Sunday, 28 February 2010


I was doing SO well with the 'posting more often', thing, too. Sorry.

We've had flu.

And B's been away and miserable on a tour with some passive-aggressive people. He's back now for thirty-six hours and then away again for the rest of the week on the same tour.

And it's been raining. And raining. And raining. I am considering finding some plans for an Ark online and seeing if I can get a team together.

And then, last night, my laptop died. I think it's the graphics card - I can't get it working on an external monitor, anyway. And I don't feel up to wrestling with Dell customer support in person; so I am going to take it to a chap who mends things down in Williton tomorrow, to see if he can sort it. If not, I am looking at a new machine and deeply regretting the £70 I spent last month on new RAM.

Despite all of this, though - and being knackered in the way that flu somehow steals all your bones from inside your body without you really noticing, I am doing okay. I am reasonably cheerful, I am keeping us all fed and clean; and I am, mostly, looking after my own livestock.

If the rain stops for a few days this week I might even plant the ten kilos of garlic that are sitting down at Ma's waiting to go in the ground.

For today, that is all. Tea and cake, anyone?

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


B took Nenna for a hearing test today. She has a very slight problem with the highest of frequencies - but apart from that, is fine. All our worries about having a hearing-impaired child have evaporated - it is an enormous relief. Apparently she has a 'dullness' behind the eardrums that mean that there might be fluid present - but that is something that is easy to fix with gromits if necessary - often children grow out of it on their own.

This has made me examine my other worries about her. She is so tiny - right at the bottom of the range for her age; although she is following her 'centile' on the Health Visitor's graph. She is talking a bit now - "Da!" seems to mean a lot of things. And we have some "Da da da da" and "Ma ma ma ma". And once or twice a very emphatic 'No!". She is starting to walk. She can stand by unsupported; but isn't quite confident enough to take steps all by herself yet.

I find myself looking back twelve months to how Leo was this time last year and trying to remember, so I can compare their development. I know that this way lies madness - you don't have to say it. But each day, I talk to her and play with her and worry that her slight developmental delay is a permanent thing, rather than just the result of being so poorly in her first six months. She likes putting things in to things. Boxes. Clothes pegs. Banging saucepans with a spoon. Climbing in to the cupboard under the sink with Leo. Playing with his etch-a-sketch. She likes to be in the back-pack whilst B is cooking - they have long conversations about what they are doing that I secretly listen to from the living room.

I love her so much now - all the bonding issues that were there twelve months ago have gone and my heart aches with astonished love sometimes as I look at her. Does everyone have this? I suppose that if you don't have post-natal depression it must be normal - I regret not experiencing it earlier. I feel now that I have missed out so much of both their baby-hoods by being in such a slough of despair.

They are interesting people now, in their own right, already growing in to themselves and gaining increased independence. I think I might, finally, be getting the hang of this motherhood thing.

In other news: Leo wants to 'write a blob' :).

For today, that is all.

Monday, 15 February 2010

fox time

Today, I am Offical Last Man Standing. This cough-coldy thing that's going round isn't great, is it? It's certainly making me wish that I'd done more pelvic floor exercises after having the babies.

I am failing miserably on the 'blogging every day for a month' front, aren't I? There just seems to be quite a bit going on in real life (tm) that means I'm not spending too much time online with my blogging brain-cells up and running.

Things that have been happening include:

1. Processing a pig. A WHOLE pig. Okay, it was only a small whole pig, but we don't have a great deal of freezer space left. We boiled the last of the brined hams yesterday and they taste *fantastic* - however, they aren't suitable for air-drying as the ones that have actually been in a salt cure will be. And we have literally a pile of chunks of bacon drying in the fridge before freezing.

2. Bring Me Sunshine has moved not far down the road from us and we have been helping her to unpack and get straight. It's not quite as satisfying chucking someone else's rubbish out as it is your own - but almost.

3. I have been organising chickens like mad. The ladies are coming back in to lay and I have made decisions about breeding pens and who is going where. I've got them all penned up - but I really need to sort out proper space for them, two pens per breeding group so that I can switch them between them and rest the ground; and have a house for youngsters I'm growing on. It's getting to Fox Time of year, so I need to get my fences sorted out properly.

4. The children have been pretty under the weather with this cough thing - no antibiotics for anyone so far, thankfully - but all the adults are now coming down with it, so not great.

For tonight, that is all. I'm off to bid for a shed on eBay.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

family ties

It is becoming apparent that Leo is finding it quite hard whilst B is away. He's irritable about stupid things and is forcing confrontations about food - "I NOT LIKE FOOD ANY MORE!". Yesterday he got up and pronounced "Daddy NEVER come home!", which is what a week must feel like from a two year old point of view.

I guess he'll get used to it. But it's very disruptive to his little life. We try to make time for both children to talk to B on the phone just before bedtime whilst he is away, which is working okay - more so as they get older. Nenna has worked out the use of the phone now, although mostly just says "Dadadadadada" and blows bubbles.

