Friday, 12 September 2014

A quick note

Dear friends,

I feel like writing you a letter today.  Life's become busy here again but it's all good stuff keeping me on my toes.

I'm helping to organise an event for next weekend. Have you noticed that heaps of different organisations are holding events and rallies on or around the 21st September?  The timing is because The UN are holding an emergency summit on climate change.  Getup, Avaaz and many others are holding events.  People across the world are getting out there and telling our leaders that we want action taken.  Why not google and find an event near you?  If enough of us keep telling them, they can't keep ignoring us!

Our environment group have decided we'd like to make people stop and think about their personal actions so we are going to take some sewing machines to one go our local supermarkets. Hopefully we will be hooked up to solar power and we will sew bags to give to shoppers. Many bags will be pre made but sewing on the spot should catch people's attention. :-). Should be a fun morning!
The garden is happy. We've had more rain which keeps the plants growing quickly and looking lush.  My young silver beet plants aren't quite ready yet so we're eating lots of kale.  Last night we made burritos with some lovely minced chicken and of course I threw in some kale. We buy our chicken monthly. A lady nearby has a business that sources true free range chooks and we receive our delivery once a month.
Our bantam is sitting on some Orpington eggs at the moment. Unfortunately she began sitting too early and only has five eggs under her. I would have liked to hatch more. Yesterday we discovered that one of our orchard chooks is gathering a clutch in our store of hay so I might replace her eggs with more Orpington eggs. She'll do a good job of raising them for me.

We discovered that the ducks, that we thought were slow to lay this spring, are actually laying under a bush!  We don't have a drake, so no ducklings, but know that we know their hiding spot, we'll be able to collect the eggs daily and use them.
The children are doing well and seem very happy. I'm very satisfied with how their natural learning is going. Their interest levels in reading and writing have increased out of sight since I have stopped forcing them to sit and do it. The little ones are forever asking about new words or asking Belle how to spell things. A good example is yesterday's.  Buddy wanted to write a 'keep out' type of message for his door so Belle told him which letters to use to spell out his message.  She then came to me, "Mum, do you know Buddy knows all his letters?!! I only had to help him with the e and the s."  (Lol! Of course I know!). This boosts Buddy's self esteem better than anything. I bet he writes heaps of notes now that he knows his sisters are so proud of him.  And I had to laugh when I quizzed him on the conditions of the notice and apparently I'm allowed in their room to help them tidy and to kiss them goodnight!  Cute. And just now, to illustrate my point, Pumpkin is sitting trying to read my RACV insurance booklet!

It says, "No one comes.  Just us."
Belle is very enthusiastic about our goats and takes pride in being the main milker. She knows how to make up their feeds, prepare for milking, the importance of hygiene, how to milk and measure and record their milk.  She spends a lot of time reading her goat book Get Your Goat by Brent Zimmerman and often quotes me stuff from it that I didn't know.  We are soon going to start recording our costs around the goat's care so that we know the actual costs of our milk right down to including vet bills etc.  I'm going to put her in charge of keeping the records so that she learns about basic bookkeeping.  I know she'll be keen because we are thinking about buying another doe as well as kidding Argoo.  She's very excited at the prospect at increasing what she refers to as 'her herd'.

So as you see, there's lots happening at our place and we are all very well and happy.  I hope life is good for you.  How are your family and what's happening in your neck of the woods?


Lots of love,

Linda

Monday, 8 September 2014

Garden tasks


I was thinking this week that the gardening year deserves its own calendar year, much like the financial year. The first of January is not a beginning in the garden. By the first day of the conventional calendar year, tomatoes are mature, beans, capsicum, eggplants, zucchini are busy doing their thing. The pumpkin vines are trailing everywhere and setting their fruit. Often the garden is beginning to struggle with the summer heat and needing regular watering to revive wilting plants.

If I were to choose a date to mark the beginning of a year of vegetables, I would choose the first of September.  Of course there is no clear line. There is no stopping or starting time. If we are to grow our own veggies then we are always popping in a few seeds, pulling out unwanted weeds, building the next load of compost, fertilising etc.  Growing fresh, yummy vegetables is an ongoing, all-year-round process.

