Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Santa's favourite

Sometimes I might be persuaded to use hyperbole in order to raise a smile, but this mornings antics where I was eventually found by my beautiful and oh so patient wife chasing a sheep that had a neon reindeer wedged on its head really needs no such exaggeration for comic effect.

Aside from this it was a normal morning at HQ, I was feeling pleased with myself at having coaxed three and a bit pints from Kayleigh while listening to Misplaced Childhood, and then in stroke of genius made a self feeding arrangement for Kurry, thus cutting 15 minutes of the morning routine.

So finding myself unable to get out of the kitchen as the pantry door was stuck fast was a trifle annoying. I had gone indoors to get Kayleigh her warm water with black treacle mix (spoilt? as if) so the door had operated normally minutes beforehand. Running through possible causes, trolls, sack of spuds falling, dog food sack falling over, possibly assisted by dog, I continued to shove the refusenik wooden portal until after one particularly good effort door moved enough to allow visual identification of problem.

FernyFern Fern from Fern town had taken advantage of the open door to the workshop, entered the pantry from the outside and was now stuffing her self with dog biscuits (vegetarian readers better stop at this point)

Several well aimed swearwords were less effective than a swift poke with the broom handle (all jokes about poking sheep are banned) and finally Ferny Fern Fern from Ferntown conceded defeat and tried to back out of the store through several items "in storage" which included my prized electric reindeer outdoor Christmas decoration salvaged from a charity shop last yule. In turning to escape the wrath of man greedy sheep shoved her brainless head through neon Rudolf and ran for it, closely followed by man with broom shouting instructions on how it would be in her best interests to stop right there.

Order was restored by patient and beautiful one shaking bucket of poultry feed, removing decoration from easily diverted sheep and threatening to take out an asbo on anyone using threatening language in the yard. Thankfully Santa's favourite survived his ordeal and was put back in a safe place until his services are ever required one foggy Christmas Eve.

Monday, 30 January 2012

I have to admit to some disappointment this morning as for once when we are totally prepared right down to the water tanks being brim full the big freeze failed to appear and the much herladed snow was 6mm rather than 6 feet. Steve the electrician appeared and delivered the bad news that because I had opted for a nuclear powered cooker the drain on the national grid was so massive that substantial new parts were needed for the already fragile wiring in the cottage. While we knew the 12 volt system was under par the revelation that an all new 60 amp rig was needed and the maximum capacity we had was one third of this. My offer of jamming half a nine inch nail in the fuse box to carry the necessary charge across the gap failed to win any support so we relented to having another box of tricks attached to the wall so we can cook without having to turn off Mr Whirlpool the freezer who will be needed to accommodate Iggle and Piggle next week.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Happy Christmas!

We left Trevor on guard in the yard and playing Little Johnny big potatoes and getting all assertive with Chester and took a trip up to see my family who have the good sense to live 120 miles away, or 178 if you go by our sat nav with its unique sense of direction. As we haven't seen them since last September we had Christmas again but with KFC instead of turkey. It was good to catch up and they got to see how the apprentice smallholders lungs had developed, he teething let the world know several times that things were not quite right in his world. He was spoiled rotten and somehow we managed to cram all little t's presents into Vic for the return journey. As an extra bonus my tech minded brother in law was persuaded to have a look at my Kindle, my Christmas gift from my beautiful and oh so patient wife, which since I opened its box and plugged it into the PC has failed to work. He looked at it, for approximately 52 seconds before it burst into life and promised to behave itself. Fantastic! How did you manage that I wondered. Apparently theres an "on" switch! Good job I asked him to look at it before taking it back to the shop. Mum asked if my very clever brother in laws intervention had re-Kindled my interest in reading. We left before Dad got his Tony Blackburn joke book out.

The very hungry caterpillar

Or how much mess can one child get into eating fruit and drinking water!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Wood, glorious wood!!

