The Creepy Coupe/ Shear Terror

We bought an entire smallholding of birds as a job lot. The man wanted them sold together, and his price was good, as most of them were rare breeds.

So this was how we got our new cockerel “Count Orloff” and Mrs Orloff, the eponymous Orloffs. Sweet natured, mumbling, speckled hens, they fitted right in without so much as a fight. Weird. And we got The Hamburglar and his three ladies- shy, tiny, very good at flying golden Hamburg hens. Then five green Cayuga ducks , two pure, others a speckled mixture but with the breeds black feet and eyes; and six jolly quacking white Aylesbury ducks, with their randy drake, Barry White (see what I did there? I’m at the end of pier all season, folks)

And three pied, blue eyed Twente geese we didn’t really want- including the gander, Sid Vicious (yes, he is). But geese are good guard animals, and lay lovely light tasting (yet Jurassic Park sized) eggs great for baking with. Sid amuses us- his aggression is totally unwarranted and extra, and we laugh at the way he hisses then walks away, still looking at you, until his head is right back on itself so he can regard you with his beedy blue eyes. Nutter.

The man also threw in three duck/ hen houses, that saved us a lot of money. I had to transport them all home in my trailer in two trips; the trip with the housing was hairy as we negotiated the Lincolnshire wolds; it was stacked as high as the Creepy Coupe from Wacky races.  I lost half the duck house roof on trip one; I hope nobody got clobbered…

Before I left Government social work, I had a strange parting gift. Another social worker had hand reared three lambs with a neighbour, but the neighbour wasn’t interested any more- could I take them?

Does the Pope have a balcony?

And so we got three more sheep for free- Lulu the ewe, and Minty and Ramsey the (neutered) rams- making our little flock six in total (joining Baa- bara, Phoebe and Lovechops) Bottle fed sheep are something else- by turns affectionate yet pushy, bold but wary, eager for company and yet independent. Its very strange to see sheep develop personalities- I wasn’t convinced they really had any. Its because they are slaughtered so young, and are raised almost without any human contact that we feel they are virtually fleshy insects. When you raise them as pets, its like you crack a code that wasn’t meant to be broken. They are friendly, but a bit gruff!

But personalities they have, that emerge the more you interact with them. Ramsey loves exploring, and Lulu loves her neck rubbed but will take her own sweet time doing anything- and doesn’t follow the herd. Lulu is the first to work out whether the bowl you are holding out to get them to move is empty or full- or full of anything she wants. If it isn’t, she will run in the opposite direction to the others.

Within days of having them we had all our sheep sheared- what a nightmare. Our sheep were tame but it still took the shearer hours, and a later trip to A and E when an escaping ewe dragged him literally down the garden path. I’d love to see how flocks of 500 are dealt with! It was something I was considering doing myself, but not any longer, as I would like to retain whats left of my dignity, unbroken nose, and remaining will to live. The shearer was actually the young son of the local shearer, who was booked out to 3000AD and wouldn’t touch just six sheep, when he deals in the hundreds. Heres some before and after photos (with our gorge Godchildren) …..

Because the sheep are so tame, they are especially useful as a therapeutic aid to children. So we aren’t going to eat them, or any animal on Shabbafarm. We aren’t vegetarians yet though.

In other cool news, our first born and bred chick was hatched! He/ she is unsexed, and lives with his mother and foster mother (basically two hens were broody, and devoted to him when he/she was born, so we let them stay with baby) We call the little person Charlie, and it is very cute!

Sadly D isn’t interested in the  livestock (the prime reason for having them) so we got him another dog…..will talk about that next time!

Judge Minty/ Zero Mostel

When I was 9, I was a massive fan of dystopian sci fi comic, 2000AD. While most of my friends were opting for “Dennis the Menace” in the Beano, I preferred Judge Dredd. For those who don’t know, Dredd is an absurd, neo- con merciless macho uber cop, who shoots first, and never asks questions. Because the whole thing is so camp and absurd, it isn’t so awful. Well, possibly for 9 year olds it is. Liberal parents and all that.

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Judge Dredd had an aged contemporary, called Judge Minty. You can read a little about him here. Minty’s analogy sort of works regarding current events. Plus I have an insane ram called Minty, who likes to eat my trousers.

I like analogies because they can convey a lot more in a sentence than a book can. Plus I can ramble about stuff that is important to me, and not to you.

Long story short, I have left statutory (local Government) social work to make some kind of business of Shabbafarm, using social work skills and values- that is, the original social work skills and values I remember from so long ago. Like Minty, I found my compassion and “job age” was making me ineffective in what has become social work now- though I’m not necessarily obsolete. So much more to do beyond my desk, and tub of bad chocolate.

So I have, like Judge Minty, done the “long walk” -leaving behind so many teams and great colleagues. I may have become tired of what social work has become, and from managing my home life parallel to it, which was often worse than what I dealt with in child protection. Straight up. But I never tired from having some great managers and team buddies. I find myself wandering around my house, looking at all the various team photos and leaving cards I never can throw away. We did so much heavy stuff together. Its more than a job.

I will get more specific about what my wife and I (and some very cool other people) are doing with Shabbafarm on here soon- watch this space.

All that- the stress building up to leaving , and the fallout arising from leaving, have kept me from blogging. In the free time I have had, I realised I didn’t have very much to say that was either positive, or very well written. Or both. And I’m always processing all the stuff I have written about in previous posts. My son comes home very weekend, and on the whole its getting more and more positive. However, the ways I need to change overwhelm me. I was zoning out as a way of not dwelling on it. I spent so much time on my gaming console I’m likely to sell it and never go back.

The work needed on the smallholding ahead deserves a separate post. In lieu of my sizeable income missing, my wife has virtually gone full time in her midwifery- but there is a shelf life on her doing that. I often joke that she comes back from shift looking like a zombie nurse from the Walking Dead. It really encourages her.

I need to get a part time job, so at least we cover livestock feed.  I’m pretty much looking for what Amitai Etzioni calls a “McJob”. Currently I’m gunning for a zero hours contract coffee shop job at the moment.

But do you know what? Wouldn’t change it for the world. Transition is painful, and worth it.

I want to leave on a funny note. My last team were awesome, and at a great final curry, they gave me this “life story” book (see highlight photos) I keep it in a special place and re-read the comments. I didn’t cry when I got it, but I do now!

Tune in next time!