Location: East Ruston, Norfolk, United Kingdom

About us, Dermot and Sue Allen and our dog friendly holiday cottages. We started with the Old Forge running it for friends in 2005. In 2007/8 we were able to develop our own holiday accommodation, The Old Piggery. The Garden Room was added, belonging to another friend and the success of these prompted a further request to add Red Roofs at Hickling which has been doing very well. In 2012 we are embarking on our next project, New Barn. It isn't new at all (approx 180 years old) but it will be a fabulous new addition to our dog friendly holiday accommodation. Keep watching this space....!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Up to date...

Jan Start the year with a couple of runt male piglets who carry on clearing the yard. Horse is still living up the road so they are housed in the stable.

In February we have a slight reworking of drawings for bedroom arrangement in piggery and run them by our builder. Then we put in for planning permission. Planning officer visits and advises that we will almost certainly need a bat and owl survey - £400, several months wait and planning on hold until it is completed. Plans go to the Parish Council for approval or otherwise! I stay well out of it as I am clerk to the Parish Council and can't be seen to have any influence over the council's decision! (I just hope the chairman found the £20 note in the envelope!)

We approach the local farmer for some more land – no way. Shame but at least we have registered our interest. We seem to have a lot of rats but our young Border Terrier, Eddie, is learning how to get them. We find a chicken dead in a nest box of no obvious causes. Report to Defra because of avian flu problem.

Snow and very hard frosts for nearly a week at the beginning of March. This winter is dragging on a bit! We do our annual wood gathering on the village common land and have the luxury of putting it all in the barn!

In April the builders start work on the yard walls - brick and flint construction and needing quite a bit of repair. Move pigs out of stable to the land behind the barn which needs clearing. Weather improves marginally. Book bat and owl survey and Derm's step father (ex Highway's engineer) starts looking at an alternative access/exit for barn for next submission of planning permssion - the Highways Dept. were not happy with the existing access and we receive an objection letter from a neighbour on the same topic.

Easter weekend – collect 3 orphan lambs (2 Texels and a Suffolk cross Hampshire - pictured left) from Neville Fox, a local shepherd. £20 each. Then starts a punishing regime of bottle feeding! We then collect two slightly wild native breed crosses from Mick and Pauline and a week later Nev rings to ask if we will take on a Rouge cross – not his and not feeding from mum. We can keep her if she does well; if she doesn’t he will 'dispose' of her. Have used all the lamb milk replacement he gave me with the first lambs so buy a £21 tub of Lamlac to feed my little collection of orphans. We struggle a bit with Rouge as she goes lame and needs antibiotic jabs and has a bad case of Orf with some big sores round her mouth and on her tongue making bottle feeding difficult.

May Buy 8 x weaned lambs (January babies mostly) from Wroxham Barns, the local petting farm (£25 each) and put them on the grass at Fiona and Peter Blacks where Atticus has been wintering. Economically this is a far better way of buying and raising sheep for us but I'm glad we had the orpans. This lot are all weaned and jabbed and ready to go. Our grass comes along enough for Atticus to come back home at the beginning of the month.

The bat and owl survey is carried out by Mick Finnemere. He is surprised to find nothing at all. We are not. We could have saved our selves £350 and told him that!

Swallows arrive and we hear cuckoos. Discover Roger, the farm manager, oversprayed the field side hedge last year and killed a lot of our hedge plants. He and Mr Callow take a bit of ribbing from Derm (when he has calmed down!) and agree to replace them.

Very wet, particularly towards the end of the month, and got so cold too. Rugs back on Atticus and Rayburn relit.

We go away for a week's holiday on a canal boat and manage to get holiday cover for all the animals. The rouge lamb is the main worry as she is still lame and still being bottle fed as she needs all the food she can get. Sarah Caswell takes her on and when we get back from our holiday tells us she would like to keep her as a pet. Hoorah! She gets her lameness cured – an abscess in the hock - and turns her into a lap lamb!.

June Got another 8 lambs from Wroxham Barns to join the others at Fiona and Peters. As Atticus lived on their grass all winter it seems fair to make an effort to keep it down now that we have taken him home. The original 8 aren't keeping up with it, hence these new ones.

Got a fair bit warmer thankfully. Atticus and 5 orphans grazing field well. Atticus bucks me off in field for no apparent reason - probably because I am asking him to do some work!

Damaged hedge seems to be recovering. Laughed about it with Roger at Jane’s 40th birthday party at the local farm. Great fun - 60's and 70's theme and just about everybody dressed up.

Book pigs in to Arthur Howells (slaughterer and butcher in Wells) for beginning of July. Book hay cut for some time soon.

Revised planning application goes in – sign goes up on barn on 22 June. Mr and Mrs May (who complained last time) are pre-warned and invited to come round to discuss any objections they might have (rather than just sending us a snotty letter!). Here we go again….

Finally move pile of wood from garden. Only taken three years and two working parties plus countless additional hours. Found body of missing cat Boris under part of it. No idea how he died but at least we found him.

July Took two, year-old boars in. Some concern at butchers about size and possible boar taint
but the meat tastes fantastic. Completely different butchery this time by Howells but a lot cheaper. They worked out at £93.75 each. No idea of dead weight. First attempt at ham and bacon - used Hugh Fearnley Whittinstall's bacon cure and it is a bit too strong so will go for a simpler brine solution next time. Ham will be ready later in the year. 44 bags of sausages from the beasties too. The sausages win in a comprehensive taste test! (Just us at home but not biased really) They really are very good.

Hay cut middle of the month. A bit over dry and only 95 bales but should keep us going. Got all into the barn whilst weather was dry - not too difficult as it is a very hot and dry July generally. Almost drought conditions for a while.

Took 70 bales straw off one of Edwards DeFeyter's fields at Edingthorpe. All by myself in 30+ temperature! 10 dellivered to Fiona and Peter.


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