The cupboard was bare…

Food for thought!

A Life Less Simple

I’m sure that to almost all reading this self-sufficiency and gardening are subjects close to your heart. It’s something I am always striving towards in any small way I can and am grateful for the opportunity to do so.

On Wednesday I found out that ‘the country’s cupboard was bare’ – if all of the harvest grown in Britain was stored and started to be eaten from January 1st we would have run out on Wednesday meaning the UK has to import over a third of the food we need, an increase on the amount of food that we had to import 1991 according to the NFU*

As the NFU has worked out these figures I don’t think it will include freshly picked, home grown, back garden food which shows that even so long after the the original ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign growing your own is still am important part…

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Preparing for Winter..during a summer heatwave..oh yes!

Yes we are currently enjoying scorching temperatures here in the UK. ..and how lovely it is too!  But that doesn’t mean we can forget that Winter creeps up on us silently and before we know it we are wearing our woolly jumpers  and lugging firewood inside again.

So today I have been preparing for Autumn and Winter by harvesting garlic and onions to store for later in the year and by drying even MORE herbs to put by for the colder months.

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Two types of mint and oregano go into the dehydrator today.

I shall be drying blackcurrants, peas, sliced onion, more nettle tops, clover flowers, elderberries, tomatoes, sage ..and lots more. Having just been gifted 30 large sweet jars from our local sweet shop, I now have plenty of dry storage space for them all.

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Preparing my homegrown garlic for plaiting and storing

Garlic will be dried off in the sun and then plaited and hung up . I have strung some onions already.. They are hanging in the cottage lean-to. All the small loose ones will get used first or sliced and dehydrated,  to add to soups and stews in Winter. This year my onion harvest was poor compared to last year, so I may end up having to buy some in! I use a lot of onions.

Although I do still have perennial onions in the ground so all is not lost.

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The cottage kitchen smells divine..mint and oregano scent the rooms!

I shall be lifting some of the wild horseradish that grows on the riverbank here and making horseradish sauce too. I love the hot spiciness of horseradish. Surplus can be frozen, dehydrated or stored in boxes of dry sand over winter. Here are a few more ways to use and store this pungent root.

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Wild horseradish

So still lots to do…and although I am enjoying the sunshine, my mind is always thinking about the leaner months ahead  x

The birds and the bees and horny goats……Ooer!

Hello and first of all sorry for the lack of blogging lately. I have been very busy with one thing or another..I bet you are wondering what on earth the blog’s title is about!

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Summer has FINALLY arrived and is on my dinner plate.. All from my plot.

The weather  in the UK has warmed up considerably these last few weeks, which means everything is growing like mad here in the permaculture veg gardens (yes including weeds) and I am busy harvesting, cooking and preserving my produce on a daily basis,  as well as spending far more time watering crops, shifting and watering compost heaps and of course watering the greenhouse. The resident livestock are enjoying the warm, dry weather but again I am spending more time topping up water buckets and administering fly repellents etc.

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Enjoying some sunshine!

As the breeding season gets into full swing here in the UK, a few wildlife ‘rescues’ have come our way. My daughter and I have been busy feeding a range of birds that have come to Riverside via one person or another. Here are a few photos and a video of what we have been up to. This event has instigated a new home education project about British Corvids.

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An injured crow has come to live with us

We spent 4 days feeding two of these little guys (Swallows) .They were fed every hour on the hour, with a mix of waxworms, mealworms and wild caught mosquitoes /flies/bugs. Sadly they didn’t make it, despite our very best efforts :( They came to us from a local farm, where they had fallen from the eaves of a tall barn and were being stalked by the farm cats and dogs. They seem to gain strength, were feeding well but at 4 am one morning I found one dead and the other passed in the evening of the same day . Very sad.

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Two rather cute fluffy pigeon squabs were far easier to keep alive and are now feeding independently and have almost lost the last of the downy feathers on their necks. They are practising flying and have become rather tame and are happy to sit on our shoulders or on my head.

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We have named them Ping and Pong :-)

…and finally on Friday we took delivery of a rather special if somewhat scruffy and sad-looking injured crow. A lovely lady had found him close to death with appalling injuries to his eye and head and had nursed him back to health, albeit still a bit scabby and bald. However she was unable to keep him longterm despite wanting to, so he made his way to us via the lady’s two wonderfully kind children, who endured a 400 mile round trip in stifling hot weather to get him to me. He is proving to be quite a character and although he is blind in one eye ( it appears to be missing or hidden under some granulated hard scar tissue ) and he has also been scalped by whatever cause his injuries, he is still surprisingly trusting and gentle to handle.

