Life on the farm: Good Friday 2017 (***cute lamb alert***)

On the farm
They’ve been lambing on the farm this past week, painting numbers on the sides of the sheep as they give birth, and painting the same numbers on any lambs born to that sheep.

The main field is now bereft of sheep. They’re all in the maternity barn, in the nursery field, or they’ve been moved back to the fields where they usually live.

Picture: Ian Wordsworth

Instead, the young cows have now been let out into the main field. Oh, what a lovely sight to see these youngsters running and skipping across the grass as they were given their first outing from the barns. They’ve been to have a look at us and we may get pictures over the coming days.

Back to the lambs, the nursery field is at the top of our front garden, so we’ve been able to watch as another pair of lambs and their mother are added to the flock before being moved along.

Picture: Ian Wordsworth

The mothers are very curious, but one did chase after me when I surprised her while I wheeled the wheelie-bin down the drive on Wednesday evening. It made a very loud rumbling noise.

Her baby, just the one, was curled up in a ball and I think she was frightened I was going to hurt it.

Picture: Ian Wordsworth

Another of the mothers, “Number 28”, is less frightened. This one has managed to clamber up the dry-stone wall into our front garden, where she investigated one of the (so far) empty raised beds in our potager.

I think Number 28 and her lamb have been moved now, as we’ve not seen her for a couple of days.

Picture: Diane Wordsworth

In the garden
The brand-new greenhouse has started to earn its keep. The marigolds are doing really well and, now, so are the cucumbers.

Cucumber seedlings alongside brassicas. (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

The seeds sown on 2 April are still appearing, but some are still a little slow – the onions, for example, and the brassicas. I think all of these have a longer germination time, but the first brassica, a calabrese broccoli, has already reared its tiny head.

A calabrese broccoli showing its tiny head. (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

We bought some herb pots for the kitchen windowsill to plant up. So far the basil is doing the best, with the chives just showing this week. The parsley is taking a little while longer, though …

Herb pots for the kitchen windowsill. (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

Last week’s 20 strawberry plants have taken nicely in their HUGE hanging baskets. (He was a little disappointed that I didn’t share a picture of his very well-made greenhouse staging, so the picture below gives some idea of how that looks.)

Twenty strawberry plants in four MASSIVE hanging baskets. (Plus hand-made staging.) (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

Chickens
The chickens, bless them, continue to thrive. And they continue to show their appreciation by laying eggs. We’re definitely up to 5 or 6 eggs a day now, and they’re starting to come to their names as well.

The poet had to put some chicken wire around the garden gate to stop the dog from escaping. For a while, it also kept the chickens out, and that meant a cleaner floor.

Agatha (Aggie the Agoraphobic). (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

However, Baldy and Blondie are both regular visitors to the garden now that they’ve worked out how to hop around the edge, or even over the top with a garden tub strategically placed to break their landing. The other girls will follow if they think they’re missing something, aka food.

Our beautiful Blondie, the biggest and fattest of the lot. (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

Happy Easter!
We have the long weekend off for Easter, without any pre-planned visits or trips or anything. We are, however, expecting a delivery of compost today for the raised beds, and we hope to be doing more work in the garden if the weather is nice. There may also be fishing and walking.

Have a great weekend!

Day out: Kingsbury

Part of Kingsbury village from the new hide on the sand martin bank. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Kingsbury Water Park in the midlands is a good day out for us.

There are walks and bird hides and other places of interest and things to do and see. But, more importantly, it’s right off the M42 motorway, so when we’ve been to visit my parents, it’s easy enough to bob in and have a visit.

Plus, it’s where we tried our tent out last year at Easter when the tent was still very new.

We had planned to do a walk around one of the lakes. It was a lovely day and the poet wanted to try out his new polarising filter.

Kingsbury Water Park, River Tame. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

So we made sure we got to my parents’ in good time to drop in on the way back home …

… but as we approached the roundabout leading to the park we had second thoughts. Everyone else, it seemed, had had the same idea, and the traffic was backed up a loooong way.

We had a picnic with us, though, and it was time for us to eat. So instead of going to the water park, we headed to the old village of Kingsbury, which is just around the back of the park.

Kingsbury Water Park, Old Kingsbury Village. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

There we found a church car park with a nice view, and we had our picnic. Then we put the dog’s lead on and explored the churchyard to see what else there was to see.

Well, imagine our pleasure when we realised that one of the footpaths led right into the back of the water park – and we didn’t have to pay a car park admission either! Result.

So we had a stroll along what looks like a new-ish trail beside the sand martin bank. This feature was only completed in February, in partnership with the Tame Valley Wetlands.The martins aren’t here yet, though. But we may drop in again when they’ve arrived.

Jet-ski, Kingsbury Water Park. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Fortunately, not many people had the same ideas as us in approaching the park from this side, but we did catch up with the crowds when we decided against an ice-cream as the queue for the ice-cream-van was almost as long as the traffic queue into the park.

