Monday, 12 May 2014

Chickens can't swim

Our sheep have been given new quarters, over the hill and
far away. Well not quite, but far enough away to not hear
them so often now. Ian went to see them yesterday and they
had their heads hung low, like naughty children, he was
sure they would be saying "we're sorry can we come back
now?" They can't come back, they have a job to do of
eating grass and weeds. That side of the hill needs a
chomping down and so our biomowers are at work.
Our chickens have been causing Ian some consternation just recently and their wanderings are getting further. Ian was none too chuffed, as we say, when he found them scratching around in the patches that he had seeded with grass. That stuff ain't cheap! As soon as they start their wandering ways they get locked up in their shed now. Don't worry, there is plenty of room and more than many barn raised chickens get that you will find laying eggs for the supermarkets. We would still like to let them out though, as they are good for keeping the insect population down, especially ticks and our cats are getting plagued by them at the moment. Obviously our cats are not wandering in areas where the chickens have been. We have been trying to think of as many possible solutions as possible to give them more freedom, but the type of freedom we can cope with and the type of freedom where we are not going to lose our crops or the alpacas their grass. The Jury is still out on that one.
Good job we put some trees within their field enclosure.
We're too soft on them 
A rather splendid blue beetle. Not sure of its proper name
There are supposed to be three cockerels at the moment in the chicken house, but of course one has the upper hand and won't let the other two in, so they wander around at night. The little brown cockerel was for the pot, we just wanted him a little bigger though, only now we are not sure if he has been well and truly chased off by the larger cockerel that is second in line to the throne of top cockerel. Oh the shenanigans of the chicken community. The brown cockerel went missing for a day but turned up again yesterday afternoon, we had wondered if he had become fox food or osprey food. He was quite close to the road and so I went to herd him back in the direction of the chicken house, well he went high tailing further along the road side of our land, until I climbed down the steep bank onto the road and shooed him away from that side. Finally he went in the right direction, squawking his little head off in indignation. He then went towards the pond and I watched with hilarity and disbelief as he tried to walk on the grass that is growing in the pond after last year's dry spell. It is the closest I've seen to a chicken trying to impersonate a duck taking off from water. I gather he didn't know that chickens can't swim! Now he thinks he's a sheep, as that is where he seems to have taken up residence, well the last time we saw him he had.
I do know what this is though! A dragonfly nymph. These
wonderful creatures eat mosquito larvae and so are a very
welcome sight in our ponds. This one was caught in the
bucket but we made sure it went back
And so the cutting season begins. Ian was cutting down
the dandelions before they go to seed. 
For those who have followed this blog for years forgive me for repeating myself on the planting front. farm life/gardening life is kind of the same every year and kind of not. Key crops are markers for the year such as potatoes. They are all in now and I think we beat the neighbours to it - one of the advantages to not having fixed jobs. I woke up on Friday morning and said to Ian, since it is supposed to rain later on today and for the next few days shall we get the potatoes in in the morning? Fortunately we did and before the rain to water them in. Our drought has well and truly finished now, as it has rained most days since last week and the ground is getting sticky. We managed to get those potatoes in after a day (well afternoon really) where the ground had had a chance to dry a bit and judging by the forecasts it would have been nearly another week later before we got another chance. The spring barley we had sown is starting to sprout as well as onions already planted. The last of the onion bulbs have gone in now too, another marker crop. We have also started on planting the tomatoes into the greenhouse and so it is looking less like a store house cum chicken refuge and more like a greenhouse again, especially as that meant the little chicks had to move outside now.
We have a lot of dandelions and so a lot of cutting. This is
the first of three particularly bad weed infestations. The
next is cow parsley, then ground elder. Once they have
finished flowering, Ian will let the grass grow longer

Err where are we? And why are we so high up?


