Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The highland clearances

 I managed to take a couple of hours off this afternoon to do some gardening. Plans to turn this wasteland into a neatly terraced raised bed veg patch of bountiful abundance will stay in the fantasy garden league while other things take priority such as training (none) and finishing the Swiss Chalet Style Kennel Block.
 As there is a longer than usual weekend coming our way and being fed up with falling over the detritus of DIY and weeds action has been taken and the new path cleared ready for concreting, the trees that self seeded and were not a problem and now are have been cleared, along with a massive rambling rose that was intent on taking over the universe. The goat proof fence which never was has been dismantled (its no longer visible from space) and the rest of the wood stacked neatly ready for the extension. Actually this is all needed for floors and ceilings plus the last bit of the end gable and fascia boards.
 The rest of the evening was spent attacking the highland with a series of ever increasing power tools with sharp blades. By end of play it all started to look on the cared for side of unkempt.
We are all getting used to the kennel block. The Berners, used to sleeping in a variety of locations are rotating through the block so there are less of them to trip over on the night time dash across the landing but we still have above average numbers of K9's at strategic points around the cottage. Two nights ago all inhabitants at Rock HQ and most of the county were kept awake by frantic barking from the kennels. As it was not fully occupied the dogs in the house and conservatory joined in. Every half hour or so. Morning saw very tired people establish what was the cause of the Berner chorus. A duck had wandered into one of the empty stalls and after having a snooze laid an egg. The dogs partial to eggs and sometimes duck were keen to get their bids in hence the noise.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

We live on a hill

Sometimes its easier to tell than others that we live on the side of the Bonsai Mountain.
Misty and Trevor grazing on Willow Rise. They are in for a big surprise, a shitland size saddle has just arrived at Rock HQ. 

Monday, 28 April 2014

See how they grow

Thsi is a picture taken by the gateway to the world the day Apollo the wonder foal arrived at Rock HQ. I took it to remind us what a little puppy he was.
This is he yesterday by a different but same five bar gate. He's a bit of a unit, mostly muscle, lots of mane. A lovely boy.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

In good company!

In spite of the weather I decided that doing the Hay on High 100 miler was the order of the day but instead of starting out really really early I hung on and waited for the weather to clear. It didn't, the rain got steadily heavier and I set off a full hour and half behind any other rider in the race. The long an lonely road was insanely steep in places, always wet, often into a head wind, I had forgotten my GPS so had no idea how fast/slow/time was passing. I rolled in to the first feed station an hour and ten minutes after starting and was pleased to find a cup of tea, a map and the news that after two more massive hills there was a bit of flat, but none of it was fast. I met a group of soggy lycra clad riders sat on the roadside, broken bike and lack of spanners meant their ride was over. Further on I took the chance to gulp some drink, misjudged the steepness of the road, couldn't put my bottle back in the cage, fumbled my grip on the bars, couldn't change gear or direction and fell off.  Once unraveled from the bike I remounted and tried to not convince myself that baling out was the option, my knee was hurting, it was raining, I was wet, cold, alone, miserable and not enjoying the trip. But I pressed on, after all if Davina did it then so could I. 
At this point my bike started complaining loudly, every rotation of the pedal something groaned or missed a beat. Self arguments continued, its not that bead, its falling apart, youre looking for excuses, bale out now before it really breaks. Another heavier downpour sealed the deal and I pulled the ejector handle and floated in to the start zone and handed my racing chip in. Enough.  
Mechanic on hand took bike away, self doubt then filled my mind, would they find nothing wrong, would I end my race looking like a fat bloke who had bottled it. No. Top bike man found that the big ring, that's what drives the chain round, had bent so every rotation the chain was trying to fall off but the speed of my pedaling (ahem) caught it again and so we continued on our merry way. Could he fix it, yes he could. 
So while bike got TLC and I got a cuppa and tried not to drip muddy water on the clean floor I could not help but notice several things. 
One was a very handsome poodle called Albert, the other was a soggy group of cyclists sheltering from the weather. There were four of them, two lovely blond ladies and two handsome chaps. As its rude to stare at very pretty ladies who make lycra look good I concentrated on Albert but there was something familiar about one of them. Then behind me through the door walked a stack house of a man who was a good head taller than me, biceps bigger than my thighs and a very broad grin. He chatted for a moment with me about the weather, bikes, he was the rescue driver for the group I was avoiding looking at. There was something familiar about him to, I would have said so but thinking it through he was far younger than number one son, he who cannot be named, so was unlikely to be a friend of his that I knew by default so left it. 
The soggy maidens and chaps left with stackhouse.
It was then that mechanic putting my steed back together revealed that stack house was a Welsh International Rugby player, George North and one of the girls was Becky James, world champion cyclist, her sister, brother and friend. Not a bad bunch to have sheltering in Drovers Cycles on a wet day. So if it was good enough for a world champ to bale out it was good enough for me. 

Look what I went and collected this afternoon, still in the rain, a lovely trailer that will come in really useful to move all sorts of things. Like pooh. 
And I know where there's some that wants shifting!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Its this one!!

