Sunday, 31 May 2009

On Guard

Another superb sunny day causing a new problem for us as smallholders, sunburn! We started off well getting a lot done, dagging the sheep (cleaning their bottoms) was the fun job of the day, that coupled with cleaning out all the animals it was a hot and dirty morning. But as the morning turned to afternoon it got hotter and the jobs got less appealing (there are less appealing jobs than cleaning sheeps bottoms believe me, horse hygiene is near the top of the list again!) so we took refuge in the garden and had an impromptu bar b que which lasted until early evening. We had visitors, Paul and Barbera who had a brief tour, Beth brought our washing back (the washing machine died yesterday after years of abuse) and I went round to see Mad Keith taking him a chicken dinner.

Rocky made sure that the goats were safe in the cauldron, he kept his cool by sitting in the stream.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Pig Surprise

We were lucky enough to have another gloriously hot sunny day, most unlike the usual Welsh Summer weather we have endured the last two years, and whilst the job list is almost as big as a disgraced MP's relocation allowance we took time out from doing stuff to doing nothing but sitting and chatting to friends who came over to visit.

First to arrive was Mr 20% and his lovely wife, swiftly followed by The Stable Sprite, his apprentice Gremlin and Chocolate Lab called Minnie. Whilst we sweltered in the sun, eating a sample of Rock HQ's sausage and a slice of the newly created Bacon there was a rustle in the hedgerow, but we weren't alarmed, it wasn't as first thought a spring clean for the May Queen (sorry inadvertently had a Zeppelin flashback) no it was Blodwin, one of the piglets.

The Berner pups rallied to our defence and whilst we hid the evidence of pig consumption they held her at bay until bored, Blodwin had a quick swim in the pond and then set off to tell the other piglets her version of Tales From The Rock, or Narrations From The Stone as they say in Germany.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Gear monsters, label spotters and kit pervs!

There are many types of people that venture out into the mountains and they are easy to spot. Gear monsters are probably the easiest. Today for example I went for a another Big Black Mountain Challenge, which due to the weather (heat) turned into the little challenge version. Along the track gear monsters were apparent. They are the type who, having decided to take up mountain walking, pop into Millets, or similar and buy the entire shop, stick it in the largest rucksack available, hire a crane to lift it onto their unaccustomed frame and stagger off along the trail marvelling at the great outdoors. They have everything for every occasion, need to filter 500 litres of water in two minutes, I have just the device here, oh on my wrist, why yes that tells me the average speed/height/length/weight/tyre pressure of anything anywhere ever, so simple to use, and my cup of tea never ever goes cold in this thermonuclear allterrain mug. They have brollies that double as tents, rucksacks that double as dining furniture and their first aid kits include a blow up helicopter, cant be too careful out here. I met two today who were walking the Offas Dyke path and reckoned to be doing a whole 10 miles a day. I listened to their account of the journey thus far in the shade of their towering packs and then bade them well. They looked most disappointed when I declined their offer of a dehydrated Christmas dinner, favouring my cheese and tomato sandwich. I left them as they argued over who forgot the doilies.
Then there are the label spotters. Now these are harder to spot than the heavily laden gear monsters. They look fairly normal as you approach them but watch their eyes. They take rapid eye movement to a new level. In a microsecond they have assessed your kit, checking out all the labels of your clothing to ensure you are serious about their pastime. Woe betide any one with a Regatta label proudly displayed, or even worse Peter Storm, they will sneer as they hurriedly pass you by. No one worth their credit card would venture onto the hill in anything costing less than three figures with a nice neat label prominently displayed. Now I used to have a load of Gucci kit supplied by the Navy, but have been known to venture out across Crib Goch in winter in hobnail boots, a hand knitted woolly hat from the Isle of Harris and a borrowed body warmer. On meeting the advert for The North Face the hoots of derision at my apparel were heard several mountains away. If you pass muster and have the right labels they may stop and chat, usually about this years model of a certain brand which may betray the fact that they are also Kit Pervs.
Now, I have for a while been lucky enough to acquire a lot of kit, but most of it is past its sell by, leaks, chewed by dogs or mice (or both) so I have replaced some of it with things like fleeces that cost two quid or used kit for purposes not intended, such as snow goggles as sun glasses and crampons as hammers. So my gear is a bit worn, nay tatty, thus attracting scorn of the label spotter. Now this hasn't bothered me in the slightest, but as we get ready for The Great To Do or The Offas Dyke Ordeal I have replaced a lot of my worn out not fit for purpose gear and replaced it with nice new stuff, in the process I have almost become a Kit Perv. The danger signs were obvious, I dumped my perfectly good 5 season sleeping bag on account it was twice the weight of the jungle sleeping bag I just bought. The bombproof Wild Country Quasar tent was spurned in favour of a Snugpack tent/bivvi that weighs only two pound once I got rid of the steel pegs and replaced them with titanium pegs that saved a whole 12 ounces of burden. My everfaithful jacket will be left behind as I now favour a higher performance lighter jacket that comes with a much better fleece that is windproof as well as shower proof. And so it goes on for the Kit Perv, its all lighter, stronger, smaller, neater, does more, costs the same as a human kidney and the items are must haves, coated with drugs so you go back and buy more. I have just stopped myself becoming a true Kit Perv. The KFS, or knife fork spoon as more commonly known is going to be a huge burden on the walk, much better ditch the horrid heavy KFS from the kitchen drawer that take up too much room and swap them for titanium ones, one sixth the weight and strong enough to dig to Australia should you have to. But wait, before you buy, why carry three titanium items when you can just have one, look at this, a Spork! A titanium artifact that combines the knife fork spoon into one handy item. A Spork is the future and at a mere £39.99 a total bargain.

