Our story so far….June 2019…Hello!

Our story at the moment is that we moved from a terraced house in Derbyshire, England to a dormer style cottage in Southern Leitrim in the Republic of Ireland at the beginning of December 2018. The cottage is in a rural area and we have approximately 3 acres to play with as well as the cottage. We are in the process of doing the cottage up and although stressful at times, it is going well so far! You’ll have to read back over old posts for the details if you are interested. It’s changed a lot so far! It’s now dry for a start….

This is where we now live – a little bit different to a terraced house..

‘We’ consists of myself (Cathy), my husband Chris, and two of our children who are almost 2 and 4 (at the moment obviously). We have two other grown up children as well who are still in the UK.

We are Jesus followers who try to listen to Him and follow Him constantly. We feel that He did bring us here, but I get that a lot of people will think that’s not a real thing..(it is).

I do talk about God quite a bit and what we think He is doing in our lives and I will try and persuade you to seek Him for yourself and ask Him if He is there. The reason I do this is because as far as I’m concerned he is the cure for us all. He is who we all need and it would be very selfish of me to not to try and tell you about Him. Also, our lives are completely entwined with Him and it would be impossible to do a blog without talking about Him to be honest.

Jesus saved my life, He saved my husband’s life, He saved a lot of my friend’s lives and He can save your life…give Him a try.

I do also have a sense of humour and it is quite interesting stuff 😀

Mowing the runway.

Welcome, please read, enjoy, ask questions or whatever, I love doing this blog and I do try to be very honest and open. There were various aims of doing it, to give a realistic view of relocating to a different place/country, specifically a small holding, to tell people about Jesus, to give me an outlet (I love writing) and to keep friends and family updated. I’m hoping some people may also just find it plain old interesting!

Toodle pip…

A couple of things to say…;)

Like the title says, I have a couple of things to say today, then I may go back to nice, smallholding/cottagey type posts, or I may not hahahaaaaaa.

Anyway, I don’t have a clue how people are feeling about the lockdown in the UK, we live in a cottage in Ireland with a field behind it, so I’m somewhat far away from the reality that is lockdown for a lot of people. All I see are the articles on facebook really. We are also locked down by the way. But to be honest, my lifestyle hasn’t really changed much since March anyway.

Also, the homeschooling thing, I actually really like homeschooling and it’s fairly relaxed, especially since they’re only nearly six and three. It may be a homeschooling cliche, but kids or anybody really, really do learn wherever and whatever they’re doing. However, whenever I get tempted to start going ‘what are they all complaining about??’ ‘I LOVE my kids being at home (which I do generally), we have a day like today, which for a large part was pretty awful, involved some screaming kids, a yelling parent (not naming anybody…ha) and watching YouTube at dinnertime because otherwise I was going to go mad.

It was quite interesting, there were some American kids who were digging a 10 ft bunker in their backyard to ‘play’ in. I then got slightly nervous at how interested J was and wondered if I was going to find a massive hole after he had played out this afternoon. I didn’t. Half relieved, half disappointed. It got better when I got off my bottom and did some stuff with them. I generally find play dough works wonders with the youngest at least. So yeah, no high horse about home schooling today, also, I don’t think I’d like prescribed work from a school very much, because it is so very, very different to how most home edders/schoolers do things (I’m not fussy about the terms used).

The second thing I just want to mention is… and I know I needn’t mention this and some may feel it’s unnecessary, but I want to… I know some people probably don’t like that we’re becoming Catholic. Some have been very supportive, but I get the feeling (and my feelings quite often lead in the right direction) that quite a few don’t like it and I’m sorry about that. The thing is, we are, and we’re very happy about it.

Catholicism is so rich and beautiful when you start looking into it and reading and listening and learning. It really is. Believe me. I’ve learnt so much. Feel free to ask questions, I’ll remain friendly (now)…! But, as a part of that also, we are all connected in Christ if we believe that Jesus is Lord, God and Saviour and that he died and was resurrected. From this when you come to Him, he forgives your sins and gives you both new life now and eternal life with Him. I know that’s a bit of a mouthful, but honestly, if anyone reading this is not a believer, Jesus really does completely change your life. Simplistically, if you believe the apostles creed then you believe. (Catholic actually means universal, by the way). The Apostles’ Creed – Prayers – Catholic Online

If we believe, we believe, we are not separate, we are His church. I keep thinking of different things I could add or put, but no, I don’t want to get all complicated.

