Monday, 24 September 2012


I believe the Buddhists are right about living in the present and being mindful. I tried to learn meditation (is that an oxymoron?) after reading my share of Thich Nhat Hanh books at college, but I was a poor student of Buddhism (especially the "no intoxicants" precept) and could never quiet my mind. At my core I'm a planner, and a list maker, and that means I live perpetually in the future, making preparations.

I'm preparing for relatives visiting tomorrow. There aren't many of us in my family, a dozen or so, and we're spread out all over - we seem pre-programmed to continue the diaspora our ancestors began, though thankfully not driven by potato famines or civil unrest anymore. Now it's curiosity and better job offers. My family stops in England on their way to different European destinations, and I lumber them with my daily chores, which they gamely accept and even enjoy. I have some sheep moving lined up for my uncle this week, and some poultry grading for my aunt in a fortnight's time. She was a renowned poultry judge in the US, and I plan to exploit her expertise on my crop of roosters: which to keep and which to eat.

Mike is preparing for his nearly-grown partridge to arrive tomorrow. We have stocked a pond in a wild area on the estate with some duck too, for our rough shooting clients, and continue to keep the ducks there with a daily feed. Partridge and duck season started 1st September, but we don't host our first guests until 13th October, which is very late for us. Weather and the economy have both had a hand in our late start.

I am preparing for the change is seasons, and celebrated the last of the dry weather and the first day of autumn by camping out overnight. Some dogs came with me to celebrate, at least the ones that could fit in the back of the Land Rover -

I'm also preparing for lambing which starts - officially - on 20th October. However, looking at Gregor, one of my ewes with triplets, I can't see her making it a whole month without either giving birth or exploding -

She's so fat that she sits up like a dog. Like a dog that's eaten another really fat dog -

Needless to say, she's not getting supplementary barley or oats at this juncture.

It appears that it's not just baby lambs I need to prepare for -

The lavender pekin was the original sitter, but the big buff hen decided to join in. They may end up sharing the brood. It's not common but we had two old brown hens who shared a brood of chicks very successfully. I'm never prepared for the diversity of behaviours displayed by individuals in a flock or pack, but I welcome them and the chance to observe such variety. In fact, if there's ever a time when I feel do "in the moment", it's watching the animals being themselves.

Mike and I finished our preparations with enough time to enjoy a ride to the local pub on our horses. There's a small field where we can "park" them while we have a glass of cider. 

The ride back is a very relaxed occasion, and I'm grateful that our horses are slow and steady, and know their way home.

Intellectually I know that one can never be prepared for all eventualities, and my compulsive list making - although deeply satisfying - will never change the course of the universe. But, no one can fault a little bit of forward planning. My house will be sort of cleaned in time for guests, I have a stock of colostrum and prolapse harnesses for lambing ewes (just in case), and a spare broody house for chicks and hen(s). The only thing that died this week was the washing machine, and the only thing that would really improve my quality of life is socks that wouldn't slip down into my welly boots when I walk up hills.

Other that that, I think we're doing OK.


el said...

I envy your horseback trek to the pub. You seem always to be living the life of one of James Herriot's clients (albeit in the 21st century); my 8 year old daughter and I can't stop rewatching all those episodes, thank you Netflix. But it was your Buff O. I had to comment on. What is it about them and late broodiness? I have two, and both are so prone. And yes, Sarah even sat and shared a nest with Pauline last year...they brought up 2 chicks, to our surprise; I had to rename them of course (at least temporarily) in honor of my own same-sex boss and her partner and 2 kids.

good luck with the relations! They are in for fun.

Poppy Cottage said...

But may I be the first to sing.......
Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Jeeeeennnnn.......Happy Birthday to you (For tomorrow that is!!)

Hope you have a really lovely day and get spoilt xx

See you for Dog walk when your guests have gone, have something you might like and find useful x

Hazel said...

Happy Birthday!

Have a lovely day,

From a fellow List Maker x

Sara said...

Happy Birthday, Gwen! Have a great visit with your family. Drinking cawfee in your honor today. ;)

Janice Bendixen said...

Happy Birthday from stormy, flooded Southcentral Alaska Jen! Congratulations on the no-deaths week (although washing machines are pretty important). Don't apologize about the list-making. I've decided it's innate. More than 10 years ago my mother was visiting me in the big city from Nome. I was driving her around to do her shopping and she kept leafing through a small notebook. I asked her what she was doing. Her reply: "Going through my old lists." Guess what I do now on a regular basis? Except I'm too disorganized to keep them in a notebook. They're scatter all throughout the house... Have a marvelous day

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

When you're finished with your lists, perhaps you'll come help us with ours? Every marriage/business/partnership needs an organized listmaker, and we don't have one. The only person worse than I am at getting things organized and taking on administrative duties is Kevin. We need a wife, we always say.

I must say that, in the face of lots of complicated livestock situations and a houseful of impending guests, you sound calm and in control. Which means everything is bound to go off without a hitch.

And, also, that is the fattest sheep I have ever seen.

Anonymous said...

This any good?

Accidental Mick