Sunday, June 30, 2013

Weekending June 28th

We're in the penultimate weeks of the school year and, with one child graduating; one child moving into Option year and off on the Norfolk Broads next week for curriculum enrichment week; one grown up child sitting final Montessori exams and two out of three children with roles in the school end of year show, (the Lion favourite), life is far from calm in the Beehive.

I have a parent's evening and final reports to write as well as 7.5 hours of exams, including a practical. This has meant that this weekend I spent 8 hours in the company of other Montessori students as we worked our way through the whole of the 0 - 6 curriculum. Shattered didn't come close.

Added to that I have to make a Rafiki costume for one child which, as all things go, is probably one of the hardest of the costumes to get together and make look right. Fortunately, the younger Beehive, although singing the role of Young Simba, is only required to wear a brown top and brown leggings, so I can breathe again for her costume. Of course, I am not helping myself as I don't do things by halves. Rafiki 'will' look authentic. I have already received my hat from Ghana, am awaiting a linen tunic from Ebay, have made a wooden necklace and a belt with seed pods and raffia, Ebay have also saved the day for ankle bracelets made from seed pods too. I'll upload some photos when we're done.

So I really am counting down the days until I can kick back and truly roll into summer. 

We're in the final stages of the flood renovations. We're doing the outside now: This is the current state of our front path. 

We're putting in new drains, a permanent alarm system and pump and fixing the wall so it's not going to landslide into the door.
I'm really chuffed with what we're seeing, however, Thursday evening saw Mr Beehive, myself and a delivery guy manually shifting 7 tonnes of Scottish pebbles via our car tow bar and then pulling and pushing a truck. My butt ached all weekend but we made them onto the drive, but you can see they just ended up where we could get them!

We also celebrated Master Beehive the younger's birthday with his friends this weekend too - why not try to cram in as much as we could. He has parties and Scout camps until the end of term, then his birthday falls on the first weekend after term finishes, so everyone will have gone away. We decided, therefore, to go early. Bowling and pizza hut and six over giddy, end of SAT's, post Secondary school visit week, too many blue sweets from the ice cream factory boys with four Super Soakers...well, I'm drinking a glass of wine this evening !!

See what I mean???

She was invited to pizza, and as always, found a time to draw and write.

We have  had a lovely weekend though, gorgeous weather and the garden is positively blooming, so to finish this weekend, I'll just leave you with some garden shots from this week.
 Vegetable garden really beginning to flourish

It doesn't seem to matter though, how crazy the week or weekend is, the colours in my garden, rich in hues of blue, purple, white and pink, always seem to have the calming effect I need...add a dash of sun and splash of warmth and I'm easily pleased.
Have a lovely week!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


It's started!

Yes, that moment in my life that I was hoping I would not have to deal with until he was into his third decade ;-)


He has a girlfriend no less. His first and so new.

He even asked my advice when she asked him out. I suppose I should be grateful that he started there.

It's a funny feeling. No one told you this when you had your baby.
When they were telling you to push and you were cursing or crying or both.
When they were telling you it wouldn't be long before you held your long awaited newborn in your arms.
They left out the bit that said:
'But it's only temporary that he's yours, soon there are going to be others that come in to the limelight, that muscle in on your territory and claim they 'love him'. These same ones will love him and these same ones will hurt him, hurt my baby like he has never been hurt before.
But this time I can't put a band aid on his boo boo or puff on some gas and air to make the pain go away. This will be hard, aching and raw and he will just have to go through it and come out the otherside.

He won't want me when he is in the love part, I will need to learn to shadow dance in the wings.
I will need to learn when my cues arise and when to apply the safety harness to make sure his falls don't completely hit the ground and that he gets up again and back on the bike.

Inside my mama bear will roar like no other. Trees will tremble, the earth will shake, let it be known. I will curse these young women and smite them with balls of fire. 

I won't tell him anything other than he will learn to breathe painlessly again. I will hold him and tell him that love is not painful when it is right, that love is a truly beautiful thing. I will reassure him that there is someone who is right for him out there, but he has yet to find her. I will tell him that love is indeed the most painful and most amazing thing all at the same time and her guises are wily and immense.

For now though, my boy, my firstborn, is enjoying these newborn days of young love and I, continue to learn  and evolve through him.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Titivating talk !

So for many, and most weeks for me, my home journey looks a little like this:

But my journey home from work this week has consisted of this!

On a 'trying to be clever' route to cut out the roadworks this week, I decided to go the scenic way! Each day at 3.15 the cows are crossing from their field to the milking shed. These huge bovines with their agonisingly painful mammaries* swaying precariously as they lumber across the road has actually been a lovely distraction for me and I think, roadworks or not, I may once or twice a week just go this way so that I am forced to stop for 2 minutes and just wait whilst these gentle giants go about their daily routine and temporarily moving into mine. Two minutes to slow down and breathe whilst I watch the rhythmic plod.

