Archive for June, 2009

As it rains, so I return indoors to the blog!

Sorry about the absence, I took advantage of the glorious weather to be a busy bee outside and have rather neglected the blog of late.

So much has been going on, I thought I’d cheat and do a photo update of some of the highlights (yes, yes, I know that you know this is because I’ve actually forgotten what I’ve been up to and the photos I’ve taken are the only reminders…)

For various reasons, I’ve been unable to send any pigs off for slaughter so I’m still feeding eight hungry mouths, which is annoying me somewhat. The only good thing about it is that little Curly is rapidly growing so we should get some decent meat from him when his time comes. Which it had better do soon! Oh, I lie, there is one other piece of good news about Pinky and Curly’s delayed departure: they’ve cleared a massive patch of brambles for me! In fact, I’ve had to totally adjust their fence so that they’ve got something to eat as they’ve completely exhausted their original patch:

Curly and Pinky - 22 June 2009

Curly and Pinky - 22 June 2009

We have two new hens: Maude and Mildred, a pair of Warren POLs (point of lay) who are approximately 20 weeks old. The others are being extremely mean to them but I’m hoping they’ll settle in soon.

Maude - 22 June 2009

Maude - 22 June 2009

It was a no-go with Willow and her Maran and Light Sussex eggs. Not a single one hatched. I did think that they weren’t warm enough to the touch quite early on during her incubation, but there was nothing I could so except wait and see. Thankfully, she got off her nest when I (gingerly) took the eggs away, but right on cue, Speckle went broody! She’s been in the broody ark all week and I’ve been promised some Light Sussex eggs, so I’m hoping she’ll settle in and hatch some LS chicks who should be good for laying and the pot…

When the sun next comes out, I’ll try to take some photos of the two new girls. They’re quite camera shy at the moment, not that I blame them!

Did I mention that it’s been hot, hot, hot? Here’s the evidence: even Fergie, who hated getting muddy, has been spotted frequenting the local wallow:

Fergie - 23 June 2009

Fergie - 23 June 2009

And Midge, the dog who also hates getting muddy and wet, has completely shocked me with her choice of Favourite Game:

Midge - 24 June 2009

Midge - 24 June 2009

B’s cat is a bit of an idiot:

Horatio - 24 June 2009

Horatio - 24 June 2009

But I can’t talk. Just look at my dog:

Snipe - 24 June 2009

Snipe - 24 June 2009

And here she is again, this time with her new toy:

Snipe - 25 June 2009

Snipe - 25 June 2009

So that’s what I’ve been up (not to mention everything I’ve forgotten about).

And you?

Not long to go!

Oooh, oooh, OOOH!

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

Last night, B and I, along with a whole bunch of people from her work, went to see Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. As films go, I enjoyed it and certainly didn’t notice the 150 minute running time, plus extra for the trailers. Considering how uncomfortable cinema seats are, I tend to use this as a guide to how much I enjoy different films!

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

Typically, as with any film concerned with blowing things up and using lots of special effects, the plot line was hardly intricate, and the number of boob shots involving sexy women was, I felt, rather insulting. When oh when oh when will movie producers, directors and script writers come to the conclusion that a female character could possible be used for something more than titillation? That maybe her role in the film could be more about, say, the plot, and less about some guy’s prepubescent fantasy involving hot women and motorbikes?

Apart from that irritation, it was a good film and if you’re even mildly into geeky things, this film is a must-see.

Oh – am I getting old for thinking that the volume was too loud? I mean, when your jeans leg starts vibrating as a rssult of the sound waves, surely someone should turn things down, just a little?

End World Hunger on my blog!

Scroll down my sidebar and you’ll see a widget for SocialVibe who have teamed up with WordPress to enable WP bloggers to earn money for charity:

Each time someone visits your blog and engages with your brand (by rating a video, for example), you’re making a difference. That impact is immediately visible on your badge, i..e., ‘My blog has provided 63 cups of clean water for people in need.’

The money donated comes from your brand, so you and your readers never have to pay a dime. In addition to earning donations, you’ll also get feedback from your charity about the difference they’re making thanks to you. By clicking the charity logo in the badge, you can find information about your cause and view real-time goal progress.

(From the WP blog)

My charity of choice (i.e. from the list) is the United Nations World Food Programme, specifically Fill the Cup. It’s all sponsored by Showtime, a American TV station. Take a look, click the link and watch the preview of their shows so that they’ll donate to WFP.

