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Projects

Fireplace

I loved how the fireplace looked this Christmas, so I left it throughout January more or less as it was.  I've decided I need to re-arrange the mantlepiece this week, time to move on into 2018.  

While I don't do New Years Resolutions I have made a list of projects I want to complete this year, it goes something like this:

Finish the house re-vamp outside and in,
move the veggie patch to the back of the house,
reduce plastic use at home - can I go plastic free?
Develop the Little Hadham Farmers' Market, increase numbers, quality and reduce plastic use there too,
look again at my craft kits, dolls and felt more,
blog more,
be a better bee keeper,
raise more chickens from my flock and introduce ducks.

Our three boys; Donny Darko, Desmond and Digby

I had a 95% male hatching rate last year, not what I wanted.  We'll be having some late winter chicken soup.  Fortunately for these guys we have also sold a couple of cockerels.  Desmond has been re-named Sam and is now head of his own little flock.  Digby is going to one of my farmers' market stall-holders, Claudia of Bury Green Poultry and will also get girls of his own.  We're keeping Donny Darko and their dad, Bernie.

duckling
Hatched on Saturday, this is Jemmima/Sonny
Now that we are back in the house I've the urge to nest, so the project list continues:

Renovate shop - a new business opportunity there,
redecorate front rooms, hall, landing and stairs,
make curtains,
new desk for Una,
decorate downstairs loo and utility room,
including making a peg-board for storage of cleaning equipment.  

pinboard storage

I found some lengths of this old peg board in the static caravan that we got rid of last year during the build, I'm going to mount it and paint it to go in the utility room.

Una got a sewing machine for Christmas and so I'd like to help her make a quilt and do one for myself too.  I fancy going for some really vivid jewel colours, none of those vintage flowers for me thanks. 

quilt fabrics

Una has hockey (and Louis rugby) on a Sunday morning, so it' becoming a lovely Sunday afternoon activity for the two of us.  Una is doing a fab job, now that she knows what's she's doing she is steaming ahead.  I need to do a bit of cutting and tacking today to catch up.



And finally on my list:

Take the kids to Disneyland before they're too cynical to care.  And I mean Disneyland, in California, so I can catch up with friends, and meet their children.  To me that is Disneyland.



Little Hadham Farmers Market


Little Hadham Farmers' Market
There has been a farmers market in Little Hadham since 2002, founded, organised and run by the local couple, Brian & Brenda Kain.  It was the first farmers market in East Hertfordshire.  The Market takes place once a month at Little Hadham Village Hall, usually on the last Saturday of the month, from 8.30AM until 11.30AM.   

Little Hadham Farmers’ Market promotes the best of local produce, and has a strong ethos of offering only items grown, bred, prepared or made by the stall holders as much as practically possible.  Stalls include; meat, vegetables, fruit, bread, cakes and pastries, coffee, honey, jam, cheese, chutney and artisan crafts.  There is also a cafe that prepares fresh, home cooked breakfasts from the stall holder’s produce.  

A friendly market, there is a wonderful loyal clientele who come every month to shop, meet and eat.  There is free parking and the village playground and field on site make it especially welcoming to young families.

Little Hadham Farmers' Market

As a regular market goer (it was one of the reasons we looked at the village when buying our house) when I heard that the Kains were looking to retire, and we might loose the market altogether, I decided to step in and take over.  I have been running the market since September and with the new year I plan to start to implement some changes.

Little Hadham Farmers' Market business cards

I plan to keep to the Kain’s core ethos, but I’d like to attract some more stalls, maybe food demonstrations and monthly guest stalls too.  I would love for more people to find us, as the market is such a little gem. 

Little Hadham Farmers' Market

New Year, New Eggs

duck eggs

I'm not sure quite how, but the little foxes managed to convince me to raise ducks this year.  A friend in the village gave us six duck eggs and we put them in the incubator on Christmas day.  They are due to hatch in 5 more days.

After a few months of not laying, illness and disruption in my little flock the hens have started to lay again too.  

hen eggs

Astrid

astrid the chicken
Astrid - the smartest chick in town.

