Patience and perseverance

As anyone that knows me will tell you, I am not the most patient of people, I want everything done yesterday. This was definitely the case with our windows, there are so many of them and when we first got the house I was really tempted to just get new double glazing put in and get the job done. But now they are almost finished, we’ve just got our bedroom windows back in, I am so pleased Joe convinced me not to take the easy option and to renovate the original ones. We still have one window to do in the living room ( 2 pieces of glass) and the spare bedroom one ( 6 pieces of glass) to renovate but compared to the 5 windows we have all ready renovated with a total of 31 panes of glass and the 22 new windows we have made and put in in the walkway, kitchen and workshop, the end is nigh.  I have had help over the last couple of years from various volunteers which I am so grateful for as they take such a long time to do but they have been worth persevering with.

The workshop is now almost complete, just needs a couple of doors making and 3 windows are still to be made, but now Joe has his workshop he can get on with those over winter, until then a couple of temporary doors will be put on just to keep the cold out. Joe is making a French cleat system for holding all the power tools from off cuts of OSB and chip board and it is working really well.

With the workshop finished the house, walkway and freezer room have now become  wood, tools  and machine free areas. I finally managed to get the last of the panels and the wall plastered and painted in the walkway and have painted up a couple of old bits of metal racking for storing the empty jars on in the freezer room.  I’ve started to make some crates to hold the jars in from off-cuts we have lying around and with all the building work we’ve been doing we have plenty to keep me busy, I now have my chop saw back from the repairers so making the crates should be a lot quicker from now on.  Joe has started to build me a bench with a shelf to keep all the big pans on and eventually a sink will be added, all going to plan this means I’ll be able to do most of my preserving in this room next year rather than in the kitchen.

We grew far too many tomato plants this year, the first 70 kilos we ( luckily I had Amanda, our volunteer to help me out with our tomato glut) have pulped and at the moment the pulp is stored in the freezers awaiting the cooler weather when I’ll make it into sauces. We have all ready given away 62 kilos and there are still more on the plants to be harvested, I love fresh tomatoes but have to admit I’m getting sick of the sight of them. This year we tried an experiment, we grew two beds of tomatoes the same length, Joe’s tomato plants were planted the recommended distance apart, the stems were pinched out and they were generally cared for. My row had twice as many plants, so grown too close together, weren’t pinched out, were watered less and were generally neglected. Both rows had the plants tied to posts, but more care was taken in tying Joe’s row, each of his plants had a stake whereas we ran out of stakes for my row so some had to share or didn’t get tied up at all. At the moment my row has produced more tomatoes than Joe’s. This wasn’t an experiment to see how much each plant produced ( Joe’s would have won there) but how many tomatoes we could get out of a given area.

Apart from the never ending supply of the tomatoes there is less in the garden but we still have fresh peaches and apples, aubergines, peppers,  parsnips, squashes some brassicas are still in. We are gradually getting the empty beds ready for the crops that will be going in next year.  The hazel nuts and walnuts are just starting to ripen so it’s a race to get to them before the dogs eat them in the morning. This year we have been really good at jarring and dehydrating our  fruit and veg as it  ripens rather than just stick it all in the freezer, this meant I was down to my last 2 jars and I still have the tomatoes to do. Luckily a friend came round who had shelves full of jars he wanted rid of. Most of these turned out to be the old jars that have the push on lids which I prefer to the screw top ones so an afternoon spent washing all the years of grime off them and I now have plenty of jars to keep me going for a while. This year has also been a good year for peaches, one of my favourite fruits, but you can only eat so many peaches and we have plenty jarred for winter and still have peach sorbet in the freezer so there was only one thing for it, we are trying our hand at making peach rakia. Each year we have said we are going to make rakia but have never got round to it but with so many peaches that are just going to go to waste this year we have made the time to prepare them. We’ll see how it goes, we might end up with peach vinegar 🙂

All of our wood is now chopped ready for winter ( a huge thank you to our volunteer, Josh ) and  is now stacked in the barn.  We have got our sunflower crop in and the heads de-seeded, these we will mill down for the poultry to eat over winter. We have our straw in ready for mulching the beds and because we never got the kitchen wall insulated we have built a straw bale stack where the water pipe comes in to hopefully stop it freezing this year.

The cats are finally starting to earn their keep and are managing to catch a number of rodents, they have been a bit slow on the hunting front and we were beginning to think we were feeding them too well, but they are finally doing the job they are here for.


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