Thursday, 29 April 2010

Hello world!

Well here I am, writing my very first blog.....

Hello World!

Hello My Public!

(That'll be my mum and my daughter, then.)

It's the same kind of feeling I have when I'm starting a new sketchbook: there seems to be such a weight of responsibility to start with something fantastic that I usually miss the first page out and start on the second page instead. I always mean to go back to the first page when I'm really on a role, and can make something that will impress anyone who looks at it. Needless to say, it always stays empty, even if I've finished the whole sketchbook. Of course, I can't leave the first post of this blog blank, or any passing reader (Ha!) will assume that there's nothing here. and surf of to more interesting climes in the here goes...

It's Thursday the 29th of April, and I'm having a very lazy morning: I've snuggled back into bed with a cup of tea and my laptop, listening to the sound of rain hammering on the roof, and dripping from the newly green Chestnut tree outside my bedroom window. I could also hear the sound of the rush hour out there too, thirty minutes ago: here's a pic of the traffic:

Yes, it's our friend Farmer Martin's herd of Friesians fresh from the milking parlour, plodding down the lane to have munch on some new grass for the day. This twice daily rush hour is pretty frustrating for the many dogwalkers who drive down to park in the leafy lane to take their dogs down to the river here. The few cars going in and out of the hamlet are held up whilst the 160 strong herd amble down and stop for the inspection of the odd juicy plant over the neighbours' garden wall.

Here's another photo of them last week, enjoying better weather, in the field at the back of our house. But we're thankful for the rain today: I'm reliably informed by two farmers that the grass is not growing properly here in Devon this spring. The ground is too dry, and without more rain the cracks already appearing in the earth will get worse; the grass will be yet more sparse, and the farmers will have to resort to buying in more hay and silage to feed the cows: pretty disastrously expensive after a long winter of keeping them indoors on that same diet.
But enough of cows for now....

Let me tell you a little about myself:

I live in a little hamlet in the Devon countryside, in the South West of England: just fourteen houses down a dead end lane, which leads eventually down to an ancient fording point over the river. I am an artist, I teach Watercolour Workshops, and I help in our family business. My husband Nigel owns and manages our small hotel ( 14 rooms) and restaurant cum tearoom, and we live in a converted barn on site. So I am The Innkeeper's Wife.....
As a family, we have a bit of a thing about's a pic of my daughter (11 years old) doing a bit of hen hugging:
She is busy breeding lots of new baby hens at the moment: we've got three sets of chicks at the moment: some are almost half grown, some six weeks old, and the newest ones are about three weeks ( see below for a sickeningly cute photo of one of the youngest ones when it was just a few days old.)
If we have children staying at the hotel Eliza loves to take them up the the chicken shed to show them the new chicks and let them hold them: it's so lovely to see. Kids are definitely at their best when there are young animals about... It reminds you of why you wanted to have them in the first place. Children, that is.

Currently we have an incubator full of eggs about to hatch in another couple of weeks, and as one by one, some of our hens turn broody (it's the season..) we've got a basketful of eggs from various breeds to be popped under the hens for them to keep warm and do it the way Mother Nature intended.

Here's a photo of me feeding Little Tim the cockerel, who came to Sampsons Farm, in the form of a "lucky dip" box of fertilised eggs that my daughter bought for £5 from a local breeder . She chose six interesting looking eggs, and after a few weeks, Tim popped out of one of them, and has grown up to be very engaging. He's like a little ballet dancer compared to our other Big Bruiser cockerels: very small, slim and leggy, with an ear shattering crow that sounds as though he's being strangled. Until he reached puberty he thought he was human, not a bird. After being let out of the chicken shed he would eat his corn with the others every morning, then hop over the fence to do the rounds of the nearest Bed and Breakfast guests, loitering around outside their french windows until they took the hint and hand-fed him their complimentary biscuits.
One day last Autumn, though, his voice broke ( that's when we heard that strangled crow for the first time,) and since then he's decided that he prefers chickens to humans after all. Despite being half the size of his girlfriends. That's one of them in the picture.
This summer, however, he's going to be a very happy cockerel because, as we speak, we have half a dozen eggs in the incubator of his own breed , so soon he'll have some matching mini girfriends. I'll keep you posted...
Yesterday we had a very famous animation company ( hint: Wensleydale Cheese/ Chicken Run) here for a meeting in our little meeting room at the hotel. The lady who had organised it said she thought they would really like the quirkiness of this place, with it's relaxed ( ha!) atmosphere and chickens. Afterwards I thought about how I could enhance that "relaxed chicken" atmosphere, and decided to encourage a few of the chickens out of their field with a bit of bread, so they could peck around the garden and the carpark ( no chickens were hurt during this production, honest) and look charmingly rural. Half way through the day my husband Nigel came to tell me that it hadn't been such a good idea after all. His mum, Hazel, who comes over a few mornings a week to help with the gardening, and who grew up on a farm, was shocked to see such poor animal husbandry, and so started shooing the chickens back into the field. She was making such forceful "shush"ing sounds that the cap on one of her front teeth flew out and dropped into the gravel. And was gone.
Poor Hazel was in tears, and I was mortified.
Thank goodness Nigel went back up to the gate to have a second look and FOUND it. Amazing!
That'll teach me. Presentation is not everything. Chickens are better off in their paddock. And I'd better cough up with a contribution for the dentist's bill.
End of post.
Well, almost. I feel I must mention Happy Harris, who has designed my blog banner and "bits" (can't remember the word for the little blocks for the links,) and made it so beautiful, despite me sending her virtually my whole life scanned in on a million emails, wanting her to design something that described me in one picture. I hope she has recovered from the shock now. She has made me very happy , too, and I apologise for the deluge I unleashed upon her....
I hope you're feeling better now , Happy..... here's her blog link:
I'm off on the long road to Lancashire tonight to see my mum for a few days, and do some scouting around the crafting shops Up North to see what lovely bits I can find..... And stock up on some more jars of Lancashire Honey.
Please have a look in at my blog and bring your cup of tea in a week's time: next week I shall be posting some heartbreakingly beautiful photo's of new lambs and calves I took at my friend Elizabeth's farm, and I shall have news of the Hontion Textiles Fair ( that's on Tuesday 2nd May.) The news will probably be that I have spent a ridiculous amount of money completely out of proportion to my income on old pieces of beautiful fabric, which I shall lovingly wash and iron, and then put in the airing cupboard to await a "project". I predict that it will be too precious ever to use in a "project": much like all the other piles of precious stuff in there. And in the various carrier bags of various antiquity stashed around the house....... ha ha
Until next week!
The Innkeepers Wife, x

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