Taking Stock - One Month In
Has it really only been a month since we arrived, praying that by some miracle that the electricity had restored itself? Time to take stock.
One of the house rules is that when things go wrong we will always attempt to see the funny side - from Aga disasters (see later), wonky fence poles to munched seedlings - all of these things have 'Gone Welsh'. There are of course, degrees of 'Going Welsh' - the shabby chic poly tunnel only went a little bit Welsh during restoration, but if the winter storms rip the poly off again then at that point it will have well and truly Gone Very Welsh.
Elevenses rarely translates directly to the time of day that we stop for a break - it is more a loose a term for any time we take a break..which, depending on what we're doing, could actually be nineses, tenses, threeses...you get the picture.
The Welsh accent
Apply this beautiful accent to any topic of conversation and it is guaranteed to bring a smile (though to be fair, I haven't heard "We're repossessing your smallholding" - I can't imagine any accent would soften that one).
There is the Doctor's receptionist who double-barrels her 'lovelies', the very Welsh delivery driver who asked this couple of English immigrants how to pronounce the name of the house and my favourite so far (apologies to those of you who have seen this on Facebook):
"Would you mind if I had a pee in your bushes?"
"Not at all, although you're welcome to use the loo just through that door."
"No no, I've been peeing in bushes all day see, I wouldn't want to break the cycle."
We thought we had a lot of gadgets.. from tech to DIY tools, we were pretty well tooled up in our opinion. But in the world of smallholding, the gadgets are much bigger and in some cases, not so user friendly.
In the space of a month we have already acquired a beast of a petrol mower, a post knocker (I call it a fence stomper - a great lump of metal, the lifting of which is good for toning bingo wings), a mahoosive bush wacker and Dave's new pride and joy - a chainsaw. Safety equipment is a must for some of these tools - none of which are cheap but all of which are essential... there is no sick pay and no private health insurance to fall back on these days. Not that I was a ever a girlie girl, but nowadays I enjoy a mooch round the hardware store marvelling at things for which I have no idea as to their use.
There are two outstanding 'big' purchases - a livestock trailer (fortunately we have a big yard in which I can practise manoeuvres without embarrassment) which we will need to get before we can commence stocking our goat herd. The second is a quad bike which we currently cannot justify. However, if the sale of our old house goes through (has been dragging on a bit thanks to the particularly picky solicitor that the buyers are using) then that will free up some capital which we would like to use to purchase the two fields adjacent to our property...then we'll need (rather than just want) a quad. The biggest expense we will have is winter feed so if we can use one of the fields to grow our own it will be well worth the initial outlay. It will also mean that the fields will no longer have sheep and lambs grazing on them which will please Dave enormously as, despite all our efforts to lamb proof the gates and fences, the little 'darlings' keep breaking into our field.
In the main we love our little Aga and are slowly getting to grips with it - I think I've nailed the temperature on the hot plates and have produced some fantastic Rhubarb and Vanilla jam and Welsh cakes are so easy. The ovens are a work in progress and we've had a couple of disasters - a beautiful pork loin which I attempted but failed to roast in the cooler oven and Dave's first go at Bara Brith which resulted in a sea of goo - the birds seem to enjoy it though!
There are so many opportunities to waste time here.
Dave is particularly keen on birds (ahem) - we have multiple sparrow families nesting in our barn, known collectively as the 'hoodies' as they seem to spend much of their time squabbling with their neighbours. Also in the barn and the potting shed are swallows. Whenever I go into the potting shed I have to open the door, stand back and wait 5 seconds as a tiny feathered bullet is sure to shoot out of the doorway at head height. Dave managed to capture a shot:
Hens are funny..full stop.
And of course, we didn't just move down here for the small holding - the Pembrokeshire coast line is just gorgeous - from stunning beaches to the wilder walks. Yesterday we went for a stroll on Strumble Head and were treated to multiple sightings of seals.
The Month Ahead
The calender is filling up already - we are very much looking forward to welcoming our friend Lenka for a weekend. We have some courses booked - Goat Keeping and Chicken Dispatching for me, Smallholding and Pig Keeping for Dave (we are going for the 'train the trainer' approach in order to keep costs down..or is that blind leading the blind?) On Monday the builders arrive - trenches to be dug to bury the electricity cables which feed the barns, a new roof for the big barn, new consumer units and an electrics health check which will probably result in some additional work to prevent anything Going Welsh.
Of course the most exciting date on the calender is this coming Friday when Fred arrives...
Suffice to say, we're loving it here.