Sunday, 25 July 2010

Buzz off!!

I've got the weekend off this week and this morning my intention was to get up, let out and feed all the various livestock, and then head back to bed with a magazine and enjoy a lie in. Well it's now 5 hours later and I am still wandering around the house from job to job no nearer to heading back up the ladder.

Neil is working in London today on a bollywood set - breakfast for him was a jalfrezi wrap at 8am. He says he can't wait for lunch now. He is a complete asian food nut, fuelled by several backbacker trips in his younger days and loves the opportunity to sample authentic dishes.

The pigs seem to have settled in well, and are becoming much more animated and playful, much to Tess's amusement

What isn't amusing me is the return of the blasted flies - There I was thinking that the cold blast we had in winter had killed off the little buggers and that perhaps filling in several of the holes in our walls and floor had made a difference to the fly population in our house, but this morning there are loads of the little swines flying around the house.
Several people have different theories on reducing the fly population. Some keep all window and shutters closed, others keep them all open so they can go in and out at will. I did try hanging a little clear bag with some centimes in which is supposed to be a failsafe remedy but didn't seem to work at all. Has anyone got any other ideas.....

For the moment the horses are taking respite under the apple tree and I can't say I blame them.

Thursday, 22 July 2010


I hate to say it but I have just taken a bit of satisfaction in my piglets having just had a shock off the electric fence, for no other reason than at least now I know it works and can leave the house without worrying about escapees.

I did a double take when I got home today as they were happily grazing in with the chickens in the pen next door to their pig run. They had sniffed out the weak spot in the fencing - which was a section that I hadn't fenced permanently in case I wanted to get the digger in to dig them a wallow. Now I am wishing I hadn't been so thoughtful. I have always heard that pigs are escapologists - but they worked out our weak spot sooner than I had imagined.

My farmer neighbour has offered to lend me a big pig ark (or cabin as he calls it), So I need to get on with fencing the land across the road and making sure it is completely pig proof.

Neil has gone off back to the UK today to attend the stag do that he has organised for our dear friend Warney. They have called it the 'Stagger', and are walking in the Cotswolds (between pubs) in a male bonding exercise.
If I know Neil I will probably get a call from a hedge somewhere when he is lost and covered in blisters.
That or he won't actually leave the pub they are starting from.
God help Gloucestershire!

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Latest Arrivals

After a very frantic day of organising on Saturday, yesterday we went and picked up the latest additions to the what I suppose could now be called our smallholding - two cul noir pigs.
Cul noir are a local Limousin breed which roughly translates to 'Black Arse'. Apparently they are a slow growing breed with good tasting meat and rather importantly for first timers, a good temperament. Sat next to me I have what is supposed to be a bit of a pig keepers bible "Starting with Pigs" by Andy Case,so I have some reading to do.

My one is the black one and they are 3 months old. The aim is to keep them for roughly six months before we will have to buy new freezers to put them in!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Phew it's hot...

I'm sitting here quietly melting and stinging rather, as I have been out waging war on the brambles and nettles, which were retaliating viciously (aided and abetted by the dreaded horsefly.)I also have a war wound where I managed to stab myself with a screwdriver trying to put very large strimmer cable on the strimmer. Does the job though, I wouldn't like to see what it would do on flesh.

Our final tally on Sundays' chick front was six, which makes a total of 13 running around in varying sizes. I'd love to know how many are cockerells and therefore destined for the pot, but I have only seen two squaring up so far.

I'm going to see a woman on Sunday who breeds cul noir piglets, perhaps with the intention of bringing a couple home if I have everything organised by then.
Our friend Keith is desperate to have a pig, but has no land, so I said he could have one here and we would get one too. I have seen the pictures of the litter and had to stop myself going "oh - that one looks cute!', which would be a disasterous start.
I must learn not to get attached. If I do give it a name it is going to be Rasher, as that will be where it is headed.

