To be continued......
We have guests at Rock HQ, this is a short clip of them drying off after playing in the Cauldron, five wet Bernese Mountain Dogs in the house take a bit of clearing up after.
First dog is Lucy, Rocky's Mum, then Rocky, Reba is lay in the corner and Montana is sat just in front of her, Chester, Rocky's Brother is lay by the door waiting for me to open it.
This is Geisha, Katy and Daffodil giving their verdict on the weather. Normally they run straight past me and try to find Tracey with their morning milk. After four days of rain they are obviously as fed up with it as we are.
I thought I heard a cuckoo yesterday but can't be sure so still not properly heard one this year. I did see a bird that I have never seen before though, a Redstart, an amazing Robin shaped bird with orange red plumage, blue wings and head and a white cap. I'm not a twitcher or anything weird like that but you do tend to notice things when you are outside a lot of the time. So even in the wettest weather there are rewards.
Today I have to leave Rock HQ, hopefully only for the day, having some metal work removed from my arm. This will hopefully allow it to get a bit more movement and I have a mental physio on stand by to twist and stretch it into shape one the surgery heals. Its taken nine months to get to this stage, I thought it would only take nine weeks to get back to normal, but I've always been an optimist!
As you can see from the video clip Global Warming has yet to arrive in our valley. It has rained almost constantly since last Saturday night making life for the smallholder difficult and life for the animals miserable. Most of them are sensible enough to take shelter except for the Ryelands who seem to view taking shelter from the elements as a sign of weakness so stay out all weathers. Since being here we have dug them out of snow, watched them spray gallons of water from their fleece as they shake like dogs to dry themselves and heard the ice crack as they run to the trough when its been so cold their wool has frozen solid.
Ryeland have only one concern in life, that's where is their dinner.
Its been a good month for us at Rock HQ, and the blog readership is growing, twice as many as last month and in 32 different countries. Even Norway has joined in, cheers George, keep reading in between kayaking trips.
Given the weather we have suffered the last three days perhaps we should have built an Ark instead of a stable. Our highly accurate 21st century rain gauge which also doubles as a coffee mug placed on the wall outside Rock HQ has filled to the brim in the last 48 hours. Here you can see some of our motley crew taking shelter.
They don't show this type of weather in the books about smallholding, they are usually full of pictures of smiling folk bucket feeding alpacas. Erecting barbed wire fencing in a monsoon hardly features at all.
Its been a miserable day, but with lighter moments like this one, Maggie falling over as she tries to get the leaves from the branches above her.
Do not get a goat if you want something to eat grass, they wont touch it. Ornamental trees they love. Maggie will clear branches off trees height of about six foot. Whether you want her too or not.
With a severe weather warning in our area and torrential rain falling this morning didn't look like it was going to get off to a good start.
But as usual the life of a smallholder is full of surprises and as I prepared our early morning coffee and the bottles of milk for the lambs I heard a noise from the incubator.
These two had hatched during the night and a third is pecking in a bid for freedom. We were keen for these to hatch as they are eggs from our oldest hen, Devil hen who is over eight years old and still laying eggs, nice light blue ones. She has survived rat attacks, fox attacks, managed to cope with ever increasing numbers of dogs, different cockerels and moved house with us.
Hopefully at least two out of the three will survive to adulthood and one at least will be a hen to replace Devil when she shuffles off her mortal coil in a manner that befits such an ancient bird. Asleep on her perch not as a snack for foxy.
This is something you don't see everyday!
In fact its the first time I have ever seen William, our handsome Welsh Cob, lying down. We were busy in the garden building a goat proof fence, how effective it proves to be remains to be seen and as Maggie the mental goat was watching from the cottage roof an eight foot high stock fence might not pose her too many problems. After a few hours hard toil we made our way back to the cool of the cottage and just checked to see how the boys were in their stable. Trevor the Shitland practically took a chunk out of the inside of my right elbow so he was fine whereas William next door was having a lie down.
