living rural

projects, mud and fitting in.

New project begins on the land soon. I love projects and work being done/doing the work on our land. It doesn't matter how much snow/rain/mud/curved balls this land throws at us, its our land and I love love love that.  Possibly I fall out with the land a bit when dealing with mud, (and the mini flood from the snow thaw really tested my Pollyanna attitude) but I do really enjoy  it. all of it.Even the overgrown brambles. Even the old metal junk half buried in the top of the woodland.  Even the .....no, I don't like the mud, however much I try.
We have a list of 'you need to do that soon' advised projects, and a list of what we'd like to do projects, should keep us rather broke busy for about five years minimum.

I am thrilled when we get to the start of a new project. Even the ones you cant see - like drainage, or floor joists - it just feel so good to invest time love and effort into our real home. I appreciate I sound sickly cheesy. I apologise, but I am 'still' loving living here, and being here. I say 'still' because people keep asking me - still like owning land? still like Wales? As if I'd change my mind by now. I haven't. I am here to stay, you can bury me in the bottom field.  I also get a big kick out of before/during/after photos. And improving things, genuinely making life easier or nicer for ourselves. awesome. 

Could possibly be the most annoying person a tradesman has ever met tho,... I do make their tea often, but I also want to watch, help and know exactly whats happening why and where. Because I'd do it myself if I knew what the heck to do, or because the bit they are doing leads to the bits I can do.  Plus, often its the first time I have ever seen, up close whatever it is they are doing.
I did not know an awful lot of things til I got here. Not how a chimney sweep uses a drill, not how to build a French drain, not what a four string bale is, not the difference between sheep and horse hay, not how to cement rural stones {disclaimer -or any stone) You would now be bored/impressed with my knowledge of different types of rubble - yes rubble- and the best way to build a drive. Totally useful. Somewhere. 

Herein lies some confusion - 'back' in England, I was the weird country girl, who kept chickens, horses, dogs, baked cakes and was usually covered in straw or mud or both. 
Here I am still covered in straw and mud. But, whilst experienced at keeping horses/chickens/dogs/straw I am not experienced in how farmers do it. or locals do it, or how not to get the car stuck in mud. So I'm the city girl.  here. But not in the city.

sigh

I am just going to keep on, smiling politely at the 'sentimental city girl' comments here ( - some utterly well deserved) sort of laughing at the 'farm girl' comments from back in the city, and making my way until I get it right. ( Or own a tractor. I think that might swing it here ;))

At least still being covered in mud and straw means everyone recognises me, city or country folk!

19thdec


super snow...

Gatesnow
Gatesnow
Gatesnow

We have had record levels of snow, - of course, for our first winter here lets do it properly! ;) the pictures above are from day one of snow - hahaha I thought that was 'snow' 

Day two taught me exactly what a 'snow day' means! 

Robin
Robin
Robin

we are at over 30cm and snow forecast until at least 2am. 

If nobody hears from me for a while - send cake.... 

 


these two

...are almost one year old!

Goats

I cant believe they are this old already - they still answer the the shout of 'babies' when bring them in from the fields.  They were rescued from the road to the slaughter house before we even had land and caused many a fun adventure as we learnt exactly how to look after a goat - and also a) how loud they can be! and b) how good at escaping ANYTHING they are.

We adore them. Never have you met such loving animals - they will ditch food for cuddles, and just want your company, nothing else. They will eat/steal/attempt to to eat all toggles, buckets, zips, and buttons however. They give kisses, and like rich tea biscuits an awful lot.

Taken from their mother far far too early - at approx two weeks old - they were used in a 'children's farm' so the paying visitors could bottle feed them. They were bottle feed too often, and then when they begin to outgrown the need for milk - at just under four months- they were shipped out and the next lot of babies shipped in. And when I say 'shipped out' I do mean slaughtered.  I don't have a problem with correctly raised farm animals ending up that way, - its how farms work, right? but a supply chain of babies for mere 'fun' and profit? yes; I do have a problem. This constant round of babies in and out is quite shocking - the numbers are awful.  I was that naive I thought all children farms were lovely places where animals grew old and stayed forever. hahahah. 

Anyhow, stood in a barn full of goats and only being able to pick two was pretty hard. I had limited funds, and no land of my own. So I give these two my all, I make sure they have the best life, and are looked after and happy. For all the ones I cant save I suppose.  This is Herbie, and Walter. Living the high life in their own woodlands in Wales.  If you ever need a cuddle and a friendly chewed button or two, then please call in. 

