Friday, 26 March 2010

Busy Week

Its been a fairly busy week.

Monday the computer arrived so we spent plenty of time setting that up and having a play. I'm pleased to say that it works fine and is full of new gadgets which are great fun to use.

Tuesday we went on a Stock Checkers Course run by the Grazing Animals Project. The morning was spent in a classroom learning about legal aspects, the welfare needs and the checking needs of sheep, cows, goats and ponies. We then went out to some beautiful SSSI land at Hutchinsons Bank in Surrey to look more closely at sheep and goats. Then it was back to the classroom for an evaluation test for which we are still awaiting the results (I already know I have got at least one wrong) then hopefully we will get certificates. It was a very interesting day and nice to meet some other stock checkers but it is a long time since I have had to concentrate on something solidly for a whole day so by the time I had also been to the stables and ridden Molly, who was her usual awkward self, I was totally exhausted so to round off a good day we treated ourselves to fish and chips..yummy.

Wednesday we took my elderly mother out for a pub lunch which was very nice but when we returned there were messages on all our phones asking if we could check the ponies as it had been reported that Tavey(found out on the course that his name is not Tivy) had been showing signs of colic which can sometimes be fatal. We got over to him about 4 pm and he was looking very sorry for himself but he was no longer rolling and he wasn't kicking or biting at his abdomen so we reckoned he was recovering. The grazing officer for the Old Surrey Downs Project made lots of phone calls to various people including the vet and it was decided that if we could stay and watch him until night fall and providing he didn't get any worse the vet wouldn't come out. It was rather nice sitting in the field watching the sun go down and listening to the birds singing their goodnight songs and watching the rabbits venture out for their dinners. Tavey didn't get any worse so when we could hardly see him anymore we crept through the dark woods back home. Needless to say I found it difficult to sleep that night and at first light the next morning I dragged my husband out of bed and we went back to see if he had survived the night. Peter, the grazing officer, arrived just after us with a tarpaulin in the back of his land rover 'just in case' but thankfully we had judged it right and Tavey was fully recovered and back to the business of eating the contents of the field.

Thursday, after the early start, was a quiet, relaxing day where we did some shopping and checked on Tavey again.

So here we are at Friday. After checking the ponies this morning and eating a tasty hot cross bun with a cup of coffee when we got back, we have been busy planting seeds. The greenhouse was lovely and warm, the robin was singing outside and the lambs were calling on the hill so it was a real pleasure AND I have at last got my 150 lavender seeds sown:-)))

Monday, 22 March 2010

Soggy Saturday

I have just come back from a weekend in my favourite place, the New Forest. Unfortunately it poured with rain. Bad weather never stops us enjoying our walks through the forest, although, on this occasion wellies would have been more practical than walking boots because as you can see from this picture even the paths were giant puddles.

We tried to base most of our walking in woody areas for shelter and because that is where most of the ponies and deer go when it is wet. Inevitably we got lost a few times (there are so many tracks in the woods it is hard to tell which is an animal track and which is a human track) so our short walks always ended up as very long walks. On one of these unplanned detours we came across this lovely old tree that had bracken and a holly tree growing out off one of it's branches.

It put me in mind of the gravel area in our garden. The idea was to have an area, free from plants, for the clothes line but the plants had other ideas and have self sown themselves all over the gravel and seem to thrive there a lot better than in the flower beds:-)

Talking of plants, now the weather is a bit warmer it is time I started sowing some seeds. I had great intentions of starting the sowing earlier this year but because the weather has been so cold and my husband doesn't like heating the greenhouse I have put it off. The consequence is that I have loads to do all at once (including my 150 Lavender seeds) and very little time to do it. It will be worth it though when I can sit back and see the bees and butterflies enjoying the results of my hard work.

We have just this minute taken delivery of a new, up to date, computer so if I don't post for a while it will be because of teething problems (I have no faith when it comes to new things working first time, especially computers). Thank goodness we have a son (with a Computer Science degree) still living at home:-)

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Spring has Sprung

The lambs are bleating on the hill, the bees are buzzing on the crocuses and at last the frogs have started croaking in the ponds..oh and the sun is still shining..hooray spring has sprung :-)

I love this time of year as it fills me with feelings of anticipation and this year more so than usual as we have the new area of SSSI land to watch over as it starts to unfold its previously hidden flora and fauna. Every time we check the ponies now we notice new shoots sprouting up. The ponies have done and are still doing an excellent job of eating the unwanted rough grass and scrub. It has been a hard winter for them but as you can see from this photo of Tivy looking the picture of health, they have come through it very well.

Sadly the sheep have now been moved so we will not be stock checking them until they are returned again, probably in the late summer. I will miss my tickle sessions with Rambo but it's another place where it will be interesting to see which wild flowers appear. I am dreading the day when they move the ponies as I will miss them so much. I keep thinking about getting a pony/horse of my own but I am not sure I can really afford it.

I have now put the fleece that I collected from the sheep's field around the garden for the birds to use for their nests but so far I haven't seen any takers. It is perhaps still a bit early. Friendly robin and partner have now been joined by a blackbird who is also getting quite friendly and is usually waiting with the robins in the Elderberry for me to restock the bird table in the morning.

Luckily my cat, Lizzy, at 19 years old, is past the age of wanting to catch birds and is just happy to sit in the sun watching them flutter around. It is strange how the birds seem to know that she is not a threat to them anymore. I have seen the same in Namibia where springbok will sometimes happily graze really close to resting lions and it is this body language that Monty Roberts (horse whisperer) uses when working with horses.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Sunny Days

I have at last got round to cleaning up the fish ponds and have been rewarded with the fish making an appearance to bathe in the warmth of the sun. Despite the freezing temperatures we've had this winter I have only lost two fish and one of those was very old. As I stood on the bridge admiring my tidy pond, I was surprised to count 4 new baby fish that had also survived the hard winter. I really don't want anymore fish as I already have too many (that is why we've ended up with two fish ponds) but I can't help enjoying watching them grow especially when they start to develop their colours. We only bought 5 fish when we built the first pond but from that 5 we now have well over 30 fish and two ponds. We also have a wildlife pond but for some reason the frogs prefer to spawn in the fish ponds.

The birds in the garden have also been very busy and I am pleased to see friendly robin seems to have a mate. I have already seen the pigeons collecting bits for nest building so it won't be long before the other birds are at it too. When we do our sheep check I have been gathering some of the fleece that is caught on the brambles and trees. I have then cleaned and dried it in the green house ready to put out around the garden for any birds wanting a cosy, warm nest.

It has made such a change to do the stock checks in the sun. On Friday it was so lovely when we visited the ponies that my husband and I sat on a fallen tree trunk for a while to enjoy the warmth of the sun. Tivy and Rufus who were grazing close by came over to investigate what we were doing. Rufus was too timid to come very close but Tivy spent about 30 mins investigating us. As a small pony I don't think he had ever seen the top of a human head before as he kept smelling our hair which had been freshly washed that morning. Bit of luck we hadn't used apple scented shampoo :-)