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The Crush, the Pond and the Hothouse

Phase 1 of Operation Crush Training is now complete.

The hard standing is down, the fence and gate erected and the cattle crush in place. Next, it’s time for the girls to come through, lured as usual with their favourite thing – food. I close the gate, leaving them behind it and a pile of hay in the new corral. The only thing which separates them from their hearts desire is the crush. After some nervous sniffing they gingerly step onto the boards. It all goes very well and I’m relieved. Now they are like old hands at coming in and out of the crush.

Next phase…trapping them inside it… gulp. I will keep you posted.

Traditional English Hereford Heifers www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com d

The Slow Approach

Traditional English Hereford & Cattle Crush www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Mary Rose keenest (on hay)

Traditional English Hereford & Cattle Crush www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Traditional English Hereford & Cattle Crush www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Next is Belita (surprisingly)

Traditional English Hereford & Cattle Crush www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Come on Lucy

Traditional English Hereford & Cattle Crush www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

That’s it good girl

Traditional English Hereford & www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Very happy

And just to show you how much they really like hay…

Traditional Eglish Herefords www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Tucking into T’s hay which he is transporting home

Traditional English Hereford www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Yes, caught you!

Phase 1 of Pond Rehabilitation is now complete.

We had the pond dug out with a digger a few years ago. It doesn’t have a liner but fluctuates with the water table. While I was moaning about the relentless rain here I happened to go on Twitter (yes, I’m doing that) and found out that yesterday it was World Water Day so I tried to think of all the people and places in the world who have no access to clean water and are suffering terrible drought. It did help.

I think I mentioned that digging the pond had somewhat cured our damp problem in the house. Somewhat…. Our plan is to attract as much wildlife as possible and the pond really helps with this. The birds love to bathe and drink and there are hundreds of creatures in there. Periodically it does need a clear out and I did this a couple of weeks ago. My, that weed is HEAVY. There were a few casualties but I’m afraid that is the price which has to be paid – but the starlings and the blackbirds had themselves a good feed.

Natural Pond www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

The pond when it was first dug – very brave very pale man

Wildlife Pond www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.comPond Weed Clearing www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Wildlife Pond in Rain www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

The pond on World Water Day 22 March 2013

Starlings in Winter www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Not sure when the starlings will fly back – it’s pretty cold in Russia and Northern Europe right now

Phase 1 of Getting Excited about Spring is now complete.

Despite the still wintry weather there is a gleam in the eye of springs’ arrival. The equinox has passed and the buds are waking and breaking. Last week on a bitter day I went with my mother and stepfather to the RHS garden at Wisley. To be honest the majority of our time was spent in one of the cafés and the gift shop where they have ACRES of lovely enticing books on horticulture, design, nature and landscape.

I bought a book called Edgelands written by two poets, Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts which I’m really looking forward to – it forms, according to the back cover

a critique of what we value as wild, and allows our allotments, railways, motorways, wasteland and water a presence in the world, and a strange beauty all of their own

If you want to read about a walk in the edgelands Gerry has done one here called ‘Along the Garston Shore’ which I think is great – and tells you a bit more about the book and when the phrase was first coined.

Anyway, we also went to the warm glass houses where the orchids and other amazing flowers and cacti were an uplifting treat.

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It only needs the jet stream to shift a little and some of that spring warmth to awaken the beast!

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On the Upside – A Few Beautiful Things Made from Wood – if a King Penguin Can Be Called That

Blurry Type www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

I can’t see that

…was a phrase which seemed to crop up rather regularly on a recent trip to London. Cue myopic hilarity from myself and friends who’s eyesight is degenerating but who haven’t quite mastered the art of remembering their glasses.  Still hoping, perhaps, for the twenty twenty vision of yesteryear and incredulous that this thing is actually happening.

So, wine lists and menus in cafes and restaurants, exhibition texts and departure boards at train stations became something of a mystery. I even got lost with a friend in Walthamstow in search of the refurbished William Morris Museum as I could neither read the A to Z or grapple with my friends iphone as she valiantly drove us through the chilly grey wastes of east London.

I won’t do a review of this most excellent museum, as fellow blogger Hamer from the The Rowley Gallery has done one here which inspired me to make the visit.

After the bad news about Herald, I thought I’d balance it out with something more uplifting.  One of the great things that has happened since I have more time to think, is that I also have more time to look. Slowing down really makes you see stuff in detail, whereas visual appreciations before were more momentary, passing by at a great rate in an unmemorable blur.

