Tuesday 19 June 2018

Fish, milker, garlic......

The river water came from the far line of those trees, and covered our main field to a depth and force sufficient to push the fence wire away from the posts...

...the water line can be seen by the dark line on the first post. 
Lots of things got caught up in the wire and left on the field, 
leaves, branches, plastic water bottles, etc.... and these....

A fish. already found by birds, crows probably who were partaking of its flesh.
I put my boot near it so you could get an idea of its size.

and then we found another one in the gully.
Lester had to remove it because the sheep and cows will be back on the field soon.

.... and away into the woods he took it....
And then he came back for another one, 
which was so heavy that he had trouble getting it moved to the woods.

......which was so heavy that he had trouble getting it moved to the woods.

These were big fish, and I am sad that they died in such a way, not in their natural environment, and quite a slow death I would have thought. But at least it shows that if the river can support such good size fish, then it is a healthy river, which is nice to know. 

I also will think twice about paddling in the river. Sometimes on hot summer days we have paddled up aways, wading through water which is above our knees, which has a wonderful therapeutic effect on our legs. Not sure I am likely to do that again, I would not like to bump into such big fish. So they are not flesh eating sharks, but my imagination says they are!

To change the subject..... the mini milking machine has arrived, and is not so 'mini' as we thought it would be. 

It is going here..... in the smaller of the two cow pens. Lester took many wheelbarrow loads of manure out to Veg Plot Two so the the pen is now clear. All that has to be done is to get that floor scrubbed clean which is going to take a lot of effort to do, but it is a necessary job to turn this space into a mini milking parlour.  

At the moment this job is not being done because we need to get the fence wire cleaned up so we can get it attached to the fence posts again, so the cows and sheep can get back on to the field. 

But, oh joy of joys, although we have still not had a full day of sunshine this year, at least we have had no rain for five days, which is a relief to us all, the animals included. 

.... and a surprise harvest of garlic from out of the raised beds.

So the fishes have become without life, and are now in the woods being recycled by other 'still in life' creatures, the Cow Project has moved a step forward, Bonny has been artificially inseminated so hopefully will be in calf again, and we have a supply of garlic which we ourselves are going to recycle by using them in our own food, but keeping a few bulbs to plant again, and we are catching up on jobs that should have been done a few weeks ago now that the rain has stopped. 

Bye for now,


Thursday 14 June 2018

The visit of the water......

..... the river water is on its way down, which is a good thing. A few hours ago the water almost reached our back gates. It was alarming to see how fast the water rose. It has never done that before, but we have had the wettest June on record so there is a lot of water about.

The Main Field and our woodland became one with the river yesterday afternoon, the field becoming totally covered in water which stretched across its width to the lane, shutting off access to the next village. 

We could hear the river roaring, and could hear it all night too, even when indoors. We can't hear it so much now, which means that the worst of the flood is now done with. 

Although the water came within a metre of the side of the house, our log pile and its blanket of weeds acted as a barrier to the water. It is a good job that we had not gone forward with the Sorting out the Wood Pile Project, otherwise the water would have closer to us that what it actually did. 

We live by the river, so of course we will have floods occasionally, we know that. And our house is on a rise so if our house did become flooded then everyone else would be in dire trouble. It is just that watching the brown water marching its way towards the house does imprint itself in the head, and it will take a while to get that picture out of the head.

So the house remains undamaged, but the Main Field has taken a battering. It cannot be grazed for a couple of weeks at least, which means that the cows and sheep will have to stay on the Side Field. The temperatures are on the rise, and there is no shade on that field, plus the grazing is not enough to  keep the sheep and cows fed for more that a day or two. Fortunately we might have some hay left over from the winter, although that might be soaked through by the rain. Hay is going to be expensive this year because of the wet weather, and most farmers seem to have cut for silage rather than hay because of the lack of dry weather to dry the cut grass. 

...... and the fences in the Main Field look like they have been damaged by the force of the river as it came across the field, with the fence posts having been pushed over, and the fencing wire scrumpled up.  That will take a time to fix, but will have to be done before the cows and sheep can use that field again. 

A friend stood on the bridge over the river yesterday, and said that he saw a large tree hurtling along in the torrent. It is most likely that it is one of our trees. We anticipate a lot of erosion of the woodland. Not to worry, it is as it is. 

Feeling tired, so best to start again fresh tomorrow. Lester is out milking the cows and I must attend to the washing up in the back kitchen, which seems to procreate itself..... it does not make babies but it does seem to make more of itself.

Singing tunelessly to myself.......'it's good to be a smallholder, it is, it is, it is.......' I put my pinny on and go fight the good fight with the washing up.


Wednesday 13 June 2018

The Shearing Project....and things

Sheep Shearing Time

...... rounding them up....

.... managed to get a few into the back pen...

.... and Lester and friend making a joint effort to shear the ram.....

.... watched by Lissie and Bonnie, who are always very interested in whatever is going on.

And that's that, the sheep keep their fleeces because the shearing tool could not take it from them, because:
- either it was not the right time to shear, the weather having been unseasonally cold and wet,
-  or the shearing tool was blunt,
- or the action of shearing was not right. 

Oh well, the weather still remains its inclement self, we are still in winter clothes although we have removed our thermals, the sheep keep their fleece for a while longer until we can sort out another shearing session, and  I felt the change of seasons last night when out chatting with the chickens, it is the longest day soon, and we could do with some dry weather to get things done. 