However, it has been this week that I have heard the garden beckoning to me in a fairly demanding voice.  I've been spreading compost, Hubby's been cleaning out goat pens and piling the straw for use as compost or mulch. I've been watering again, caring for seeds, giving liquid feeds, harvesting asparagus and belatedly adding manure and mulch to the raspberries, asparagus and rhubarb. I'm planning to collect pine needles to spread under the strawberries and raspberries. I've spread garden lime at the advice of a gardening friend. I'm REweeding a patch of garden that is growing weeds so prolifically that they are starting to suffocate some young plants of lavender and wormwood. I've begun recording my actions in the garden again because I can't rely on my scatterbrain. I use an online site called Collective Garden to keep ongoing records because I'm likely to plant seeds one day and forget in which bed by the following day if I don't keep a record! And I'm trying to remember to keep feeding the children while I get distracted by my garden.

So the gardening year isn't about the start of needing to do jobs outside; it's about the pace picking up. It's about watching plants growing before your very eyes. It's about completing one job, only to realise there are three more tasks resulting from what you have just achieved. The mental list, or in my case the written record, keeps expanding but strangely brings not pressure, but elation as we realise spring has sprung.

Happy new year for the spanking new Veggie Year, 2014!!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Slow Living Monthly Nine - August 2014

Spring has arrived today and brings with it the winds with which it is so often associated.  I lay awake last night listening to the wind howling and hoping our house would not end up on the neighbours farm!  I'm not exactly sure when the spring rains were replaced with the spring winds.... 

We're in gardening mode here at our place but, before I step out into the garden, I'd like to invite you all to join in with the Monthly Nine link-up and share your achievements in the nine slow living categories.  It's time to reflect on August and all that it involved.

The Monthly Nine was created by Christine at Slow Living Essentials and I have gratefully become its custodian.  The details of the categories can be found here.

Slow Living Monthly Nine - August 2014

Nourish - I may struggle this month with recalling the month just lived.  I have broken my laptop.  It's at the repairers so I have no photos to prompt my memory.  So!  Relying on my dodgy grey matter..... 

I received my bulk foods delivery late in the month with much relief.  I had run out of flour, sugar, puffed rice and many other items.  We receive our order every three months and it's hard to estimate quantities perfectly for a three month period.

Eggs are back on the menu!  The girls are laying again.  We've had a couple of quiches topped with the meagre pickings available.  Mainly kale and broccoli.  Thank goodness for our goats cheese which added a wonderful flavour kick!

We also enjoyed a roast chicken when we received our monthly free range chicken delivery.  There's something wonderful about only occasionally having a roast.  We have sooo much more appreciation for the meal!  I was amused to hear my children asking 'would it be okay' if they had seconds and thirds of the roast veggies.  Hahaaha!  Yes, please help yourselves!!!!
Prepare

I froze a lot of stock when I made up a batch of home made baked beans.  I saved all the veggie peelings and ends and then I covered them with water and popped the pot on our slow combustion fire for a couple of days.  It smells so good.  I also froze a lot of whey over the month.  I mainly use it for our spoilt chookies.  I figure they are more likely to lay me eggs if I warm their tummies with a warm and nutritious mash.
Reduce

The weather was great over winter.  We had a fair bit of rain and the ground stayed consistently moist.  However it's been a good couple of weeks since we have seen any sky juice and we are reliant on tank water for all our needs hence shared baths have become a regular routine in our house.  Hubby has also set up our grey water again so the shared bath water gets well used before it leaves our place!  Update - It's begun to rain since I began writing this post!!  Let's hope it keeps up for a while.

Green

I'm due to visit Rosie soon and have been thinking about what I'll need to pack.  My toiletry box doesn't need much these days.  Some soap, bicarb soda for deodorant, herbal toothpaste and my moisturiser.  I'm using a commercial moisturiser at the moment.  Sometimes I make my own but life ebbs and flows with it's busyness which dictates how much time I have available.
I can't wait to see how much she's grown since I last saw her
Grow

Asparagus is shooting now.  I haven't used it in a meal yet.  It's still such a novelty that I can't resist cutting the spears and munching on them in the garden!  Yuummm!

