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Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Silage-making is once more upon us.  Gordon and Dan worked hard and sorted out the gearbox on the newer of our two foragers, getting it ready for action last Thursday.  The older one requires a pump originally sent off for repair in Scotland, but it came back with an incorrect shaft fitting so had to go again.  Since then until today we’ve been mowing, foraging and rolling with the assistance of our other nephew Chris (Dan’s younger brother).  Despite him telling me it’s ten years since the last time he graced us with his presence as a tractor driver it seems to have all come back to him and we’re making very satisfactory progress.  Yesterday was interesting with the addition of a drizzly rain for the best part of the day which made everything sticky and the failure of one trailer when we were almost finished.  To add insult to injury and with just one trailer-load to go, the trailer I was hauling hopped off the hitch and buried itself in the ground which meant Dan had to rescue me with the loader.  Today the boys have been making repairs so I’ve had a ‘day off’ to catch up on various things (like accounts, yuck!).

I’ve bought new glasses from Glasses Direct which I thought were very reasonable (they’re not paying me for the plug, by the way).  They’re transition lenses so I’ve been driving the forager in them and realised that for the past couple of years I haven’t actually been able to clearly see the pickup hitch!  I’ve been able to catch it (it’s an acquired skill from years of experience), just not able to see it.  How weird that I didn’t notice.  If you ever need new glasses I can thoroughly recommend their website.  They even send you glasses to try on at home before you put in your prescription details and choose frames.  Should you fancy trying a pair, let me know – I have discount codes and if you’re recommended by someone you get £30 off, plus I get an Amazon voucher.

Both Gordon and I have been gardening this year.  Gordon has finally found the enthusiasm for more than just mowing the lawn and is nurturing tomatoes, peppers and melons in the greenhouse.

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He spends ages out there watering, feeding and ‘pinching-out’.  Since I’ve been struggling to do this single-handedly for years due to his complete lack of interest, this amuses me very much, but I let him get on with it.

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I’ve planted lots of herbs and random bits of plants I’ve been cultivating in various pots and tubs, including this tin bath we found when sorting out Gordon’s mother’s greenhouse.

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My enclosed raised beds are doing very well and for once I’m able to grow things the cats can’t get to.  We refer to it as ‘the safe house’ although someone did call it ‘Gordon’s splendid garden erection’ the other day which made us laugh.

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Radishes and beetroot.  We’ve been eating the radishes for a while, but the beetroot aren’t ready yet.  It’s nice to be able to keep them in the ground without something digging them up.  If it isn’t the cats then the foxes will usually have a scratch around to see if they can eat it.

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Our woodpecker is back for the peanuts and this time he/she has brought a youngster who sits on top the archway waiting to be fed.  Every time they’re both there I run for my camera but haven’t been able to catch them together, which is a shame.  Look at those claws though.

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I don’t really celebrate Easter, but thought I should wish you all a happy one, just in case you do.  Farming tends to rely more on the seasons than what ‘holiday’ we’re celebrating at the time.  The cows don’t know it’s Easter and still insist on being milked every day so we plod on.

We’re busy with calving at the moment and are already at our desired number of heifers for the year.  We still have about four-fifths of the herd to calve and are once again debating what to do with the extra girlies.  When we had our first bull we were desperate for replacements and kept all that were born, but considering there were fifty last year alone and twenty so far this year, I suspect we may have reached our target.

Our solar panel plans continue with the company who are putting them in informing us they’ll make a start after Easter.  Of course, they also said they’d start straight after Christmas so until lorries roll up we won’t be expecting too much.  Everything we do in the meantime is on hold, waiting for the first rent payment to roll in.  With milk prices dropping all the time, this is becoming a bit of a necessity.

The weather has been fantastic here apart from the odd little bit of rain.  I have some beautiful Christmas roses in the garden and despite a bad back, have been crawling underneath them to reveal their full beauty – honestly, the things I’ll do for a good photo.

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And the redness of this one.  Sadly they’re so much more attractive from underneath as the flowers tend to hang down.DSCN7511Due to the clear weather Terri and I have started visiting National Trust properties and started with Lytes Cary Manor (or Scary Manor as dad likes to call it).  They have some great weathervanes there – I think I may be a little obsessed with them although we only have an old one here.  Perhaps I should look into getting a good one for the top of the old barn in the yard?DSCN7590

Although it wasn’t too cold there the day was hazy, which gave a great effect to my tree photos with the stripes of hazy hills in the background.

