Friday 28 January 2011

Gleeful Frosty Morning, Bathroom Progresses, Gorgeous Grand-daughter, 'Red Sky at Night' by Jane Struthers

Blue skies on a lovely sunny frosty morning which made the dogs bounce with glee. Why do they so enjoy clear crisp days? Maybe they are just as pleased to see the sunshine  as we are.

Work continues on the cottage bathroom but the end is in sight. The new bath, wash-basin & loo are now installed and the tiling will be done today. Best of all I am now going to have a broom cupboard ( the simplest things give the greatest pleasure!) so now I am able to hide away the vacuum cleaner, brushes, cleaning materials etc. without having to cart them across the yard everyday changeover day. I shall get the painting finished tomorrow I hope and then we wait for our first guests to arrive in week or so's time.

Our sweet grand-daughter comes on a pace. Her name is Lili & she is now 9 days old and as all good babies should just eats & sleeps for the most part. Having more recently dealt with labrador puppies (our litter of 13 last summer) than babies, one is struck by how very similar baby creatures are when they are very new...warm and snuffly and sweet smelling (mostly) & hungry.

I was recently given a copy of a lovely book, 'Red Sky at Night; The Book of Lost Countryside Wisdom' by Jane Struthers. It is a fascinating collection of facts, tips, lists of useful things like saints days or collective nouns ( did you know that one has a hedge of herons & a rafter of turkeys?), recipes and general interesting stuff. There are instructions on how one should wear thermal underwear in the snow, how to make rice pudding, star gazing, local traditions & customs from all over Britain, tree identification & moth-proofing. It is nothing if not varied in its subject matter and it has the most lovely illustrations. A perfect dipping-into book.

Sunday 23 January 2011

Valley of Fog & Frost, Renovations Continue

We have had a succession of very misty foggy mornings with some quite severe frosts. Frost is  great as it means we don't have to contend with mud everywhere. The grass yard in front of the farmhouse has been wrecked after the cows got out and trampled and charged all over it on very wet day, churning up mud and making divots like pot-holes...a real mess.

And talking of mess the cottage bathroom is now a little less messy than it was as we've got the re-plastering stage of the renovation and once that is finished there will be just tiling the floor and around the bath and woodwork to be done and then I set to with my trusty paint brush. Fortunately the changes that have been done do mean  there is actually less wall to paint now which is good.

January is always a very busy month somehow. We always seem to find work in the cottage to be done before our first guests start arriving and on the farm the Farmer & the boys are kept busy till lunch-time with feeding, bedding the cattle, checking the sheep and cleaning yards & sheds each day. Once that work is done there is hedge-trimming to be finished before February,work on the new shed to be completed and general maintenance. Living on a old farm with fine 19th century stone buildings that are still in use there is always something to be found to do whether it is just replacing a slipped slate on a roof or checking gutters and drains, particularly the latter if it is a very wet month.
Although the weather has been so cold this winter and we are having regular frosts at present there are signs in the garden of life stirring. I have found a number of daffodil bulbs putting up tentative green spears both inthe gardens and along our drive. The snowdrops should be sending their green & white striped shoots throught the grass before too long though I found no sign of them when I looked ten days ago. I must go and check them again. Tight tiny little buds are appearing on plants and shrubs and I hope we do not get a blast of bitter weather that will burn them all off  before spring.

Our new addition to the family came home with her mother yesterday and she is the sweetest little poppet. We are all besotted!

Thursday 20 January 2011

In Which We Become Grandparents...Hurrah!

A beautiful silver morning for very special announcement.
The Farmer & I became Grand-parents last night with the birth of a little girl to Elder Son & KT. We are thrilled.
The baby was born by C. section at 11.15pm and weighed in at 7lbs 8oz...a goodly size for a girl baby I think. I had huge boy babies so anything under 9lbs+ seems tiny! No name for her has been decided upon yet.
We are looking forward to them coming home in the next day or so. This will be the first girl child born to Penyrallt for over 50 years. All very exciting!

While we've been waiting for the baby to come this week we have started on a major re-fit of the bathroom in the holiday cottage. I had only wanted to change the bath-taps but have now got a small room that looks as though  a bomb has hit ceiling, tiles ripped off the walls, bath in a new position and an awful lot of mess! However, our trusty friend S. who is doing much of the work with the Farmer, will make a fab job of it  and I know I will be very pleased with the end result once all the plumbing and rebuilding of cupboards etc. is done & I have redecorated it. Its just the messiness of a work in progress is always somewhat daunting & I did want only the taps changing!

