Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Dinner is served

The plight of the mare and her foal preyed on my mind today so after doing a bout of paid work I got back to Rock HQ and set off up the hill to serve dinner, consisting of some build up cubes, chaff, carrots and apples. Seeing me again she plodded dutifully over, a bit more cautious this time as I had the famous five Berners with me, two were left back at the ranch, Reba much to her disgust charged with babysitting Reuben.
The mare had a quick sniff to make sure I wasn't going to hurt her or the foal and then set about having dinner. Her tasty bucket full was not the only thing on the menu. I was. Every exposed bit of flesh served as a feeding station to horse flies and midges, and as the midges this side of the hill are the size of flip flops with teeth pretty soon I was a mass of swelling bites.
The horse is thin, probably not thin enough to warrant a report to the RSPCA, who incidentally still have not responded to my report of the seven dogs locked in one house, or my complaint of their inaction, or my complaint that they had lost my complaint. Anyway, the horse is thin, but not that thin, and she probably has worms, hence the swollen belly, and with a foal this size feeding off her she should be on a more substantial feed than summer grass.
After munching her way through dinner she had another sniff of me, and by way of a thank you gave a massive horsey burp that seemed to start from her tail and was delivered with gusto into my face she stepped back to get on with horsey mum things like feeding the little one and glaring at the dogs.
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Monday, 30 August 2010


I had to go and check on the Technohermit today as, yesterday when I approached his lair there was no sign of life, other than his cat sat waiting to be fed. As we had been given an unfeasibly large number of free sachets of salmon mouse pet food I had several about my person for such an eventuality and fed the hungry moggy whilst cautiously exploring the Hermits cave. Clearly he had gone somewhere as there was no sign of him and as I was carrying a container of hot roast lamb dinner it normally tempts him to the entrance. We have fed him on a Sunday for quite a while an he has never missed a meal this was a curious event. Having satisfied myself he was not curled up dead, had not fallen in a ditch within a 1km radius of his abode on the Bonsai Mountain I returned to Rock HQ to share the worry.
On checking in today he was fine, having decided to go looking for money in rabbit burrows on another hill. As I only had a limited amount of time I left asking the questions this statement generated, apart from the obvious did you find any, to which the less than surprising response was no, to which he added but I knows theres some there, and so I got back to the saner side of the hill to carry on with lots of jobs. On the way back I met this very sad looking mare and foal, she looked in a bit of a state, painfully thin and covered in flies. Flies I could not help her with but as there was an apple tree close by I made several trips and she tucked in. She is a very friendly pony, its a pity she's not better looked after. We shall be keeping an eye on this pair for a while.
Progress continues, some render is up on the walls now, the pointing is well under way, Pritch had another SOHF today (Sense Of Humour Failure) when his nice soft brush became a dog chew and was hidden under the cliff by Reuben. I had a bigger one when Geisha got back into the garden and attacked the apples. For the third time that hour.
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Sunday, 29 August 2010

No Show

Plans to take Rocky to a show today soon had to be abandoned as the work on the helipad took precedence. The time allotted to the show was instead spent shovelling sand out the back of the trailer and into the over worked concrete mixer.
We usually have the sand delivered but a slight underestimate meant that by end of play yesterday we were a ton short. Thankfully the builders merchants are open on a Sunday morning and Pritch was able to borrow a trailer. Unfortunately the trailer could only carry half a ton (well we could have tried a ton but last time the tyres burst so Pritch was a big girls blouse and wouldn't take the chance to provide me with some interesting pics for the blog) Anyway as we could only get half what we needed it meant that we had to use the first half quick, thereby emptying the trailer and get back so we could fill it again. Oh the happy looks on the faces of the builders merchants as we turn in at 12.57 pm, three minutes before they closed, to collect the sand we had already paid for. How they smiled as they unlocked the warehouse doors, found the keys to the digger, weighed the sand and dropped it merrily in the trailer. I think a new record was set for the fastest loading of a trailer.
Back at the ranch work continued apace. There was a nasty incident involving a poorly aimed trowel at a chicken who thought the donuts were hers and not the hungry builder's but she survived and he was placated with a custard slice.
Finally, after a long day the slabs are down, the third gate hole has been filled, change of plan, only two gates needed, this will cheer up the builders merchant no end on Tuesday when I cancel the order for the third, having endeared myself to him for delaying his Sunday lunch I have the feeling he might start crying when I call in again to get some of my money back. The block work for the pond was started just after this pic was taken. Tomorrow we, as in the Royal we, put another row of blocks along the top, finish the pond and point the stone work. My role in all this is to keep the mixer filled, move stuff, stop animals getting anywhere near any of it, ever as far as Pritch is concerned, supply drinks and make appreciative noises when the complexity of rendering is explained to me again.
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Acer's home

