Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Winters Icy Grip

Well the snow came back at the weekend, not much for us but the temperatures were really low and all the dairy water froze again, Richard put us back on the mains as the spring supply is frozen . We have managed to keep one of the troughs for the milkers going by piling mucky straw round the supply pipe, but we are carrying water to the heifers, in 25litre drums, the children can fill them but cant pick them up so thats my job and boy can I feel it, ibufrofen is my friend.
These were taken at 4pm today on my way to feed the sheep, these are this springs lambs, and should be tagged and on their way to market but we were sent the wrong pliers and the new ones have been in the post for 2 weeks now.
I think the sheeps were worried when I stopped short and got the camera out rather than wrestle the sack of nuts into their troughs.
And yes that ewe lamb at the front is having a pee!!!!! I didnt notice till I got the pic on here.

This is happy sheep, 97 of them all competing for their share of the food.

We are giving them hay as well in a ring feeder but they spend a lot of time scraping the snow off the grass.

Our lowest night time temp has been -13 c , and we are not getting above 0 c during the day, even with sunshine. My days are revolving around watering and feeding beasties, ditto the family and a bit of christmas preparation. Tonight my oven decided to die, it cost us £40 about 8 yrs ago so no great loss, I dont rate my chances of getting a new one before christmas so all oven cooking will be in the solid fuel Rayburn, that will be fun.

I dont think we are predicted any more snow, just low temps till after christmas, and though it makes life hard it is beautiful.

We had a drink and a few candles for the Solstice yesterday, we couldnt see the eclipse as we had cloud, but we all thought about the days lengthening and the return of spring and summer.

Off to bed now with my hot water bottle to keep my toes warm.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Another Day

A wall of straw arrived today, it's actually a lorry and trailer but from this angle it looks like a wall. The driver was undoing the straps while Richard got out the Manitou handler to unload it all, nearly 22 tonnes for the cows to lie on.
We keep our cows in a shed on deep straw rather than cubicles, which means that we use a lot of straw over the winter, the shed is cleaned out every 4 to 5 weeks and the muck is piled up in the fields to compost after which it is spread. Our soil here is very sandy so the composted muck is really good for it.
On a completely different scale, I made a new cover for my ironing board. I have had that board for about 25 years, my iron is even older.
I have had several covers for it but am finding it difficult to find the right size, ironing boards seem to have grown, and the covers I could find were not what I wanted to spend several hours a week looking at.
So some fabric from Ikea and a short time with the sewing machine and voila new cover.
Well I'm pleased anyway.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Thats Life

Last night we did a ceasarian section on a cow, well the vet did it and Richard and I assisted, in my case mostly holding the light and other things.
The cow was due to give birth any time now but R was not happy with how she looked, just not right, so we had the vet have a look at her, the calf was dead, and had been for a couple of days, it was also breach, which is coming backwards.
We struggled for ages to try and deliver the calf but it was huge and eventually we all agreed it was not going to come out that way without damaging the cow seriously.
So we set to to do a section on her, lying down as we couldnt get her up, all the problems of a decaying calf and uterine contents, in the cowshed, in the dark with hand held lights.
Kate, the vet did a fantastic job, we flushed as much out as we could and carefully stitched her up, 4 layers.
We left the patient sitting up with a big bucket of water, some hay and chock full of antibiotics and painkillers. Richard then started milking at 7.30pm rather than the usual 4.30.

I was going to take some pictures of her stitches, which run for about 15 inches down her side, but Richard just came in and told me she is dead. She just put her head down and died.

So no calf, a huge vets bill and now we have to pay to have a dead cow taken away.

Sometimes I hate this job.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Winter is upon us

We had snow last week, and we've still got most of it. The night time temp got down to -13c which meant that most of the cattle troughs froze up and Richard had to try and drain every last drop of water from the milking parlour after washing or else it was frozen by morning. These are 3 of the farms 4 cats, Carrot is the orange female and the boys are Percy(longhaired) and Jack. The boys are brothers and started out as feral kittens born here, we trapped them when they were small and had them fixed at the vet and over the last 12 1/2 years they have become very tame. They dont come in the house but we do feed them as much as they need, ie a cat sitting by the empty plate usually gets biscuits. Carrot and her half sister Kitty came from the farm across the road, they too are fixed as I dont want to be up to the elbows in kittens.
It looks mean leaving them out in the snow but there are loads of straw bales in the barn and calves to cuddle up to and when they do come into the porch they want to go straight out again.

This was taken about 10am this morning, we had a high temp of -3c here today, but it's all beautiful to look at. We had a lot of freezing fog yesterday and everything is thickly crusted with frost today.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Baked a Cake

I turned this into that. This is my maternal Grandmothers Christmas cake recipe, which I make every year, when the children were babies it lasted us till the end of February, but with 3 extra hungry mouths I try to eke it out through January. Sometimes I wish the children didnt like fruit cake.
I put nuts on the top instead of icing it and this year it's almonds and walnuts, the walnuts got a bit too toasted but I'm sure they will be OK.
I need to wrap it up and feed it with brandy every week and it will be perfect for christmas and beyond.
There is a family tale about my father serving abroad, I think he was in Singapore, while my Mother was back in the UK with me and waiting to give birth to my next brother. She and my Granny made an extra cake for my Dad, filled it with as much brandy as they could, in the interest of preservation, and sent it out to Singapore. I remember being told that they sewed it into a pillow case to make sure it was safe travelling. I'm sure it was the best thing about my Dads christmas that year.

Stirring It Up

Yesterday I finally got round to making my christmas pudding, it's really not hard at all, and the only bit that takes time is steaming it, 4 hours now and 4 on christmas day.
In the bowl are raisins, currants, glace cherries, candied peel, breadcrumbs, grated suet and ground mixed spice.
To that I added 2 beaten eggs and a couple of tablespoons of alcohol, usually sherry or brandy but this year I had the end of a bottle of sloe gin so I used that.
Then everyone in the household had a stir for good luck, and I packed it into a pudding basin, covered it with a pleated piece of greaseproof paper.

Then a cotten square tied under the lip of the bowl and the ends tied together to form "bunny ears", this makes it easy to lift out of the steamer.

Then 4 hours in the steamer, making sure the pan is kept topped up with water.
I leave it to go cold overnight, then remove it from the steamer and when the cloth has dried out it can go in the cupboard till christmas day.
It goes really black from all the dried fruit, and if I remember I will add a sixpence carefully wrapped in foil.
I will be serving this with Brandy Butter, which is softened butter beaten up with icing sugar and as much brandy as it will hold. Its also great with mince pies.