Nature Waits For No Man, Not Even A Camera Man! Part 1

It’s the lambing season down our way, so with camera on loan and my husband’s new found film making skills, we thought it was a good time to get a video clip of our neighbour’s ewe’s lambing.

A call was made to our sheep farming friend who replied, “Get here quick, we’ve got three ewes ready to lamb!”

What luck we thought, as we jumped into the car and drove as quickly as the Sunday traffic would take us to the neighbouring farm.

On arrival we were met by the friendly farmer, who was ready for action. We entered the shed and located the first ewe.

My film making hubby got the tripod set up and after what seemed like an age was ready for filming. No time for lights, camera, action. As the record button was hit……..the ewe had already lambed. The ease and speed with which the lamb came out was amazing, unfortunately we were four seconds too late hitting the record button. Nature waits for no man, not even a camera man!

Oh well, we still had two more ewes to watch and film, so off we went in search of our second lambing ewe.

This time we were set up on time but nature seemed to be against us again. The ewe seemed to be having trouble giving birth so the farmer stepped in to assist. Not a problem usually as ewes often need a helping hand, however the lamb inside was a large one and it was taking some effort both from the ewe and the farmer. We didn’t think this difficult assisted birth would make good viewing so we hoped that nature would be on our side for third time lucky!

Take three. The ewe was positioned well for film making but she was taking some time and the farmer didn’t want the ewe to struggle and the lamb to get into difficulties so again decided to assist. This lamb was not so large and the assisted birth went well. We had the shot and after a close up of the ewe and her new born lamb bonding, we called it a wrap.

sheeplamb.jpg

Click here to read Part 2 of Nature Waits For No Man, Not Even A Camera Man!

No Tags

Fungi – Friend Or Foe?!

100_0858_edited-1.jpg

Fungi grow in a wide variety of places.

Over the last few years I have found them growing all over our farm.

  • In open fields.                          
  • In the hedgerows.                        
  • In the orchard.                          
  • In barns.                                                    
  • In plant containers.                              
  • On fenceposts.                              
  • On trees.                                        

Here are some photographs of the fungi I have found.

                   100_0861_edited-1.jpg        100_0860.jpg       100_0885.jpg

                   100_0875.jpg  100_0881.jpg

I have tried to identify the fungi that I have found using my photographs and the descriptions and pictures I have found in books. I have to say that this is very difficult and I do not feel confident just using my eyes and judgement to distinguish between whether the fungi is edible or poisonous and indeed a friend or foe!

100_0859.jpg

Flying High And Glad To Be Alive!

It was late September and a beautifully sunny Saturday morning. I was up very early to feed the animals as I had to be up and off before 8am. Normally I would get a little lie in on a Saturday morning but since this was not the case, I was not feeling as bright and cheerful as the weather.

The peace and tranquility of the early morning was soon disturbed. Not by the sound of the farm machinery or the animals but by an unusual hissing sound. I didn’t recognise the noise, but what ever it was the cattle didn’t like it! The noise came again and this time it was louder. Whatever it was, it was getting closer and closer.

I looked up at the clear blue sky and suddenly I saw some hot air balloons flying just above our farm. The hissing sound wasn’t the angry cry of a snake but the balloons being filled with the hot air.

100_0840.jpg

Mesmerised, I watched in amazement as the big, multicoloured balloons floated by. I was rooted to the spot, never having seen such objects this close before. Then I realised I was missing a wonderful photo opportunity and with that I dashed across the orchard to collect the trusty camera.

100_0838.jpg

Watching those wonderful hot air balloons gracefully glide way up high in the sky, made me feel so happy and glad to be alive on that beautiful September morning. 

No Tags

The Premature Alien!

Every evening follows the same routine during the quiet farming period.

I arrive home around 6.30pm to find the cats on the doorstep ready to be fed.

100_1122.jpg

After a quick chat with the three bundles of fur; Snowy, Fluffy and Snowball, I enter the farmhouse kitchen with it’s sloping floor and leaking chimney, to find my husband cooking on the aga. Until the tea is on the table, I mark the mountain of work created by the “academic animals” I teach. Following the farmhouse feast, my hardworking husband washes up whilst I resume my position behind the marking mountain.

On this particular evening, I finished my work around 8.30pm. Entering the cold living room to snuggle in front of the glowing embers of the freshly lit fire, I asked, “Have the cats been fed?”

100_0159.jpg

“No”, came the reply, so I left my place in front of the warm fire and headed out into the cold night, wearing my blue bobble hat and pink flowery wellies.

Having fed the three hungry moggies, I decided to spend some time watching the cows in the yard.

Now February is the start of the busy calving season for us so all seemed calm on this late January evening. I like to spend time talking to the animals and began to strike up a one way conversation with Blackie.

100_1307.jpg

Half way through this unrequited dialogue, I noticed something in the corner of the yard. Climbing up the gate and onto the troughs to get a closer look, I could just make out a brownish object that looked alot like an alien. It certainly didn’t look like a calf as it had no eyes, however it was moving and I guessed this rhythmical movement was breathing. I leant over the top of the trough to get a closer look but even with my contact lenses in I couldn’t really make out what the object was.    