Or not.

Sanity rallied and I stopped myself. I chose not to take titanium but to take Tupperware, their plastic fork and spoon weighs marginally more than titanium but only cost 39p.
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Thursday, 28 May 2009

Goodbye Flash

This is Flash and his new owner, also called Flash (strange but true!)

Flash aka Shane drove over from Dublin with his friend Greg to collect his new charge and from the looks of the posh motor they travelled in the future looks bright for this young pup. It has been a bit of an ordeal saying goodbye to these puppies but the fact that they all have such nice new owners has helped us say goodbye.

Human Flash is a bit of a TV star in Ireland, who knows maybe Flash dog might appear with him one day. Human Flash seems a decent sort and sponsored The Great To Do by buying 6 miles!

Don't forget you can follow the Dolyhir Berner Clan on the sperate website linked in the margin, or those of you on Firefox can follow
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Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Behind closed doors

The morning routine has had to vary the last few weeks with having a large number of Bernese Mountain Dog pups to look after. So while Tracey has the unenviable task of clearing up the pups nighttime messages and feeding them I go and feed the pigs, horses, sheep, goats, poultry, rabbits and any hangers on we are currently looking after.
Now there are fewer pups Tracey has been able to join me on the outside rush about and so this morning we were both in the tack room where all the feed is stored and put various scoops of feed in a motley collection of buckets for our equally motley collection of hungry animals.
We are trying a new feed, shredded sugar beet. This has to be soaked for 24 hours before use and in the bag smells like a rich chocolate, mixed in the bucket 24 hours later it smelt like, well wet sugar beet, bit of a disappointment there. We are also giving Chaff, which is chopped up straw and hay covered in molasses, a go, well the boys are, now that does smell good enough to eat. So in my defence there were a couple of distractions this morning, couple this with the melee of sheep outside the door does go some way to defending my incompetence.
Anyway, I backed out of the tack room into the scrum of wool and waded towards the gate trying not to fall over in the mud and so be crushed in the riot caused by the sight of spilt food whilst at the same time fighting off sheep who can, given the correct motivation jump quite high, the buckets I was carrying provided suitable motivation and I had to use various body parts to fend off flying sheep.
I finally reached the sanctuary of the pigsty and fed the piglets. They immediately identified the new feed as mud and turfed if out of the trough in their search for the usual pellets they have. Still it was nice to spend a few minutes with them, they are a mental bunch, the jumpiest pigs ever but hopefully they will calm down over the next few months. I decided that as Tracey was helping me I had ample time to water the tomatoes and again it was a pleasant change not to have to rush about but take my time over watering the plants, checking them for bugs and slugs and wandering back along the farm track listening to the the birds and enjoying the view.
Back at the stables there was no sign of Tracey, probably finished off her chores and gone off to get ready for work. I opened the tack room door to put the buckets away and was very surprised to find Tracey sat on a bucket. I realised straight away what I had done. "I didn't did I?" I asked feebly
"Yes you did" she replied, quite cheerily really considering.
I looked at the door to the tack room and huge bolt I had automatically slid into place when I joined the melee of sheep. The bolt that had kept her trapped inside until I had finished dawdling.
Luckily she had kept herself occupied. She had spent the time shouting through the walls to the horse telling them what a prat I was.
Naturally we were late for work again.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Uninvited guests

