Another year bites the dust and gets consigned to the history books. What a year 2019 could turn out to be. Whether you are interested in politics or not we are all going to be involved to some extent over the next couple of months . The animals aren’t getting twitchy about Brexit. Europe doesn’t really bother them. Height is very important to a horse. It dictates which category of competition they can compete in and how big the fences are that they are asked to jump over. For centuries they have been measured in Hands and Inches which is definitely not a European system. Some organisations have tried to use the metricated system but with only limited success. Samson is 14.2  1/2”hh.  To anyone involved with horses that makes perfect sense. It means that he can’t be entered in pony classes because he is over 14.2 hh. It also means he is a bit small for adult competitions, so he isn’t worth much for anything other than hunting and hacking. He does have a certain attraction to our European neighbours of course……..as sausage meat and steak!

 

The ducks and geese are quite ambivalent about the whole thing – as long as you don’t mention ‘pate foie gras’, or ‘a l’orange’. The ducks all end up in the farm shop over here anyway. The geese are probably European refugees already. At least, the English Toulouse managed to escape at some stage, hence the name. The Ganders are both Emdens, so they originated from Holland or Belgium. Anyway, they all left Europe years ago.

 

The ponies, pigs and chickens are all indigenous British stock and happy with the status quo. As long as they receive regular food and water, shelter and protection from predators they will keep their heads down and keep grazing. They are definitely more interested in the weather than politics and politicians.

 

The weather has been very kind to us so far this Winter. Apart from a few hard frosts it has been mild and warm and dry enough for the grass to keep growing so the shortage of hay and silage due to the Summer heatwave has been avoided, so far. This could all suddenly change. The ‘Beast from the East’ didn’t arrive until March last year and still caused chaos. Snow has been falling well in European ski resorts so if you are planning a trip conditions are looking good everywhere. We were hoping to go but as Tracey is still struggling to recover from her tumble down the stairs we can’t plan anything yet. Having no sheep and therefore no lambing this year does mean we can go later in the season so fingers crossed on that one.

 

Misty, my border collie, still goes off looking for the sheep every morning when we do the animal feeding. She is convinced that they are hiding somewhere and that they will suddenly reappear one day. At the moment she only has two goats to collect and they can be unpredictable, to say the least. If Snowy is determined to pick one more leaf off a particular branch while Balti decides to come in they will separate and happily go off in different directions. They then panic because they don’t like being separated but forget where each other went. Sheep have an almost magnetic attraction and will all automatically flock together, which is why it is so difficult to separate them and keep them apart at Sheepdog Trials. The ducks have the run of both ponds during the Winter and are usually on the wrong one at feeding time. They do flock together for safety so Misty can negotiate the obstacle course between the pens and round them up and bring them through to the feeding area so she feels like she is doing some important sheep dog stuff.

 

Seasonal maintenance work is well under way on the barns and our doors will open for the new season on March the first. Short breaks and weekends are available until the Easter holidays. We will be getting in some ‘orphan lambs’ for the beginning of March so bottle feeders will be required. Prices have remained the same as last year so some bargains are still available.

 

February is nearly here – Six Nations rugby season is about to start – hopefully we will do better than last year !

 

Cheers for now – Farmer Chris.