Archive for April, 2009

When the pigs are moved, there’s time for snuggles

Hurrah! I’ve finally moved all eight pigs onto fresh ground, which is a massive relief for me and them. Ok, I’ve cheated a little with Tia and Bailey and have only moved the 100m of electric netting that makes up their enclosure, not the ark, but it means that 70% of their enclosure is now made up of fresh ground, including a soft area for them to make a wallow if required, and the cover of several trees to give them shade. If I get a chance, I’ll move the ark this week, so the ground in front of its current spot gets a chance to rest, but there’s no rush.

Tia and Bailey - 21 April 2009

Tia and Bailey approve of their new patch

So, eight happy pigs.

Which meant I could take some time to administer belly rubs and receive some piggy loves in return:

In the pig ark - 21 April 2009

In the pig ark with Perky, Scrumpy, Fergie and Brini

Perky and Jo - 21 April 2009

Perky thinks she's a lap dog

Thanks to Jennie for taking those photos (!!!!!!!!!!!) on your much needed (and deserved) break from planting all those potatoes!!

From climbing trees to the search for Doctor Who

Yesterday was another wonderfully sunny day and I spent some time doubling the size of the four pigs’ enclosure with their second electric net, giving them a circumference of 100m. No idea what the total area that makes – most of my GCSE maths has been absorbed into the unused dark matter of my brain!

Brini, Scrumpy and Perky were thrilled with their expanded enclosure and happily set about exploring the wilderness I opened up underneath a long-suffering tree, suffocated by brambles and dead branches, through to the reeds and grass beyond.

Incidentally, I’m hoping that the soft ground where the reeds are will serve as a better wallow than the area by their water bowl:

Perky - 20 April 2009

Perky enjoys the fruits of her labours. It's hard work, watching your human carry nine buckets of water across the field to refill the bowl every some pig empties it into the wallow...!

At first, the trio simply watched me, but soon figured out what I was doing, and by the time I’d cleared a path through the bramble forest, they were vigorously helping me. Brini and Scrumpy were distracted by the fallen brambles (they love the leaves) so Perky was the first one through:

Perky - 20 April 2009

Perky was the first to discover the treats beyond the wall of brambles

Fergie, on the other hand, was not impressed, partly because she gets quite confused when things change and gets lost somewhere new, but mainly because I was intent on cutting down brambles rather than dedicating the time to Fergie Belly Rubs. Never mind, she’ll soon find her way about!

While I was clearing the brambles, I made a wonderful discovery. The tree, once cleared of unwanted stranglers and the odd rotten branch, is perfect for climbing! I’d was just working out how high it’s safe to go when Jennie, who had spent the morning working on the vegetable garden, came to inform me that it was most definitely Time For Lunch:

Jennie - 20 April 2009

Get down from that tree! It's time for lunch!

It’s good to know that tree climbing is still as important to me today as it was in my childhood. Thirties, be damned!

The day passed with laughs and impressive displays of friendship (Jennie didn’t just touch the manky fruit, she handled LOTS of manky fruit. Best. Friend. Ever.) but didn’t end when the sun went down.

They are currently filming David Tennant’s last episodes as The Doctor in Cardiff and having made the discovery that they were definitely filming somewhere in the Bay area last night, we decided to go on a bit of a hunt.

Sadly, although we found their temporary base, not only did we fail in our bid to see any filming (on the grounds that we never found the location!), we also failed to achieve the main objective of the mission: not a sight, not even a glimpse, of Mr Tennant.

Ah well, it was a fun and unique way to spend the evening, and it gave me the chance to test out the night settings on my new camera phone:

Cardiff Bay - 20 April 2009

Cardiff Bay at night

Moving the pigs

Well, yesterday was gorgeous, wasn’t it? We had wonderfully hot sunshine that was complemented with a delightfully cool breeze, perfect weather for taking the dogs to the beach and enjoying an ice cream.

