Saturday, 19 July 2014

"Cabbage With A College Education"

I was going to begin by saying that we never have much luck with cauliflowers but, looking back over our Blog, I see that in June 2011, we did have some success.

We planted a whole bed of cauliflower this year and we have a wonderful crop.

One has been scoffed already and yesterday we picked seven that were 'just right'.

These seven have gone a long way.

The chickens got the roots to peck through.

The pigs got the largest of the outer leaves and the stalks. Actually, the the young dogs had some of the stalks and leaves.

Six cauliflowers were blanched and frozen, as were the chopped greens and the stalks from the leaves.

For our evening meal last night I chargrilled a good handful of the leaf stalks then grated cheese over them. A little 'stringy' but very tasty. Then we had Caulifower Cheese with sausages.

We still have another nine or ten in the ground, so we are up to our ears in cauliflowers!

The title for this post come from a quote by Mark Twain, as credited in out previous post There's a Cauliflower 'Ere

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

And the Wall came Tumbling Down

Removing the kitchen wall went a lot more smoothly that I had anticipated and, apart from a layer of dust everywhere, the mess was tolerable.

We are amazed at how big our kitchen now is. It has been hard to imagine the space. We have doubled the size of it.
This photo is taken from the old side of the kitchen.

The window in the centre is where the new sink will go.

Yesterday work began on laying the floor. This
caused a bit of a headache since the old floor is not level - what a surprise. A solution was found and the floor for the extension was laid.

The photo looks a bit odd because I took it at an angle to try and get it all in. Once this has 'gone off' they will pop the old sink back in temporarily and we can plumb the washing machine in to the utility room which is through the doorway.

Meanwhile we have been washing the dishes in the bathroom sink.

The Rayburn is still under wraps and the electric cooker can't be wired into its permanent home until the rest of the floor is done. We bought a cheapie microwave just in case we need to resort to 'ding' meals, or Jacket Potatoes, but so far haven't needed it.

On Monday evening we had a barbecue and last night treated ourselves to fish & chips, which Steve picked up on his way home from work. It's looking a bit breezy for a barbecue this evening so I am still pondering this evenings meal. Jacket Spuds are sounding good to me...

Friday, 4 July 2014

Not the Only Pigs in the Village

Our pigs have attracted quite a bit of attention from the village and general passers-by.

A couple of weeks ago a lady from the village came down one evening with her three children to ask about keeping pigs. We had a general chat and away they went.

Last week her father-in-law popped in to ask where we got out pig ark from.

Yesterday morning the lady came back with her youngest child to see the pigs. The pigs were still asleep but Steve went in to wake them up. Mother and child were delighted as both pigs promptly rolled over for a belly rub. And then came the million dollar question:

"How can you bear to let them go?"

I have lots of posts that address this question in way or another but perhaps the most helpful, according to readers comments, has been this one: Pigs - Are They Worth It?

The family are going ahead with their plans to raise a couple of pigs and we have offered to help if they need us. I think that's great.

The photo shows our pigs enjoying a shower on a hot day earlier this year.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Knocking Through

Having the kitchen extension built has not caused us too much disruption.
All that is about to change.

On Monday this wall will start to come down and the sink and electric cooker will be disconnected.

Knocking through they call it. Bloomin' big mess is what I'm thinking.

I have spent this morning emptying cupboards and tomorrow we shall start taking the cabinets out.

The Rayburn, which you can just glimpse on the right, is off because we want to cover it to protect it during the rest of the work phase. We have no clear idea when the electric cooker will be reconnected because it is moving to a different wall on the left which has yet to be exposed.

We are praying for good barbecue weather over the foreseeable future.

The builders hope that they will be able to move the old sink to the new position under this window as a temporary measure. This photo is taken through the window in the top photo.

At least I won't have to take the dishes into the bath with me!

I'm excited but dreading it at the same time.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

One Year On

One year ago yesterday we packed up and moved north from Yorkshire to Cumbria.
It has been a great year.

Having grown absolutely nothing last year, we were keen to get started on our new veg garden.

When we arrived the garden looked like this...
... and that's just part of it. Steve actually scythed it all and we had little haystacks dotted all over the place for a while.

Fast forward one year and we have an asparagus bed that I mentioned here and a few other beds.