I am so, so grateful for the time I spent as part of Church in the Peak, Matlock, it was about ten years. I just can’t describe in a paragraph how life changed as a result of knowing God and being part of that family. I was born again in that church and learnt so much from just being there. Especially in prayer meetings, I must say. I used to love just being there and soaking it all in, learning, from people and from God, learning to sit in God’s presence, to want Him more than anything else, to worship. And again, over the lockdown period I’ve taken part in the online services, watched, listened, commented occasionally :). We are not separate because we live in Ireland, or because we’re becoming Catholic. If someone is a believer, no matter where they are or what kind of church they are part of, then we are linked to them through God and it is beautiful. Such a big family.

And! If I ever manage to get back and actually see our families and friends in the UK, Church in the Peak, I’m a coming to see you!!!!! It would be wonderful. For me, anyway!

Anyway, back to digging holes…haha. I’d quite like to build a bunker, introverts r us! Mind, I’m a bit of a mix, I don’t really know what I am apart from a woman.

Bye!

Cathy.

New Year!

Thought I’d get one in before midnight. New Year’s always been a funny one to me, it is a new year, but isn’t every day anyway? Saying or thinking that always makes me think of God and how his mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). There is a definite ‘feel’ to New Year, but whether that’s man made or real, I don’t know.

What I do know is that if you put your faith and your trust in Jesus, there is hope, no matter what day or year it is. There is always hope and He and it changes you, almost without you even realising it.

So, Happy New Year one and all, I pray for more of you to know God, through Jesus, to know the peace. love and mercy that only God gives, to know the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who is your counsellor, comfort and guide. If you know Him, to know a deepening of your relationship with Him, to submit your lives fully.

Before I knew Jesus, if I was out, I used to actually cry at midnight, I don’t even know why, just that I felt like I never belonged, that somehow I was missing something, new year just felt sad, specially when everyone was singing Auld Lang Syne and nobody actually knew the words, or even worse they were all kissing and hugging each other. I felt a loner at these times, wondering why I felt like this. The excessive amounts of booze probably didn’t help either. Whilst this was my unique experience I know that people experience different but similar scenario’s in their own lives.

I now know that the missing piece was God, knowing that I was made for him, for purpose, to be with Him always, knowing He gave His only son for me and that Jesus came so I could be reunited with God. No longer separate. No longer without hope or meaning or the deep love that I craved. Knowing that my life with Him would go on far longer than this life on earth. Despite what is happening in our lives, or how we feel, if we know that, we have joy.

Happy New Year!

Cathy 🙂

Christmas.

I wrote something as a comment on a post the other week which went along the lines of ‘and you can’t cancel Christmas! We came here two years ago and had hardly any furniture and just each other and it was still good, because Jesus is’ (That’s from memory, not exact). That is true! and Christmas is about Christ and no, you can’t cancel it, even if no one meets up and we don’t eat and drink and make merry, it still isn’t cancelled. For me, the celebration has got more and more meaningful as time has gone on and there’s such a deep joy in even just saying his name, Jesus.

But it did dawn on me as well, that this could come across as quite reckless and abrupt to people who are struggling this Christmas, in whatever way it is. I then had a memory of the Christmas before I came to know Jesus and it reminded me of the goodness and mercy and kindness of God. it’s only short.

I was still working as a staff nurse on the community and we had been working Christmas Eve day, it was getting later in the day, I was in the office after doing visits and I really, really didn’t want to go home. I was almost in tears at the thought of going home, I didn’t even know exactly why, I suppose I was lonely and was struggling.

A Christian I worked with noticed how upset I was, no-one else did, and he was just so kind to me. It made a huge difference that he actually noticed how I was feeling and just cared. I realised afterwards that the difference is that he had God in Him and it was God doing the noticing. Later that year, I cried out to God, begging to know if he was there and he answered me.

This Christmas, don’t underestimate the power of what you may view as a small action, a kindness, a loving gesture. It can make all the difference.

Happy Christmas.

Cathy.

Outtakes.

Thought I’d share some snippets, some I might have shared before, some not! some funny, some serious. Here you are!

