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Finally

Well, the silage making was completed several days ago and since then we’ve been making hay in the fields we decided not to put into silage.  There were about three large ones that involve driving a tractor and trailer on the road, something we never really enjoy so Gordon has been busily mowing and tedding since then.

This year I finally got a decent photo of a hare -

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I’ve been trying for quite a while but they’re either too far away or sat with their backs to me.  This one was right beside the track and as usual took no notice of the forager thundering past.  I was able to stick the camera out the window and capture him.  He was sat there long after I’d reached the end of the track and turned into another field, completely ignoring the tractor and trailer following me.

There are lots of hares out there this year including babies who scuttled about from swathe to swathe as I picked the grass up.  There were also a couple of foxes including a little vixen with a bit of a limp who circled the edge of the field watching for casualties, but most of the time our hares can outrun a fox.  Our ‘fawn casualty’ count was lower than usual too which is always a good thing.  The youngsters are a little bit bigger this year and get out of the way rather than crouching in the grass, but there were one or two tinies who didn’t make it, which has to be my absolute least favourite thing about silage making.

On a more positive note, Gordon and I have become great-uncle and auntie to a beautiful little girl called Anna who was born last week.  I had cuddles last night although Gordon wasn’t quite so keen, but she slept throughout even when I touched her face.  Her parents are our youngest nephew Christopher and his partner.

Felix

We’ve finally started silage making since the weather has dried out the ground.  I think it’s forecast to rain at the end of next week, but so far, so good.  We have a new driver, someone we’ve never met before, called George.  George knows his tractors and is in the right time at the right place.  So far it’s been smooth and since I don’t know him I don’t have to stop for pleasantries in case he gets offended by our lack of interaction.  We’re on day three today and are about sixty acres down with minimal breakdowns.  Bring it on.

Before we started I went for a stroll to say hi to Felix.  Do you remember Felix?  Here he is as a baby.  He’s grown a bit since then and is currently mooching around spare bits of waste ground keeping the grass down with a small group of steers for company.  This is early afternoon and they’re chilling in the sun.  He’s got pretty big but still thinks he’s a baby and loves the attention.  That’s my fault for mothering him I suppose – cute when he was little but now I’m not so sure as he comes galloping towards me.  On this occasion he just lay there and gazed at me since it was too much effort to get up.

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L-O-L-A Lola

I’m sorry, but every time Dan calls to his beautiful spaniel, I can’t help but hear this song in my head – if you’re of a certain age you’ll know the one I mean and how to pronounce the title of this post.  It was drizzling yesterday when we turned a few dry cows up the road and Lola snuffed around in the grass all the way back, getting her ears damp in the process.  She has the most affectionate nature and was quite happy to pose for a few photos.

 

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Lola – with her bestest ‘alert springer spaniel’ pose!

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The geraniums seemed to like the moisture – that’s why I had my camera out in the first place!

Barcelona

Since I last wrote I’ve had a couple of breaks away from the farm and have booked several more.  Those of you who’ve followed my blog for a while will know that up until very recently I hadn’t had a holiday for a long time and suddenly they’re coming thick and fast.  The first break in March was to The Manor House Hotel near Okehampton with a group of female friends and this has become an annual event.  It rained – it usually does when we’re there – and rain on the edge of Dartmoor can be a bit gloomy, but this year we actually had snow too which made it very cold.  The good news was that I had the energy and the inclination to go on the organised hike up Sourton Tor, a five-mile climb up the bleakest piece of hill you’ve ever seen.  The view from the top was fantastic and I really enjoyed myself despite wearing rubbish walking-boots that rubbed a huge bruise on my ankle.  They’re off for recycling now funnily enough, and if I discover that I’d still like to hike at some time in the future then I’ll buy new ones that fit me properly.

In April Gordon and I took a week off work and went to Barcelona with Terri, Steve and our friends who live in Spain, meeting them there.  I’d never been to Barcelona before and in all honesty probably won’t bother to go again, but it was interesting for the experience.  When we arrived it was raining, and boy did it rain, but the following days were warm and sunny.  We socialised, drank sangria and beer at pavement cafes and since our hotel didn’t provide food, ate in the local restaurants.  It was an expensive break, probably for those reasons, but we had a lovely time.  Barcelona is well known for its architecture and it felt very cultural, which was great for photos.

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This lonely angel is silhouetted against a very grey Spanish sky. She stands at the top of the old cathedral and our hotel was close enough that we were able to stroll here between showers.

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I love gargoyles and was only sorry that we weren’t here during the torrential rain to see it pouring from their mouths. This chap gazes down across the main entrance.

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Within the cathedral is a courtyard and these geese live here. This one was running along but looked a bit worse-for-wear with his sticky-out wing.

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Part of a main fountain it struck me that although this lady is very beautiful it does look like she’s vomiting! Or is that just my strange imagination?

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These guys (there are more) guard the base of Columbus’s column overlooking the harbour. I rather like his angular features.

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This copper fish marks the site of the Olympic Stadium, still a large tourist attraction in Barcelona even though I believe the games were held here in 1992.