I have my 'Bean Ship' to the left.
I call it that because as I sit here at the window it looks just like a three masted ship sailing along. It's a bit higgledy-piggledy but it's doing the job. I knew we wouldn't get a bed finished in time for them so used a planter that was already here.
I have runners and borlotti beans and a few peas thrown in for good measure.

Behind that is a potato bed. We have only planted a few earlies, main crop and lates. We are enjoying the earlies already. Then we have an onion bed and a shallot bed. Carrots and broad beans are growing in containers.

The greenhouse which had a grape vine in it along with a mass of weeds now looks like this.

Inside we have tomatoes in grow bags and I am trying some sweetcorn in there too. I was late getting seeds in and hope they come to something.

My beautiful Bay Trees are standing guard here until all the building work is finished on the house.

All my herbs and our soft fruits are living in pots until we find them a permanent home.

At least it's a start.

Friday, 27 June 2014

To Plus or Not To Plus?

Dear Fellow Bloggers,

I hope you can offer me some advice about Google+

Have you Plussed?
What benefits are there?
Are there any pitfalls?

I'm dithering because I'm afraid it will all become too much to handle but I've fallen out with the FB page I have.

I also have a problem in that they have a personalised URL for me but I have no mobile signal here so I can't take advantage of it.

Any thoughts or tips would be wonderful, thanks!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Pretty Peony

One of the wonderful things about moving home is discovering what floral delights will appear in your new garden.

When we arrived last year this peony was in full bloom and doing remarkably well considering that it was nearly choked with grass, dandelions and buttercups.

Apparently, in Victorian times the peony was associated with bashfulness on account of the fact that nymphs hid amongst its petals.

I think there may be another reason.

As the day starts coming to an end, the peony begins to fold its petals in, going to sleep for the night. If you catch it at just the right time it does indeed look bashful.

I know that it is not the only flower to do this but with such large blooms you can almost see it happening. Take your eyes away for a second and it will have closed just a little more.

It also looks quite bashful when first coming into bloom.

Quite frighteningly, it dies away to almost nothing over winter and, never having had one, I worried about it coming back. It is just as glorious this year and I have grown quite fond of it, which is just as well because it is said that moving a peony will bring bad luck.

It stands proudly outside our front door waiting to welcome us home.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Planning Ahead

On Friday we took a trip to Airey's Farm Shop near Grange-Over-Sands.

Why did we take a two hour round trip to visit a farm shop?

Well, the time has come for us to start thinking about our pigs' final journey and Aireys also have an abattoir. They were recommended to us by the chap we bought the pigs from and we had arranged to go and have a look round.

I must be getting old because I had got the date wrong. I had made the appointment for the 27th, not the 20th. Happily, Joanne & Steven took this in their stride.

The farm has been slaughtering animals since the 1830's when animals were delivered by horse & cart and slaughtered on a slab. It is very different now! The abattoir is state of the art and has been planned really well to expose animals to the least amount of stress possible. Apparently I was babbling like a five year old but, hey, I was impressed.

Whilst we were there we availed ourselves of some beautiful sirloin steak, Cumberland Sausage and lamb loin chops - all have which have been devoured with relish.

See also: Taking Pigs To Slaughter 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

New Name; Same Old Blog

In May this year I decided to remove all the old blog posts from this blog.

I miss them.

I have set up a new, old blog under the name "A Small Holding In Yorkshire."

All of my old posts are there, however...

It is not going as smoothly as I anticipated especially as Picasa and Google+ appear to have got their undergarments in a twist and I'm missing all of my photographs.

I shall persevere and, hopefully, will get this page looking spit spot with  new features, new photo's and links here, there and everywhere - and the new.old blog looking like it should.

If anyone is out there, please bear with me.


Here's Looking At You Kid

We are fortunate to live in Red Squirrel Country and we are privileged to have daily visits from at least two of them.

I do have better photographs but this one appealed to me.

They usually run along the stone wall and call in at the feeder we have for them in one of our Sycamore trees.

We rarely see them on the grass; they are well aware of our dogs.

However, we have a few apple trees at this end of the garden and some of the small fruits have dropped - just too enticing for a squirrel.

We saw our first visitor last year and you can read about him on our Blog Archive here.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Aspirations of Asparagus

Steve and I have been together for some 11 years and we have been growing vegetables together for most of that time. Each year, when planning for the next season, we would contemplate asparagus. Each year we concluded that it takes too long to grow.