Friday 14 January 2011

Rhod Gilbert Down On The Farm

We've had a film crew here for the past 3 days recording a programme for the next series of  'The Rhod Gilbert Work Experience' for the BBC and what fun we've all had.
Rhod himself was great, very easy and willing to have a go at anything and the 3 crew members were considerate and charming and they were all very good company. Rhod & the crew stayed here on the farm in  the cottage & farmhouse which was good as it meant they were able to continue filming in the evenings and after supper, going out to see the cattle in the sheds at night, which is always a lovely thing to do, very calm & warm with contented sleepy cows lying quietly chewing the cud and making happy little groaning noises.
The brief was that once Rhod was kitted out in proper farmer's gear, wellies & boiler suit, having arrived in smart townie inappropriate clothing, he be taught a variety of farming skills. He then had to get on with things in his own.
Well....he learnt to drive tractor (a much bigger one than in the pictures here!) reasonably competently but could not master reversing a trailer no matter how hard he tried (I can't do it either!) and he milked the cows, and attempted to work with Molly the sheepdog causing much hilarity & learned the important skill of plucking pheasants.
The Farmer & he did all the daily chores together, feeding cattle, bedding down etc. and then some essential job such as repairing fencing.
On the second day we all went to Carmarthen market for Rhod to
 to see a cattle auction and to auction a cow to a crowd of somewhat bemused  farmers.
I spent much of my time cooking vast meals (but no award winning mince-pies!) which were received with much appreciation and having occasionally to do my bit to the camera (!) such as having the results of my culinary efforts filmed when the table was set for meals.
As always with filming everything takes an age to do with every shot & angle being done twice or more & dialogue having to be repeated which makes spontaneous ad-libbing quite hard, but the whole three days went very well & happily for everyone.
The end result is be broadcast in March, I will let you know when !

Sunday 9 January 2011

More Frost, New Year Tidying Up

A frosty morning but clear skies after the greyness of the past few days. we had a fall of snow on Wednesday night but it had all gone by Friday which was a day of miserable cold rain.
Walking the dogs this morning was lovely, with the landscape silvered and silent broken only by the crowing of a neighbour's cockerel which rang out clearly across the valley
Yesterday was reasonably bright and the Farmer & Younger Son were off beating again with the dogs and came home later than usual having had a good day with lots of good food at the end of it.

This time last year we were gearing up for lambing and the sheep were in. This year we are not lambing until March so the daily work load is a little easier not having to take the ewes out to the field or having to feed them in the poly-tunnel.
Work is continuing on the new shed which has almost reached completion and it will soon be filled up with machinery, straw and calf pens I think.

The house is now back to normal having taken down the Christmas tree on Twelfth Night and cleared away all signs of the festive season.
The start of a new year is a good time for a general clear out of the mountains of paper that accumulate in the office and on the kitchen table (which to seems to be an extension of the office!) and so I spent an afternoon armed with a bin bag going though 'stuff'. Do we really need to keep back numbers of the 'Farmer's Weekly' for the past year & the little scraps of paper with anonymous telephone numbers or cryptic messages about machine parts scribbled on them? But then one comes across another tatty bit of paper with a long lost address on it or a recipe torn out of 'The Field' for doing something interesting with game birds and windfall apples, so they are kept to form the base of the 2011 mountain of 'useful' bits of paper and it was ever thus.

We have a busy week ahead of us with a tv. film crew arriving for three days to film a project that should be very interesting & fun (I will keep you posted) as well as the usual round of farming and family life. I just hope we do not have horrible weather for the filming, it just makes everything more difficult, contending with a morass of mud & soggy kit.

Tuesday 4 January 2011

1st Birthday of Blog, Shed Building, Holiday Cottage Promotion

Happy Birthday Blog!
Well, I've kept it going for a whole year and I hope dear readers, that you have had as much pleasure from reading it as I have in writing it.

I have spent the morning preparing the cottage for new guests. The delightful couple who were here for New Year departed very promptly this morning when it was very gloomy and grey. Apparently the darkness this morning was due to partial eclipse of the sun that was taking place. It was so overcast & cloudy here that we did not see anything of it other than it being darker than usual at about 8 o'clock.

The Farmer & Elder Son are busy today putting roofing sheets on a large shed that they have built which will hold straw & machinery. We can never have enough sheds I am always being told, but we are now running out of suitable sites. This latest shed is actually a roof being put over what has been a silage clamp for the last 20 years or so.

With the start of a new year I have been spending a lot of time 'tweaking' my advertising for the holiday cottage & hopefully, making it appear so attractive that lots of lovely people will want to come & stay with us. January is the busiest time for internet browsing of holiday accommodation and one has to be ahead of the game as much as is possible. I am not a hard-headed business woman, I do rather just muddle through, but one gains a certain amount of 'savvy' after doing the thing for as long as we have and there is huge competition out there so I do my best to make sure my website & entries on other websites are up to date and looking good.

Saturday 1 January 2011

Happy New Year

2011 has dawned grey & damp. To think that only a week ago we were struggling in sub-zero temperatures and now it is so mild that the thermal layers have been shed and the landscape is once again shades of green & brown.
The Farmer & I drove to Brecon yesterday for a family gathering and went over the top of the mountains above Llandovery past Llyn Brianne reservoir. There was still quite lot of patchy snow up there and small lakes and a finger of the reservoir itself were still frozen over. It was beautiful.

With the thaw the water situation on the farm has eased and the general daily routine has returned to normal. The boys are spending the first day of the new year taking slurry out onto the days off for farmers when when there has been such bad weather to contend with for so long, nor are Bank Holidays recognised; the cows still have to be milked and animals fed and bedded.

Wishing everyone a very good New Year.