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Friday, 2 March 2012

Wrapping It All Up

Some of you who are my friends on facebook or who read my other blog, will know about this already, but I can't put it off any longer.
The thing I never told you was that Missis lost her job just before Christmas.  She told us in January that all was well and that they didn't have any financial worries whatsoever.  I was quite taken aback as it never occurred to me that they would have.
And then last Monday she dropped the bombshell that they had decided to sell the farm.  This means that we have to move.  We are absolutely devastated, as you can imagine.
After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing we have taken the decision to sell the horses.  We have worked out our finances and can't afford to keep them at livery.  Once I've finished this I have to draw up For Sale adverts for both boys, which is something I never thought I'd have to do.
The problem with renting a property is that the majority of them don't take pets, so we are even struggling to keep Tessa, Purdy and Tigger, which is breaking my heart.  My daughter will have Tessa if it comes to it. 
I just wanted to say a huge thankyou to everyone who's followed my blog.  I can't believe I've been writing it since 2009. 
We've had a good life here, and it's been an adventure, not all of it good.  I won't miss the mud and the snow and the tap not working, and to be honest, the hacking here isn't all that great.  I am looking on the bright side and quite looking forward to living in a two-bed house instead of this tiny cottage and being able to craft.  Oh yes, and going out to work.
Thanks for following my humble blog, I will come back to read your comments, but all that remains is for me to say goodbye and I wish all of you all the very best.
Thanks so much
Jane xx

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Saturday Saga

Well, we have had snow, look:
I don't know what it is about snow that makes Barnaby instantly revert to his two year old self, but there we are.
On Saturday John and I were due to attend the Amber Valley Riding Club dinner.  They are the people who organise the pleasure rides we've been doing for the past few years.
But it snowed.
Undeterred, we got changed and set off down the road, down the steep hill, (all fine) and into the nearest town, where we slid right across the road.  There was loads of snow. 
We decided it wasn't worth trying to make the journey, especially if we ended up getting stuck there and having to stay the night.  Neither of us had a phone either.
So we decided to try to make it to Tesco instead as we had no food in the house and no idea how long the snow would last.
So we shopped.
It was still snowing when we came out.
All went well until we got to the bottom of the steep hill.  The poor car just could not (or would not!) get up the hill.  John revved and revved.  And down we slid.
I am trying to make this sound slightly comical, but to be honest, it was one of the most frightening situations I've ever been in.  I didn't know whether it would be worse to slide slowly into one of the dry stone walls or gain momentum as we slid further and further down the road, possibly to the junction at the bottom to be hit by an oncoming car.
After ten minutes I decided I could stand it no longer and leapt out of the car.
And so began the trudge home.  Fortunately this presentation dinner isn't a particularly dressy affair and I was wearing a wool dress, thick tights and my three inch heeled boots, in which I can normally take about ten strides before collapsing into the nearest seat!
But I decided just to take little steps and keep going.  Then I realised that in my haste I had left my gloves in the car, but luckily I was wearing my black fluffy hat, which did quite well at protecting me, but every time I came to a gap in the hedge, the wind whistled through it and froze my face.
On and on I walked, past the riding school, up and up and up, the boots actually doing surprisingly well at sinking into the snow and giving me a firm footing.
No sign of John or the car.
And then another car passed me and the young male driver offered me a lift.  It frightened the life out of me.  I said, "No it's okay, I only live there!" pointing to just beyond the crossroads.  I asked him if he'd seen a little silver car and he said no, but there were lots of marks in the snow.  Oh dear.
As it happened, John had driven back down the hill and gone the long way round, which isn't so steep and had actually set out to meet me.
I looked like a yeti by the time he finally caught up with me and we went indoors together to thaw out and sit down with a ready-cooked chicken and some hot chocolate.
Oh well.  I've emailed the organisers of the dinner to apologise for our absense and ask if we can collect our awards.  I wonder how many people actually made it through. 
As for me, I'll be staying indoors as much as possible, from now on.  In fact, there's the possibility of a little 'better-late-than-never' hibernation in the offing.
Thanks for looking in today.  Wrap up warm, everyone.  And if you have any elderly neighbours, just pop in and make sure they're okay, will you?  I get so worried about people at this time of year (and don't forget to feed the birds!)
Jane