 

*disclaimer, they don't normally wear scarves. However we had just finished our Christmas photoshoot! ;) 


Tis the season...


No, this is not a post about Christmas. Whilst that might be your busy season, here at the barn this is the busy season. We switch from summer to winter. From summer grazing, summer feeding to the winter versions. Theres new fencing to sort, new morning and evening routines, absolutely no light in the mornings, the realisation you need a coat and a hat now at 6am, with gloves in your pocket  Its time to worm the animals, harrow the poor old summer grazing, clip the ponies, add fluffy bedding to the chicken house, feed serious amounts of hay, and do something about all the bloody leaves.  Every day there are new bits of branches to pick up, plus now the thick prickly hedges are mostly leaf free they need checking and re-enforcing against small ninja escape artists the goats. The sunrise isn't really a 'rise' anymore its sort of dark grey to light grey thing. Sunsets can be pretty though. If the fog hasn't turned up. 

Now is the time to do it of course, before we reach the heavy frost and frozen ground part, where you have to break the ice on troughs, slide through a foot of mud at every gate and wonder why your hobby isn't something indoors.  

There are never enough torches, ready filled haynets, matching gloves or hours of daylight. 

 

 

Still wouldn't swap it for the world. 

 

 

Sunsetiphone

unedited sunset from the iPhone. *swoon*


ever growing CV

Seriously; I have now used *fire cement. Something I can assure you I never knew even existed. Its an utter pain in the arse to manipulate but now the gap in-between the chimney and liner has been filled.  I know - domesticated doesn't even begin to cover it.  ;) 

I have also fixed the back step. I think. 

such an impressive every growing list...**

Built a chicken run. using the right equipment and electric screwdrivers instead of just baler twine. 

Rebuilt part of a stone wall that hasn't moved for hundreds of years.  not completely sure it will make the next hundred.

Driven a quad. briefly, well its a blue job, definitely.

creosoted much fencing. never again until next year.

dried nettles. ***

* fire cement; like a cross between actual cement and silicon. Fills holes in things like stoves and wood burners. withstands heat to stupid degrees. Black and requires throw away gloves. thank goodness amazon knew what my chimney sweep was on about.  

** disclaimer, I'm not suggesting I am actually any very good at these things, just that I've done them... ;)

*** for ungrateful ponies and goats to eat. I detest stinging nettles, even with layers of clothes and gloves on the damn things still managed to sting me. 

 


five on Friday

1) Chimney sweeps do not look like anyone from Mary Poppins, nor do they sing or bring small victorian children with them; most disappointing. ;) The first chimney sweep I've ever booked was a lovely guy, and did not seem to mind my endless questions, or the fact I sat and watched the whole process LOL... I did explain that we were from the city, and had only ever had difficult gas boilers previously, not any real fires. You'll be pleased to know, (or maybe you won't, but I was) our fire has clean bill of health a safety certificate and a new log basket. No matter how pretty stacked by the stove logs look, - nor how many house magazines you've seen that it - logs stacked by the woodburner is a safety issue he would not let pass. So now I know. 

2) The number of leaves on the floor after high winds this week would lead you to believe there can't possibly be any more left on the trees, but oh there are. Realising if I want the goats to eat all the fallen leaves so the horses don't I will need an ARMY of goats to do so. My two goats aren't really coping. Plus to be fair they prefer biscuits.... 

3) I've become addicted to audio books whilst I paint walls. Painting is dull and the radio doesn't always hit the spot so now I've been listening my way thro the latest bestsellers as I paint. Cant decide if this makes me a genius or just old, but either way - I recommend it. 

4) I'm pretty sure there is nothing worse than an outsider moving in and telling you how things should be done, so I've tried to not moan about how it is, or how things have always been done around here. but please, for the love of all sanity, can we just name some of the local lanes. Any name you like, just a few of them. Because none of them have names, all of them are identical - single file traffic, high hazel hedges, pretty damn hilly - and all of them lead to very different places. Directions to places like great dog walks/stunning views/cute little farm shop/brilliant riding track  - i.e.; things that aren't on a sat nav - are given in at the form of long list of random things to look out for.  Go right, then keep right, when you get to a grassy bit, then go right again, go up a steep hill, look out for a tall barn, turn left there... its like mental torture, and I never want to be rude and point out to anyone kind enough to give me directions that my head stopped taking it in after line three. Grassy bit? hills? barns? We are in the middle of WALES; its entirely hills, grass and barns round here! 

