The type of week I have had this week, is the reason I began the blog in the first place, to make a permanent log of the things that are great and go according to plan and the things that go wrong. In my limited experience of this smallholding life I have found that things tend to go wrong all at the same time and this has been one of those weeks.
The weather has really been against us, the plummeting temperatures and unrelenting frozen ground has made life hard, not just for us but the animals too. The layer of snow, subsequent part thaw, then freezing again meant that the paddocks were just like huge ice rinks, the horses were all brought in on the night the snow first fell and have now been in for over a week, they are not happy. Hopefully after today they will be able to return to the fields again and be able to enjoy that freedom for the rest of the year.
In 48 hours during the week, I had enough little incidents to wonder ‘what the hell am I doing, I should just get an office job’. Apart from battling against the elements, the animals all decided that they would wreak a bit of havoc too, our oldest dog, normally on his best behaviour decided I could do with some excercise and ran away through an accidentally left open gate, not once but two days running, he is not the sort to come back on command, so there I am chasing after him across the fields, trying to sound friendly while I call him, but he knows I am cross and keeps on running! During the part thaw I hear the unmistakable sound of water dripping onto my living room carpet and after catching a fox on Tuesday night and disposing of it, Wednesday morning at about 10.30 there was a cuffufle outside the back door and I ran out to see another fox about 4 ft away with one of my chickens in its mouth, it was in no hurry to leg it, so I stood shouting and screaming at it, in the end I tried to pick up a stone and hurl it but the ground was so frozen that it was stuck! So I spent all day on high alert, checking the chickens every hour or so. I had decided to leave them in on the Thursday, the fox population is so very hungry at the moment with temperatures well below freezing I was taking no chances.
On Thursday morning I went up to the paddocks as usual to find one of the sheep ‘down’ she was laying on her side and did not get up, so we bought her into the hay barn made a pen filled with straw and put up a heat lamp, I then spent about 6 hours sitting with her trying to get her to eat or drink, on top of this I still had to feed all the others and ferry water to them, plus see to what seemed like a unprecented amount of egg customers and remember to keep the Rayburn going with logs every now and then. I did not come in from outside until 2 o’clock in the afternoon, grabbed a sandwich and a cuppa and went back out to see the sheep. There was not much change so phoned the vet with the symptoms who was not very hopeful and didn’t have a clue what had caused it! I ask for opinions from online forums, gave it sugar water and tried to encourage it to stand up every now and then, then someone suggested a twin lamb drench which is a metabolic stimulant, it took two days but I am happy to report she is fine and cant wait to get back outside. During my ‘nursing shift’ I had to let the horses out for a bit of exercise because they are boxed all day, I had got two out of three outside when the other one decided I wasnt quick enough, busts the bolt on the stable door and lets himself out to charge round the yard.
Actually it does not sound too bad when I write it all down but some of these things were happening while I was trying to deal with the last incident, so I was at times running about like the proverbial headless chicken, all the while, the phone rings, the dogs need letting out, the dinner needs cooking, the tap needs defrosting (for the third time in the day), the fire needs stoking, etc etc etc, they were certainly 2 days that stretched my multitasking abilities to the limit! Of course my mood was not made any better by Hubby arriving home and informing me that I get ‘too stressed’ arrrrrrgggghhhh! Everything was restored to calm after a good nights sleep on Thursday once we were sure the sheep was out of danger, we have since had a burst pipe in the tack room, but I am taking it all in my stride, besides that is definatly Hubby’s dept :p
What I learnt about myself during this time was that I like to be in control, my brother jokingly said to me ‘wait till you have kids’ (my youngest is 22), it was much easier with kids, they understood ‘time out’ or ‘no’ or they could speak to you and let you know what is wrong, with animals all of those rules are thrown out of the window and my ‘control’ goes with it!
As I look toward to the rest of the year I have begun making preparations for working out side in the Sun, you may remember that I was diagnosed with Discoid Lupus back in the Spring, for me this means not being able to expose my skin to strong sunlight, this is something that will be a challenge given my lifestyle, but I am determined to work around it the best I can. Very early mornings and late evenings on the veg garden will be the routine, spending the middle of the day indoors, I have heavily invested (£1 each) in some oversized, longsleeved mens cotton shirts, which will be washed in a UVA factor 50 liquid protection, I have also just ordered a portable UVA protective cover that covers about 8ft in diameter, a very delectable hat that makes me look like I am on safari, and I will be plastered in factor 50 sun block, if you come up to the farm in the summer, you wont miss me, I will be the one looking like Worzel Gummidge on Holiday 🙂