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.

Follow up blog or should that be bog?

As a follow up to yesterday’s intriguing blog, I did indeed cut up a load of wood yesterday morning whilst the kids played outside. It was a gorgeous day and I’m very glad I planned to do it because it’s really windy and wet today. Apparently it’s due to Storm Aiden today. I think I’ve done enough wood for at least a few days. My back’s twinging but I think it’s because of doing work I’m not particularly used to yet rather than an injury. It’s probably good for me.

I didn’t manage to paint the whole kitchen ceiling but I did manage to outline it and then did the rest this afternoon, so one coat is done! Saying I’m going to do it did give a bit of a push as well. So just need to do a coat or two of normal paint and then onto the walls. It feels good to be doing it, it’ll be even better when it’s done! The roller gave me a lovely coat of spatter which I quite liked.

And! big drum roll….!! The septic tank has been emptied and apparently it’s in good condition. It’s the first time Chris has been able to get a proper look at it and it’s ok. This, apparently is another of Chris’s skills, how sewage works… A neighbour organised the emptying and for that we are very grateful.

Chris thoughtfully got some photo’s so here they are ūüėÄ

It’s so good that it’s been emptied. Apparently we might be able to leave it another two years, at least one but hopefully two. So that’s another thing off the current list, although Chris still has some work to do clearing the outlet. It may also seem a slightly strange thing to be talking about, but we’ve never had to deal with a septic tank before and the emptying/maintenance of it, so it’s interesting to us! Specially when it involves our toilet not getting backed up! We also didn’t have a clue who to get in to do it, so again, big thanks to the neighbour.

Happy Saturday!

Cathy.

Daily stuff.

Hello!

Today, I have two main jobs I want to do, which are:

1) chop as much wood up as possible and 2) paint the kitchen ceiling.

Wood chopping – we have a load of rings up at the stone shed which is set back at the side of the field. The wood is from trees that Chris has cut down since we’ve been here. If you’ve ever looked at my husband’s videos on YouTube you can see the shed on there I think.

As today is forecast to be dry, I’ve figured I’d better get on with it. We keep a close eye on the weather now for these very reasons! We keep needing more wood daily, as we’re trying to just use the fire for heating at the moment (saving the oil) and it’s also often pouring down. So obviously when the weather’s good I need to get on with it. Where we chop the wood turns into a squishy mess too so you’re sliding about whilst you’re cutting it up. I might look for a piece of stone to put down. Chris has put one down at the entrance to the chickens because that was getting very gloopy and it’s great.

Kitchen – I’ve finally started preparing and painting the kitchen. I spent a lot of yesterday filling and did a little painting. So today (hopefully) I need to water down some white paint, cover the floor and paint the ceiling. I’ve been avoiding it as I really don’t like painting ceilings, but it needs doing. It’ll also splatter easily as I’m painting thin paint onto plaster, so I’m just going to try to get it done.

So instead of sitting here writing I’d better get on with it! I also have a three year old climbing on me and the laptop (which is quite nice :)) See ya!

Cathy.

Poo!

Now for something completely different…

So, last night and today has been interesting. Chris had a bath last night, all was well, he was tired and relaxing, then I heard a shout. Cathy bring a bucket! (He said mop as well but I didn’t hear that). I went in and there was water all over the floor. It turns out it wasn’t just water, the toilet had blocked and was leaking all over the floor.

Chris sorted it and mopped it up and detached the toilet and unblocked the pipe etc etc (a smelly job), whilst I put the kids to bed. In the process of removing the toilet, it broke and so it turned out we needed a new one fairly quickly.

So onto the internet…. and this is where Ireland seems to turn into a big black hole of nothingness. It’s so interesting and frustrating sometimes. You just don’t seem to be able to find certain things online here very easily. Where we live, there are also no shops that you’d immediately think of to get one from. We are only about half an hour or so away from the border, so half an hour away from Northern Ireland. We knew there was a Screwfix in Enniskillen so we looked there (on the UK site). They had what we wanted and we could click and collect, the only thing is, you have to put a UK mobile number in so they can text you, they won’t accept an Irish one. We don’t have a UK mobile.

