Monday, 30 May 2016

My Best Man Speech For My Brother

Well some of you asked for it so here it is:

For those of you who don’t know who I am, I’m Daves big brother Kev, and I’m honoured to be his best man today. It’s the first time Dave’s let me be best at anything since I was about 12! You can see from looking around this room, Dave and Helen are a couple that have many friends.

First of all I’m sure you’ll agree that Helen looks lovely, as do her bridesmaids and flowers girls. 

And what an amazing venue we’re in

To be honest with you all when trying to think of stories for the traditional character assassination of the groom it has been difficult, I was hoping that the stag do was going to give me plenty of ammunition. I wish I could tell you that Dave went wild, got blind drunk, spent an hour chasing a turkey to put in one of the rooms, missed the bus going home after a night out, ended up going back to the wrong farm and topped the evening off by getting forcibly removed by the police, but that was Gary!

Gary they’re  still pestering me for your details …

As brother s we’ve spent a lot of time together and like many brothers  most of this time has been focused on trying to find the best way to inflict pain on each other or get into trouble, whether that’s being shot in the face point black by a BB gun or wrestling in the grain store (dad used to get quite involved in this as well) and trying not to get caught by mum as we walked grain all round the house, or stealing some kittens and only to be given away by their incessant meowing and the infestation of fleas that we both caught.

Dave was always a little heavy handed growing up. He’s the only person I know who was, genually, almost expelled from playschool and earned the nick name CRUSHER. Mum and dad always tells the story about when he was a baby, barely crawling, he climbed up onto the chair, then table, and then bladdered a plant to death with a plastic hammer – 

He says his tree surgery has come on a long way, other may argue it hasn’t…

When Dave and Helen started going out I remember Dave coming back one night with a couple of pheasants that Helen had been given, I think Dave had big plans to dress them and take them back to Helens parents ready to cook, a good way to impress the inlaws. He asked me to show him and went at it like a bull in a china shop, grabbed a load of feathers and ripped off big chunks of skin. I think when he finished it could be described, at best, as road kill. I’m not sure what her parents thought of it when he gave them to them, or if he took my advice to chuck them in the hedge on his way there and pretend the dog stole it.

His heavy handedness applies to other things in his life…

Years ago at Reading festival we were sat round a smouldering camp fire on the first night, the wood we bought just wouldn’t burn and everyone who was trying to light the fire was inebriated. Suddenly a drunken Dave  jumps up and shouts “I know what will work – PARFIN!” and he gets a bottle of it and throws it over the fire. Unfortunately I was sat the other side of his little fire lighting attempt and a line of paraffin goes onto the fire, lights and engulfs my legs. I jump up, my legs on fire, people and tents everywhere, All Dave offered was to shout the words “DROP AND ROLL, DROP AND ROLL!” Over and over.

Luckily all he’d done was singed off all the hairs on my legs, like a low level Brazilian!

It was at a previous Reading festival that I noticed Dave had got an eye for Helen and What a whirlwind romance it’s been since then, just ten short years to get to where they are now and I don’t think I’m alone when I say, that I for one could see them here from the first time they told me they were going out, they always seemed to be made for each other.

In fact I’d say that this marriage is more than that, it’s a matter of survival for Dave now. When Helen goes away things go downhill rapidly. In fact one day last year I was giving Dave a hand, he hadn’t been shopping in two weeks, cupboards were getting bare and Claire phoned me up to say that she was going to come over and is there anything we needed. He paused for a while and couldn’t think of anything, then he said “Oh, milk if she wants a cup of tea” and then just as I was about to hang up he shout “TOILET PAPER, TELL HER TO BRING TOILET PAPER!” Good job I didn’t have to find that one out the hard way!

I do have to question Helens sanity in wanting to join our family as well. One night sticks in my mind when we were a little cruel to her. I was getting ready to go and help dad feed the sheep, when I heard Helens car pull up. Giggling to myself I turned off all the lights and hid behind the door way. When I jumped out on her she must have jumped three foot in the air, she was a bag of nerves. What a reaction! I chuckled all the way up to the sheep shed and when I got there dad came over to me with a big grin on his face and starts telling me how I should have seen how far Helen jumped when he booed on her getting out the car. Twice within a couple of minutes, it’s a wonder she ever came back.

It’s tradition to give you some advice for married life in the best mans speech.  So I’ll give you this from one of the happiest married couples I know, my own mum and dad. Last year Emma asked them why there relationship had lasted so long. They both answered at exactly the same time.

Dad said “Because I love her”

And mum said “Because we never see each other!”

But in all seriousness I can honestly say that as the father to two young girls I’d be more than happy if they ended up with a man who is as honest, thoughtful and caring as my brother. He’s the best brother I could hope to have and a true friend who I can always count on.

He’s found a truly amazing woman to marry, for a long time Helen has already been a sister to Claire and I and an aunty to my children but it’s great for them to finally make it official.

I wish you many years of love and happiness

Please be upstanding for the new Mr and Mrs Alviti

Sunday, 29 May 2016

My Little Brother Got Married!