Well you will put your head there! (No chicks were hurt in
the production of this blog)

Cherry blossom, nicely off set against the manure heap.
Well it is a farm!
I have decided to offer to teach Sociology online with an organisation called Northstar Worldwide this next academic year. Feels really weird as a previous science student, as I must admit to looking down on the "soft" sciences. But as one of my lecturers noted recently, sometimes scientists end up researching such a narrow field that their studies have little impact on the rest of society and the whole point of the so called "soft" sciences is to have an impact on society in someway. He also noted that sometimes it is much more difficult to ensure getting good results, much easier than my test-tube chemistry and that was difficult enough at times. I have actually been working for this organisation for ten years now, firstly as the net nanny and now as senior online community facilitator, which is the posh title for being the person responsible for the student cafe monitoring by ensuring the young lass who took my place has somewhere to go if problems arise and also just to check in every now and again. I have other roles of course but that is the main one at the moment. Oh yes! And just in case you are wondering if I am qualified to teach Sociology after all that, is yes I am, as my more recent qualifications and research these days is Sociology based in one way or another.
Asparagus is coming through. I reckon by next week asparagus
will be on the menu
Plum blossom. The first time this tree has flowered in the
number of years we have had it.
We finalised some paperwork for our barn and greenhouse-this last week, or at least I think we have! We often just feel like we have finished something and then we get told there is another step. We just seem to keep shunting paperwork around in the process - keeps someone busy I suppose. We also started shunting paperwork around to get planning permission for the house to be built out on the land. We decided though to go for the maximum period possible and opted for planning permission to be over 8 years. We found out in the process though that our architect is now working at the council offices, instead of the older lady I fell out with a couple of years ago. At least she is capable of drawing up plans herself, which you would think all architects should be able to do.
My office for today
For my friend Roger. The autumn
raspberries he gave us
I was reading my friend Mavis' blog "Give us a clue" and it reminded me of a conversation that Ian related to me. A while ago he met someone at the car inspection centre who then came out to see our alpacas. He was also interested in sheep and so Ian arranged to take him to the nearby Christian camp who also raise sheep. It turns out he knew one of the guys there and they got chatting. Somewhere in the ensuing conversation it was related to Ian that word in our village is that Ian is a pastor. Who his congregation to pastor would be is a bit of a mystery, well in the normal traditional way of thinking. In the course of our lives though, we do chat with folks about life and faith, although not so much these days. Life on the farm means not much time to chat and much work to do, but it is a season and quieter times will come again. Times to reflect on life and faith once more. So who are we? Who do others say we are? Sometimes that is a fascinating question to ask and sometimes that is scary.
Quiz time. What do you think this is?


  1. That's a sheep shearer! I saw one on Shaun the Sheep! Wow, you guys have quite the operation going on there!

    1. Not bad Jen. It is a sheep shearer with a difference though, I will explain next week.

  2. Thanks for the mention Joanna. Interesting about how people see Ian as a pastor - that was my point exactly - not about theology but about living.

    I was also going to say some sort of shears/trimmers to use on the animals - alpacas maybe?

    1. You're welcome Mavis. I love to read your blog, always thought provoking in a good way.

      Yes we are getting there with the shears. I will reveal more of the ins and outs next week

  3. I really dislike terms like Pastor and Missionary, but I've found that some people need something like that to be able to put us into a safe box as opposed to sect and guru that aren't safe.

    1. I'm not keen on those terms either and don't fully reflect what we do I think. Anyway it amused me to think of Ian the guru, reminds me of a Good Life Episode "The Guru of Surbiton" where Tom and Barbara have two earnest University students called Guy (Bruce Bould) and Ruth (Irene Richard) staying for the week to help out in the garden; and when the house next to the Goods goes up for the sale, Guy, whose father owns "most" of Staffordshire, wants to buy it and turn it into a commune. (From Wikipedia)

  4. I was sorry to read about Alicia on facebook....sending kind thoughts.

    1. Thank you for your kind thoughts Karen. I think they may have sent the sunshine, something that always cheers up Ian. It has made the loss a little better for him


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