I can’t believe I’m actually admitting this….but I love housework! Making things neat and tidy makes me so happy – tidy house, tidy mind! I feel so much better when everything is clean and tidy and I like feeling like I have been productive and accomplished something. I also find it quite therapeutic doing my cleaning while I’m watching something on the telly, just having time to myself and pottering around. I like being busy and I’m not very good at sitting still for too long so I have no problem wandering around the flat having a little tidy up while I watch my programmes! Also, from a very stereotypical and sexist point of view (now I really can’t believe I’m admitting this!), doing the housework makes me feel like I’m being a good wife. My husband does an equal share of everything at home and would never suggest that doing the housework is my responsibility, but it makes me happy to feel like I’m looking after our little home and keeping it looking nice for us (I know, send me back to the 1950’s with my pinny and my vacuum and just tell me to stop talking….). There you have it, a genuine source of happiness found in an unlikely place!
There has always been something magical about fireworks to me. The colours, the smell, the patterns, the contrast against the dark sky and the surprise of what explodes next. There’s also something nostalgic about dressing in your warmest clothes, dusting off the hat and scarf and heading off into what is usually one of the first really dark nights of the winter. Last night I did that. I stood, in cold so intense I could see my breath and hardly feel my fingers, in eager anticipation of the display. The shooting flames of the bonfire dying away, the chatter of excited crowds and the smell of burgers and hot chocolate filled the air. Every so often there’s a blob of colour as torchlight and glow sticks appear. There’s the waiting, for that sudden moment when the the sky fills with colour. The oohs and ahs as the showers of stars fill the sky. The bangs and whistles and the hiss as the display starts. Then the explosion of colours and patterns that sparkle and flash and spin their way through the pitch dark sky. I don’t think I will ever tire of watching fireworks!
I love Sundays.
Well that was a short post! 🙂 I really do love Sundays and I think I love them so much now because in the past they have been a day of the week that filled me with dread. In my previous jobs I always worked weekends so it didn’t really register as anything special, and as a teacher they were a day that put a knot in my stomach and made me want to hide under the covers in denial. You see, I always chose to leave my ‘home’ work (see what I did there? :D) for Sundays which I know is a terrible habit, but by Friday evening I was so exhausted that I couldn’t wait to have a break. By Sunday, the work couldn’t wait any longer so my day was always filled with planning, marking, making resources, writing emails and an endless list of other jobs that I had neglected to do. I always missed out on anything fun that happened on a Sunday and by the evening I was usually tired, grumpy and not ready for Monday. Now not all teachers live like that I am pleased to say, but that was my experience and I hated it. Since I have changed my job, Sundays have become a day that I adore, and it’s not because I’m having the time of my life on endless adventures…nope, instead I love Sundays because I have time to cook a nice breakfast, take the dog for a lovely walk, go to my mum and dad’s for Sunday lunch and stay an extra hour to play board games. I love having time to sort out the washing and do the ironing because these are all the seemingly normal activities I never had time to do before. Today is the 40th Sunday that I have been able to enjoy and the novelty has still not worn off.
Now I will be the first to say that gardening does not come naturally to me. My dad will be the second. My father-in-law will be the third. However, in Rural Care we have an allotment and a lot of people who know what they are doing! So I have been loving learning how to plant, care for and harvest different flowers and vegetables. The other day I even learned that a strimmer doesn’t have a blade underneath it, just a piece of plastic wire (honestly I was fascinated!). I have also learned that just watering plants helps to keep them alive – it’s amazing the difference that has made to my balcony plants! The allotment has a sensory garden at the end of it full of herbs and textured plants and I love sitting in there listening to the breeze through the leaves and the wind chimes. It is doing it’s job well because it is super relaxing!! I feel very proud that I know what a nasturtium is AND I know what a sweet pea flower looks like! I have also successfully planted and grown chard and radishes and I have successfully planted hundreds of strawberry runners to sell in the shop (it’s hilarious that I am so proud of this because strawberries are a really difficult plant to kill!). It makes me so happy that my gardening confidence is growing, I feel really lucky to have the opportunity to work on the allotment every day and to learn from some very clever people!
