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Diary Article No 20

It has been so wet this Winter that my bonfire activities have often been curtailed by the seemingly almost constant rain. The rain has brought jobs its own jobs connected to the problems it causes. Gutters and Drains have had to be cleaned out and the many drainage ditches have had to be dug out. As my car comes equipped with, amongst other things, a pair of Wellies, it was one of the jobs I was asked to do.
Some of the drainage channels have been well made with a hardcore base to them so that they are firm to walk in and are easily cleaned. However, I spotted one that was full of leaves and blithely stepped into it only to find that it was just soft mud in the bottom. VERY SOFT MUD! In fact it was DEEP soft mud and I went down into it up to the tops of my Wellies before I stopped sinking. Getting out with a dripping wet leg as quickly as I could I decided to clean that ditch by standing on the banks at the side and I realised why it had not been cleaned before!

This week the day started off dry enough, but there wasnít a lot of rubbish to burn and what there was, was very wet, so I strolled over to where Simon was cleaning out the Cows. The constant rain has meant that the pasture is so soft that the Cows have been cutting it up too much. This has necessitated the cows being brought into the barn until it dries up a lot and they can go out again onto fresh grass. Of course being such big animals with big appetites they need a lot of attention and Simon spends much of his time looking after them. By the time I started talking to him he had already nearly cleaned them out once that morning and was ready for some more Straw for their bedding. After passing several great piles of it over the barrier to him and he had spread it out we turned our attentions to the Goats.

The older Goat called Grommit, was not well and they had had the Vet into it the day before. It seems that as he is so old he hasnít got many teeth left and consequently they are not being kept ground down. The Vet filed them down and then recommended a special diet as he was also having trouble in swallowing. While Simon was cleaning up the Goats pens David arrived with some special food for Grommit. To distract the other goat, Dizzy, while Grommit tucked in, I was told to get some Blackberry Brambles for him to eat. I didnít know it, but apparently they are a treat for Goats in the same way as sweets are a treat for us! Armed with some thick gauntlet type gloves and a pair of Secateurs from my car, it didnít take many minutes for me to collect a big tub full of fresh brambles. I was fascinated by the way Dizzy made short work of the prickly leaves and young shoots. He really did enjoy them!

The next job I was found to do was to tidy up a pile of old panes of Glass that had come from the greenhouses. As anybody who has had glass greenhouses will know, over time you accumulate pieces of glass that are put in a corner somewhere safe for a later date when you might have use for them. The pile I was led to behind one of the buildings was large and had Brambles growing through it. 40 minutes later it was a lot tidier with the good, unbroken pieces more accessible and the worst, smaller, broken pieces discarded in the commercial waste bin. The Brambles that I cleared were disposed of in a greener way Ė they were fed to my new friend, Dizzy the Goat!

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