Thursday, 19 September 2013


How do you get away, when you have so many animals, so many commitments, and so little money?

We have dear friends who have house, horse, dog, sheep and goat-sat for us before, but the milking is a rare accomplishment, and combined with all the other stuff, makes it a full time job for anyone not doing it all on auto. It should be a full time job for me.

I discovered this today when the door was being tapped, then knocked, then hammered on, while I was at work. When I'm at work there's a sign on our front door that basically asks you to pretend you found no one home. This is because, I am at work. I am on my phone, on my computer, in  my bedroom - but actually, to all intents and purposes, I'm not.

I'm in an office in London, I have their phone lines, their computer system - I'm committed to working several hours, and until those hours are done, I'm not here.

I digress. The hammering on the door became insistent, and I had to commit the cardinal sin of logging off from work unexpectedly.  It's the virtual equivalent of finding the person at the desk next to you just tele-ported off to some inter galactic conference, or vapourised. Anyway, as it turned out, the person on the doorstep was the person with the garden next to one of the bits of land we rent. And she had sheep in her garden and a goat in her hedge.

I'm cross because they should have been moved. They are exploring because they're short of grass. It's on the list. But the list is long and my time is short. I should be doing this full time.

With no one to help and very limited time, my best shot was to fill the boot of the car with hay, trot down there and bribe them to stay over the other side of the field with said bounty, come back, dig some old electric netting out of the hedge, and go and improvise a fence (without benefit of fencer unit, so, in short, a fake) to keep them from wandering further.

Winter has not yet begun, and we are tired. We needed a break this summer, and we didn't get one.  The thought of another long winter, with no let up, is beginning to look like a deal  breaker.

If you are a homesteader, small farmer, smallholder or just awash with animals, birds and projects - how do you get away? Do you have any tips? Anyone want to play smallholdings for a week?!

[caption id="attachment_544" align="aligncenter" width="640"]IMG-20130919-00667 The Beulahs acting innocent. You can see the vast quantities of hay, hiding in the nettles. They were shamelessly bribed to come over this side.[/caption]


Friday, 13 September 2013

What He Said!

Googled for inspiration and came up with this blog I have never seen before, and this absolutely word perfect (weeeeel, OK  - apart from the Katy Perry part!) post which was just exactly what was on my heart.

Please be aware, I have not examined any other part of this blog, and don't endorse or support anything that might occur anywhere else within it. I

Stop Hesitating: Take A Step Forward (Even If You Think You Are Not Prepared)

by Ollin

We often hesitate in life because we believe that all the stars have to align perfectly in order to move forward with our plans.

And so we wait around… for what, life doesn’t know. Because life is often waiting for us.

We don’t start to write the story we want to write because we don’t think we’re good enough to write it yet. Or we feel we are “ill-prepared” to start. Or the “timing is off.”

We don’t accept a wonderful new opportunity because it does not look exactly like the opportunity we asked for, and so the door of opportunity remains shut. (Meanwhile the window of whimsy is wide open; but if we wait too long, the window of whimsy will slam shut, too, and any opportunity we could have had will have come and gone.)

We pray for assistance, assistance we hope will come to us cloaked in bright, miraculous starlight; but when assistance finally comes to us in its dull, unassuming colors, we are sure that our prayers have not been answered yet. (We think assistance is still on its way, but really, assistance has already come and gone…)

Instead of embracing our destiny we keep pushing our destiny further and further out, someplace in the future, so we can’t confront it in the present, delaying an experience that is rightfully ours just because we want the comfort of believing we are in complete controlof our lives.

What a silly thing to do.

Stop Hesitating: Take A Step Forward (Even If You Think You Are Not Prepared)

No, you are probably not prepared.

Neither was I.

But I began anyway. I took the risk, and now look at where I am at now. (And I’m only half-way through my journey: things are only just starting to get good.)

No, you are probably not prepared.

But no one is.

No one is ever prepared.

What can really prepare us for life? What can really prepare us to pursue our dream other than starting to live out of the dream itself?

What does it matter if our initial step is a stumble? What’s more important is that this initial step gets us moving.

We go forward as amateurs, yes, but it is the process that makes us experts, not inertia. We will never get better by simply sitting and hesitating.

Waiting for the right “break,” the right “chance,” the right “time,” the right “person” to show up and give you what you so desperately want is only delaying your journey.

So stop your hesitating.

Today is the break you’ve been waiting for. Today is the chance. Right now is the time.You are the right person.

Your dream is waiting for you to live it and your prolonged and unreasonable hesitation—far from making things safer or better for you–is, at this point, only getting in the way.

So stop hesa… hesa…. hessssssaaaatatiiiiiiiing and get going!


Set the wheels in motion. Turn on the ignition. Get that engine running.

