The new year has started as 2015 ended - RAIN. The ground is spongy beneath your feet. The farm is on higher ground and we are fortunate that our fields are sloping and not susceptible to flooding. I almost hate to say that, I don’t want to jinx anything. The bridleway runs right down the middle of our fields, and as the water runs down it becomes a running river at times.
The rain can’t stop Dan. Since he has been home for the Christmas holidays, he’s spent hours in his woodlands. The winds have done some damage to his precious young saplings, so everyday he replaces broken stakes and tree tubes. He ordered and planted another 300 trees and hedgerow plants. We are slowly replacing long neglected hedgerows all over the farm, laying what we can and infilling with native hedgerow plants.
Shurper the ram stayed in his little shed, very frustrated, for almost two weeks. I was able to let him out in a small paddock on dry days. His infected foot healed nicely and Archie and I released him back into the flock. Bemborough, my other ram has been hired out for services to 10 Portland ewes on a farm in North Dorset. He was very eager when we delivered him and ran off without so much as a glance back!
An awful lot of killing on the farm in December… part of the reality of farming. Moles are now under control, but rats have invaded my hen run, a large fenced area about a quarter of an acre. Our friend Gordon, gamekeeper and rat catcher, made a couple of visits. All good fun, I must admit! He has a fantastic little terrier and an amazing smoking machine. So after smoking out the holes and whacking a few during one drizzly afternoon, Gordon returned at night and with night-vision googles and shot a few more. This may sound quite gory, but this method is safer than leaving poison around.
Archie put his Christmas present to god use. He set up his deer high-seat and shot a roe deer. It is hanging nicely in the cool room. Dan will butcher it up and I’ll be digging out my venison recipes. We have to control deer numbers and Archie and the local gamekeeper shoot a few every year, leaving the strong stags to assure healthy stock in the future.
Jo Stover has daily adventures on her small farm, together with her Highland cattle and Portland sheep, bees, a few hens, dogs, and some two-legged family and friends.