Sun 25th Feb 2018

It’s hard to believe we’ve been in this house only a couple of days more than two months, and that Christmas was only two months ago.

Today I kind of slept in. I’m poorly with a cold, Erika’s poorly with a cold, her sleep patterns are disrupted and so therefore are mine. Steve’s still poorly but he got up and dealt with the furnace today and has dealt with all food requirements as well.

But I’ve fed the cats, got Erika dressed, pushed myself to get dressed, been out in the fresh air (-5C / 22F) clearing away the last of the messy brush that was left over from our frantic wood gathering a couple of weeks ago, selected a few straighter twigs for an experiment in artists’ charcoal making, and been in to town and back for some groceries. I’ve been up in the attic to find another ball of scrap yarn to carry on with Erika’s next size up sweater, and while I was up there I dug out our paints so maybe this week I’ll get around to doing some painting with the kids.

I’ve been starting to research alternatives to dairy milk because I want to be able to move to a much more self-sustainable existence here. I’ve tried oat milk but it’s just not hitting the spot with my coffee habit, and it’s just too… well, gloopy. Realistic (ie sustainable) potential alternatives are hazelnut milk, and/or hemp milk. And goats milk too eventually, hopefully. Hazel we could plant as part of mixed hedgerows along with blackthorn, hawthorn, elder and rowan; and hemp (the industrial varieties, not the cannabinoid varieties!) grows quickly and once the seeds are harvested the rest could be a good addition to the goats’ diet. If we’re careful with looking after the plants we could grow a variety that is good for both seeds and fibre, and I could use more of the rest of the plant in paper making and fibre for spinning. It’s all conjecture at the moment, all thoughts and ponderings.

I’ve also been looking at goat shelter structures, and what they would need. Initially we thought about simply using what’s here and renovating the barn and the existing shelter but the more we think and ponder, the more we’re coming round to the idea of pulling the old barn and shelter down and building a new cruck framed barn and a goat shelter with trees felled from our woodland.

One immediate idea we can start experimenting with is making artists’ charcoal. We have a LOT of brush left over from the fallen trees we’ve brought down from the woodland and from the single sycamore we felled last month, and there is potential to make small quantities of artists’ charcoal in our furnace! So I’m going to do some experiments over the next couple of weeks 🙂

The other crops I’d be looking at growing are the ones we use most. Potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks, garlic; french beans, runnerbeans, peas; courgettes, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, squash; blackcurrants, raspberries, strawberries, apples. Fruits and veg that we actually eat, at least to start with. It’s not all going to happen at once: there’s a lot of prep needs doing, and trying to get everything to magically grow in our first (or second, or third) years of smallholding life might be a pretty high aim!

In diabetes terms, I’m struggling a bit with the sensor. From an academic perspective it’s fascinating seeing what my blood sugars *actually* do. From a personal perspective it’s really hard to see them *actually* spike badly every time I eat no matter how much insulin I take; and because I’m looking at numbers rather than staying aware of when and how much I ate and how much insulin I had and how I feel, I’m letting the numbers dictate whether I “ought” to have a correction dose or not and I’m having to come to terms with the realisation that correction doses are bad if they risk taking me over the insulin requirement for what I ate. I know what I ate, I know what I dosed, I need to accept that my system just does not behave like a typical Type 1 and spikes badly after eating. But it settles down quickly enough and does not require a correction dose because all that does is cause a hypo. Must not let the numbers control me. They are a tool, not a control.


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