Archive for Oct, 2008


Wednesday 29 October 2008

This morning Stephanie had a dentist appointment with our usual dentist, notorious for running late.  The last time Steph went we waited for an hour and a half before telling the receptionist we weren’t prepared to waste any more of our time and leaving.  That’s a big step for me since I’m normally quite unassuming, but what clinched it was the woman sat beside me who’d been in the waiting room for three hours.  She’d had an injection in preparation for a filling and had been sat there ever since.  The effects of the injection were starting to wear off so I suggested she actually ask someone whether she’d been forgotten.  She had, of course.  Why are we prepared to wait our turn like this and not make a fuss?  I told the receptionist this morning we were only waiting for an hour then we were out of there.  We sat and read magazines for forty minutes before we were called in.  Two minutes later we were leaving the surgery!  All that wait for a two-minute checkup.

On the way home I suggested driving into Bridgwater to pick up a few bits and possibly get my hair cut as it was becoming untidy.  We bought sandwiches in Boots and ate them at the base of Admiral Blake’s statue (it was very cold) then I set off to find a hairdresser.  I didn’t have an appointment with my usual salon as I’d left it late and they are often fully booked so walked into ‘A Cut Above’ and asked if it could be done straightaway.  The stylist was friendly, helpful and above all, quick and concise.  Within about fifteen minutes I was walking out again with a smart new hairstyle.  I told Steph she reminded me of Edward Scissorhands, she cut so quickly.  She also said she thought I was brave to walk into an unknown salon and trust a stranger to cut my hair.  I told her “how bad can it be?  My hair’s very short, grows very quickly and in a couple of weeks will need cutting again”.  What’s the worst that can happen?  I’ll hate it for a fortnight!  As it turns out, it was a good decision.


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Tuesday 28 October 2008

The cows went into the lorry this morning and I was (as usual) assigned the job I like to call ‘gate’.  Sometimes I’m a fence, but usually I’m a gate, albeit an animated one.  This basically involves standing in an unclosable gap and not letting anything through.  I think it’s Gordon’s way of keeping me out of the way of flying hooves but can be daunting when a herd of cattle are thundering towards you as happened during the summer when we brought some back from the canal bank for their bluetongue vaccinations and recruited the assistance of those poor unsuspecting Environment Agency workers.  They looked scared even though I’d told them to just shout and wave their arms a lot!  The girls have always been gates and have it down to a fine art!

Anyway, I digress – I was getting carried away there on a flight of fancy.  It was sad.  This morning I mean.  I didn’t like it a bit since one minute the cows were in the parlour being milked then they were herded on to a lorry and driven away.  I struggled for a while, but at least had the excuse of wandering off to open the real gate which gave me more time to compose myself.  We’ve got to do it all over again on Thursday.  Damn!

I’d arranged some time ago to meet up with mum, my schoolfriend Caroline and her mother for lunch at The Admiral’s Table at Dunball, which has recently been refurbished.  The food and the service were good although our empty plates and coffee cups sat on the table for a long time considering the place wasn’t particularly busy.  It wasn’t expensive though and a nice place to sit for a chat.  Caroline’s mum Marina also has cancer so she and mum were comparing notes on treatment, symptoms, that kind of thing.

After lunch I visited a friend to give her computer a telling-off.  The keyboard had disappeared and although we tried several methods the computer refused to find it again.  We even had the error message ‘no keyboard detected – press F10 to continue’ – yeah, like that’s going to work when there’s no keyboard!  Eventually I thought I would try a ‘system restore’ which the computer informed me it was unable to complete, but oddly enough the keyboard reappeared after that.  I’m still not sure what happened, but let’s hope it stays there this time.

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Monday 27 October 2008

I woke up yesterday at what I assumed was my normal (when milking) 6.00 am, only to realise the clocks had changed and it was 5.00 am really.  Gordon was gone and I could hear him coughing downstairs.  Since this cold descended on him he’s had trouble sleeping and is waking at odd times in the morning.  He’s also dozing off in his chair at 7.00-ish in the evening so his internal clock is in dire need of a reboot!  We always have problems at the altering of the clocks mainly because cows don’t understand the concept and are queuing to be milked at their usual time.  We ‘adjust’ them gradually in fifteen minute increments so they get used to the idea of being milked later (or earlier in the Spring), but since we’re keeping them in at night now it’s easier to deal with.

I did very little today other than working as Daniel doesn’t come back from his long weekend until tomorrow morning.  After the afternoon milking I rushed to get changed and drove to Thelma’s only to remember on the doorstep that we’d arranged not to meet this Monday!  Never mind, Thelma was in and we had a brief chat before I came home again, much to everyone’s surprise since they weren’t expecting me for another hour.

Tomorrow sees the going of another thirteen ‘overage’ cows and more on Thursday.  We’re almost done with this enforced purge of our herd and we’ll be glad when it’s a done deed.  We’re wandering around with that air of something amiss and getting emotional without warning.  The whole business is disturbing and if there are other farmers out there going through the same thing they have my sympathy.  Steph was out in the yard today saying her goodbyes to the condemned with handfuls of silage.  They don’t have a clue of course and that’s probably just as well.  I wasn’t here last week when they were loaded on the lorry, but am not looking forward to that bit in the morning.