*Mothers amongst you will fully compute what I mean here!

It's been a bit of a week of crazies this week of mine: beginning on Wednesday evening when the youngest Beehive brought home some unwanted visitors that created a mad dash to the chemist and an evening of us all sitting with our hair wrapped in greasy slime as we suffocated any possible life form that may (or may well not in the case of the rest of us) have decided to set up camp in our hair. It is, sadly, one of the risks of children and, according to my mother's sleuthing, children between 5 and 11 are particularly susceptible. It's no surprise really as they're in that social stage where it is important, for girls in particular, to hug their friends and share brushes and wear their hair flapping around them. LMB has shortish hair (still *sigh*), and it's pretty thin in comparison to the rest of us, however, they still decided to climb aboard!

Deciding she was obviously on a roll this week, she then proceeded to forget to take her swimming stuff to school this morning, so, I ran back to get it only discovering she'd left the bag on the floor, absent of both costume and towel. Hastily I shoved in both and ran back up to school only for the teacher to inform me she was actually wearing her costume...I think you know what's next.

 Luckily I am eternally grateful for good friends of whom you can call from the car in a frantic rush as you're now late for work, to ask them to bring a pair of their own daughter's underwear to save your own daughter's dignity and the embarrassment of having to go commando!

For my own flash to the world, I chose to wear a lovely cowl style t-shirt to work this morning. I work with little ones, but they are independent and, well, you know the whole Montessori thang, so I never need to bend down to push a tricycle for a child...never...particularly not when there is a potential new parent in and I'm just showing her 1.5year old how to pedal the at all!

Finally, you realise you really are a complete bumpkin when you offer to give a lift to a friend only to have to remove the four chickens from the front seat so she can get in*. The chickens can't go in the boot as it's full of plastic bottles, fishing rods and compost to enable the weekend's work of making some outdoor play stuff for school.

Oh well!

Pig roast in the village hall tomorrow night along with a knees up with girlfriends ( including my knicker pal) and I aim to be suitably attired for any kind of wardrobe malfunction when 'knees-upping' - kevlar if necessary!

So that just about sums up our week!

Have a good weekend!

*the chooks were in a box, just in case you ever wanted a lift from me in the future !

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Support your local farmers - g'wan, you know you want to!

Oh it's nearly Friday again, how did that happen?

What a crazy week, again. Mr Beehive has been back Stateside this week, so we've not seen him for 10 days. This has meant that the juggling of who needs to be where and when has been doubled this week as I can't add him into the equation of taxi services, thus lightening my load.

Still, much as I miss him, it's rather nice to not feel the need to make conversation or turn on the tv. I've been able to work later if I've needed to, catch up with some knitting and trawl ebay a bit more than normal.

Last week we sold our wooden climbing tower. It was a lovely, if not extravagant buy, for our large turf-only Scottish garden. Here in our current home of little turf, our garden is divided up into many sections, but not one of them large enough to house it. So it has forlornly sat in the corner of the garage for the last two years until we decided what to do with it, whilst the children who used to play on it grew up. It was also sidelined for the trampoline.
Would it have another life as something else in the garden? Would it keep us warm this winter? Would it get a new home where other children would make use of it?
At one point, there was a slight possibility that it may have become a tree house in our friends' new garden, but, it was perhaps as much a daunting a task to move it there, as it was to take it to the tip.
So we put it on Gumtree and last week it moved to a new garden in a new part of the UK.

But, you know, just as you think you've made a profit (well, in so far as it gave us more cash sold than it would have done as firewood!), you realise you need to fork out again. So, in the front door and immediately out the back to buy us a trailer for the car and 100 reclaimed paving bricks for the new path in the ongoing saga of flood prevention!

But then, I guess that is the life when you're trying to grow, produce and be fairly self sufficient, as soon as you grow and harvest one thing, you need to plough the proceeds back into the soil to make the next harvest. Our next buy is going to be three more chickens to replace the ones that fox took and I'm hoping that the place I normally go to get chooks, will have something good in stock.

I suppose chickens, as a whole, aren't that profitable.We feed them organic layers pellets that generally cost us around £17 a bag. The bag lasts around 3 weeks. In those three weeks, if they're all laying we should get 63 eggs a week, which will give us on average £10 a week if we sold them all, which we don't as we like them too. But factor in corn and bedding and the fact that one has gone broody again, at least two are off lay, not sure why, but I think one has always been a little dodgy (she was donated to us after a fox or cat attacked her in her original home) and one is one of my first band of girls, so is about three now and just living her retirement, we're not looking to make much cash from eggs.

