Well hello there! And Happy 2014!
This is my first post in over a year. I didn’t decide to take a break from blogging, it just kind of…happened. Things were a bit hectic last year – we were busy with a house extension project, work, kids, stuff – and blogging took a back seat.
So what’s changed around here?
Thanks to our wonderful builders, we now have a lovely new larch-clad, timber-framed extension to the house. The super-thick walls are filled with a mix of hemp and lime. It is toasty inside – especially compared to the 90-year old solid brick walls in the old part of the house, which leak warm air like water from a sieve.
We are oil-free! There is no mains gas in our area, so until recently our heating came from burning oil. The lovely folks at Norfolk Solar have installed a ginormous biomass boiler – it burns pellets made from compressed wood-shavings. Despite the fact that it looks like a giant coffee machine, it works like a dream and keeps the house beautifully warm. Our empty oil tank has been unceremoniously dumped behind a hedge until we can find a use for it or get rid of it. If anyone is thinking of installing a biomass boiler and wants to know how we’re getting on with ours, ask away!
The veg garden was a bit of a write-off in 2013, due in part to the weird weather (really cold, then really hot) and lack of time. We still harvested some salads, leeks, sweetcorn, a few tomatoes and new potatoes, herbs, fruit, chard, spinach – and provided a home to plenty plenty weeds (erm…points for biodiversity, I suppose?). The sweetcorn and squash polyculture (bi-culture?) worked well again, despite the neglect, so I will be using that again this year. Half of the old veg garden has now disappeared underneath the building works, so we will be moving the veggie plot soon (in time for the spring, fingers crossed!)
We lost one chicken to egg peritonitis, RIP Hettie, a very sweet hen. We still have a flock of three (aka Snowflake, Deborah the Zebra and James – don’t ask), who provide all our eggs, plus masses of poop for composting heaven.
The bees are doing better. After the awful winter of 2012-13 (snow, snow and more snow), and despite lots of care from our friend J the beekeeper, only one hive out of three made it through to the spring. But they’ve built back up, and were looking good at the end of last year. So fingers crossed for 2014.
In other news (and forgive the plug…) My sister in law started the very gorgeoous Ecopapershapes, which sells crafty, recycled loveliness for kids. Have a look at their blog for lots of wonderful, really eco-friendly craft ideas for the little ‘uns in your life. Everything is made from 100% recycled card stock – and can all be recycled when you’re done. Enjoy.
So that’s our news. What’s new with you, pussy cats?