Mid-Summers-Day has been and gone and July is just about here. The silly season as some of us call it. School holidays and busy beaches. Glastonbury is history, Wimbledon has started and the days are officially getting shorter. Time really does fly for some of us, especially those of us not living in a war zone.
We have just been to Cornwall for a long weekend with No1 daughter. This was supposed to be a birthday celebration for Trace’ from a couple of years ago but was postponed several times because of Covid. We had planned to visit the Eden Centre and have a scenic drive down through Cornwall and back, in 2010. Unfortunately, the day we were due to go was the day of the Helston and Camelford flood disaster and Cornwall was virtually washed away. This time we stayed for four nights in St Ives and had most of one day at the Eden Project, which was really interesting. We also found ‘King Arthur’s castle’ in Tintagel worth a trip and I was treated to Fathers Day lunch in one of Rick Steins hostelries in Padstow, which was fabulous. We explored some great pubs and beaches but had to cancel a six mile yomp around the coastal Footpath from St Ives to Zennor because of gale force winds. We got into the car and drove instead – much safer.
It sounds like I’m promoting Cornwall as a holiday destination but bear in mind it took us three and a half hours to drive down from North Devon and out of season it was busy. In season it would be………! Not much point in driving past Glorious North Devon to get there.
In our absence we left Lucy and a friend looking after the animals for us. Usually this is fairly straightforward during the Summer. Usually being the operative word. We made the mistake of hatching out three clutches of chicks on the same day, a week before we went away. These broods had to be separated for about ten days or the older, more dominant hen would adopt all eleven chicks and the other two would have the equivalent of an avian nervous breakdown. You can’t just keep them locked in pens in isolation, indefinitely, because being outside scratching around in the field for food and grubs is so important for their development and survival. This creates all sorts of logistical problems for me and I know where everything is. It must have been a nightmare for the girls so if you’re reading this, ‘well done’, they all survived.
Also, just to add to the mix, our flock of seven geese decided to have a full scale war to sort out their pecking order. The two young ganders ended up battered and bruised and trapped in the deep mud in the nearly dry cob-pond. Ghengis and Ghandi, our two senior ganders, ended up with Bianca and the two young geese in their own enclave. Judging by the amount of muddy boot trails up and down the nice new Tarmac someone must have launched a full-scale rescue mission across the virtually impassable mud to drag some hostile, battered, bruised and reluctant young ganders back to dry ground. The injured parties have both survived and are recuperating in isolation on the top duck pond. They both appeared to have a broken wing and leg each which would have been terminal but after a bit of TLC and some industrial scale washing they are both recovering well. What they need now is rehoming…..separately……possibly with some spuds and gravy….!
Bianca failed to hatch out any more Goslings this time. The fallout from Storm Eunice and three months of builders and their clutter and clatter was just to much for her. She eventually walked away from her eggs which had cooled down at some point and were no longer fertile. Which is just as well, as it turns out.
Just before we went to Cornwall the forecasters said we were in for a heat wave so the decision was made to separate the Alpacas from their Winter coats. Not a decision taken lightly because I wasn’t sure if I had the correct shearing gear and I didn’t want to get a contractor in to do three animals or start loading them up to go to the shearer. So, I set up the sheep shearing equipment and then went on to YouTube to see what’s what. If you are ever really bored I can recommend looking at Alpaca Shearing videos. It’s not exactly black and white and probably not what you will be expecting but nevertheless its gripping stuff. Anyway, I managed to get two of them done with slightly different finishing touches before the hand piece had a hissy fit and went into self-destruct mode. Now that the spare parts have arrived I’m ready to finish off Cosmo and then we’ll have an Alpaca beauty contest to see which style is considered most desirable. So far, we have a sort of Peaky Blinders with short socks on Cocoa and a Venus Williams with leg-warmers on Chico. Cosmo beware, then.
The pigs are slimming down slightly, which is good because they were definitely a bit on the Porky side when we first had them. We obviously don’t want them looking thin but also flabby is bad.
The goats are looking well. Their ability to jump over gates and fences from a standstill is constantly impressive. I’m sure we could do some sort of Goat agility competition with them. Jethro and Denzil, our two youngest or goatlings, can stand up straight on their back legs and use their front legs to pull down tasty morsels of leaves to nibble away at and totter around at the same time almost like humans would.
The lambs are just keeping their heads down and munching away contentedly.
We still have limited availability during July and the school holidays so if you’re interested in a family friendly farm holiday in Glorious Devon during the Summer, check out our website. Must get back to work, so,
Cheers for now, Farmer Chris.