Monday, 30 May 2011
Sunday, 29 May 2011
After skiving off to do the Family Guy bit yesterday it was a massive day here at Rock HQ where the jobs list got whats called a kicking. As so often and in keeping with The Rules Of Smallholding (TROS) each job attempted meant the time spent actually on the job an equally proportionate amount of time had to be spent finding the tools/bits/thingies necessary to complete the task, a similar amount of time then spent keeping other critters away from task in hand and finally the most important rule (aside from always shut the gate) that of for every job done you create two more.
Case in point, move Pamela the Mangaliza sow about to give birth to stable. First find buckets to fill with tempting feed to get pig to follow. Buckets found are all broken, no handled or pink (sorry, not ever going to be seen using pink bucket) Locate macho blue buckets up on Willow Rise where they were dropped while chasing cow the previous morning. Loaded with feed run the gauntlet of Ryelands who are eager to make the load lighter. Drop one bucket off for sheep to savour, thus removed from equation when moving pig. Pigs are released. Mistake. Instead of following second blue bucket up lane into stable they scamper downhill to the feasting flock. There then follows a mad half hour while we separate the woolly backs from the, er.... other bigger woolly backs. Through luck rather than judgement Pamela was finally contained in the stable. Having got our quarry cornered, and totally ignoring the fact that now we had a pig in the garden (Bridget, Pamela's not so pregnant litter mate) pig in pen created two jobs, one being fix big metal gate over hole left by stable door (to answer the immediately obvious, pig would make door into splinters, this needed heavy metal) and muck out stable. Smart arses might comment that the stable should have been mucked out before the pig was put in it, but they don't have the only wheel barrow trapping the goats (long story) (and goats cant be moved until pig has been re homed) and heavy metal gate cant be put in place before pig because once in place it wont move so entry and egress is done by climbing gate, pigs are loathe to climb gates (except in emergency) so in all a sound plan.Heavy metal gate is held in place by an assortment of heavy metal hinges screwed into the stable wall. To do this we use electric screwdriver once we find it, then find the spare posidrive bit as the brass one we intended using fell off onto the golden barley straw (new take on looking for a needle in a haystack), recharged the battery as none of the four batteries owned by yours truly could be located except the dead one attached to drill. The actual fixing of gate took minutes, but fending off a curious pig which coated itself in the doings of previous occupants of the stable (she did this by lifting the rubber matting, each one weighs over 100 pounds) and rolling in the juices located underneath. As I worked and she watched the ammonia fumes from her were eye watering, but as you can see she was very happy. Gate on, mucked out, no its not over, feed pig, water pig, so fit feeder to gate with climbing carribiner (from previous life) and fetch water drinker thing from pig sty at bottom of holding. Empty trailer, move trailer, get pig out of garden, empty tack room, repair greenhouse, put together whelping box for Reba, move goats, move horses, and then what with feeding everything, ourselves and spending quality time with Tristan its hardly a surprise that paint the annex was ignored in favour of sit down with feet up and watch BBC Countryfile which for the majority of the programme used a long shot of our Bonsai Mountain as a backdrop.>
There was a very interesting bit about Offas Dyke, our backyard, and some chap who in 2003 walked its length in an astonishing 9 days, sometimes doing 20 miles a day, the reporter spoke in awe of this while he (the apprentice tortoise) talked to the trees. I must say I mightily impressed and it made our attempt, The Offas Dyke Ordeal in June 2009, where I walked the 180 miles in 6 days, doing 30 miles a day fuelled mainly by Vimto and a desire to raise a lot of cash for Prostate Cancer Research seem rather ordinary. Still each to his own. Anyone wishing to see the tree man who walked Offas Dyke taking half as long again as what I did should log on to http://www.bbc.co.uk/countryfile and those who want to revisit our epic trek should explore the blog using the labels The Great To Do, or go to the archive, its all there, June 2009, and if it prompts you to donate to Prostate Cancer Research then that's a good thing.
Saturday, 28 May 2011
Friday, 27 May 2011
Thursday, 26 May 2011
The boys are lining up to congratulate Hetty D who is so overcome with emotion at passing the annual TB test that she has to have a lie down. Passing means she lives for another year (until the next test) and we can transport her to see Mr Bull. Alternatively we can order a sample of Mr Bull and artificially inseminate her. This seems the least time consuming option, but we are currently wondering who will do the deed when Steve the postie makes the special delivery. Both of us have had an attack of squeamish at the thought.
Wednesday, 25 May 2011
So as we are back on line just enough time to tell you about the psycho sheep who entered the arena threatening to take on all comers.
We did hope that she would just jump out of the pig pen without the need to resort to fisticuffs but the sheep had attitude, she meant business and wasn't leaving without a fight. Once she had proper terrorised the pigs I took up the challenge and set forth to carry out an eviction. Initially I had the upper hand and she ran away, like sheep should, and if she carried on running away all would be well as she would find her way through the magic silver portal to the outside world, free of pig.
