Just out a “walkin ma” pig

December was a month of many colours , most of it glittery and shiny ! As far as me and DEC XMASLauren are concerned, Christmas starts going up the first weekend in December so by Saturday 2nd we were pretty much done !

Even the pigs got decorated , they became “Reindeerpigs “.

RITA REINDEERThis is Edna sporting a lovely set of antlers.. The pigs were a bit of a focus as they were almost at the right weight for slaughter , we had had a few enquiries about the meat and ..DEC SCALES

 

 Three (not so) little pigs

were accounted for , so it was time to sort out a butcher.. Meet TomDEC TOM G the butcher.   As is usual we researched our topic and chose the best Butcher (it all came down to bacon and sausage – these being paramount in the Hunter household). Tom is Tom Grierson as in Grierson Brothers butchers of Castle Douglas , four generations of knife wielding, chop chopping chaps must be doing something right apparently since 1834 ! We came up with a plan  and a date was fixed for January 22nd 2018…  the girls were on their last month at Grobdale  and

Tom was sharpening the knives !

Continue reading “Just out a “walkin ma” pig”

A man needs a Tractor .. Fact

November was a big month as far as the man of the house was concerned because it was this month that we became a farm in his eyes ..

NOV TRACTOR

Tractor day had come !! BOOM

After lots of trawling machinery and livestock online sites , discussing at great lengths with anyone with any knowledge a suitable machine was found and bought.. since it was delivered to the end of our mile of lane on a week day it was up to me to get it down to the farm ..

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“Don’t ever ask a girl her weight”

October was upon us and life here was looking good. Lauren was settling into college , she gets a college bus and manages a 60 mile round trip by herself ! quite an amazing achievement for a girl used to a 3 mile commute with mum ..We were very proud of her and loved watching her enjoy her new independent steps. Andy’s diabetes was improving, his blood sugars were more stable and he has slowly started coming off some of his meds a wonderful endorsement of our new life.

The diary for October was a diverse one to say the least and it starts off with a weigh in !The pigs were growing well and I was keen to weigh them, however scales for pigs are PIG WEIGHT 1not cheap or that easy to find second hand. I had heard on my very fantastic smallholding course  that you can calculate weight in other ways, so after a bit of research I set about using the tape measure method..

 

This is Edna measuring around about 30kg according to the math.. And no this isn’t a joke its a real and serious way to weigh your porker..

OCT PIG MEAS 2

 

 

 

I did actually get some proper scales eventually and they work just fine .. As you can see Teal trying out up at the top …

 

 

However the tape method is quite accurate and a lot more fun ..

 Thank you Debbie Kingsley  for that little gem of knowledge…

Continue reading ““Don’t ever ask a girl her weight””

Who ate all the pies !

Nana Irene is the worlds best pie maker !

Official and fact, am telling you . Anyone within a whiffs distance of one of these  fresh pies coming out of the oven is going to get grabbed hook line and sinker. She has her pastry down to a fine art and whatever goes into the pie is always a winner, my freezer always has an apple or meat pie “a la Irene”..

I am a lucky daughter in law trust me. So needless to say we love it when Nana comes for the week or weekend .

NANA PIES

I think Nana Irene is one of our most frequent visitors and that’s not a bad thing especially with her kitchen skills .. oh and did I say she makes an epic glazed ham. Anyway enough about pies , for now and on with the month of September.

It was another busy month, and mainly one about livestock , I had been looking for some Tamworth weaners( 3 month old weaned piglets) for a while, and happened upon some for sale not far from Grobdale.

PIGS 2

 

So off  me and Lauren went, one Friday morning and came back with 4 beautiful red haired gilts (female pig not yet had piglets)

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BABY PIGS

 

The pigs soon earned names. Nora because she was nosey and noisy, then the others quickly became Edna, Rita and Lottie for no particular reasons, we just like old lady names it seems, and they suited them.

 

We chose Tamworths to try first, as we were looking for a hardy breed with good meat qualities .We liked what we had read and heard, that they are the closest to our original wild boars , and that since they were not that popular after the war they had not been used in breeding programs to come up with the best commercial pigs .Therefore they were the most pure ,piggy pigs and we wanted some..

     

Oh and apparently they make the best bacon !

We decided that our favourite of the fab four was Nora , she is so sociable and easy to be around so she was our choice to keep and try to breed from once she was old enough , more about that later.

The pigs have turned out to be Andy’s favourite, he loves feeding them and being their “scratch’o’matic”,  pigs absolutely love a good scratch don’t you know..

The next purchase was a starter flock of Herdwick sheep. Again we wanted something hardy , able to cope with the outdoors life here in Dumfries and Galloway up on the Glen and so Lakeland hill sheep it was .

HERDYS

I found a few for sale in Dalbeatie a few miles away and Tom our shepherding friend offered to help me check them out and bring them back if we liked them . Off I went cash in my pocket smile on my face . I knew the breed were a chunky kind of sheep however they are most certainly sturdy units and so when I returned to the farm a couple of hours later with four sheep in the trailer Andy couldn’t believe the size of them.. he thought I’d bought 4 rams !

