Relaxed at home
Relaxed at home
Relaxed at home
Relaxed at home
Relaxed at home
Relaxed at home

<< June 2021 July 2021 Aug 2021 >>

1st: Dogs 2nd: Wildlife 3rd: Wildlife 4th: The Land 5th: Sheep 6th: Cats 7th: The Land 8th: Dogs 9th: Goats 10th: The Land
11th: Wildlife 12th: Poultry 13th: The Land 14th: The Land 15th: Rhea 16th: Dogs 17th: Wildlife 18th: The Land 19th: Alpacas 20th: Cats
21st: Rhea 22nd: Wildlife 23rd: Sheep 24th: Wildlife 25th: Poultry 26th: Alpacas 29th: The Land
1st: A return to the river!
We (Jack) took three of the dogs to our local woods and river today! Big day for them and for us as it has been a very, very long time since we walked any of our dogs off our own land. Our friend Lynda Pons came with us to make sure we didn’t get lost or hyperventilate with the worry of them running off or mis-behaving.
This was Sparrow’s first time away from home: aside from falling in the river by a very steep bank and having to be hauled out by her collar, she was just amazing. We forgave her for the fact all Jack's clothes had to go in the washing machine as soon as we arrived home and that in order to reach her, Jack literally had to hang head first from the bank via a dog lead tied to a tree.
Roxy and Dragonfly were impeccably behaved - Roxy’s squeal of excitement when we opened the gate to the drive so she could jump in the car, was such a joy to hear.
We are so lucky to have our own land to walk our dogs but an hour somewhere else was such a boost, for them and for us!! We plan to repeat it for the other three very soon!!
Relaxed at Home
Relaxed at HomeRelaxed at Home
Relaxed at Home
2nd: Oak Field
A proud selection of grasses in Oak field, with a delightful flowered-filled stem of Sorrel in the middle!
Relaxed at Home
3rd: Wild flowers
Oak Field is revealing all sorts of riches this year: it hasn't been grazed by any 4-leggeds since the end of May and as such all sorts have been showing their faces. These two are Birds Foot Trefoil (Eggs and Bacon) and Common Marsh Bedstraw (as ID-ed by those clever people on Celebrating Smallholding UK). We also have cuckooflower, buttercups, campion, clover and sorrel, to name just a few others that we know. On our walks, we spend as much time looking down as we do up and across!!!
Relaxed at HomeRelaxed at Home
4th: British weather
From sheltering in one of their field shelters (25 sheep and 7 alpacas) to, less than 4 hours later, grazing on sweet, green grass under a warm blue sky!!
Relaxed at Home
Relaxed at Home
5th: Grass seeds
No matter how long we have been living this smallholding life, there will always be those 'firsts': experiences and events we haven't encountered before because we only have a few animals or a few acres or a small woodland etc. Ours this last week has been grass seeds embedding themselves in the lambs' feet - ouch!! After the very late spring, our grass went from the sublime (i.e. virtually none) to the overgrown ridiculous where within a mere couple of weeks, it grew fast and furious and then went to seed. We have had grass seeds embed themselves in dog claws before, never sheep. In three of our lambs, they had worked their way up between the toes and into the skin. In one lamb, we even had a few maggots, such was the speed of the infection that took hold. All were sorted with the magical blue spray (Cyclo) but today we bit the bullet and topped. Shame for the wildlife - but essential for the sheep!!
Relaxed at Home
Relaxed at Home
6th: Snug
On a cold, damp July (!!) day, where better to snooze than on a pile of fresh straw in the middle of the barn. Well done Chilli!!! Almost joined you!!
Relaxed at Home
7th: Bedding Plants
In a rash moment or seven, we pressed 'Buy Now' on eighty bedding plants, all reduced of course with an enticing, buy 3 for 2 type of offers!!
We didn't take a proper 'before' picture of this area outside the greenhouse which, before we started, was completely covered in weeds, including all the concrete but, the 'midway' photo shows what is was like before we filled it with pots of plants and trees. Once the bedding plants have all got going, we will then move some of these pots to various places such as the decking so we can appreciate the colours in all their glory - and no doubt have to politely ask the cats not to dig them up and the dogs not to chew them!!! (Oh and we planted a courgette and a squash at the back too.)
Relaxed at Home
Relaxed at Home
8th: The turn of the Irish
Walk number two of our 'it's-scary-but-lets-take-the-dogs-to-the-woods' walks: this week with the Irish (Stonefly and Firefly) and a second-week-in-a-row for Sparrow. We didn't get the joy of muddy steep bank rescues today but the stomach did go a bit fluttery when on the way back, Stonefly headed off to the river again and took rather a few more seconds than we wanted (like about 60) to come back!! Otherwise, another gorgeous walk, fabulous behaviour and we met not a sole. We did however meet a big scary rock in the river which Stonefly very bravely barked at for us to keep it at bay!! Once again Lynda came along to keep our nerves in check and did a grand job!!
