New Year in the company of...


What better way to end the old, and start the new year than a little guttering. Check out those fascia boards!  We're taking a flexible, non-Gregorian approach to the definition of the year given this particular stretch of guttering was started...well the last blog post I can find is from November 2012, so we'll say around 18 months ago.

The return of the dynamic Longmoor Farm Duo, and a lot of patience-maintaining chocolate biscuits, kept woolly-hatted Gutterman on track through mud, rainstorms, and the loss of Gutterman's secret weapon: the red spirit level.

But, the day you've been waiting for has arrived...the gutter is flowing.  Monumental news.  Gutterman and family were also delighted to introduce Dairy Farmer Stuart to the joys of sheeting sugar beet. (Not a typo.)

Wind and rain are no match for Gutterman.  Before Christmas, our brave aerial superhero worked into the night to replace roofing batons and tiles which slumped in the recent storms.I joined him in the driving rain to sort tiles, but most importantly, provide Christmas cookies and make sure the solar-powered radio remained dry and played calming Classic FM - luxury is never far away at Lower Dairy Farm.

Sometimes, being the custodian of old buildings can be frustrating.  Every extra hole in the roof or similar, takes time away from the restoration process proper.  However, with the Stable once again watertight, preparations are already underway for 2014's timber frame course.  Watch this space for more information.

The end of the year saw Gutterman complete his Soil Protection Review ahead of time - High Five! Gutterman;  further secure the roof of the Pole Barn - High Ten! Gutterman;  and muck out the bullock yard on Christmas Eve...moderate five Gutterman (perhaps high ten for finishing it).

We hope your New Year is filled with health, wealth, effective guttering and not too many unwelcome surprises!More from Gutterman later this year...we hope.


Father Christmas, worry not!  Our latest Caribou calf, Blitzen, joins the elite LDF Sleigh Backup Team. He's brought his friend Donner along too, with amazing thunder clouds rolling across the valley today.It promises to be a noisy evening.  But worry not, good news for Humph's sartorial followers...the woolly hats and dungarees are BACK!  Autumn is officially here!

Pick-ups, poles and puddings

The cows are tucked up in the barn and I left the farm with the river rising, worrying electricity poles and a broken down pick-up. The super-breed that is the "abbreviated collie" and I have headed to Dorset for dairy farm fun, Humbug to cheat on BFF Reggie with cousin Jack, and to "feast" upon a 2-year old Christmas pudding found at the back of Mrs "Heston would be proud" Rogers' larder.  Mmmm antique.  Can you say superfood?






I am thinking perhaps that said pickled delight could be used to shore up the electricity cable crossing our flood meadow of which a junction of high voltage cable has lost a stay but in no way carries the electricity to Nayland, in particular the pumping station.  So no need for concern.  Little fills you with greater dread than a mechanic kicking poles at the base to see if they wobble.

A flood would really help, particularly as they cannot get the machinery down to properly fix the problem until the land dries out.  Last year, we had the Incident of the Downed Cable Sparking in the Night.  We would really not like to repeat that so have removed the bullocks to higher ground to avoid both flooding and to remove them from the ultimate scratching post that is a telegraph stay.  Their beautiful bottoms seen here trotting obediently up Water Lane to attack the stay in the Home Field instead.

But even though the pick-up and cattle trailer broke down (luckily on the way back from unloading cattle) and Dad embarked on a lengthy wait for the recovery services, there was good news this week as the cows are now safely installed in the barn and feasting on hay in the yard outside.

They face a winter of pampering at the 5* Hotel de LDF.  Give them a wave if you pass on Water Lane.  If you walk past at dusk, you can watch the calves "barrel race" round the feeders whilst the mothers look on in despair!

Back in Dairyville, I'm off to continue my culinary tour, play "Lose a Welly Roulette" with the Dorset mud...

..and drink the bulk tank dry of fresh milk - I'm hoping, the ultimate antidote to ancient puddings.

All Creatures Great and Small II: And Those Not Bright and Beautiful

Ah, Autumn, season of mist and mellow fruitfulness.  A time when Humbug suffers puddle/mud dilemmas, night-time "stealth rain" periodically knocks out the electricity, as does the slightest tremor of wind, and Water Lane lives up to its name upgrading the farm with an exclusive "moated" look. The very height of Country Living desirability!

The River Stour is on the rise, so we may soon have to take the bullocks off the Marsh and autumn cultivation has been abandoned in favour of spring barley.  However, in good news, the squirrel escaped...then returned with a friend, both intent on making their way back into the covered bin.  Yes, we saw the jungle gym potential, and took it to the next level.  Welcome to the LDF Squirrel Creche.  Are you going away from home?  Work-Life balance leaving you with little "me-time"?  Leave your squirrels with us.  A diversification idea I can't wait to share with the bank manager.

I laugh, yet Humphrey is at one with the squirrels.  Forget 'Tarzana', a baby squirrel once decided Dad's wellington boot was its mother.  Humph was found standing in the middle of the lane plaintively crying for assistance as said squirrel-ette refused to abandon his wellington.

I'm not sure what's scarier, a pet squirrel or the Gollum-esque nutter (appropriate) holding it...my precious.

But in other news, and proving once again I am not "at one" with the animals, following my tweet, Farm Dog was found cavorting in mud, puddles and a lot of onion waste (= stinky dog, avoid at all costs) with BFF from Wiston Mill, Reggie.

So last year it was complete refusal, and this year it's personal.  I am not worth crossing the muddy wastes to reach.  Given the squirrel died shortly after the photo was taken (most probably out of terror), it is proving difficult to blame him.

I shall instead focus on the lovely autumn colours as the trees begin to turn across the  Valley, providing an excellent backdrop to this year's record silage harvest!

Temporary accommodation

6am wade into the "stream" to rescue a non-floating duck house plus paddling inhabitants.  One homeless Humbug because emergency accommodation = kennel. He assures me he's charging exorbitant rent and doesn't just want to sit in front of the fire all day.  Remind me to order that second pair of wellies...