From the other side of silence

I’ve been silent for two months — hard for my friends to believe.  There are some rules I try to keep when blogging — such as not ranting about politics and not rabbiting on about the wonders of grand-children or the achievements of our children.

For 2 months, since the build up to our European Union Referendum in the United Kingdom, I have been preoccupied, riveted by events, all of which would contravene my rules of engagement if I were to write about them!

First, we are in the midst of a mini baby-boom, an echo of the post-war bulge and we have been dashing about inspecting the bumps and the newborn.

Secondly, we have been glued to the telly screen by interesting arguments, political turmoil, resignations, general jiggery-pokery, conspiracy (I’m always prone to favour that explanation over any other), treachery and selfless falling upon swords.  The voting habits of the whole country have divided according to completely new criteria — age, education, region (metropolitan vs. bumpkin) and national identity.  Brother, not against brother, but against father in a worrying resurgence of ageism as petulant democrats blame all the old people for voting Leave!

old people



This has all been most diverting from our personal position of reality (because everyday things here are actually happening and are much the same) with our feet firmly planted in mud and with lambs to feed and eggs to collect, somewhere to grow potatoes and a real product to sell (albeit in very small quantities).

Friends and relatives in the metropolis don’t seem to be enjoying the general upheaval  (the jolly good shake-up) half as much as we are (it’s just all so interesting).

Local people are suddenly politicised and pub-talk is most revealing.  Wales, particularly rural-Wales, voted resoundingly to leave the EU.  Welsh farmers, on paper, would seem to have more to lose from Brexit than almost any other group (their subsidies come from the EU) but I have yet to come across one who voted Remain — that must tell you something about the direct experience of how the whole thing works.  Perhaps, at last, they feel more British then European.  Or maybe, like us, it’s the realism in their industry (the mud) that protects them from the projected horrors of Brexit.

Then, as we wonder if our concerns about security might have been exaggerated, we are bombarded with horrendous news of terrorist attacks in Europe.

And now there is the US to worry about, you see we don’t have our feet on the ground there. All we have is what we are told on the media and we know that alarm and panic stories are what promote journalists.  At least that is what we hope!

Ecology, Wales


It’s a miracle and like the birth of a baby (or a lamb) it brings tears to your eyes;  one day the twigs on the oak trees look strangely spikey, the buds at their tips are swelling and beginning to crack open, furled leaf points are starting to show.  There is heavy rain over night and, next morning — like a magicians bunch of trick flowers — every bud is open and every leaf-vein filled with sap and suddenly, where a lattice of branches divided up the open sky, our woods are a solid mass of billowing green.


Say goodbye to the shamrocks, engulfed in woodland shade; they’ll soon be overtaken by the grasses, ferns and brackens, all scrambling towards the remains of the light.


But first — enjoy the bluebells!


The spring comes late in the Cambrian Hills but when it does it’s explosive!



Babies, Farm engineering, Trecking

Off-road baby buggy

My daughter has got a four-wheel-drive, all terrain baby buggy with off-road tyres.  It’s probably got floatation bags and an electric winch.  When you fold it up and put it in the car (hopefully you have retained all your digits) it can transfer all its mud to the other items of the boot — the travelling cot — the bags for life — the steriliser and all the indispensable baby paraphernalia.

The alternative is to attack it with baby wipes or to run it through the sea or a river ford — then it makes everything wet.

So here’s a thought:


This is the de-lux model but a cardboard box will do


animal psychology, Hill Farming, Sheep


Wolf alert — Mid-Wales


Well– not quite.  But it gave us quite a turn.

I was innocently photographing lambs at play when they yelled ‘Wolf!’ and hurtled towards me in panic.


Don’t panic!

I didn’t believe them but have a closer look at the photograph


Can you see it?

It is, in fact, a very well behaved cousin of wolf, the DNA is unmistakable even to a two week old lamb — they and their mothers cleared the paddock near the road in seconds — I didn’t even know they had a major evacuation plan.


