Sadly, this week we lost our Border Collie, Milly, it was a bit of a shock to say the least as she had been fine, no indication that she was ill at all. I came home from an appointment on Tuesday, let all the dogs out, went to get them in a while later and she was laying under the nut trees. I knew as soon as I looked at her eyes she had gone and I promptly burst into tears, sobbing her name, she was 11 so not a bad age but we always thought that Max who is nearly 14 would go first. She was the first dog we ever had from a puppy, the others all came from the pound and so we had a special bond, together with the fact that she was the most loyal and obedient dog makes her going a great loss to all of us. That evening was a surreal one, digging a hole in the pitch black pouring rain by torchlight, I remarked that I knew how Burke and Hare must have felt, we decided to bury her in the lawn so that she would always be with us when we were working or relaxing, she never liked to be very far away so I think that was a good choice. Goodbye and thank you for sharing your life with us. (I am blubbing at this point)
Mia and Max don’t seem to have noticed much beyond that first afternoon when they were unusually well-behaved and quiet, as long as Max gets his dinner and a can spend the day in the warm he is not too bothered, Mia was straight into Milly’s bed so I guess she has moved up a rank! Mia has now hit the manic, tearing around stage where everything is such fun, for her at any rate, I don’t think the chickens and the rabbit quite see it like that. Much to my amazement the rabbit is still pottering around the yard and has taken to living with the chickens in the back stable, although there has been a strong smell of Fox in the yard in the last couple of days. I need to keep my guard up during the daytime at the moment, due to the weather we have been letting all the chickens out on a daily basis, it wont be long before Foxy works out there is a free buffet going at Friesland!
The weather is a constant drain at the moment, we are not in imminent danger of having the house flooded nor is it a life and death situation but nevertheless it is still hard work that we could do without. When I said after the last deluge, that the worst I have ever seen it, you can scrap that as we have moved on a level! This time the hay barn and the feed room were flooded, luckily we keep everything up on pallets so nothing was spoiled but the mess underfoot adds to the daily grind, the fields are more flooded than ever and the horses are in, then turned out for a couple of hours then back in again. It’s a catch 22 situation, do you keep them in and save the paddocks from being trashed, only to let them out for a couple of hours where they proceed to thrash around churning up mud because they have been in for 24 hours, or do you leave them out to churn up the grass and only get them in when they can no longer tolerate the continuous downpours. Having them in for so many hours a day means mucking out two stable twice a day, I do the morning shift and my eldest daughter does the evening shift, we are going through hay and straw at a great rate but its all adding to the muck pile which make great fertiliser so at least some good comes of it.
Hubby collected the sheep this weekend and they are now back in the smaller paddock, only time will tell if we will be lambing for the first time ever in Spring. If they are pregnant, at the very least they will have one lamb each, they could potentially have three, that would mean hand rearing one of the triplets as sheep only have two teats, not too much of a problem as we have hand reared for a few years now and will be buying in other store lambs as well.
The geese have been booked in for slaughter and they will go this Thursday morning, they are non productive and so in my drive to tidy up all loose ends they will serve us better in the freezer. The cockerels really need to be dispatched as well but at the minute I am having difficulty with my wrist and so plucking is out of the question, it is likely that I may just have to cut the breast meat from them and save the rest for the dogs, I could really do with that plucking machine at times like this.
I have a list of Autumn jobs that really should be done but the weather is hampering efforts, Winter pruning is one that I still have not got round to, after doing the animal rounds in the morning, then the horses, ending up soaked, by the time I come in and get dry I don’t want to go back out again! Some of the nut trees need thinning out and the fruit trees need a prune, the raspberries also need sorting, hopefully the weather will get better soon and I can get on with it. At the weekend I pulled up a few leeks, well I say pulled, that was an impossibility as the clay was hanging onto the roots for dear life, so I tried digging them up and the amount of mud that was stuck to the fork made it heavy work. Because of the amount of water standing the leeks have started to go soft and I didn’t want to lose them all so it seemed like a good idea at the time, I managed to get a fair few up and made a batch of leek and potato soup, I also pulled some of the parsnips which are also beginning to suffer. While I was digging I discovered a bunch of carrots that had been missed when I dug them up in the summer so that was a bit of a bonus and they seem to be fine and are drying nicely in the poly tunnel ready to use in the next week or so. I have started to use the Kale, I find that at this time of the year I begin to crave some proper greens and Kale fits the bill nicely, it’s a lovely dark green variety with good flavour, it stands well over winter and its easy to pop out and pick it fresh right when you need it. The other cabbages have not done so well, not because they are spoilt by the rain but because I have had to let the chickens out of the run, they have quickly discovered the Brassica bed and greedily feasted on anything low growing, ah well at least it will produce good eggs!
The fruit trees arrived this week and we got them into the ground as soon as we could, they are planted in the bed where the leeks are at the minute, partly because it is not much good for anything else as the ground is too heavy, also they are patio sized trees and it is my intention to make a small forest garden in that bed. The idea being that you layer the canopy, so fruit trees, then fruit bushes underneath and then low growing crops under that, it is an ideal bed for it because it gets full sun all day, eventually we will have a structure for the grapes vines to grow up too, if it all comes together it should be quite a productive bed fingers crossed.
The weather is set to change for the rest of the week according to the met office and just for once I will look forward to a cold snap, if we don’t see rain again all Winter I will be very happy. The Christmas trees are coming in this weekend and I would rather be out there in the cold with a mug of hot chocolate than stood with water dripping down my face and soaking every part of me 🙂