Posts Tagged ‘sunset’

Settling in

Now that I’ve unpacked, the dogs are starting to settle into their new house and routine. Snipe loves the orchards, which my landlords have said I can walk the dogs in. Midge, on the other hand, is in disgrace as she took herself off for a walk the other day … into the neighbouring farmer’s field! So she is now resigning herself to life on the lead, not least because there’s easy access to both the main road and the railway line!

Snipe - 11 February 2010

Snipe - 11 February 2010

Midge - 11 February 2010

Midge - 11 February 2010

I took them on a three mile walk yesterday and was pleasantly surprised this morning to discover that my legs don’t ache at all. I consider this a victory, though I admit I took a downhill route…!

Tree in the orchard - 11 February 2010

Tree in the orchard - 11 February 2010

My bad days consist of hiding under the duvet. Better days involve watching DVDs, attempting to read (I have concentration issues 😦 ) or playing Civilisation IV to distract myself. Good days involve walking the dogs aimlessly, enjoying my new home in the Somerset hills.

Sunset over the orchard - 11 February 2010

Sunset over the orchard - 11 February 2010

Quite what I’ll do if it buckets down with rain on a good day is anyone’s guess!

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Don’t let the sun go down…

I’ve just got back from walking the dogs in the top field, giving them one last opportunity to burn off their energy before we are confined to toilet duty by the tractor til morning.

They raced through the stream and let their momentum carry them up the steep slope, until they gradually slowed and then stopped, pretending to sniff for rabbits, but in reality they were surreptitiously catching their breath!

And then they were off, first left, then under the gate and away!

I grinned and followed them, giving them a few moments of freedom before whistling them back.

As they hurled themselves through space to be the first to come back (which was a first in itself), I turned and watched the sun begin its downward descent behind the hills, its orange light illuminating the horizon. As hilltops and sun came ever closer, it seemed for a moment that there was no distinction between earth and sky, that those who stood on distant slopes were surely consumed by that great ball of fire.

And then the brilliant light faded, and instead of feeling regret that I didn’t have my camera to capture such wonder, instead of cajoling the dogs to step aside from their canine existence and share the sight with me, I found myself thinking about every b-grade horror movie I watched in my teens. You know, the one where the protagonist has to reach the spooky castle / haunted house / manor by sunset, where he (never she!) has to race the setting the sun.

And I found myself thinking that no matter what frightens us, no matter what has power over us, during the day we can, if we choose, hold it at bay. There are people to distract us, things to do, chores that need doing … and light to banish even the darkest shadow.

But when the light fades, our fears creep forward, slowly, slowly, slowly … until they surround us. And there they wait until the shadows become the darkness.

And at that point I confess that I fled from the setting sun, calling the dogs after me as I walked a little too quickly down the hillside, clipping their leads on at the stream and made full speed for the house, telling myself that the steps I could hear were my own.

And now I am curled up on the sofa feeling rather foolish, refusing to draw the curtains against the ever-encroaching dusk as that will be an admission that I was getting up close and personal with some bricks…

Fun in the sun!

Yesterday was one of those days that flew by, the kind that you wish you could preserve, re-visit, or hold in time forever.

Ok, so it wasn’t the best start, as the runt of Pinky’s litter died in the night, but I knew that was coming and given how weak he was, despite my best efforts to bottle feed him, his death was more of a relief than anything else as it meant an end to his suffering.

It’s funny, all three gilts (girls) are strong and healthy, but the three remaining boars are much weaker and I’m quite concerned about two of them, so I’ll be bottle feeding them, not to replace Pinky’s milk but to top it up. So far, they are resisting my efforts, which I think is a good sign, but I’ll persevere, just in case!

The day started cloudy, which was fitting, but the sun broke through the clouds and burned hot in the sky for the rest of the day. Jennie and her clan came over for the afternoon, and we played with the piglets, had a picnic in the orchard, walked the dogs down to the river, visited all the pigs, played with the piglets again … Good times!

Perky, Fergie, Scrumpy and Brini - 27 September 2009

Fergie, Scrumpy and Brini relax in the morning sun ... Perky (on the left) keeps eating!

