had lived in the village since she was born. Living in the same house, working the land with her parents and later her husband, living the simple life. She was about 90 something years old and the article was all about how happy she was with her long life. The reporter asked her what was the key to a long and happy life and the lady explained that today too many people spend hours and pounds constantly trying to buy and find happiness. She said that people no longer understand the value of being content. Content with what you have and enjoying it rather than constantly looking for more. She said the key to a happy life was being content with a simple life and that not many people understood that any more.

This article has stuck with me ever since and made perfect sense to me. A shiny new car and posh clothes won't make me content but eating my own veg and baking my own bread will. Spending a week out of a year in a tourist crammed hotel won't make me content but a lifetime in beautiful countryside will.

Maybe not everyone will understand this and that's fine but I feel I've found the key to my contentment and I'm looking forward to opening the door...

Sunday, 13 June 2010

The first of many sad hurdels

This is a post I know I have had to write for weeks now but couldn't bring myself to do it because it is so sad but alas the longer i leave it the more seems to be added to the sadness so here goes. In my last post I was bubbling with the joys of chicken keeping and excited to be on the road to our farm. We knew getting chickens there would come a time, as with any pet, or life for that matter, for sadness but we hoped it would be many years (and eggs) away.

The first stumble came when my poor little Tullulah became egg bound. It was our first time of seeing this and took us a while to work out was happening. She was so poorly and the vet wanted to put her down but we nursed her through it and she managed against all odds to lay the egg. She got better so quickly after that and, after a bout of bully, settled in with the others again and started growing feathers at a rapid rate.
Our next blow was a big one and came 5 weeks after getting the girls. During the day they stayed in the secure run but when we got in from work and at weekends we would let them out in the garden to free range. At first we nervously watched them like new parents but as the weeks went by we would nip inside the house for something and relaxed as all seemed ok. On the bank holiday Sunday evening we had gone in the house to sort out tea nipping to check on them every ten minutes or so.

After tea I went to look through the window and saw a mass of feathers on the ground and knew what had happened straight away. I couldn't bring myself to go outside so Brian went out and slowly walked round the garden from chicken to chicken shaking his head. Suddenly I spotted movement in the top corner of the garden. A young fox was jumping up and down at the 6 foot high, barbed wire fence trying to escape! I knock on the window and pointed to it. Brian looked at the fox not knowing what to do just as it managed to pull itself over the fence. It had killed Tinkerbell outright, Tullulah was very badly injured and Brian couldn't find the other two. I was so upset and felt like we had failed them.Brian found Ginger under a bush with lots of feathers missing but we couldn't tell how injured. We decided to put her in a box until we had found Tikka and sorted Tullulah who was in a much worse state. Brian walked around the coop where he had walked a few times before. This time he spoke as he walked pass the bushes and there was an answering cluck from inside! Tikka had managed to fly 5 foot up onto a branch and hide there silently inches from where the fox escaped on the very day we talked about clipping her wings! Tikka hated being picked up more than the others put together but Brian held out his hands and she jumped into them completely unharmed.One look at Tullulah and I knew she would never make it to the vets (who I had on the phone). Both her wings were broken and her lungs punctured. Brian made the brave decision of putting her out of her misery himself. I was so proud of him for being able to do it as I knew I couldn't. We know we will have to face things like this on the farm but 5 weeks in seemed a bit too steep a learning curve!

We looked at Ginger and at first she seemed ok and we hoped we have two left but then I heard the tell tale wheezing sound as she breathed and knew her chest had been punctured too. We took her to the vets who put her down for us.
That left us with one brave little chicken all alone in her run. She spent all Monday morning looking for the others and we knew we couldn't leave her on her own. We found a farm close to us that re-homes ex-bats and so went up in the afternoon to get two new ladies.
The lovely Suki
and beautiful BellaI wish I could say that's the end of the sadness but unfortunately it's not. 2 weeks after getting the new ladies as they started to settle in we noticed the tell tale signs that Bella was egg bound. She had laid 2 shell-less eggs since we got her so we were expecting a problem with her first proper egg. She was obviously struggling to lay but was still sat up and walking around, unlike Tullulah. We hoped she would be ok but unfortunately she didn't make it through last night :(
Callum pointed out that out of 6 ex-bats we've only lost 1 to illness which is about average but we are still feeling like the unluckiest chicken keepers going and are pretty sure we've been cursed by the chicken gods.

We know that life and death are part of farming but to have so many deaths and very few lives left in such a short space of time is disheartening to say the least but we will travel along our path with the new lessons we've learned on the road to our dream. I guess a dream wouldn't be worth it if it was easy to achieve?

