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Archive for June, 2011

What To Do?

Monday 27 June 2011

Alex came home for the weekend to chill and assuage her homesickness.  She arrived here on Saturday evening after she’d been working all day just in time for tea, which Gordon prepared and cooked whilst I went to pick her up.  Yesterday we went to Clarks Village in Street, an outlet shopping centre, where she spent some of her salary on sale stuff including getting £76 worth of underwear in La Senza for £11.  She was very pleased with herself for saving quite so much money!

I’ve just taken her to the train station and she’s on her way back to Cheltenham and her (by now) normal life.  Every time she comes home I ask her if she fancies moving back to the farm but so far she’s not taken me up on the offer.  Why would I expect her to?  There’s nothing for her to do here.

I’ve had a text from Steph to say she’s overdone the sunburn and is stiff, tender and most comfortable in a bath of cool water!  This is despite my many warnings about how fair-skinned we are and the need to stay in the shade.  Alex has inherited Gordon’s darker skin, but when I warned Steph I was speaking from experience as more than once I’ve fallen asleep in the sun and woken to find myself lobster-coloured and throbbing.  I suppose Steph has always been one who needs to learn from her own experiences rather than those of anyone else, but eventually she’ll know her limitations.  I just hope this doesn’t spoil the rest of her holiday.  It seems as if she’s been gone for weeks when in fact she only flew out on Friday morning.  They plan to go to Barcelona tomorrow so she can drape something over herself and avoid the sun as much as possible.

I’m in a kind of limbo now with more than one job that needs to be done urgently and no clue as to which one to do first.  The seedlings in the greenhouse suffered muchly yesterday in the soaring temperatures and in an ideal world would now be in the cold frame, but that’s full of saplings from Daniel’s various experiments in planting whatever he could find – conkers, acorns and willow twigs among other things.  The slugs have attacked the young lupin plants despite an ample scattering of pellets, but I don’t expect I’ve lost more than 25% of them.  The lettuces have done well and we’re picking them every evening for tea but I noticed when I was washing leaves last night that some had very small caterpillars on them as well as greenfly.  Next year I suppose I’ll have to get some nets to cover them and protect them from butterfly-attack.  The courgette plants have grown together and are a mass of prickly leaves which means hunting for courgettes underneath but we’ve had an average of two decent-sized ones a day.  Once we get fed up with eating courgettes I’ll let them grow a bit bigger and start on the chutney-making for the year.

So, what to do today?  I’ll let you know – it won’t be particularly exciting, whatever it is, but hey, it’s my life at the moment.

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Finally

Friday 24 June 2011

Yesterday I went for a mammogram – my first.  The letter that invited me told me that since I was now fifty or close to it, the time had come.  I know I’m getting older, but the fact written down in black and white made me pause for thought.  In my last post I told you I was letting my grey grow through and now I’m old enough for a mammogram.  I’m not sure what to make of this information just yet as it goes round and round in my head, but I’m sure I’ll come to terms with it eventually – maybe by the time I get to fifty-five?

The mammogram wasn’t as awful as I was expecting and the waiting room was jolly with women who all suddenly been told in a letter that they were getting older.  We compared feelings about this and generally had a laugh.  Being the nosy type I asked to see my xrays and the lady was happy to explain them to me.  On the whole they looked fine, she said, but if they weren’t they’d be sure to let me know.

Afterwards I wandered into Highbridge (our nearest small town) to look for an instant haircut.  I no longer bother to make an appointment but come in off the street to see if they can do it now.  If they can’t, I go somewhere else.  One short haircut is very similar to another and I’ve yet to find anyone that does it so spectacularly that I need to go to them constantly.  In five weeks it’ll be grown out anyway so if it’s awful it won’t last for long.  In cutting my hair the stylist successfully removed what little un-grey hair I had left although she felt it would be better when it all went grey so it was evenly coloured.  It looks like the front will be grey long before the back so maybe I’ll go for the ‘distinguished’ grey-wing thing after all.

Dan is away at Glastonbury this week with a group of friends so Gordon and I have been milking by ourselves.  We think of him and hope he’ll be alright in the rain.  Last year it was dry, but it was the first time in a long time.  I should imagine by now it’s pretty much a mudbath, but he’s used to that!  His partner isn’t but I expect they’ll both cope.

I went to fetch Stephanie on Tuesday as she needed to move out of her student accommodation for the summer.  The back of the car was full to capacity and now it’s been deposited in her bedroom here, so there’s very little floorspace left.  She unpacked her clothes long enough to choose a selection and left for Spain early this morning with her boyfriend for a week.  She’s texted me already to say it’s warm there – I would hope so.

Whilst in Cheltenham I met up with Alex too who had the day off and she told me she planned to come home on Saturday evening for a few days so I’m quite excited about that.  Despite being away for such a long time she still suffers from homesickness so every-so-often she needs to come back for her ‘fix’.  This suits me fine.

Steph’s boyfriend is good with computers so before she came home he set-up a spare wireless router for me and gave me simple-to-follow instructions for installing it once I got home.  Low and behold it actually works and I’m able to connect my previously unpopular laptop to the internet from the lounge and kitchen.  We were initially told, in the early days of broadband, that our walls were too thick to cope well with wireless internet so never bothered to try it, but a laptop is pretty redundant if it has to be plugged into the router in the office, which is where my desktop is!  I might as well just use the desktop pc!

Finally, I’m free of the dreaded cables.

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Monday 20 June 2011

For as long as I remember, and certainly back to my late teens, I have coloured my hair.  To begin with I coloured it to keep up with the latest fashion so it was either ‘plum’ or ‘burgundy’ and occasionally ‘deep conker red’, but lately it’s stayed somewhere around ‘light mid-brown’.  This isn’t my natural colour, something I blame on genetics as mum had white hair from a very early age, but I didn’t feel I was ready to go back to nature at the time.  Suddenly I’ve had enough of colouring it every five or so weeks, which is what happens when you have very short hair like mine.  Every cut removes the section of hair I coloured not that long ago and I was getting a bit fed up of the fuss each time.  So that’s it for the moment, I’m leaving it to grow out.