One thing I love about the farm is learning about the different animals we have – how to look after them, what their job is on the farm and their different personalities! I really enjoy visiting the different animals, feeding them and looking after them – I don’t even mind mucking them out! I’ve found that one of my favourite animals to work with is our chickens – I could watch them for hours just wandering around the field pecking things and ruffling their feathers. I found it fascinating to watch them digging pits in the soil in the summer and then I learned that they do it to have a dust bath which helps prevent mites and helps them to preen their feathers. I love the way they rush over to you when you enter the field and peck food out of your hands – they will even let you give them a little stroke which I would never have thought!! The ducks are a great little bunch – digging through the wet mud with their beaks and waddling around the field. I have learned how to herd ducks which is just hilarious and very rarely necessary to do, but it’s fun all the same! The rabbits and guinea pigs are great escape artists and it has been a real challenge to keep on top of the digging and chewing but they are still super cute. The turkeys are like two old ladies that wander around at a glacial pace keeping an eye on the rest of the farm (they always remind me of Fowler from ‘Chicken Run’!). Sheep are MASSIVE when you get up close to them – especially when they are running towards you for their food! They are gentle creatures though and I’m only a little bit scared of herding them now 🙂 The goats on the other hand have horns. Horns are scary. Goats with horns are scary. Grumpy goats with horns are terrifying. And dangerous. Goats with horns and food however, are fine. The goats are my final hurdle at the farm – I will feed them and muck them out but I do feel nervous the whole time I’m in there and I am always armed with water to protect me (goats don’t like water, especially the grumpy ones). Fred is the grumpiest of the lot and I have many a bruise where he has bashed in to my legs but I am determined to befriend him! However, I think most of that will be happening with a fence between us!
Happy Humpday everyone! This week I have been made super happy by a discovery I made in the loft at my parent’s house. Many moons ago I went to lace making classes and I loved it but after they ended I just put my kit in the loft and forgot all about it. I have recently been enjoying watching Katie’s podcast Inside number 23 and it has done nothing but fuel my love of craft making and remind me of the lace making that I enjoyed so long ago! So on Sunday I ventured in to the spider-filled loft and found my lace kit tucked away. I couldn’t believe it when I got the pillow out and found an unfinished pattern still on the pins – I hadn’t even bothered to finish it or unpin it! After 15 years on the pins I decided it was probably ready to come off, so I have removed it ready to start a new project. So far I have given the bag and my bobbin roll a good wash, redone all of the spangles on my bobbins so that they look shiny and new and I have ordered myself some new yarns and a book of bobbin lace for beginners. My plan is to back to the beginning and re-teach myself the stitches so that I can build up my knowledge again. I am really excited to find some Christmas patterns and some sparkly yarns so that I can make some Christmas decorations. I used to really enjoy making stars and snowflakes and I thought that they would be a lovely item to donate to the craft shop in Rural Care – thank goodness I have such a good excuse for crafting!!
There is so much joy to be found in creating things from scratch and making things look beautiful but with it comes the danger of living under a pile of hand sewn lavender pouches, with rag wreaths on every door and a decoupaged dog.
Luckily, in Rural Care we have a craft studio where we can make an abundance of beautiful things to sell in our shop. I absolutely love being able to make and decorate things and I have learned lots of new skills too!
Before I worked on a farm, eggs were not something that registered on my happiness radar. At all. But as this blog is all about finding happiness hiding places, I am eggstatic that I have found a new one! Collecting and processing eggs is a big part of our job on the farm and I have been as porous as an egg shell soaking up eggy facts so I thought I would share my learning with you all (aren’t you lucky!).
Different breeds of chicken do different jobs – our egg layers are Rhode Island Reds which you can see on the left of the picture. Our table chickens (think about it…) are White Leghorns which you can see on the right of the picture. We give them different food to help them do their job and as I am sure you can imagine we keep one a lot longer than the other…..Unlike ‘Chicken Run’ (which is where all of my pre-farm chicken and egg knowledge came from), the chickens do not have their own nest boxes so we have no idea who has laid which eggs. Instead we just keep all of the egg layers for their whole lives 🙂 Also, contrary to ‘Chicken Run’, chickens lay a maximum of one egg per day so there is no competition, no solitary confinement and no chicken pies!
