A week last Saturday our piglets arrived, all 12 of them. It’s taken a while for me to post an update, because I took 6 of the children on holiday, with lots of other Christian home educators, last week, and I’m still busy unpacking and catching up on the washing.

The day of the piglets arrival was a normal sunny Saturday and at just before lunchtime Christopher suddenly rushed up to the window calling, ‘the piglets have arrived.’ Initially I misheard and thought the biscuits had arrived, but realising that a Hob Nob lorry was sadly not outside our house, I came to and figured out that Mrs Piggy (Posy) was busy delivering her first litter. The family rushed to the scene and found Posy seemingly fast asleep, with 3 piglets already born, 2 had found there way to the milk and the third just needed freeing from his cord. After that 5 more arrived in quick succession, with a mixture of oohs and aahhs from the children and the occasional ‘that is just too disgusting!’ Phil felt well prepared for piglet delivery, having delivered our last baby single handed. The process was very similar, but after piglet number 8, came a curve ball. The placenta came out and we thought we must be done, but then another piglet followed fast behind. We were now confused, as this was a significant diversion from our human birthing experience! Another 3 piglets then arrived, the last requiring lots of rubbing and silent waiting, as the children willed it to live like its brothers and sisters. Within a few minutes it had started taking little breaths and the children could be heard breathing their own sighs of relief. I knew our home ed learning experience was in full swing when Matthew ran into the kitchen asking, ‘can we please have a bin liner for the placenta?’

This was what we wanted when we came to live here. We wanted our children to experience learning in a hands on way, a way which enabled all their senses to memorise their experiences.

Soon after the birth, Posy stood up and we moved her behind her farrowing bars. These bars are there to enable her piglets to get to her, but to prevent her from squashing them. This worked well for a few days, but her desire to get to her piglets clearly overcame her when we discovered that she’d broken through into the main pen. Thankfully by this time all the piglets were a bit larger, and she was more adept at avoiding sitting or lying on them.

I must say, I am finding them totally captivating. Whenever I have a moment, I am to be found just watching them. Their antics are endlessly entertaining and stories about them are shared around the dinner table, as we discover many of us have been secretly sneaking off to piglet gaze. Today Elizabeth shared how the piglets had argued over their milk, over who should get which spot, and 3 of them had gone up to mummy’s face and told her in no uncertain terms that this wasn’t fair. Elizabeth said their grunts almost sounded like ‘no, no, no!’.

We plan to sell about 8 of them and raise 4 for meat. Will we be able to sell and eat these gorgeous little grunters? I have no doubt we won’t mind, as they won’t be cute for long and they’ll soon lose their novelty, as the amount of mess they make grows. I’m very thankful to Madeleine, who has taken on the job of pig mucker-outer. She loves to muck out and care for horses, and this is the nearest we can currently get, so she is getting in lots of practice. We are considering loaning a horse for her, if one becomes available.

After the huge excitement of the piglets on the Saturday, we spent the Sunday packing, as I had arranged to take the youngest 6 away to Wales for a home ed holiday, with lots of friends. I thought it would be hard work, taking them on my own, but as we currently have no running water in the kitchen (the water is in the utility which is the other side of the house), it seemed like a good idea to get the children out of the house. Phil needed to stay here, as Jonathan and Madeleine needed to go to school, the animals needed care and the builders needed lots of questions answering. As it turned out, it wasn’t really hard work, as I had loads of help from some lovely teenagers at the camp, and I ended up coming home refreshed and rejuvenated.

Phil on the other hand had discovered how much there is to do at home, even without all the children. We found the experience to be really helpful and it gave us both food for thought. We have been running on empty for a while and have barely stopped in the 2 years, since we arrived. After a few strong words (which we rarely have) with one another and some prayer, we realised that we had been failing to listen to God’s best advice and rest one day in seven. So yesterday we took a real rest, oh my, it was good. After church, we ate lunch, went for a family walk and then came home for a cup of tea, it was bliss! Phil is a very driven man, whose favourite question is, ‘what do we need to achieve today?’, but sometimes, the best thing we can achieve is to rest, and yesterday, we began to learn about that.

‘So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.’ Genesis 2:3

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‘Ging’ the bull has been with us for a few weeks now. He’s been kindly loaned to us by a friendly farmer from church, with the hope that Mary and Martha the cows will become pregnant. Ging is very sweet and has settled in well. The cows have welcomed him to their field and we hope that he has done his job! Time will tell, 😉.

