Thursday, 31 March 2016

A Thanks to M&T Readers

I've been thinking about this blog. I enjoy writing it, even though I too often go weeks without a new post. Some of you may remember that I started it to keep up with my family in the States, a kind of group-email with photos. Then other people started reading, some lurking and some leaving regular comments. I appreciate both types.

Anyhoo, I also realised that I don't always return comments unless someone asks a question. If I get an email via the blog, I make sure to write back. I have never had anything but kind and supportive emails. I keep all of these in a folder.

As if that wasn't enough, I even get people sending me gifts - warm socks, a duck feather ornament, sorrel seeds and a lemon pie recipe, a tote bag with flat-coated retrievers on it, just to name a few. How cool is that?!? That someone I've never met would think to send me something, would spend time and effort (and money - not too much I hope!!) to send me a gift.

I think it's my turn.

When we moved to Herefordshire, I sent my best shorn fleece to a mill for cleaning and carding. I've been spinning it a little here and there over the past 18 months. For Christmas last year, I knitted some of the wool into hot water bottle covers for members of my family (those who live in cold states). I knitted an extra one for myself and a spare, which I would like to send to a reader.

As a long overdue thank you.


It's very good for warming cold beds or sore muscles.

If you would like to have the knitted cover (I will send a new water bottle too, if you don't already have one), simply leave a comment on the this post. In particular, I would love to know what you'd like to read more about, read less about, or what you might like to have explained more thoroughly, with photos. Questions are always welcome. If you prefer to remain a lurker, that's cool too. All readers are gratefully received.

I will leave the comments open for a couple weeks, then chose a name at random and send on the hot water bottle cover. It's only a small gift, but it's a product of the farm, like this blog. And it will travel better than goats cheese or turkey eggs.

I will keep writing and, as my sister sent me a GoPro for Christmas, I will post more videos. I thought maybe some training videos of the dogs, from how we train the gun dog basics to the more advanced training. Lots of people have dogs and their own experiences of training them, their own successes and failures. We all have successes and failures in common!

Speaking of successes, failures, and photos - here's today's new mother and babies

Still sticky and muddy from the birthing ordeal!

That's ewe 0042, the one I kept back from a sale of breeding lambs, She is my best quality ewe and produced two ewe lambs last night. Like Grumpy, she started lambing just before I was due at work, but I can forgive her. I had to help both lambs out. The temperature was dropping quickly so Mike took over when I left for work and put the family in a small trailer bedded down with straw. 


After work, I fed the ewe by torchlight, topped up her water, and felt the lambs' ears to make sure they were warm, felt their bellies to make sure they were full of milk. The new family was safe and well, so we all slept soundly. At least until the next flock check at 6am.

Between flock checks today, I took Dakota to the vets for some dental surgery, and to have a growth on her eyelid removed. Four teeth had to be taken out. All went well and she's recovering in her day bed. 

A dozy, post-op Dakota

Her vets bill was double what my cull ewes made at market last week (the cheque arrived today). I wish there was a National Heath Service for dogs.

I'm not work for the next few days, and the ewes seem to know it; they were all laid down and chewing their cud on my 6pm check. No evening lambs tonight, when it would be convenient. At least the weather is set dry for the rest of the week. 

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am so happy to have your blog back and check it every day "just in case". I am an older lady, the product of farm families and live in the US in the state of Colorado(not on a farm). I love to hear about and see pictures of your animal family. Keep up the good work.

franinoz said...

Jennifer, I look forward to your updates for many reasons. I enjoy your detached observation of a way of life which is surely dying, even in Britain. I enjoy it because I lived for many years in England and it makes me a little homesick. I like to hear about your sheepish adventures because I live retired on 40 acres in the middle of a thousand acre sheep farm and the contrasts between raising sheep in England and Australia could hardly be greater. A lurker for years, I have read every entry of your blog (mostly in one fell swooop when confined by ill health) and I admire your perseverance and courage. Franinoz
PS If I should be so lucky, I'm happy to offer the cover to a reader more local to yourself.

Galestorm said...

I enjoy your blog and I am amazed at your life there in England. I grew up on a tobacco farm in NC and though we had pigs and cattle, it just doesn't compare to life on an estate such as yours. I know it is a lot of hard work for you, but I know it is very rewarding for you as well. I really admire you and If I were a whole lot younger I know I would thoroughly enjoy living a life such as yours. It sure does beat being stuck behind a desk which I was for my entire working career! Best wishes to you and your husband.

