Wet, cold, muddy aka February.

Insert usual excuses for lack of updates <here>

It’s winter, it’s wet and muddy and wet and cold and wet, with extra mud and wet.

Progress on the house has slowed to pretty much a halt, what’s left to be done, needs to be done either by professionals (new kitchen & new/repair the conservatory for example) or by MrC, things like roof fascias as I’m completely hopeless with heights, I can just about get to the top of the stepladder without my knees turning to jelly, but higher than that and I get horrible vertigo.

Still plenty of work to be getting on with outside though.

We had a lovely Christmas, with a fantastic spread laid on by Mr and MrsC snr, we always have a lovely day.


A few days of R&R between Christmas and New Year and then time for my once a year scraping off of the horsepoo and mud and chuck on a pair of heels for the fantastic New Years ball with Mal and Ally’s parents.  As usual the marquee looked amazing, the food was sublime and this year even I got on the dancefloor (sans heels) as they had a live band that were really good.

I did catch my husband smooching with a blonde!!


I eventually dragged myself away from the sofa and did a cleanup of the wildlife pond, this had many years of leaves and twigs rotting away at the bottom of it, which I raked and hauled out of there.  Finished that just in time, the day after I’d cleared it water started to pool in the bottom and just a week later it was pretty much full.  We’ve had a couple of ducks checking it out, but they’ve not moved in permanently yet.  Our resident moorhen is delighted with it though, no pics of her, she’s very very shy.  Looking forward to seeing ducklings later in the year (or as MrC likes to call them, natures snackfoods).

We’ve had a number of storms recently and a fair bit of storm damage.  Mostly in the area near the stream that I’d cleared earlier, I think because I removed so much undergrowth, I’d exposed weakness in the trees that had basically been held up by bramble previously.  3 old blackthorn trees down and another huge branch came off the silver aspen (which we had the tree surgeons in to sort out last winter).  Mr and MrsC snr came by to help me clear most of it, just the trunks remain which Roger is going to come round and remove and then use to create beautiful things.

This winter I’d noticed that yields and sizes of the veggies were not anywhere good as last year, so I’ve been raiding the muck heap to spread on top, this will be rotovated in when the grounds slightly less claggy and will hopefully mean my leeks and swedes will be of a good size next year.


Although, I’m chuffed to bits with this, my first ever broccoli (the pigeons ate the lot last year).


I spent a morning with Mr and MrsC snr, going round collecting apple tree scions to attach to the 20 rooting stocks I’ve got in pots near the greenhouse.  All was well, until the deer ate the whole lot, luckily, MrC snr and Roger have both got some scions spare, so we should be able to create some new trees in the spring.


As far as the pets go, Maggie is fine, she’s caught a shrew for MrC, which she brought in and dropped on his coat for him, after demonstrating she was back in the game, she’s now retired to the radiator in the living room, which she can fit nicely under, and is hibernating until the spring.  Rosie is a muddy mess and has utterly destroyed her paddock, which more closely resembles a swamp rather than somewhere you’d keep a horse.  She is lonely though, but plans are afoot to remedy this.  Whilst I accept she’s going to be a mud monster until the weather clears up a bit, I finally broke and HAD to give the mud and poo encrusted dreadlock she calls a tail a bit of a wash.  Rosie will let me do almost anything with her these days, but she will try to kick me in the face if I use cold water on her (fair enough really), so I lugged half a dozen buckets of warm water down to the stables and gave her a bit of a clean up.  It’s not perfect, but at least she can swish it again.

MrC snr took this pic of Rosie with his super duper camera, muddy but magnificent!


I had a lovely parcel in the post, my Dad (who is a teensy bit of a hoarder) unearthed these lovely hooks in one of his many sheds and thought I’d like them, I do!!  MrC has put them up in the tack room for me and Rosies headcollar and my riding hat are adorning them.


In the gardens I’m trying to keep on top of weeding the flower borders and I’ve put in 124 summer bulbs (remember summer??  I think that’s when the mud doesn’t happen), and I’ve another 300 to go in.  Once this cold snap ends, I will be in the greenhouse planting many many seeds.




Pony progress :)

The last week has been cold, snowy, rainy and not really conductive to getting a lot done, but somehow, unless the day is an utter weather write off or the weekend when I practice my sofa surfing skills , I still seem to fill each day with work outside.

Loving this picture of Rosie, or at least, where Rosie had been taking a nap, it looks a bit like a pony related crime scene.


I’ve finally got around to weeding the strawberry bed and I’ve potted up some of the runners ready for planting out in the spring.

The shed has got a second coat of wood preserver (about 2 months after I did the first coat).

The winter veggies are not as good as they were last year, but we’ve got enough to make sure MrC has plenty of sprouts with his Sunday lunch, which he’s delighted about.

The Christmas trees are up!  We’ve a fake one in the hallway and a lovely real one in the living room which we got from the local farmer.  He was really pleased with the work done on the stream, I think he’d wanted it cleared because his land drains go into the stream, I cleared out several of them for him, he couldn’t get at it with machinery and didn’t have time to clear it by hand.

