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Archive for March, 2011

Wish Me Luck

Thursday 31 March 2011

I’m about to stand up and speak in front of our local Parish Council in favour of wind turbines.  Gordon was going to do it and we worked on his ‘presentation’ all afternoon, but he’s dyslexic and when I asked him to read it back to me, he wasn’t able to.  Since each speaker is only given three minutes and it took him almost that long to read the first paragraph, I have offered to do it in his stead!  What was I thinking?  I’ve been nervously practising, trying to read it without stumbling over my words, coughing, biting my tongue or generally just getting word-blindness myself, but it isn’t easy.  I know my heart will be pounding and I know the objectors will heckle.  I only hope I can rise above it and finish successfully.

Yikes.  Wish me luck.

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Sad House Today

Tuesday 29 March 2011

The calf died overnight despite everyone’s best efforts.  Alistair the vet has offered an autopsy to see if it was salmonella or something else.  Unfortunately the first calf to die was collected yesterday morning so he can’t tell whether they died of the same thing.  It’s not the first time we’ve had a calf die of unknown things, but to have two in two days is pretty awful, especially as these are intended as our future herd (if the turbines go in – see previous post).  This one’s name was Alice and she was the larger and (we thought) the stronger of twin heifers.  Her sister was in the pen next to her so is now being checked regularly.

To add to our gloominess the heavens have opened and we have torrential rain.  We turned the cows into the fields at the beginning of the week when the sun was shining and already they’re calling to be let out to grass again today.  The ground here is dense grey clay which has turned into a quagmire so their sharp hooves pounding across it won’t do the grass any good at all.  This is why I contradict my friends when they say things like “oh, I’d love to live on a farm”!  No.  They really wouldn’t.  Not on days like this.

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Me and My Big Mouth

Monday 28 March 2011

On Thursday I told you how well we were doing on the calving front.  Last night Nancy the calf (born on Thursday) died suddenly.  Today we have an older calf very sick and Gordon called the vet who thinks it may be salmonella, possibly transmitted by starlings, so has treated her with antibiotics.  He also rehydrated her and we have to do that again at 10pm tonight as well as tomorrow morning.  He warned us to keep a close eye on the others to make sure none of them show the same symptoms.

Bugger!  That’ll teach me to open my big mouth.

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Oh, And …

Friday 25 March 2011

I forgot to tell you!  I went to a ballet.  No big deal for some, I’m sure, but I’ve never seen a live ballet before.  My sister and I went with some of her colleagues to the Weston Playhouse to see Coppelia by the Moscow Ballet and quite a few of us were ballet virgins.  I read up on the story beforehand as I was told this was important, but I still didn’t follow it too closely as there seemed to be random characters, but the dancing was good with pretty costumes.  Unfortunately, the stage in The Playhouse isn’t really big enough for a full-scale ballet and there was an anxious moment when the lead male dancer leapt into the scenery causing gasps all round, but other than that it was well-performed.

Courtesy of The Playhouse website

I had a life-changing moment watching ballet on the television once.  It was the Christmas after my thirtieth birthday and I think the ballet was The Nutcracker.  As I watched the dancers I suddenly realised that I was now officially too old to ever be a ballet dancer.  Oddly enough I’d never actually wanted to be a dancer, but it occurred to me that if I had wanted to be, I was now too old for that and an awful lot of other things as well.  The memory of the feeling which hit me is still vivid, but like everything else I moved on.  I’m over it now, you’ll be pleased to hear.  It’s strange what affects us, isn’t it?

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AWOL (Again)

Thursday 24 March 2011

I can’t believe I haven’t posted here for almost a month.  Thank you to those of you who’ve dropped in now and again to see whether I’ve written anything new or am, in fact, still in the land of the living.  Have you missed me?  I’ve missed me.  So many things have been going on that I’ve neglected my blog.

I went to the Manor House Hotel near Okehampton as I was telling you in my last post so long ago.  It was fun.  I had a good time.  The hotel had a strange atmosphere, a bit like a glorified holiday-camp and there were lots of people constantly rushing around in all directions going to the many and various groups, but I came home with several items to be proud of.  To be honest there were also a couple that haven’t seen the light of day since either, but let’s not dwell on them.  I had some wonderful spa treatments including a hot-stone massage and a great aromatherapy facial which lasted a whole hour.  The food there was buffet-style during the day then served by waiters and waitresses in the evening, so there was plenty to eat.

