Friday 29 November 2013

The owld dooor.........

..... and here be ye owlde door,
'tis a door which has seen much life,
as can be clearly seen....

And this door is well ventilated,
so fresh air
can easily blow
through the house,
thus ensuring a healthy living
for all inside....

But now is the time of the cold,
so all those inside
need for the fresh flow of air
to be stopped.

Et voila!

Take one old caravan curtain,
unpick it, rip it, stitch it back up.
Sew strips of old duvet cover up top.
Take one broom.
Put DIY curtain on broom.
Get one chair.
Stand on chair.
Heave heavily laden broom upwards.
Curtain falls off broom.
Oh ******
Lester is now called.
Stands on chair.
Broom now reloaded with curtain.
Broom wedged in place,
for a few seconds.
Broom wedged back up,
string tied to one end.

Et Voila!!!!

An owlde curtain,
held up by an owlde broom,
covering an owlde door,
in an owdle hoose.

And thus it is that
we carry on


Thursday 28 November 2013

No stiffo!

Looking at the side field, frost heavy on the ground, where is she, the goat who did a naughty last night, is she a stiffo?

Nooooo! Here she is, all feet pointing downwards, and in motion.

....but she was shivering! So I had a talk with her, and said that perhaps she should be more willing to go with the flow when Lester fetches her in from the field at night. I said that it was not worth being cold to the bone, which she obviously was, as her shivers were quite something to behold. But the sun was up, and it turned out to be a cheerfully sunny day, so soon she would have got warmer and forgotten about her cold night, but hopefully kept a modicum of memory in her head to stop her from doing another naughty tonight.

I hope yesterday went well for you, and that today goes even better. 


Wednesday 27 November 2013

Howlings, freezings, and it's not so bad....

There's nothing quite like being suddenly woken up in the middle of the night by two rottweiller girls, with very loud voices, howling as if all hell had been let loose.   

Why did they make such a din? 
Was it because they wanted to go outside for wees and poos? No. Standing outside in minus 3 temperatures with hardly anything on, watching the girls watching me to see what the hell I was doing outside in the dark, in the cold, and then the girls turning round and going back to bed because they were getting chilled, leaving me outside to get cross at them. The most smallest of tiddles would have been worth being woken up for, and might have spared me some angst. To have them look at me as if I was daft to have got them out of their warm beds was not pleasing to my humour.
Was it because they had had a nightmare? Do dogs dream? Well they do, because their eyes twitch, and their noses move about, as do their legs, and they do little woofs, not great big howls. So, no, not a dream.
Was it because they were being put into a fright by something or other? No, because they are developing 'I am big and fierce and not afraid' barks, these often being done just before they turn and run off in the opposite direction to the offending frightener, and have never stopped first to have a howl.

Why was it, then, that both of them punched out these hellish howls? 
Easy really. Because they could!

Just off to see if we have a stiffo goat in the side field. With the main field still being blocked by water, all the gang have to graze out in the side field. No probs. Except that Blackie, one of our goats, has been going through a ' being awkward' stage and will not come in at night, unless she is allowed to come through the field gate free of all encumbrances, such as being put on a lead, so that she can eat here, eat there, have a little jaunt around the place, and then finally, when she is ready, allow herself to be shooed into the pen with the other goats. 

So last night, she was offered the choice, several times, to come onto the rope or be left in the field. Her awkwardness persisted. She was left in the field overnight.

It was the coldest night here so far. She must have shivered. Perhaps her needing to be awkward will have disappeared away. Perhaps.

But for all of the winters we have experienced so far, we are less cold than what we have been. We could put the electric fires on of course, but there is a lack of effort on our parts to so do, and instead, we continue to pile on the layers of clothing. I will think of myself as being cold when all the layers are done. So far, it is socks, thermal longjohns, wincyette petticoat, thick corduroy skirt, thermal vest, another thermal vest, a t-shirt, a sleeveless top, a fleece jumper, a knitted cardi, a crocheted blanket, and sometimes a crocheted hat. Oh, and a pinafore somewhere in that lot. 

And I think of you experiencing much colder weather, and snow, and think to myself that it is not so bad here, and count my blessings. It is easy to get down in the dumps when the body feels chilled. But we are managing better than in previous winters, and will hardly be able to cope, I think, when the Rayburn stove goes in for next winter. 

So why not get the stove in for this winter? Because work from the UK, via the internet, has come in for Lester so he is occupied at his computer, and I am busy with my writing and website re-development on my computer. It is hard juggling the time needed to work on the house, work on the computers, and work on the farm. But then there are many of you who are also having to make this juggle, and it helps me to be patient my juggling knowing that you are also having to do a fair bit of juggling yourselves. It is always nice to know that one is not the only one. 