Poster Guru has done it again. This is the next challenge.

Friday, 25 April 2014

All together now.....


Thursday, 24 April 2014

Its for charity mate!

Serious training has been avoided but I am almost back on track, or the bike, where I lack serious road miles I am making up for in effort on the spin bike (in fact I am about to lead 10 or so spin classes at the local leisure centre) and this weekend (essay for university and child care permitting) I am doing the Hay on High 100 miler as part of the "programme" to prepare for to epic 300km ride on 1st June 2014 to raise money for Myeloma UK, a cancer research charity that uses the money to support families and seek treatments for this nasty illness. Unfortunatley one of my closest friends has this illness, Paul, hes the one bothering the ex goat (she was a UXG but is now an XG) in the pic below. Paul and I go back a long way, I even covered for him after he barfed in his wifes glove while we sat out a blizzard close to the summit of Mt Blanc. He's a talented musician, a great Dad and Granddad, crap joke teller (we all have our weak points) and an expert brewer. He's always a laugh (despite his crap jokes) and is the epitomy of Mr Nice Guy. So I am going to do my bit by cycling the 300km and you can do yours by Texting the number 70070 and enter the code TTTA and an amount from £1 to £10, as many times as you want to. Or you can log on to and donate there. Its that simple. You can do it, and help nice people like Paul.
Due to slight technical hitch the wrong poster got circulated, see below, right in so far as date, objective etc but wrong charity and donation details, sorry folks. The new one will appear on these pages and in the margin as soon as I can persuade my poster guru to make the necessary changes.

A fresh challenge

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The old ones are the good ones

How did you find Kobe? Simple I moved the carrot and there he was.
Or...Dad I dont like Kobe.....Never mind son, leave him and eat your peas......yes the mega calf that took a couple of builders, two vets, yours truly and a lot of money to drag into this world has now joined bits of several pigs in Mr Whirlpool, well bit of him, Kobe went over to the Stable Sprites kingdom a long time ago but we now have several sunday lunch worths back. Kobe led a very happy care free life bothering other cows and jumping fences with as much aplomb as his mother, Hetty, so in return for such a happy life he is now making us even happier by providing excellent beef.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

How to spoil a good walk.

It's back! The war continues. It's tried to surprise us with an early spring offensive. We are ready!
And the winner is...... Yes a correct guess as to why Irene is Irene, shes the small one in leg warmers practising her moves to a dodgy 80's soundtrack. Irene, or Irene Cara to give her her full name is a very happy Ryeland and if the winner wants collect her feel free. Second prize was two Ryelands:)Other wrong guesses were Happy Days, Road Trip and Cider with Rosie.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Horsing around.

 Bank holiday meant time for pastimes and for once the weather forecast was not quite so accurate as usual, we were expecting heavy rain, so we got out doors. Apollo the wonder foal was put through his paces, first by my beautiful and oh so patient wife
 and secondly by the apprentice smallholder
 and by the end of it Apollo was a very tired boy.
 Pastimes are essential for peace of mind and to stop the apprentice engaging in activities like playing pirates where you have to swing off the curtains (he put this down to collateral damage) and posting my bank card into anything that it fits into and forgetting where.  Once they finished horsing around I got on with fun jobs like pressure washing the patio, sand pit, bike, garden furniture and slow moving dogs.
 Tonight's sunset was a tad dramatic, soft rays of sun fading through the gnarly hazel (oooh I'm all over art me) and then
 a stiff breeze that was the forerunner of a storm cloud gathering behind the Bonsai Mountain
and as it passed over head it made for quite a spectacle. Then it rained. Mightily.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Happy Easter

 The majority of our day has been spent in search of items. Yours truly spent two hour looking for new lungs on an insane bike ride early doors. The apprentice spent part of the morning looking for droppings left by the Easter Bunny.
 While the real Easter Bunny was resident in the kitchen, well, ok its not really the real one, its a couple of bunnies called Peter and Thomas, both boys and it took a while to decide on names, Lucy was a favourite from the apprentice for several days leaving the bun with an identity crisis.
Late afternoon was spent looking for Alana who followed some hikers who had the temerity to walk through her domain and not give her the contents of her lunch box.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

All change

The pocket rocket is going through his startling spring moult, from dark brown to white not quite horse pooh white in a matter of days (scroll down to see him a week ago)
Speed machine has been rebuilt and is ready to go again after an encounter with a strange bike shop in Rhayader. It looks like a pub (it was, the bar is the shop counter) and there is barely room to stand in it once you get past the gleaming bikes. But amongst the chaos of shiny bits the bike wizard (he looked like one, just deficit the pointy hat and gown with stars on it) found the exact rear wheel I required which came with a tyre and tube. Then he proceeded to replace freebie tyre and tube with my better stuff and put on the rear cassette to me thus saving hours of fiddling and inevitable breakages as I tried to do the same. He guessed my wheel was 3 to 4 years old (11 months actually) and would have happily sold me the front one but had lent to a mate. By the time I left the shop with new wheel, freebie tyre and tube with a pocket set of tyre levers thrown in I was a very happy bunny and almost convinced that this shop was better than the internet.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Excess Baggage.

