New calves have been born already in mid November

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A DISTINCTLY smelly Jack Russell is lying across my feet as I write this. Despite a dip in the bath ( which she hates) she still reeks of dead squirrel, a scent she finds irresistible and I find revolting.

The squirrel was one of the nicely decomposed (to Millie) scavengers of our big walnut tree. There are, despite the squirrels’ best attempts, several bags of walnuts hanging from the kitchen beams. We will crack them at Christmas. An old horse drinking trough in the yard, now planted up with herbs, also has four sturdy little walnut trees grown from nuts harvested a couple of years ago. John will plant them out in the next week and no doubt plant a few more nuts in amongst the sage, oregano, mint, chives, rosemary and dill. No doubt too I will inadvertently dig them up in the spring and then hastily, and guiltily, rebury them. But they survive. Or have always done in the past. Over the last few years John has planted out quite a few new walnut trees, but as they take so long to mature, I am not holding my breath for any more nuts soon.

Biggest news on the farm this week is the first of the new calves. Born outside in mid November. Unbelievable. The herd maybe coming in soon as there is a distinctly nippy feel in the air these last few nights. The calf was born to a young heifer. We borrowed, or rather exchanged bulls, with a neighbour over last winter. Our heifers could not be served by our own bull as they were his daughters. I am afraid it was rather downhill for our own Mr Bull after his outing.

Life off our own farm must have turned his head as he was never as quiet and dependable again. Although sad to see him go at the back end, I was secretly relieved as he had become difficult to handle and I feared for John’s safety.

Our other new arrival is a big red corn trailer. John ordered it when I was away with Jessica and unable to veto the expenditure. The stick I would get if I spent that much money without asking. It makes our old trailer look very tatty and rusty. We shall keep it for cleaning out the yards as nothing as common as muck will be allowed to sully the pristine interior of the new trailer for at least, oh I would say, a week.

The back gate on the old one was quite difficult to disengage as it had been lent out to some friends. Somehow they had buckled the release mechanism. Even after repair it has not been the same.

The rat cull goes on. Many of our friends have had equally huge rat population explosions on their farms and blame the mild autumn. John feels he is getting on top of them by shooting or trapping several rats each day. Millie does her bit too. And for that she can smell as high as she likes.