We altered the clocks at the weekend and suddenly it feels rather Wintery. There is a cold East wind blowing hard at the moment which is really good, because that’s a drying wind which will suck the moisture out of the ground and dry everything up nicely.
Unfortunately, it will also rip the leaves off the trees and block all the drains up when it rains again, unless I get out and about with the leaf-blower. I haven’t been able to use the mower or strimmer for weeks, because of the rain, so now everything needs doing at the same time. I haven’t been able to clip the ponies yet, because they have been so wet and muddy, and the swimming pool needs putting to bed for the Winter. I won’t bore you with all the other jobs that need doing at the same time, in dry weather, but now it gets dark at five o’clock my working day just seems to vanish. Which is actually a pleasant change, because it means I can go indoors and light the fire and relax. ‘Relaxing’, for the last couple of weeks, has involved watching the rugby, which has been anything but ……especially the last game against New Zealand. Now we just have the final to look forward to, so that will be even more ‘relaxing’, won’t it…..?
The end of October is quite significant to us for all sorts of reasons, apart from altering the clocks and watching the rugby. It’s schools’ half-term so we are flat out busy. It’s also Halloween ! I have never really understood the relevance of celebrating a pagan festival, but the children all enjoy it. We always get pumpkins in and carve out lanterns and light them up for feeding time in the evenings. The pigs obviously enjoy it because they get bucketfuls of pumpkin flesh to gorge on which is an added bonus at this time of year. Nobody has yet severed a finger or lost an eye, which considering the combination of excitement and sharp knives is reassuring. Possibly the best thing about the whole business is that our wedding anniversary is the day before Halloween….. so as soon as the shops launch their promotions, I get an automatic reminder, which is handy.
This is also the last week of families coming to stay on the farm with us, until next March. Our routine now completely changes. The ducks and lambs will soon be in the freezers in the farm shop, where they are much easier to look after. Misty the sheep dog will have nothing to round up every day. She will have to help Rosie out with pest control duty for the next four months. Our two Beagles, Linnet and Lintel, have just gone back to the kennels. They will now start their training as working hounds and gradually be integrated into the daily routine with seventy other beagles. We probably won’t see them again until the puppy show next July, and they probably won’t recognise or remember us by then. We will have two new puppies by then and that cycle will be well under way again and we will struggle to even recognise Linnet and Lintel. Which is a shame because we have had so much fun having them here for the last six months and they seem to have enjoyed being here.
Balti and Snowy, our two goats, are happily hedge-trimming in the pony and goose field. I am constantly amazed by the efficiency of their browsing. Despite being a dairy breed, they aren’t grass eaters or grazers. They love to eat anything that grows through the wire netting, and then stand up with their front feet on the fence and harvest anything within reach from behind or above it. Eventually we end up with perfectly manicured hedges and fences that look like I have spent hours trimming and pruning them. They do tend to stretch the wire slightly but not enough to make them unfit for purpose. They also seem to be able to reach up to about eight feet high. I’m thinking that there may be some sort of commercial application here that I am missing. Perhaps I could hire them out as Eco-friendly gardeners. If only…..and I have just remembered that I put them out with the ponies and geese because they broke into the orchard and stripped the bark off most of the trees, which will now possibly die !
Tracey has worked her way through next years reserve list and most people have managed to book their first or second choice dates. There are still a few peak weeks available, so if you are still thinking about coming on a family friendly farm holiday now would be a good time to get in touch. Thank you to everyone who came to visit during the last year. Hopefully we will be seeing many of you again next season.
Time to ‘blog off’ again, so Cheers for now, Farmer Chris.