Salmon at the end of its life stirs up some memories

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We must have almost finished calving by now. The calves have come thick and fast the last few days.

One cow gave a bit of grief last week. Cows normally cleanse, that is get rid of the placenta and afterbirth, fairly quickly after calving, but this one cow had not.

A couple of days on and we thought she looked off colour so John called the vet in to leave us a course of antibiotics to ward off any infection the cow might have.

It eventually took five days for her to cleanse, and that was only after John gave her a hand, pulling the afterbirth away when it had started to “unbutton” from the wall of the cow’s womb.

The worry was that she might lose her milk, but the calf has been fine and there is plenty of milk there.

It is amazing how with the loss of Nell, our sheepdog, last week, the other dogs seem to be craving attention and perhaps reassurance that everything is OK.

Perhaps I am anthropomorphising their feelings and assuming they miss Nell as much as we do. But she was our oldest dog and had been a constant in all the other threes’ lives.

But that is not the real reason I have a spaniel and a Labrador at home craving my attention and seriously annoying Millie our little Jack Russel ... It is because the shooting season has ended. Their master is actually having to get on and get some serious farming back under his belt plus all the odds and sods jobs I have been saving up for him.

From one tile loose on the kitchen floor, there now seem to be about a dozen that creak and rock ominously when you walk over them.

These tiles are probably laid on sand. The kitchen is a Victorian extension to the main Georgian part of the farmhouse. The floors in that part were wood over bare earth. No wonder we used to get a plague of slugs whenever it was wet.

Now although those floors are concreted and insulated, we still have a persistent little visitor or two. Somehow, two holes by the skirting boards have appeared in the carpet at the edge.

Mousetraps have gathered a fair harvest of the perpetrators, but it will not be until now that John has the time to take the carpets up and fill in the holes. I shall miss that sharp snap of a trap as another little shrew or mouse meets its end.

Millie, our Jack Russell has also seen off a few more vermin this week. She has been doggedly (I know) burrowing under the hen hut, convinced there was something worth digging out. And she was right. A big fat rat, on a big fat nest of baby rats. Good girl Millie.

“It’s as good as a day’s work when a rat’s killed,” John says.

So Millie has certainly earnt her day’s pay in scrambled eggs this week.

Mrs Downs Diary