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Archive for August, 2008

The Corn’s Cut

Saturday 30 August 2008

Or at least it will be, by milking time this afternoon with any luck!  Gordon started yesterday once it was dry enough and we continued throughout the day until 8.00-ish.  My job was to bring back the full trailer and auger the corn into the grain store, and since yesterday was humid and sticky so was I, which meant the dust stuck!  Daniel milked then came out to drive the other tractor and trailer and we were all streaked with dirt by the end of the day.  At least it’s almost done despite the grey skies.  Not once did the sun come out but it didn’t rain either.  Today Gordon and Daniel say they can manage without me.  I’m quite disappointed in a way because it’s nice to be involved and feel useful outside the confines of the house, but I’ve been relegated to doing the shopping.  If only they’d stop eating long enough for me to catch up!  If I was more organised I’d do my shopping online every week, but seem to be unable to think that far in advance.  I’ll add it to my ‘must do better’ list!

This morning Alex has gone off with Jack for a week in Cornwall.  Already the house seems too quiet.  It’s strange that one person can alter the dynamics of a household so much, but apparently she does.  Nettle, our oldest cat, has been spending most of her sleeping time in Alex’s bedroom during the holiday and now the door’s shut for the week she’s outside bawling.  She is what the Cats’ Protection League call ‘a chatty’ cat, but at four in the morning when you’re not in the mood for conversation she’s just downright annoying.  She’d better not carry on into the night or she’ll be out!

Steph’s planning to come shopping with me, but she’s been getting ready for over an hour.  I bet she’s found a book and forgotten all about me.

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For Goodness Sake!

Thursday 28 August 2008

Early this afternoon when the postlady arrived I went out to meet her, we said ‘good afternoon’ and I brought in the post.  Amongst the bank statements and bills was a card from Royal Mail to tell us one of our letters was undeliverable due to insufficient postage to the amount of six pence.  If we wished to retrieve our letter we could collect it from Burnham – a thirty minute round trip – upon payment of the missing six pence, plus a one pound handling fee!  Did we really want to pay £1.06 plus fuel expenses for something that was, in all likelihood, a bill?  The simple answer was, of course, no.  However, it did set me to wondering what on earth’s going on with the logistics of undeliverable mail!  How much did the card cost to print in the first place, how much was the worker being paid per hour to handwrite the name, address, details of why they couldn’t deliver it, the hourly rate of the deliverer and indefinite storage time – well, you can see where this is going, can’t you?  Surely it would have been cheaper to just write off the six pence?  Also, why is it the responsibility of the potential receiver to meet the missing costs when they might not, as in our case, care whether the letter was delivered or not?

The photo above is of some of the many reeds we have growing alongside our ditches and rhynes.  I’d seen a good photo on another blog where the reeds were blurry, blowing in the wind, but it seems my camera is too fast and managed to focus slightly more.  I could have fiddled with the settings, but then I’d have to unfiddle, so decided focussed photos were OK.

Anyway, I digress.  These reeds (or their ancestors) form a large part of our house.  Whilst doing renovations and repairs we’ve discovered walls of reeds overlaid with horsehair plaster, ceilings made in a similar way, and a partly-thatched roof made of reeds.  The thatched roof was covered in later years with slate laid on a frame resting on the top.  No wonder it leaked like a sieve when we moved here first.

It’s my sister’s birthday today, so happy birthday to her.  We’ll be seeing her later to give her her present and card.

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Wednesday 27 August 2008

This lane runs between two fields, ours and our neighbour’s.  It doesn’t go anywhere nowadays but presumably did once.  If you follow it you come up against the fence of the Royal Ordinance Factory in Puriton so it could have been the main route from here to there.  It starts beside the house and is quite discernable from the fields it runs through because it’s slightly higher.  It probably had a name too.  We have another track that is shown on the map as Hardy Mead Drove, but the motorway cut that in half during the seventies.

I had a visit today from an old school friend that I haven’t seen for about four years.  She lives in Devon now with her young sons who leave her little spare time.  They came with her and were constantly active so I can understand why.  I’m just glad my ‘children’ are young adults now.

This evening I went out with more old school friends, but we’re in far more regular contact, trying to get together at least once a month for a meal somewhere.  Tonight we went to the Admiral’s Landing in Bridgwater to find it’s under new management again.  The menu was ‘interim’, but the food was very good.  Unfortunately, nobody asked us if we’d like desserts and by the time we’d stopped chatting long enough to realise we’d like some it was too late.  We had coffees instead with a minty chocolate, but it wasn’t the same.

