Best if You Stand Downwind

I’m not usually much of a drinker given that A) I’m rather a fatty and don’t need the calories and B) I get pissed on fresh air, but I have just sat down with a half-pint of cocktail. There are several reasons for this.

1. Killing the pain in my back. It has been roaring at me for three days and I’m about brassed off with it. Bad vertebrae. The anti-inflammatories that usually sort me straight out will be, of course, verboten for breastfeeding. I know without even looking. Bah.

2. Suppressing the memory that, notwithstanding reason number one, I have today stupidly, stupidly, shifted heavy furniture about and mucked my geese hut out.

3. Trying not to mind the fact that, whilst mucking out aforementioned goose shed, I have been horrifyingly infested with a poultry mite of some description. They are tiny, pale, and bloody well itch. Tomorrow, we attack the hut with kick-ass chemicals. Fuck organic.

4. Dealing with the fact that I cannot currently de-fester myself of my unwanted personal livestock because the bedroom road to our en-suite is currently blocked off by a DO NOT PASS, BABY IN MELTDOWN sign. We have other bathrooms, but I cannot use either of our other (ridiculously narrow) baths, because of reason (A) given above.

5. Trying to blot out the incessant crying coming from our bedroom, where we have this evening embarked on a sleep offensive with Harry. He is finally much better, and has been judged to no longer need indulgent night feeds and coddling. John has sternly dislodged me from my post, peering in the crack of the door because I forgot to position the monitor, and also sacked me from being the go-to-cot-in-incremental-time-gaps-to-lay-baby-down-then-pat-baby-then-leave parent, on the basis that Harry knows that I am well soft and I also smell of boob milk. What I actually smell of tonight is goose shit, but I do get the point.

6. Coz it tastes nice. Innocent Mango smoothie mixed with Malibu, actually. Tastes like the sort of drink you’d knock back on a beach, and I am quite enjoying imagining I’m elsewhere just now. (Hums: At the Coco, Cococabana…)

(Happy Sigh). The crying is fading out after 35 minutes, and the cocktail is warming my cockles nicely. The poor little lad has very few sleep skills to boast about, given that he was boobed religiously to sleep for the first 5 months of his life; putting him down awake inevitably resulted in a refluxed feed, a change of cot sheets and baby clothes, an awake and empty baby, and all to do again. The following 5 months we have been careful to prod him a bit awake when he goes into the cot, but he still seems to need a car trip, a boob, or a pram-push to get his eyelids droopy. He’s a right bugger to persuade to nap, and evil if he doesn’t get them. Plus he invariably wakes between midnight and 2am wanting a re-run of bedtime.

In short, it’s crap, for him and for us. At nearly 10 months old, we should all be sleeping through the night. So: he needs to learn to fall, and stay, asleep by himself and also, (deep intake of breath) he’s going to have to go into his own room. We are, despite much tippy-toeing, waking him up when we go to bed. This own-room issue pains me no end. I am still a very, very anxious mother. I am hugely reluctant to move him away from me. I would have co-slept with him, had he not been premature, low birthweight and male (prime potential SIDS victim). I still hover nervously around him at night, apnoea monitor with reassuring flashy light notwithstanding, and it has been a Big Thing for me to move his (borrowed, drop-side) cotbed away from my bedside 18 inches (Bedside table again, yay!).

I could have buried my head in the sand humming La La La indefinitely, had this last week not upped the ante. Harry learnt to sit himself up and pull himself up to stand on the same day. Initial joy from mother about her tiny over-achiever rapidly evaporated when we looked on the monitor to see child doing a passable imitation of a baby fledgling plucking up courage to hurl self into the void. Bad. Parents rushed upstairs, to great delight of (more demonic than usual) child

to lower mattress on the other  cotbed (solid oak behemoth) at the foot of our bed. His icy blue eyes have been staring stonily (so like his daddy) through the bars at me in the small hours, mightily displeased with his relegation.

So, Mum’s a bit down-in-mouth. But he’s got to go in his own room eventually, and if we’re going to stick to this bloody sleep thing, it’ll have to be soon. No point upsetting him twice. On the upside, it means that I get my bedroom back. I can once again retire to bed early, eat junk and loll about reading happily. I can have a (nice rooooomy) bath in the en suite of an evening. Added to the already weighty downside, I will also need to light a firework under my dear old Dad, whom I requested (at 7 months pregnant) to design and make a Brambly Hedge type mural for the monstrous chimney breast in the nursery. Dad, who works on much the same timescales as me, has, 10 months later, just got around to buying the paint.

