You may have noticed a spot of radio silence from me recently.
Sorry about that.
My blog is one of many non-essential items I have wantonly neglected recently.
Turns out my new life is quite busy.
I have three small children, one of whom is (nearly) a toddler and determined to hurl himself down stairs or climb into the oven at any given moment.
I am holding down a part time job as a freelance presenter.
This makes me sound terribly busy and important but it really means I very occasionally leave the kids with Daddy or Granny Day Care and scuttle off to London to read stuff out loud for a bit before scuttling back home again.
Fortunately there are people prepared to pay me to do to this.
I am chaotically running a smallholding that – for the most part – continues to feed us.
I confess that despite managing to harvest a decent crop of food through most of winter, we are now going through something of a quiet spot on the veg front.
There’s some very sorry for itself purple sprouting broccoli, some winter greens and a tiny bit of chard.
But otherwise the recent dump of snow saw off anything else that had just about managed to survive the coldest months.
The kids had a blast though.
Lidl is doing a roaring trade in the Guthrie household while I wait for my new batch of seedlings to emerge from some horse manure we pilfered from some kindly local clients.
February is normally the month to start planting again.
I dutifully lined up my spring plantings of various salad leaves, kale and chard against the warmth of the house.
But we weren’t expecting a cold snap of quite the magnitude we had last week.
Will these watched pots ever throw up some greenery?
I fear I may be starting afresh with new seeds in a week or so when they don’t.
One major success is that we have eggs!
Those fluffy designer chickens finally got the memo and are laying.
We get at least two a day and the chicks have even once managed a PB of five.
I take back everything I said about them being useless, expensive, idle and resembling feathery granny pants.
We are now enjoying the pork from our latest Gloucester Old Spot pigs Fatman and Spotty.
They were dispatched to the abattoir earlier in the year.
Having butchered Huff, Puff and Snuff ourselves, I couldn’t face it with these boys.
They were so friendly and affectionate (unlike the grumpy Berkshire Boys we’d had before) that I was happy to chicken out and leave it to the professionals this time.
I did make their bellies into bacon though so I haven’t gone too far back to my townie roots.
I plan to use their newly vacated and well manured home to plant shed loads of potatoes and a cut flower garden.
Despite my parents’ home being wrecked, they cheerfully survived Hurricane Irma and have now moved to live in Malta.
As hoped they made it home to the UK for Christmas.
I can scratch them off the worry list for now!
In amidst all this I’m trying to keep half an eye out occasionally to check I still have a husband.
Yup, there he is over there. Working and loading the boiler with logs. Excellent. He’s not shuffled off yet then? Good. I’ll check again in a fortnight…
Oli’s life is similarly in go mode.
He’s steering our construction company Five Oak Projects well through what are proving to be challenging economic times and he’s doing some really exciting projects.
He’s filming with Grand Designs in Cornwall and managed to (mostly) keep his cool when he finally got to work with his idol Kevin McCloud a few weeks ago.
Note the pride emanating from every pore of my husband in this picture.
He’s also got a new Barnardo’s apprentice on board, who’s proving to be another gem of a lad.
And somehow he’s managing to keep on top of the labour intensive life here, too, where we have to do a fairly major amount of manual just to be sure of a hot shower at the end of the day.
Having now lived at Rowan Farm for a year we have a tiny bit of experience under our belts.
I can consult my planting diary from last year and make small changes to try and learn from my crashing errors in 2017.
We are both setting about trying to tidy the place up a bit.
Our next ploy is to try and make Rowan Farm sing for its supper somehow with various diversification ventures.
This first means making it a tad more Homes and Gardens.
Oli was devastated to learn his bright green log bags littered about the place didn’t fit in with this more designer brief.
It took us an entire weekend to unload each log by hand into our newly covered log store.
We now should have just about enough to – together with our solar panels – heat our home and water for a full year.
There’s now the small matter of mulching, planting out, chain harrowing the field, tree management, preparing for the arrival of cows and sheep hopefully later this year…
Farm life all takes up loads of time.
I haven’t drawn breath to write this blog or ever watch the telly (an entire season of my favourite Silent Witness has completely passed me by).
Life is chaotically busy.
And it’s unbelievably awesome.