Then, when you’ve done that, scroll down a little further and have a go at the Free Rice game: every time you get a correct answer, ten grains of rice will be donated to end hunger across the world.

Thank you!

Happy birthday, Jennie!

My best friend and fellow blogger, Jennie, today celebrates her 30th birthday, though she is insisting that she’s really 22 and 96 months, to satisfy those of us who know what her passport, driving licence and birth certificate say!

Jennie - 29 September 2008

I'm not quite sure that's what the Eglu chicken feeders are for...!

Hon, you’re now 30. I know you’re not exactly thrilled with this and are insisting that you’re no older than you were a decade ago, but you’re missing the point. None of us feel older than we did when we were at school / university / in the first flush of youth. Just because our bodies are getting older doesn’t mean that our minds or souls are ageing at the same rate. I know I’ve changed since we were at school (for the better, I hope!) and you have too. I won’t go into the whys and hows, but I see you with your husband now and I remember when you two first got together, and the contrast is striking. I see you with your wonderful children and I know that you’ve become this amazing person, that the years have added, not detracted, to who you are.

Jennie at Ogmore - 7 January 2009

A cold day at the beach!

Accept your age, go with the years and look forward to what comes next. You are who you are, no matter what your birth certificate might say, and the only way you’ll lose yourself is if you worry about what it says.

Jennie, Midge and Snipe - 21 March 2009

Taking a break in the sun

Happy birthday xx

A hot day for moving the pigs!

If I had known quite how hot it was going to be yesterday, I probably wouldn’t have moved Perky, Fergie, Brini and Scrumpy – and not just the pigs, but their ark as well!

Their old patch was looking bare and forlorn so moving them onto fresh ground seemed like a great plan, not just for their nutritional requirements, but also because they’re pretty smart and know that the grass really is greener on the other side of their fence!

They’re used to the routine of being moved and happily followed their feed bowls to the new patch, though Scrumpy did try it on and ate her breakfast faster than normal and tried to make a bid for freedom while I was still putting up the electric netting around them. She got her timing all wrong, though, and sped off just as I was walking past her! She kept going, but it was more of a point of principle than anything else, as she let me push her back to the others without any problems.

Fergie, on the other hand, was a little rotter and did her best to do a runner! I feed her on the wrong side of the fence as she eats so slowly that the others would steal her food and she’s hardly in a position to stand up for herself, being so small and, well, on the slow side. Once she’d finished, she waited until B’s attention was elsewhere and ran off, her little legs going nineteen to the dozen. Still busy with the electric netting, all I could hear was B calling her little pig all sorts of names, and then saw a little pink pig emerge from behind the trees, her very cross owner in hot pursuit. Luckily, not being the sharpest pig in the world, Fergie slowed down when she reached the long grass, not sure which way to go. B was able to take advantage of this hesitation and turned her towards me. Fergie picked up speed as she ran in my direction, but I’m used to her little games and as she ran along the wrong side of the electric net, I was able to put it down on the ground and get her to go over the top. Safely back where she should be, B and I left her to it. She kept going for a few seconds before realising that the fence was now on her left, not her right… I don’t know what she said, but some passing birds looked very shocked!

Not only do they have plenty of fresh grazing to keep them going for several weeks, they’ve also got brand new bedding, as I used all the hay I’ve made in the last week to replace their old straw. They were as thrilled with the new bed as they were with the new grass and despite the heat, ventured into the ark to make themselves at home. I’m glad they showed so much appreciation as not only was it hard work, cutting all that grass to make hay, shifting the ark was hell in that heat, especially as I needed to wear gloves to protect my hands.

Perky, Fergie, Scrumpy and Brini - 14 June 2009

Perky, Fergie, Scrumpy and Brini enjoy their new patch

Always worth it though.

As happy as pigs on fresh grass!

Yesterday, B and I moved Tia and Bailey onto some fresh ground, so that they can take care of the Himalayan Balsam that’s threatening to take over. It starts to flower from June onwards, and then goes to seed, popping violently to spread its seeds. Each seed can travel up to 7 metres, which makes Himalayan Balsam (aka Policeman’s Helmet) a real threat to anything else that tries to grow, like grass! What happens is that the balsam plants clump together and then spread out their leaves like umbrellas, creating dense forests and blocking the sunlight from reaching anything below its thick canopies. Come autumn, anything that couldn’t grow taller than the balsam (which, growing unchecked, reaches the dizzying heights of six or seven feet) has long since died so when the balsam itself dies, the ground is left bare and barren, leading to soil erosion over the winter. Come spring, the balsam can grow with no competition… and so the circle continues, devastating the countryside and forcing birds, insects and wildlife to look elsewhere for their requirements.

