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Archive for January, 2013

First Calf

Tuesday 29 January 2013

This morning we discovered our first calf of the year, born in the night.  It’s a girl!  Her name is Charlotte and let’s hope she’s the first of many, although we suspect she may be a lucky ‘hit’ on Ferdinand’s part.  Having said that, the vet checked over another cow this morning and predicted she’s about five/six months pregnant so he was still ‘functioning’ as late as June/July although obviously not fully functioning otherwise we’d be seeing more calves than we have so far.  It’s a start though.

Charlotte and her daughter

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Meet Felix

Friday 11 January 2013

DSCN0641

So, this is Lakehouse Evolution Felix, or just simple Felix as he will be known.  The friend we bought him from has registered him under his official pedigree name and it seems like a very large name for a small calf!  He is extremely cute though, pleasant-natured at the moment; long may that continue.  Gordon suggested that perhaps I might like to halter train him and although I’ve never done that before it seems straightforward enough.  Halter him up and take him for a walk.  To be honest, I think he quite enjoys it.  He trots along quite merrily beside me and it doesn’t seem any more of an effort than taking a large dog for a walk.  I’ve walked large dogs that have pulled on their leads a little more, but Felix likes to bound about occasionally.   The first day he clipped me quite sharply in the shin with his back foot, but it’s a learning curve for both of us.  Each day so far we’ve been somewhere different around the farm and his head is up, ears flicking as he listens to the different noises, but other than moo-ing at the cows as we go past he isn’t spooked by gateposts or the neighbours’ dogs barking.  Dan and I can’t decide if this means he’s very intelligent and alert or he’s a bit thick and unbothered.  Time will tell.  In the meantime he’s in this little pen until he gets the hang of being here, drinking milk and eating cake from buckets which at his current rate should be some time at the beginning of next week then we plan to move him into a larger area where he can kick up his heels a  little more.

The cold that I was complaining about last week has lingered and despite few noticeable effects it has made me lethargic with little enthusiasm – goodness knows I don’t have that much to start with.  The cough never went any further than a tickly one, but is still hanging on, I had a ferocious headache for about four days and the glands in my neck and behind my ears are very swollen and tender.  It won’t last forever I realise that, but just wish it would go completely.

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Cold

Saturday 5th January 2013

Just as the new year started so did my cold, the first one I’ve had for a long time but it’s already on its way out again.  I wish the cough would go but apart from that I’ve managed reasonably well.  Aren’t cold and flu capsules wonderful?  I was giving this some thought and it seems to me that years ago when you got a cold you suffered, and I mean really suffered.  Now I take a couple of these every four hours and can manage to get through the day without the need to have a lie-down, which has got to be a good thing.

This morning we visited our friend’s farm and bought a new bull-calf.  We’re going to call him Felix and Gordon is collecting him tomorrow morning.  I’ll post a photo if I’m able to get a good one, but he’s very beautiful and I’m quite excited about getting him.  Floyd in the meantime is doing what bulls are supposed to do with such enthusiasm that we fear for his health.  Already he’s had to spend a week in solitary confinement as he was overdoing it and sprained one of his back legs – Daniel reckons over thirty cows in twelve days!  Poor chap.  He’s back in with the herd again now and the rest seems to have done him some good, but he really was looking sorry for himself.  Let’s hope Ferdinand’s calves start to appear soon even though it doesn’t look hopeful.  If you remember at this time last year we’d already had two and half-a-dozen by the middle of January but we’re still waiting.  If the herd doesn’t calve before September we’ll know that Ferdinand damaged himself a lot longer ago than we thought.

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Yesterday I had a text conversation with my sister who’s recently got a new phone and discovered voice recognition.  Unfortunately I don’t think her phone understands her as well as she’d like.  The conversation started with me giving her some information, to which her reply was:

“And happy easter egg dictating machine”

“What?” I sent back.

She replied “I love voice recognition”

“You should read it before you send it lol” I told her

“I did” she said “I thought it sounded better than what I wanted to say”

“Well, this is true.  Makes no sense though”.

I still have no idea what she intended to tell me but it did make me laugh.

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Illegal Pigs

As you know if you’re a regular reader of my blog, I rarely get ‘political’.  However I do care a great deal about animal welfare and a fair system for British farmers who, let’s face it, get a pretty shitty deal a lot of the time, shouldering blame for everything from BSE and Foot and Mouth to the proposed badger cull.  I have lifted this article directly from the NFU website as it’s something I feel quite strongly about and something I’m sure a lot of non-farmers aren’t even aware of – why would they be?

It would appear that some supermarkets are still selling bacon/ham/pork/sausages made from pigs who’ve been reared in cruel conditions.  When I shop I try to ensure I buy meat products from animals raised in the UK as I’m fully aware of the regulations governing such production.  We eat our own beef for much the same reason – we know where the animal came from and how it was treated during the time it lived.  We’re lucky in that we have the luxury of doing that.  I’m not preaching here, that’s just what we do.  I’ve also heard the argument that British meat is often more expensive than foreign imports, but at least with British meat you know what you’re getting.  There are some countries still using steroids and hormones in their animals to produce a bigger ‘end product’.  If everyone insisted on meat that had not only been ‘processed’ in this country but raised here too, the prices would drop since most prices are dependent on supply and demand.

Anyhow, apologies if I offend anyone, but it is something I believe in.  Read the article, make your own decisions, but at least be aware that not everyone treats their livestock with the respect it deserves.

Around 40,000 ‘illegal’ pigs an hour will be entering the European food chain in January and bacon, ham and pizzas containing their meat is destined for Britain’s supermarkets, corner shops and restaurants, according to Britain’s National Pig Association.

Pig with pigletsThe pigs will come from continental farms where sows are still confined in individual steel cages known as ‘stalls‘ — a practice outlawed by European Union animal welfare legislation from 1 January 2013.

Stalls have not been used in the United Kingdom for many years, but figures released by Brussels this month show that with the continental ban only days away, 80 per cent of European Union countries have not yet complied with the ban.

Even allowing for a last minute rush to remove sows from stalls and house them in new group pens, this indicates that nearly two million pigs a week from farms operating illegally will be delivered to Europe’s processing plants.

‘It makes a mockery of Europe’s animal welfare legislation,‘ says NPA chairman Richard Longthorp. ‘As the United Kingdom imports around 60 percent of its pork — much of it as processed food such as ham and bacon — shoppers will need to be very careful about what they choose from supermarket shelves and when eating out in restaurants.’

NPA LogoNPA is urging British shoppers who care about animal welfare not to buy imported pork or processed pork products such as bacon, until all European Union member countries have complied with the stalls ban.

‘The major British supermarkets have promised they will not sell pork from continental farms operating illegally but our concern is that in many cases these farms will be difficult to identify and everybody admits that imported processed foods will be almost impossible to trace,’ said NPA general manager Dr Zoe Davies.

‘Our advice to shoppers is always to look for the independent Red Tractor logo on the pack, which is an absolute guarantee that the product comes from a British pig farm where keeping sows in stalls has been banned for over a decade.’

The data published by Brussels this month shows France is only 33 percent compliant with the European stalls ban, Germany only 48 percent and Ireland only 57 percent. Other countries unable to hit the January 2013 deadline include Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

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