I’ve not achieved much the last few days. It’s frustrating. I have however been learning. Learning about the olden days. I’ve been watching a wonderful series called Edwardian Farm. It’s where 2 archaeologists and a historian live the life of Edwardian age farmers in Devon England for 12 months. It’s been fascinating! I can’t call it anything but highly educational for someone like me and my old brain box is ticking at high speed. I want to make a barrel smoker, I want to raise pigs, I want to try some of the recipes they made I want to try try try and then try some more. 😀 I found so much of the series quite sad too. The Edwardian Era was the beginning of the end of horses on farms, the beginning of more and more mechanised work being done and also the beginning of more reliance on oil. The Industrial revolution had brought in the use of steam power through the Victorian Era but more and more the Edwardian Era saw this mechanisation filtering through to the small farmers and landholders, not just those with money.
However, the poorer farmers were still Jack of all trades but also masters of their own. They were farmers and raised their crops, livestock or both but during times when the money was thin on the ground and farmwork not pressing (working around planting, harvesting, lambing, shearing etc) then they turned to other means. Fishing, mining, cottage industry and so on. One comment has really stuck with me though. In the country the old ways persisted. The ability to forge iron was the example they used. In the cities, if folk needed iron they bought it. They had no other option but in the country people remembered their fathers and grandfathers, or mothers and grandmothers, doing things the old way and that skill base took a lot longer to disappear. The same is true today to some extent. Thankfully we have the internet and libraries which allow us to research the old skills though as so many have died out. If you needed to sharpen a knife for example, would you know how to do it? Without a knife sharpening doovahickey I mean. With a whetstone. I I know the theory but I wouldn’t get it right I know.
So today I have been researching. I’ve also been learning some other lessons. Like what happens when you burn too much wood that isn’t ideally suited to the fire. WHOMP! Yup, a big puff of smoke and a belch from Ignisa. Yes, belch is the right word. I ahve to say it scared me out of at least 5 years of my life. I instantly panicked and thought I’d set the chimney on fire. Thankfully I didn’t. I was home with 3 kids by myself! Martin has been out hunting and gathering wood to season for next year as well as finding some wood from last seasons cut which we can burn this year. 😀 YAY! Anyway, I totally dampened down the fire and called Martin who was on his way home. We’re thinking that a bit too much poplar has gone through her tummy giving her some creosote indigestion. I’m just grateful all she did was belch. Not very ladylike Ignisa. 😦 Thankfully she has behaved for the rest of the afternoon and evening as she was on dinner cooking duties. 🙂 I’d thrown some lamb chops into the schlemmertopf along with some veggies and my last bottle of tomatoes I’d bottled last year (all 50 or so of them). Into the oven around 2 or 3pm and slow cooking away in there at temperatures between 100C and 150C give or take. Delicious! The meat literally fell off the bones which are currently simmering away to reduce down to a nourishing bone broth or stock. I can use that to flavour risotto or pasta or anything I fancy. 🙂 Just 1 more way to get as much as I can from what we have.
I’ve also spent today sewing up a cardigan I knitted on the machine the other week. I added a few more rows in where I thought I might need the extra length but it’s come out a bit huge and baggy so I need to see how it fits after a wash. Currently it’s better suited to someone a size or 2 bigger than me and approximately 6 foot 6 inches tall or taller! Whoops. Hopefully it will tighten up in the wash but being acrylic I am holding little hope. We will see. Sitting and knitting or sewing etc helps me justify sitting down and watching something like this. It stops me from having idle hands which in turn gives me the fidgets or makes me feel guilty for wasting time. I COULD be doing something if you know what I mean.
Now I know there are some generous and wonderful people out there in the world but one of my wonderful readers takes the cake. I won’t name drop as I’m sure she would kick my backside but you know who you are. We have been gifted some wonderful books for our children in years to come (I reckon I will enjoy them before then too), a bicycle helmet, 2 bicycles and a rooster. Generous, no? Both Martin and I are more than a little overwhelmed by the generosity of this lovely lady and extremely grateful. The rooster comes to us courtesy of this wonderful lady’s workmate. Sadly, he does not come with breed information and although he came to us on the understanding that he would most likely end up in the dinner pot, his exquisite beauty has put us in a tough place. We don’t want to cull this beautiful bird. He is seriously the George Clooney of roosters, fitting considering his name was George. I say “was” as I’d renamed him Golden Boy (Black Boy is our black Dorking rooster) but Jasper decided he was Mr Skinny Legs and the moniker does suit. He has lovely long and non-stocky pins on which he dances around like a ballerina. Very light footed, rather noisy (hence why we can’t keep him), rather feisty and not impressed with Black Boy at all.