Before we had the windows and front door replaced, I got locked in the bathroom because the lock on the door broke and locked me in. I was on one side, I think the kids were on the other and Chris was locked outside. Chris had to climb in through the bathroom window and break the lock on the bathroom door :D. It makes me smile now, but not so much at the time!

Also, about a year ago, we all got locked inside the house because a screw on the new door came loose and wedged the front door shut. (We only have one door in the house.) Chris again, managed to get it open and fix it. We were on our way to the church Christmas party, we were late. Again, weird feeling, being locked in.

When Chris first got the tractor, when he first started going on the field on it, he got it firmly stuck a few times and we had to pull the tractor out of the mud with the Jimny. It was good fun! For me anyway (I was driving the Jimny).

I bought a scratch card from a petrol station in Northern Ireland by accident because I said the number of my petrol pump and she gave me the number of the scratch card and I didn’t dare say anything. I then mumbled the amount of petrol I’d got, paid and ran off, with my scratch card.

A neighbour visited unannounced, started to open the front door and I was just getting out of the plaster bath in the kitchen (which is just in front of the front door), having just had a bath (basically naked). I had to disappear quickly into the bathroom (which then had no bath), and then sidle past grinning, wearing just a towel. Leaving Chris to it.

If we don’t watch the dog, he runs off, often to a neighbour and will go into the kitchen with her. They don’t bat an eyelid. Although I try to keep a close eye on him and try to keep him with me (more successfully recently).

I’ve had to steri strip littlest’s forehead twice over the last six months, both times he’s fallen onto stones on the driveway. Both times they’ve healed well. I just leave the strips on for a week (ish), if it’s bled, it’s clean… It is always that difficult decision, do I take them to hospital? You just have to make the call. I also monitor him closely if anything happens. There are lots of things to take into consideration, previous nursing experience is a definite bonus. It’s always a shock though to see blood running down your child’s face…! previous nurse or not!

(The spare room was mainly filled with Chris’s aeroplanes, which is why we couldn’t move into it for ages.)

J was only 3, nearly 4 when my dad died. He came in one day, a little while after, saying my dad had been on the phone and said to tell me that he was fine.

On the night my dad died, around the same time as it happened, J woke up and asked me to come into bed with him because he was scared. It is actually a very special thing to remember in a strange way.

When we had a plasterer here for quite a while, doing the downstairs ceilings. J followed him around constantly, continually talking to him and asking questions. The plasterer was amazing with him, seemed to really like him and was really patient and funny.

A farmer who lives further up the road, more into the mountains, had been saying he would come and split some wood for us. One day not long ago, he did, he just turned up with his log splitter attached to his tractor and split a load of the fresher wood that Chris had cut down earlier on in the year. It seems it was just because he wanted to do it, which was awesome. He was here for hours. The same farmer gave us the panels for the chicken shelter.

There’s a mobile butcher who drives around the area in a van on Friday evenings, we’ve started getting most of our meat from him. It’s a very snazzy set up in the back of that van!

I have often had bruises from logs flying out when I’m chopping them up and thumping into my shin (usually in the same place). I’m getting a little more adept now at avoiding that (hopefully). Although one occasion was different because Chris threw one in my general direction not realising I was there.

We don’t really like eating the chickens we’ve killed. Don’t know why, there’s just a ‘thing’ about it that’s weird. Last time, Chris asked me to hide it in a curry.

I have to bribe the littlest to go outside at the moment. Usually with the promise to look for bats. He refuses hats, coats and gloves usually and then gets cold and wants to go back in quickly. I can remember J going through a similar phase.

A recent one, I went to An Post the other day to send the Christmas parcels, it came to the time to pay and I just stood there having gone completely and utterly blank. I could not remember my pin number. I stood there for what seemed like 5 years just looking between the card and the cashiers face with tears welling up and then kept thinking of my British card’s number, so I used that instead. I’m glad I thought of it! Extreme reaction for forgetting my pin I know….I hadn’t used it for probably two or three months because we haven’t been anywhere…

Finally, we are still holiday eating even though we’ve been here two years (although actually not nearly as bad as in the first year and we’re now calling it Christmas eating).

