July! And now it’s almost the end of September. Sorry.
Whilst I’ve been gone we’ve done more silage-making, the company putting in many acres of solar panels have almost finished, we have our own array on the new barn roof (that’s new roof, not new barn), Gordon bought a new (second-hand) tractor, mower and hedgecutter with some of the money the solar company gave us, I have a new car (Ford Fiesta automatic) and sold my beloved PT Cruiser to a nice man who promised to look after her, we’ve had many calves (and sold most of them) and worked a lot.
I went on a short trip with friends to Cornwall where we went to a regatta at Charlestown (where they’ve filmed some of the Poldark scenes), Mevagissey and the Eden Project. I have photos to prove all of this but they’re on my computer and I’m not, so hopefully you’ll see some later unless I disappear for another three months which is, to be honest, entirely possible. In Mevagissey I was pooped on by a seagull – don’t tell me it’s lucky because it really didn’t feel lucky. It was such a large amount of poop that some went on my friend sitting next to me and we had to find a bathroom to wash it all off. I actually had to remove my shirt to get the majority off, then wore a damp shirt until it air-dried, but luckily it was a warm day. Apparently the seagulls have learnt to do this whenever they see food produced from bags according to the locals, with the aim that they’ll manage to poop on the food and it’ll be thrown away in disgust. Ours was still in the packaging so no harm was done – to the food at least.
I’ve been kicked in the boob by a cow which hurt a lot and made it difficult to breathe for about ten minutes until I could determine whether ribs were broken. Fortunately it doesn’t seem as if they were and although I’ve been meaning to get it checked by someone medically inclined I haven’t got round to that either. The bruise is fading now anyway and I’m (slightly) obsessively checking for damage – if anything untoward happens I will be sure to get it checked (before you tell me I should get it checked!)
We’ve had visitors aplenty and many social occasions which means that when I’m not working I’m simply tired. However, I will try harder to visit you more often, especially now you’re caught up.
If not, have a lovely Christmas :D🎅.
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Silage-making is once more upon us. Gordon and Dan worked hard and sorted out the gearbox on the newer of our two foragers, getting it ready for action last Thursday. The older one requires a pump originally sent off for repair in Scotland, but it came back with an incorrect shaft fitting so had to go again. Since then until today we’ve been mowing, foraging and rolling with the assistance of our other nephew Chris (Dan’s younger brother). Despite him telling me it’s ten years since the last time he graced us with his presence as a tractor driver it seems to have all come back to him and we’re making very satisfactory progress. Yesterday was interesting with the addition of a drizzly rain for the best part of the day which made everything sticky and the failure of one trailer when we were almost finished. To add insult to injury and with just one trailer-load to go, the trailer I was hauling hopped off the hitch and buried itself in the ground which meant Dan had to rescue me with the loader. Today the boys have been making repairs so I’ve had a ‘day off’ to catch up on various things (like accounts, yuck!).
I’ve bought new glasses from Glasses Direct which I thought were very reasonable (they’re not paying me for the plug, by the way). They’re transition lenses so I’ve been driving the forager in them and realised that for the past couple of years I haven’t actually been able to clearly see the pickup hitch! I’ve been able to catch it (it’s an acquired skill from years of experience), just not able to see it. How weird that I didn’t notice. If you ever need new glasses I can thoroughly recommend their website. They even send you glasses to try on at home before you put in your prescription details and choose frames. Should you fancy trying a pair, let me know – I have discount codes and if you’re recommended by someone you get £30 off, plus I get an Amazon voucher.
Both Gordon and I have been gardening this year. Gordon has finally found the enthusiasm for more than just mowing the lawn and is nurturing tomatoes, peppers and melons in the greenhouse.
He spends ages out there watering, feeding and ‘pinching-out’. Since I’ve been struggling to do this single-handedly for years due to his complete lack of interest, this amuses me very much, but I let him get on with it.
I’ve planted lots of herbs and random bits of plants I’ve been cultivating in various pots and tubs, including this tin bath we found when sorting out Gordon’s mother’s greenhouse.
My enclosed raised beds are doing very well and for once I’m able to grow things the cats can’t get to. We refer to it as ‘the safe house’ although someone did call it ‘Gordon’s splendid garden erection’ the other day which made us laugh.
Radishes and beetroot. We’ve been eating the radishes for a while, but the beetroot aren’t ready yet. It’s nice to be able to keep them in the ground without something digging them up. If it isn’t the cats then the foxes will usually have a scratch around to see if they can eat it.
Our woodpecker is back for the peanuts and this time he/she has brought a youngster who sits on top the archway waiting to be fed. Every time they’re both there I run for my camera but haven’t been able to catch them together, which is a shame. Look at those claws though.
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We’ve switched bulls again and sadly Floyd went off to market on Monday along with three barren cows. They were taken in a lorry but Dan went to the sale in the afternoon to see how they did. Quite well, is the answer although Dan was quite sad when he came home. This is why Gordon and I won’t actually take them ourselves – we’re obviously too soft. Felix the Red is now in play although currently ensconced with about forty heifers on the riverbank. He was originally turned in with eleven and the last of those calved this morning. We’ve had a fairly mixed bunch: male, female and stillborn, but following a discussion between the three of us we decided all calves born to Felix this year should be sold. For the first time ever we find ourselves in a situation where we have enough followers to keep us going for the foreseeable future and even before Felix’s offspring arrived we’d already had twenty heifers. Also, we worked on the theory that if we sell his daughters for the first year we’ll be able to keep him longer before he starts serving them and needs to go.
