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Devonshire February March 17

Devon's Countryside, Wildlife, History and Events

The diary of lady

The diary of lady farmer, Janet East Why is being 60 so good? On the 6th January 60 years ago, I came into the world. I am never quite sure, even to this day whether my parents thought the outcome of the mating (to coin a farming term) was considered good or bad! For the last few months’ family and friends have been making such a fuss about celebrating my forthcoming 60th, constantly asking what I wanted to do. Nothing of course. What’s new, why the change? Normally the boys all go skiing the first week of January, but his year no. “Mum we are all staying home to celebrate your birthday”. Rubbish, there can’t be any snow otherwise they would on the slopes and enjoying plenty of après ski. So the day arrives. Cards had been arriving all week, which I must admit I was looking forward to opening, as I believe that a card means, first, someone has remembered, second they still have the ability to write and third, they are also wealthy enough to purchase a stamp and that there is still a post office in a radius of 30 miles of their house and there is public transport to get them there. I was amazed to receive cards from school friends, university friends, B and B guests, ex work colleagues and of course family and local friends. A perfect start to the day. Then the reality sunk in. I had done my normal farming jobs first thing. Let out the dogs and chickens early, then back in for a quick cup of coffee before setting off on the quad to check the sheep and put hay out for the in-lamb ewes and bullocks. I came in for a late breakfast on my own. No special breakfast. Just me and my six dogs. So starting to feel slightly disappointed with my day (my own doing of course) and no sign of any invite out for lunch or dinner, I got myself a bowl of coco pops, drowned them in milk (half goes to the dogs) and sat down at our very large breakfast table in solitude. By 5 o’clock I was as miserable as sin – I had 3 rooms booked in for B and B and I was on my own to do breakfast the next morning. The early evening did have a little ray of sunshine as two friends popped in with a bottle of champagne and sang Happy Birthday to me. Then headlights appeared in yard and my B and B guests had obviously arrived. Then there was this almighty music blaring out of what can only have been my son’s car (as is the norm) playing Stevie Wonders “Happy Birthday to You”. Perhaps Edward had phoned him to tell him to come over and “Cheer your miserable Mother up”. Edward was out greeting the guests and I rose to go and meet them. But before I got there, the kitchen door flung open and there was three of my dearest University friends all singing, dressed ridiculously and laughing so much. I was stunned and what followed was floods of tears. They had booked in as my B and B guests and I had no idea whatsoever. I was so so happy. Misery guts obviously did want a surprise and did want a party. What a fabulous weekend. Wonderful food, champagne, laughter and true friendship. Being from London my friends absolutely loved the farm, but the mud was a bit of a problem for them! The beautiful black dress my friend wore to dinner, I am sure is in the bin by now, as when she got up from the sofa to make her way to the dining room we all laughed as she was covered in dogs hairs - sorry Fiona, that’s what you get if you sit on the dogs sofa! Sunday morning dawned, everyone was packed up and ready to go. It left just me and Edward. Party over. He invited The 'nerve centre' of operations me to go out for a quick bite and a pint at the pub to round the weekend off - why not. So I slung on a jumper and pair of jeans and off we went. On the way he said he had to drop into our neighbours to drop off a knife. “What on earth does John want a knife for?” The reply was a pathetic “I don’t know, he just phoned and asked for one”. We parked outside their house and I sat in the car waiting impatiently. Johns wife came out and asked me if I fancied a quick drink to which I replied a definite no thank you. She persisted and in the end I gave in... on walking into the kitchen I was greeted by party poppers, some dreadful singing and a beautiful lunch surrounded by my close friends from the village. Yet another huge, fabulous surprise. I shed a tear or two over the weekend as I realised how very, very kind and thoughtful people are in this magical community of ours. Thank you. PS The treats continue... free prescriptions and a senior railcard already! 88 Countryside, History, Walks, the Arts, Events & all things Devon at: DEVONSHIRE magazine.co.uk