Can you help identify the breed?
Anyway, it’s time for me to hit the sack. I have a brain box that needs some quiet processing time, plans to make and mst importantly, sleep needs to be had. Here’s hoping I get to sleep later than 4:30, although it is quite pleasant having those 2 full hours totally devoid of other people, watching the light creep into the room and having the house to myself in some ways too. Who knows Fran, you might end up with company for your insane o’ clock starts after all. Now just to get you on Skype so we can chat easier. 🙂
Ok, Fran I am up early again. I’m learning that the quality of sleep I get after having woken up early isn’t there. Lightly dozing just makes me a cranky Mumma so here I am, up at 4:45. Am I truly this insane?
I’ve also seen Victorian Farm and Victorian Pharmacy, they’re both very interesting, I borrowed them from the library.
Edwardian Farm is fascinating too. Several ideas I will be giving a go. 🙂
OMG, you will drive me sane!! (beats insane, right??)
Now I have to find Edwardian AND Victorian Farm, plus the others.
My Grandparents were all born in the Victorian era and farmed in the Edwardian; we had a couple of photos of my mother’s mother, wearing those gorgeous hats like what was on Downton Abbey. She never left home without a hat, ever. And this when she was homesteading on the prairies, not living a swanky upperclass life . . .
Grandpa farmed with heavy horses and my sons’ dad and I had a team of our own for a couple of years. Belgian gelding and a Percheron mare. I absolutely loved them!! I’d have Morgans, maybe a Percheron, now.
My grandparents and my parents all had so many skills; makes me look like a city girl . . . but I try. When I get time and start a Books page, I will list some recommendations for learning old skills or just homesteading in general. No time these days. Sorry I haven’t been answering comments, too. I’d love to, but today was at my Aunty’s for 3 hours, went for groceries (1.5 hrs), then was with her again from 5 to 10 pm. In between, worked on tidying up a wee pile of my (huge piles) of stuff. Just made it to the computer now.
OK, as to creosote buildups; I recommend you keep a tin (large coffee tin with lid does nicely) of coarse salt near to the stove. If you DO get a chimney fire, immediately dump the salt into the burning box and it will put the fire out. It’s good to use a mix of soft and hardwoods, but not always easy, or cheap, to get both.
I can teach you how to sharpen a knife properly, with a whetstone; and thanks for spelling it properly, some people think it is a wetstone, which is a different thing.
Acrylic usually won’t shrink; but the long sweater look is quite Edwardian; you just need a lovely long skirt and some sturdy boots 🙂
And I didn’t know you had a knitting machine; a friend gave me one, but the instructions are pitiful and hard to follow (and that’s for me, who normally learns everything from the written word!). Once I have time, you may be able to teach me what you know! I would love that!
Wonderful gifts you got, but now I’m wondering which books those are . . . not to worry, I don’t need to know everything immediately . . .
Love the rooster! Try googling breeds of chicken; you may find a photo. It looks familiar to me, but I honestly don’t remember the breed.
LOVE Downton Abbey! 😀
I’ve a bit of a thing for spelling and I tend to google if I am not sure (not perfect but I try). I grew up reading Enid Blyton books and the like, not the modern stories so words like whetstone and old farming terms are familiar. Forget about me remembering peoples names or modern day and uccasionally useful stuff. 😉 Watching Edwardian Farm in particular was amazing as it was exactly what they talked about in the Willow Farm series which are from where I initially got my ideas of being a farmer’s wife. Ok, so the dream has changed and morphed and twisted and pretty much come back to where it started except with a self sufficiency focus rather than a money making focus but hey. that’s evolution! 🙂
The books are amazing and I will, when I have the time and the space, get them out on a shelf and take a photo for you. 🙂
I tried googling some chook breeds and also went through my pickin chicken app on my phone but t no avail. It will turn up sometime. 🙂
Thanks for the recommendation . . . I think! I really need more addictions and I just know these will become that for me. Even with all I know, there is so much more out there . . . ~ Linne
Watching it has me wanting to learn straw plaiting, wanting to plant hay grass and so very much more.
