Monday, 5 October 2009

Cows,cars and Cameras

It's a funny thing but if you have ever wondered what your stableyard would look like if a herd of cows got into it just don't - I have seen it and it is not a pleasant sight. I could probably have won prizes yesterday for what must have been a great "stunned" reaction when I arrived at the yard. I apparently missed all the fun - I just got the aftermath, no-one around and all seemed calm and peaceful. The stableyard was wall to wall cow shit, the ladders, hose, buckets all scattered around and shat upon. Harvey's door had been left open and apparently there'd been some sort of bovine shitezenfest in there - it was up the walls to a height of around 3 feet and stank to high heaven.
Further inspection ( and the return of Andy) revealed that the cows had got in by breaking down the new barbed wire fence in the corner of the arena ( ! ) that had been put up last week to keep them out. They'd trampled through his garden, shat in his gravel and knocked fences down in several places. The shed, which we'd been thinking was liable to fall down at any time turned out to be stronger than we thought as there'd been a cow standing on top of it !
Despite all this adventuring around the property they'd apparently saved the pooing till they got to the stableyard.
Andy's girlfriend was out with the dogs when the invasion occurred and ended up trapped in the field and unable to get to the house.
There's a photo of Harv's stable that I'll add later if I get the chance - it's currently on Gemma's phone as mine has decided not to work.
Needless to say the cleaning up and fence fixing took a while - we had to drag Harv's mats out and apply liberal amounts of disinfectant, Farmer John has now installed electric fencing all around his perimeter and ours is back on for good measure.
Why is it that cows with 30 acres or so of wooded, lush fields should be so fascinated with our little acreage ?
Luckily they did not get into the fields - just the yard, garden and driveway so our grazing is still intact although a couple of Andy's trees got an unscheduled trimming.

And, by the way, the story about cows being unable to walk down steps is not true, they can, and did, negotiate Andy's tricky twisty stone steps.

On another note entirely the neighbours seem to be having fun throwing their shopping around again - but we now have some very nice video footage of them to pass along today - stupid prats stood right against the gate congratulating each other on their aim - methinks they think the cameras are either fake or of the daytime only persuasion - lol.
My car is off the road again - couple of minor jobs that instantly become bigger when started, isn't that always the case ? We failed the MOT on one balljoint, a petrol cap seal, 2 scratched discs and the horn. Attempts to sort the balljoint yesterday resulted in the suspension spring releasing so now we need to get hold of a spring compressor to put it back together again. So, for the time being it's up on 3 wheels and I'm driving the Renault again which is no great hardship unless I have a sudden urge to either use a trailer or lug large amounts of feed or shavings. Unfortunately that is going to be happening very soon so car repairs are something of a priority at the moment.

Summer has come and past........

Well I think we are just about officially into Autumn now, nights are drawing in at an alarming rate and there is a distinct chill in the air.
August was a washout - it hardly stopped raining for the entire month so very little got done with the ongoing projects such as the stone wall and the horses have had a pretty easy time of it. Lots of wet weather has meant little actual riding and locally I have heard of horses suffering from rain scald and mud rash ( luckily mine were not among them).
With the start of the new college term I'm back into a sort of routine again instead of randomly freewheeling, getting up late and staying online all night which suits me fine, things actually get done.
My youngest has just started college, the oldest is back at Uni and I'm left with the two engineering students who, in theory, now have a "year out" in which they are supposed to get 280 hours of work experience. That is turning into something of a problem as no-one seems to be taking anyone on ( unless they are way out of easy travelling distance) both are now looking for some type of employment to just get some cash as well as still hoping for the work experience to turn up. In the meantime I can find them useful and time-consuming things to do around the house and stables so they aren't sitting on their butts all day doing nothing.
The farriers are due today - that's good timing as Fally is right on the verge of losing a shoe - to the point where we didn't dare do anything with him yesterday.
The neighbours from hell had a quiet Summer - so much so that we actually thought the matter had been resolved, unfortunately I think they were just taking a break and they seem to have started up again - various neighbours are reporting problems with them and apparently they are being dealt with - why does it have to take so long ? Next door cleaned her car the other day and this morning she showed me that it's covered in eggs again. My windows were cleaned Monday and by Tuesday wanted doing again. What is wrong with these people ?

