Sunday, 28 February 2010

U and Non-U

Britain is still afflicted with a rigid class system. I say "still" because if you've ever read anything by Jane Austen, the characters she described in the 18th century are alive and well in modern Britain today. Or should I say "modern" Britain.

As an American, the class system quite frankly grates on me. It's not from envy, I promise. It's from a deep-seated sense of social justice, probably instilled in me as a child watching Sesame Street. Sesame Street taught me and my generation what it means to be fair, respectful, and community-minded. And that everyone had the opportunity to do well and be judged on his or her own merits. Not so in Britain. You are born into your class, and your accent, taste (or lack of it) and your parents' education or profession will always define you. You are a U (upper classes) or you are a non-U (middle classes on downwards).

It's part of the undercurrent of my daily life and I don't usually rant about it, but it's been in the forefront of my mind this week. Ever since the young lord called Mike. He invited us to the big house to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of Mike's employment as Head Gamekeeper to the family. 20 years' service is very respectable and I thought it was kind of them to remember and mark the event.

But I'm realistic. I didn't expect much. Staff in private employ have more in common with livestock. You're here to improve the estate, and the employee (and their family) essentially belongs to the estate owners. If you're really lucky, you're more like a favored pet and your life is marginally improved. We're not, so it isn't.

I know to some degree anyone who works for a living is indentured to the company which pays his or her wage. The difference is when you go home at night, your time is your own. In service, you are always 'on the clock'. You are expected to do whatever is asked of you at any time, whether it's to park cars for a party, collect the Bishop of Winchester for a christening, or dress like a Roman centurion and stand on a plinth in the depths of winter. I could tell you some stories.

Anyway, we were summoned to the house this morning at 10.45 am. If they really wanted to thank us they would have left us to catch up on our sleep before the season gets busy again, but that's not how a U thinks. I had to take a shower, fight with my hair (the Us have straight manageable hair so I tried to make the effort) and put on a pair of Spanx and a skirt. Anyone who's worn Spanx knows that in and of itself is enough to make anyone disinclined to be social.

Although we were invited guests on this occasion, we knew to use the servant's entrance. We were led through the kitchen into the library where half the family had roused themselves from bed to thank Mike for his years of service. Lord and Lady S, the middle son and a nephew with spouses in tow, and children with their nanny. We were offered a glass of champagne and a water cracker, toasted Mike, then made 10 minutes of small talk on approved subjects (a non-U should always know what subjects are acceptable when speaking to a U. Politics, religion, or anything of a personal nature is verboten). We discussed the upcoming shoot season, hunting, how the nephew's young dog was progressing with its training. Mike diffused a situation between Lord S and one of the children regarding shooting of ducks out of season yesterday. Mike is incredibly diplomatic in these situations, and has often taken the rap or masterminded a cover-up for the indiscretions of the young lords when they were growing up. He accepts this because he has been thoroughly indoctrinated. He knows he's a non-U born to serve these Us, as his mother did, and as her parents did.

So that was it. 20 years' service equals a thank you, a glass of champagne, and a water cracker. I know the thank you was heartfelt, but you'll forgive me for thinking it's not a fair exchange for Mike's loyalty and skills. Maybe it's just because I'm an American and I don't get the system.

Once I got home and wrestled myself out of the Spanx, I resolved to invest and save wisely, for the sole purpose of buying Mike his freedom from indentured servitude. I expect the de-programming will take longer. I want Mike to know the freedom of working for himself. Or at least the freedom to say 'no' to posing as a hypothermic centurion. If we ever have children, they are only watching Sesame Street.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Barbara the Weather Chicken

Anyone who works outdoors quickly develops an obsession with the weather. This is particularly true if you live on an island like England with its changeable island climate. Large land masses like the US mean more predictable weather patterns, and the systems stay in place longer. One sunny day is usually followed by a few more. Here we get sun, rain, sleet, and snow all in a day. And this time of year, it feels like a predominance of rain and miserly amounts of sun.

Anyhoo, the BBC is our usual provider for weather reports. But we have since found another source - Barbara our silkie hen. She doesn't so much predict the weather as embody it. She is a testament to what the day's been like weather-wise. Here's 'dry and sunny day' Barbara:

And here's Barbara letting us know it's been a wet and wintry day:

So we've got a chicken that can tell the weather. Now, if only I can teach one of the dogs to read Tarot cards, we could take this show on the road.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Land Update

I just heard from the land agent that the sellers have accepted our offer. We had to pony up a bit more than I wanted but it's still in our means. Just.

