Month 4 in the Shepherd house!…

It feels like longer than 4 months strangely.

So this morning I went to get the headlights focused on the car so it’ll pass the NCT to be told it’s better to have it done just before as a slight bump can affect them…how silly is that? That it can fail because you go over a bump..anyway! We’re going back next week to have them done.

We’ve also been outside again, I’ve done a bit of digging, J has been using the loppers (he really enjoys it) and littlest has been playing. Chris hasn’t been very well at all and has been off work and in bed, he has a sickness bug we think. He must be ill, he’s refused nearly all food and drink apart from water 😶

It’s a lovely day, it’s meant to be cloudy but it isn’t. It was a shame to come in. In fact J is creating because I’ve just brought them in…

starting a little bit of an experiment outdoors, nothing major but I’ll see how it goes! (see above circle). more to come…I’m still deciding on the exact plan..

The soil is majorly wet on the back of the veg plot so I’ve tried to cut a bit of drainage into the bed I’ve dug. It’ll hopefully dry out again over the next few days.

it’s so strange what you find when you’re digging, today it was a little clear bottle and some cutlery.

and before anyone says it, no I don’t think the cutlery is worth anything.

The bottle is a lot smaller and cuter then it looks there.

I’ve decided I need to start painting the walls soon…I may start with our bedroom (as soon as it becomes a bedroom and I’m not going to step on a plane…)

really need to get a shed sorted!..

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Project veg plot

I have a project! The area of raised ground behind the house is just about dry enough to sort out for our veg plot (with a few flowers thrown in for good measure). So I’ve started edging and digging the beds and planning it out. I love doing it. Especially planning and deciding where to put the paths and beds and what will go where.

A before (ish) photo, not quite the same view as the next:

and a current photo:

It is so satisfying, just doing a bit at a time. It has to be a bit really, I have to wait for littlest’s nap time, then I try to do the digging. The top bit in front of the shed is where I’m at at the moment:

still about half a bed to dig, there’s some big stones in there. When I can get them out they get thrown down the bank, there’s one so far that I can’t shift, so I think I’ll stick another on top and leave it there so I can see where it is and don’t do a clang a spade down on it thing and reverberate. I’m hoping to get potatoes in here over the next week but it’s still fairly claggy, so we’ll see.

This is the other side:

To the far left as you look at the raised area we are hoping to put up a poly tunnel. Either this year or next, we aren’t sure yet. There’s so many roots and branches to clear, but it’s good fun.

I’ve felt a bit low recently and being outside, being active and gardening are things I really enjoy and they charge me up. I asked God what to do about how I was feeling earlier in the week and amongst other things I felt he said to get outside. He also gave me this verse:

Matthew 6:25

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 

I need to trust him.

also, we have pots everywhere! I love it! Seeds are germinating all over the house 😍

these are cornflowers, blackball and blue ball. Hopefully we’ll pick the right spot for them once they’re a bit bigger and they’ll flourish!

It’s April!

Time seems to be flying by. Over the past week Chris has been getting used to his new job, we’ve had a skip delivered and have already filled:

The boys have been playing out a lot. It is fantastic for them here, they just run about and explore and play:

We went out for the day on Sunday to Lough Key (pronounced Loch). It was the first time we have been out for the day just to relax really since we’ve been here. It’s just been so busy, we haven’t made the effort until now. It was such a great day, there’s forests to walk through and Lough Key itself, and a cafe and play area (much to J’s delight). It was needed and it was great. It might sound a bit weird but it was also great seeing trees like oak, chestnut, ash and beech again. Round us there’s a lot of pine and I missed those trees! There are birch and ash around, they just seem to get subdued by the pine sometimes.