Tia - 12 June 2009

Tia - 12 June 2009

But there is good news!

If you can stop the balsam in its tracks before it flowers, it can’t reseed. If it can’t reseed, problem solved. Well, it’s not that easy, but that’s the theory and so I’m trying to halt this bloody weed in its tracks, no easy task as its been growing unchecked for several years and has really taken hold in the field. The pigs are rooting it (and occasionally eating it) and I’m cutting it and pulling it … and we seem to be getting somewhere.

So I have moved Tia and Bailey onto the biggest patch where the balsam has been thriving for several years, along with bracken which nobody wants growing in their fields as it’s toxic to livestock. Unfortunately, the pigs love it, especially the rhizomes (the roots), so I can’t cut back the amount of pig nuts they’re eating as I need to make sure they’ve got enough Vitamin B in their systems (bracken leads to Vit B deficiencies, which in turn can lead to death). Still, the cost will be worth it if I can stop the bracken growing as well.

Bailey - 12 June 2009

Bailey - 12 June 2009

In a few weeks, I’ll move them to the middle of the field, which gets very boggy in the wet but is consequently extremely fertile – the grass is currently higher than my waist and shows no signs on stopping! They’ll graze there for the summer and then I’ll move them back onto the (hopefully balsam and bracken-free) perimeter of the field come autumn.

Making hay while the sun shines!

Yesterday’s predicted rain never arrived so at lunch time I decided to tempt the weather gods and watered the vegetable garden, cursing the slugs who have attacked my courgette plants. Amazingly, this did not instigate a downpour and so I spent the afternoon cutting the long grass in the orchard. Thing is, I cut it by hand using some loppers, so that I can leave it to dry and become hay which I can then use as bedding for the hens’ nest boxes and in the pig arks.

The orchard - 10 June 2009

I took a much needed break to take this photo of what I had done and what was left to do!

Midge in the grass - 10 June 2009

A close up, using Midge to show you just how long the grass is!

Snipe - 10 June 2009

This was as close as Snipe could get to me when I was behind the electric netting in the chicken run!

Finally, take a look at this:

Pea plant in the field - 10 June 2009

Pea plant in the field - 10 June 2009

A while ago, I idly pushed some peas that the pigs hadn’t eaten into the dirt that they’d turned up in the field. Look again, can you see the pea pod?! I’ve managed to loose the feral garlic (the undergrowth grew up around it and I’ve no idea where it is!) and the feral broad beans are growing but haven’t flowered yet, but this looks as though it might actually do something! And the amazing thing is that I haven’t looked after it at all. It’s survived on rain water, so got no water during the week and a half of blazing sunshine, and I only propped it up with a stick last week. Nature rules! I just hope my domesticated peas make it. The slugs really are on a mission 😦

My pack

I’ve spent the past couple of days cutting down the never-ending growth of bracken and Himalayan Balsam, the former being a toxic plant, and the latter being a menace which stops grass and other plants growing, leading to soil erosion.

Naturally, I had the dogs with me and it was interesting to observe how they chose to spend their “free time”. Snipe picked a sunny spot (yes, you read that right!) and lay down, seemingly dead to the world, but whenever I moved too far away, she padded after me, sometimes coming to greet me, but generally selecting a new spot, closing her eyes, and so it would start again.

Snipe - 8 June 2009

Snipe - 8 June 2009

Midge, on the other hand, spent the time rushing through the undergrowth, hunting for mice and who knows what else. She didn’t catch anything, but certainly had fun trying. If she was out of sight for too long, I’d whistle and within moments, she would appear, doing a funny bunny jump through the undergrowth, which, to be fair, was at least twice her height.

Midge - 8 June 2009

Midge - 8 June 2009

I did consider training Snipe to pull the bracken or balsam out of the ground but she really wasn’t interested!

Not In My Name!

Not In My Name!

Not In My Name! Click the image to sign the petition: stand up against racism and fascism