Wednesday, 5 March 2014

It was a better day today

Yesterday was 'one of those days', with me getting irritable with the dogs because they kept padding around me, sensing my frame of mind, wanting to get outside to see what was going on but not allowed because of the open front gate (they do have a tendency to go visiting our neighbours down the lane), raiding (or trying to raid) the kitchen, forever prowling, forever up to hidden mischief. So I ended up having a shout at them.

Lester, meanwhile, was outside getting the animals fed, and in the rain..... again. But as well as having to get hay from a newly opened hay bail, which takes time because the hay ion the outside of the bale is tightly wound and he has to keep scratching away at it to get handfuls from it. Eventually he will get towards the middle of the bale, at which point the bale will possibly do a total collapse and open itself wide open, which is great if the weather is dry, but not so great if heavy rain is falling because then the hay gets wet. Unless it is covered up. But he can't get any hay off the bale if it is covered up, so what he has to do is uncover it, which then can get him into a fusty mood because he and the hay are both getting wet. Bless him. His farmer boy self can go into quite an unfarmery mood at such times, and yesterday morning was no exception.

And then the goats had to be got out of their pen in the middle barn because Paul from down the lane was coming to help Lester get electric light put up in the tall barn and the middle barn, which was a much needed job because Lester is getting fed up with trying to feed the goats in the dark, there not being any windows yet in the middle barn, so unless the barn doors are open, there is no light to see by. He did try opening up the doors the other day so that the goats could have daylight, but big winds blew one of the doors off its hinges. He was not best pleased, thinking that the door might have become damaged, but fortunately it hadn't, and I had just amount of muscle in my arms to help him get the door back onto its hinges.

The goats are getting fed up with being indoors, so are the two cows, so are the sheep, but either it is raining and blowing a gale, or the field entrance to the big field are flooded. But it is our policy this year to keep the animals off the fields January to March, so that the fields can have a rest, and because the hefty feet of the animals damage the grass too much. Lissie and Bonny are the worst trampers on the grass, the sheep are the next, and then the goats, whose dainty feet do not do too much damage. They also tend not to prance, gallop about, and kick up their heels, as do the cows and the sheep. However, when the goats are put out by themselves everyone else gets upset, as is what happened yesterday.

So, 'get the goats out' was the job to be done, because of the electrical work which was requiring the use of ladders. It was quite possible that should Paul or Lester be up the ladder, that either a goat would try to get up the ladder with them, or knock the ladder over in one of their barging arguments, leaving P or L hanging in mid air (if they could get a grip), or flat on their backs (not something which is to encouraged when the goats are charging about doing battle with each other).

As I have said, it was raining, but the goats had to be got into the side field. But they could not be taken to the side field via the normal route, which was past Bonny and Lissie because would have taken huge umbrage about having to stay indoors while the goats went out. So, it was out the back way, which involved quite a trek. Trying to take the goats out to the field via a route which was unfamiliar to them took forever. Lester's patience had worn thin by the time he had got four  of the eleven goats out, each one on ropes, each one pulling this way and that way, with none being compliant and walking by his side.

Job done. Paul arrived, and the two men started working on the electrics. Early afternoon, and Lester flung himself into the house with the news that the roof of the middle barn was leaking, that the beams in two places were getting soaked. So, another job to be done by him, but, "At least the river hasn't flooded the fields again, so at least you don't have to clean debris away from the fencing wire again", I said, in an effort to be bright and cheerful, you know, 'look on the bright side'. It was not well received.

The  rain it kept coming, but the lights on the barn were done. Time to get the goats back in. It was nearly dark. The drive was one huge pond of mud and water. The goats did not want to have to walk through the muck. Lester had to literally tow each one of them on a rope to get them back into the dryness of their pen. Those little horrors were not appreciative of the efforts being made on their behalf. There was loud mutterings by Lester about getting rid of the goats. There were loud mutterings from the goats about doing something they didn't want to do.

So I went off to choir practice, to play the piano for the choir rather than singing, because they have had no pianist for some months, and I had been sort of cajoled into taking over the role of accompanist, which I enjoy, and I might get out of playing for the actual concerts because I might not be good enough, and that is alright by me, because I am quite happy to be on the side lines and let another more accomplished pianist take over from me. They can have the glory, I get to have the fun of the rehearsals and don't get the pressure of having to play at the concerts.

I arrived home to find Lester in 'give up' mood. So I switched the electric blanket on, and we went to bed.

And today arrived, and we could hear the rain again on the velux windows in the roof, which was enough to give us the grumps before we ever got out of bed, because it was going to be another 'outside in the rain' day.

And then the sun came out. And in the air was a feeling that it was all done, that winter had become spent of energy and had finished with all its rages. It was as if a line had been drawn between the winter and spring, and that winter was now the other side of that line.