Today's dramas were a carry on from yesterdays discovery that Vic had a flat tyre. As we were in the local supermarket car park 5 miles from home at the end of a very long but productive day at Red Kite. Thankfully my beautiful and oh so patient wife who is far more organised than I will ever hope to be had put a can of tyre inflator in the boot. Vic being a dual fuel beast does not have a spare wheel but a LPG tank where the spare would be. The sound of the puncture repair escaping did not bode well but we made it back to Rock HQ.

Repairs would have to wait, the lack of oil for the Rayburn and electric to the new super duper cooker has meant the small log stash has depleted to zero as its used for both cooking and heating. Yesterdays fuel was salvaged from the lane and Bonsai Mountain by Super Grandma who collected some of Spotty's treasures from the local geography. Spotty feels compelled to pick up a log every time he passes the pile, say 3 times a day, meaning over a 1000 logs are strategically placed in case he ever feels like a piece of wood to chew.

Being short of time (cheers Vic, then theres decorating, gardening, usual routine and a massive plan to make the workshop more useful) and lacking the ability to track all our missing timber help arrived in the form of Steve the logs who dropped off a lorry load in return for half a pig, both of us sure we had got the better deal. The small mountain of wood was carefully chopped, graded, stacked and stored. The cottage is now as warm as a sauna, even with every upstairs door open. Bliss.
Attention turned to Vic, mine to fix the puncture, Trevor's as something extra to hump. The tools in the top pic were all used one way or another in an attempt to get the wheel off the stricken car. Finally I had to concede defeat and admit that no combination of Halfords pocket socket sets, garden fork, hand axe and tack hammer was going to persuade the wheel free. Unbelievably I managed to persuade Steve the tyres (yes really) to forgo a second read of the Daily Sport, leave his tyre emporium and come and relieve Vic of his damaged tyre. This may have had something to do with the fact that he wanted to witness first hand a shitland mate with a Volvo and learn how I ever thought a garden fork would get a tyre off (clue, its to do with levers)
After much grunting Steve took the tyre down town. An hour later I collected a newly booted alloy and given the post mortem results of the broken rubber, it had burst due to an impact on the tyre wall. That would be like a pothole type impact I enquired. Just like agreed Steve. Just like the swimming pool depth ones you have in your lane.

Carriageway repairs have now been added to the jobs list.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Pirelli Preview

In light of the excitement yesterdays photo of Daffodil bathed in sunshine caused I thought a few more pics of the Rock HQ flock might raise a few pulses amongst you sheep fanciers. Heres Roxy, a habitual self harmer.
Pedro, a very handsome fellow, was going to be a show sheep until he lost half an ear in a fight over breakfast with a belligerent Mangalitza.

And Berry who wins the cute stakes.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Golden Fleece

Ryelands are Herefordshire ancient breed, so valuable was their thick wool they used to be referred to as Lemster Ore (Leominster is a local market but you say it as the old spelling) Here Daffodil recreates the Golden Fleece look in her own personal sunbeam!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

We are not worthy

Ferny Fern Fern from Fern Town leads the way as the Ryelands pay homage to

Chester, a noble steed who has fitted in at Rock HQ with ease

and is developing

quite a following!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Missing something

Its hard to imagine I know, perhaps it was just too early in the morning, or I was in too much of a hurry trying to shift various animal deposits off the runway, or thinking too much about the days work ahead, or the rain, but somehow for a whole hour and a half I managed to mislay 200 kgs of beef.

Hetty, above, she of the concrete phobia, was suddenly when I thought about it, conspicuous by her absence. Apollo, William, Bella and Berry were watching with interest as I scooped their poop and added it to the doings mountain. Kayliegh the agoraphobic Anglo Nubian hovered in the doorway mewing that the sky was falling in, but no sign of aforementioned bovine.

With that sinking feeling, the one associated with the realisation you are doomed to be late for the real world and you have the office keys (or rather someone else's office keys as you have already lost yours) and they will be stood on the pavement in the rain, I searched for missing cow.

