Thursday, 30 September 2010

Ready for the off

This poor cows world is going to be turned upside down tomorrow afternoon. Literally. Hetty is a very friendly cow, and especially placid for a Dexter, she just looks mental. Most farmers greet the news that we have a Dexter with a sharp intake of breath and a we used to have one of them but they're nutters type comment. Lucky for us she has bucked the trend and is very sociable, making it easy to handle her, and pretty safe to turn your back on. But she is an armed version. Her horns were left on and they have grown to match the rest of her. Several times I have nearly got the point, and when she decides she wants to do something her horns do give her a nice edge in an argument. So to prevent any mishaps, or accidental goring of me, my beautiful and oh so patient wife, the pigs she bunks with (thats Hetty bunking up with pigs, not my wife, although I do snore so there is a similarity) or any other sentient being at Rock HQ, tomorrow when she goes for her pedicure (her hooves need trimming) she will be given a shot of local anesthetic and a vet armed with a chain saw will remove the offending appendages. All we need to do is convince her its a good idea to get in the trailer to get her there. Simple!
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Wednesday, 29 September 2010

A New Leader Elected

The competition was fierce, the speculation endless, but in the end there can be only one leader and to every pundits surprise a much younger and inexperienced leader has been chosen. A short while ago no one knew her name. Now she makes the headlines.
Not quite sure how she swung it, its been neck and neck between Crispen and Geisha for a long time. Maybe it was the block vote from the Berners, given after an impressive performance where she chased Zak, the Cocker Spaniel around the yard and head butted him into next month for trying to get between her and her breakfast ration.
Maybe her assumption that the cottage and grounds are hers, and hers alone, won her the favours of the cats who, in an effort to get on her good side and be allowed use of the cat flap unmolested once again, gave her the edge over the competition and a vital four votes. Who knows.
But what is known is that somehow a rank outsider, Ferny Fern Fern from Ferntown has become leader of our little flockers. She has assumed control. Next stop. Poland.
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Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Vice Versa

I took a late amble around the Bonsai Mountain this evening, last light soon became darkness and the last part of the walk was completed by sense of smell. Six Bernese Mountain Dogs and a pathetic Triever hid behind me and my stick, carried in case of bear or hermit attack. He did shout from his lair as we passed in the twilight, thanking me for taking him to the Docs last night, he was much better now he chortled chewing on an unidentified bone.
As is want to do my mind derailed from the task in hand, surviving the evening stroll upright and with my collection of fungi relatively intact. Note to self, always carry a bag this time of year, seven huge chestnut mushrooms were all I could carry, a good suppers worth anyway. The sheep had sought various sleeping places and were fairly startled to see me and my pack emerge from the rain filled darkness. Curious to think that as we fall into autumn and our days get darker and shorter our friends down under are leaping headlong into the sunlight of spring. (see thier blog link in the margin) While we on our rain soaked mountain ponder the merits of another lambing season next spring they are just about to spend sleepless nights ensuring the safety of their ewes and the survival of the lambs, in fact they have already had one cute bundle arrive safely. Their ram rests in a sunny paddock while ours is making sure he gets round all his ladies and is wearing himself out in the process. A final thought as me and my canine companions entered the warm glow of the anti aircraft light, soaked to the skin. Why do we do it? Why smallhold? Answer. Because we love it. And because we can.
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Monday, 27 September 2010

Start the clock

Laverne and Shirley, our two Berkshire gilts have been the least trouble pigs we have ever kept. They have resolutely refused to run through fences, dig tunnels, bite, escape or engage in any sort of anti social pig behaviour that we have become accustomed to at Rock HQ. There have been no major excavations suddenly appearing in the lawn, no pig like shapes wallowing in the pond and certainly no pig and run raids on the feed bins. Unlike their predecessors who routinely engaged in all of these activities, sometimes all in the same day.
The difference the new pig pen has made has been huge. The fence has contained them while they have eaten enough to make them very meaty. The fence incidentally is not cow proof as Hetty has jumped it several times to get amongst the pigs and share their breakfasts. As she is armed and ever so slightly bigger than her they have opted to share their bounty. They have learned to sit and be hand fed apples and nuts and they rollover for a good tummy tickle. Unfortunately for them all this good behaviour has not helped them achieve pet status and the clock has begun the countdown to the next sausage and bacon bonanza.

