January 2012

Can’t believe we’re nearly at the end of January already and how warm has this winter been?! Christmas came and went with both me and Glyn working on the radio, he in Bristol for the Beeb and me on Sunshine in Herefordshire and Monmouthshire. We managed to have our ‘works doo’ though which is just me and him, but never quite sure which one of us gets to sleep with boss!

Been a bit hectic on the animal front, we said goodbye to Rocky the Ram who visited for a couple of months, I managed to escape with only one experience of a sore left buttock when I turned my back on him for just a moment (thankfully he didn’t have horns). Here’s hoping the colour green on the ewes will turn into lambs end of April, especially for Shirl who had to have the vet out for a rather nasty abscess in her foot.

It appears I’ve still ‘got it’ when it comes to milking cows. It has been well over 10 years since I last milked one and 14 since I used to do it for a living, but I’ve been helping out on a local estate whilst they’re a person down and have to admit it was like riding a bike, yes the job all came back to me but I’d forgotten just how physical it is, so for 2 days I did walk like I’d ridden a bike for the first time in 10 years! One thing that was lovely to remember though, was just how friendly, helpful and genuine people are who work with livestock, they made me feel very welcome, were very complimentary and infact I’m doing a couple more weekends for them until their new chap starts. Great for me as it’s our quiet time with no shows going on although I’d forgotten also just how much the smell of cows linger! 

I’ve just finished writing my March column for Worcestershire, Herefordshire & Wye Valley Life Magazines which will mention our situation with TB as that is when our cows are tested. 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.

Highs and lows

Not been the nicest few weeks as we’ve had too many funerals and then dear Blossom loses her first calf, and no matter how many times I’ve thought about it, I know there was nothing I could have done, it was a detached placenta and just one of those things. She’s doing okay though, we had to have the vet out to remove the placenta as it wouldn’t shift after a course of antibiotics and having decided not to find a calf to suckle her, I’ve let her dry up, now it’s wait and see for Ruby who is due in 5 weeks time. Staying with livestock, I was invited to be part of the commentary team for the cattle and sheep at The Three Counties Show last weekend which was great fun and a total change from what I normally get up to, and having had the privilege of being up close and personal to the Grand Parade on the last day, I now have an urge to lead one of my girls in it next year, only problem being white isn’t really my colour! This weekend it’s back to normal when Glyn and I host the Cookery Theatre at Shobdon Food and Drink Festival. It’s a super little show, Herefordshire’s longest running food event with all proceeds going to local charity and good causes which is fantastic and we’re very proud to be part of it.

Columns written for Worcestershire, Herefordshire & Wye Valley Life Magazines. Sad to have lost my one for Shropshire Life though, but with a new Editor it often happens, but I wish her well.

Had a lovely surprise the other day when Worcestershire Wildlife Trust asked if they could have a couple of pictures of our garden to use as part of a feature they’re doing for their magazine, I reckon it’s the weeds that have done it as I’m very good at growing them!

I’m still doing the odd cover shift at Sunshine Radio which is fun, they’re a lovely team and it’s always nice to be asked although I’ll share a secret with you, one of the boys uses that much hair gel that I have to wrap the headphones in paper so they don’t stick to the top of my head – thank goodness they haven’t got a webcam!

Asparagus to Vets and back again

Here we are then at the end of another week, and having just returned from the Vets where the very young nurse mentioned how quickly the year was going, if it seems that way for someone in their 20’s then there’s no hope for the rest of us! Sadly Tess may need another operation as her wound isn’t healing properly, she goes back on Wednesday so here’s hoping it’s good news. At the moment the view from the kitchen window is obscured by Glyn bringing his work home with him. Got home on Tuesday to find a ruddy big green container in the drive which he’s fitting with a radio studio for a client. I knew it was coming, but he did say it wouldn’t be any bigger than a medium-sized caravan, lets just say men and measurements are never a good combination. He has promised it will be gone for Easter which is when he’ll be able to come in the house again! Wednesday saw the 15th anniversary of losing our Mum ‘Shirl’ who I miss everyday but at the same time keep seeing her when I look in the mirror. On the radio tomorrow on Sunshine which I’m looking forward to and just heard confirmation that I’ll be part of the Asparagus Festival Day at The Fleece at Bretforton working alongside the lovely Felice Tocchini who once appeared on This Morning with Katie Price, maybe she could give me a couple of ….. tips!

Only have red wine at weekends

This month has just flown by, which is unusual for January. Not sure I like this unseasonable warm weather that’s accompanying it though, the field with the cows and sheep in it is looking a bit sorry for itself and it’s only a matter of time until I end up horizontal with me separated from at least one welly, and I promise it’s nothing to do with alcohol as I’m avoiding the stuff in the week. Away from the smallholding, I put my headphones back on for Sunshine Radio in Herefordshire & Monmouthshire the other day which was fun. Ian who does the afternoons was poorly and I was able to cover so found myself back on the airwaves and turns out I can still do it. Over the next couple of weeks I’m judging the tastiest sausage in Herefordshire & Worcestershire for Heart of England Fine Foods and then I’m hosting the Grand Final in Birmingham. Last year it was a good 4 months before I could even face another banger and I imagine it will be the same again this time. Soon be the RSPB garden birdwatch, pity it wasn’t the other day when a pal of mine had a Buzzard fly through a window into her lounge, now that written on the form I’d love to see and she’s only drinking red wine at the weekend too.

Plastic bags on feet is not a good look

Can you believe in all this rain I’ve not got a pair of wellies having planted my last pair with marigolds! Needless to say, it’s a visit to welly shop today as I’m due to visit a farm later this morning. We’re still on Buzzard watch having lost two hens in the past fortnight, I just hope after all this waving of my arms it will at least have an affect on my bingo wings. Been a busy couple of weeks, Glyn and I went to the recording of Top Gear where attractive young women are moved into shot, so obviously we didn’t make your tele screen, I’ve had my picture taken for Sunshine Radio, photographer started me off posing by graffiti covered walls until it became clear I was much happier by a tree, so I’ve ended up outside Hereford Cathedral. We’ve now acquired a cat (long story), and I have been asked to write for another magazine from November which is exciting, but I can’t say which one just yet.