So instead, Jennie and I decided to move not one, but two pig arks, which means two lots of straw, four rubber mats (their floor), two sets of electric netting, two water bowls and six pigs!

I’ve blogged before how I move the arks so I won’t bore you with the details, except to say a big THANK YOU to Jennie for helping me move everything, especially as it seems she might be allergic to something at the farm! Oh dear, hope it’s not Fergie! (Seriously, I think it’s the dust in the straw.)

Scrumpy - 19 April 2009

Scrumpy tucks in to some tasty brambles

Fergie - 19 April 2009

Fergie says nom, nom, nom!

Brini and Perky - 19 April 2009

Brini approves of the new ground while Perky takes a break from it all, having emptied the water bowl to make a wallow!

Midge - 19 April 2009

Midge thinks she's on to something exciting. All she found was dirt, mud and earth...

Pinky and Curly - 19 April 2009

Pinky and Curly settle into their new enclosure at the end of the day, not knowing whether to eat the undergrowth or the bread!

Now all I’ve got to do is move Tia and Bailey onto some fresh ground…!

Testing out my new phone

On Thursday, I upgraded my phone and consequently left Nokia for the first time in about six years. Instead, I got a Sony Ericsson C905 which has an incredible camera: 8.1 megapixels, the option to take panoramic photos, “best shot” (where it takes 7 photos in a very fast burst and you get to pick the best ones), and a whole other host of features that make it seem like a camera that also allows you to text and talk, rather than the other way round! In fact, as I said to B and Jennie when I chose it, it’s better than my proper camera which someone stole a few years ago. The only thing that’s missing is a video camera, which I didn’t think to ask about at the time, but I can live with that!

Oh, and the best thing? It was a free upgrade!

So, as you can imagine, I’ve been taking plenty of photos as I try the phone out so you’ll have to bear with me as I blog some of the results!

Snipe - 18 April 2009

Snipe chilling out in the pig ark

Curly and Pinky - 18 April 2009

Curly and Pinky asleep in the ark. Please note that Curly is actually in my lap!

Perky - 18 April 2009

Perky sleeps as the sun shines onto the straw

Fergie - 18 April 2009

Fergie tucks into her tea

I did take a panoramic shot of the farm, which involves taking three photos and the phone puts them together to make one extra wide shot, but I failed to line everything up. I’ll try again and blog the results when I get it right. As Jennie said, if (when!) I get the right shot, it’ll make a perfect header for the blog! (Talking of which, I’ve changed it again to a photo I took this time last year: Tia and the weaners’ papa, Bob, in one of Mum’s fields with the chickens. They were 100% free-range, which is why we lost three-quarters of them to the fox. This is why I now keep them behind the electric netting. They’re hardly “free” inside a hungry fox’s belly!!)

Words simply are not enough…

… to describe how I’m feeling at the moment.

On Thursday, I left the farm and drove back to the house, leaving the dogs with an assortment of chews to entertain themselves while B and I walked into Cardiff, where we met up with Jennie and her boys for a few hours of meandering round the shops, drinking coffee, eating cake and generally enjoying ourselves.

I upgraded my phone, got a better contract, bought a book on vegetable gardening with a book token I was given at Christmas, bought B’s borthday present, and treated myself to some new games and some accessories for my Nintendo DS. All in all, it was a lovely day and I was mentally writing a blog post on the subject when B and I arrived back at the house.

Only to discover that someone had driven into the back of my car!

Apparently some idiot was speeding down the street and overtook a van. He claims that some kids ran out in front of him so he braked and swerved, crashing into one car that was parked behind mine. I assume he then span round and careered into the back of mine.

It’s a 4×4 so is higher than your average car and I’m sure you’ll understand what I mean when I say the back door has been pushed in (my insurance company struggled to grasp what I meant and kept talking about the “boot” – but more on them later) and the window exploded everywhere. The vehicle also moved forward about a car’s length, maybe more, which is quite amazing considering how damn good that handbrake is.

The police were called, statements were taken, and everything was cleared up by the time we got home.