HENRY

 

The next day Tom and I returned to pick up Henry an unrelated, proven and registered pedigree Ram , a most handsome chap ! the boyfriend for my lovely ladies, and completion of my new sheep family all we needed now was to make some lovely Herdwick lambs  to build the flock and try the meat( if we got too many ram lambs). Henry has the most lovely temperament, Andy I think was a bit impressed …

The next animals to arrive were sheep however not ours , we rent out some of our land and my 5 new sheep were about to be proper out ranked with 300 ! Easycares ..

I can only see a wash care label attached to a sheep when I hearSHEEP MOVING that breed name it always makes me smile however apparently its nothing to do with the wool wash cycle required its all about how easy they are to lamb and care for, they even moult their own fleece !

Getting the sheep from the huge lorry at the main road down our lane proved to be a bit hairy but a lot of fun. The sheep all looked a bit grubby and green when they arrived,

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however after a couple of days they perked up and all the fresh grass and fresh air really brought them round.

So now we were a farm, I think.

We have chickens, pigs, sheep and a dog all we need now is a tractor and apparently a whole list of other machinery and gadgetry ..

By this time the garden and poly tunnel were giving it there all, and producing all sorts of lovely fruit and veg.

Every time I looked there was something else to pick or pickle.

The poly tunnel had been planted up by the lovely Naomi and we inherited the most prolific cucumber and courgette plants known to mankind ! None of it went to waste, we ate , pickled , chutneyed and made new friends with gifts of fresh or preserved garden produce.

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The “glutney” recipe  is a River cottage favourite of mine because you can adapt it to use up pretty much anything you have a glut of .. This is possibly the start of my ‘Self preservation’ range ..

JAM 1

We are still eating these jars of lovlieness  in February as I write this , though I do confess to using the odd jar as a thank you or slight bribe.

FREE APPLES

A chance conversation in the local post office and the passing of a jar of jam procured a bounty of windfall apples to supplement my little pigs diet ..

 

PIGS AND APPLES

Anyway, none of the apples found their way into one of Nana’s famous pies but  am proper looking forward to making pies with all this meat we are cultivating here at Grobdale ..

Shepherds pie , pork pie mmm going to be good ….

 

 

 

 

 

Husbands Love Laryngitis !

 

 

SUMMER TRACTOR (2)

When I get a cold , its rare, I’m pretty bomb proof usually, however when the snot strikes it usually affects my speech and this ,my hubster LOVES I’m sure you can guess why..

So to alleviate his pain I’ll carry on and type instead,  keeping my online diary otherwise known as the Grobdale blog and this would be August.

Funny how you get a cold when its gorgeous outside , this was the day the tractors came to make hay at the farm . .Very exciting and inspired a husband I know, to start buying machinery as if he needed any encouragement !

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Independence day

LOLLY 2

 

The whole process of finding our farm has stangely coincided with key dates , and so moving in had to be on Independance day of course . This is Lauren independently making toast for Ali ( rare in a teenager I know).

The 4th of july dawned and I was walking around an empty farmhouse working out in my mind where all our belongings were going to fit in .. Then ABCO arrived our removal company ! a force to be reckoned with no less ..

Oh, but then my sister Amy arrived,  and actually she’s way more in charge , her incredible interior design skills and energy came in very handy here .

As I directed boxes and furniture to rooms (lots of pointing and insisting it would fit) she started unpacking and putting rooms to work.. So by the time that all the trucks had been emptied ,Amelia wilson interiors  had unpacked organised and styled the kitchen,both living rooms a conservatory and was working her way upstairs !

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Wellies make you brave

 

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The welly wearing brave thing 

I had a card sent to me once that had a picture of some comfy looking Wellington boots and a caption ” wellies make you brave” it’s true , and I hope the amount of boots we own must make us warriors.. it’s not bravery that anyone needs ,the thing is , is to have a plan.

This is me and Nora having a chat , I’m wearing my favourite wellies  I know ,I have my name on my boots, I held back for years but when I finally gave in I never looked back they are the comfiest boots in the world and so it seems I’ll never lose them

And yes they make me brave.

I’ve decided to keep a blog , like a diary only it’s not exactly private .. the reason for this need to publish is to share our big idea in the hope of inspiring others to wear wellies , come up with a life plan and get brave ..

Anyway the plan ! It was either brave or stupid we think it was just a sensible logical move to improve our family life . Family life had become work work school work school shopping work washing work you know how it goes , then factor in some Autism, and it’s all not looking so rosy.

So our  evil and cunning plan was to put all our finances into a new home up in Scotland where all our R&R took place . A home where we could all live and work together so business ideas began to form and collect ( in a file) . The main theme was that it needed to be something all of us could be involved with and therefore improve our family life. Also because our daughter Lauren has learning differences ( yes differences not difficulties)and is on the Autisitc spectrum we needed to think about involving her at every stage with a view to her potentially living and working as independently as possible sometime in the future.

As any parent knows with a less than neurotypical child we don’t know how much support they are going to need ,when we are less able, or around for them so future proofing is a necessity..The plans grew, evolved and resulted in a brief for a handful of estate agents to find us a  –

“Three bedroomed period farmhouse with a minimum of 30 acres and as many outbuildings ideally period as possible. The land ideally was to be mixed pasture and woodland .”

The plan was to utilise the buildings and land to bring in a lifestyle and small income  ,enough to live on and prepare Lauren for a working independent life, reduce Andys blood pressure and keep me in my wellies for as much as the day as possible .

Continue reading “Wellies make you brave”