I sometimes make a little cash from selling on my surplus seedlings. I have sold courgette and beans this year, but we would make more from the actual produce itself, so we're looking to 'go large' (that is a joke by the way, I just mean slightly bigger!) and have our names down on the allotment waiting list, this will then give us space for a polytunnel for tomatoes and strawberries and free up the green house for more cut flower seedlings. The outside area of the allotment I have plans for cut flowers, again, which I hope to sell at the gate with the eggs.

The one area that looked, in theory, to be more profitable through the eyes of a smallholder, was bees: honey, wax and propolis.  However, my beekeeping pals are saying that, due to the hideous winter, the losses are dreadful and nucs are looking to boom up in price, which makes a newbie start up like myself, wondering if forking out £350 for a nuc of bees is a sensible thing to do at the moment. Perhaps, if this two year ban on the neonicotinoids makes a difference to the numbers, the nuc prices will drop.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that smallholding is not profitable as a business. It  has to be a way of life because you feel strongly about growing or producing your own. I have just finished reading The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball   The Dirty Life: A Story of Farming the Land and Falling in Love
 and it's a wonderful read, particularly for the closet farmer, like myself. She really brings to the forefront the fact that you have to LOVE the land and love the reasons why you do what you do in order to want to get out of bed at 4am every morning to *milk your herd of cows (*insert what you want!). Being a smallholder is not, by even a nano fraction, the same as being a full on farmer like Kristin, but the goals are similar. I certainly do not get out of bed at 4am, god forbid, 6am kills me, but I'm sure I 'could' if I were dedicated enough to weed massacre or ensured my chickens were cleaned twice a week, or insisted on homemade everything from porridge to bread, or even had a cow that needed milking (taking three pints off my doorstep in ready made bottles doesn't even come close!

I think everyone should read Kristin's book, even if you can't bear the thought of getting muck behind your nails or eating something that lived on your land - be it once living and squawking (or mooing) or taking over your greenhouse or garden like something from Day of the Triffids and I'll tell you why;

If you are passionate about your food and what you put in your mouth, even slightly, then you should be supporting your local farmers. What they do is, frankly, awesome. To do hard, physical labour for more than 12 hours a day, 365 days of the year, with no guarantee of return some work under the glare of the sun, the bite of the wind or the chill of the cold with nature having the final say, not something that needs our support.

If you have a local veg scheme or CSA or farm shop, use it when you can. Join a pig or lamb share scheme. Our local butcher brings a mobile van into our village once a week. Or, try planting a few seeds in a window box so that you can really get a true taste for freshly picked food. The more people that demand heritage breed pork or local pesticide-free veg that looks like male genitalia (they don't sell these ones in some supermarkets, but believe you an me, at our dinner table, they're the ones we like most as they give us a real giggle!), or raw milk or home made sheep cheese and local honey; then the more the demand goes up and the more farmers will get support, the more they will need to use their fields to grow and the less they will need to sell them off to developers or put huge wind farms up that people moan about...

But you knew that didn't you ;-)

Sunday, June 02, 2013


We've been on a short roadtrip this half term, going up to Yorkshire to see my sis and her kids and then down to East Anglia to visit my folks and some friends.

As you can see from our photos, Thursday in Yorkshire resulted in a great 3 mile hike to a garden centre with cafe wearing raincoats and hats. We insisted on sitting outside and you can see the mist over the hills behind us.

Fast forward a few hours and a couple of hours south and we were out in the sunshine with my friend Emma and her gorgeous son at the Strawberry Fayre in Cambridge.

Now we're back home catching up with the chores that come with the last day of half term before back to school/work tomorrow.
Mr Beehive is somewhere up in the sky on his way to my second home, Connecticut. It always makes me feel a little nostalgic and sad when he goes Stateside as I realise just what such an amazing time we had over there and how much I miss some of my CT friends. As current things go, we won't be back over for quite sometime, but we are desperately collecting airmiles and hope to spend a good portion of time over there in the not too distant future. For now, we have to satisfy ourselves that he might manage a trip over to Trader Joe's and bring us back a few packs of Snap Pea crisps and Freeze Dried Strawberries!

I've been out in the garden since being back ensuring that the tomato plants my mum gave me are in, the cloches are now off the beans and courgettes and the stakes are in the cucumbers.

I think my blogging is going to be somewhat more erratic than usual over the next couple of months as I have my final Montessori Exams looming in July and there is such a lot to remember and learn before then, mix that in with it being the busiest time of year on the homestead, I may be doing more photojournalling and less chat.