Sunday, 29 November 2009

Disenfranchised turkeys

My turkeys have lost their way to the polling booth. They have been done to death, plucked, gutted, trussed, packed and frozen. Forty minutes or there abouts to pluck a turkey, compared to two hours for a goose. The four of them weigh a smidgen under 11lbs to nearly 12.5 lbs, fully dressed, or as seems to make more sense, without their clothes, feet, head and unwanted innards but with their giblets.
So what with my summer peas blanched and bagged and nestling in the deep freeze and the meat element sorted, I should be able to put my feet up until the 25th December...only there's no time left in the diary for buying presents, writing cards or restocking the meagre booze cupboard.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Pet philosophy

As Claude the cat bounced from floor to bin lid to windowsill and sat stolidly over Fenn the dog's head, Fenn ducked a little nervously but refused to move.
The three cats are boys, the dogs both girls. What I want to know is, do the boy cats know the dogs ARE girls and vice versa? Do they care? Does it make any difference? Would an all male or all female pet household for mayhem make?
Do they show each other little hidden courtesies? Do they have different sets of rivalries? Is this the most steaming heap of anthropomorphism?
Just curious. Perhaps the answer is at the end of the rainbow.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


My love, my darling, my wondrous hairy beast. There you lie on your cushion, like Cleopatra or Caligula on a good day, receiving nibbles of banana and general worship. Your leg is shaved, soft and bare, vulnerable and naked, a neat stitched wound on either side. I smear on iodine gel, treacly and thick. As soon as my back is turned you lick it off with toddler glee, no sign of the geriatric years. Even the vet said he couldn't believe your age; like my mother you've been fiddling with the date on your passport.
I carried you home early, knowing you couldn't abide a night away, and there you lay, stiff, sore, drunk on anaesthetic, sleeping unnaturally, doped up, suffering. Your whole back end was unstable, the good leg twisted askew and I lurched inside; had they done something irreparable to you? In the middle of the night I crept down to check on you and your tail wagged, my fears of paralysis daft, unfounded. By morning you were willing to have a go at standing, by the afternoon you were hopping about gamely on three legs, brain clear, eyes bright.
A month lies ahead of taking you outside on the lead just to go to the toilet, absolutely no exercise allowed. For two further months it's light exercise on the lead only. It'll be mid-February before you can hurtle round the farm, roll in snow, leap with Fenn. By then your hair will have grown back, and you will be my shaggy haired monster, not my delicate girl.

More on TPLO here and here.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Chicken feet or paws

Do your chickens have paws? Do you know even one that does? If so, perhaps you might be able to help this company out? I'm afraid I can't respond to their polite request:

"Good morning. We are an importer of frozen meat in China and be very interested in buying chicken feet or paws (as the picture shows) from your company. As the final wholesaler buying all year round, we can buy 2-10 containers per month. We buy both processed and unprocessed feet or paws. Would you give us more details about the following information:
  • your best price (CIF HONGKONG or Vietnam port)
  • your monthly quantity
  • the quality of chicken feet and paws (are they processed or unprocessed? are they with yellow skin or not,with black spots or not, etc.
We will appreciate very much if you could send us some pictures of your chicken feet and paws".

My great sadness is that there was, in fact, no picture attached, but you might like this.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Where the wild things are

Down in Lower Quarry Heads is where the wild things are. My beautiful black Torwen ewe lambs, safely tucked away from the ram for another year until they have grown big and mature.
But these are big pre-pubescent gals; I don't think we've ever had such good ewe lambs and every time we weigh all the lambs to determine which are ready to go to the butcher and which need to stay back for a while, these beauties top the scale a couple of kilos beyond all the others, even though they are definitely NOT going for meat. They should make great mums in time.

Friday, 6 November 2009

And another thing....

Some days it's hard to be a sanguine soul. Some days I want to reach into my desk drawer, remove something sharp and poke people with it. These days are rare, it's true, but when I have to deal with banks or insurance companies my poking finger starts to itch something awful.
The Mopsa dog has been the cause of one or two insurance claims recently. To say the insurance company were as willing to part with their money as a dog with a bone, would be understating the case. The reasons they give for why my claim is, in fact, not a claim would amaze the most truth bending ten year old caught red-handed with their tongue stuck in the jampot ("I was just trying to save the little fly at the bottom, mum").
Even the claim that they say they ARE going to pay comes with a caveat: "the amount of £143.52 will be issued direct to you in due course. Unfortunately we are unable to advise any exact time scale at the moment due to a slight delay we have in our payment system. Please be advised we are aware of the situation and doing our upmost to improve it". Do I feel the rumble of cashflow problems? I wonder if I was to write similarly (well, perhaps without the malapropism) about a necessary delay in parting with my monthly premiums, whether they would take it as an acceptable approach?
Their reasoning is spurious, every comment nonsense, and I can feel the poking finger spark alarmingly into life, full of energy for the battle ahead. Don't they know they're dealing with the tiger?

Sunday, 1 November 2009


As a third of the farm's hedges are being trimmed before winter sets in and heavy tractors won't be able to move across the farm, there is also lots of preparation going on in readiness for delivering smallholder training. I've delivered training of various sorts all over the place but only rarely on the farm. So it's time to install an outdoor bog, to make up a big table for ten of us to sit around, put together the flatpack stools, finesse the training content, plan the menus, tidy the farm and.... TIDY THE FARM?
Oh yes. Having done my risk assessment everything I see is either a hazard or a learning opportunity. I try to look at things through fresh eyes, both stuff of interest and stuff of risk. That hurdle, so usefully leant up against the barn wall as an impromptu gate for guiding Aunt Agatha into the stock box - a stumble and fall waiting to happen. The shearing equipment hanging from the ceiling of the barn? Ready to brain someone if they step back without looking. Beautiful mossy, licheny concrete? Treacherously slippery.
My list of to-dos is long and physical. Tonight I'll be painting some signs for the new bog.