Ah, me. Tempus fugit, and all that.

I wonder if the dog flea spray will work on me?

et al.

I appear to have gone on about my hens an awful lot lately, and in the interests of parity I feel I should introduce the remaining trio of the Hairy Farmer family.

Maddie is John’s Collie dog, and our resident neurotic. A tough, affectionate dog, with a low tolerance to interference (grooming, ear inspection, bump & scratch damage exploration) and terror of sharp noises. Greyhound and cheetah seem to feature prominently in her 90%-leg genetic make-up. She lives; ergo, she farms. A day not spent trit-trotting unendingly up and down the yard pens is a day wasted. A dog with an inner Purpose. She is occasionally given the opportunity to embarrass John by proving how enthusiastically clueless she is at rounding up sheep. He is often obliged to run as far as she does. On this occasion the sheep, just about discernable from the dog (and a running Hubby), are supposed to be going downhill and left.

(Deleted Youtube video.)

Tebbit is my English Springer Spaniel. Named tongue in cheek after a Tory Peer, Tebba is neutered, fat, unkempt, lazy and a blatant attention-seeker. If there is action of any sort, Tebbit demands shamelessly to be at the centre of it. A people-person, if John is lay flat on the yard fettling a machine, then Tebbit will have his nose firmly into the problem as well. An accident-prone dog, particularly on Bank Holiday weekends when Vets are at their priciest, he recently cost thousands of pounds to mend following a serious fall from a straw-stack. He is now minus a femoral head and will be lame for the rest of his life. Howls absurdly in sympathy with loud noises.

The pack dynamic is rather odd, in that it alters depending on location. Here at home, Tebbit is an undisputed bully, and Mads is allowed nothing to call her own; he lies with every bone and dog-toy in the house piled between his front paws, and a triumphant expression. Madda submits sadly, with no hint of rebellion. Down at the farm or out on a walk, however, Mads knocks seven shades of hell out of Tebba, who is bowled over, bitten, and altogether paid-back. I was stood a long way away from this particular biting-in-the-balls-he-doesn’t-have event, hence the grainy shot, but it does illustrate my point nicely.

The final member of the clan is our baby tortoise, Marina. Bought by me as a wedding gift for John (he got me a banjo) she could outlive us both and possibly Harry as well, providing she is well looked after and not permitted to escape. (After uploading this link to YouTube for your viewing boredom, I see that it is proudly linked to a significantly more exciting one from the legendary Eden Marriott Kennedy of Fussy fame.) She is a comically bad judge of distance, (just to make clear: we’re back discussing Marina now) and can often be seen standing an inch or so short of her chosen leaf taking wild yet futile bites. She enjoys a nice ripe cherry tomato or a chunk of banana as a treat, and, after peeing out of all proportion to her size, manages to look slightly guilty.

 So, there you have us. 3 geese, 1 hen, 1 cockerel, 1 tortoise, 2 dogs, 1 baby, 1 farmer and 1 Me. Oh, and 3 goldfish. Old Uncle Tom Cobley will be along shortly, no doubt.

Never Picnic on Yellow Lawn

There is still grave peril threatening my poultry. I glanced out of the office window this afternoon to see a dog fox on the grassy bank about 20 tiny feet from my lovely Brahma hens. And the reason I immediately recognised it for a dog fox and not a vixen?

The bugger was pissing up my shrub.

The audacity of it! Cocking its contumely bloody leg over my plant, before doubtless attempting to leave me henless. I nearly dropped my cup of coffee as I swelled with fury. A small shriek of indignation may well have escaped me. I galloped to the front door and erupted out of it like an enraged jack-in-the-box. I’d have booted him heavily up the arse if I could’ve got enough speed up, but I present a fair amount of surface-area wind-resistance these days, and I was therefore confined to roaring BANG! at the top of my voice. He took off like a rangy red ballistic missile heading for next door, and I suspect he will not be back to dine today.