I think I mentioned before we’ve had one of the cars almost sorted:

new number plates! Love the Irish spelling of Leitrim. But we are still waiting for the other car to be sorted, apparently we are waiting for some sort of code, then we can go back to the VRT office again… and get the new reg plate number. The above car also needs to pass the NCT (MOT equivalent) because it failed. Chris is picking the parts up tonight and then hopefully doing the work at the weekend. It’s tricky for him juggling everything now he’s working full time but we are prioritising and I’m doing as much as I can at home too. He’s done so much already since we’ve been here it’s quite remarkable.

lastly! We found a garden centre, It’s near Lough Key, called Ardcarne. Someone from church recommended it. So we’ve now got our pots and compost so planting will begin this week. Yay! It’s also good to see the things we’ve planted so far, starting to bud and get leaves, despite the fact it’s been so wet and windy.

(I know rhubarb grows just about anywhere, but it’s so nice seeing something edible growing.)

Finally. I really missed my mum on Sunday. It is good here, but there’s also very hard parts. Especially since the recent death of my dad. I sometimes (quite often) feel like I’m still on catch up, like we’ve moved here, but my brain hasn’t really caught on or up yet. It was a bigger decision than I thought originally, moving here. It’s the right place for us to be I think, it’s just difficult when it affects others.

look up!

You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.” (Psalm 27.8)

A Summary of the latter end of this week in Pictures

My eggs arrived! it was a record, they came through the post in less than a day, fully intact and ready to incubate! An Post is great. If it was a courier it wouldn’t have got here nearly as quickly. Sorry but I haven’t actually taken pictures of the eggs yet. They went into the incubator tonight. They should take approximately three weeks to hatch (providing they’re fertile).

Our new fire was installed and (wait for it…) a radiator in the living room, we’ve been soooo warm:

We also had a range installed that runs our central heating, I don’t think I’ve lived in a house with central heating for about 14 years, it’s great! The surroundings will one day match the cooker. I made pancakes this morning, then pizza tonight, to try it out. It is very, very nice. The only thing I really have to watch is keeping the littlest boy away from it because it gets so hot and trying to tell the oldest boy not to put plastic objects on top of it. Might have to get the fire guard back out for a bit maybe.

Finally, Chris’s dream came true, yes folks, he has a tractor!

He just has to get the mower to go with it and he’ll be away up off to the field with it. Up, up and awwaaaaaay, off to sort the field out.

God bless you all and see you soon.

What’s happening at the moment? Jobs…!

So what are we doing at the moment? It’s quite a busy time really. We’ve agreed to have our windows and door replaced, they should arrive for fitting over the next 4 weeks. The range and a new fire are being installed in just over a week (all being well) and an electrician is visiting tonight to check out the electrics (I am so thankful that he is coming).

Chris is currently strimming the field, all 3 acres – he has bought a steel brushcutter blade for the strimmer and it’s getting through it a lot better than the grass cutter blade. It’s very hard work and he’s building a shed today as a bit of break from it. (The future plan is to possibly get a little tractor and use that and to probably get a few goats). The shed will be great to temporarily store all our boxes that we aren’t unpacking yet and will allow us to do up the cottage more easily. I’ve decided I need to re-box a few things to give us more room, it makes more sense than winding our way through stuff we don’t yet have storage for in the house.

There’s a little plantation right next to our cottage which you can see on the above photograph. Eventually, the spruces are going to be chopped down as they’re very tall and quite close to the house and we’re hopefully going to have some native trees there instead. There are a couple of birch already in there but struggling and a lot of holly.

I knew there were some bottles in the wood, but this week I started investigating a little further and there are what looks like hundreds! I’ve started excavating them and am going to keep on doing so. It was suggested that we do a bottle wall, I’d love to in some ways but with everything we have to do now and over the next few years it is currently unlikely – so bottle bank here I come!

So I (Cathy) am watching Brexit and the UK and Irish responses to it with interest and I have to say, since we’ve been here we’ve met with nothing but friendliness and have been welcomed in general but Brexit particularly online seems to be stirring up a lot of anti English comments, I don’t know if that is because of the certain type of people who comment on online posts or if it is a general feeling, but I have to say the English or the UK don’t exactly help themselves sometimes. Whoever started the petition to get the Republic to join the UK is a little bit assumptive or taking the mickey methinks.

