My apologies!   Following on from Alison’s comment I thought I ought to write a post to let you know I’m alive and well just really busy although I have decided to try and tone down how much time I spend on the computer.

This year is flying by and we’ve limped through silage-making, completely missed hay-making and are struggling to reach second-cut silage due to practically every machine we need throwing a wobbly. The mower has now been replaced and the foragers (yes, both the really old one and the other less-really-old one) are in pieces waiting to be … what is is Gordon calls it? Refabricated?  Does that sound right?  In other words, they don’t make the parts for them any more so he’s having to remake things from scratch.  Of course, the weather has also been pretty awful in the past few months so it hasn’t been suitable for haymaking anyway.  We’ve made a bit of haylage, but have fields of grass gone to seed whilst waiting to be attended to.

Calving has been manic – count the dates: nine months since the notorious Felix incident and in the past month we’ve had about fifty calves including some really beautiful red ones although sadly the majority of those are bull calves.  Contrary to what the popular media would have you believe we do not shoot our bull calves – I don’t know any farmer who does, but they do go off to market after spending the first three/four weeks of their lives with their mothers.  We find after about three weeks the mothers have lost interest and kick the calves away when they go in for a feed, not to mention the fact that by then teats are sore from the constant feeding and when they come into the parlour we apply lots of udder grease which soothes them.  If the mothers really don’t want to know we’ve been picking the calves up and feeding them with teat buckets which has the added advantage that we know how much milk they’re getting.  At one stage we were feeding nine as eight of them were born during a stormy night and by the time we rounded them up in the morning, I think the cows had forgotten which were theirs.  In week one of our major calving we had five sets of twins, four sets of which were male/female, so not much use to us at all.  The remaining set were both male.  We decided this year we would sell all our calves, not just the bull calves but the heifers too as we have enough animals in the herd currently.

Gordon and I have actually had holidays this year.  Firstly we went to Paris for a few days which was fantastic.  Gordon had wanted to go for a while and, as you know, I never say no to the chance of going anywhere.  We had breakfast on the Eiffel Tower, climbed the Arc d’Triomphe, walked along the river to the Notre Dame, took a boat along the Seine, ate lovely food and generally enjoyed the sights and each other’s company as we usually go as part of a group.  We saw Tom Cruise filming Mission Impossible 6 alongside the Seine which was fun.  We were on a boat at the time so I don’t think he saw us although Gordon tells everyone he did!


I spent a few days in Poole with the same friends that I’ve been away with before.  I hadn’t stayed in Poole or even visited recently so couldn’t remember what it was like, but enjoyed it even though it was a little commercial.  The best part was visiting Brownsea Island where they still have red squirrels and a variety of other difficult-to-spot wildlife.  I photographed terns, spoonbills, a whole selection of seabirds and of course, red squirrels.


We spent a few nights in a shepherd’s hut in Cornwall in July courtesy of my friend and fellow blogger Val Grainger who made us feel very welcome, fed us ample amounts of good food and made sure we had a good time.

Next month  we have a short break booked in Jersey, another place we’ve never been.  Gordon’s 60th birthday approaches but before that we will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary so have decided to go somewhere we wouldn’t normally have the chance to visit.



Hospital Visits

Since the last time I caught up and, if you remember, was kicked in the boob, I’ve had even more beating-about farm-wise.  On Gordon’s birthday at the beginning of October we turned our new bull Felix in with the main herd (not because it was Gordon’s birthday, but just because Felix is coming up to four years’ old and it was about time) and in the afternoon when I went to fetch them in, he pinned me in the corner of the yard between the gate and a wall.  I think this was ‘affection’ and his way of saying hello, but a tonne of bull head-butting you in the back isn’t good.  By any stretch of the imagination it really isn’t.  This is the cute ‘little’ chap I used to take for walks a couple of years ago and I think he was excited to see me.  That or he wanted to kill me!  I was keeping my eyes open for him, but he snuck up on me.  At the time the thought crossed my mind that this was it, game over.  The second thought was that I had to keep my footing regardless, because if I slipped down I definitely wasn’t going to make it and would be stomped to death.

Fortunately I had a piece of plastic pipe in my right hand and whilst he head-butted my left side I was able to catch him a couple of times on the face.  The surprise sting made him pull back just long enough for me to get through the gate and bolt it behind me.  I made it a couple of yards before ending up on my knees.  Felix proceeded to bang against the gate behind me for about ten minutes!  I rang Gordon who was out in the tractor and he came as quickly as he could, talking to me on the phone the whole time as I think he was worried I’d pass out.  As soon as he got there he rang for an ambulance and thus I had my first ever ride in one accompanied by Alex, who was home for the weekend.  The technicians (not paramedics apparently) were excellent and once at the hospital I was x-rayed all over: pelvis, spine, left arm and ribs.  Nothing broken, but everything very bruised and hugely swollen, which of course went black afterwards.  They also tested my kidneys in case they’d been damaged in the squash.  Steph and Gordon came to fetch me later in the evening, but it had spoiled all the plans we had for Gordon’s birthday, so he picked up a takeaway on the way home!  The following weekend Steph had arranged for us to go to the Harry Potter studios as an early birthday present for me and originally I intended to drive.  Of course I wasn’t able to, but I was determined not to miss it and she did a brilliant job of getting us there.  It’s just as well because we had a great time.

The swelling has gone now but I’m left with a lot of numbness in my back which the doctor says may go away.  We’ll have to wait and see.

About ten days ago Gordon went for a routine prostate biopsy as he does every two years and somehow they managed to nick a blood vessel which caused him to haemorrhage, so he ended up in hospital for the night.  I found that even scarier, especially since we’d come away from the hospital and I had to rush him back to A&E.  He actually blacked out in the car on the way back which caused me a bit of panic.  He’s brushed the whole thing off, saying it was nothing really, but I think he lost quite a lot of blood before they could stop it.  They hooked him up with a saline drip but didn’t replace the blood so once he was home he was tired for a while.  I think the last thing the doctor told him was to take a fortnight off work, so of course he did the complete opposite and was back to work by the following afternoon.  Dan was especially cross at him for ignoring what he’d been told, but previous experience told me keeping him indoors would be impossible.  He had pleurisy years ago and was given the same advice, but that lasted for two days before he was bored and ready to go back outside, so the conclusion we draw from this is that he really isn’t very good at being told what to do.

It was my birthday this week and fortunately it passed without incident!  Both the girls came home for the weekend and we had a small gathering on Saturday evening.  Now the girls are back to their respective homes and the rain has set in.  Life is back to normal.



Long Time Gone

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🎅.

Hasn’t it been hot this month?  Terri and I have been out and about courtesy of Groupon (discounted tickets) and our first port of call was the Bishop’s Palace in Wells.  We’ve lived near Wells all our lives but never been around the Palace or gardens even though we’ve walked around the outside many times.  I’m not really sure why we never made it past the gates as once we did we spent a long time in there.  The gardens contain the ‘wells’ or springs that gave Wells its name and although I don’t know how big the grounds are, they’re beautifully laid out in a series of gardens.

I took lots of photos!  When do I not?  The bees are out in force and I can’t resist a good bee photo.


Today we went to the Bishop’s Walled Garden in Cannington where I repeated the experience.  I hope the bees avoided the last plant as it is sticky and bug-eating.  I’m not sure it could manage a bumble-bee, but I’m sure it would have a good attempt.

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.



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.



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.