But as is often the case things did not go to plan and she decided not to chance the honour guard of Bernese Mountain Dogs lined up by the gate watching with interest as events unfolded. In her mind she was faced with certain death and swerving to avoid the "wolves" (its all in her head, Berners are about as wolf like as tortoises) sitting panting by the gate she decided complete defiance was her only option. For the observing canines things took a strange turn and suddenly they were watching their owner, yours truly, running away from a belligerent fleece, and I tell you now it takes a braver man than I to stand his ground when a full size sheep bears down on him at mach 10. The pigs sensing that their time had come were overcome with an attack of bravery and chased sheep, chasing man, watched by Bernese Mountain Dog. Injury was averted when Tracey my beautiful and oh so patient wife appeared like magic with tame alpha male ram Crispen who with a single bleat called the rampaging ewe to heel.
Monday, 23 May 2011
Sunday, 22 May 2011
Saturday, 21 May 2011
I had checked her just before midnight, she was asleep, breathing well, and after a few prods stood up and walked around. We were still unsure whether she was eating, Misty was stock still dripping milk, I had with me a mix of horse formula milk, Rainbow had a few lazy slurps and then went to Misty obviously preferring the real thing. With me lying down looking at the tiny pony's under parts I could see Rainbow was millimetres away from the food source, all she had to do was lean forward slightly, stick her tongue out even, so I was pretty sure she must have had some food. Enough anyway. I sat on an upturned bucket and tickled her whithers, she was so warm and fluffy! I wondered about calling the vet. What would I say? I'm worried my foals been asleep? I retired to the cottage and decided not to worry. Its a waste of energy.
So here we were, Misty and me, 5am, looking at a dead foal. Not long gone, perfect in every detail, just devoid the essential life force. Breaking the news to my beautiful and oh so patient wife Tracey was difficult, not nearly as difficult as removing the lifeless foal from its mother. Misty watched carefully and then began to call to her. She has done so all day, and as I type she is under the big sycamore tree still calling.
To stop the "what ifs" we went to the annual smallholders show, and under normal circumstances I would be raving about fresh inspiration, new ideas, another project (cant have too many on the go!) and post pictures of the prize beasts and equally prize characters that populate the world of smallholding. School boy error on my part was to forget to put the battery in the camera, so no photos, especially no photos of an Anglo Nubian Billy Goat who may get to know Geisha later in the summer. This depends on me building an even higher security compound to contain her from ravishing the garden, and as she has just been chased from the helipad where she discovered our secret stash of veg plants, tomato plants and herb garden, it looks unlikely that I will find the motivation to drive her a hundred miles to meet her suitor to create more monsters. But then again I like a challenge.
I did make one startling discovery at the show, goose bacon, which was a taste sensation. Goose breast cured and sliced like bacon, works with duck as well apparently. You need a lot of rashers for a buttie due to the size of goose/duck but it would be worth the effort and we have a pletora of ganders. Fox only takes useful birds. This seems a less time consuming project for yours truly than getting Geisha mated, but for the goose it takes total commitment.
Friday, 20 May 2011
Work had to go on and the Red Kite Cream Tea was a great success with help from various volunteers several lorry loads of strawberry cream scones were handed to ravenous hordes of foster carers eager to sign up to Red Kite in return for the advertised tea and cakes.
The press turned out and we are expecting some good coverage in the local papers and magazines.
Back at Rock HQ Rainbow was upright but still not eating. After being found asleep on her side and causing a minor heart attack in yours truly we decided we needed more expert advice and so phoned the very nice lady who sold us Johnny Big Potatoes, Rainbows dad, who gave us the best advice of all "Don't panic!" We try not to but being the novice day old foal owners that we are, its hard not to. Percy the agoraphobic pigeon was cured by Socks who thought the not very keen to race pigeon was a new squeaky toy when it landed his part of the stable. Minus a mouthful of tail feathers Percy was last seen on the roof of Rock HQ. Meanwhile Socks has met the Dolyhir Clan and had a fantastic run around the garden. The vet gave him a once over this morning so he's got a clean bill of health and so far has passed all tests. He's going to be an excellent family dog.
Thursday, 19 May 2011
Meet Socks, the latest in the line of pet rescue, a lovely collie cross that we took in from an owner who's idea of looking after him included dangling him out of the upstairs window. He's a lovely lad, gentle, inquisitive, already he has met the pigs, geese, cow, horses and a couple of dogs who could squash him with one paw, and he's taken it all in his stride. A bit more training and a new home and he will make a lovely companion for someone.
Wednesday, 18 May 2011
This daft bird arrived three days ago and has been making itself comfortable in the tack room, stuffing itself on bird feed and washing it down with spring water. We thought today we should encourage it to find its way home so the cats were cornered and shut away and Percy (he has to have a name) was placed on the helipad ready for takeoff. The expected launch failed to take place and once it stopped walking around the garden it finally managed a few wing beats and landed on top of the cliff, a favoured perch of Ryeland lambs.
We chose to ignore it, hoping Percy would take the hint and make like a tree, but when we did this evenings rounds the bird brain was sat on top of the stable with Nemo the worlds laziest cat who possesses all the hunting ability of a slug closing in on an unexpected meal. Me running across the yard windmilling my arms and yelling "Lookoutbehindyou!" caused Nemo to change direction and Percy to take off. Several ever expanding high speed circuits of the smallholding lifted our hopes that he had finally go the message but were dashed after a high speed fly by ended with an emergency turn into the stable where he is now perched on the rafters. He is safe for the time being but I rate his chances of survival about the same as the justice secretary's.