One of the first beds we made at our new home was an asparagus bed. Finally we had taken the plunge!

We bought asparagus crowns from New Park Farm Asparagus in Kent and along with the crowns they sent us comprehensive planting and growing instructions. They also publish month by month advice on their website.

We won't be able to harvest any this year but we have still been aspargus watching.

One lone asparagus spear battled it's way through. We are very proud of it, even if it does look a little spindly.

I took this photo a couple of days ago. When I checked this morning, several more spears are poking through.

I know they are late compared to more southern parts but better late than never.

It looks as if we have ourselves an Asparagus bed.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Big Lottery Award

St. John the Baptist
Our community has just been allocated a Big Lottery Award to rebuild the village hall.

The village hall is an important place in our community.
Over the past 20 years the community has lost a local shop, post office and public house. We have no public transport service and the nearest town is Appleby-in-Westmorland, four miles away. The Church and the village hall are the only places to meet people socially. The photo shows the Church; the village hall is across the road and up a bit to the right of the picture, out of sight. I will get photo's before they begin the rebuilding.

I heard the news at the monthly 'Coffee & Craic' on Saturday.

Coffee & Craic is one of a number of events held at the village hall. We also have film nights and other one-off events such as Pot Luck suppers and quizzes. With a new, bigger, and better designed hall, many more events can be hosted and ideas are already piling up.

The Coffee & Craic is an important part of our rural life. As newcomers we met people from our new community. Going forward it is a chance to socialise with the people we only wave to in passing, or yell "Good Morning!" to as we spy them whilst out walking.

We have seen the plans and, if all goes well, it will be a bobby dazzler of a village hall.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Appleby Horse Fair

From the first Thursday in June until the following Wednesday, Appleby-in-Westmorland hosts the Appleby Horse Fair by right of a Royal Charter granted in the 17th Century.

This traditional Gypsy Fair is the largest in Europe and attracts gypsies and travellers in their thousands. The numbers swell even more when thousands of tourists and visitors arrive over the weekend to take in the sights and, maybe, buy a horse or two.

Horses are washed in the River Eden before being taken through the streets to Fair Hill where are put through their paces on the 'Flash' in the hopes of attracting buyers.

We have never been. We arrived in Cumbria after the event last year and it is looking as if we shall be hard pushed to get there this year. However, I am hopeful that we shall make it. From the photographs I have seen it certainly looks like something not to be missed, and I quite fancy having my fortune read.

The event sounds very exciting but local opinion is mixed. Some embrace the event, others stock up and lock up, not their daughters, but things like Quad Bikes. The local roads are a nightmare. Horse drawn, bow top caravans may be very romantic but they are also very slow and often travel a in motorised convoy matching the horses pace.

We have seen little of it all in our village. However, police cars are patrolling and we see several a day go 'round the loop'. The villagers tell us that we are unlikely to have any 'stopovers' - we don't have a village pub for one thing.

Here's hoping that the sun shines and the event is a happy and uneventful one - and we get to see the horses in the river!

Link: Appleby Horse Fair

Monday, 2 June 2014

And Jilly Came Too

We have three dogs.

Jilly is the eldest and before we moved I had been silently double daring her to pop her clogs before we moved.

That may sound harsh but she is such a contrary old lady that it would have been just like her to pop off before she could sample the delights of our new home.

She made it, and she loves it.

During our first summer she seemed entranced by the fact that she could go out of one door, amble around the bungalow, and come back in through another door. She couldn't do that at our old place. The novelty hasn't worn off.

She caught one of her dew claws recently. It didn't break off, just snapped right at the quick. I hoped the nail would regrow and push the snapped bit off. To help this, I made her wear a sock...

You know how little kids socks always seem to grow at the toes and they end up with loose sock flapping? She was like that. It was so funny but then she kept tripping herself up on it and giving me dirty looks when I giggled. I had to abandon the sock idea. Luckily the claw has healed by itself and she is fine.

She spends a lot of time outdoors up here. The photo shows her sat down by the pig pen, one of her favourite places.

I was prompted to post this because today we are finally having the scaffolding removed after building work that has been going on for some time. The skies are darkening and I am left with the thought that Jilly can no longer sit outside under the scaffolding in the rain.... I forsee more dirty looks from her....