Remember when we publish a collage you can click on it to make it larger.
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Sunday, 26 September 2010

The morning after!

Despite going to bed at gone three, the critter body clocks made no allowances and right on cue they congregated outside the cottage demanding sustenance. I was one of the fortunate few who had managed to sleep in a bed and wake without a hangover (although I suspected the lack of pain between the ears was due to not actually having sobered up) so set about the morning routine. The observant might notice in the picture of the sheep that the grass in the field is two tone. That's because in the low lying areas we had a frost, which made sleeping in cars very uncomfortable indeed.
Those that brought tents bottled it as the temprature plumetted so the cottage this morning was a mass of bodies who had sought soft furnishings to ease the discomfort of the oak floors. The majority woke up bright eyed a bushy tailed, with the help of inquisitive cold wet noses of Bernese Mountain Dogs, and once roused helped with the massive cleanup operation. Others sat amongst their makeshift beds with heads in hand praying for the torment to end and begging for sugary caffeine beverages.

They were not the only ones to have slept where they fell. Geisha was found snoring amongst the bark chippings, she didn't have a headache though.
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Oh what a night!

We live a quiet and fairly isolated life here at Rock HQ, once the gate closes at the end of our track the world can stay there until we sally forth and make contact. Very occasionally we party. Having two grown up rug rats who have birthdays in the same week seemed like a good excuse to let the festival commence and the drawbridge was lowered long enough to allow revellers access all areas. The theme of the fancy dress was S, as he who cannot be named is going somewhere with his job beginning with the same letter. A feast was prepared (pork based mostly) the helipad became a dance floor and two rival DJ's provided what the yoof refer to as banging tunes until gone three am. I think they are called banging as that's all that seems to happen, no lyrics, no rousing chorus. As a product of late seventies prog rock and a fan of heavy metal where every three minutes you get three verses, four chorus;s, a guitar solo and probably a drum solo thrown in I did did feel there was something missing from the mounting crescendo of noise. It did however serve an additional purpose of keeping the foxes away, along with most of our animals who did the sensible thing and took to the hills.
The effort put into the costumes was huge, special mention goes to Shrek, Space Invader, several Slash's, Sumo, a gaggle of scientists, Sam Gamgee (he was nearly disqualified as he really is a hobbit) and the Statue of Liberty who endured the journey over after breaking his thumb playing rugby. Given the enormous amount of alcohol consumed, the extreme drinking games (one of which culminated in a life long veggie accidentally drinking a lethal concoction of booze and pork fat) and the terrain in which the party was held we all survived relatively intact. He who cannot be named was the proud owner of a new camera for around 17 hours, his birthday present. This is now somewhere in the wilderness, along with several mobile phones, a purse and Saddam's weapons of mass destruction which were found around midnight but then lost during another round of ring of fire.
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Saturday, 25 September 2010

Party On!

Some of the characters here tonight!
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Friday, 24 September 2010

A ray of light!