But I delay. Grass needs scything for the pigs (which will be easy this morning because the grass will be frozen stiff), dogs needs getting out (so they can have a romp), Lester needs someone to hover around him while he freezes his fingers, and probably everything else, as he milks Lissie, (just to help him stay cheerful), and I need to have a word with Blackie about it being unwise to carry on in such an unhelpful manner. Hopefully she will not be lying on her back with her legs pointing skywards and frozen stiff.

I hope you have a really lovely day.

Saturday 23 November 2013

Splashing about (again)

And the Muscovy boys studying the geese...

...ooopps, sorry, wrong photo (taken January 2013)

..... here are the geese, splashing away merrily,
(taken November 2013).
We don't normally have lakes.
We have had quite a few this year.

And one of the Muscovy boys having a paddle,

..... shepherded by Boolie, 

And I said to the Muscovy Boys,
"You are supposed to swim,
you have webbed feet,
you are ducks"

But they didn't listen,
and soon trundled back to the Tall Barn,
to find a patch of hay,
to have a sleep.

And the Adour, 
busy doing its job
of getting water away from the land.

I would not want to live anywhere else.

Friday 22 November 2013

Dropping everything

It had to be done.....

...a drop of sun, 
and all four of us crammed on to the front step,
me to do my knitting,
instead of doing stuff in the kitchen,
the dogs taking time off,
instead of cleaning up the drippings on to the floor,
which always happens
when I am cooking,
and all of us turning our faces towards the sun
for a wee roasting,
before we go back to work 
in the kitchen,
and the sun goes back behind the clouds.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

The sun came out today,
And we roasted for a while,
Then the weather did a sharp turn,
and the air became scented with the sharp chill
of nearby mountains which were being snowed on,
But not here, in the distance,

And the chattering of the sparrows,
which are my favourite birds,
and who are doing well here,
because of the leavings of our animals.
The chattering about the doings of the day,
that is what I heard
as I stood beside the big bay hedge,
waiting for Lester
to bring Bonny
in from the field.

We are giving the sheep hay now,
so no more maize when they come in at night.
Twinny almost did a left turn,
it being quite clearly a thought that was in her head,
that if she did a sharp turn right,
that she might be able to sneak into the goat's pen,
to eat their maize, 
only she would have been disappointed,
because they are having hay as well now. 
Sheep are not silly or daft,
they just don't think like we do.

So lots of hoorays today,
and another one,
because we soaked some sun up today!
Did you manage to get a drop of sun today as well?

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Lissie and Mazzy done

So no, Lissie, our Jersey cow, was obviously not in calf as she attempted to have a go at Lester and the goats in her neediness to be sorted out. So artificial insemination man called in again for a second attempt. But she is still giving us milk, bless her, and we remain observant of this when eating the produce she gives us via her milk. Lester, meanwhile, continues to have his patience stretched with her, but has only had one mucky foot in the bucket, and two kicked over buckets over during the last week. 

The temperatures are starting to zoom down but we still have not put any fires on, and the Rayburn continues to reside in the hallway, but not to worry, we have a couple of electric fires if we get too cold, and we do keep the bathroom warm so we can at least have one warm space in the house. It has been known for us to linger longer than is necessary when going to the loo, this being particularly relevant to Lester, who has started taking his electronic book thingy in with him so he can read while he goes to the loo and warms up all at the same time. 

And Mazzy, one of the rottweiller girls, has just been spayed. Did not like having this done, but after due consideration, we decided that there were enough dogs needing homes already and that we did not want to add to that population. Plus, we think but are not certain, that Boolie managed a quick one when no one was looking and that Maz was in pup, but only just. Action was necessary. To have a dog the size of a rottweiller romping around in manic spaniel mode would not have made for an easy dog to have around. Nevertheless it still caught at our hearts as we left her with the vet. She is home again, and Blue goes in for her op next week. Being a responsible animal owner is not easy sometimes. 

But the little piggies are happier. The rain it has fallen and they are muddied up to their armpits. Not to worry, it has been quite mild for the time of year and they did have a temporary shelter by way of a little tin hut, but we were starting to be uneasy about their accommodation as they grew bigger and the rain kept falling and the temperatures started going downwards. Thinking about those little piggies trying to sleep in their hut, probably with their faces and their little bums getting soaked by the cold wetness, was starting to unsettle us. We could never put them into the freezer knowing that the days of their life were spent in such uncomfortableness. Into action we went. A day in the mud with the little piggies messing about around us, and a proper shelter was done. A bale of hay was put inside it, the little piggies getting in the way all the time. We tiptoed out just before we went to bed and had a looksee with a torch. And there they were, two little heads peeking up from a mound of straw. We slept well that night, and subsequently, knowing that all the animals are now warmly tucked up.

