New life..Seeds and chicks and long awaited goat kids.

As you  may know, I am currently on tenterhooks awaiting the birth of Marigold’s kid/kids. No show as of yet!… but I am checking her twice during the night now and I keep expecting to find her with a kid or two at foot when I go out to do the morning feed rounds. Will add pics here when the event happens! But kids are not the only new life here at Riverside. We have an abundance of new life here at the moment.. seeds are germinating, plants are growing, eggs are hatching.  I love this time of year. Here are a few photos to capture some of the life bursting forth here right now. xx

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The proud mum!

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Seedlings and plants growing!

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Vibrant pink growth on the baby Tree Spinach plants.

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and an unexploded Marigold

ImageI am SO blessed to be able to grow my own food, rear my own livestock, encourage wildlife to live here and nurture nature.

I cherish every day that I get to live here xx

Seeds of promise…

Finally after a much later start than usual, I have trays of seedlings growing on healthily in my tiny greenhouse.

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I have pea shoots pushing up through the damp earth, waving their bright green leaves at the sky.

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I have birdsong to accompany me during my early morning milking and to lift my spirits and make rising so early less tiresome.

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I have sunshine in my garden and with it grows the seed of promise for a productive Summer.

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When life throws obstacles at you it is easy to get disheartened, feel total despair and give up. We can learn so much from nature at times like this.

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When the unpredictable weather conditions make it impossible for germination to begin, when nature decides to throw in a googly…the seeds silently bide their time and still they arrive full of energy and life anew. Fresh, unspoilt and ready to take on the world!

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So although my vegetable and flower garden has got off to a slower than predicted start this year, due to the dire Spring we have had……and I, like many others here in the UK atm, are weathering some incredibly tough economic times, I  feel so grateful to have nature to guide me, comfort me and help me through the tough days.

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My garden is not only my sanctuary, my food store, my larder, my exercise, my hobby …….it is my friend too and I love it unconditionally xx

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Chasing my tail….

I have had a very busy few days.

I have been exchanging my labour/ gardening skills for some much-needed firewood, seeds and other bits n pieces that I cannot produce myself (Some yummy edible treats for my daughter’s birthday on Sunday were amongst the items I bartered for this week )

I have also been tending a regular client’s garden for the first time this year. The big Spring clear up and grass cutting commenced on his plot this week. 27 grass boxes full of lawn clippings were removed!… which sadly he doesn’t compost himself but sends away in his green waste bin to be composted by the council.

The ground was a bit wetter than expected but I got a good finish and the client was very happy with the results. I also dug out some of his last remaining compost, from an old heap he had tucked away at the back of his plot, into a few wheelbarrows to spread on a large rose bed he has at the front of his bungalow.

I aim to bag up some of my well-rotted horse manure and use that on some of his other flower borders, as they could all do with more organic matter being incorporated into them.

On top of all this outdoor ‘work’, I am also selling my organic kefir grains online, making my cheese/ bread, milking my goats each morning , tending my own garden and all my livestock, getting seeds sown and helping my father sell his old motorbike on ebay.

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I have squeezed in my basic bread baking/ housework/ washing and H’s educational work in-between jobs…or whilst working.

H often brings a book along with her when we head out to work on someone else’s plot. She is also keen to learn more about gardening or the plants and insects we come across during our work outside. Every activity is a learning opportunity!

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Jobs that I have failed to get done are: more wood sawing/chopping (I am very low on ‘ready to burn’ fuel atm) , new geese enclosure fence posts erected,  although I did manage to paint them all with preservative, so they are ready to go but just not actually in the ground…yet!

I am still in the midst of trying to empty the old woodshed at the rear of the cottage and get all  the stored wood onto the side drive ready to cut and stack into the ‘not yet built’ woodstore …and I have to admit that the cottage floors haven’t been hoovered for two days *sigh

I seem to be chasing my tail.

But despite a hectic week, I have managed to get fairly organised for my youngest child’s birthday this Sunday. She has already had one gift early, some stick insects, as it would have been impossible for me to hide them. She has two Indian stickies and two Black Beauty Peruvian ones.. and yes she has named them all!

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If the weather is nice on Sunday, we plan to take a picnic to our local open farm (yes, a busman’s holiday!), with one of her brothers and her dad and whoever else wants to join us.

If the weather is wet we will have a family day indoors and a mini party with a fancy tea and cakes and play board games.

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Today’s jobs have included doing the last of the laundry, digging out some of my homemade compost and sieving it.. adding sieved leaf mold and sand to it.. and using it to fill the inner cardboard tubes from a year’s supply of loo rolls ( I keep everything haha).

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These loo roll tubes get used to grow my peas and beans in and also some runner beans for a client’s garden.

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I have run very short of space in my teeny lean-to greenhouse, so have used an insulated box with a clear perspex lid as a mini greenhouse.I have placed this against the exterior South facing wall of the cottage, where the brick behind it will retain heat and where there is good light. Fingers crossed it does the job!

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We have had a very cold Spring so far and many plants are a few weeks behind schedule but  my borders here at Riverside are finally coming to life and we got a light sprinkling of much-needed rain today which made the garden smell wonderful. Am I odd by loving the smell of rain and wet soil?

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…..and some sad news.. Crystal, the ride n drive pony that H enjoys riding, and the one that I occasionally drive as a single, is off to a new home for the Summer..possibly long term ..along with her three companions, Freddie, Bunny and Paddy..so we will be without a riding pony for H this summer and I will certainly miss driving Bunny and Crystal.