I feel slightly sick to my stomach, turning all our ready monies into assets which we hope will show a decent return on investment, both as land and as a return on crops like hay, pigs, and sheep. Mike is confident and forward-thinking about this kind of thing, moreso than me. I get mired in familiarity. But we both agree it's a reasonable risk to take.

I won't count my proverbial chickens until all the paperwork is signed off and the deed handed over. As this is England, we are vulnerable to being 'gazumped'. It's a practice peculiar to England (I think it's illegal in Scotland) and very unsettling to any home- or landbuyer. At any point in this process up until everything's signed, the sellers can pull out and sell to another buyer if they're offered more money. As this bit of land hadn't even been listed (i.e. made public that it was for sale) and in less than 24 hours we were one of two buyers, we are holding our breath that we won't be gazumped. We're paying market price, but I'm sure there are others willing to pay above market without even blinking, like relocated Londoners who want grazing for a daugher's beloved but retired pony. We can't compete with city money.

But we could get lucky.

Sunday, 21 February 2010


At the moment, the lambs are still sleeping in the kennel where they're safe from predators and where there's a heat lamp to keep the chill out. During the day they're coming out onto the grass to get some sun and to watch the world go by. They're keen to follow me as it's nearly lunchtime -

Who needs a sheepdog?

And when it's time to go back to their kennel for dinner, they are just as happy to oblige -

And then the clean up crew moves in to tidy any leftover lamb pellets -

Everyone's happy.

While the animals were feasting, Mike and I went to the clay shooting ground. Mike mounted and fired his gun for the first time since our accident. These are the tools of his trade and he's been worried he won't be able to employ them to any effect, and afraid the recoil would aggravate his shoulder.

He tried the 20 bore and the semi-auto. He's not mounting a gun as well as he used to yet and it took its toll on his shoulder. But it's a first step. I can fill the vermin shooting gap (along with others) until he's better. It will just take a bit of time.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Some news

We heard through the rural telegraph that a small field was coming up for sale not far from us. Only ten acres and it needs some fencing work, but it's enough that I can expand my flock of sheep, rotate the horses' grazing and even keep a few weiners. We drove by and looked it over. Talked it over. As home accountant, I reviewed our finances and did the sums. We can afford it if we pull our belts in for at least the next year. We've put in an offer, but we can't go any higher. And there's another interested party. We are keeping our fingers crossed anyway.

Back at home, one of the bantam hens is poorly, the horses needed their worming treatments, and Pearl has a mild case of bloat. I set up a small pen of sheep hurdles so the lambs can spend warmer days on grass in the sun, next to the apple tree. I also replaced the broken panes of glass in the greenhouse, collected two buckets of rotted horse manure for the tomato beds, and put my seed potatoes out to chit. And I took the dogs out for a run behind the quad bike because it was such a pretty evening with the low winter sun.

I can't remember being so happy, even without an extra 10 acres. But I'm still hoping.

Friday, 19 February 2010

And what the new lambs have taught me

An addendum to yesterday's post - something the new batch of lambs has taught me: Lamb milk replacer is just that, replacement milk for lambs. It does not in any way replace milk in your morning coffee. If you run out, drink your coffee black. Trust me on this.

However, those little battery-powered whizzy sticks for frothing milk for your cappucino? Brilliant at mixing the replacement milk powder. It breaks down all the lumps so the teats don't get blocked up.

I just thought I'd share.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Big Lamb and Little Lamb

I collected our lamb carcases today. They have hung in a friend's chiller for 8 days and were ready to break down for the freezer. I worried that I would get as upset as I did when I dropped them off to the abattoir, so to steel myself I took a valium. I expect real farmers don't self-medicate either. 

I didn't want to show any weakness in front of Peggy, the local butcher who agreed to supervise while I processed my two lamb carcases. I needn't have worried. In truth, once I carried the first carcases into the butchery room, I didn't even associate it with my lambs. Now it was simply food.

And not healthy food - you want to see the layer of fat on those lambs! Mike admitted that, as their days were numbered, he was giving them extra rations. A kind of last supper for the condemned. But as I kept putting off the inevitable, their last supper turned into a month-long feast of rolled barley and sugar beet.