Bailey - 27 September 2009

Bailey also enjoyed the sunshine and spent most of the day lying on the cool earth with the hot sun on his back

Pinky - 27 September 2009

It was too hot for Pinky so she settled down in the wallow to cool off

While the adult pigs were chilling out, the piglets had some playtime:

And then, worn out, some snooze time:

Pinky's piglets - 27 September 2009

Pinky's piglets sound asleep ... at last!

Having spent the day being charmed and entertained by the piglets and their antics, I hastily finished my chores and just managed to get everything done by the time the sun went down:

Sunset over the field - 27 September 2009

Sunset over the field - 27 September 2009

And then over to Jennie’s for a bowl of her husband’s delicious chicken curry.

Yup, despite the bad start, yesterday was a good day.

Candy floss clouds

I wish you had been with me at dusk yesterday to share the sight of the sky as the breeze blew the rain clouds away to the east, revealing the remnants of a blue sky, in which hung the half moon and the most wonderful arrangement of white, fluffy clouds. As the sun hastened eastwards with the rain, those balls of cotton wool turned into pink candy floss – you could almost hear the fair ground music.

Yes, I wish you had been with me to see that.

I also wish I hadn’t left my camera at home …

Enjoying the sun

Well, hasn’t this week been a contrast to last week’s deluge? The field is almost dry enough to abandon my wellies though I’m not risking it as my leather boots are departing from the sole and I like having dry feet… Hmm, really must dig out my new pair!

Photographic evidence of the bright blue skies! Very odd seeing that backdrop for the winter-esque trees!

Photographic evidence of the bright blue skies! Very odd seeing that backdrop for the winter-esque trees!

Anyway, I’ve been spending most of my time outside, enjoying the feeling of the sun on my back as I’ve been doing those jobs I either couldn’t do because of the weather – or didn’t feel like doing because of the weather! I’ve moved Scrumpy and Brini’s enclosure, giving them a large amount of untouched ground, though I left the ark where it was, and also gave the weaners some fresh ground, which they are doing a great job of clearing. Bye bye, reeds and brambles!

The chickens’ Eglu and Cube have been well and truly scrubbed out and I’m making an effort to stop being so lazy and have been cleaning out their poo every day, though I’ll stick to scrubbing it out on a weekly basis. I will, however, be realistic and admit here and now that it’s quite unlikely that the poo trays will be emptied on days when it’s tipping it down… I also moved the chickens off the veg patch and onto fresh ground, ahead of tomorrow’s digging efforts. Jennie and her boys are coming to break ground with me, which will be lots of fun. It’s one thing doing all this on your own, but it’s something different altogether when you have company.

I’ve cleaned out the shipping container where I keep the animals’ feed. Well, I’ve cleaned half of it, but I’m also in the middle of scrubbing out all the feed bins as well. Now that the temperature’s warmed up, it’s become quite evident that I need better storage for things like rubbish so I have fiddled and faddled and come up with different ways of storing everything. When it’s finished, I should have lots more room and will hopefully know where everything is!!

What else?

What have they heard? Evidently *not* me calling them so they'd look at the camera!!

What have they heard? Evidently *not* me calling them so they'd look at the camera!!

I’ve enjoyed the company of the dogs and have been walking them down to the river where Midge happily follows the scents of animal trails and Snipe leaps in and out of the water, fetching sticks and just generally having fun. I really must find out when the spring/summer dog ban on the beaches comes into force and if there’s still time, take them one more time. Maybe that would be a fun way to end tomorrow’s day with Jennie and boys? Work hard digging and then celebrate with the beach and maybe an ice cream?!

Finally, I must not forget the pigs and since they drop to the ground and snore like roaring dragons the second they get a hint of sunshine, I have spent many a happy hour sharing their sun-worship. This is what life is all about!

Me and my man!!! 15 March 2009

Me and my man!!! 15 March 2009

The to-do list is, however, ever-growing and I still have to plot out the veg patch (made complicated by the fact that it’s a large circle, quartered by wide paths: great for a 4-year crop rotation but not so great as only one quarter was used last year, but it was quartered again so I don’t know what I should and shouldn’t plant in it. Another quarter was used for the lasagne garden, but only a third of that has composted properly! Hmm.