More imminently we have piglets on the way 😁. 3 months ago Posy the pig went to stay with ‘Trev’ the boar. They had some ‘special time’ together and Posy came home scanned and officially ‘with piglets’. The chap who scanned her reckons she might be having 8-10 piglets, so fun times ahead.

We have brought her in today, to her farrowing pen. We have a bar which we will put across the pen once the piglets have arrived, to prevent her from rolling onto them, whilst allowing her to lie down and let them feed.

We plan to keep the piglets for about 8 weeks and then we hope to sell a few and keep a few.

We’ve also been busy this weekend moving our kitchen from the old kitchen, which we are about to demolish, into the lounge, as a temporary measure until our new kitchen is complete. It’s a pretty good space, but it doesn’t contain any running water and so we are using buckets, washing up bowls and cheap bottled water to drink. Thankfully our church and family have invited us to their houses to eat, and dropped in some meals, which is a huge blessing.

Between animals, building work and looking after the children, life is sometimes extremely busy and I feel that we will never get it all done, but then I remember God’s Word, where He says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9. It’s not us alone doing all this, it’s Christ in us who gives us the strength and energy for each new day.

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We finally got round to having our anniversary family photo tonight. We’d done one in 2016, when we’d been married 15 years and I was keen to do one now, after 20 years, to see how much everyone has grown.

As today was also the second anniversary of us moving to Shropshire, the day had a very ‘anniversary’ feel about it. Christopher came home (he’s working on a farm 45 minutes away and lives there full time) and we gathered around the table for cake and a time of prayer, thanking God for all he has done, bringing us here.

Our evening devotions were about the Passover, which seemed very apt, as it was all about leaving one place to go to a better place, and it also reminded us that God commanded the Israelites to tell the story to their children each year, so they would not forget what God did.

On the day we moved here, God gave me this verse, ‘When the Lord your God brings you into the land…with…houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord,’. Deuteronomy 6 10-12. That same day, we arrived to find tomato and grape vines we did not plant, a house filled with furniture we didn’t know would be here, greenhouses filled with all the gardening equipment we would need and a bore hole we did not dig and we remembered the words of the Lord to the Israelites and how the same God was providing for us. He has continued to provide miraculously for us, with chickens and pigs arranged by the TV company, a cow in calf from the farm where our eldest son works and even a Christmas turkey from a neighbour. We will not forget the Lord our God, we will tell this testimony to our children, so that they will always know that they are here because this is where God led us.

So tonight we watched our programme, ‘A Country Life for Half the Price’, as we did last August 15th, not to be vain, but to reminisce over our old home and to see the journey we went on to get here. Read more about the miracles God did getting us here in the post, https://www.lifeinallitsfullness.blog/blog/farmlife/learning-to-trust-our-house-moving-testimony/

Over the weekend we have been able to use our property in one of the ways we had pictured. Our friends asked us several months ago if they could use the space here for their 50th wedding anniversary. At the time it seemed that Covid restrictions may prohibit it, but praise God they have lifted and the party went ahead.

What a joy it was to celebrate their anniversary with them and to see this home fulfilling the vision we were given for it. This home is not just for us, but for those whom the Lord brings to us, a home to bring delight to many and to use for the Lord’s purposes.

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We moved into our home 2 years ago, as of the 15th August. Two years with so many changes and so much that we’ve learnt. We arrived with tomatoes and apples ready to pick and again today our trees are burgeoning, our greenhouse is full and now we have 14 vegetable beds filled with a variety of produce. We’re starting to live more by the seasons and be guided by the demands that puts are our time. Harvest waits for no one and soon enough we will need to pick the apples and pears and start preparing them for storage. Some will be carefully wrapped and stored and some will be frozen, for snacks, pies and crumbles.

Moving onto our hens….After 2 years our original hens have largely given up laying, and so our friends kindly offered to give these ladies a final retirement home. Today we brought home 18 new rescue hens, which we have added to the 5, which are still laying, which we brought home last year. This new lot look somewhat naked, they could do with a knitted jumper each! Hopefully with love and time, these poor ex battery hens will feather up and find a happy place clucking around our orchard.

Two years in and we still feel very much like novices, but I can see progress, so there’s hope that one day we might actually know what we’re doing! Until then we’ll keep learning as we go 🙂.

