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1st: Fruit and Veg 3rd: Rhea 4th: Dogs 5th: The Land 7th: Cats 8th: Rhea 9th: Dogs 10th: Rhea
11th: Emu 12th: Poultry 13th: Emu 14th: The Land 16th: Dogs 17th: Rugs and Fibre 18th: Sheep
22nd: Fruit and Veg 23rd: Poultry 26th: Goats 29th: Rhea 30th: Dogs
1st: Our community allotment is really starting to take shape...
.. although the dry weather is not great and for the first time in years (since we had cows) we have had to use a hose pipe to fill our IBCs - not for the livestock but so that everyone can water their more delicate plants.
(Thank goodness we have our own borehole and are not subject to South West Water's hosepipe ban!!)Relaxed at Home
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3rd: Several Degrees of Separation
Love how the rhea nests have got further and further apart - totally them, we haven't interfered at all!!
Photos range from 11th May till today!
We 'think' the chicks are due in around 2 weeks - we know we have fertility, no idea how many might hatch - they do tend to move them around a lot and sometimes we find some that are no where near as warm as others. Time will tell - what will be will be, we just wanted to give the boys the chance to be dads this year.
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4th: Buzzard
Buzzard grew old very gracefully, more than very gracefully in fact. He accepted his aching joints and greying muzzle. He put up with the six whipper snappers he lived with, including the 'legs on springs' otherwise known as Otter, our year old Irish. He continued to be a part of the 'gang' – there was no way he wanted to miss out on anything: walks, visitors, treats. He demanded the best dog bed at night (usually the sofa) and it was his job, and his only, to lie underneath the table when we ate our breakfast each morning - and keep our feet warm in the winter.
But then suddenly, he wasn’t growing old gracefully; suddenly the cough which only started a few days ago began to seem something a little more sinister. Suddenly the tail stopped wagging and the eyes seemed darker. Suddenly he no longer had the same appetite or enthusiasm for being a ‘part of the gang’. And so it was that today, a mere 11 days since we realised we had been hearing Buzzard coughing a 'bit', we had to say our final goodbyes. The coughing had become quieter but inside the body, untold ravages were taking place.
We've said goodbye five times previously. It never, ever gets easier, you always think 'could we have given them one more day?'. You look back at photos and cry and laugh and smile. You seek out the cute puppy pictures in particular and are amazed at how different they looked. You put away feeding bowls and collars. You remember racing through gateways, running off in the forest (and taking our then 10-month old puppy with him), snuffling in the long grass for mice, watching the chicks and the emus and the lambs through the fence, for hours, literally hours - my word, he LOVED small animals. You recall the bad times - actually, not sure there ever were any with Buzzard!! The worst he ever did was pick up a duckling in his mouth and then in response to our utter horrified 'Buzzard, drop it at once' dully opened his mouth and then watched as said duckling calmly waddled its way back to its mum!!!
You remember the other people whose lives they touched - Buzzard adored our friend Lynda very much – so much that on the morning of the day he died he still wanted to go over to say 'hello' when she came for 'her' last goodbyes!
And you say thank you that they allowed you to be their owner and that they loved you and wanted to be with you and willingly sought you out for a chuckle or a treat or simply to walk beside you!
Each time a dog leaves us, we name a gate on our smallholding in their honour. Buzzard’s is the one leading into Goat Field where he would often do a sneaky deviation into their field shelter to grab a post-breakfast treat! (Think you get the picture).
Buzzard was our first smallholding dog. We moved to our one acre in Cornwall with five dogs but he was the first to spend his entire life living on smallholdings. He LOVED being a smallholding dog - not sure there was an animal he didn’t like, although he and our goats had their moments. Crazy, but the six remaining dogs seem smaller today and the house a whole lot bigger.
But we will move on! When they go, dogs have this amazing ability to make you both grieve and celebrate at the same time and the gang of now six are all getting a few extra cuddles today for certain!
Here’s to all our dogs: past, present and future: our lives would be sooo less rich without you.
Thanks Buzzard.
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5th: No shortage of grass at the moment!!
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7th: Mustard
Mustard: a cat of many positions - most of them seeming to involved laying down in the cosiest of places and/or going to sleep.
And yes that is a bag of alpaca fibre and yes, David was trying to take fibre from it for spinning at the time...
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8th: Surprise
Bit of a surprise when we went down to walk the dogs this afternoon!! They are only around a week earlier than we expected.
There was no sign this morning around 10am when we saw all the dads off the nest and yet at 5pm this evening, these two were out, dry and running (wobbling) around - totally amazing!!!
And by 6pm, there was a third!!!!
And we have to say that the dads were showing not the slightest bit of interest in them
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9th: Mousing!!
The dogs could do this each day, every hour!!
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10th: Eating
We moved the rhea chicks from the aviary to the barn today so they have more room to run and strengthen thos eleg muscles. They are eating really well which is fabulous as it can take them a while to get going sometimes!
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11th: Cooling Down
The emu do love sunbathing in the dry soil outside their barn, and then going for a soak in their pool - hence the filthy water -it's their version of a mud bath I guess!
Not a bad way to cool down in these warm temperatures we have been getting!!!
