Just the way that it should be?

Or should that be, is my life just SLIGHTLY ODD?

A near neighbour has raised a hatch of chicks and now,  at the end of summer they bought the males round for me to turn into dinner. They arrived in a plastic feed sack in the boot of a car so they quickly needed to be dealt with. The quickest thing to do was to put them in an empty rabbit hutch with some food and water, then decide when I have enough time to kill and pluck them, a job which always takes me ages.

 A couple of days later they were still waiting and eating and one morning, I asked one of the resident “outlaws” to let them out. Having a senior moment, or should I say, rather a lot of them, is rather common for me and what I meant to say was to give them food and water. So out they came, now what? Well “what”, came at bedtime when they were nowhere to be seen. Damn, I bet they have got out or been caught by a fox. The next morning they were wandering around, eating veg from the garden and generably being where they shouldn’t. Bedtime again, none present or correct, but the next day there they were as bold as brass, this time one was baiting one of the breeding cockralls who was defending his pen of hens.

 This went on for a few days until one evening I thought to ask if anyone knew where they went to bed. The answer was a delight to my ears, they roost in the hawthorn tree. I have always loved the idea of hens which roost in trees. It seems so natural and easy, but I always clip wings to keep tabs on all poultry, then I decide where they will sleep, what time they get let out and all the other controlling things we do to “look after” our pets. Now the boys have introduced a small flock of home bred pullets to their version of night life. Lively it is too, they often crow at intervals from about 11.38pm until around 4am when there is a distinctive wing clap and soon after the crowing moves around. With no housing there is no build up of lice or mites, they seem safe from foxes, whilst roosting anyway and they must get a primeval satisfaction from being on branches which are constantly on the move. The downsides are that they can get over the wall into next doors garden, they are vulnerable when they are at ground level from before dawn and I do need to eat them before they spend the winter getting tough and eating their way through precious feed.

 The hawthorn tree is a great love of mine, I can see it in the mirror from my bed. I watch the blackbird eating the berries whilst I sit in bed in the morning and the outside world is monochrome. I love the shape of it and I love the way it looks like a picture which changes according to the light, the weather and the activity of the time. A stratigically placed mirror can open up a whole new world.

I took one of the animals to my vet in a local market town. I take anything which will fit in my car rather than pay the call out fees and in the past have had animals at all stages of life from birth to death, carried in the back of my car or van, but the things which don’t fit are cows, ponies and donkeys. So after my consultation I returned to the waiting room for some injections to be dispensed. The Vets surgery is an old shop and the reception and waiting room is the shop itself, the window opaqued to provide some privacy but one can see out quite clearly and waiting outside with a middle aged lady was a  small horse. As the Vet finished writing the directions on my syringes the receptionist told him that George had come for his booster for Tetnus and Equine flu. I asked the receptionist if this is an unusual occurance and fortunately it is rather commonplace. Why does this soothe my equalibrium so?

Now there is no reason why this should be an odd phenomenon but how often do you see a horse waiting in the high street for his appointment at the vet?

Advertisements
Published in: on Wednesday November 11th, 2009 at 10:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Interesting thymes

 

I won two Oxford Allen Scythes on Ebay, and went to the coast to collect them on Tuesday. The Shepherd and I borrowed a van and planned a day out to include collecting my prize.

 We set off at 8.30am and picked up the van whilst dropping the oldest Child at work, then on down the High Road heading south. The weather was foul and we were driving among a haze of spray thrown up from the wheels of lorries and the going was grim. We eventually got off the main drag and onto some smaller roads, passing a large town then back out to sea roads and purple moorland which swept down to small coves and beaches the upper beaches and sand dunes forested with salt grasses and plants. It was very wild and steep. Eventually The shepherd asked what the directions meant, proceed forward to Ferry.

Wow! How exciting, and so unexpected. We went down a steep hill and passed a hand propelled bicycle on which the rider sat in a very precarious looking position and we both agreed that we would not like to be riding this on such a road. Far too vulnerable. Then soon after we passed the apparition, we came to a line of stationary vehicles and had to stop and wait for what appeared to be a railway barrier. Eventually we all began to move forward onto the Ferry. we were near the front and had a great view so out came the camera to record our adventure. All too soon we alighted to the other side and had to return to the road. More beaches, shingle this time with what appeared to be a causeway but on the right was in fact a freshwater lake, the road and a beach separating the two waterways. Very bleak but a charming village at the end, with pretty cottages and a small park where The Shepherd spied a pair of swans with their signets, so out came the camera again. They were very tame as were the geese all waiting for free tidbits. We paused for a comfort break then on to collect the Scythes. I thought the van I had borrowed was far too big but the Scythes only just fit, with room to spare at the back but not enough to fit them tandem style.

 We then went to visit my Mother for lunch. She was very pleased to see us, we don’t get out much and so contact is usually by telephone, lots of times a week, but she likes to send me packing with as many treats as I can carry when we visit. So we loaded all the spare space with plants and cuttings, hydrangas, two fushias, a potted apple tree and strawberry plants, “thinned” out of her patch.

