Saturday, 20 July 2013

An eventful birthday

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me...
Another computer gave up on me!
But I've got it back now.

Problem is, I go a couple of weeks without blogging and there's just so, so much to catch up on.

Let's start at the end. Today. My 47th birthday.
Wild celebrations don't really happen any more, I'm just happy to have a quiet day with Sue.

It was someone else's birthday too, Thorne's Beekeeping Supplies. A full 53 years older than myself. They had a centenary celebration on today and we had pre-ordered some sale goodies. So we headed up to their rather grandiose home in the Lincolnshire Wolds .

Thorne's shop

Even the oil drums had a bee theme!

Can you believe this fool is now 47?

Inspiration for bee-friendly plants

The museum was fascinating, as was a look around the factory.
All the machines are made for purpose, some being 80 years old.

We returned to the farm late afternoon. I was severely tempted to divert to the North Norfolk coast where a most unusual arrival of several Two-Barred Crossbills from Scandinavia was occurring. But none stayed long enough to tempt me. So instead I spent an hour of my birthday picking the last of the red gooseberries. Prickly!

I nearly forgot not to feed the pigs. For this evening we had the job of cajoling two rather stubborn pigs into the livestock trailer ready to go on a little journey in the morning. We are quite well practised at this now, but it always has its stresses. The basic plan is to keep the pigs hungry so they follow the bucket of food down to the waiting trailer.
This works well for about a minute, until they discover the lush grass which grows outside their pen. But we know this will happen, so we bring Daisy with them. She knows the way and they will stick with her.
Today we managed the first part of the operation with incredible smoothness. One pig was left in the pen - this is the lucky one who gets to reach its first birthday before it goes off, in the winter, as a baconer. There was no selection process. Just the last pig to go through the gate.

A stay of execution for this girl.

These two follow Daisy and Sue toward their fate.


From there it was a race up the land to the stable area and into the (very) small yard, where the trailer was waiting, door open and ramp enticingly covered in straw. I strewed it with food, but to no avail. This was no surprise. Getting them to make the final climb into the trailer is always a stressful experience. 
The sticking point.
That ramp is a no go area.

We didn't really want Daisy in there too, so we led her back to join the other piglet.
Daisy heads back to her pen,
leaving two worried and
tetchy piglets behind.

But, as has happened in the past, this was the cue for the doomed couple to get a little tetchy. So  much so that they broke through a fence and headed back down toward their pen,

There followed fifteen minutes of fraught efforts to get back to where we had been already been (no photos, too fraught!)
The fence was reinforced (Well, I leaned a couple of sturdy pallets up against it) to prevent further breakouts and we patiently edged the piglets up the ramp and into the trailer.

I make this sound easier than it actually is!

So tomorrow morning we'll be off to the abattoir bright and early. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to get them to leave that trailer when we get there. Not that they know what's coming.

That just left enough time to top and tail those gooseberries ready for the freezer before sitting down to a late birthday dinner with Sue - lasagna made with our own lamb and vegetables, including the first of this year's courgettes - oh yes, the glut has already started.
Then a celebratory cake, topped with today's picking of raspberries and a rather OTT firework display thingy-me-jig from the pound shop, complete with sparklers, candles and a rather metallic version of happy birthday which repeated several dozen times until we finally managed to break the device!

So that was today. And after all that, I have to say I actually do feel a year older.

Over the next few days I'll be bringing you up to date with everything that's been happening - hot, hot weather, swarming bees, broody chickens, egg-straw-din-ary goings on with the guineafowl, the start of the harvest, the arrival of a most unexpected new member of the family and, as if I wasn't busy enough, another trip to the Hebrides chasing birds. It's all been happening.

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