And we shall have a warmer winter now we have ceilings throughout the cottage and all the windows have proper windows in them. And I have bought several Rayburn recipe books  which will keep me going until we get the Rayburn installed, which is likely not to be for this winter, but it does not matter, because we shall have a warmer winter than we did last winter, when builders were to and fro so the doors were open for much of the day, and we still did not have a proper window in the kitchen, just a plank of wood, and we still did not have ceilings in half of the house. The previous winter to that, the builders were doing the first phase of the ceilings, so doors were again open for much of the time. The previous winter to that one, we were still commuting between house and caravan, the one before that we were living in caravans and our computer office was the ex pig/chicken hut which is now the geese's bedroom, we just borrowed it in between. 

So we are piling on the thermals but still have a couple of layers as yet to put on. And 'thankyou' to the Universe for getting the French to get the river beach cleared away when they did, because a week after they finished we went under yellow alert as the river levels rose. If the beach had been left, pretty though it was, the water would have come on to the land, and those little piggies would have been swimming around in river water rather than sloshing through mud! 

Must get on with other things now. Keep warm everyone! Unless your seasons are opposite to us, in which case, stay cool!


Sunday 10 November 2013

Chipping away

Lester, bless him, bought me these... I could start doing this...

So here is the lounge,
and the big patch you see
is the start of the new project,
and that is to get all the old lime render
off the walls.
I fear it is going to take quite some time.

We hoped that we had decent stone walls,
but it looks like we don't.
And I don't know how the walls have stood,
being made of bits of stones and tiles,
how they have stood, 
I ask myself,
for over two hundred years.

Anyway, this is how far I got last night.
At least I had started.
Lots of chipping away to do,
so best to do an hour or so per day,
don't have time to do more,
don't want to do more,
because of the number of times
I missed the head of the chisel
with the mallet,
and hit my thumb.

Not to worry,
found some thick work gloves,
which seemed to stop the sting
when I inadvertently hit myself,
which was not often
as I got better with my aim.

It took me an hour to from the first photo,
to this one. 
Ah well, at least we have started the lounge,
which is good. 
I should also build up some good arm muscles,
Little steps get the job done!
Hope you have a good Sunday,

Wednesday 6 November 2013

A new addition

'Twas a wet windy day yesterday,
with tons of rain falling,
which sent the river up high,
so just as well the removal of the beach was finished 
otherwise we might have joined in
with the river.

Not to worry,
still dry,
so stop worrying Vera,
the weather conditions at the start of the year
were unusual.
Everyone says so.
And no water came into the house,
or into the animal pens,
therefore to put aside these worrisome thought,
that perhaps
we might
float away.

And then the phone rang.
Ah, a man wanting instructions,
which he followed,
and so he came:

.... and unloaded,
and puffed and pulled his way across the mud: fetch up at the front door,
with Lester,
who was helping,
by puffing and shoving.

..... and then into  the house....

.... to be then parked up....

....with the other big parcel,
which is the first parcel's sister parcel,
because they are to be joined together,

....and a peak inside the first parcel,
to check that all was well,

.... and Lester having a fiddle with the right hand side..

.... and Lester having a fiddle with the left hand side..

.... all of which combines to make this bit of kit: brand new Rayburn wood burning stove!

Now the panic of having to read instructions,
about what holes to make in the ceiling,
and roof,
of how to join up all the pipes,
some to go to the boiler,
some to go to a couple of radiators,
some to go upwards to the sky,
and must build a cement plinth,
so that the cooker can sit higher,
and its great to have it here,
we no longer have to be worried about where it was,
as it travelled the length of France,
from England,
and it was worth the money,
because now the cutting of wood
is providing good exercise,
and a reason to go buy 
a man sized chain saw,
which can hardly be lifted,
because it is so heavy,
but not to worry,
muscles will build,
mmmmm, lovely,
but not mine though,
I can touch the chainsaw,
but must not use it,
under instructions from Lester,
who at this moment is perusing,
and worrying,
and complaining,
and swearing,
about the task of installing the Rayburn,
because he has decided to do it himself,
and well done Lester,
because life should be a learning curve,
and with your efforts,
and my Mum's contribution,
I have a Rayburn woodburning stove
upon which I can lean by chilly botty,
when the weather is cold!


Tuesday 5 November 2013

The first breath of full on winter

So all the night long it has been pouring with rain,
although we slept, sort of,
the little piglets, down in the their woodland pen,
were on our minds.
They only have a small shelter,
just enough for the time being,
not enough for much longer,
so soon, 
to spare them the harshness of winter,
they will go into the freezer.