When we have collected the eggs in the morning, we sort them in to those that have a perfect shell and those that are a bit crinkly. The crinkly shelled eggs are used in our cafe and pub while the perfect eggs are sold in the shop. The eggs are graded in to small, medium, large and eggstra large based on their weight and we use a grading machine to help us do this. I LOVE using this machine so much – it is so relaxing watching the eggs roll down the different lanes! All of the eggs have a 28 day ‘best before’ date – next time you’re in the supermarket have a look at the ‘best before’ date and it will give you an idea of how old they are!
One day I found this whopper of an egg – that was one brave chicken!!
A chicken starts laying eggs when it is around 16 weeks old. Their first eggs are called pullet eggs and they are about a third of the size that they will be when they are fully grown. These eggs are too light to be graded as ‘small’ so on a lot of farms they go to waste. Luckily we are able to use them in the cafe and the pub and we use them for cooking activities in Rural Care – they are very tasty!
There is such a thing as ‘bantam’ chickens – they are like the bonsais of the chicken world! They are very cute, smaller versions of regular sized chickens and they lay equally cute, smaller versions of eggs!
One of our chickens lays olive green eggs – this is because she is a cross-breed of a brown egg layer and a blue egg layer!
I absolutely love learning new things and learning all about the eggs on our farm has been such a joy. I also love collecting the eggs in the morning and following their progress all the way to the shop!
I find it hilarious that I get so much happiness from simple things – I think it’s because it provides a bit of a brain break and there’s usually a quick return on progress! Bagging animal feed basically involves putting one scoop of feed in to a paper bag, then rolling the top of the bag down, so simple but my goodness do I enjoy it!! I find it really relaxing digging the scoop in to the food, watching it pour out in to the bag and listening to it hit the paper. Seeing all of the bags of food lined up neatly in the box brings me great joy – there’s just so much happiness to be found in tidy organisation!! Bagging feed is also a great opportunity to sit down with other members of the group and have a chat and a bit of banter which always puts a smile on my face 🙂
Next time you go to a farm and buy some bags of feed, just think about how much enjoyment went in to preparing them for you!
I very much believe in fate and that everything happens for a reason. After ‘the horrific thing that happened’ and I had left teaching (and had spent the week on the sofa in my pyjamas), an advert popped up on Facebook advertising a job working in Rural Care at the farm where I got married. I only saw the advert in the first place because I ‘like’ the farm on Facebook so there was my first twist of fate! When I went to visit Rural Care, I went to meet the manager and it turned out that she lives on the same road as me and knows my husband because they have bumped in to each other on dog walks – while this didn’t qualify me for the job, it did help to break the ice when I first met her and there we have a second twist of fate! Going for the job interview was a bit of a gamble because at the time there was only two days of work available per week. Luckily this is where my third twist of fate came in to play. Because I have a teaching background, the opportunity came up for two additional days of work per week working with school children. This made the job up to four days per week so I was in much better position to go for it!!
I am so SO happy to say that I got the job and I couldn’t be more happy – it is a job that I could never have dreamed actually existed and I feel so lucky to be part such an incredible service. Rural Care is a service that provides adults with learning difficulties and mental health issues the opportunity to work on the farm, learn new skills and make friends. I spend two days a week working with some of the adults and we have a great time together mucking out the animals, feeding them and giving them health checks. We also work on our allotment, go for long walks to litter pick around the farm and use our craft studio to make lots of products that we can sell in the shop to raise money for new equipment. We also have schools and colleges for teenagers with learning difficulties who come to the farm on a weekly basis to complete qualifications for skills in working life. I spend two days a week supporting two classes to complete units of work on animal care, poultry farming, working in a team and following instructions. It is lovely to work in a group with students and see them progress in their skills and confidence.
I personally get so much joy from my new job – I absolutely love the people that I work with and we always have a lot of fun, I feel confident in what I am doing and I know that my managers will always support me when I need it, and I love being outdoors every day working with the animals. I have already found lots of little pockets of happiness to share and I am sure there will be many more to come!