Yesterday I had a huge load of hay delivered for Rosie, the stuff I’d got from the local tack shop was poor quality and had lots of thistles and dock in it.  So I ordered this from a bit further afield, it was eye wateringly expensive at £6 per bale (would have been cheaper to take her to a restaurant), but it’s so nice, no weeds and smells so sweet.  When we bought the Christmas tree, we found out that the local farmer also does small hay bales (I thought he only did the large round bales) so when this runs out, I’ll try some of his, which at £2.50 a bale is a bit more affordable.

Mr and MrsC came round today and helped me haul and stack the bales, ah, this is a sight to warm any horse lovers heart, a fully stacked hay store!


Rosie seems to like the view as well, she managed to sneak in there when my back was turned and I had a devil of a job getting her out again.  I think she’s in love, she stood like this for ages just gazing adoringly at the view…


We also had a visit from my awesome farrier Will today and Rosie got a pedicure.  She was so good, not a single bit of bad behavior from her, such a massive improvement from his first visit.  That time she was so naughty, trying to kick him, snatching her feet from him and leaping around the place.  I was a bit worried Will might refuse to come back she was such a diva, but he wasn’t fazed at all by her.  I guess if you spend all day wrestling 16hh thoroughbreds a 13hh bolshie pony isn’t much of a challenge.

Here we have the classic “being done by the farrier” pose with the owner holding the pony in the correct position.


Here we have the, “let the horse hold itself” pose while I pointed out a bit of heel I was concerned with..


She didn’t move an inch, that’s how much she’s calmed down, I’m so proud of her.

Excuse how horribly grubby she is, at this time of year I only groom the bottom half of her legs, her face and the mane and tail.  Grooming removes the oils in the coat and at this time of year, she needs all that to keep warm in the cold weather, the mud also provides extra insulation, so she’s going to be a mucky, muddy monster until the weather warms up (oh how I’m looking forward to giving her a bath when it does).

Also had a visit from Mandy (my horse walking friend) today,  she’s been very busy recently and it’s been ages since I’ve seen her, we had a lovely catch up over a cuppa, we’re both looking forward to the spring when we can resume work with Rosie and get out and see some of the countryside.

What a lovely day, 4 people visiting (admittedly I did pay one of them), I’m exhausted, I don’t normally people that much in a week, let alone a single day 🙂


Please Please Please, may I get out of the ditch now?

I haven’t blogged for a while, because to be honest, there hasn’t been much to report.  I have basically spent the last 6 weeks in a ditch.

When I started, I knew this was going to be a fairly big job, but I’d seriously under estimated the sheer amount of detritus I was going to have to remove.  So my days went sort of like this…

Hack, slash, snip, yank and swear at various detritus blocking the stream, haul it under the willow tree ready to be burnt, realise parts of my body have gone numb from cold or blood loss due to bramble scratches, go in for a cup of tea, rinse and repeat.

Luckily I had some help from Mr and Mrs C snr, they came over most weeks and had a fire and helped me haul the stuff I’d cleared.  MrC got out his trusty chainsaw a few times and cleared some trees that needed removing, he can get done in 20 mins what takes me half a day to do with the handsaw (I’m not allowed to play with power tools due to being an enormous klutz).

I’m really pleased with how it looks now, we shouldn’t have to deal with any blockages in the stream this year (touch wood).

This was how it looked to start:



The inlaws having a fire/summoning a demon:


Come rain, shine or in this case, snow, they came round and set fire to all the rubbish I’d unearthed

Hard to believe that tonnes and tonnes (I’m not exaggerating, due to the amount of things we’ve had delivered, or removed in tonnes, I’m very aware of how much, or little, a tonne actually is) of dead trees, prunings, brambles, nettles and other assorted weedage can be reduced to this!


A very rare glimpse of a willow tree that doesn’t have a massive pile of stuff waiting to be burned underneath it!


Finished!!!  Just in time as well, as you can see it’s starting to fill up with water, soon this will be a free flowing stream (or as hubby likes to call it, the moat).


This tree is on the corner of the stream and the soil under its moss covered roots has been eroded, it reminds the bayou trees you see in American swamps.


Ironically, I’m not sure exactly how much of this actually belongs to us…  Certainly the land up to the stream bed is ours, possibly the stream itself, but the other side of the stream definitely belongs to the farmer next door (he’s far too busy to be bothered with such trivialities, but I don’t think he’ll mind me clearing it).  Anyways, as proved when the woodland next door was sold, “land disputes” round here are generally sorted out with a cup of tea and slice of cake.

I’ve picked up all the leaves from the huge maple tree at the front of the property and filled up the leaf mulcher, waiting for this lot to rot down a little before I gather up the fallen leaves from elsewhere.

As far as the pets go, happily, Mags has recovered completely from her illness and surgery, she’s also adjusted well to only having one eye, she’s jumping onto things again so her confidence there has been restored and before the weather got brutal she was out fishing and shrew bothering again.  Nowadays, she spends most of her life jammed under a radiator or asking to go outside, and then upon seeing how wet and cold it is, retreating to radiator again.