I started to cut my first half lamb at 11am. I finished cutting up, bagging and cleaning the butchery at 4.30pm. For 5 hours I stood at the block cutting, sawing, removing excess fat, de-boning, rolling, and cleaving. Peggy brought me a cup of tea that I drank while I worked.

By the last lamb half, I could finally remember the sequence of cuts for myself and I was getting into a rhythm, aided by being overtired and hungry ( I'd missed breakfast). I stopped overthinking and just cut. In a kind of Karate Kid 'wax-on-wax-off' epiphany I learned a few things:
1) When you're tired enough to finally give into the task, you relax - you don't try and force your knife into the meat and the whole process goes more smoothly. This also makes you less likely to slip and drive the blade into your own hand.
2) A fatty lamb is a waste, not only because it means you fed them more costly inputs than necessary but because it takes a bloody long time to remove all that fat from each joint.
3) Lamb fat is a miracle cure for chapped hands

I also learned some things from the carcases themselves. My feeding programme was too concentrate heavy; they would have thrived on more grass or haylage. Their glands were all clear, no infections so they were healthy. However, one lamb had its liver rejected at vet inspection due to liver fluke so I must include a flukicide in the ewes' worming programme.

Had I turned around and rescued my lambs from the abattoir, the lamb with liver fluke would have died relatively soon and none of that meat would have been fit for consumption. Fluke is usually associated with wet grazing; my lambs only grazed a dry paddock so I was unprepared for a fluke problem.

Here's the result of my 5 hours' work, still in the back of the truck. I'm just off to see Paul our estate stalker. He's kindly let me use his vacuum-packing machine to prepare this meat for the freezer. It will last 12 months this way; I don't want to waste any of it. And I'm paying Paul in lamb meat - a shoulder for his Sunday roast. I don't think I'm ready to eat any lamb just yet, but I think we will be enjoying it sooner than we expected too. I'm proud of our first lambs.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


Meet Eudora -

She's the newest addition to the flock. Another orphan ewe which our farmer friend gave me to start my flock. Six of us were sat around his kitchen table til midnight last night talking about worming programs, rotational grazing, and country life in general. And we just happened to bring along a lovely single friend of ours to meet him. They have sheep in common, which is a promising start to any relationship. She even helped me give the lambs their bottles before she went home. That's a good friend.

Eudora, Pearl, and Ivy (with a milk mustache)

Eudora settled right in. I think she was glad of the company. They're living in the back kennel - dubbed the 'lamb-a-rama' - until the weather warms up and dries out.

It's not quite spring but already the babies are arriving. Mike had a phone call from Lady S this morning. She found 3 duck eggs from her pair of runner ducks and asked if we would hatch them for her. Duck eggs are tricky as they require higher humidity to hatch than chicken eggs. But I'll fire up our small incubator tonight and get it up to temperature, and give the duck eggs a go for her.

The new shooting year started yesterday. We are catching up pheasant hens to lay the eggs that will grow into poults and be put to wood for this coming season. At dusk I can see the lights from Land Rovers and ATVs on the top of hill, all belonging to gamekeepers checking their traps on dark. No bird gets left inside overnight where they would be vulnerable to a fox. 

And we're waiting for Dulcie to come into season. There's enough of us on the shoot who would like a young pup to bring on. She's going to be paired up with another working dog on the shoot and we're hoping for a litter of Dulcie pups by early summer. The lambs will have grown up and moved out onto grass, and I can prepare the kennel for Dulcie and her pups. Once the pups are whelped and weaned, there will probably be just enough time to run some more meat chicks through there.

It's amazing what you can do with a small kennel, a wire run, and a heat lamp.

Sunday, 14 February 2010


We're practical folk. Flowers are overpriced, and anyway I'm just as happy with a nice foliage display picked from the woods around here. Chocolate makes me fat, and I don't need any encouragement in that department. And I know Mike loves me. But, we did need a new vacuum cleaner. That strange 'burning plastic' smell I described in a post the other day? Apparently that's the first sign of the motor burning out. Which, in hindsight, makes perfect sense. So I had a brand new vacuum cleaner for Valentine's Day. And a little basket with my favorite yogurt, and some olives and biscuits, and a little tin with a chicken on it that I can keep pins in.

