Sunday, 30 March 2014

Moved

As a paid up member of the "I've recently moved house" clan, I can say officially that it sucked, and I hope I don't have to do that again soon. We didn't just move house, we moved farm and workplace with us as well. The logistics of moving your livestock to make sure it's in a place where someone can look after it is complicated. Our solution was to leave Mike in Dorset catching pheasants - fifteen hundred pheasants! - and send underkeeper Ian and me to Hereford to keeper them as they got delivered. In the interim, I had to move one horse, 43 sheep, 16 chickens, 2 turkeys, and 7 dogs, and 24 years' worth of Mike's accumulated possessions, two and a half hour's drive up the road.

Did I mention that the Land Rover, our towing vehicle, broke? It's still in Dorset now waiting for a new engine. The truck decided to follow suit when I was halfway to Hereford, loaded with all the dogs and guns. I managed to limp it here at exactly 56 miles per hour, fearing the alternative: convincing a tow truck driver to let me decant a pack of excited dogs, 60 lbs of dog food, and a small armoury of weapons into his cab.

I got a moving company to drive the contents of our house to Hereford. The stuff in the house was the least of my concerns. The movers get our stuff to this end, dump the boxes and run, but there's nothing to feed or water - unless you count the houseplants. While they loaded their vans, I organised a bank loan and bought a new truck. I drove to our new cottage and found it filled with boxes that, in hindsight, I should have labelled more clearly. Along with boxes, I found a visiting relative who dropped in for a week's stay on his way back from Germany. While I wrestled with the contents of the boxes, he made shims for all our furniture, as the floors of the new cottage are less than level -

Our Tim Burton-esque architecture - top of the stairs

Hell, I'd sag and sway too if I were a couple hundred years old.

At the same time, our house was full of workmen trying to rewire the incubator shed via the house. The electrics needed upgrading to run the six incubator and hatcher machines we'd brought from Dorset - well, the machines that a pair of specialist incubator service guys had dismantled, driven up, and reassembled in the shed.

The incubator room, pre-tidying! The hatching room is to the left.

My technical knowhow ran to brewing coffee and tea for the workmen, and cooking dinner for my visitor.

I also wished that I hadn't given up drinking for Lent.

As everyone worked furiously to get the electrics and machines working, the pheasant hens started to lay eggs. The first batches were too early, so I fed them to the dogs in a ginormous omelette mixed with out-of-date foods I found while unpacking. So, dogs' dinner was pheasants eggs with soba noodles one night, and cooked barley the next.

As of last night, we have two incubators up and running - enough to get the earliest eggs in and get the dogs back on dry food.

With our trucks out of commission, farmer friends stepped in with their trucks and trailers. Mike H towed Kitty in my horsebox, and Dominic and Bridget from Simply Dorset took time off during lambing to drive my flock up to Hereford. They now have our mobile high seat, a spare shed, and our unending gratitude, none of which is recompense enough for their help.

Unloading the top level of the trailer onto the new field

Towing a trailer full of livestock turns a 2+hour drive into 4 hours. One way. The sheep had a long ride in the trailer, carefully driven for their comfort by Dominic. They had been under Mike's haphazard shepherding care the week I was moving house, and he'd let poor Pumpkin go backwards. We almost lost Pumpkin from the stress of the move, but he toughed it out (after a dose of wormer and some TLC from me) and he's pulled though yet again. Man, I wish all my flock were as hardy as that ugly, runty Pumpkin.

They've hammered the paddock of fresh grass I rented, so I have to supplement with forage and ewe nuts until I can fence off our small orchard as a temporary stop gap. Bill the retired shepherd on the estate says when you start putting your hands in a bag to feed your sheep, you start putting your hand in your pocket too. I'm so glad that there's an experienced shepherd on our new doorstep.

The dogs settled quickly, and we're starting to explore the estate on daily walks. My little yellow hedonist has already claimed her new spot in the sun porch -


On reflection, the move could have been worse. Things can always be worse. Yes, we're all tired before we even start our busy time of year, my tendonitis is so bad at the moment that I can't even lift a tea kettle to pour water, and I'm fretting about how to pay for the new truck.

But, people and animals are all safe and housed, our sticky livestock problems were made un-sticky by great friends, and Mike has finally moved up for good this week. He seems OK about leaving his home and beloved pheasant ground of the last 24 years. Well, he's getting there anyway. There's no time to look back when the ground in front is covered in this year's pheasant eggs. The eggs are the potential, and the new start. We're moved in and moving on.

The start of this year's crop!

27 comments:

  1. Holy cow! I love the image of a tow truck driver potentially faced with the entire pack of dogs (and guns). And to have everything breaking down on you... ugh. But that sun room looks wonderfully cozy. Sounds like you've earned a nap right along side of your dog (if only your bed is as comfortable!).

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    1. Sara - my bed is too comfortable, and always beckoning me! And it never breaks down.

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  2. Oh wow! That is epic. Congratulations to all of you on making it through. And I really hope your tendonitis eases up... it sounds unpleasant...

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    1. Maria - Thanks, and yes we all made it through except for one chicken who escaped out of a window in the hen house the first day here. I found feathers in the morning. But even Pumpkin survived the move!

