It’s raining again. Our boiler room and kitchen stove are festooned with muddy wet leggings and coats. They’re supposed to be waterproof, but rain is surprisingly adept at finding its way through to the layers underneath. Changes of clothes require washing; mud and water create housework. I’m struggling to keep pace, especially when outside work takes longer in these soggy conditions.
We’ve had to rescue sheep that have been marooned by water. Thankfully we got our cattle off the marshes on the last fine day. Rainfall pluses are no hosepipe ban and our rain water harvesting tanks are being kept topped up.
To minimise cattle time in the shed, we leave cattle out until ground conditions dictate otherwise. With the warm autumn, we reluctantly got them in for their routine TB test, but it turned out to be optimal timing. Colder and wetter weather set in and so consequently the cattle remain in, albeit in their old accommodation but hopefully they’ll soon be upgraded to the new shed.
Our grand but empty shed has recently been used for parking cars, tractors etc., awaiting the arrival of the internal fixings. A lorry delivered most of these last week. Nigel had the honour of unloading this precariously stacked cargo, which involved some skillful driving. Gates, barriers and water troughs all stacked on metal pallets worth £500 a piece according to the driver, who was keen to have them returned to his lorry.
On Saturday it was all go in the shed, with much measuring, consulting of diagrams, head scratching and opening of packages going on. Eventually ten 45cm diameter holes, a metre deep, were created in readiness for concreting in ground sockets into which the gate posts should hopefully slot, fingers crossed.
The men were very pleased with their efforts. I hasten to add that I made myself busy elsewhere; a morning spent cooking pizzas at the farm pop up, followed by an afternoon playing location, location, in other words house shopping with eldest daughter in Seaford. Nearly as much fun as tup buying, maybe more, as she’s buying.
I’ve concluded that you can look at photos displayed and read all the facts and form an opinion, but that’s no substitute for physically seeing with your own eyes. A house we had discounted on paper turned out to be by far the best. It’s the same as reading a livestock market report. Unless you’ve seen the animals for sale in the flesh it’s difficult to fully understand the prices. Either way, both are far more fun than housework, office work or farm jobs.
Both Kizzy and a mouse clearly failed to do a risk assessment when they decided to cross the floor in the new barn. Kizzy is our 13 year-old kelpie x collie who patrols the farmyard at night and invariably greets you with a wagging tail when you open the door in the morning. In her youth her rodent catching capabilities were legendary; there’d be a trail of trophies left around the farm.
These days she occasionally gets lucky, but less so. On Sunday morning there was no sign or sound from Kizzy; we checked her usual haunts, nothing. Heading for the new barn we discovered her in the third hole, looking somewhat embarrassed but happy to be rescued. In the fourth hole was a mouse.
A while ago in the middle of the night, I awoke and realised I hadn’t shut the chickens up, so I romantically consulted my other half to see if by any chance he’d done it. Alas this was not the case. I then lay in bed thinking how cosy I felt, in contrast to the cold and wet outside. Next, I embraced the idea of not having to clean out the chicken house. Then I envisaged Mr fox feasting on my poor innocent chickens and thought how I would miss newly laid eggs.
I made my way over to the hen house attired in dressing gown and wellies. I shone the torch through the hatch to check the hens. All were present but they had visitors, two enormous rats and one youngster who all popped out of the hatch and ran down the ramp. Kizzy was nowhere to be seen. The rats scuttled off in the direction of our new hedge.
I vowed to get rid of these pests; how dare they eat my chickens’ food? The hen house is made of metal, except for the wooden nest box attached to the side. The only way in is through the open hatch or via the nest box. Those cheeky rats didn’t like their night feast being disturbed and consequently gnawed a hole through the top of the nest box, but I’ve plugged that with wire wool. It’s a bit like playing a game of chess, but once I enlist the help of all six dogs, I reckon it’ll be check mate.
My tups are in. I decided to fit raddles on them so I could keep track of their progress. With one flock it’s working well. Not so good with the rams in the marsh flock who got their harnesses in a right pickle, I’ve had to take them off, which has scuppered all my plans of having an organised lambing schedule. Even the best plans can go astray.
Has Rishi Sunak got a plan? Will appointing Sir David as Foreign Secretary restore the public’s faith in politicians? I doubt it. Cameron’s involvement with Greensill sounds dodgy to me. Steve Barclay has been demoted (according to the media), which suggests that they don’t value the environment. He now takes over from Therese Coffey. She was apparently suffering from ministerial stress. Best not try farming then.
Have you ordered your turkey? Festive feasting is fast approaching. When I write my Christmas list to post up the chimney along with those written by the grandchildren, I’m thinking I’d better ask for an automatic chicken coop door, although I’d probably press the wrong button and set it up wrong. I wonder if they make robots that can clean hen houses? Or is that a case of “too good to be true”?
Season’s greetings, have a good one.