When we found that out, we had a look at Screwfix, Ireland. The nearest one to us is Galway, which is about 2 1/4 ish hours away, compared to an hour away for Enniskillen, and they didn’t have it for either delivery or collection, neither did many others. We then tried Homebase because we know there’s one at Sligo (an hour away), but you could only order online from the North. Here, you have to contact the store directly or visit, which isn’t very handy when you need it quickly (and during a lockdown).

We searched and could not find anywhere where we could simply buy a toilet from apart from Screwfix. So we used someone else’s number (with permission) and they text Chris when they got the ‘it’s ready’ text through (thankyou), which was really quickly, early today.

So Chris took the day off from work, went and fetched it and has fitted it already and it seems really good! He says he’s going to use the bits from the old one for planters (It’s expensive to dispose of heavy things here), so I look forward to having stuff planted in a toilet. haha.

Anyway, there’s our little toilet anecdote. I’m very glad Chris is good at doing things, he’s never put a toilet in before but he installed it easily and it is working. That’s always a bonus, a toilet that works. And, it has to be said, putting one in for the first time with no problems is skill! Living near the border is also very useful sometimes too. I’m also very grateful that you can actually get a toilet so quickly with a bit of help and that we have a new toilet, the old one was a bit grotty.

It turns out our septic tank needs emptying, so now we need to find someone to do that. We’re waiting on a number, so another new experience!

Good bye!

Cathy.

Let’s Celebrate!

We’ve had our wedding anniversary, our seventh, to be precise! Which is awesome. I’d got to a point where I didn’t really believe I’d get married when I met Chris. I wanted to, but I’d almost (almost not totally) given up on the idea. Then we met.

We met about seven months before we started actually going out. In August 8 years ago, I went to Chesterfield Church in the Peak on a Sunday morning as it was bank holiday weekend and the Matlock one was not meeting. I can remember someone in the meeting actually saying ‘I would have a weekend off if I were you’, but I’m very glad I didn’t. I went to the Chesterfield meeting, we met, we didn’t say much to each other, sort of smiled and I got made a fool of from the front of the room as usual. I think we were flying paper aeroplanes but I can’t remember why :).

Then over the next seven months we just seemed to ‘bump’ into each other. I also started helping with a Freedom in Christ course at Chesterfield which Chris was on. But I ended up not finishing the course with them. It just felt wrong at the time, so someone else took them through it. I went to join a new home group from the Matlock church which had started meeting on the same night. But again, as I said, we kept ‘bumping’ into each other. I even saw him one night when I was Street Pastoring in Chesterfield Town Centre and had a chat. It was really lovely to see him.

Then, I think it was around Christmas 2012 ish or maybe January, I got a face book friend request. So we started skirting around one another on there, commenting on things, having conversations, then in March Chris asked me out. The thing is, I said no, not because I didn’t want to but because I was going to our church group night that night. I’d been single a long time and made mistakes whilst being single so I was convinced that God needed to come first. I think that confused him and it took a little while but then he asked again and we met and went for a walk one Saturday for the first time. then we met the next day too and then most days/evenings after that from March time I think.

The walk was lovely, it was at one of my favourite places in Derbyshire. Time after that went quite quickly, it was accompanied as usual by many emotions and things accelerated fairly rapidly. From going out for the first time in March, we got married in October 2013 and then started living together and it’s been a journey ever since!

Chris is one of the most faithful men I’ve ever met, he is hard working, he is straight forward, he can turn his hand to almost anything. He is not all sweetness and light (who wants that) but he is definitely the right man for me and I’m the right woman for him. We compliment each other.

Marriage has been a roller coaster, getting used to one another, trying to learn just to love, not put each other down for being different. Trying to manage the stress of life whilst still loving one another is difficult! But it is so worthwhile. The main thing as well I’ve found about marriage is that the promises made to each other and in front of God is the most difficult part but needs taking seriously. For better or worse is a promise and it means you stick together through everything. When one hurts the other, you forgive. I’ve made some massive mistakes in our life together and so has Chris, but we are together and will remain so. God is the glue.