Finally, finally, I’ve got to go because I’ve just realised that littlest has ripped some of the salt dough ornaments that we’ve made, in two, including J’s snowman (which he’s a tad upset about)… hot glue is on and heating up…bye!

God is good.

Two years in Ireland.

Tomorrow, it’s been two years since we moved here. Since we got up ultra early in the morning, vacated our terraced house and set off towards the almost unknown. I’ve said it before but we got here lateish evening, Chris lit a fire, we ate a ready cooked chicken I’d bought when I picked up the keys, we set up the airbeds and travel cot in the living room and all slept in there for the first night. The stove was an old pot bellied stove and belched out smoke while it got going, that was slightly worrying but it was all we had! It would have been a nice stove if it wasn’t for the holes in it.

Then the next morning we got cleaning, it was pretty grimy with cobwebs everywhere and as the house warmed up, with insects emerging, particularly upstairs. It gradually dried out but as it did so it could be pretty grim. You’d wake in the night and your hair and the pillow would feel damp. You had to make sure everything was away from the wall as well. It was quite the experience. We slept upstairs in the one bedroom together for at least a few months, using air beds and the travel cot and then after our beds arrived, we went to the other bedroom, sharing with the boys, using the original bedroom as storage. I was still feeding the littlest as well so it made sense to be in together. The littlest was about 16 ish months and J was four. The original bedroom was full of boxes and aeroplanes for quite a long time. It eventually got cleared and Chris and I moved into there. It was quite weird at that point separating from the boys but also good as well. We had to make sure the boys had a night light because if they woke in the dark they were scared, it is so very, very dark here, the good about that is that J is really not bothered by the dark any more.

I’ve been looking to see if there are any photo’s I haven’t shared already so here are some, I might have shared some of the already, but I’m sure there are some new ones.

Firstly, just before we moved and the journey.

Then some from when we first got here and before the ground was cleared (this happened very quickly.

The view was the view I had just before I got to the cottage, we’d come in separate cars and I had gone to pick up the keys, it was getting towards dusk and the sat nav took me over the mountains (Sliabh an Iarainn), it’s very beautiful but a one track road with ditches to either side of the road (there are some passing places), so I veered between isn’t it beautiful? and aagh I’m a bit scared, please don’t go dark and I can’t remember where I’m going. I prayed a lot!

Then there’s two of the front garden, pre clearing, the back through the kitchen window, it had been part cleared and the transit van that had been left there by someone previously had been moved. The room doesn’t look that Christmassy in the photo’s but it was to us, it was very bare and there was only one comfy (ish) chair that had been left there, otherwise it was camp chairs or the floor.

That fire in the kitchen had a back boiler which powered the radiators, it didn’t actually give out that much heat as a fire and it was extremely dirty. Littlest was constantly covered in coal dust. That’s all gone now, along with the fake stone back, well, they were stones but they’d been put in over the wall. We have the Stanley in there now. The kitchen’s been painted, but we still need to order the tiles to go around the cooker. The old tiles have been removed. The little electric cooker is what we used for all our cooking initially. It was given us by a friend of Chris’s. It was brilliant, especially since that was all there was! I did Christmas dinner on it in 2018, we had a ham that year. Admission – I’d never actually cooked Christmas dinner before! We had always been to my mum and dad’s to have it.

Back to now, well sort of, Chris got a job in March 2019 I think it was, initially working as a night porter, but then he very quickly got a different job as a welder. So after March he was at work full time. Then, a year after, in March 2020, lockdown began. So he was off for a while, and we were here together again for a while. Then he returned and has been working ever since. For the second lockdown his work place was included on the essential businesses. It was really good that he got a job as we thought that may be a problem in this particular area of Ireland, but it wasn’t. It is very demanding work as well, so combined with the work here that Chris has done I need to say he has worked so hard and it has been very difficult for him. But he has and is working wonders. So we have to try to make time for rest and we don’t always succeed so well!

So, even though we’ve been here two years and I returned to England a few times during the first year. The last 9 ish months have been pretty insular really, even more than before. So I haven’t really got to know many people. This will come though as time goes on. It’s been a year and three months since me or the boys went back to England (two years for Chris). So it’s quite a while since we’ve seen our friends or family.

