After the scares of the previous month August proved to be quite an anti climax. Well tell a lie we did have one emergency situation when the kids brought in an egg that was hatching but mum was nowhere to be seen and Dr Riddell had to perform a poultry version of a caesarean under strict guidance from the kids. It all ended happily with the chick eventually being sneaked back into the nest when mum was out feeding on corn.
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We had several groups of visitors staying with us which although great in that everyone loves to feed the animals leaving me to carry on with jobs. It does get to the point eventually when you think can't wait to have the place back to ourselves. Not in a nasty kind of way as it is always great to meet up with family, but values and principles are different and can create a lot of work in trying to keep everyone happy because of the different lifestyles we lead and what might be right for you isn't necessarily the case for others.
Strange as it may seem but although we are thinking about next year in a broad sense, we are at the time of year were we seriously have to think about winter and start to get prepared now. Having survived 2 winters now we get the idea of roughly what is in store and there is nothing worse than not having a nice cosy refuge from the worst that the winter weather no doubt will bring. Generally the house is ok yes it could do with a lick of paint but generally everything is fine except for the bathroom and the flooring.
We bought the house knowing it had a shower and no bath, fine we thought showers are refreshing and you use less water. We soon realised however that we had an endless supply of hot water that could ease our aching bones, produced from the stove where as the shower was expensive as it ran on electric. Also it was a big cumbersome affair making the bathroom dark and small. Not very inviting on a winters morning! So late in August after many requests out came the shower and in went the new bathroom suite complete with bath of course. The whole room is transformed now much lighter and bigger and the kids love the bath although I have kept the shower fitted as an option. Much more inviting and if all kids are like ours it can be a chore to get them to get washed whereas now they seem eager to get in the bath. Slate tiles have replaced the sticky tile things, which never worked well anyway so all in all everyone is happy. Kids have a large bath and Debbie has a grand looking bathroom. Me hopefully I will get over the nightmares I have had with the plumbing, tiling and painting!
The problem with the flooring is that our main door leads into what we call the boot room which in turn leads to the bathroom on one side and the kitchen at the other. Through the years the concrete flooring which goes throughout has had a channel worn out of it, which conveniently allows rain, which hits the main door to trickle through the boot room and into the kitchen meaning over winter we can wake up to what seems like a stream in the kitchen leading into the boot room and outside. Having persevered with this the last two years with constant mopping I am hoping that during September that I can carry on the slate tiling from the bathroom through the boot room and into the kitchen which should solve the problem with a few modifications to the main door way.
To be honest the concrete floor has been very practical with muddy boots and the effect of 3 messy kids but it looks really untidy and scruffy which I know gets Debbie down. Its not that we are posh or think we are above anyone just that we can make it look a heck of a lot better for our selves. Watching Debbie try to mop the floor and having little impact makes me realise that just because we live in the middle of nowhere doesn't mean that a women gives up her feminine ways, infact it is probably more important to make sure they are attended to as we all like to feel good about ourselves.
Back to August! One of the orphan boars went to the abattoir Jake I am reliably informed was his name. He came back a whole 50kgs which I don't mind admitting impressed me for a 6 month old lad. I had come to the conclusion that the commonly accepted ages for porkers and baconers 6 and 9 months needs to be extended by about 2 months for ourselves due to traditional breeds, not being intensively fed etc but maybe not, only time will tell! Mind you the noise that Bonnies 9 piglets make at feed times I don't think they will reach 6 month never mind any later. Boy do they squeal I often think that their squealing would make, no does make such an efficient method of torture guess they just take after their dad Baldrick.
Anyway Jake went and Elwood is staying to breed with Bonnie later in the year perhaps putting the two together in Novemeber for piglets maybe early spring. By that time they will be the only two we have left apart from a new Large Black gilt who will be bought early next year to keep Elwood happy!
The sheep are pretty much sorted also in that of the original 7 ewes we had three are going as mutton to our freezer perhaps next month along with 3 of the ram lambs leaving Little Fella our youngest to later in the year as being bottle fed he has a little catching up to do. That will sort all the ram lambs leaving 5 ewe lambs 2 of which I have been told are being sold to our friends or maybe that is 3 shall wait for the orders to deliver who and when! That should mean that we have our 4 proven ewes to breed from again with 2 ewe lambs for next years breeding. That should also ensure that we have enough pasture for them to feed with no problem over the winter along with hay of course.
As far as the veggies go swings and roundabouts are the order of the day! We have loads of brassicas to ensure that we can have Sunday dinners several times a week no problem and plenty more growing away. I do think that perhaps come January we will be struggling but it has given an idea of what quantities I should be planting. The polytunnel for everything that went into setting it up both financial and hard work was I suppose a disaster in the amount of produce but valuable in the lessons learned.
Those who growing pumpkins and squash and melons will realise just how much they grow and totally overtake everything well it ended up at least ¾ of the polytunnel was devoured by massive leaves and not much fruit. Of the ¼ left the bean crops failed to germinate to give a decent crop, the mice managed to eat most of the sweet corn whilst we played hosts and as per usual the tomatoes suffered from me not watering them enough. As they say there is always next year though and plenty of lessons to put into practice and there are at least brassicas in there using the space up until we start again in February?
Next month really is an important month in preparing for the winter none more so in making sure that the house is sorted and the animals arrive at their final destination for winter, then I may be able to put on my slippers and enjoy some R&R in front of the wood burner waiting for the new year to bring its new challenges