How quickly did Easter come and go this year. I suppose the glorious, hot, dry spell of weather leading up to it meant we were flat out with jobs that don’t usually happen for another few weeks. Then we were suddenly full up with guests for the school holidays which now last four weeks, over different sections of the country. We had some new guests from the Channel Islands, and Germany, who may have been on different school timetables. Also lots of regulars who come every Easter. Possibly the biggest difference from our perspective was the fact that we weren’t lambing for the first time in twenty years. Mind you, having Sixteen orphan lambs causing chaos on a daily basis is proving to be rather testing. Interestingly, one of them is completely black, and is always in trouble. He escapes from whatever field or pen he is supposed to be in as soon as he has finished eating, and usually takes his two loyal cohorts with him. The three of them came from one particular farm and are Suffolk X Mules. The others are Texels and Charollais X Mules. So, the trouble makers (or the ‘more adventurous’ ones) are the English breed and the calmer, less adventurous ones are the French breed ! I could get some mileage out of this story…….but maybe enough said already. The ‘Black Sheep of the family’ can refer to a person with criminal tendencies who is regularly in trouble for breaking the rules, but can also be seen as an omen of good luck or fortune. Watch this space then….. The geese have finally given up laying eggs for this year. They both had two separate clutches of eggs, all of which were ready to incubate, and all of which were stolen overnight. That was over forty eggs in total. I am still no wiser ! Whoever or whatever had them didn’t just eat them, they took them clean away. Rosie, our terrier, definitely had one, but she can’t have eaten forty ! Prime suspect has to be a fox – probably a vixen with cubs – but one other possibility could be…..an egg thief. As in a local person who likes goose eggs……hmmmm. No, but anyway, the good news is that Ghengis and Ghandi have settled down together again. Because Griselda and Bianca have stopped laying they have also stopped mating ! So the boys have stopped fighting and peace and harmony has been restored. The ponies are on a rising plane of nutrition now that the Spring grass has started growing. They are shedding their Winter coats and looking a bit moth eaten at the moment but in no time at all they will be resplendent in shiny new Summer coats, and the electric fence will be up to control the amount of grass they consume. They have been grazing off the chicken-run during the day, for the last week. After about three or four hours of gobbling grass they have to lie down and rest, in glorious sunshine. What a life ! Mind you, they have spent four months nibbling at next to nothing night and day, and chewing on oat straw which has little nutritional value but is a reasonable form of exercise. Meggie and Echo are taking children out for rides most days and getting fitter and fatter at the same time. Unfortunately, Moo, the miniature Shetland isn’t getting any exercise, so he stays out in the pony-field by himself a lot of the time. I was under the impression that for some reason you couldn’t/shouldn’t ride mini Shetlands. However that isn’t actually true. The Shetland Pony Club uses them all the time. That means that I could be looking for a suitable rider/jockey to experiment with. Watch that space as well then ……. Our third clutch of chicks hatched out on Easter Sunday. More by luck than judgement, I have to say. We set them off when they are definitely broody, usually after two days on China eggs, so family planning is a bit random. Twenty-one days later…… Bingo. So, with chicks, ducklings and orphan lambs to bottle feed we have had a busy Easter break. With daytime temperatures of 25 C, and wall-to-wall sunshine, guests have had to be very organised to spend time on the beach as well.
Peek and Boo, our piglets, are probably the noisiest and most talkative pigs we have ever had. They almost climb over the fence at feeding time, despite being quite chubby. We have already had to excavate a wallow for them, during the hot weather.
Sampson has finished hunting for this season, so he is out in the field with his rug off, and no hard food. Matey has one day left before his Summer holiday starts. Their hay is nearly finished so I am hoping the grass will get in front of them and I won’t need any more.
Oh yes, the swimming pool opened last week. Ellie was our first official swimming guest of 2019. Mind you, she did have a practice session in the duck-pond earlier in the week. That earnt her the Tom Daley award for the best stepping-stone pirouette and swallow dive, with a duck-egg in one hand, ever attempted at North Bradbury Farm. At least she had a shower before going in the pool !
I don’t know if I said so, but my trusty old Landrover Discovery collapsed and died suddenly, about six weeks ago. When Tracey caught me looking at newer versions of ‘Discos’ on the Internet, she pointed out the obvious. Having spent nearly eight years bitching about the ‘idiosyncrasies’ of said vehicles, perhaps I should try something different. I am now the proud owner of a younger, faster, quieter, Japanese equivalent…. and my first speeding ticket arrived in the post on Friday……..never got one of those in the Disco ! Cheers for now, Farmer Chris.