That plan seemed excellent in theory. This morning there was a spanner in the works in the form of the last heifer’s calf. Do you remember the little red calf born some years ago? She’s been in the herd for several years now and her own daughter calved this morning. Of course, she has the red genes and Felix is red, so we now have a conundrum in the form of this:
Excuse the terrible photos, they were taken with my phone. She’s an Alexandra and red. Red, for goodness sake! Gordon and I both love red friesians so it looks like she’ll be staying. Isn’t she adorable? The trouble is, this was not in our plans at all.
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Remember a couple of weeks ago we had that big storm overnight? It took the roof off one of our sheds! We woke up at about 4.30/5 o’clock-ish to a banging, flapping noise and Gordon jumped out of bed to go to the window, but it was too dark to see anything. Neither of us could go back to sleep so went downstairs and made coffee while we waited for it to be light enough to see the damage.
This was the end of the building nearest the house. The wind had folded the roofing sheets over each other.
The cows were still in overnight at the time and we were worried they may have been hurt, but luckily not one was even scratched. The roof didn’t fare so well. Gordon and Dan spent the day unrolling the sheets and fixing them back down although the light sheets were shattered and still haven’t been replaced.
The cows have gone out for the summer despite the cold and still-damp ground. As usual they’re pleased to get back to grass, but need no persuasion to come in for milking twice a day when they get cake. The grass doesn’t seem to be growing very well yet. They’ve gone into fields we normally cut for silage to eat off the grass as we’ve been informed the solar panels are imminent. Having waited such a long time for any progress we’re still dubious and cynical about whether it will happen, but supplies are starting to arrive which is progress.
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I don’t really celebrate Easter, but thought I should wish you all a happy one, just in case you do. Farming tends to rely more on the seasons than what ‘holiday’ we’re celebrating at the time. The cows don’t know it’s Easter and still insist on being milked every day so we plod on.
We’re busy with calving at the moment and are already at our desired number of heifers for the year. We still have about four-fifths of the herd to calve and are once again debating what to do with the extra girlies. When we had our first bull we were desperate for replacements and kept all that were born, but considering there were fifty last year alone and twenty so far this year, I suspect we may have reached our target.
Our solar panel plans continue with the company who are putting them in informing us they’ll make a start after Easter. Of course, they also said they’d start straight after Christmas so until lorries roll up we won’t be expecting too much. Everything we do in the meantime is on hold, waiting for the first rent payment to roll in. With milk prices dropping all the time, this is becoming a bit of a necessity.
The weather has been fantastic here apart from the odd little bit of rain. I have some beautiful Christmas roses in the garden and despite a bad back, have been crawling underneath them to reveal their full beauty – honestly, the things I’ll do for a good photo.
I love the speckles in this one:
And the redness of this one. Sadly they’re so much more attractive from underneath as the flowers tend to hang down.Due to the clear weather Terri and I have started visiting National Trust properties and started with Lytes Cary Manor (or Scary Manor as dad likes to call it). They have some great weathervanes there – I think I may be a little obsessed with them although we only have an old one here. Perhaps I should look into getting a good one for the top of the old barn in the yard?
Although it wasn’t too cold there the day was hazy, which gave a great effect to my tree photos with the stripes of hazy hills in the background.
This morning Secret World, a rescue centre near here, had an open day and I went along with Terri and her husband Steve to see the animals. There weren’t many out and about, but there was a lovely European eagle owl called Daphne, a male turkey strutting his stuff with his wings and tail puffed right up to impress the ladies and a strange, bedraggled-looking emu called, imaginatively ‘Emu’. He kept peering at us through the fence and when we walked around the outside he kept pace on the inside. Emus are weird-looking things, aren’t they?
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I had an email to remind me that I haven’t posted for a month and debated whether to call it a day on my blog. Obviously I reached a decision and it looks like you might be stuck with me for a little while longer so I hope that’s ok?
Since I last posted we lost Gordon’s mother, rather suddenly and unexpectedly as it turns out. She was admitted to hospital with gastroenteritis and whilst there suffered a fatal heart attack. The funeral was last Friday, the family gathered and caught up and now it’s over bar the sorting out. Gordon’s sister and her husband are doing most of the work as they did when she was alive, and we’re helping if she needs us, but it was a shock.
I’ve been trying to maintain my more proactive lifestyle and have cleared a fair bit of rubbish around the house. Things have been donated, sold, chucked out or given away but there’s a lot more to go. Gordon has once again promised that the bathroom will be sorted this year. We even got a quote from a builder but have to clear a room before anything starts – the room we euphemistically call our ‘box room’. I’m holding out hope for an airing cupboard.
We had a new door fitted in our back hall, which once upon a time was the front hall until a new road turned our house around. This one is clear at the top so we can see directly into the garden with coloured glass inserts which means when the sun shines it makes a pattern on the floor and fills the hall with light. During the day I love it, but when it’s dark outside I find it a bit spooky. I suggested a curtain but Gordon disagrees so I try not to look at it. How sad is that? A few years ago Gordon looked up from the television to see a face pressed against the window looking in. It was a deer in the garden! I may have died of fright at that stage!
Yesterday we TB tested the herd and the vet comes back on Thursday to analyse the results. Once again, cross your fingers for us.
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