Tag Archives: pigs

A Ride in the Country

In the middle of the day I first dropped Julia off at work (she is going in to familiarise herself with the garden) and then went for a drive.

I saw an Orange-tip on the verge and a Buzzard perching in a roadside tree, which was a good start.

It was a good day for free range pigs, warm but not too sunny. I always worry about them getting sunburn when it’s too hot. Obviously it’s nothing like as painful as being grilled, but it must be fairly unpleasant , particularly as they have short legs and no way of getting suncream on their backs.

When I have stopped and looked at them before there have been hundreds of birds abou (Jackdaws, Carrion Crows, Rooks and Black Headed Gulls), but apart from a few gulls there were none about today. I must start looking on a regular basis to see if it’s seasonal or if today was just a one-off.

Further down the road I stopped in a lay-by for a look round. I tried a few flowers and some still life shots but the butterflies wouldn’t stop to pose and all the birds were hiding in trees, though they were singing their hearts out. If only I could recognise more birdsong, or more flowers.

The only bird I actually saw was a Buzzard, and that was too far away to get a decent shot.

It was good to get outside for a spot of nature therapy. I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed it the fresh air and actually having to think about things. Sitting at home watching daytime TV is not something I’m keen to keep doing.

 

Medecine, mistakes and a misapprehension

On the grounds of good taste I’m not going to go into detail about what happened at hospital this afternoon.

The facilities are good, the staff were cheerful and I was only away from home for 45 minutes (we can see the hospital from our house so travel doesn’t take long). Despite this I’m not very happy with the experience.

It’s hard to feel satisfaction when you go in for tests and come out without having the tests done.

The NHS did not cover itself in glory today.

However, my day was better than the man who was waiting with me. He  was under the misapprehension that they were going to put the camera down his throat.

 

Today’s photographs are just a few selected from thousands…

 

 

500, and the Red Arrows came to mark the day!

Yes, it’s post 500 and I’m feeling a little bit smug. However, the smugness is kept in bounds by the realisation that 500 posts isn’t the same as 500 good posts.

Despite this, it was nice of the Red Arrows to drop by and put a display on for us. The photos aren’t great, but the camera wasn’t very expensive and it’s fine for butterflies and flowers. Seeing as I photograph the Red Arrows about once every 20 years and butterflies nearly every day I think I have the balance about right. I’d hate to spend £1,000 on a camera and then wait 20 years to use its full potential.

In fact, being tight, I’d hate to spend £1,000 on a camera.

The day was the usual mix of heat, work and complaints about working in the heat. We watered polytunnels, collected eggs, made cards, plaited corn dollies from drinking straws (modern stalks are too short) and served a couple of passing walkers with ice creams.

In addition I put poultry up for sale on Preloved, Gumtree and Pets4Home, (for which I don’t get paid) wrote several rude emails (which I resisted the temptation to send) and one which I didn’t. I dealt with Men in Sheds (for which I don’t get paid) and queries about the Agroforestry Project (for which I don’t get paid).

We also had to extract a growling pig from the water trough. She’s developed the habit of inserting herself into the water trough to cool herself down and this is the second time she’s got stuck under the top bar.

She tends to get annoyed that she’s stuck, and even more annoyed when we have to pull her out, hence the growling. I didn’t get paid for that either, but it’s not every day you get to hear a pig growl so I’ll settle for that.

You may see a theme developing here. I am feeling jaded and put upon, a feeling that increases when talking to the ex-farm apprentice, who is now in a new job with a local nursery and thoroughly enjoying himself. He also gets paid for the work he does. I’m jealous.

Then, as the day drew to a close, we had a visit from the Red Arrows.

Bread, butter and Brownies – Part 2

Well, I’ve updated the gallery page with a slideshow, if you’re interested, and I’ve re-read Part 1 and realised that I may have been slightly less than accurate in my comments on butter making. It’s easy, as I said. However, twice it has proved to be impossible. I did it as a unit of a PTLLS course I took some years ago – the cream was hot from being in the back of the car and the evening was humid and the classroom unventilated. After half an hour of shaking, as I showed signs of passing out, they decided to let me off that bit. It still took me an hour after that to stop shaking. The other time was similar, hot and humid day, trying to make butter at a care home. Fortunately, with a clientèle that were all around 90 we were able to nip to the kitchen and substitute butter from the fridge without anyone spotting it.

So, butter making is generally easy. Apart from when it isn’t.

I’ve just been run into the ground by 23 Brownies. I don’t think I could cope with being a Brownie leader – the enthusiasm is great, but I don’t have the energy to keep up!

It’s also trickier doing the visit on your own, but as Julia was working at her “proper” job tonight we didn’t have much choice. What is a seamless performance with the two of us working like a well-oiled machine (I may be exaggerating a bit here), becomes a touch fraught as you have to prepare everything in advance and go from one to the other hoping that it all fits together. It just about did. I forgot the picking of herbs and chillies for the soup until I had them all washing their hands in the outside sink so I had to alter my choice of herbs to sage and golden marjoram – those being the ones they could see from the sink.