I took on the axis of evil today. Armed with a strimmer I waged war on the Bracken, Nettles and Thistles that invade our "pasture". These three have been joined this year by a new allie, the foxglove, a very pretty and decorative plant but one that's very poisonous to our animals.

While I was cutting swathes through the vegetation I found this set of earthworks. It seems a tad big for a rabbit and strangely exposed for a fox. Might be a badger but given the number of dogs we have that's a surprise so the jury is out on whats dug it.

I will keep watch tonight. Mr and Mrs Badger have nothing to fear, but any vermin or rodents are on the hit list.
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Brains of a rocking horse

Any ideas why Apollo does this every meal? Answers on a postcard.

Monday, 25 May 2009

A braver woman than I!

I have to admit to being a coward today and I bow down to the superior horseyship of my wife who taught the brute William who was boss (not me, I was the one who pulled the eject lever and baled out first sign of trouble) She is definatley herd leader.
William is now three years old and ready to be backed, which in the world of horse means sit on the beast and show him what life has in store for the next 20 years or so. Now I am to riding what MP's are to justifiable expense claims. I used to ride, but then again I used to climb 300 metre frozen waterfalls, it was a while ago. In my head it all seems so straightforward.
Tracey put the saddle onto William and climbed on, he didn't bat an eyelid. She rode him up and down the lane with me walking anxiously by their side ready to head him off at the pass should he start to muck about. It turned into a bit of an obstacle course for rural hacks, rabbits running out from the bushes, goats suddenly appearing from no where, a flock of noisy sheep the wade through, two Bernese Mountain Dogs enthusiastically chasing bunnies and so on, all failed to elicit any startle response from the trainee horse. He did for some inexplicable reason kick me in the knackers just before the half way point, the automatic punch on the nose response had to be withheld for fear of unseating his rider so muttering oaths and walking funny I followed them home.
We returned to the yard.
My turn.
I climbed aboard.
Its all a bit blurred at this point.
The yard is an extension of the concrete floor I fell on 18 months ago and caused myself a bit of bother (nearly lost it) so I was already wary.
Quite why William decided to do a Silver and Hi Ho away is beyond me but at one stage I swear I was able to see into our bedroom window as Williams hooves flailed the air whilst he reared up and gave it a mighty whinny.
We landed.
I somehow managed not to roll off his back, in fact I rode it out quite well and as Tracey confirmed my "That was a rear wasn't it" remark I ejected off the side adhering to the motto he who lives to fight another day lives.
Tracey on the other hand saw this behaviour as total bad manners (his not mine) and climbed straight back on him and rode him off down the lane whilst telling him in the loud horsey type way that if he had behaved himself he would be tucked up in his stable now instead of walking down the lane in the now falling rain.
Suitably chastised he performed properly and only then did he get to have his nuts in his nice clean stable.
Full of admiration for my wife I went onto the Internet to source some Kevlar armour for round 2.
Or perhaps I'll ride Trevor, its not so far to fall!