Rosie is still lactating, we had the vet out again to give her a test for Cushings disease which can cause mares to inappropriately lactate, happily the results came back negative, so we’ve exhausted all the most obvious physical illnesses that could cause her to lactate and put it down to the fact she’s a mental moody mare who’s been either pregnant or nursing for most of her life.  The mare and foal in the field next to her have been moved, so I’m hoping without the stimulus of the foal, she’ll return to what vaguely passes for normal.


MrC built her the most amazing manger, this will encourage her to get out of the mud for a bit and stand on the concrete so her feet get a chance to dry out.

Her field is a quagmire at the moment, she likes to stand next to the gate and often paces a bit there, so it was churned up beyond belief. One morning I came out to give her breakfast and she was standing in an inch of water on top of sucking mud, so as a temporary winter measure I’ve put down a deep straw bed there so at least at least her hooves won’t fall off.  I should point out, she’s got free access to a very expensive, warm, dry, straw and hay filled stable that she refuses to use, apart from when I put her feed in there…

Sorting the stream out was a really big job and now it’s over, I’m not sure what’s next, can’t really dig as everything is frozen, it’s not seed planting time for about a month (my very favourite time of year, go into greenhouse at 9am, emerge an hour later at 3:30pm, greenhouses steal time when it’s seed season).  Off the top of my head… The strawberry bed needs sorting out, as does the gate flower bed, there’s a bit at the very front of the property that needs a wholesale clearance (if on a smaller scale than the stream) but that needs MrC and his chainsaw to go in first.  The sprayed section of the paddock needs any remaining ragwort removing, the leaves in the bit next to the paddock and the woodland need picking up and putting in the mulcher, need to do another batch of pickled red cabbage, the shed needs a second coat of wood preserver and all the flower borders need deadheading and weeding.  Oh, ok then, that will probably keep me busy for a bit.





Mostly about poo this one…

This weekend I made an old man very happy…. Earlier in the week I dropped an e-mail to the chairman of the Diss allotment society, letting him know I had a well rotted muck heap that his members were very welcome to come and plunder.  He came round on Sunday for a look, dug out three bags for himself, “oh this is good stuff” he says, “I’ll see if I can find anyone with a trailer to come and get the rest” and off he went with the happy “my onions are going to be awesome this year” grin that only a gardener with a car full of horse poo can muster.

Continuing with the poo theme, I’ve cleared out the greenhouse beds (except for a row of rocket), composted all the spent tomato plants and dug the beds over with a lavish amount of (you’ve guessed it) Rosie poo. These beds will rest over the winter, but, come January and February, the entire greenhouse (and the conservatory and the boot room) will be stuffed full of seed trays gently germinating!

Also got my onions planted with the assistance of MrC snr and the garlic is in as well, all covered over with yet more pony poop.

Upon hearing that the black gold at the back of the field was under threat by allotmenteers MrC snr requested some bags put aside for his greenhouse and onions, so I’ve been digging at the poo face and he’s gone off with 5 bags of it.  There’s still plenty left, and it’s a rapidly regenerating resource…


This is where the magic happens!!


Enough with the poo, in other news, I decided that I really didn’t like the way the new shed was weathering, so I given it a first coat of wood preserver that matches the exterior of the house. It needs another coat, but I think it’ll look really nice when it’s done.  I need some arty friends (I can’t even draw a stick man convincingly) to come and paint pretty things on it when I’ve finished, it’s crying out for a bit of decoration.


(I apologise for some of the sketchy camera angles, I’ve broken the screen on the camera, it still takes photos, but I can’t actually see what I’m snapping)

As far as the pets go Maggie is fully recovered, going outside shrew bothering again, although she’s yet to bring any indoors. She is still a bit clingy though, she lost a bit of her confidence being so ill, I hope she gets back to her bolshie demanding self soon.

Rosie is still convinced she’s having a foal, mental mare…  She had a visit from Will the farrier yesterday and was pretty OK with him, we only had one instance of flying pony and just a few attempts to kick him in the face, so all in all, not bad considering.  Now Rosie is a gypsy cob, as far as she’s concerned, everything is edible, I was a bit surprised/disgusted though when she decided to snack on a bit of hoof that Will had cut off.  Not your finest moment Rosie, not your finest moment.  Her feet are looking really good though.  We also seem to have beaten the feather mites she had earlier in the year, so I’m letting her feathers grow again, that’s why she looks a bit shaggy.


I’m trying to be a good neighbour, so I spent a bit of time removing all the brambles from the hedge between ours and Kathy’s property.

And finally, this is the next big job…

We have a stream that runs around the very edge of our land, it’s dry in the summer and runs about a foot deep during the winter, and last year, we had a bit of a blockage and it backed up, went stagnant and was just really quite unpleasant to have to deal with. We’ve been here for 3 years and I’ve not gotten around to clearing the stream bed, so this is what I’ll be up to for the next few weeks while it’s still dry…

This is a tiny fraction of what needs clearing, wish me luck.

