Winter Is Coming…

Rain beats the mobile home and it shudders under the blast of  an unruly wind. It has taken me a while to post the two posts below – in fact the sheep flock left here in August and the fields fell silent and I cleaned out the shed and made that back over into a more horse centric environment.

The shearing machine still hangs from the ceiling and the scales rest in the corner but the flock won’t be back and neither will a new one.

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First to the Big Screen..

Grass growth has been lush without the ewes and the neighbours young calves are tackling the lower fields for a while,  a friendly bundling mass of black and white that moves as a whole and then spreads out along the interconnecting fence line to watch us at our day as if we are their fav’ TV show.

The sheep flock sold very well and I ‘topped the market’ and got a mention which was ironic as the first time I ever sent stock through a market – Axminster that was then – I did the same and couldn’t understand the fuss – this time clutching a much bigger cheque than I imagined I would get selling at that time of year in that way – I felt at least that it wasn’t all wasted, that my ‘investment’ paid off – it helped a little when the silence crept in and around the place and when my eye was drawn to the far hedge I then remembered  there were no lambs to get caught in it…

The weather has ‘come in now’ wet and wild and we are still not yet back in the farm house and my mum is also in the mobile home with us. Fodder is stored for the horses and shavings for beds if they need them. Apples lie un cidered for the marauding geese and winter is coming …

Today is definitely a day for the ‘fishing onsie’ and the beanie hat!

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Garden To Go…

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I have gardened this patch of ground for 28 years – I had it ploughed out of the field. It is MY garden.

After we developed rabbits – we managed with Flexinet for several years – I did a lambing season next door and Graham put up proper rabbit fence and I dug it in – that was about 25 years ago and the fence has got old – scary that I have gardened long enough to have rotted a fence…

So given no veg could be grown this year due to Open House Surgery we took the opportunity to pull out the fence ready to be replaced as soon as Graham has time. We also pulled out the wretched Privet hedge that I – fledgling skint gardener – had thought was A Good Idea to grown from cuttings… Nasty thing grew like hell, was impossible to control, killed more veg than it protected and was an actual slug and snail farm.

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Gardening By JCB…

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Soft fruit bushes got a good prune…

 

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When I came here the remains of the cottage garden was to the west of the house in Kites Close and near the base of an old greenhouse was this Rhubarb plant –

It was the first thing I planted in this garden and all lawn mowings since have been piled on it – and it remains – with some chives and the Moss Roses I brought from The Biddle – my childhood home – as the last traces of my veg garden.

I applied two coats of chemicals – Roundup and SBK.

I hired a Rotavator a few weeks ago  – but the ground was too hard. I want to get it gone over before spring if I can – or at least somewhere clean on it to stack the goose manure  -which now the sheep have been sold and the horses are on shavings is my only source of FYM!

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It is as if I was never here…Ouch!

So it begins again…

 

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Back To My Roots…

A packet of ear tags arrived today. The tags that will go in the ears of my flock as they are disbanded later this week and I will no longer be farmer – not an accidental farmer me – only by design – smallholdered as a child in my parents garden, Ag college , self empolyed working on farms and relief milking, herdswoman and then tenant farmer – goats, pigs, sheep and more cows on 28 acres of West Dorset – for not the last not quite 30 years ago – own the place now and I have expanded to 50 acres using my absent /non farming neighbours’ lands but now I am giving up –  house is undergoing major open house surgery and I am in a mobile home – the old infrastructure of the farm is in dire need of repair and I have been chasing errant lambs too often these last few months – so I decided to call time for now or I will be lambing again in November and we will be in utter chaos everywhere… My garden is a building site where once was a large productive veg plot, my soft fruit is neck deep in weeds – but the orchard is wonderful – and I am writing surrounded by heavily laden trees – we have three barrels of cider left under dust from the builders and three jars of the extra strong apple wine under the stairs….All is not lost.

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Cider making by the big back door

 It seems to me suddenly facing silent empty fields for real this week that I am starting again – not stopping at all – just returning to my roots and that something new will grow in it’s place.

