Category Archives: Animals

A flying visit home

First ripe fruit: All Gold Raspberry ~ 16th September 2012

First ripe fruit: All Gold Raspberry ~ 16th September 2012

I mean to blog so much more than I do and my silence doesn’t mean that I am not still here or thinking through what I would like to say about the exciting and the mostly day-to-day unexciting things that are going on right now as I am doing them but at the moment the words are just not getting any further than that.

Even my plans which are so vivid and bright as they race around my head become dull and fade to a smudgy idea when I try to make sense or put them down anywhere.

Sweet Million Tomatoes ~ September 2012

Sweet Million Tomatoes ~ September 2012

Today I have had a flying visit home, one day off out of two weeks of solid work. I love coming home and walking up the garden path and seeing what has developed whilst I was away; today it was a flush of ripe tomatoes and the first ripe All Gold raspberry.

 It’s been a productive day; I’ve cleared away the last of the hedge trimmings from the path, filled a raised bed with manure, been to see my goats and done the rounds with them and the sheep and measured up and carried on clearing more of what will become my vegetable garden.

Now it is dark outside and it’s time to set myself up for an early start in the morning.

Bye-bye moos

Well, after many false starts we have sold the cows and they were collected last weekend.

The Dexters – Pumkin and Pippin – have gone to join a small ‘hobby’ herd not to far away.

Dexters; Pumkin & Pippin - July 2012

Dexters; Pumkin & Pippin – July 2012

Dexters; Pumkin & Pippin - July 2012

Dexters; Pumkin & Pippin – July 2012

And Chloe, who has turned out to be a freemartin has gone to the butchers. It is a shame as she would have made the prefect house cow for us but we took the risk of her being one when we took her on  

Chloe - July 2012

Chloe – July 2012

Chloe - July 2012

Chloe – July 2012

Progress

Dandelions reach up for the last of the evening sun as they close - 22nd April 2012

Dandelions reach up for the last of the evening sun as they close – 22nd April 2012

Last year was most definitely one of massive change for me; I moved house, my dad spent months seriously ill mostly in hospital and then died, I was made redundant for the third time from a job I loved and at a time when unemployment for people my age was rising each month and the relationship I had been in all of my adult life ended.

All of these things have completely changed the shape of my life forever and will carry on doing so for years to come I would imagine but it has also been the kick-up-the-bum I needed for me to take stock and decide what is most important to myself and what it is I really want from my life; a little hillside with my very own ‘hobbit hole’.

 This want is something that has been forming for years now but something over the last year has just clicked and made me realise I can make it real  and not just have it as an “if only…In a prefect world” dream.

Summer blooms - 20th August 2011

Summer blooms – 20th August 2011

I am a strong person and one of the things that makes me strong is the connection to the land I have. I feel most alive when I am out in *it*, cleaning out goat sheds, sowing seeds and watching the sky change. It is what I know and understand and when I am away from it I feel trapped and boxed in…

Willow capkins - 21st April 2010

Willow capkins – 21st April 2010

After my last redundancy I made some bad choices; I was so concerned with having a job I didn’t really consider the reason for working and told myself I could make it work. I was wrong and as a result the job/s I have had since November really haven’t been working, most weeks I worked six days a week and my only day off a week was as a result of me putting my foot down and even then that was often pushed with requests to work an extra shift; I am so much more than my job. I know it is possibly a thought that never even crossed others minds but I am a good carer*  because of the me that I am away from work and working six days a week for not enough money doesn’t leave much room for this.

However this has hopefully now changed and a few weeks ago I started a new job which will hopefully give me some sort of balance between work and home life as well as enough income, and so long as I am careful some left over to put into savings towards my hillside. It does of course come with its down sides; a week on week off rota so I shall be away every other week but hopefully these weeks can be used to learn the skills I am going to need e.g. green building and living off grid and maybe even extra time to blog and share what I learn.