This handsome lad was so interested in everything he almost jumped in the fish tank . Having so many Bernese and other dogs of our own it would have been silly to even think about keeping him, but as we never do anything sensible as far as animals are concerned Acer was on the brink of becoming a permanent resident. If the new home found for him showed any sign of second thoughts then he would have been put straight back in the car and brought home. I knew it would be a better idea if he moved on, but he is such a lovely dog it was hard to say goodbye.
It seems he will do well with his new family. They already have an older dog, who had a companion until about a year ago when it died of old age. This upset the dog so much it stayed behind the sofa, only coming out for meals and walks. As soon as Acer arrived they bounded round the garden, knocking over every pot plant and had a great rough and tumble. It seems like they will get on and Acer was happy enough to be left. As Glynis left the older dog came up to her and licked her hand as if to say thanks before tearing back through the house and chasing its new playmate round the garden.
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Playing with Fire

One reason why we were so late last night was this family celebration where "pirates" celebrated with a festival of fire. It was great to catch up with everybody and there are so many good times ahead.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Piggin Pirates!

Its been a long day at Rock HQ. It involved a huge amount of work and a Lot of fun. Especially when the Pirate had to fix the electric fence. More to follow, but for now here's two pics. This is apparently what the best dressed pig keepers are wearing these days.
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Friday, 27 August 2010

Its cold and wet out here!

Any thoughts of an easy or early night last night vanished when I did the last check of the perimeter. Poor Trevor, the pocket rocket, gave a huge whinny when he saw me trudge through the mud to the forward observation trenches. First I thought he was telling me off as I was non tactical, a huge torch stabbing the darkness with its beam, but I know there are Zombies and Werewolves out there and any connoisseur of horror films knows, the one that gets it is the one without the torch. Anyway back in reality Trevor was trying to tell me something. He was cold. And wet. The combination was causing the poor little mite to chatter his teeth together. The geese Rupert and Mable were unceremoniously woken up and evicted from the back stable and Trevor the soggy equine was tucked up in bed with a big bowl of horse nuts whilst I made my way along the treacherous path up the side of the Bonsai Mountain in an effort to locate Misty, who, if Trevor was any guide, would be equally cold wet an miserable.
Two out of three, she was cold, and wet, but far from miserable once she saw the combination of gates open unlocked the secret path to the hayledge which is where she headed at speed , totally ignoring yours truly and the bucket of horse nuts that were getting damper by the second due to the torrents falling from the sky. With careful coaxing and a lot of pushing an pulling she was finally prised from the hayledge and ensconced in the nice warm stable with her mate. They were now safe, getting dry, well fed and in no danger of getting hypothermia. The complete opposite of their owner.
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A trip to the gallery

Easter showing Petal the modern art sculpture in the yard
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Thursday, 26 August 2010

Big jobs!

Its the weekend, a holiday weekend, you can tell by the number of caravans of on the roads today and the depth of rainfall, it seems the drought is over by the amount water falling from the heavens and the sea of mud that has been created in the yard.

Weekend means big jobs and materials have been gathered to get them done. Tasks this weekend include finish the patio, finish the patio walls, get a pond built on the patio, get the gravel into the corral, mix enough concrete to make a small yard for the little ponies to stand on, sort fish out, re route water pipes to the holding tanks, install new tank in garden and connect to supply and divert to pigs, collect a ton of free apples for the pigs, collect straw, take Acer to his new owners, finish text and pictures for new website (this ones getting a huge makeover)get Rocky ready for dog show, win dog show, celebrate winning dog show and collect more animal feed.

A quiet weekend. Good job this one is four days long!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

New faces

These bunnies have been here for a few weeks so its about time they featured on the TFTR site. The rabbits in the field or on the Bonsai Mountain are all cute but potential ingredients, these are all pet status and destined for a life of luxury in the massive hutches bought to accommodate them. They are Tom, Jerry, Barbara and Margo, which one is which is a good question, I have no idea, but like their name sakes they enjoy the good life!
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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Me first!

They get a bit enthusiastic over breakfast here at Rock HQ. Little Fern leads the charge!