Laura Orabone said...

I've been reading your blog for several years now. I enjoy your perspective, your pluck, your photographs, and your descriptions of your life and work. I'm an American who is fascinated by history and country living, even if I'm only a dabbler myself (gardening, foraging, mushroom hunting). I envy your experiences (well, ha - some of them!) and have long wanted to live in Britain myself. So when I come home from my desk job and read your posts, there's a bit of a vicarious thrill for me. Wishing you and yours all the very best. :)

Barbara said...

I'm a lurker too. I devour your posts and that is all the thanks necessary for me. I owe you the thanks. I've raised Suffolk sheep. Single births were rare, twins at a minimum and often triplets, quints and even quads. Good mothers. Love how you describe your life and work. So fascinating.

ocbchick said...

Reading from Ontario, Canada here. I work in an office for the federal government and I love the glimpse you offer into rural life in Britain. It could really not be more different than my urban life, apart from the knitting.
I love reading about the dogs and their training, the sheep, Mike, Kitty, all of it.

Virginia said...

I live in Texas, where sadly I need far more ice packs than hot water bottles, so please leave my name out of the lottery in favor of your cold-weather readers, but WOW didn't you turn that fleece into lovely yarn!

Christine said...

Checking in from Massachusetts here. I like to read about the animals in particular, and your work and Mike's work, the frugal things you're doing, and daily life since it's so different from the Boston area. My husband and I are building a tiny house and hope to finish in Summer, and I like to see what kinds of things are necessary for other farmers trying to get along when they have projects and dog hair everywhere. Thanks for writing!

mereth said...

I'm along time lurker too, I discovered your blog through Starving off the land and have been a fan ever since. When I was married we worked on my husbands family farm of 1500 acres in South Australia and raised Merino cross sheep. I've never seen such a big lamb as in your last post, absolutely huge! There were many times I helped with lambing, in the middle of some huge paddock, and what a satisfying feeling it is to deliver healthy babies. Although once I nearly lost my wedding ring inside a sheep, I felt it begin to slide off as I got a leg forward and wondered how I'd explain that to my friends!
I love hearing about everything you do, dogs sheep, horses, the oddities of English life. You're so practical and down to earth, no painting chicken coops pretty colours, with flowery window boxes attached, no excess sentimentality over the purpose of animals, and yet it's obvious you love your charges and your dogs are family. When I read the title of the post I was afraid it might be one of those "Thanks for reading, but blogging is dead" farewells, so please, just keep waffling on whenever you can, about whatever you like, and we'll keep reading, even if we don't comment.

sweetgum said...

Like mereth above, I was afraid you were done with blogging! Another longtime lurker, though with a comment or two back in the archives, I read you from Arkansas in the US and am always so happy to see a new post (I save them for "dessert" after reading through my other favorite blogs). Your unique lifestyle centered around the hunt and the animals is fascinating; it's history become real and modern. But your personal tone is so appreciated, never negative but realistic and thoughtful. (After I found your blog, I read the whole thing within a couple of days!) I'd love to hear more about food, from what you do with a pheasant straight from the field to what you cook for a hungry crowd. Thank you for sharing your time and your place.

Sandra Cox said...

Love your stories! Your life sounds like a storybook to us here in Las Vegas!

Anonymous said...

I'm a lurker from North Carolina and I love everything about your blog. I discovered it during an extended illness and loved your writing so much that I decided to read your blog from the beginning (the only one I've done so). You are a wonderful writer and your stories made the days a bit easier. I grew up on a hobby farm (horses) and love your stories of a real, working farm. I also love the glimpses you give of life in a region and culture different from my own. I can only imagine how full and busy your life is and I thank you for finding the time to share with us. I've always wanted to thank you but thought it might be intrusive. Glad to have the opportunity now. Speedy recovery to Dakota!

Anonymous said...

Hi Galestrom, I spent one summer helping out in a NC tobacco field. That is hard work!

Anonymous said...

I so love learning about so many things here. I'm sure there are many more who don't comment, but please know that you have a following who share in your adventures, and daily adventures.

Paula said...

Hi Jennifer- don't forget that you are a generous person as well. You once sent me a darning mushroom out of the blue, which I haven't forgotten and still use. So I would say you probably deserve the generosity you engender.