I did spend the day with loved ones. I took the dogs out for a run behind the quad bike this morning:

Check out Dulcie, the spaniel on the far left - that's her normal speed, all 4 feet off the ground

It's not great exercise for me but the dogs can run at their speed, and it helps to rid them of their spaniel energy. They're so fit from working that it's not fair to just retire them for the season, so I 'rough them off' like you would a fit horse. They always get their morning and evening walks regardless.

And I spent the afternoon with Mike in the woods, cutting and splitting logs for our wood pile. Actually, it was quite romantic. The snowdrops are in bloom -

The sun was out, and we went at a sedate pace. I cut while he split and in no time we had a full load.

No wonder my back hurts, I stand like a flid when I'm sawing

Miss February - "Saws & Paws" Calendar

So we sat on a log and watched the sun go down.

Dakota has always been my regular chainsawing companion but I think she's OK about sharing me with Mike. As long as she still gets to ride in the front of the ATV -

I hope everyone else had a happy Valentine's Day too.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

OK- how about best two out of three...

Mike and I drove to Dever Springs to do some fishing yesterday. The lambs came too, so we could give them their 4-hourly feeds. We put them in a dog crate in the back seat. They were good little travellers, better than children (no whining 'Are we THERE yet?)

It's about 2 hours' drive to Dever. We got up early, and the sun came out for a change, but it was below zero with a serious wind chill. Dever is on Salibury Plain (not far from Stonehenge), and the winds howl across the flat land. We got there and headed right to the lodge to warm up with a cup of coffee, and catch up with Neil and Stuart, who run the fishery.

Warmed up and ready to face the fish!

Neil and Stu were in the middle of re-stocking the fishing lakes, moving the fully grown fish from the nursery ponds into the lakes, and putting the almost grown ones back in, to finish growing.  We agreed as payment for my fly-fishing lessons with Neil (teacher extrordinaire) that I would help them with the restocking process by running the almost-grown fish back to the nursery pond. It was fascinating (and tiring).

First the fish were rounded up in a seine net:

Then Stu scooped them up in a hand net and Neil sorted them by size.

Isn't it easier just to keep one, rather than put it in the lake and fish it back out? 

Neil throws the big ones in the tank - literally:

Good aim Neil!

And I run a netful of too-small fish back to the stock pond (the one farthest away!):

The worst idea for an olympic sport ever

And tip them in, making sure they were oxygenated and ready to swim away. Neil says "Give 'em a poke with the net - that wakes them up!":

Once the big fish were separated from the little fish, we drove the tank to the lake, backed it up and Stu fitted a fish waterslide to what looked like a catflap. The lever opened and it was like the log flume ride at a fun park:

If you listen closely you can hear the fish go 'WHEEEE!!'

At this point Mike came back with the first fish of the day:

Check out the manly beard!

Normally I would be competetive, but Mike snuck off to see if he could still cast a fly. His arm movements are restricted from his skin grafts post-accident. He had been a very keen fly-fisherman and was quietly fearful he wouldn't be able to cast the line anymore. When he came back with the fish, I hugged him and we both shed a little tear, but that quickly gave way to laughing, and the competition was back on.

Mike went back to fish. Neil and I took up a spot across the way and Neil gave me a great casting lesson. The trick is timing (let your line stretch out behind before you cast forward) and to relax and let the rod do all the work. My casting improved and Neil was full of kind (undeserved) praise.

Mike caught another fish while I was having my lesson. DAMN! By this time we were all succumbing to the bone-crushing cold winds, and took to the lodge for a quick coffee and defrost.

Once I'd thawed out enough, Neil sent me back out on my own with a rod and fly. Three hours' fishing, as the sun was starting to set, I caught my very first trout on the fly:

My 5lbs 4oz rainbow trout
Coincidentally, I took this trout in the exact same spot that Mike landed his first Dever trout. He claims his first trout was bigger, of course.

Mike decided to have 'one last cast' which lasted nearly another hour (he lost his fly to a good fish and was determined to get both the fish and his fly back). Not even a nibble. I told him the fish was full from the meal Mike had just provided.

His form's changed a bit, but he can still get that line out there!

The final score was Mike's 2 trout to my 1. And he had the biggest fish at 7 1/2 lbs. Most importantly, he can get back to a hobby he really enjoys. And I've got the feeling back in my fingers, so it's win-win. I will practice my cast in the back field, and be back for a rematch. When the weather warms up.

When we got back home it was snowing.

We left them in the back of the truck last night and they're frozen solid!