My goodness do we love our dogs to bits and then some!! (pictures a bit rubbish this week, poor light as well as poor operator)
Relaxed at Home
Relaxed at HomeRelaxed at Home
Relaxed at Home
9th: Adorable
The goats get fed in the afternoons at the start of our last walk of the day. It doesn't stop them waiting for us at the gate mind you and greeting us at the end - ever hopeful!! It would be easy to give in!!
Relaxed at Home
10th: Busy, busy
A very busy day cleaning out the poultry IBC tank, fitting solid downpipes to all the tank in each field, brushcutting more scrub in the poultry area, moving the sheep and alpacas to Goat Field, worming kittens and putting healing cream and fly repellent on Themisto's bare patches. We took not a single photo of all our endeavours - so here is a mega cute one of Roxy instead!!
Relaxed at Home
11th: Butterflies
It seems as though it is going to be a good year for butterflies -in Oak Field where the grass is longest, we are seeing a lot. This (we think) is a mating pair of Meadow Browns - the female is the brighter, bigger one - unusual as in butterflies, the male is usually the most colourful. Sad to think that in four to five weeks, this pair will have reached their expected lifespan. Their caterpillars on the other hand, live for eight to nine months!!
Relaxed at Home
12th: Getting there
The Poultry Area is starting to look sooo much better - the amount of land we have reclaimed now we have removed all those nettles, is just fantastic. Our plan is to get lots of cuttings on the go this summer/ autumn: buddleia and honeysuckle in particular and then get planting next spring. To get the pig ark covered in honeysuckle would be just amazing
Relaxed at Home
13th: Friends
Today, Jeanette Viney and Diana Mitcham drove all the way from Oxford to spend the day with us. Back in the late nineties/early noughties we all worked together for Hamilton Trust. Thanks to social media we've kept in touch on and off over the years but we hadn't seen Diana since she visited our smallholding in Cornwall some 9/10 years ago, and we hadn't seen Jeanette since we left Oxfordshire (2009). Getting together again was just amazing - none of us had really changed - we reminisced, laughed, had a good old gossip about past and present colleagues and experienced a few 'awww' moments - especially when we recalled Rabbit, our first dog and for several years the 'Hamilton office dog', a role he utterly adored. Our current pack of hounds and goats loved the extra visitors, the rounding up of sheep (bonus activity) went like a dream, the alpacas were delightfully inquisitive and the weather could not have been more perfect. It was a perfect, perfect day and has made our year! xxxx (Photo credits to us all).
Relaxed at Home
Relaxed at Home
Relaxed at HomeRelaxed at Home
14th: Summer
We will never, ever, tire of this view
Relaxed at Home
15th: First day out
Our latest rhea chick was sadly the only one to hatch from a batch of 4 eggs that made it to lockdown, 1 didn't internally pip and two did, but then died before managing to break out! We so wished we had given them a helping hand!
This little orphan is a toughie though and despite only being a day old, we felt he was better outside in the run with his siblings, learning how to eat and getting the exercise needed to strengthen his legs. We are now heading into a period of very warm days so there is no issue with him getting cold and at night, he will be back inside with a heat lamp if required.
He is mega cute - they always seen more so when they are on their own!!
Relaxed at Home
Relaxed at Home
16th: A cooling river
The image of Stonefly, sums up today's walk: number three in our-need-to-get-out-with-the-dogs walks to Heywood Forest. We all got rather hot and I almost joined Stonefly, Roxy and Dragonfly in the river and for once we didn't mind too much when they came and shook themselves all over us!! The major excitement was meeting other people - a family with three dogs and two or three shrieking children who all smiled, laughed and thought our dogs mad but lovely and - get this - a second family with a young child in a pushchair and a dog on a lead having a picnic by the edge of the river!! They were totally lovely and whilst our dogs showed a fair amount of interest in all these sitting targets - all was fine! Slobbery, wet dogs was all a part of their expectations - apparently!!
Relaxed at Home
17th: Inexperience
We have had two pairs of swallows nesting in our main barn this year, one, rather gratifyingly, using the 'repaired' nest from last year - repaired with a feed sack no less! Early evening yesterday we managed to witness the first fledgling leaving a nest - it flew to a window and stood posing for a photo until a parent flew back in and encouraged it outside. You can tell it is a youngster - there's a undefinable raw inexperience about that look that makes one cross fingers and hope it makes it through the rest of the summer, and beyond!!
Relaxed at Home
18th: Hot!!
A very, very hot day - just look at the colour of that sky!!
Relaxed at Home
19th: Even hotter
As we continue to endure what forecasters are telling us is a 'bit of a heatwave' (!!), the alpacas enjoy a bit of a cooling dust bath in what was the scene of a bonfire back in the spring. This area was about twice the size it is now - such is the tenacity of grass that we fully expect this hole to be almost completely gone by the end of the year!!!
