Sunday, 19 August 2012

Hand Back

We have now handed back the Grazing Officers job...all the animals survived and all the sites are looking good and so we are now freeeeeee again:))))  It has been a good experience but both hubby and I agreed that we wouldn't want it as a permanent job as the hours are just too long. Nearly every evening we worked late and every weekend we had to go out to see to something or other.  It wasn't too bad as we were doing it together but if one or the other of us were at home waiting for the other, it would have been very hard going.  It certainly isn't a job that is conducive to a social or family life.

The last few weeks have been quite challenging with several odd things to contend with and we have learnt a few things along the way, one of which is that Wild Parsnip has a nasty sting in its tail..... 

I was helping our trainee set up electric fencing to make two enclosures for his project, comparing the grazing habits of Herdwick and Beulah sheep.  The site was steeply sloped and I wasn't well at the time with severe dizziness if I moved suddenly, so I was very carefully making my way down the steep incline and was just passing a patch of Wild Parsnip, when I fell down a very deep rabbit hole.  As my leg disappeared, the world started spinning...it was a real Alice in Wonderland moment:)))  I was left floundering in the Wild Parsnips.  A day later I noticed by arms had several big blisters on them and on investigation it turns out that Parsnip makes one very hypersensitive to the sun.  I now have some lovely purple scars but can't help at being amazed that a simple plant can have such a powerful effect.


One part of the job that I have really enjoyed is the planning of what, when and how to do things.  There are so many jobs and not enough time so one had to prioritise things which wasn't always easy. 

On the morning of the day we had arranged for Reigate Animal Health to come to take blood samples from the goats, we also discovered a lamb which looked like it may have fly strike.  This is where flies have laid eggs on the sheep and the resulting maggots start feeding off their flesh.  It has the potential to kill a sheep surprisingly fast so it had high priority and we needed to get it sorted before going to the goats..... 

Unfortunately the lamb's mother kept leading it away every time we tried to catch it (really frustrating when you're in a hurry!!!) so it ended up with myself, hubby and the trainee having to round up all 76 ewes and lambs just to treat that one. It was well worth it though as the lamb did have fly-strike and, because it was treated early, not too much damage had been done so it should recover well. This was the third lamb to get fly strike so we have now sprayed all the lambs with a fly repellent..... 

The main problem came when we then tried to catch the goats later in the day as we were not left with very much time.  The goats very obligingly came over several times to the holding pen where we had rigged up some netting to stop them jumping out but they are clever animals and sensed something was up and so scarpered each time to the other end of the field and eventually we ran out of time.  Thankfully Reigate Animal Health were sympathetic and will come back another day...and as we have handed the job back, it has the bonus of no longer be our responsibility:)


The thing I will miss most is the Landrover.  I found it very comfortable (hubby didn't) and I liked being higher up and able to look over the hedges as we drove along and best of all was being able to take it off road to get to the various sites, taking everything we needed with us in the back.  I also felt quite proud to be driving around with the Projects details on the side.


So what now?  We have a lot of catching up of important work around the bungalow to do.  The main jobs being to sort out various leaks in the roof...lets hope we don't get much more rain!  I will also leave time for exploring the wildlife of 'my valley' something I have been missing a lot. It has started well with the wildlife actually coming to me (a bonus of the garden looking like a jungle).  Instead of getting up early to rush around making packed lunches etc., I can now get up early to just look out of the living room window for wild goings-on.  Around 5 am I have found the deer are coming to the end of the garden to feed of off the bindweed growing up the sheep netting...


And one of my friendly pheasants is also bringing her four babies to visit the garden which I am so pleased about as I thought I had missed them all this year.  She seemed so happy to see me at the window again and ran over, chicks in tow, remembering I will throw her a handful of grain:)  The Buzzards seem to be missing though so I will have to see if they have moved down the valley...I just hope they haven't been shot.



I am also formulating a plan for something else.  When my husband retired from the fire brigade we started a project to walk round the coast of Britain.  We have completed the South East corner but to carry on will need us to stay away from home which I am not keen to do too often as I need to be around for my mother as she has Alzheimer's, so I am now thinking of starting to walk the Thames Path as most of it can be done as day trips.  I think there should be a good deal of wildlife too and if we get tired we can take a boat:)  I might even make another blog site about our progress. 

4 comments:

Alice ~ writer, traveller, dreamer said...

Enjoy having time to yourself again! although it sounds like it was a fun experience. Love the photos of your garden locals :-) and the walk sounds good - look forward to hearing more!

Helen said...

Hi Alice...it was a fun experience but also rather stressful at times...a bit like white water rafting but lasting longer:)

Anonymous said...

Hi Helen,
It's great that you had the chance to take on something new; and you did it rather than thinking ' its a big job so I don't think I'll risk it' , and I feel sure that the people you did it for were very pleased with all the work you did.
I've turned some jobs down in the past where things looked too difficult and always regretted it, you know what they say, you almost always regret the things that you don’t have a try at if the chance comes up.
Love the chicks in your garden, very few people are that lucky so keep writing your blog its always interesting , informative and amusing.
p.s. is your husband now going to buy you a Land Rover so you can enjoy your drives in the country?

Helen said...

Hello Anon..Unfortunately I don't think hubby will buy a Landrover. He likes to run his cars until they die a natural death by which time we will probably need zimmer frames rather than a nice shiny car:)