Thursday, 28 October 2010

Visitors and culling

Tomorrow Chris' Brother Jonathan, wife Charlotte and nephew Leo arrive. in Trelawnyd
They live way down in Broadstairs in Kent and in the ten years ( to the day!) that me and Chris have been together, this is their first visit to our home all together ( remember Leo visited earlier in the year!) As you can imagine it is an important visit for us.
Yesterday I have shampooed the dog smell out of the carpets,wiped the dog snot from the windows and bought fresh flowers and a Halloween pumpkin for the house.
Today I will give the cottage a general scrub, and will try and tidy up the garden in preparation and early this morning I have put together a hamper for Jon and Charlotte to take home with them.  
In the hamper I have put my own fresh produce (leeks, artichoke hearts,pumpkin,onions shallots and sprouts) I then added my own jars of picked onions and pickled spicy beetroot and topped it all off with six newly laid eggs, some donated green chutney from old Mrs Jones and some bought honey from Eirlys' farm.
Visitors need to be fed well!

Yesterday, the sick ghost hen fell over when out for a drink and was unable to get up again. Luckily I found her quickly and knew there was nothing more I could do , so in the field and with a  heavy heart I sat and stroked her for a short while before putting her out of her misery. She was the only the second hen I have culled myself since Bob the retired poultry keeper showed me how to dispatch my young cockerels last year, and no matter how necessary the job, I really do hate doing it.
Three juvenile cockerels need culling next week and I think I will ask Bob to come and help me again with the job.......As I sat on the grass in the field with a dead fat hen on my lap I realised that I will never make a proper farmer!
I am just too soft


  1. I've culled 4 cockerels and still have pangs of remorse.
    I'd never make a farmer either.

  2. Tears in my eyes accompany this comment John.
    So sorry to hear about the poor old ghost hens demise.
    I could never have a working small holding for that very reason, I simply could never cull anything and would be over run with animals.
    This has happened to us with the stray we took in that gave us 4 kittens, we could not part with them and now have 5 of the bossy little monkeys.

  3. Anonymous11:31 am

    Such a beautiful hamper!

    I was supposed to cull several cockrels this past weekend but have been busy with my Sweetpea. Like you I have a very hard time with it. Having conversations with myself about being a farmer and not cut out for such a task. I feed them well and allow them to free range during the day knowing they will make a chemical free, hormone free, organic dinner and that I will be so grateful for that but the task of culling is difficult.

  4. Aww, sorry to hear about your hen. It`s hard to have to cull I know that all to well. I`ve gotten used to doing poultry but the steers and goats are really tough for me.

    I guess that`s all part of farming though. *Sighs*

  5. That would be tough to have to do. But I guess it's your job to do it. I know I couldn't run a small farm like you simply because of the 'culling' that is necessary.
    Happy Anniversary you two!! Here's to 10 more!

  6. Happy Anniversary John and Chris! May you have many, Many more.

    I think I may just have to come visit you soon. My doctor insists that I must start eating "better" and I think a hamper from you would be just the thing to get me on the right track.

    Well, you're a better 'farmer' than I. I just can't bring myself to cull anything. Even when it is the merciful thing to do. I've had several chickens get sick, over the years, and when there is no hope of recovery, I call my friend and ask him to come get them (and take them to HIS place) and end their suffering. Even then I cry and feel guilty. I keep telling him that I think that I could perhaps do it if I had a gun. But I can't possibly do it with my bare hands. No way.

  7. You're a good man, John. I know I could never cull anything. You do it with respect for the animal involved.

    Happy Anniversary! May you have many more.

  8. John,
    What a BEAUTIFUL basket you put together. Don't want to talk about the ghost hen - makes me too sad.

    On a brighter note tho, Happy Anniversary!

  9. That is my worry. That I'd never make a 'proper' farmer. But I think you should feel a sense of loss when you kill something.
    It will be hard for me, I know, when I first have to do it.

    That is a beautiful hamper. I think Chris' family will feel quite honored to receive it.

    Happy Anniversary! I hope you have many more wonderful years together.

  10. A very nice basket of goodies, I am sure they will really appreciate it! (I know I would)

    Culling, a necessary evil, I can't do it myself, but have to delegate it to someone else. It is actually a kindness, in the case of the ghost hen.

    Your anniversary? Congratulations!