There must be a local litter of cubs catalysing these daylight parental raids. I have no rancour towards the foxes themselves, as feeding your young is a fairly blameless occupation; I’d tackle a woolly mammoth sporting an extra helping of pointy tusk if it stood between me and my child’s starvation. But there’s any amount of other prey about at this time of year, so they can keep their damned dirty paws off my hens. Besides, there’s enough urine landing on that patch of grass to float a boat. Next door’s male labradors sprinkle everywhere conscientiously, our two dogs are both copious puddlers, and I know for a fact that when John lurches home from the pub full of beer and takes the dogs out for a bedtime pee, he sets them a good example himself in the long grass. The last thing we need is another bloody species joining in the fun.

Changing the subject radically, I went to the GP today to moan about the fact that my period has essentially lasted since the end of March. He blamed wild hormonal flux and promptly prescribed Norethisterone (Ahhh… hello again, ye initiator of IVF cycles!). He did ask whether I was still breastfeeding, to which I replied affirmative, so I’m puzzled to see that Dr Internet says they are mutually incompatible. I will have to ring him back tomorrow; if my breast milk goes bad then Harry will die of thirst: he regards all plastic teats with horror. The little man still isn’t any better: his congestion is becoming chronic and is thoroughly bringing the pair of us down. A 3rd tooth appeared over the weekend, and I hope that the imminent arrival of the 4th is all that caused tonight’s total meltdown. I am grimly expecting a long and interrupted night.

And to round off the day: I have just watched John despatch one of my geese, and it was most unpleasant. It has been on the cards for some time, as my previous bleating posts have chronicled, but my hand was finally forced today when the younger gander was savaged in the hut for the second night on the trot. We acquired our original breeding pair when Next Door’s gaggle had begun systematic executions of the young males, so I knew it was a choice between a quick death and a protracted one. Sigh. Why can’t everything just love each other?!

Some days: Pigeon. Today? Statue.


NaComLeavMo: More Conversation Than You Can Shake a Stick at

I have pummelled my keyboard for 2 hours. I have immersed myself in WordPress FAQ and Forums. And still, STILL, I can’t get a single bloody image that isn’t Flickr into my sidebar. In a post? No problemo. Look at Mel’s lovely orange drawing, nestling comfortably exactly where I left it. The Sidebar?  Having none of it! Even changed my damn theme, and still zip. BLOODY THING!!!

To cap it all, it’s a Saturday and therefore: Family Time! Not farming time. Hairy Hubby pissed off at 9.25am to ‘just pop and sort out a lamb with maggots’ – knowing full well that in blowfly season I haven’t a leg to kick him with stand on when a lambkin is in trouble. Two hours later there was still no sign of him and Harry was being a bugger displaying tiresome behaviour. The poor lad still hasn’t shaken off this viral nasty, in fact, it’s currently enjoying a resurgence. His snot is truly impressive and widely distributed around his face and the furniture. Hubby eventually turned up looking vaguely apologetic, muttering something about orf (another lamb Nasty) which I pretended not to hear, and has been firmly handed child to feed and mind whilst I enjoy my Harry-free time HURTING MY HEAD trying to figure out WHY GOD, WHY the HTML code I have obediently inserted doesn’t sodding work

I give up. I’m going shopping. It’s Hubby’s birthday on Monday and I need cake ingredients. Also BBQ stuff, despite the likelihood of the weather turning utterly pants. Still, we are British, we only know how to BBQ in the rain and wind.

Incidentally, I forgot to mention that the return of the EWCM was a cruel vaginal hoax. My period returned the next day, and is back to stay with me, seemingly forever.  Considering buying shares in Always Ultra.


Finally have image… don’t know what the buggery fuck I did to make it work though.

 ***Updated Update***

It’s gone! It’s gone! I scaled it down to fit and it’s gone and pissing well fucked off and left a little red cross instead. It’s left me an electronic turd, the bastard thing! They should prescribe WordPress for patients with low blood pressure.

***Updated Updated Update***



I have acquired an impressive new cockerel to squire Mrs Brahma, who was left mooching most disconsolately alone following the foxes’ dinner reservation.

