Archive for rural life

Rural craft – making a Christmas Wreath

I do this every year, make a Christmas wreath.  After all we have all the components down the woods.  Neil picked some thin willow whips and bent them round a pail.

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We gathered some greenery:- ivy with flowers on, holly, evergreen mint, fir tree and rosemary.

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I started by winding some ivy round the willow whips and attaching with thin wire.

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Next I added the rosemary to give the wreath a nice scent.

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Then I wound some evergreen mint  and some holly round the wreath to add some more green colour. However the holly didn’t half prickle my fingers!

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To finish it off I add a red bow and bauble, some red berries and wound some elasticated red ribbon all the way round to help keep everything in place. We added a wire loop to hang it up and proudly displayed it on our front door.

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I made another one for an elderly friend but didn’t add the holly and actually I think it is the better one.  Practice makes perfect as they say.

Come and see all our Christmas decorations http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Selling Bric a Brac again

This Saturday just gone was the day of the Buckland St Mary Xmas fete and we were on the Bric a Brac stall again.  We had lots of stuff – some friends were moving house and had cleared out a lot of glass ware and crockery and we had lots of books and other donations too.  This is me behind our stall.

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Neil is a very good salesman and tries to sell mostly inappropriate things to people we know,  just for fun.  However we did really well and took £77.00 in 2 hours.

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Children had the chance to visit Father Christmas (a local man from the village who dressed up the part), and afternoon teas and cake were also on offer.

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There was a tombola stall, a craft stall, a picture stall amongst others together with the usual raffle (I won a Xmas pudding – home made). Altogether £945 was raised for the church youth worker, so a good effort all round, and an early December start to get us in the Christmas mood.

We have vacancies in the B&B for the whole of December. contact us at http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

 

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Green Scythe Fair June 2015

Last Sunday we also went to the Green Scythe Fair at Thorney, Mulcheney in the Somerset Levels. It’s a sort of hippy, environmentally friendly fair, where all the power is generated on site by wind generators or solar power, and discounts are given to those arriving on bicycle or by foot.  There are lots of stalls and exhibits and people who made seemingly useless objects into useful items, like a 5 litre metal paint tin which had been converted into a “rocket” stove. This stove worked on twigs and small pieces of wood and boiled a kettle in a very short time.  One stall was using this to make cups of tea:

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Some great willow sculptures:

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There were some haystacks and the children had great fun running and jumping on them.

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There was a scything competition of one man scything versus some one strimming with a power tool.

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On the various stalls were antiques and old farming or garden tools.  Neil took a fancy to this lamp.

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We met a lady from Yeovil and South Somerset LETS scheme and spent some talking to her.  LETS is where one person does a chore for another but no money exchanges hands, in simple terms a bit like someone doing an hour’s ironing for someone else who does an hour’s gardening in exchange.  We are going to get her to come and talk to the Blackdown Hills Transition Group as this is a really good idea and perhaps something we could start here locally.

It was a lovely day and there were lots of foodie stalls too with organic or vegetarian food, so we sat on the grass having a little bite to eat, it was very relaxing in the sunshine. It was a really enjoyable Sunday afternoon.

visit us at http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Apple pressing days October 2014

The Autumn is the time when the apples are at their best and through the Blackdown Hills Transition Group a couple of apple pressing days were organised this month.  The first was held at Otterhead Lodge, next to Otterhead Lakes.  We had quite a few Bramley apples from when we had to cut down the tree for the builders to dig drains across the lawn, so we took them along.  Neil’s sister Carole was with us too, and she helped in the first stage which was crushing the apples.

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We then took the crushed apples over to the presses.  The first stage is load the crushed apple into the bag in the press and then tighten.

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As you screw down, pressure is exerted on the crushed apple and the juice comes out the bottom.

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The juice is brown in colour as it has oxidised in the air.  when we had pressed all our apple pulp we used jugs to transfer it into plastic bottles that could then go into the freezer.

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If you don’t freeze it but leave it out for a few days it will start to ferment and turn into cider.

There was a nice atmosphere at Otterhead, with a camp fire, music,  and food and refreshments provided by some of folk from Stentwood community whose apple pressing day was the following weekend.

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So this last weekend was Stentwood’s turn to host apple pressing.  They had several marquees set up in case of inclement weather, but Sunday was sunny and a lovely day.  They were serving their wood fired pizzas, with warm spiced apple juice – delicious!!

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They also had a craft tent, a tent where you could try and then buy different types of apples, and live music.

