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.

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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

Day 7 in the house

(This morning) We’re in the car driving to Enniskillen. It’s so weird, there was no indication at all that we had just gone into the North, then we noticed a UK road sign. So strange.

And! We’ve just been to a petrol station as it was in pounds and I could pay with our Uk bank account. I found all this stupidly exciting.

(Now) Back at the ranch, we’ve had all around the cottage cleared by a fella with a massive digger and stones are being put down to make a drive. It’s been such a blessing, one of our neighbours was having some work done and asked if we needed any ground clearing. We said yes and the man came round to see Chris and started the work. The fella is a genius with the digger and has worked really hard for the last couple of days, it should be done early next week. Strangely, I don’t think I’ve actually got a digger picture.

before

After..

Some other random pics:

all this lot has now gone and is clear earth.

The heaven’s declare…

Regarding our house sale, the builder fella came around yesterday to check what needs doing damp proofing wise, he was really friendly and seemed realistic and honest.  So we’re waiting to hear that all is well and our sale is going through.

Not heard anything on the croft since we heard our offer had been accepted in principle, I’ll feel a lot happier once the advert actually goes under offer though. I contacted them  again yesterday to find out what happens next. Whether it officially goes under offer at some point or whether it is because it has been accepted. It is the in principle bit I’m not sure about.

I’m really, really enjoying life on the allotment at the moment, there are turnips growing, sprouts, cabbages (only a few because they got eaten even though they are netted), runner beans flowering, summer and winter squash growing, courgettes, sweetcorn plants, onions, spinach, a few beetroot, lettuce and spring onions. One reason I’m really enjoying it is it seems it is the first year since we got the allotment that I’ve really been able to make a difference and do a lot of the work. It’s because I was pregnant with our toddler when we first got it and since then had the old post natal depression/anxiety /lack of get up and go and then another baby. Life has been busy! But busy is not necessarily bad and now the two boys generally play for a while whilst I do some work. I also LOVE going on with them, being outside is good, for them and for me and our relationship.

The little one has now started bum shuffling (he has got quite fast) and I leave him in one place and look up and he’s in a veg bed with something interesting like mud held between his finger and thumb, on it’s way to his mouth, like the finest delicacy.  Mr toddler is also starting to take an interest in the names of plants and of taking care of the beds and doing things like hoeing etc. I just have to watch he doesn’t dig my plants up. It’s brilliant this year because we never actually got round to planting any potatoes so he has basically got his own patch to play on/dig up/roll around in/learn to garden/whatever he likes.  He has been loving it.

 

We still have our four hens on the allotment too, they’re about 14 months old now, only three are laying at the moment, but one does look like it has been going through a moult, so maybe she will start again. We are going to need to rehome them very soon (it looks like we have found a home for them). I love having chickens, but I think it would be a bit much to take them 700 ish miles with us.

 

We can’t wait to get moved and start getting set up, I love the thought of getting our new chickens there, we will be able to have a rooster too! (we can’t where we are at the moment) and maybe ducks and sheep to start with. We are planning on putting chickens on the vegetable garden to clear it over autumn/winter (depending when we get there) and then sorting that out next year. It is walled but the wall has disappeared under grass, so hopefully we can get the wall uncovered and the house will have a walled garden again.

We have a dream/wish list in relation to the croft, one of which is a large polycrub in which we would be able to grow just about any veg/fruit/flowers we want. The problem in Shetland as far as I am aware is the wind and so a polycrub would be ideal. The only thing is the cost of the polycrub, we are praying that we will be able to get one.

We are also planning/wanting to plant some trees which should be suitable for the area, we have been researching a little on what would be the best options for the area – some of the suitable trees are downy birch and hazel and we should hopefully be able to use these somewhere on the croft as a wind break/shelter as well as having the joy of actually having trees there. There aren’t many on Shetland from what I have heard.  I have seen this week that the woodland trust sell landowner packs of trees and there is a pack called wild wood tree pack which looks ideal, even more so because the ones that are out of stock are not ones we wanted and the ones they are offering are the ones we wanted. So getting and planting these would be so good to do. It’s good that Chris and I are so on the same page with this really, we love planning this sort of thing, the gardens, the land, the trees.

When Jesus was first making himself obvious to me, I had been asking him whether he was real because I was desperate and did not know where to go with my life, I felt like I had no hope. I suppose everything had been made clear to me that “things” and even people just don’t cut it and hiding yourself in things like drinking don’t really work. I can remember driving into the countryside, specifically from Chesterfield into Ashover and praying the Lord’s prayer because it was all I knew regarding prayer really and begging Him that if he really was there to help me and I looked around and the fields and trees and skies had suddenly become brighter and just spectacular, it was in technicolour. So one of the ways he showed me himself was via the outdoors. It was just awesome.

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The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork (Ps 19:1).

I’ve seen some interesting news in the last few weeks as well, Shetland is going to be homing some Syrian refugees, I feel really excited about this, we are still involved with the world! we are not cut off! I have to admit I have been wondering what sort of stuff we will be doing there and dreaming of what God may have for us to do. Dreaming is good, dreams can become reality, especially when you pray them, especially if it is actually God giving you those dreams…

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

I love this prayer. When you actually look at the words and what they mean, it is just brilliant.

(I don’t generally do the whole olde speak thy/thou thing, but I do with this prayer, because it is how I learnt it when I was young, and I like it. But you don’t have to, you can talk to God however you are comfortable, he loves you to talk to him).

See ya!

Flower Power!

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I think of all the interests Chris has had (and he has had many), this is my favourite, running closely with the allotment. He started growing cut flowers a few years ago, and we now always have an enormous patch of self seeded corncockle and this year some calendula and fox gloves. We also grow lavender and some daisies, which come every year and also have cosmos, carnations and achillea growing. My favourites were the Sweet Williams Chris grew when he did biennials one year. They were gorgeous, I think they are my favourites, although it is hard to choose.

Image result for sweet william

Through this hobby we discovered Higgledy Garden. (we didn’t literally discover him, we found him on the internet…) Who is hilarious, has excellent quality seeds, is a mine of information and always includes a hand written letter (he also has lovely handwriting :D). He’s really interesting, he currently lives on a canal boat with his dog. If you’re going to buy seeds he is definitely worth taking a look at.

If we are to grow flowers (and produce fruit and veg) in the North of Scotland, we will probably have to buy a polycrub. They’re like a really really tough polytunnel, made to withstand the winds I think. They make them out of recycled salmon pipe and are based in Shetland, which will be handy if we move there!

 

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(Picture taken from the nortenergy website)

Can’t wait!