Saturday, 8 July 2017

Animal Escapades

Getting a bit behind, so here's a week's worth.
Another week's worth tomorrow.

18th June - Collect hay while the sun shines

A couple of early morning trips to a local field to collect hay for the winter. Such a wonderful smell!
The afternoon was the monthly Fenland Smallholders Club at the wonderfully named Hooters Hall, where we met friends and learned about the butchery room and the wool room. Sue had a go at spinning, not very successfully.

20th June - Baking hot
The day of the dead swallows. I've already posted about this.

21st June
I'm gradually getting more into moths. The hot weather and an open window at night mean that the landing wall becomes a bit of a moth trap.

One family of swallows has managed to escape its death trap clay oven nest. The chicks are very exposed to predators on the floor but better that than being baked alive. One has already fledged and the others look very close.

25th June 2017 - A Summer Outing
The Grow Your Own group summer trip out today. Hindringham Hall over in Norfolk.
The hall itself was beautiful, surrounded by a moat complete with family of Black Swans. The gardens were nice, but not stunning. A nice place to spend a couple of hours, but not quite as grand as the entry price might suggest!

We returned home early evening to find the four sheep missing from the top paddock. The gate was open and there was no sign of the sheep. A bit of a panic as thoughts went through my head of sheep rustlers or our sheep munching their way through the local fields. I systematically covered as much ground as possible but still no sign, not until I reached the sheep field proper where there were now thirteen sheep instead of nine!

It was quite an escape act, but more remarkable was how they had found their way there. They must have travelled along the dyke and cut through the electric fence!
At least they were all present and correct.

26th June 2017 - Lucky to make it to the end of the day alive
Well, today I got stung by a bee, head-butted by a sheep and zapped by the electric fence. Smallholding can be a hazardous occupation.
A very swollen ear
The bee sting came from nowhere. I was observing Sue's hides from a distance when one of the blighters dive-bombed kamikaze style straight at my left ear. No warnings, no buzzing around the head, just an instant sting. And it hurt.

Next up was the discovery of lamb poo in the orchard. These are the lambs which have only recently escaped the top paddock. Then, twice in the space of fifteen minutes, actual brown lambs in the orchard doing their best to strip the bark off my fruit trees.
Sue wasn't around to help, but I needed to round up the sheep and send the two brown lambs back to the top paddock. It crossed my mind to use this opportunity to wean them off mum, but it is a little early so I caught her too. This is when, as I lifted her over a sheep hurdle, she flung her head back into mine. Sheep skulls are very hard.

Finally back up at the top paddock, I turned the electric fence back on only to receive a thumping great shock from the metal hurdle I was leaning over. Unbeknown to me, the sheep had moved it into contact with the electric wires. These are the worst shocks, for the metal hurdle ensures you get a good full blast of electricity.

I decided to take it easy for the rest of the day and do something more gentle, so I put the small chicks out into a cage on the lawn. Their first fresh air, their first view of the big wide world, their first taste of real grass.
Lady Penelope quickly came to investigate and then settled down in attendance for the afternoon.

27th June - Why Did The Cow Cross The Road?
After yesterday, I stayed late in bed which seemed the safest option.
I was woken by the dogs barking. This is usually caused by the phantom intruder, but this time their was actually a reason for their warning. At the farm gate there stood a woman in full golf attire. It would be quite a shot if she had lost her ball over here, for we are a good couple of miles as the crow flies from the local golf course.

Turns out there was a cow in the road and she thought it might be mine. Many of the fields round here are rented out and I knew that the owner of the cattle lived over near Market Deeping. A cow in the road is not unheard of, but is obviously fairly hazardous. As I threw on some more appropriate clothing the phone rang - the local police trying to find the owner of the cow. Then a Facebook message from a friend who had driven past earlier and noticed... you've guessed... a cow in the road. Word certainly gets around quickly.
To cut a longish story short, I eventually tracked down a number for the owner and left the cow and traffic control in the capable (?) hands of the local PCSOs.
For what it's worth, the cow had simply been curious about the hawthorn bushes on the other side of its fence and was now happily munching its way through them, totally unconcerned by the passing traffic or the attentions of the police.

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