Monday, 31 January 2011
Sunday, 30 January 2011
Its been all change here, Lilly the rescue dog was sent to a long term foster before her new owners are checked. She has to be the easiest rescue dog we have ever had, her favourite pastime was sleeping on your lap. The little black kitten was found a new home, her two friends are making themselves comfortable here for the time being. Aunty Montana our foster Berner returned to Rock HQ, this caused much excitement amongst the clan. A sad part of the day was the burial of Passion Beagle, she over looks one of her favourite trails, a good place to spend eternity.
I am trying to get ahead of the jobs before the baby is born, achieving this is about as likely as a big lottery win, but at least I am trying. The major task of the day was to chainsaw up a tree trunk and chop as much into logs as possible before blister or coronary heart failure stopped work. A task not made easy by the insolence of the big chainsaw which point blank refused to start, probably sulking as its been usurped by a smaller, shinier, orangier, easier to handle chainsaw. The little chainsaw was no match for the huge trunk so a different wood pile was attacked at the far end of the smallholding ( a wheel barrow marathon ensued) and a deal was struck with the big saw who was promised a service and new chain as long as in return it promised to cut the big trunk up next weekend.
Saturday, 29 January 2011
Finally, despite flood, fire, dirty tricks, scaffolding collapses and bad weather, the grand opening of Red Kite Fostering was held. A good turn out made light work of the buffet and quaffed the champers (not real, but as fizzy) and listened to yours truly's plan for global domination. The unveiling of our certificate of registration was the focal point and afterwards we got to spend time thanking the professionals that are supporting the project and discuss future plans with the foster carers. This project has been four years in the planning and to say I am happy with the way the day went would be a slight understatement. Euphoric would be a more apt description. There is much hard work ahead but we are all looking forward to it. Anyone in the Herfordshire, mid Wales, South Wales and West Midlands who would like to foster please click on the Red Kite Fostering link in the margin. We would love to hear from you.
Friday, 28 January 2011
Thursday, 27 January 2011
Talking of lovely old girls, Passion, above, one of our very ancient beagles died in her sleep this morning. To say she lived a full life would be an understatement, her attempt to redecorate the house when covered in purple, yellow and green acrylic paint is still spoken of. Colleagues from years back recall my battles to keep her and her brother Preston out of the fridge, once they found they could open it and take out all edibles they were in beagle paradise. We moved here four years four months ago and thought it a nice place for the old beagles to see out their retirement. Somehow Passion managed to last until today, drawing her last lay out asleep on her blanket aged eighteen years and five months. Up until Monday she pottered around, tail wagging, keeping up with the pack. Tuesday she decided to stay in and seemed a bit laboured in her breathing. Yesterday she lay snoozing, occasionally wagging her tail. I said goodbye first thing, a gentle pat and a whispered goodbye, I knew today was the day, so did she.
This lucky bunch are currently seeking new homes, until then they suffer central heated cages, hot and cold running food and all the cat litter they can eat. All the rescue centres have refused to take any more cats. A sign of the times, in recession the animals suffer too.
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Tuesday, 25 January 2011
You never know what you will turn up in my job, and as ever where there are people suffering the animals suffer alongside. I am rapidly gaining a reputation at work for animal rescue. This week I have arranged the liberation of one dog and four cats, all in need of TLC and new homes. Luckily Glynis, who runs the animal rescue at Llandridnodd is an extremely patient sort and used to the likes of me phoning to say more creatures are on their way.
Monday, 24 January 2011
Sunday, 23 January 2011
Their excitement was not over the fact that 50 bales of quality straw arrived, mainly to provide them with a nice clean bed.
No they could not contain themselves because after all the activity of the day they were finally moved from their small pen and luxury stable to a huge almost barn and pig pen at the start of the smallholding. There they met Hetty and the Ryelands, who might sound like a 50's skiffle ensemble but who are in fact our house cow and Ryeland sheep. The transfer went almost without hitch, a slight detour round the almost 4x4 and they trotted dutifully into the pen where they totally ignored the five star accommodation and newly made beds, preferring instead to get their their snouts in the trough and engage in whats know as pigging out.
Saturday, 22 January 2011
I finally made it to Steve's (honest everyone here is called Steve, except the women)to get some feed for the critters. The snow and ind ice put paid to any trips out with Trixie our trailer, and as I am in the SAS (Saturdays and Sundays) category of farmers several busy Saturdays meant that the critters had to make do with feed from the Countrywide store, which price per bag was the equivalent of feeding them white truffles coated in caviar. The feed bill for December/January was five times the norm which was not making the bank manager or us cheerful long eared rodents. Need less to say getting the feed was not as straightforward as it could have been. The goats had to be evicted from the trailer, the door rehung and a new jockey wheel attached, all in minus temperatures making playing with bare metal a joy.