You figured out your “Why”–congratulations! Yi-pee! Ring the frakkin’ church bells! Turn on Katy Perry’s new, catchy hit single Roar and do fist pumps in the air.

Go have a ball… but don’t celebrate for too long.

Because, believe it or not, figuring out the “Why” of your life was the easy part. Now it’s time to get working on the “How.”

No, don’t sit around waiting for the “How” to show up, because it won’t.

You have to create it.

No, don’t sit around for waiting for someone to prepare you for what’s to come next: you are in charge of your own preparation, and the only way to prepare yourself is to just move forward and learn by doing.

Take a step forward today, even if you think you are not prepared.

If your face should hit the asphalt more than once–you’re doing it right.

much “and-your-gon-na-hear-me-roooooar,”



Wednesday, 11 September 2013

'Goodnight, John Boy' or 'The Kids are NOT in bed'

[caption id="attachment_535" align="aligncenter" width="600"]girlsandlamb Photo: Jo Hanlon Moores[/caption]

It was always Neil's observation that my favourite bloggers, commentators, Plain Livers and Simple Livers and advocates of all things good, kind of disappeared once their kids reached double figures. Age I mean, not numbers. Although, a good few christian home edders do have large families, and still having a toddler or three even though you now have a couple of teenagers may actually make you the exception that proves the rule.

It does seem to be borne out by the evidence - Scott Savage folded 'Plain' for the last time and headed back into the real world of librarianship.  Tommy Waller lifted his family out of Amish simplicity in Tennessee and off to head up Ha Yovel and great work though that is and God's work no doubt, nevertheless that was the end of an inspiring era.

I recently treated myself to Simple Mom's sensible 'One Bite at a Time' and a worthwhile read it is too, but found myself running up against the notion that I can work up my family's Purpose Statement with my spouse possibly in those quiet evening hours -  you heard me hours! - after the children are in bed.

Parents of sleeping tots, I urge you, do all that you can to make the best use of those hours right now!

However. My wonderful daughters - above, shown lamb rescuing in a sweet and candid picture by Jo of the art of wildness - who by the way is their much loved cousin so may be a tad biased behind the shutter there - are now teenagers, and not only are they not in bed, they are 50% of the purpose in the statement.

I can't say we've got it totally right. I raised my little girls in long frocks and boots, with hairy ponies and gymkhanas, all Little House on the Prairie and Pullein Thompson with a dash of Swallows and Amazons.

They were home schooled, christian schooled, and now state schooled, and they have voices of their own, so I won't attempt to speak for them.

However, here's my shortlist for making it through to the teenage years and, I hope there will be others who will pitch in with their tips too.

  • Always engage.  They will grow into their own passions. Let them grow and co-exist. Sheepdogs wouldn't be my first choice of farm life option, but Sasha is mad on sheep and dogs and she's a bigger part of the 'farm' because of that.

  • Change. We always listen for God's leading.  Homeschoolers got sharp with us for going into christian school, and christian schoolers got sharp with us for going into state school. We went where God led. He doesn't keep people in one place, often.

  • Always tell your truth. There are times when I'm not sure they are very interested in my more with less, simple living,  Plain kind of Christianity.  They're more Phatfish kind of girls. But it won't stop me speaking my truth. That truth abides. And Harrie still calls herself a farm girl first and foremost!

  • Be incredibly grateful for the groundwork. I now work from home a lot of the time, and they are SO practical.  They cook meals, bake bread, pack lunches, take care of livestock, milk goats, and do so, so much more - I probably don't appreciate them enough. Thanks guys.

  • Move forward. We are now trying to embrace austerity principles and get ourselves out of debt, and on solid financial ground for the first time in ... erm ... ever. It's not easy. The temptation is to keep that quiet and wait til they're in bed. But, hey. They aren't.

I really would appreciate input from all of you with older children/teens/young adults.

Have you kept the simple living alive into the second generation?

Return to Rhythm

P1000803The wood has been seasoning in full sun for a whole summer - we have some older wood seasoning under a hedge which is not as good as this, so the chopping and stacking has begun.

After a season of uncertainty, we take up again the routine rhythms of the year on the land.  And we are behind with firewood.

P1000796It generally arrives in large heaps, from a tree surgeon friend, when he either doesn't have the time to process it into logs, or it's not good enough to be sold as such, so it comes free, and that's cheap enough for us.

I am often fascinated by its pictures and designs, and love the smell of it outside the front of the house in summer - though not always the look, I will admit.  It seldom has the power to shock. However rounding the corner in half light the other day, this bit did make me jump.

creatureThought we had a croc in the garden there for a minute.

wheelsNow. Can anyone tell me how to set about making an exercise cart for a very small pony?