Thursday, 16 November 2017

A frosty morning scything....

So, if you were me, what would you do when the frost is laying heavily on the ground but the sun is shining hot enough to melt it.  You would get outside and start scything as quick as you can while  the vegetation is still stiff with frosty coldness which makes it easier to cut with the scythe, that is what you on, fingerless gloves found and put on, big thick scarf draped round my neck, dogs collected up, and off out I go.
11am: what a glorious way to spent a couple hours of my life, that is what I thought as I dragged a couple of branches from the recently fallen oak tree from where it lay half way along the river path towards the far field. They were only the smaller branches. The heavier ones Lester will have to sort out at the weekend. He is not available to do farm work during the week (office hours 9 - 5.30) because he is working on his computer. Don't ask me what he does, he did tell me but it is beyond my comprehension. Not to worry, he still has time to look after the animals, and there is not much else to do on the farm during the cooler months except tidy up the place.
I want to continue cutting the front hedge down, which has been ongoing since we got here ten  years ago. I mentioned to Lester that I could do with an electric chainsaw for ladies which would make the job quicker and easier. He has his own chainsaw but it is a very hefty and fierce machine, entirely not suitable for a lady to use.
He said that we do have an electric chainsaw but he didn't know where it was.
Ah ha, I thought, a 'search and rescue' mission on the way to find it, meanwhile visions of chainsawing my way through that hedge and the oak coppice which is starting to grow in a corner of the front garden, floated across my mind.
But of course this all depends on whether or not I can actually lift the chainsaw when it is found, which will be a lot heavier that my wooden handled scythe. I shall try, though.
Two trips I made to the fallen oak, and four branches I dragged back.
On the last trip I started fantasizing about having a cup of milky coffee and a piece of cake.
Oh ho! Time to stop.
Earlier on, scything went well, and I scooped up the cut grass / vegetation and gave it to the chickens, putting it in a heap so they could have the pleasure of rummaging through it.
They were not impressed with my offering though, and didn't know what to do with it. Not to worry, they will soon learn. It is a new chicken flock so are still on their own learning curve.
Lester has been looking after the chickens so they know his ways. They don't know mine.
Last night Lester had a conference call so I was the one to round them up. I am now training them to respond to me calling out 'chook, chook, chook' while tapping their food container.
As I say, they are on a learning curve. They need to know that when I call and tap their bowl they should to come towards me and not rush off in the opposite direction.
It might take a while.

Off into the hours of my day now,
which will hopefully include a portion of time spent knitting outside in the sun,
so bye for now,

Friday, 10 November 2017

Cosy indoors....

The Rayburn is lit and burning hot enough for me to use the hob to cook on...
...just a simple meal of hot potato salad, with slices of pork fried with onions and green peppers, which are all home grown. The sweetcorn is from a tin.
And decorating the Rayburn are some items of washing needing to be dried, even on the Lazy Susan.
Bread is cooling on the table. It is a 'no knead' bread so is not lofty, but it will have an open, non chewy, texture which we like. It is also quick to make providing I remember to start it the night before.
We haven't opened the shutters on the window today...
... so with no daylight, and only half the lights on the ceiling working (something to do with the flow of electricity when the computers are on), the kitchen is quite dark, but it adds to the feeling of being tucked up in a cosy den, with food cooking, bread on the table, washing drying, and the world kept away by the closed shutters.  
When we lived in the UK we had a house which had lots of big windows in every room, which was alright when the weather was bright and cheerful, but not so good on days when the weather is mucky which only made me feel colder even if the house was warm.
Here we have smaller windows, which we prefer.
And the reason why we are all cozied up and not outside doing farm jobs...
.... it's wet!
But even though we are coming up to the middle of November, the leaves have not as yet fallen from the trees, which makes us feel that winter has not quite arrived.

And in the Half Barn...... here is the supply of wood for today, brought in from the wood pile just beyond the Courtyard gates and sharing the tarpaulin with the recent harvest of butternut squash.
You can see by the photo that there is more light in the Half Barn, and this is because of the velux windows in the ceiling, but it still has a cosy feeling because of the exposed stone walls.

The last of the pepper harvest, brought in just before we had the first frost of the year. It was a huge crop this year. ......and the last of the courgettes now in storage, and some of the spaghetti squash, the rest of the squash are in the back kitchen.

The carrying case of my piano keyboard waiting for its next trip out, which is on Sunday, which is Remembrance Day. Along with the hymns, (played with the organ setting on my keyboard), I shall be playing The Last Post using the trumpet tone on the keyboard. It echoes wonderfully well in the silence of the church. Any wrong notes will be quite clearly heard.....

..... and Maz, sitting on her mat infront of the computer desks and beside the stored courgettes, waiting for me to stop messing about with the camera, which I am now going to do...
So bye for now,

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The chicken gang come calling.....

Look who came calling yesterday......

........ the Orpington cockerel and his favourite hens, the three Barenecks, so called because they have no feathers on their necks, which does make them look like a bit like vultures. But they are good egg layers, good meat birds, and have a lovely nature, so we like to have them as part of our chicken flock.
.......... However, .......... the chickens are supposed to be free ranging round the rest of the farm, and most definitely not in the courtyard which we want to keep free of chickens, because:-
1) we do not want them scratching around in the raised beds, which would upset me a  lot,
2) we do not want to have chickens laying siege to us at our front and side doors, as has happened in previous years when the chickens were kept in the courtyard.......
...and here is the evidence from 2010 that this is what they used to do.
As soon as the door was open they used to barge in, and the door was open a lot because most days we had builders here.

3) we not want to tread in chicken poo as we walk across the courtyard. I have not very fond memories of visiting friends for lunch in their chickenless home only to notice that I had chicken poo smeared along the side of my shoe, which was most embarrassing.
So Cockerel Boy and his gang of three hens were chased out of the courtyard, and the gates firmly closed behind them. But I do love to see the chickens around the place. They give such life to the farm, and it is fun to watch their mannerisms.
Update on John, who took a tumble straight on to his head when he was helping Lester worm the sheep a couple of days ago.....
I phoned him last night to ask how he was doing, and he said that he was 'vertical as we speak', which means that he is alright, which is good, as we were worried about him. It was quite a fall that he took. Being barged into and knocked down by a ewe not wanting to be wormed is not an experience one would ever want again, but John, bless him, said that he was 'raring to hep out again next year'.
Coming home from a meditation group I belong to.... it was late evening, and my first time of driving in the dark since last winter. I must say that it was quite scary driving through woodland down a steep, narrow, lane which twisted and turned this way and that. And as I got out of the car I could smell the sharp cold of snow in the air, which means that there has been a snowfall in the nearby mountains, but winter has still not quite arrived here at the farm although this lovely flower died last night....
I have forgotten the name of it, but it was planted last spring, grew sparingly, did not bloom all summer, but went into a burst of floral prettiness when I was in hospital and has bloomed ever since.

Millie, in a mood and complaining loudly about being put in the side field with the sheep. She had to be separated from her mum because she is still drinking milk from her udder,  and we think that she really ought to be weaned, but she does not think so, and was voicing her angst about being denied her sips of milk.
Piano rehearsal yesterday afternoon, which went well. This time I was sat beside the conductor so was closer to the choir. It took a while to get used to concentrating on playing whilst having the choir singing in four parts coming into my ears at the same time, plus having to keep a watch on instructions from the conductor. It was fun.
We had rain this morning so it will be too wet to do anything outside, so catch up time in the house.
Bye for now,