Saturday, December 31, 2011

Seeing out 2011 fire fighting.

Well I had lots of news from over the Christmas period but everything has been over shadowed by a fire on George Island.  Before I tell you our depressing news  I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year and a happy healthy 2012.  2011 has been a good year in general.  Tiphanie passed her Masters Degree, Shaun and Tanya moved out to Speedwell Island.  Wool prices are high, lamb prices keep improving. Shaun got 4th place in the intermediate shearing competition and his team got first in the team shear and Christopher got third in the farm shear on the 29th December.  It was a brilliant competition, the two top shearers and two top rousies will now go to New Zealand in February to represent the Falklands at the Golden shears competition.
Now for our depressing end to 2011.  Yesterday we got a call from the Falkland Islands Government Air Service enquiring if there was anyone on George Island as one of the pilots had seen smoke coming from the island.  We were still in Stanley as we had planned to come out today but we were going to Speedwell instead of George.  FIGAS are a truly brilliant service and on finding out that we were not on the island they came and flew over the island to see what was on fire.  Happily it was not the house or any of the buildings.  It is a grass/diddle dee fire in the Ram Paddock.  The fire is approximately 5,000 square metres.  We have no idea how it started we don't think anyone has been on the island but we cant be sure, sometimes we have yachties on the island that don't have permission to land.  We think this is probably from a lightening strike, lightening hit Speedwell telephone system just before Christmas (the second time in a month) it is quite likely that it has been a lightening strike here.  So yesterday afternoon everything went into overdrive.  FIGAS yet again pulled out all the stops and Christopher and Shaun along with some fire fighting equipment were able to get onto the island.  They got back to George at about 5pm and immediately started fire fighting.  Although they had a pump loaned to them from the fire department they did not have long enough hoses so were only able to do some work digging ditches to try and fight the fire and using buckets of water but it is a bit like pissing in the wind.  Today Tanya and I flew out.  We got here around 10am and went straight out to the fire.  We also received more hose on the plane and we were actually able to start going around the edge of the fire.  There is no possibility of putting the whole fire out so the plan is to try and stop the spread.  We spent two hours working on the top line of fire digging out hot spots on the edge and blowing the edges out with the force of water.  Christopher flew back out on the plane that Tanya and I flew in on and went to North Arm.  We have been very lucky that the Fire brigade were also able to supply us with another pump, more hoses and also two volunteer firemen.  The firemen drove out to North Arm with the extra equipment and then Christopher and the firemen drove down to Flores Harbour and came down to George on Theo. We all went out to the fire again at about 4pm and stayed out until 8pm.  We have made some progress in stopping it and some of it has went out by itself.  We are really fortunate tonight because there is no wind. I guess there is always a bright side, the fire is very slow moving, it is in the ram paddock which only gets used for very short periods and currently has no stock in it.  It has dripped with rain for about 15 minutes.  Hopefully we can contain it.  It is quite sad that some of the Jackass penguins have perished in the fire.  They currently have chicks and I guess they couldn't get away from it.  We will see what tomorrow brings but I know what we will all be doing New Years Day.
Anyway we are going to stay up and have a couple of drinks and see the New Year in.  There is nothing we can do out at the fire tonight so Happy New Year everyone.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hi to our visitors of the Bremen

Still Christmas shopping.  I have left it far to late and there is very little in the shops in the way of fancy sweets etc.  Luckily I did order a fair bit of my Christmas shopping on line from the UK and it has all arrived.
Today Tiphanie leaves Indonesia on her way home.  I am so looking forward to her getting home.  I will be relieved when she is at least back in England.
I think today is the day that the tourists that visited George Island on Bremen arrive back home.  I hope and am sure that you had a fabulous time visiting South Georgia and Antarctica.  If our weather has been anything to go by I expect  you  would have had fantastic weather for your trip.
Bex is back home with us at our house in Stanley.  She is much better and can now walk around okay although sometimes she carries her leg.  She is still restricted to a 20 foot length of rope at the moment but the vet has said that when we go back out to the island after Christmas she will be good to start resuming her normal activities.  She was so pleased to see me and started rolling around in the grass and wagging her tail.  Christopher went to see her and she growled and barked at him.  I think she is confused about who accidentally ran her over.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vanquished

At last all the lamb marking is finished on all three islands.  The very bad weather that hit George Island during lambing gave us a poor result.  It was not the worst we have had there but it was pretty bad.  Following on from last year when George Island had its best lambing ever it was a bit of a bitter pill.  This pulled our lambing percentage down from 92% on the put out to 86% across the whole group.
All the hogs are now shorn.  The George Island Dohnes clipped fantastically with a great wool weight which only emphasised the lack of wool on the Speedwell Samms.  It has always been our intention not to swap one income for another but to achieve the best from both.  After several years we don't think we are going to obtain this using Samms on Speedwell.  They have achieved one of the objectives that we set out to achieve, the hogs and shearlings are much bigger framed.  This has been of set by a fleece weight that seems to be getting increasingly lighter.  The whole issue of changing breeds has become increasingly more difficult.  When we changed breed the agricultural department also imported Samm and Dohne genetics.  They spent large amounts of money to help facilitate people changing to dual purpose animals only to sell off all the Dohnes last year to a private buyer and this year have given the Samms away to the farm that was running them on behalf of the department of agriculture.  In my opinion they wasted a great deal of money and achieved nothing.  We now find ourselves in a position of not being able to obtain genetics within the islands.  Christopher has spent hours on the Internet contacting Dohne producers in Australia because they are doing really quite well on George Island but it is impossible to find anything with a decent fat cover.  This is because animals are being breed for the meat market and consumers no longer want lamb with any amount of fat.   This is the major problem we are facing on George Island.  When conditions are harsh the animals have virtually no fat cover to sustain them.  This also means the lambs are born with very little fat cover making them even more susceptible to hypothermia when they are born in harsh conditions.  So decisions have had to be made.  On Speedwell we are going to change back to Polwarth.  The polwarth carries a good fleece weight with a good micron and has a decent fat cover.  The frame isn't as big as the SAMM but because we have plenty of ewe lambs to choose from for replacement we feel that with careful selection we will still be able to achieve a decent animal for the abattoir.  On George we are not really ready to give up on the Dohne but unless we can find genetics that can provide the fat cover  we need it looks like we may be pushed to change George back to Polwarth too.  The decisions are difficult, for example have we given the new breeds long enough to really show their potential or are we having a knee jerk reaction.  At the end of the day I am really not happy with the way the wool side is going on Speedwell so I am happy with that decision. I think with George we will at least continue with the Dohne for another season and keep on looking for suitable genetics.
The boys have worked their arses of this week.  They have been up at 5am and not back in the house until 7pm.  They have slaughtered, butchered, bagged and delivered to the plane 120 lambs.  between us we have marked 600 plus lambs and shore 300 plus sheep in the last 10 days.  Shaun decided to shear all the lambs that were being slaughtered if he could keep and sell the lamb wool himself.  In all he has 80 plus kilos.
Today saw the end of the work for the next 10 days.  The last 20 lambs were delivered to the plane along with me.  I t would appear that I was vanquished from the boat today.  It was intended that we would all come across on the boat and come into Stanley.  At about 10am a breeze started coming up from the north and before I knew what was happening FIGAS had been contacted and I was flying to town with the lamb.  So here we all are now in Stanley.  The grass in the yard is up around our knees, I still have lots of Xmas shopping to do but best of all Tiphanie starts on her way back home tomorrow.  Happy days.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Water in my ears!!!

