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> Glorious June…….er, not exactly. We seem to be playing catch-up for the driest May on record. It has been very pleasant, and hasn’t stopped any of our guests doing anything, but it has been a bit damp ! We just haven’t had a heatwave yet. I think it’s Glastonbury Festival this weekend so it may yet get wetter, although I have been reliably informed that there is a Saharan heatwave on the way. A lot of grass has been cut and spread out to make hay for next Winter, so the general consensus must be for at least five hot days. Every thing seems to be growing at double speed. As soon as I finish one cycle of mowing/strimming  I have to start again. The wisteria on the holiday lets looks heavy enough to pull the front wall over. Rosie, our terrier, is convinced there is a squirrel in there somewhere and has started climbing up inside it.

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>     I may have mentioned that we had two beagle puppies in the pipeline, for the Summer. Lintel and Linnet have now arrived and the feeling is that they are ‘absolutely gorgeous’……what is it about puppies ? Every year we ‘walk’ two for the local Harriers. We have them when they are old enough to wean and keep them until they are old enough to go back and join the pack in the kennels. Our job is to make them socially acceptable and reasonably well behaved, which isn’t as simple as it sounds. Probably the most important lesson is to teach them to recognise their own names. This is really important because when they go back to join the other Seventy or so at the kennels, if they aren’t totally sure of their own ‘call-sign’ they are virtually useless. We encourage our guests, young and old, to always say the Puppies names as soon as they touch them, call them and even scold them. We also have to lead train them and teach them traffic sense. That usually involves chasing them around the yard with a sack truck and running them over as often as possible. They soon learn that large steel things with black wheels have priority at all times ! The electric fence around the pig penitentiary is another nasty learning curve. Then, there are the geese……… and even learning to swim across the stream……and not to chase poultry and sheep. Misty the sheep-dog doesn’t take prisoners, and we occasionally here one of them howling along the yard as they head for the sanctuary of their dormitory, having been bitten for looking at her current, favourite, stick or ball. Rosie the terrier seems to think they are her puppies that ‘vanished’ last year and spends hours rolling around in a heap with them. She keeps getting their heads or legs in her mouth and gently ‘squeezing’ them….. and they seem to relish it ! So, at least they have a ‘loving house-mistress’ to mother them occasionally, in their Beagle Boarding school. Eventually, when they start hunting twice a week and are screaming around the countryside, helping local farmers with their pest control and doing what all Beagles love doing, their ‘social acceptance’ course at North Bradbury Farm might seem worthwhile.

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>   Our solitary pair of Swallows (see last months Blog. ) have been very busy improving their nest. We did have a fleeting visit from another trio, but sadly they were only passing through. After spending one night on the overhead electricity cable they moved on. We are staying well away from the nest in order to avoid any accidental disturbance. I am on constant alert for Grey Squirrels in the hope that we may be able to encourage a Swallow fight back. We have one more pair in the barn at the bottom of the lane but that’s it for this year. It is now the last day of June and so far we have no House Martins or Swifts !

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>   The recalcitrant, escapologist lambs seem to have settled down and accepted their new surroundings, at last. Mind you, they are fattening up well and the grass is growing on really well, so it might just be the case that they can’t get through any of the holes now. At the moment they are grazing off the grass in the chickens enclosure and the black ringleader has resorted to squeezing through the hole in the door to break into the chicken house. It’s almost as though it just has to prove a point – it can ‘escape’ from anywhere……

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>     The pigs, Peek and Boo, are doing well. We haven’t had as much scorching hot weather as last year. They are using their wallow occasionally, but more for fun than necessity. The geese are all reasonably relaxed. There is plenty of water in the stream and even their pond is full again. There is just enough grass for three ponies and four geese to steadily fatten up. The moorhens didn’t appear this year but the pond was dry at about the time they would have been nesting. So, everything out on the farm seems to be ticketyboo, ready for the school holidays,

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>   Cheers for now, Farmer Chris.

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