Theres not many places a steak that big can hide but she managed, and should by rights now be the Dexter world champion for hide and seek. Usual haunts were obviously cow free, trough, feeder, water trough, favourite scratching post. If she had jumped to freedom again then my colleague on the pavement was due a prolonged soaking as cow had to be found. The straw store, the one with just enough space for two lambs. It looked odd. The shadow cast by the horse blankets nailed over the opening looked black.

Blacker than normal.

And this shadow had mud on it.

Space for two lambs was now space for a Dexter with mental health problems.

I lifted the blanket, parting around her like theatre curtains she gave the cow equivalent of "Ta-Dah!" and deemed to join the others for breakfast. I didn't get a pic of this extraordinary cow/Tardis achievement but did get a pic of her strutting her stuff on the runway. Perhaps its only dirty concrete she wont walk on.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Trick sheep

Ferny Fern Fern from Fern Town asserting herself over the breakfast table. I took this yesterday as we drove past with our new cooker in the borrowed trailer. The Godfather had made an unexpected visit and as ever, no such thing as a free lunch, or in his case a free cup of tea, slice of cake and hug with his Godson little t, not until he got our huge cooker on and off a trailer, through three small doorways and into place in the kitchen. The slight panic over is it so big it wont fit through the doors subsided when cooker and doorway were introduced and so tea, cakes and cuddles (for small child not me) were taken while we admired the new metalwork. Since it arrived we have at least been able to cook one meal, a nice stir fry, not on the cooker (no electric) but by burning the card and wood packaging it came in.

The new http://www.talesfromtherock.com/ website is slowly coming to life, updates will be regular once yours truly masters the art of sticking stuff on it, there is a gripping tale in compost corner of the new cooker and its mode of delivery. Pig club and other news will follow. Honest!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Vital signs

Earlier than last year, Snowdrops are a welcome sign of the coming spring.

Filthy Pig!

Thor the Boar of questionable sexuality was persuaded to vacate the med bay and visit the ladies in the pig pen. It has to be said he took to the role with some enthusiasm this time and Bridget helped by standing for him. Another secret of animal husbandry was discovered while Thor was making bacon, and that is the peculiar shape of a male pigs bits, like something out a science fiction film, Ridley Scotts Alien chest burster would be preferable than being faced with Thor's weapon of choice. Still Bridget seemed happy enough and again I was hoping that now he had sampled the delights of the pig pen he would stay.

He did stay long enough to get really filthy, and I do mean in the physical coated in mud sense. He seemed to enjoy this, shaking himself like a dog and then rolling around again, perhaps its the pork equivalent of a cold shower, whatever it was he rendered himself unapproachable by any creature with a sense of smell. Finally, happy with his new look he bade farewell to Bridget and climbed the fence.

Pausing only to steal some of the Ryelands second breakfast he set off to bother the horses, investigate Kayleigh, bother Hetty and rub as much mud over as many surfaces as possible. Happy his work was done he slunk off back to med bay where he gathered his straw in a pile and fell asleep. Nice work if you can get it.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Birds of a feather

Hetty has a new neighbour.

They seem to get on.

Both have issues.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Different world

It was one of those days where I had to say goodbye to Rock HQ and join the real world for the day visiting lovely people in far away places. This also meant that the usual routine had to be completed double quick time, mostly in the dark, tripping over sleeping animals and other hazards lurking in the lane. Kayleigh needed milking, Kurry needed feeding ( I now bottle feed two hungry infants in the morning) the dogs exercised and feeding, horses fed and watered, cow checked to make sure she is still in one piece and so on.

