Monday, 29 February 2016

Not best chuffed

Still fuming a little! Hah! Just a little warm after digging
through the snow. Our caravan can get quite warm and in
contrast to the outside temperatures. Just in case you are
wondering, "not best chuffed" means we were not
pleased. British understatement.
Things got a little strained this week. We have had more snow and it was starting to accumulate around the greenhouse. Ever since our first one fell down under the weight of snow we have been anxious not to let it accumulate too much. Ian would normally get the snowblower out to clear it, but I had already moved one dumping of snow away from the sides by hand and this had now turned to ice. Using the snowblower was therefore far too difficult for me to handle in that particular case. I can just about manage when it is not so compacted, like I did last week, but dealing with the ice blocks was impossible. Part of the problem is I'm not strong enough, but I'm also far too short in the leg to get the leverage required.
Feeding hay to the sheep. They usually don't wait for it to be
unstrung and put in place.

Funny how animals will use and reuse the same trail, over
and over again. The hay on the path is just to cover the poop
I started to work on it by hand. My plan was to go slow and steady. I might not be as strong as Ian but I can do many things if I take my time and go at my own pace. Ian picked up a shovel to help. Not quite sure what I said, but Ian's frustrations at not being able to do much boiled over. It is hard for him, as he is used to being active and now he was being forced to curtail his activities. He shouted and I shouted back. Nothing particularly remarkable in that you may think, but in all of our time of marriage we have rarely raised our voices to each other. Sulked yes! We can do sulking! But argued with raised voices, nope! Not our general style.
The deer must be getting hungry to visit in broad daylight

Ian has been teaching Brencis to walk with the halter. The
first lesson was inside
Fortunately it didn't end there. By the time we had finished we were joking and I sent Ian off to communicate with the alpacas and walk Brencis. I also told him he should go and read his eldest brother's email to him, warning him from experience, not to try too much too soon. On the whole, Ian has been pretty good and taken things easy or in "friendly mode" as the Google translation of the doctor notes said.
Brencis has quickly got the hang of it though - well most of
the time

Agnese though is very good and walks
without tugging
Despite the snow, there are signs of Spring. One morning as we drove to the land, a small group of cranes flew over. They didn't hang around otherwise we would have heard them. They probably saw the snow and decided to keep flying. The animals and chickens also seem a little antsy, as if they sense the changing seasons and are getting frustrated at being kept cooped up by the snow. I'm sure they would sympathise with Ian. The Schisandra chinensis or five-flavour berry is starting to bud. It is usually the first to show signs of waking up from its winter sleep. I decided to risk planting some seeds in the bed I prepared in the greenhouse for early spring greens. I usually plant broad beans and peas for an early crop in the greenhouse, but not always quite so early.
Estelle too is very compliant. She sometimes fuses about having
her halter on, but once it is on, then she behaves

Mari, though, hasn't quite got the hang of it and perhaps
more nervous as a newbie
Two of our younger chickens appear to have suffered from frostbite on their feet over the winter. It's strange, because although it has been cold, it hasn't been as cold as previous years. We suspect it is more the dampness of the winter combined with cold snaps that seem to have caused the problems. Normally the cold weather dries the atmosphere out but not as much this year. We have always looked out for males over the winter, as they are susceptible to frost bite on their combs and wattles. One year we had to put a protective cream on one of our cockerels. The problem is that their large combs and wattles get covered in water when they drink and if it freezes they are in trouble. We have never known chickens get frost bite on their toes before though. The toes have gone black and some have already fallen off, leaving what we think are cockerels with club feet. They don't seem infected though and from research on the internet, it seems the best thing to do is let nature takes it course and just ensure they are not infected.
Not cooperating. 

Still not sure about this. She was better the day before and I'm
sure she will be walking along as good as gold soon. She has
the right temperament for it.

Notice the skis all forlorn by the caravan. I daren't use them,
as I dare not have an injury at the moment. I have managed
one session this winter
Our oldest chickens are also having problems, this time with scaly leg mites. Fortunately we think we have caught it early. They are getting cream on their legs to smother the mites and I cleaned out their hutch with some vinegar and put a load of mugwort down, which is a strewing herb to keep bugs at bay. It does seem odd that they have got the problem now and I wonder where they have picked it up from at this time of year. Maybe the hay or something or just getting old. I will make sure I add some wood ash to their bedding tomorrow, but needed to pick some more up from our stash.
Our youngest cat, Eyre, is no longer a little kitten. 

Treats are always welcome
Two pieces to finish with. Firstly a piece of advice, check all pockets before putting clothes in the wash and I mean ALL pockets. Mobile phones don't like hour long 40C washes. I now have a phone that switches on, but the buttons don't seem to be working. A job for Ian tomorrow no doubt to see if he can work some magic on it. This is the second time I have tried to wash phones and at least the first time the phone survived. And lastly I want to leave you with a link. It is a longish piece as it is the edited version of a speech given to #FOSSILFREEFAITH (link here) and it is a thought provoking read on why churches today should be at the forefront of cutting fossil fuel use and investments.
We have a dream of a Church that instead of being renowned for how little it cares for creation, is renowned for how much it cares.
We have a dream of a Church that stops watering down its mandate with theological hair-splitting and nit-picking – at times so heavenly-minded that it is of no earthly use – and instead reclaims its calling to change the world.
An unwanted visitor. We have had quite a bit of pig damage
again. The ground is not frozen hard under the snow. We
are hoping it just looks worse than it is.
If you agree write Amen and share - no, no...... seriously I do hate it when I see that on Facebook, as it usually is a Facebook like farming page - really I ask for the sake of our children, your children and my children, think about how we can tread more lightly in this world.

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