Freaky Friday ?
Well it's getting late now and it's been one hell of a day. If something could go wrong it did. For a start I had kind of volunteered to give Si a lift to work as his car was in for repairs - that was 9.30 this morning - just after I'd written the intro to this posting. I've driven him to work before but this was a different farm ( his bosses mum's ) and in totally the opposite direction. Got him there with no problem ( half an hour) but getting back was a different matter. I got lost and ended up going round in a sort of big loop and arriving back at the yard from the other direction. .The farriers were early ( only ever happens when I'm running late ) but luckily Gemma had got the horses in ready. Shoeing was fraught with problems - inflexible, un co-operative horses ( Fally), one who suddenly appeared to be lame ( Holly) and a dog who managed to poo in the garage ( not Neo).
Once they were done and gone ( which took about twice as long as usual) we lunged Holly who seemed to be stiff as opposed to lame and tacked up the boys. A few days without work and Fally seems to have siezed up and forgotten how to operate his legs -not lame but obviously stiff, we plodded about and got him loosened up and called it a day at that. Gemma took Harvey up for a run around the field and he came back bleeding from the frog - looks like he snagged a stone on the way down. Great - get the first aid kit out......
So finally we turned them out and cleaned up the mess and went to drink coffee.
Andy's away and the builders are doing a few jobs - shame is that they seem to think that I know what they're supposed to be doing !
By this time it was getting close to 4 o'clock so I'm thinking towards collecting Si so he can get his car back and I can then collect my daughter from the college bus.

And, after all that, I actually forgot to post this - d'oh - brain not engaged properly it seems........

Monday, 6 July 2009

Haymaking, cats and weird weather

Well it has been a busy time for all around here with the only exceptions being the horses who have done nothing but eat for an entire week.
After listening to the Met office reports of doom and gloom and thunder, lightening, floods etc we put off cutting the hayfields for two whole weeks and it didn't rain. Fed up with putting it off we abandoned the Met office and went by Farmer's intuition, Si borrowed a tractor and we started cutting the Top Paddock on Monday. Disaster wasn't far behind - a pin broke loose and the mower swung out, overbalanced and nosedived into the ground, snapping one of the belts. This stopped everything for the day and it then decided to drop some rain on what had been cut.
Tuesday was blisteringly hot and Adam came down with his tractor and mower and cut the rest for us, the half that got rained on dried out fine.
I feel like I've been holding my breath for most of the week - watching the stormclouds building and, on one very memorable occasion standing at the top of the ramp and seeing them just scrape past us - the next town down the line got localised flooding - we got thunder and a few random drops.
Finally it was baled and wrapped on Thursday - a total of 35 bales from our 3 acres, enough to see the horses through the entire Winter and, with the 8 left over from last year we even have some to spare just in case. At last I can breathe again.
Thursday night it rained hard and long.
We are now into the long process of moving and stacking the bales - long because they have to be moved one at a time using our little Fordson and the borrowed JCB which overheats. Si is the only one with the experience to drive these things with any degree of accuracy ( I'd be taking gateposts out) so it also has to be done when he is not at work.
In the midst of all this some nice person went and dumped a box of kittens and mother cat on a second hand car lot and John, Tara and Simon spent a happy hour chasing kittens around cars in the middle of the night with torches. They have now been safely relocated to the local cat rescue.

Monday 6th
Finished moving the bales yesterday - discovered that I can do it with the Fordson and the buckrake but the weight of the bales versus the weight of the tractor plus the slope of the ground made for some very hair-raising events - pulling wheelies with a cabless tractor isn't really my idea of fun. Si decided to try an experiment and see if he could persuade the buckrake to fit on the borrowed (large) tractor - it did, I had great fun with that and the gateposts are all fine.
Today we have more rain but with the bales wrapped, stacked and covered I'm just thinking that it's good for the grass and should get the cut fields greening again.
We are considering the possibility of regrowing one of teh fields for a second cut to sell on, have to see how that goes but prices seem to indicate that it'd be a good idea for all concerned.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Some people.......