I mentioned in passing in that last post that our oldest and best loved chicken, Astrid, one of the original A-Team passed away the other week.  I just had to do a photo-ode to our lovely hen:

astrid the chicken
Loved by the kids

astrid the chicken
She was not always such a beautiful hen.

astrid the chicken
A source of fascination for dogs & children alike.

astrid the chicken
She & her sisters, Agatha, Ashley & Anoushka were the A-Team.

astrid the chicken
Not always keen to stay in their pen...

astrid the chicken
they often came in the house.

astrid the chicken
Astrid helped with the gardening.

astrid the chicken
And enjoyed a dust bath.


astrid the chicken
She was the top hen in our flock

astrid the chicken
She, not Mr Tappy Shoes, ruled the roost.

astrid the chicken
The yellow chick is her daughter, Damson.

Our last picture of her.



Extension IV

Yesterday I watched the first episode of Grand Designs that I have been able to watch this year, despite it being probably my fav TV show.  The building of our new extension really has been all consuming for the last 11 months.  The house build has occupied almost every spare moment, made up half of all mine & Neil’s conversations.  It's been exhausting

5th May 2017
With no kitchen for most of the time we ate really badly.  Which is a huge deal for me.  I'm so happy to have my Aga back in place so I can cook again.  Aggie only moved a meter or so, you can see the marks on the wall where she used to be in the picture below.

Aga
23rd August
The chickens also disliked the disruption and so stopped laying.  Astrid our oldest, most loved hen, has succumbed to pneumonia, certainly not helped by the stress.  I’ve done the absolute minimum when it comes to bee-keeping.  I’ve done more or less no gardening, so no veggie patch.  There has been a real lack of anything other than house building going on at Ash Cottage.

chickens in extension

chickens in extension

chickens in extension

I don’t think I really understood how hard the build would be.  I’m not anti-social, but having strangers in my house every day was emotionally exhausting.  Especially once we got to the point where I kind of hated all the builders.  The mess and inconvenience was tiring of course.  And the fear of financial ruin when things went wrong, exaggerated but to be expected. The learning curves were steep.  I now know a lot more about wells, tiles, sinks and self-levelling concrete screed than I ever expected to.  And this new knowledge seems unlikely to ever be used again.

That annoying phrase; “It will all be worth it in the end”, though true, is still no great consolation, no matter how much empathy the speaker emphasises.

But it is almost over, we are almost back in our house, I do almost have my life back. I know, that I am very fortunate that my suffering is very “first world suffering”, that my complaints very “first world” problems, but my problems they have been ongoing for months and I am relieved that they are nearly at an end.  And, we have ended up with pretty much what we wanted.

My friend, Charlie, said: 
“You’ve got to realise that you can never get it exactly as you want.  That you are not as in charge as you think you should be, the builders keep telling you they can’t do it how you want it” 
And she was right.  It was good advice, and it made me figure out what I wanted most and pick my fights accordingly.  

kitchen build
23rd July 2017

kitchen build
23rd July 2017

kitchen build
23rd July 2017
Fundamentally we got what we wanted; a well lit, bigger, garden facing family room downstairs.  A bedroom for Louis of equal size to his sister. New bathrooms that feel clean and modern.  A spare room for visiting friends and family.  And thrown in, Neil and I got a new bedroom.  So, now the fight back begins.  It’s down to the finishing touches now, the stuff I thought I would enjoy.  The unpacking and throwing away, the decorating that I have been planning for this long year.  Now the fun begins.

Ash Cottage - Extension III

builders on scaffold

This week the roof goes on.  I've been trying to take regular photos to record the build:

extension building works
28 February 2017
extension building works
2 March 2017
extension building works
28 February 2017

extension building works
2 March 2017

extension building works
5 March 2017

extension building works
5 March 2017
extension building works
9 March 2017

extension building works
10 March 2017
extension building works
13 March 2017
extension building works
15 March 2017
extension building works
16 March 2017

extension building works
16 March 2017
extension building works
24 March 2017

extension building works
24 March 2017

extension building works
24 March 2017
extension building works
30 March 2017 - Awaiting the roof.





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