The item I was most proud of was my wooden plaque.  I went to the class with another lady from the group who made a fabulous bread board for her caravan and as it was a ‘food item’ didn’t require painting.  The ‘tutor’ asked us to choose a pre-cut chunk of wood which he set in place in a perspex cabinet, then he entered the details as we’d written them on a computer and the router did the rest, but I spent a long time lovingly sanding, painting, sanding some more and oiling the finished product.  I chose some nice brackets to discretely attach it to the wall, but even though Gordon was impressed with my effort regarding the plaque he wasn’t impressed with the brackets and used his own technique – hence the huge bolt.  It’s slightly distracting I know, but try to imagine the bolt away!

Once it was attached to the outside of the porch it made the porch look tatty so several days last week were spent sanding, scraping, washing with sugar soap and repainting it in a shade described on the tin as Country Cream.  Yellow, basically.  Nowhere near as cream as I would have liked, but it’s brightened the porch a fair bit and now makes the rest of the house look tatty!  Oh well, that’ll be done another day.

I also did some glass etching and made a very cool bud vase.  I tried to take a photograph that was decent enough to show you, but photographing glass is tricky and it looked rubbish.  It looks much better in the flesh.  Maybe I’ll stick some daffodils in it and have another go.

While I was absent from my blog our youngest daughter had a birthday and came home for the weekend with her boyfriend.  Other than when he rescued me on my journey to Cheltenham by driving the girls and many litres of water to where I’d ended up, this was the first time I’d met him properly.  We decided we liked him.  He’s easy to make conversation with which is the main thing as there’s nothing worse than a lump of boyfriend sat in the corner answering all queries with “grunt” as far as I’m concerned.  He’s further endeared himself to the family this week by supporting Steph through what is probably one of the most traumatic events in her life to this point.

She’s been burgled.  This part of her life-experience has been lacking until now.  We don’t get a lot of passing traffic here and although our sheds were burgled many years ago, nothing was personal.  We lost our quad-bike and lots of power-tools, but the insurance covered it and everything was replaced.  The burglars broke through her bedroom window which is on the ground floor at the back of the house and collected together everything that could be carried away and sold-on quickly.  They ventured into the rest of the house until they disturbed one of the students who was asleep in bed, which apparently scared everyone concerned half-to-death and the burglars left in a hurry.  All the other housemates were out which is probably why they presumed the house was empty.  She lost her laptop, a Nintendo ds, an iPod, some jewellery and a large pink bath towel which was most likely used to wrap everything in.  She rang me on Saturday night/Sunday morning in floods of tears as the police were there taking statements, but she says they’ve been great, offering help and reassurance, with Victim Support checking up on them on a regular basis.  We’re now waiting for the relevant forms to arrive from our insurance company so we can get her another laptop at least.  In the meantime the University have lent her one so she can continue to work.

My car continued overheating and so was booked into the garage for repairs, a fairly major thing in this household as Gordon does most of the running repairs himself.  It’s now been away from home for almost two weeks, which you just know is going to be expensive.  Initially it looked like the head gasket, which was removed.  Then they discovered the massive chunk missing from the head itself and now they’re trying to find another one.  The thought of how much it will cost is filling me with dread.  If I was left to my own devices I’d probably scrap the car, sell the bits on Ebay and buy something else, but Gordon works on the principle of ‘better the devil you know’.  This seems to be a common principle for farmers with most of my non-farming friends going with the scrapping theory and our farmer-friends saying it should be repaired.  I don’t know which is best other than I could probably buy a small run-around for less than this might end up costing us.

On the calving front we’re doing quite well with no losses and an average of 50-50 between male and female calves.  We have nineteen heifers and four changes of name so we don’t have an abundance of Jennies and Alices.  We’ve reintroduced a Jayne (Gordon’s sister), a Josephine (my mum), a Stephanie and a Jacqueline.  We had all these names in the herd before and with the exception of Jacqueline they died out.  Jacqueline arrived not long after I started going out with Gordon, had one calf and was so bad-tempered that she was unmilkable.  Figures!  Usually they calm down after a couple of weeks even when they’ve never been handled, but she persisted and in the end everyone gave up trying so she was sold.  The newest arrival is Nancy who was born this morning.

The planning application has finally gone in for the turbines, which means the anti-wind group have stepped up their efforts.  They’ve been quoted in the papers and on the radio, yet no-one has approached us and asked for our opinion.  I wish sometimes they would so we could give our side of the story.  The expression “if the turbines go in” has become standard in this household and generally follows a sentence like “we’ll repaint the lounge” or “we’ll landscape the garden”.  We’re telling everyone who asks that if they don’t get approved we shall sell the farm, but it looks like we’ll have at least another year to wait before making that decision.  If they’re turned down this time EDF will go to appeal which will take another six months.  So we exist in limbo, plodding along, doing our daily chores, feeding the cows, delivering calves, in the hope that two years from now we’ll still be here.

If the turbines go in.

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