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I haven’t had much time for blogging lately, building work has taken over our lives and we are just keeping our heads down until the extension is finished and we can move into the new kitchen. Hopefully the main build will be completed by mid October. We’ve just learnt though that we will be without a kitchen for about a month, during September, so that should be interesting!

Anyway, back to the title of my post, about my propensity to wear long skirts. I’ve been asked the questions a few times and so I thought it time I wrote a post on it. I’ve been wearing longish skirts for over a decade, before that I just wore jeans. You see, one day I was considering Phil’s and my clothes and I realised that we wore exactly the same clothes, jeans and blue tops, the only difference was, mine were smaller! I decided that I would like to look a bit more feminine, but I didn’t have time to put together pretty outfits, so my jeans were swapped for long denim skirts and it’s remained that way since.

I don’t really have any time to consider what I might wear each day, nor am I really bothered, so having a simplified style of dress makes the task of getting dressed extremely fast, which is rather necessary in this house 😁.

I was thinking about my clothes this week because my 2 denim skirts, which I wear in rotation, are either stained or have holes in them, so shopping has been required. Now, how do I find such unfashionable, or should I say vintage clothing?! eBay is my go to. I search in long denim skirt size 10 and within 5 minutes I have 2 skirts, for a total of less than £20, coming my way. They should last me another couple of years. Maybe one day I’ll have time to consider what I wear more carefully, but now definitely isn’t the time.

How do I stay warm in the winter? I wear thermal leggings under my skirt and long brown boots. To be honest I wear thermals nearly all year because I suffer with Raynaud’s and so my core has to stay warm or my fingers and toes go white and start to hurt.

Are skirts practical? I think denim anything is practical and so fabric wise, they’re great. I suspect some people might find they get in the way, but I’ve never been bothered and I appreciate the modesty the extra fabric gives.

The more I’ve worn skirts the more comfortable I feel in them, I have worn shorter skirts and trousers, but rarely. I wear thin trousers for walks in long grass during the summer and I have one shorter skirt I bought in charity shop, but it’s too pretty for every day use.

I’ve put up this post with the awareness that our new revisit TV programme will be out soon (we’ll let you know the date), and people will be busy googling us again with curious questions, so hopefully this will answer one of the commonly asked questions. Many people think that we are Brethens, or Plymouth Brethren’s because I wear a head covering and a long skirt, but hopefully this post explains that it’s not really a faith based decision, just a personal preference.

Hopefully I’ll find some more time to blog over the next few weeks. Does anyone have any posts they’d like to particularly see?

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We’ve spent most nights this week pulling wallpaper off the walls in 2 rooms. We have found paper up to 5 layers thick, with plaster on top of paper to pull off. We’re now ready for the plasterer to come next week.

Tonight was date night and Phil and I have spent it in our newly created ‘lounge’(our bedroom with a sofa and TV added!). We hope to reclaim the lounge in about a month, once electrics and decorating are done, and the pub style carpet has been replaced.

To be honest, despite the busyness I’m quite enjoying the process. I get to watch the builders at work from my kitchen window each day and constantly stand in awe of their productivity. I feel the need to stand less and work more having watched their daily progress.

I’m also enjoying having less rooms to clean! I would never have chosen to live in a big house, because with a big property comes bigger problems and more work; but this is where God called us and we would never choose to be anywhere else.

Next week will be more electrics, more cladding and more construction work on the internals of the extension. The adventure continues….

I’ve struggled to find time to write over the last few weeks. The garden is blooming and planting out seedlings, weeding, watering and using up the veg has taken up much of my time. The house is being dismantled day by day as the plans for the house are coming to fruition. The builders are here most days and the children have the constant entertainment of diggers and workmen. Katie has the entertainment of dirt heaps and gravel piles. I have the task of keeping her and Sherlock safe from the building site, which they both find hugely interesting.

Jonathan has been undertaking a building project of his own and has built a fantastic play area for the younger children. This area will come into its own once the extension and patio are complete. The play area will be perfectly situated in our newly formed, enclosed back garden, allowing us to eat and drink without fear that a small child will find their way to the ponds.

As there is little I can do to contribute to the building, I have been focusing on decluttering the house in preparation for the internal work taking hold over the main rooms. Phil’s really helped recently, in my pursuit of organisation. My airing cupboard was looking quite messy and it was a job on my list to sort it, Phil must have known because I came in one day to discover the entire contents of the airing cupboard upturned on Katie’s bedroom floor! The bathroom man had needed to access the pipes in the airing cupboard and so my sheets needed moving in a hurry. Anyway, the airing cupboard is looking a lot neater, for now 😉.

