June 18 2018: Reclaiming an Overgrown field
The last few weeks have whirled by. With the drought, there is so much work to be done. Just trying to get water to all the stock is time consuming. We have a water trough in one field that is still getting water, and for the rest, we are having to fill buckets on a regular basis. It is quite the chore, but vitally important. There is little green grass! The good news is, with the water table being so high after a very wet winter, we are not showing any signs of the springs running dry. But we are being careful! The other good news is that the hay was done very early! Hopefully we have enough to make it through the winter as it looks like we might have to start feeding out early. We have some large bales left over from last year, so we should have enough. We have never before done hay in June!
The upside of the drought has been our overgrown and very wet field down to the river has dried up in many places. This has allowed us to get a flail mower in to give everything a good haircut! Wow, what a difference that made. Next came the chainsaw to prune all the trees on the property lines. We still have a bit of pruning to do down the south side of the field but we are making progress. We can now see the stream! And now that we can see the stream, we can see why the lower corner of the field has been saturated. Hopefully we can get in to this area and get the stream cleaned out so it can properly flow down to the river and not flood all the wrong places. We are planning one heck of a bonfire night...just not yet!
Kelvin has been busy fencing the north side so we can keep our dogs and eventually our sheep in the field. As soon as we can secure the field, there'll be some very happy sheep sent down there for a feast. In the meantime, the dogs are loving exploring the new field, and the river is a real hit. Young Zuben and pint sized Paige love paddling around down there. Me too!
Thank goodness Kelvin retired from teaching! We certainly would not have been able to reclaim this field had he still be trudging off to school every day. I am grateful every day for his hard work...and sublime ability to start a chain saw; a skill that eludes me! Working in the heat has been hard some days but we have gotten used to it...so much so that 20 degrees feels a bit chilly! Like everyone else, we are begging for rain...overnight rain would be good :-) When it has gotten too hot to work, Kelvin has been busy with his pottery. He has been starting to 'throw' pots on a pottery wheel, in addition to his handbuilding and hand painting pieces, and this is one of his latest designs.
Wheel thrown bowl
On the trialling front, we haven't been anywhere but we did host a trial at our place. Like others, we work hard to put on a good trial, with good sheep, a testing course, and fair judging. This year with the field being so dry, we were able to have a bigger drive and some sheep (mostly yearlings) provided a tough test at the pen. Where last year the sheep improved from morning to afternoon sessions, this year the sheep got testier in the afternoon session. We tried our best to provide even sheep, the sheep dictated otherwise in some cases. While we tried to set out evenly and fairly, and at times the sheep beat us, or our set out dogs misbehaved. We did our best. And when we competed, we fought hard for good lines, tight turns and a strong finish...like every one else. We accept the criticism for running our own trial but we feel any perceived 'home field advantage' is negated by the fact that almost everyone who came to the trial has run on our field, either in competition or training, and many with the dogs they competed with on the day. When I judged, I tried to be fair and consistent, and I'm happy to answer anyone's questions about how I scored their run. I don't think anyone could complain about the weather...well, perhaps it was a bit on the hot side. All in all, we enjoyed the day enough to want to host another trial. So to all of those who want to come back for more, WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 26th* is our South Wales style fund raising trial for Macmillan cancer support. Entry fee is £5, all of which goes to Macmillan cancer support. There is no prize money. Proceeds from the sale of coffee (tea) and cake will be donated also. Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want to enter.
* Please note that Macmillan cancer support has The World's Biggest Coffee Morning on Friday 28th September but due to a scheduling conflict, we will hold our fund raising trial two days earlier on the 26th.
Next week, Pippi and I are running in the Champion of Champions competition at the Royal Welsh show. Gulp. For me, this falls into the categories of 'great privilege' and 'worst nightmare'. A dog with a handler who doesn't like crowds. A handler with a dog who doesn't like crowds. NIGHTMARE! Well, I haven't died of embarrassment YET, but perhaps next Monday will be the day! I know what words Gwyn Jones (Penmachno) would be telling me and for sure they'll be riinging around my head. I'll try to resist the urge to shout to "BEAM ME UP, SCOTTY!"
Till next time, happy trialling.