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This morning Secret World, a rescue centre near here, had an open day and I went along with Terri and her husband Steve to see the animals.  There weren’t many out and about, but there was a lovely European eagle owl called Daphne, a male turkey strutting his stuff with his wings and tail puffed right up to impress the ladies and a strange, bedraggled-looking emu called, imaginatively ‘Emu’. He kept peering at us through the fence and when we walked around the outside he kept pace on the inside.  Emus are weird-looking things, aren’t they?

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Just a quick one

You may have noticed my blog has been ‘resting’ during December and I wish to hell I’d decided to do the same thing.  I’m not really AWOL – more like regrouping – but just so flippin’ weary.

In November (following a punch-up with an inanimate object), Daniel broke a bone in his hand and hasn’t been able to milk since.  This means I’ve been up before the sun for about six weeks and milking on a regular basis.  The doctor originally told him to stay home but that lasted for about two hours until he got bored and appeared in our kitchen.  I’m sure there are all kinds of implications – Health and Safety and insurance being just two of them – as to why he should be resting safely at home, but he’s used to working and gets bored quickly.  We had a reshuffle whereby I milk in the morning while the boys do outside things like feeding, cleaning and bedding-up, Gordon milks in the afternoon, Dan does outside stuff and I occasionally feed the calves if he’s busy.

We haven’t had anything calve for a little while and all calves are gathered in for the winter.  The youngest seven are still being bucket-fed and a further five are in a larger pen but not yet weaned.  In total this year we’ve had fifty heifers and there have been serious discussions about actually selling some of them – we haven’t sold any but we have talked about it.  For Gordon this is progress as he doesn’t even like selling the old/lame/barren ones from the herd and has to be persuaded to let them go.  The year before our first bull (Ferdinand) came into the herd we had a total of three heifers born with many bulls or Hereford/freisian crosses so this figure is what we were aiming for at the time.  Floyd is coming to the end of his time here as his eldest daughters are due to start calving in April after spending the summer with Felix the Red and although he’s still ‘functioning’ (unlike Ferdinand, you may recall) he isn’t so good on his legs and may have to go to slaughter rather than as a stud bull.  We’ll decide nearer the time.

I hope you all had a good Christmas Day?  Both the girls came home and Christmas Day was lovely this year.  The Aga behaved itself for a change and Christmas lunch was cooked just when it was supposed to be.  We all had presents we were pleased with and spent a lot of the day talking.

Anyway, I’ll catch up with you again in the New Year I expect.  Hope it’s a happy one for all of us.

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Autumn at Stourhead

I haven’t been to Stourhead for a long long time, although my sister and I have been members of the National Trust for about three years now.  With the onset of winter and the sheer amount of colour around this autumn we decided it might be nice so on Monday we set off with a picnic lunch and a thermos of coffee to revisit.

I took many photographs and was completely blown away by the absolute beauty of the place with its temples, trees and lakes.  When I got home and checked my huge archive of scanned-on-to-the-computer photos it looks as though the last time I was there was in 1968.  I would have been six years old and Terri would have been four.

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Here we are sitting on the grass in front of the bridge.  I’m the one that looks like a little boy on the right.  In those days, rhodedendrons were perfectly acceptable and encouraged to grow whereas now they’re considered an invasive foreign plant and have been removed as much as possible.  This is the same view taken on Monday, but the bridge is now closed off so people can’t walk across it.

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As you can see, apart from the removal of bushes nothing very much has changed although the trees are more autumnal.  I’m assuming, since we’re both in frocks – same frock, different colours of course because that’s what our mother did – that it was the summer of 1968.  By then, both my father’s parents had died and we often went away with our maternal grandparents on days out or holidays.  My mother was an only child and would be about the same age in this photo as Alexandra is now, which is a really scary thought.

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Anyway, back to modern times.  This is a selection of the photos I took on Monday.  I hope you like them.

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A couple of weeks ago Gordon and I went on holiday.  Well, I say ‘on holiday’ but we actually went away for a couple of days to stay with friends in their caravan at Durdle Door.  I’ve been there before but it was a first for Gordon.  The day we arrived it rained a lot, but the second day was better although still a bit drizzly on occasions.  We went into Weymouth and visited Nothe Fort, took a trip to Portland Bill as well as dropping into Lulworth Cove.  Photographs were taken, of course.

This squirrel saw there was food being handed out on the other side of Nothe Fort grounds and literally made a run for it.

This squirrel saw there was food being handed out on the other side of Nothe Fort grounds and literally made a run for it.