come on heat in their own time. Nature sorts everything out in time. The following morning was simply beautiful and as we strolled down through the orchard, which was laden with apples of every size, shape and as I would From have the expected gruesome him Torture had Museum booked a couple at Bruge of nights to stay close to his ewes as is in a very expensive Hotel in the norm. Daphne and Helen Cornwall and were booked in Terrible were oblivious to everything, Tortures for lunch so it was a huge relief chatting nine to the dozen to see the dear old Landrover admiring the beautiful, disappear down the lane. stunning Devon landscape. Totally distraught, emotional That soon changed. My concern and near to tears, they made deepened. The ram was not in me promise that I would call colour, the autumn colours the paddock. Where the devil them when the ram surfaced in were a It’s sight amazing to behold. when We were you think was about he? The it, chatter how really stopped cruel we the were pond. to I one really another didn’t know in times gone Janet by. East The is the level proprietor of all in high invention spirits and as we lust chatted to see the and most Daphne painful became tortures totally meted out where is both to start staggering to look and for my disturbing in at equal Yellingham measures. Farm, also running a Farmhouse B&B incessantly Being about in the sheep wrong, and or being animated on the and wrong pronounced side could in be seriously boy so I bad called for my your collie health. Ralph Here we examine a range establishment the joys of of the farming. torture The techniques two employed no uncertain the terms medieval that he era (those and off of a we squeamish went around nature the should turn the page now!). www.yellinghamfarm.co.uk ewes trotted up to meet us at must have drowned. As she farm. Ralph has always had a 01404 850272 the paddock gate - definitely prepared to wade into the pond huge outrun which at times is pet sheep which was confirmed fully clothed I told her not to be annoying as he takes all day when Daphne produced some so stupid as sheep hate water. to find his sheep, but today it 7 rear ends. Perfect. No not “stolen” toast from the breakfast was a wonderful asset. He ran perfect - there should only be 6, table to feed to them. However, “He’s obviously been chasing the hedgerows of The every field, Knee Crusher or was there 7 ? I quietly asked the ram had obviously got after those dear ewes and carefully looking for sheep of Ralph to “come bye” and as he A popular device for crushing and breaking the hump and was nowhere fallen in and sunk to the any description. We rounded headed them, I couldn’t believe joints, particularly those of the knee and elbow. to be seen. I expect he was bottom with the weight of the up my various groups of ewes my eyes... the disappearing around the other side of the water in his huge fleece”. and lambs, looking This for device the was a ram particular was trotting favourite towards of me pond which is obscured by ram but nothing. Inquisition Perhaps the torturers with - you his can new understand harem of ladies. rushes and wonderful drooping This was a nightmare. I said girls were right and that the no ram regard was I given grinned to the from recovery ear to ear of and willow trees. So the three of us there had to be an explanation, had drowned and the recipient would post-torture, relief poured damage over inflicted me. The sauntered on down to the pond not that I knew what it was. eventually rise, bloated, was permanent. to It’s paddock said that to and make pond the are pain close (followed in hot pursuit by the What a scene. Two hysterical the surface of the even pond. more In unbearable, to the the little torturer field housing would the ewes looking for their main ladies, two uninterested ewes, my heart I still didn’t sometimes believe tap the cull device ewes with and a obviously hammer. he had The device shown is of metal construction, course) to find the boy. I must a huge deep pond and no ram. it - totally impossible. We smelt that one or more were on although crushers were mainly constructed admit I was slightly concerned Thankfully Daphne and Helen slowly made our way home. heat and off he went, over the TheSpanish Donkey (or Wooden Horse) This version looks like it’s been embellished, I doubt our mediaeval friends would not have gone to the trouble of adding the donkey head and reins, but it’s a thoughtful touch by the museum. The way this torture device works is fairly simple. The unfortunate individual would sit on the back of the donkey (whilst undressed), and weights were attached to their feet on either side. This reconstruction (above) doesn’t reflect the actual shape too well, a more accurate version (right) would display a very sharp apex and steep sides, so that high pressure was created at the apex. It’s said that the pressure eventually caused the body to be split in half - a most gruesome torture and ending! Ralph cooling off Dogs have intuition and Ralph knew something wasn’t right. Instead of coming up through the 11 acre front field beside the paddock and pond, he refreshed himself in the water trough and headed up the field towards the lane. I followed on as it is lovely walking up the narrow lane flanked by huge oak trees still bearing a few beautiful golden leaves before winter takes its grip. I had half a dozen cull ewes in a small field opposite the house which I hadn’t yet checked so that would get that job done too. Ralph was there well in advance of me and as usual had sidled under the five bar gate, already focused on the old ewes waiting for a command. On seeing the dog they had turned on their heels. I counted from wood, with a varying range of spikes. fence, up the lane, up the hedge and jumped down over! There is no stopping a ram when there’s business to be done, no matter what terrain needs to be conquered. I sent a text to the girls just saying that the ram had “surfaced”. No more, no less. They phoned that evening and with great sadness in their voices, they said “we told you so Janet”. Not being able to get a word in edgeways they rabbited on about the dreadful drowning and distress and it took me minutes before I could deliver the good news. Squeals of laughter followed and their dream of my dear boy mating their ewes was back on course. All’s well that ends well! FARM CALENDAR DECEMBER • Take out rams from ewes - pen them together tightly for 24-48 hours to get accustomed to each other. They will seriously fight. Turn out when law and order is restored. • As the weather worsens check cattle aren’t poaching the ground too much. • Prepare cattle shed for them to come in for the winter. • Book the vet for our Whole Herd TB test - compulsory, must be done before 13/01/17 • Huge Oak tree has fallen down by the river - start to cut up before the ground gets too wet • First week of December, collect beef back from abattoir - prepare orders for local customers - it is simply delicious! • Continue weighing and sending finished lambs to abattoir • Scan ewes - twins please, not too many singles or triplets • Do some Christmas shopping - if possible before Christmas eve as is the norm! JANUARY • Condition score ewes - start to feed 6 weeks before lambing according to condition and number of lambs being carried. • Bring in cattle if not done in December. • Check all water troughs as the cold weather sets in - burst pipes are a nightmare. • Put out hay feeders for sheep. Florence Visit • Prepare lambing shed in preparation for inlamb ewes coming in. • Booster Heptavac injection for all ewes and any ewe lambs being kept as flock replacements and stock rams. • Purchase next group of 3 week old calves - milk feeding young calves is lovely • It’s my 60th - plan a day off! Home of the powerful Medici banking family that rose to prominence in the early 15th century under the guidance of Cosimo de’ Medici, Devonshire magazine will be bringing you a photo-visual feature on the magnificent Italian city of Florence. Packed with restaurants, museums, galleries and historic buildings, it’s a ʻmust visit’ destination that we cover in detail in a forthcoming issue. hubcast .co.u k 89

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