The gardens have just about survived and after such a prolonged, wet Autumn and Winter a short drought will force roots deeper into the ground in search of moisture. Some of our fruit trees have had better years. The late frosts in May caught the Victoria Plums at a critical stage and the recent high winds have blown a lot of apples and leaves off. The pigs have consumed the windfalls but even they seem to wince at their early bitterness. The ponies obviously aren’t quite so hungry now because they won’t even eat them.

 

This time last month Bianca, the white goose, had just hatched out nine goslings. Now those cute little fluffy things are the size of full grown ducks and they are already starting to hiss at me and Misty and chase us threateningly. Sampson and the ponies weren’t in the least intimidated by the two ganders when Bianca first sat on her eggs. Now it’s not unusual to see them scattering at full tilt across the field with all twelve geese/goslings in hot pursuit. In fact, you might wonder why we keep geese at all ………possibly just for the entertainment ! If you were wondering about Griselda, our missing grey goose, I’m afraid that we did find a large patch of grey feathers in one of our neighbours hedges a couple of weeks ago, so we won’t be seeing her again. Having lost a goose, a duck and a chicken in the last month we have now reduced the local fox population slightly so hopefully normal service has now resumed.

 

The lock down is now gradually easing, two metres have just become one and we have a green light to open for business in early July…….at the moment. We are busily preparing to conform to ‘current’ Government regulations. I can fully understand why so many businesses in the hospitality trade simply won’t be opening again. Increased costs and onerous regulations ( all of which are necessary for our general well being ) coupled with a considerable reduction in footfall doesn’t bode well for small businesses. We are ploughing on regardless for the time being and hoping that restrictions will still ease further. We are looking forward to having guests back on the farm and getting back into a daily routine……and earning some money. Our enquiries have gone through the roof now that people can travel again.

The ponies are too fat and desperately need exercising. Misty the sheepdog keeps on helping herself to tennis balls from the ‘ball reservoir ‘ and seems to be working on the law of averages that the more balls she has, placed strategically around the yard, the better the chance that one of them gets launched into the air. I have considered getting an old tennis server and teaching her to use it herself. We haven’t started any ducklings yet this year, because we have a freezer already half full of ducks, but we have hatched out seven clutches of chicks and have more broody hens sitting on eggs. The orphan lambs are much better behaved this year (or, possibly, the fencing is more sheep-proof ) so they haven’t escaped at all. They are also much friendlier, especially if you have a hand-full of something they can eat! They also seem to enjoy hiding away in various places to try and evade being rounded up by Misty at ‘roll call’ time. Misty waits patiently in the field until I get there and tries to guess/hear/smell where they are lurking. When I tell her to ‘go on back’ she has to set off and find them. Generally, by the time I have fed and watered both duck ponds and collected the eggs, they are coming in at high speed, bucking and kicking and gambolling about like an unruly rugby scrum, with Misty behind them, trying frantically to keep them all together. Occasionally, after ten or fifteen minutes of no-show I will have to join in the ‘game’ and defuse a sort of Mexican standoff with the lambs in a well defended corner somewhere where Misty can’t get behind them, so she stands or lays down in front of them……..and absolutely nothing happens until I eventually find them. A bit like ‘out takes’ from ‘One man and his dog’.

 

We are creating a new themed playground in the wilderness area. A Fairy Garden. Our grand-daughter is very excited about it, as is Tracey. All sorts of weird and wonderful fairy paraphernalia have been arriving and the tractor and chainsaw have been involved. Balti and Snowy, our two goats, seem to think it is all for their benefit at the moment so some further adjustments will have to be considered.

 

Anyway, enough for now…..must get back to implementing the new regulations.

Cheers for now, Farmer Chris.