Now I thought he would stand up when he saw me but as you can see he remained on the floor. There was, I thought, no way he would let me enter the stable and stay on the floor but again he stayed put and let me stroke him.
Tracey came in too and for a full ten minutes this lovely Welsh Cob posed for photos and put up with us making a huge fuss of him.
It is a sign of how much he trusts us that he remained so calm and vulnerable allowing us to sit down with him. We are socialising him well, he is only just two years old and unbroken. We are getting him used to us and gaining his trust so we can train him to work with us on the small holding, harrowing the fields, crushing bracken, carrying wood and dragging logs, that type of work. We would like him to be able to pull a trap, or small cart which might be good fun, especially on summer evenings on an outing to the local pub. He should also make a good steady hacking horse, a plodder, I don't want a fast mentaler, a nice bombproof steady ride will suffice. So William is maturing into a nice people pony, trusting, good natured and affectionate.
Lets hope he stays that way the first time we put the saddle on him and climb on board!
This is Geisha having a spot of bother with a bucket of lamb feed. Normally she is quite intelligent but this morning she got a bit confused. Mind you she did double back while I was moving a bale of hay, let herself into the conservatory and sample the Olive and Lemon trees we have. Most plants get pruned by the goats, except the bracken and nettles, they are left for me to cut down. The books say that horses and goats love nettles, not true, they would rather eat broken glass, plastic bags or masonry nails before having to eat nettles. Humans can eat nettles, the tips anyway make a good substitute for spinach or you can make nettle tea.
I'm in the same mind as the horses and goats when it comes to nettle tea.
This is Trevor the Shitland Pony having a mad moment in the garden.
If you look at the Pocket Rocket video from a few weeks ago you can see how much he has changed colour. He is still a mental bitey creature but he is great fun to have around.
I think I will get a couple of sheep to help keep the grass down, a phrase I have often heard from would be smallholders.
As you can see demonstrated here they eat everything and only eat grass as a last resort. This is Katy and Daffodil who have got into the vegetable garden and are sampling the raspberries. They have already savoured the delights of the gooseberries, the strawberries, taken chunks out of the leeks and finished off some flowers in pots. Luckily most of our plants are still under glass as we try and construct a more goat proof fence which will hopefully keep these two rascals out.
The green marks identify them from the rest of the flock as keepers rather than eaters. You can also hear the sound of a chicken suddenly going airbourne as a Gordon Setter called Faith surprises it.
The sounds of the country.
Its been a very busy night at Rock HQ. We put the boys out on the field and set about clearing out the messy old stable. Somewhere there were four large rubber mats which we are going to put in William's new stable. This should then mean we put less straw bedding down which William can't stop himself eating thereby generating mountains of pooh. We are grateful for his contribution to the fertility of the Rock garden and fruit trees but this horse can dump for England. Its his hobby, producing two foot high models of the worlds mountain ranges created out of his crap. We have enough so he has to be stopped, hence the need to put the rubber matting down.
These six by four foot rubber monsters weigh a ton and God only knows how Tracey managed to lay them in the first place by herself as the two of us together had great difficulty carrying them up to the garden to be cleaned. Eventually we managed, with the assistance of a replica Halberd from when I used to re enact English Civil War battles (not by myself obviously) we folded the mat over the Halberd and lifted them. I knew it would come in handy one day. Soon I was covered in horse doings and under one mat there was some particularly foul smelling liquid which soaked my trousers. The joy of horses.
We fed and watered all the beasts, Faith got sent to bed early for biting Geisha, Daffy got a warning for jumping on Walter and tonight we just weren't quick enough so Pip got most of the eggs.
We cleaned put the stables and got the boys back. As you can see from the video clip practically the first thing Trevor the pocket rocket did was take a huge crap in his nice new bed. Those that follow the adventures of this miniature Shitland will see he has changed colour from the dark brown of his winter coat.
That's Shitland Ponies for you!
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