Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Reasons to be cheerful- Animals

Hello All
Thank you all for your comments over my last posts. Like all bloggers I LOVE to get comments, but as I have stalled somewhat with my blogging lately I haven't replied. I'm sorry about this. I promise to do better in future.Many thanks for bearing with me while I struggle with getting my blogging act together.
Before I start on this post of regurgitated photographs from previous blogs I must welcome Alson Fraser,Samllhomebigplanet and Jill Mcclinton on Bloglovin and Jane,Pamela Forni, Trish Gibbs and Manicstamper on the Follower bar to the right.  I hope I haven't missed anyone, but with names disappearing with this Google thingy going on I'm struggling to know who is who.
Reasons to be cheerful part three... Animal friends.
I'll start with our transient livestock.
 Prior to the Foot and Mouth Epidemic we used to keep half a dozen Suffolk ewes. This would be too many on a two acre smallholding, but we used to share grazing with a couple of smallholder friends and rotate around  our fields. then came F&M.. When this hit Derbyshire our Ewes were at our friend south of Derby and a month off lambing. We were intending to bring them home a fortnight before their due date to lamb them. So far so good and then F&M was found four miles away from out frriends and everyone went into clampdown. We couldn't get our sheep home and when we finally did, after our friend had to lamb them for us, we had to have a Ministry of Agriculture vet travel behind us and then disinfected the trailor  +++,  all at enormous expense. When all was sort of back to normal the moving around of the sheep became so complex that we decided to send them to Bakewell market where they were bought at a buyers market for just a few pounds.  Since then we have just bought poddy lambs which we have reared for meat ourselves. We buy them in the spring and take them to a small local butcher in Oct/ Sept. he has them slaughterd  for us and I butcher them myself. ( I searched for different terms there but decided it is what it is)

Here are last years lambs
Our other transient animals are pigs. Here are last years weaners, We keep pigs until they are approximately 6 months before they go to the butcher. These I do not butcher, mainly because I can't keep the kitchen cool enough to handle the meat which gets "floppy"  if not cool.

Now to our all year round animals

Here is part of our front garden (tidy isn't it?!) and some of our beehives. The bees are probably the most important animals, as they contribute so much to ourselves and the wider community.
 Their initial purpose is to pollinate our vegetable and fruit crops, clearly plants within a four mile radius benefit from a visit by our bees too.
 We also use and sell the honey and make polish and hand creams from spare wax. We also sell the occasional colony of bees to people starting off in beekeeping and are happy to support these new beekeepers until they feel confident.

I thought you might like to see this photo of the bees bearding in the hottest day last year. Thousands of bees hanging outside the hive to cool themselves and the hive down. it's a great sight isn't it?

Next, the hens........

For some reason they would rather annihilate the gardens than go into the field, so I have sprinkled corn to encourage them. Not the best photography is it with my shadow to the fore!?
The hens stay in the orchard in the summer and range the smallholding in  the winter. If the weather  turns in the winter the girls gather in the hen clubhouse aka the empty greenhouse. here they are having a dust bath and a coffee and a natter.

You many have spotted a cockerel in the field.
If you keep a cockerel you will get......

We sell eggs from the door and usually break even with these. We do use a lot ourselves.

All that remains are the domestic animals and top of the tree has to be Dixie.

Here she is helping with some quilting. Dixie is an expert mouser and rabbiter. She brings them in through the catflap and carries them upstairs to the bathroom. here she jumps into the bath with them, so that they can't escape I suppose, and eats the head first. Sometimes she eats the rest, but not always. Occasionally she brings in moorhens or pigeons. She never seems to bother with small birds. While we are so pleased that she helps to keep the vermin down but hearing a pleased chirrup from Dixie as she deposits a dead rat on your pillow is not a pleasant experience!!

 Now for three animals that don't actually belong to David and I .. I give you the three musketeers...
The yellow lab is Coda. His mum is our eldest granddaughter who now lives with us, so he is here all the time. He really is as gentle as he looks. Next to him is Sammie, he belongs to my youngest daughter and comes to us for Doggie day care for four days during the week. Next to him, sporting his Christmas kerchief is Jed, who belongs to my eldest daughter. Jed visits every Sunday with his mum. You may have noticed that these handsome lads are pictured with our pretty granddaughters on my header.

There is only one animal friend not pictured here because I can't find a pic. Percy the African Grey Parrot. Percy lives in the room next to the kitchen that I use as a sort of work room cum snug. In truth I don't like the idea of caged birds, but Percy was a gift to David. I will have to take a new pic for next time.

So that's it for now. Sorry I've been so long posting. Next time I'll do a quick post about what I do to keep my post retirement brain active and I will then have finished these mammoth "Reason to be Cheerful" posts.
Until then, thanks for reading.


  1. Very impressive collection of animals - but the farmer's wife in me thinks 'what alot of work'. We actually had foot and mouth and it wiped out all our sheep and our dairy herd. Wouldn't wish to go through that again.

    1. Spring IS very busy on the animal front and then quietens off in time for the gardens to be churning out stuff to process! it must have been devastating to lose your stock in such a way.

  2. I think you have already posted about what keeps your brain active!
    and it's good to hear how much time you have for resting!!

  3. If you need to re-house the 3 dogs, I know of a good home in S W France.

    1. If we ever needed to rehome them, I couldn't think of a better place to do so.

  4. Quite a crowd at your place. sometimes think about chickens to go with home grown fruit and veg, but not really being an animal people we have decided to admire anyone who is from afar!

    1. Chickens are quite a commitment to make it is true and not for everyone. Mind you nothing beats a home grown dippy egg in an egg cup.

  5. What a great selection of animals/pets you have. I just wondered if Coda was a rescue lab? I looked after 2 labs short term for our local lab rescue whilst they found homes. There was another one called Coda, rescued from a river after almost getting shot! Both dogs look very similar. Wouldn't that be a coincidence!

    1. That would be a coincidence as Coda is not a common name is it? No, my granddaughter had him from a pub. Sammie, however is a rescue dog. My daughter volunteers for a labrador rescue charity and she was fostering Sammie until she fell in love with him.

    2. I could have easily kept each of the labs I fostered however my full time work and a very vicious cat put a stop to that. They both went on to first class homes though. Now I don't work out of the home and would love a dog but the cat won't have any of it!

  6. You have a great collection of animals etc. We have 4 bee hives now, love the photo of the bees on the bee hive, thousands of bees always make an impressive sight don't they. Hard workers we couldn't live without :o)

    1. it is a great photo isn't it. In over forty years of beekeeeping that is the first time we have had it happen to our bees. And yes, I could watch them all day too.

  7. What a lovely crew! But also, so much work what with the garden an' all. Your energy amazes me especially as you are now celebrating your 50th Wedding Anniversary. For which, huge congratulations are in order:)