So anyway, back to the old homestead….I’m getting hatching egg fever again, I think I’m going to go for the breed Cream Legbar if possible as they are autosexing, you can tell if they’re male or female as soon as they hatch, which is helpful. I’m REALLY looking forward to hatching them, I just need to find a supplier over here. Cream Legbars have green/blue eggs and are bred mainly as laying hens, not for meat.

last year’s chicks 🐣

I’m also going to start reading up on goat keeping as I mentioned earlier, I think we have probably decided on goats as the main/first animal we will keep. Only a few as we only have 3 acres but we will see, there is no rush, as we also have to get the premises ready, as if you have livestock, you have to be registered with the Department of Agriculture as a goat/sheep keeper and be approved. We don’t know if it will be this year or next, but it will probably happen at some point.

Bye for now. May God bless you one and all with the knowledge of Him.

Cathy.

Big difference in a short space of time…

I’ve been thinking…not always good news, but this is pretty positive. What I’ve been thinking about is how much our little house has changed in a short space of time and how much you can forget or take for granted in a short space of time.

When we first arrived on the Friday evening on the 7th December, so nearly two whole months ago! I know I said it was warmer than we expected, and it was, but! we could see our breath whilst indoors, the walls upstairs in the bedrooms and also the bathroom were actually wet and the floor in the kitchen leading from the wall inwards was wet as well, it was really wet. Remarkably, as soon as we started putting heat into the building it all started drying out, but only after a week of not looking forward to going to bed (really not looking forward to it) because the bedding and the air upstairs actually felt wet as well. We’ve since realised we put a lot of heat in and that probably initially caused more damp, as we then didn’t realise a window needed to be opened a crack as well for ventilation (and it’s essential when cooking).

One of our jobs in a morning is to go around drying the insides of the windows and it has gradually improved – it has to be said this was Chris who initiated this. The dehumidifier has been a majorly good investment too in improving the dampness. On looking at photographs I’ve also remembered we took the flooring up in the dining room and bathroom so it could dry out.

We’ve learnt a lot about old buildings since moving in (especially in Ireland) and what to do with them and we’ve read up a bit about damp. Apparently, a lot of what surveyers tell you about damp is not right, it’s about looking at the causes, not treating with injectable damp proof courses etc. The main issues with this place was the lack of drainage around the building and having it all cleared and gullies dug out to drain all the water away from the building was the best thing that could have been done. Thank you God for our friend with his digger who was recommended and came to do all that work. There’s more to be done but that was a remarkable thing to have done within a very short time of being here. Also, he knew what he was doing and we didn’t! Chris also fixed the gutters and made sure the water wasn’t running onto the building.

Before and after photographs above… Gravel has also been put down since on the back to make a drive. The front gardens are going to be flower beds, conditions permitting.

I also watched Terry Waite speaking on a BBC clip tonight and he was speaking about when he was imprisoned and a major factor in surviving was actually living! Each day he was imprisoned, “that was his life” he wasn’t waiting for a life, he didn’t know if he would survive or when or if he would be released. But each day is our life, every minute of every day and while he was imprisoned he wrote poetry, he wrote his first book in his head! I have to admit, I’ve been a little sorry for myself at times recently and this really spoke to me. It is something I normally do believe in, living for that day, but it is so easy to lose perspective.

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:34)

Photo by luizclas on Pexels.com

Things we take for granted.

Since the last post, Chris has plumbed our washing machine in and set up the drier in the barn. Which is incredible! For the last two months we have been taking clothes once a week to a laundrette (despite my initally loving the laundrette outside Tesco’s, it turns out they’re always breaking down). Then collecting them and taking more. Because of where we live, you have to drive to the laundrette, there’s no bus service or walking distance type ones. So! It feels pretty amazing to be able to do our own washing. Thankyou God for a man who is very practical and able!