 Some sedums and bulbs and saved seeds of calendulas, poppies and hollyhocks, then I asked for a couple of sprigs of sage and rosemary for drying. Well, one bin sack later and I have enough to last all year as dried herbs, smudgesticks and some to strike as cuttings, and a marjoram plant thrown in too. From the house I aquired candles, teaspoons, a couple of hessian shopping bags some home made jam, marmalade and elderflower champagne, all from her garden. Then home again, before falling into bed ready to be up early to unload and clean the van in time for work tomorrow.

 My Oxford Allen Scythes will be a useful addition to our workforce for cutting hay and greens, and maybe we will start to use bracken as bedding for the poultry.

Published in: on Thursday August 6th, 2009 at 7:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jam Tomorrow

Well yesterday I collected loads of comfrey to make a salve for a ewes ears. Cobweb has a beautiful face of course, all pink and flesh covered, as are her ears. Unfortunately her head and face area is not covered in any hair and she has been out in the rain and sun, so her ears are cracking, just where they swivel around for her to flick off flies, or listen to sounds from behind her. So they need soothing.

 Today I melted some hard vegetable fat in a pan and added glycerine and whilst it was turning to liquid, I finely chopped some comfrey leaves and added them until half of them were heating in the liquid, the juices turning the mixture a golden greenish colour. When the greens had cooked fully, I strained the liquid off and squeezed the greens through a sieve, getting all the liquid out whilst it was congealing into hard fat amongst the chopped greens. I then added the fresh half of the greens to the liquid. More of the same but this time, after squeezing the last of the liquid, I added dried lavender flowers and reheated and cooked. Then I pushed all the “mush” through a mouli and heated and strained again. Then a reheat of the final liquid before I decanted the salve into two containers, one an earthenware crock in minature, the other to half fill a glass ramekin, adding a large spoonful of honey to this part. I stirred and put the ramekin onto the crock  to warm the honey through. This is to use as a lip balm for us. The crock took longer to set and set firmer than the honeyed batch, it is good for hands. But the honey balm is great for lips, and around eyes, and the face and throat. A little sticky at first, just a very little but then sooo soft. As it has been pouring with rain this evening, Cobweb is sheltering somewhere,  so when she is around in the morning she can try some too.

 Oh, and going through the bag of greens and bruised fruit from the veg shop on which I feed the rabbits, I have salvaged some plums, peaches, a pear and some apricots. None alone in sufficient quantities  to be useful but together they will make a great jam. So they are sweating in the pan as I scribe.

Published in: on Tuesday July 28th, 2009 at 7:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Deed Will Be Done

 

Contemplating food

Contemplating food

 

Well it seems I was being very naive, thinking that DEATHRA would consider cases on their own merit. Anyone would think the policy was for TB eradication in cattle. Alas, even their own vets acknowledge that the proceedure is aimed at monitoring the situation. Nothing more. Therefore any type of control is still a glint in the eye of the future. After many discussions mostly with vets whose spoken english does not extend to being able to recognise a persons full name. With my dealings with three spainish vets has been that the conversations go alongside theirs and they keep using the same phrases in answer to most questions. I would not have a problem if the lives of my cows were not at stake. Meanwhile I have been put in touch with one of the farmers from a Camphill Trust farm nearby, who happens to have encountered similar problems and is making a film about how the disease is being dealt with, or not, in the UK. 

Lazy days

Lazy days

Therefore come Tuesday morning my cows will be taken from their home and will both be dead by lunchtime. Not until six weeks later, will I know if they have the disease.

 The animal health inspectors have been brilliant and very sympathetic, making sure that the girls  final journey will be as stress free as possible.

 Meanwhile we are shearing a few sheep every day, or the days we have not had torrential downpours to soak right into the coats. I am saving a coloured and a white fleece for my mum who is going to spin them. She rang for a recipe for elderflower champagne, this morning and by the time I got off the phone, I had missed The Archers omnibus so will have to cast a spell to wither her hands thus stopping her from ringing anyone ev catch up via the internet.

 We have baby rabbits everywhere and see rabbits every where we go at the moment. It must be a good year. This afternoon I am collecting a root cutter from a local freecycler. The dear boy has learned to weld and picked up a very reasonably priced welding kit from Lidl of all places, as is my duty, I am finding him a few things to do and I want the cutter in working condition before the coming winter, if it is possible. So next week I will be clearing and cultivating a bit of ground to plant some root veg for the animals during the winter.

 It is going to be a very busy week as I have got to go and dismantle a small polytunnel which I have bought. It is 6ft by 12 ft and I need it up soon as I still have some tomato plants to go in and they will come to nothing if I have to plant them out in the open.

Now where did I leave...?

Now where did I leave...?

Published in: on Sunday June 28th, 2009 at 12:19 pm  Leave a Comment