December 31st 2009

The year started with John and I flying to New York. Not for the shopping or the sight seeing [though we did a bit of both] but to see the Professional Bull Riding at Madison Square Garden.

cord It was totally magical, the noise, the smells and the sheer excitement of watching the bull riders try and stay on the back of these enormous bulls for 8 seconds. I hope we will be able to see it again one day but perhaps somewhere a bit warmer!

We came home to even colder weather in mid January and it was a real pleasure to reach lambing at the end of March when the temperature rose a little.
Lambing was uneventful with a lot of good singles but fewer twins this year.

Calving followed this, which was as usual a little more eventful although neither of us ended up in hospital this year. We know which of the cows are particularly truculent when they have a very young calf and have reduced the fold, keeping all the quietest cows.
calf One of the calves appeared not to be doing very well and we concluded that the cow was not milking sufficiently well. We brought the calf up on a bottle, progressing to a bucket after a few weeks. Tomato [as she is called] is now the quietest calf we have ever had and I may even take her to a show in the summer.

Molly, the brood mare had her foal "Scene of the Crash" in the spring. She returned to the same stallion afterwards and is expecting a filly in 2010.

crash Foxy [our Shire X Welsh cob mare] is now sound after straining a deep flexor tendon last year and has been working hard since the autumn. She is 20 in 2010 but still feels well and full of energy.

In October I took Lucy Glitters on holiday. It was a bit of a busman's holiday as each year we ride the Brecon Beacons and Radnor Loop to ensure that the route is open and there are no other problems. We had a wonderful four days, the weather was great for the time of year and it was a very sad moment when we got back to base. I shall look forward to doing it again in 2010. It did Lucy the world of good because she just had to get on and do the mileage and keep up with the other horses.

In November a Rights of Way officer arrived with a neighbour to inspect the path, which goes down below the farmhouse and up the opposite hill. bridge He noticed that the footbridge over the brook had fallen into a grave state of disrepair and the next day he was there with a team of volunteers to build a construction that rivals the second Severn crossing.

2009 has gone out the way it came in with cold and ice which makes looking after all the stock an epic. Never have I looked forward to spring quite so much……………

18th May 2007

Spring is certainly here again and the grass is growing faster than ever.We had a wonderful month of warm weather followed by non-stop rain that has made a lot of difference.
The lambing is over without a single lost ewe and not many lost lambs either. We have had one calf so far but the cows look well in calf so I suspect the bull has had a slow start.
Molly our brood mare was not in foal but had already been back to the stallion and earlier this week was scanned in foal to the thoroughbred, M'bebe. Lets hope she manages to keep it this year.
All the other horses are well and the older ones enjoying a bit of a break after a very busy winter. The 2 year old went to a friend for the winter to keep her old horse company and that one has now been swapped for Foxy. We will do another swap back in the Autumn I expect.
We are cutting down on the cattle somewhat. We have now been moved from 12 month TB testing to every 24 months and this makes it very difficult to send cattle away for summer grazing, as they all have to be tested before they go. We were able to put some out on the hill during the winter so we may do that again this summer. We have four going to new owners this weekend so that will help the grass situation a little.
The garden is also well under way [though not necessarily under control] and the fruit garden needs some attention. There are lots of flowers on the tomatoes and even some fruit, whilst the strawberries in the poly tunnel are ripening as quickly as the slugs can eat them.

strawberries Every year we try to grow something new, last year it was the golden berries, which were a great success, and this year we are trying some "yard long beans" though in truth they only grow to about 45 cms!!!
Mac, the sheepdog is no nearer even auditioning for "One man and his dog". If he is asked to repeat the same task several days running he gets quite good at it but ask him to do something else and he just repeats what he did yesterday.
We have a lot of wild birds visiting us now. The swallows were here earlier than ever and the cuckoo is singing now. A woodpecker is a very regular visitor to the hanging peanuts and red kites are becoming very common.