Have you ever been in the state where you are just loitering on the edge of a conversation - not really listening but not blocking it all out either ? This was me on Sunday. The conversation was about the possibility of cutting our haylage early and the reason I wasn't so into it was that I'd already had the same one earlier with Si and he'd come down to our house to run the idea past everyone else. I was actually just messing about on the computer ( OK, so I admit it was Farmtown !)
Anyway I suddenly heard, "and you'll get to use the jumping field and you can do what you were planning earlier" directed at the kids - right so that sparked me and I had to ask, well it turned out that John's daughter ( Stella) had come down to visit ( as it was Father's Day) and she'd got this plan whereby Tara could teach some of her friends to ride in this field on MY horse and charge them a tenner each. I hit the roof.
Aside from the assumption that I might go along with this Harvey is NOT a beginner horse, the land is NOT mine, Tara is NOT qualified and the insurance WILL NOT cover it and, as if that wasn't enough, - I don't want bloody beginners messing with MY horse. John was sat beside me and didn't get a word in, didn't even try, bless him. A long time was spent assuring me that they were actually planning on asking me before doing anything and Tara, ( who has ridden a total of 4 times since Min died) admitted that she was "iffy" about the idea.
Iffy ???
Whew - talk about taking the rip - John's daughter came out with me last week - for the first time in about 3 years. Okay, so she rode Harvey on the road - walk and trot only and following Fally. She thinks she knows this horse - she knows nothing, he'd dump her butt in a second if she tried to actually ride instead of passenging.
I was fuming and it's still bugging me now.
Add to this that yesterday we had an adventure with the car - I managed to run over a nail and ended up at the yard with a hissing tyre. Okay, so I have changed a wheel before and I had Tara the engineering student with me. We also had a jack that neither of us knew how to work. After scratching our heads at it for several minutes we put it away and borrowed Andy's. Got the car jacked up and the wheel off - so far so good - then everything slipped, the jack fell over and the car crashed to the ground just missing Tara's leg.
We went into the house for a drink and a smoke and phoned John to come and save the day with his bottle jack. Next time we'll put bricks behind the wheels and not try using a crappy jack.
Note to self - now owing Andy a jack as it bent a bit.
There's a paranoid little voice at the back of my mind wondering if I did run over the nail by accident or if it was anything to do with the neighbours..........
On the horsey side of things play was stopped at the weekend as Harvey, being the nice friendly animal that he is, decided to take a bite at Fally which left him with a nice lump in the saddle area. Fally got time off and Harvey got a lot of arena work. Starr finally cantered Holly - quite nicely once Holly decided to actually listen to her.
Neo's next vet appointment is tomorrow afternoon. The bald patches are actually getting smaller now and he is happy and full of bounce again.
A side note - we are apparently getting roof repairs done next month - that'll mean scaffolding ( bet the cats love that) and John's car disappearing to stay at Andy's for the duration - no way I'm having that parked in the road.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

I should start with an apology to anyone who actually takes the time to read my musings on a regular basis. The last couple of weeks have been weird and busy and I've either ended up too tired or too brain fried to even consider attempting to write anything coherent. If I'd tried I'd have probably ended up with the internet grammar police jumping all over me and threatening to confiscate my keyboard or possibly beat me to death with it !
The weather remains brilliant - long hot days spent outside are enough to wear just about anyone out but add to that the kids are all in the throes of exams ( in one case the final ones which will decide whether she gets the course she wants at college or not), we have had numerous computers breaking down, a car off the road, a hospital emergency and have acquired some new neighbours.
New neighbours normally wouldn't be a problem but I think we have the neighbours that nobody else wanted. Actually I don't want them either- they have an indeterminate number of obnoxious children who play in the road; now that's not a problem in itself ( although not something I'd recommend with traffic and all) but they throw stuff at cars, cats and my bloody house. Being that it's rented property and the landowner is the local authority everything is now getting reported and logged and the police are coming around etc etc etc. but it's still a pain in the backside and hassle and mess that I really don't need.
John moved one of the cameras hoping to actually catch the little sods in the act but they went and reported us and said we were spying on them or something so then we got a visit from the powers that be and ended up having to apply for planning permission for cameras that had been there for about 10 years.

Now I don't know if this is in any way linked to all the hassle but on the Monday morning I returned from the college run and found him on the floor in some distress. It looked like another heart attack and he ended up spending the day in hospital having tests etc. In the end it turned out to be a weird reaction to medicines, low blood sugar and tinnitus of all things which was a huge relief to say the least.
In the meantime with the running about to the hospital etc Gemma's car got hit by a flying brick that came off a lorry on the D road and the stupid neighbours pelted my house with food while I was out. What they didn't realise however was that my daughter was in and saw them doing it - she called the police and the council etc and got the whole thing logged with the landlords etc. Hopefully they will now deal with it and we can have some peace and quiet again.
The car is finally back on the road and the computers are all working again even though we ended up having to literally hotwire one last night when we found out that the wires had come off the on/off switch and that was why it wasn't working again ! John's computer - of course, it had to be really !