The problem is my friends and family.  They keep looking at me oddly and saying things like “you’ve changed something” or “what are you doing differently?”  When I point out the hair the penny drops and I get inspected.  The majority of comments so far have been favourable, but I can’t help thinking it makes me look old.  When I can’t stand it any more I may have to resort to colouring it once more, but for the timebeing I shall just return to my roots, however grey they might be!

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Friday 17 June 2011

As you may have gathered, Minky never returned and despite my dad’s complete lack of tact, something that’s quite normal for him, whereby he stated that we’d never find her now as her body would have been carried off by a fox or something (yeah, thanks for that, dad) and made us all grimace, we still prefer to think of her as ‘gone away’.  I went to the vets on Wednesday to collect some medicines and allowed myself to be talked into rehoming one of their long-standing strays.  She’s pure black with huge green eyes and I’ve called her Gypsy since she’s been wandering around for a bit.  I kept her in a large dog crate, lent to me for just this purpose by the vets, for the first night and allowed her the freedom of the house all day yesterday, but when I went to shut her in the cage last night she really cried.  It had to be done as I was worried she’d run away through the cat-flap in the night.  I needn’t have worried: Gordon came down this morning and she’d managed to get outside the cage somehow so was sitting beside it.  Today I opened the door and she cautiously went outside, got wet in the rain and has returned to sit by the Aga to dry.  Cats aren’t stupid, are they?

Unlike calves.  And some cows!  The two females born at the beginning of the week have both had trouble feeding.  Margaret spent ages sucking every part of her mother except the right one so has been picked up to be penned separately and bucket-fed.  The other one, Tiny, is persistent, but constantly gets kicked in the head by her bad-tempered mother.  She perseveres and somehow manages to get enough to drink although we’re not sure how.

We’ve also had three bull-calves born this week but number one was actually born straight into the canal and drowned.  The second one ran off the edge of the bank so Gordon had to fish it out and the third one won’t suck his mother either.  Dan and I were discussing whether it was genetic stupidity since we seem to have bucket-fed an awful lot of calves this year!

I had lunch in Burnham today with my sister, her husband and dad.  Justin Lee Collins was sat at the back of the cafe behind a newspaper.  I’ve gone past the ‘rushing up for an autograph’ stage and thought he probably just wanted a coffee in peace, so didn’t speak, although another girl did and he seemed quite happy to have a photograph taken with her.  I wonder what he was doing in Burnham?

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Newborns

Monday 13 June 2011

After a lull in calving we had two born this morning – both girls.  One will be called Margaret 85 (probably known as little Bubbles, which is her mother’s nickname)

and the other is called Tiny 59

We haven’t had a new Margaret since 2008 and it’ll be the first Tiny since 2004.

Smiles all round.

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And Finished!

Sunday 12 June 2011

Well, that was a quick week.  The silage-making is done until it’s grown enough for a second cut.  We dodged the rain, getting the last trailer-load in yesterday afternoon before it started again in earnest.  Thank goodness we didn’t have to do it today when it literally didn’t stop raining.  Gordon and Dan stayed in the silage clamp until late yesterday evening, rolling it down and covering it before stacking large bales of straw on top to pack it.  That’ll sit there now until the winter, fermenting and preserving when it’ll be used to feed the cows for the entire time they’re in the buildings.

I had a run-in with the bull yesterday who has realised that the larger and stronger he gets, the more he can throw his weight around.  Until now he’s been easily controlled with arm-waving and a good telling-off, but he actually put his head down to me, started snorting and pawing the ground.  It was at that stage that I realised I was in the middle of a field with nothing in my hands and there was no way I could outrun him.  He’s dominating the cows to such an extent that they’re afraid to pass him so he blocks their way from the field to the parlour and they can’t come in.  Eventually he’ll be distracted and some will sneak past him so he gives in, only to block their way from the yard to the field after milking.  We’re going to have to keep a careful watch on him from now on I think.  Once he’s in the parlour with them he’s quite docile, but on his own territory he is now definitely the boss.  We’ve put up signs on our external gates warning that there’s a bull in the field even though we have no footpaths.  Despite that, we spotted someone trying to climb over the gate a few days ago whilst we were some way off in the field – Gordon was mowing and I was driving the forager.  I could see Gordon keeping a close eye on him, but he eventually decided that perhaps it wasn’t a good idea and gave up.  So many stories in the press about people being killed by bulls when they wander across the field full of cows and yet the signs are still ignored.

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Continuing!

Monday 6 June 2011

Yesterday morning we decided to give the silage-making a miss due to the forecast rain.  We had a drenching, but then it dried up.  We’d already decided to do other things by then so had a normal day at home.

Today when we woke up it was cold and overcast but the sun gradually came out and we made a start.  We were doing really well too.

The buzzards were out in force.

One of the first things Gordon told me when I started driving the forager years ago was to listen to the sound of the engine (I may have already mentioned this before), but mid-afternoon (and mid-row) the tone changed.  The sound altered and at first I thought I might be imagining it, but there was a strange vibration under my feet and a slight rocking.  I rang Gordon who was fields away who told me to stop the engine as it sounded as if a bearing had gone and he was on his way.

I sat on the grass and waited for him to arrive.  He walked around the forager for a bit and listened to the sound with his eyes closed.

Then we came home.  Definitely something wrong with the bearings in the back gearbox apparently.  So that’s us finished until tomorrow.  Let’s hope he can find the problem quickly.

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