I like to read about the little stuff that happens. I haven't posted in a long time on my blog because I don't like to write unless I have something to write about, but I forget that sometimes the little things make for interesting reading, particularly if you can impart a sense of being there. You tend to do that well.

I'm not sure this thing will let me comment; I haven't been able to for a long time, but if it does, you don't need to include me in the lottery. (Someday I would love to get my hands on some of your wool perhaps; my German MIL just gave me the spinning wheel that's been in the family since spinning was the norm. Pretty stoked about that!)

Anonymous said...

Lurker in NYC, don't think there's ever been a post I didn't enjoy. Looking forward to all those Go Pro action videos :)

Amber said...

Long time lurker from Ontario, Canada. I love your posts and your sense of humour. I will read anything you write!

The Morrissey said...

I do love your blog. I suspect you have a lot more readers than ever comment (at least I hope so). And while I dream of having space with more land around it in the next 3-5 years and I love to knit I just don't know about sheep. . . .the many things that can go wrong with them intimidate me.

Fran in Aus said...

Wow! My name is Fran and I too live in Oz, and was surprised to see that there is another Fran who also lives in Oz and who has commented! Anyhoo, I too am a long time reader and think I've only ever made one comment here, but have read your blog for a few years after first having found it when searching out spinning blogs and long before you moved to your new location. I live on a beef breeding property in Australia (Angus),love reading about your sheep but we don't have any sheep despite having superb sheep yards and a 2 stand high board shearing shed left over from previous owners. I spin and weave and knit and make bobbin lace but because I live in the country, have dogs and grow vegetables and fruit and keep chooks and do farm work as well as all my crafts, I've got very eclectic interests and so long as any blog is written in literate English and the person writing the blog sounds interesting, I'm a happy camper. Thank you so much for your efforts over the years and for sharing your wonderfully interesting activities (and yes, I too know that life in the country is not all cream and bunting - sometimes it just blood, dung and sore muscles, but I wouldn't swap it till I need to go to the Old Folks Home).

Another person called Fran who also lives in Oz.

K said...

Goodness! Like others I was worried you were about to say good-bye! I'm a lurker from Seattle and have been following you for years. I was disappointed (but understood) when you started your job at the pub since I thought your posts would dwindle away. I love to hear about your pups, their work, your work and the cycle of life that you get to experience 1st hand.

Hazel said...

I didn't know you could spin as well as everything else! That hot water bottle cover is fantastic!

So glad this wasn't goodbye. I think I found your blog via Starving off the Land and Living the Frugal Life and I don't always comment, but I do look forward to every post.
I like reading about the animals and your daily life- I'm not sure how you fit it all in. I'm never going to have all the animals I'd like so I'm another reader living (and naming dairy animals) vicariously through you.

And actually, husband is very keen to raise a couple of turkeys, and we're not all that far from you really, so if you had any fertile turkey eggs...

Pam said...

I'm a reader in Northern Virginia, where it looks a lot like England, actually. We had a farm in Kentucky for ten years where I kept sheep-Texels. We have a small business now which allows us to spend a month or two in England every year, and it is our favorite place in the world. Probably no more sheep in my future, but having them and learning about shepherding will always be one of the best parts of my life, and I can relate to so much that you write. Plus, I think you're funny as heck. Love that your posts paint a realistic picture of farm life and I will keep reading for as long as you keep writing. The bottle cover is gorgeous, but please award it to someone in the UK so postage won't be prohibitive to you. Your blog is a gift in itself.

Anonymous said...

I too am a long time lurker. I am a lifelong country bumpkin but (because I have an aptitude as a computer programer) have never had the opportunity to have the variety of animals that you tend. You write a very interest, and often funny, blog and we all thank you for it.
I have had dogs all my life and make the best job I can of training them both to make my life easier and because, I believe, it makes the dog's life better if it knows what is expected of it. Some dogs are easy some more difficult but they can all be taught.
Before reading the next sentence you should know that I am officially a grumpy old man. I detest people who cannot be bothered to teach their dogs how to behave (shouldn't be surprised, those people often cannot be bothered to teach their children either).
I would love to read more about dog training, you always make light of it and I know it is not always easy.

Accidental Mick

Jennifer Montero said...

Hazel - Nearly forgot to answer you! Email me (address on the main page) and you are welcome to have some turkey eggs to hatch, or chicks if there are some to spare (Tina is currently sat on a nest)

Forest Poodles said...

I too enjoy your blog and although all posts are great, I'm especially fond of the ones with dogs!