Archive for Sep, 2011

He’s Up

Tuesday 20 September 2011

You’ll be pleased to know that the little knuckled calf is up and running about – well, more bounding about actually as his front legs are still very stiff as if he has splints on them.  We’ve been feeding him from the teat bucket as despite his young mother’s very patient attempts, he’s just too daft to find her udder.  Hopefully he will sooner or later.

We’re out this evening to visit my mother-in-law as it’s her 79th birthday.  She probably won’t know it is and will no doubt ask us more than once why we’re there as she’s lost the plot a bit ever since she was so ill with COPD.  Oh well, we’ll do our duty!


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Good Morning

Monday 19 September 2011

I’m up early this morning, way before the crack of dawn; in fact it’s still pitch black outside, but I’ve been wandering the house like a lost soul.  My sleep pattern is in a state of confusion at the moment and although I know why, there’s not a lot I can do about it.

Firstly, Mother Nature’s brought me my monthly present.  They aren’t as much fun as they used to be when they signalled ‘growing-up’.  I was kind of hoping for an early menopause like my mother so I could put all that nonsense behind me, but I’m too old for even that now so I’ll just have to slog on in the hope that it’ll happen sometime soon.  My good friend Vivien tells me not to wish for something that’ll leave me with night sweats and the inability to sleep, but then she’s been suffering for five years with no end in sight.  As it is, I have pain and flooding, irritability and frustration, which brings with it the inability to sleep so as far as I can tell I won’t be a lot worse off when the time comes.  We shall see.

It’s been raining – you might have noticed?  The corn is still in the fields but we’re afraid to go and check whether it’s still standing upright or looks as golden as it did a while ago.  Chances are it isn’t either of those things.  Hey-ho, it isn’t the first crop of corn we’ve ever lost and chances are it won’t be the last, but we persist in trying.  Our land only really copes well with grass.  By the time the corn or maize is ready to harvest the clay soil is so wet that it’s a challenge just to drive on it, let alone take a combine or forager plus trailer up and down the field repeatedly.  We did have a few dry days last week when Gordon got slightly hopeful, but the last couple of days have undone all the good they brought and we’ll just have to wait for another window of opportunity.

Last Monday in the high winds something blew into Gordon’s eye and despite my offer of looking for it he did the man-thing and said it would be fine.  “It’ll come out eventually” he assured me.  “Perhaps washing it with Optrex or something would help?” I offered, but he’d have none of it.  Come Tuesday evening his eye looked a bit like a red golf-ball and around 8pm he grudgingly asked me to see if I could see anything.  By then of course it was so swollen that it hurt just to open it, let alone sit him under the kitchen light so I could see what I was doing.  I found something that looked vaguely like an eyelash and fished it out on the corner of a tissue.  “Hooray!  Problem solved”, we thought.  When we went to bed he said it hurt to shut his eye as it felt scratchy and after several hours of him fidgeting about and sighing a lot, I suggested a run-out to the nearest A&E open at two in the morning, which turned out to be Weston General Hospital about ten miles away.  With the prospect of any sleep at all gone we got dressed and I drove him there.  It was raining most of the way which didn’t help the mood.  When we got there he was seen by a nurse very quickly and we thought we’d be home in no time at all.  Two hours later we were still waiting for a doctor to look at him.  He dozed off in the chair, no doubt from exhaustion as he’d been awake for almost twenty-four hours by then.  I paced, chatted to the nurse on duty and roamed the corridors.  The first doctor found something on his iris and suggested ‘flicking it off’.  It would not be flicked so she disappeared off to find a senior doctor.  When he appeared he looked at Gordon’s eye and said whatever was in there had started to grow over so in stead of flicking he recommended digging with a needle.  Fortunately by this stage Gordon’s eye was quite numb from the drops the first doctor had put in it, but I couldn’t watch.  Afterwards both doctors recommended he take himself to the Eye Hospital in Bristol for follow-up and possibly “vigorous cleaning of eyeball with a small brush”.  Gordon didn’t like the sound of that so has refused to go.  He says it’ll be fine eventually so we’re back to the beginning.  In fairness to Gordon it is healing nicely and the swelling has gone down, but I still think getting it checked out would be a good idea.  But what do I know?

My father has a new partner who’s moved in with him.  Even putting it into words sounds very odd and the whole situation is stretching my mind in directions I’m not sure I want it to go, but it’s happened, so there it is.  I suppose there’s no reason why he shouldn’t get another woman in his life: after all, my mother’s been gone for more than two years now.  I understand that he’s been lonely and hated having to cope with the day-to-day running of his own household, so perhaps the prospect of someone else offering to move in and do these things for him was enough to persuade him, but even so it feels disloyal.  He obviously doesn’t feel the same.  Should we expect him to?  I don’t know yet.

I’ve been making chutney and jam since I’ve been away – lots of it.  I find myself craving a jelly strainer so I can take advantage of ‘nature’s bounty’ – blackberries, rosehips and elderberries mostly with a generous helping of apples.  I have LOTS of apples in the orchard and am stressing about the wastage even though I know it’ll happen.  This whole preserving thing is totally bizarre, especially for me.  I think I might be nurturing OCD here although I’ve always had a slight leaning towards it.  I’m getting worse, obviously.  On the plus side I’m running out of my saved stash of jam jars so will be forced to stop soon, which is just as well as I’m running out of space to stack chutney and jam!

The cows are all on hold with their calving at the moment, having hit the target of thirty female calves in a year and it’s the turn of our heifers.  We only have four, having had one calve some time ago (the Alexandra who had a red calf by accident), and Gordon thinks one of those might be barren.  The first calved yesterday with a little help from Gordon, giving us a large bull calf with very twisted front legs.  He’s yet to stand up despite continued attempts to do so.  She seems naturally maternal, fussing over him and mooing anxiously whilst I was feeding him last night, but it must be strange for her.  She was turned into the collecting yard with the main herd in the afternoon and stood there trembling, poor thing.  She’ll get used to it quickly enough I’m sure.  We call the calf’s condition ‘knuckled’ which basically means he was cramped inside the womb so his front legs were restricted and the tendons didn’t stretch.  Usually with exercise it’ll improve, but of course he needs to be able to stand up first and that isn’t looking promising.

Well, the sun’s finally coming up in a blaze of red – not good as the old adage of ‘red sky in the morning, shepherds take warning’ is usually pretty accurate – so I’d better disappear off and get dressed ready for the day.

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Saturday 3 September 2011

Since the weather looked like it might hold for a few days we decided to do our second-cut of silage for the year and that’s where I’ve been for the past couple of days.  Everything went well with the chain jumping off the forager header just once and one puncture.  Pretty amazing considering our normal rate of breakdowns.  The silage pit is full with lovely squished grass and the cows will be fed this winter, so we’re all happy.  Now we just have to wait until the weather’s dry enough to cut the corn, which is worryingly beginning to turn black, but hopefully it’ll be done this week.  The maize finally grew after our panic but won’t be ready for a month or so.

It’s all boxes ticked!


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