Saturday 18 August 2012

New Litter of Labrador Puppies

Last night my black lab Hattie produced a litter of 8 beautiful puppies, 4 black , 4 chocolate, 5 females, 3 boys. Just perfect.
She had the first puppy without any trouble during the afternoon but by 9 o'clock in the evening no more had appeared so we had to make an out-of-hours emergency visit to the vet. It was found that the next puppy in the queue had arranged iteslf sideways across the birth canal with one front leg sticking out. After much manipulation & judicious use of forceps the puppy was turned around and brought into the world, fine & healthy. We then returned home and from then on the puppies arrived at regular intervals with the last one  being born about 1 o'clock am. I sat up until I was sure there were no more to come & then left Hattie who was none the worse for the early difficulty & settled down proudly with her new family.
Our old Lab Poppy has as usual come into milk and over the next few days we will gradually introduce the puppies to her to be fed which eases the demands on Hattie. Poppy is a brilliant surrogate mother and loves feeding puppies. Even though it is a couple of years between litters she drops into the role very happily each time.
This morning Hattie was contendedly curled up with the puppies who look like little moles and squeak incessantly until they are warm & well-fed when they drop into the deep slumbers of tiny babies with the occasional twitch of a minute paw as they dream their milky dreams.

After the incessant rain yesterday, I don't think it stopped at all, today started out wet but now in the middle of the afternoon we have blue skies and sunshine which hopefully will dry up the sodden lawns and the squelching yard.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Polish Connections

After a long gap of several years we had visit today from a friend who is of a Polish family but was born here at Penyrallt.
We first met Krystyna when she came to the farm looking for her birthplace. Her story, or rather that of her parents is extraordinary. Her father had been a Polish cavalry officer who fought in the last cavalry charge against Russian tanks during the 2nd World War. He was captured by the Russians and narrowly escaped being one of the victims of the massacre of Polish officers in the Katyn Forest where thousands were shot.
 Krystyna's mother had been captured by the Russians also and was sent to a camp in Siberia. She survived that terrible place. Somehow after the war they made their way to Britain and were married in Leicester & in turn somehow ended up buying a farm in Wales. They lived here for only two years but during that time Krystyna was born and although she was only  baby when they left she had been brought up with stories of the Welsh farm. When we went to visit her she showed us her family photographs and there were pictures of Penyrallt as it was in the late 1940's.
This Polish connection is another example of how varied & odd the history of the farm is & how many different people from all kinds of backgrounds  have been involved in its story. Certainly the idea of an aristocratic Polish cavalry officer living here is one of the most intriguing.
Krystyna now lives in Kracow & near Builth Wells where she runs a very good B&B in her lovely house in the Welsh hills (

Monday 13 August 2012

End of the London Olympics & More Silage.

While the rest of the nation was watching the end of the Olympics here in the countryside the need to cut yet more grass for winter fodder was upon us as we had few dry hot days again...the Farmer & Sons have spent the last three long days on silage again & now it is pouring with rain once more.
As I don't get involved with tractors driving, thank goodness, I was able to view some of the last Olympic events including the Men's Marathon...such a triumph for the Ugandan winner!
We did watch the Closing Ceremony which was great fun, even the Farmer watched it to the end despite his grumpiness about it starting so late. The party atmosphere was wonderful and the whole thing, while still having a very surreal quality about it as did the Opening Ceremony, seemed to work. Timothy Spall as Churchill declaiming Shakespeare was definitely bizarre (& when is Mr Spall going to become Sir Timothy?) & Ray Davies performing 'Waterloo Sunset' was great. Once again it was all just quite mad & Britishly (?) eccentric & huge fun.
I hope the athletes can all go home feeling that London had given them a massive 'thank you' concert.

Friday 10 August 2012

Olympic Athletes Drink Organic Milk

We have another few days relief from the rain and as usual there is mad rush to get grass cut and baled before the next bout of low pressure sweeps in across us as is due tomorrow night. The Farmer & Sons are rushing about in tractors with complicated bits of machinery hitched on the back  keeping ahead of the weather which really ought to become an Olympic sport!

Talking of the Olympics, which I had vowed to avoid at all costs, I find I have been inexorably sucked into the vortex of national pride & enthusiasm for our athletes, and of course for all those from other nations. Although we do not have tv I have been able to watch elsewhere & the BBC live coverage of the games has been fantastic ( the computer generated picture of London that has been used for the live broadcasts is stunningly beautiful). Yes, we did see Usain Bolt become the greatest athlete in the world.
The number of medals that Team GB has won is amazing, though I do have problem with women's boxing, or any kind of boxing actually. I really do believe it should be banned. I also found the women's wrestling quite hard to watch for more than a couple of minutes.
What has struck me is how incredibly efficiently the whole thing has been run & must have been the most complicated timetable plan imaginable.
On a great note for us organic dairy farmers apparently the athletes have consumed 75.000 litres of ORGANIC milk which can only be good thing for sales of all organic food in this country, one hopes.

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Dairy Farming, Olympics Viewing Depsite Resolve to Avoid It All!

Go to for a very good piece on informing the public about the dairy industry.
With the Olympics dominating the news the dairy farmers have been short of air time so I was very pleased to see this article on the BBC website.

Well, despite my moaning about the Olympics, the expense, the media frenzy, the general pointlessness of all that physical energy being expended without an end product like a trailer full of hay bales all hefted up on a pitchfork or a 100 sheep having been shorn & having no tv,  I will confess to having given in.
I watched some of the opening ceremony (bizarre, wierd, messy & endearing) and to seeing the equestrian events & the men's gymnastics on BBC Live on the computer. Wow! Both events were gripping & I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing, but that's me done now...I don't feel the need to see much more of it.  I had said to the family all along that if I was to watch any of the Games it would be the horse events and the gymnastics though they are accusing me of gross hypocrisy in having watched any of it at all, but then that's families for you!

We are back with torrential rainstorms again & strong winds which are wrecking the gardens unfortunately but the change in the weather does mean the menfolk are having a more restfull week after the frantic activity during the recent good weather.