5) You might recall a post about dustbins and the lack of them. as an update, here in month three we still don't have them. Its been three calls, four emails, and an complaint form. Apparently they are on they way.  No holding breath. Mind you, quite possibly they were given similar directions as above tho...

 

picture of the gorgeous ginger pony and I riding out,  with a rainbow ahead. 

Puzzle ride rainbow

 


Things I can't be trusted with

the list grows... 

Sat nav use. I swear my Sat Nav hates me. Why else when travelling to the same far off place, from the same starting point, would it take me four very very different ways.... including one that added an hour onto my time.  Realised my Uk geography is shocking as I had no clue whatsoever if I was heading in the right direction, nor where I could turn off or cut through. 
Still, now I can say I have been to some places I've never been before. {and am never likely to be able to find again}  Also can we start a campaign for service stations, bathrooms, Starbucks and sandwich sellers on all minor A roads please? Because when you are driving along thinking I'll surely be on the motorway in a minute -for over three hours- you would dearly love to see one or all of those things. On the plus side... no, there is no plus side.  What I saved in calories I used in petrol... 

Matches. As a lover of all things vintage and of items 'with history',  I do not keep my matches in a match box, I keep them in a metal tin that says OXO on the lid and is a delightful battered shade of red.  However lighting a match and dropping it INTO the tin of other matches today, causing them all to light, gave me enough grey hairs to contemplate match boxes not being a bad thing after all.  I do now know however that vintage stock cube tins are fireproof. hurrah. 

 


East, west...

There’s a saying;

Create a life you don’t need to go on holiday from. 

Or something like that, if not a little more wordy. 

I go one further from that. 

Create that life, then go away and realise yep, you didn’t need to travel to realise you have it best at home. 

 

I live in one of the prettiest places. I hope I never stop seeing it. I hope I never NOT notice it, looking so stunning  that I need to pull over when driving to take a picture of the view. Or calling out to the kids to look at the mountains today. 

 

If I had a £1 for everyone who said they are just a bit envious of us upping sticks and moving somewhere more ‘us’, I’d be pretty damn wealthy. 

They all say they want to. How they often wish they did.

But, they all say, they couldn’t do it. 

Work. Or relationships. (The family reason does make me laugh— if you don’t live next door to your family you dont stop loving them. Or even stop seeing them, or contacting them.) Or you know the big starting again thing. All a bit scary. They couldn’t do that. 

 

(And sure, I’m fairly sure a muddy welsh hillside is not everyone’s dream)

Tho, there is a voice inside me wondering if you never ever step outside the easier, predictable comfort zone of what you do, of what is expected, of WHERE it’s always expected you will live, then you won’t ever know if you COULD do it, if it could work.  

 

 

I am far to old to ‘begin again’- but we did, and I’m way too old to say I’m living my dream... I switch the word for my ideal, sounds way less cheesy!!. But funnily enough I actually say it every day.  It isn’t perfect - by living the ideal I don’t mean it’s so perfect and dreamy. It’s got rain. Mud. Isolation. Sharp learning curves. A constant to do list. It’s really living my ideal. Not playing.  Doing it. Rough bits and all. 

 

As I write this, I am in a hotel room, having travelled for work.  I drove for hours and through a variety of landscapes. I got to do my favourite job, and also as a bonus see some good friends. It’s clean, has everything I could need, there are many shops and a billion facilities within minutes of here. 

Except of course, my dog. Or those views, that soft morning mist, snuffly pony noses, stone floors, homemade cups of tea, familiar sofa seats, goats that empty your pockets, fresh eggs in straw...  

 The best bit of travel is going home. 

 

 

 


List of five on Friday

My list on this Friday composes of things I have never done before.... 

until living here!

1) Booked a chimney sweep.

2) Built a wooden fence - with screws and drill, not sort of propped type fence up!

3) Hoovered firewood. Its a thing, honest. 

4) Learnt allll about the important bacteria in Cess pits and septic tanks. {all glamour here, obvs...}

5) Cemented anything.

Sunrise

It could be a much longer list. And some of them weirder than others, but I think its just a life skill crash course. right? ;)