The poet exercised his camera muscles with a few scenic shots, and then we made our way over to a lake where there were jet-skis in action. Oh joy! Here was where he could try out his new filter.

Jet-ski, Kingsbury Water Park. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Once he was happy with the day’s product, we went back to the car and headed home.

It was very sunny and this new trail has very little shade. It will probably get very hot – and very busy – in the summer months. Maybe next time we’ll get there a little earlier, but at least we know where to park if we bump into traffic again.

Life on the farm: April 2017

One of the orphan lambs.

On the farm
They say that when the first lamb arrives, it’s the first day of spring. So our first day of spring was actually just over a month ago, on 4 March.

Their granddaughter #2 has 3 brown sheep (I *will* find out the breed). She’s only 13 or 14, but already she owns these sheep. Late last year, these brown sheep were taken to meet a male, and each one of them delivered this spring.

The first one, on 4 March, had a white lamb and a black lamb. Over the following week or so, the other 2 brown sheep also had lambs. In the end, between them, there were 3 black lambs and 2 white lambs, and while one of the mothers seemed to be rejecting one of the black lambs, it was just a temporary blip and he did manage to get enough nourishment from the other mothers in the meantime.

Granddaughter #1 has a horse. But on the same weekend the first lamb arrived, she bought 3 cade (“kay-dee”) or orphan lambs from a neighbouring farm. These were kept in the barn for a few weeks, but are now out in the orchard at the side of our garden.

(GD#1 removed her horse’s blanket during the week and took her for a canter around the main field (on the other side of the orchard). The blanket’s back on again now, so maybe the temperature has dropped again.)

Sheep no. 2 keeping her own lamb close.

The farmer has another, bigger flock, of around 200 sheep when they’re all present and correct.

These sheep didn’t start to have lambs until after 1 April, but the whole family have turned out and are keeping watch. Any that look like they might be having difficulty are taken into the barn and looked after. Those that manage quite well by themselves are checked over.

The sheep and lambs are all numbered (we think they may have seen this tip on the BBC’s Countryfile), then those that need to be kept close are moved to the nursery field (at the front of our house) while the others go back in the main field.

Elsewhere on the farm, the cows are still indoors, but I think they’ll be let out soon enough.

(left to right) Baldy, Pink and Aggie (Blondie’s in the background) investigating the new greenhouse

The farmer has bought some beautiful black calves, and he has some calves of his own too. However, some of the cows (about 4) have ringworm, so they’re being treated for that and kept away from the others.

In Baggins Bottom
On the home patch, the poet has been busy assembling a new greenhouse. This arrived during a storm in mid-March and he had to abandon the project for a few days until the winds died down.

Once the greenhouse was finished and stable, he then set about building some greenhouse staging out of wood. He’s not a carpenter but he does enjoy creating things, and he did exactly what I asked him to.

The new greenhouse next to the year-old shed.

The two-tier staging wraps around 2 sides of the greenhouse in an L-shape. The remaining side will be for 2 grow-bags – one for 3 tomatoes and one for 2 cucumbers.

Of course, the chickens now think that this is another place for them to shelter – they won’t think that when the hot weather arrives.

Seed-sowing started on 2 April: cauliflower, calabrese broccoli, cherry tomatoes, cordon tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, onions, Brussels sprouts and marigolds. The marigolds are companion planting for the cherry tomatoes, which will be going into tubs and baskets.

Marigold seedlings.

Yesterday, 5 of the marigolds sprouted, and today there are 5 more. The poet isn’t a gardener either (“I hate gardening”), yet he’s so proud of these tiny little things – again, it’s the creating something from nothing part.

We have 20 strawberry plants coming, 10 each of 2 varieties. Those will be going into hanging baskets when they arrive.

We have a tractor that the poet used to cut the grass with at the last house, but we don’t have that big a lawn here. The old electric mower he used to own conked out at the end of last year, and last week we had to go and buy a new lawn mower so he could give the grass its first cut.

Eggs.

The chickens are doing well. They’ve been with us for 4 months now, and we still have the half-a-dozen we started with. They’re laying 4 – 5 eggs per day between them, and we’re giving dozens away.

I was well-chuffed when we had 6 eggs one day last week, but when we had 7 … (SEVEN!) I was a tad surprised, as we still only have 6 chickens.

We’re trying to get creative with recipes that include eggs. If work settles down, I’ll have time to do some baking. I want to get some big jars so I can pickle some, and we’re each having a hard-boiled egg every weekday with our lunch, I’m having it in a salad while the poet is eating it like an apple.

With the warmer weather and the longer days, the poet hopes to do more fishing soon, starting this afternoon when he gets home from work if the weather is nice enough.

Hopefully, me and the dog will have chance to get out and about and share more news and pictures over the coming weeks. I’ll be swapping the mobile phone for my camera.

My fat year: up & down

It’s been a while, but I have still been watching my weight and, to be honest, it’s been very up and down.