We always knew Trevor, the pocket rocket was special, and heres further proof, his own sun beam!
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Thursday, 23 September 2010

Miss Whiplash

Its a been a while but Vic and I now get on. Today he proved his worth as we approached a roundabout in the heavy rain, I slowed to a halt so as to allow the overcrowded Fiat Punto safe progress. A sudden explosion of noise, my view of the road changing to the back seat as my head crashed back into the headrest. Focusing on the empty road ahead I wondered how I had hit the Fiat, and where was it. I then realised as my eyeballs stopped spinning that some numpty had tailgated me. Hazards on I pulled over and carefully got out. The petrified lady driver sat gripping her steering wheel, and peering over he deployed air bag was mouthing "I'm so sorry". Her mother was wrestling with the passenger bag and trying not to cry. The rear passengers clung to each other as yours truly cautiously walked to the rear of the Vic to view the catastrophe. Nothing was different. By now I was joined by a hysterical woman pleading for forgiveness. We both looked carefully at Vic, he sat stoically in the downpour, hazard lights keeping rhythm to The Darkness on his excellent stereo. We both looked at her car. I picked her colour matched bumper off the floor and helped her put it in the boot of the now battered Ford Focus. We decided that there was no point in exchanging details as A. My car was fine, and B. No one would believe her name.
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Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Stop! Thief!

Our two very ancient beagles continue to enjoy their retirement at Rock HQ. Here they are white with age in the morning sun in the Cauldron, Preston head down, Passion grinning at the camera. Preston probably has a scent of fox who plague us. Their audacity knows no bounds. A local militia man armed to the teeth arrived on the doorstep last night bearing gifts of dead rabbit for the pot, he shoots them but his mum doesn't like him bringing them into the house. Not wanting them wasted he gives them to me. Only one today. He had shot another but it was a long shot, the dead rabbit lay waiting for him. As he approached a Vixen strolled up to it, followed by three cubs and stole the prize. He was so taken aback he forgot to shoot.
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Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Does my bum look big in this?

Hetty got a tad confused and tried to get back to her friends the pigs via the back door of the barn. Barn is euphemism for shack held together with cobwebs and paint but it does have a really sturdy cow proof door.
Usually this door would open if she breathed on it but unbeknown to her I had been working inside the euphemistic barn and having committed myself to another clear out where I decimated the broken bike and knackered lawnmower collection, finally throwing out all the spare wheels, broken power tools, tv stands and other precious items never used since we moved here three years ago, making a huge pile that doubled as a very effective door stop thus preventing bovine entry.
I did save two broken bikes though. Just in case.

Speaking of broken things, the phone line came down again, this time without the assistance of JCB and so we were again locked into the seemingly endless cycle of press three to talk to an operator to complain and get a suitably qualified person to come and put us back together again. This repair will hopefull last longer than the time it took to complain about the last botched job!
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Sunday, 19 September 2010

All but finished!

Not the best of starts to the day when the Honda failed to start due to my leaving it with the lights on and then in an attempt to bump start it I forgot the wheelbarrow neatly parked behind it which promptly wedged itself underneath the wheel carrier. it took an age to dig it out and still the Honda refused to come to life without the assistance of Vic the Volvo giving it a jump.
Extreme pruning continued, tree sized lumps were force fed the goats, well we all have a role to play, theirs is recycling the foliage hacked from the jungle that was once garden. In between dagging the sheep, a lovely job where you wipe their bottoms, trimming their feet and worming them, feeding all and sundry and playing with the latest toy to arrive at Rock HQ, an industrial strength pressure washer, we got the sun terrace all but finished.
I say all but, all I have to do is finish the pointing. I did attempt this yesterday but but my efforts did not pass inspection and Pritch removed the offending cement with a huge stone cutter and told me in no uncertain terms that I needed to do it again. So after huge effort by the kids the garden is nearly set for next weeks opening ceremony where we hope to a bit of a do to celebrate the commissioning of the helipad.
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Saturday, 18 September 2010

Get a little extra help!

