A Castle in the Sky

In March 2013, after years of talking about it we eventually sell up and move out of the city with our 2 year old, Gracie. We both grew up in the countryside and this is what we want for our daughter. So we swap a 2 bed flat in London for a small country pile on the west coast of Scotland that needs a lot of work. I've done a bit of interior design and my partner, Ed has a good knowledge of the outdoors – but we're on a tight budget and we've both got a lot to learn. It's a life time's project and this is a record of our adventure…

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A couple of ‘pretend’ pigs (May 3)

Friends are here so we go up to the farm to feed the lambs.   While we’re there we meet the pigs  (see Oink Oink – Apr 9).  Mr C has never kept pigs before so it appears they have our name on them…or I should say Ed’s name on them.  I’m abrogating all responsibility at this stage.

If they are going to make their way down to us then we’ll need to fence them in and like all animals they’ll take some daily looking after, so we can reconvene on this subject once Ed is back from his trip.

Ed and I have vaguely talked about the possibility; they could clear our brambles, eat our annual surplus of apples from the orchard, and help us get started on turning the paddock into a meadow.  All sounds very idyllic but then comes the difficult bit; as once this is all done, at the end of the year they would then provide both us and Mr C with a freezer full of meat…

The prospect of slaughtering animals is something I’ve thought about over the years – I’ve wondered how I would react if I had to do any killing myself or get nearer to it.   I’ve watched lambs in the fields here skipping about this spring and for some reason I’m more aware than ever of where they are headed.    I suppose the practicalities of country living are more apparent once you’ re living it instead of just day-dreaming about it.

I’m not suggesting that I should do the actual deed  (there are clearly those better qualified) but rearing and eating our own at least feels like a step in a more responsible direction.  Having said that chickens might have been an easier way to start…

Gracie meanwhile has independently come to the conclusion that the meat we eat is ‘pretend’.  So faced with a chicken dinner she’s liable to say “It’s not real chicken though is it mummy, just pretend chicken?”   We are going along with this for now as she’s only 3 and I figure this particular horror can wait.  However, I’ve been told that when it comes to it young children are very matter of fact about the slaughtering of animals that are home-reared…as long as we don’t give them pet names.  So ‘the pigs’ it is.



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Apples apples everywhere…(Aug 31)


The old orchard in the walled garden (half a dozens trees) has produced hundreds of apples despite the fact that none of the trees have been pruned for years.   They are almost ripe and we’ve been wondering what we’re going to do with them all…

I mentioned this to one of the mum’s at the local toddler group and it turns out her husband and his mate make their own cider.  Happy days.  They live in the village and have a hand-made apple press in their garden shed.

They’ve apparently been on the look out for a good source of local apples for years – so they’ve come up today to check out their potential new supply.    They’ve brought a sugar measuring device with them and seem pretty happy with the results.   2 of the trees are dessert apples for eating and the rest are for cooking, as we suspected.   Both can be used to make their cider.    They’ll come back to pick them next week while we’re away.

250 kilos will make 250 bottles and they think that’s roughly what they’ll collect.  So we can expect a crate or 2 in return next year.