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March 2010 - Posts - Owd Fred's Blog

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March 2010 - Posts

The Suckler Cows have started Calving

We left the calves with them  for most of the winter only weaning them in mid February, by this time it had pulled the mothers down, so almost all of the herd now looks "poor"  or should I say slim.

Well its that time of year again and the suckler cows have started calving, so far we have had two. Last year we went through a nightmare calving period where almost every other cow wanted assistance and also we lost  a cow and a couple of calves during calving. We had three sets of twins, one twin calf we found dead at three weeks old with a twisted gut. We had not had a cow have twins for almost twenty years, then as they say about London busses three come along all together.
Even the older mature and reliable cows were in trouble, I put it down to a different feeding regime. The only feed they get every winter is round bale silage made off the same meadows  that they graze on, made in July, and containing some of the soft rush rushes that are native to meadow pastures.

Over the winter of 2008/09 we thought it would be a good idea to feed a high energy mineral/ molasses lick supplement, you know the one's where they come in a four gallon bucket, just take the lid off and drop it in the field.
In my opinion, this had grown the calf inside the cow and produced the large calves, it also coincided with the change of bull, and at the time, all the blame was put at his door. But on reflection, some of the cows were fatter than we had had them in other years. So this last backend 2009 when we should be weaning all the calves, we sorted out the first calf heifers and a few slimmer cows, and weaned their calves. The rest of the cows that were still too fat, we left the calves with them  for most of the winter only weaning them in mid February, by this time it had pulled the mothers down, so almost all of the herd now looks "poor"  or should I say slim.
We have always out wintered the cows, none have ever been in a shed other than the first winter as weaned calves. Our herd is almost like a "hefted" herd, as you get in sheep when they know their own mountain pasture and born to that area of grazing. So it is that our cows, they are used to the peaty meadows that are dissected with bottomless drainage ditches, they get used to the ditches as calves and know its not a good idea to slip in, in fact the odd calf does drop in but never a second time, and nearly always get themselves out.

I dread to think of the time when someone else will bring a new set of cattle to graze down there, and the months they will have of dragging cows or cattle out of ditches, until all have learned their lesson. On the other hand, when I retire, the wise new comer could or would or should buy my "hefted" cows off me and continue the meadow grazing in a safe and reliable manner. To read more about these meadows refer back to the blog "Moles and Meadows" or just press tag "peat"    


 Signs of Spring

Signs of spring are starting to show,
Though on the hill tops forecast snow,
Bright sunshine warms the sodden ground,
Cold showers and hail still abound.

Lawns and fields look brighter green,
Daffodils open and trumpets beam,
Grass it grows on lawn and verge,
Not on the fields, for the stock to purge,

Birds in hedgerow look to build nests,
Leaf buds appear as if by request,
First eggs are laid soon to be sat,
Full cover of new leaves, hides them thereat.

Badgers are trailing litter to nest,
Digging and cleaning for breeding quest,
Rarely seen but they root for worms,
Under hedgerows and cow pats presence confirms.

Soil it warms in the suns rays,
Germinate seeds dormant upraised,
Soon the countryside transformed and fresh,
Everything growing and looking its best.



If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: If we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.
Anne Bradstreet  (1612-1672)

The Wedding Reception


It was late summer when we had had an invitation to the evening reception of a friend of the misses', sisters daughter was getting married (do you follow). We did not know who she was marrying and had not seen the bride since she was six years old.

We got suitably togged up with a present in a fancy presentation box and set off. On arrival we realised it was a big wedding with, could be hundred and fifty guests, all dancing a square dance to noticeable Scottish music, some of the lads including the bride groom were in kilts. We peeped round the door to see if we could see Misses friend, and then we were ushered in by a waitress, who duly parted us from the present we had brought, for it to be add it to all the other presents on a long table on show near the stage.

We sat down trying to see who we knew, well that looks a bit like so and so, and that could easily be sister to our friend, it's a good likeness but could not be sure enough to approach the person. The waitress came round with drinks in fancy glasses and pointed out where the refreshment were, but still after over an hour could not see the friend. As happens at weddings the bride's guests do not know any of the bridegroom's relatives and vice versa, so as folk walked by us they naturally thought we belonged to the other side.
After another half hour the waitress came around with more drinks, and we plucked up courage and asked for the bride's mother by surname, only to be told we had been at the wrong wedding. On divulging our embarrassment to the waitress she said do you want your present back, and luckily it was the same one who had parted us from it when we arrived so she knew what to snaffle back from the table in front of all the guests. This was achieved sneakily with a cloth draped over the box and brought to us in the front porch.

Red with embarrassment and sweating from the tension, we headed to another hotel on the other side of town, where there turned out to be no weddings that day at all. We had three hours away from home, been fed and wined at someone's wedding, we never found out who's it was, did not see a sole that we knew. Later we sat in the chairs at home totally exhausted, and had a good laugh at the fact that we had gate crashed a wedding that we had not been invited to, and no one was ever the wiser for knowing who we were.

Plus as a bonus we still got our present back.


PS The wedding had been the day before, and the present sent on, somewhat late, to the bride's new home.  



Marriage. It's like a cultural-handrail. It links folks to the past and guides them to the future.

Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider


I've got a little Breakdown,


Drill bits with the edge knocked off, the saw it hit a nail,
Hammer's got a headache, and it needs a brand new stale,

I'm sure that I'm not alone on these scribing's, most folk won't admit to how their workshop looks, and how it is in every day working. It's not untidy, its in a natural order of priorities state, you know where every thing is (when you can find it) or where it should be.

