Tuesday, 23 February 2010

I hate to admit it but this entry is a desperate plea for help!! The Stables, as you may have read earlier, is down and lying in a big pile of rubble. From that rubble, we have to clear and clean 8000 bricks (at least), by the end of March. With the best will in the world, Olly and I will not do it by ourselves and we are looking for very lovely, gorgeous, generous people to come down for an afternoon, day or weekend to lend a hand. I know this is a really big ask but we will reward you with food, beer and lots of laughter – could even stretch to some chicken and duck eggs and a jar of homemade marmalade and if it’s overnight will make sure you have a place to rest your head that is warm and cosy - not camping (little cold at the mo!).

If you are at all up for it send us an email (on Contacts Page of http://www.parkmillfarm.com/). Ideally, the weekend of the 6th and 7th March would be best, but failing that 20th/21st March or 27th/28th are equally good.

Will post a proper entry in the next day or so… but got to go – there’s bricks to clean!!

Friday, 19 February 2010

Friday night and we are in – WE ARE SO ROCK AND ROLL!! However, it does give me the perfect opportunity to update the blog and our week. The weather has been bitter and we are both starting to take the strain. This winter seems to have gone on forever and now Radio 4 tells us that Spring is delayed by 4 weeks this year…. What does that mean? Do I not sow any seeds until 4 weeks later? Is Easter not going to be festooned with daffodil’s and crocus’s? Are we going to have to wear woolly hats and gloves for the Easter Egg hunt? This leads to disappointment at every turn… not something I am happy to take at this present moment! However, on the upside, a duck (not too sure which one) laid it’s first egg of the year today, which, regardless what John Humphries says, means that Spring is on it’s way.

Talking of eggs, I brought half a dozen on ebay of fertilized Light Sussex hatching eggs so that Pavarotti with have some of his own breed as company. They arrived in the post today, very carefully packaged and I will put them in the incubator in a couple of weeks time – either that or if I have a broody hen, stick them under her.

In breaking news (in more ways than one), the Stables have finally been knocked down so that the site is safe and has left a mountain of bricks to clean. It is really odd to see a space where there was once a building and I have to keep reminding myself that it’s fine. The building will be back soon enough, looking pretty much as it was but just in better shape. We hopefully have our two nephews down tomorrow to help clear the site which would be great. 

We also have had some VERY close neighbours make themselves apparent. There is a fox set just on the other side of the garden from the back door and there seems to be a path that has become very well used. As yet we haven’t spotted them but we plan to stay up on Sunday night with night vision stuff (one of the perks of being married to a pest controller!) and see if we can see them. We will have brilliant vantage point from the old bathroom upstairs, although it will mean sitting in an old cast iron bath in a room that is not heated, obviously, and leaning out of an open window! Aaaaah, that’s what we country folk consider a good night!!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

I’ve been trying to identify why I haven’t felt motivated to write more in the blog sooner and have come to the conclusion that I am waiting for too many things to end (or too many things to begin depending on whether your glass is half full or empty). I am waiting to sow all of my beautiful seeds, I am waiting for the first bulbs of Spring to appear, I am waiting for the building work to start, I am waiting for the ducks and chickens to start sitting on the eggs, I am waiting to go part time at work…. And all this waiting has made me feel as if I can’t do anything until all this has begun. Silly really but it can be quite debilitating as whilst I am doing all this waiting I can’t do anything else. I have always been rubbish at multi tasking and this is a prime example.

A lot has actually happened since I last wrote. We have changed around the photos that hang on our walls so that we have made space for a big white board. On it we have separated it into four weeks and are spending each Sunday evening updating it with things we have to do the coming week and in subsequent weeks. It’s actually been a great help with getting us organised and motivated.

We have also kicked our architect into touch who was nothing short of useless which has also spurred us on to do more things. When you think you’ve got a professional there to do it for you, you don’t want to be proactive just in case you cock it up or get in the way, but when you know for sure he’s not there then you have to plough on regardless. As a result of this we have got in touch with Building Control who tell us we have to knock the Stable down and rebuild it, which is a bit of a godsend. It is highly unsafe still and to try and repair it would have cost so much more than to rebuild and this way we can put in good foundations and really good insulation so that it takes minimal of our precious energy to heat. I cannot tell you how excited I am about getting the Stables started. I love this old wonky house, but it’s starting to get me down. Nothing is ever clean… I’m not ever clean. There is a layer of dust everywhere regardless of how recently you’ve dusted, the wall paper is falling off the walls, tiles are falling off the walls and the novelty of the cracks are wearing very thin. The house looks as if we don’t care, which couldn’t be further from the truth and I just want everything to look lovely. But my impatience need not taking a bashing for much longer. We finally have plans in place to get going. Olly and I are busy clearing the site (well, mainly Olly) for the builders to come in April with the aim to have the building water tight by end of May. We are taking the building down bit by bit and cleaning the bricks individually so that they can be used again in the new build. It’s a laborious job but saves us in building materials and in the authenticity of the finished building. I originally set myself a target of cleaning 60 bricks a day but after day one, when I had only cleaned 18 in the first hour and a half, realised that this was a job that was going to take an awfully long time…. We need 8000!!! By my calculations, if the brick cleaning was left totally up to me it would take me just under 4 months working 9 -5 Monday to Friday…. That would be mid June, just to clean the bricks. Just as well Olly is helping!!

