Yesterday was a busy day from the start ... and not in a good way.
The day started with Alan going to down to make us a cup of coffee, only to find copious mounds, splats and puddles of doggy sick. Christmas presents strewn all over the conservatory ... and the cause of the sickness epidemic ... missing chocolate Santa's bought for the grandchildren!!
So the washer was put straight into service washing dog bed liners and towels, two very guilty looking pooches didn't know where to put themselves and Ginger the cat ... who is the only one who could possibly have knocked the bag over containing the presents ... was his usual 'I'm a good boy aren't I ' self.
Much cleaning, present wrapping and little jobs later we were suddenly distracted by the sight of five sheep running past the conservatory doors, then tucking into our laurel bushes near the shed. We pulled on our wellies and then spent an hour herding the very energetic sheep this way and that until we managed to get them contained in the paddock.
They had wandered in through our open gates as we were expecting Will the farmer with his gift for Alan .... half a sheep!!
We thought they were Thomas' sheep, the farmer that owns the field opposite so we gave him a ring, he turned up half an hour later with a trailer to collect them. As it happened they weren't his sheep at all, the sheep I thought were missing from his field had just been hiding in the trees there. Will, showed up while Thomas and his brother were chatting to Alan, so three Welsh farmers and a Scottish engineer had a bloody good laugh about things and set the world to rights.
Thomas' trailer being there though turned out very useful, as we had our old sofa in the conservatory that we have been trying to find a good home for ... and he has a bunkhouse that needed some seating, so it was loaded up but not in the way we had originally expected. While the guys were chatting two of the sheep leapt out of our paddock over the fence and had to be chased back in ... not good. We made good the escape route and hoped for the best.
This morning we were awoken by the sound of Mavis barking, so Alan rushed downstairs only to find the sheep once again passing by the conservatory. In his dressing gown and wellies he managed to get them round the house but they made for a gap in the hedge and out on to the main road. He could have herded them back in if it wasn't for a very mean spirited motorist who refused to stop his car, and spooked them into running off up the main road.
So the sheep have gone, hopefully for good. They are no doubt at this very minute munching on someone else's garden, and for those of you who follow our frequent sheep exploits they are owned by the same farmer who's sheep (including Ethel) are routinely found roaming the area in search of their own grazing.
And just a footnote, the dogs are both fine after their consumption of a chocolate Santa each, if there hadn't been so much sick everywhere we would have taken them to the vets, chocolate is very poisonous to dogs, they don't realise how lucky they are!!
We got back from an afternoons Christmas shopping in Llandudno for stocking fillers and a spot of lunch yesterday to find this in the garage. It was in a cardboard box but when Alan picked it up the bottom literally fell out of it as it was so soggy. It had been raining all day and perhaps the delivery guys van was a bit wet ... our garage floor was certainly moist!!!
It's our annual Christmas 'thank you' present from the company Alan works through for the day job. They downgraded from the Fortnum and Mason ones we used to get a couple of years ago, but these are just as lovely.
Inside the little cool pack were these.
And the rest of the hamper, once it was cleared of the paper straw ...
...was full of these.
Not a bad selection, it should keep Alan and any Christmas guests in tasty nibbles for quite a while. Unfortunately there is little of it that I can eat just the mince pies and the onion marmalade, but it is a lovely gift and very appreciated.
After a nice lunch out and then coming home to sort through all this food, all that we could manage for our supper was a chip bun each ...very tasty washed down with a can of cider :-)
Alan has been busy recently, both in his workshop and doing the day job, which he now does from home, but last week he found time to do some running repairs to the henhouse.
The house has sat there in all weathers and in constant use for the last few years, and the thing that gets used the most by lots of little feet and sits there in all weathers ... usually rain ... is the ramp the birds use to get into their house. It had started swelling as it absorbed more and more of the rain we get here in not so sunny North Wales, and basically it was about to fall to pieces.
