Who’d have em!

Not sure where to start other than to tell you the last few weeks haven’t been easy.

At home we have 3 acres (on a hill so not the best) and for the past 4 years have rented another 3 from a neighbour which is on the flat. Since Gracie our Highland calf came along I’ve been on the look out for extra land so we could keep her, but it’s the same story where we are, crazy prices mostly due to people with horses willing to pay them, so with no extra grassland I made the decision to sell our beautiful sheep so Gracie could stay.

Found a super home, and I managed not to cry until they were out of sight. They’ve stayed together which is wonderful and have since gone on to have their lambs, Lily a single Ewe, Shirl twin rams and Lottie twins one of each – so far so good. Then came the bomb shell!

Having just let the sheep go we then moved the cows to their ‘summer quarters,’ just as we were closing the gate, the owner of the land told us he wanted horses on it so the cows needed to be off come September!

Talk about a bolt from the blue, never saw that coming and needless to say I knew there and then what would be the outcome. Yes I could have kept them there for another few months and then brought them back home but to what? our land is tired, the girls are on it usually from November to April with their hay rack, to then keep them on it all year round wouldn’t be right, and to be honest I can’t afford to feed hay throughout the year at £35 per large bale.

Other than winning the lottery within the next couple of weeks the only other option we did talk about was moving home, heading to somewhere with more land but would we really be able to sell up and find somewhere else within a few months?

After a lot of soul-searching I knew I had to let them go, and sooner rather than later so Blossom and Ruby could then go straight to the bull. I wanted them to stay together which I knew was asking a lot, but I managed it, and so one week ago today I said goodbye to my 3 hairy Highlands which I admit, broke my heart and still does me a mischief when I think about it.

What is next then for Hedgebottom Home? well, we still have our hens and the land can now have a well deserved rest. I don’t want to make another big decision for a while yet and we don’t have to. My compere work begins this weekend and goes through until the end of November so that will keep me busy.

I do miss having the animals around but I wouldn’t have swapped our time together for anything, it’s just that everything happened so fast, so much so I have warned Glyn he might be next!!



TB (re blogged)

The March editions of Worcestershire, Herefordshire & Wye Valley Life Magazines are out now and my column mentions the current situation with TB and cattle. It’s very difficult to put down in words your emotions and thoughts, especially because of the way others may interpret it, especially with the recent announcement of 2 pilot badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire, with the latter including parts of Malvern Hills, Wychavon and Forest of Dean.  All I know is if my ‘girls’ reacted to the test and I had to lose them: a) It would break my heart b) just by taking them off the land doesn’t address the problem and c) there’s no way I’d have cattle again. TB has been allowed to spiral out of control and to not do anything about this disease which reared its ugly head in the mid 90’s is beyond me. I love my wildlife, and I love to see badgers and if you have them and you don’t have TB on the farm, then you leave well alone but something is dreadfully wrong in the countryside and we have to look at all causes. It’s no good just declaring that cattle spread it to each other, especially when many ‘closed’ herds have been lost so where has it come from when they rear their own breeding stock, have no close neighbours with cattle and don’t buy anything in? TB is already spilling out into other species including wild deer, goats, alpacas and yes cats and dogs. I like many would vaccinate tomorrow, but sadly we’re several years away from that. Until then, we will see many more Dairy and Beef Farms forced to give up, not just because of saying goodbye to animals which can be traced back to the family farm from a 100 years or more but because of the stress and heartache it causes and then there’s the cost – once a farm has TB they are in effect, unable to trade. On a personal front, I no longer want to feel physically sick each March when the Vet feels the necks of Blossom, Ruby and now Gracie to see if they have reacted to the test. It’s more like a lottery and believe me when I say that if you hear the words ‘clear’ you feel as if you’ve won a million pounds.

TB test – all clear!


Lovely way to start the weekend when your cows get to live another 12 months but the farm before us wasn’t so lucky. If you’d like to know how I feel when it comes to TB testing, please see this months edition of both Herefordshire/Wye Valley Life & Worcestershire Life Magazines.


Perhaps I should write in the dark!

I’m supposed to be writing a piece for The Smallholders Magazine but keep getting distracted, most recently with an urge for ‘jam on toast!’

Good old February, never lets us down in the winter stakes and once again I’m having to carry water up to the livestock which involves me in a blue jeep with 2 dogs and 2 cats running alongside. Not sure Gracie our 7 month old Highland Calf is enjoying this cold spell, bit of a shock to the system I reckon after it being so mild for so long.

Glyn is once more travelling to BBC Bristol in the morning to present The Breakfast Show and I’ll be doing my last weekend relief milking at a local estate as we approach the beginning of our busy season with the shows. Bookings are coming in for our mobile cookery demonstration unit which is exciting and it all starts in a couple of weeks time.

Meanwhile I’ve got an article to write, oh by the way, I drove through Kidderminster the other day and my mobile beeped to tell me it had found a new time zone!

We’ve got the white stuff

I’m sitting on top of the fire in what really has begun to feel like winter, thank goodness my ’emergency weekend milking’ for a local farm estate was conducted in slightly higher temperatures!

At the moment I’m busy preparing the cookery demonstration schedule for various events we’ll be at this year with www.wotscooking.co.uk we’re very lucky that we’ve found some super chefs and demonstrators to work with, and some of them are as mad as we are!

As I’m typing this, Libby the Retriever is having a ‘moment’ with her stuffed duck, Tess the Collie has retreated upstairs due to ‘popping’ logs and thought I’d let you see this of Gracie, taken last week at 6 months old.

Too old now for early mornings!

Not sure where the time goes, but goes it do and can you believe Christmas is now less than 4 weeks away!

Been up early the last couple of mornings writing my new look columns for Worcestershire, Herefordshire & Wye Valley Life Magazines, think I was on my third cup of tea by seven o’clock! We’ve been out and about a bit of late too, Ellenden Farm Shop near Evesham hired our mobile cookery demonstration unit so popped over there to see it in action. I also caught up with some former listeners from Pershore who I’d not seen for a few years, the lovely Butcher, Ken Tallis and Darren from Revills Farm Shop who used to pop in every year with a bunch of Asparagus for me along with some homemade Hollandaise Sauce, happy memories.

One thing I have learnt recently is that no longer can I be a dirty stop out and get away with it. Friends of ours run a Restaurant and having run into them at a meeting, we were invited back to theirs where they ‘rustled’ something up to eat. Now, my rustling would end up as toast perhaps, or just a biscuit, believe me it would look nothing like what arrived on our  plates which was out of this world. Anyway, long story short and all that, we got home at two in the morning and didn’t it show the following day!!!

All’s quiet on the animal front, hens are coming to the end of laying for the winter, we’ve borrowed ‘Rocky’ the Ram for the sheep and I’ve had to increase Ruby’s food intake as Gracie is still very much suckling off her and it’s beginning to show. Lots of pictures of both Mum and little one on Facebook if you’d like to have a look.