New growth from old roots…

I had given up milking cows many years ago and never thought to go back to it but last year a young neighbour’s impending nuptials had me back in the pit doing my bit to ensure they could leave the farm and cows for a couple of days and I loved it – the chance to go back and reconnect with my 13 year old self who would cycle to the nearest farm and get their cows in just for the joy of it.
Similarly having had young ponies to back for some years I had got fed up with the road traffic situation and I had more or less stopped riding – then a chance conversation with a neigbour as we were topping my fields brought one of his slower young home bred point to pointers – Buddy – into my life and the joy of riding for miles returned to me.
So may be this is another chance to go back and see why I started this – it is crazy really we have had the full range of stock and produced all kinds of produce but I still adore it – the producing food and making things, being with the stock – breeding them, birthing them and seeing them safely out of the world too – the whole cycle of life – still gives me the frizz of excitement it always did
This place has been fabulous and though it looks a wreck now something will grow out of this – aged 50 and downsizing? Not so much – I have been writing more or less full time for a couple of years while still doing some off farm lambings and that writing is taking shape and I am learning to put web sites together and I am still riding –  now there will be me, the horses and the 13 geese 2 hens and the rest is pretty much a bomb site.  – my mum will return and I suppose carry on spinning and weaving as her health allows and husband will still be trucking – though there have been mutterings of his retirement…
Seeing our home dismantled was hard even though it was falling down – but it has long passed the point of no return on the way back up again and Mum has been safe in the holiday cottage in the village – it occurs to me as I write that she won’t have fleece to spin and weave her rugs with now – unless she gets it else where – which of course she can  and that our dogs may never be called stock safe again but I think I am being a drama queen and I digress…

The future then…

May be I will get that polly tunnel I always fancied when we are straight – it occurs to me that it might be a good time to blog about the place – I have always journalled the life here  for record and account and to keep me sane I had not thought to add it to my site as until this morning when those tags arrived I had thought the job over and done with as too old and past it but of course land isn’t like that – farming isn’t like that and neither is smallholding – we till and plant and reap and store and then we start again – how ever did I think this was over? 😉
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Last Call…

Was OK till I had to do the last call to the flock to come in… it was more sob than shout as they got up and ran towards me then they  thinned out as usual into their flock order and started to trek up to the shed – that is a sight that will be forever etched in my mind.

The Flock With A View

Some of the flock with some of the view.

I have been SO lucky…

   People lose stock and farms everyday due to debts, disease, of accident retirement after a life time – or even as caretaker following several life times togetherness with stock on a patch of ground – I am choosing to let go of the flock now recognising my buildings are sagging and the lack of fencing on neighbour’s ground that I use is causing trouble – not to mention me sagging without age friendly handling equipment – but I feel it – I want to know that they are cared for or meet a humane end so my responsibility isn’t over. Tagging them and checking them over in pouring rain has been a hard day for them and me – but they are tucked up in the barn with the last of the hay now.
They will go in two lots the main flock tomorrow and the rest next week, hopefully not leaving me with the rams for yet another trip.

Get up when you fall down…

Then I will have to get straight in and clean out the sheds and yarding and collect the fencers and electric fencing before it gets grown in and lost and as soon as the scaffold starts to come down on the house and we can make a start on picking up the millions of nails the roofers have dropped we can get around and top the fields – yes they will be empty but they won’t look like ‘the washing up has been left in the sink as it were in an otherwise empty house’.
From the horse POV – when the carpenter has finished with the house roof and the bits and bobs inside he can now deal with the barn repairs and the over hanging ashtree that taps the roof constantly in a breeze and hammers night and day in a gale. They may have a snugger winter this year because they won’t be vacating for two lambing sessions – or as usually happens constant lambing from Oct to March!
So though today I feel I could or should have done more to avoid this – I know that chewing over more ‘coulds’ and ‘shoulding’ on myself is pointless – I have always done the best I can and this at least gives me a chance to come up for air before paddling on.
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