Yesterday Phil motivated me to organise the shoes. The builder decided that yesterday was the day to take our hallway to pieces, which required the removal of all shoes and clutter.

I came back from our home ed group to a giant pile of shoes to sort through. Today was largely spent organising the shoes, but still, that’s another job done.

Katie’s growing quickly and that’s freeing me up to do more of the driving to take the children to their activities, as she no longer needs me quite so much and Phil can sometimes do bedtime. Although we have been here quite a while, with lockdowns and a baby, I have left Phil to do much of the driving, leaving me slightly confused as to the location of places. Driving is proving to be a new and interesting experience, because navigating my way around a new area is something I am still adjusting to. I stubbornly don’t use SatNav because I prefer to find my own way, but we also haven’t got round to buying a paper road map, so it is more guess work than accuracy. This is leading to some long, but beautiful drives around the Shropshire countryside 🙂. I think I’m starting to get to grips with the area now, it’s certainly more relaxing getting lost down country lanes, than in the middle of suburbia.

I hope to find time to write a bit more over the next few weeks, but we’ll see how things go. If you want to receive an email when a new post is added, please subscribe to the blog, by clicking on subscribe in the top section of the home page and following the instructions.

Our garden is chock-full of weeds, nettles, dandelions and numerous other green plants that I don’t want there and seem to be prolific. We have grass that seems to grow more happily in the veg and flower beds than on the lawn and carrots that are fighting for breathe around the weeds that are hiding their leaves.

Some of the weeds are useful and some are even beautiful but many are just in getting in the way of our vegetables and flowers and taking over the beds!

Last winter we put cow muck on most of the beds and then covered them in black plastic, this really helps with the weeds issue, but we didn’t get round to doing it with every bed. The difference is stark and the uncovered beds now look more like a wildlife garden than a potential home for my potatoes.

We are trying to keep the garden child and dog safe, and we want our vegetables to grow without chemical residue in the soil and so harsh weed killers are not an option. We have put straw around the strawberries which should help to keep the weeds at bay, and we’re planning on getting bark chips for the flower beds. The berries are peaking their way through the holes we cut in the black plastic, with the hope of depriving the weeds of sunlight. There are still nettles and thistles that have found their way through, but many less than otherwise would have done.

The paths have weeds that grow between the paving slabs, or in between the stones. Every time I go outside, I spot weeds. It’s like dust in the house, it just keeps growing. This is definitely not a tidy National Trust Garden, but maybe I’m setting my sights a bit high!

Our greenhouse has weeds in the borders where the tomatoes are growing. Unfortunately I have a tendency to look at the work still to do, rather on the work we’ve achieved, which leaves me feeling inadequate and somewhat aware of my weaknesses. I really need to accept the weeds and just do my best, I could also do with encouraging the children to help a bit more.

On the plus side, our garden is a haven for wildlife and the bees are having a wonderful time! Even if we find a way to keep on top of the weeds, we plan on always having a wildlife area, which we will leave well alone for the birds and bees to enjoy.

At the moment my yearly dose of Hayfever is putting my gardening on hold and so I am mostly only going out in the cool of the evening. This pause has given me time to reflect on the weeds and how they might relate to the sins in our lives.

The Parable of the Sower has helped me to understand how the ‘weeds’ of sin and worry can hamper my Christian growth, and prevent me from fully revealing the beauty of God in my life. It got me thinking, what are these ‘weeds’, that prevent me from growing fully as a Christian? Each person will have different areas of their life that need to change in order to give God’s Word the maximum space to grow. How can we make our lives more fertile soil to grow God’s Word in our hearts? I think it has to start with prayer, allowing God to convict us of the sins which hold us back from growing fully and then asking for his help to overcome those sins.

We really need to ‘weed’ our lives regularly, just like the flower beds, in order for our lives to truly reflect God in our lives. As I pick my weeds this week, I will be praying for him to help me with my weaknesses.

I love how God speaks through nature. I am beginning to understand a little more why so many of Jesus’ parables were centred around nature. Does God’s creation help you to understand more about Him and to draw closer to Him?

Wow! It’s been a very busy week and thus my lack of posting.

The builders have arrived 😀. Cue noise and chaos!

Last week we managed to get a lot of the seedlings in the ground and so our vegetable garden is looking more like a real veg garden, although the weeds are still threatening to take over!

