Sunday, 27 June 2010

Gardener's bog

It's more than a year ago since the outdoor cupboardy thing in the garden with a hole in the ground became a bona fide gardener's bog. Not for the gardener (don't have a butler or housekeeper either) but for us when we are in wellies and really shouldn't traipse through the house even though the floors are hard, and even more importantly for participants joining us on our smallholding courses.
But since the weather has turned phenomenal I have been misbehaving. If I need a pee (ok, TMI) whilst tending to the ducks, which is a regular thing on hot days what with all that refilling of water buckets, I'll head straight for the GB. And the misbehaviour? I leave the door wide, wide open so I can enjoy the - it has to be said - rather wonderful Devon view. I know that nine times out of ten no-one will be able to see me, but I also know that local farmers have beady peepers and that there is a gap in the hedge so that anyone trundling their tractor up the road might, if they glance to the right and up a bit, see me with my shorts caressing my ankles, gazing out on the perfect blue skies and wrapped away fields. The act doesn't give me a frisson of naughtiness or pleasure, I've just gone beyond caring what anyone thinks and hope if they catch me at it that it'll cause a grin and a wink as they go on their merry way.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

A thing of beauty

Remember what we found in the derelict shed? Well, I hope Snakey Sid stays away and sticks to the compost heap from now on.
Here is the finished shedy article, with some of the widest oak boards imaginable - so I don't want any of you city types nipping down here to wrench them off for your luxury loft flooring. They are for my turkeys, and the rest of the time for me to contemplate and enjoy.
That just leaves one derelict cow shed to sort and some sad ruined piggeries. Cow shed thinking starts this winter, action next summer.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Piglet update

Here, to make you smile, are some of the piglets born a couple of weeks ago, on the day they were taken from the farrowing pen into the great outdoors. The grass is so long I have to hunt for all of them; it's a porcine jungle out there.
Utterly gorgeous, utterly toasty to the touch, the most beautiful of the livestock on the farm, to my eyes, anyway.
Today the shearing has been done and the sheep are so relieved to be rid of their sweaty coats.
It's the usual pain-in-the-bum rigmarole for the rams, now penned in tightly for the next few days whilst they get reacquainted, not that they ever left each other's side, but without their fleece they are apparently strangers. I'm sure I'd know a pal if they grew a beard or went bald but that isn't so for sheep.
Off to freshen all the water buckets - on a hot day it's interminable.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Snake alert

There's a derelict chicken shed that borders two fields, close to the house. I suspect it was perfectly placed to allow poultry to wander and peck first here and then there. The corrugated tin has seen better days and the uprights are completely rotted through at ground level, but some of the old elm boards are as iron.
I need somewhere to stick the part-time turkeys, and it was a really good excuse to refurbish another of the sorry huts on the farm. Whilst I write it on the to do list the farm worker rolls his eyes and then sets to with digger, saws and angle grinder.
I go and inspect progress and bring the dogs. Fenn immediately rushes in and sits alert. She knows something's there. Of course, it's full of rat runs, so I keep well back and ignore the possibility of furry critters emerging from the earth floor. But then we all see it at the same time and there is a shared squeak/roar/shout. At waist height, along one of the timbers, a snake slides into view and then slips down to the floor (how does it do that, precisely, and how did it get up there in the first place?) and across to a corner of the shed. It's seriously fat and about four feet long.
It's a grass snake, so not poisonous but as it flickers its tongue and hisses, we squeak/roar/shout again and fail to take a better photo, just in case it's an adder (which I'm sure it's not, but still...). It's all of three metres from our copious compost heap so at some point this month or next it'll lay 40 or so eggs there.
This happened at 5pm this afternoon and every since my scalp keeps wrinkling and my skin shivering - I'm so pleased we have snakes, but must it really live quite so close to the house?