The Owl and The Pussy Cat

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea In a beautiful 'red and white'(!) boat, They took some honey, and plenty of money, Wrapped up in a five pound note. The Owl looked up to the stars above, And sang to a small guitar, 'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love, What a beautiful Pussy you are, You are, You are!What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

Edward Lear

Saturday, 10 March 2012

A quiet fourth day and some arty stuff

A few statistics today. I'm usually hopeless and not very interested in numbers, but today I had another ride in the the landrover with the farmer, and as he loves talking about his farm and I love listening, I thought I'd make an effort to remember some numbers. There are about 500 ewes due to lamb in this three week period. So far there are about 55 doubles numbered and turned out, 15 doubles still in pens and about 20 singles. The singles lamb outside and are left outside as long as everything is ok. We are nearly a week into the lambing now. So, with 400 still to lamb it's going to get very busy at some point!
As a result of it being quiet I got to go off on a jolly again today. I spent the first hour and a half doing pens and turning out ewes and lambs. I turned out 10 today (see, I've been keeping count for you!), and every one followed quite well. The up side of this was that I got it done fast, the down side was that I had to carry 10 pairs of lambs, and some were big and heavy, and several wriggled a lot, so my shoulders were definitely beginning to ache by the end. The teenage daughter was about today, doing stuff with her horses and hand feeding the few jacob sheep that are technically hers. I always think of them as an attempt by the farmer to get her interested in the sheep, but I may be wrong!
A photo I took a while ago of a jacob shouting,
 probably for more food!

I hadn't quite finished pens when the farmer whisked me off in the landrover to collect up some electric fencing in some fields about 4 miles away. He doesn't own any land (as far as I know) but rents land all over the place. We were collecting up electric fencing from the perimeter of three fields. The fencing is plastic stakes and two wires. The farmer has a clever gadget that fits onto the wheel of a small trailer towed behind the quad bike. As he drives forward it reels in the wires onto two reels. My job is to trot on ahead, detach the wires, pull out the posts and leave them in piles which he picks up and puts in the trailer. It works pretty well most of the time. The only hiccups are when the wire gets twisted or a knot gets stuck, and today, because the wire had been left there for a while and not switched on something, possibly a deer had pulled it and broken it, so I had to find the two ends and join them. Here is the farmer on the quad stopping to take a phone call. If you look at the picture in large format you can just see the wire wrapper to the left of the trailer. And you can just about see the corner of the field.  I'm standing about halfway along one side of a roughly square field. Thankfully the two other fields were smaller and only partially fenced.

On the way back in the landrover he also told me about a lambing saga last night. He'd been to check the mules in the early evening and had left the quad bike trailer in the field as he thought it likely that he'd need it later that night. At about 10pm (in the dark remember) he went out to check the singles and one had a head out, and he knew she'd started trying to lamb at least an hour ago, so she needed help. He and his wife couldn't catch her, so they got the dog, herded the whole lot into a corner of the field and caught her. They got a healthy live lamb out, but the ewe just wasn't interested. They spent some time trying to persuade the ewe that she really should take some notice of her lamb but she was having none of it. He was by now getting cross with her (it's late, he's tired, he wanted a bath, and the trailer is several fields away), so in the end they lifted the ewe up onto the quad bike and tied her on the front rack (remember this is still all in the dark with only the bike headlights and a torch). They finally got her back to the farm and in a pen, tho it was gone 11 by then, and by morning she was happily feeding her lamb. A happy ending, but a tired farmer.
Back at the yard I had a few more pens to finish and a few bales to distibute with the bike.
This is my favourite little row of 6 pens. They have lots of character, and because they are at the top of a little south facing paddock they are always the warmest pens when there's a bit of sun about.
Well, it's Saturday evening and I've only just finished this, so the 'todays' are now 'yesterday', but I don't think that will spoil the story. I don't work on the farm on Saturdays.
Last night we went out singing, this morning I was gardening, and this afternoon we went to a local 'Food, Drink and Arts' festival which was lovely, and I saw some fabulous quilts, some of which you can see here

She spent ages showing us round and it is so wonderful to find such talented people living just down the road.

I am now really inspired me to get my quilt finished. Here it is when I started it, over a year ago.
These bits are now all stitched together and I just(?!) need to edge, back and quilt it.

This evening I finally got to use the drum carder that my mum leant me a few weeks ago. I've produced a few batts of wool so I can do some more spinning (before or after I finish the quilt?). Photos sometime, maybe. Off to the farm again tomorrow...

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