Tuesday, March 24, 2020

You can't have it all.

Chop, clap! Chop, clap! I hear when I walk to the chicken coop to collect eggs. In the barn I see Sander putting the pieces of wood on the chopping block and with a hard blow, he splits them into pieces with the axe. Chop, clap! Chop, clap! Block by block is chopped into small pieces for the stove.

Yesterday we ate all the bread so now it is high time to bake new again. I walk to the house with a basket full of split firewood. Mmm, what do these smell nice. It is spruce wood and they smell wonderfully of resin and a little of Christmas. When I put a few pieces on the fire, it crackles and splatters nicely.

In the large earthenware bowl, I mix the flour with the salt and the yeast. With the kettle, I pour warm water on it and start kneading. While I am working on this, my thoughts drift away to how I could explain our philosophy of life.

Independence is one of our keywords. In other words, control everything yourself.
Why don't we have running water, a washing machine, a dishwasher, a chainsaw etc. etc.? Of course it is wonderful that these time-saving things were invented. But everything comes at a certain price. With the arrival of electricity and facilities, the bills will also come. It is a vicious circle. To be able to pay the bills you need more money, more money means more work, more work means less time to do something yourself, less time to do it yourself is buying more, buying more is more money. You can't come out of it. We turned it around. With fewer bills, we have lower costs, we need less money and we have more time to do it ourselves. Where others get their sense of security from a permanent contract and wages, we get that from making it ourself and low costs.

This gives us a lot of freedom to organize our own time and do what we love and find satisfaction in, but this way of life is not for everyone. It also has another side. Anyone who likes to travel, go out, shop, gets tangled with our way of life. Life is all about prioritizing, and the only one who can make the choices in your life is you.

I like to sing during my household chores and one of my favourite songs is the Dolly Parton song "coat of many colours" and especially the following piece:
They didn´t understand it, I tried to make them see
That one is only poor, only if they choose to be
it´s true we had no money, but I was as rich as I could be ......

The dough is now completely soft and smoothly kneaded. I make a nice ball of the dough and with a damp tea towel over it, I let it rise. With a book, I settle on a chair and move to another time and world.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Wheels of change, a victorian velocipede suit.

With the start of a new decade, we did take the time to look back on the past years. Are we on the right way, where are points we can make some modifications?
On the most are we content with how our lives goes on, though some small changes we want to make.

By living in the countryside, in these modern times, it´s completely understandable to drive the car to town to do the shopping. We do that also, nevertheless I do not take the slightest pleasure from it. Although I do have a drivers license and I can drive very well, it´s just not a thing that I can enjoy. However, what do you do? It´s more than 25km to the nearest town and it´s too far to cycle there, isn´t it?
Anyway, this tiny doubt that made us wonder... Maybe we can´t cycle there every time, but maybe it will go in the warmer months?... Maybe we could do that?
When I lived in the Netherlands, I did cycle a lot! I did cycle everywhere! Every day! But that´s 12 years ago, and unfortunately, I have to say, I have not cycled much since then.... I walked, worked in the garden, enjoy a very active life, but just cycling... That needs to be trained the coming time :).

This change makes a very good opportunity to make some new clothes ( who wouldn´t take that as an excuse to sew something new ;) ;))
After a bit of research, I came up with the following idea
On the homepage of bikes and bloomers http://bikesandbloomers.com/patterns/ I did find a pattern for bloomers and a cape/skirt thing.
To go with that, I´m going to make a black wool waistcoat, a pair of gaiters from either wool or leather (I haven´t decided yet), long stockings in red and cream, made on my vintage sock knitter, but more of that anon :)
So I hope you like to follow along!
Next time The Viktoria sock knitting machine

Sunday, February 2, 2020

A day without rain

What a lovely day! After days of dark and dreary weather, the sun was shining clear and bright today. Although there was a brisk wind coming from the west, it was far too delightfull to stay inside.
With my cozy winter coat, shawl, and mittens on, I put on my shoes and went outside.
I fetched up my shovel and rake and started working in the garden. After a short while, it seemed not that cold any longer and soon my mittens and shawl were hanging over the fence. The first pair of garden beds were now cleaned up, after the neglect of the late summer. The rich black soil, now freshly racked, is lying ready for the growing season yet to come.

Pleased with the work of this morning, I made a large cup of cocoa, to both my husband and me and we had a piece of apple pie to go with it. 

Monday, January 6, 2020

New year and 2019 in pictures and a silly movie

“To a bright New Year and a fond farewell to the old; to the things that are yet to come, and to the memories that we hold.” “May you have a prosperous New Year.” “Wishing you a happy, healthy New Year.” “May the new year bless you with health, wealth and happiness.”

12th night gone by, it´s the end of the Christmas season. All decoration is taken away and the house is cleaned up. We had a delightful time, got many Christmascards and some surprising gifts. 

A whole new year lies ahead of us, many new ideas to try and continuing on our path to self-sufficiency. 