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  3. Congratulations  whith the move
    hope you all settle in well

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  4. Welcome to your new home. I hope, when all is said and done, that it brings you and all your menagerie, many years of HOME. Truly home. It looks nice. I hope you can catch your breath, and get rid of the tendonitis, or at least the pain from it... Lent is done in 19 more days!

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    1. DHimC - Many years of home...I like that. And thanks for the Lent countdown. I admit I slipped to celebrate the evening Mike moved up, but I'm back on track now.

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  5. That's one hell of a move, but it was never going to be easy, was it? Nobody died (if you don't count the truck) and your new estate sounds much better set up than the last.

    Are you suffering from calcific tendonitis by any chance? If so, let me know and I will write to you privately. I haven't blogged about it yet but I am 5 weeks into a self-help regime which seems to be giving massive improvement to 12 months of endless pain (and is cheap, easy and avoids the prospect of some very unpleasant and possibly risky surgery).

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    1. Jayne - You're absolutely right: the short term pain of moving is worth it for a much better set up. The tendonitis pain is another story. I'm not even convinced it's tendonitis and booked in with a new doctor for another opinion. but I would be very interested in hearing your self-help regime. Drugs aren't touching it, surgery is out of the question.

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  6. When I last moved house, I spent the day in A + E with my husband whilst everybody else emptied the moving lorry into my house. Luckily apart from dogs and cats my only livestock at the time was 3 chickens...
    I hadn't thought about you having to move all the pheasants as well as the sheep and everything else. I assumed they were part of the estate, I suppose, but that makes no sense when I think about it properly.

    I'm glad you're all there now, and though the upheaval wasn't by choice, it should all be worth it in the end. That's what you have to keep telling yourself, anyway...

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    1. Hazel - Moving house is one of those shared ordeals, I mean we've all done it, right? I meant to ask for other peoples' moving horror stories. I bet they would top mine easily. A & E is for sure worse than a slow truck! I hope your move was worth it in the end too.

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  7. Janice Bendixen31 March 2014 at 00:38

    Loving on Pip again. The saga made me cry. Stupid, darling, stoic men. And their very strong women who just clean up after life. I've prayed for a smooth, harmless transition for you. I'm so grateful you have a helper w the herd. More feedback to follow after I reread this post, oh, 12 more times. Blessings to you and the hoard.

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  8. Janice Bendixen31 March 2014 at 00:47

    IT issues here so if this is a repost, many sorries from Alaska. Your story of the saga made me cry. I have been there. Thinking, "Just figure it out! Don't just be a girl!" I'm back in love w Pip. And have even more respect for you for being the make-it-happen women so Mike can be his manly self. More reflections to follow after I reread your post, oh, 12 times. So thankful that you and the hoard are at least moved, if not unpacked.

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    1. Janice - you give me far too much credit, there's was loads of panicking on my part! I'm anxious by nature but an external focus like the animals helps me stop worrying and start doing. Pip is the opposite, ever optimistic about any change or new experience. There could be a pat, or a bowl of food - or a new bed in a sunroom! - for her.

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  9. What an ordeal. I hope things go smoother from here. I hope you are able to get a heating pad on that tendonitis and find some comfort.

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    1. Peruby - Thanks. With this bad arm I can't shoot or butcher, which is getting in the way of my work! It's also a good excuse to ignore the unpacking, so every cloud and all that...

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  10. so glad you are (somewhat) settled. Looking forward to the new perspective and new stories of adventures with your livestock. And the posted pictures of the house are just teasers, you know. We want to see more!

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    1. ocbchick - There's already new adventures to tell you, like Gerald who runs the gas station and has to stop serving you, to help deliver lambs behind the shop. And being in a big budget meeting, trying not to laugh as the agent's labrador is being sick under the table. I think Hereford will have its share of weird stories to pass on!

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    2. Love this! Hereford sounds charming and quirky as do its inhabitants.

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  11. Phew! Just reading your account makes me tired -- and you lived it. Congratulations on getting the move over with and starting in on your new home.

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    1. Thanks Christine. We're still tired too.

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  12. I don't envy you, Gwen (for one of the first times.) What an ordeal. Aren't things supposed to get easier as we get older? Sending you positive and tendonitis-healing vibes.

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    1. Sara - Yeah this being a grown-up thing is way less fun than I imagined. Grateful for the positive healing vibes. The docs tell me I'm trying to lift more than my frame can withstand, and they love telling me I'm not getting any younger. Well duh. Email me when you get a chance and let me know where you are now! xx

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  13. So glad to hear you are all safely in your new home,.... .despite horrendous journey(s) Your tendonitis or whatever it is sounds miserable, a friend had a similar problem with her hand( at one point she could not turn a door handle) and was put on all manner of drugs that didn't help but eventually a simple yoga hand stretch exercise did and today she has no problem with it .Let me know if its of interest.
    The very best of luck in your new home, may it prove a safe and happy haven for you all.

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  14. Welcome to Herefordshire! I hope you're very happy in your new home!

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  15. Hi Jenny
    What an upheaval that must have been, but I'm sure you'll all be much happier in Heavenly Herefordshire! Dorset's ok but leaving Ma*****on behind was only ever going to be a good thing. I used to work for / with Mike once upon a time. So nice to know he has you and a fantastic menagerie, exciting new job and bright future.
    Wishing you both all the best,
    Lizzie

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