The mornings are getting a bit cooler and leafs on the trees are no longer perfectly green. It's that time of the year that I love the most, but unfortunately autumn is just around the corner. This morning the sun is out and there is not a cloud in the sky, a sky that is starting to show that pale blue colour of cold weather to come.
Mindy, Mandy, Molly and My are picking up speed. The warmest, sometimes really hot weather is over and our lovely sheep can breath freely, again. Their woolly coats are impressively thick and they are a bit too big where the waistline should be, so cooler days are a treat for them. They are eating the lush, deep green grass with such frenzy that I think they have had a look at the calendar too and know that summer is about to end. At he moment, their passion is the rowanberry. They have eaten all the berries they can reach so now they gather under a tree waiting for me to come and help them. Mindy knows that I can be slightly slow on the uptake so she tries to stand on her hind legs, just to show me what they are trying to achieve.
So I pick berries for them and first everything is calm and orderly and then they get a bit exited and greedy. I bounce between four very round sheep like a lottery ball, trying to keep my balance, sharp clippers in my hand and giggling madly. This makes them even more exited and the whole thing is just a bit silly and a lot of fun. The berries must be very good for them, so as long as we can reach them, we'll carry on picking. The trees are full of big, red bunches of vitamin so there is plenty to go around. No migrating bird will be left without a travel snack either. There are also a lot of apples for the bigger animals this year.
Our four sheep are still providing their nanny service to our tired hens. Lotta is using them as soon as she has a chance to get away from little Matti and Maja. I found Matti having a late breakfast with Mandy the sheep, one morning. The funny thing was that he felt that standing between her front legs was the safest place. Poor Mandy stood stock still for ages, while a little cockerel munched away happily. Maja is a bit more careful around her huge minders but she can always be found somewhere close by. The siblings stay together at all times and the constant beeping is a soothing soundtrack to the day. Matti's voice is not so hi-pitched anymore and Maja's voice was always calmer... Little Ulla stays with her mother most of the day but even Pippi has started to trust our nanny sheep.
They all tend to meet up under the Rowan tree in the afternoons and one day I saw the tiny, fist sized little chick climbing along on Molly's back. Molly was lying down looking a bit worried, but Ulla was enjoying her adventure and did not seem to be remotely nervous. Pippi the hen stood by but for once she did not peck the sheep or dance around like a hyper duster. Even Pippi needs a break from her chick, it seems...
Mr. Chip celebrated his 14th birthday yesterday!! We never thought we would see the day but lo and behold, we did." And a very nice day it was", said the birthday dog. His Cushing syndrome did a U-turn on us. When we went for his blood tests, a week ago, they showed that he was completely devoid of cortisol, the stress hormone. So now we are having a weeks break from medication and then starting slowly again. The fact that Mr. Chip is so balanced means that we did not see the difference in his behavior. He still ate well, asked for walks and slept normally. He rolled around in the bed as if he was possessed and chewed on hands, in a polite way.
After a weeks break we do notice a change in him, though. He barks madly if he's left behind for some reason, he has an even bigger appetite and he bounces on bare feet. This is a 14 year old dog who probably should know better... His best friend would have told us that "This is the glory of a terrier". And so it is. My toes are a bit sore, though....
The swallows are meeting up in large groups, preparing to head off for warmer climates. This year they find our garage to be a good meeting point. My small car looks like a manure heap on wheels as I keep forgetting to park it outside. Yet another sign that summer is ending...
The Rowanberries are also popular amongst red foxes, badgers and squirrels. Makes sense, when you think about it... Deer and elks enjoy them too. Happy September!!
We had a slightly old fashioned family gathering at our home last week. That's why our blog was so late, as we were busy reminiscing about the day gone by. Some, who actually had a bit of class, sat with a glass of chilled vine in their hand. Me, I was drinking my 60th cup of coffee....
It really is a good idea to get relatives together now and again. It's easy to loose touch with people and while you don't want to live in each other’s pockets, it would be a shame to completely grow apart. They are nice people, as well...
Monty behaves politely when we have guests. He walks his grounds but gives way to victors. It struck me again, how lucky we are to have such kind animals. Children running around and tall men visiting the stable could easily be too tempting for a cockerel to claim his turf. Not our Monty, although he did keep the whole group of hens close to him, as long as the guests were around.
Mindy, Mandy, Molly and My did their usual sprint around the place, calling for help as there was "Something going on!"... They calmed down when I went out and had a little talk with them. Horsey people are a clever bunch. They have upbeat, cheerful expressions with a bit of go in them, when talking to their horses. I on the other hand sound like someone with a slight problem, when I calm down our sheep. It works but I do get funny looks.... The problem is that you can't walk up to a group of hyper sheep and tell them to "buckle up and tally ho!" That would frighten the daylight out of them so I end up sounding like an old hippy trying to hypnotise four panting, shaking sheep. But as I said, it works...
