Tag Archives: lambs

Bucket lists, birds and boars

You don’t often get to do something for the first time when you’re our age; apart from medical procedures there’s not much novelty left once you start closing in on sixty. Even when it is a novelty, it’s rarely something you want enjoy.

Julia has instructed me to take heed of the requirements of good taste here and not discuss my medical history.

However, today we were able to help someone with her bucket list, as she wanted to hand feed lambs before having an her operation. There’s no accounting for taste, but many people seem to find lambs cute, so Julia laid on the full farm experience, right down to the… er…last detail. I will be tactful on that, but not only does the lady feel like a farmer now, she also smells like one.

I suggested that if she could see her way clear to add “shovelling” to her bucket list we could also accommodate her with that too.

Kirsty did her pig presentation today, which was quite interesting. The idea that pigs are clean animals and can bark were two new concepts that caused quite a bit of discussion, as did the news that wild pigs form a large portion of the diet of tigers in the wild.

I can understand that pigs barking seems strange, and that an animal that rolls in mud to prevent sunburn doesn’t seem that clean at first glance. What I’m struggling with is the idea that we need to worry about what tigers eat. If we ever end up with tigers in Screveton I can’t help feeling that we will have more to worry about than the safety of our pigs.

Apart from that we’ve gardened between showers, refurbished and redesigned a few scarecrows and taken more bird pictures. That woodpecker really does love peanuts!

As you can see from the main picture, the term scarecrow isn’t strictly accurate.

Tomorrow we will be baking scones. I will be taking photographs and lurking in the hope of being fed.


Busy days and Potato Pizzas

Collect the eggs, feed the lambs, avoid the electric fence round the goats…

It’s been a busy day. We didn’t finish until late last night, after hosting a group of local Brownies for pizza making and nature bling. We also saw one of the leaders make her Brownie Promise. She’s part of a good team – the Brownies were a delight to work with and the leaders did most of the washing up for us.

I managed to fit in a telephone consultation with my weight loss mentor, who thinks I eat too much cheese. I think I’m eating it to avoid eating various sliced meat products, partly through a desire to avoid additives and partly wanting to cut down on meat. This could take some balancing.

I’ve also had  a text to remind me that the dentist awaits me on Friday morning. I suppose it will be OK once it over.

Finally it was time to cook the new pizza recipe, specifically for people who don’t like tomato sauce or cheese.

Potato pizza with onions and rosemary. Well, it would have been if I hadn’t forgotten to put the onions on. Apart from the onions there are a few tweaks to make to the recipe, but it was generally thought to be good. As you can see from the picture, it was a good, fun hands on activity, though some of us need more practice handling dough.

I will put the recipe on the Recipe page over the weekend.



Rain, robins and roosters

The Met Office misled me. I was expecting passing showers, but instead we had a prolonged hammering from hail.

Despite this we did manage to get some of the Kew seeds planted.

More lambs today, but no photos in case any of my you start to suffer from cuteness fatigue. I’ll post more on Wednesday. You will have to make do with a picture of a robin singing in the barn. No, I’ve never seen one singing inside either, but as the front is open it’s easy to get in and out.

The final batch of ewes were due to start lambing today, but let’s face it, when do sheep ever do what they are supposed to do? It doesn’t matter, because we’re still knee deep in lambs from the main group, and have plenty more still to come as some of them are showing no urgency about giving birth.

The poultry emerged after the rain, as did the sun, so it ended on a positive note.

PS: Yes, I do realise that the title is both inaccurate (rain) and Americanised (rooster) but Hail, robins and cockerels just didn’t sound so good. Oh, and I just realised there was only one robin…

End of week report

It’s been a mixed week, featuring activity and idleness in equal parts. Julia and the group provided the activity whilst I did my bit by providing a large helping of idleness. I’m tempted to refer to it as sloth, having been doing some reading about the seven deadly sins, but that just makes me smile at the thought of a sloth.

(As she reads this Julia will be rolling her eyes and repeating the favourite saying of wives all over the world. Yes, it’s true. Men never really grow up.)

Julia and the group have set seeds, planted bedding, moved sheep, assisted in lambing and done various other things. As I write this she is feeding poultry after a day of wrestling with EU forms and speaking to people about their forthcoming visits to the farm.

We also called at a Care Home yesterday and did a session on herbs. It generally went well, because the smell of herbs seems to perk people up, and we are now organising a day out on the farm for the residents. It will be interesting, as a number of them are from farming backgrounds and I’m sure we’ll get some stories out of them.

Me? I’ve typed a bit (though not enough to keep up with the blog routine) and written a grant application. After that I was left with the feeling that I’d been battered round the head with a book of management doublespeak and it has taken two days for my brain to return to normal.

Other than that I have wasted time, procrastinated and searched Wikipedia for a variety of subjects, including pre-war football and the Spanish Civil War. The first was sparked by the purchase of a biography of Herbert Chapman from a discount bookshop and I’m not sure why I started with the second. I think it was because I looked up the origins of detective fiction, which led to books set in Southwold (though I don’t recall how) and thence to George Orwell.

That’s the magic of the internet.

Note: We have just found out how the chickens escaped – the Community Payback team were asked if they could help move the chickens and misinterpreted this as “let them out”. Easy mistake to make if you live in a town and have never kept chickens I suppose.


Easter, Spring, Lambs and Happiness

The sheep had a set of twins yesterday. So far we’ve had nothing today, but it’s early yet.

I’m writing this quietly as Julia is conducting a 9.00 am meeting on the desk next to me.  I say desk, because it sounds more professional than table. It’s all about outputs and throughput and footfall over there.