When Shaun suggested that now he was going to be working for us we should shear all 5,000 sheep ourselves it didn't occur to me that at times I was going to be the only shed hand.  The last three days has seen us shearing every day.  Only small amounts between 60 - 100 a day.  I have wangled every way possible for it to be just me and Shaun in the shed, to the point that I even suggested that he (Christopher) should take some time out and go and have a picnic.  When it is just me and Shaun I ask him to shear as fast as he can so that there will be less left to do when they are both on shearing together.  It has worked quite well and most days I have only had to spend at the most an hour with them both shearing.  Yesterday it was so hot and there was so much work to do I swear the sweat was running down my face and filling up my ears.  Christopher and Shaun just laugh at my struggle to keep up and to give them credit they are very tolerant.  Today I was thinking its a wonder I haven't had my fringe trimmed in my struggle to move the crutch with its copious amounts of gooey shit.  When you go in to remove the crutch the sheep is slightly laid back and if you are a bit slow like me the shearer moves the sheep up into the up right position while you are still doing it. At times the shears seem very close to me.  Today in the shed was also interrupted by a retching session on my behalf.  I was standing at the wicker basket pulling the stained wool of the shit when the overpowering aroma of ammonia went right up my nose.  It was so strong I couldn't stop myself retching.  I could hear Christopher saying to Shaun whats wrong with mum has she swallowed a piece of wool and Shaun saying I don't think so I think its the smell of the shit.  Of course all of this very hard work for me can be avoided by crutching the sheep.  We would normally crutch and wig all our young sheep but this year because we were so late getting Theo back into the water we run out of time to do it.  It wont happen again, not while I'm the rousie anyway.
Besides shearing we have now slaughtered and sent to Stanley 89 lamb for our customers.  We have also continued to lamb mark all ewe lambs that come in when we are selecting Xmas lamb, those wether lambs that are not big enough have also been marked.  This afternoon Shaun and Christopher are away to gather all the rest of the ewes, lambs and hogs in.  Today we will continue to lamb mark and draft of the rest of the hogs for shearing tomorrow.  We will also select the last 24 lambs for slaughter.
When that is finished the lawn needs mowing the rest of the weeding in the garden still needs to be finished.  The house is a bit of a tip and needs tidying.  The last plane to take lamb out comes on Tuesday then we can go to Stanley for Christmas.  Bring it on.
With the weather being beautiful I have really enjoyed weeding in the garden.  I was really pleased to find the swedes that had obviously blown out of one plot were now growing in the top of the potato patch in the other plot.  I weeded ever so carefully so as not to pull any out so that they could be transplanted when they grew a bit more.  I was immensely pleased with myself for saving them all and reckoned I had probably found the whole pack full.  I kept saying to Christopher have you been and looked at all the swedes but he had been too busy.  Yesterday I was at the clothes line when he came back from the plane.  I said come and look at the swedes with me.  We peered over the fence and I thought they don't really look like swedes any more.  In the couple of days since I had last been in the garden my carefully looked after swedes had turned into stinging nettles.  Now I have to start at the top of the plot again and pull out my dozens of carefully looked after stinging nettles.
Finally for today the Bremen cancelled her next trip to Barren island on the 21st December.  This is a shame but we never count on the money from tourist boats because cancellations are quite common.  Sometimes it is frustrating because they can be cancelled very late.  One time we have  flown Christopher's mother out to help us on the day and the vessel cancelled the day before.  There is no cancellation fee so on that occasion we lost money  but when they do come in it is a good days pay for us.  Hopefully she will not cancel the next one.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Phil Vickery cooking mutton & spuds in the Falklands

I have just heard on the radio that Phil Vickery the chef may be coming to the Falklands in May next year.  I'm wondering what he might do with mutton and spuds.  I love mutton and spuds with proper pan gravy.  There was a time before the war when mutton was our staple diet but there is now a much bigger variety of foods eaten by Falkland Islanders.  I'm thinking it is probably a bit late in the season.  It will almost be mid winter so all our fresh produce that is coming on now will be past its best.
On George Island life is still busy.  On Tuesday Tanya flew to Stanley to do her hairdressing.  Shaun and Christopher gathered in a cut of ewes, lambs and hogs.  In the afternoon we picked off the 30 biggest wether lambs, marked all the ewe lambs and any wether lambs that came in that were not big enough to slaughter for Xmas.  Over the last couple of weeks I have sent letters/e-mails out to our regular customers that purchase lamb of us for Christmas to see what their requirements were this year and advise them of a price increase.  We have provided 100 to 120 lambs to Stanley every year since we purchased George Island.  Christmas lamb is our traditional Christmas day lunch in the Falklands.  It is suckling lamb approx. 12 weeks old and is served with new potatoes and a variety of fresh veg i.e. cabbage, cauli, brussel sprouts, carrots, proper pan gravy and mint sauce. Our customer base is pretty loyal and the same people order each year.  I already have orders for 120 lamb this year and have now had to turn at least  a dozen more down from potential new customers.  We are now at a cross roads, the abattoir prices have now risen to a point that if we were to run these particular animals through to the end of February they would bring in approx £30.00.  We are currently selling them for £24.00 halved or £27.00 butchered but we pick up the freight bill on the Islander aircraft which is 30p/kilo.  This means we are paying approx £3.00 freight per carcase plus we have them delivered in Stanley.  10 years ago this was a good deal for us and although we have increased the price over the years to cover the increase in air freight we haven't increased the price of the product.  Selling early suits us because it lightens the island out but at the end of the day we are a business and we are getting to a point were it is foolish to be selling at these prices.  Of course the alternative is to put the prices up by £6 or £7 per head.  This would bring it in line with the abattoir as we also have to pay freight to get the lamb to the abattoir by Concordia Bay.  Such a large increase would obviously be very unpopular with our customers. We are going to have to put some serious thought into the situation before next Xmas.
Yesterday Christopher and Shaun slaughtered 30 lamb and in the afternoon we shore  approx 50 hogs.  It was hot and I wished I was 20 years younger  The hog fleeces were very big, very dusty and very shitty. It is not so bad if the shit is dry but this was squelchy.  It was a real struggle to keep up even though they assured me they were shearing slowly.  Wool carrying has become more difficult to do by yourself because the shearers expect you to take the shit of the fleece while it is still on the sheep being shorn.  This makes it better for the shearer and better for when the fleece is on the table but you only have a finite period of time when the sheep is in the position when you can get it.  This means you will be cleaning a fleece on the table, taking any stain off that you have missed on the floor and also taking the neck off if it is contaminated with grass etc.  In the middle of doing this one of the shearers is at that finite point when you have to run from the table leaving what you are doing to get the shit of their fleece.  In the past the whole fleece was cleaned on the table so you didn't have to abandon what you were doing to rush away.  Needless to say I didn't get them all cleaned and retrained the boys to shout wet shit if it really needed to be removed on the floor. At the same time you have to keep the floor swept to stop any wool going out the portholes, pick out any skin that might be on the wool if the sheep has been accidentally cut. Oh and if Ive still got time he would quite like me to put the cleaned and rolled fleeces into the hand press. Oh and not just throw them in, place them in so they are in level layers of 4 so that the press will press them evenly.
Today we are waiting for the plane to take the lamb away.  Shaun and Christopher have been out since 6 o'clock splitting and butchering the lamb.  The day is calm again and absolutely scorching but the plane is delayed because a lot of the islands are fogged in.  We were earlier but it has all burnt off now.  We are desperate to get the lamb in because it is bagged now and it is definitely plus 20 degrees out there.
In between shearing and lambmarking I have been weeding the garden.  It is a bit dissapointing because a lot of the small seed obviously blew out.  I have one half all weeded and I am just about to slap on some sun cream to hopefully stop my nose from peeling any more and head out to the garden and start the other half.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

In an airport in Dubai!!!