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

War Horse


Poor John was off sick from work for a few days last week.  But unlike other people, he doesn't 'do' ill.  So he helped me muck out, and I should be grateful, but it's hard work mucking out with military precision and being told how to do the things  you do every day of your life.  That's all I have to say about that!
The high point, though, was making it to the cinema to see War Horse.  Have you seen it yet?
Basically, all I can tell you is that I cried from start to finish.  Because I can't spoil it for you if you haven't seen it, I will tell you there are a couple of places where I cried like a babe and one scene that was quite harrowing.  I haven't cried like that since Schindler's List (also a Steven Spielberg production - coincidence?)  If I tell you it's Black Beauty + war, that should just about sum it up. 
The acting was a bit stilted at first, but the setting is stunning (part Dartmoor, part Dorset) and of course, the horse is beautiful. His name is Joey and it's all about his relationship with the boy he goes to live with.  Later he has a horsey friend called Topthorne, and the way they were together is exactly how Barnaby and Zak relate to one another, it was so sweet to see other horses doing it, especially as they probably didn't even knew each other before filming started.  They clearly had a bond.
Of course it was set during World War I and I kept wanting to shout, "Put a hat on!" but of course very few people bothered with that sort of thing in those days, did they?
And so I learned: We owe a massive debt of gratitude to all the horses that went to war during that time. Micheal Morpurgo wrote the book and during his research learned that a million horses died on the British side; he extrapolated an overall figure of 10 million horse deaths on all sides. Of the million horses that were sent abroad from the UK, only 62,000 returned, the rest dying in the war or slaughtered in France for meat.
When the film ended there was not a dry eye in the house.  We could hear sniffing sounds as the audience collectively tried to pull itself together.
John and I drove home and went straight into the stables, to hug our boys and bury our faces in their necks, sighing  with relief that they would never have to go through what those poor brave animals endured.
So yes, War Horse is a marvellous film, I can't recommend it enough.  Go and see it if you can.
Jane x

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Make A New Plan, Stan

Hello there!  Sorry for not blogging for a while (on this blog, anyway!)  I know many of you read my card making blog so you know I'm still alive, but things are happening on the farm, too, so I'm going to try to keep this blog up to date as often as I can.
I've been doing a lot of thinking about why I ride Barnaby in the afternoons, as I don't think it's ideal.  It starts when it's icy in the mornings, but it's usually gone by lunch time.  I get Barnaby in, wash his legs off, ride him and then get Zak in and feed them both, which is fine, but:
The field is very muddy at the moment, so once I've turned Barnaby out he gets filthy, right up to his armpits.  His legs are covered in mud, and I know I can hose them off, but it's all over his belly as well.  I really worry about putting a girth on him in case it makes him sore.
The other thing is that I have all my physical energy in the mornings.  I know this because at the weekend John will often suggest we go shopping first thing, but by the time we've done everything I don't have any energy left to ride.  I feel like that during the week, too, as if I've done all that mucking out, finally sat down, and now I have to get up and go and ride.
So, my plan for the last couple of weeks has been to ride Barnaby straight from the stables in the morning.  I give breakfast out at 7.30am as usual, then see to the ducks and chickens.  I move Barnaby and Zak into the two empty stables (such luxury!) and muck Zak out.  By this time it's 8.30 and I down tools and start grooming Barnaby.  It is such bliss to ride out a horse who is actually the colour he is meant to be and feel confident that I can tack him up without the girth rubbing him.  He always seems pleased when I get his tack out, as if he has got one over on Zak, because he is being ridden.
The first couple of rides were fab, as the sun hadn't quite come up when we set off (always in hi-viz) but as we continued it got higher and higher and was the most beautiful morning.
Today (after several days of ice that have totally scuppered my plans) the weather was quite cold and miserable.  If I'd come out to ride in the afternoon and it was like that, I'd have changed my mind and gone back indoors, but there's something about the fact that I'm dry and Barnaby's dry that makes me tack up and decide to take my chances.  It was amazing weather this morning, with mist rolling down into the village, and Barnaby going like the clappers, as he has so much more energy first thing.  I gave a woman putting her dustbin out a bit of a fright, I think, as Barnaby sailed past and decided to canter up the road!
We come back and Zak has been waiting patiently for us (so glad he's a good boy and I can leave him) so I put both horses in their turn-outs, and out they go for the rest of the day. 
Good plan, basically, so I'll be sticking to this as long as I can.
The good thing, though, is that John rode Zak a couple of times over Christmas, and again on Sunday, leaving Barnaby in the field, and he's been fine.  This Sunday, John rode Zak in the manege and Barnaby just stood there watching, munching on a pile of hay.  Such a relief, I can tell you. 
Nearly forgot to say:- This morning I'd put Barnaby and Zak in their day stables and realised Barnaby's water bucket was completely empty, so I dragged the hose over, put it in the bucket and left it to fill while I carried on mucking out.  A few minutes later I looked up to see Barnaby with the hose in his mouth, swinging it around with all his might, impressing Zak and generally having fun.  To my horror, when I looked in the stable, there was water everywhere, so I don't know how long he'd been doing it for.   How can you tell a horse off when he's got a big grin on his face, who made it clear that you didn't give him any attention, so he decided to devise a game to amuse himself?!  Just peachey.
So all is well at the moment, but plenty more going on, so I'll write again as soon as I can.
Jane x

