Friday, 30 September 2011

The call of the wild

There was something missing yesterday morning as I did the usual routine. A certain fleecy something. Two actually. Roxy and Pedro had done a moonlit flit from the garden but at least they had the good sense to turn up for breakfast so were safe. Pedro was fulfilling his role and bothering the ladies, for some reason Crispen was tolerating this, he was I think more interested in calories than procreation. This morning Roxy was there in all her tubby woolliness but Pedro was no where to be seen. Unless he is back tomorrow where he can be rounded up and placed back in maximum security, I think part of the weekend will be spent scouring the slopes of the Bonsai Mountain looking for the beast. He no doubt will be scouring the hill equally fastidiously looking for ladies.

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Thursday, 29 September 2011

Back to nature Holmes

Close encounters with the animal kingdom are common place here at Rock HQ. Some encounters are unwanted, like incursions from vermin Mr Fox, who incidentally is calling for a mate as I type (lucky it is a) dark and b) I lack long range firepower) and others are very unexpected, as in the case of this common lizard found in the wash basket today. Poor chap or chappess has lost the best part of its tail and is growing a replacement.

This is not the only close encounter today.

As I walked the Berners I pondered life's questions, uppermost on my mind was why had my ever so expensive and supremely comfortable walking boot, right side only, failed to fit properly since Monday. Monday morning it was fine, Monday pm as I went to do the rounds my toes were scrunched up, like there was a sock stuffed in the toe cap. A quick check, nothing fell out as I shook it, I moved the insole, nothing, still slightly uncomfortable I did my chores and retired. Over the last few days its felt odd, but getting better, it was a prompt to get wellies, after all a £15 pair of wellies worn out is a better option than wrecking my walking boots all the time.

So in today's glorious sunshine the pieces of puzzle milled around my brain until a picture formed.

My right sock had been dirtier the last few days, the boot was fitting better but still not right, therefore Mr Watson I deduce that a well aimed shot by a sheep had placed a deposit in my right boot.

Well done Holmes, and I stopped in the track and removed right boot.

Dirty sock, evidence Watson, if any more evidence is needed remove insole.

Why yes, Holmes, a layer of black muck on insole.

Solved, scraped muck off on leaf and reinsert insert. Foot replaced.

Er Holmes, its still there.

Of course it is Watson, its simply fallen under the insole when you first moved it last Monday!

By Jove! Holmes, a master class!

So yours truly pushed hand to end of boot and began scraping the warm contents out, as it was just pooh I wasn't going to make a fuss.

I'm not sure at which point I dropped the boot and screamed like a girly.

Probably when the legs followed the tail and there adhered to my eager fingers was the gooey remains of a very mushy mouse.

With toe impressions.

Thanks vermin cats.

I love you too.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

If it aint broke!

I am in bits tonight, sore after being wrestled into a more human form by our diminutive and ever so friendly osteopath who found several places on my spine and neck that needed rectifying (read snapping back into place) and whilst I feel like a freight train has hit me from behind now I know that thanks to her efforts I can get on with the jobs list rather than grinding to a painful halt.
As she banned all but light duties after being fixed much of the day has been spent enjoying the glorious if somewhat unexpected sunshine. This is apparently going to last until past the weekend and record temperatures are to be set, however I have also heard from two very separate sources that its going to snow in the next three weeks. This also seems highly unlikely but one member of the militia told me in all seriousness that this was going to happen and that his grandfather tells of a November day in 1906 when it was 38 degrees. Again not sure if this is entirely accurate but shows our fascination with the weather.
I went to the opening of the "new" farmers superstore just down the road, well they were giving away bacon sarnies and it would have been rude not to have had one or three. New means refurbished but the trip was productive, not just for the waistline, we got several much needed bargains, and were given two sacks of dog food as a feeding trial for the clan, which was a real bonus as it would have cost £30 for the trial packs, who says theres no such thing as a free lunch. I also finally gave in and have bought wellies and overalls, I have rebelled against the farming fashion, admittedly I have been seen with bailer twine as a belt, but there was no way I was ever going to wear wellies and overalls. This morning after getting two full sets of clothes plastered in mud and losing one of my boots in the mud (again) I saw sense and caved in. Finding a set of overalls that fitted, that was a laugh, at least for Tracey my beautiful and oh so patient wife who watched my struggles to get my manly frame into overalls obviously designed for short backed, long legged, orangutan armed dwarfs.
I did wander round to see the Technohermit and drop off his supper, he was seething as I arrived. Today was the day he was taking delivery of a new TV, a 10 inch battery powered effort. This purchase had been playing on his mind for some time and I have lost the will to live over the detailed discussions held dropping off dinner at the entrance of his cave. The cause of his upset was indeed the TV, or rather the lack of TV. The TV man had ventured up the Bonsai Mountain and had delivered the TV. This then promptly went bang when TV repair man attached the leads to the battery. Quite why a new TV should go bang when powered up is a bit of a mystery. I suspect an exceedingly nervous TV repairman with one eye on Technohermit, the other on the piles of bones at the cave entrance, put positive to negative. That or he made it go bang just to get out sharpish. Anyway Technohermit was seething, hopping from one foot to the other, not over the fact that the TV had gone bang, but because it had no box. Not the carton or packaging type box, no, the box for the TV. He held his hands apart like a fisherman, "TV's have boxes on the back of em like this, not that flat thing, I hates it, it had no box, thats no TV thats just a picture!"

