Category Archives: Leisure

Surprise gift

Today we received a really lovely surprise gift from our visiting photographer Adey. He has made us a lovely framed montage of all of the shots he took of our animals during the summer when the Owl activity was slow. We love it and it has taken pride of place in our kitchen. Thanks Adey….a totally lovely surprise..see you next summer when the light is good again. :).




Make the money, don’t let the money make you

If read this blog for vegetable tips and recipes you might want to skip this ‘lifestyle’ post, for everyone else, welcome to my blog where I say and think what I like.

This is the sixth week I will be officially unemployed. Giving up my more or less full time job to become a full time student again was a hard decision that took me a year of unhappiness to make, but with the encouragement and support of my wonderful Becky, I took the plunge. I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on how much of my identity was tied up with my job, and also to think about the things that matter to me.

A wise woman once said to me ‘ I stress and worry about job A, then the weird thing is, when I move to job B, I don’t give job A a second thought’. This is certainly true for me, yes I leave people behind who I care about, and for the most part, I keep in touch with the ones with whom I had a genuine connection, but the work really never features in my thoughts again. At the time, job A can seem like your whole world, all those little battles become so important, your reputation and professionalism take on an almost religious sense of importance……on reflection, for me this has felt like a big fat waste of a happy life.

Luckily for me I was brought up with two conflicting dialogues going on in the home, my Mum always said , work hard and be professional, but that isn’t what is going to make you happy, time is worth more than money. My Dad on the other hand built a very successful career through a long hard journey and loved his work more than anything else except family. I was raised to believe that a good education gave you power and a professional career meant that you were successful. I still believe this, but sometimes I wonder if in the rush for career and success I had lost perspective on my life.

My dominant thought for the last eighteen months had been….

“Each day sinks it’s boot print into my clay and I’m not the same”
Ani DiFranco

Something had to change…

So here I am, it’s nearly 9am and I don’t have to go to work, which is amazing. I know that not everyone could do this, and that I am in a unique and privileged position (for a few years) of being able to live on some savings, I also know that both of us couldn’t do this at the same time. The amazing thing is that we are both so much happier, and some of the improvements in our lives have surprised us. Although most days I am studying all day, I am also taking care of the house completely, all the shopping and cooking. I am walking the dogs and taking care of the jobs on the farm, which means that Becky has got time to swim after work, or run, she doesn’t have to do washing up in the evenings any more or take care of household admin (with a few exceptions!), I can say “relax, I’ll sort that out”. We are eating better, sleeping better and have more energy. I feel more able to spend time with my family, as I am not tired all the time. We are both happier, healthy and more time rich. We have a bit less money, but the savings I make on food, fuel and petrol are making this difference almost negligible. So in what ways are we worse off?

I could have spent this time feeling guilty for being the one at home, or I could have worried that a career break would make me less employable, or I could have let it effect my sense of self worth and identity, but I have decided to take the unusual and radical step of enjoying every minute of it. So the moral of the story is for me, don’t let your career define you, don’t let a job take over your whole sense of self worth, and if you are very unhappy in your work, change something. Life is way too short.

New Blue

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Meet the newest member of our family; 6th month old Blue, rehomed from Sheffield.

Simple pleasures

Just when I get sick of nature (snow) it has a way of teaching me what is important in life. Tonight the snow has all melted and the evening was beautifully mild. Walking the dog was such a pleasure, listening to the church bells ring across the village for ‘practice’ night made the whole experience even more special. I went to visit my dad and listen to a little beautiful song he had written about my nephew. Family, fresh air and freedom. Simple pleasures have to be at the heart of smallholding, or what’s the point. Oreo has the right idea.


History of Sencemeadow

Below is a picture taken by one of our neighbours about 20 years ago, before Sence Meadow Farm was split into a building plot and our little piece of land. In the far left of the picture you can see the cow sheds. You can also see how badly it can flood.

In the pictures below you can see the old farm buildings. None of these are actually on the piece of land we now own, as about 5 years the  buildings were knocked down and three larges houses were built, these now border our footpath.

Zen and art of sheep maintenance

How can you keep your life balanced when you are at work so much of the time? It’s a question I am struggling with this week. Work has consumed my thoughts for all of the wrong reasons, lots of change, low moral and uncertainty. I do belive that being out doors with the animals is the best stress medicine, but some negative internal dialogues even they can’t make blow away. I am beginning to wonder if the 4 day a week pattern was such a good idea. I used to have a day in the middle of the week when I would get away from the office politics and spend time outside with the birds or inside with the spinning wheel, or even cooking. Now I work 4 days in a row, but this is what normal people do…and everyone else seems happy right….or do they? Maybe things will settle down, but at the moment I am just trying to clear my head and enjoy the plot.

One of the great things about small holding for stress management is the abundance of repetitive tasks which require focus. Rebecca Laughton writes about using task such as these as a medative activity in her book ‘Surving and Thriving on the Land’.

The importance of mindfulness

Far from being a mindless activity, manual work using hand tools employs the brain just as much as the body. Time and again I have been reminded of this fact in all areas of physical work…The sence of achievement and exhilaration that results from mindful operations of hand tools is a pleasure that must be experienced to be believed.”

So with that advice, I am off out to prune the hedge and put up some tree protectors.

To Autumn

To Autumn
John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,–
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Its here, so lets enjoy it. What are the best things about Autumn? Tell me…..