My brother got married yesterday to the woman of his dreams, Helen. We always knew they were going to be be together for ever so it's nice that they've finally made it official! 
The day was simply perfect. An amazing venue, perfect weather, great food and great company. 
The five of us all scrubbed up! Love my little family.

Happy flower girls!

The happy couple

My sisters boyfriend, me and my beautiful sister
Dave and Helen
A little page boy
My eldest and youngest

They loved the dancing
PJ's on for the end of the night
I'm sure I'll put some more pictures on here from the wedding yet, these are just a few off my phone and from my mum so I'm really looking forward to the professional ones and all the ones everyone else took. 
I think we're all still on a high from it now, we've spent the day at my brothers having pizzas and spending time with friends which has been a great way to round the weekend off. 
If you all ask nicely I might even put my best man speech on...

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Seeds Finally Organised!

Firstly a quick apology for not replying to comments or writing on other blogs lately, as usual I've been really busy. I've been reading and enjoying the comments and I will reply when I get chance, please keep commenting though!

Right I think I'm finally organised with my seeds, although now I think I might have taken it a step too far and there may be an element of OCD involved with this, but it should stop the ten minute search for the right packet of seed and I know at a quick glance how many seeds I have. 
I've divided my seeds up into 12 groups - a little extreme maybe but let me walk you through them...

Cucurbits, grains and melon - all my squashes, cucumbers, melons and small scale grains. 

Solanaceae - one of my favourite groups of veg, the nightshade family. All my tomato, chilli and pepper seeds in here. Lots of self saved seeds in here as well

Roots- I tend to buy new roots seeds each year. These include parsnips, carrots and more unusual ones like salsify and scorzonera

Salads - Lots of varieties in here

Brassicas - I always think that these are the easiest and hardest to grow. The seed seems to last forever but everything wants to eat the plants! 

Legumes - Beans, peas and more beans! 

Beets - beetroot, leaf beets, chard - I love growing and eating these! 

Herbs and edible flowers - I grow lots of herbs from seed. It can take a while for them to grow but it saves a lot of money if you get good plants at the end. I also grow lots of annual herbs like basil and coriander. 

Fast growing - I've broken with by strict grouping with this box, but this contains all the fast growing things that I intend to sow on a regular basis, like radish, mustard greens, turnips, etc. 

Alliums - Although I don;t grow many of these from seed currently I intend to start doing it more in the future rather than buying sets each year, 

Unusual - This is for anything that doesn't fit in the other groupings. 

Green manures - This is a bigger box and contains big bags of green manures that I intend to be much better using this year! 

I also have a box number thirteen that contains flowers, but to be honest they don't get grown that much so live on a different shelf! 

So I think I'm finally organised with my seeds, who else has a set up like this? How do you store yours?

Monday, 23 May 2016

Draining A Field

It's been a busy few weeks, with no real sign of it letting up just yet. One of the big jobs we've done is to drain the field next to the house. 
Although it's on a slope this field always lies wet and makes it a nightmare to move vehicles around, so whilst we were putting in new drains for the extension and had the machinery there we decided to go for it and put land drains in the whole field. 

 This involved using the Robocut with trencher to dig the trenches, lots of digging on the junctions by hand and cleaning out the bottom of the trenches with a home made tool (which I'm going to post about later).
We then shovelled drainage gravel into the bottom of the trench, added perforated drainage pipe, jointed all the junctions and then added more drainage gravel on top before backfilling with soil. 

It was a massive job but one that should make the land much better for years to come. 
To me adding this kind of infrastructure is key to improving this place to make it somewhere that we're going to stay for a long long time. I'm just lucky with my family that between us we have the knowledge, skills and tools to the job for the lowest cost possible and it's always enjoyable working with them. 

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Vaccinating Lambs and Tailing Sheep

 Last Sunday I had a fair few working here. My dad and brother had come to give me a hand with all the drainage/clearance work we were doing in preparation for the extension.
Nick, A young lad who sometimes works on my fathers farm, also came to help. He really keen on helping with anything sheep, and has some of his own, so I seized the opportunity and got him to help me vaccinate the lambs as they're at the age where they should have their first stage of injections.
Nick and me - stupid hat optional.
These injections are nuder the skin, I bought a special syringe for the job that automatically fills after each injection and has a cap on the top so it sterilises each time as well, clever stuff but it did take me a little while to figure out! 
Treating feet for scald due to the long grass
Whilst we were doing that we also checked every lambs foot for scald and treated them locally rather than treating every animal en mass. 

Bare bums
 I also took the decision to tail all the sheep. This is a job that Nick was dead keen to do, so I caught and held the ewe whilst he used his battery trimmers to dagg them. 
It's around the time of year when fly strike will become a problem, so rather than chemically treat them with a fly repellent (which I will have to once they've been sheared next month), dagging them removes all the muck they've built up over winter, which in turn removes where the flys will lay their eggs. I like to think it's a fairly proactive approach that reduces my need of chemicals, although I'll still have to keep a careful watch for maggots.
Lambs waiting for their mummies. 
The lambs are looking pretty healthy and they've started to eat their creep feed as well. Hopefully these lambs will finish faster this year than last.
Anyone else been tailing sheep or vaccinating lambs?
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