Monday, 19 December 2011

Catch Up

Hi guys, sorry I haven't posted for absolutely ages.  All is well here, but every spare moment is taken up with card making and Christmas shopping. 
I have been out last week for two Christmas lunches and two Christmas parties.  They were great fun, but it's nice to be back to normal this week.  The logistics of it were quite complicated, especially as we had bad weather.  In the end it was easier to leave the horses in for the day.
We took the decision to take Simon back, as it was becoming exhausting for me to muck out three stables every day (and time consuming!)  Now I'm done for 10am and have plenty of time to get all the other jobs done.
We are in a very good winter routine, actually.  The horses insist they go out, no matter what the weather, every morning.  Actually, surprisingly, it's Zak who is like this.  Barnaby would quite happily stay in and munch on haylage. 
I have decided to use things to my advantage, so the two big empty stables are being used as day stables for my two.  This makes it much easier for me to muck their stables out.  So they go out straight after breakfast, come in at 12.30 and stand in their day stables while they dry out and warm up, then go back into their night stables at 3.30pm to have their tea.  The day stables are pretty big, so they've got plenty of room to walk around.  They like it because they can touch each other and a certain amount of mutual grooming takes place.  I just skip these stables out each afternoon while they have their tea.
The new liveries are fine, but they're not turning their horses out at all while the weather's bad.  I know lots of people do this, and their horses are used to it, but I do feel sorry for them.  They only see daylight through the little barn door next to them.  Zak and Barnaby would go mad if I tried that with them.  Even when we had five foot of snow last year they still went out, even if it was only for an hour while I mucked out.
I want to nervously add at this stage, that Barnaby has been phenomenally well behaved so far this winter.  I feel that actually writing it down is going to tempt fate (something I don't even believe in, but you know what I mean!) and that he'll start tanking me all over the place as of today, but I am really thrilled that he's been so good.  I haven't had to use the Kemp Controller at all so far.
I don't know if it's because I've largely got the place to myself.  Sometimes Missis used to get up at 6.30 to muck out, so Barnaby would start banging his door by 7am as Hugo and Lyndy were put out.   We've actually put a carpet up on the inside of his stable door.  It didn't take long for him to realise that I couldn't hear him kicking and so he's given it up.  Oh boy, I wish I'd done that years ago!  The bliss of being able to wake up and drink a cup of tea in peace and quiet and have five minutes to get my head together before I go and deal with them is absolute bliss.
It's been so dark in the mornings for the past couple of weeks I've actually come down and found Barnaby still asleep, which is unheard of.  It must be nicer for him to be more relaxed, too, mustn't it?
Well, I'll pop off now, as I've loads to do, but I'll try to get on here again as soon as I can.  Hopefully normal service will be resumed straight after Christmas, though, so thanks for sticking with me.
Jane xx

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Crafty Boy!

The horses are coming in at night now, which means more work for me, of course.  Barnaby is notorious for door-banging in the mornings.  I don't need an alarm clock.  I noticed that Missis had thrown out the rugs she had in her kitchen, and an idea was born.  John nailed one of them to the inside of Barnaby's stable door on Sunday night.  What a brainwave.
So I woke up to peace and quiet on Monday morning and couldn't believe my luck.  If this is the shape of things to come, I'll be happy.
So imagine my shock when I went into the stables to find the light on and Barnaby in the feed room, head stuck into a sack of Hi-Fi Lite!  I was speechless, to be honest.  I stayed very calm and grabbed his headcollar.  He didn't object to me putting it on and leading him back into his own stable.  I then went back to the feed room to assess the damage.
Fortunately Barnaby hadn't been able to get any of the lids off the feedbins, but he had eaten his and Zak's breakfasts.  Marvellous.  I was more concerned about how he'd managed to unlock his own stable door and the feedroom door, but highly amused that Simon had been considerate enough to switch the light on, rather than let 'poor' Barnaby stumble about in the dark. 
I've used a leadrope clip to lock Barnaby in at night ever since, but then was worried sick that he'd try to jump out.  Thankfully he seems to have realised the game's up and has stayed put.  It's lucky he didn't get colic, too, isn't it?