The next challenge is getting used to going to the garden for our food, rather than the fridge. The lettuces, spinach and herbs are all ready to eat and so we are making the effort to remember to go out and pick the leaves for meals. Spinach isn’t overly popular with some of the children, but hidden in a fruit smoothie they gobble it up, well the younger children do, the older ones are not fooled!

Last weekend we had such a lovely time, we had friends to visit, who stayed in the courtyard, in their camper van. We ate barbecues and sat outside in the evenings sipping wine. With the wisteria growing up the barn walls, the camper van in the courtyard and the balmy evenings, there was a definite French holiday feel about the weekend.

Monday soon came round and I took the children to a gymnastics session. It was a free family fun day and so the whole tribe, minus Christopher, who was working, came along. Jonathan was having a blast and throwing himself (literally) into the activities. Sadly he rather overdid it and threw himself into a springboard and broke 3 toes! Bless him, he’s been very stoical and cheerful throughout, despite it being extremely painful. One of the challenges of living in the country is that it takes 30 minutes to get to the hospital, instead of the 5 minutes it took, when we lived in the town. He’s getting very good at hopping and is not nearly good enough at sitting still, will he ever learn?!

Tuesday was a very different sort of day. A dear friend has recently passed away and so I returned to London for her funeral. It’s the first time I’ve been back down south since we moved here, nearly 2 years ago. The day was full of emotions. I arrived for lunch and enjoyed catching up with a few old friends, what a joy it was to see them! The funeral was the first I’d ever been to that I could actually say had joy woven throughout. Our dear friend loved the Lord with all her heart and walked in faith, service and humility and so we were all full of joy, knowing that she is now resting in the arms of her Saviour. She will be missed hugely, but there was more of a thankfulness for the time God had given us with her, than a sadness of the future without her. We were all privileged to know her.

The journey home was a trip down memory lane, the M25 did its best to remind me of one of the reasons why I love living in the sticks. By the time I’d arrived at Oxford services I was pooped and needed to pause, to gather myself. I’m clearly not very good anymore at handling London traffic, I’ve got used to only being delayed by cows crossing the road and slow tractors 😊.

Yesterday we visited the local lake and made the most of the glorious sunshine. The children swam and built sandcastles, it was the perfect antidote to the M25.

Our garden is full of weeds at the moment. White fluffy dandelion clocks fill the fields around us, so the fight to keep the grass green, rather than speckled yellow is a futile one. Last week I paid the children a penny per dandelion to pick them. This week I have decided to try a different tack, we are going to try and eat our weeds!

Dandelions are not our only challenge, nettles also grow here in abundance. The chickens and pigs eat most things, but not the nettles! Clumps of these stingers are dotted around the grounds, proudly declaring their ‘inedible by animals’ status.

I have been reading up about these 2 foraging delights, trying to find out more about what God has provided for us here on our land. I was delighted to read about their multiple health benefits, especially the immune boosting properties of dandelions.

The challenge now was how to convince the family to eat them. Our children vary in how fussy they are, from ‘brown food is preferrable’, to ‘don’t put it in the bin, I’ll eat it!’ I had no doubts that someone would eat what we make, but it would be great to convince them all.

I found a recipe for Dandelion flower cookies, https://www.splendidtable.org/story/2007/05/12/dandelion-flower-cookies and so we decided to have a go.

So what did everyone think? The younger children all gave them a thumbs up, and even came back for seconds. My sceptical older children were not keen and their reactions were not altogether polite!

I might make them again, but I think I might try dandelion petals in a muffin next time.

I was clearly on a roll and decided that next I had to try out a nettle recipe. With rubber gloves in hand we picked a few nettles and came in to prepare them. I found a recipe for nettle crisps, which sounded the most child friendly recipe I could think of. You basically wash them, coat them in oil, sprinkle on salt and bake for 20 minutes at 150 c.

I enthusiastically pulled my crispy looking leaves out of the oven and presented them to my less enthusiastic looking family. I tried them, to show them how delicious they were, and I really did like them, but the children were not convinced. Not one of them liked them 🙁. They said they were furry in your mouth and some simply said they were gross! I happily finished the lot. I definitely didn’t feel stung by them, although my mouth did feel a little tingly afterwards, I’m not entirely sure that was supposed to happen?

We had a lovely time foraging, but I think our children need to stop being so picky if we are going to enjoy God’s free bounty growing here. I think I might need to go back to the drawing board for my next foraging outing. Any suggestions?