We’ve got a lot of work done on the house and area around the house over the past nine months especially. We have a bathroom with a bath, a dining room, some storage in the kitchen, a chicken shelter, a greenhouse, as well as more that I can’t remember at this moment. There’s still a huge amount to do, but not as much as before, which is what we try to keep in mind. This Christmas we have loads more room than last Christmas, because the living room was the room we lived in, the dining table was in there and the coat rack and we did everything apart from cook and sleep in there.

It has most definitely been an adventure, a brilliant, beautiful, horrible, heart wrenching, amazing, lonely, different, faith instilling journey, which is still going on and will still go on, wherever we are.

If I have learnt one thing over the past two years it is to trust God always and always go to Him. I have had some help with this from a very good friend back home. It doesn’t matter what is going on, it doesn’t matter what I want to do if it is contrary to what He wants me to do, I need to trust Him, worship Him and obey Him and that’s it. I can tell Him anything, and to tell Him is key, not go telling all and sundry, but go to Him. He is trustworthy, He is worthy, His ways are the best ways. He loves us and there is more to life than what we see or know. I/we have veered all over the place since coming here, always coming back to him and each other, I even ran off with the kids and found myself on a ferry crossing the Irish sea at one point. (I was quite ill at the time and I did need some time to recover). We were ill a lot when we first came here, I don’t know why, but we were really poorly at times. Then after the first September it seemed to stop.

So, here are some up to date photo’s. I’ll leave it at that. There is so much that I could say and describe but it would be an absolutely massive blog, so I won’t :D.

As I’ve said, there’s still a lot to do, but there is so much more space to live in now! and is much more pleasant. The garden also looks a little ropey because of the time of year, but believe me, it is so different to two years ago. Looking through the pictures it’s easier to see for me, rather than just thinking about it!

It has been quite the adventure!

Love to all.

Cathy.

This is a bulletin.

I’m sat here at the dining room table at the moment, attempting to write this whilst the children are colouring. It is raining heavily today, not unusual for Ireland, but it does mean, as I’ve said before that we take advantage whenever it doesn’t. Yesterday was one of those mornings. There was a weather warning for the afternoon, so in the morning we went out to cut the wood again, see to the chickens and take the dog (and the children) for a run. It was gorgeous, windy (but I quite like that) and you could see the rain all around on the hills around us, but not yet on us.

I think I put the boys in the wrong coats looking at the photo’s haha. We’re down to the bigger logs now for axing up, so I’m going to have to use the log grenade in future. It’ll build my muscles up anyway!

At the weekend we (well I say we, mainly Chris) were continuing to build and install the shelter for the chickens. It’s been really hard work, especially for Chris, but it’s looking really good and it’ll stand up to the weather as well, which is the main point.

It’ll need painting when we’ve finished and the roof has been started and needs finishing. It’ll be great, the chickens’ food won’t get wet, they’ll have shelter from the wind and rain, there’s ventilation. It’s strong and should last years. We bought the panels for the roof, but a local farmer gave us the sheeting for the sides and it was exactly the right amount for the job. It’s almost as if God knows exactly what we need and when! (He does). It’s a lovely reminder of His provision and that He always cares about us.

We’ve also now put the pavers back, so it’s fairly dry inside too. It’s been very hard work for Chris, but he’s really glad it’s gone so well. It was a heavy thing to construct, dropping it into the holes went well despite the fact I couldn’t lift it down because I couldn’t lift it and I was scared it was going to pull me down with it. Chris gave it a shove and in it went, almost perfectly. Again, thankyou God!

Other news is that I’ve almost finished painting the kitchen and that we’ve bought some units (may be temporary, may be not, I quite like them), so that bit is done as well. Just need to tile around and behind the cookers now and add finishing touches like light shades, blinds etc. I think Chris will be tiling at some point, he has too much to do at the moment, but he will do it. I’ve never tiled and Chris will do a better job. It’s so lovely to actually have somewhere other than the top of the washing machine to put things like teabags, coffee, cooking stuff etc and when the other unit arrives, we’ll have somewhere to put the food, other than my grey plastic box. That’s on top of a chest of drawers in the dining room. Good stuff!