Finally I made it to the cavernous barn full of delicious morsels where there was enough stock piled to keep our motley crew going for decades. The very helpful Steve raced round in his amazing CAT shoving feed into piles, scooping it up, dropping it in the hopper, carrying the bag to the scales and finally dropping it into Trixie. Just to be super helpful he dropped the prong attachment off and pushed the loaded bag further into the trailer over the wheels making it a balanced load. At this point we both noted that it might have been an idea to check the handbrake was on Hazel the almost 4x4 but once she stopped rolling unmanned across the yard missing all the shiny red lorries we both breathed a sigh of relief and away I went. Unloading had to wait as the straw was due to arrive and lessons learned, it was going to go where it was going to stay until used, unlike the previous load of hay that got moved six times before it was eaten. To do this the workshop had to be sorted and after several hours we found we had enough room for the straw and a pressing need for a bonfire. The straw is now arriving tomorrow, which means among other things, the trailer needs unloading of feed, the bales need unloading off the lorry, the log pile needs replenishing, the pigs need moving, and the stables need pressure washing out and the Berners taking on another BBMC training session. Another quiet day ahead then!
Friday, 21 January 2011
Thursday, 20 January 2011
Strange things are afoot at Goatanamo, the high security enclosure at the back of the stables and sheltered underneath the cliff. Two sheep have taken up residence, not ours, foreign sheep belonging to the militia. They arrived in the night under the cover of darkness. This might explain why the Berners went mental at 4am and woke the valley. I thought they were barking at the moon, or passing werewolves, or lecherous goats (one sexually harassed the surveyor when he arrived for a second look at the telephone poles today). Either the sheep are members of an elite parachute unit who landed off course and found them self trapped in Goatanamo, or, and this seems mote likely, they fell off the cliff, a bit like Crispen did a few months back, bounced a few times and found them self unscathed but contained in the high security enclosure. We have decided to leave them there a few days to clear the foliage, and to see who launches a rescue bid.
Wednesday, 19 January 2011
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Unlike farms, who have lots of space, smallholding is as the name suggests, small, consequently smallholders live on top of their stock. Unlike days gone by where people literally did this, the animals on the lower floor, the humans on the upper floor benefiting from the heat generated by the beasts below, smallholders tend to have their animals up close and personal.
So day to day we see them almost all day, see their moods, their games, their constant quest for calories. For some time we have been worried about our sheep looking miserable, covered in mud, stood in the rain, drenched, sodden, mucky sorry looking creatures.
If only there was something we could do for them we would say, hand feeding them chips of sugar beet, the poor little things. Perhaps we should release them from the lower pig pen and let them roam the hill, away from the mud.
Except they don't, they congregate in the yard and mug anything that remotely resembles a bucket carrier. In order to lessen the chances of my beautiful and oh so patient wife, Tracey, being harassed whilst pregnant by woolly savages they have been contained in the pig pen. Where they have got really muddy.
Its worth pointing out that they have access to the barn, where, should they choose, they can stand in the dry, out of the prevailing wind and lie on straw instead of mud. I did wonder whether it was because we live so close to them that we worry so much.
Farm animals are quite away from the farm house (usually) so they don't draw attention to themselves so much. Fast forward to a windswept walk around the bonsai mountain with the Berners. A large farm, acres of pasture, acres and acres of green for sheep to do their favourite thing in, and what are they doing?
All hundred or so are stood in one corner, in the mud, knee deep, looking sodden, wet, soaked, drenched, sorry for them self. Now I am not so worried about ours, I understand now that sheep are just stupid.
Monday, 17 January 2011
The windows have changed twice since the 70's and are set to change again, a second door was installed in the smaller window, then changed back to a window. Its a pity we have no pictures of the garden or cliff. Lyn's email asked about a particular rock, was it still balanced on the cliff edge, no, its part of the garden now, a huge part. So thanks to Phil we have a better idea of what the cottage was like and how its transformed, and Lyn has given us more recent pics which we will post later in the week, including some interior shots and the fields around.
Sunday, 16 January 2011
Saturday, 15 January 2011
Friday, 14 January 2011
Thursday, 13 January 2011
Its been a wet week so far and with around 200mm of rain today we are not quite in the league of Brazil or Australia, but its bad enough. The goats took cover while the boys made a foray to the feed station. Karma wise its been a good day, and we are set to go kite flying tomorrow!
Wednesday, 12 January 2011
I took this pic of the naughty yellow digger that cut our telephone line last summer, time and space does not allow me to recount the tale of trying to convince BT of the cause of the line fault, no matter what their equipment and diagnostic tests told them I was convinced the fault was under the digger, they on the other hand thought it was in the house. Several botched attempts and promises of fixes failed to manifest a working line and finally I withdrew all cooperation and refused to pay the bill, and whilst my contribution to the BT coffers only pays for their AGM biscuit allowance it had an effect and they temporarily fixed the line, again , and resolved to work on a proper solution. Since December we have had weekly updates on the progress, or lack of, in fixing our line. Today a survey was carried out, this would, once and for all locate the fault, we were to rest assured. The surveyor, a chubby chap, called Steve (uncanny) trudged about, poking the hedgrow, looking at poles, taking pictures and scratching his head. Several hours passed. A verdict. Our survey said..... the fault is about where the digger is in the picture. If only they had asked!
Tuesday, 11 January 2011
You find smallholding jobs are easier if you have the right equipment for the job. Tools needed to feed the sheep at the moment are, buckets feeding for the use of and wire cutters. The last two mornings Ferny Fern Fern from Ferntown has been found with her head stuck fast through the wire. Slow learners sheep.
Gremlins at HQ have progressed to the camera, again, hence a pic from a few days ago from the sticky headed one.