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At least we still have Honeybee and Bumblebee, our two littl’uns to ‘play’ with. Maybe it is time to seriously look for a larger ride n drive pony that needs a loving home?…x

Bubble-wrap bonanza

Today we have snow and gale force winds. Temperatures feel colder than they are, with the wind chill factor.

After doing all my usual chores with the animals this morning and carrying hay to the pony paddock in the next village, I set about trying to insulate my tiny lean-to greenhouse. Luckily I had been given a large roll of bubble-wrap by my parents last year, so I had the necessary resources available. So staple gun in hand I set about  lining the interior of my little growing space. It feels much warmer already and doesn’t make too much difference to the amount of light getting through. I didn’t cover the two largest windows as they are made from old double glazed patio doors, so they had no wooden frame to staple the bubble-wrap to (old aluminium frames) and they are insulated anyway.

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I have also laid a layer of bubble-wrap over the trays on the hot bed instead of the single layer of clear plastic and used a few rectangles of it on top of a few trays of seeds too.

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I have also baked two spelt loaves today and made two batches of Kombucha tea.

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Fresh from the oven

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Bottling this week’s Kombucha tea.. Made with green tea and ginger.

I also managed to sow a few more seeds.  I shall germinate these indoors by a window.

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The ponies stayed inside and ate yet MORE hay.

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Springtime. March 2013

…and to end today, a cute photo of my daughter with the goat kids. They are growing fast!

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Hope you have all had a good start to the weekend.

Tomorrow is day 1 of milking Tansy. I have sterilised the milking pail, got the udder wipes and  milk filters ready and a lidded jug to store it in the fridge.

I don’t take away her babies completely and bottle feed them. Instead her goats kids are only separated overnight, within sight of her but in a separate area. I do an early morning milking and then they are put back with her all day, until late the following evening….and so on.

I have yet more hay to collect tomorrow and of course there are always logs to saw and split.

This self sufficiency malarky is not for the faint hearted 😉  But I wouldn’t have it any other way x

My hot bed ( no not the sexy kind)

Sorry for the 3rd post in a single day..but I seem to have squeezed a lot in. It must have been all that sunshine 😉

Today I made a hot bed in my tiny lean to greenhouse. I seem to be struggling to get much to germinate, as temperatures have been so low here in East Lincs UK. Apart from the sunshine today we have had an awful lot of snow and sleet.

I don’t really want to go down the fossil fuelled, paraffin heater solution or to have to pay for the use of electricity to heat the space, albeit small, so I decided to have a go at making a hot bed inside the greenhouse.

In theory it should be able to generate enough heat so that I am able to place seed trays on it to get the seedlings off to a good start. Well that’s the theory!

I started by digging out ALL the original soil in the one bed against the back wall. It was compacted and stony, so good riddance.

I will sieve out the stones over the weekend and add the soil to my compost bins.

I replaced this soil with three wheelbarrow loads of partially rotted compost and fresh-ish horse muck.

Steam rose as I dug it out and put it in the wheel barrow which was a promising start!

I shovelled this steaming compost mix into the ditch that I had dug out and added two boards, one above the other, along the front edge edge, in order to prevent all the manure mix from tumbling forward onto the concrete floor.

I then covered the hot manure mix with some horticultural fleece.. and just laid some of my seed trays on top of it. Simple!

It must be generating some heat as not long after I had completed it the clear lids on the trays had steam/ condensation inside them.

Tonight I covered the entire thing up with a sheet of clear polythene, weighed down with bricks at the corners. I shall remove this once the sun is up tomorrow.

So fingers crossed it may help warm things up. I will keep you posted.

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..and now it is time for me to get into my bed..

with my hot water bottle.

Night all x

This was a video I made three or four years ago.

Working towards self sufficiency in my new cottage and garden, soon after I moved in. I started from scratch again as the garden was overgrown and full of building materials. Some ideas to inspire you.

Simple pleasures.

Today has been a proper spring day. A day of sunshine and birdsong.  It has been wonderful to be able to work outside all day.

In the last few days I have planted willow for arches, sown seeds, spread compost, weeded veg beds, got out of bed and checked on the goats each night at 1 am and 4:30 am, fed and watered and cleaned out hens, quail, duck and geese.  Fed and hayed and watered ponies and cleaned their paddock. Walked dogs,  met up with neighbours and enjoyed the dry sunny days!

There are buds appearing on plants everywhere.  It is time to sow seeds. My greenhouse is filling up. Baby animals are due to be born. Life feels good.

The simple pleasures of spending time out in nature are the best.

Here is to new beginnings.

Click on any photo to enlarge it.

Please don’t copy my photos or use any them without permission . Thank you.

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Goats in the sunshine. A day before Tansy’s official due date.

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Marigold

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Marigold.. such a sweety.

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Very fat Tansy

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Tag and Peaches snuggle on the sofa

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Through the honeysuckle arch

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Teasel heads by the river

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Looking over the garden boundary

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One of my living willow arches. Can’t wait for it to green up!

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Tiny woven nest-box..tucked away in some ivy..We had wrens in it last year.

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Spring sunshine in the garden. The heather is in bloom!

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Garlic ..planted in Autumn last year

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Time for a rest

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Willow arch by the gate

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Shadows across the garden

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Holly-Hot- Pants after a dunk in the water

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Marigold rests and chews the cud

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Marigold deals with an itch

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Pregnant Tansy

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The river and our tiny jetty

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View out of one of the side gates

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Robin nest box in the honeysuckle

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Nest-boxes of all shapes and sizes ..everywhere!

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One of our three bat boxes

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Hens in their winter shed whilst the land is rested

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Over wintered leeks