Mike's got one more post-accident hurdle - using a shotgun. We worried the recoil might be too much for his shoulder, but after yesterday's success, he wants to pop up to the clay pigeon ground with my 20 bore today. I'm happy to endure the cold weather for that.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Real Farmers Don't Cry

I took big lamb and little lamb to the abattoir yesterday. I was stoic all through the hitching of the trailer, backing it up to the field, leading them in and driving to the destination. I unloaded them into their holding pen, signed the paperwork, put the ramp up on the trailer, drove out of the yard (out of sight of the workers) and just started sobbing my heart out. I kept driving but couldn't stop crying.

Mike said "Jen, let's just turn around and go get them. They can live in the field with the others." I wanted to, but I didn't. I knew what they were for when I raised them, I knew it would be hard, and I knew that they had a good (and longer than normal) life. But I didn't like it. Mike offered to go back 3 or 4 times on the way home (he was sad too). But we didn't.

We're picking up our first home reared, grass-fed lamb for the freezer on Thursday.

Between sobs, I said to Mike "I bet real farmers don't cry". Mike said "I'll tell you something. As you were backing up the trailer for unloading I said to the guy 'Go easy on her mate, these are her first lambs and she might get upset.' And do you know what he said? He said 'Trust me, she wouldn't be the first.'"

I guess you have to love animals to want to raise them and care for them in the first place.

Our two new orphans seem to be managing their first week of life. Temperatures have plummeted and there's a fierce wind about, so I've kept the heat lamp in their shed on permanently so they can convert their food into growth rather than just keeping warm. I open the door to the run for a few hours a day, for fresh air and some extra space. Some of  the chickens perch on their run, and the lambs come over to investigate. So far so good. We're calling around to see if any more orphan ewes need a home, as we'd like to have at least 3 lambs around the same age.

We're on holiday this week but pretty tied to the house with animal commitments. But Mike promised to take me fly fishing at Dever Springs tomorrow. It's a world renowned trout lake, about 2 hours from here, and our friend Neil is the head keeper. Neil has promised me a fly fishing lesson and I'd hate to miss the opportunity. The lambs still need a feed every 4 hours so they're coming with us in a dog crate in the back seat of the car. A bit of fishing, a quick lunch for us and the lambs, a bit more fishing, then home for evening chores.

I bet real farmers don't take their lambs fishing either. I won't tell them if you don't.

Friday, 5 February 2010

New Arrivals

We got the call yesterday to come and collect some orphan ewe lambs from our neighbours. They keep a prize-winning flock of Polled Dorsets so I was excited to be starting with such pedigreed stock. Over-excited really, as I got the call at noon but had to wait til 5pm to pick them up. Mike rolled his eyes at me while I did a little dance and busied myself with getting their new home ready - the whelping kennel behind the house. By the time we were ready to go I composed myself and put on an aloof, pragmatic air so our farmer neighbours knew they were dealing with a serious stockman here.

That working for about a millisecond, until we walked past the pens of newborn calves. I resisted petting the livestock but couldn't help making girly comments about how cute they were, all fluffy and clean. More eye rolling from Mike, joined by the farmer. Then we entered the lambing barn. Oh. My. God. I think I said something like "How freakin' CUTE are THEY?!?! And proceeded to manhandle as many lambs as I could reach.

I'm pretty sure my serious stockman credibility is blown.

If that didn't do it, this probably did:
The farmer looked amused when I said they could ride home in my lap (I didn't want them to get cold and lonely riding in the back). On the way home I named them Pearl and Ivy.

They needed a feed when we got home. Especially Ivy who had been rejected by her foster mother and hadn't been allowed to feed properly. I put them on the kitchen floor while I mixed their milk.

They are so tiny. And they have a sort of 'new baby smell' which, combined with the sweet smell of the lamb milk powder, is intoxicating and primitive.

Ivy is the eater, and hit her bottle with reckless abandon. Pearl was resistant to the bottle and probably preferred her milk direct from the source. But she'll learn.

Close-up of Pearl. Seriously, how cute is that face?

I was up at 6 this morning to give them their first feed, and check on them after their first night in the shed. They were dry and warm, and bleating softly when I opened the door. It was so dark I was feeding them by flashlight, holding it in my mouth so I had two hands free to wrestle lambs and bottles. Again, Ivy was keen to drink. Pearl needed persuading but she managed to feed.

