Well, that’s the second cut of silage out of the way. We managed to get it in just before the weather changed and it would appear that autumn has well and truly arrived although I think it’s forecast to be warmer again next week. This is good news to me as I’m going away for a few days to stay in my friend’s caravan at Durdle Door. The last time I was there in May 2013 it rained almost constantly and was cold so I’m hoping for better weather this time.
Hello again. Did you wonder where I went? Did you miss me at all? I hope so otherwise there’d be no point in me coming back even if it is for just today.
Let’s talk internet – or severe lack of it. In the past year my BT internet has gone from pretty bad to truly crappy and had genuinely reached a stage where I just couldn’t be bothered to even try to connect. It was good from late evening until perhaps six in the morning but at all other times it dropped, hung and all those other irritating things internet does. I was on the phone a lot to BT but most of the time they told me that it was in my imagination or my own fault for living outside the range of my nearest exchange. In the end I gave it all up as a bad job and left it alone. In other words, I went away and did other things. Eventually of course I needed it for work since everything is done online nowadays but after losing the plot one afternoon and getting on to the BT helpline immediately afterwards they sent yet another engineer to “see whether the fault was with our equipment, in which case we’d be charged the equivalent price of what five bull calves are currently selling for”.
This guy was dour – really really dour with no sense of humour at all – but he spent the day going backwards and forwards to the exchange, up and down poles, and in and out of exchange boxes. When he first came he actually ripped the box off our wall because one of the screws was a bit rusty so after that we stayed out of his way and decided to pick up all the little broken bits of plastic once he’d finished. I went out – well, he was a bit scary – and by the time I came back we had a new box, a new router and a small pile of stickers with wireless keys and SSID addresses written on them. Since then it’s been better even though it’s still slow, but at least we have it again.
I’ve been on holiday with Gordon for the second time this year so that was an event. We went on a canal barge on the Kennet and Avon Canal, something I thought I’d hate. Turns out it was wonderful – my camera and I loved it. Gordon loved it too and since that was the reason we decided to go in the first place, all was good. We went with four friends so shared the workload pretty well, especially when it came to jumping onshore and opening locks.
The following photos are a small selection of what we saw along the way. If I posted them all my internet would definitely crash forever. As it is, I’m sure it will take some time, but I hope you enjoy them.
The Caen Hill Flight. We didn’t go through it but walked to the top instead.
Out of the way, moorhen!
Finally got some good photos of kingfishers in Bradford-on-Avon
Did someone mention bread?
No bread for this heron, but the occasional fish disappeared fairly quickly.
We moored on the edge of Bath in the early evening and walked into the city. We were very lucky with the weather.
Gordon, 68 feet down the boat. Our barge was called Sun Lark.
Reflections of the bridge in the canal.
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 -
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.