Monday, 3 May 2010

The beginings of a farm

Well the day finally arrived last Saturday and we got our chickens! I've been desperate to blog about it for ages and now I'm caught up I can :) I think the last time I blogged about our chicken journey we had just done the chicken keeping course. Over the next month or so we researched coops and after looking at nearly every coop ever produced we found exactly what we wanted on ebay. It's the same as the one I posted about before but slightly bigger. It's actually the biggest run we could find as the girls have to be in it during the day while we are out earning their pellets but we will still probably extend it further at some point. We managed to buy it for about £140 which was pretty good. It arrived a week later and we set about building it and preparing the area it was going into.
The previous tenants had a green house exactly where we wanted the coop so we recycled the paving stones around the edge of the coop to hopefully deter foxes a bit more. Brian also set about building a fence down one edge of the garden and constructed a brilliant little gate too.
So we were all ready for our ladies and all we had to do was go and get them. We had already found a lady out near Blackpool who rescued battery hens and re-homes them. She is also a breeder for Omlet and has a lovely little farm called Happy Chicks which you can check out by clicking here. We set off on Saturday morning nervously excited to be collecting our first animals on the road to our small holding. When we got to the farm Kate, the owner, took us to see the ex-bats. They had already been at the farm for 6 weeks so they were already looking so much healthier. Here is a picture of some of Kate's ex-bats when they arrive,
I'm sure most of you already know the state they are in but I still find it shocking it's allowed. After 6 weeks in Kate's care the girls were already looking a million times better. She picked out 4 girls for us and popped them into carries for the journey home.When we got in (after a slightly nervous and careful car journey) we showed the girls their new home and they settled in straight away. It was amazing how quickly we got to know the girls characters. We got four so we could name one each and so in no particular order I'd like to introduce the first of the girls, named by me. She's the most ex-bat looking of the girls with a bare chest and bald head but loves her grapes and is always the last to bed (like me). Here is the lovely Tullulah,Next up we have the prettiest (and nosiest) of all the girls, named by Brian. She's the most chilled out chick who loves nothing more than a good sun bath. Here's the gorgeous Ginger,
Following Ginger is the top lady of our coop. Named by Callum, she likes to be the boss and lets the others know it. She's the first at the gate when we come out to say hello and noisiest second only to Ginger. Here is top chick Tikka,and last but by no means least, named by Hayley, we have the little chic who loves her treats almost as much as Tikka. She'll happily attack your shoe laces or wellies when you go to say hello. Here's the sweet little Tinkerbell (aka Floppy, can you guess why?)We had our first egg the very next day we got them but we're pretty sure it was in production before we picked them up and was a bit on the thin side but it was one of the most exciting things ever! I also discovered a use for my lovely giant tea cup :)We got our first proper egg on Friday which we're pretty sure was layed by Tinkerbell and then another egg followed on Saturday,We decided we had enough to make and omelet and it was the most yummiest, yellow, satisfying omelet ever!The girls had a rest on Sunday but then Ginger layed us an egg this morning so hopefully we're going into egg production now. I love the girls so much they are great and having eggs from them is even greater. I've already been wondering what else we could have in the garden that the land lords would let us get away with! Small holding here we come :) Living your dreams is the greatest of all things. I'll leave you with a picture of the girls showing just how relax they really are after a week with us :) This is them Saturday having a bit of a sunbath :)

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Birthday Surprises and Treats

I was up nice and early this morning (reasons to follow in later post) so I decided I would get the final bit of catching up done on my posts so I can finally get on to the really exciting news! This post is all about my birthday even though it was back in February but it was so lovely I need to share. It started a week before with a visit from my Mum and sister (their first trip up North). We spent the Saturday in Chester at the university open day where my lovely sister will be starting in September. I can't wait as she'll only be 40mins away from me then :)Chester is a gorgeous place with so many cute shops...
which I now have a good excuse to visit :) I took them to the amazing Trafford Centre on Sunday where I made them spend quite a bit of time in the best shop ever :)
and my lovely Mum bought me a gorgeous bag which I just realised I don't have a pic of yet but I may do a CK post soon so I'll include it in there. So, onto my birthday surprise. My Birthday was on a Monday but on the Friday night before Brian told me to pack a bag as we were going to one of my favourite ever places, Glastonbury! For those of you that haven't been you really need to visit. It's so lovely there. Brian also booked Monday off for me as a surprise. I'm very impressed everyone at work kept it quiet! We stayed in the cutest B&B, look at our lovely room with all the floral prints :)
and lovely little touches like these,
and the owner was Spanish and made the best paella you have ever tasted! We spent Saturday browsing shops and then had a trip to Minehead on Sunday to see the sea,
where we had to dash back from to make our Valentine dinner reservations and ended up running down the high street with me losing my shoe once or twice to make it in time (we were slowed down by laughing so much). My birthday morning started with a gorgeous organic, locally produced fry up, yum yum.
and a view of the Glastonbury high street,We then had a trip to Stonehenge, (check out gorgeous birthday present bag from amazing sister, close ups to follow)and then were heading towards Brian's sisters for a visit on the way home but stumbled across this place as we were a bit ahead of time,it may just look like a barn but look whats inside!An Aldins cave of floral and shabby country chic! I could have spent all day in here. Then it was off to Brian's sisters for a yummy curry and then home. I had sooo many lovely presents I wouldn't know where to start listing but lets just say all my Cath K and Fairy needs were sated for a while :) Hooray! I'm all caught up. Next post will be exciting news I've been popping with to tell you :)