Monday, 23 August 2010

A lesson in scrumping

Nowhere in the beginners guide to scrumping apples does it say take a seven month old Alsatian pup with you, neither does it say take a wheelbarrow for the fruit, the most usual container is the front of your upturned t shirt or woolly pulley held in one hand while you select choice fruit with the other. But the pigs can eat more than the contents of the upturned item of clothing, so the builders barrow was receptacle of choice, and Acer needs building up so another walk around the hill would do him good.
He tried to help, chasing the "windfall" apples (it was windy and they fell, the fact that they were aided by a big stick is a separate semantic issue) down the hill which was entertaining. There was a worrying moment when out of the corner of my eye I was certain the curtains in the Ghost House (don't look back!) were moving, and being uncertain of the protocol for avoiding summoning witches I thought it best not to stand and stare on the just in case principle. Sensing the need for speed Acer ably helped by taking the largest apples out of the barrow as they were placed in and dropping them by my feet. Crispen and Daffodil, two Ryelands who can always be counted on to turn any drama into a bigger crisis then tried to lay claim to the contents of the barrow in preference to foraging amongst the nettles. I uttered the age old shepherds four letter volley of abuse at naughty sheep and eventually they got the hint to move on. Geisha could be seen moving in for the the kill so Acer, me and the now very heavy wheelbarrow headed for home.
We did have a few apples to spare for these Gypsy Cobs that are currently resident on the Bonsai Mountain. The foal is a real cute one and very interested in strangers bearing gifts of apples.
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Sunday, 22 August 2010

Off the leash!

Despite having a hectic day where the jobs list was attacked with gusto, jobs ticked off included cleaning out the stables, kennels, changing the fish's water, feeding everything, visiting Stable Sprite to see what one man and a digger had done, baked cake for Stable Sprite as had promised cake when visiting, on the way called in and paid for the hayledge, then went mad an bought a new feed ring and a second hand water tank of the militia man who sells us the hayledge, then found Stable Sprite could have got them cheaper/better/bigger/ delivered yesterday with go faster stripes, bells and a free whistle, anyway despite all that time was taken to take Acer up to Five Ways to let him have a run around.
He was supposed to go to his new owners today but they had a life crisis and cancelled his appointment, so to make up for this disappointment he had a trip out into the wilderness with Rocky. Acer was a star, I took a lead just in case but the whole time he walked with his head on my thigh, he had to be persuaded to get this far away from me for a photo.
The poor lad has never walked so far so we took a few stops so he could get his breath back. Since we got back at two pm he has been curled up in his basket sound asleep. Tomorrow all being well he is going to join me on a forage to get apples "donated" for the pigs. In all he was a top dog, hopefully he will go to his new owners next weekend, he better go soon as he is fitting in a bit to well here!
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Saturday, 21 August 2010

Chops to die for

The number of the flock has been reduced, finally, Sandy and Leviathan were sent to celestial pastures yesterday. Originally it was planned that they would go with Bonny and Maude, but somehow these two achieved pet status on the way to meet their maker and were given a reprieve at the last minute, much to the amusement of those tasked with their demise.
Sandy and Leviathan had nice lives, and their attempts to avoid becoming chops meant that they lived three times as long as those lambs belonging to the militia. The Ryeland has many attributes, its docility, size, ability to get fat on green concrete, its wool, most especially its flavour, but the one thing it does not do is go from lamb to plate very quickly. The militias sheep give birth to lambs that are Lewis Hamilton's, racing to the finish line, our Ryelands are geriatric slugs in comparison. Sandy is hardly classed as a lamb as he was born when Ben was at that military academy that has the word sand in it and a word that sound like thirst at the end. He gets a bit cross if he is mentioned on here so say no more. That was over two years ago! And he was still the size of a rabbit!
So Sandy and Levi were chopped up and placed with care in Mr Whirlpool today, and my reward for all my labour was a plate of chops to die for. Bless them.
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GSD's move on

Crystal went to her new family last Thursday, she was spayed before she went and is now in a lovely home in the mid Wales region with another dog in the family to keep her company. This handsome lad, Acer, is due to join his new parents tomorrow, they also have another dog for him to play with. It might seem cruel to split them up but it was for the best. By themselves they will pay attention to their new owners, together they only look out for each other. In the few days Acer was by himself here he was a different dog, totally attentive to what we were doing and our commands. He will be missed but the new home he goes to will devote their lives to this lovely dog.
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Friday, 20 August 2010

Eight left!