The dark blob on the screen is a rain drop.

The brown water is what the rain has deposited over the last few days, and the big tree is the oak tree which is huge this year, and we fear lest the oak will topple over with the weight of the leaves and its baby acorns, its roots no longer able to hold it upright because of the ground being saturated. Nothing we can do about this, but wait.

The Main Field beyond the oak is also saturated with rain water and river seepage, so is out of action for grazing. 

Our Wood Pile, definitely not drying out for winter use. 

.... and being delivered in February. The wood was supposed to be stacked and covered, but the rains came before we could do that. It is another job with the weather has not allowed us to get done. It is hard to watch the fuel for next winter being drowned in a sea of  wet vegetation, which will have to be cut down before we can start stacking that wood.

And another job not done is the maintenance of the raised beds....

.... they need refilling, but I could not get to the pile of compost out in the back veg plots, because of the overgrown state of the land in between, which was too wet to cut because of the rain. But we do have a self seeded courgette, and small row of onions, and a few lettuce. I wait to get the compost before I can plant seeds.

  You can also see the overgrown state of the paths round the raised beds, which do get cut but then it rains, which makes the weeds grow back again at a phenomenal rate. It is difficult to keep on top of things at the moment. 

Oh dear, ..... I find myself lapsing into moans and groans about the effort of trying to run a smallholding when the weather is not being particularly helpful, so I shall close. Being a smallholder certainly creates a strong inner self,  and if it doesn't then you will give up the quest to provide food for yourself, and I find myself having a growing respect for people who lived in past times, when if you were unable to grow a harvest for winter use then you would starve. 

We won't starve because food is readily available for us to buy at supermarkets, even though that food is not particularly healthy because of the amount of chemicals it is subjected to.

Is it worth the effort of battling against things, like the weather, bugs, etc....., just to feed yourself as best you can? Yes, it is, because the lifestyle and fulfillment that goes with the effort is beyond price. 
...... Oh well done, Vera, you have just talked yourself into being positive again, so well done you. 

So bye for now, the sun has appeared so I am going to get outside before the rain starts again. It will be too wet to do anything on the smallholding, but at least I can sit and crochet. 


Friday 1 June 2018

Indoors, so cobwebs, writing, and trousers assembled.

Been out in Veg Plots 1 & 2 this morning. Avoided Veg Plot 3. Did not even look at it. Knew it to be beyond help at the moment. But the other two  veg plots were do-able, so I took my scythe and the dog and we did an hour's worth of scything, taking the heads off anything which was growing, including some wild chamomile and poppies. I did say sorry to them, but there were thistles and other nasties staring to sprout up amongst them, so all had to be cut.

I did about a third of each of these plots. I avoided going out into the Front Garden as I have become defeated by the overwhelming amount of thick, head high grass, all soaking wet from the continual bouts of rain we are having. I am trying not to look at the piles of newly cut wood, supposed to be drying for use as next winter's fuel, but now soaking wet and becoming overgrown with a wild rampant creeper. It was supposed to be simple job to stack that wood over the remains of  last winter's log pile, but that log pile, too, is swiftly becoming overgrown with the creeper, which is everywhere, and growing so swiftly that if I took the time to watch I would see it grow. 

However....... it is just as it is, and I must not be downcast about this most unusual pattern of weather we are having at the moment. No use in moaning about not being able to get outside to do things, because it is beyond my control, so what I have been doing is utilizing this time to:

- continue on with the endless battle to get the cobwebs removed, as made by the huge population of house spiders we have in residence. We have wooden ceilings and lime plastered walls, which makes it easy for these little spiders to make good sized cobwebs. I don't like taking life, but if I did not despatch these little insects into insect heaven we would have cobwebs everywhere, and I mean everywhere. 

- stop looking at YouTube and Facebook, but to concentrate on re-engaging with my writing projects, and there are a lot of them. This is good for me as it exercises my mind in a positive way. Not sure if I shall ever get published, but it does not matter, engaging with the word flows is enough.

- get back to my dressmaking. I have been making myself a pair of trousers which I shall wear to my meditation group. Everyone sits on the floor, but a couple of us sit on chairs. Recently I have been blessed with the urge to sit on the floor as well. I know not why, but it is quite as urge. And two weeks ago I did respond to that urge, but only on to my knees. The last section of the meditation evening requires us all to move into a circle in the middle of the group and to and join hands, which is easy for those already sitting on the floor because all they need to do is shuffle into position on the bums. But I have to stand up, turn round, and lift the chair I am sitting on into position. So..... on this particular evening I felt motivated to have a go at getting down on the floor, but not all the way as I was concerned in case I was not able to get up again, so I compromised by going down  on to my knees, which was halfway. I felt quite impressed with myself. However, how to get up again...... so I went on all fours and moved myself backwards out of the circle like a reversing truck, then asked for assistance to get upright again. My efforts were rewarded by claps and cheers from the others. I did a curtsey to show my thanks. I was wearing a skirt, so this I could do. But it came into my mind that perhaps a skirt was not appropriate wear for anything to do with getting up and down from the floor, so trousers need to be made to protect my modesty.

Ah, the sun is out, so methinks I shall have a go at getting the raised beds cleared of anything which should not be there because I am thinking of buying some veg seedlings to put in them. The veg plots are staying unplanted this year, but will be receiving lots of manure and rotted green stuff ready for next year.

Bye for now,