Colonel Mustard II made a dive towards Mrs B the moment he set eyes on her, then stalked off majestically to survey his new terrain. Mrs B was pretty startled by his sudden appearance; she certainly wasn’t expecting the good seeing-to she immediately received, but as she’s been fluffing herself up and preening shamelessly all evening, I’m guessing she’s pleased. She has been following him slavishly, and she’s already trying to see where that ray of light is peeping out from, look…



Collective Noun: An Inferno

We saw the mysterious return of Harry’s 39 degree temperature yesterday evening (I’m going to write a really stern note to someone about this) followed by a Restless, Sleepless and Comfortable night respectively (Harry, Ann, John, in order).  This morning Harry seemed sufficiently himself to frisk merrily amongst his toys, enjoying in particular a boisterous game of Ride the Mummy-Horse. If his future hold on the reins is equal to the death-grip he applies to my neckline, then Pony Club is in the bag.

Harry will be having a pony, by the way. Mummy has spoken. The bruises will be good for him.

There are 3 disused stables at the bottom of the drive; John has any amount of grassland; the Delightful Next Doors are horse gurus; Harry’s Godmother is an equine Vet; we have straw, hay, oats, and barley all in-house; we even own a wheelbarrow. There is NO GOOD REASON why Harry should not have a pony.  And yet, still, the hubby demurs. He is egged on in his opinions by our farmer friends, many of whom have horse-owning wives. Essentially, horses are firmly viewed as a waste of space, land, time and food amongst the chaps, and are colloquially known as Hayburners.

Subterfuge has consequently been resorted to by the ladies. I was told that one girl owns 6 horses, yet her partner is still under the impression she only owns 5, numbers 5 and 6 looking conveniently identical. Another friend quietly inserted a Shetland pony into the furthest outreaches of the garden in the depths of winter, knowing full well that hubby left and arrived in the dark. It was some time before he spotted the cuckoo.

I suppose that John likes horses as much as the next man, provided the one he has put his shirt on comes in at 50 to 1. I have dragged him out riding on holiday and although his technique is lamentable, worse even than mine, he has, infuriatingly, a naturally good seat. Insert-Shetland-By-Stealth friend opines that men sit deep into the saddle in an unconscious attempt to prevent their bollocks from becoming frisbees; and certainly all attempts to unstick John from the saddle once he’s on, have come… unstuck. I have flattered him outrageously about this natural ability, but he still refuses to unbend and agree to learn to ride one properly.

So, Harry has Mummy whispering ‘lots of girls at Pony Club!’ in one ear, and Daddy whispering ‘Burners!’ in the other. It’s a job to know which way he’ll jump in the end, but currently the Mummy-horse seems a winner. We have bottoms of a similar damn size, too.

Baby Song

Saw with much joy this morning that Flotsam baby Simone is finally home and busy making life… well, busy, for all around her. Which is all very right and proper! Thom Gunn’s poem has kept popping into my head all morning, as the last verse resonated so much with me when Harry was also a tiny newborn. Or at least, a newly-come-home.

Reading Alexa’s post, I had a sudden recollection of quite how bad my own personal baby-meltdown was. It was a horrific shock to me when I rapidly mutated from a sensible, capable adult to a bewildered, shaking mess. I’ve heard it said that the baby blues (not PN Depression mind you. Kettle, Fish, Different.) consist almost purely of sleep deprivation. Given that I only experienced my can’t-recognise-myself lows when Harry came home – a month after his birth – and that the miserable inundation rapidly receded once I’d slept for more than 3 hours a night, I’m inclined to concur.

I used to spend the day firmly wedged in my rocking chair, in varying states of consciousness, with Harry either clamped to, or craning hopefully towards, my nipple. My hair went unwashed for days. I also seem to remember that toilet breaks were alarmingly infrequent and most of my hot drinks (made exclusively by other people. I only managed to get as far as boiling kettles) went cold. The thing is, I can’t for the life of me remember now what he was doing to make life quite so testing. 

And now I come to think of it, given that Harry howled like a burgled banshee last night, for the third night running, perhaps we haven’t moved on quite as far as I think we have.    

From the private ease of Mother’s womb
I fall into the lighted room

Why don’t they simply put me back
Where it is warm and wet and black?

But one thing follows on another
Things were different inside Mother.

Padded and jolly I would ride
The perfect comfort of her inside

They tuck me in a rustling bed
– I lie there, raging, small, and red.

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