Once he was there he fought off hungry pigeons for the spoils.

Once he was there he fought off hungry pigeons for the spoils.

This overlooks the harbour of Weymouth

This overlooks the harbour of Weymouth

This was taken at Portland against a clear blue sea.  The seabed is chalky which gives the water a reflective quality.

This was taken at Portland against a clear blue sea. The seabed is chalky which gives the water a reflective quality.

I should have tried to get a person into this photo so you could see the size of this chunk of rock.  It was huge.

I should have tried to get a person into this photo so you could see the size of this chunk of rock. It was huge.

Nothing like a good old red and white lighthouse to let you know you're at the seaside.

Nothing like a good old red and white lighthouse to let you know you’re at the seaside.

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The clear sea crashing in on Lulworth Beach. I love the look of wet pebbles.

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Despite the calm looking water, boat trips were cancelled.

Since our return we’ve managed to do most of our second-cut silage.  The vintage (old) forager limped along in the continued absence of our newer one (clutch problems) until she developed a major leak of hydrostatic fluid this afternoon in the last field.  A contractor has once again been contacted and will be coming to round bale that tomorrow.

When I went in to feed the calves this morning, one was missing.  The front of her pen had been knocked out and she was nowhere to be found.  We started off by looking around the yard, behind and under things, but there was no sign of her.  We then extended our search to the ditches but didn’t hold out much hope.  If she’d fallen in a ditch overnight and wasn’t still bawling then the chances of finding her alive were fairly slender.

This afternoon when Gordon went into the workshop for the quad in order to fetch the cows, he came out with a big smile on his face.  She was asleep behind the quad bike.  She definitely wasn’t so obvious this morning and the very large sliding barn door had been shut all day, but she’d made no sound.  We led a much subdued calf back to her pen and gave her a bucket of milk which was gone in no time at all.  Tonight we’ve shut the door to the calf shed just in case she decides to go walkabout again.

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Use ’em up!

I’ve been quite productive lately with my cardmaking and have spent many quiet hours concentrating on getting the effect I want.  This morning I’ve been playing with a stamp by Serendipity called ‘Winter Fenceline’ which I first saw on Pinterest and had to have.  I decided to do the background with watercolour pencils so rummaged around in the drawer to find a set. 

I ended up using a set that had belonged to my grandad who died in 1996 and as I started using them I heard his voice in my head telling me off.  As children we were never allowed to touch his stuff even if it wasn’t particularly expensive so consequently this set of pencils is almost intact.  I can’t help feeling that sense of preserving everything and keeping it ‘for best’ didn’t actually do him a lot of good.  I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way but he should have used them all the time until they were gone, which is what I intend to do.

The finished results are quite different and will be put on to cards when they’re dry.  I’ll probably be doing more – in fact I may keep going until the watercolour pencils are nothing but nubs.  Then I’ll throw them away.

I’ll enjoy that.

Here are the first two –

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The greeting is from Stampin’ Up’s Wetlands set and works brilliantly with this I think, even though it’s crooked on one picture.

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The Moon by day

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From one satellite to another – be sure to click on the photo and look at the detail. I took this a few days ago whilst out on another hare-hunting expedition.

Apologies for my absence – the internet has been terrible lately to the extent that we’ve decided to have satellite broadband instead and do away with both our BT internet and the landline.  We both have mobiles with generous allowances and although the satellite company tell us our internet won’t be much faster than about 22mbs, we’re currently receiving less than 1mb through the landline so I fail to see how it can possibly be any worse, unless it doesn’t work at all of course.

Since the computer doesn’t get turned on often any more I’ve been occupying myself with other things: gardening, wandering around with the camera and tracking down the family tree in an Ancestry.com app on my tablet.  My mother was extremely interested in the family tree and although we used to laugh at her enthusiasm, I now see what the attraction is!  It’s like being a detective, trailing through old birth certificates and census records.  So far my tree has hundreds of people since I keep going off in different directions, but of those hundreds I’ve only found one or two ‘interesting’ people.  One, in my mother’s family tree was deported for sheep rustling, made his fortune in Australia, came back for his family and promptly left again for Australia.  Another in Gordon’s mother’s family tree took his family to Canada in 1906.  Everyone else lived in this immediate vicinity and farmed, from what I can gather.  I found one soldier and one sailor in over three hundred people. It makes you wonder why we bother really, doesn’t it?  Generations of people all doing exactly the same and going nowhere.  At least three generations of Gordon’s family are buried in the local churchyard and after all that time we’re still in the same village.

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