Horses, Hedges and Hideaways… and naked chickens

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Baseil, with Tamsin

The weather is upon us, and no mistake. Today has actually provided a brief sunny respite from driving rain, but the sky-water is due to return tomorrow, and it will mostly rain for the next week or two (or month or six, this being Wales…)

We managed to get some good preparation in for winter before the heavens opened, but as always, there are jobs that still need doing (such as digging drainage ditches in the poultry paddock and setting up the good chicken house), and plenty that need doing again only more hardcore, as the wind takes the tarps off everything and the water levels have already exceeded expectations.

Baseil, the Belgian Draft we adopted a couple of weeks ago, has been more hindrance than help – when are our animals otherwise? – as although he is an experienced logging horse, he arrived with a condition called chronic progressive lymphoedema, which causes swelling and fibrosis in the lower legs. The overgrown skin is fragile and infection prone. Baz had been misdiagnosed with mud fever, and not properly treated. His legs were ulcerated and full of maggots; the stink coming off him was sickening. They’re clean now, but he has to be stabled to keep them clean, hand-walked twice a day to keep his circulation going, and is on steroids, antibiotics, and ointment to be rubbed into the horrorshow twice a day. So that’s fun.

In other mistreated animal news, we’ve adopted three more chickens. Where our last adoptees were ex-free range organic, these were caged hens. Judge for yourself the welfare standards of such a system. (L-R: Finrosel, Fenella and Freya)

The biggest job of the winter will of course be planting the new hedges. We will be planting 2000 trees into a kilometre of new and restored hedges, money for which will be reimbursed after the fact by the Glastir Pollinators scheme. To raise cash up front to buy the trees, Jo is running a Ko-Fi scheme. When we get the money back – assuming we meet the contract criteria – we’ll pass it on to another tree-planting scheme. We’re also looking for help with the preparation and planting, so if you have a day to spare and fancy doing your bit for carbon capture and hedgerow critters, get in touch!

Lastly for this update, Jo and I recently announced the launch of our Winter Writing Retreats. So far we have booked up one weekend at the end of February, but if demand is there we will arrange more in the interim. We’re using local self-catering accommodation, reasonably priced in the off-season, and providing food for cooking plus all-you-can-eat mentoring and tuition, tailored to the requirements of the group. Any kind of writing is cool, but obviously our skills are strongest in the SF and F arena. Visit our retreats facebook group for more info. Huzzah!

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