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Again a lovely atmosphere and a nice way to wend away a couple of hours.

Want to stay at our B&B? then find out more about us at http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Flighty hen meets her end

The only hen that we hatched last year (rather than cockerels) was a beautiful bird but a bit flighty.  Several times she jumped out of the hen run.  The other morning I found her running round the outside of the perimeter of the hen run and Neil and I managed to capture her and I clipped her wings again.

Then yesterday Neil went down early morning to let the hens out and told me she was missing.  We searched amongst the fruit bushes and trees outside the hen run, but then we spotted a big pile of feathers by the monkey puzzle tree.  Upon examining them we recognised the pattern on the feathers and that was the end of flighty  hen.  She must have got out again and met a fox or other creature in the night and that was the end of her. Such a shame as she was a lovely looking bird and laid a white egg nearly every day.

In the picture she is the one on the left hand side at the back.

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So now we have one hen less, what a shame.

Mind you we still have lovely fresh eggs for breakfast from our other hens.

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Goodbye to the Cockerels

Back in August we purchased nine 6 week old chicks from Manor Farm in Ilminster.  The guy there said he could sex them and that he could sell us just pullets, but if any turned out to be cockerels he would swap them for us.  So we looked after them, fed and watered them, and watched as 2 of them turned out to be beautiful cockerels.

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The above chappie is a French Copper Maran.

The other cockerel was a hybrid between a Buff Sussex and a Speckled Sussex.  He was a really handsome chap.

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So yesterday afternoon we took them back and swapped them for 2 Rhode Island Red pullets, which seem to have joined the flock OK.  Here they all are having a feed this afternoon.

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As you can see we have a real mix of hens, from Warrens, Welsummer/Black Rock cross, Buff Sussex, Speckled Sussex, French Copper Marans to name but a few.  We also have a large hen we call “Boots” as she has feathered legs.  We hope she is a hen and not another cockerel.  This was one we hatched from an egg, so we are not quite sure yet, but she is fabulous.

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We think “Boots” is a Brahma which is why she is so big, but the guy at Manor Farm said if they had blue colouring in their feathers they were more likely to be cockerels.  And she has, so we will have to wait and see if she starts doing “Cock a doodle do” or jumping on the other hens.  We also have raised from chicks a cute little Apenzeller cockerel (below) who we call “Ted” as he looks like a Teddy Boy, and 2 really handsome Buff Sussex cockerels – any takers?  We do need to say goodbye to another couple of cockerels.

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It’s all fun in the hen run here determining who is who.  The problem with raising chicks from eggs is that 60% turn out to be cockerels and then you have to find homes for them.  Our cockerels raised from eggs are all pure breeds, so it would be a pity not to find good homes for them.

As regards the egg-laying birds, they are not happy with the shorter day light hours and the cold weather.  We are getting 4 or 5 eggs a day, but out of a total of 26 chickens that’s not really a good average. The people on my egg round are complaining that I’m not selling enough eggs at the moment. I’m hoping that when the days get longer and warmer next year and the chicks come of age we will get a lot more eggs than that.

We still have some vacancies in the B&B for December and all of January.

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Blackdown Hills Transition Group Apple Day

The first of 3 Apple Days was held today at Otterhead Lodge, by Otterhead Lakes.  We were so lucky with the weather, it was the most glorious sunny day, in marked contrast to earlier in the week when it rained like no tomorrow.

People brought along their apples to be crushed and pressed into juice.  The first stage is to feed the apples into a crusher which produces apple pulp.

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The pulp is then put into an apple press which produces the juice. It’s inevitable that you get sticky in the process but who minds when you are producing lovely fresh apple juice.

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The next stage is bottling the juice.  Unfortunately the apples oxidise very quickly and turn brown so the resulting juice is brown in colour but it tastes really lovely.

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Also today we had some musical entertainment from “Slapjack” a duet of guitar and violin.  They played beautifully and were a lovely sound in the background.

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There was delicious apple cake and other goodies on sale, together with hot mulled apple juice, tea and coffee etc.  As it was such a nice afternoon lots of people turned out and many brought bins full of apples to press.  If you bottle into plastic bottles you can freeze the juice, or if you prefer you can bottle into glass bottles and then pasteurise it by heating it up.

We just had some Bramley Apples to take along, but they make a lovely tart juice.  So now we have to work out how to fit some of the bottles into the freezer, which is already full of stewed fruit from the garden!!.

We still have some vacancies in the B&B in October so contact us for more details.

Look us up at http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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