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.