One soggy doggy, waiting for permission to leap back into the river!

One soggy doggy, waiting for permission to leap back into the river!

I also need to finish cleaning the shipping container and feed bins etc and sort something out for rubbish, recycling and the fruit and veg I get for the pigs, otherwise I’ll be experiencing a very stinky summer!

Finally, I also need to rake up all the long grass that the chickens have helpfully scratched out of the ground (a) so it doesn’t kill the new grass trying to grow underneath it, and (b) so I can use it on the lasagne garden.

A busy couple of days ahead: can’t wait!

Sunset

Sunset

No snow but thanks for the sun!

I’ve just realised that despite the lack of snow this Christmas, next year it is going to rain. Not just rain, but tip it down.

How do I know?

It’s been blue skies and sunshine two years in a row:

The view at Mum's - Christmas Day 2007

The view at Mum's - Christmas Day 2007

Sunset at the farm - Christmas Day 2008

Sunset at the farm - Christmas Day 2008

Moving the chickens

About a fortnight after I probably should have shifted them onto new ground, I finally got round to moving the chooks and their Eglu and Cube yesterday.

Spot the difference between old and new! 25 November 2008

Spot the difference between old and new! 25 November 2008

It’s harder than you might think. At mum’s, the hen house was attached to the side of her old aviaries which meant that they could come and and out of the house as they pleased but at night were restricted to a fully enclosed concrete run measuring about 15′ x 12′. So, whenever we rotated them onto fresh ground, they had to stay in the run until we were done. As this was a simple matter of opening one gate and closing another, it took a matter of seconds.

Moved the chooks, now got to move the houses - 25 November 2008

Moved the chooks, now got to move the houses - 25 November 2008

Now, however, they’re in an orchard, enclosed in a run using 50m of electric netting. Readjusting the run by a few feet is simple – you just pull up the stakes and put them down somewhere new. But a full scale move means distracting the chickens long enough to pull up the majority of the stakes and netting and move them to roughly where you want to go (making you you don’t wrap yourself around immovable objects like ancient apple trees), make sure they can’t get out and then shoo them towards the new grass. you then get a second window to move the bits of netting that haven’t yet been moved and to untangle the inevitable knots and chaos. When it’s set up nice and tight, move the Cube and Eglu to their new sites (if you’re smart, you will have put the end stakes somewhere handy so you can open and close the “gate”. If not, you’ve got to lift up the netting so they can go under it!), replace the roof, litter trays, water bowls, feeders etc and remember to open the doors if you closed them to stop the chickens “helping” as you shifted it back and forwards to just the right place.

All done! 25 November 2008

All done! 25 November 2008

It gets a little bit more complicated if you have a hen and chicks as they need somewhere safe to go while you move them about. Luckily, the move seems to have put the second Silkie off her sitting duties (helped by the fact that her egg ended up in the run and was stone cold by the time I found it) so I decided to move Mother Hen and chicks from the old wooden ark to the Eglu. This made their move very easy – I scooped up two of the chicks and carried them over, hoping the cats weren’t in earshot, then went back for Mother Hen and the remaining two. She was furious and has decided to make her point by making their nest right in the doorway…

What a silly place to make a nest! 25 November 2008

What a silly place to make a nest! 25 November 2008

Doesn't the proper nest look warm and cosy? Daft chicken! 25 November 2008

Doesn't the proper nest look warm and cosy? Daft chicken! 25 November 2008

Still, at least the chicks will be nice and toasty as they nestle right underneath her. So much so, that you have to be careful when you pick her up as at least one will plop back down to the ground after a few seconds of being in mid air!

The remaining three eggs didn’t hatch, which I’m quite pleased about, really, as four seems like the right number going into winter. And she’s such a good mum, showing them how to peck away at the bread I gave her as well as eating the grass!

The whole thing took a lot longer than I thought so I left the farm a bit later than anticipated. Which was fine, as for once I got to enjoy sunset from terra firma instead of behind the wheel of the car:

Sunset at the farm - 25 November 2008

Sunset at the farm - 25 November 2008