Round house - 24th October 2010

Round house – 24th October 2010

Lots of things are going to have to change; the way I garden and allotment, the animals I keep… Thankfully I have my mother and sister who are happy to look after what I already have whilst I am away but thoughts of more chickens or some quail will need to go on hold for the forseeable future. I am going to need to learn and apply more permaculture methods to growing and storing food and I have questions about what to do about seed sowing next spring if I am going to be away. Growing in pots isn’t going to work as well as it did last year but it is all do able and feels like I might just be moving forward at long last.

*and this isn’t just me being big-headed about myself it is what I have been told by both my employers and something I believe when I have seen the way some others work

Trundling along

This was begun a week or so ago, just after the sun had burned the frost of my hill and before yet another day of going to work… (I also knew where my camera was at the time but don’t now so now photos I’m afraid)

Things seem to be back to a ‘stand still holding your breath’ stage at the moment and even though little in roads in the right direction are being made I hate the waiting for the return of ‘normal’, whatever that maybe now. Most of it revolves around work and money, which makes the waiting even more frustrating as it is all waiting on others to take action or make their minds up whilst I am left floating along with the days turning into weeks and my plans having to be made in a months timescale instead of what I’d like… And even some of those have had to be put back.

I hate the control money has on everything and the way it makes me feel when there isn’t enough of it; as though I am in some way an inadequate person and as though there is an extra strain on just getting the day-to-day done. I so truly wish I was in a position to not have such a need but I’m not sure that that could ever be reached, and not without first having enough money to begin with. Money seems to be the line between existing and *living* and I want to live and not just for work as so many others seem to have to.

Any way, I am making small (what feel like tiny just now) inroads and this is what I’m trying to focus on… Grumpy poor-me moan over.

Bella kidded two weeks ago, another little boy. He is sooo tiny up to Dumbledor (that is what Briony’s kid was named) and I can’t believe that there is such a difference in just a month. He is darker in colour but already has patches coming through and is going to be more like his mum and Knightshade in looks. He’s been named Dougal.

Just before the cold weather hit I decided to start sowing, hence why I am sitting here with a windowsill of leggy seedlings, and popped three courgette seeds into a pot with a “three courgettes isn’t much to lose” kind of shrug and added a windowsill growing kit of chillies and a packet of Nasturtium for good measure. I think I really needed to get my hands in some soil and see the tiny shoots of hope that seed sowing brings and so far so good, apart from being a little leggy they are fine and I have added a few pots of sweetpeas to them since and then had a splurge of seed sowing last night and have an assortment of flower seeds lined up to be sown today.

I don’t really have a plan to what I am doing so far, just a vague idea of greatness, but it is making me feel hopeful and as though my life hasn’t just become work and a search for new work.

A surprise start to ‘D’ year…

When I up-dated my facebook page and Twitter feed that the first signs of kidding were appearing I didn’t realise just how close we were; 

2012 first new arrival - 14th January 2012

2012 first new arrival - 14th January 2012

 Briony kidded that very night!

‘He’ still doesn’t have a name but is a love start to our year of ‘D’ names and my first third generation of breeding. We have had to take him away from Briony as he wasn’t very quick to his feet and got a bit chilled, a warm feed and a night by a radiator later and he is a strong little boy but is still not very sorted with his feet so will be completely hand reared.

Full

Life seems very full at the moment but at the same time it is full of *plans* and *maybe’s* instead of definites.

Morning dew on a spiders web - October 2009

Morning dew on a spiders web - October 2009

Each day there is another job to enquire about, an application form to fill in, an interview to go to or a job centre visit to make but I still don’t have any confirmed work, just lots of possibles. With each job I try to work out how it would fit into my life, fit around other work and how much time it will leave for living at the end of each day, week or month. I think I may have to find something full-time, which I haven’t done for so long, but we shall see.

