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Archive for January, 2012

Sad News

Tuesday 31 January 2012

Yesterday I received a phone call to tell me my friend Mrs Ellis had passed away that morning.  The girls were still here after their weekend home so they were upset, but they had to go home to Cheltenham due to commitments there.  They both want to come home for the funeral, although I don’t know when that will be yet.  A very sad day for all of us, even though Mrs Ellis had definitely lived her life to the absolute maximum, travelling, working abroad and doing all manner of interesting things.  At least no-one could ever say she wasted her life and it was only in the past year she stopped doing things after going into hospital.

She will be missed by everyone who knew her.

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Tweeting

Saturday 28 January 2012

Don’t ask me why, but yesterday I thought I might like to join Twitter, having never shown any interest in it before.  So I joined.  Now what do I do?  I’ve looked at the home page trying to work out …. what?  I don’t even really know what Twitter is!  Today I had an e-mail telling me I had two followers.  Yippee I thought to myself, maybe someone is interested in what I have to say, even though I’ve yet to say anything because I don’t have anything to say at the moment.  I went and had a look to see who was following me and subsequently blocked them both.  Porn sites.  Great.  That’s all I need.  It’s a good job I don’t have a modern enough mobile phone to tweet with and can only do it via the computer otherwise I’d consider uninstalling the app already.  I’ve decided to follow some famous people but at the moment I think they’re tweeting some fairly boring stuff.  How daft.  Is this a useful thing or just another timewaster?

I’ll let you know in say … six months?  If I haven’t used it by then or discovered the joys of knowing the comings and goings of a few random famous people, I may just unjoin.  Can you do that or are you committed forever?

Oh, if you fancy tweeting at me I think my user name is @JackieBoyer.  You could follow me if you like and maybe one of these days I’ll pluck up the courage to say something, but if your user name looks anything like the two I already blocked, please don’t bother.

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That Darn Cat!

Friday 27 January 2012

On Wednesday evening I ‘hosted’ a craft evening at the house.  The group has been meeting for a long time in a nearby village hall, but over the past year the numbers have been dropping as so often happens with these sorts of things and the lady who runs the group was trying to decide whether to continue or not.  Rather than lose something I really enjoy I volunteered the use of my large dining room table and we were amazed that over ten ladies made it here on a horrible, wet evening.  We had a great time even though I was slightly stressed that everyone would leave covered in cat-hair as Thomas has taken to sleeping on the fabric dining-room chairs and even though I vacuumed them as thoroughly as I could, cat-hair tends to linger.

As you know, Thomas is large, hairy and molts a lot.  Add to that the fact that it’s quite wet outside at the moment so not only is the chair of the day covered in hair, more often than not there’s mud involved too.  The thing with Thomas is that he rarely lies on the same chair twice.  No sooner has one got dirty than he’s on another one.  He knows he’s not supposed to be on them as I hear him jump down when I’m walking into the room.  At least he has the grace to look guilty, but I know the moment I’m out of sight he’ll be back on there.  This morning I’d had enough and shut all the cats out all day, but even I’m not mean enough to shut them out overnight, especially in this weather.  I ranted to Gordon about the mess they make, especially since one (not sure if it is Thomas) has taken to walking over everything – work surfaces, the sink, tables – with muddy paws during the night.

Gordon tells me we have three choices:

we either cover the chairs

we get rid of all the cats

we put the doors back on our rooms to keep them confined to the kitchen.

Tough choice, but I decided the easiest option would be to cover the chairs with something that didn’t look particularly untidy but could be whipped off when visitors arrived, leaving lovely clean chairs ready to be sat on.  Consequently I’ve been on an internet quest to find something suitable.  It isn’t as easy as I thought it would be.  I can find chair covers in linen, faux suede, or taffeta with bows.  I can find plastic covers to protect the seats, but unfortunately just the seats, not the backs, which are also fabric.  The only thing that looks even vaguely suitable seems to be something that resembles a large plastic bag that decorators would use to cover chairs when they’re painting.  It isn’t quite what I was looking for, but may be my only option.  If you know different, please let me know.

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Stuff

Thursday 26 January 2012

On Saturday our eldest daughter Alex had a birthday and was originally scheduled to be working, but during the previous week she covered for the manager and various assistants in the Bristol branch of Cath Kidston so was given the entire weekend off.  In collaboration with Steph we arranged a birthday surprise for her.  Steph contacted her and asked if she’d like to ‘do’ lunch on Sunday.  Even though one of Alex’s friends was visiting that weekend she replied saying it wouldn’t be a proper birthday without some family present so would like that.  We arranged for Dan to work on Sunday afternoon and after milking we picked up Terri and Steve and drove to Steph’s house in Cheltenham.  From there we walked to the Brewery (a good place to eat) allowing Steph to go ahead and meet as arranged.  We sauntered to the door by which time Alex had spotted us then there were shrieks, hugs and tears as she realised we were all there to wish her happy birthday.  It was a great surprise and we had a lovely day.

Mrs Ellis, my friend of many years, has pneumonia.  I visited her today, but I don’t think she knew we were there.  The carers were wonderful, bringing us tea and biscuits, but we were warned that she may not be able to overcome this.  Mr Ellis struggled with the visit and we left after little more than thirty minutes.  I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it must be to lose the person you’ve been with for over fifty years, even though I know he feels he lost her some months ago.  He asked her several weeks ago if she knew who he was and she said she didn’t.  I wonder whether she’s curious as to why this strange man keeps visiting her or whether she’s just accepted the fact that she knows no-one?

