Adventures of Frangipan

Thursday, 31 January 2013

First Time Farmer

Shame I didn't know about the Channel 4 series sooner - I could have been a part of it!

Me in my farmer outfit with my farmer vehicle!
Dad was a farmer and I grew up on the farm, but took very little interest in farming. If it wasn't baby lambs or calves, or having fun driving the tractor, I didn't care. I just liked my horses.

But this summer I had to learn a bit more because Dad was in so much pain that he couldn't do as much of the work. I had to learn how to operate the front loader on the tractor so I could move the water container around to fill the troughs, and also had to move and stack the round bales. And I drove the tractor on the roads for the first time ever, which was an experience. Middle of town and I just could not get it into 4th gear! And the indicators don't switch off automatically!

But now I have to learn lots of other stuff, because I have land to maintain. 'Farmer' might be a bit of a stretch for what I do, but there's livestock (horses), 20 acres of grazing to get haylage from; so there is real work to be done. And there's 40 acres of rented land, so I'm a landlady too!

I'm going to have to learn about chain harrowing and rolling, and the right conditions for cutting, turning and baling haylage. Thankfully we get someone else to come and do the baling and wrapping. There's also fences that need putting up and maintaining and probably other stuff that hasn't occurred to me yet. We're in a nitrogen restriction zone so I don't have to worry about fertiliser, and the land is really good anyway.

I also have to look after the horses, who are quite low maintenance for horses, but the conditions in the fields are making it a hard slog at the moment. And some of the horses don't really understand that when you walk into an electric fence, you should stop and go back, rather than carry on walking through it.

My Boys excited by the first grass they've had in weeks!
The Boys in the photo are a bit susceptible to laminitis, so they have to be on restricted grazing and get hay and concentrated feed. This photo was taken on Saturday when I extended their paddock (which had turned into a mud bath). They showed their appreciation for grass by cantering up and down and rolling in it.

The rest of the horses are totally low maintenance with regard to food: just hay and water in winter, and grass and water in summer. But they're the ones who don't understand fences so just bring other issues!

Aside from the mud baths the British weather has been presenting plenty of challenges so far. There's the frozen ground that the horses struggle to walk on, frozen water in troughs and frozen water pipes, and snow. The horses aren't hugely bothered by the cold, but it means I have to go round smashing ice and carrying water to make sure they've got all they need.

But the best challenge has to be the wind. For the past couple of days I've wondered if I was going to blow away while trying to sort their food. One of the dividing fences gets pushed down to about a foot from the ground, essentially making it useless. I have to play 'find the food bucket' every time I arrive because they've all blown into the hedge somewhere.

But my 'favourite' event occurred weeks ago. The wind was so strong it did this:

The field shelter. Sheltering the hedge.
It is basically still in one piece so I'm hoping it can be lowered down gently and still work. Not that it really matters because the horses didn't like it anyway!

I'm hoping to blog a bit of a mini-series of my adventures as a farmer, much like my travel blogs but with less travel and more stress no doubt.

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Sunday, 20 January 2013

Horse Welfare Abuses at British Slaughterhouse

Obviously as a vegan and horse-lover I am completely against horses being slaughtered for food. But if they must be slaughtered, it can at least be done as humanely as possible. No animal should undergo abuse in their final journey.

Please sign this petition to investigate incidents, bring in new procedures, and install CCTV in abattoirs.

You can also read more about it at World Horse Welfare.

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Necessary phone calls

On Friday morning I decided to finally phone round utility companies and suchlike to tell them Dad had died and that's why direct debits had been cancelled, to please cancel his account, etc. I expected this to be a fairly easy task.

I was quite surprised when I started crying halfway through my call with TV Licencing - the first call of the day. I then cried my way through 4 other calls before deciding that maybe I could leave HMRC to the executors after our meeting tomorrow.

It wasn't that I expected to be OK about him dying yet: just that I expected the words to come easier, to be OK about saying the words "you haven't been paid because he died in December". I think I just assumed that I would be able to disassociate a businesslike phone call from my thoughts and feelings about him dying.

Tomorrow should be fun. Tissues on standby.

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Monday, 7 January 2013

Things we should've talked about

I'm feeling trapped, and it's stressing me out and causing even more sleep problems. And worst of all, it's making me angry with Dad, and I really don't want to feel like that.

He's left me with a situation which, had we planned properly, would have had specific instructions about how to deal with it. Because I knew I didn't want to be left in this situation. And now I am.

I don't know how the person in question managed to repeatedly crawl her way back into his life, but she did. And no matter how many lies she told or how many problems she caused, he let her back in, and still seemed to trust her.

But the reason I'm trapped is because she did help him out of a financial situation and he didn't get the chance to repay that debt. She is happy to write that debt off but I am not, as it would mean being indebted to her and I really don't want that.

She also keeps horses on Dad's land, which I'm pretty sure she does not pay for, and neither does she pay for hay. But I don't know for sure.

The problem is how to get out of this. I sat in her living room last night and as I listened to her, I wondered what was true and what was false.

My gut instinct is to distance myself from her, but that means I'd also have to kick her off the land, which won't be easy while I don't fully understand the arrangement. And she's also disabled and has cancer, so it doesn't exactly make me feel like a good person.

So I think I have several options.

  • Keep going like this and feel worse and worse and probably damage my own health.
  • Ask her to pay rent on the land, which might cause enough of a problem for her to leave of her own volition.
  • Say that I can't be her friend because I don't know what is the truth and what is lies. Let her stay on the land if she chooses to, but ask her to pay rent.
  • Wait for the financial situation to be resolved, say I can't be her friend and tell her I want her off the land.

The first is definitely not an option. I really do want to choose the fourth, mostly because I remember what an awful person she has been in the past and the fact that she has threatened members of my family as well as Dad's friends. But she helped Dad. And she is being nice as pie to me. I think it's about self preservation more than anything else. But if I kick her out, I still end up looking like a horrible person.

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Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Well if I must talk about it...


I’m upset about all the work we still had left to do

I’m upset about all that was left to achieve, that can now never be achieved

I’m upset about all the things I don’t know about, that he would’ve told me if we knew that time was up

I’m angry that we argued a couple of years ago, and rather than really try to sort him out, I just focused on how angry we were at each other

I’m upset that he had his phone in his hand, and that he might’ve been about to text me, to say he was short of breath

I’m angry with myself that I backed off in the last couple of months because I was too busy doing other stuff or because I didn’t like seeing him like that

I’m angry with myself that I didn’t make more time for him, that I felt like running his errands was a chore rather than something important

I feel alone. No matter how many people are around to help and support me, and how much they are doing. At some point everyone will say the wrong thing and it’ll get to me. On some level I am letting people help because it’s what they want to do, even if I do appreciate the help.

I hate that everyone has to ask how I am or how I’m coping. I hate feeling like everyone is putting a time limit on how long I’m supposed to feel like this. I hate feeling like people think I’m taking on too much, when it’s stuff I want to do.

I just want to grieve. In my own way and in my own time. And if that means I don’t sleep well for a while or that I cry a lot, I’m OK with that.

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