And today everyone is indoors,
today being the first proper day of winter,
although the temperatures are not low yet,
it is a wet and grey day,
which makes one feel cold,
even if one isn't.
All have hay and straw,
all look snug enough to cuddle up to.

So today it is a raid on the food supplies,
to open up a jar or two of  summer deliciousness.
Already I have tried the cherries,
canned back in early summer,
and they are a success.
Dehydrating them was not so much of a success,
because they took a long time to dry,
although they still taste good.

And this experiment turned out alright too,...

One farmhouse cheddar, just three months old, 
stored wrapped in olive oil soaked muslin,
and left in the bottom of the fridge,
and mostly forgotten about.
Half was grated and put in the freezer,
the other half is being eaten,
and fast.
Also eating a brine cheese,
 and just made a brine soaked caerphilly.
Gathering experience as I go,
I think I can make cheese now.

...and our first harvest of kiwis...

...small and few they may be,
but they are home grown!

And this contribution to the kitchen... tinsy little egg,
with a pimple of a yolk inside.
Must have been a first effort from one of the young hens,
so to respect that effort,
I put in on top of a meat pie:
 .... not exactly the prettiest of pies,
but it was yummy,
the pastry being made with sheep fat,
which was an experiment,
but it worked.

Lissie is odd at the moment.
After having a mad day a couple of days ago,
she has gone quiet,
not eating much,
not giving much milk.
We wait to see if she is in calf. 
I have just been into her pen,
to have a girl talk chat,
about this and that.
Girls need a bit of attention,
whatever their species.

Now off to raid the larder,
bye for now,

Sunday 3 November 2013

Naughty Lissie

Lissie is under reprimand,
because she led Lester a merry dance last night,
so she has to spend the day in the sheep paddock,
away from everyone else.
This was not for the continually overturned water container,
which is an irritation for Lester,
especially when he has just filled the container up
with four buckets of water,
and she can do this,
because she has horns growing,
so she likes to practice doing things with them,
tipping the water out being one of them.

But she doesn't do mortally wounding stuff,
like a bull would perhaps do
to one's body.
No, so far she has limited the use of her horns,
to tipping over the water,
thus requiring more carrying of water to the field,
and more cleaning out of her pen.

But last night she surpassed herself,
not with her horns,
but with her feet.
Because she would not come in with the others,
and it was getting dark,
so Lester went into the field to fetch her,
and she parked herself in the small copse,
backing off when Lester approached her,
not interested in the bucket of maize,
not wanting to obey the man,
oh but she nearly did,
and than some spark of naughtiness came into her head,
and she did a sideways dart round him,
bounced herself over the field,
right over the other side,
then bounced back again,
and through the gate.

Up the drive,
out onto the lane,
with Lester hot footing it behind her,
holding his trousers up with one hand as he did so,
because they keep falling down
when he moves faster than a walk.
It was at this point that he yelled out for me,
so now two against one.

Over onto the newly seeded field,
the one which is next door to our side field,
which now has two sets of footprints imprinted
on the neatly ploughed surface,
that is where Lissie galloped,
still prancing,
still kicking up her heels.

Round and round she went,
until Lester managed to head her off,
upon which she saw me with the bucket,
and did follow me,
oh nice Lissie,
good Lissie,

But no,
almost to the door of the tall barn,
and she did a prance sideways,
and round the front garden she galloped,
then out onto the lane,
down the drive,
past the home field entrance,
past the piglet pen,
turning right,
along the path to the river,
where she got stuck,
because there is no path down to the river beach any more,
all is now gone,
instead there is fast flowing river water,
which stopped Lissie in her tracks,
upon which Lester caught her.

Now as docile as could be,
she walked beside him,
back to bed.
But by now,
it was too dark to milk,
so we didn't.

She got her own back,
because this morning,
at milking,
she put her foot in the almost full bucket of milk,
and refused to shift it.
This is a new habit of hers,
making the milk useless for our use,
her foot usually having a good quantity
of cow pat stuck to it,
although the milk is not exactly wasted,
because it is fed to the piglets,
who will eventually,
bless them,
be eaten,
so we partake of the milk
but in a roundabout way.

As a reprimand, therefore,
Lissie was put in the sheep paddock,
there to spend the day mooing and sulking,
but at the end of the day she was quieter
and we did get some milk,
thankyou Lissie.
and we look forward to your future escapades,
which is the price we pay,
for the contribution you make towards our farm:
milk, butter, cheese, yoghurt,
clabbered milk and curds for cooking with,
whey and milk for the pigs,
whey and milk for the dogs,
milk leavings for the chickens,
much manure for the veg plot,
and a future meat supply should you have a male calf.
Bless you.

Now all we have to do is find some patience,
when you are in diva cow mood.