Friday, 31 January 2014

The Madge Family Grows!

Even as I type I have a tiny pair of feet walking all over the keyboard, pecking at the keys and occasionally operating the keys to shrink the screen or make it much bigger; dim the screen; make the screen REALLY bright; make up new words or generally get in the way of my fingers!   Yes, the first of our chicks hatched last night and two more have arrived since then.    I seem to have made a bond with this one, in particular though.    From the moment she hatched (I say 'she' out of hope more than knowledge) she came over from the other side of the incubator to say hello and seems to love being on my desk, which is not easy when you are trying to get boring paperwork done, let alone when your trying to write a blog!!


Other than our new borns the farm ticks on.   Last week was a lovely week with lots happening.   On Thursday we had the local school kids up to have a tour around the farm.   They collected some mud so they could draw with it back at school and I'm dying to know how they got on!  They certainly seemed to like collecting it although I can't help but think the teacher is a little nuts to let a whole load of primary school children loose with loads of mud in a confined space!    Later on the same day, a friend of mine from Bristol who works with disadvantaged young people came to visit with a lovely guy she was working with.   We walked around the farm and I showed them the pigs and after they left I got a lovely text from my friend saying how much this guy had enjoyed it.   It turned out it was his birthday and was feeling down about things and the farm really cheered him up.   It was great to know that the farm helped and lovely to meet him.  If I'd known I would have baked a cake!  It did make me think though, how much of life is pure luck.   I was talking to someone and made the comment of 'there but for the grace of God go I'.  The person retorted that I work bloody hard to be where I am, and yes, I do but that was because of the family I was born into, the values they taught me and the education they gave me.   Born into a different family, my life might easily have been completely different - either way up or down the social scale... see.   Pure luck.

The rain continues to lash down and the fields are really boggy.   This is starting to cause a problem for the pigs.    We still have Walter with us and I'm getting to the stage where we need him to go.   I want to move the girls to drier land but it will be so much harder with Walter in tow.    There was a chance that we were going to keep hold of Walter as his owner has been turfed off her land so needs to downscale, but unfortunately, after much deliberation, we've decided to not take him.  Expanding the pork side of the business, whilst being a good idea at some point, is not for now.   There are so many other areas of the farm we have to get right first before we start expanding.   I think they call it a period of consolidation that we find ourselves in at present!   If anyone would like a beautiful, good natured boar, he's looking for a good home!

As far as living goes, life get's tougher the wetter and colder it gets.   Sometimes it feels like nothing works in this house.   All of the outside doors have swollen with the rain to the point that they are getting impossible to open and close, the roof leaks, there are damp patches springing up all over the place and all outdoor paths are slowly getting mud bound which makes life very slippy.   Even constantly taking our welly boots on and off all the time is quite pain staking.   Just popping out to get logs or coal or even to the deep freeze requires putting on wellies which when you happen to have an armful of things (logs, coal, food) gets annoyingly tricky.     (On a completely separate note and with my wildly childish sense of humour, I've just had a convulsive fit of giggles as I almost missed a spelling mistake which required me putting on willies instead of wellies..... I really hope I never grow up!)

Anyway.. that's all for now folks.    Another chick has hatched as I've typed this; the rain continues to pound down but it's Friday; it's ten past five and I'm going to feed the animals and drink beer... in that order!  

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Five Years On

January has picked up it's steady beat and, once more, we begin the annual cycle of life here at the farm.   This first month is always quiet although this year things seem to be less quiet than normal - either that or I'm finding other jobs to do instead of my normal January ones of weeding, clearing, pruning and raking.   Maybe I'm procrastinating so well from doing these jobs that I've convinced myself I'm not procrastinating but just busy with other things!  If this is the case, I blame the weather - God, it's muddy out there.   The rain continues to lash down.   The only ones that are happy about it is the ducks and the geese.   The chickens walk around with so much mud on their claws they look like they're wearing muddy boots and the pigs fall into a mid tummy deep quagmire the moment they step out of their arc.   And the house leaks like a sieve - although I don't know why that should come as a surprise to anyone at all, let alone us!

The incubator has twelve chicken eggs in it which all seem to be fertile.   I know this as I've 'candled' them.   I always feel a little mean about doing this as it involves sticking a high intensity torch to one end of the egg and blasting it with light, making the shell semi see through.   That poor little embryo that is working hard growing veins, a heart, lungs and other such organs suddenly gets blinded in it's newly formed eye from me seeing if it's growing as it should.   However, it is fairly key to see if they are developing.   If they're not then you basically have a ticking stink bomb in your incubator which (and I speak from experience) is not something you want in your home.    The first chicks are due to hatch on the 28th Jan so I'll post pictures as soon as they emerge.   