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Tuesday, 27 September 2011


Being a smallholding its important our animals get on as much as possible, occasionally there are minor flare ups, testosterone induced rivalry, but on the whole all our critters bump along nicely. There are even strange alliances, the goat Ambrose and gander Rupert spring to mind.
There is also a view amongst the horse fraternity that horses and pigs don't get on, in fact they go so far as to say they hate each other. This is not something we agree with at Rock HQ, and if the camera had been to hand today there would have been some pictures of Thor the Boar and Pretty Boy Apollo playing in the Corral OK. Not sure they are what you would call friends, but they seem to be getting on.

PS. Just got back in after the night time prowl of the perimeter and found Thor's bunk occupied by a hopeful Cockerel. A swift eviction put paid to its ideas of grandeur but the rightful owner could not be found. Eventually after struggling up the suicidal mud bank that we consider a field I found piggy grazing alongside Apollo and William. No amount of coaxing would convince him that his nice warm berth several contour lines below was the place to be so I left them to it.

Monday, 26 September 2011

I beg your pardon......

...I never promised you a herb garden!!

Hetty in a sneak attack on the helipad's herb collection.
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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Ewoks about

To find out where our apprentice smallholder was taken today dressed as an Ewok

then click on to our other site in the margin, the Dolyhir Bernese Mountain Dogs site, and you will see

what he's smiling at.
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Saturday, 24 September 2011

Born Free

With accommodation space at a premium here at Rock HQ, Pedro, our new super duper Ryeland Ram who has been living la vida loca in the stables with Joan, had to be evicted today so Apollo, my pretty boy pony could take shelter and dry off his feet. He suffers when its muddy, and its very muddy here at the moment.

So Pedro was carried with as much ceremony as a fat bloke staggering under the weight of a protesting Ryeland could muster and put in "the garden" which is the ground closest to the cottage with a few plants in that were put there in the hope that they would thrive before being stripped of foliage by any number of beast, usually goat. Pedro immediately took to the high ground and pondered an escape route over or through Goatanamo.

Love interest was provided in the form of the multiple near death self harming sheep Roxy who nearly gave yours truly a double hernia as she was even less cooperative or portable that Pedro. He did come down from the base of the cliff to introduce himself and thinking I could hear him bleating Barry White songs I left them to it. I did however, make a prediction that, given he now has an acre of ground to play in, full of exciting green things to graze, apples and plums for afters, knowing how sheep's brains work I would not be surprised to find that he would make an escape bid up the cliff. I mean why have it easy when you can nearly kill yourself.

So, much later on, as predicted, Pedro was "missing" from "the garden". A pointless search confirmed the idiot had gone, Roxy stood all alone, loved and left again. And where was the bright spark? Obviously cliff bound. The pic above shows his attempt at freedom, the wire on the right is the edge of Goatanamo, the moss on the left is covering rock face, the idiot in the middle is wondering if there is any point climbing further while the idiot holding the camera is wondering why bother keeping sheep.

