Another week flies by and it is hard to believe that we are 2/3rds of the way through January already. We have so many projects on the go at the moment that there is always something to keep us busy. Add the normal day to day stuff too and we just don't stop during the day. Luckily the nights are drawing out slightly now. Lock up of animals is between 6.15 and 6.30pm depending on the weather. We have had a weather warning out  since yesterday for heavy rain, strong winds and even a possibility of snow! This will last until Wednesday. Today is rather wild but we are inside by the wood burner keeping warm.

This week we have managed to get mum signed up at the doctors and hopefully a prescription for tablets will be picked up this coming week. Mum has been up and down all week. One thing we have noticed with her is her change in attitude to life. She was always a happy soul with a positive outlook and always saw the funny side of what life threw at her. This week however, she has become so negative. Nothing is right, she doesn't like anything anymore, getting her out is harder and harder and honestly we are finding this hard. I hear myself being short with her and then feel bad. It is very hard to be positive all the time when negativity is around. This disease is stealing my mum away from me even though I still have her. Some days it really gets to me. I go away somewhere and shed a few tears. They say it is grieving before the person dies and I can really relate to that. 

This last week the weather has been around 20ºC during the day. It has been glorious weather to work in. Kev has been continuing with the render on the house. It is slow going as we have had lots of errands to run and poor Kev is the one that does them while I stay home with mum. 

This week I made more bacon. This time it was from a belly joint and so we have streaky. I use this a lot in cooking as the fat all adds to the flavour in the food. I make a brine first by boiling all the ingredients and then letting it cool down until cold.  I then submerse the meat in this brine and leave it for 4 or 5 days. The end result is just the best bacon. We sit it in the fridge for a couple of days to firm up and then slice it and store in the freezer.

With all the tomatoes I canned last week, there was a lot of tomato skins left over. I placed these in the dehydrator and left them to dry for a couple of days.

Then I put them in the liquidiser and whizz them up into a powder. This powder I can use to flavour soups, stews and breads too. 

I signed up this week to a short course online about permaculture. I did one a few years back but I never finished it as life just got in the way. It was only 5 days with a video a day to watch. This has reignited my passion for working with nature to become self sufficient. I am considering taking another course now to become a certified designer so that I can help others that wish to make this journey.  
After watching one of these videos, I have been spurred on to begin changing some things. One thing I have talked about in the past was creating guilds under the fruit trees. This is a mixture of plants that benefit the tree and help it to thrive. Herbs to repel the aphids and also draw in the beneficial insects that feed on the aphids. trailing plants to make a ground cover to improve the soil and stop evaporation. I did plant 4 herbs around this tree but only 2 survived so no more was added. It was covered in weeds and the soil is poor too. Cardboard is placed around the tree to supress the weeds. It is watered and then I covered it with straw and watered it again.

Next we covered the straw with well rotted goat manure we got from a friend. As you can see it looks like an instant planting bed. When my herbs have grown they will be planted out here along with garlic and other perennial vegetables.

We had some help for a couple of days too, last week. Our friends came and asked if they could need to ask us twice. My big job this month is planting up seeds to grow on. There are hundreds of them to sew in seed trays. It gets a bit boring doing it on your own but with the help of 2 extra bodies it was all done in one day.  My question is... can they come again in February for the second sewing?