At last, the school holidays are over and life has slowed down slightly. We still have guests with younger children staying, and our routine has changed again. We are now doing weekends and short breaks, until the end of October, which means changeovers on any day of the week. So Sundays are now working days, but we do get odd days with no guests. That gives us a chance to catch our breath and keep up with maintenance and jobs that we don’t have time for during the Summer. The sun is shining and the guests are out in the pool and planning a day on the beach tomorrow. The nights are getting longer and cooler but daytime temperatures are still good. Tracey has been up on the scaffolding, repainting the windows. It always amazes us how quickly the blue-tits find the new putty. You have to leave it a couple of days to firm up enough to paint, by which time the birds have found it and nearly destroyed it! As well as a bird problem we have a bit of a Grey Squirrel issue going on. Greys always need controlling, which isn’t as easy as it sounds, but we now have one that has found its way up into our roof space. By the sound of it, it is hoarding nuts away just above our bedroom window…….usually at five o’clock in the morning! Even with the scaffolding up I haven’t been able to find the gap, yet. The wisteria isn’t helping because it’s so leafy at the moment. Watch that space, then. Matey and Sampson have their shoes on now and are getting fit, ready to start hunting again. Having done nothing for three months Matey suddenly went badly lame about four weeks ago. He did something serious to his stifle joint, which is the largest and most complicated joint in a horses hind-leg. He may have twisted it when rolling or getting up – Sampson may have kicked him when play-fighting – he might have clouted it when rushing past a post somewhere – we will never know. The important thing is that he seems to have fully recovered, so ‘fingers-crossed’ on that one! One of the cockerels has been struck down with a strange condition known as Bumblefoot. It developed a large swelling on its foot and was obviously in severe pain. The other cockerels immediately started persecuting him and his wives shunned him as is often the way in the animal kingdom. Survival of the fittest can suddenly become a stark reality. Unfortunately for the cockerel we had two or three younger, suitable replacements lurking in the background! This morning we had to capture one of the hens that had been hopping about on one leg, suggesting some form of ‘fowl’ epidemic! You might think catching a lame chicken would be easy but when they realise that they have been singled out for attention their survival instinct kicks in and every hen in the run takes off at high speed. Specialist chicken catching equipment was issued to younger guests (fishing nets!) and parents and dogs were drafted in as reinforcements. After much shrieking and frantic clucking the patient was eventually subdued and diagnosed. Rather than some horrible poultry affliction a short length of fishing line was surgically removed, antiseptic spray was applied and a very disgruntled hen was released. Calm was eventually restored but I expect the egg count will be reduced this evening. Elsewhere on the farm things are reasonably calm at the moment. The lambs are fattening up and will soon be moving on. Some to the farm shop and some to market. The ewes are looking relaxed and happy with no lambs or ram to worry about. Rodney the Ram is ‘resting’ but aware that the seasons are changing. He will soon be testing the gateposts in his enthusiasm to be reunited with his wives. Balti the (ex.)Billy Goat doesn’t get involved in all that seasonal ‘nonsense’ ! We still have limited availability for short breaks, until the end of October, and then we close for the Winter. At the moment there are some unsold weeks in next years school holidays, but not many. If you are thinking of booking contact Tracey, sooner rather than later, to avoid disappointment. Best wishes for now, Farmer Chris.