Nuts..

I thought about the last blog, not long after writing it and thought ‘I bet people will think I’m nuts talking about God telling me not to bother about going out to home school things or meeting people until at least after Christmas’. Either that, or think that I’m escaping from life.

Well if you think I’m nuts, that’s ok, I don’t particularly mind. I just know that God speaks and is concerned about our everyday lives. Also, I’m not hiding, believe me, I’ve questioned whether it’s that and it’s not. I just asked God a question and I felt Him answer. He wants the good of our family even more than Chris and myself do. And…Ireland has just decided to return to what they refer to as a level 5, which basically is a lockdown similar to what happened in March/April and limits you to exercising within 5km of your home. They are keeping kids at school, but as we are home schooling, that isn’t relevant to us.

If you’re interested, this is a link about what the level 5 measures means for people in Ireland. https://www.leitrimobserver.ie/news/home/582363/what-level-5-involves-and-how-it-will-impact-you.html.

I will also say, about this blog, that what you see on here is a mere snippet of our lives. I purposefully don’t put many personal details or stories of people we may know or things that happen because I believe that would be infringing on privacy, so unless I have express permission, I very rarely talk about people we know and what may be going on in that area. Which obviously limits the conversation slightly. So welcome to me talking about me again…ha. Also, I know it’s a bit of a strange blog in some ways, it’s not homeschool/smallholding/Irish life/Christian specific, it’s just life, our lives, here and that’s why I like it, God is in everything and works through everything.

Something happened when I came to Ireland, I got scared. I guess it’s a big move really, I was really excited, then I got scared, I didn’t know people, everything was different (and believe me it is), the work we had to do on where we lived was intimidating, we both thought at times ‘what have we done??!!’ and then my dad died, which just threw everything. I couldn’t believe I’d left when he was so ill and then I was here and my family was in England. It hit me that they wouldn’t see the kids growing up and that we’d taken a lot away from them and that and the grief has been very hard to deal with. Grief is hard to deal with, that’s how it is. But all that is part of the life we’ve chosen, but I did get scared and lost a lot of confidence. It’s funny how much of our confidence is based on what we know and situations we know and people we know. So it’s been a process. A process which is personal and common I think as well. But as I said on the last blog God works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). And I can see it too.

See ya.

Cathy.

Stop doubting.

I came downstairs this morning and felt a massively strong urge to sit down with my notepad and write this.

You see, I’ve found that doubt in my life leads to all sorts of bad outcomes. When I’m worrying, when I’m stressed over non specific things, when I get angry and I don’t know why and all sorts of other things that I won’t list because it would be massive. It is, I’ve realised, very simply, because I am not trusting God, I am leaning on myself or others and not Him.

He understands what is going on and why and we don’t. I’m not even particularly talking about Covid, I’m talking about life in general.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.

Be not wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

Proverbs 3:5-8.

Just think of the lightness we actually have in God through Jesus, should we let ourselves go there. Just think!

..do not be anxious about anything,¬†but in everything by prayer and supplication¬†with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.¬†And¬†the peace of God,¬†which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus… (Phillippians 4:6-7)

Supplication in this context apparently means ‘a call for help from God’, to ‘plead humbly’. So doing the happy clappy smile and saying everything’s ok when it isn’t, is not what this is all about, but going to God, asking him for help and ‘yielding’ as a good friend of ours is fond of saying, is.

One example I will give of listening to God and not people is I asked him a month or so ago what to do about meeting people, especially in relation to home schooling and the context of covid, because we still don’t know many people here. The answer I felt He gave was (paraphrased) ‘chill, don’t worry about doing any of this until at least after Christmas, enjoy your time’. Now this has been difficult at times because of what everyone else seems to think, events have been on that I would have like to have gone to in some ways, but I felt Him say no. So I didn’t and actually it took a load off. So thankyou! It makes sense as well, because we would have had to stop going to the event I had in mind, with restrictions that have been reintroduced, and that would have been harder on the kids. So yes!

He loves me.

God is good and good is great.

Bye!

Cathy.