Saturday, 30 January 2010

A glorious end to a funny day

Been feeling a bit low all day after the hen affair last night and the remaining one does seem a bit lost today, poor thing, she'll be OK.

We were told when we came here that there was a barn owl, but I have only really seen an owl type flying thing a couple of times (it is very quiet on the owl calling front at night), then tonight I saw him just as the sun was going down, as I saw this thing flying towards me I thought it was one of our resident buzzards, but as he flew past I saw his white tummy and head and he was most definitely owl shaped.

Secondly, we have a clear night and I have just seen the biggest blood red moon rising over the horizon, at first I thought someone had a huge fire, it was that colour and then very very slowly it rose, just lovely. So a nice end to an otherwise odd day.

Sad day

Our lovely 'Librarian', so named because she was very intelligent and inquisitive (probably should have called her the Professor), has finally gone to the great hen house in the sky. I think I have related how she had a prolapse last August and never laid an egg since but seemed generally happy enough most of the time. She ate well, ran down the drive for food, scratched about and generally did what chickens do. Then when the cold weather came she seemed to go downhill and started sleeping in the nest box (mind you it was the warmest place to be). She still seemed OK apart from this and the fact that she couldn't jump like she used to. Then two days ago she stopped comming out of the nest box and was limp and sad looking (if you know what I mean), she was still eating and drinking but just stood around in the hen house looking really fed up. I guess we should have done the decent thing then but couldn't bring ourselves to do it. Yesterday she was no better and wasn't really eating at all; so after dark (so as not to distress her too much and not to distress the other one who was asleep on her perch), we gently took her out of the hen house, gave her a cuddle and put her to sleep (I won't go into details).

We are both sad as she was a lovely hen, but at least now she is not suffering anymore. The other hen does seem a bit distracted today but she has been running about on her own for a while (the other one kept herself to herself) and sleeping on the perch on her own for about a month. We still don't feel the run we have is terribly fox proof and the bad fox time is comming up in the spring when they have cubs, so we have to decide whether to get more hens or wait until we find our own place and can put something permenant in (we don't really want to put a permenant run in here when we don't know how long we will be here). If we don't get more we will have to think what to do with the remaining hen (Houdini as she can escape from anywhere if she wants), as having one hen on her own is probably not a good idea, although aparently my Grandmother had one hen for years as a pet. It must be said, that the remaining hen is fit and healthy and still lays lovely eggs.

Sad times, but in a sense not, we have done the right thing and it was over very quickly, she would have felt no pain or anxiety, so the only creatures really suffering are us as we miss her.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

They think its all over

Now the snow has finally gone and the land has gone all mushy again, everything seems to think its spring time. The birds are singing like there is no tomorrow and the bulbs are pushing green spears through the sodden (and still slightly chilly) ground. But... last year we had a lot of snow in early Feb and again in March, so think some prudence would be wise.

The cats are much happier and whereas Charlie would only go out for calls of nature (and I don't mean the birds) with company when we had snow (no idea why, odd cat), he is now out and about at all hours bringing us nice presents! The Chickens are happy too, one was looking decidedly ill while we had the snow but she is a new chicken now, tail and head up, scratching about and looking good. The only hangover from the snow is that when it was cold she stopped perching at night and took over one of the nest boxes (full of straw) as her new boudoir, she has clearly decided that this is a much nicer place to sleep and hasn't perched since (think we might need to keep an eye on this and encourage her back again as sleeping in the nest box isn't good for hens). She also seems to have lost the ability to hop; chickens can jump quite high if they want to (ie if you dangle a nice worm in front of them they get achieve quite a height, will try to get a picture but usually over very quickly); since the snow this hen can't seem to do this anymore and for a bit this meant that she couldn't get onto the ladder leading to the hen house; she has now learnt how to get onto this without jumping up to it. Don't know why this should be, but other than that she is back to normal.

Getting interested in sheep now and hope for a good book on sheep for my birthday. Lamb prices are going up and will get even higher when we new spring lamb comes on the butchers slabs at Easter. You can also milk them (probably not the same breed, hence wanting the book to find out more). Milk is also quite an interesting idea; there was a good programme on Radio 4 last Sunday/Monday about micro dairies (we have heard of micro breweries, why not micro dairies), when small producers have a small herd and sell direct; we have an old dairy here so could we turn this farm back to how it was - interesting times.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Still got snow

I think as for many people the novelty is now wearing off. We have done sledging in the sheep field, trying to dodge the do dos; we have been shopping for our elderly neighbours (twice as we forgot to ask one couple and they rang up to ask if we could get into town for them); we check the sheep; we try to persuade the hens that it is OK to come out of the hen house; and we are trying to persuade one of our cats that outside is OK - for some reason he is very reluctant, not sure why); we have thrown the snowballs, but not yet made a snow man. But it is cold, no central heating here and although the woodburner does a good job we don't want to burn all our wood and sometimes it needs emptying so we can't have it going 24/7. It is also a pain to go out in the car; can we get out onto the main road, will we get up the nasty hill that lies between us and the main road, will we slide into the ditch as a friend did the other day and has now damaged the power steering of the only vehicle that they have that can get them up their half mile drive which is a nice hill too.

