Monday, 23 January 2012

I can noticeably see the days lengthen now. Whereas a month ago I would have to feed the pigs before four to give me a fighting chance of wading through the pig enclosure and being slimed with mud from eager snouts in daylight, I can now have the anticipation of that pleasure until at least five. It’s a sure sign of things to come and my optimism and energy that I had with the turning of the year has not abated… not one bit! In fact, and I don’t mean to be sickeningly smug, but I am positively buzzing with everything that’s going on around here.

Nelly, my lovely Gloucestershire Old Spot gilt will be coming into season in just under two weeks time. This will require a swift call to the Artificial Insemination place in Northern Ireland who supply the largest variety of rare breed predigree semen, to get a Class A grade batch to be sent PDQ. I know! I can hear you all say it! Why, oh why don’t you let Nelly get some real action? Well, the answer, dear reader, is simple. I can’t find a boar good enough for her who’s near enough to come and visit (or visa versa). So, I’m afraid, I’m just going to have to do. Be under no illusion that this is a process I’m looking forward to any more than I’m sure Nelly is. The thought of sticking a plastic tube up a pigs behind is way more than I ever thought I would ever do. But I’m up for the challenge and with a very healthy dose of luck behind us we may even have our first litter of piglets by the end of May. Fingers crossed everyone!

The Gorgeous Nelly

It’s also the time of the year to plan the vegetable garden. I always love doing this as it holds so much promise, but this year more than ever. This year we plan to grow enough veg to start a small veg box scheme in the village. Our egg round has proved very popular and we think this would be good extension to it. To that end the seeds have been arranged and placed into envelopes labelled with the weeks they need to be sown, succession weeks have been booked in to ensure a steady flow of veg and as it’s been so mild, I’ve even started sowing a few. Monty Don doesn’t sow anything until 13th Feb but I just can’t wait that long! I’m hoping with the help of a little heat from our garden heater the seeds that I’ve started will germinate to get the growing season going. As for the patch itself, well the pigs are working that at the moment and are being very productive with their rotorvating and fertilizing. We’re going to be moving them to new pasture on Saturday so that we can start marking out beds and making paths.

The Seed System

I’ve also got an incubator full of eggs from our chickens. I’m not sure how many will hatch as Pavarotti, our resident cockerel, doesn’t seem to have the sexual prowess that is often needed in the wooing of young hens! The girls are young and this will be their first Spring but if some of them do hatch out then it will up our egg production for the year ahead which would be brilliant.

Ever hopeful

So, all in all, we’re gearing up for a fantastic Spring. Piglets, chicks, seedlings, blossom and bloom. Here’s hoping for a ‘Baby Central’..

Tuesday, 3 January 2012


New Years Resolutions..
1. Be more organised
2. Loose weight
3. Stop faffing (although 1. should sort this out)
4. Keep up to date with blog
5. Make time for everyone, from helping little old lady cross road to ‘quality time’ with husband..

…. Wait… Stop (sound of needle being ripped from record player – for those who can remember that far back).

I seem to be trapped in some sort of annual Ground Hog Day. These are all nothing new, they are all exactly what I said last year, and the year before that and, more than likely, the year before that. I think each time they last until about 20th Jan (the loosing weight one, 4th Jan) and then I wander back to my usual state whereby my perception of busyness out strips my actual getting things done at a ratio of approximately 100:1. So maybe it’s time for a proper change, not just meaninglessly writing a list of things you’d like to be knowing that the liklihood of you getting there is slim to never. Maybe it’s time to have a bit of a rethink about where we are and where we would like to be. I saw a fantastic ‘tweet’ over the Christmas period from a friend of mine. Ed Dowding, I apologise profusely for this blantant plagerism but what you said struck a chord… and I quote ‘How can leaders warn of a grim 2012? We have people, resources, need, opportunity and desire… what are we lacking exactly?’
Over the last couple of weeks, if anyone has mentioned 2012 to me, I have responded in a cautious tone, sometimes even dodgy builderish in fashion, with a sharp intake of air through my teeth…’it’s going to be a tough one’ I would say.. ‘not going to be easy’. But surely by having this perception of making it difficult I have given myself an uphill slope before I have even began. We are extremely fortunate. We have people (albeit just the husband and I), we have resources, we most definitely have the need, opportunity and desire. There should be nothing stopping us. Whilst I admit that we are no longer in the land of milk and honey, we are certainly not on our uppers yet. We have the most amazing opportunity to share our good fortunes of where we live and the fantastic food we grow and rear and people want to share it with us. The fact that we sold out of our Christmas pork and had lots of lovely people visit us last year is testiment to that… and above all, above the fact that we are not ‘rolling in it’ and we work really hard… we love it!

This morning a tree fell down at the top of our driveway in the strong gales. It’s not our tree and it didn’t fall on our land however, to be out there with chainsaws in the driving rain throwing massive lumps of Ash tree into the back of a trailor was brilliant. It’s farm life at it’s more ragged edge and to help friends and be part of the community is brilliant. To be honest, I couldn’t think of a better way to start the year… I could think of warmer ways and possibily nicer ways but better ones would be hard to beat.

I think this could be said for the state of Britain in general. Waking up to the Today programme on Radio 4 is beyond dismal. News is bleak and before you’ve even made it to the bathroom you are ready to pack it all in and go back to bed. Yet could you imagine the difference in Britains state of mind if for one week there was nothing but good news to be reported. Instead of Auntie and the rest of the media gang telling us we are all in for it and life is only going to get worse, wouldn’t it be great if they tried a little reverse phsychology. Could you imagine John Humphreys telling us not to worry and it’s all going to be OK, cracking a little joke and interviewing Miranda Hart instead of some dodgy politician whos hell bent on slagging off the opposition rather than telling us what their policies actually are. You could take it one step further, you could make it law to smile at everyone you see, banish road rage and make it compulsory for bus drivers to wait whilst you run down the street after them. By creating a positive mental attitude in people surely it would make 2012 a better year.. who knows.

So my New Years Resolutions for this year? Let me rewrite the list..

1. We have people, resources, need, opportunity and desire…. go get ‘em!!

Happy New Year