Ferny Fern Fern from Ferntown proved great help today as the triffid like growths that have smothered the sides of the house was decimated today by yours truly, a set of extending tree loppers, a saw and a hammer. The hammer wasn't absolutely necessary but there as precaution as there were two goats loitering with intent and harsh words are not as effective as hammers as far as goats are concerned. Removing the foliage has made a great difference to the amount of light getting in to the cottage as the sunlight doesn't have to negotiate three foot of forest before illuminating the interior. We are having to wear sunglasses indoors while we get used to it. True to the rule of smallholding where one job is finished two more are created, we can now see the outside of the house needs painting and thanks to the absence of darkness within we can now see that some attention to the interior decor of the cottage is needed.
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Behind the green door

Whats going on in here?
All will be revealed soon!
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Friday, 17 September 2010

Call for help

So the explanation was a simple one, as given when we found a member of the militia lurking in the yard making polite enquiries as to whether our phone was working. He was not to know that seconds prior to our encounter I was wracking my brain for explanations as to why this essential piece of technology had failed us, along with our link to cyberspace. He was not to know that I had emptied the contents of the great drawer, the drawer that contains all things including old phone bills in the hope that I would be organised enough to have "filed" it when it was paid. The explanation for our inability to contact the outside world was a big yellow digger which was now parked guiltily under the trees after severing the phone line.
After accepting his profuse apologies we waited for developments.
In the ideal world a van load of technicians would appear, disembark and repair said line with the minimum of fuss.
I reality it led to three very tortured phone calls to some less than helpful inhabitants of a call centre in a country far far away who singularly failed to understand the concept of "digger" and "cut line". So keen were they to stick to the script to which they had been trained, any attempt at my deviation from the required responses led to utter confusion.
Could I remove the front plate off the phone socket and see if there was anything wrong, well I could mate but theres a digger five hundred yards away and its cut the line, whats the point?
Could I just plug the phone in the test socket, why, so we can test the phone line, mate theres a huge yellow digger with a very sheepish owner over the fields and hes cut the line, the test will not work.
Is it plugged in the socket now?
Do you have dial tone?
No which is no surprise as the aforementioned digger has not put the line back together.

Right we shall test the line, that will tell us where the fault is.
Its by the digger.
The line test shows its fine and the fault is within your home.
No, your test is wrong, reason being a digger has cut the line. We can come and fix it but you need to assure us that we will be paid when we find the fault in your home.
Mate, you can have my house if that's the case, its not working as a digger has cut the line.
Right as we have your assurance that you will pay we will send an engineer in three working days.
And we did this three pointless times in an effort to get things resolved.
Each time as pointless as the last.
Today, against all odds a van with one competent technician arrived and quickly found the fault, next to the digger, (X marks the spot)rejoined the wires and tadaah, we are back in touch with the outside world.
The answer machine yielded a few more pointless events, like BT phoning back to ask to speak to me as they believed I wished to report a fault. I would of been happy to chat with them had I been able to receive the call, but as the line they were calling on was the one under the digger, well......

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Wednesday, 15 September 2010


Ferny Fern Fern from Fern Town has a minder.

Reuben has appointed himself her body guard, and spends most of his free time, that is time not spent asleep, eating or under our feet, close to the orphan lamb. She seems to like his constant attention. Not sure what she was trying to tell him here though.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Open wide

The phantom gate opener struck again today and the two pictured here at the back, Roxy and Ebony and the one second from the front, Springtime made off as fast as their cloven feet could carry them into the lands on the militia. Not wishing to go through the same rigmarole of chasing them through the dreaded stinging nettles I used their own greed against them and casually fed the rest of the well behaved flock by the gateway. They, spotting the missed opportunity for gorging ran straight back and were suitably chastised before being allowed to eat. The gate has now been secured with a strong rope and a Gordian knot to persuade the phantom to climb rather open. Its at times like this you realise how attached you are to your woolly charges, the feeding frenzy in the gateway was short by three, the two Ryeland lambs, Trouble and Petal and Ferny Fern Fern from Ferntown. Fearing they had got a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of green pasture rather than mountain and cliff I collected another bucket of feed and after struggling to fend off several attempted bucket hijackings by goat I found the three amigos up in North Face Gully where they tried to look non plussed at being rescued and led back to the safety of the yard.
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