December has finally arrived and we can all get busy making preparations for the festive season. The Christmas trees were collected on Saturday and we have sold a few over the weekend so are hopeful they will all go by the 24th!! Hubby had to go and pick them up and decided he would be able to get all 80 in the van, he came back with sixteen! We hitched up the horse-box and off he went again to collect the rest, meanwhile I sold the first tree to a chap from the village so I was very chuffed. I have seen a couple of photos of them out in their new homes and they look very good, a nice shape, being the first time we have sold them we didn’t know how it was going to go and good trees are obviously what people want so we are glad that they appear to be that at least.
Thursday morning was an early start, we were up at 6 to load the geese, sounds like we have lots but there are only two, they were however still out in the paddock, so we had to cajole them towards the unfamiliar cage that they would be transported in, to be honest it was much easier than we had dared hope, and they went in easily. We are now waiting for the phone call to say that they have been processed and that’s Christmas dinner sorted 🙂
We have had a nice frozen couple of days, normally that would not be my chosen phrase but after all the rain it was a brief respite, however the rain is back today and we are almost back to square one, hopefully the forecast will be accurate and that is it for a while. The small paddock that the sheep came back to is saturated and so they were moved to the larger paddock once the geese had gone, I need to keep a close eye on their feet in this prolonged wet because they can end up with foot rot, not very nice, apparently you can smell it a fair distance away 😦 It was impossible for them to be in the paddock at the same time as the geese because the geese had decided that the very nice pig ark shelter would be their home, they are not very clean and tidy creatures and before long the ground was disgusting meaning that the sheep would have nowhere to sleep. I do miss their noisy morning acknowledgement though and they were no trouble apart from terrorising the chickens, chasing the dog, crapping absolutely everywhere and lunging at your bucket for food every time you went up there 😉
We have had the dreaded forms from ‘The Ministry’ arrive this week, they provoke terror in the hearts of smallholders everywhere, bit of an over reaction but you know what forms do to people. It’s a bit like an electoral roll for animals, we have one from the GB Poultry Register to record how many birds and what varieties we have and one from DEFRA for the sheep, we also have to fill in a farm register to record any other livestock, the date for recording is Dec 1st and the form has to be in by Dec 31st, failure to do so will result in having headphones duct tapped your ears and being forced to listen to Jedward all year! Actually it increases the risk of inspection, the ministry arrive to check you have what you say you have and that all animals are tagged and legal. They will also check that feed is kept in separate feed bins for different types of animals, and you thought this lark was oh so simple didn’t you, some feed has fishmeal in such as Cat, Dog, and Chicken feed, this is not allowed to come into contact with Sheep, Pig and Cattle feed because of the food chain. It was all so much simpler before the War when people just got on with it, the Ministry took over to ensure the country didn’t starve which is fair enough but once they were in they didn’t want to go and now its form after form after form. This in itself would not be so bad if the left hand knew what the right hand was doing, but invariably it doesnt and you get a call to tell you they are inspecting 40 of your breeding ewes, you would like to tell them sharply that if they knew what they were doing they would know I only had four lambs at the time, the paperwork must have been there for them to consult. Being a polite type I informed the lady at the end of the phone nicely that I only had four lambs to which she replied, ‘well you have got off lightly then’ bloody jobsworth!
The chickens are still laying well, I am surprised at this as the egg numbers usually fall quite sharply during the colder months, feeding them extra and making sure they are in good condition before Winter obviously did the trick, coupled with the fact that we have had to let them fully free range because of the wet paddocks means that laying has hardly dropped off at all at the moment. It does mean that there is not a lot left of my brassica bed in the veg garden, they have been helping themselves on a daily basis but its a small price to pay and they love it.
I still find myself thinking about Milly on occasion, especially when I get the dogs in to feed them, although it is very much quieter as she was the yappy one that always wound the other dogs up. Kai, the guard dog, discovered he could open the side gate the other night, at first we thought it had just been left open but after shutting it, it was open again and he was round the side near the quail barking his head off. We tied up the gate and thought that would be the end of it, but he has now spent three nights in a row scrabbling at the gate trying to get back round there, I keep hoping he will give it up as it is right near our bedroom window but each night he tries his luck just in case we have forgotten to tie it up. One of the nights Hubby went out to try to get him to stop and he heard a din in next doors paddock, he took the torch and two foxes were fighting, they were so intent on killing each other that they didn’t even notice him watching them, they are definitely here again and we will need to be vigilant during the day and thorough with our shutting in round at night.
I made three dozen mince pies in the week, plus two dozen jam tarts after running out of mincemeat, most of these are in the freezer, if I left them out I would be making three dozen every week from now till Christmas Day, mince pies are that much loved in our house. I am really enjoying the run up to Christmas this year, for the past eighteen years or so I have been involved with a local charity pantomime which was always performed the weekend before Christmas and took up a great deal of time, all for a good cause, but this year I decided to take a year out and have enjoyed having the time to do things without time constraints or pressure to get things finished. Panto still goes ahead without me though and this year its Aladdin, its on the weekend of Dec 14th, 15th & 16th at the Community College in Carterton, if you want some pre-Christmas fun, get your tickets from Giles Sport in Carterton and go along and support them.
Tis the season to be jolly fa la la la la, la la la la 🙂