Having said that, I’ve just been told by J that he’s cracked the plaster board window sill in the living room. I’ve just been to look and yes he has. By standing on it.. There’s a hole …..Oh well, onwards…although I didn’t really act like that 5 minutes ago… I’m impressed that he actually came to tell me though. That’s a positive.

inhale God, sit still with him, get rid of worry and rage. And onwards :D.

Morning person?

Generally speaking, I am not at my best first thing in a morning. I don’t like commotion and if you give me constant noise, or, heaven forbid…two people talking to me at once and I may flip. Or, alternatively, sometimes use it as an exercise in self control.

This morning was no exception, I like to start slow, then I speed up. But! the bins needed putting out and we had run out of wood and the fire needed lighting. So, I decided to separate the two wrestling boys and entice them out into the great outdoors to go and check the chickens and run about whilst I cut wood again.

As you would probably expect, as soon as we got outside, it was pretty good. It was a lot better than inside and for here, at this time of year, it was a really lovely morning.

It’s extremely soggy but it was great, the sun was shining and after chopping the wood, we took the dog on the field for a bit, throwing sticks and all that.

Then, the littlest said he wanted to go for a walk up the road. We haven’t been on a walk for ages, probably months. We’ve basically just stayed where we are, usually just going on the field. So I said yes, and off we trotted and again, it was really beautiful.

The water you can see on a couple of them is Lough Allen. It’s also very unusual around here to see a black and white cow!

The boys loved the walk and then we came home and watched something on volcanoes and then had dinner. With some wrestling in between which then got a bit much so the boys had to find something to do….

After dinner we did J’s letter and number work and then I’ve promised him we will do some craft stuff.

On mornings like this, home schooling is cool. The world really is your playground. There are always ups and downs along the day, but today I’m really glad we got outside early.

Can’t you just see God in everything? look at the sky, the land, people everything. It’s obvious, he’s there!

Painting!

I’ve started painting the kitchen in earnest. Isn’t it strange the difference just a coat of paint makes? because it’s just a veneer really isn’t it? But it makes such a difference when something’s decorated well. The place feels calmer, more organised, makes me more likely to think what can I do next? It actually makes you feel better. Simple is best I think, I don’t like clutter and there’s a lot of it about at the moment.

So I’m doing it in stages, one wall at a time, it’s looking good, but it’s difficult. I’ve just had to buckle down to it and to be perfectly honest, the kids have watched a lot of TV over the past couple of days. But we always try to get some outdoor time too and today, it was around 4 pm but we were out.

We went up on the field at the back, it was a little drizzly and misty but it was gorgeous, especially after being inside all day painting/playing/watching TV. The kids were running about with the dog on the field, I sorted the chickens out fairly quickly, they didn’t need cleaning out, so it was just a matter of checking the feed and then I was on the field too. Taking a deep breath of air and listening to the quiet.

The kids were hilarious, trying to get the dog to drop his ball but chasing him round, so he just kept running off. J runs everywhere, he’s really fast, he loves running, it’s really lovely to watch him.

Then we were back in, the fire was lit, tea was put on and Chris came home. Tomorrow there will be more painting, I’m on a roll now, it needs finishing. Not sure how long it will take though.

The major bit of work has yet to be done though, this is only painting, it will probably be next year sometime, but Chris is going to weld some units, probably out of steel (the frame anyway), so that’ll definitely be exciting. There’s no units or cupboards in the kitchen at the moment, just a cooker (well two cookers, a range and an electric one), freezer, washing machine and a sink, so it’ll be great!

Update!

Boring title, hopefully the blog will not be as boring as that! As the title says though, this is a general update.

On Sunday (in the pouring rain I might add), Chris checked and cleared/strimmed the site where the outlet from the septic tank goes, apparently that’s all ok. So, sorted now until it needs emptying again, hopefully in a couple of years.

In relation to the chickens, we dispatched two out of the three cockerels in mid October and they’re now in the freezer.. We now have two hens and one cockerel left. I don’t think I ever blogged about it…I’ll refrain from putting the photo’s up.

I won’t go into too many details, but this time we used what’s known as a killing cone and a bolt stunner, (as opposed to the only other time I’ve done it where I pulled the neck). You then cut their heads off or bleed them very quickly after stunning them. The cone is literally an upside down cone attached to a wall or something and you put the chicken in upside down with it’s head poking through the bottom of it. It’s meant to be a humane method and the idea is that as they’re upside down in the cone, you can put them up there for the whole process and take them down when it’s all sorted. Being upside down is also supposed to keep them calm and stop them flapping around.

