Friday, December 16, 2011

Loop the Loop Come on people go check out the website for wonderful gifts this Christmas.....
Well here we are again and blogging!
Time does fly...well I think it does! All back to normal now at Ivy Cottage and I can report a fantastic year despite the cancer blip! 23 sheep are currently in residence 3 of whom are waiting to go to the freezer! 15 ewes are in lamb to 4 top class rams one of whom I trecked all the way to Margate to buy....Margate is a long way from here!
I have also built a new website and will be opening for eco b&b in the spring....lots of painting, tiling and coffee drinking going on!
My lovely daughter Laura has just opened her new business Loop the Loop which you MUST check out as its perfectly brilliant and I think loads better than the famed Cox & Cox!!!

Right back to that paintbrush!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Crikey time is flying again! Well the sheep are getting sheared on Thursday and my daughter getting married on Saturday.....so we are incredibly busy!
I have had 2 fantastic volunteers working for me for the last 2 weeks Davy from France and Jan from Hong Kong. They have cleared lots of head high brambles from the boundary of a new 3 acre field I have so that some new fencing could be put in and chopped and stacked huge amounts of wood, pulled thistles and nettles and......been attacked countless times by our cockerel who seems to wait just for them.....he is pretty cowardly with the rest of us!
I have planted 7 types of bean with 2 types not coming up! Also taking part in a trial for the permaculture association growing veg in mixed groups...kale, beans peas and sweetcorn interspersed with onions, spinach, marigolds, beetroot and salads. Another plot is prepared with 3 straight rows of veg and careful and detailed results are being plotted....its very interesting!
The Woolly Shepherd is now under new ownership and has a new website and logo and my new website which will be www.valgrainger.co.uk will be up and running soon!
We will be putting on lots of courses from hedgelaying and peg looming to bread, jam and chutney making.
We are also going to be developing eco b&b for later in the year so watch this space.

Thursday, April 14, 2011



Just a quickie to tell you all that The Woolly Shepherd has been sold.....but will still be producing fantastic insulation from local sheep and woolly packaging just up the road from where it was before.....to the same high ethical standards! I will still be involved in a small way whilst developing lots of other woolly ideas, running courses, giving talks, growing my veg, Chairing the local Parish Plan committee and vice chairing the Blackdown Hills transition group....Oh and of course breeding pedigree sheep!
We have 13 lambs from 11 mums at the moment 9 rams and 4 ewes....typical when tryong to expand! One more left to lamb now. We have had 2 sets of twins which is very unusual as Ouessants tend to have single lambs....and one is one of my smallest ewes!
The lambs are great time wasters to watch!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Budget day today....
Got me thinking about something I have thought for a long time....economic growth. Success in an economy is measured in terms of growth...ie how much more we spend on consumer goods, how many houses we have built, how rich we become and therefore how much more we may spend yet!
This is quite frankly barking mad....how on earth (and yes literally 'how on earth') are we to keep up this never ending expansion and growth?.....surely something is going to snap if we keep stretching for more and more yet success seems these days to be measured by growth and failure by decline and stagnation.
However perhaps if we look at the words used and looked at them in a different way and not in such negative terms and made stagnation into consolidation, made decline into good housekeeping and growth into greed we would actually be able to work out 'how on earth' we might have enough resources left in the world....!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Well its been a long time since I blogged....why? well to be honest because I have been that busy I just have not had time!......
I am going to therefore tackle some issues head on....haha...head on is very apt!!
The past year has been a trifle traumatic but has bought more positives than negatives, yes that does sound barking mad when you have had your daughter and yourself diagnosed with agressive breast cancer, both been through surgery,chemotherapy, radiotherapy, herceptin therapy and heaven only knows what else and have anothe 5 years worth of treatment to go (hormone therapy)!!!! However lifes experiences can be looked upon as negative or positive and this has most definitely been the latter. I have met some amazing people, laughed until i was helpless with the humour I have found from people, experienced first hand what its like to be 'on the other side of the fence' i.e. the patient experience! found out exactly who my friends really are...with some surprises, and audited my life and planned an exciting future....so to be honest, although this seems a strange thing to say, I wouldn't have missed it for the world......