Also, today, I was stung by a wasp (in fairness I had just raked over their nest), I’ve never been stung by a wasp before, it hurt, it’s still hurting and I think only ice-cream is going to make it better (not applied to the sting…)






If pets reflect their owners does that make me a mental, hormonal, moody mess?

I have some good news. Little Maggie seems to have fully recovered from the removal of her eye.  She had to be in the collar for nearly 2 weeks, every time we took it off she would over clean the area and make it red and sore.  MrC and I agonised over when we should remove it, as it did make her very unhappy.  In the end, she took it off herself and it was obviously the right time as we’ve had no problems since.  She’s back outdoors exploring, although she has yet to bring me any shrews.

I love this picture, neither of them knew I was lurking in the kitchen and I snapped it really quietly, my 2 favourite people having a little cuddle.


Outside we’ve been working hard, the undergrowth at the very back of our land which backs onto a field is very thick which we were fine with, but I noticed that the farmer had put in a mare and foal in there and Rosie and the mare spent a lot of time calling to each other, so I thought it would be nice if she could see the mare and foal, so with the help of Mr and Mrs C snr and Mr C with his trusty chainsaw we made a couple of “windows” for Rosie to look out on the field.



The mare and foal are really pretty and company for Rosie, but they’ve had a bit of an unexpected effect. Poor Rosie has been a brood mare most of her life, I’m not sure exactly how many foals she’s had, but for most of her life she’s either been pregnant or nursing a foal.  The little foal calling has triggered her body to a false pregnancy response and she’s producing milk and being extremely moody.  I have had the vet out to do several undignified things to Rosie and she’s definitely not pregnant and she’s been checked for mastitis so physically she’s ok, mentally she’s all over the place.  With luck it will clear up soon, WE know she’s not preggers, now we need HER to know it too.

The summer harvesting season is coming to an end and I’ve been in the kitchen using up the last of them for soups and chutneys.


Most of the summer I’ve had a wasps nest near one of my bedroom windows, which I wasn’t bothered about, I just didn’t open that window. However, hornets built a nest near the other window, meaning I couldn’t open either of them, plus hornets are really scary, so we called in a professional to deal with them.



No hornets!!

Made some progress with Rosie on her stable, she didn’t like being in there and the last time I tried to leave her in there (to await the farrier) she came over the door, so I’ve left the door open and put hay in there, she now wanders in and out quite happily, but alas, she doesn’t use it for anything useful, such as staying dry in a storm or when the wind is going at 70mph, but it’s progress of a sort…

I have finally finished getting the greenhouse painted!! With the exception of the asbestos outhouses which need to be pulled down and removed, we have no more pink!!

I’ve been really pleased with the cut flower garden, it’s given us flowers in the house since about April, even if they’re only tiny arrangements in the early part of the year, the flowers are about to come to an end, although I’ve got lots of holly and ivy to do winter arrangements. I was really pleased with this one.


The winter veg is coming along nicely, we’ve romanesque broccoli and sprouts, parsnips, leeks, carrots and swede, some red cabbage that I really need to pickle.

One drawback of the wet weather we’ve had recently is mud, one of the drawbacks of having a white pony, is mud. Whenever it rains, THIS is what I’m greeted with!!!


We have a lot of fires round here, we have to, there is so much debris from the gardens, from storms, from weeding, from pruning, from pretty much anything we do. The fire site had built up to about 3ft of ash and looked pretty unsightly.  So I’ve dug out all the ash and given it a bit of definition with some of the Purbeck stones we’ve unearthed from the rockery we dismantled earlier in the year.  MrC has christened this Beckhenge and has been mocking me about my West Country roots and the innate need to build drystone walls…


Mr and Mrs C snr have been over a lot to help, we’ve worked really hard to get the lawns looking nice, it’s amazing how cutting the lawns transforms the place.


I snapped this today, can’t believe the butterflies are still about at this time of year…


Pets, they own you not the other way around, which is probably as it should be.


I’ve not updated this for a very long time, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster the last month or so, with our beloved Maggie becoming very ill.

One evening I remarked to Tim that it looked as if one of her eyes wasn’t quite as open as the other, the next day she was at the vets getting treatment for an eye infection. This worsened, very rapidly.  Our vet decided that she needed to be treated by an expert clinic that specialised in ophthalmic medicine, so we were hastily referred to a vet in Newmarket (much respect to our vet for this, I’d much rather they said, “nope, this is beyond our facilities” and refer than try to continue treatment they weren’t confident about).

She was prescribed some very strong steroids, which did clear the infection initially, but seemed to cause clouding and a lot of redness in the eye. The referral vets decided to hospitalise her so they could respond rapidly to any changes and she spent the best part of a week in the hospital.  Her condition got worse with blisters forming on her cornea so they did a surgery to stitch her third eyelid in place to try to reduce the blisters and then stitch her eye shut.  They sent her home even though they would have liked to keep her in because she had become very depressed and stopped eating.

