Locket is our youngest, smallest cow, and we were worried about her first calf. We spent several nights out on the heath waiting for the birth--but in the end she caught us out and had it during the day. Sadly our fears were confirmed, and the big bull-calf was born dead. The only consolation (apart from 2½ stone of veal joints and a white furry rug) was that we were able to milk Locket. (Consolation for whom?--it's not exactly an easy way to get milk! - Ed). She's not what you'd call a dairy cow--she gives about three pints a day on poor forage--but it's fine for us and we haven't bought milk or butter since July!
Holly and Willow are doing well and both look likely to grow taller than their mother Linnet, who's still going strong at 19. Training proceeded slowly with the New Forest being closed for so long, but Rue's just started riding Holly, now 3½. Hazel, the Welsh Cob, has been progressing very well. After long-reining on the Forest, and a little lungeing (not her favourite game...), she graduated to chain-harrowing the paddock with great enthusiasm. Recently she's been out delivering eggs in the training cart--no breakages... yet!
Merry the cat is also not showing his age (14) and still climbs trees (and unsuspecting visitors) at the least opportunity. He takes his duties as chief rodent operative very seriously--especially following the invasion of rats in the stables after the pig farm next door shut down. Until the day he met a rat almost as big as himself and was seen leaving the stable at high speed with the rat in hot pursuit!
One morning we found a freshly killed and neatly plucked woodpigeon in the paddock courtesy of our local sparrowhawk. It duly joined part of Pocket the lost calf and two squirrels (previously donated by Merry) in an excellent veal and game pie, eaten with vegetables from the garden. Like many of our meals almost completely self-sufficient, with the unusual added bonus that we hadn't had to kill it first. Squirrel, incidentally, is very good--a bit like rabbit but sweeter.
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