I saw that Edwardian Farm was advertised on tv a while back but unfortunately missed it. I’ve been keeping my eyes open for the repeats.
You sure do lead a busy productive life! I would love to try more than I do, and am slowly stepping towards that but working 30 hrs a week and raising 3 kids certainly makes me prioritse the things that I feel either will have the best impact right now or that I can manage to fit into my day! One step at a time and I’ll get there.
That doesn’t stop me dreaming of the day I can do more though and reading fantastic blogs like yours for inspiration. Thank you!
BTW your new rooster looks so handsome!
He is a handsome fellow but we just can’t keep him. And he’s kind of too pretty to cull. Ok, I’m a sentimental fool. 😉 It’s looking like he is a hybrid (yes, Ing, you’re right) and possibly an Isa or similar.
I also have 3 kids so I understand that challenge but I do not have to work 30 hours a week. How the hell do you do that?! My hat goes off to mums who work, particularly a lot of hours and I hope you have some wonderful familial support. Your homestead will come, be it a balcony or a huge farm but when it’s right for your family it will be. 🙂 And thank you. I hope I can continue to be inspiring and that I continue to live up to expectation too. 🙂
I was reminded of just how hard life was back then but how simple and fullfilling at the same time. We watched all three series and enjoyed them all when they were on television a while ago. Yes…you are insane. You can’t help it because you are now a child of the early morning and once 3am gets hold of you its very hard to get it to let go. My daughters went to bed just as I was getting up this morning so I guess we cancel each other out? ;). There are so many lessons to learn from the past, precious things that I am greedy to learn. I, too, want to learn them all but know that isn’t possible, but I can learn those skills that are most important for our lives on Serendipity Farm and can pass them on to future generations. I guess that is why community is so important, a whole group of people with different skills and mindsets all living together and sharing what they have and know and much like keeping seed banks all over the place, giving humanity a much stronger chance of surviving :). I might have to watch those Edwardian and Victorian etc. series again…Christmas Dinner will never be the same! 😉
Christmas dinner will never be the same but I will pass on boiling up a pigs head and most definitely pass on brains and eyeballs. Bleuch!
4:30 is magical but I want to begin to use that time more productively. I could fold all the washing then! And then have it put away whilst the kids eat breakfast so I don’t need to refold it when my little sod, oops, youngest son 😉 unfolds them all piece by piece.
Yes, I am loving the 4:30 starts although not quite ready to set the alarm earlier than 5:30 that it is now. If I wake before then I shall get up but I do find I’m pretty knackered mid morning when I arise so early so I will let my body do whats best. 🙂
I am in a totally different situation than you. I don’t have any other distractions and can pretty much do what I like, when I like and so I have the luxury of going to bed when I want, eating when I want etc. I guess you earn it after your kids leave home, its a reward for all of that barf and dung and particularly for all of those teenage years (that you still have to get through yet 😉 ). Cheers for the info about coconut flour. I make fresh coconut milk (out of fresh coconuts… go figure! 😉 ) and dehydrate the remaining fine pulp after I vitamix it. After I have dehydrated it, it is effectively coconut flour and now I have a use for it :). I have lots of almond flour and sesame meal/flour as well and think I might start incorporating them into cakes etc. Mum used to bring half pigs heads back from the butchers to make brawn. We were also fed lambs brains (I actually really liked them crumbed), hearts and although she tried to feed me kidneys I wouldn’t eat them. We got liver and all sorts of offal as kids dressed up so that it wasn’t easy to identify the source but most of it tasted great. Lambs heart tastes like steak and is delicious sliced across and fried. Mum used everything as well but that was more for economies sake. We didn’t have a lot of moola but I think that stands me in good stead now because I grew up without much of it and don’t feel like I need a lot to get by :). Your son and Earl would get along well. Earl waits for me to make the bed and then saunters into our bedroom and makes a “nest” at the end of it by scratching up all of the sheets into a tangled mess right where he sleeps as if to say “you forgot MY bed woman!” ;). We have to put clean washing in the middle room because Earl is a snowdropper and will pinch socks, underpants (he doesn’t discriminate which) and anything else that might be a bit of fun to eat. Sounds like Earl and Orik are kindred spirits and Earl likes nothing more than children because when he was living in South Australia as a pup the only human touch he got was from the breeders daughter who would take him for walks and pat him. They were all shoved into a huge breeding space (dog factory) where it was live or let live. The only dogs that got special treatment were the top (read $2000) blue Amstaffs and the breeders top “red” range. Earl wasn’t squat enough or wide enough to pass that test (in other words he was a “normal” Amstaff…the breeder is after freakish specimens to “enhance” his breed so we got him for a good price and he still wags his tail like crazy whenever he sees small girls :). Dogs do remember 🙂 Hope you aren’t too knackered today. I feel a bit seedy myself at 4am. I set my alarm for 5am but haven’t had it actually go off on me in months now. I just wake up before it (usually between 3.30am and 4am) now right when my daughters are thinking about going to bed 😉
As they say, every journey is different. We’re at different stages but that common theme seems to be 34 again. 🙂
I slept in this morning. Just out of bed now. I needed it. And I’m good with that too although I will only get 45 minutes before Martin wakes.