She was at home with us for about a week before returning to the specialists to evaluate the progress. Although the eye had cleared and the blisters healed, she had lost the sight in her eye.  We did have an option of a corneal transplant that may have restored her sight but no guarantees it would, but that would have meant more surgeries, more hospitalisation and many visits back to the Newmarket vets for check ups, she gets stressed by the journey there, stressed staying in the vets and she’d already had 2 lots of anaesthetic .  We decided enough was enough, and poor Maggie has had her eye removed.

As I write this, she is still in recovery, she’s drugged up the eyeball (sorry) with anti inflammatory, antibiotics and soothing cream, but the surgery site is still very red and inflamed, we’re not out of the woods yet, but I hope very soon she’ll be back to herself.  Don’t care how many eyes she’s got, she’s our little furball and we love her very much and just want her well again.



A personal musing on pet insurance… I’ve always had pet insurance, I very rarely claim, if they need a minor surgery for a tooth out or stitching up for a small injury, I just pay it because every time you make a claim they put exclusions on the policy that might affect your ability to claim for a big issue later.  Maggie’s treatment will probably be in the region of £4,700, we have an annual claim limit of £4,000 per medical issue, so we’ve had to pay for a bit of it, £700 we can cope with, £4,700 would have been difficult, so please guys, if you’ve got a small furry person in your life, get them insured, they’re family and worth that small fee every month, just in case something like this happens to your pet.

So that’s the main thing that’s happened recently, but before all this happened we did have some other stuff going on most of which I would have forgotten, but luckily I have my trusty camera on hand to jog my memory.

I did, unfortunately lose my entire outdoor crop of tomatoes to blight, as is often the case with blight, it happened pretty much overnight. So if life hands you 30 tomato plants with green tomatoes, it’s chutney time…  Alas my trusty chutney making pot has developed a leak, which we fixed with a bandaid, I’m not convinced this is going to work as a long term solution though.

As blight is contagious to potatoes, I had to quickly harvest them before they became infected, there is a fair amount of potential roasties stored in the shed now.

Other crops are coming fast too, beans, sweetcorn, onions, all are being lifted and either frozen or stored to keep us going during the winter. The salad veggies often don’t make it to the kitchen, they’re eaten on the go, although I lost all my outside tomatoes, the ones in the greenhouse were fine and very very tasty!

As far as Rosie goes, well, we hit a few problems, nothing insurmountable, but they’re going to take time, which is cool, we’ve the rest of our lives to sort them out. She was a bit rude on the ground, bargy in the stable or when tied up, a bit of a nightmare for the farrier and picking out her hooves could sometimes take me half an hour while she danced about being a diva.  These we’ve mostly sorted, the farrier came last week and she was as good as gold, stood there like a rock.  She only occasionally faffs me about when picking out her hooves nowadays.  And yesterday for the first time, she allowed me to wipe her eyes without doing a giraffe impersonation, definite progress!  She’s also responding well to voice training, she’ll  now come to call, back up, move over,  stand  and follow with a voice command and a reinforcing touch signal where needed.  I think she just didn’t really understand what the heck I wanted from her before, and gentle training is doing the trick with her.

As far as riding her goes, well that’s not going so well, she was fine to school in the field and ride around the property and well behaved when I went out with Mandy, but the first time I took her out on her own, she went completely mental. The first 3 bucking sessions I sat (to my surprise), but then she incorporated spinning around with the bucking and I hit the deck, luckily I was wearing my body protector which cushioned some of the impact.  I think I’m possibly a better rider than I might give myself credit for, as I did manage to hang on to the reins as I was flying through the air.

Girding every loin I had I got back on and rode her home, no real physical damage done, although I could barely move the next day. However, it rather shattered my confidence, so I thought I’d take her out in hand rather than riding, to be rewarded by pretty much the same behaviour.

Then I had a bit of a think… This little pony is a rescue, she’s had an awful lot to deal with over the last year or so, she’s had a foal, she’s been backed, she’s been moved 3 times.  I understand the freaky behaviour, she’s young and excitable, what Rosie needs is to learn how to be a pet, because that’s what she is now and that’s something she’s never really been before, she’s going to be pampered, loved and fussed over and she’s not used to that.   So, to hell with riding her at the moment, she’s doing really well on the groundwork, when I’ve a bit more confidence in her we’ll resume the in-hand work off the property, and start her again on riding in the spring.  There’s no hurry, we’ll learn and work together.


The last 6 weeks have also been incredibly social (for me anyway, I rarely get past the front of the drive…) Firstly we were very honoured to be invited to Alex and Emma wedding, what a fabulous day out that was, the venue was magical, the food was incredible and it was so lovely to see two people who are so perfectly suited for each other tie the knot.


Then it was the wedding of Amy and Scott, it always going to be emotional this one, anyone who’s ever met Amy will love her, that’s just the person she is, and seeing her get her heart’s desire definitely brought on the warm and fluffy feelings, Mel and I had tissues on standby before the ceremony and we had to use them!

Next it was Mr and Mrs C snr 50th wedding anniversary celebration, an absolutely lovely party, fab food and company and the entertainment by our nieces and nephews was awesome, with a particular mention to Molly who stunned everyone with her singing and I’m not being polite here, she was really really good!