Sunday, 25 April 2010

New House and Blaze Farm

Ok, so the 'get all my catch up posts done in one week' plan didn't go so well and here I am bursting to tell you my exciting news but with a back log of info to tell you. I'm going to combine two posts in one today, our new house and Blaze farm. Tomorrow will be my birthday surprise (as long as Brian remembers to bring the lead for his phone home for pics). So first I'll tell you lovely people all about the wonderful Blaze Farm. It was one weekend after moving house and me and Brian had been busy for weeks on end so we decided we needed a break. We still had no Internet so I used Brian's phone to do a quick search for farms in the Peak and found Blaze farm in google. It was a lovely drive out through beautiful high peak countryside to the farm. It's such a lovely place with gorgeous views around it even on a dull day.
It was a brilliant place for me and Brian to visit and learn from. It was originally a dairy farm and as most of you probably know, the dairy farming industry isn't doing too well over here so the farmers have two choices-diversify or close. Blaze farm has chosen to diversify and has done it so well they've won awards. It's a really clever set up that me and Brian hope to copy in the future. You drive into the farm and then wonder around the cleverly laid out farm yard with sign posts pointing you to barns with plenty of gorgeous baby animals to look at and stroke like this gorgeous little lamband these pretty little calves,
you can then go for a stroll around the nature walk and pond (it was a bit windy but it was March to be fair).and the best part of it is it's all self directed, no staff needed. After all that you can head in to the farm shop for some of their amazing Hilly Billy ice cream or the tea rooms for some lovely home made scones, Mmmm. They also have a pottery painting shop for kids and adults and a function room to hire. All in all a lovely little place to put a smile on your face...Oh yes, I've dyed my hair red and purple too :) Right, you still with me? On to news of the new house. Well we're loving it here, especially the space. We were almost sorted inside the house with only a few boxes left when Mr. Sunshine came along and tempted us outside so we've done a bit more in the garden than the house at the mo (hence the lack of indoor pics) So here is the new house with one of the shiny new cars,
and here is the view from the top of the stairs.This is the corner of the garden I've adopted and did my first proper bit of gardening on. Most if the borders are over grown with brambles so the main mission was to clear them first.
I think I did quite well for an afternoons work,I've realised I'm here telling you about the new house but I have a definite lack of indoor photos. That will need to be sorted out. I do have this pic of some groovy window stickers I have on the loo window :)Think that's enough today. My bed is calling me and I'll be to tempted to start telling you the exciting news if I stay any longer. I'll leave you with a sunset from the hall window.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010


For the first of my catch up blogs I'm going to start with the saddest. On the 5th of February my lovely Jessie had to be put down. There is no way I could write a post that would explain what an amazing dog she was and only other dog people will truly understand how it feels to lose her.
Jessie was a rescue dog but not in the normal sense. She belonged to a friend of a friend who had her from a puppy till she was 7 and gave her up because they we're divorcing and moving to flats.
I was aware they didn't really look after Jessie particularly well but had no idea of the extent to which she was mistreated as I'd only been to their house once, but that's all it took to fall in love with her, she was that special kind of dog.
I don't really want to go over the state she was in when we got her in too much detail, flee infested, hairless, petrified, half her weight, malnourished among other problems. I want to remember her for the gorgeous, loving, crazy dog she was. The pictures are in time order and hopefully the change you can see in her speaks for itself.
We were only lucky enough to spend a year and a half with her and I wish we could have spent longer making up for the bad times but hopefully it was enough.
Jessie had more love for everyone she met than any dog I've know and was a complete flirt with men :) she discovered passions for cheese, brioche and pretty much anything else that was bad for her with us. She had her own way of giving out her special Jessie kisses and hugs when you'd been away long enough for her to miss you (about a day).
She had so many funny quirks that made us giggle such as refusing to wee in the back garden if the grass was longer than 2 inches, spinning in circles to wipe her nose on the (cream) carpet after tea, putting on her most hard-done-to face when being bathed, falling off sofas and beds constantly because she expected you to catch her and so many other comedy moments.
I'm glad she didn't have to suffer for long at the end and happy that she is now with my Great Nan eating cheese mountains and running in fields of short grass. I will always miss my jelly belly bean and can't wait to see her again one day and get my kiss and hug xxx