I too had lambs brains as a kid and would ask for them but the thought churns my belly now. I want to get to the point that we can use every part f any animals we buy/raise for economies sake, health sake and also to give full respect to the animal we are eating. It’s given its life for us and I refuse to just eat the prime cuts and waste the rest. Offal will take some working up to though. I’ve been saving out chicken livers and feet though. I’m seeing chicken liver pate on the horizon as well as chickens feet stock. Apparently it makes the thickest of jelly stocks which means it’s full of all that gorgeous gelatin that is so very good for us. 🙂
None of us are particularly dog people, so I don’t know what Orik would think of such a bit dog (when viewed from his eyes). I do know Jas would panic and Allegra would be pretty scared. Sounds much like a dog I knew years ago, a St Bernard who ADORED babies. He would pelt at top speed towards any pram he saw (imagine the mothers fright at a huge dog steam training towards her baby) then skid to a halt to look lovingly and with wonder at the baby. Harry’s owners believe that he was moved on once they had a baby and he wanted to love whatever it was that had taken his masters love. He was such a big loving dog who sadly thought he was a cat. There’s no issue with a terrier thinking that but I’m guessing Amstaffs, St Bernards, Great Danes and the like do not make the best of lap warmers. 😉
Earl would beg to differ there…he climbs up onto the back of the Chesterfield that i sit on at night and curls around behind me to put his beak (nose…but it’s always stuck in things so “beak” it is!) into the back of my hair to go to sleep…he really is a sook! The lays upside down next to Steve on the sofa with his head in his lap…a massive great baby himself ;). I remember our first rooster head…we picked it up gingerly by the comb and watched together silently as the colour of the comb drained away and ended up burying it. Apparently the cocks comb is a delicacy in some countries…sorry, but a decent burial is the best it gets in our own private little country of Serendipity Farm! 😉 The cats put paid to everything else and wait with glee whenever we have to kill a rooster or two (take note stock and pot, your days are running to an end with all that 5am crowing!). Steve is a bit fussy (to say the least… won’t eat anything with bones in it or fat on it) and won’t eat chicken livers etc. but I did use the chook feet after a decent scrub and dousing with boiling water to make stock and the results were incredibly gelatinous and satisfying (even though Steve was a bit sus about the whole process he really enjoyed the soup and said it was the best he had ever eaten 😉 ). Its all about learning and Steve is a large city boy through and through. Before he moved here he hadn’t eaten fish or pizza in years because he was worried about bones and food poisoning (got both when he moved out of home and started prepping food himself 😉 ). We are VERY different! If it were Steve the vegan and me the meat consumer I would be smacking my lips on steak fat and was a consumate scarfer of pork fat (loved the stuff!) when I ate meat…that’s the reason behind my veganism more than animal activism…a bit selfish but I am being honest here…my ass…trying to fit through a door after a 5 course pork fest wasn’t something likely after a few years…I am a quintessential gourmand 😉
Just came across your blog from A Random Harvest today and am very much enjoying it…including the comment section here. What a great little community you have cultivated! 🙂
It’s a community that has found me and I am completely blessed by it. Thanks for popping over too and welcome. 🙂