Thankfully he waited quietly while I closed the gap and after a final pic of the better cuts of meat he was, not for the first time today, unceremoniously carried back to captivity.
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Friday, 23 September 2011


Its all downhill now, equal day light and night time, from tomorrow theres more darkness than light. The SAS repairman arrived, he having a 5 week waiting list showed good judgement and obvious favouritism by calling here. Apparently the rayburn was not broken, again, no one knows what got into it, maybe the bio fuel mix the EU insist on nowadays is upsetting it. It finally warmed up and was coerced into cooking supper, a baked bean lasagna (like lasagna but with baked beans instead of mince beef, its fab) and we had a family night in as he who cannot be named returned from playing soldiers to celebrate his birthday. As the cooker was broken last Wednesday evening I shall be chastised for not feeding the technohermit, when he starts I shall just tell him to take it up with Brussels!
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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Dearly Departed

Not having a good week poultry wise, Sally goose, seen here squeezing under the gate was found dead on her bed this morning, age related for a change. DD or Deaths Door crossed the threshold while one of its nest mates jumped into the feed bowl and then couldn't jump out and died of cold. Not the cleverest chick in the brood. The last two have been taken into protective custody and as I type are happily cheeping from the kitchen sat on an electric heat pad.
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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Meet and greet

Tristan got a tour of the perimeter today and met Thor the boar. The apprentice smallholder was wrapped up warmly, not because it was cold outside but because the rayburn has committed suicide after trying to gas us again. Steve the SAS rayburn repairman failed to answer the emergency call which meant we were unable to cook our daughters birthday dinner so she consoled herself with the takeaway provided.
Despite trials and tribulations caused by mechanical objects, today has been a very good day, a Red Kite landed in the garden, which was very unusual, but a good sign, as was the Red Kite that flew alongside the car on the way to a really important meeting, and then another one flew over the building we were meeting in. Signs and portents, Red Kites are taking over.
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Tuesday, 20 September 2011

They know me so well!

I went to a house yesterday surrounded by about 100 apple trees all bursting with fruit and all going to waste. They didn't belong to the occupant of the house and the orchard owner, being a bit doolally and infirm was very particular about who touched her fruit, trod on her grass, breathed her air (you get the idea) so the thought of yours truly trampling over her precious things would have had her reaching for the blood pressure pills and calling the police. So after interviewing the occupant of the house about matters totally unrelated to fruit I made to leave and as a parting shot mentioned the fine pear tree in her part of the garden groaning with effort at keeping the fruit aloft. Taking the hint the householder produced four tiny carrier bags, and soon I had enough to keep my pigs happy come supper time.

Its such a shame so much fruit goes to waste every year. Not that much does on the Bonsai Mountain, not when yours truly "borrows" the unwanted from our neighbours. Its a lean year for apples on our patch, so the pigs have already had all the fruits from our trees save for the ones Hetty has taken, you would be amazed how tall a mid legged Dexter can be in pursuit of apples. This evening I decided to go on a sortie to a neighbour to see if they had any unwanted fruit I could liberate. As its a holiday home we don't often see each other, I think twice in five years to speak to and the occassional wave as I tramp past surrrounded by large canines, so I was sure they wouldn't mind me clearing up the windfalls. As I approached from the Bonsai Mountain path there was a large bag hanging on the gate. The tree looked bare, but the bag was full of apples, with a post it note attached.

They know me so well!

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Monday, 19 September 2011

Breakfast in bed

This soft lad is getting used to the pace of life at Rock HQ and has taken to having a lie in. This morning, despite repeated alarm calls he failed to appear at the breakfast table so I went to investigate. He was fast asleep on a deep straw bed, nose resting on his trotters, snoring, not a care in the world. When he finally woke up he rolled over for a tummy scratch before he nosed the feed bucket I was holding, found it to his liking and without getting up began breakfast. I plumped his pillows and left the lazy pig to it.
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Sunday, 18 September 2011

