Category Archives: Home and Family

Becoming self sufficient in some manner along with my gardening updates.

Sunflower solution

Today Paul and I have thought about the sunflower oil and sunflower lecithin crisis that has hit the world, because last year was a very bad year in sunflower production due to climate and weather disturbances but now there is another factor that has affected sunflower oil production – the war on Ukraine; this war has contributed to the sunflower crisis because Ukraine produced 46% of the worlds sunflowers and safflowers.  This means that the sunflower oil crisis has certainly lengthened, but it also poses a threat to people who have food intolerances like me.

Without the use of sunflower lecithin in products they will now use soy or flax and I am sensitive to both of those things, which means it has affected me directly!  My diet is going to become further reduced as a result of it.

Paul and I are uncertain whether or not I will react to flax lecithin’s, because so far as we know, I am mostly affected if I eat whole flax seeds or linseeds, so whether or not I will be ok in other forms, time will tell!

We do know that I am no longer severely gluten and lactose intolerant, that it was products that contained soy, that didn’t make itself obvious until recently.

We know that gluten causes a slight rise in my blood pressure if I eat, say more than a sandwich worth of bread in a day of wheat, but that it does seem to be mostly a wheat rather than gluten problem potentially…

Lactose only really causes an issue with my digestive system if I eat too much fat in one day, but I can now drink a milkshake or have a chocolate bar with no ill effect, if I am easy on other fats throughout the day!

So this has helped improve my diet choices again and there is a noticeable increase in my health since going back to these foods.  But it is not anything to celebrate really, as the changes are still rather small, just a change in hair, nail and skin quality and deeper, longer sleep sessions.  I am more tired these days, but we’re not sure why.

Because of the sunflower crisis, I told Paul that when we get some money, it might be worth investing some of that money in sunflower farming?  But Paul feels that many other farmers are already on the ball with that and may neglect wheat farms to do so, meaning that he feels there could be a wheat shortage soon as people literally chase what they think is a golden opportunity.

I am not happy about doing wheat farming, I am not into grasses because of the lack of biodiversity and Paul failed to remember that my sunflower farm would not be a monoculture, because you can grow other things underneath the big blowsy heads of flowers!  Beans, tomatoes, sweetcorn and squash for example are excellent companion plants for this crop.

Because aphids are attracted to sunflowers on mass, ants will actually farm those aphids for their honeydew and therefore the crops underneath the sunflowers would not be affected by the aphids as much as they would have without them. 

Because ultimately any farming or self-sufficiency I do is 100% organic and polycultural.

Not only this but farming the sunflowers like this would also bring in the three sisters philosophy too, corn, squash and beans, corn in particular increase their yield when planted next to sunflowers it is just a matter of alternating plants, sunflower, with a block of corn, sunflower, block of corn, you get it?

So it would be a very productive system in my opinion, so I guess, in a manner, Paul gets his way when he suggests we really should consider a grain…

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Desk built

Today we have managed to build my new desk in the corner of the lounge and hopefully by tomorrow evening my computer and the rabbit will all be ready in the lounge for a normal life again.

More updates to come.

Happy reading!

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Issues with moving things around

Had a lot of problems getting my printer to work lately and internet coming and going at random times, so I have been slack in writing towards my blog.  The new desk still has not been put up yet and so I am still relying on my laptop.

I was scared the other day because a fault happened on my laptop and I thought I was going to lose it, the screen kept flickering on and off and the whole thing kept making beeping noises!

Paul is still very sick with the shingles and I am getting a chest infection again, which is usual for the winter, but it is early this year!

Henry is on half-term this coming week, so this means that I have an extra pair of hands to help me move the stuff around to set up my new work area in the house.  Henry is totally up for it, because it means that soon I will launch my YouTube channel!

The problem with moving my stuff around is there is the case that Paul also wants a desk in the same room, but we also want the rabbit moved back into this room, an exercise bike and the Christmas tree – so far we can’t have two of those things if we have the extra desk.  But oh well, I know something will get sacrificed no doubt and it won’t be the rabbit!