I can’t believe that you can put 3lb on one day and then lose two of them the next. This past week alone I did exactly this.

Yes, yes I know we’re not supposed to weigh ourselves every day and, because of the fluctuations last week, I did stop bothering. But Monday is weigh-day and I had to do it this morning.

Fortunately, I do have a weight-loss of 2lb from last week. Unfortunately, I’m still 1¼lb heavier than I have been at my lightest on this current diet.

At the weekend, even the poet reported a few pounds weight-gain, so he’s cutting down again now. It’s funny how complacency can set in so easily.

We’ve not been walking for a long time and I think that’s having a lot to do with it – for both of us. As well as the extra food we’re clearly eating at the moment, of course. Instead, either the weather has kept us indoors or, as soon as the weather has improved, we’ve been working in the garden.

At the weekend we had to buy a new lawn-mower and the poet did the first cut yesterday. It was hard work, but not as hard as it was with the old push-along lawn-mower. (He can’t use the tractor here, but he’s keeping hold of that for when it comes in handy again …)

Two weeks ago, in gale-force winds, he built a new greenhouse. Last weekend, he built wooden staging. And during the week, after work, he painted the staging with wood-preservative. Yesterday, we were finally able to spend a relaxing couple of hours sowing seeds.

His band doesn’t have as many gigs this year as of late. He wanted to cut back and so they’re only doing one gig a month (two a month when one is a charity gig and one is a paid gig). We hoped this would free us up to do more things but, as ever, it’s been very, very busy and we’ve been visiting or entertaining over our birthday season, in the midst of which comes Mother’s Day too.

This coming weekend we have the usual Birmingham/Doncaster visits, but perhaps we can squeeze in a walk on our way from Brum to Donny.

Saying that, I did achieve my Slimming World silver activity award on 23 March, and I’ve started my gold award today. The chickens, the little bit of gardening I have managed, and just shopping all contribute to this challenge. The gold award lasts for eight weeks, though, while the bronze and silver were both for four weeks each.

The warmer days make eating salads much easier, so hopefully there will be something more positive to report soon.

How’s your slimming going?

My fat year: plateau

bronze-awardOkay, it’s not great news as I plateau at the moment, hovering within less than a pound or two of my next personal goal.

But it’s not *all* bad news.

Excuse alert … Last week was very, very, very bad. We had a three-year-old’s birthday and a, er, (*cough*)-year-old’s birthday. And this meant cake.

Three birthday cakes in fact. And party food. And more cake. And biscuits. And yesterday there were pork pies and scotch eggs. And more cake …

BUT … I still only put on a pound.

I’m still hovering around the next-stone-zone-down target, and at least I haven’t put on a lot of weight – although having just watched Super Slimmers: Did They Really Keep The Weight Off?, I am wondering if it’s worth it …

However, I *have* just completed my Slimming World bronze activity award and I’ve started the silver activity award. So, as I say, it’s not *all* bad news …

We’re back on the wagon again this week, so hopefully there will be something more postive to report next week.

How is your weight loss going?

Exhibition: The Cribs, Wakefield One – 15 February to July 2017

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Drummer Ross Jarman. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On Tuesday, Diane’s Gig List was invited to the unveiling of a new exhibition at Wakefield One.

The Cribs were formed in Wakefield in 2002 by three brothers: twins Ryan and Gary Jarman on guitar and bass, and younger brother Ross on drums.

To celebrate their award-winning achievements, a small display has been set-up at the library in Wakefield.

There are three display units containing the bands’ instruments and memorabilia, some of which will be left with the library at the end of the display.

Drummer Ross Jarman unveiled the display on Tuesday 14 February in front of a small crowd, and he subsequently carried out interviews with the press before chatting with visitors who had come to see him.

You can find more photographs on Diane’s Gig List’s Facebook page, and this report also appears on Diane’s Gig List’s reviews page.

The exhibition runs until July 2017. Entry is free.

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(Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
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(Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
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(Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
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(Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
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(Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

My fat year: almost at 2nd target …

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Castleton landslip walk (picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I’m just one week away from the end of my first three months with Slimming World. I’ve hit the 7lb loss twice, and today’s weigh-in has been my lightest so far. I’ve lost 9lb in almost three months, and if I crouch down and squint at the scales, I can see the next stone-zone. In fact, I’m just ¼lb away from that next personal target of mine.

This means that I will probably renew my membership for another three months. There’s a very good renewal offer of £45 (apx $56), which is £15 (apx $18) cheaper than the usual fee. But if I just select a rolling monthly membership, it will be £20 (apc $25) per month. So I think I’m going to renew for another three months.

There are some better offers, for a longer period, but as they cost more, I’ll leave those for now.

So … I’m still on it, and it’s still working – apparently.

The picture is of the “big hill” we walked up last weekend. Last time we tried a big hill (Kinder Scout), we turned around and gave up. That one might be back on the plan of action this coming year.

How are your fitness and slimming plans coming along?