Sunday, 1 June 2008

That was the week that was...

It has been a great week at Rock HQ. We have made so much progress and done so many interesting things it’s hard to imagine how we crammed it all into just seven days.

The week started with us taking cover from the appalling weather and fretting about getting the garden fenced to stop the goat et al getting in. Yesterday the final piece of the puzzle was put in place in the shape of a six by three gate we built. We can now plant out the seedlings and plants that are taking over the greenhouses and we should get a lot of veggies later in the year. This year we have focused on staple stuff like potato, onions, courgettes, squash, and greens like cabbage, cauliflowers, and sprouts and so on. Last year we went a bit mad and planted eight types of melon and four types of cucumber and didn’t get anything worth eating. Mind you the garden project was hampered by rampaging goats that ate anything that looked remotely edible and then gardening stopped 24-9-08 when I had my fall.

The fence and gate even look good, mostly; there is a patch behind the stable that looks a bit dodgy but as long as it does the job its fine by me.

The sheep have all been tagged; a major job involving lots of paperwork, each sheep must have two tags, one in each ear, with our flock number and a unique identity number for the sheep. So Crispen our pedigree Ryeland Ram is obviously number one, whereas April the nutter Suffolk is tagged thirteen. The actual tagging didn’t take too long and the sheep are now all legal, able to travel without fear of arrest for no I.D.

The sheep have been released onto the common land now to eat the new grass and give our fields a rest, so hopefully they wont get into too much mischief, but you might have seen already Meg got herself into a spot of bother late yesterday evening on the cliff, more of that in a separate post, I need counselling to get over the post traumatic stress before I write that episode of smallholding up.

The lambs are tagged and on the garden, the grassy bits anyway. We are trying to get Katy and Daffodil to realise they are sheep and mix with their own kind but they have a panic attack if they cant see Tracey or a Berner and insist on pushing past anyone entering the cottage and jumping onto the sofas in the conservatory where they stay until a heartless cruel owner kicks them out.

We have also had a week where visitors have made the hazardous journey along our track and spend time with us. Three extra Bernese Mountain Dogs came to stay for half of the week. Most surprising though was a visit from Peter and Jane who travelled from Rugby to visit Rock HQ.

Now I have known Peter for years through the Navy, we both do our bit for the Queen every year and mess about on the water around Portsmouth teaching Cadets to sail. Well he teaches. We are very different in many ways, not least of which our sailing styles, he is more of a Russell Crowe in a Master and Commander role, whereas I am more of the Mickey Mouse in The Sorcerers Apprentice in my attempt to navigate the sea lanes. Now I am a fantastic rescue coxswain, give me a boat with a motor in it and I can perform manoeuvres James Bond would be proud of, but give me something with sails and I am in trouble unless Peter is around. My introduction to sailing was not entirely without incident, the Navy discovered one of its officers had no boat time so sent me on a variety of courses one summer. The sailing course had to be passed to get onto the rescue boat course. Getting off the train at Plymouth and finding I should be in Portsmouth was not the best start and I managed to make it to the ship just as the briefing was ending for the instructors and crew. As I had missed the introductions I didn’t know what the level of experience was of those seated in the room, when asked to tell the group what sailing I had done I gave a completely fictitious answer. The fact that I had only done four hours sailing on a windsurfer was glossed over and the room nodded approvingly as I dropped in a few nautical terms to talk myself up.

Probably went a bit far as next morning I was the only crew member given their boat in a box and told to assemble it. I then sailed the thing around a course and was relieved to be towed back to harbour without capsizing it. The rescue crew were wetting themselves laughing as I was summonsed to the commandant’s office. Apparently I had been sat in the boat facing the wrong way and sailed it for three hours backwards. The Navy is not keen on its best racing boats being abused in such a manner and I was lucky not to be kicked off the course, but as the commander said after yelling at me about never having sailed before “Sailing that backwards shows some talent, you can stay, but don’t expect to pass the course”

So for the last twelve or so years Peter and I have met up on HMS Bristol and messed around in boats, and despite our different personalities we get on really well. Whenever we go on the water I pay close attention to what Peter’s boat is doing and point mine in the same direction and pray I don’t sink it. So as I was not going to be there this year they came to see us at the Rock.

Jane and Peter loved Rock HQ, and most of the inhabitants. Trevor, the shitland pony, disgraced himself again by deciding that Peter was inedible therefore he had to try and shag him. This surprised Peter as he was trying to take a photo of Rock HQ at the time and Trevor managed to sneak up on him.

After a guided tour and tea and cakes they left, leaving me with a model sailing boat as reminder of what Peter will be doing without his shadow this year.

I have also had my operation which went well and some of the metal has gone from my arm. We worked at our paid jobs, finally did some gardening and last night relaxed and had a bar b queue. So a very full, varied and busy week, even by our standards.

And today is going to be a good day.

How do I know?

Our piglets arrive today! The barns been cleared and made ready for its new inhabitants and as I type this Steve the Stable Sprite is manfully wrestling pigs into his van to deliver them to their new home.

I love smallholding at Rock HQ.

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