Today I am waiting in for the washing machine repair man - he came a few weeks ago and removed a battery an elastic band and a small screw from the filter, which considerably improved it's performance; however, it's now leaking all over the floor. Upstairs.


I am going to try to do a bit of a sort-out of things like new carpets and sofa covers whilst I'm confined to barracks waiting for him to arrive.

For now, that is all.

Monday, 8 February 2010

me me me me me

Today I have been having a day off. I have started to realise recently, that actually, I am not that great at managing my life so that I get time for myself; and I was starting to desperately need some.

So I went for a cup of tea this morning with a really nice woman I have met at nursery who is in the same 'brightly coloured shoes and slightly non-mainstream' category that I place myself in. And then I went to talk to my chickens. And then I went for tea-and-cake with Earthenwitch. I thoroughly enjoyed all of it. Not to mention the extremely nice evening I had curled up by the fire last night once the children were in bed.

I need this balance in my life - time for everyone I love and proper time for me, as well. It's quite easy, isn't it, to lose yourself in other people? I don't mean the babies, I mean my family and friends. I find I am good at empathising with the people I love and seeing things from their point of view. One of those people said to me recently that sometimes, I didn't realise that I was also allowed to look at things from my OWN point of view and work out what I need or want, too.

So that is what I am going to take some time to do - decide what I need; and then carve out the time in our life to try to achieve some of it. I am frightened that I am going to lose myself in other people if I go on like this - adults AND children. Balance is what I am after.

And with that, an early night is what is called for. Possibly with a hot water bottle, because it's blinkin' freezing and I haven't lit the fire.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

not chickens but pigs

Yesterday was a bit of a dead-loss in blogland because I spent it driving to Wales and back with the lovely Bring Me Sunshine to collect her pork from the abattoir. It was a LOT of pork. Five pigs-worth. Which filled the entire back seat and boot of her large car.

We reversed up to the fridge door at the abattoir and the boxes and bags just kept coming. And coming. And coming. And coming. The suspension on the car kept getting lower and lower and lower. And just when we thought it was over, they brought out the offal. Lots of offal. We ended up with just under 400 kilos of pork; and all I could think was 'thank goodness we didn't bring either the dogs or the children'.

We dropped three pigs-worth off in South Wales on our way home and replaced it with three chickens - less weight, more noise.

Today I have been sticking bits of pig in brine and salt tubs and bagging up chops and belly. My plan is to make some ham and air-dry it and to use to some of the belly slices for sausages and the joints for mince. I've been given a mincer-attachment for the Kenwood which I am hoping will do the job. I've got the larger belly cuts in the brine for bacon. I've never used a brine bucket before - I've always just dry-salted, which has often resulted in it being too salty, even after a lot of soaking. I have put four large joints in the dry salt tub this time - the idea being that I am going to wrap it in a pillow-case and hang it somewhere to dry off afterwards for a few months to make air-dried ham.

I will report back. No photos, I'm sorry - it was difficult enough finding space to put it all, as well then being able to find somewhere to stand to take a photo!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

duck soup

Today I mostly struggled with some semi-disposable Ikea furniture. I've come over all organised and ACTUALLY PURCHASED some Trotsky plastic draw thingies in a wooden frame thingy, to try to contain all the children's chaos.

The children think it's fantastic.

They thought putting it together was fantastic.

They thought the dowel and the bolts were fantastic.

They thought that the little Allen Key whatsit was fantastic.

They thoroughly enjoyed the whole process, which had me tearing my hair out after approximately ten seconds. And then, when it was assembled, we spent a happy half-hour replaying the scene from that Marx Brother's film where one of them is trying to pack a suitcase and the others are unpacking it.

After that, I put them to bed for a sleep and sat down and had a cup of tea and two sugars with my head in a bag.

Bee status - collection arranged.

That's about it, though. For today, that is all. Tomorrow. Chickens. Maybe.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

one a day

I have been doing lots of real-world stuff, which has got in the way of blogging a bit. I am going to try to turn over a new leaf and copy Ms Mac's example, and blog every day in February. Stand by for a lot of trivial twitter!

My missions for this month include:

  • Collecting the bees from Mid-Wales, so I can get them settled at Ma's before the weather starts to warm up properly
  • Sorting out some more breeding pens for the chickens and seeding and planting them properly
  • Getting a bit of ground ready to plant some veg for us over the summer - Ma doesn't believe in things like courgettes - nasty foreign stuff! - so we need to do some of that kind of thing ourselves.

Nenna is teething and when she's awake wants to walk constantly, either holding your hands or pushing her little trolley around. She can't quite manage it independently yet, but it won't be long.

B has just started a six week long period doing a touring relight for a dance company - quite a bit of time away. I am determined to cope without too much extra input from anyone else. I have felt much better over the last few weeks - I need to keep it up.