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12th: Newbies
We picked up six more chickens this morning, to help keep up with the supply of eggs we are selling - these are leghorns, known for their prolific laying in their first few years and are thermslves, just about a year old. They lay white eggs so yet another colour for our egg boxes!! Relaxed at Home
13th: The madness continues
Keep watching till the end
14th: An experiment
Today we moved the sheep and alpacas in Goat Field with the rhea. It's sooo hot just now and Goat Field has the most shade, shelter and grass so is the best place for all the livestock. We put mesh over the rhea feeder so the rhea can still get their heads in but the sheep cannot. We watched with crossed fingers to see if they couldn't - and thankfully, they tried, but failed.
Hopefully, all will co-exist fine together till we get a break in this weather.
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16th: It's hot work going round the fields just now!!
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17th: Grey Faced Dartmoor
Loving this Grey Faced Dartmoor and GD/Lavendar fleece - it has washed beautifully and is going to make for interesting spinning. The pure GFD is soo white and also very 'hair like' with a very long fleece. The addition of the Lavendar in the cross has made it much softer but just as long.
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18th: A shock
Today we found Sesame dead at the bottom of the field. We have no idea why. She was fine yesterday and the four of them (her, Sunflower and the ;ambs) were their usual tight group. Sesame has been coughing a bit (along with some of the others) but the very thinks it is all vioral and unless we saw signs of temperatures (which we didn't), to not treat.
Onion is now without her mum and it feels weird to only see Sunflower.
Thre worst of it is that we had agreed that the four of them should go and live on a friend's land with all her other primitive sheep as we feel they might be a little happier there. They are good here but a little freaked by the dogs still an dproblay happier to have more land to roam in.
Hey ho.... This is our first ever unexplained death in our sheep. Needless to say we will be keeping a very close eye on the rest and also giving an AB shot to any showing signs of coughing or snotty noses - just in case!!
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22nd: Courgettes
The cold frames are proving perfect for our courgettes this year...
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23rd: Chicks
It's been a while since we hatched any chicken chicks!! And we told ourselves we would only go ahead this year if we got any broodies.
We did and so we have.
Five and counting so far from ten eggs. Dad is a Shetland (green eggs) and the mums are Shetlands and green/blue hybrids.
More clever persons than us will tell us whether the resulting hens and cockerels will also then carry the blue/green gene!! Hope so!! The joy of new life never, ever fails to delight and leaves us in awe. This mum is being an utter star too - so gentle and accepting! We knew that hatching had started because she began to gently talk to the chicks - what a beautiful and reassuring sound to hear!! How lucky are we to have the opportunity to do things like this!!
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26th: Goats are back
A while ago, quite a long while ago in fact, in fact, almost a whole year ago.... we mentioned the 'D' word!!
Quite a few people haven't let us forget this as within about six months, they saw various animals make their way (and in some cases way 'back') onto the Relaxed Smallholding. It seemed we weren't actually downsizing at all...
Truth be told, we lost our way a bit for a while there - I know we are not alone in this. Smallholding is a way of life with a very simple premise at its heart: that of living in harmony with, and making the most of, the land we have and the animals living on it. And yet it is constantly changing, constantly evolving and re-shaping. The reasons for those changes are so varied. Many of them are often beyond our control even: finances, ill-health, weather, family commitments, all these can interfere at times and of course 'we' also change: we get older, wiser, more foolish, less spontaneous, more spontaneous, grumpier, more cautious, more enthusiastic. And, shock horror, there are simply times when, for no easily-explained reason, we simply change our minds!!!!!
We always said that goats would be the last animal to go on our smallholding. We stopped breeding them a few years ago (after years of milking and making cheese) but those we had left (wethers and a non breeding female) were our much loved pets.. thus breaking our own smallholding rule: every animal must 'have a purpose' and 'go some way to paying their way'.
When we therefore decided that we needed to do a bit of downsizing (money was a part of it, as well as a wee bit of emotional turmoil..), the goats were an obvious, albeit sad, choice to go.
They 'left us' just before Christmas last year.
We then spent a fortnight or so convincing ourselves (trying to) that it was the right decision, followed by a good (bad) month feeling awful knowing that not having goats was a terrible idea, followed by a couple of weeks of hideous guilt knowing that we were moving to the inevitable decision of getting them back.
Fast forward six months and here we are - these six arrived on Friday (23rd) and we are utterly, utterly, totally and completely in love, besotted and so so happy! Already we are dreaming of kidding and milking and cheese-making! The smallholding once more feels complete - it really does. If we are being honest - and this blog is about just that - we do still feel a bit guilty - BUT, and there is a distinction here, there are no regrets. We went through what we went through and there's no changing that so any regrets are a waste of energy really.
We adore these little ladies, after a mere 72 hours, their characters are coming through loud and clear - there are some adventures to be had for sure!!
And what of all the animals that we 'pass on' - do they go to better homes, do they care, should we ever 'expect' forever homes when it comes to livestock? A debate for another time maybe?
And as for downsizing, well, that ship has not only sailed, it is now a shipwreck on a distant island that no one has ever heard of!!
Here's to losing our way and finding it again!
AND, a HUGE thank you to Woolley Animals for entrusting us with these very precious kids!!!
From the top we have: Vanilla, Buttercup, Velvet, Clover, Oats and Button - all named after grasses/ flowers growing here on our land!!
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29th: Tucking in
The age difference is 19 days between oldest and youngest, the last one was born two days ago and that is now it. So the batch of 28 eggs gave us seven chicks, one of which sadly died. Hatching over a three-week period was a bit rubbish - our boys really haven't made the best dads bless them!!
30th: Orange Moor
Just adore walking these guys round our local moor. Today it was full of butterflies - and moths, the grasses glimmered with colour and the misty views were spectacular!! We all had a fabulous time!
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