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....!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

September - Mellow fruitfulness, an Indian Summer and more sheep go

September has got to be my favourite month. Always seems to be settled with those fabulous cool , still mornings and evenings, heavy dews and the onset of Autumn proper without it being too reminiscent of anything really Wintery. This one only really got autumnal at the very end of the month - mostly the day time temperatures have been in the 20s and the night time ones still in the teens! Heavy dews rather than cold or rain meant that Atticus started to be rugged at night at the tail end of the month. He's starting to look a bit wooly now - first clip due soon.

Five more of our sheep, including the two naughty little ones we kept at home, didn't get to see much of September but we ate well! I loaded them and took them to the abbatoir on my own as Dermot was away. Loading was far easier than I expected as they do come to call and a bucket of feed. It was just a question of man (woman?) handling them onto the trailer. I was up at dawn to get them on and give myself enough time to get to Wells (over an hour's drive) My least favourite part of the whole animal rearing thing is dropping them off at the abbatoir not just for the obvious reason but also because the yard there requires some very tricky and accurate reversing with some very unforgiving walls to bump if you get it wrong. As luck would have it the chap unloading 3 rather good-looking Tamworths before me was an instructor for operating farm machinery, trailers etc and gave me a very useful and completely un-patronising lesson in how to reverse in successfully. What a star!

Once in, the slaughterman helped me run them into one of the small pens they have there and as I put the bolt across he gave me a big hug. He's a tall Yorkshireman - quite a sight in his white coveralls and hair net and I really don't know whether it was for commiseration or congratulations but it was much appreciated and certainly not something you would ever get at any of the larger slaughterhouses!! Howells is a really rather special place - they seem to care, take time and effort, are not loud and noisy and stressful on the animals and Arthur will bend over backwards to get over a problem and help you out. We are very grateful to have them in the county.

Moved the chickens into the field and took the opportunity to give their house a good clean and disinfect and treated all their legs against scaly mite, which most of them had in varying degrees. A very clandestine operation, done at night and involving head torches! The yard will stay empty now until the digger comes in next year to prepare for septic tanks etc.

We attended a very good open day for underfloor heating systems, ground and air heat pumps etc etc. The Norfolk based company have some very good technology, experience and integrity. Both the barn and the annexe will be having underfloor heating operated by a ground heat pump system and we may well build in some extra capacity to retro fit the cottage at some time in the future. The ground works will need to be in an area the size of a tennis court roughly so the digger will be with us for a while in the early new year as it has the fence posts to put in and a pond to dig for us too plus the holes for septic tanks for the barn and piggery, rain water collection tanks and goodness knows what else!


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