We are halfway through the winter now and the loft is still full of hay, the pantry filled with many cans of canned food, and in the root storage is also enough left. Maybe it´s not as diverse as we should like, because of some crop failures of last year, but we can eat our stomachs full of delicious meals.  I like to search through wartime ration meal recipes from the UK. They use often the vegetables I have available, like potatoes, carrots, onions, and are healthy and very filling. Although eggs were on ration at that time, no egg ration for us. With only 4 laying hens, almost every day 1 egg and sometimes 2! It´s the first year that we have eggs in the winter. Very useful if you like vanilla pudding... ;) 

These photos are my 2019 in a glance 

 January, just finished my new woolen winter coat in time before the cold arrived

Baking small homegrown cornbread on the stove

 In April it was lovely weather for a bicycle tour with a picnic

In May we started on renovating the south wall from our house and had lots of rhubarb and eggs

 It´s on the 6th of June! A national holiday!

Because we are renovating our house we had, unfortunately, no time to dance with our folk dance society on this big day. But because we love to dance, we made our own dance party in the backyard.

Reading a book in our garden, the old rose variety smells lovely 

In June, haying, haying and more haying

First time for our little pony to draw the haywagon

In September we celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary 

and the year ends with the same it started, snow! 


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

A glimpse of the hay harvest

This morning, with the scythes on our shoulders and the little old border collie by our side, we set off again to the meadow we are mowing. The mist was hanging in thick clouds on the fields. The sun could not prick trough it yet. When we reach the meadow we already have harvested, two deer are greezing in the field. The remaining haystacks are covered in the mist, it´s almost like a painting, so perfect and bright. Then the deer are scared upp with our presence and galop away into the woodlands. Mowing with the scythe is hard work but working together it´s pleasant. It´s not really difficult, so I think it´s always a nice time to meditate about one thing or the other. Mostly we work in silence, just side by side. The only noise you hear is the scytheblade cutting through the grass, the birds singing, the crickets chirping and the crowing of the rooster att home. It´s very peacefull out here. Every now and then we sharpen the blade and off we go again. Swish, swish, foot for foot the grass is cut. Around trees and stones, every inch turns into hay. It´s not only grass but also lots of weeds and herbs, tistles and even small trees. Even a wild mint grows here and there, it´s the most lovely smell when it is cut but also when you, in the dark wintermonths, are filling the hay trough, it smells like summer.
Everything is blooming and booming in the garden. The calendula is on it´s best, orange and yellow flowers everywhere. Peas, beetroots, potatoes, carrots and loads off other stuff it´s just ready to be eaten. Many jars are already filled and canned with various berries and now the time will soon come for making various pickles. 

Monday, May 27, 2019

tomatoplants, chicken coop and quilting

It´s been a while since I last wrote to you. The winter months have changed to the busy springtime. After a dry april month it´s now almost perfect, alternaty some rain and then some sunshine. Although the month started very cold with most of the nights below zero. I kept my tomatoplants already in the polytunnel and with some cardboard and frostblankets they survived the frost. Until that last night, on the 14th of may, a final frost came and they al where flaggy and I susposed dead. It was very sad indeed. To cover the lost I sowed the same day 16 new tomatoesseed, I know it was a bit late but you can always try, don´t you? The next couple of days I was occupied with other projects on the homestead and paid not attation on the polytunnel exept for watering the seeds. But then, when I had time to trough the frozen tomatoplants away, I spotted on almost every plant new very small baby leafs! They were not dead at all! Since then, I have taken particulary care for them and the hopes for a tomato harvest have returned! Some of you may already have noticed, that exept from the resurrected plants I have now 16 more lovely seedlings to take care of. I hope they will all fit in in the poly tunnel....

Beside working in the garden we also fininshed a chicken coop. I think it is the most lovely chicken house ever. Made on the axle from a very old farmwagon, it´s easy to wheel. Our chickens have a great time in it and every day we drive it on a new bit of grass.

After more than 40hours of handquilting, which did take several months, I finished my first patchwork quilt for on our bed. Made from only scratchpieces I had on hand. The patchwork I made the winter before, entirely handsown, and after I get a quiltingframe as a christmas gift, I started in Janari on the quilting.

Now this one is done, I will soon start on making a second one. I have chosen for the bethlehem star pattern, which was a very popular pattern in the eightteen hunderds.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

First day in the garden and considering off grid living

Today the sun was shining, the birds were singing and my lovely hens were picking in the just turned soil, it felt like springtime had arrived.

After the long dark winter I had longed to be outside in the garden again and finally that time has come. With the spade I turn the rich black soil up. My hens are just in front of my spade to snatch the worms that come up, the hen that gets the worm runs away followed by a very hungry troop, sometimes it´s looks almost like a rugby match. I love just watching the hens, they are so intelligent and clever and it´s very interesting to see how the pecking order works. 
With February almost passed away I need to hurry to decide which crops I want to plants this year. It will not vary much from year to year, but the quantities change over the years and I try every year some new plants or verities.
 Our cats are also loving the warmer weather, hunting and clambring everywhere, even on our car :)

Despite of the dryness of last year we have still food left. It´s now a race against the clock to eat the last potatoes before they sprout, and there is still some fresh kale and brussels sprouts in the garden. In the pantry have we jams and canned tomatoes, berries and pears and some jars with pickles. When we run out off fresh food we can still eat from the dried beans and dried corn and maybe by then the first nettles have grown.  

 We have been cogitating for years about to go off grid in the future. All pros and cons must be weighted. Although we use only 125 kWh on a year, it´s something we are used to. Will it be functional to produce electricity for the computer and the phone with solar power? What will it cost? What will we spare by being off grid. This will be the main question's to seek out this year. It would be a big step in the right direction if we could produce our own electricity.