Friday 18 November 2016

Christmas Turkeys, Hunting, Moving Sheep

Our Christmas turkeys arrived a few weeks ago and are having happy times free-ranging around the yard and my garden(!). They are comical creatures, very curious and yet always alert for any perceived threat. They can be heard all over the yards and buildings with their plaintive high-pitched cheeping call. They talk to each other all the time and move around in a flock and when a sunny corner is found they will sit in a huddle blinking and muttering little turkey-mutters whilst on the constant look-out for any mooching dog that appears. The dogs ignore them except for my Jack Russell terrier who has to be tied up while the turkeys are on the loose...she just cannot help but chase them. The labradors & sheepdogs are totally uninterested but the turkeys do not know that and get themselves in fluster at the slightest thing, they really do live on their nerves!

A few days ago we took the grandchildren to the meet of our local hunt, the Vale of Clettwr, as it was being held just up the road at the stable-yard of one of the masters whom we have known for many years. The children were thrilled to see so many horses, a field of about 25, and the hounds of course. There was real party atmosphere with hot punch and sandwiches for everyone. Many of our neighbours were there just to see the meet, not to ride out. The master does a very good PR job by calling on all the farms to say they be coming over our land and inviting us to the meet. They tend to go down through our woodlands across the valley and we can hear the horn echoing around the valley as the hunt keeps up with the hounds through a densely wooded and hilly landscape. In the past we have 'walked' hound puppies for local hunt-kennels which is great fun. The hunts here have Welsh hounds which are shaggy coated unlike the English smooth-coated foxhounds. They are big strong dogs and very sweet-natured and walking the puppies before they join the pack is great, they are real characters and though not terribly bright can be trained to basic commands but they do not like being alone, if wever on of the puppies we looked after found itself on its own in a shed it would yell blue murder until it was reunited with its siblings, they really are pack animals. We have also walked beagle puppies which is little easier as they are much smaller but again they are huge fun.

Today the Farmer & I went to our fields across the valley with a jeep full of dogs, to move a bunch sheep onto fresh grazing. It is only a small bunch of tack sheep(sheep that we are being paid to have on our land) and they were moved very efficiently by Molly & Judy, our two wonderful collies. The labrador & terrier were just with us for the run being absolutely no use for gathering or moving sheep and fortunately, they kept out of the way by hunting for rabbits in the bracken banks. The countryside was look superb this morning. The fields we were in are high with wonderful views over the Teifi Valley and the trees in their russet & gold autumn livery varied the patchwork of green fields cross-hatched with dun-coloured hedgerows against brilliant blue sky dotted with white clouds...a perfect autumn morning with good sharp-edged breeze, lovely!