The kitchen, and house, is full of things to be made, done or stored. I’m pleasantly surprised by the amount of produce that has come from the allotment and garden given that I haven’t really grown anything, or so I’d thought. Ok, maybe thinking about it most of it has been forged and not really come from the allotment or garden but as least I can put a lane or track to where it has come from and it shall keep things going for a while.

Wind turbines - October 2009

Wind turbines - October 2009

And my mind is full of everything; lists of jobs to be done, plans for next years growing season, plans for what I should be doing and plans for what I want to be doing all crashing around and making it hard to see one job out before feeling that I should in fact be doing something else instead, something more important, or needed. I’ve started going to bed each night feeling like it has been another day wasted with nothing much getting done and waking up not knowing where to start or which list should take priority.

It is all very tiring but not in a good way.

The goats have started coming into season and already it’s time to be planning kidding in March and that can’t be right, surely things can’t be that far a head in the year already.

Everything it just so full on and urgent at the moment; it would be nice to be given some time to stand still and take a deep breath

As the world carries on turn

Many, many times I have wanted to sit down and write over the past months but I have only managed to do so a few times and only a handful of those few times have I managed to write something coherent. Part of my problem has been knowing where to start again as so much has been happening and time just seems to keep marching on without anytime to take stock, or breath before another week, two weeks, a month has pasted. But I will try…

Dog rose flower; somewhere along Lydney Docks - 14th June 2011

Dog rose flower; somewhere along Lydney Docks - 14th June 2011

Family and health (or lack of it.) Since Easter my dad has spent more time in hospital than at home, just him being so ill takes up a massive amount of time and energy but when he is in hospital then someone visits him everyday, which takes up most of every afternoon. Mother is bearing the brunt of it but is has everyone stretched and then the few days that he has been at home, maybe even a week if you add all the days together, it is a battle. He can hardly do anything for himself, and getting him to eat… And every time he has been rushed back in within days of being discharged for one reason or another. This last time he didn’t make it to resus which is an improvement, but is does leave everyone on edge waiting for the next phone call to say he is coming home, not really coming home or been rushed back in.

I have also still been trying to sort out my health problems, I have changed doctors and hopefully now am getting somewhere. I feel a little bit like I’m being a hypercondriac as a part from a few blips I am mostly fine, and feel better than I have in years, but I know if I don’t get things sorted then I could end up back in the mess I was in a few years ago and I don’t ever want to go back there so it has to be sort out.

Work. It is all change at work again; I seem to write this so often but at the moment the three years of funding we had has come to an ended and there is only work for me until the end of September. I realised I have been very silly as although I’ve been doing my job for two years now I have been reluctant, or completely refused, to do the university course that would mean I was qualified to be doing my job so I now only have my experience and the good name of the charity I work for if I was to go up against someone else if another very rear job were to come up. I am annoyed with myself for letting this happen but the work / home life balance is a great battle I always seem to be fighting and committing myself to an extra day or more a week away from home to be qualified for something I was already doing perfectly well was something I was not willing to do… Add to that the growing suspicion that I would have hated the course and it has been one of the very few times home life has won over. The summer holidays started this week, so our busiest time of year, and I am only working ‘my patch’ one day a week and so doing a fair amount of travelling, also seem to have taken on an extra half a day more than I promised myself I would.

Fowers at Ryton Gardens; I have have no idea what these are - 11th September 2010

Flowers at Ryton Gardens; I have no idea what these are - 11th September 2010

Holiday. I had a whole week off at the start off this month and I did hardly anything with it which is not like me at all, normally for a month before time off I am writing a list of every backbreaking job I want to get finish whilst I ‘have time’. I think I still had a list but in the end I just pottered about and spent time with friends. It was nice, needed and somehow I have managed not to beat myself up about not ‘getting things done’.

