The past couple of months have sped by. We finally got the necessary planning permission to reinstate our derelict farmhouse and outbuildings into a home. With autumn and winter fast approaching, we have been trying to fit in as much work on the house and cabin as we can.

It hasn’t been easy though, persistent troubles with keeping both of our run down cars on the road and the constant increase in the cost of living, has made earning money and spending as little as possible a priority too.

We have felt torn between the need to make our home as ready and comfortable for the cold months ahead as we can, and the need to get control of finances quickly, as the country’s energy and food bills go through the roof. I’m sure that so many families across the UK must be facing some tough decisions this year. Our family has been through very hard times before and scaling down outgoings to a minimum is something we are used to.

So, the long awaited permission to start work, wasn’t met with quite the joyous burst of activity that it would otherwise have been. We wanted to get cracking with protecting the very old and neglected, wooden doors and windows, but the cost of the lovely eco-friendly paint that we had listed in our planning application, now seemed an even greater expense, than when we first chose it. So we have bought one tin. Each tin will have to be considered and weighed against the other monthly household costs.

Even with these added pressures, the process of stripping away what was left of the old paint, filling, sanding, adding layers of protection to the windows, shutters and doors, feels good. Really good.

It makes such a difference to how we feel about our home, our situation, ourselves even.

No matter how slow and hard won progress might be, it is progress and those slow but sure footsteps forward are so important to maintaining wellbeing in troubling times.

The history of this place puts things into perspective too. When I think of all the changes that our World War One cabin has seen and survived, and the families that worked so hard to build a life here, it gives me strength.

And after all, we have so much to be grateful for in this beautiful place. The beauty all around us, the peacefulness that is so restorative and our home. It may need a lot of work, but it is our home and as the weeks go by, I feel more and more sheltered and protected by it.

 

restoring-wooden-shutters
restoring-wooden-shutters
little-greene-etruria

I like to think that the house and cabin are feeling the benefit of the care they are receiving. Sometimes, as I am working to safeguard what is there, I can almost feel the buildings sigh with relief. 

I recently saw pictures of an identical wartime cabin that was just down the road from ours. What remained of it finally gave up and collapsed last year. How nice then, to stand back and see ours living on, with new larch cladding and freshly painted original windows and shutters. We are so lucky too, that the original wood interior (remarkably) needs little work, with only slight damage here and there, where water had got in.

little-greene-etruria
restoring-wooden-shutters

The house and cabin aren’t the only things that are slowly coming back to life. I have been working in the garden as often as I can, with help from my two keen helpers, Lark and Wren. What a pleasure for us to work together this year, to carve out a little productive space, now crammed with food and flowers.

The raised beds that we made earlier in the year, from some of the old cladding and rope found in the barns, are overflowing with plants, all grown from seed.

To think that I was concerned at the beginning of spring, that we wouldn’t be able to grow anything without a warm, bright space to start our seeds.

We might have had to be patient and some crops, like tomatoes , just didn’t make it, but we have eaten dinner from the garden several times a week for the past couple of months.

In times like these, it is wonderful to know that there is food for my family, growing just outside our door and it still amazes me, that thanks to the no-dig method of layering up, we have been able to grow so much, with just a very thin layer of compost.

I think that our ducks have been a great help there too, providing us with plenty of duck manure.

growing-veg-in-orkney
orkney-vegetable-garden
growing-our-own-veg

Just as important, in my opinion, are the flowers, which as well as attracting hundreds of pollinators have brought us so much joy this summer.

Both of my girls have grown a big variety of flowers in their own little gardens, which bring so much colour and life to this long forgotten space between the house and barns.

They have delighted in picking jugs and vases full of their own flowers, making mixtures and potions with the petals and giving me many gifts of little posies. With all of this life and goodness just outside it has given us all a boost and a glimpse of things to come.

Although it has had to sit untouched for all of these months, I am glad that we bought our polytunnel when we purchased the house. I think it would be very hard to make the leap and spend that money now, with everything so uncertain. I look forward to putting it up now that permissions are in place and seeing so much more food start to grow here.

It is our best chance of the simple life that we dream of, that sometimes seems to get further and further away, but that my heart won’t give up on.

growing-flowers-from-seed
gardening-with-kids