Intruder alert!

There was a disturbance in the pig pen so I went to investigate finding all five cowering in the corner. The cause, a huge flesh eating Ryeland lamb that had somehow managed to find a way in.

The life of a smallholder, never dull!

Sunday, 24 May 2009

New links!

If you would enjoy seeing how these pups get on in life.
See what a tough life they have as Bernese Mountain Dogs.
Follow this ones adventures as he goes overseas.

Or just keep up to date with Dads non stop routine as he helps run the smallholding check the link at the side of this page, or go to to see more photos, videos and stories of the Dolyhir Berner clan.
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The war continues

The are many battles smallholders fight. Some are massive wars of attrition such as the one waged against the ever encroaching Bracken, whoever gives up first loses. So far armed with a petrol strimmer I have managed to carve nearly three acres of reasonable grassland from the strangle hold of the dreaded ferns.

Then there are battles that you cannot win, like the one against the weather so you adapt, adopt and improvise to get the jobs done before the weather wins. Or how about the battle you must win at all costs, keeping the goats out of the garden, constant vigilance is called for and sometimes parts of the garden have to be sacrificed in order to let the goats think they are winning while you regroup and launch a new offensive.

Perhaps the strangest battle is the one over the eggs. It seems all of the inhabitants of Rock HQ want to get their hands, paws, claws and even hooves on the rent from the hens. I turn my back for a second tonight and Faith hurdles the barn door and takes off with two eggs in her mouth. Last night Reba ate 14 eggs collected and put for safe keeping on the kitchen worktop.

But the strangest thief of all is Trevor, caught on camera having eggs for breakfast!

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Only two left!

Today we say goodbye to some of the pups, these two are the only ones left!

Friday, 22 May 2009

Great mysteries of smallholding

As I returned home from work I found this on our drive, a very long way from where it should be.

It is the "gate" that keeps The Pocket Rocket in his lair.

Fearing the worst I left it where it was thinking someone had been foolish enough to disturb the little monster while we were away. I wasn't at all concerned that he might be missing, he knows hes landed on his hooves and enjoys lording it over his minions too much to run away but I was half expecting to find dismembered bodies of hapless hikers who are lulled into a false sense of security by his doe eyed sweetness and light demeanor until you are within biting distance when he transforms into a whirlwind of teeth and hooves.

As I got closer to the stables I remembered he had been turned out (put in a field) so he was not responsible for the wandering gate. What was?

Had I inadvertently thwarted a gate theft? No one in their right mind would consider my wood working skills worthy of stealing.

I puzzled for a while.

The answer?

Ryeland sheep trying to get third breakfasts. One particularly fat one must have tangled up in it and framed itself, panicked and bolted until it finally fell off as it ran down the lane. The wreckage of the garden furniture showed a clear path as the beast tried in vain to lose the gate along the way. As I collected it from the lane and began the long walk back wool adorned the bolts and edges.

Well done Holmes, another smallholder mystery solved!
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View from the hill

Back towards five ways crossing on last nights training walk for The Great To Do!
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Thursday, 21 May 2009

Kitchen closed!

The kitchen at Rock HQ is closed.

The heart of the house is out of bounds while we wait for scientists from Porton Down to come and clear away the debris from a new terror weapon that went off while I was making supper.

The day has been routine enough, the usual mishaps that liven up the otherwise dull life of the smallholder. Things like discovering the goats were two fields away and heading West just as we were getting in the car to go to work. Picture Tracey in her posh togs and wellies chasing across the fields and persuading five goats back our side of the boundary whilst I sort out a tether system designed to curtail Juliet's newly found desire to explore the world without it strangling her.