February 9th 2007

Well has it really taken over 2 years for me to update the diary? It is quite true that, when you retire from your day job, you wonder how you ever found enough time to go to work. I haven't even found time to update the diary!!!
Today there is heavy snow and we are limited in what we can do outside, so here I am in front of the computer.
cows in the snow We have been very busy with the B & B and have developed a link with two friends who also cater for people bringing their own horses. We are now providing maps, directions and luggage transfers between ourselves, and luxury champagne picnics en route if required.
The campsite was again very busy in 2006 and we are already having some good bookings for this year. We have put in 2 new W Cs and there is a permanent campfire area on the campsite now. This has been the site of some great parties during the summer.
We are continuing with the Highland cattle and the Texel sheep.
Since my last diary entry there have been 2 new foals born. Melling Road, a full sister to Lucy and Goods and Chaddles, otherwise known as Dolau, a filly by the T B stallion Chaddleworth. Flurry continues to give pony rides in the summer when there are a lot of children on the site and we have another horse, Solitaire. Lucy is 5 this year and was shown last year under saddle. In the autumn we had a bit of an accident, which resulted in her sitting on top of me and fracturing two of my vertebrae. Luckily there was no permanent harm done and I am back riding her again.
Very sadly we have lost two long-term farm inhabitants. Doodle, the Arab gelding, recovered well from all his sarcoids except one and this proved too difficult and he was put down in the spring of 2005 before the summer flies would start to torment him.
On the 21st November 2006 Heidi died. She had been full of life the day before but died during the night. She was about 14 years old and I believe she had a wonderful life. She certainly loved all the attention that everyone gave her on her regular visits to the campsite.
We have a new sheepdog called Mac. He was just beginning to pick up a few tips from Heidi when she died so now we have some interesting results when trying to get some work out of him. Occasionally he surprises us all and does exactly what we want him to do but these occasions are few and far between!!!! We also have Lancelot, a Welsh Foxhound who will be with us until the spring when he goes back into kennels. No doubt we will be persuaded to take another one then.
The patio has reached completion with the addition of a pergola and water feature. The plants are maturing well and a lot of breakfasts have been served here during the past year.
We are looking forward to a busy year ahead of us and hope to see lots of previous visitors along with many new ones.

31st December 2004

The last year has been a very busy one for us, which is in part why it has taken me so long to complete another page of our web diary. Easter was very busy with a full campsite, though the May bank holiday was very quiet indeed.
The next big influx of visitors was during the spring bank holiday and then Royal Welsh week when we opened up the field below the road. Every one who was departing at the end of the Show was given the option of which field they would rather camp in and almost without exception they chose to pitch below the road near the brook. So much for all the mowing and tidying on the usual camping area!!! This area was ideal as some people brought truly enormous tents. One gentleman on booking informed us that he had a big tent so he became known as Mr. Big Tent. After this Mr. Even Bigger Tent arrived!! It was a very successful week and I think every one enjoyed them selves even though the weather was not at its kindest all the time.
John and I spent each day at the show because we were taking part in the Centenary Cavalcade, a celebration of Welsh rural life over the past 100 years. We took Foxy and Piewacket up each day and paraded in the ring with thousands of other horses, cattle, sheep, poultry, people, tractors, bikes, cars and much more with even a smoking dragon as the finale. Several Male Voice Choirs accompanied the scene, which was so moving especially at the end when the Welsh National Anthem was sung.
The summer holidays continued with a steady stream of visitors throughout August and September and we closed the gate on the 25th so we could spend a couple of weeks in the quiet of Pelion.
It was great to see so many visitors, both old and new and with Christmas over and Easter less than 3 months away we are looking forward to the new season.
Our B & B guests are increasing in number steadily and with regular repeat business we know we are going in the right direction. Every one appears to be delighted with the standard of the rooms and our first booking of the New Year is for January 1st.
This year we are hoping to develop the catering side of the business a little more and follow the Ferme Auberge route that is so popular in France. A small menu encompassing much of our own produce will be available several evenings a week. Meals will again be served in the conservatory or on the patio that I am now pleased [and relieved] to say is nearing completion.
The wall has been faced and only the flagstones need laying, the pergola erecting and the water feature putting in place. We will also look into the possibility of gaining a residents licence.

We had eight calves born this year ranging from white to red. Ciders calf Merrydown had a narrow escape because she wouldn't suck initially but with the help of our neighbour Alan and Luing who donated some of her milk we had her back to full health within a couple of weeks. We are all so used to the thin white creamless milk that is sold nowadays it was quite a surprise to see how rich and yellow the milk is of a luing cow.

