The joys of living in the country.   On Wednesday I came home, from helping out at the local school, to find the house had been trashed .. by a woodpigeon!!

As I drove in I saw the wretched thing banging and crashing its way around the inside of the kitchen bay windows, and, with a quick dash inside armed with my farm jacket left hanging by the back door, it was enveloped, secured, and taken outside to be released - seemingly unharmed.   As it swooped off (without a thank you or a hows-your-father) I returned to the devastation.

The point of entry was through the window in the library at, probably, ninety miles per hour.   Glass had been scattered for six metres!   From the trail of bird-shit-and-feathers, I ascertained the continuing flight was once (or perhaps twice) around the lounge, directly (fortunately) through the dining room, and more than several times around the kitchen where the most damage was done.   Everything on the window ledge was smashed, as were all of the previous night's dishes (which in my haste to leave early had been an "I'll do them later" job - serves me right).   Added to this was the tipped-over coffee/sugar/tea department - all mixed up with more bird-shit-and-feathers.

Incredibly a half-full bottle of Rosemount Estate 1997 Grenache Shiraz (left over from the previous night's dinner) was still standing and, with a glass of this in one hand, I found the strength to DEAL-WITH-IT.

Two hours later the glazier had restored the window, the house was presentable and the insurance agent was giving me brownie points for originality.   Although some of the items I lost were irreplaceable, the thing that upset me the most was having to spend the next morning cleaning all of the windows to match the new ones.

So, being in a DEAL-WITH-IT mood I have spent the rest of the week attacking every job that has been piling up.   I figure, if it is not going to be done by the solstice, it's probably not going to be done at all.   The pickling onions have been pickled;  the garlic has been planted;  the cider is racked and stored and the musting bin is full again;  there's no room left in the vege garden;  the last of the dahlias have been lifted;  the grapevine's been pruned;  the pot plants are potted;  the calves have been ear-tagged and drenched;  Cream Cheese has been "dry cowed";  and the car got a wash and polish!

Crumple went to a new home this week.   I have to sell a house cow each year to help keep things solvent and it was Crumple's turn to help the cash flow.   It's sad to see a friend leave, but that's part of the deal of being a subsistence farmer, and her new family will love her just as much.   They have visited several times, over the last few months, to make sure she was the cow for them and that they were comfortable handling her and going through the milking processes.   It might seem funny buying a house cow going into the Winter but, in terms of the house cow calendar, it is just perfect.   Her unborn calf is not too big to cause problems with her trip in the horse float, she's been dried off properly and hasn't any udder problems, and, being winter, her greedy little self will not be at all concerned about a change of routine so long as her new family understands the meaning of 'bucket-o-clock-time".

Last Thyme fits Luke's covers!   He is 16 months old and is already 16.1hh!   (He is going to be a big boy when he grows up.)   He thinks Luke's sou'wester (or in Middelmost's case - sou'easter) is great and it will certainly help to keep him warm when the wind blows straight off the ranges.   Luke thinks it's a great idea, Last Thyme having his winter cover, because that has meant a brand new Weather-Beeta for him (Weather-Beeta neck cover included).   With his waterproof sheet and neck cover over the top, he is as happy as Larry too.

The blacksmith took Luke's shoes off last week.   Bare feet do less damage to the pasture and going without shoes doesn't seem to worry him.   Foot care over the winter will be a trim once a month and a regular dressing of my special hoof recipe.   I put half and half metalex and pedecine into an old pot over low heat and stir it until it's mixed well.   When it is cold I paint it onto every part of the hoof, from the coronet down, as often as I can.   Even twice a week will solve most hoof problems, including seedy toe and thrush.   The only trouble is, metalex being metalex, the horses have bright green feet!

Compost is the next major issue, but I'll talk about that another week.   What I need to know this week is --- does anybody know how to store carrots??   I can't fit another slice into the freezer and 'clamping' sounds so frightfully English!