Vic delivered me safely to all four of my visits and suddenly I was in a land of cream carpets and no mud. Except the mud I brought with me. Vic is coated in the stuff and trail experts will be able to identify at least 4, probably 5 different paw prints across the body work, roof included. At my third meeting Vic got a real inferiority complex parked next to two gleaming black Volvo's, one the saloon version of him and the other the super duper 4x4. I left them bickering on the drive. Halfway through this meeting I noticed glances being exchanged by the clean Volvo drivers and all eyes were on my footwear. Thankfully I wasn't in my farm boots as has happened before but as I was in a land of concrete and road sweepers the coating on my shoes was as alien in this building as E.T.

"I'm sorry I live on a farm" I offered as way of explanation, my host had seen one once and reassured that what was on my shoe hadn't fell out of a dogs bottom and that I wasn't some dirty shoe fetishist we carried on with the business of the day.

We shook hands as I left and my very understanding host pointed at my left foot and said "The er...the.."

"Goat probably" I said. He nodded and closed the door.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Clapham Junction

We don't get much traffic here, the odd maniac on a trials bike, some militia on quad bikes with sheep dogs hitching a ride, apart from that any traffic is invited.

So today we were quite excited about the arrival of the new cooker and having warned the depot delivering said appliance that their driver would have to negotiate narrow lanes, dirt tracks, overhanging trees, sheep that refuse to move and shitland ponies prone to car vandalism it came as no surprise that waiting for me in The Oracles yard was a huge articulated effort wedged between the gate and the barn and lit up like Blackpool promenade.

Having already spoken to the driver to guide him in the last 500 yards I knew that he was driving something a tad bigger than a transit van so I had helpfully volunteered to take the trailer down to bring cooker back and save him damaging his custom painted wagon and squash our sheep.

In the rapidly failing light artic maneuvered back and forth while yours truly executed a truly magnificent three point turn despite my performance anxiety and the ever decreasing turning space.

Into this exciting vehicular ballet arrived a LDV lorry emblazoned ASDA who took up precious space and attempted to deliver our groceries.

Now we had an artic more used to delivering containers to dockyards than cookers to mountains, a novice in an almost 4x4 with trailer, a 30 foot white van man keen to get away, The Oracles two cars, Jess the dog and an assortment of pot plants jockeying for position in a space not much bigger than a door mat. With all the ingredients of a disaster movie in place we looked skyward for the approaching passenger jet bound to crash in order to make things just a bit more interesting.

The Oracle appeared, summonsed by the chaos in his farm yard, and as is by magic with some well placed left hand down a bits he marshaled the traffic, took delivery of the cooker for me (its so massive it would not fit in the trailer, it now occupies most of his barn space, don't get any ideas its guarded by Jess, weighs seven ton and looks like its nuclear powered) ordered the van driver to off load the groceries into the trailer and leave them in the plastic boxes theres a good lad, right that's you lot off now, there you are my boy all done and dusted see you on the weekend when you can borrow my trailer and move it up to your place, Jess will keep an eye on it til then.

Everyone needs good neighbours.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Heart surgery

One of the best things and worst things about our cottage is the sulky lump of metal in the kitchen, the Rayburn. It is the warm heart of the cottage, always ticking over providing a gentle heat, heating our water and when it has a mind to it cooks our meals. You get used to the fact that it takes between half an hour and four days to get hot enough to fry a rasher of bacon, or its stubborn refusal to cook a Sunday roast when the wind is in the wrong direction or the planets are not aligned to its liking.

But we have soldiered on, putting up with its foibles, the need for the SAS to come and sort it out when it tries to set fire to yours truly or when it shuts down in a sulk having been made to cook three meals in a day.

It also runs our central heating, but we have seldom had that on as A) we cannot afford to and B) we are a hardy lot here on the Bonsai Mountain. Just before Christmas, as a precursor to the I will be more organised new years resolution, I dipped the oil tank to see how much of this fabulously expensive liquid we had left. 250 litres, might not be enough to see us through to the new year so frugality reigned supreme just in case we ran out of juice mid cook of Christmas dinner and were forced to finish roasting the turkey on the barbq, again.