Since I last wrote a post (bad me – been busy sorting) we’ve had more calves, bringing the total to thirteen: eight females and five males.  We now have a Jenny, a Marion and an Iris who was born yesterday morning.  Unfortunately last week we lost Heather who sadly had to be put down.  Luckily she had a daughter last summer so the name will stay in the herd.  This year we’ve had quite a few who’ve needed bottle-feeding as either they’ve refused to suck from their mothers or their mothers have refused to feed them.  This is quite unusual since in the wild the need to feed is a basic instinct so we’re not sure what’s going on.  It makes the job of taking them from their mothers a little easier though as after a few days the novelty’s worn off and the cow has lost interest!

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A Cat-Shaped Hole

Tuesday 17 January 2012

As you know we have quite a few cats around the farm, mainly for their mouse/rat-killing capabilities although at the moment they’re all, even the one the Cats’ Protection League labelled as ‘totally feral and untamable’,  sculking in the kitchen somewhere in the vicinity of the Aga.  Well, it is cold outside and if I was a cat, that’s where I’d like to be.  Actually, even though I’m not a cat, that’s where I like to be.  Isn’t it cold?  We do have a stray here though who fends for himself, never ventures into the house and fights on a regular basis with Thomas, who sees defending the yard as one of his main duties – that and covering every bit of upholstery in the house with a layer of white fur.  A few days ago I wandered out to the greenhouse to see what had survived the wind, threw open the door and found myself face-to-face with the feral who was making himself comfortable on top of a tray of seedlings.  I was surprised, but he was even more so and immediately started looking for a way out in much the same way as a trapped bird would – by throwing himself at the glass.  I opened the doors wide and walked away, but it was too late, he was already in high-panic mode.  He finally left the greenhouse via the back.  Yes, of course there was glass in it, but then there was a cat-shaped hole.  He was panicking and leaping high so he didn’t just break one pane but two.  Gordon has since fixed the hole with perspex and finally (after years of asking) put a catch on the door so it doesn’t drift open in the wind thus allowing the cats to bask in the warmth and lie all over my seedlings.

Last night Gordon and I went to the Parish Council meeting, he as a councillor and me as a member of the public.  I’m usually the only member of the public there, but last night there were a few more since issues relevant to them were being discussed.  The meeting is usually held in the church hall, a quaint, warm little room with very good accoustics, but that’s being renovated at the moment so was closed for business.  Instead it was held in the church itself which is neither quaint or warm.  In fact, it was probably colder inside the church than it was outside.  Some of the more senior members of the Council came prepared with blankets, but I wish they’d warned the rest of us.  I kept my coat and gloves on, but still felt like I might freeze.  I wasn’t the only one as the other members of the public were looking like they’d regretted making the effort to attend that particular meeting.  A guest-speaker was there and commented on what a hardened bunch we all were.  Jenny, the Chairwoman, pointed out that this was the first meeting they’d held in the church and “never again!”, but the speaker had a lot to say and spoke for almost an hour.  By the time Gordon and I got home we were chilled to the bone.  He lit the fire and I got us something warm to eat, then we huddled under blankets until we went to bed.  At least the bedroom was warm and the bed even warmer.  I don’t like these cold days.

Another heifer was born this morning called Theresa as well as one yesterday called Charlotte.  No doubt the next two will be bulls and that will bring the balance back to fifty-fifty.  The calves are strong and healthy but they look so cold, especially while their mothers are off to be milked.  The newest calver is only a heifer herself and although she feels she should be protective towards this new strange thing she’s not quite sure where it came from or what she’s supposed to do with it.  Consequently she spends a lot of time just looking at it!

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Another Alexandra?

Sunday 15 January 2012

Since the beginning of the year we’ve had six calves born: the two I mentioned in my previous post followed by three bull calves then another heifer this morning.  Two of the bull calves were born to Alexandras and the calf this morning is the daughter of the little Alexandra who had the red calf last January.  That means four of the six cows are called Alexandra and are all related in some way or another.  The other bull calf was born to a cow called June and we’re calling him Panda, due to the fact that one side of his face is white apart from a large black patch over his eye.  We’ve picked him up already and are feeding him from a bucket alongside Blackhorns and the first Alexandra.  For the timebeing we’re still under the movement restriction following our TB test back in December.  Until that’s lifted we have to keep everything so let’s hope we don’t have too many between now and then otherwise the buildings are going to get fairly full.  Having said that, Gordon shut two youngsters back this evening as they look imminent.  One of them was photographed here back in January 2010 – a Jenny.

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Twofer

Tuesday 10 January 2012

This is our baby Alexandra, born on the first day of the year.  When I checked the records we had an Alexandra born on the first day of last year too, followed by another on the 18th – the red one.

We had another heifer born this morning out of a Blackhorns and this one will be Blackhorns 22.  Her mother is mostly white and so is the calf.  As Daniel pointed out, a twofer.  Two born, two heifers.  It is a good start to the year.

Gordon’s been working on the tractor and fitting a new engine so is spending a lot of time in the workshop.

In the meantime, I’ve been freecycling and listing stuff on ebay in an effort to declutter once again.  I go through phases, as you might have noticed.  So much rubbish relocated this week!

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