Look closer still

Having decided to boldly go where no man and Berner had gone before it was fitting that we found something extra ordinary during our exploration of Worzel Wood. The wood is a hill, cone shaped, very steep and changes from deciduous ancient woodland to slash and burn forestry conifers clinging on to the rock strewn slopes.
Spotty took point, Bliss, slightly more timid than an agoraphobic mouse walked to heel. Every now and then Spotty would turn to make sure I had followed rather than hid (I hid once and it took us an hour and five miles to find each other, but that's another tale and we both learned a valuable lesson)and we made our way to the summit. The wide leafy trail petered out into nothing and soon we were walking virgin territory, occasionally we might find evidence of inhabitants of the forest but with two dogs panting like steam trains having coronary problems the chances of seeing anything other than deaf squirrels was remote.

And then something caught our eye, Spotty tried to do the pointer but epic failed, instead he just looked long and hard. Now it has to be said I did have in the back of my mind an idea we might look for some caves that are supposed to be in the wood that were allegedly home to some pre war hermit, but what we were looking at was just a shadow in the trees, a bit different to the rest of them.
Closer inspection confirmed man made shadow and closer still a basha type shelter. I did knock, just in case, Bliss got ready to run, just in case, and Spotty just ran inside, just in case there was any free food. The photo of him is blurry as it was a real snap shot because having seen Blair Witch I know you should always run rather than film things.

Anyway, no one home, much to Bliss's relief. Not sure why it was there, someone must have thought this was the place to be, and you have to be determined to get there. Around a year ago I did see smoke rising from this approximate location but never got round to checking its source. But this camp is less than a year old, some of the broken branches have leaves that are barely dried out. Darkness was now falling and as I know how Blair Witch ended we beat a fairly orderly retreat. We shall return one day soon to see if anything has changed. Mind you we have told Sparky Steve's son roughly where it is ( hes 6 and an apprentice super hero) so by the time we go back I expect to find he's moved in, booby trapped the place and taken whoever built it hostage.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The Light Fantastic

I will never tire of the view from Rock HQ, its always changing and sometimes the lights fantastic.
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Look closer!

Do you see what I see?
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Oven ready

Relax! This isn't one of our random recipes, I mean lets face it this chicken is hardly a mouthful so not worth the trouble. This is in fact DD, a Buff Orpington chick that had nearly, as can be seen by the pic, ceased to be. First thing this morning DD was an egg, and then by breakfast was half an egg and a lot of wet fluff and cheeping.

So we left her (lets hope, please let it be a hen, we have more cockerels than red wine so the coq au vin equation is causing a glitch in the matrix) to get rid of the other half egg and all was well. Mother hen was watching over her, what could go wrong? Well, bird brains are not really massive and chickens have more eyeball than brain, and as we have had chicks commit suicide 21 seconds after 21 days hatching we should have known better. By lunch time when I was having a serious SOHF over a DIY disaster (thinking it right, doing it wrong, again, or rather, foiled by cheap metal screw, but hey, I wont blame the screw, much) time out was called by Tracey my beautiful and oh so patient wife and an exped to the hen house was ordered by way of soothing my ruffled feathers. Headcount, only three chicks, wheres the egg/chick thing gone. Much searching through straw.

By sheer chance DD was not crushed by yours truly as he knelt in the hen house searching for expected chick. As I shuffled backwards out of the door (who built this thing, ooh guilty!) my hand brushed against something cold and soggy. More chicken pooh I thought, but checked anyway on the just in case principle. There lay DD. Looking very much as ex chicken. As I laid it on the hen house roof Tracey and I cursed chicken brains and our not having brought it in when half egg. Oh well. Nature is harsh and all that. DD gasped. Only one thing to do with a hypothermic chick at deaths door, to the Rayburn. So DD was put in a pie tray and cooked at 150 for one hour.

The result, DD cooked to perfection and is now sat cheeping on the top of the Rayburn as it thinks the huge metal object is its mum. Bless.


Deaths Door obvious really :)

Friday, 16 September 2011


Whats in a name? Well thanks to one reader of these pages this handsome chap has a really good name, introducing Prince Pedro, Pedro meaning stone or rock. So the name works on many levels, as its very masculine, Pedro lives at Rock HQ, and the nice man who sold us Pedro is called Peter.
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