My Rainbow bunny is getting moody and bites since has been moved temporarily out of the room since July, and I don’t like his attitude, when he comes back into the lounge, perhaps he’ll go back to his old self again?  If he doesn’t then he will have to remain caged and not be a free-roaming rabbit like he used to be!  I feel sorry for the old boy – the rabbit that is, but his cage is enormous in comparison to the average rabbit habitat.  I am shocked how anyone can let a small rabbit like Ray live in anything less than 120cm by 63cm, I would never be happy with anything less than that and to be honest, I wish it was double the size for him!

I have seen people with rabbits who only get to do one hop between sides in their cages and can’t fully stretch upwards; my Ray can stretch upwards and can do three and a half hops.  He is quite small for a rabbit in my opinion, the smallest I’ve ever had anyway.

I am not happy about him being cooped up, so I do hope his attitude improves once he goes back to his corner in the lounge.

It is likely my exercise bike will never come in here and it is also likely that I will lose either my art table or the three seater sofa (finally, yay) but Paul and Henry are not keen on seeing that monstrosity go!

I am not happy about most of this, because to me, the new desk etc was meant to make more room, not take it away, but there are… oh never mind.  It’s just messed up that’s all.

I am trying my best.

Happy reading all!

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Henry the creative researcher

My Henry is eleven years old and this post is going to be about him.

Henry has wanted to become a chef since he was eight years old, before that he wanted to be a doctor, he still wants to be a chef, but he also wants to be an artist and writer and understands that life as a creative can be hard so he will need to find a more stable job until his creative career takes off.

Henry has a love for learning, particularly culture and history.  Henry knows that his family history is rich and he loves to learn about it all, from the deepest darkest depths that we can find through the assistance of places such as GenesReunited etc.

Learning about family history has prompted Henry to want to write his own novel.  Henry wants to write a novel about the late Edwardian into early Windsor times (if that’s a time period?).  The only thing I am allowed to say about the novel is that it is about two friends who live in the countryside and have a love for trains and is surviving through the throes of the dreaded Spanish flu.

I have no idea what made Henry interested in writing such a book, but I am proud that he is doing it, complete with his own illustrations and is determined to get it published once finished.

He is obsessively learning about life from 1900 to 1925 as this is the era he is writing about.  This is an obsession I can live with, because before that, his obsession was what he calls “The golden era of professional wrestling”.  Now I love wrestling personally, but when my Henry gets an obsession, believe me, it is a total war type obsession!

Henry, working on his novel.

Henry has been telling me how the poorest of poor in those days ate mostly rabbit, he told me this whilst giving awkward glances to our house rabbit Ray, who was quick in thumping his foot at hearing this, which was both spooky, funny and very apt!

Henry’s art is really good and at school most of his house points come from the art class and design technology.  Henry’s school is attached to the performing arts college, so he has been doing a lot of art, dance and drama in this school.

Henry has been noted for having a natural talent for entertainment, but has recently refused an audition for Matilda, down to the fact that since he has been bullied, he is losing his confidence slightly.  He also feels that the jealousy could increase his risk of being bullied, if he were to be successfully accepted in a role.

I have noticed that Henry tends to write and do art more when he has visibly seen me do this in front of him myself – so it is my duty, as his role model, to work when he is around instead of avoiding him like I have done in the past.  Because I personally work better alone, but Henry is influenced by what I do, so as I said in previous posts, I have to get out of my comfort zone and do work, regardless of who is present with me at the time.  I have to work it out for Henry’s sake!

Happy reading everyone!

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Gardening was a help

My depression was getting better and the suicidal thoughts were abating on a huge scale three years ago, because of gardening.  Last year my neighbour has got into a new relationship with a man who is creepy and weird and likes to harass and make me uncomfortable when in my garden to such an extent I haven’t touched or been in my garden to do anything since September 2020. 

