The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Two thousand and eight

riendeer and passing chickenTwo thousand and eight. These words had a softness. Good rounded syllables.
“I hope that this is a good year.”
I hovered with a mug of coffee beside Danny’s computer in the Rat Room this morning.
Danny leant back in his chair. “All years have their good points.”
Not what I expected.

I love New Years Eve. At midnight a fresh year arrives like a new puppy, excited and tremulous. As Big Ben chimes my heart lifts.

Danny is different. He mourns the passing year.
“365 days elapsed and not a lot achieved.”

So New Years Day morning always welcomes two very different expectations.

I lifted the curtain. It was a grey, damp day. A challenge for 2008, just hours old. I volunteered to make breakfast hoping the sun would splutter through. Clearly exhausted from last night’s revelling, it slept all day.

We then had a series of challenging power cuts starting late afternoon, with just enough time in between each one to happily appreciate the wonder of electricity. The cottage is so old that it’s really dark without lights on in the day. Danny carried on with the aid of candles and I drifted into the garden and cleaned out the hen house and dragged the pond. The aerating pond weed had got a grip and had formed a nifty landing stage for the heron who is tormenting George (our ancient and wily Old English carp) and has eaten most of our smaller fish.

I tussled with seemingly insurmountable rafts of the stuff. Dragging the weed towards me I wrenched out clumps the size of rugby balls and tossed them onto the pond side using a claw shaped weeding tool inherited from my aunt. A slow, heavy but satisfying process. I left the hills of weed beside the pond to enable small creatures living in the pond weed to creep back to safety. After a week or so I’ll ferry the discarded weed down to the compost heaps in the wheelbarrow.

Eventually the trill of enlivened burglar alarms alerted me to the fact that electricity service had been resumed and I tottered in for a cup of tea. I had planned a cooking day, my first full day off for weeks. Butter. Pints of white sauce for the freezer. Loads of stuff.

This evening I was confidently cooking Emma’s superb vegetarian moussaka. Electricity had been pumping for hours. I opened the oven door to pop the casserole in for the final 40 minutes and there was a flickering, fluttering Phut. We were plunged into darkness for the nth time. I wrote this post on the laptop (battery mode) with the reindeer decoration lighting my way. Danny politely waited for a ham sandwich in the room next door. When he eventually received his supper the bread was stale and was cast upon the log fire.

I always have sworn that my blog will never be a space where I rant.

Somewhere, out of earshot, a small plump person finally lost it.


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11 Comments

  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Michelle

    Happy New Year to you too.

    I think that you are absolutely right about the New Year company! The brunch is the icing on the cake.

    I do hope that 2008 will be good for all of us. Health, wealth and peace for everyone.

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