Whilst on my travels today I spyed this strange creature lurking in the undergrowth. Tempted by the smokey bacon aroma the cat stuck its head inside the crisp packet and got stuck, fast. The poor little tabby had got itself in a right state and blundered into a wire fence by the time I got to him. One quick tug and he was free. There is no picture of the happy cat as he took off at light speed. I disposed of the packet with a bit more thought than its original owner.
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Thursday, 19 August 2010

So far so good

I have to pinch myself sometimes, I cannot believe the life I lead. The contrasts are so extreme day to day, and I would never have imagined I would be lucky enough to live somewhere like Rock HQ.
Take yesterdays contrasts. After an uneventful, almost routine assessment visit on a particularly rough part of my patch I was absent mindedly ambling along to my car, hoping several things, mainly that the wheels would still be on it, or the tyres still up, preferably all the windows intact and the paintwork as I left it, not with some interesting artwork added by way of a sharp piece of metal or key. Mostly I was hoping that a fridge wasn't on the bonnet, the door would open, the engine would start and I would get out alive. This is a place where dogs go round in packs, postmen arrive at random times in unmarked cars and run every where and Police cruise round in armoured vans donated by the now defunct RUC. The car was intact, so far so good. As I opened my car door a tall man was, and there is no other word to describe his behaviour, loitering in the adjoining alley. I carried on getting in my car, no need to antagonise the locals by staring at them, but something in his hand held my attention as I started the engine and reversed turning to face the alley. He was holding a pistol, the 9mm black shooty type. Very casually he examined the thing before tucking it in the back of his jeans, covering it with his jacket as he walked away. I drove a short distance mentally checking all mobile phone types for ones that resembled guns. None matched. I had seen a gun. Being British I don't like to make a fuss but I phoned the police anyway, the emergency operator was very reassuring as I babbled my location and description of the suspect. She asked me where he had gone, me not knowing the area at all did not help so I decided to get out of the car and have a look down the alley to get a better location. I was feeling brave now, right up to the point I came out of the alley at the far end and almost walked into him and his friend poking around in a bush. Bravery evaporated and suitabley motivated to run I got back to Vic the Volvo without an accompanying volley of shots and sat to wait further instructions from the Police. After ten minutes they called back, already I noticed an absence of sirens, no masked uniformed men abseiling from helicopters, just me sat on the car park watching the alley. I could go home they said, we are on our way they said, thanks they said.
I left for tea and reassurance at the office.
Back at Rock HQ my heart rate had returned to normal and I was faced with a problem about as far removed from facing lone gunmen as you can get. The fish were in crisis and several were dead, so the quiet evening I planned went out of the window while three hundred gallons of water was bucketed out of one tank, pipes laid and water replaced some 150 fish were then caught by torchlight and put in the new tank. This saved the fish and was quite therapeutic.
I was asked today if I was surprised as the Police had not got back to me. Perhaps. But after checking with colleagues who have worked the estate longer than I it would seem that if the Police responded to every report of a gun sighting there they would not have time to eat donuts and harass motorists.
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Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Get stuck in!

Geisha making sure she gets a share of someone elses dinner.
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Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Dont drink the water!

Drought conditions continue on the Bonsai Mountain, leading to a bit of dispute amongst part time inhabitants. Our well is still dry which is only a tad inconvenient as it is the source of water animals. The stream is running dry, as pictured below with this years hatching of ducks and geese, but its still running, and once I clear the muck out of the reservoir the water will start flowing back into the storage tanks and all will be well. Our house water comes from a bore hole some 20 metres below ground just up from the stable and that's supplying everything and everyone. Which is a good thing.
The owner of The Ghost House has discovered a bad thing. His water is missing. Many years ago 1976, the year of the proper drought, he dug a 400 metre trench and laid a pipe in it from a collecting tank on the hill to his house. This has served him well for many years. Never let him down until this week. He turned his tap on and got the faintest trickle of reddish sludge from the tap. On tracing the pipe back he found it had been cut and now led to a water tank supplying horses belonging to someone else, the nice traveller man we meet every now and then. This is not cricket. Second only to putting a fence up in the wrong place, taking water from someone elses pipe is a crime that used to lead to deportation. A feud is in the offing, we wait and wonder who does what to whom next. This is better than TV.
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Monday, 16 August 2010

A tale of two piggies

We are custodians of Stable Sprites Kingdom for a few days, and as he is obsessed with pigs there are a lot to feed.
Somehow this big Berkshire Boar had got himself where he was not supposed to be, certainly in a different place to where we found him this morning. He had got into the turnips, which are destined to be pig food, but not yet!
And then there is Cherry, a first time mum who has just given birth to eight healthy piglets. She just lay contentedly feeding them while we put her food and water out, she really does look like she is smiling.
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