Thursday, 30 December 2010

Seasons Greetings In A Winter Wonderland!

Seasons Greetings to you all and we hope you had a safe, peaceful and enjoyable Christmas.
Willow enjoyed her turkey dinner and is now putting her paws up recuperating from enjoying the festivities!
With 1 day left of 2010, We wish you all a Happy New Year and all the best for 2011. xxxxx

We have had a little more snow and a few icicles not seen for over 20 years, though not as impressive as those you would find abroad, but at least we had a few little ones we`re proud of and snow alot deeper than we`re used to!

They hung from the roof of the house!

More picturesque scenes........

Willow enjoying the white stuff!

Not even the holly escapes the icicles. 

Friday, 17 December 2010

Welcome To Wolverhampton!

Wolverhampton is a weird sort of city!
Recently voted as the worst place to visit, I`m writing this as a bit of a disappointed black country lass and would like to put the pen pusher who has never visited Wolverhampton to get of their behinds and come and have a look!

Wolverhampton was an old Saxon village, is mentioned in the doomsday book and over time has developed from a town and received city status only 20 years ago.
It is situated in the West Midlands at the heart of the Black Country, so called because of the industrial revolution that flourished in this area during the Victorian Era and remnants of those days can be clearly seen along the canal route that flows through here and you can walk the whole of the towpath right upto Albrighton in Staffordshire.
Its native tongue has been voted as the one most people would trust and be happy here, but then again, it has also been misconstrued as its people are thickies when we are clearly not!
This is a short dictionary of words, should you come across us!
Yow = you
cor = wow! or can`t, depending on sentence 
Bostin = perfect
Am Ya = are you
O Ar = oh yes!
Plies = please
Tar = thankyou
It`s communities are diverse and multi-cultural and I noticed the difference when I went back at how the languages have changed and that English is slowly becoming a second language.
Very true there are areas that are very run down, property developers have brought these areas, then alas the credit crunch and now just dilapidated buildings awaiting a major transformation instead of a lick of paint.
Its football team is one of the oldest in the U.K Formed in 1877 its old gold and black a proud history that helps transform the town and its communities, uniting one and all in times of triumph, though it once nearly disappeared in the dark days of the 1980`s due to unscrupulous owners, but these days, it is flourishing with a many a well known name starting here and moving on to bigger clubs - pity!
Wolverhampton also boasts its real ale company - Banks`s and the smell of the malt and hops wafts in the air really quite pleasant! 
But with good colleges, universities and a wealth of history and pride and passion that makes you feel welcome, I challenge you to have a look and don`t judge before you do, you may well regret it!

Even on a miserable, wet day, St Peter`s Church  Still has the air of authority and part of the high street with its old buildings reminding us of the architectures who designed them.

This time of year the high street is now full of marques and music fares with a hustle and bustle of people, trying to keep the city going.

Wolverhampton`s football ground is very impressive and even the cities library built in the 1880`s has not changed over time, though the new Mander and Wulfrun centres are almost identical, but they house alot of the indoor shops and many household names.

 The tram system has been reinvented in the black country with new routes planned, though why they took up the old tram system back in the 1960`s is beyond me!

Beatties , like Woolworths, is one of the oldest names and shops in the world and I believe we have the biggest with three stories and everything of quality under one roof.
The new market clock in an old market town. 
 This is possibly the oldest building in Wolverhampton dating back to the 11th century and the wood and dowels are visible on the side of the building.
 Visit Banks`s you won`t be disappointed.....
 Quirky buildings at every corner! This used to be Lloyds bank back in the 1980`s, but is now a tattoo parlour and the lady who owns it was recently on come dine with me and won it! 
Sadly, like with alot of places at the present time, reminders of a recession and the development that is not being done and eyesores remain.....
Little reminders that famous and important people once frequented Wolverhampton.
Bantock House in Bradmore, Wolverhampton, contains generations of history and is open to the public.
The grounds to Bantock House, where Willow loves chasing the squirrels!
For a good and inexpensive meal and a drink why not visit the Bradmore Arms in Bradmore, it is an old building that has fought and won many battles, even against the dreaded supermarket chains who wanted to turn it into that and ruin the heritage.

There is alot more to see like the Art Gallery, Tettenhall Park, its night life, its pride, its passion........

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The Sheep And The Birds!

With a slightly milder approach and things beginning to thaw out, we were once again braced for the arctic weather and both the sheep and birds will need an extra hand.

Both Jane and Mark have coped admirally from the idiots who stole from them, keeping their chins up and still helping people like myself, their selfless act should be rewarded, not hindered or devalued.
When I was coming back from Melton Mowbray (the pork pie capital of the world, the best pork pies ever!) our train had been delayed by 45 minutes after thieves stole cabling disrupting all services to the south of the uk.
But thankfully, the sheep and birds, along with other livestock are being well looked after.
It is only whilst I`ve been working on the farm I see how they (Jane and Mark) take pride in everything, something we all take for granted and I hope I can pick up on their good traits (may take a while!)
They treat all their animals with a kindness and reassurance I`ve not seen before, the animals trust them, they walk over to them and take food from them and are even fussed by them, I`m learning and yep, the sheep now come to me for a fuss aswell as food, and it really is quite an uplifting moment to know your animals trust you........

 Tuck in girls, whilst we have the sunshine
 Family outing!
Who needs a sheepdog? not us, just call them and walk them.....
 As the cold weather returns, our feathered friends need help too...
A bullfinch enjoying the pile of logs
And finally food, melted fat and peanuts and both are happy!