This day would also have been Mr Charles birthday, so I had a pint of Guinness in his memory, you’re still very much missed Mr Charles.

Finally on the social engagements list was the wedding of my dear friend Tym, again very emotional, I didn’t snap any pics of this one, but I love knowing he’s so happy and contented.

So what’s been happening about the property, well, surprisingly little. When Rosie turned up, she had an immaculate paddock that was recently topped and everything was lovely.  Then it all went a bit pear shaped, we’ve had a ragwort explosion in there (ragwort is horribly poisonous to horses) it suddenly germinated absolutely everywhere.  I tried really hard to keep it under control, but eventually I had to throw in the towel, I’ve divided the paddock and have, by virtue of spending about 7 hours a day for the last 5 weeks got half of it free of the bloody stuff so Rosie can safely graze.  Today the lovely Phil the meadow man came over and sprayed the other half of it for me.  I think that because we’d allowed the grass to grow so tall before we topped the meadow the ragwort couldn’t germinate, once we’d cleared it and with the wet and warm weather we’ve had recently, it just went crazy.  Hopefully, now I’ve cleared half by hand and Phil has rescued the other half (that was going to be her spring grazing anyway, so fencing it off was always going to happen) I can turn my attention back to the rest of the grounds, which have also gone mental on the weed front.

A big thank you to Mr and Mrs C snr, who have turned up every week and made things happen that I should have been doing, but couldn’t because I had to make Rosie’s grazing safe, thank you MrC snr for mowing the lawns and making the place look tidy, thank you for spraying the worst areas of weedage and for trying to keep the various detritus under control with a regular fire.  Thank you MrsC snr for harvesting crops for me that would otherwise probably have gone to waste, thank you for the absolutely absurd amounts of weeds you’ve pulled up and thank you for holding the pony today, I’m glad she was polite and didn’t misbehave.  Thank you both for taking me out to lunch and for being there as a much appreciated taxi when Maggie needed to go to Newmarket, just thank you and much love!






Oh look, shiny pony, oh wait, nevermind.

It’s been an exciting time the last week or so.  Having a pony right outside the back door, even one as undemanding as Rosie, is a lot of work.

Monday we had a visit from the farrier to give her feet a trim, so at about 8:30 I catch her, clean out her feet and pop her in the stable (complete with haynet, salt lick and water, not to mention a foot deep bed of straw) ready for his visit whilst I went for a cup of tea. 20 mins later the farrier arrives (a lovely chap by the name of William), he drives round to the field and Rosie, is NOT in the stable, the little bugger had launched herself over the stable door and escaped back into the field.  Luckily no damage to either pony or stable and after some dancing about and being a bit of a diva, her feet were trimmed.  Apparently, she has “dainty hooves” according to William.

Poor Rosies day didn’t get much better as she had a visit from the vet in the afternoon, she needs a passport and she’s being plagued by feather mites and she’s got a wound on one of her front legs that I wanted to vet to check.  The vet then gave her an absolutely massive injection to try and control/kill the mites.  She’ll need a follow up jab in a couple of weeks to complete the treatment.   In the meantime I’m bathing her legs and beard (the areas she seems to be most affected) with a special shampoo.  She’s improving but she’s still itchy.

Rosie produces about a wheelbarrow full of pony poops everyday (they’re much smaller than Patches used to do, he was like clearing up after a dinosaur), luckily I have a friend with a smallholding who wants to use it, so that’s one problem solved.

I haven’t ridden Rosie yet, I was hoping to have a few days riding in the paddock before we ventured into the great outdoors, but the weather has been so wet and the ground so saturated if I ride her in there I’ll just chew up her grazing (she’s not exactly light on her feet, not her fault, she’s a cob).   So I’ve put a shout out on a local community group for a riding companion, I don’t really know the local area very well (so busy on the house and gardens I rarely get past the end of the drive) it would be lovely to team up with a local rider who knows where the good riding is.

Sam sold me some tack for Rosie and I thought I’d give it a good clean and polish, I thought I could get it done before hubby got home from work, but I got totally busted cleaning tack in the living room whilst watching tripe on tele…


We had a lovely visit from Mal and Ally, along with the kiddies and the lovely Lulu, who had a brilliant time with the best stick ever, having a bouncy Labrador heading straight at you with what is essentially a spear is a bit disconcerting, but she made me absolutely cry with laughter.

Hubby has bought himself a new toy, I dig weeds up, he incinerates them!


Mr and MrsC snr came over to finish filling the skip, it was certainly packed full, they have cleared a load of wire and wood that was abandoned at the edge of the property, all the junk we’ve dug up over the last 6 months and cleared out 2 of the outbuildings, I never get tired of seeing a skip leave with the junk we’ve inherited (and can’t burn).

We found this in one of the outbuildings, deeply creepy.


Maggie seems to be finally fully embracing countrylife, along with the daily harassment of mice and shrews (I’m getting quite good at catching them when she dumps them in the hallway and then loses interest) she’s pictured here, tucked up in a Pinks shirt box, that’s lined with a Barbour… Don’t get me wrong, we’re not all countryside designer labels round here, most of my stuff comes from primark these days.