So I thought I would share some observations before blogging regularly about my sheepy and other activities!
Chemotherapy....nasty stuff, lots of different versions, some make you feel sick, some make you ache all over, some make you muzzy headed, most make your hair fall out...and not just the hair on your head!!!
However the most visible bit is the head hair thing!.....So you have a choice, wear a v posh bit rather hot wig....which to be honest I tried but looked too tidy, after all they just dont 'do' wigs for scruffy outside types! And so I tried a variety of hats....which being over a very cold winter were ok...until you went inside the pub/shop/train/house etc when they got really warm and you take em off and people look at you with horror....now just a comment aside here...WHY is it that the England rugby captain and half his team with shaven heads are seen as ok and quite sexy but a bald women is seen and regarded with total horror???
Scarves....I look daft in a scarf....ohh that nearly rhymes! and scarves shout CANCER and everyone averts their eyes and gives pitying looks....especially so once your eyebrows and eyelashes fall out coz, well, you must be 'near the end'!!!

So I have chosen to mostly go 'commando' and scare them half to death!.....whilst explaining that chemotherapy is not being given as 'a last resort' as one person commented.....!!!.....but as a first line of treatment to stop the bluddy cells in their tracks just in case any escaped being removed by the surgery!!!.....and make you well! The same goes for the radiotherapy....I am in the middle of that treatment at the moment and attend the clinic for a 5 minute daily microwaving for 4 weeks...very easy and not at all scary. As for the other targeted treatments....the herceptin which was fought for to be licenced for use by some very brave women about 6 years ago targets any cells that might be thinking about going mad and dividing in a specific way....20% of breast cancers have this problem which makes them more likely to recuur....this is given IV every 3 weeks for a year and has mild side effects as does the tamoxifen that I have to take for 5 years because my type of breast cancer is also driven by oestrogen and the tamoxifen interferes with that....
So to conclude I am fit, well, very healthy, not dead, not sad, very active, very short haired (and I like it!)with sheep about to start lambing, with exciting things planned and ready for the next adventure.....

Monday, January 24, 2011

Right everybody!!

You know how sometimes you want to do something that makes a difference? Well my lovely daughter Rosanna s fiance.....is cycling from Lands end in Cornwall to Frome in Somerset in 24 hours next Saturday.....to raise £2000 for Cancer Research

For a keen cyclist that would be a doddle...well maybe not a doddle but a good leg stretch...
For Philip on his mountain bike its the equivelent of me climbing Mt Everest!
He has been training by cycling to work in Bristol every day and will make it if he has to pick up the bike and carry it!

so can you sponsor him? If so visit his just giving page http://www.justgiving.com/Phillip-Morris
None of us know when we may be very grateful for the work done by Cancer Research.....we toddle on through life putting a penny or two in collecting boxes but its only when it hits us that we are grateful...so dig deep chaps and you will be rewarded with pictures of the event!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Life has a habit of making one make decisions! So what do I mean...? Well we have to decide what to wear, when to eat, where to go etc we are making decisions each and every day which makes our life path the way it is....confused?
Well each day we make decisions that may affect the rest of our lives without even realising it....for example we decide to go out and down to the supermarket at 2pm, we bump into a friend there who imparts some information that impacts on our thoughts and future decisions, its interesting is it not?
I have led a sustainable lifestyle all of my life..some have thought I was just a skinflint and my father bless him kept reminding me that rationing ended in the fifties and there was really no need to reuse and recycle old stuff...he had done that as a lad in the war and 'things were different now'....Oh but how that attitude and the desisions made by the 'modern' post war generation have affected the world and our future! When China finally gets a standard of living deemed modern for all its inhabitants we will need several worlds to supply it...yet we only have one!
Blimy...I am getting philosophical....or cynical!

When it comes to decisions I have made a big one....
I am going to downsize the 'Woolly Shepherd' no not me on a slimming fad...but me being sensible. Green business is big business and usually not at all ethical! I have built up a small, award winning, permaculture based sustainable ethical business but to compete I must forever be striving, fighting, working silly hours, stressing and so on because business is business. It has interested me a lot that often folks who consider themselves ethical in their private lives consider business to be neither ethical nor unethical and are quite happy to metaphorically speaking stamp on the head of their competitor at work whilst at home raising a pig or two for their freezer and keeping a few rescued ex battery hens because they do not want their families to eat battery produced eggs and pork....mmmm!
so I am going to take my little business back to its roots and work at the grassroots level supporting the way of life I have practised for ever and leave those who cannot equate ethics to do their thing.
I am going to stop and 'smell the roses' financially it will be ten steps back but personally I am going to be a richer person for it too!....I wonder exsctly where the head stampers riches really lie?