We have broccoli, rhubarb, kale, snow peas and some leeks.  I also found some yummy potatoes that were still hiding in the soil when I started preparing garden beds for spring gardening.  The cabbages are steadily hearting up.
Create

I made some dish draining cloths for us and gave one to Lou Lou with a matching dishcloth.  I use a pretty cotton fabric on one side and back the other with old towel that I cut up.  I don't like using standard dish drainers because they get so germy and I think these home made cloths brighten up the kitchen.  Then when I clear the sink at night I just throw the draining cloth into the wash.  I must get around to making myself some matching dishcloths like I did for Lou Lou.
Enhance

Funny isn't it, but over the last year I have claimed that I hadn't achieved in this category in a couple of slow living posts. I didn't think about the fact that I was on the committee of our local environment group.  I've realised it this time around because I've decided not to be on the committee this year.  Even though the commitment wasn't too onerous, I now feel freed up and enthusiastic about becoming very involved in practical ways with new activities to do with our environment.  Our family are also taking part in an emerging community garden that I anticipate to be spectacular in a few years time.  I'm really pleased that my children have the opportunity to be involved in the creation of a fantastic community space right from the conception stage.  Again, I've chosen not to be involved at the committee level because I don't 'do' meetings very well.  I'm much more comfortable with being a worker bee!!
Discover

Over the past few weeks I was supplying a neighbour with goats milk for an orphaned baby goat she was given.  It paid off tenfold!  Her cow has since had a calf and she has been giving me cows milk in return.  CREAM!!!  It was very buttery because the cow has just started lactating so  I made my first ever batch of butter.  I googled homemade butter to find out how to do it properly.  It's very easy to make and it is lovely.
Enjoy

I have loved becoming involved with a social swimming program that I discovered was operating near us.  It is designed for preschoolers of course, because most children of my kids' age are off at school.  However, it is perfect for Buddy's developmental stage and my girls are fully included in the program and enjoy the interaction with the younger children.  They make good role models and give the preschoolers experience with older children.

We find that it is now the highlight of our week!  We swim, laugh, sing and enjoy the company of others.
I hope you had a wonderful August and I'm really looking forward to reading your accounts!  Please join in the Slow Living Monthly Nine and tell us all your news.

Thank you so much Christine for helping me out with the linky tool again.  I will try to learn this skill during September.  :-)

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

My winter veggie garden

Over the years our vegetable garden has evolved to become two distinct areas.  We have seven rectangular beds in one area.  Three of these beds are now perennial beds.  They have raspberries, rhubarb, asparagus and, as of last year, loganberries.
The other area is a round garden.  We now use the rectangular beds more in winter and choose the round bed in summer.  Right now we are enjoying broccoli, kale, peas and the asparagus is just starting to poke through. 
The round bed receives some shade from our house, whereas the other beds are very exposed to the sun.  I also think it is easier to water just one large area in the heat of summer, than individual beds.  Well that's the theory anyhow!  I always imagined putting a sprinkler in the centre and letting it do it's stuff.  Trouble is the plants get bigger and block the water from reaching the edges.  I'll try and set up a raised platform for the sprinkler this summer.
The separate areas work well for us.  I used to find that when I wanted to prepare beds for spring, they still had veggies growing in them.  Now the winter veggies can quietly grow in peace while I work on the round garden.  It was like a jungle in there at the end of Autumn so I set about clearing it.

The idea was that Hubby would construct a temporary fence and we would put the chooks in to do all the hard work.  Ha!  I'm forever the optimist.  Nothing is ever quite that easy!  The chooks kept flying out and digging up the winter garden.  After all the work Hubby put in to create a cosy and safe pen for them!  Eventually, frustrated, I put them put in the chook yard and replaced them with our two oldest hens.

Well, the geriatric girls certainly didn't get out!  They didn't have the energy but neither did they have much energy to scratch and clear my garden.  They just lay in the sun basking while waiting for their warm evening mash.
A couple of weeks later, I popped them back in the chook pen too and set about weeding.  I've sowed some peas and broad beans to dig in when they get going.  The garden should be ready by the time the soil has warmed enough for the spring and summer plantings.

As usual, at this time of year, my rose coloured glasses are firmly in place and I'm anticipating a bumper crop of tomatoes, capsicum, eggplants and many other delights.  Last year, what I actually got was HEAPS of rocket and the occasional tomato!!  Oh, and plenty of zucchinis.
The fruit trees are pruned; they've been sprayed to combat curly leaf.  One strawberry barrel has been rejuvenated and the other is patiently waiting for my attention. 
The weeding has taken place and the resulting weeds have been used to create several compost heaps in situ.  So the ground work has got off to a flying start.  Now I sit and eagerly await the planting time. 
Will this be the year I've been dreaming of?  A summer filled with luscious home grown salads? Plates piled high with crispy, crunchy, flavoursome food?  Will this be the year I trade, barter and share all my amazing excess while I busily preserve and pickle in the kitchen?