MrC ordered some insecticide shampoo for Rosie as she’s being plagued by flies, and he helped me give her a bath, she didn’t stay all white and shiny for long, but she sure did look pretty for a little while.  Not sure the shampoo made any difference, she’s still covered in flies.

She was not impressed with the horse ball we bought her, that thing took forever to inflate.


When I’m not playing pony, I’m working on the garden, it’s a bit of a slog, the weeds have gone crazy, but I am bringing order to chaos slowly, the veggie garden is looking good, I need to put in a last crop of salad veggies in the areas I’ve cleared. We’re cropping courgettes, sweetcorn, cabbage, tomatoes, spring onions, green and runner beans and potatoes at the moment.  The onions are almost ready to be lifted and stored as are the shallots, which have grown huge, they’re the size of onions most of them.

The job hunting isn’t going well, I really need something part time, there is no way I can run this place and work full time, but part time jobs seem to be few and far between. The alternate is to go for a full time post and hire a gardener, which seems a bit daft.  I’ll keep scouring the interwebs, hopefully someone out there needs a part time data monkey (will code for peanuts…)

Mr and MrsC snr came around today and he mowed the lawns, unfortunately the lawn mower wouldn’t pick up the clippings because they were so wet, so I followed after MrC snr with a rake and MrsC snr followed me about with a wheelbarrow to pick up the piles I’d raked. Hard work, but very worth it, this place always looks stunning when the lawns are mowed.

Update on Rosie, after a chat with her previous owner Natalie (who seems very nice), the wound on her leg is something that cobs are apparently very prone to called mallenders and she’s given me some pointers on how to treat it and as far as the feather mites go, hopefully the second shot of Dectomax will give her some relief, if not she recommends frontline treatment, removing all the feathers and dousing her legs in pig oil. I also found out that Rosie is a rescue and if Natalie hadn’t taken her on she was going to be put down (she was carrying a foal at the time too), thank heavens she stepped in to help.  I’m very grateful for the tips she’s given me, I’ve never had a hairy horse before, I’ve always worked with warmbloods so native breeds are a bit of a steep learning curve.

I’m absurdly proud of this… I growed an aubergine, shame I don’t really like them.






A very special day.

Today has been a very special day.

I got a note from Sam that Charlie might be able to bring Rosie over to us today. Whilst this was awesome, it caused a bit of a panic as I had no hay or straw yet. So bless my longsuffering hubby, he was dispatched to the local tack shop to pick up 2 bales of straw and a bale of hayledge (I need to vacuum his car now).

We made her a bed in the stable, then had to unmake it because my camera had fallen out of my pocket, and once located, we made it up again..


Haynet stuffed full, salt lick and water bucket in place, just waiting for her arrival now!!

She does have a much larger water bucket outside in the paddock as well.

Charlie brought her round in a very nifty little horse box, she was a bit stressed and sweaty (Rosie not Charlie) but she unloaded nicely and had a good look around.



As she was still a bit hot and bothered I put her in the stable to cool off a bit


She wasn’t really very happy in there, so we let her loose in the paddock, whereupon, she started inhaling grass.


An hour or so later, I think she realised she was on her own and started cantering round the paddock and calling for other horses. She seems to have settled down now but I’ll keep an eye on her to make sure she’s not too distressed.


Today has been a very special day, not just because I’m head over heels with a tonne of horse, but also because of Tim, for allowing this to happen, for working incredibly hard and for being just about the best husband in the world. I love that man very much indeed.  Thank you Tim for all that you do, and all that you allow me to be.


Extreme Makeover – Paddock Edition!!!

It’s hard to know where to start dear diary, but luckily, whilst my brain is somewhat fried the camera keeps me on track with what’s going on.

The huge amounts of asbestos we’ve removed from the ground recently has been hauled away, we’ve not got the bill for this yet, I cringe in anticipation, the guys removing it (took 2 full lorry loads) estimate it was 2 tonnes, at times like these I can almost understand why the previous owners buried it, but FFS if you’re going to bury it, do at the outskirts of the property, bury it deep, and don’t land someone else with your problem. Don’t bury it about a foot down, RIGHT OUTSIDE THE BACK DOOR, seriously, that’s messed up.  But we’ve dealt with it, awaiting the bill, but it’s good to know it’s gone.


On a more cheery note, I had a lovely hack out with Louise from the livery Rosie is stabled at, Louise has a Supermodel of a horse called Kenza, and he really is stunning, Rosie, isn’t stunning, but I love her iccle ears and her kind eyes and the fact she’s quite small, so if she starts being a numpty, I can rein her in and make her be polite.  I want her home very much and soon she’s going to be here!


I mentioned in a blog post a little while ago, that when I’d finished painting the outside of the house, I would have sort out the top of the greenhouse, it would need de-pinking, but it’s tall, and I’m short and heights make me go all wobbly in the knee department and I had no idea how I was going to do it. I think I triggered something in MrC  snr (hapless daughter in law, must help) , he  came up with lots of plans for this, including building a special paint tray holder that had an angle that would stop the paint running down the green house roof (which worked very well) and other things that involved physics that even if I tried I wouldn’t understand.