All the two-year-old cattle went off to the next valley for the summer where we had some extra grazing. Although getting them there was easy, [two journeys in the trailer] getting them home again in the autumn was a little more complicated because there were no loading facilities there. We gathered a small gang of three people on horse and two on quad bikes and drove them back over the hill, those of us on horses singing the tune from Rawhide as we did it. The whole thing went very smoothly though getting them over our brook at the end was the most problematic as it was very high indeed.

We now have eight cows and four heifers running with the bull. This is a little too many for the farm to handle although we have reduced the sheep again this year. We will be looking to sell a couple of the cows in the spring. The ever promised end to the "Over Thirty Month Scheme" for cattle will also put extra pressure on us because we will be able to keep the steers on longer and allow them to fully mature before slaughter. We will though be selling all our two-year-old heifers, which will give us a bit more room.
We still have all six horses on the farm.
Doodle went up to Yorkshire for the summer to have a lot of sarcoids treated and with the exception of one, which is being a bit difficult, the journey was well worthwhile. Flurry remains his usual self and I am sure will be giving pony rides again this summer.
Piewacket is still not a favourite of our farrier because he is always trying to push the boundaries of what is acceptable behaviour and Foxy is he usual proud self and at present looks magnificent, fully clipped out and fit.
Lucy has grow in leaps and bounds and although only thirty months old looks like a four year old and her mother Molly is in foal to Lucy's father again.
The garden got away from us again this year though it has still been very productive and every year I say I will work harder. The orchard produced its first real crop of pears and a lot more apples than in the past.

JANUARY 31st. 2003

This is a diary of the events and lives that take place at New House Farm.

I hope to keep you up to date with the goings on down on the farm. This will include details and photographs of the animals, visitors and produce, all of which go to make up our small hill farm in the beautiful Radnorshire hills.

cow We have decided to get all our female cattle registered with the Highland Cattle Society. This is involving a lot of paperwork and a farm inspection visit. The end result hopefully will be a registered pedigree fold of cattle which, although they will not taste any better, [well how could they?] will command a better price and a larger market for our excess females.
This year we have had two white, female calves, the last one born in December. They have been called Snowball and Snowflake and when registered will have the prefix New House. This brings our tally of calves during 2003 to eight. The white heifer Blondie was not tested to see if she was in calf because she became upset when in the crush but she surely looks as if she is in calf.

goldie On January 24th we were very saddened to loose Goldie. She was probably 22 years old and tested in calf but she was lying down in the barn and, even slinging her up with the help of the tractor was unable to help herself. She had a rather hard life before she came to us and to be honest I decided to buy her because I felt sorry for her, not because she was a good financial proposition. Her last six years were, I believe very good and she lived a good many years more than most cows. We have several female offspring of hers so we will still continue her line.

The sheep are still living out side but if the wet weather continues they will have to be brought into the upper barn soon. They look so happy and comfortable when they first come in but after a couple of weeks the novelty wears off and they become quite argumentative between themselves. The longer they stay out before lambing the better

The haylage is holding up well. The cattle have been fed one bale of straw for every two bales of haylage and seem to need the extra fibre that the straw provides. When we tried this last year they were not very fond of the straw but we fed some out in the fields during the drought last year and they have developed a taste for it.

For every one who was wakened by the cockerel last year you will be pleased to know that he has move house and now is living with friends the other side of the village. Even he is unlikely to make his usual impression upon us from there.

piewacket We have quite a few ducks now but they haven't started laying yet this year. The hens are, on the other hand, laying here there and every where and finding their eggs often involves a fair amount of climbing bales.

The horses are well with three of them fit and clipped. Flurry lives the life of a retired gentleman and Molly and Lucy Glitters have spent the winter out on the four acres. They are as fat as butter. Molly isn't in foal this year but will go back to the same stallion in the spring.

On Tuesday 27th January we went to Rhosgoch Golf Club to see a slide show of Kilverts Country. This involved some beautiful photographs of the surrounding countryside.

The weather has now turned very wet and windy with several large trees down in the area. This makes the summer feel rather a long way away but the amount of enquiries and bookings comming in are very encouraging for us.