I have to commend Tracey's extraordinary patience at times like this, I have to admit to not being so patient tonight when after finally coaxing all the goats off the cottage roof and into the stable for a good nights sleep, or rather a night where they are not tempted to form a pile of horns and fur under our bedroom window and bleat plaintively for us to come out and play, an endearing feature especially at three in the morning, one goat remained rooftop and was only helped down with a well aimed potato when all attempts to plead to its better nature failed. (No potatoes were harmed during this drama and goats do not have a better nature)

Anyway after opening the door to put the ducks away, shutting in the chicken who got out when the ducks went in, getting the duck out of the kennel, getting the dogs back in the kennels after getting the duck out, rounding up the sheep who got out while I got the dogs back and assisting the goats off the roof the last thing I expected was to be attacked in our kitchen.

The chickens have started laying terror weapons.

Supper was a simple fayre, a fried egg sandwich. For many years I have broken the egg into a cup or similar to view it before using it, its something my Nan and Mum always did so I do it. Its been habit, I never ever found it achieved anything except perhaps catching the odd bit of shell and creating extra washing up. Tonight I broke and egg and the resulting explosion cleared the kitchen of all life forms that possess the sense of smell. It went bang louder than the bottle of elder flower champagne that shattered my eardrum and added decorate kitchen to the never ending jobs list last year. First I was startled by the noise and wondered where the foul smelling slime that now covered me came from. I did think about blaming it on the dogs but they had already fled. Tracey set up a mobile decontamination unit and alerted the authorities of the bio hazard I had unwittingly unleashed at Rock HQ.

Supper was a glass of juice, it was safer.
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Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Its mine!

Five goats proving just how interesting an empty bucket is!

Top Mum!

Tonights addition to the rockery!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

A question of priority

We arrive back home with a list of jobs in mind, some are routine feeding and cleaning, others are to make progress such as plant out seedlings, cut back the weeds, attack the bracken and so on. Then there are the emergency jobs, ones which have to take priority like this one, getting Archie out of the front gate.
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Monday, 18 May 2009

Real Mountain Dogs!

The pups trying to get to their dad.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Big Black Mountain Challenge

Today I have mostly been recovering from the BBMC. My legs have decided to protest about the level of abuse they were exposed to yesterday.

Its only 19 days until we start our epic venture The Great TO DO, see link above.

178 miles

6 days


Not really but it will be done.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Big Black Mountain Challenge

44k in the Black Mountains.

70mph winds

Rain, hail, snow and 20 minutes of sunshine.

9.5 hours.

The best bit?


Friday, 15 May 2009

Dirty boy

This is how he is supposed to look, my little pony, my white shiny little pony, well groomed and clean. This was how I left him at 7.45am when I fed him.

I am used to clearing out his mountains of pooh twice a day, cunningly placed around the stable to maximise the amount of work needed to clear away his debris.

Today he really surpassed himself, piling up his days offerings into one massive heap. He then rolled in it, several times to ensure a good even coating.

He brings such joy to my life sometimes!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Wet weather routine

Its chucking it down here tonight so we have had to resort to our wet weather routine. This involves doing inside jobs until the rain relents slightly at which point you charge from job to job outside hoping to get it done before a fresh deluge finds all the gaps in your waterproofs.
As there was so much to do tonight the casual observer would have seen me attending to a variety of tasks, feeding all the critters, watering the plants in the green houses, exercising the dogs, unloading the pork and bacon form the car, plucking chickens in the semi darkness, cutting branches for the goats by torchlight for them to munch during the small hours and generally falling over in the newly created mudbaths that tend to gather in the gateways.
Patches and Pixie have been transformed into delicious bacon and pork, Patches' bacon will be ready in a couple of weeks of careful management, hopefully this time the cats wont find a way into the meat store and help themselves to an unfair share. Tradition has it that the first piece of pork eaten is a strip of belly while I sort the rest and I was happy to uphold the tradition tonight. Stuart the butcher who cut the piggies up was again very impressed with the quality of the meat produced at Rock HQ and if there was a way of supplying him two a week like he has asked for I probably would!
Dinner was finally served at 10.20pm.
I was asked by a nice researcher from channel 4 the other day how we managed to fit it all in, working full time and farming part time. Simple answer, I didn't know, we just do. And we love it.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Trouble brewing

