Tuesday 31 December 2013

Winter Storms, Happy Christmas, Christmas Lamb

New Year's Eve and we did have a frost a couple of days ago but mostly we've been dealing with the aftermath of strong winds and very heavy rain. The driveway had been washed away and we had mini-Niagaras down the steps again. The Farmer & the Sons have spent a lot of time replacing stone on the drive and filling in gullies that have been gouged out by the quantities of water rushing over the farm. At least we don't have floods coming into the house...living on the side of a hill does have its advantages.

Christmas was lovely...a good family Christmas with small children, excellent food and general happiness and good humour all round.

The Farmer & Younger Son have been to the local shoot in the past week and yesterday went they walked over the farm with neighbours, guns & dogs and came back with a couple of brace of pheasant. Game pie will be on the menu next week I guess.

We had guests in the holiday cottage for Christmas week and when they left on the 28th I had more people in for 2 nights and then a family arrived yesterday for 4 nights.
It has been a week of laundry - no joke when having to deal with full sets of bed-linen and towels every couple of days and nowhere to dry them other on an airer in the kitchen as the weather has been so awful. I now have several hours worth of ironing to do having been putting it off while dealing with all the other things that happen over the Christmas period.

Out walking with family members who were staying with us over the weekend on the one glorious frosty morning we we all very surprised to find that one of our ewes had lambed! We were in the field with the in-lamb ewes to move them and suddenly saw this tiny creature huddling in the midst of the ewes. It was probably about a day old and was real surprise as lambing is not due to start until March!
I seem to remember a similar thing happening last year...we must have had very efficient & keen ram lamb in the flock that had escaped the rubber ring and had performed his precocious duty before he was sold.

Cyfarchion Flwyddyn Newydd
A Happy New Year To All

Friday 20 December 2013

Christmas Turkeys, Christmas Lights, Christmas Cooking

Well, the turkeys have been taken to their final destination and we shall collect them as fine beautifully plucked & dressed oven-ready birds tomorrow. The Farmer usually dispatches them himself but this year we've decided to send them away for reasons I'm not quite sure of...but it does lessen the work load which as always over Christmas, seems to double.

We've just prepared the holiday cottage for Christmas guests who arrive this evening.We've put in the Christmas tree, lit the fire and generally have it looking festive. Next we start on our own house in preparation for a gathering of friends over the weekend.
I should not be writing this now but ought to be chained to my kitchen cooking vast quantities of party food, however the profiteroles and game terrines can wait ten minutes.

One of the perennial fiddly things is sorting out the Christmas lights. I guess every household goes through the same ridiculous performance every year; firstly trying to find the various sets of lights put away in 'a safe place', secondly untangling them from the mares nest of cabling, thirdly discovering that a set of lights that worked perfectly five minutes before they were stored away have now over a year of inactivity decided to die, presumably of boredom. The spare bulbs have all dispappeared from their safe places and one particular set of lights cannot be located at all...of course the longest and prettiest of them all.
We do not have outdoor lights, but the Farmer does like to have twinkling strands lighting the beams in the dining room & draped across chimney-pieces and looking-glasses & admittedly it does look very pretty and festive.

We had the most fiercesome storm two day ago.
The wind racketed & buffeted around the house blowing the rain with great force against the windows and the flow of water once again down the yard from the fields was of such volume & power as to gouge out new gullies in the bed-rock. Thes will all need to be filled again of course. Much time is spent filling in pot-holes on the drive and on tracks around the farm.
On higher ground there was a scatering of snow but the temperature has risen slightly now so everything is just wet & soggy.
Anyway, off to my kitchen now for a marathon cooking session...pheasant terrine, shiitake mushroom quiches, chocolate torte, profiteroles, ginger cakes and all good things.

Friday 13 December 2013

Christmas is Coming

We are now in the run up to Christmas of course. Its a time of year that I really enjoy...I love the winter landscape and although today we have a steady persistent rain it does not detract from the beauty of our leafless skeleton trees standing against the grey skies. The hedges are skeined with the crimson gleam of rose-hips sparkled with raindrops and the little hedgerow birds are flitting in & out of the undergrowth. There is still plenty of food about for them despite the hedges having been trimmed.

Christmas preparations are under way in that I am busy making batches of mince-pies having made the mince-meat a couple of months ago, so it is nicely matured. The Christmas cakes were made about the same time and the I still have puddings left over from last year, amazingly.

The Farmer & I made one of our rare visits to our local 'big' town yesterday. The stores were all full of Christmas 'stuff' of course but there were not many shoppers spending money...town seemed very quiet though I guess maybe next-week might be different story. I do hate the mass of horrid stuff that is wheeled out every year by the big stores But I particularly loathe the advertising targeted at children. I occasionally see some of the tlevision adverts and am horrified...grumpy granny moment I'm afraid! Do people still make presents themselves for the children in their families do you think, rather than buying yet more garish, plastic rubbish?
Elder Son & his wife took the grand-children to our local narrow gauge railway to see Father Christmas last night. They were very cross that they had were charged for the baby of only 4months...fair enough paying for themselves and the 3 yr old, but for a babe in arms? Sadly they came away feeling that the whole thing had been a huge con which is very sad but the 3yr old enjoyed herself which is I suppose the main thing.

We have the cottage booked out for Christmas week but New Year is still available.
Friends are coming to cottage for Christmas so we should have rather jolly time.

We are in the middle of calving and have had a good run of heifer calves which is always what are wanted.We have been sending a lot of milk lately and the milk price is excellent for us at present. There is an increased demand for organic milk it seems which is very good news.