The upshot of this, was the top of the greenhouse got very well painted, without me having to risk life, limb and fainting, I think it looks brilliant, now I need to crack on and do the bits that aren’t vertigo inducing.

Bit of a timeout over the weekend, my lovely friend Amy asked me along to her Hen Night, which obviously  I wasn’t going to, because hen do’s are usually horrible, until she said it was going to the races, Hello Horses!  So  I had a bath, stuck on some false nails, washed and styled my hair (I dried it with an actual hair dryer!!!) and donned a dress (yes I still own dresses, I just don’t often get the chance to wear them) and had a lovely time.  Got a winner on the first race, then it all went downhill a bit.

Amy Hen Do


I love Amy to bits, I’m going to be so happy to see her get married in just a few weeks.

But back to work… Mr and Mrs C snr have procured for us, A SKIP!!!  (If you don’t know how much I love skips, read back about a year!


They’ve done a fine job of filling it with stuff we’ve dug up:


I probably should of helped, but I had another mission in mind, with all that’s been going on the veggie garden has been very very neglected, twas time for some weeding and some harvesting, potatoes and garlic today, there are many more potatoes to be gathered when they’re ready.


And finally, Rosies Pony Palace has been erected, the guys that came to do it were so incredibly competent , they drove from Leicester at 5am got here at just past 8am, and did THIS:


These guys were incredible, they worked so hard and did a fantastic job, I’m completely delighted with the stables.


It’s the best spot in the entire grounds to catch a bit of late sun, with a book and glass of wine 🙂


Maggels had a bit of an explore, I think she’s just hoping there will some easy mouse hunting here (she’s gone from a pacifist to a complete monster on the hunting front)

To do list:

Weed the veggie garden

Ragwort the field again before Rosie gets here

Harvest crops and eat them (or freeze them), we’ve runner and dwarf beans that look so tasty

Paint the garage window

Paint the rest of the greenhouse

Sort out the woodland area, it’s out of control

Pony, Pony, Pony!!!!

Get a job



Horses, dogs, cats and probably black helicopters.

So, last weekend Mr James returned to finish up the drainage for the new stables to go in, he had a nice time digging holes and trashing the place, but all is forgiven as he bought a very special guest…


Poor ole Louis is getting on a bit these days, but we were very pleased to see him and he had a lovely day doing some paddock administration and sampling various different types of poo (I think he enjoyed the rabbit poo the best).

Once Darren had finished up in the paddock he did a couple of extra “can you just” jobs for us while the digger was onsite. Firstly he removed a few hummocks from the bit beside the paddock which MrC snr mowed for us, the tractor got beached a few times on these so they’ve been flattened out now.


And then, the big one… We KNEW there was something going on in the bit of garden just behind the back door, the grass is mostly dead and the ground is oddly springy, but we weren’t entirely sure what it was, Tim suspected a concrete pond lining, so we asked Darren to carefully scrape off the soil for us so we could see what was going on.  Boy, that was a bit of a mistake.  Asbestos is what’s going on, tonnes and tonnes of it buried about a foot down, that’s going to take some shifting.

Darren also moved all the large rocks that we couldn’t move by hand into a nice pile for us. So this is the next big job, shift all the asbestos and flatten the rockery/waterfall that was there previously.

Day one of asbestos extraction…


Day two…


I’ve given Barry the asbestos man a call, I don’t know how much this lot is going to cost to haul away, but we’re looking at a fairly sizable bill.  Still on the plus side, that’s one act of environmental terrorism cleaned up properly.

With the asbestos removed, it’s time to dig in and backfill the giant hole. This is ongoing and Mr and MrsC snr have been over to help us.

I did take a time out to go and see Rosie, although I didn’t ride as I as feeling a bit battered from all the digging and hauling of earth. Won’t be long until she’s home, can’t wait!


Yesterday I was really tired from digging so I had a slightly more gentile day, podded blanched and froze a mass of broad beans, did some flower arranging and have put the (potential) pickled walnuts out to dry for a few days.

In Maggie related news… Mags has always been a pacifist, ducklings wander up to her and quack for their breakfast, squirrels run past her paws unmolested, but she has now caught her first mouse (our little girl is all growed up!!!), she came running in from the paddock with it and dropped it for MrC, and it promptly ran away.  I think she’s discovered the joys of hunting, this morning I found a dead mouse in the living room and when I glanced out of the window, I could see her stalking a pair of pigeons, I hope she doesn’t go too far with this, there are only so many dead bodies I can chuck in the woods next door before the neighbours start to complain…


Doesn’t look like a serial killer does she?

I’ve just realised I’ve used the words terrorism and dead bodies in this post, gonna be pinging all kinds of CIA/FBI/CGHQ algorithms, they’re going to be a bit disappointed when they find the terrorist is a old lady who died a long time ago and the murderer (may as well go for it) is a tuxedo cat and the author is mostly concerned with pickling walnuts!