The last of our nineteen heifers calved today. She had a difficult birth with what they call ‘farmer assisted’ delivery which basically means that both Dan and Gordon were hanging off calving ropes and tugging at a very stuck calf. The problem was its hips which were caught somewhere inside, but even halfway out it started complaining so we knew it was healthy. It is another heifer which gives us a grand total of fourteen heifers, four bulls and one over-large stillborn bull calf. On the whole, those are the kind of odds we like. The mother of the stillborn was down for a week or more which caused us concern but due to her youth we gave her a lot longer to recover than we would normally allow an older girl. One day Dan drove in with the agricultural loader to lift her to her feet as he’d been doing every day and she leapt up, obviously deciding she’d had enough of being hauled around with ropes. The mother of the heifer this morning was still exhausted when I last saw her, but other than that we hope she’ll be up within the day. We have another of the nineteen who seems to have developed a stomach (or further down the digestive tract) ulcer which is bleeding into her intestines so she’s passing black poo. She’s been temporarily retired from the herd and left alone with her calf as well as a foster calf to see if it goes away naturally. There is medicine but according to the vet it’s horribly expensive and not particularly reliable so she’s being fed with lots of roughage and given ‘bed rest’. Poor little thing. I hope she’ll get over it but the vet says it’s one of those things where they either recover or you come out one morning and they’ve died in the night. The former would be preferable.
I didn’t tell you about my little trip to London did I? I know it seemed like the world and his wife went to look at the poppies at the Tower and although Gordon had no interest, my sister Terri and friend Janine did, so we booked a coach trip and went. It was impressive. I know lots of people have said the same, but it was truly humbling to see how many ceramic poppies were there. Everyone who viewed them was very respectful and to be honest, it was quite stirring to feel such a surge of gratitude. I took photos of course. Why wouldn’t I? This is me we’re talking about.
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Since my last post we’ve had about seven more calves – all heifers. On the plus side, that’s great for the herd and brings the total number of heifers born this year so far to thirty, but on the negative side, where are we going to put them all? The new babies vary in personality with noisy ones, quiet ones, awkward ones, those that leap about and a couple that lie stretched out as if they’ve died and don’t stir until poked with the toe of a wellie. The latter concern me greatly and I’m constantly rushing into the pens to check they’re still breathing. I’m bottle feeding a couple born three days ago that are refusing to go to their mothers for milk, but annoyingly because I started the process they won’t take the bottle from anyone else. Gordon finds this very exasperating and stomps in to ask me to come and try them as they just spit the milk out if he goes in armed with a bottle of their mothers’ milk. One of them is the grand-daughter of an old girl we lost a few months back when she went down about a week before her calving date and died days later. The vet came to try to save the calf but wasn’t able to get there in time and although we could still see the calf moving, neither of us were brave enough to perform the emergency caesarian by ourselves. By the time he arrived she’d been dead for about twenty minutes, but by then it was too late. There were tears shed that day, I can tell you. It’s nice that her last daughter now has a daughter of her own.
Oh, and did I mention she’s an Alexandra?
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Our heifers started calving yesterday and two new calves were born, one male and one female. The young mums came into the parlour this morning for the first time and were so overawed that they stood quietly throughout the whole process. Sometimes this sets the trend for the rest of their milking life but often as soon as the novelty wears off they kick the units until they fall on the ground and refuse to stand still to allow us to put them on again. That should be just in time for the weekend when I’ll be milking. Lovely. I can hardly wait.
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In the past couple of weeks I’ve resolved to do more around the house after suddenly realising that I don’t actually like the house very much. This has been a bit of odd thing for me and I’ve given it lots of thought and decided it’s possibly because I’ve never considered it mine. We inherited it from Gordon’s parents along with the farm and in my head I’ve always thought of it as theirs. It hasn’t been for some time now and I’ve reached the conclusion that I’m the only person who can do anything about that. Those of you who visit regularly will have realised some time ago that I’m not particularly domesticated even though I enjoy that side of things. To that end I’ve been both cleaning and baking for a while.
Today before breakfast I made fresh coleslaw and since then I’ve made an apple cake and a steak and mushroom pie, both of which smell delicious.
The pie looks pretty good, even if I say so myself. That’s dinner this evening taken care of.
Shame you can’t smell it.
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I’ve been away several times in the past couple of weeks and rather than bore you with all the details, here are a couple of photos I particularly like.
This cormorant was in the lake at Weymouth. If you enlarge it you can see the poor thing is covered in some kind of nylon net although it didn’t seem bothered.
On Sunday we were in Wales and this is taken at a place called Rosebush. The weather was glorious and it was nice to see the butterflies still out in force and drinking nectar from the white buddleia.
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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.
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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.
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