Well maybe.  But just in case, I might start searching for recipes that combine zucchini with rocket...

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Secret girly business - reusable pads

You may have noticed a button appear on the right of my blog.  This button leads to the Rad-Pads site.  Rad-Pads is the company from which I first bought my reusable pads.

I've been writing here for four years now without any thought of benefitting from my blog.  While I need money just like everyone, I don't like the stuff very much!  Money seems to do strange and very unattractive things to many people.  It kinda revolts me that people can be thoughtless of others or the environment due to love of money or material 'stuff'!

I am motivated by the idea that we can do things for ourselves, work together as a community and make do with much, much less.  I read a lovely quote the other day, "Some people are so poor that all they have is money".  It really resonated with me because there are so many things that I value above money or owning things.

Perhaps I should spend a little more time thinking about money though.  I'm pretty sure I frustrate close family and friends as, every now and then, we go through what I like to term a 'rough patch'.  Luckily they don't happen too often!

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I didn't want to advertise on this blog and encourage people to add to the problem of everyone buying more than they need.  We try very hard to buy only what we actually 'need' (a word that is misused so often).

However, I've now decided it would be okay to affiliate with a couple of companies that I use myself and feel comfortable with.  Rad Pads is one of those companies.  I love re-usable pads.  Firstly I love them because they are re-usable.  Using these pads doesn't create much of a footprint at all, whereas the store bought disposables waste energy, have been transported and come wrapped in heaps of plastic packaging.  Secondly I love them because they are nicer than the disposable alternatives.  When people ask me about their comfort, I always liken it to wearing paper knickers.  Wouldn't that feel horrible!  Well I think it is the same with pads.  My cloth pads are really comfortable.

Re-usable pads are very easy to make yourself.  Some friends of mine just made a heap of them.  They researched several different types and then came up with a style that suited them.  The material was op-shopped and they look great!
There are plenty of instructions online.  I found this site which has links to several different styles of pads.

If you are time poor and would prefer to buy your pads ready made, then I thoroughly recommend Rad Pads.  They pay for themselves over time and are well made and last well.  It works out heaps cheaper than buying disposable.  Do the maths and you'll be amazed at the savings.  They sell different thicknesses of pads and liners.  They can also be used for incontinence issues. If you choose to buy them by clicking through on the button on the right of my blog, I receive a small percentage of the sale. 
My pads are mainly purchased from Rad-Pads but I also made a couple myself.  I don't find reusables to be difficult to manage.  I just have a little bucket with a lid that I keep in the laundry cupboard.  When I need it, I just soak the pads in water until I'm ready to wash them.  Then I give them a rinse and pop them in the washing machine.

The only time it has been a bit awkward was when an occupational therapist wanted to go to my clothesline.  He was working on Buddy's fine motor skills and every occupational therapist loves pegging activities that encourage pincer grips and strengthen weak hand muscles.  I can't remember what excuse I mumbled but there was NO WAY I was going to let him near my clothes line at 'that time of the month'!

I hope you already use reusable pads or that you'll get on to making or buying some straight away.  You won't regret it!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Are you self-sufficient?

Oh dear, oh dear!  Earlier in the week a delivery van came here.  The driver pulled up in the drive and hopped out.  The first thing he sais was, "Are you self-sufficient?!" 

It wasn't until he left that I realised!  He couldn't see into our yard from where he pulled up.  He couldn't see our veggie garden, compost heaps, orchard or the dairy.  So what made him ask this question?

That gave me a good giggle!  What gave him the clue that we try to do things for ourselves?  Was it the chooks, ducks and geese wandering everywhere?  Was it the children running feral on a school day and coming to investigate the stranger that had arrived?  Maybe it was my attire!  A baggy pair of tracky dacks, boots, beanie, scarf and a filthy jacket!!  Haha!  Perhaps I need to work on the impression we make when people turn up unexpectedly.
The question certainly started me thinking though......  We certainly are not self-sufficient by any stretch of the imagination, nor do I think we are  aiming to be.  To be self-sufficient, we would need to be able to provide our own clothes, grow enough food for ourselves and our animals, extract oil from olives or similar, to be able to make all our fencing and animal shelters from natural materials etc. etc. 