We did have a nice snowy walk to the pub yesterday though through virgin snow. No-one had been down our lane at all apart from on foot. On the way back there was one set of tyre tracks but that was all. The pub was packed (and hot) and most of the folks in the village had been having lots of sledging fun, which for some seemed to have resulted in alot of hand injuries (I have also damaged my right hand forgetting to move it out of the way when I had to slam one of the outbuilding sliding doors shut - clever girl; I have a ring on this finger and really should get it cut off, but that would involve a 30 minute drive, possibly longer, to our nearest minor injuries unit and just can't face it). M bought me one of those lightweight walking sticks for walking on Dartmoor for Christmas and it was useful yesterday if only to find the icy bits beneath the snow.

I was supposed to be going to St Austell for work tomorrow but have put that off. It is my Mums birthday on Sunday and I would like to go to see her but have to cross Dartmoor and that really doesn't seem like a good idea at the moment. Thankfully both of us do have enough work to do from home, but I find it difficult to concentrate on it. More snow forecast tomorrow and then we will see, the forecasts change all the time and no two are the same, even the BBC local and nationwide forecasts are different. Hopefully it will all go soon, but our next issue will be ice even if it does rain. Wish we lived somewhere where you got snow all the time, then I think we would be better set up for it, would certainly have snow tyres if we thought we would get every winter like this. Also is it over, it might rain next week, but last year we got more snow in Feb and March, will just have to wait and see.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

This is how it should be

We had a bit of snow last night and this morning and it makes the little lanes round here treacherous. I think I have mentioned before that where we live it is (by the shortest route and there are many different ways to go) 2 miles (about 5 minutes) onto a main road, ie two lanes. To get there you have to negotiate the little single track Devon lanes and hills.

Our neighbours don't have a 4x4 so today asked that if we were going into town could we please get them some supplies. Well I have just managed to slide into town - quite an experience with jackknifed tractors with trailers blocking the lanes etc and lots of slidey bits - and get some provisions to cover us for the next few days. Even though after snow tomorrow the weather should be better many of the lanes don't thaw out for a while and become ice rinks and will make getting onto the road even more difficult.

There is something rather warming about being able to help out your neighbours, it is how things should be.

As a PS, I was given a lovely little bottle of sloe gin as a thank you - that will go down well in front of the fire tonight !!!!

Monday, 4 January 2010

New Year guests

Our lovely friends and their very well behaved and very entertaining two boys have just gone home after a 5 day visit. They live in Norfolk and arrived on Wednesday morning just after 9 (I hadn't finished cleaning up!), they had left at 2 in the morning worried about a snow forecast they had.

We have had a lovely few days together, I have taught the boys to play backgammon, I wonder how long it will take before they start playing for pennies! The weather luckily has been glorious and we have had a nice walk on the beach on New Years Eve day and they have been up to Dartmoor and visited Clovelly. It is very very very cold though - as it is everywhere and as mentioned before we have no central heating. Our two grown up friends (if you know what I mean) were great and managed not to freeze in our spare room which can't have achieved a temperature of above about 7 degrees the whole time they were here. I commented this morning that it was minus 5.5 at 08.30 and Mr friend said he had recorded minus 4 and that was the warmest the room had got (cheeky, what he meant that he had been for an early walk round the fields and that was the temperature there NOT in their room).

All of us did manage to acquire a cold over New Year but I had one brewing for a while, so we were quite tired on New Year's Eve, we weren't sure we would make midnight and Mrs friend nearly didn't. However, in the end we walked up to the top field just before to make the most of the wonderful views across Okehampton and all around so we could appreciate all the firework displays and there were lots. There were also alot of strange slow moving lights in the sky which I first thought were helicopters or aliens (:)) but they turned out to be Chinese lanterns which I have seen in shops but never lit up floating in the sky before, very nice, must get some next year.

Our friends are the perfect guests, the boys were entertaining and Mrs friend won't keep out of my kitchen and insists on washing up, cooking etc. She is too good to me and makes me lazy. They also brought lots of lovely food with them including a home made rabbit and venison pie, sausages and a leg of venison which is in the freezer as we had our 'own' pork for Sunday lunch yesterday.

It is very quiet now and I almost feel like you did as a kid, sad that Christmas and New Year are over. I feel slightly daunted about 2010 as the work situation looks a bit thin at the moment although I am sure it will come good. Be interesting to see what this year brings.

I hope everyone had a good Christmas (if you celebrate it) or good other festivities if you celebrate other festivals at this time of year and I wish everyone a peaceful and happy 2010.