They don’t like big cats either, or little ones — there is something about their shape that is hard wired into their perception of danger.  It’s a shame because Midnight, one of our farm cats, likes to walk around with me.


He takes an interest in sheep

But they will not tolerate him anywhere near when they are about to have their lambs!


 Clear off!


animal psychology, Hill Farming, Lambing


Sheep can undoubtedly tell the time.  However I fear their grasp of numeracy is in doubt.  Number 39 is a good mother she has raised  one fine lamb each year since 2014.

Here she is again this year — ‘This is my lamb!’


’39’ and lamb — 2016

So, ’39’ whose is this?


Just born and all alone — too young to be all alone!

This year she had twins which confused her — she knew they were both hers when they bleated or came close enough to smell — the trouble was she couldn’t count so when the second one went to sleep she’d wander off and forget it.


What do you mean — where’s my other lamb?

Thus it was that in the midst of a ferocious blizzard, I was seen running across the above field with a wriggling lamb under each arm, hotly pursued by an angry ewe, trying to knock me over sideways.  Anyway, the penny dropped that I wasn’t trying to abduct them when I plonked them both in a nice dry pen where mum was happy to join them and start her crash course in remedial numeracy, we’re only going up to two this year and she’s picked it up already!

But then, we all make mistakes: meet 33’s lamb!


Sleep deprivation? — or the reason I can’t back a trailer!


Hill Farming, Lambing

Progress Report!

Several of you have asked what happened to the poor little lamb that rolled in pooh and got rejected because it smelled like a dead badger.

After two harrowing days (for me) in the adopter, the ewe couldn’t tell her large washed and dried lamb from the smaller lamby lamb and they all left together.


Interestingly the mother seemed less stressed in the adopter than she had before when she was having to constantly fight off smelly alien lamb and protect her lovely lamby lamb from the atrocity.

Also she liked the catering arrangements in the adopter — so much so that at feeding time she now brings her two lambs back into the shed and into her pen to be fed and so that I can weigh them!  Sheep like routine!



The rest of the time they are outside with the other twins.


Some of this years twins playing out.


Hill Farming

Puddle-duck Investments!

There is a story that farmers tell all over the world – it goes something like this:

‘a farmer had a family so he bought a cow to provide milk but it gave more than they could drink so they made butter and cheese to sell at the farm-gate but this left them with lots of buttermilk and whey so they bought some pigs to drink the buttermilk and whey but the pigs produced lots of muck so they brought a pooh-digester to produce gas for green energy but they got too hot so they built  chicken sheds to heat with all the green energy but the chickens produced loads of guano so they bought a pelleter and sold the guano pellets as fertilizer and used them on the farm to boost production of root crops but the supermarkets wouldn’t buy the misshapen ones so they bought some sheep to eat the swedes and parsnips and mangle-worzels (which they added because they liked the name) but the sheep produced meat and wool (and a lot of gas) and they were left with the sheep-skins so they opened a tannery which needed lots of water so they build a dam which made a big lake and it seemed a shame not to keep some fish so they stocked it with trout and people came to catch the trout and in hot weather they wanted ice cream so they bought an ice cream machine but they didn’t have enough milk so they had to buy another cow…’

We bought two ducks and since last October they have produced 280 eggs which is more than we can eat (we have two hens as well) so we’ve opened a farm-gate shop.

Welsh Eggs


Here it is.



Like all businesses it has to be promoted.

Rustic slate signs — farmers in Wales use anything that is available.

Our friends down the lane did the same with their hen’s eggs and business is so good and demand so great that they have already had to buy more chickens.

We sold our first six eggs yesterday and within an hour we had a telephone call (our egg-boxes carry all the require traceability information) from the purchaser wishing to bestow unsolicited praise upon our product!

We fear this may be the start of Puddle-duck Investments — a global agri-industry (see above – farmer’s tale).