The thing is, Paul says there is nothing we can do about a neighbour who is like that unless he becomes an actual physical threat, unless we record him on film doing things.  We don’t have the money to set up cameras with microphones to keep tabs on his behaviour so Paul more or less has a shrug it off attitude about it.  So I don’t garden anymore.

I miss it a lot and I wish we could move away, but Paul just can’t.  We can’t afford to for one thing and for another, this house is suffering from rising damp and the roof is broken in two parts.  We also have persistent black mould, which we have to constantly clean away.  The house is worth good money, but we have to knock 40k off it because of its condition, there are no houses in this area we could buy with what would be left for us, on the sale of this.  Well, not a house in which I could have a garden, there are houses but their gardens are literally 10ft by 10ft, they are basically courtyards of townhouse terraces.

It wouldn’t be so bad but this neighbour is also wilfully destructive, he will lean over the fence and literally cut anything he sees peeping up, whether it is leaning into his garden or not.  He has leant over the fence quite a lot on some cases and nearly fell into our garden to do so in order to cut branches of our pine and ash.  He has started to do something I don’t like as well, which is he is trying to reach over to get my blackberry and train it on a chicken wire netting he has placed on his fence, but Paul keeps going out to snip it just as he thinks he has a chance to get it.

He is a rotten man, there are other things but I won’t mention them.  He also accidentally on purpose stumbles off our shared garden path in the front garden to stomp all over my forget-me-nots, dahlias, lilies, nasturtiums and I have caught him trying to take tomatoes, strawberries and mint from the garden too.

He doesn’t like birds sitting on the fence; he will scare them away or spray them with hoses.  He knows we have two bird feeders and like birds in our garden, but he makes sure they don’t stay long!

My cousin taught me a saying once and I laughed at it, it really does apply to this man “that I can’t believe he was the sperm that won”!

Ugh

I miss gardening and I miss lounging in the garden for hours on end reading from April to October every year.

I really have a strong desire to create a food forest garden, but with a nature hating neighbour like that, it is not going to be easy.  Our gardens are 30ft wide and 50ft long in the back garden; he has decked three quarters of his garden and terraced it making the other bits just lawn. 

He is also an insect squisher.  It is hard for someone like me who loves nature and wants to protect it and rewild spaces with my silly hippy idealisms, to see that someone like that exists only to be destructive as it would seem. 

I am particularly sad that I am very passive and I am not known for being particularly assertive, for me to live with a man who is the same.  I feel there is no defence against such a rotter and I have heard him loudly proclaim in big raucous laughter to his brother and friends that we don’t care what he does to our garden and that makes me feel very hurt and angry and sad.

I asked Paul to get some kind of advice about this, but he seems to think it’s all hopeless, there is no one and nothing we can do against such a person.

So I don’t know what to do.

I hope he doesn’t stay there, but it looks like he might be there for a long haul.

Happy reading I suppose.

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Gardening is creative too

Some of my favourite YouTubers and some of my online friends seem to garden all year around and for much of the winter I have been learning about what they have been doing; because I want to be an all year round gardener too!

For my American readers I live in the UK and my zone is approximately a zone 7 – gardening zones are determined by your climate and can determine what plants will do well for you and also soil is important too, but the zones do not tell you what kind of soil you have!  I have heavy clay with the acidity of 7 and I live on a valley edge in East Warwickshire.

For the first time in my life I have decided to sow some plants now; I usually do no sowing at all until the end of March, weather permitting, but after seeing an inspiring Swedish gardener called Sara Backmo sowing things a month ago which I thought were too cold sensitive, I felt that maybe I will have a chance too as it is a little warmer in the UK at the moment than it is in Sweden.

The Late Bloomer, Kaye has also set up a large homestead all on her lonesome in Tennessee and she is very inspiring to me because she shows me that women can be independent. That’s important to me because I was raised that a woman really needs a man around for that kind of life to work and she proves that’s just not so! What’s more, you are never too old to try something new!