As you know Tiphanie is away to Indonesia for a fortnight.  She flew out Friday morning on the RAF flight.  We then saw updates on face book on how she was getting on.  Saturday there was an update saying Tiphanie May is in Dubai airport.  After that there was nothing.  I waited all day Sunday.  By 10pm I was checking face book every 5 minutes. Nothing, nothing, nothing.  I have to say I was starting to get worried because there comes a point when you think she must have arrived somewhere by now.  10:30 I went to bed resigned to the fact that I wasn't going to hear anything on Sunday.  I hadn't been in bed 5 minutes when Christopher came in and said Tiphanie has updated her status and has arrived safe and sound in Indonesia. She is now on an island that I have never heard of called the Gilis.  You know the saying you reap what you sew.  With Tiphanie the saying couldn't be truer.  I always said to Tiphanie and Shaun, work hard at school, get good results be confident and the world is your oyster.  Well she worked hard, she got good results, she is very confident and now she is checking out the world. The trip wasn't straight forward for her as she had to take an internal flight in Indonesia which she hadn't been able to book on line and I guess that was what was worrying me the most.
Back in the Falklands.  First thing Monday Christopher went back down to the Sand grass and took a cut of approx 100 ewes and lambs out and put them into Phillips Point.  You will recall that the sheep have been moving because of the pond becoming dry.  If we had left them in the Sand grass the camp would have become very pressured with the extra amount which would have been detrimental to all the ewes and lambs in the camp.
I spent the morning washing up all the bedding and cleaning the house ready to leave for George Island in the afternoon.  The morning was quite quiet.  It was about 3 o'clock before we were ready to leave and it was starting to get breezy.  It was a case of really needing to go because we needed to be down on George Island to start slaughtering our Xmas lamb.  Outside the harbour Eagle Passage was running with white toppers.  I could see it was on the edge of my comfort factor but you could tell there was no swell.  If there is a swell the sea looks lumpy from the land and it didn't.  Christopher said do you want to go or wait until later when the wind goes down again.  I decided to go just in case the wind didn't go down.  The first half hour was fine as I had thought but then the wind seemed to get up a bit more and changed direction and it was coming on the side of the boat.  I was sitting behind the wheel and the waves were getting bigger to the point where Christopher started saying this is going to be a big one.  It was at the point where any rougher was going to be too rough and we still had a long way to go.  At this point Tanya cheerfully pipped up and said "we might roll over".  Luckily as much as I get nervous I have great faith in the boat and Christopher and I wasn't worried it might roll over.  I knew however that Christopher would be  thinking he could do without comments like that.  He quietly said "that's not a very good thing to say when someone is nervous".  Shortly after we changed course and went up between George and Speedwell so that we could run with the wind.  It was much more comfortable although it added time to the trip.  A short while later we turned again and run back up the back of George and around the point.  As soon as we rounded  Strike off the sea was much more civilised.  Needless to say it was the roughest trip I had done in a couple of years.

Lambmarking 2011 Speedwell Island

Busy, busy, too tired to blog.
Christopher and Shaun left to pick the lamb markers up from Flores harbour at 5am on Saturday.  It was a nice morning and they arrived back at 7:15 am.  This years lamb markers were Steven Poole, Chris Poole, Juliet Poole, Macaulay Middleton, Tom Elsby and Marcus Pole-Evans.  Also myself, Christopher, Shaun and Tanya.  The lamb markers were hungry as although they knew they may be spending the night at North Arm they were not really prepared for it.  I had sausages, burgers and salad etc in boxes that they were bringing out for me so they could have used that if they had wanted to.  After a quick breakfast of beans, sausages, spaghetti and toast it was time to leave for the first gather.  I guess it was about 8 am before we left the house.  All the boys except Macaulay went on motorbikes. Tanya took the rover with Juliet and I took the Toyota with myself and Macaulay and portable pens.  Tanya had dogs, lamb marking gear and the picnic.  The first camp to be lamb marked was the Sandgrass, in this camp, we marked 631 lambs giving us a pen tally of 94%.  We actually had 105% on the put out but it is irrelevant because the large pond between Twin Ponds and the Sandgrass has been broken out by what can only have been horrendously heavy seas.  This pond has never washed out since we have had the farm and it acts as a boundary between camps.  With no water in it, it has allowed sheep to come through from Twin Ponds to the Sandgrass meaning there were more ewes in the Sand grass then originally put out.  That is the reason why we have to use the pen tally as the put out is totally inaccurate.  We were finished this camp by about 2:30pm.  The day was made a bit easier with the aid of shot glasses filled with rum and port the traditional lamb marking tipple, (for those that had the stomach for it) followed bythe odd beer.  By 3:00 pm the boys were away on their second gather of the day in Phillips Point.  The girls and Macaulay waited at the pen as both camps back onto each other so we were lamb marking in the same pen again.  The boys had another super quick gather and 526 lambs later with 101% on the pen and 88% on the put out we were finished for the day.  We got back to the house at 8:30pm.  It had been a lovely day.  Everyone was extremely dirty and extremely tired.  Shaun and Christopher then knocked up a quick barbecue and a few more beers were drunk.  By 11:30 everyone was in bed.  6:00am arrived too quickly and by 6:50 everyone was again away from the house on the final lamb marking on Speedwell for 2011.  Twin Ponds was gathered in record time and despite having 600 ewes put out in it the count of ewes showed there were only 528 left.   This was because some of these ewes had moved into the Sandgrass. 502 lambs were marked giving us 84% on the put out and 96% on the pen. Again the 84% on the put out is irrelevant because so many of the ewes had moved camp.  The job was done and dusted and we were all back at the house by 12:30pm.
The true lamb marking percentages for Speedwell for 2011 was 1,800 ewes put to the ram, 1659 lambs marked giving us 92% on the put out.
On the pen 1723 ewes came through the pens with 1659 lambs giving a pen tally of 96%.
96 ewes are unaccounted for most of these are missing from Phillips Point.  This could be partly attributed to possibly a bad gather, some ewes and lambs have been missed.   Part of the loss will be natural death rate. The other possibility is that some of the ewes have went out on reefs and got cut of f by the tide and there by lost.  There are definitely long tail lambs still running around, we had at least 12 - 15 lambs escape from the pens by jumping fences.  These will be rounded up when the ewes come in for shearing and will then be added to the percentage.
All in all we are happy with the percentage.  Although two of the camps were hit by bad weather during the lambing period the fact that they have good shelter has meant the percentage has not been affected too badly.
Steven Poole 9:00pm  Saturday evening trying to finish of the rum and port (failed).

The boys putting the Sandgrass ewes and lambs into the pens at the end of the first gather.