Don't mess with Trevor when he has his dinner

Biology lesson

Visitors to these pages may wonder but I can assure you I really do know my arse from my elbow. I did have reason to question my ability to identify my own body parts at one stage of the day but I was right and the Consultant Surgeon, bless him in all his goodness was very much mistaken.
But thats leaping ahead, the day got off to a very early start with sparrows waking each other up to point out the zombie wandering from animal to animal dishing out buckets of feed, the recipients also had to be woken up to receive their rations. The reason for the earlier than usual start was that Patches and Pixie were being taken to the abattoir by the ever so helpful Stablesprite and I was being taken to hospital to have my bionic arm looked at.
I waved the pigs off and waited for my transport to long awaited meeting with Mac the Knife, a return match booked last year. Beth turned up only 20 minutes late and managed to drive me all the way to hospital without causing my heart rate to reach dangerous levels for a change and we arrived at the Hospital in time to be sent to two different locations by the nurses from Royston Vassey who still inhabit the corridors. At my third destination of the morning in the same hospital it was decided I was in fact in the right place but with the wrong injury. The radiographer wanted to x ray my right wrist, sorry its my left arm, you sure it says right wrist here, yes entirely sure here's the scar, two radiographers eyed me with suspicion as I was obviously an x ray junkie seeking random xrays. Well we cant do anything until we get the right instructions, sorry.
Why this should come a surprise I don't know given their track record. During the course of my treatment I was left in my underwear bleeding in xray after 8 hours of surgery while they tried to x ray my right arm, when clearly by the blood soaked dressings the damage was on my left. Then when discharged a district nurse turned up at our old address to see to my broken leg.
The Royston Vasey nurse shuffled along the corridor and gave me the correct permit to get my left arm x rayed and once inside the x ray department I was afforded the status expected by one who has suffered a catastrophic injury to a limb. They all gathered around the monitor to view the 15 or so pieces of metal in my arm, wow, one exclaimed, that's nearly twelve centimetres long, well its not the size that matters is it, its what you do with it, press ups now, really?
Back in the clutches of Mac the Knifes assistant, as he was on holiday, we examined the options. Through his comedy Greek accent I ascertained that it was a good healing and bends of those sizes after hurtings that much is pretty good. He would be happy. Removal of the metal was an option, well sort of, some of it is now me, and other bits were in place and taking them out would weaken the good healings. How did I feels? Well in pain really, only when I move it. We laughed.
That will always be. Great I can live with it, its better than not having it. He looked serious for a moment and said that he was an old doctors and arms like these get lost in his time. He poured a coffee and got out his beads. Outside I could hear a lucky patient asking why his ankle was being xrayed when it was his knee that was hurt. The nice surgeon smiled and rolled his eyes. I asked the killer question, if it was your arm would you remove the metal.
A definite no.
Solved, cheers doc, despite the rubbish admin, the MRSA and all the pain your team saved my arm. We shook hands and I left to the sound you don't want to hear on a surgical ward. One of the Royston Vasey crew "Any one seen my scissors?", those that could clutched their wounds and panicked.
For me.
Case closed.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009're it!

My day got off to a good start and finished even better. I got to Bristol in enough time to get a coffee and grab a good seat at the conference I was attending with three colleagues. As I drove away from Rock HQ Daffodil, our dumbest Ryeland lamb benefited from modern technology as I phoned Tracey to tell her Daffodil was stuck in the fence. Again. 5000 acres of common land behind her but she has to stick her head through the fence in front just to reach that oh so tasty piece of grass. You would think the experience of losing half of each ear from this grazing technique would deter her, but no she persists!

While in Thornbury I did think of calling in on JJ and giving him a shock, four social workers arriving on his doorstep would have been a bit too many to provide tea and hobnobs for so he was lucky.