 Maybe not a hope in hell we could do all these things but would we want too?  Every waking minute would be filled with providing the basics for our needs.  This got me thinking about our motivation for living the life style we have chosen.  It's as simple as this.  We are trying to live a comfortable life while being respectful of the environment.  We don't want to add to the climate crisis that is occurring.  (And it truly is a crisis!  We're not doomed yet, but damn close, so you might want to give it some thought if you haven't already.)
 I make our own soap but find I don't do it regularly enough to keep us supplied.  Ditto with bread.  We are producing goats milk.  We make cheese.  I knit and sew.  We garden.  Hubby builds many things that we need and often uses natural materials when it works.  It's all wonderful stuff but there aren't enough hours in a day to do everything all the time. 
A temporary chook shelter in the garden they're digging over.
I still buy crackers, coffee, bread fairly often, all my staples like sugar, rice,  pasta and a heap of other things.  We try to buy household items and clothing second hand.  Most of my shoes are from the op-shop but I buy my workboots new and usually buy the children new shoes.  I would happily buy them from the op shop but, more often than not, I don't notice they are falling apart until it's too late.  When I notice the children wandering around with flapping soles, there's no time to scour the op shops so I race to the shoe shop feeling like a neglectful mother and buy the best option I can find.  All in all, our impact is fairly low compared to the average family and we keep working our way toward a greener life.

There's another very important element here too.  People.  If we truly spent every minute trying to provide for ourselves, we would be too busy to connect with others around us.   It would be an insular and lonely life.

So when I ponder the question of self-sufficiency I realise, it's not looking after ourselves in isolation that I'm after.  I want to connect with those around us and work together to create a better world.  I want to swap my goats milk for their pickles that I didn't get around to making for myself.  I want to use my friend's lard and repay her with the soap that I create with it.  I want to spend time with friends learning (or teaching) new skills.  I want to come together with other families so that our children can play.  I want to share meals where everyone brings a dish that they have cooked with fresh ingredients from the garden. 
It has been an unexpected benefit for me to discover that in trying to address climate change, in trying to create a good future for my children and others, that our lives have become more fulfilling.  We feel grounded, connected with nature, our food and our community.  We feel a sense of achievement that comes from being creative and learning new skills.  It's not doing it on our own that I'm after.  It's being a part of something bigger.  I want my community to be with me in this way of living.  A non-commercial life of thoughtfulness and creativity and appreciation for the simple things in life that really matter.

So now I need a new term.  It's not self-sufficiency.  Help me coin a new phrase.  Mine don't have a ring to them.  Is it 'community-sufficiency'?  Is it 'friendship-farming'?  Is it 'the-way-life-should-be sufficiency'?

Friday, 1 August 2014

Slow Living Monthly Nine - July 2014

How exciting!  I'm hosting the Slow Living Monthly Nine link-up today.  Christine, at Slow Living Essentials, began this link up early in 2012 and I have regularly been taking part.

It's a lovely way for people to record their months and share their ideas, acheivements and news.  If it's inspiration you're after, you will love reading through these posts!

It has been wonderful to watch a connected online community form throughout the process.  I have got to 'know' many new people and formed some great connections.  I'm often amazed at how thoughtful bloggers can be, even offering assistance and advice to each other via email outside of the link-up.  This little group of people have become friends!

I am honoured (and a little bit amazed) that Christine has gifted me the custodianship of this link-up!  I hope I can do it justice.  While I will really miss popping over to Slow Living Essentials to join in each month, I totally understand the point Christine has arrived at with needing to blog less.  I am glad that her idea will continue on and the community can continue to grow!

 Thank you Christine for choosing to keep this forum alive.  I hope to hear about your happenings often and hope that one day you will decide you are in a position to take your blogging baby back.

The Monthly Nine format is perfect as it is, so you will see little change.  I will probably rename it but am reluctant to do so without some thought.  So for now it remains the Slow Living Monthly Nine.

Please join me and many others as we relate our achievement and joys. I look forward to reading your posts.

If you are new to this link-up, welcome!  You will find all the details here.

