Human nature can be a strange phenomenon. Much of the country is grinding to a standstill because garages are running out of fuel. Not because there is a shortage of fuel but because certain sections of the press are suggesting that there might be. Now, apparently, people are sharing information about garages that still have pumps working on social media platforms and creating even more chaos. It’s a bit like the toilet-paper and pasta crisis, that wasn’t a crisis, at the beginning of lockdown. Some people are blaming Brexit and others are saying it’s Tony Blairs fault for his open door policy in 2005. Ultimately, it’s ‘Human nature’. Rumours and speculation nowadays can spread like wildfires and the consequences can be horrendous. Our twenty-first century lifestyles are precariously balanced on a knife edge and who would have thought that one snowball could become an avalanche so quickly. Oh well…..I’ve got a quarter of a tankful of diesel and a four mile round trip to the pub tomorrow. I think we’ll be OK…….

I’ve been busy constructing the new roof on our tack room/feed store in the farmyard. At least, I’ve been doing it in my ‘free time’, around everything else that needs doing, so progress has been slow but steady. There are definitely issues with building materials. I couldn’t get lime for the mortar and there wasn’t much choice on the timber lengths so I now have some very expensive offcuts that I’ll probably have to run through the saw and turn into roof battens. Waste not, want not…

Matey hasn’t been shod yet. Would you believe it the silly old beggar managed to close a gate that was tied open and trap himself inside the field shelter. When his fat little friend Moo, the miniature Shetland pony, wandered off out of sight he must have panicked and decided to throw himself over the gate in a dismal attempt to escape, and misjudged things slightly. The gate was destroyed and some of the pieces were mysteriously outside in the field and Matey was in such a mess that we had the vet out four days on the trot. We could probably have had a nice weeks holiday somewhere for what that’s going to cost. Anyway, three weeks later and his bits seem to be working properly at last. I won’t bore you with the details, but it involved four of those long gloves and a large bottle of lubricant….. But, I have now phoned the farrier and we will shoe him up and start exercising and just see what happens.

Our chickens are still being uncooperative. They have virtually stopped laying and the few that have gone broody have sat well, only to find that the eggs aren’t fertile. It’s not unusual for their laying to slow up at this time of year as they are moulting again. It is odd that they aren’t going broody though. We have always avoided the modern hybrids because they have the broodiness bred out of them in order to lay more eggs. We always cull the old birds and introduce our own pullets every year. We run two cockerels with about twenty hens and every year we replace the old cock and enter a youngster. So……..we aren’t sure what’s going on. Drastic measures are needed, so we are going to see two new cockerels this afternoon, which could mean curtains for our existing boys. It’s tough being a working cockerel. Bear in mind though, if a fox gets into the run it’s always the boys that die first, trying to defend their women. Replacing the cockbirds won’t make any difference this year but should guarantee fertile eggs next year, which may solve the problem. Anyway, the potential replacements may be unsuitable. Wrong size, wrong shape, wrong colour …..etc, etc. Watch that space then.

We are in the process of finding new homes for the ponies because we won’t be doing pony rides after October half term. It looks like Meggie and Echo are going to stay together at a new home with lots of children, which is great news. Sampson will hopefully be going to a local hunting home, with children. Matey will obviously be staying and as long as he recovers from his current mishap his fat little friend, Moo, will be staying to keep him company. Which also means that he will be coming out exercising with myself and Matey, on a leading rein, as the three of us attempt to shed the odd Covid pound or two. I expect that all three of us will be looking streamlined and svelte in reasonably short order……!

Elsewhere on the farm Frank and Furter, our Saddleback pigs, are fattening up nicely. They are getting a few windfalls now but our whole apple crop is looking a bit a bit lean. We had some bitterly cold weather when the blossom was out, back in May, and fruit crops have been very poor as a result. Balti and Snowy, our two goats, are busy as usual trimming the hedges and keeping the fences neat and tidy. The goslings are now fully grown so we can start explaining about Christmas Dinner soon. The ducks have just about stopped laying for the year but they have kept going well since February. The leaves have started coming down so the leaf blower is getting some exercise again. The lambs have fattened up really well again which probably isn’t good news if you’re a lamb.

Time to get some jobs done,
Cheers for now, Farmer Chris.