Tonsillitis = Time to write.

I have tonsillitis, which is no fun at all.  I’m just hanging on hoping no-one else gets it (quarantining myself and washing my hands until they are raw) because I feel instinctively that recovering from Tonsillitis whilst nursing a sick house of 2 children and Josh would be so much worse.

I’ve also been behaving like a proper grown up and putting myself on bedrest – rather than dosing up and carrying on, in the hopes that this will make the whole nasty business shorter.

I’ve caught up completely with the Great British Pottery Throw Down (one of the judges frequently cries in the judging stage and there is something beautiful about watching a man moved to tears by a lovely pot); I’ve watched Fannie’s Last Supper (where America’s Test Kitchen reproduce a 12 course menu from 1896) and I’ve finally finished reading the Soulemama blog – or at least I’m up to date on her entire 11 year archive.

So it is either write a blog post of my own or attempt gargling with asprin for this sore throat and I HATE gargling.

A delightful mish mash of news will now follow:

Firstly – I think I mentioned we had a baby girl last May, called Athena.  But I’ll pop up a couple of photos anyway.  Because cute kids are cute.

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This will probably be my favourite photo of the two of them for a long time to come.

img_0666This next one is super blurry but it captures the Baby Surprise Jacket with the amazing Gardening buttons and a rare hat shot. This is the Tubey Hat by Woolly Wormhead.  An emergency knit (oh! the hardship) when I realised that all of the handknit hats I’d made for either child were too small for Athena.  That girl has a big head, “full of brains” as my parents used to say.

We make her wrap up warm most days and come and watch us work in the garden or watch the pigs.  She is happy with either.

 

 

Next up is Pigs!

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We’ve finally got pigs back on the land after a long hiatus and we are overjoyed to see them snuffling around and ripping out the brambles in places we don’t want them.  Pigs are the most effective land clearing method I know, not only eating down the weeds but the roots of the weeds and upturning brambles and all sorts in a bid to eat all the things.  At the moment we’ve got them ploughing and clearing a strip of land we are hoping to replant with more fruit trees.

Over Christmas there was a lot of gift making – more than we have ever done before and this time Raffi was old enough to properly join in.

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These are marzipan shapes and peppermint creams dipped in white and dark chocolates.  I’m pleased to say that there were plenty left over for giving despite a large number of them going missing and needing constant ‘taste testing’.

We continue to make most of our food from scratch including bread products, jam etc.  I even threw together a simple rosemary flavoured cheese the other day when I realised 4 pints of milk were about to go off. But this year is hopefully the year we get more serious about growing a significant amount of the veg we eat in the Summer and Autumn (and beyond!)

We commissioned some incredibly talented local friends to hand build this new porch for us from sustainable local wood (the old porch was held up by one nail and a lot of willpower and both were running out of time).

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And it kickstarted a whole courtyard project. So this area is now de-weeded and covered in beautiful pot plants, has a table for eating Summer breakfasts (and lunch) and will be added to and decorated as the years tick by.

Lastly the chickens.  It has been a very hard Winter on Flappy, Bocky, Thunder and Colonel Sanders.  On 6th December there was a nationwide quarantine for Avian Flu which meant we had to get the chickens indoors.  We cleaned out an old outhouse and got them inside and that is where they have stayed ever since.  Luckily it had a lightsource otherwise it would have been dark and grim indeed.  Unsurprisingly it affected their egg production and everyone’s mood as all our hearts sank when we went to check on them in their temporary quarters. Cleaning out the chickens changed suddenly from a 25 min job outside in the fresh air to a stinking 1 to 1.5 hour stint brushing and scrubbing with a facemask on. Not the rural idyll we had in mind for our free range girls.

But as of 28th February the rules are relaxed, our outside coop has a fresh layer of wood shavings (apparently the resin is anti-viral), food and water are tucked away from the wild birds and the troop couldn’t be happier.  And neither could we… apart from the tonsillitis that is.

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