Beer break (left to right) Shaun May, Tom Elsby, Marcus Pole-Evans, Chris Poole, Juliet Poole, Tanya Ford, in behind, Macaulay Middleton, Chris May, Steven Poole.
The weekend was rounded up by Christopher and Shaun dropping the lamb markers back at Flores harbour.  While they had to drive all the way back into Stanley, on Speedwell everyone took an afternoon nap.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Lamb marking

9:20 pm and all ready for the lamb markers.  A windy night currently blowing 30 knots plus from north, north east.  The lamb markers are at North Arm and we have rented a house for them to stay in over night because the swell is too big in Eagle Passage to bring them across.  It is one of those occasions when Christopher could go if he really needed to but it is rougher then he would like to.  It is a shame that we can not get them across tonight as it will mean a later start in the morning which will end up in a very long day tomorrow.
This morning Christopher and Shaun shore 20 stragglers. They were hogs that had been missed in the original  gather for shearing.  I carried, cleaned and rolled the wool myself.  It created a bit of sweat, just as well there were only 20.
Tiphanie is away today on her adventure to Bali in Indonesia.  I think I am going to spend the next two weeks worrying about her especially if she doesn't stay in touch regularly.  She arrives home on Christmas day.  I will be relieved when she is safely back.  She also found out today that she had been allocated government housing and that she will be able to move into it at the end of December.  After asking her for weeks what she would like for Christmas, shopping for her has suddenly become very easy.  The accommodation is totally unfurnished.
Mum ready to go for a spin.
Mum flew back into Stanley today.  She has been with us for a month.  I am going to miss her.  She has been a great help and has so much energy for her age.  She even decided she would come for a short ride on the 4 wheeler with me.  Not bad for 79.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

More sun, repairs, ponies, gathering and drafting

Busy couple of days.  Yesterday was spent gathering and drafting.  One of those annoying days when we were doing a job that shouldn't have really needed doing.  We had to gather in the shearling ewes again because the cattle flattened the fence.  Christopher realised there was a problem with the fence when he went down to the sand grass and saw some shearlings out there.  He sent Shaun to check the fence and do a rough count of how many sheep were still in and there was only 2.  The shearlings are now all back in the right camp.
Today was spent checking and mending the lamb marking pens to make sure they are all lamb proof.  Also found my ponies.  They have been missing since the thunder and lightening.  We found them down in the Sand Grass.  We managed to bribe them into coming part way home with a few handfuls of oats.  After we had finished work for the day Christopher went out on his motorbike and chased them home.  They are funny little animals because they love treats but when they go away they don't bother coming back.
We now have our lambmarkers from Stanley finalised.  Christopher will be picking up 7 possibly 8 people from Flores Harbour tomorrow evening.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nearly Ready

Finished the last of the cooking for lamb marking this weekend.  Still not sure how many people are coming but I'm sure there will be enough food.
Tanya flew back today.  They have have had an update on Bex from the vet and he is very happy with her.
This morning mum and I made egg and bacon tarts and this afternoon I spent a couple of hours in the garden weeding.  The garden at Speedwell is ahead of the George one and most of the potatoes are up.  The strawberries that Christopher moved are good and healthy and now have flowers on them.
Christopher and Shaun carried on working on motorbikes and they now have 9 motorbikes running ready for lamb marking.  That includes my 4 wheeler and  Tanya's 4 wheeler.  They also went and put the pen up out at the airstrip ready for lamb marking on Saturday.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bex

A positive outcome for Bex. Bex finally got her x-rays this afternoon.  They showed that her pelvis is broken in two places.  Her age is in her favour and she does not need an operation.  She is to stay at the vet department until Monday.  When she leaves the vet department she will go and stay with Christopher's father and mother for at least 2 weeks.  During the 2 weeks she is to be kept in a very small area so that she can't walk around.  After the two weeks she is allowed to have short walks in the yard and gradually build her exercise up.  She should make a full recovery.  The only problem she  may end up with is one of incontinence but as she isn't a house dog this shouldn't really be a problem.  What a relief.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A tearful day

Most days are good days but today hasn't been one of them.
The day started of with  a bit of a lay in.  I didn't get up until 8:30 am.  I got ready to leave George Island last night so I didn't have much to do at all today.  In fact mum, Tanya and I were all cleaned up ready to go before Christopher was quite ready.
It has been another beautiful, sunny, windless day.  I was the last person at the house.  I was sitting on the step waiting for Christopher when he asked me to run him up to the airstrip in the Mitsubishi to collect his motorbike to take on the boat.  The dogs came for a run.  On the way back I had to stop and shut a gate to keep the sheep off the house green.  I shut the gate and was trundling along in 2nd low range.  I slipped the vehicle into 3rd and heard this horrible cry, it wasn't a bark, then I heard it again, I knew what it was.  Even before I looked in my side mirror I knew I had run one of the dogs over.  In the mirror I could see a dog obviously in pain pulling itself around on the ground.  It turned out to be Shaun's 11 month old bitch Bex.  She was obviously hurt and scared, she couldn't get up and  I was just hoping that I hadn't broke her back.  Christopher saw me out of the vehicle and came over but it was impossible to tell what was wrong.  All indications were something was broken in her hind quarters.  Christopher lifted her into the vehicle.  She didn't appear to have any injuries to the stomach, lungs etc.  We decided to take her to Speedwell and then see if we could get a plane to call in if there was one in the area.  Tanya rang through to FIGAS and there was a plane just leaving Sealion Island which is only 15 minutes away from us.  We decided to wait at George Island for the plane.  Tanya had to fly in with Bex because dogs can't travel in the aircraft without being in a dog crate.  Exceptions are made when obviously the animal is hurt and is not likely to be jumping around but they still have to have someone with them to control them if they do become unexpectedly mobile.  Shaun said by the time the plane landed  which would be close to an hour after I ran her over she was actually able to walk but she was limping.  She is now in Stanley and has seen the vet but by then she was in a lot of pain and is now flat out again.  The vet thinks she has a broken pelvis but because the vet department does not  own  an x-ray machine she can not be x-rayed until tomorrow.  Tomorrow she will go down to the hospital to be x-rayed.  She is now at home in Stanley and has had some pain relief.  Tomorrow we will get a prognosis and hopefully she will be able to have an operation to mend any damage.
In over 20 years farming this is the first time I have run over one of our dogs.  I never even seen her.  Christopher had been trimming the young dogs up because they had started rushing in and biting at the tyres.  It is like a game of dare and a lot of the young dogs seem to go through this stage.  They didn't  appear to be doing it today but obviously Bex decided she would.  I think she must have rushed into the back wheel just as  I changed gear and she got caught with the acceleration in speed.  I was only trundling along probably doing no more then 10 to 15 miles per hour.
Even though all our dogs are working dogs they are all also pets.  Bex is one of Elle's pups so we have had her and her sister Heart since the day they were born.  They spent the first 3 weeks of their lives living in the back porch with Elle.  So as you can see today hasn't been a good day for me.  Lets hope tomorrow brings some good news.  I know it wasn't my fault. I was only driving slow but it doesn't stop you feeling guilty.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

101 visitors

We could not have wished for a more perfect day weather wise for the visit of cruise ship Bremen.  Today Bremen was carrying 101 passengers and unusually all 101 landed on Barren.  The first zodiac came off at approx 7:00 am.  On the purpose built landing stage on Barren lounged a Sea Lion to greet them.  Christopher and Shaun went over to Barren in our rib to meet the Bremen expedition crew and greet the passengers as they landed.  Bremen stayed anchored at Barren until approx 1:00 am, she then moved across to George Island, a meer hop.  Passengers started disembarking at approx 2:45 pm on George Island.  Shaun despite not wanting to shear because he believes he is shy actually  didn't mind doing it at all when he got started.  Christopher's dog trialing also went okay.  Elle and Meg were quite tired because they spent so much time chasing sticks etc for various people but they still managed to do an okay job.
The visitors today were a fantastic group of people. Most were German, Swiss or Austrian.   It never ceases to amaze me that nearly everyone speaks English to some degree.   Everyone I spoke to were either fluent or spoke enough to have a reasonable  conversation with.  It was a pleasure to have them on our islands. 
In the house it was pretty manic for just over an hour.  We managed to keep up with our teas and coffees pretty well and our cakes appeared to go down  well.   The last zodiac back to Bremen from George Island was 6:30pm.  It is now 8:10 pm and the kitchen is hoovered, the lino washed, all the cups are washed and packed away ready for the next visit.  Everything is back as it was and you would never know that today we had 101 visitors.
Tonight we have to pack up ready to move up to Speedwell tomorrow morning.  The next big job is lamb marking Speedwell Island next weekend.
The day still isn't finished for Christopher and he  is now away to Barren to get some pieces of an old tractor to take up to Speedwell for the tractor there.