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Arguine -Corona or Riverside

What a special bird! He will live out his days here at Riverside. He is far too tame to be released and his ability to fly is affected by his lack of vision, so he has a permanent home here with us and all our other animals.

The dogs have met him briefly and seem totally uninterested in our new resident. I have yet to introduce the cats to him. I am waiting for him to get more confident/strong before letting them meet one another. The cats have met our resident imprinted duck and we often have occasionally weak or poorly poultry in the cottage, so I expect they will take it in their stride. Image Re: Bees.I have had my bait hive set up in two different areas of the garden but been unsuccessful in attracting a colony this year..so it looks as though  I shall have to be patient or save up and buy a colony. I am seeing plenty of bee activity..both honeybees and native species which is great news for  the garden !

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Re: The Horny goat…..No we are not talking about breeding haha!…. but rather less exciting we are talking horns and unfortunately one rather pointy horn made sudden contact with one of my eyes this week and I am sporting a rather fetching purple bruise and split in the socket just above my eyeball.

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I am thankful that it wasn’t a cm or so lower as it would have made contact with my eyeball or even worse with my daughter’s face if she had been close by.

This is just one of the reasons why resident dairy goats here are disbudded under general anaesthetic before they are a week old :-)

Here is Nemmie aka Anemone..our latest addition.. minus her horns. Growing fast!

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..and despite all the bird care and other time-consuming stuff, I have tried hard to make more time to drive the ponies whilst the weather is good. Had a lovely trot around the village the other day and they are now both settled back in their other paddock enjoying the sunshine and have FINALLY shed the very last their winter coats!

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Take care and thank you for dropping by xx

Keeping the Darkness at Bay

Beautifully written by Colette ..as always! x

Bealtaine Cottage

MissyIn every crisis there appears opportunists, ready to make a fast buck on the back of suffering!

Summer shed at Bealtaine CottageAt this point in time, as the Earth is convulsed in sickness manufactured by mankind, it appears that the climate crisis has become a business opportunity for polluters!

Barn, gravel, Valerian and GeraniumMonoculture is extracting and mining and leaving us with raped Earth.

Nasturtiums and Ox-eye daisyThis monoculture madness is being aided and abetted by the EU…the same EU that paid Irish farmers to rip out hedgerows, some of which had been there for hundreds of years.

perlagonium in a pot at Bealtaine CottagePlanting trees on their terms means monoculture plantations that echo the pages of “Silent Spring.”

Sedum for the bees, Parsley for me!It’s time for those who care to step up to the front line!

It really is gloves off time.

We must call it out for what it is…ecocide…the rape, torture and murder  of the Mother!

Potager bed planting at Bealtaine CottageMonoculture plantations destroy the natural diversity of life, at a time when the…

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What value?.. a life like this….

So…….Would more money in the bank improve my life ?

ImageWould ‘towing the line’ for years, in a job I don’t particularly enjoy, so that I can get capital behind me, enable me to enjoy life even more than I do right now?

ImageWhat value should I put on my family and nature and the earth and my relationship with them all right now?

ImageDo I need to measure my life now in time, monetary wealth, memories or experience? How does it all add up?  Does it have true value?

ImageWhilst my 45 yr old eyes can still see clearly I want to be able to look and REALLY see! I want to be able to learn and ‘do’. 

ImageI want to work here whilst I am fit and able to. Not wait for the ‘perfect’ time, when my bank is full but my energy levels are low or my health is failing. There will never be a more perfect time for me than now. Can years lost ever be regained? Does ownership guarantee happiness? Is it wrong to be content with so little?

ImageChildren are young for such a short space of time. We should nurture every second and make the time REALLY count. Make memories to last forever.

ImageDo you love what you do? Do you love the life you live now? If not, why not? What is stopping you from changing it? Be honest with yourself. 

ImageYes, of course money is important…..BUT so is actually LIVING!

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Do all the things you love to the very best of your ability. Learn all you can. It will pay you back tenfold. 

That’s true wealth.

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I have emeralds a plenty!…..Abundant vibrant greens surround me! 

ImageI have gold..in the glistening sun, reflected in the river’s softly rippled surface

Imageand raindrops leave diamonds all over my garden…..

ImageIt isn’t a bad life. I don’t feel poor. In fact it is pretty darn ‘perfick’!  

It is priceless!!

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Just look through my GALLERY . That’s all the capital I need xxx