Dismounting, I rushed back across the yard to the house and called my husband. Rushing up the stairs I yelled, “There’s something in the corner of the yard, I think it might be a calf although it doesn’t look like it!”

What I failed to mention was the fact that I really thought it looked like an alien.

We rushed back across the yard to investigate. My husband confirmed that it was indeed a calf, (which we later discovered was four weeks early) and not a premature alien!

100_0067_0002.jpg

No Tags

Courgette Explosion!

How many ways can you cook a courgette?

No this is not the latest joke but a question that many a Farmer’s wife will ask in their culinary lifetime! Well let me tell you, anymore than one courgette in the vegetable patch, (when positioned correctly!) means you too can answer this question!

Our first Summer on the farm was full of excitement as we awaited the growth of our vegetable patch. As garden novices, we weren’t really sure what seeds would thrive or die, so we were over the moon when the courgette plants began to grow, flower and then produce vegetables in abundance.

The first pickings were chopped into pieces to accompany the Sunday roast but as the plants continued to grow more and more vegetables, the culinary uses became more adventurous.

The easiest way to answer the initial question, ”how many ways can you cook a courgette?”, is to list the various ways they can be cooked.

1) Boiled courgette.

2) Steamed courgette.

3)Roast courgette.

4) Stir-fried courgette.

5) Courgette with mince.

6) Courgette with chicken.

7) Cheesey courgette vegetables.

8) Courgette quiche.

9) Courgette soup.

10) Stuffed courgette.

11) Courgette chutney.

12) Chocolate And Courgette Loaf.

With the continued growth of this amazing vegetable, watch this list also grow!

From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cattle and Guinea Fowl Do Not Mix!

Cattle and guinea fowl do not really mix well together. I first realised this last year when my housework was interrupted by an awful lot of squawking.

Picture the scene….. Farmer’s wife with feather duster in hand, poised and ready to dust, when suddenly the tranquil calm was disturbed by the machine gunner noise of a gang of guinea fowl.

My only thought at first was that the birds must be getting close to the house. I didn’t really pay too much attention, until I heard lots of mooing from the cow shed. When I looked out of the window I could see the red comb of Hatty the Hen in amongst the big, burly cattle. Without a thought for my housework, I fled to the cattle shed to rescue Hatty.

Upon closer inspection, all the guinea fowl and the resident partridge were also in the fold yard with Hatty, trying to peck their way through the straw.  

One of the Charolais cows had only had a calf the day before and she wanted to protect it. She was not a happy lady! Her mooing had set off the whole herd of hormonal cows, who by this time were noisily mooing and snorting at the birds.

The birds, however, were not deterred and they stood their ground against the beefy ladies, squawking noisily back.  Action needed to be taken, so before any bird, cow or Farmer’s wife could be hurt, I waved my feather duster in the air and chased the poultry back to the orchard, with Hatty the Hen leading the way!

On this occasion the story ended happily with the poultry and cattle living harmoniously side by side………that is until Christmas morning 2006 when my housework was again interrupted by an awful lot of squawking.

Picture the scene….. Farmer’s wife with oven glove in hand ready to serve the Christmas luncheon to sixteen people, when suddenly the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations was disturbed by the machine gunner noise of a gang of guinea fowl.

This time I knew what to expect and it wasn’t the pleasant exchange of Christmas greetings between bird and cattle. Unfortunately the scene that faced me on this occasion was that of a battle ground with the cattle looking close to victory. The heavily pregnant cows had managed to trap the foraging birds into a corner and they were kicking up a fuss. 

I cautiously entered the battle ground and began attempts to rescue the cowering poultry. Most of them saw their chance to escape and ran for safety. However two of the gang had been injured in battle and had to be carried to safety. As you can see, cattle and guinea fowl really and truely do not mix!

I’m pleased to report that the two casualties made a full recovery. The guinea gang appear to have learnt their lesson, (I hope!) since there hasn’t been any foraging for food in the fold yard recently. Although it is fair to say that this latest battle was won by the cattle, I just know that this war is not over. The unperturbed guinea fowl have now taken to slowly, very slowly, strutting past the cattle shed, just getting close enough to cause a disturbance, without getting close enough to lose another battle!

A Growing Flock

A kind neighbour gave me 3 guinea fowl, a male and 2 females nearly 3 years ago and I’ve been hooked ever since! I named the trio; Charlie, Camilla and Diana. (You can see their pictures on The Guinea Fowl Gallery page.)

In the Spring of that first year I collected lots of eggs. My family and I ate some of the eggs over the laying season and I incubated some of the eggs too. I tried incubating the eggs on three occasions and managed to successfully hatch a total of 30 keets (chicks). With illness, stray dogs, a freezer to fill and limited housing I only increased my permanent flock by 2 new birds. The male and female joined the royal trio and were aptly named William and Harriet.

In Spring 2006, feeling more experienced, I again returned to the incubator on two occasions and managed to successfully hatch out 20 keets (chicks). Illness and mysterious creatures in the night have reduced this number to 14 but I decided to invest in some larger housing so that I could extend the permanent flock to 19. As yet I haven’t got round to naming the 14 poults (young adults). Watch out for more news on this blog about the gang and keep looking on The Guinea Fowl Gallery page for more pictures of the guinea flock.       

No Tags