Friday, November 12, 2010

Well...time does fly eh?
The sheep have all been wormed foot checked and sorted out. A ram lamb has departed for a new flock and the rest of the lads relocated to a clean field of 2 acres down in the village 6 lots of grass! The 8 older girls and 4 ewe lambs have Merinos for company and I'm breeding him back to his daughters by design as I want to fix some of his small size in the flock. This has to be done with care as line breeding for certain charecteristics can be risky. We have a lovely 3 acre field that has not had any livestock in it in the next village on a 25 year lease from the Woodland trust and as soon as the paperwork is done they will all be moving up there. This will rest my set of small fields here at home and they will be back to lamb. We made some nice haylage and it is sitting waiting for the worst weather. A new large hen house is being constructed for my 6 hens and cockerel and my now fully grown buff orpingtons...only 2 hens and will keep best for the pot! I have a new plucker in the house, Charlie aged 8 plucked and cleaned a plump phesant a couple of weeks ago which tasted great roasted!
On the other front i am now on my chemotherapy treatment and have had 2 out of 4 and am still standing! Its not so bad and feels like the hangover from hell plus slight morning sickness nausea for a couple of days and makes you tired and unable to concentrate which is infuriating when trying to calculate wool insulation square metres! I still walk my dogs 2-5 miles a day and am fit and well. The hair thing is quite bizzare as now falling out like a moulting dog....I now have more sympathy for their plight when hoovering up mine as well as theirs!!!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Its my birthday and I'm off on a 2 day escape in the pouring rain to Devon....yes I know I live 1 mile from the Devon border...just going to a different bit!

Got good news yesterday....clear CT scan, all rest of my lymph nodes are clear and no more boob reshaping needed either wooo hooo!!!

So I will leave you to savor some Breton dancing at our local Fest Noz when we were in Berrien in August.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Our piggies have been the freezers of myself, Lesley, Penny and Selena. They killed out at 7 months at 69, 70 and 73kg with 2cm max backfat which pleased me a lot as it was exactly what I was aiming at and I feed by eye and never weigh. One is still at the butchers being made into bacon...well why cure it myself when one of my amazing wool pack clients is Anna at Bringing Home the Bacon it is being cured traditionally and slowly and then being oak smoked in Annas smoker. She has made our sausages too and as a person who makes sausages myself I can report she is an amazing sausage maker and well deserves every award she has won!
We fed the pigs the usual amount but saved this time on costs by getting lots and lots of past sell by date fruit and veg from the local greengrocers....pigs just love strawberries! barley meal! We collected the slops from the local pub exery few days and boy didn't they just love it. The result was 3 very chilled pigs who would do anything to get their snouts into it when mixed with barley!
The pigs were Mangaliza x Tamworth a cross I was so delighted to get hold of as the meat is dense, tasty and very suitable for bacon in both breeds....with the addition of beer plus also copious quantities of windfall apples and about 3/4 of an acre to root, wallow and bounce around in this pork is special...cannot wait for the bacon!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Well the results were not quite as good as I had hoped and a lymph node had some micro bits in it and they needed to do a bit more digging to get a good margin around the very small lump taken out...1.9cm which in view of where it was it was not surprising I could feel nowt!....also its agressive...marverlous....but hey its also oestrogen fed so can be switched off with drug therapy ....hooray! so I have been back to the hotel (whoops I meant hospital)for further treatment (all lymph nodes in armpit out!) and an even better looking boob (he decided to adjust it a bit more...plastic surgeons eh?)...I will be a Marilyn Monroe look alike soon!
I also have a CAT scan booked for Friday....always wanted a 3d image of myself! Next results day next Thursday...the day before my birthday so it had better be something bloody good in the way of news!....I will be having chemotherapy starting in a few weeks and already have a business idea....more in a minute!

Now breast cancer is treatable and most women live for years...and years...and years after treatment but you know so many folks are telling me to 'take it easy' and 'rest and look after yourself' or 'well you are of course going to sell the sheep'
Well politely sod off please...
Flippin heck guys....I will of course look after myself....I do already! I eat healthily, grow my own and have done for 30 years, I don't smoke, don't drink too much and get loads of exercise. I'm a fit healthy woman with a small problem which will be resolved not a person fleeing from the man with the scythe!!!
Rumours of my iminant demise have reached me on the grapevine....well anyone who hears anything like that please tell the person to contact me personally for the real daughter is the same....she is beautiful, very healthy, has lovely hair now, is getting married in May and she and her new husband will be off to run a 200 acre farm on behalf of his dad....