So using the old one as a pattern, he used wood he already had to manufacture an exact copy and last weekend, after it had had many, many layers of varnish to weatherproof it, he fixed it in place on the henhouse.
Here he is on the way out carrying the old ramp in his right hand and his kneeling mat in the other.
I don't know if anyone has noticed but we have also added a corrugated roof to the henhouse ready for this Winter as the wooden one, even though treated, was starting to let in rain. The new corrugated one was put in place over the original to give the birds an extra layer of protection from the elements.
It has proved a godsend over the last few days. As you can see from this photo the snow sat on top of the roof, meaning that the warmth that the birds generate themselves overnight by huddling together, stayed in the house keeping them warm rather than dissipating and melting the snow on the roof.
I don't know about you but I hate to see houses, whether they be henhouses or human houses, with no snow on their roofs during a cold spell ... it's a sure sign that the occupants are paying to heat the world instead of keeping themselves nice and warm.
It's still absolutely picture perfect here today ...
... although at the moment there is a distinct 'drip, drip, drip' sound so I think the big thaw is on the way.
Sorting out the kitchen cupboards is proving to be very rewarding, I found these two jars of forgotten about blackberries in alcohol yesterday ...
... and while I was looking for a suitable bottle to strain them into I found this :-)
HOW did I forget a bottle of champagne!!
Anyway the alcohol is now bottled and the blackberries are in a jar in the fridge for having with ice-cream as a quick and very decadent dessert over Christmas.
The cupboard was looking much tidier, so I started on the next one.
And found this ....
... just a little bit out of date then ;-)
What a waste, unfortunately it didn't smell too good so it's been chucked. I'm being really ruthless with this big cupboard clean out, after all if we haven't eaten these things through two 'eat down the cupboards' sessions they are never going to get eaten are they and looking in the cupboards and seeing them 'full' is no good if you need to actually want to eat the contents!!
So this time I have gritted my teeth and gotten rid of quite a few jars and packets of out of date and unused foods, mainly fermented things actually, so that shows me we do not like them no matter if a recipe says they are needed, once that recipe has been done the leftovers don't get used up, and sometimes I don't even get round to making up the dish because when push comes to shove we don't really fancy the dish enough to actually do it. ... so no more buying of them.
After a spot of lunch I'll be back to work in the kitchen, there's just one final cupboard to do. Alan won't be able to find anything in the kitchen cupboards when he gets back tonight ... he'll be glad when this snow is gone and I can get out and about again and the place stops getting re-organised :-)
Today we have the same snow, but now with a crunchy layer of ice on top, that hopefully the glorious sunshine will start to dissolve soon, but I'm not holding my breath .... it's freezing cold out there.
The blue skies were wonderful as I walked over to the paddock with the dogs but Suky ran through the gate and then stood still on three legs as if to say 'I'm not getting ALL my feet that cold'. She couldn't wait to get back to the snuggly warmth of Dad's big jacket on the sofa, left behind while he works away from home today
The next job of the day was to take copious buckets of hot water to thaw out the chickens drinkers, everything was frozen solid. Then I had to thaw the catches to the poly and net tunnels and battle my way through the doors so I could get inside to dislodge the vast weight of snow that was starting to make the roofs dip in a most alarming fashion. I have a sad feeling that despite my covering the polytunnel netted windows with a layer of polythene, and draping fleece over the spinach and kale I will be losing most of my plants ... oh well I did my best.
Once all the necessary outdoor chores were done, I came in to join the dogs in the warmth of the house to thaw out my toes and fingers ...
... and start on a big pan of soup for this weeks lunches, using some of these carrots ... still in good condition although well out of date :-)
Now this pan has had lots of stock added to it and is simmering away nicely in the bottom oven of the Aga, and I'm upstairs enjoying coffee and blog time in the office before I do todays main indoor job, which is to empty out all the food cupboards in turn, clean them and see exactly what we have in stock both for Christmas and for into the New Year.
Not a bad job on a chilly December morning to be working away in the kitchen to the sound of a purring cat and two gently snoring dogs.