Thursday, 29 May 2014

The Chicks Have Flown

The little Chaffinch Chicks gave me a small window of opportunity for a photo shoot before they flew the nest.

I cannot be sure when they left but the nest is definitely empty.

I'm sorry that we didn't get to see them fledge but I suppose it was never going to happen while we were pottering about.

We are still seeing Mum and Dad about so I'm guessing they have taken their young to a more densely leafed tree to continue their upbringing.

I read that Chaffinches will nest twice in a year and we wondered if they would return to this nest. However, either Mum or another Chaffinch has been visiting the nest and appears to be dismantling it? Or maybe Mum left something behind that she needed?

Meanwhile, the House Martins have been casing our joint over the past few days. They nested under our eaves last year but they don't seem to have made up their mind yet. We have new fascias and soffits so maybe that is putting them off?

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Messing With/Up My Blog

Well, I did some fiddling last night and it appears that all my current photo's have disappeared!

I hope to sort it our soon - more fiddling is required!

However, contrary to the rain forecast for today, it is dry and sunny, if a bit blustery so garden chores must come first.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

A Room With A View

One of the reasons we wanted to move was that at our previous house all we could see around us was other houses.

My family had not sold off their long garden but the properties either side had and, like most of the land in what was once a small farming village, had been built on.

All of the rooms in our new house have a view; the bungalow sits in the middle of the garden.

Our most imposing view is of Murton Pike which stands at 1,949ft.

I have to confess that we have not climbed it yet but we plan to soon. I want a photograph from the top looking back at our house.

We do see hang gliders launching themselves off it with varying degrees of success.

I had a plan to take this photograph on the first day of each month with the idea of creating a calendar. The plan fell by the wayside and, really why do we need a calendar showing something that we can see every day?

About Us

Most smallholding journeys begin with growing your own food, progress to keeping a few chickens for eggs and then take the big leap into keeping larger livestock.

Our story is no different and we began this blog in 2010 when we took that big leap and decided to raise Rare Breed pigs for our own consumption.

The Pig and Chicken pages tell most of our story.
My previous post explains that I have deleted all the posts made since 2010.

In 2013 we realised a dream and moved from Yorkshire to Cumbria.
From a three bedroom house that had been in my family since my Great Grandparents time, to a "tiny house by a tiny stream" or, more specifically, a three bedroom bungalow.

The land we have now is slightly more than we had before and the plan is to continue where we left off.

To this end, our chickens moved with us and we already have this years pigs housed safely in their pen.
The garden is taking longer to transform than we anticipated, so we have a limited amount of produce in the ground. Still, compared to last year when we grew nothing, we are doing well!

Having deleted our history, some things will need to be re-introduced. Apologies to old friends and followers but I am hoping some new friends will come along.

The family at present consists:
Me and Steve
Jilly - our old Black Labrador
Amber & Molly - two young Labradors coming up to their 2nd birthday
Six Chickens
Two British Saddlebacks.

I have stories about them all and photo's will be in abundance.

Monday, 19 May 2014

All Change

After much consideration about doing some Spring Cleaning I have decided to remove all our old posts.

I have also removed any awards that came from those posts.

The story is not over but I felt that the Blog as it stood had served its purpose and was getting stale.

I have left the pages for now as they chart our past history to a large extent.

I have not edited my blog list but I shall be looking at it over the days (probably weeks) to come, hopefully renewing contacts and getting back into the stride of things.

Thank you to everyone who came along on our journey as it was recorded here. I hope our new adventures in Cumbria will interest you too.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014


One morning in mid-April we watched a chaffinch nest being built in a tree close to our house. We thought that Mr & Mrs Chaffinch were building but it turns out that only the female builds the nest.

It's very impressive.
If you didn't know it was there you wouldn't see it.
You may need to click on the photograph to confirm that it is actually there, just in the right hand fork of the tree.

We have kept peeking at the nest and just yesterday noticed that Mrs.
Chaffinch is indeed sitting on the nest. Again, you may need to click on the photo to see her peeking out.
Beneath her, hopefully, will be a clutch of 4 or 5 eggs which will take 11 - 13 days to incubate.

I hesitated in posting this news because the last time I shared a nest things didn't turn out very well and the nest was abandoned.
Fingers crossed for Mr & Mrs Chaffinch.