This last week saw our 5th anniversary of moving to the farm.   14th January, 2009.   We are just coming up to our 10th wedding anniversary too and it seems bizarre to think we've spent half of our married life here - and we're still together!   Quite amazing!

I remember when we first moved in thinking that it would probably take us five years to get all the building work done.   Now we've been here for that time I think it will, at the very least, take another five years to complete - if we get there at all!   I've posted a couple of then and now pictures, more to convince myself that we have progressed, than for anything else!   Anyhoo... here's to the next five years!

Cow Shed in 2009
Cow Shed last year
Our Hallway in 2009

Our Hallway today
The Cow Shed in 2009
The Cow Shed in 2014
The Stables in 2009

The Stables in 2014
Kitchen in 2009

Kitchen in 2014
Farm House in 2009

Farm House in 2014....
.... I think I've just depressed myself!   Doesn't seem that much for five years hard labour!



Sunday, 5 January 2014

Should auld acquaintance be forgot...

So far 2014 has been good.   Admittedly it's only the morning of the 5th Jan but so far, so good.   I did wake up this morning, however, thinking about an old friend I haven't spoken to for at least 5-6 years.   We had a misunderstanding about a few things and well, we never recovered from it.  

I was lying in bed thinking what a great shame that was.   We'd been friends since we were 16, so for a good 20 years or so.... it's hard now to imagine what was so important that we lost a friendship of so many years, but I haven't forgotten.    Sometimes, even with really good friends, you have to tred your own path for a while with something that you know they can't help you with.   And so it was with this friend of mine and me.   I was going through IVF and facing the fact we wouldn't have kids and she asked me to be Godmother... CLASH!!    Hindsight is a wonderful things and looking back now I should have embraced it wholeheartedly and dived headlong in.   But at the time I just couldn't and as a result lost a very good friend.  

I was thinking that maybe I should get back in touch, you know, properly.    I did write a couple of emails a few years ago to no avail but maybe it's time to try again.    Part of me doesn't want to face the rejection that may ensue but the other part of me thinks life is too short not to try.   It's been so long now that I no longer have her address, although a mutual friend is still in touch with both of us so that's hardly an excuse.    One to ponder on maybe.   

I certainly want to be more in touch with friends this year.  Last year we were so immersed in the farm and making it work we had little time for anything else.   I'm sure we will be equally busy this year but the trick is to make time.   Friends are so important.    Losing this one still hurts after all this time....

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Tttzzzz.......(spark).....Clunk, clunk..... Oh My God!!! It breaths again!!

I feel wretched... once again a New Year is bestowed upon us and resolutions are made.   I have one that makes me feel inadequate before I even begin and that's this one.   Once again, one of my resolutions is to write this blog more frequently but as I failed so spectacularly last year it leaves a feeling of regret before I even begin.   There was so much that happened in 2013 that I would have loved to have shared with you but I didn't.  There were great times, there were petrifying times, there were times when we wanted to turn and run and I didn't share any of them with you... I'm sorry.  I will do better in 2014.   Park Mill Farm blog breaths once more.

Right!   No point harping on about things you haven't done - the New Year is supposed to offer hope and promise not regrets and feelings of low achievement!   January is always my most organised month of the year.  Not only is it the quietest; business, growing and animal wise, but I also seem to get urges of orderliness to the highest degree.  In January, I find it no longer acceptable to drive around in a truck that has rubbish in the footwell, or to have my desk cluttered with debris.   Everything must have it's place so that we can begin the year ahead of the game.    To that end, we cleared out the garage today - by God, we keep some rubbish!  It is quite amazing how much space we now have that we didn't have this morning AND I've realised that we never have to buy paint again!   We've got chuffing loads of the stuff.   I counted about 30 pots in all of varying sizes, types and colours... all with enough in them to warrant them to stay.    I didn't point any of this out to my husband, who I know will despair at my lack of ability to see what paint we have before I start any painting project.   I do the same with paint brushes although that is more to do with my hatred of cleaning them, especially when it's oil based paint - although my ecological conscience has made me slightly better in this department.

I'm moving on to transport over the weekend and plan to clean and valet the car and the truck.  Should be interesting as I haven't done this since last New Year and the dogs practically live in the truck. 

Until next time lovely people....