Now as for business.....I am going to create a range of wool dreadlock wigs so that those of us who have to have a few months without hair can have a bit of this space ;-)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

6 days after being in hospital I was getting a little bored and so Pete and I went off to judge the Melplash Agricultural Society Annual Hedgelaying competition held in conjunction with their ploughing match. We had been invited to this prestigeous task a few months ago and 30 hedgelayers were entered in a range of classes....Open, Novice, Local, Pairs and Young Farmers (thats a class for youngsters and the youngest competitor was 14)
There were several notable hedgelayers competing including the 2008 national champion!
The weather was beautiful and the location stunning, being in West Dorset near Beaminster with views across the Marshwood vale (The vale of the little daries in Thomas Hardy books) to Bridport and sparkling blue sea in the distance!
We walked miles looking and re looking, observing the cut, the style, the use of tools, the skill etc to reach our decisions and also went up for a break to watch the ploughing competition and partake of some super Dorset apple cake and a cup of tea with milk from that mornings milking! The pictures show the Open class hedge just as the competitors were starting, the ploughing competition, including the judges deliberating and two competitors deep in conversation about problems with their plough and the finished hedge in the local competition with the view behind it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A summer to remember.....for all the wrong (?)reasons!
Work has been manic, the sun has shone, the veg has been amazing, the sheep have lambed, the pigs grown on to slaughter and volunteers....most magnificent ones this year have come and gone....and despite a wet August the summer has been fantastic....we had a wonderful holiday in Brittany without any rain! So it should have been a wonderful summer.....however things have been happening that will ensure life will never be quite the same again and could actually be the most positive things that have ever a funny sort of way!
You may recall earlier in the year that I mentioned that my daughter aged 26 at the time had been diagnosed with breast a result of that making me a little less upbeat and also the incredible amount of work we have had in...this blog has suffered somewhat....
So, why was I a little less up beat?....and for an enthusiastic person like me a little preoccupied?
Well since my gran had died of breast cancer, and my mother, who i had little contact with since the age of 13 had died of what was thought by her husband to be cancer, and my daughter had it I went for an appointment at the genetic dept of our local big hospital. They were able to find out that my mother had indeed died of breast cancer making 3 generations with me as the meat in the sandwich.....
We were labelled as a high risk family and 3 weeks later I was sent for an early mamogramme.....just to rule out anything as nothing could be felt....and I had always checked...
well a week later I had been referred for 'further investigation'....great!
A week and several proceedures later plus a biopsy of 'something suspicious' I went for the results....
They had discovered a 1.8mm grade 2 invasive ductal cancer in the centre of the left breast in a place where no one could have felt it!!! I swore quite loudly!
Surgery was booked for the 6th September....

Well I am happy to report I survived the surgery....they got the lump, they dug out a lymph node or 2....with the aid of blue dye, radioactive stuff and a geiger counter!!!, the anasthetic made me very groggy but nothing hurt and I have a remodelled boob (yes I know gents...too much info!)that is better than it started out (they will redo the other one to match if I want).
Results will be given to me on Thursday when I find out the rest of the info after pathology on the nodes and tumor and fingers and toes crossed it will be just radiotherapy or that and possibly chemotherapy....

So why have I shared this on a smallholding/woolly blog?
Well to tell you to tell your friends, relatives and colleagues both women (yes more and more men are getting breast cancer) to go and get checked, to not 'forget' about the mammogramme they have been called for, to look for changes, however small in boobs....and not to assume that only older women get it...they don't look here and also remember Kylie Minogue!
Lets rise to the challenge people and save a life!
Me and my daughter will be ok....but those who are frightened to go and get something suspicious checked need to know to do it NOW!!!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Well here it is

My sheep are famous!!!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wool has many uses! Here we see some of the insulation offcuts used in my hanging baskets and some reprocessed waste wool used in an old wire veg rack to very pleasing effect!

Life is getting really exciting with us being featured in National Geographic Green!.....Reuters News wanting to film us for world wide distribution and a couple of other exciting things yet to be confirmed!