On this side it’s about Safer Food, Better Business because we had a kitchen inspection on Saturday. It didn’t go well because the duty cook washed their hands in the washing up sink and put a pack of raw sausages down in the wrong place. There’s nothing major on the list, and they were generally happy. However, it did take a couple of hours out of yesterday and will take a few more hours to sort yet.

The annoying thing is that my main activity (cooking vegetarian bakery products, jams and chutneys)) wouldn’t even require registration. I’m supposed to be working on a grant application, which needs to be done in the next couple of days, but instead I’m working on cleaning schedules and staff training. Even as I write these words I’m concious that this is a very minor annoyance.

In contrast to most offices, I can’t hear traffic noise. Mostly I hear sheep bleating and cocks crowing. The most invasive sound is the calling of Great Tits, a sound often likened to a squeaky wheelbarrow or squeaky bicycle pump.

Once we finish here (in about an hour) we are off until Tuesday, as Julia has taken the weekend off work. The clocks go back this weekend, and as we get up at 5 am on Sundays, the last thing we need is to lose an extra hour.

I’m going to stop now, as there’s a fine line between happiness and smugness when you write about it. Hopefully I’ve not stepped over the line.



Calm before the storm


I was just going to write a post remarking how quiet it was with the main taxi being late and four of the group not being here. We were actually able to hold a conversation at normal levels. It was so nice we didn’t bother to ring and find out where they were. (They would have texted if there was a problem – we know this from past experience).

However, at 10.27 the storm arrived.

Seven minutes later we have several shouted conversations in progress, the kettle going (there’s always a silver lining!), a serious case of hypochondria and a discussion on twin lamb disease, or Pregnancy Toxaemia if you want to be technical. That led on to a look at ketones, and the realisation that Twin Lamb disease is just like diabetes.

Life is never dull round here!

More later – just thought I’d get the day started.


Cute animals produce results

I just had notifications from the Thursday Bread Group telling me three people are coming, two of them because they want to see the puppy. It seems that wit, charm, erudition and the ability to cook a honey, oat and wholemeal loaf aren’t enough – you need a cute puppy. This was a lesson driven home by the spike in my activity stats on the blog yesterday (45 hourly views compared to my average of 0).

Before that it was the lambs.

So that’s it, the way to blogging success is to have pictures of cute animals. Forget all that work you put in to quality of writing, or free gifts or cunning headlines – just take pictures of cute animals.

Not that I’m bitter – I’ve  a farm full of sheep, goats and poultry so I’m well ahead of the game.

I’m going to go against the trend with some travel photos instead. Not mine, but some from the bread group tour of India. Looks like they ate well.


It’s been the first day of the year we could get out in the garden and we’ve done quite a bit this afternoon. Not all of it has been structured or done well, but it’s the thought that counts and we needed the exercise. Well, I needed the exercise.

We’re still in the process of planning the vegetable garden, partly through lethargy and partly through not knowing what the plans are for next year. Hopefully we will find out in the next week or so.


The sheep are carrying on, with two more lambs born over the weekend. They’re not very cooperative when it comes to posing for photographs at the moment. Unfortunately we had someone walking a dog without it being on a lead – that always makes them a bit jumpy. Makes you wonder what people are thinking. Or if they are thinking.

At the moment we’re practising for the bird watch this weekend. I’m having to answer a large number of questions, including the difference between a pied wagtail and a magpie (they are both black and white with long tails, which causes confusion) and why it might be better not to sit there sniggering at the common name of Phalacrocorax aristotelis. (It’s a shag for those of you who aren’t familiar with the poem, or with juvenile humour.)

Despite what the poem says, the common cormorant is not another name for shag, and what I always thought of as the common cormorant is now the Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo). Tricky things these bird names, which is why we need the Latin names too.

The Common Cormorant

The common cormorant (or shag)
Lays eggs inside a paper bag,
The reason you will see no doubt,
Is to keep the lightning out.

But what these unobservant birds
Have failed to notice is that herds
Of wandering bears may come with buns
And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.

Christopher Isherwood







Staring at the screen in search of a title

We’ve had a productive day – collected eggs, listed, cleaned and maintained tools,  ditto for gloves (but it involves more complaining as we pair them up and work out how many we’ve lost), admired lambs, written up project folders, sharpened massive numbers of coloured pencils, looked at goats, cut back old herbs and, in my case, been generally cheerful in the face of adversity (working with a bunch of sneezing hypochondriacs can be very wearing). I am very good like that.

Then we looked at the lambs again and checked them against the standard for the Badger Face Welsh Mountain sheep. One of them definitely has the black stripe along the belly that is distinctive to the breed. It’s a bit of a mess as stripes go, but it is there. It’s neither good news or bad, but it’s human nature to enjoy finding something new.

There was a buzzard sitting on a fence post by the side of the A46 this morning, looking very spick and span. We followed that up with good sightings of 30-40 Fieldfares and 10 Redwings. There were also about 20 Jackdaws in the same field and a handful of Starlings. The next field had a couple of pairs of red-legged partridges (there’s a shoot this weekend and one in two weeks, after which they will be safe for the spring and summer). Sadly I don’t have photos of the birds, which is something I will try to address this year.

Julia is currently showing a teacher round with a view to us having a visit in February, and I am sitting staring at the screen in search of a title.



You asked for cute…

Second post of the day and it’s only lunchtime!

First we did the measurements for the Woodland Trust, despite the low temperatures. Looks like they need a bit of pruning but short arms and long pockets seem to be in charge at the moment.



Then we took pictures of the new lambs. We have five now and, despite the dangers of stress we have moved them inside. It’s a trade off, but they’re soft lowland sheep and the snow could be a problem. So far they are all doing well.