Bremen through my kitchen window this morning.

Tourists landing on the purpose built landing stage on Barren Island.

Last 2 zodiacs leaving George Island.

Our cakes
All in all a great day.  Bring on the next one.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Stop them Tanya!!!! Dont stop that one Tanya!!!!

A very busy day.  We left for Barren Island at 6:30am to lamb mark.  A scorching day.  The ewes were exhausted by the time they got to the pens.  They are extremely over weight because of the low stocking rate on Barren and were really suffering from the heat. Shaun and I lifted all the lambs onto the bench. Shaun did more then his fair share as some were just too heavy for me.  The proper way to lift a lamb onto a lamb marking bench is to lift it up onto your knees then pull the back legs up in between the front.  You have to hold the back legs up above the knee joints, if you hold down below them they are very hard to hold and the markers on the other side of the bench are more likely to end up with a kick in the chest.  Not so bad for the boys, bad for the girls.  Today I found I had to pick some of them up around the belly, stand back from the bench and swing them up onto the bench and then gather up the back legs.  Not ideal. Today Christopher was cutting  the tails and Tanya was putting the rings on the balls.  They were extremely heavy and I really struggled lifting them onto the bench but because I didn't want to do the balls or cut the tails I didn't really leave myself any choice.  The lambing was good with 99% on the put out and 118% on the pen.  The lambs are in excellent condition and will go to the abattoir late January early February.  Tanya also helped in the pens drafting the sheep.  One minute Christopher was telling her to stay in line across the pen and stop the sheep running back next moment Shaun was shouting, not that one, not that one Tanya as she tried to do what she was told and starting running in front of a 100 kilo plus ram.  Its all a learning curve and she was lucky that he only caught her a glancing blow to her hip.  Even so he still sat her on her bum.
Barren Island is the hardest of our three main islands to work.  Although it does have a jetty the bay is too shallow to take Theo alongside.  This means that all the bikes have to be lifted up onto the jetty.  It would be a lot easier if we could get the dinghy onto the beach but both the dingy and the rib have rigid hulls and we cant get them in close enough to unload onto the beach.
When we got back to George at about 3:30pm Christopher went out and got some sheep in for the dog trialling and shearing displays.  He bought in rams for the dog trialing because he reckons they behave better.  I finished cleaning up my lawn and  re-arranged the benches in the yard.

Lifting the 4 wheeler up onto the Barren jetty.


Taking the 2, two wheel motorbikes and pen sections back out to Theo


Tanya bringing her bike down the jetty ready to go back on to the dingy





Always something to be found on the beaches, Shaun has a tin of international boat paint the same brand as we use on Theo.  Tanya has an Australian rugby ball.


This is what happens when you get a bit to chubby.  Luckily Christopher was there to help Elle as she belly flopped between the jetty and the boat.  This was her second trauma of the day.  Tanya decided to help her of the dinghy up onto the Barren jetty.   It was like a cartoon strip.  It started with her holding her up to the jetty.  Slowly the back of the dinghy moved out.  Ellie had all her claws out trying to grab on to the jetty as it got further away and she was nearly past the point of return for Tanya to get her back into the dinghy.  Lucky for Elle she got her back in and saved her a swim to shore.








The easiest part and even this isn't easy.

Shaun with the ambulance moving a ewe into the shade.


Very tired now.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

2 days

Still busy getting ready for the tourist ship.  Mum and I have now baked 1 large rainbow cake, 1 large ginger cake, 1 large fruit cake, 4 dozen jam tarts, 4 dozen neenish tarts, 4 dozen strawberry cheesecake tarts, 4 dozen yo-yo's, 4 dozen mince pies and finally 2 boiled fruit cakes.  The 2 boiled fruit cakes are now in the oven and they are the only things that I can say that I have actually made.  This is because mum has never made them.  I think they are very difficult and I have seen more failures then succssess but they are also the most popular of all the baking.  Usually I can talk Christopher into making them as he is a better cook then me but he is still pretty busy.  We will see in an hours time if they are a success or just another failure.  My part in most of the cooking has been the rolling out of the pastry and biscuit mixes and checking the oven.  Mum is not used to a gas oven and it is a bit of a trial and error event to get the tempurature correct. 
Christopher has been busy, doing what, I'm not sure.  He has cleaned the landing beach where the zodiacs land the passengers.  He also fixed a petrol lawn mower for me that he picked up of the rubbish dump in Stanley.  The lawn is looking good and for the first time I have mowed my clothes line yard.  This was actually built to keep my pet lambs in but the netting was too big and they just walk out through when they are small.
Today Christopher is away to Speedwell to pick up Shaun and Tanya to help with the Bremen.  First he is going across to Flores Harbour to pick up our rib.  The rib is really good for going out to the tourist boat as it is better if the weather is a bit rough.  Christopher will use it to go across to Tea Point on Barren when the Bremen is landing passengers there.  We always have people on the ground to make sure that the tourists keep the recommended distance from the  Gentoo penguins, Southern Sea Lions and Elephant seals.  It is also imperative that they keep the recommended distance away from the Southern Giant Petrols who are now sitting on eggs.  The Southern Giant Petrol is quite a nervous bird and easily scared of the nest and there is always a Skua waiting to pinch the eggs.  Over 30 species of bird have been recorded on a single visit to Tea Point.  It is a great place for bird enthusiasts and because the area is flat as a table top it is easy walking.   The Bremen also have their own guides so it is a controlled visit that causes as little disruption as possible.
Christopher has told Shaun that he will be doing the shearing display on George Island.  He is not keen as he is a bit shy.  Christopher said well I will do it if you like but you will have to do the dog trial display.  Funny, it would be funny.  Shaun is very pleaed with his dog and she is coming along nicely for him but neither him or the  dog are dog trialing standard yet.

The Bremen with the landing jetty at Useless waters Tea Point.  The jetty was constructed with the help of a group of BSCS students.
 On Speedwell Shaun has been busy.  Christopher was really pleased when he rang and said he had changed the springs on the Toyota.  This is a first for him.  Mechanics is probably his weakest area at the moment.  He was even more pleased with him when he rang and said he was fixing his motorbike.  This was a complicated job and christopher had to talk him through parts of it on the telephone.  It doesn't help that we have hardly any of the manuals that go with the machinery.  Living on an island means you have to be able to turn your hand to anything and he has also cut and laid his sitting room carpet that arrived on Concorida bay.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A ship, a plane, a helicopter and minus 5 days