Relaxed at Home
20th: Chilli and the bread
Chili has given us a bit of a scare: after being off her food for 36 hours, we took her to the vets on Saturday (17th) where she was found to have a temperature of over 40, severe dehydration and a strange 'mass' in her side. After £800 (!!!) worth of meds, scans and xrays; and the unexplained movement of the 'mass', she came home with an undetermined diagnosis and the hope she would start eating and drinking again. It took her a further 48 hours but eventually she did and tonight we feel she has turned a corner. And the cause, well, after giving it some thought we had a lightbulb moment. A few days before she became ill, she scoffed rather a lot of bread, from a fresh loaf left out to cool. The bread was quite possibly the unexplained mass which was then able to be moved but in the meantime had cut her appetite and led to her dehydration.
Chili is on the mend, that is the most important thing but all in all, it turned out to be an expensive lesson: £80 per slice in fact!!
Relaxed at Home
21st: Serious business
Beta Grey taking his nest building and sitting very seriously - we wonder whether all the pulled/ dead grass helps to keep him cool - it must get pretty hot sitting in the full sun all day!! An ddpon't we feel awful ecva day when we make him get off so we can 'steal' the eggs!!!
Relaxed at Home
22nd: Stunning
This is why we all 'keep' nettles on our smallholdings. This is one of the most beautiful Peacock butterflies we have ever seen.
Relaxed at Home
23rd: Growing well
We are mega chuffed with all our lambs and shearlings from the last two years, they all seem to be growing well and give us virtually no health issues at all. Having sold just three when we advertised them earlier this month, we think we are now going to stick at what we have: 22 in total including our original 6 ewes. If we manage to process all this year's fleeces (14) and finish off last year's, them having 22 next summer will feel very luxurious!!!
Relaxed at HomeRelaxed at Home
24th: The Meadow Grasshopper
Loving the wildlife we are finding in our long grasses - this we think, is a Meadow Grasshopper (rather aptly), very common, not a great flier and this one is probably a female as it has shorter wings. They need the sun to warm them up before they can move so unsurprisingly, grasshoppers have been very active in our Oak Field this last week or so!!
Relaxed at Home
25th: Scaling down - not!!
We (Jack) did a really terrible thing a few nights ago: we (she) forgot to close the poultry stable doors at dusk. Walking down the following day to 'open' up and let the birds out, saw us stop in our tracks as the sight of two ducks and then half a dozen chickens already pecking in their paddock, brought an instant and horrifying realistion as to what we had done - or rather not done!! Unsurprisngly, the fox had taken full advnatage and a head count revealed we had lost three ducks and our youngest gander. It could of course have been worse, a lot owrse, and in truth, we were very lucky it wasn't!!!
Today therefore, we found ourselves at Tracie's T&T Poultry to purchase a new goose pal for our older boy and a new female for our male green Runner. These are shown in the bottom photos: a stunning Silver Runner girl and a lovelyy Pilgrim Goose boy! The top photo shows one Magpie and one German Pekin duck and three Pekin chickens, all of whom somehow cast their bewitching beaks at us and said 'buy me, buy me'!!
Which of course we did!!!
Relaxed at Home
Relaxed at HomeRelaxed at Home
26th: Kids and smallholding - a winning combination every time.
Today we had a visit from a local friend and her family. We have never seen young children so wonderfully confident with animals - it was an utter joy to see them like this!!! They walked into a field with almost 40 sheep and alpacas and everything was in total harmony!!
Relaxed at HomeRelaxed at Home
Relaxed at HomeRelaxed at Home
29th: Bees!!
The most amazing thing happened yesterday. A swarm of bees attached itself to one of our year old fruit trees. There were two clumps on adjoining branches around about knee height! As luck would have it of course, our friends Andrew and Lynda have their two hives on our land already, so we knew who to call. Equipment was collected, a plan was agreed and thus it was that later than afternoon, we donned our bee suits (a first for Jack) and with Andrew on Facetime (he's the one that has done the course), David on photo duty and Jack providing moral support, Lynda deftly knocked the two clumps into a plastic box and then carried them over to the pre-set up nuc box. The bees were tipped onto the sheet and then we watched in awe as they slowly began to make their way up towards the nuc box entrance, delighting in the fact we spotted the queen in the procession.
After a couple of hours, and despite a fair few bees going inside, they actually decided that 'underneath' the box was the place to be!! With Storm Evert on its way, leaving them there was not an option so Andrew and Lynda between them, carefully scooped them direct into the nuc box early evening, securing the whole thing in place and leaving them in peace.
Today has been a vile day, windy and wet with very heavy torrential rain at times, we have seen the odd few bees going in and out but we are delighted to report than when last checked (with a sneaky look under the lid), all was well and our swarm was in place.
The next stage of course is getting them into a hive!!
What a privilege to be a part of this. It was Lynda's first time collecting a swarm and we hope she won't mind us saying but she was pretty amazing: calm and measured and careful, a true pro!! Bloomin fab job... fingers crossed this swarm sticks around!!
Relaxed at HomeRelaxed at Home
Relaxed at HomeRelaxed at Home

Tel: 01769 581175      07929 204386      07929 204521      office@relaxed.ltd.uk      © Relaxed Ltd 2021