Just after Christmas I dipped the tank and made the horrific discovery that we were down to the last 120 litres. Even with my rubbish math I calculated that we were using over 10 litres a day and as the majority of the time the days had been with the Rayburn on tick over, the lowest setting it could be that was an awful lot. Ten litres a day! Or six quids worth it real terms! Drastic measures are now called for, there was no way we could continue burning that much money a day for little return. So the money that would have been spent on more oil has been redirected and arrives in a box tomorrow.

The Rayburn is dead. The oil ran out last Sunday.

The cottage is in need of a heart transplant. One that runs on a renewable source. And we need to be able to cook. Watch this space.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Curtain raiser

Slight movements in the horse blankets betrayed their hidey hole

and sure enough Bella

is all cosy warm but behind her

is Berry, warm as toast. I didn't have the heart to evict them.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Non returnable bottles

Kid Kurry is a lovely boy and even though it takes three times as long to feed him as it does to milk his mother its time well spent, having said that I wont be sorry when he is on solids.

Not that I begrudge him the three pints a day he's guzzling.

There was one of those only here moments yesterday, yours truly putting a freshly milked pint in his feed bottle got distracted and whatever the distraction was (take your pic, charging pigs, rampaging Ryelands, Shitlands, Bernese, and many more) caused me to put the full bottle of milk on Vic the Volvo's roof. Much much later when I had spent some time looking for said bottle while trying to convince myself that if I hadnt taken it off the roof then surley someone else would have. Eventually I gave up hope and found myself confessing to beautiful and oh so patient wife that I may have let her drive to the shop to buy emergency food supply for humans as Rayburn has died (again, but its a mercy killing, all will be revealed, pity its a Rayburn as it could have been an Aga Saga) with goats food supply balanced on top.

On hearing this the patient one did remember a strange sound like something rolling off the roof at around the two mile marker, I could if I wished go and look for it as she could remember exactly where it was but she thought best not stop as no idiot would have let his wife drive off with anything perched on the roof of his car, especially as he had watched her turn round in the yard and waved her off.

As the idiot she was talking to was the same one who drove from Rock HQ all the way to RAF Brize Norton (140 miles or so) with a set of sheer shears on the roof of Rene and only rescued expensive sheep shears when friendly lorry driver at traffic lights shouted that "You got summat on yer roof mate!" then she was sadly mistaken in this assumption and Kid Kurry was doomed to starvation until the milk bottle shop opened.

Thankfully the apprentice smallholder donated one of his bottles and all will be well, provided I don't get his and the goats feed and/or bottles mixed up. As if.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Dont frighten the horses!

There were several points today where activities could have descended into chaos. Observers watching a fat bloke "running" up and down the lane being either the chaser or chasee of pigs might argue the toss and say it had but at the end of play I am happy with the results of our honest labours.

Kayleigh and Kurry were moved from the plush interior of the stables to the new goat house at the end of the kennel block. This entails fencing off 12 feet of the concrete runway with a nice shiny metal gate giving Kayleigh the agoraphobic Anglo Nubian a nice sun terrace. Once installed in new quarters she spent most of her time leaning against the walls complaining the sky was falling in or hiding behind the hay rack as the horses were looking at her in a funny way. Kurry took it all in his stride and danced around in a highly entertaining way oblivious to his mothers phobias.

The newly purchased hurdles formed a barrier across the yard and for the first time livestock entering the yard were faced with a barrier that at least looked like one, not the usual collection of strategically placed vehicles, wheelbarrows and wishful thinking, this being the only thing stopping whatever beast it was heading off to the hills.

Today's beasts were stampeding pigs who, having not been fed breakfast were keen to tell me of the error of my ways. I led the way and soon had all the pigs crammed with some enthusiasm into the stable, a slight faux pas on my side was not having been confident this would work I had failed to leave any real food in the stable to occupy the curious pork until the door was shut. With a squeal of "Back its a trap" they all ran back out of the door and back down the lane hoping that the breakfast fairies had been in their absence.