I’ll mention this in case anyone has Buff Orpington or large fowl and is planning on despatching them, they’re so big you have to make sure they don’t throw themselves right out of the cone. I think that’s enough detail, unless anyone wants more – message if you do! Chris did the deed this time and I was very proud of him, he had never done it before.

I did the preparation, I don’t mind that bit at all, I find it quite interesting really. I did it all with the instructions up on the laptop in front of me on the table and the chickens are now in the freezer. If you did it regularly it definitely wouldn’t be that much of a big deal (the prep that is, I don’t like the killing bit, but I suppose I’d be weird if I enjoyed it). From what I’ve seen on the smallholding facebook groups there’s quite a few people who get broiler chicks and basically keep them until they’re the right age and then slaughter them, often for their own use. I’m not sure how it works out financially, the chicks are cheap but you’ve obviously then got the feed to supply etc. I might sit down and work it out at some point. But a lot of people seem to like doing it because they then know how they’ve been kept and again it’s the whole self sufficiency thing. I’ve got a feeling the rules will be very complicated if you want to sell them once slaughtered. I don’t think we’re going to do it, but it’s always something to bear in mind. The others seem absolutely fine, we will be getting others, but we’re going to wait until the spring now I think.

The three chickens we have left.

Chris is making a shelter for the remaining chickens from steel, he’s been welding a frame up and he has corrugated sheeting for the roof. We just need some dry weather for a weekend and then he/we can get it up and welded in place (mainly Chris, but a bit of me too). Photographs to come when it’s up. Buff Orpington’s are heavily feathered, so they can stand the cold well, but are not good if they get very wet as they then get too cold. We’ve tried tarpaulin on top of the run but it just ripped off during a storm, so the shelter is going to be really good.

Winter is definitely coming, there’s a much colder feel to the air, it’s been raining a lot again too, everywhere is very soggy.

It started pouring down when we went up to the chickens yesterday, so we sheltered in the shed but the boys decided to take a shower from the drips at the doorway. They were soaking.

I’ve cleared most of the polytunnel, but we do have some lettuces, brussel sprouts, turnips and leeks left which is really good as we still have a little bit left to harvest. There’s a lot of slugs too, I need to do something about them. Maybe beer traps? I don’t want to use pellets. I left the chilli’s up as well as we haven’t really had a lot from them for some reason this year and they were still growing, but it looks as though they’ve come to a standstill, so I’ll probably take them down soon. There’s a few green chilli’s on them (they’re meant to be red), but I’ll still use them. I’ll try to start them earlier next year and see if we get a better crop. There’s also some lupins, a few sweet pea plants and some honesty, Sweet Williams and wallflowers in pots, which will stay there until the spring and then (hopefully) be planted out. There’s also some really tiny pea plants outside that I planted late in the year, but they have flowers on them so you never know!

As predicted on the last blog, the wood I chopped has lasted until today, I think it will be gone after tonight. So tomorrow will be another wood chopping day I think, well, it will have to be, it’s meant to be a dry one tomorrow, so I hope that holds out.

We’ve just come back from the chickens again, it was actually really stressful, the youngest decided he didn’t want to be there and was screaming, the eldest was constantly calling the dog and talking. I had trained the dog (albeit by accident) to wait in a certain place when I do the chickens, but J was running around and calling his name so that put paid to that. Then, that was stressful because I kept having to check where the dog was. The trouble is, if I don’t keep an eye on him he runs off and there’s loads of sheep around us so it isn’t a good idea for him to disappear really. He has done it a few times and I don’t want him to do it again. But it got better, he didn’t disappear, we came back, put the dog in and then it was dusk so we stood around the back of the house on bat watch. We didn’t see any tonight, but it was fun. I love dusk, it’s so calm and gorgeous, I suspect this is a common love. It’s one of the times when I find it’s easier to sense God’s presence. Littlest loves it too, he kept screaming bat! whoosh! and then didn’t want to come in. He is in though, I had to bribe him with a bat video on YouTube.

Eldest sat on top of the log pile at the back of the house, bat watching.

See ya!

Cathy.