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Holiday week

The weather took everyone by surprise by turning suddenly glorious again - people are burnt and sore and very inclined to sit outside drinking and not do much of anything else if they can possibly avoid it. Temperatures in the 20's and brilliant blue skies.
A distinct lack of mud makes a pleasant change as well.
The kids have been off all week for half term and Asti has spent most of her time out in the garden or greenhouse being green fingered - she even made a start on Andy's huge and very overgrown garden when she ran out of things to do in ours. She is one of the slightly burned ones !
Simon is flat-out silaging for Phil and the post knocker never turned up as I think it got forgotten with him being so busy - 13 hour days tend to do that to people . Actually I think the horses are currently too hot to be bothered with breaking any fences but I probably spoke too soon and will find them somewhere weird tomorrow.

Starr has been working hard at riding Holly despite the heat and all horses are getting very used to being hosed off on a daily basis ( love the smell of wet horse and hot concrete).
The repairs to the car are happening at last - at the moment it's propped up on logs in Andy's back drive and currently without any rear wheels. The "good" calliper is now consigned to the scrap pile as the magical screw extractor ( bought solely for the job) snapped off whilst attempting to remove the bleed nipple. New calliper should arrive Tuesday.
Tomorrow we are shopping and the list is even stranger than usual as it involves weed killer, brake pipes, underseal and hair colour.
The horses get a day off and the kids go back to exams, assessments and all that happy stuff they have been so looking forward to !
John's temperamental computer finally gave up the ghost early in the week so, after some diy fiddling, we admitted defeat and it's now at Wattshop for repairs, hopefully we should know more about that situation on Tuesday too although I'm not holding my breath on that - if it was a simple repair we could have done it ourselves - this is something strange and unusual - I suspect either processor or motherboard myself ( can't be anything cheap can it ?)
At the moment my computer is working overtime as everyone is taking turns at it - just as well that I have been pretty busy with horses and all - queuing up to use my own computer is something I don't take very well.
I somehow managed to break the nosepiece on my everyday glasses so I'm stuck in the shades till I can get to the optician's (tomorrow with any luck) but at the moment that's really no hardship at all.
Neo is due back to the Vet's tomorrow and we shall see what they have to say then. He's certainly a lot happier and livelier now he's had 2 weeks worth of antibiotics shoved down his throat and I'd be happy to see an end to him wearing that awful cone as well.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Bank Holiday Weekend...

It's a funny thing but I did say there was some sort of unnatural attraction between fence repairing and bad weather - it's been a glorious weekend ( unusual because it rather goes against tradition to have a Bank Holiday when it doesn't rain) anyway it was forecast to break last night with the usual dramatics (thunderstorms etc) and, of course I got the phone call from Simon to tell me that Harvey had broken through the fence and got into the 10 acre field. Not a major disaster - Harv is a big wuss and Mr Really Easy-to-Catch under these circumstances - ie - he's jumped over and no-one else has bothered to followed him - by the time we arrived Simon had got him back into the field and was preparing for a repairing session. It would have been a different story altogether if they'd all got in there. Anyhow, a good part of yesterday evening was spent messing about with posts and wire in the rain and being harassed by about 3 bazillion flying bloodsuckers who all seemed to want to be in my hair.
Obviously attempts to limit Harvey's grass intake need to be backed up with a bit more than Victorian railings and barbed wire ( yes, I know and it's not my fencing of choice - just of necessity - not everything can be replaced in one fell swoop but we are working on it)
Post knocker ordered for later this week !
On a brighter note we managed to ride out a couple of times with the weather being so nice and to get through the rather horrendous roadworks where the new bridge is being put in on our favourite ( and usually safest ) route. I was so pleased with the horses for going through that mess of cones, tarps and roadsigns - I took pictures !
Starr rode Holly on the lunge with some very pleasing results and we finally managed to buy most of the parts needed for my car repairs ( parts department was closed over the holiday weekend)
WE have decided to crown Gemma D the spontaneous BBQ Queen after her amazing short notice performance which actually included going out to buy a BBQ -
Round of applause for Gemma !