There was also a bit of  a gap where I needed to serve up the soup, but the leaders covered that for me with a song about gorilla snot. Yes, it was a surprise to me too.

😉

In the end it all went reasonably well, kids and leaders seemed happy, we had no accidents, the animals behaved (OK, apart from the goats) and I’m left with a feeling of well-being as we head into tomorrow and the fifth day. I’ve a few points to improve on but nothing too bad.

List for tomorrow – cream crackers, fly spray (it’s not good weather for those of us with waterless toilets), air freshener (ditto), long bamboo skewers (for our November Project), and bread for lunch.

I think that’s it…

 

 

Entering the modern era

Yes, I’ve finally done it, after being let down twice in a week I’ve drafted the letter about non-returnable deposits.

One of them was a no-show, so we’d bought materials and planned the day, putting several hours of effort in. The second was the day before, but I was away that day and only checked my email this morning, by which time I’d spent several hours planning, bought materials and ingredients and generally psyched myself up.

So we’re now in the grasping, lecturing, materialistic modern world and have a document detailing our deposit requirements and defining “14 days”. I haven’t moaned, I’ve just pointed out that we can’t keep incurring costs and suffering late cancellations.

I’m reasonably happy with it but I’m sure that the management committee will have a go at mangling it.

Coming, as it did, the day after the lady at Brierlow Book Shop taught me how to pay contactlessly. I’m really feeling like a child of the 21st century. She says she can also pay with her phone and her watch. I still think anything other than cash is a bit suspect, but I suppose I’m one of a dying breed.

The keets are all happy, though I’m not sure what we’re feeding them on. It looks a bit floury and the mill we use to grind wheat for school visits seems to be full of pig pellets. Call me suspicious but  if there was such a thing as an Olympics for cutting corners we would be weighed down with medals and people would call on us to commentate at the Christmas Scrooge Championships and the Tightwad Derby.

I’ve got the new feeder up, though I can’t afford a big one like the bookshop has. Nor could I afford to fill it. I’ve also put the window feeder up, but so far nobody has found it. I thought that if it works it’s worth a fiver, and if it doesn’t I’ll give it a wash and give it somebody for Christmas.

The old feeders all have a new feature – an elastic band over the top. It’s not pretty but I’m hoping it might work. The plan is that even if they do get mugged by jackdaws the tops should stay on. If the jackdaws can’t get to the contents they may stop wrecking them. How many times have I said that?

One of the goats escaped, but it’s now captured and penned again. I’d have left it to get in by itself (they do when they get bored) but someone called and asked for help.

He caught me at a bad time – I was just contemplating allowing the three guinea fowl in the allotment to escape from their pen. A moment later and I may have been spotted. I’ll do it tomorrow.

The pigs seem happy too, but in the absence of foresight I suppose they would, They may be the 4th most intelligent mammal, behind men, apes and dolphins, but they have never really concerned themselves with the meaning of life.This is probably a good thing.

Given food, friends and the occasional scratch behind the ears they seem content.

Added later – can anybody tell me if the plant still standing near the pigs (the only thing they have left standing, is hemlock? The main picture isn’t as clear as it could be – do these help?

Meanwhile the cereal trial is confusing me – the plots with chemicals seem greener, and have fewer weeds, but the ones without chemicals seem just as tall and productive, though a bit paler, or even yellow round the edges. The chemicals must help by providing all the nutrients the grain needs, but I’m wondering whether they are cost effective.

Wind!

I knew it was going to be windy today because it was windy all last night. I know this because  the wind was coming from the north and my bedroom faces north.

This week last year one of the tents blew down as we prepared for Open Farm Sunday and our runner beans were ravaged by the Arctic blast. This year we have paced ourselves better and won’t be putting the big marquee up until Thursday. We have put the awning up in front of the kitchen, and that is firmly tied to the verandah of the centre and variously weighted down with breeze blocks and gas bottles. Despite this it’s still showing ambitions to fly.

As for the beans, I haven’t even put one out this year.

As you can see from the main picture, the bird feeders have been swinging at some strange angles and feeding birds have been clinging rather than perching. Even they had it easy compared to one of the farmyard poultry, though I didn’t mange to get a picture, so you’ll have to imagine the picture.

Think of a chicken making its way across the yard as a gust of wind catches it. Then think of tumble-weed. Put the two images together and you are close to what happened. Fortunately nothing was injured except for a little avian dignity.

As for other matters, we had a visit from a teacher (who seemed to like us), we have four new pigs, a tail on our pigsaw and I have just completed an internet training course on COSHH in a Food Environment. That’s Control of Substances Hazardous to Health in case you were wondering, and no, it doesn’t include my cooking.

 

 

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.