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The Cornfield

Tuesday 26 August 2008

Here’s our corn, still waiting to be cut and, as the saying goes, not getting any younger!  Unfortunately, corn doesn’t improve with age and due to the current weather pattern of one decent day followed by a couple of crappy ones it’s not practical to drive on the ground.  If the soil doesn’t dry out soon, that’s what we may have to do or lose the crop all together.  It won’t do much for the quality though.  If you look about twelve feet to the left of the pylon you might just be able to make out the ears and head of a deer.  At least something’s benefiting from it still standing!

I spent the day in Bridgwater, choosing a new mobile phone to replace my constantly dying one and having my hair cut.  My new phone is metallic pink!  I’m not a particularly pink person, but I think I might be having a little mid-life rebellion.  I looked at the black version and thought it was very boring in comparison.  Of course, if they’d had a metallic blue version I would have chosen that instead, but this will do for the duration.  Reading the warranty when I got home I see it’s guaranteed for two years!  When do they ever last that long?  I’ll have to make a note so when it ceases to function (in a year’s time no doubt) I can march back into the shop and get them to do something about it.  They probably won’t, of course.  They’ll have a ‘get out of jail free’ clause and I’ll end up having to buy another one, but at least for now I get to keep the same number and the guy in the shop rescued my contacts list.

Stephanie and Ben were on the front of the Burnham and Highbridge Mercury today, proudly showing off their exam results.  You couldn’t read them of course so it could really have been any old piece of paper they were holding up, but it was a nice photo and they spelt our surname right for a change.

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Monday 25 August 2008

Abandoned gate

Generally, as a rule, Bank Holidays are rather wasted on those in the caring professions, as are weekends.  If you are responsible for the well-being of animals or people your responsibility doesn’t end just because it happens to be a Saturday, Sunday, Bank Holiday Monday or even Christmas Day.  Nowadays, of course, it doesn’t even make a difference for shop workers either as the shops rarely close just because it’s the weekend.

Consequently, Bank Holidays tend to merge with every other day of the week in farming: cows still have to be fed and milked.  One concession we do make however is that we treat the day a little more gently and relax between milkings.  Daniel took three days off and we decided on Friday evening to hold a barbecue for a few friends in the Grove so on Saturday I went shopping for ‘instant’ food – ready-made coleslaw, pre-prepared salad and some rather nice burgers from Asda to serve today.  It stopped raining long enough for Gordon to mow part of the lawn before the mower broke – probably from lack of use lately – and today the sun made a real effort.  When I came in from milking the girls had cleaned everything and Alex had made a potato salad that was well-received by everyone later in the day.  It wasn’t the warmest August Bank Holiday I’ve ever spent, but at least it didn’t pour down with rain.

Sadly it’s the first barbecue we’ve held this year thanks to such a wet summer.

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How Random!

Sunday 24 August 2008

‘How random’ is one of Alex’s favourite expressions and in this case, quite appropriate.  When I went for a long stroll the other evening, which I must do more often (weather permitting) because I enjoyed myself, I came across this sleeper in the middle of the field.  It had obviously been there a long time, but there was no clue why it was where it was.  It wasn’t doing anything other than lying still and log-like.  The light falling across it was perfect and it looked very naturalised so I couldn’t resist a couple of shots.

It’s probably home to thousands!

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Puffball, Anyone?

Saturday 23 August 2008

Look what we had with our breakfast this morning.  It’s a puffball and there were lots in the fields yesterday when I walked out to look at Grace.  When I’ve seen these before they’ve been covered in holes where the bugs have burrowed in, but these looked smooth and unblemished so I thought I’d give it a go.  I’ve never eaten one before although I know you can so had no idea how to prepare it.  I ended up stripping off the skin and slicing it into centimetre-thick slices before frying it.  It was a bit like trying to skin a football with a sharp knife.  While I was peeling it there was a peppery smell, but Gordon and I decided it didn’t have a lot of taste to it.  Perhaps I cooked it wrong?

Stephanie went to fetch the cows this afternoon and found one considerably larger.  She carried it back, balanced it on a gate to turn the cows up the collecting ramp and it fell off!  When she got to the house with it, it was in lots of chunks!  I’ve already picked four or five so didn’t think we could eat another one that large just yet.  Does anyone know if you can make puffball soup?  I must admit, I’ve never heard of it.  If it was that good, wouldn’t they sell it in tins?

I milked Grace this morning and remembered why she was retired in the first place.  Only one quarter of her udder actually works!  The other three quarters are ‘blind’, much to the frustration of the calf, who roams around her back legs trying to find a teat with milk in it.  It seems too that she’s grown old dis-grace-fully  and gave the girls a hard time this morning when they turned her up from her field.  She probably thought that was the only place she should be, but it’s surrounded by ditches and we couldn’t risk the calf drowning.  They’re both safely shut in to a nice straw-filled enclosure for the night.

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