So, I was talking to Chris and said how good it was and how little things make a huge difference and he said “well, it’s the things we take for granted isn’t it? There’s a blog there….” I then asked him if he wanted to write it, to which he replied no, I’m too busy. So I’m writing it.

Things we (or rather I, so I’m not generalising) take for granted:

Double glazing and solid doors that don’t blow a gale through them.

Curtain poles either up or able to be put up (the top of the upstairs windows are very close to the ceiling with it being a dormer). So currently, only one window covering up and held up by a garden cane.

nice view!

Washing and drying facilities (now sorted!…yippeeeee)

A bath/shower/bathroom – we have a sink and a toilet, very much looking forward to a bath. The feeling when we get one will be whoooopeeeeeee.

our bathroom at the moment.

This leads us onto waste disposal as of the toilet kind – we have a septic tank. This is normal here but is very new to us and needs checking out and maintaining.

Waste disposal as in of the rubbish kind. It is extremely easy in England to get rid of any rubbish, it is not easy here. We now pay monthly to have bins, they are collected and emptied every two weeks, you pay an additional fee for the weight, but they are very strict on what goes into their bins. How you’re supposed to get rid of normal glass or lightbulbs is currently a mystery to me. Glass bottles have to go into bottle banks, the waste collectors don’t collect glass. We think we are going to hire a skip when we have the windows done and just put everything into that, then hopefully problem solved. There were some old windows left here and quite a bit of other stuff that we need to get rid of. The only other options are either go north with it or have a big bonfire..

Health care/dental care/Hospitals etc. Healthcare here is private, you have to pay to go to the doctors and hence no NHS dentists (although the dentists was a lot cheaper than I was expecting and the one I got was brilliant). I applied for a medical card and for some reason it said we were not entitled even though Chris is not working, so I still need to work that one out. The kids should get an under 6 medical card.

Benefits – Don’t get me started on bureaucracy…. to get a PPS number for the children we had to get a letter saying our kids were resident and show their birth certificates…To get child benefit…you have to do exactly the same thing separately and do a paper application because I haven’t been invited to apply (if I had, I could do it online). i waited for a password to come through the post in order to verify my online account to be told I couldn’t apply online.

Places/groups to go to.

Shops to walk to.

Cleanliness – burning coal is dirty…no other word for it, everything within a day within the immediate area seems to develop a thin coating of blackness. We are getting an oil range installed in about two weeks, this will be so good.

Local ways/culture – we may think when we live somewhere like Derbyshire that there are no particular local ways or culture but I’m telling you there is and it is quite comforting when you know how people generally are.

Storage space – there will be some eventually, it’s just difficult at the moment, we are all sleeping in one bedroom and the other is a storage facility. Our room is lovely though, here’s a corner of it:

I’m sure there are plenty of other things but I’m going to leave it at that for now. That’s plenty. It is not meant to be a moaning/feel sorry for me list, but rather looking at what we have and realising it at the time, rather than realising afterwards!

What you soon realise too after moving is that wherever you live, there are people who love it but also tons of people spouting about how it’s gone to the dogs/not like it used to be/blah blah blah. That doesn’t seem to change wherever you are!

I want to do what God tells me to do and I so often fail, but I love, love, love, the following verses:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 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.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Words to live by – God is always dependable.

I feel especially at the moment with the whole Brexit palaver, border issues and so on, it is so easy to moan and groan and go on and lecture and ponder and slag people off, wherever you are. But wouldn’t it be a lot better to pray for our leaders? I’m going to try anyway.

There’s a lot of evil and horrible things happening in the world at the moment and it is good for your soul to look at the good things and be thankful (and pray about the bad things). The bad things do need facing and tackling and honesty is required about them being evil. Especially I feel, the recent change of abortion laws in New York and the UK trying to go the same way and also of course, abortion being introduced into Ireland. But! practicing looking at what is good can only benefit us and charge us up in the right way to then tackle the issues.

I just want to add onto the end of this, I miss you my friends and family, I miss you more than I thought I would. So love to you all. Just to also reassure you too – I am also very glad we have come here.