On walking through the workshop if that's possible, you nearly always see thing that are not wanted right now, and see thing that you had been looking for last week, and now turned up. Things like grinding discs are shoved onto a nail driven into the workshop wall, new hacksaw blades and tap washers the same, various sizes of jubilee clips tied in a loop of string on a nail. It seems now when I come to look, the higher the nail the more valuable the item, and it goes right down to the size of the nail to match what it's got to hold. Put it like this, if I threw myself high up the wall, it would be impossible to slide slug like down to the floor, not that you can see much of the floor.

Am I exaggerating on all this?     You will never know.



Axle Stand and his mate, Hydraulic Jack,
Live in the workshop, right at the back,
We know how it should be all tidy and straight,
But never got time to put back all polish its late,
As long as I can walk up the middle OK,
And find where I chucked it, neat pile to display.



I've a little breakdown 

I've got a little breakdown and its needs attention now,
Take it to the workshop, to bodge it up somehow,
Need to clear the work bench, with scrap its piled high,
Things that needed mending, I failed but had a try.

Spanners come in sets, they're spread all round about,
The very one your wanting, one you conner do without,
Spend all morning searching, and you end up with a wrench,
 Round the corner off the nut, then find its on the bench.

The metals rusty, flaking off, got it to weld somehow,
Clean the edge and got some gaps, must be done right now,
Spitter spatter stop and start, resembles pigeon siht,
Grind it off and fill the holes, and hope it wunna split.

Drill bits with the edge knocked off, the saw it that hit a nail,
Hammer's got a headache, and it needs a brand new stale,
Screwdriver hit with hammer, when the chisel conna find,
And the spirit level lost its bubble, ta guess work I'm resigned.

Have a dam good clear up, and throw the rubbish out,
Then look for where you've chucked it, that little bit of spout,
Ventualy it all comes back, n' builds up on the floor,
Praps a bigger workshop, cus I conna shut the door.

I'm really tidy in my mind, but sometimes I forget,
When I'm in a hurry, and black clouds and rain a threat,
Job is done, tools chucked, in the workshop miss the bench,
It happens all the while, but I stick with a big old wrench.

But on the whole I'm not alone, but people don't admit,
They pretend to be so perfect, spanners back in tool box fit,
A breakdown always happens, when you least expect it could,
Then back to get the job done, as quick as ever should.



I visualize things in my mind before I have to do them. It's like having a mental workshop.
Jack Youngblood

Another Hedge Cutter Mishap

 I had a bit of a rush to get all the hedge cutting done before the end of February, and then in the last five minuets of finishing for the year, on drawing in the cutter head in towards the tractor, got distracted and it flailed off the whole of the back light cluster and ripped the plastic/rubber mud wing to shreds and left a cable with seven wire sticking out all ready stripped of insulation but about two foot too short to reach a new back light (DAM BLAST & BUGEGR!)  that was a bit mild to what I was thinking.

I have had one or two close shaves with the back light before over the years, taking off the lens, or just chipping it, but this cleared the whole site , good job it did not get down to the back tyre.

This is what the rear end of the trctor used to look like



Living Hedgerow


A variety of plants, in the hedgerow,
Se what is growing, and living below,
Food in the fruit, for birds and the bees,
Shelter from the weather, beneath the trees.

The rabbits dig burrow, and birds do nest,
Hedgehogs roll up, in the leaves to rest,
Toads and spiders, wasps and hornet,
All of them living, along in this thicket.

 Hawthorn and hazel, maple and elder,
All help to make up, the variety of splendour,
Briers and Rose hips, with berries bright colour
Crab apple and sloe, large fruit much duller.

Oak and the Ash, grow into young tree
Beech and Holly, and Hornbeam agree,
Fill the hedge with fruit nuts and berries,
Beech and Hazel nuts, and stored under leaves

Climbers growing in hedge create cover,
Old mans beard, and Ivy they soon take over,
Honey suckle and Dog Rose, lot of colour provide,
Everything combines, make our English country side.



Love thy neighbor, but pull not down thy hedge
John Ray

There's a mouse in the house (or more)

Can hear them chewing under the floor, middle of the night,
The very board bed stands on, a hole right through not quite,

There cannot be many houses these days that have mice in the house, but in the old houses where the floor boards are creaky with the odd gap or knot hole dropped out. This is just the sort of invitation mice need especially when the weather turns cold.


There's a mouse in the house (or more)

We often get winter visitors; they come in from the cold,
They find a little hole or two, and squeeze through being bold,
Then look for food and hide away, they come into our house,
Who can blame them I'd do the same, that crafty little mouse.

Can hear them chewing under the floor, middle of the night,
The very board bed stands on, a hole right through not quite,
And running along the water pipes, so warm to their little feet,
Nesting in the airing cupboard, in kitchen find crumbs to eat.

You're lucky if you see one, ya can see where they have been,
Chewing at the cornflake box, for food they're real keen,
Whole family of them hiding, wait for us to go to bed,
Then rummage round, find some food, attack the loaf of bread.

The cat he knows where they are, but he's old and doesn't care,
Our dog she sniffs and finds them, hiding under the stairs,
Barks and make a real loud noise, but come out they will not,
So all the livestock live together, I think we've lost the plot.



The best laid schemes o' Mice an' men, Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain. for promis'd joy!

( The best laid plans for mice and men, oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain, for promised joy!)
                               Robert Burns (1759-1796), To a mouse (Poem,    November,1785)