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There were many impressive buildings overlooking the harbour and this is just one of them.

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The Sangrada Familia, a modern cathedral designed by Gaudi is a work in progress. According to the guide it will be another eighty years before it’s complete. Large parts of it are still covered in scaffolding. We didn’t go in and took photos from the tour bus.

I took many photos of course and this is just a small percentage of them, some taken from the tour bus, some from the tour of the harbour in a boat and the rest while we were walking around.  We were planning to go into Gaudi’s cathedral, but the queue was huge and we felt it was too hot to stand outside for that length of time.

In July we’re going on a canal holiday on the Kennet and Avon Canal, in August I’m going with friends to Brixham, September Gordon and I are away for a friend’s 70th birthday near Haverford West and I’ve booked a week in Prague in December so Terri, Janine and I can go to the Christmas Markets.  With each break away Gordon gets more relaxed and is mentioning retirement more often, so we await that development with interest.  In the meantime, poor Daniel is left on his own to deal with life on the farm.  He says he enjoys it – I hope he does.  Now all we have to do is fit the silage-making between all these breaks (and Pilton at the end of June when Dan will be away) and we’ll be set for the winter!

 

Twins

Some of our cows have started calving in the past week and so far they have all had heifers.  We’ve had two sets of twins but sadly the first set were a male and a female although the male was stillborn.  We’ve decided we’ll keep the heifer anyway and if she doesn’t get into calf in future years she can go then.  The second set are both heifers but one has no tail!  Another mutant, which is sad.  A fellow farmer has warned us that this sometimes means their bowel isn’t formed properly and they’re unable to poop so we’ll have to watch her carefully just in case.

The girls are coming home this evening, or possibly tomorrow morning as it’s Stephanie’s birthday on Friday and we’re having a small family gathering.  I’m quite excited to see them as usual and plan to have a girlie shopping day before the big day.

My weight loss continues much to my surprise, mainly because I’m amazed I’ve been able to stick to it for so long. I’ve now lost somewhere in the region of thirty-seven pounds.  Everything fits so much better, but then, why wouldn’t it?  I’m eating real food on occasions now but am trying to manage my portion control so I don’t pile it all back on again.

Epiphany

Whilst washing down the milking parlour this morning I had a bit of a brain flash.  I often do when I’m washing down because I do it on automatic pilot more often than not so my brain is free to ramble off and talk to itself.  Since Gordon and I have been together, every time we have an occasion be it Christmas, birthday or anniversary and I unbox a shop-bought cake, my mother-in-law always – and I mean ALWAYS without fail – asks “did you make that yourself dear?”  I usually reply with “of course, then I boxed it up and have just now unpacked it”, to cover the fact that the question has irritated me and made me feel like a ‘bad’ housewife.  I suddenly realised this morning that in the whole time I’ve known her – some thirty years – I have never seen her make a cake or been offered a home-made cake.

No more guilt-trips for me!

Here’s Me

I fancy this year is passing way too quickly for my liking – oh, happy Valentine’s Day by the way.  I didn’t give or receive at all this year, but I’m one half of an old married couple so it’s OK.  I still haven’t done anything other than shelter from the weather and diet.  I have dieted since the beginning of January and by the time I go out in public again – maybe in the summer when the weather warms up and the flood waters recede – I shall be a lot smaller.  I’m on a very low calorie diet – yes, one of those where you eat soups, shakes and bars – feel free to criticise my decision if you must since some people have (in fact a few months ago I may have been one of those people) but with the onset of my thyroid problem and its accompanying medication I’ve had a bit of trouble controlling my weight.  I piled on a lot very quickly so decided drastic measures were necessary and I have to say, I feel fantastic on this diet.  The weight has dropped off and already (in five weeks) I’ve lost two stone, making me lighter than I’ve been for a long time.  I checked my Slimming World book and in the whole time I was going to the meetings (a year from 2008 to 2009) I lost a stone and a half and still ended up a stone heavier than I am now so I’m quite pleased.

I’m getting withdrawal symptoms from my camera and my craft stuff but the weather has been so hideous that I haven’t felt like going outside unless absolutely necessary.  I’m working on becoming a hermit, even to the extent of paying for my grocery deliveries on a quarterly basis so I don’t have to go into the store and actually look around.  This helps with the diet too, to be honest, as I can choose whatever Gordon would like to eat/drink without considering anything for me.  I’m always a sucker for the smell of warm bread or the deli counter (hmmm, deli counter) and tend to fall at the first hurdle.  Steph came home last weekend and discovered my lemon shortcake stash – untouched but calling me, so she kindly finished off the last couple so I wouldn’t be tempted.  Wasn’t that kind?  I have eaten ‘real’ food on occasion, but have been very careful and chosen low calorie stuff.  At the beginning I decided I wouldn’t punish myself too much especially if it was a social occasion, but have found it surprisingly easy to manage.

I’ll try and remember to update my blog regularly now my medication has properly kicked in!  I’m feeling better able to concentrate lately and am more motivated, but this means I do other things rather than spend hours on the computer, so the poor old blog gets neglected.

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