I got back to Rock HQ just ahead of The Stablesprite who was delivering our next consignment of piglets, pictured below. These are the recruits for pig club. For once all went to plan, the new piglets were carried into the chicken shed to wait quietly while Patches and Pixie were walked from the excuse for a barn and into the trailer. Last year trying to coax four fully grown pigs into the trailer caused tempers to flare on all sides of the food chain as they ran up and down the lane instead of getting into the trailer. Tonight the two pigs followed me, and their last supper, up the ramp and into the horse box. Success! In fifteen minutes the whole operation was over. No shouting. No death threats. All done in a proper well organised fashion. All that was left was to tag the pigs. That's where it all started to unravel.
Now the tagger was exactly where I left it, or rather I thought it was. The tags were in the pantry but no tagger. It wasn't where I had left it for a whole year gathering dust on an oak beam in the barn. This could only mean I had decided to put it somewhere safe, which could mean anywhere in the universe. My somewhere safes have no logic but obviously seem a good idea at the time, which is why important documents are found in the bathroom, car keys are found hanging on coat hooks (under several coats) and most recently the spare house key that is always hung somewhere safe outside in case of emergency was carefully transferred to a drawer in the living room which was very safe but totally inaccessible when I needed it when I locked myself out a few weeks ago. Quite why I decided that the best place for the tagger would be on top of the fridge has long been forgotten but its safe location took over an hour to discover. Had it not been found the pigs could not have been tagged and so not sent to Mr Whirlpool and I think I would have been spending the night with the pigs for causing so much trouble.
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Monday, 11 May 2009

The final countdown

Tonight has been manic. The sheep have decided to stop eating grass and attack the fruit bushes and trees so they had to be moved. The goats took on Trevor in a battle over dinner, I will post a short clip in a while that shows the start of the fracas but I had to go and intervene before there were deaths. Nothing touches Trevor the Tyrants food! When the combatants were finally separated the now very nervous goats had to be tucked up in their beds a read a story to calm them down.
The pigs are going Wednesday and so I spent a while saying goodbye to them, scratching their backs and hand feeding them. Tomorrow night will be spent trying to coax them into the horse box supplied by The Stablesprite which will either go very well or create mayhem, I hope for the former rather than the later, just this once. While I was with the pigs we were treated to another spectacular sunset. Faith our setter managed to pause long enough for me to get one half decent picture of her and several blurred shots of various body parts as she ran out of shot.
One small victory was achieved where I got the two Muscovy ducks into their shed before dark. It has become a night time ritual herding the two ducks from the front of the stable through the gate, past the kennel and goat houses to the duck shed. Every night they camp out in front of the stable and every night they get moved. Sometimes they make it more fun for all concerned by running off in different directions and have even been known to fly off or run into the marsh of the Cauldron. This very endearing habit has led to them being threatened with orange sauce but as they are Tracey's they know they are pretty much invincible so I just grit my teeth and mutter oaths involving the word machete. So tonight when I got them to go to bed early it was a battle won.

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Trying for top spot!

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Outrageous self promotion!

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Blatant advertising!

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Sunday, 10 May 2009

Breakout from Goatanamo

We spent quite a big part of the day up in Telford celebrating my in laws' 40th wedding anniversary, a remarkable and lovely achievement. It was a celebration tinged with sadness as Derrick is so ill from prostate cancer, but he was having a better day and enjoyed everyone coming to share the occasion.

We got home to find the goats had broken out of Goatanamo and were playing on the rockery. I was tempted to use the gun I have borrowed to deal with the rabbit invasion but common sense prevailed and we sat in the sun drinking tea and watched their antics. Mad Keith the technohermit called in, we are now considered by him to OK and as such he feels able to pop round, drink our tea, eat our biscuits and pass on hermit wisdom. Current gems include stories about his uncle Jim, who he is named after (how?) and how his cat who has no name keeps letting live mice loose in his cave.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Tough Day