Slow Living Monthly Nine - July 2014

Nourish

We've been enjoying continuing on with winter warmers.  There have been plenty of casseroles and soups appearing.  I've been making a conscious effort to choose meals that I can cook in huge amounts so that I can freeze some.  It has paid off BIG time!!  Do you know how good it feels to go to the freezer on a disorganised evening and find a precooked meal waiting.  It's even better if you have a terrible memory like mine.  I am often surprised by what I find in there; it feels as though someone has gifted me a meal!
Rhubarb Pudding
While our lemon tree has not been at it's best this year, lemons are something that are often shared by others at this time of year, so we've been enjoying lemon slice, pancakes with lemon and sugar, lemon cordial and lemon and vinegar to soothe colds and sore throats.

Prepare

Ah ha!  I've already covered this in the last category.  My frozen meals are serving us well.  We've also been dipping into the preserved fruit that we bottled in summer and autumn.  The kids are loving eating fruit on their puffed rice, puffed sorgum or just in a bowl with yoghurt.

Reduce

I participated in Plastic Free July.  The aim is to reduce and track the amount of single-use plastic that enters our homes.  To be honest, I think we did worse with reducing plastic this month than we normally do.  We always shy away from plastic when we can, but July saw lots of plastic sneaking into the house while we weren't looking!  The best outcome this year has been the kids involvement.  They have been very aware of the challenge and have shrieked, "PLASTIC!" whenever we accidently acquired some.  They treat it as though it is poison entering our home, and so they should!!
Green

The idea was that I would be telling you all about the soap I made in July but I never did get around to it.  Again. 

I've been using a little bit of castor sugar mixed with some lovely, local olive oil as a facial scrub.  A couple of times I have used honey or yoghurt as a mask, much to the children's amusement.

Grow

My garden has been sorely neglected of late, yet I am still enjoying broccoli and plenty of rhubarb.
Buddy and I have begun the task of weeding and making compost in preparation for spring.  We've had a lovely time.  His favourite job is shovelling and it works well for me.  He carts compost and manure wherever I want it!
Create

I actually have stuff to report this month!  Yay!!  I made Rosie a belated gift for her birthday.  The intention was to have it ready on time but I was too preoccupied with organising the party.  So early in July, I finished the book I was making her and popped it in the post.  The photo's from Rosie's phone because I forgot to snap it!
I made some draining board cloths too.  I hate using dish drainers because they harbour so many germs.  Now I drain my dishes on the cloths and at the end of the day I can use the cloth to wipe over my sink before I throw it in the washing basket.

I have a jumper on the go for Buddy and am half way through a sock for me.  Wow!  I hadn't realised I had done so much (for me) in this category!
Enhance

I have a great group of like-minded friends and we work together with trying to source food outside of the major supermarkets.  Sometimes I receive a phone call offering me excess fruit from a glut (yes, I know....  It's only a dream here too!  I've never had excess yet) or someone might contact me to see if I have spare flour to see them through until the next bulk food day.  Together we co-operate and share where we can and it feels lovely!

Discover

I attended a course on beekeeping and how to put together a bee box.  The presenter was a very experienced bee keeper and I learnt so much!  Some people just love to share knowledge.  I have volunteered to work alongside him in spring.  I can't wait!
Photo of a queen bee cell - courtesy Clare Watson
I even received a book to take home.  Storey's Guide to Keeping Honey Bees.  It's fascinating!  The children and I had a bit of a giggle over the mating process.  I had no idea!!  Apparently he pops with "an audible pop" and part of his doodie falls off!

Hmmm.  Who want to be a boy bee??!  It's also amazing how each type of bee has an individual role for the good of the hive and, if the need arises, can reactivate past functions to keep the hive in good health.  I'm looking forward to getting back into beekeeping in spring.

Enjoy

While I didn't lay eyes on my older girl's in July, I enjoyed great chats on the phone and saw some lovely photos on facebook.  Aren't we lucky to be able to communicate in so many ways?  I was also delighted that my parents had the children to stay a couple of times.  It's so nice to spend time with Hubby without feeling like parents.  Nice to remember that we are people in our own right.
A photo of my granddaughter that I was able to enjoy via face book
I really savoured the cool weather.  The contrast between the biting cold outside and the cosiness of sitting near the fire, reading a book to a child, enjoying warm meals and the occasional hot pudding, drinking hot chocolate and even doing a bit of knitting if time allows, is just wonderful.

I particularly enjoyed milking time with the goats.  Belle has taken over this task most nights so I do the manual work of feeding and watering and then sit on the hay and listen to Belle chattering happily away.  All in all, July was a fantastic month for me!
Did you have a lovely July too?