It still seems very quiet without Tam. Someone told me that normally if a kitten makes it to over a year old he will hopefully be streetwise and not too daft. Tam must have just been approaching that. So sad.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

New Arrivals

The hens have been busy trying to re-stock our flock. Two hens dutifully went broody and today we have had 5 chicks hatch (so far) - I think mother hen was sitting on seven eggs but as she is rather fiesty I am leaving her to her own devices. I did mangage to take these pics though

The last clutch were born 24 days ago and are looking good and strong - amazing how they grow...

After the fox massacred several of my flock I sent the remaining duck to live a hopefully fox-free existance with a friend of mine and the hens have been penned in for some time now. Hopefully with the field cut the fox will have less places to hide and they might be able to be totally free range again sometime soon.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Bloody Marvellous

I know it's pathetic, and I don't know when I turned into such a saddo - but today I got excited about..........mowing!!!!

Our fields have got into a right old state this year - my friend who grazes her horses here has had good intentions to come and sort them out, but the weeds and bracken (never a good combination for horse paddocks) had gone mad and taken over so I took matters into my own hands.

Cue the quad-X.

Cue the Bracken


I think it's brilliant. I want one. I'm not giving it back.
OK, I'll shut up now.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Happy to be home

I had a really good weekend in the UK, It was lovely to see old friends and to spend a day in London. I am not a 'townie' at all, but London is an amazing city - we sped through it on the Thames on a RIB (rigid inflatable speedboat) and once we had passed underneath Tower Bridge the driver let rip and we were hammering along the river waving at everyone along the banks in posh bars and flats screaming along to cheesy 'Top Gun' music and enjoying the cooling spray of the water.

Even after such a short time I was glad to be going home, and very quickly it felt like I had never been away.
The chicks seemed to have shot up even after those few days and Monday the second clutch should be hatching. The field has been totally overrun with head height weeds, so some friends have lent me a cutter that you drag behind a quad that amazingly has transformed the half I managed to cut. Hopefully the sun will wilt all the dreaded cut bracken.

A local farmer has cut our other field for hay and he said it really needs turning over and some crop rotation or something. I am seriously thinking about getting pigs, Vera whose blog (http://vera-labartere.blogspot.com/) is very pig orientated at the moment is whetting my appetite (in more ways than one!).
They say pigs are the perfect smallholders animal, as they plough your land whilst fertilising it and then you get to eat the plough. Not sure about the last bit yet but I think it could work for our land.

For now though, the weeds are taking over and tomorrow I need to get out there with some marigolds and wage some war!!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Ferral from France

As I may have mentioned before, my friend Judith reckons that she and I have gone a bit ferral since we became habitants of France (although she in particular can scrub up extreemly well when the occasion permits), but it has become screemingly obvious she has a point as I have now spent over 24 hours in the UK observing the locals.

Everyone here looks extreemly well turned out, and I notice that people look very health concious with bottles of water attached to their hands - well, those that aren't attached to ipods or busy flicking at the screens of large internet phones.

Driving still isn't fun. I have seen more cars this morning than I have seen in the entire three years I have been permanently based in France, and most of them were moving at a maximum ten miles an hour (if they were lucky).

Luckily I have managed to bag some medical cover work. I had to pick up a Galaxy car today and drive to the BBC for a pilot show to be filmed. When I finally got to Wood Lane I had to drive into a 17 storey car park that was so low I found myself ducking as I was driving along. How the bar of blue lights on the top of the car didn't get ripped off on every level I do not know.
I decided which of the bags of equipment to lug down to the studio for a variety of scenarios, but no-one had told me that the highlight of the show was when the audience voted people off and they were dropped through a trap door at speed. I had to walk back up several floors to get more equipment 'just in case'.
The celebrities on the show were good fun and I hope it gets commisioned.

Tomorrow I am off to Oxford for a day as a medic for a dragon boat race, so I am hoping for some good weather and hoping that these two days will have earnt me enough to pay for the copious quantities of alcohol to be consumed on the hen do on Saturday!!