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Saturday 25 October 2008

Sorry I disappeared for a while there.  Things seem to have overtaken me and I’ve spent the week doing things away from the house and therefore the computer.

I don’t think I mentioned that on Monday I went to Exeter University to have a DXA and an MRI scan, not because there’s anything wrong with me but because they were looking for willing volunteers.  Working on the basis that anything different is interesting both Terri and I went along.  It was strange to see my skeleton materialising on the computer screen as I had the DXA scan which measures bone density, but reassuring when the operator told me my bones were in excellent condition and that I stood little chance of developing oesteoporosis.  That’s another box checked!  Last year I was told (following a blood test) that I stood little chance of developing heart disease.  It’s good to know what I’m not going to develop!  The results of the MRI will follow.

On Wednesday evening I was invited to a friend’s house for a meal and had the most tasty curry followed by chocolate cheese cake and cream.  I was good however and since starting my diet I’ve been careful about what I eat so had a reasonable portion rather than over-indulging.  We had a nice evening chatting and generally relaxing.  Her bulldog has just had puppies so it was nice to see them too – very cute as puppies go.  I’m not really a dog-person since I feel my house gets dirty enough now from the mud that’s tracked in on everyone’s feet without adding to the mess.  Having said that, at this time of year the cats have very muddy paws but tend to leap straight on to the furniture – at least a dog is trainable!

I gave blood on Friday and now have the most enormous bruise running up my arm from the puncture wound.  To add insult to injury the woman in charge of taking it told me off for not checking my form again before agreeing to donate.  I filled it in when I was supposed to go last time and harvested the maize instead, but since nothing in particular had changed, didn’t bother to read it again.  I happened to mention in conversation that I’d been to the dentist the day before which threw her into a panic even though I told her it was only a check-up!  Nothing entered my blood stream because I didn’t have anything done, but you’d have thought I’d committed a major crime judging from her reaction!  If I thought she’d be taking it every time I wouldn’t bother again.  Anyway, they told me it was my fifteenth donation – doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun.

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Wednesday 22 October 2008

This is Scamp, one of the pair of cats we rehomed in July.  As you can see, she’s settled in well and now monopolises the best places in the house!  She has her belly and paws against the base of the Aga where she’s guaranteed to keep warm.  Another favourite place of hers is in the old laundry basket in the corner of my office which is propped between the chair and the radiator.  She’s quite vocal when she’s awake which is just what we need when we already have several very noisy cats.

Gizmo is calmer, quieter and more loving.  Her favourite place at the moment is on the spare chair in the office.  It’s strange to think that when we first got them I worried whether I’d be able to tell them apart and now think they look totally different.

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A Fairytale?

Monday 20 October 2008

Once upon a time, in a beautiful kingdom where commonsense and practicality were commonplace, when a cow died on a farm, a sad occasion for both the farmer and his family, she was given a proper burial and rested in peace.  One day, the people who made all the laws in this kingdom and worked in offices decided it wasn’t good to bury a dead animal any more so offered to collect up the poor dead beast, take it away and deal with it.  The farmers of the land were sceptical and many announced they wanted to carry on burying their animals, but the people who made the laws said no.  To make sure the farmers did what they wanted, they offered to pay compensation for the loss of the animal and so the farmers were obliged to do it.

Over the years this worked well and peace reigned in the kingdom, until one day someone decided that the farmers shouldn’t get compensation any more.  “They’ve been getting it for long enough” that someone said “and they’ve got used to not burying their poor dead beasts, so now we’ll make them pay for them to be taken away, and not give them any money back, but only if the cow was born before 1996”.  The farmers thought about this and realised that if they had a lot of cows born before 1996 it could end up costing them vast sums of money when the time came for the cows to die.  Farmer Gordon thought about it and realised he had somewhere in the region of fifty cows over the age of twelve, some of whom were retired from the herd many years ago and who were living out their days in pastures green.  “We won’t be able to afford to pay all this money” he worried, “but what to do?”  He asked what other farmers were doing and it seemed like most of them were getting rid of their older cows before the deadline.  Sadly, he realised he would have to do the same.

So this is why, this morning, he sent off the first thirteen cows born before 1996, many of whom were perfectly healthy and happy, to be slaughtered for no good reason.  He was very sad, as were the other members of his family, to see these animals sent away simply because they’re too old to go into the ‘food chain’ even though they’re dairy cows so probably wouldn’t anyway.  Next week he’ll be sending more and the week after that he’ll be sending the rest.

Wouldn’t it be nice if that was just a fairy story?

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An Update

Saturday 18 October 2008

The cow that calved on the 9th of this month is still with her calf, mainly because she’s such a good mother and has nurtured him well.  This photo was taken by Steph and you can see the cow put herself between a possible threat and her baby and was watching carefully for any sudden moves.  The calf wanted to see what was going on so couldn’t resist looking through her legs.

Steph went out and about the farm today with my camera for a project she’s doing at College.  She took photos of things that I see every day, but have never thought to capture in a photo.  She also took a lot of the herd.

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