Another busy day.  Concordia Bay our coastal shipping vessel/ferry arrived at about 9 am.  We did not have a lot of cargo to come off here.  Shaun worked the boat first at Speedwell.  There was a lot of cargo for Speedwell with Tanya and Shaun having carpets, Christopher had fencing, I had a bed, plus diesel, petrol and kero.  He also had to load the 16 bales of hogget wool.  Last night we had a ring saying they were going to work Speedwell at 8:30 pm.  Shaun rolled all the bales out onto the jetty ready.  An hour later he got a phone call to say they were delayed and would not be working Speedwell until the morning.  This meant he had to roll them all back into the bale shed as the wool is not allowed to get wet and we have had a few rain showers around the last few days.  At last we have our new double glazed windows, 3 for the bedrooms, 1 for the sitting room and 1 for the back porch.  This only leave 3 small windows and a bathroom window to be purchased this year and the whole house will have double glazing. 
Oh and in case you have been wondering our vehicles have still not been delivered.  There is a never ending trail of paperwork and bull****.  I doubt that it will ever happen.  There are a lot of people with good intentions who would willingly get the job done but beaurocray and red tape means the good intentions never materialise into action.  Our latest date is the end of November.  Well its the 28th today so I guess that day is going to come and go too.
At 10 am we had a helicopter deliver a patrol of 9 from the resident infantry patrol.  They are here until tomorrow afternoon.  While they are here they will do patrols around the island.  Tonight they are camped down in our shearing shed.  Most of the men are Scottish with broad scottish accents and if that isn't bad enough to try to understand there are  three Fijians with scottish accents. Shaun and Tanya also have a patrol of  9 on Speedwell so we are all well protected tonight.
At 2:45 the islander aircraft arrived to take Simon and Neil back to MPA.  They were both nice guys and I think they enjoyed their weekend on the island. 
I had ordered margarine etc for our catering for the tourist boat to come on the plane they flew out on because we had run out of some essentials.  Normally I would be in no hurry for my air freight but today just because I really needed it the plane could not carry it all. I now have eggs but no margarine.  This is a bit of a bummer and we have now had to order another plane for tomorrow just to bring my little box of groceries in.  I alwasy try to avoid getting the plane in solely for freight as it is very expensive for FIGAS which is a subsidised service and it seems a waste of money to drop of a box of groceries which I will only pay a couple of pounds airfreight for but which will cost £100's of pounds to deliver.  I can normally tie getting freight in and my mail out with someone flying in or out from the island.
Today mum and I made mince tarts for the tourist boat and also put a  filling in our yoyo's and iced our bite sized biscuits.  Come to think of it, it doesnt look like I have done much today.
Christopher has been repairing fences, worked the boat and the plane and stored the new windows away.  It looks like we have not been very busy today but I think it has just been disruptive with people coming and going.
Concordia Bay

Helicopter dropping of infantry on George Island

Island aircraft
Tiphanie has just rang.  She is back from her trip as observer.  The boat had to come in as one of the crew had an accident so it was decided to bring her off at the same time.  She really enjoyed her trip.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

3 shoes, 5 rolls of packing tape, minus 6 days

Today is the second day of preparations for the visit of Bremen on the 3rd.  Today Christopher, myself, mum, Simon and Neil all went over to the beach across from the house to do a beach clean.  This is a nice easy walk from the house for the tourists and you can quite often see dolphins in the bay.  We each took a bin bag and filled it with debris of the beach.  The majority is plastic from the fishing fleet.  Today we filled 4 bin bags with small rubbish and you can't see where we have been yet.  My bag contained 3 shoes, 5 rolls of packaging tape, loads of small pieces of green fishing rope from nets and blue plastic which is used for packaging the fish.  We are used to seeing it but to those not used to it, it is very unsightly.  The rubbish that we have just bought home from the beach is now being burnt.
Christopher has fixed the axle on the small trailer and is now taking the rubbish drums away to empty.  All our burnable rubbish is burnt including cans etc because it helps them to break down.  Around the house is starting to look nice.  This is also helped by a good growth of green grass in the immediate area of the house making the place look nice and green.

Rumbled

I think I have been rumbled. The boots have not been specifically mentioned but comments made yesterday would suggest I have.  I'm keeping quiet though in case I'm wrong.  He never looks at my blog.  I think its your fault Philip!!!  I was telling him about the links to the sheep/pig etc that  you put on and I think he has followed them back.  He would never have bothered looking  otherwise.  Well he had to find out sooner or later.
Yesterday we went clamming.  The tide was too high for me and I could only get half the distance out to them. 
Well we are busy getting ready for the Bremen arriving on the 3rd.  She has a capacity of 184 passengers but it is unlikely she will be full.  Mum and I have been cake and biscuit cooking.
We also have two contractors from MPA here.  Christopher got to know Simon an electrician and invited him out for the weekend.  He also has his friend Neil here.  Simon is into photography and they have been out all weekend taking photos.
I have weeded the garden since we arrived down here, it is very slow and there is still not a great deal up.
The lawn is mowed and strimmed ready for the tourists.  I have also trimmed the fuchsia trees in the porch.
Christopher with fresh clams

Simon feeding my pet lambs (the large lamb is called Prawn Cocktail, it is weaned now but likes Prawn Cocktail crisps as a treat).

Christopher clamming
Christopher is tidying up the green and getting the settlement area tidy.  It is pretty good despite his inability to put anything away after he has used it.
Going back to my new 350cc, 4 wheeler.  I thought I would tell you about my first bike and my exploits with it.  I brought my first bike when I was 18, it was a brand spanking new blue 125 Suzuki. I loved it. It was a bit high for me, it wasn't one of those squat road bikes.  I wasn't really very confident on it and I only had a provisional licence. I didn't ride it that much.  At the time Christopher's parents were working at Johnson Harbour on east Falklands.  Christopher had a Yamaha 550 and most weekends after work we would go out to his parents for the weekend.  In those days there were no roads, so it was all off road driving.  It was a long way several hours riding and that was at a good pace.   I would ride pillion.   Anyway I pestered and pestered to take my own bike. Each weekend it was the same, no.  In the end he gave in and of we set, him on his 550 Yamaha me on my lovely too big 125.  Going out was pretty good, I was fresh I guess and we were having a good trip.  I knew the track quite well from being on behind Christopher and we got to this piece of track that I knew was flat and a really good run.  I decided I would try and race him.  I roared up along side him, well as much as a 125 will roar, beeping my hooter, laughing at him and not looking where I was going and the next thing, without even time to think about it me and the bike were arse up in the grass.  It all happened so fast. I guess I hit a rut.  Luckily me or the bike were not damaged.  That was fine, the rest of the trip was good.  Sunday arrived and it was time to go back.  It wasn't the nicest day.  The track from Johnson Harbour passed through Port Louis settlement and went along the back of Green Patch settlement then continued on down to Long Island farm.  Long Island farm also contains Long Island mountain.  From the Stanley side the climb was quite gradual and hadn't presented any problems, from the Johnson Harbour side it was a lot steeper.  My arms were pretty tired from the trip out and my clutch hand was really stiff and I was having trouble taking off properly.  It was getting to the point of starting off with a gradual release then letting it go and taking off with a jerk.  I cant remember all the details exactly now but I remember that I was at the point of wanting to leave my bike but Christopher would not let me.  We were sitting at the bottom of a steep incline, it wasn't very long but it was pretty daunting from where I was sitting.  I knew I would have to use a decent amount of oomph to get up it.  I'm not sure what happened but suddenly everything was out of control and I arrived at the top on my back wheel,  luckily it landed back on the ground and I didn't come over backwards but I had absolutely no control and proceeded to do a semi circle on the top and found myself heading back down the mountain towards a fence.  I stayed on but I was totally knackered by the time we got to the top but still he wouldn't let me leave it.  By the time I got to the end of the two sisters road which is just outside Stanley I was exhausted, I had long since given up trying to let the clutch out properly and just prepared myself for the jerk.  I didn't ask to take it again and I still can't ride really well.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Im back!!!!