Nevertheless, Lester and me, well, we were feeling tired by  the pressures of farm life, which are much better than having the pressures of holding down office jobs and living a 'modern' way of life as  in the 'old' days of our UK lifestyle though. But, we were feeling tired and flat. So late morning Lester said, "Let's go out to lunch. We need time out." So for about forty five minutes we went our separate ways, me to put twenty one eggs into the freezer and do other kitchen work, Lester to find thirty nine eggs from a hidden egg stash, and do other farm work. He came back into the kitchen just before mid day with a purposeful stride, to announce in a loud and authoritative voice, "I am going to cook dinner, let's not go out, we can't give up". And I said " The money that we save from having lunch out will buy us a fruit tree", and I was relieved not to go and eat someone else's food especially the meat. (They don't 'do' vegetarian in the eateries around here).

So Lester opened a jar of DIY potatoes and revamped yesterdays lamb casserole.  Then off to our local supermarket to remind ourselves about why we don't like shopping in supermarkets, the last time of doing so being three weeks ago. But we did have a coffee and a bun, which in a way celebrated the feeling that winter was now behind that line.

I hope that winter has also started leaving you, wherever you may be in the northern hemispheres. I know that us homesteading folk are getting quite tired of doing battle with the weather this year.

And my piano accordion is now on its way, together with a mandolin for Lester. The river is high, but not overflowing. Lester has changed his mind again about keeping goats, and thinks that we shall continue with them. And today the sun shone, and no matter what the weather now does, winter is behind us, in my heart I know that this is so.

Vx

PS. And Lissie has just horned Lester in the buttocks, but he said "not to worry and that it was the best £300 he has ever spent". (£300 was how much she cost, although it was really £150 because she was in calf but no one knew, so we got two cows for the price of one)

PPS. Lester has finished milking with no further injury to himself by Lissie, and has now just 'rescued' a hen who died during the night in the hen hut. She was an old girl, and died a natural death. He had to use the hoe to get her out of the hut and her body has now been donated to the animals of the night. She didn't mind. Her soul is now in chicken heaven.  He has just also rescued a hen from the goat pen. It is miracle that she has managed to survive that experience, so she lives on...........

6 comments:

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

You are sounding much more cheerful eventually as the day went on. The weather is changing and we have sun predicted for a few days. I for one will be glad to get the lawn mower out with out it sinking!! You are both doing a great job, stick with it. Take care Diane

The Squirrel Family said...

Sounds like some of our days , repairing a leaky roof in the rain is never fun.............but when the sun comes out nowhere we would rather be :) Pleased Lester likes the animals again :)

Niall & Antoinette said...

Things should brighten up now that the jet stream has moved up towards Scotland. It means we should get more stable and sunnier weather.
A bit of sun always works wonders :-)

Vera said...

Diane, you are right, I did get more cheerful, and so did Lester!

The Squirrel Family, the sun is shining and we are once again happy to have the goats here!

Niall & Antoinette, you are right! Now we have sun our energies have risen, which they needed to as we are well behind with farm work!

Tim said...

" But as well as having to get hay from a newly opened hay bail, which takes time because the hay on the outside of the bale is tightly wound and he has to keep scratching away at it to get handfuls from it...."

Vera, I read this post yesterday evening and...
I saw just the thing that your poor hubby needs, today, at a vide-grenier...
a bale knife.
We'd gone over to Niall & Antoinette's village for the first local V-G of the year...

Shortly after parting with Antoinette we passed a "brocante" stall and there it was...
about 2ft 6" long with huge serrated teeth...
about an inch and a half on the front-cut side and three-fourths on the back-cut...

At the blunt end it has two handles...
one in line with the blade and one sticky-out at right angles...
you push it in and pull it out...
working downwards.
it does most of the cutting on the pull stroke, like a Japanese saw.

I have used one, many a moon ago now...
and they work very well.
You keep them sharp with a coarse-cut flat file...
that leaves a finer serration on the cutting edge that helps the work.

Keep an eye open for a rusty one in a box of odds and ends...
they are almost all old carbon steel items and sharpen up a treat...
but you'll probably need to replace the wooden handles...
if it has any left...
but that is just a case of drilling the middle out of a suitable sized bit of branch and hammering it on. [the metal is usually long enough to go right through.]

Do not...
unless Lester is desperate...
pay the 40+ Euros that this "buccaneer" [sorry, brocanteer] wanted...

Bonne chance!

Vera said...

Tim, you treasure! Will look out for this bit of kit when out and about, and will keep your info handy so we know what to do with this fearsome looking saw! Thanks for taking the time to write your comment, and also for the help you gave us in protecting our fruit trees from frost. Thank you so much. Vx