Of the list of things that I have to do, one is working out second fixings and furnishings for the Stables and Cow Byre and the other is to plan our joint 40th birthday party. Think I did pretty well on the jobs front, considering Olly’s include digging, clearing and building but then again it’s probably quite a good split into ‘pink jobs’ and ‘blue jobs’. I have realised that I am a rubbish party planner though so have drafted in the help of my gorgeous swanky friend Megan.

I have also started a wood working class every Wednesday evening with Dee and Liz from the village. It’s at a local school and our first project is to make a dibber. It’s great fun and I am enjoying it immensely. Am not 100% sure, at this stage, how the dibber will turn out and I fear that the next project of a box with dovetail joints will be equally ‘rustic’, however I will persevere. I do love working with wood and hopefully anything learnt will be transferable to the greenwood furniture that I am making at home.

With Lunch or Dinner has also seen progress. We have our first proper ‘client’! There is a fab deli in Wotton called Relish and as from next week they will be stocking WLD Chilli Chutney, Apple Sauce, Red Onion Marmalade and Mint Jelly. It’s a great step for us as I have to say, Farmers’ Markets are a little hard on the soul. When you stand outside in the freezing cold for five hours for a half share of takings of £30, you begin to wonder at which point you lost your sanity. I am sure it will get better, but if we can stock in shops instead, then Happy Days!!

Monday, 8 February 2010

Luckily, I seem to have left the ice in my mood back in January and February is much, much better! There is only three weeks left until I go part time, and we have got loads done both for proper jobs and in the garden, workshop and Stables. I can feel promise in the air!

However, first things first. Let me introduce you to the most recent member of the Madge/Park Mill Farm family… (drumroll, please!)….. Pavarotti!!

Last weekend, friends of ours from our last village came to have lunch with us. They keep Light Sussex chickens and out of a batch of chicks that were hatched last Spring, got lumbered with more than one Cockerel. Pavarotti has settled in perfectly, and in the week since he’s been here, has become more than friendly with each of the girls, talks non stop when he’s allowed in the garden scratching for worms and has started crowing at 4.30am! On Saturday, as I was in the garden all day weeding the beds, I let the chickens and ducks have the run of the farm. The chickens love it when any gardening is being done as it means a good supply of freshly dug worms. Pavarotti was a little nervous of me to start but soon was getting right in there with the other chickens and getting in my way as I was on my knees with my little hand fork. The best things about Cockerels is that they are very competitive, if you start cock-a-doodle-doing to them, they start doing it back to let you know that they are louder and better. Pavarotti and I had a cock-a-doodle-doing competition for about fifteen minutes out there in the flower beds – he’s brilliant!

We want to get some Light Sussex fertilised eggs now and either put them in an incubator or under one of the girls to get some female Pavarotti’s as they are a very pretty breed.

The gardening was spurred on by a photo that I saw on Olly’s screen saver of the garden last year. It must have been taken in around May or June and is just beautiful. I really want to make it look that good again this year and, although I would love it to be the case, it won’t happen on it’s own!

Garden last year

In building news, we have submitted our application form to Grand Designs. I am sure they must receive 100’s upon 1000’s of applications, but you never know, they just might be interested in a couple of clearly insane people who have no money, no experience and no clue! In fact, that’s not fair. Olly does have a bit of a clue… not as much as we need, but definitely more than me. Now back up to full strength, Olly has bee working really hard outside to get the site cleared for building works to start. This has mainly involved clearing tree trunks from the orchard in front of the Stables and splitting logs. He has also started sorting all the old bricks that are lying around. When half of the building collapsed in the 1980’s, everything was left as it fell and as a result we have all the building materials here on site. They just need to be sorted and cleaned.

The weekend brought an opportunity for me to get back into some chair making. I am now half way through a tall ladder chair which I hope to finish by the end of this weekend. I will post photo’s when it’s done! This weekend also sees Dee and I at Chipping Sodbury Farmers’ Market. Hopefully, it will be a little busier than last time and a bit warmer too, although that shouldn’t be too hard, as long as it doesn’t snow!