Lets look after them both this year and we`ll have more next year!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Fatstock show And The Thief Takers

Even with the cold weather, it was clear there would still be a show on where sheep, cows and pigs would be presented and the best ones would win prizes.
It was the 104th show at Uppingham and the small market town was still a hive of activity and farmers from around the county and beyond would present their small stocks with fluffy,shiny coats and on their best behaviour!

Jane, Mark and myself had taken several months in preparing the animals to be shown.
We would brush them and handle them every day and get them used to different noises which they wouldn`t normally here and feed them good food, but the weather over the past few weeks had not been kind, but we were determined to get them ready and eventually the efforts put in would be rewarded then cruelly snatched away......

It was a bitterly cold morning and it had been snowing, and then it began again. Meanwhile the pigs didn`t mind this morning, they were cuddled up together in their straw beds, but soon it was time to get them ready, their coats gleeming, they were ready.

The last of the brushing and Bella would be ready, but we would continue with brushing  at the show as Highland Cows have very thick coats.

Well, Princess couldn`t wait to go!

At the show, brushes in hand and the young heffers were in fine fettal!

Other animals were also ready and hoping to win.

The shiny coats of the cows and bulls and white coats stood out proudly whilst the judge makes his way around the beasts before giving the ribbons of 1st,  2nd and 3rd.

And our two heffers came in a respectable 2nd as the best matching pair, Bella was quite overawed at the ribbon!

Whilst the Heffers came in 2nd, the Gloucester Old Spot Mark and Jane put in also came in 3rd.
But they too would be going home as it was not a farmers buying market today. 
And Jane was clearly very happy with the rosette for the matching pair, thats the heffers dear, not the other matching pair!

Sadly, the day turned sour as we returned back to the farm.
Finding all the gates open we new someone had been and left in a hurry........
Thieves had stolen handtools, lead and anything else they could get their hands on and sadly this is not an isolated incident and those so called people deserve to be hung by the short curlies then they would know what it is like to lose something that they need.
These good people are hard workers and have earned everything they own, they didn`t steal it and on numerous occassions have gone without to earn their living and provide for others and it saddens me that there are people willing to take from others whilst those who work hard and for little reward have it snatched away, I`m afraid my words are of little comfort to my friends but I only have contempt and strong unrepeatable words for those who show contempt.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Winter And The Farm

Winter has descended upon us and although picturesque is proving quite a problem on the farm, hence a delay in blogging.
But with a highland cow with a poorly foot, peacocks and hens getting cold and water freezing to the point where the old style of fetching and carrying water comes into play, the days have been long and frustrating, but other days rewarding and enjoyable.

A beautiful view showing the snow and cold so far this year, but this is the best side of winter.

Poor old Tuppence struggling with a back leg injury coping with falling snow as we lay hay on the floor for him to eat and he enjoys lying on it too.
Everyday we take buckets of water out to him to help keep him hydrated.
Although snow contains water, animals don`t see it as that, so it is necessary to ensure they have plenty of food and water.

Our sheep are just the same. We take extra nuts and water out to them whilst others take cover from the cold.

The geese are not too bothered, but there is no pond for them at present.

Whilst the Peacocks and hen rush to the sun whenever it is out to keep themselves warm.
Again, we feed them nuts and they come to the back door to ensure a good feed.

And as usual the dogs always enjoy a good playtime in the snow!
It maybe -7c out here, but these guys don`t mind if its -15! Throw them a snowball or show them a rabbit and they`re more than happy!

The end of the day and still some lovely scenery to be admired, but the cold weather still keeps going and we`re all feeling it.
But we are all doing our bit, to keep the community spirit going and taking care of one another.
I love the snow, but with the farm and seeing the other side where people are struggling, things don`t seem as enjoyable, but we keep each other going and looking after the animals is first and foremost and if it wasn`t for the farmers who keep us going, the uk would not be able to look after itself.
So, lets keep the stiff upper lip and show everyone else how we can do things and still bloody smile!!!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Manton Pudding Competition

Manton in Oakham, Rutland, is only a small village, but it has a big heart.
Community spirit is evident with people come far and wide to experience an event that happens once a year and raises much needed funds for the village hall and other enterprises.
This year, Manton received a very special award.
The Gold Award for Manton is a very special achievement award and Mrs Barbara Camp receives the prestigious award from the High Sheriff Sarah Forsythe.

The pudding competition itself involved, obviously, making a pudding!
There were 26 in all and alot of tasting going on!
70 people in all enjoyed trying the majority of all 26 puddings, which consisted   of mousses (not the animal kind with horns!) cheesecakes, chocolate sponges, flans, banoffe pies (my favourite with mars bars cheesecakes!) gateaux  and the ultimate winner orange ice-cream.

My little Mars bar cheesecake effort went down well (better than the rice pudding!) but no awards - oh well, maybe next year?

All 26 puddings together before devourement!

Many a willing "eater" came to taste.

And after?
A welcome cup of 
tea (a typically english tradition)
and lots of empty and half empty dishes.

Orange Ice-cream (the winner) at the bottom of picture in bowls.

Recipes are available, but I have not been able to contact people yet to see if I can display them, so for now, pictures only, but well done to everyone who participated and those who walked out like the weeble wobbles, round and pleasantly overstuffed - me included, I think it could be several days yet before I recover from the sugar overload - still, it is only once a year and I could only manage to try 10 puddings and I`m called a wimp! All in a good cause!