The sun's not quite up yet, but the fire's going and the dogs have had their breakfast and I've got my first cup of coffee. I might go have a read though the guide for new moms, Practical Sheep Keeping and dream of first place ribbons at the county show.

Proud mom

Let there be light

I woke up yesterday with an eye infection. This is a nuisance because I had planned to go deer stalking this morning but I can't wear my contact lenses, and I can't see through the rifle scope wearing my glasses. And Mike had arranged for me to stalk a muntjac deer on our vacation next week (one of the species I need to make up my ' Big 6') So both are on hold until this clears up.

Mike came in yesterday from work and said "I have another repair job for you." I looked at his coat and saw a large tear and down filling leaking out.

"No problem, I'm sewing up your tweeds, so just put it in the pile".

He twisted around to see where I was pointing. "Oh, I didn't see that." he said. "Actually I meant this fence tester need re-wiring"

I love that my husband sees me as a competent bodger of minor tools. "Sure, glad to do it." I probably had a little pride in my voice. And nonchalance. Like 'Of course, it is so simple for me'. I was still coming off my high of repairing the ram raddle harness with a leather repair kit I bought over the internet. (A great investment of £14 by the way)

Raddle harness - another quality bodge by yours truly

I looked at the tester. "Have we got any electrical tape?"

"Yeah, in the back shed somewhere" he said " But the light bulb's gone again"

"OK, I'll change the bulb in the morning and look for the tape" I said

"And I think we need a new starter for the strip light in the kitchen. It's slow to turn on. I finished pouring a cup of tea last night in the dark by the time it came on".

Slow is not broken. I'm not fixing it until the light won't come on. But I made a mental note to pick up a starter when I'm in town. And possibly electrical tape.

"Use the light over the stove for now" I said.

"That bulb's gone too." Mike said

Of course it is. OK - starter, tape, bulb..."I'd better make a list or I'll forget. Can you hand me a pen?" I was still trying to thread a needle to start fixing his tweeds.

I heard shuffle, shuffle, clatter..."Jen...none of these pens work..."

If anyone's coming to visit us soon, we're easy to find. Just look for the house with no lights on. And if you could bring some candles and a pen I'd be really grateful

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Nature Abhors My Vacuum

It's raining again. Lots. The ground is squishy already; I don't walk to the car so much as slide towards it. I'm using a walking stick to get from the back door to the kennels without falling over.

It's not enough to endure the mud and slop outside, Mike and the dogs bring at least half of it in the house with them. Mike sits in the chair without taking his coat and wellies off. The dogs creep onto the furniture when they think I'm not looking, which is convenient for Mike who blames all the mess on them, even the Mike-shaped mud angel in his chair.

When it finally dries, it leaves a silty deposit that covers everything. I only regularly clean it off the TV screen so I can watch 'Columbo' on Sunday.

Phyllis Diller said that cleaning your house when your kids are still living there is like shoveling the drive when it's still snowing. This same applies to dogs and spouses. But it's got so bad in here and it was raining so I couldn't ignore it by going outside. I plugged in my iPod and my vacuum and started in our front room.

Our cottage is small. The front room is only about 9' x 14' and it's only got a wooden floor. The carpeted rooms are rarely used because of our perpetual fithiness. We save those rooms for when we have guests, and shut the door to hide the front room from view.

I vacuumed the tiny front room, under the sofa and behind the furniture, and completely filled the canister on the Dyson. Yikes! I emptied it and started on the even smaller kitchen and porch area. I was happily listening to week's episode of Car Talk when I started to smell something like burning plastic. The vacuum was full again and the poor machine was overheating. I'd barely started. I guess my vacuum's not too fond of nature either.

I wondered if Click and Clack gave advice on home appliances. Does a vacuum have a head gasket?

Mike was due home and would be letting the house dogs in for their dinner. So I locked the door.

I thought "I cleaned it, I'm going to enjoy it even if only for a few minutes, even if it's only two rooms."

It was a small victory but I earned it.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

I've done the deed...

The lambs are booked in for "processing" next Tuesday morning. We've chosen an abbattoir nearby, with an excellent reputation for animal welfare. I still feel like a heel. A farmer friend told me "Just don't look them in the eye when you drop them off."

I wonder if I can convince myself they're just going away for summer camp? Camp Cutlet? Camp Deepfreeze? Leggamutton?

I hope this gets easier.