I always wear hi-viz when I ride, but John and I have recently bought some new ones.  Check these out:
We have a hat band with the blue and grey check on as well.  When you're riding along, people definitely think it says Police, especially as my pony tail hangs down and covers the 'T' up.  My normal hi-viz says, 'Please pass wide and slow,' which is quite good, as it gives an instruction to the driver.  A vest saying, 'Caution Young Horse' is pointless as it has no significance to drivers.  They just think, 'You have a young horse, so what?'  At least 'Please pass wide and slow,' tells drivers what they should be doing.
But these vests are in a different league.  Motorists are frightened to overtake me from behind, whereas normally they just go past.  One woman was on her mobile phone, saw me and flung it onto the passenger seat!
It improves your riding, too.  Being seen as a possible member of the Met means you don't want to let the side down.  Barnaby could quite easily pass for a police horse, too, so I am thoroughly enjoying this new look. 
I'd better go and lunge Zak.
Have a great day, everyone.
Jane

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook - October

Outside My Window: Barnaby has run down to the field shelter, which I can see clearly from my kitchen window.  He is standing there sniggering.  I am so curious that I go outside to see what's going on.   Simon is whinnying madly, wondering where Barnaby has gone.  Zak is only four feet behind him, but Simon doesn't care.  In the end Zak can't stand it and, rolling his eyes in disbelief, walks up to Simon, and takes him down to where Barnaby has been hiding. Silly horse.

I am thinking:  I must make a hair appointment for December 15th.  I am out to a Christmas lunch and an evening party on the same day.

I am thankful for: John's new job.  So far, so good.  And that the new liveries have settled in really well and seem really happy.

I am wearing: navy blue jods and a dark green Joules top.  Whenever I write this I am in jods.  It's not a coincidence, is it?

I am reading: 'The Red Queen' by Philippa Gregory.  I have already read The White Queen this year, and was thrilled to find The Red Queen existed.  It's about Margaret Stanley, who was the mother of the man who eventually becomes Henry VII.  It is gripping.  In fact, both books are.  More than that, I am thrilled that I own both books and can take my time as I don't have to get them back to the library. 

I am hoping/praying:  This is a bit difficult.  The woman who runs our craft group is lovely.  She is married.  Her husband went down to his daughter's house a few weeks ago.  They are building a house.  Her husband fell out of a second storey window into a well.  I am praying for him every day but we haven't had any more news, which I think is a bad sign.  I just hope to goodness he's okay.  She said he was conscious and hadn't broken anything, so I am hoping for the best, but who knows?

On my mind: Winter.  And snow.  Please could it not, just for one winter.  Please.

From the kitchen: I realised when we dieted this year that I really missed baking.  I didn't realise that I enjoy it so much.  This week I'm going to make a lemon drizzle cake.  Mmmm.

I am creating: lots of Christmas cards, but I'm stuck on one at the moment.  I am also back into cross stitch and really enjoying it.  I've just bought a new one so I can carry on during our get-togethers in the village on Thursday mornings.

I am hearing: 'You've Got Mail.'  Such a sweet film.

Around The House: I went on a bus trip to Derby a few week's ago and had a bit of a spree.  But ages ago one of my favourite shops, 'Past Times' closed down in Chesterfield.  I was very upset about it and thought they'd closed down everywhere, so I was delighted to see a shop open in Derby.  I've wanted one of these for so long, and knew they sold them in PT, so went in and grabbed one in seconds.  I came home a very happy bunny:


I got one, I got one!

One of my favourite things: has to be this beautiful lavender filled heart -


It hangs in my window with the cup and a few other things in red and black.  It's not my normal display for this time of year, but I really like it.

A Scripture Thought: 'Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  Matthew 19:26  (For a friend I am praying for that has cancer right now).

A few plans for the rest of the week:  Mucking out, mostly, as the horses are in at night now.  Pongo and Missis have a firework party next weekend.  I am dreading it, as they let off fireworks pretty close to the stables.  They have said it'll be the last time they'll do it, though, thank goodness.

A picture thought: 'Does my bum look big in this?'

There is a drainage ditch in the field and Barnaby spent a lot of time in it this summer.  Every time I passed the field, this is what I saw.  He's going in for the Rear of the Year award. 

Have a great week, everyone!
Jane