What a night last Thursday was.  It wasn't bad enough that it blew an absolute gale but at 11:30pm we had a thunder and lightening storm right overhead.  Normally our lightening is sheet but that night it was fork. It knocked out the electricity in the house.  Fortunately I guess that is what a trip box is for so in fact it tripped the house.   It struck the receiver on the television satellite dish and burnt that out or whatever lightening does.  It knocked out our Internet connection but bizarrely  not Shaun and Tanya's and that is why I have been quiet of late.  Cable and Wireless came to the conclusion along with Christopher that it was the line driver gone, this sends the signal from the mast on the hill down to the house.  On the Monday we had a plane come in and drop of a new receiver for the TV.  Result that worked.  They also dropped of a line driver for our Internet, nothing.  It then appeared that the line driver wasn't powerful enough to send the signal the distance required, still no Internet.  The next day the plane came in again and dropped of what was described as the rolls Royce of line drivers.  Still nothing.  Christopher was up and down up and down to the mast, connecting it this way, then that way.   He knows a fair bit about most things but he isn't a technician. In the end he was about to give up when he suddenly thought I wonder if it is the lightening conductors (not sure if that is what they are called).  Back to the house, back onto Cable and Wireless, do you think it is the lightening conductors.  Well probably not but you can try.  So last ditch effort to fix it himself he took them out and away it went.  In hindsight he said he should have thought of the lightening conductors but there you go.
So life has been busy.  Christopher and Shaun gathered the hogs and shearlings in.  Then we all helped draft.  No ram came in so Shaun has been absolved of blame of lambs in amongst the shearling ewes.  First we shore the wether hogs which we have run over winter for old season lamb.  Despite major misgivings about the condition of them when we had been out looking at them in the vehicle they turned out to be in very good condition.  They are well grown and the influence of the SAMM genetics are now becoming very evident.  We now need to concentrate on the micron to make sure that is does not become too coarse.  There is definitely a coarseness creeping in but we have some lovely, very large, very fine SAMM rams now so we should be able to breed any coarseness back out.  Its all a balancing game when you want a large sheep but also a fine wool. 
The arrival of a small number of lambs in the shearling ewes would appear to have an explanation as we found two large rigs.  A rig is a ram that has been marked but one ball has been left out.  If they were small animals they probably would not have left any lambs but these were two strapping boys.  The fact that they are only hoggets and only have one ball each explains why there are not too many lambs.  Who is to blame?  Well Christopher puts the rings on the testicles, so I guess it was him.  Unusual for him to make a mistake like that but the evidence is there.  After we shore the wether hoggets we had a day off for the men to press up the wool.  Then we started the ewe hoggets.  We had a lot of rain while we were shearing them and ended up only shearing part days as we had to put the clippies back in the shed as it was too cold and wet to leave them outside.  Ended up leaving 100 for Shaun to shear by himself as we had to come down to George Island yesterday as we had people coming today.
Oh and I have my four wheeler.  It is cool, 6 gears, 5 forward and 1 in reverse.  No pictures at the moment as I have a serious megabyte shortage.
Will get back to the comments but again may not be this month.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

No sleep tonight

Extremely windy.  Christopher has had to take the dingy out of the water to stop it getting smashed up under the jetty.  It was already half full of water and despite having buoys on the jetty the wind and the large swell rolling up  the jetty means he can not stop it going under the jetty and eventually ending up swamped.  The forecast is predicting damage to structures so there will not be much sleep for me as I worry about Theo at her moorings.  At the moment she is riding up and down violently.  Christopher will however sleep like a baby confident in his moorings and the fact that she has a good riding chain which stops here from jerking on her anchor.  Lucky him.

Wow windy

The weather has been fantastic.  Despite popular belief we do get lovely weather in the Falklands.  Unfortunately  more often then not it is spoilt by the wind  but lately the wind has been quite light.  Of course you can never please a farmer and the land is getting far to dry which in turn will affect the growth which then has a knock on affect on the live stock.  Please let it rain.  Today however the wind is back with vengeance.  The boat is rolling and diving in the harbour. 
Yesterday we had a bit of drafting to do.  Christopher came in and said "first run out for the boots then".  I'm going to have to tell him soon.  Instead I made excuses, "the pens are dry, I don't need them".  To this he replied but you didn't get them to keep your feet dry it was to stop them getting trod on. "Yes but I will be working the race so I will not need them".  Quite how I was going to fill the pens from the outside of them I'm not sure but 200 sheep later the job was done and another season has began without a pair of work boots.  Whats another year!!!
Yesterday we went and looked around the shearling ewes again to see if there were many more lambs.  Its looking hopeful that may be not to many ewes were caught as there didn't appear to be that many more.  No were as many as we would have expected if the majority of ewes had been caught.
Shaun and Tanya are back.  Christopher picked them up from Flores Harbour last night.   The season starts in earnest tomorrow with the gathering of the South End to get in the 1,200 hogs for shearing.
The decorating in the bedroom is finished.  It isn't perfect but it does look a lot better then it did.  Now for some catalogue shopping for new curtains as I couldn't get anything suitable in Stanley.
Christopher got me a secondhand 4 wheeler for getting around the green and up to the gardens.  It needed a little bit of TLC but he now has it running.  I wonder how long it will be before it starts getting snaffled away by either Christopher himself or Shaun.
The bedroom pre decorating

The bedroom after decorating.


The sausage rolls are made for lamb marking.  Life's good.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just another ordinary day

Tiphanie is away back to sea again.  I rang her on her mobile and she was just about to climb the ladder onto her ship.  This time she is on a sureme ship which is catching Blue Whiting and Hoke,  It is a Japanese vessel.
I have spent the day painting in the bedroom again.  At last it is coming to an end.  Also minced 6 lb of  beef and prepared it for making sausage rolls for lamb marking.  It is great having my mother out, she is a great help.
Christopher finished repairing the dinghy.  Also drilled two post holes to fix the pens ready for drafting next week.  The post holes have to be drilled because the posts are  going into solid rock.  A lot of the problems with the fences are because the posts are not in deep enough.
In the afternoon he gathered and brought in the sheep from the top of  Twin Ponds.  It has a mixture of sheep,  cull ewes  for dogs meat, and hogs (last years lambs) that didn't make the grade for the abattoir last season.  The hogs will now stay in for shearing next week and some of the cull ewes will be slaughtered for dogs meat.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Going to have to wear shades!!

Its shiny, very shiny. So shiny in fact that I think I will need sunglasses when I wake up. One and a half coats of paint on and it is starting to look quite good even if I do say so myself.
Shearing is looming ever closer with the shearing shed now cleaned out and washed out. Motorbikes are springing back into life for the season with three now obtaining the status of runners.
Not forgetting of course that today is Armistice Day and remembering all those lost in wars including the Falklands conflict.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"I fell out of the loft"

Yesterday I thought I was careless but when Christopher came home and said he had fallen out of the shearing shed loft I thought that was real careless. Fortunately it is only about 7 foot above the floor and he landed on his bottom. He now has a brusied leg for his antics but it could have been worse.
Today I started painting our bedroom. It got of to a bad start when I found that I had unloaded the pink gloss paint on George Island and brought the peach vinyl silk up to Speedwell. It is pointless putting vinyl silk on here because when it gets damp mould will actually grow through it and when you try to clean it the paint peels off. Luckily I had a tin of lilac gloss so instead of pink the room is now lilac.
Christopher continued working on the garden until it rained. So pleased to have a decent amount of rain. He also continued working on fixing motorbikes, started cleaning out the shearing shed ready for shearing and started repairing the damage to the dingy.
Lastly for today it has been announced that Prince William will be coming to the Falklands for a 6 week tour early next year. Looking forward to that.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Can you keep a secret?