LongMeiMei lives in the mountains of China and she does everything herself from smoking meats and butchery and fishing and she does it seemingly tirelessly, I am rather jealous of her life if I am honest. I know its bad to confess that, but it looks like a really good life.

I have just sown some yellow delight tomatoes, ridge cucumbers, basil and Brussel sprouts.  We never had the tradition here to eat Brussel sprouts at Christmas purely because I don’t like Brussel sprouts unless they have been harvested within 3 days of cooking – there is a significant taste you can’t buy from the supermarket!  Paul hates Brussel Sprouts regardless of when they have been harvested at all, but funnily enough my son Henry, who is nearly eleven years old, loves them – so does our rabbit Ray!

I feel that being a creative person can extend to gardening as there is a creation process there!  You sow, you grow, you design, it becomes beautiful and often inspiring for others and it is a productive thing to get into as it can often feed you.  I have a huge interest in paleo lifestyle; I don’t think you can get more paleo than growing your own organically and making your own jams, chutneys and so forth with what you have grown yourselves! 

Until recently, my season was like any other normal gardener, between the end of March if the weather was good, until mid-September, but now things are going to change!

Many people online are inspiring me, friends, but also YouTubers such as Sara Backmo, LongMeiMei and The Late Bloomer, Kaye Kittrall.

I hope my journey into self-sufficiency will grow into allowing me to do things more independently (health permitting) and hopefully I will get my longstanding dream of moving to a home that is large enough to call a homestead.  I have always fantasized about owning a homestead and being self-sufficient, with a large family – well, maybe the large family might never happen now – but I hope the other dreams will come about!

In a few days’ time, if it doesn’t snow anymore, I will take some photographs of what a big mess my gardens are in right now and then update this blog once a month with how I am working towards getting it better.  I will be working mostly single-handedly because Paul hates gardening and Henry is too addicted to making robots and fantasy wrestling matches with his toys to help me as often as he used to.  I am no fool, I know it will be physically tough on me, because I have been sick for too long, but this new diet is giving me more days out of bed lately and I am happy for it.

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Introducing – Ray The Rainbow Rabbit!

My rabbit Ray the Rainbow Rabbit.

Ray was born on the 22nd July 2018 as a Dutch grey rabbit and was adopted by me, his human mother on the 5th October, as part solace for me losing my guinea pig called Truth and part birthday present to me.  Ray was originally named Rainbow by Henry my son, but the rabbit was so deeply embarrassed and depressed by this name that we tried many various names to console the poor chap – until one day it dawned on me that Ray could be a shortened version of Rainbow and Ray has loved us ever since! 

When we first told Ray that his name was going to be Rainbow when we got him home, he did in true rabbit style drama collapsed on his side and was sulking for the first 4 months of living with us.  When I said to him I will now permanently call him Ray near the end of March he was so happy he literally did circuits around his cage and now licks and purrs at me whenever we snuggle.  Whenever I remind Ray that he is called Rainbow, he instantly gets shy, lies down tightly with his ears pinned firmly back to his neck and refuses to acknowledge anyone. 

Ray is toilet trained and is a house rabbit that coincidentally is a huge fan of Peter Rabbit from Cbeebies – my former rabbit Rozzy liked Dr Who.

Ray doesn’t like carrots in fact all rabbits I’ve ever had hates carrots, so I don’t believe in the carrot munching rabbit myth.

Ray has been trained to say “Hello” and “Yes” by using his ears as sign language – yes I know you are probably getting your phones ready to send the men in white coats to me right now aren’t you?  But it is true and someday I will get a phone I can work out and prove it to you on YouTube!

He is a very talkative and responsive rabbit with a temper – I have never known such an aggressive self-assured rabbit before and he will bite!

But he is a loving soul really; I also think he is rather mystical; he has done many strange and unexplained things since living here.  Such as managing to push an entire corn on the cob out of the narrow prongs of his cage by himself, flattened his wooden hut and often high fives Henry.  Not to mention the household Nisse is his best friend!

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