Budget day was yesterday and boy are people going to have to cut their spending habits! We live on a really low income.....below the 'poverty line' according to government statistics but we live really well due to being very very frugal! so when I hear people with combined incomes of over 40k moaning how they are going to be worse off by 3k I am amazed! 40k is an amount of income I can only dream of....
combined with a set of statistics received yesterday that reveals that........... Britons annually put 2 million tonnes of textiles in landfill each year
That in 2009, women bought nearly 3x the amount of garments they bought in 1999 and 20% of the clothing we buy we don’t even wear.
and a garment worker in Bangladesh makes as little as £1 a day making clothes for Western markets.......makes me think people need to learn a little thrift???

The Green Party MP complained there were no green issues addressed by the budget but I would say that making people reuse their clothes....and actually wear them out, reduce their spending and buy ethically....good well made clothes that will last and give the makers a fair price rather than throwaway teeshirts that cause environmental catastrophes due to cotton production methods and recycle the old clothes and textiles rather than land filling with them is a HUGE issue well addressed......

The wool you see in the veg basket would have been destined for landfill......I have stopped approx 6 tonnes of waste wool going there in the last 12 months......fibre for thought eh!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Yurt liners any length can now be made on our fantastic new machine....and fabric for clothing, and rugs, and wall hangings, and......loads and loads of stuff!!!.......including mulch mats, hanging basket liners, and lots of horticultural items!!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Taken from Father Peters excellent blog....look at my links.....

The following is inscribed on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in Westminster Abbey

"When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country, but it, too, seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it. And now, as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realise: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family.

From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country, and who knows, I may have even changed the world".

In the words of Ghandi 'Be the change you want to see'.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Earlier in the year I was asked by an artist if I would take part in a project called 'Soft bench in a hard landscape' which is all about knitting jumpers for park benches!!! The idea is that lots of people in a comminity knit a bit of the jumper and its then placed on a bench where people can sit, bringing the community together....
So of course I glibly said yes and found that within 10 days I had to take some Jacob wool (a black and white spotted sheep breed) and turn it into knitting wool....yikes!
So I set about the task of washing, drying, picking and carding the wool, trying hard to retain some of its charecter of being multi coloured. I then had to find a very fast hand spinner who could produce enough wool to knit into a bench jumper and felt some of the wool to cover the legs!!!.......and the result?
Well its pictured on the left...Salon Bench Knowle West.
Rather good eh?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Well lots of exciting things are happening so I have got to keep blogging or I will have to write sooooo much to catch up!
The sun has decided to shine so at last everything is growing with a vengence! All 8 ewes have lambed....4 ewe lambs and 4 ram lambs including a grey one!
Our new pigs have settled in.....3 mangalitza cross Tamworth gilts who will be going to the great freezer in the sky in September! I am running a pig co-op this time teaching 2 friends how to raise weaners ready for pork and bacon so we have 1 pig each and do a week on week off rota of feeding etc....really good way of doing it! They are very long in the body, very well grown and lovely pigs.
We have been working our socks off and have just completed over 100 sheets of felt for a customer, had a project to felt a peat bog in Wales come in and borrow our felting machines, had an open day with over 80 visitors....and escaping alpacas!!!
We have also been involved in a project to knit a woolly park bench and have branched out into designer dog beds and......futons....The futons will have their first outing at Wonderwool Wales this weekend along with some amazing clothing designed and made by a fashion designer out of waste wool felt!!!
I have not seen the jackets etc made as they are top secret but I will take some pics for the blog on Saturday when they are featuring on the 'Sheep Walk'

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Normal service will shortly be resumed!
I have not really felt like posting of late as I try to keep this blog very upbeat and full of challenge.
However late last year my daughter aged 26 was diagnosed with breast cancer which was a terrible shock to everyone concerned....this is a very young age to find out such a diagnosis. I have a tendency to be a cool level headed person who copes well in a crisis....and on the outside I do....very well. There is a part of a poem by Rudyard Kipling that talks about " if you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, ..." and that sums me up well....although a good friend of mine often says if you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs - you really don't understand the seriousness of the situation!.....well may be! however it is very hard when a child of yours is diagnosed with something like this....and you have other kids....another daughter aged 28, a son aged 24 and sons at school aged 17 and 7.......what do you say, and how? Especially when all your older female relatives have died directly or indirectly from it albeit at a much older age!
It is also hard as if you have a young child diagnosed with a serious illness there is a lot of help and support for the family for example CLIC have a home from home where families can stay together whilst having treatment.....but when your child is an adult, even though they are still your child and even though you have other children....and I have a 7 year old who adores his sisters and brothers....there is nothing! you don't count, there is no support, no information....of course this is because your ill child is an the eyes of a parent age means nothing, they are your child, but you are not involved anymore, you do not count, you are anonymous, you don't exist......
And it is very very hard!
Friends ask if everything is going ok....and you give as much news as you can. My daughter lives with her partner over an hour away so poping in is very difficult....and he is very protective of her so it feels like interfering to intrude on them uninvited.....and that is seen as being hard to get things right......
I have no family left alive other than my kids so no supportive sister or brother for me.....and her dad who is not my husband, we split 13 years ago, has never asked how the rest of the family are or how the other kids are feeling......and his family, all evangelical christians, have never contacted me about it its actually rather difficult to keep cheerful at times!