Today I was so excited. In the 23 years that we have had our own farm I have never had a pair of proper work boots. Over the last couple of years with the opening of the EU approved abattoir we have done more and more sheep work. One of the worst jobs is mouthing the hundreds of wether hogs. My toes get trampled and crushed through my trainers. Even just filling pens leads to a good deal of toe trampling. So getting back to my excitment someone put a link to Sheplers suppliers of all things cowboy/cowgirl in America. After wanting a pair of work boots for so long I picked out this lovely pull on pair with fancy stitching in brown leather. They had what now seems like an appropriate name of Fat Boy Bombers. They were expensive, 120 dollars plus 68 dollars DHL postage. I tracked them on line and knew they would be on the plane today when my mum arrived. I couldnt wait to get home to try them on and took one out of the box to try on at the airstrip. Back home we brought all the boxes in that had came on the plane. I unpacked them all and decided to burn the rubbish straight away. In went all the rubbish and I soon had a nice fire burning. I then decided I would put both boots on. I remember taking the invoice out of the box. Surely I took the other boot out. I must have, mustn't I. I have discretly looked everywhere while trying not to alert Christopher or mum that I appear to have lost one Fat Boy Bomber. I keep going back and looking, maybe I just can't see it for looking. One Fat Boy Bomber now sits in the porch all by itself covered in gloves and hats trying to hide the fact that it doesnt have a mate. How could I be so careless. I am a nut case. I guess it going to be another season of crushed toes. I guess sooner or later someone is going to enquiry into why I am not wearing my 180 dollar boots but Im not ready to admit that it looks like my beautiful Fat Boy bomber is now smouldering in the bottom of the drum. Sob, sob. I had even planned to take a picture of my Fat Boy Bombers because they were so lovely to put on my blog.
On the farm everything else has become insignificant but I am replying to your e-mail Philip.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A mini iceberg

More gardening, more filling and sanding in the bedroom, just another ordinary day.
Oh and the mini iceberg is nothing exciting. Christopher suggested that the fridge/freezer was a bit frozen up. The kind of suggestion that it needed defrosting. "Its not that long since I did it". On closer inspection, um maybe it was last year. Two hours later and a mini iceberg later after much chipping and scrapping it was ready to be put back on again.
On more serious things we went to look at the shearling ewes. Yup, lambs where there shouldn't be lambs. Who is to blame? Well we could start with Shaun. Him and Tanya decided to go out in the shearling camp for a spin on the same day that Christopher turned the rams for Twin Ponds into the race so that they could go directly out to their camp, he had opened the gate into the camp ready. The Twin Ponds gate and the shearling camp gates are side by side. Christopher said to him when he came back were all the rams out of the race. No he said there were two still in it. Christopher said you did shut the gate into the shearling camp while you were out there didnt you. No, we always leave it open until we come back. Well yes but not when there are rams in the race. Were the rams still in the race when you came back? Yes they were. Um.
There is not a problem with the shearlings getting in lamb they are 2 years old and quite big enough to raise a lamb but the problem we were having was that their lambs are generally smaller because the ewes are young and we found that we couldn't get them all ready for the abattoir in March. This meant we were having to run some over for old season lamb and we don't really have the land to run them over the winter. Today we only saw about 12 lambs but there are 400 shearling ewes, fingers crossed they haven't all been caught. Time will tell.
We came across the Red Backed Buzzard on her nest today. She had one chick and a second egg. Also took some pictures of some Black Necked Swan signets.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Never let the grass grow under your feet!!!!

Speaking to Tiphanie today. She is away to sea again on Friday. She has been talking about going to Bali ever since she came back and has arranged to take 2 weeks holiday in December so that she can go. She has been desperate to go because some of her friends from university are there working on the restoration of a coral reef. I don't think she will every stay still long enough for the grass to grow under her feet.
The fish she could not identify was not rare but she could not pronounce the name but it was from the pelagic group a mid depth fish.
On the farm Christopher has been rotavating the gardens and working on fixing Shauns old motorbike.
I have stripped the window in our bedroom and sanded and filled the holes left from when the old rubber wiring was taken out. Hopefully I can start painting tomorrow. The room is painted dark blue and green from when the house was a bunk house for single men. Other then contract shearers using the house when they were here the house has not been lived in for 25 to 30 years.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Come in and help yourself!!!

Another lovely day, very windy in the morning but dropped off in the afternoon.
Christopher changed the radiator and fixed the powered steering in the landrover in the morning and I finished getting the bedroom ready for my mum coming out on Wednesday.
After dinner we went and looked at all three ewe camps to see what the lambing was looking like. All three camps look good. This year George Island is going to let us down because it was still too cold when the ewes on George Island lambed. They actually started at the same time as one of our camps up here but the ewe camp here has excellent shelter where as George Island has none.
The ponies came home again for a treat. Curly Wurly is getting brave and decided to venture into the porch and help himself. Humbugs legs are too short and he couldnt get up the steps.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Will we wont we???





I think wont must be a word from the dictionary of Lindsey. Is it a proper word? I use it all the time.
Today we came up to Speedwell. Before we could leave we had to wait for the plane to come and pick up Christopher's father Bruce. The wind was going into the north and we don't often leave when it is a northerly because it builds up too big a swell in Eagle passage. The wind is supposed to stay in the north for the next four days and we really needed to get up to Speedwell. After much umming and ahhing by Christopher Theo arrived at the jetty at 1pm with the sentiments of we will load and leave and if its too rough we can always come back. The dinghy was lifted out of the water and put on its cradle, that's generally a bad sign. To be honest looking out to sea it looked okay to me but I have seen Christopher coming across from Flores Harbour to Speedwell having left Flores with a slight breeze and it getting so rough in the short space of 40 minutes that the boat was dissapearing in the waves. We had a good run up with only the last 20 minutes getting a big bouncy. Even that was okay because it was on the nose. We had a few minutes as we came around the last point where she couldn't decide if she wanted to dive or roll and proceeded to try and do everything at once. The swell was building in the harbour and it was a rush to get everything unloaded. Today we are carrying a gang way of all things because my mother is coming out to stay for a couple of weeks and other then putting her in a net and lifting her off with the hi-ab it would be very difficult getting her on and off the boat. She is pretty obliging but I don't think she is going to go for the net thing but it would be funny. Unfortunately by the time Christopher got Theo out to moorings the swell made lifting the dinghy of the back of the boat really difficult and it now has a hole, nothing that a bit of fibre glass wont fix.
Today we watched a program on the American dust bowl on the history channel. We missed the beginning of the programme but it was really interesting. Our islands suffer from severe erosion. There are several reasons for it. In the past the islands have been severely over stocked and the fringe of coastal tussac has been eaten out by the sheep. The islands are also very dry which combined with our never ending wind keeps the erosion going. We have been trying to address the problem since we bought the islands. On George we have started two tussace plantations, one is doing very well, the second is planted into pure peat and has taken but at a much slower rate. It is self seeding however and new plants are coming up but it is a massive job. Conservationist suggest that just fencing the area off from the sheep will lead to the land regenerating itself but we have had one area of approx 100 acres that has now been fenced off for eight years and absolutely nothing has grown. We believe this is because nothing can get back because of the prevailing winds. On the positive side last year we purchased our own seeder and over sowed some areas with Yorkshire fog. To many this is a weed but when you are trying to cover bare ground you have to go with something that has the best possibility of growing. We planted in bare areas, areas of sorrel, which is natures replacement but animal wise has no nutritional value and in all other areas of vegetation. We were very excited when we went out last week to see some growth in the bare ground and some in the rush but nothing in the sorrel. Christopher has read that the sorrel gives off a toxin which stops any other vegetation taking hold. This is a problem because we dont dare open the ground up because erosion would almost certainly set in immediatly. I don't think you will see the erosion problem on George Island solved in our life time but hopefully we will make a difference. We are now heading into our third week of no rain, the dryer the season the worse the erosion problem as even the sorrel can't cope and it will die off.
Lastly for today my lovely little miniature ponies came home. I have now had them for 10 months and they are at last getting the hang of the fact that coming home means treats.