North Devon is looking glorious. We have a full on watering regime to keep everything in the garden growing. Our swimming pool is 29 degrees! The lambs have grown into rough and tumble “lads” and the chicks are now 2 months old but we still have no idea how many will be hens and how many will be cocks! Our next renovation project is to raise the height of the roof in our end of the Long House so our bedroom and bathroom become much bigger. The Poly tunnel which we put up this year is wonderful and about to start supplying us with luscious tomatoes. Then with any luck, squash, corn, cucumber, peppers, chillies, basil and lettuce. A top tip is to pinch shower caps from any hotel visits as they make great propagators! Thanks to all my event colleagues from the Croatian Cruise this year we managed to collect nearly 30 and they are all being used!!! We have just had a wonderful weekend at North Morte Farm camp site with 10 other Marwood Families. Rockham Bay is a stunning beach and well worth the walk.
Two fuzzy black lambs and their mum (sheep number 15) have moved into the paddock at the Long House. Although, tame and cute as they are. Pets they are not! We also have 5 fluffy black chicks who on writing the are one week old! Their mum is fiercely protective of them and one must endure a serious pecking if you dare to dip your hand in an pick one up! The veg garden is finally been kick started into life.
Oh dear, it would appear that I am not so good at updating my blog – sorry. So here goes to a new regime of regular updates. We are all good at the Long and Little House. Our kids Violet and Rex are 4 and 2 and a half and are fit and well and loving the North Devon way of life. After the horrendous floods in Braunton just before Christmas, life is pretty much back to normal for most of the traders affected. In true North Devon style the community spirit has been incredible, with wonderful tales of kindness and generosity. We still feel very blessed to live here. After the rainy summer 0f 2013 we are are hoping for a some sun this time! It is cold at the moment but at least it is currently dry! The chickens have a new boss, called Richard he is the cockerel that we bred last year and he is doing a wonderful job of keeping his girls in order, he is a very demanding male…….!!! the veg patch is awaiting our much needed attention and muck spreading is happening today! The veg season was terrible last year with the slugs eating almost everything. It was a regular sport of skewering slugs, the kids were very adept at it! As for long house projects. We last year we painted the back of the house, replaced some windows and created a new patio at the back of our end of the house. This year we have three projects: the first is the secure the paddock fencing as we have some lambs arriving in a few weeks. Next put up a poly tunnel which we have been dreaming of for years! Last to raise the roof on our end of the house – this is a pretty big deal so will not be happening until the end of the year. We had some good feedback from guests in the Little House and we have made listened and made the following improvements: replaced the sofa bed mattress with a more comfy one, put more hooks up, put in more wine glasses and more cutlery, made the court yard and parking area at the back of the Little House secure so dogs and kids can play.
Jerry has worked hard to keep our wood stocks up, as we use wood to heat half the house and for the hot water it is a never ending task, but it normally means lots of days at the wood shed having bonfires and sausages – we all love it especially Jingle the labrador. For those of you that always ask – Jack the horse is still fit and well!
Christmas is almost upon us, and winter is arriving this week by the looks of the forecast! – but – what a wonderful Indian summer it has been. Our good friends Carl and Ant and their kiddies came down for beach weekend at the beginning of October, we were all playing beach games and the kids were all swimming in the sea at Woolly. It was wonderful.
We are very busy with the children, now that Violet is a very buzzing almost 2 year old and Rex is almost 4 months old. We are blessed to have two wonderful, happy and healthy children. With just an 18-month gap between Violet and Rex we are kept on our toes 24/7. The B&B and The Little House have been busy all year, which is wonderful. Thank you to all our customers, especially those who keep coming back!
We continue to make plans and dream about the changes we have in mind for The Long House, most of which will stay as a dream for a while! Time is some what in short supply these days! So the lake, sheep in the paddock, a bathroom renovation, soft fruit cage, more tree planting, putting the greenhouse up will have to line up in the queue!
Now that we have installed a brand new Rayburn, we will need an everlasting supply of wood. Thanks to Jerry we have a huge new wood shed at the end of the paddock, which is half full at the moment. Together with our neighbours Jess and James, who also have a high wood usage, we strive to better our woodpile all the time and make sure James has wood envy and not us! The new Rayburn is wonderful, the scorching hot water is endless and the house is toasty warm. The wood shed is the perfect place to hang out with a bottle of beer and have a bonfire!
Next up is a batch of chickens, we are down to four, so will increase numbers in early spring so we have a plentiful supply of eggs next summer. The veg plot needs some serious attention! But it has fed us with 22 different sorts of fruit and veg since June, so we cannot complain. We are still picking spinach, chard, carrots and beets. The onions are hanging up; looking almost to good to use and the spuds are only just about to run out.
Jingle is as mad as ever and Jack the horse is strip grazing the paddock and still enjoying lots of lush grass. Jo has just started riding Jack again; he still has a spring in his step and is raring to go.
Veg growing tips:
Any tips for growing squash – we would love to know, ours were not great. Our top veggie growing tip: is to plant your broads and runners in loo roll holders full of compost, then you can stick them straight in the ground when they are a few inches high and the frost has all gone!
So far the weather has been fantastic, we have not suffered with humid and extreme high temperatures. Rain has been scarce but we have had enough to keep North Devon looking green and lush. The vegetable plot is thriving and we are reaping the benefits.
This year we have made a lot of use out of Jerry’s home designed ram pump. Using the fall in the stream, we pump water up to the veg plot for all our watering – genius and best of all – FREE!!!
Jack the horse is still going strong – we are starting to wonder if he is immortal! He is around 28 years old, he looks great, keeps good care of his paddock and is ready to be ridden as soon as I am able!
While I write this we have 10 days to go until due date of baby number 2!! Violet (baby number 1) is almost 18 months and keeps us all busy. She spends most of her spare time playing with Jingle (our Labrador) they are the very best of friends.
Our wood stack is ready and drying for winter and next winters wood is half way there! We are finally replacing our ancient coal burning Aga to a much more environmentally friendly wood burning Rayburn. More wood for Jerry to collect and process, but with his new wood shed built (a rather nifty shelter for Jack as well)! and ready at the end of the paddock, it is full steam ahead!
Have you a glut of courgettes yet?
Here is what we do with ours – Creamy Courgette Soup:
4 decent sized courgettes
1 litre of stock
¾ tub or full fat cream cheese
Roughly chop courgettes, cook till soft with stock and curry powder – around 15-20, mix in the cream cheese, use a whizzer to whiz it, heat it up and serve it with chunky bread and butter. It also freezes really well – enjoy!!