What a lovely surprise that was!

I’ll have to do another post about my insurance company and how utterly useless they are as I don’t want to think about such things at this hour of the morning.

Let’s just say that come renewal day, I’m switching, even if I have to pay more elsewhere.

As for the car, it looked quite positive as there didn’t seem to be much damage, but the garage rang me last night to say that the floor has also been damage and is buckled and the estimate for repairs is three thousand pounds…!

So, I may or may not get the car back, depending on whether the insurance company decide that the cost of repairing the vehicle is less than they’ll have to pay me if it’s written off.

I know I shouldn’t, but I keep mulling over the What Ifs.

What If … I’d looked up at the blue sky on Thursday morning and rung B and Jennie to cancel, opting to enjoy the sunny country outdoors instead?

What If … I’d parked somewhere else? A taxi was parked outside my front door. I’d I’d parked in front of him instead of behind the other car, mine would have been fine.

What If … What If … What If …

It really doesn’t help.

I’ve got the driver’s phone number. Boy, am I having to resist ringing him up with every moral fibre in my being.


This could get expensive!

I’ve been in denial for a few weeks but yesterday afternoon, I was forced to concede that my wellies are officially dead. They started cracking but since we’re now in spring, I thought they’d easily last until winter. Actually, I thought they’d last a LOT longer than that, as I’ve only had them since early January (a birthday present from Jennie) but it seems that your average wellies cannot cope with being worn every day for four months and the right boot now sports various cracks and a huge split in the sole. Which I discovered when I stood in some standing water in the field!

So the hunt is on for a new pair, though I might be optimistic and see if I can track down some wellie shoes or Muckers for the immediate future (being a lot less hot and stinky than full on wellies) and leave the Real Thing until autumn.

The thought of having killed my second pair of wellies in less than a year got me thinking about the rest of my wardrobe that’s also given up the ghost. I’ve worked out that since moving down to south Wales in August, I’ve had to replace (or get a lovely, kind, generous friend to mend) the following:

  • wellie boots x 2
  • waterproof trousers x 2
  • leather boots
  • jeans x 2
  • trousers
  • t-shirt
  • socks (too many pairs to count)
  • sweat shirt
  • coat pockets (I have various items rattling about the lining, from a tape measure to spare socks to string)
  • numerous pairs of gloves

That’s quite a list for just eight months.


Bo Obama

I’ve been pondering the politics of the Obamas’ choice of dog and one thing that strikes me is this: we’re talking about his kids’ dog, so why is it suddenly political?

Secondly, there’s the issue of why they’ve chosen a Portuguese Water Dog.

I don’t believe that there is such a thing a “hypoallergenic” breed of dog, but I do see the logic that dogs (and cats) who don’t shed hair, present far less of a problem than dogs who shed enough hair to cover another dog every time they move (Snipe, cough cough, Midge…).

So when you’ve got a child who is allergic to animals, like ten year old Malia, getting a dog which doesn’t shed is an excellent idea.

The main problem (for those who having nothing better to moan about) is that Obama stated that the “First Puppy” would come from an animal shelter.

However, as I understand it, they were unable to find the right breed of puppy in any shelters, which is why they gratefully accepted the gift of “Bo” from Senator Edward Kennedy.

Unfortunately, the general public, who are presumably Lemmings posing as voting adults, have completely lost their minds and have all decided en masse that they too wish to own a Portuguese Water Dog. Which is fine until they realise that dogs are not fashion accessories, that they poo, pee and chew and need lots and lots of exercise.

This is the issue that’s got a lot of dog lovers hot under the collar, and they’re right.

But surely the answer is not to condemn the Obamas for getting Bo, but rather to campaign to raise awareness of the plight of dogs in rescue homes, and to educate the public about the responsibility of dog ownership and the restrictions that your canine companion inevitably puts on your life.

And for crying out loud, leave Bo and the Obama girls alone. They’re kids, he’s a puppy. When all’s said and done, nothing is more special than that.