He really did look the business - strong wide shoulders, bristling with male hormones, sniffing the air as he walked down the plank to his new home. It wasn’t his fault, it just slipped out as I whispered very quietly that his pet name was “Fluffy” but we would call him Viking from his large white pig breeding paper’s pedigree name. It was settled, no-one would know. Viking has been a hit with young Summer, our 14-month-old pedigree Berkshire, and hopefully he will meet Countess and Auntie, the other two sows, shortly.
Viking and Summer
And I am sorting jobs for the other Summer in my life, also 14 months old and coming to learn some farming skills over Christmas. The mini mangos have been groomed for petting and feeding.
The mini Mangos
Rolo, the mini Shetland pony, has had his tack dusted, and the small red wheelbarrow is ready for shifting hay and feed.
Red wheelbarrow ready for action
Planning ahead, I am optimistic about Summer’s mobility progress, and by Easter she should be able to help with the lamb bottle feeding shift.
I feel some of the magic has crept out of Christmas shopping. I was asked from one of the children what I would like for Christmas, I was quite flattered to be noticed let alone asked about presents. I stuttered a few items I was after in the kitchen, anxious to keep the conversation alive, and without lifting his head from the computer screen after a couple of clicks he said, "done - it will be arriving tomorrow", and that was it. And there was I agonising over which Christmas wrapping paper would suit which person, something has definitely been lost. Having said that, an awful lot of parcels have been arriving for the children from Amazon, maybe I am being hasty.
Talking of haste, I have never enjoyed writing Christmas cards so much. With the latest lockdown, everything has been very quiet, and I may be tempting fate but I feel in control and ready for the Christmas celebrations, albeit on a very small scale this year. The preparations have been much helped with Fairhurst's at Berry’s Christmas lunch order form, it's going to be a treat to have some of the more diddly parts of the menu arrive on my doorstep on Christmas Eve. It has been such a success that they have had to close the scheme early.
Shopping in Berry’s, I was intrigued at the ingenuity of the beer names - and so suitable for the location.
Beer names at Berry’s
I wonder if they have a new set of labels and names for a city location? All the beers are top drawer and I have already got a large order in for the holidays.
With office Christmas parties being scarce this year, I was interested to hear my son saying he had cocktails at his office party online. I thought I hadn’t heard right, but you can get cocktails delivered through the post! There is always someone filling the gap when something is taken away.
With the prospect of frosts, I have taken my favourite pink geraniums into a dry space - they are the ones we used for my daughter’s wedding, so they have very happy memories.
And this time of year, a beautiful cherry tree has pink berries. It was a present for my husband’s last big birthday about nine years ago. The lady who generously gave it to him has since died, but the tree thrives near the main drive so I pass it many times a day and I am constantly reminded of this lovely lady and I remember so many conversations we had on various dog walks together.
The pink berries
Talking of the cold - my husband now takes a cold shower every morning. I thought the craze would wear off, but the early morning language is better and he has managed a whole five minutes! It’s all to do with the immune system improving if you haven’t died of heart attack, not sure it will catch on.
I have distributed sausages to the kind people who have donated their apples this Autumn, all the animals benefit from the fruit. Although the llama was a little intimidated with these three ladies watching his every move.
Llama, hens and apples
Countess also had a battle to eat her rations despite all the options on offer for the ten piglets.
Countess sharing her tea with ten
On the Highland cattle front, Cilla the black heifer has joined the grownups in the hopes of meeting the bull next Summer. It will be good to have a black Highland again.
Cilla the young heifer - photo credit: Sam O'Brien
As I write, the blue tits are knocking on the window, I thought it was because the nuts had run out but it is to tell me that the woodpecker is monopolising all the nuts. They are all so human, and the little tree creeper has worked out it is so much easier to live in our bedroom during the Winter than to emigrate.
The Winter light is dazzling in the few minutes before sunset and it catches a few leaves still left from the Autumn.
The Winter light
And this was a breathtaking sight having opened the back door.
There are lights everywhere, everyone is determined to make Christmas as special as possible without all meeting up inside. The wreath is in place next to some outside lights.
I’ll just go and check on Fluffy before it gets dark.