This continued until two of the three little pigs were safe in the stable with Iggle and Piggle, one of the little pigs being a bit more wary than its siblings refused to leave the safety of the Bonsai Mountain.

Thor was then persuaded to leave the med bay, say goodbye to Apollo and get in amongst the Mangalitzas Pam and Bridget. Here a transformation took place. Our boar of questionable sexuality suddenly became all boarish. Drooling over everything he marked the perimeter of the pen with foamy flob and tiddled over everyone and everything while the girls made idiots of themselves and squealed and squeaked with delight every time Thor strutted by. He even managed a couple of attempted mounts, bossed the girls around who unbelievably became all passive and stole their food.

Confident that Thor now knew his place, his purpose and status in the animal kingdon I left him to get on with chopping wood (there is a saga re wood, oil, heating, sulky rayburns and clever electricians, but you will have to wait) while he got on with what he had been bought for.

Quite why some four minutes later he was back under Apollos belly rubbing himself in a most undignified manner and frightening the horses is a question that only he can answer. I suppose true love conquers all, and that includes fences.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Dawn of a new ice age

An extraordinary sight greeted us this morning, the ground, trees and most slow moving critters were coated in frost. Mid January and frost? Who ever would have thought it? Why it was plus 13 the other day, I was outside at midnight wearing only a t shirt (well not only I had trousers and boots but you know what I mean) and here we are minus 6! Somebody should do something about this sort of thing. I blame the Government. So it would seem winter has finally got fed up with spring trying to push in and has put in a late appearance.

I was happy about this as it meant less sloshing around in knee deep mud

and even the mundane became more attractive when coated in ice crystals.

Jobs of the day included some real therapeutic stuff. Chopping logs is always fun. And butch. Much more macho than milking goats and I am embarrassed to say that I am getting goat maids grip, a sort of cramp that occurs from repetitive squeezing, however this is a small price to pay for the lovely creamy milk on my soggies this morning. I also realised late last night that the startled looks on the faces of colleagues when I left a late evening meeting saying "I'm sorry I have to go and milk the goat" was from them thinking this was some new form of euphemism for something unsavoury.

Time was spent with the new arrivals, and after a trip to a Gate shop (yes there are such things)we look like, for once, we are organised as the new hurdles will keep Kurry from the milk bar (he has been helping himself) and when we add the rest of the hurdles there will be lambing pens aplenty. Much much different from our first lambing in 2007 where one ewe was separated from the other by old rabbit hutches and string. We thought we were doing well when we used straw bale walls last year, but these metal hurdles with interlocking ends and clip on hay racks are the bee's knees and almost as much fun a Lego!

Tomorrow there are a lot of moves planned, the new goats go into a bespoke goat house with patio (just in case the agoraphobia is cured) The three now not so little pigs plus Iggle and Piggle move into the space vacated by Kayleigh and Kurry, (where they await the quick trip to the clestial sty and Mr Whirlpool) Thor moves out of what was always supposed to be the dairy, but is usually the med bay or emergency shelter, and down to live in the pig pen with Bridget and Pamela. What we hope will happen is that there Thor will forget his love for Apollo and do the business with his own kind. This might be wishful thinking but we are nothing if not optimistic at Rock HQ.
Not sure what Apollo will think of it.

Friday, 13 January 2012


Some of our readers have felt compelled to email over the last 24 hours, the theme being, given my allergy to goats, and the blatant prejudice demonstrated toward the species on the new webpage under the title "Goats. Why bother?" , what then would possess me to seek out and buy some more.

Well rest assured my desire to be as goat free at Rock HQ is as strong as ever. A quick look down the "garden" where you can review the detritus of battles lost against the ravenous hordes of milkless horned cloven hoofed pestilence who stripped the fruit trees of all vegetation,fruit and bark, who ignored the no entry signs on the veg patch, conquered the goat proof fence and decimated all signs of life, or the smashed up greenhouses that contained the almost ripe crop of tomatoes devoured in an instant, is more than enough reason to get rid of all goat like creatures lurking around the smallholding. Ambrose is in the exit lounge as I type, he having only a few days left before sampling Caribbean cookery.