Busy bees; comb after less than a month they moved into the hive - 11th July 2011

Busy bees; comb after less than a month they moved into the hive - 11th July 2011

Bees. This is possibly the most exciting news of all and from the second the swarm arrived I have wanted to blog about it but not jinx it. WE HAVE BEES!!! Last year mother was given a top bar beehive by her sister and since then the plan has been to start keeping bees again. We had our name down for a swarm but weren’t really doing anything more proactive about getting one as everything else has been some manic. Then, during a complete nightmare of a week a swarm just arrived on a gorse bush just across from the house, a neighbour almost walked into it and came and knocked on the door as he knew we wanted one. Him and middle-younger-sister carried the hive out and left it near to them with the lid off in the hope they would go in and then I arrived home (on a call that the cows where out, it was that kind of week) to find mother cutting the branch they were on and putting it into the hive. And they have been with us ever since!

Growing in numbers - 30th July 2011

Growing in numbers - 30th July 2011

It has been amazing watching them build their combs and how they change; to begin with they were not in the least bit worried about us opening up the hive and I have even been in there without a hat or vail and have still not worn gloves but they have started getting a little more up set if the hive is open now. The comb seems to change every time we look in there as well; to begin with it was white and looked so breakable, then you could see the different between the honey and brood cells and now the comb is covered is golden stickiness.

Each time we open the hive I have been taking photos and have created a new Flickr set to record it – Bees

Goats. It would seem that I am not kidding this year after all. I’m not too worried about it as I know the Jelly Beanies kidded fine and they were living in with Knightshade at the same time but it is a bit disappointing. I have put Briony up for sale and am trying to find somewhere/someone who will take Bella on loan for a year or so until I am more sorted. I have had lots of phone calls and emails about them but haven’t been sorted enough to contact people and both Briony and Bella make it impossible to take photos of them as they are just to interested in the camera or having a fuss. I was looking at their ‘baby photos’ the other day and I can’t believe have they have completely changed colour and markings, they are now both mottled and patchy and stunning.

It’s raining, it’s pouring…

It has been a while since I’ve blogged and it hasn’t been that I haven’t meant to or wanted to; it has been that nothing feels news worthy at the moment.

Everything seems to be plodding along, with lots happening but possibly nothing more than getting through another week.

I have been to the allotment and gardened but everything other than weeds seem to be stood still. I am not sure that my courgette plants have grown at all since putting them in… Is it just me? Do they not like where I’ve planted them, or am I not watering them enough? I am still waiting for my goats to kid, but that is getting less and less likely now. I have made a batch of Elderflower cordial, using Colour It Green’s excellent recipe and am drinking my way through it whilst picking out the best spots for my next pickings and waiting for another dry day to make some more.

I worked far too hard over the May bank holiday, my own fault for wanting to do everything and be everywhere, and now I have a cold. Which I am ignoring in the hope that it will go away whilst my throat slowly becomes rawer and my voice hoarser and the coughing keeps me  awake a little later each night. Maybe I should succumb and allow myself to lay on the sofa for a day but I have too many things to do, and too many things I want to do.

There are only a few weeks of funding for my current work left, I have a job until the end of September but it will never be the same come the end of this month and I am pushing myself to be there everyday until the end; to answer the hard questions that don’t really have an answer, keep my promise that I will be there every week until this date and deal with the upset, of which there has been lots. Over half term we held a celebration event to mark the end of our funding, a conversation happened about photo permissions and I was asked how many of the kids there I knew and could ask for permission after the event and as I looked out across the field I realised I knew most, not quite all but only by one or two, of the 150 kids there in  just one of the parks I visit weekly. Admittedly that is the busiest but that has been build up from not seeing anyone for the first few weeks of us being there; the park is now owned by the kids who live there, even if some of them are only allowed there when me and the other play rangers are there and I don’t want that to stop.

My dad is unwell again; I have almost lost count of the number of times he has been in hospital since Easter but he has certainly spend as much time there as he has at home. There is nothing anyone can really do though other than all pull together and get on with it but it is hard, especially for mother, keeping on top of what is happening with him and questioning everything as some of the treatments and medicine just don’t seem to be the most logical or best course of action, to us any way.