She is half way through very strong chemotherapy at the moment and its hard, almost impossible to know what to do and how to give support when running a business (I'm main breadwinner so cannot put on hold!) sorting out a difficult teenager, occupying a lively inquisitive small boy and supporting a husband who has recently broken a bone in his leg falling off a ladder! not to mention trying to be a friend to my other daughter who can be a little distant and difficult at times and my other son!

So please forgive me for being open and honest and please people check your 'bits' boobs for the ladies and balls for the might save your life!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

......There have been a number of disasters recently, earthquakes, mudslides and floods.......We got our insurance renewal and the letter in formed us that we didnt have to do anything as it would be automatically renewed and the new monthly premium would be .....nearly £200.....
Pardon! I re-read this several times and sat down quickly....that was over £2000 per year! Before this arrived our monthly premium was about £40 for buildings and contents......
So I phoned the insurance company to question the huge increase....the man on the phone said he thought there was something wrong and would phone back when he had investigated.

Well 10 minutes later he phoned back......'yes madam that is correct as you are now in a flood risk area'.....Urm but our house is nearly a thousand feet up on a hill (294m) and are you sure I asked....Oh yes he replied.....
Well I know there have been a lot of floods in Britain but it would take floods of biblical proportions to reach our house!! Therefore I had to cancel the insurance and go in search of a new deal on compare the (those of you who watch british tv will understand!!)

So now I have new insurance from a company who is not preparing an ark.....

Friday, February 26, 2010

Gosh.....I have not posted anything here for a month......which reflects just how manic it has been!
We are able to cut the price of our sheeps wool insulation for roof and walls! Fantastic news this as we really want to get wool into peoples homes and make it affordable!
Good old B&Q....a British diy chain for those of you who don't know....are now selling sheeps wool insulation....of a sort....its 35% and mixed with.....wait for it.....fibre glass! which makes a nonsense of it being environmentally friendly in my opinion!

I was featured in a double page centre spread in a local newspaper recently.....the Western Morning News! They really did a good job explaining to people what I did and how....and why! Several people contacted me but thought wool insulation was too expensive....and I explained how and why it was a bit more expensive.....but didn't literally cost 'the earth' and as I have said here we are trying to make it affordable for all which we can with our recycled knitting wool insulation...which is lower in price than tell you friends!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Wool Duvets from Devon! There was a fascinating programme last night on the tv.... called 'my dream farm' it followed a family who moved to Devon and took on a small farm, some sheep and some pigs! They wanted to make some money from their produce so decided to make wool duvets. Well it DOES help if Monty Don give a bit of help and advice and brings in the buyers from London! Good luck and go for it is my advice to them!
Meanwhile we are to be featured in a double page spread in the Western Morning News next week! They are really interested in our business of keeping people warm with sheeps wool insulation! Above are pictures of a recent installation in a grade 2* listed house!!
We have expansion plans in the pipeline having been awarded a loan from The Fredericks Foundation to purchase a needlefelting machine......more news on that front soon!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Its been so cold and frozen that I just have not got to blogging.....We had permafrost for 2 weeks, frozen everything plus lots of woolly packs to get out so everyone could have their turkey delivered! I took a week off between Christmas and the New Year to paint the kitchen and then BANG snow....and lots of it!!!
4ft drifts up by the unit....we slithered in and out with children being looked after by all and sundry as schools were closed 4x4....kept for such occaisions became a snowmobile and we crossed all sorts of terrain covered in ice and snow! The picture is sunset over a snowy airfield at Dunkeswell near my Woolly Waste Unit! The video is of our house in its snowy setting! And today after a week of 6 inches of unyeilding white stuff we woke to 4 inches more on top!! I am getting seriously fed up with it now as the schools are shut and the sheep confused as to exactly where the grass has gone!