I had planned to get some more miles under my belt today ready for next weeks Big Black Mountain Challenge, 44k across, well, the Black Mountains. This is just a stroll compared to the 178 miles in June, the great To Do, or The Offas Dyke ordeal, and I should have trained for it today especially after eating a fantastic meal last night at our local, The Harp Inn, Old Radnor
Here we were treated once again to an outstanding meal, Dave cooks the best steak ever, they just cannot be beaten and if you finish your meal off with some of Jenny's chocolate fudge brownies it would suffice as the last meal for a condemned man, unbeatable. Then there is the beer, and so you can see why I should have got up on the hills today.
Instead, well I boosted the defences on Goatanamo, the adults are now contained but somehow the kids still find a way out. The smallholders rule where an animal can get through a hole exactly half its body size does not apply to them, they can get through the tiniest breech in the defences and then rampage around the garden sampling everything they shouldn't.
I showed a member of pig club around Rock HQ, they met all the crew but the pigs were top of their wish to meet list and then sampled some of the finest pork ever served in a roll with apple sauce. This had to be washed down with more beer, well the sun was shining so its rude not to and one of the pups decided I needed a hand, see above. But the rolls and beers were more reasons why I should have trained today.
I did manage a bit of gardening, but as that involved collecting tomato plants grown for me by a local expert it hardly counts. He did tell a few of his secrets which I hope will boost the produce from the greenhouses this year which has so far been disappointing unless you count monster slugs, plenty of those.
A friend gave us a load of Prostate Cancer promotional items today so I set about the task of raising more sponsorship money. The plan to sell the miles, all 178 of them has been well received by people I have spoken to about it, you buy a mile for £10, when your mile is walked you get a thank you text and your mile and name listed on this site the day its walked. As I was responding to an e mail from Channel 4 responding to their plan to make me the new Jimmy of Jimmy's farm fame I decided the day was over so rather than exercise I sent dozens of e mithers about The Great To Do, and hopefully I will sell all 178 before we set off on the 7-6-09.
JJ bought two miles and said he would pay £15 per mile if I ran them, obviously a sadistic streak mixed in with his generosity but it will be done.
Proper training starts tomorrow when the beer runs out.

Clever Trevor

Our little pony has developed a new trick to gain our attention. He lies flat on the ground, absolutely motionless, basically playing dead. This has a heart stopping effect on yours truly who, not having seen a horse lie down like that jumps to the conclusion that the Pocket Rocket is dead, drops the buckets being carried, runs across the field towards the corpse shouting his name, trying to work out whats killed him, foxgloves perhaps, but he was only biting walkers through the fence an hour ago, how could he die, and as the last fence is negotiated he lazily lifts his head, yawns and gives the horsey equivalent of "Ahhhhhhh gotcha!"

I did tell Tracey this. She laughed.

This morning she was getting into Rene to go and get some essential supplies. I watched as she dropped her bag, shouted "Trevor!" ran down the lane towards a prostrate pony. She got to him, he looked up, yawned and laughed.

So did I.
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Friday, 8 May 2009

Named at last!

Finally we have been able to get a name accepted by the Kennel Club for our puppies. Henceforth they will have the prefix Dolyhir, so here are three of the pups, Dolyhir Peaceful Bliss (Bliss) hiding under the sun lounger, almost hidden from view is Dolyhir Harvest Moon (Flash) whilst centre stage is Dolyhir Winter Storm (Spot), and below we have Dolyhir Winter Sunset (Fish)
Its taken an age to get a name, our first one Hanter was rejected as it was too similar to Annter. There followed an appeal where I challenged the KC's inability to pronounce the Queen's English but the chav's won so we chose Hergest. Unlucky, already taken, how about Pencraig? No that's already a kennel, we made up BrynTeg but apparently someone else had also made that word up, by now tempers were fraying and we submitted Dolyhir. The KC sulked for a few days after my chav tirade until the relented this afternoon and let us have Dolyhir.

I don't expect the new owners to use the registered names that have taken an age to choose, we didn't. Here you can see Tracey sat next to Mattertal Officer Jungfrau aka Rocky and Lostwithel Sherbet Lemon or Reba as we know her. Names that are much easier to yell across the garden I'm sure you will agree!
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