In this post I just want to share with you a few beautiful things which have been made with craft, the kind of things that William Morris and his gang would have approved of very much.

have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful

is his most famous quote, but I quite like

the true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life

First up then is this oak swill basket, which came into my possession recently as a present. There is only one person left in the UK who is making these and you can find out about him and them here, including a fascinating look into the history of these amazing baskets.

I reckon it will last a lifetime.
Oak Swill Basket www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Oak Swill Basket www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.comOak Swill Basket www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Secondly, this yurt maker crafts these wonderful nomadic houses by steaming hand split local ash. I love the form and the clever way it is all put together… shame to put the canvas on really…

Yurt in Field www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Yurt Workshop www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

The yurt maker also made this wonderful curved stair rail, also steamed. Every time I grip this as I go up and down the stairs I am aware of what went into making it.

Steamed Ash Bannister www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

And the brackets for the stair rail are hand made in a small forge in Devon, where the metal worker also makes woodburning stoves to any specification.

Metalworkers Workshop www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Metalworker with Gutter Brackets www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

These aren’t the stair brackets these are the gutter brackets…but you get the picture

Thirdly, I have been meaning get our books onto shelves for quite a while as they are still languishing in piles. So the other day I started dusting them off and came across this lovely set of King Penguins.  Ok, not strictly speaking made from wood, but there’s no shame in expanding the criteria to get into the Beautiful Things post. What a joy and a pleasure to rediscover these treasures among the dust (MUST get bookcase).

I wonder if all the books of the future will become more like art. Perhaps most of our reading material will be consumed on e-readers but books may become beautiful objects to collect and savour, like paintings.

Arachnophobes, there are spiders ahead.

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Lastly I like wood because it’s really useful. Here’s some chestnut fencing.

Chestnut Mortice and Tenon www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Chestnut Mortice and Tenon

And I saw these handsome wild ponies the other day, the beauties of Bodmin Moor .

Wild Ponies on Bodmin Moor www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Wild Pony Bodmin Moor www,thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

In Which the Harsh Realities of Farming are Experienced

I suppose you might put it down to a lack of experience or an omission of rigour on our part but whatever, it does seem especially cruel that we have to lose Herald, our bull, (about who you can read here and here if you’re interested), before he has had a real chance to become part of things. Not to mention the economic blow which last week’s news has dealt us.

This story, as always, begins with a blood test.

Vet taking blood sample from cow www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

I travelled over to T & N’s to witness the routine TB testing of Herald, Woodbine, Daisy and Hollyhock and Woodbine’s calf. The vet was also doing a general blood test and checking to see if the cows were in calf, whether Herald had done what he was supposed to. The seeming lack of activity on this front had introduced doubt into our minds, so when it was revealed that at least two of them are definitely pregnant, and a possible for the other, there was excited relief all round. Which made the vet say in a practical and slightly incredulous way why wouldn’t they be in calf?

TB & blood testing cattle  www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

You know you’re getting old when the vet looks about ten (the one in green)

 

The vet was very helpful and assisted with some resistance on the cows’ part, apparently unusual in some older vets, who sometimes just stand around waiting impatiently while you struggle to move an unwilling beast securely into position. She was also really happy to answer my many and possibly annoying questions. All in all a very positive experience, especially when four days later they were all cleared for TB. She also reassured us that the skin complaint would probably clear up in better weather but to be on the safe side she gave them a coverall shot for mites and other beasties which can live on the skin.

Happy, we moved them to a new area.

Moving Traditional English Herefords Cornwall  www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Traditional English Hereford Bull

Herald in his new foraging area

So when I got a call from T to say that Heralds blood test had come back positive for Johne’s disease it was a shock. This disease is a contagious, chronic and fatal infection of the small intestine which can take years to manifest but will eventually kill the animal. They can also pass it on, mainly to young calves.

The upshot of this is that we have to have Herald culled, even though he is showing no signs of the disease yet. We can’t risk him infecting the others, especially the newborns in 8 months time. What isn’t entirely clear is whether those new calves will carry the disease too. The other grim factor to consider is that at this stage, his carcass will be worth something. Not nearly as much as we paid for him, but it will be something.

Of course we are kicking ourselves that we didn’t get all the tests done on Herald before we made the bank account denting purchase. But it is considered very low risk in beef cattle, being mostly a disease which affects dairy herds.

It is a very sad day that our journey with Herald has ended here. I feel like I was just beginning to get to know him and feel less intimidated because of his genuine gentle nature and T & N have certainly become fond as he became part of their lives over the last few months.

He will be missed.

Winter Sunset Cornwall  www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

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