In spite of all this though life doesn’t feel all doom and gloom; just very full!

Mostly of things growing

It feels like I haven’t blogged in a long time but really it is just a week or so. So much is happening at the moment and at the same time nothing at all…

The weather has made it feel like we should be in the depths of summer but really it is still only spring and only just time to sow many things. My patio is filled with trays and pots of differing plants and plantlets at different stages of growth and the heat seems to have had a knock on effect in growth even with the tiny little plants which are watered every other day or some; they have shot up since the recent rain started.

Work at the allotment seems to have been on hold for a while for no really reason but last weekend I finally managed to start making an impact, even though it is only one that I will notice. Still the sea of green that my allotment has turned into has pleased me;

Allotment; before the weekend - 7th May 2011

Allotment; before the weekend - 7th May 2011Allotment; after the weekend - 8th May 2011

 Above the allotments on Saturday and then below the allotments on Sunday evening

Allotment; after the weekend - 8th May 2011

Allotment; after the weekend - 8th May 2011

It is so healthy looking. Ok it looks unloved and unruly and has been making my heart sink a little when I walk in through the gates but if you look probably, and maybe screw your eyes up just enough so as the nettles aren’t instantly identifiable as nettles, it is a little slice of green and lushness in amongst old pasture land. This plot down from mine is a path away and has been vacant and uncared for since the beginning of winter;

Next allotment over (with my potato bed in front)

Next allotment over (with my potato bed in front)

There is such a difference in the two, even covered in weeds there are still pickings to be had on my plots; wild salad leaves and nettles.

Rainbow over stormy skies - 8th May 2011

Rainbow over stormy skies - 8th May 2011

I am pleased with the difference my no-dig system is having too, I can tell the difference between the top layer of soil, which is dark, crumbly and lovely to handle, to that underneath which is clay like and until this weekend one dry lump. Oh, and the worms!! In one of the gardening books mother was given for her birthday there is a soil fertility test; if you have 4 worms in a spades depths of soil then you are working with good stuff, I have loads morn then that!

At home the  back garden defies me. It is in two parts; part a is a dry, dusty and old bonfire heap, part b is covered in brambles, ivy and bind weed. I want to level the bottom part off to have somewhere we can sit out and then have my greenhouse and vegetable beds higher up… It is going to take hard work and some time to get it to that stage. I have bought some chickens home to clear the weeds and they are doing their job ok. If all I get done this year is a few veg beds for winter ‘stuff’ back there I will be happy.

The front garden, which is mostly concerted over, now has a final plan to it for this year since I had an inspired day during the week. I had a sort of idea of what I wanted it to be and had been collecting bits and piece as I saw them, mostly about to be thrown away. Now it is all laided out and just needs to be planted up with the right things on the right day. Hopefully it is going to be beautiful, and I know it is going to be productive.

Little poser

On Saturday I stopped to take a photo of one of the lambs in one of the grit bins near to our house;

Lupin's lamb in the grit bin - 16th of April 2011

Lupins lamb in the grit bin - 16th of April 2011

Lupin’s lamb was one of the lambs born on ‘my watch’ and was a tiny little thing, so small in fact that we spent the day waiting for the next to arrive but there is just her; small and prefect.

Flat Lambs Daughter and Six were also on the green near by and so I turned to snap a few piccys of them grazing in the sun:

Flat Lambs Daughter & Six grazing in the sun - 16th April 2011

Flat Lambs Daughter & Six grazing in the sun - 16th April 2011

As soon as Six realised I was taking photos he pricked up his ears and started towards me as if to say “Ohh, photographs of me? Make sure you get my good side” which is very unusual behaviour for him as he has sadly taken on his mothers mistrust of us.

He is such a little bruiser of a lamb, and I was only to happy to oblige:

Take my picture! - 16th April 2011

Take my picture! - 16th April 2011