Tuesday 30 August 2022

Sunshine Hotel

 Well, that was an exceptional spell. With nearly 12 weeks without rain, the whole place was a tinderbox where we were feared to even light the bbq. Thankfully myself and my numerous house guests Googled how to do a rain-dance, which involved much hilarity and alcohol, but guess what, it seems to have worked, as the skies opened for the first time yesterday! Having put our own personal spin on it, the ‘toe-heel-stomp boogie’ will shortly be for sale, should anyone wish to purchase such a technically successful product! As some will have seen, fires have been raging across France with our valley filled with smoke, despite the fact the flames are 50 miles away. Hopefully these recent showers will quell their anger for a while anyway but a lot of the Lande forest has been destroyed.

Our long and arduous road trip finally came to an end, when got back home safely some weeks ago now, to find the grass 3 feet high and the whole place overgrown. Unfortunately we just missed winning the Triple Crown with our Ryeland sheep, narrowly missing out at the Royal Welsh Show, ending with just Reserve Female Champion which, on any other year, I would have been quite pleased with. On reflection, we didn’t do too badly, coming home with 2 cups and 17 rosettes in total. By time this goes to print, our prized ram should have been sold at Worcester, hopefully for a reasonable price to a good home. Fingers crossed. We also managed to purchase a new ram as well as another female, taking our flock numbers up to a manageable four ewes.

I mentioned our house-guests, whom we have today dispatched back to Bewdley/Kidderminster, probably for a quiet rest. Meanwhile the next ones arrive tomorrow and so it continues as we restock the fridges once more. It has been a hard two weeks trying to stay hydrated in 40 degree heat but potentially my two sons and partners may have a cooler time here. I know one thing, by time we empty the house in mid September, I think we will be due a holiday ourselves. On that note, I had arranged to take a bunch of farmers on tour to Montana in mid Sept but a few technical difficulties have forced us to cancel that one. I’m not too sad, to be honest, as it may give me time to catch up with some work/sleep.

A character often mentioned in this column is our sheep Daisy Death-wish, now in her 11th year. Sadly a few days ago she jumped the fence to get at the neighbours crops and got her leg caught in the wire, where she then spent the night. We are doing our best to save her and bring her back to health but unfortunately with age against her the prospect doesn’t look great. Again, fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, Haggis, the new terrier puppy in the house is settling in, being spoiled by all the guests and perhaps not getting the discipline she requires. I have to say, so far, she is far more placid than one would expect of a Border Terrier although she has taken command of most of the cats. She does have a stubborn streak in her though, choosing to ignore most of my instructions, but then, just about everyone in this house does that already. She is a bit of a foodie too, although attempting to steal Pooper’s food comes with it perils. The cats are none too keen sharing theirs either and the poor wee sole has had her ears boxed more than once.

In other news my weekly podcast Toplines and Tales is still going strong heading for our 100th episode. We were entered in the British Farming Awards but didn’t quite make it on to the shortlist this year. With at least four books in the ‘work in progress’ drawer, life doesn’t seem to have slowed down after 60 like they told me it would!  Anyway, onwards and upwards.

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