Mr. Chip had a ball. First he sussed out the most generous guest and shared the catering side of things with her. When he, once again, looked as round as a ball he happily wandered off to look for his men. Dear husband had our lovely dog as his personal shadow for the rest of the gathering. A group of men discussing whatever they do discuss, in calm, deep voices is as close to heaven as an old dog can get, on this side of the clouds. In the middle of all these men Mr. Chip slept soundly, feeling that he belonged. I bet he thought of his best friend, who I'm sure we all also remembered that day.
When everyone had left, four sheep plopped down like ripe fruit under the Rowan tree and for a few hours. All you could see of them was four heaps of wool. The hens left Monty's side and scattered all over the place and I'm certain that little Ulla, the chick, felt that her new Fun club had deserted her. Mr. Chip started eating again - his own, boring food this time. As I have said before, one charming feature in a fox terrier is that once they are happy and content, they don't do melancholy. "Hi ho, and on to the next thing!" seems to be their motto in life. It's very refreshing and helps a lot... (Elvira, our hunting dog used to look for people that had gone home and that was a bit trying, at times...).
Everyone had a lie-in, the next morning - everyone, as in Mr. Chip, the sheep and me. The hens had a fit, as they were not let out before 7.30am. They stand by the door, ready and waiting for the day to begin if it's light outside. I did try to tell them that life is not all about them but apparently I'm wrong. Mr. Chip suggested more gatherings as it livens up his diet considerably. We're of to the vet next week and they will be lively enough when they see the size of our dog... Mr. Chip turns 14 years old on the 27th and there will be cake.
Otter news - my sister's friends, the otters, are doing better. They turned out to be a girl and a boy so that explained why one was slightly smaller than the other one. They were seriously dehydrated so liquid and food supplements were put in as their first aid. They already got warmth on the way to their new home, being wrapped up in Mr. Chip's fleece blanket. Halfway to their destination my dear sister had to stop the car and have a discussion about the "no wrestling in her car" policy. At least not while she was driving hundred and ten to save them. It did show her that they were perking up, though... Now we just have to hope that they find their appetites and start growing. It would be lovely to see them return to us in the spring. They are staying with a kind couple that has done this sort of thing for the last eighteen years. They were feeding the elks when I called them... That's cool in my books!
The European otter, Lutra lutra, is the only otter we have here in Finland. It lives mainly on fish, is highly territorial and is also known as the Old World Otter. The average weight is between 7-12 kg but there have been sights of much bigger specimens. Otters can live along the coast and fish in the sea but they need regular baths in fresh water to clean their furs. The female otter gives birth to one to four pups.
Have a good week. We are having guest for the whole week and I really hope they will get better weather than all the rain we have had lately. Here's hoping...
We went on holiday, my dear husband and I. We left our little farm in the hands of my kind sister and her children. (I say children but they are all taller than me...). We visited good old England and went to a Bryan Adams concert. Seeing the band on stage, it struck me that Monty would fit in nicely. He could strut around with the best of them but B. Adams always hits the notes spot on. It was a really good holiday and I flew home after three days.
Mr. Chip thought it was Christmas time when we were away and took upon himself to visit the henhouse when he felt peckish. Apparently he's a great believer in healthy food so gorged on rice, corn and the dry food meant for laying hens. On my return I found him a bit rounder than before but extremely happy. I guess Mr. Chip had a holiday too...
Mindy, Molly and My gave me such a talking to when we met up again. It's not the done thing, this skulking off to fun and fairs they said. Mandy just gave me one of her most endearing smiles and hoped I had enjoyed myself. The hens told me their new friends were lovely and so much more into exercise and playing than silly old me. The fun they had running in the forest in the evenings and zig-zagging around the stable together; they were reminiscing... Not just going to bed every evening in the same, safe pattern, they continued. Little Ulla had grown just a tad and now she/he is sporting wings and a little tail with real, grownup feathers. Her mother Pippi is very proud and so she should be.
My dear sister's comment about their day's together was; "They all survived!" but she said it with a broad smile on her face. I think everyone had a good time and the famous five-hens thinks my sister rocks.
This week ended in the spirit of which this whole summer has enveloped itself. Dear sister had a visit from two half starved otters, young baby otters whose mother had gone missing and was clearly not coming back. The baby's had been crying all night and now they were hungry, cold and very unhappy about it all. So saved, warm and taken to an animal shelter, we are now waiting to hear how they are doing. My sister did a lot of driving last night as the shelter was not around the corner from us. And so the summer of wild animal stories continues...
This week’s news will end with a cliffhanger and more about our new friends next week. Let's hope it's good news, fingers crossed... Toes as well, just in case...
Dear husband returned in the night and Mr. Chip can sleep soundly in the night, knowing all is well in his world again.
Holidays are fun but being at home with our gang is not bad either... Enjoy your week and more otter news to come. Dasha, the illustrator, is also now holidaying so all the best to her and her friends from us here in the sticks.
The time has come for Nina and dear husband to take a well deserved holiday. Therefore, this early edition blog update will feature photos of us all wishing you a happy summer. The normal'ish blog will continue next week.
A blog about a small holding in Southern Finland. Each original story is accompanied by a stunning watercolour illustration or resplendent photographs.