So why Kayliegh and Kurry?

Were they such a bargain I could not refuse?

Well not really, they cost a fair number of beer tokens.

Was it the thought of all the milk, yoghurt, cheese and Ice Cream made from Kayliegh's contribution to her keep (not to mention the replacement curry ingredients from Kurry thrown in free) well partly, the fridge does contain 4 litres of the white stuff, the dogs have had a fair share and Kurry has been fed. So Kayleigh has already contributed and done some good work for goat kind.

No, this goat has a unique selling point, one so appealing that even I who has suffered at the hoof of goats for five long years simply could not resist.

Kayliegh is agoraphobic.

The garden is safe.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Like clockwork

Every now and then, when the planets are in alignment, the four horsemen of the apocalypse are otherwise engaged and the small gods of smallholding are looking the other way, you get a really good day. A day that lifts your heart, makes you think that actually all this effort is worthwhile and that for once being coated in the doings of several species is justified. Yes I am talking about day planned and day actual being one and the same. A day that was planned with military precision, the success of which relied on timing, a day that went like clockwork.

The bar was perhaps set too high, but we had no choice. We could borrow a small stock trailer, Wednesday only, morning only, a small stock trailer needed for two jobs, job one, collect a goat that I had for some insane reason felt compelled to buy(never say never) and a goat which I was assured would provide us with milk and curry. Milk to the sum of 7 pints a day, and curry in six months as the male kid given to sweeten the deal would be the main ingredient of several, and he would with a bit of effort make a fetching rug.

However moving goats on the the smallholding would mean that Guinevere and Morgana Berkshire sows would not be able to go to see the boar for a long time as we would be on shutdown, no stock movement off site. As small trailer would also transport pigs it was a simple matter of collecting trailer from different countrymove job one collect goat to job two so new job one became persuade the right two sows to leave the pig pen (which contains 9 pigs of different sizes and breed, all untrained) and get in a trailer for the first time ever in their lives (they got here on the back seat of Hazel the almost 4x4, don't ever buy a car off us) take them to the land of the Stable Sprite, unload, drive across the county to collect goat and kid, return, unload new critters and get to work on time. Simple. What could possibly go wrong?

For once absolutely nothing. Morgana led the way, Guinevere followed albeit through a different gate but both took to the trailer like fish to bicycles. Locked and loaded we went to the magic kingdom of Stable Sprite which to some looks like a barren wasteland but is actually work in progress, he was eventually coaxed out of hiding and took charge of the sows. His boar then tried to take charge of the sows but they took to charging off, but they will all get together in the end. Pig club needs the recruits! (Pig club news sheet will be sent this weekend honest!)

We made it to the car park of The Little Chef some miles away in time to collect our new Anglo Nubian, Kayleigh (yes another Marillion fan in goat form) and her son Kurry (uncanny!)

Safely aboard we got back to HQ and unloaded our precious charges into the stable, I got changed from smallholder to social worker and made it to the Red Kite office at the allotted time. Just in time for tea and biscuits. Hurrah!

Later, much later, after milking Kayliegh and fattening up Kurry with a bottle of her milk I made a statement that I knew the small gods of smallholding could not ignore.

I simply said, "You know (this was a comment to the world in general as my beautiful and oh so patient wife was beyond listening to me having a highly entertaining goatling to play with, yes I know she shouldn't play with her food)

You know (I repeated it in case she had forgotten what I was about to say on account of brackets)

You Know (for emphasis) either we are getting better at this smallholding lark or we were incredibly lucky today"

The world held it breath and waited for the definitive answer.

There was a loud whinney and crash.

Trevor kicked in Hazels door.

We were lucky.