Unlike last Easter break when we went sledging, this years sunny spell meant a quick trip to the coast (not at all a recce of a long bike ride route) where we engaged in traditional activities of bothering crabs and shivering while eating ice cream. The apprentice soon got the hang of Bank Holiday weather and discarded all protective clothing so he could turn as blue as his wellies while the MkII rug rat tried to eat the beach a handful at a time. After a quick game of beach cricket which entailed yours truly slogging the ball as far down the beach as the prevailing wind would allow and toddler running after it shouting "That's a good shot Daddy" ad infinitum we returned to Rock HQ where racing steed was prepped for mega ride Easter Day. 
Racing steed has been used for commutes since last mega ride in County Durham and has felt a bit slow, which I put down to me accumulating lard from birthday excess. However thanks to having purchased a bargain set of tyres with a pretty white band each side, while I was changing boring black but perfectly good tyres for fancy types which weigh .25 of a gramme less than the old ones thus offsetting the 3 kilos of extra lard the pilot carries after binging on Northern ales and cookies, the cause of slowness was discovered.  As rear wheel cover was snapped into place and the valve located to inflate it one of the spokes just fell off. There being only 20 of a bladed aerodynamic type, the loss of one is, especially given the weight of rider, going to have an impact. Fear not thought I as I retrieved from floor, tis but a simple task of re poking spoke back in hole and attaching to wheel and tightening spoke with spoke tightener on my Swiss Army knife (its the funny looking bit next to the get the stone out of horsey hoof bit which is another you will never ever use) Anyway on trying to fix it the full horror of what had happened to wheel became abundantly clear as a large chunk of everso expensive alloy fell off the rear hub. This bit is intrinsic to keeping spoke attached to wheel. The loss of this chunk meant spoke 19 was also in peril of joining spoke 20 and spoke 18 was as bent as Tory MP's expenses claim. I gave the wheel a half hearted spin contemplating Sundays ride with a less than full compliment of spokes and gave up all hope when it spun with a bigger buckle than found on a Cavaliers boot. Unless the back wheel fairey arrives between now and Easter then my speed machine will not be joining in the fun. Its done over 3000 miles since last April so has been hammered but I wasn't expecting such metal fatigue especially in such good wheels, even with a heavier than average rider.  
A ride of a different sort tried to cheer me up, Apollo the wonder foal who, when he arrived here 4 years ago, could not see over the stable door, is now a muscle bound softie who is always on the lookout for extra calories. Hes clearing up after the Ryelands here, not that they have left much.

By the way, good guesses re Irene but no one has got it right yet, she's not from Dexy's Midnight Runners or Blackhawk Down, think of legwarmers and guess again. 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

One quick question

Daddy, if I say he followed me home can I keep him.......................... Errr...No.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Come on Irene

 She has a name now.
 It's Irene. If you can guess why you can have her.
 Meanwhile more lazy delivery drivers have not been to Rock HQ and jettisoned their cargo down at the gateway to the world. This crash mat uber large dog bed was crammed into the back of Gerry for the long haul up the track.
We nearly made it.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

A new one on me

Since we began smallholding we have been amazed at the capacity of Ryeland sheep for self harm or suicide. We had a new one to deal with, thankfully the sheep survived, Snowy has had a lamb and to spare the gory detail but to inform, lambs have a special type of bright orange pooh for the first few days after birth. This has all the adhesive properties of the glue used to keep the heat shield tiles on the NASA space shuttles nose cone. Snowy's lamb (yet to be named, lets see if she lives long enough to get one) obviously needed a pooh and did one. And another. Totally sealing her bottom with orange pooh. You can guess the rest, well nealry all of it. The consequence was a build up of pressure so the poor thing waddled into the yard seeking relief which was gained by yours truly holding striken beast while beautiful and oh so patent wife prised pooh seal off. Lamb bleated in pain put happily backfired all over MBAOSPW's arm and much relieved was able to bounce happily back to Snowy for more ammunition. Smallholding is nothing if not glamorous!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Extreme grazing

High on the hill, well above the cliff face actually is our one and only lamb with her mum Snowy.
Trevor the pocket rocket and Misty were let out onto the spring grass today, they were so excited, you can tell by looking at them.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Little and Large

 With a jobs list that gets longer by the minute today's sunshine was welcome as it meant that instead of getting on we got out from HQ and went visiting. Over in the land of the Stable Sprite we saw Party Pig and her little brother. Party Pig and lil bro are both the same age from the same litter, but guess which one was the runt of the litter. Party Pig is going to be joining the celebrations at the 3rd Annual Dolyhir Bernese Mountain Dog Treasure Hunt 8th June 2014.
 Across from Party Pigs Pen we said hello to Will.I.Am who was very pleased to see us, and our apples. He's having a great time.
 As was the apprentice smallholder who rearranged the raised borders.
 Later at Horsey Summer School our two big mutleys made friends
 with a small bearded collie who was keen to make friends provided it was from under Miranda.
Little donkey came over to say hello even though it was very embarrassed about its haircut.