  11. Happy Anniversay to you and Chris.
    How wonderful young Leo is coming back for a visit.
    You sure put together a most beautiful basket.
    You are a gentle soul, treat your critters with love and respect and do what you have to for them.
    Hugs. xoxo

  12. and this is what makes you a proper farmer! Your care and love of your animals!

    What a wonderful basket of goodies you have fixed up for your visitors! Who would not love that!

    I am going to try to grow artichokes, not sure how they will do here. My leeks sure didn't look like yours...Yours are gorgeous! I am going to try them again this year :O)

  13. Happy Anniversary to you and Chris. xxxxxxx
    You are the perfect host - that basket looks fab. Sorry about the sick hen.

  14. Happy anniversary to you and Chris may you grow old together in the beautiful countryside.
    As for culling!!!!! ahhhhh i am a vegetarian even thou in the summers i grew up on my grandparents big Greek farm in mesinia Greece.
    We had chickens for eggs in our home in a suburb of Athens but never ate them, my mum or dad could never kill them.

  15. Sorry about your hen. We "process our own chickens,turkeys and rabbits....I don't care how long you do it it always gives a person a little pang in the heart.I think if it doesn't then something is wrong with that...

  16. Always tough when you have to put down one of the farm animals, we know that we gave the animal the best life we could.

    You put together a hamper with food goodies, we throw dirty clothes in a hamper. We put together a "basket" of food items.

  17. Ahhh, where to start? Congratulations on you guys' ten year anniversary! What a good stretch of life, eh?

    I can only admire what a wonderful host you are, again. You'll have a house full of people, and I can't wait to hear about your adventures. That little Leo will probably storm right over to the allotment to see what's up with the animals!

    And lastly, so sorry about the ghost hen. The end of a life is always an odd moment, to say the least. Even if it concerns a hen. She had some good days in your field. Luckily, you have someone close by to help you with any future culling. At least that's a good thing.

  18. No home is perfect without critter snot on the windows and fur on the couches. LOL

    We still haven't culled any of our hens for food yet, I dread it. We (hubby) has put down some ladies; I could not help mend.

    Have a wonderful visit.

  19. So sorry about the hen and your thankless sad task. You have such a kind heart. I can imagine all the animal angels that surround you.

    enjoy your company! PS are you on Facebook? I would like to be your friend... if you can search for me I am Ina Offret.


  20. I'll never make a proper countryman either, John. I'm not a bad shot, but I cannot stand bringing a flying creature down from the sky. Oh well, cock soup for you for the next few weeks...

  21. the cockerels killed last year are STILL in the freezer!

  22. Sorry to hear about the ghost hen - you must have had to do that before I saw you this evening, that must have been so difficult, even though it was the kindest thing to do.
    On a lighter note, happy anniversary - I'm sure you'll have a lovely time with your visitors and they'll enjoy Trelawnyd. By the way, have you ever thought of taking orders for Christmas hampers from us village folk (lovely Christmas presents)!!

  23. It's an act of kindness to not let an animal suffer. You did good.

    Your visitors are lucky. They will love that beautiful basket full of goodies.

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  25. An impressive hamper John - very "natural" and so un-Tesco. However, I was surprised you had jars of PICKED onions. Most people prefer PICKLED onions. I am nothing if not critical.

  26. What a treasure trove in that basket!

    I can skin, pluck, gut and dress but I cannot dispatch so I am a utter failure, too. We usually have an assembly line and each does a different deed, makes it easier on all of us.

    It is humane to remove an animal from its misery but it is always difficult.

    It is not a bad thing to have a heart, you know.

  27. John, I know we are still so early in this blogging relatioship and this is a premature statement but...I just love you! You are a farmer after my own heart. My husband and I are just terrible with this very situation. We just can't handle it ourselves. We love them and So live by "all things great and small." You are a wonderful famer John G Sheffield!
    Amy ~:>-

  28. You can live in the country but you have to live the country to be a real country lad.

    Don't fret about it! Some of us can do these things dispassionately but feel tearful when (like today) we came across an abandoned domestic white and brown rabbit in a highway rest stop.

    If it hadn't been raining and the grass quite slippery I would have caught it and brought it home as there is a young boy across the road who would have loved it for a pet!

  29. Anonymous5:23 am

    I love the image of you sitting with Ms. Ghost Hen in your lap, stroking her and being with her gently before she died. You returned her to some dignity when she couldn't get up. Thank you for that. Personally, I'd so much rather be put out of my misery by someone who cared. Otherwise it would be hard AND lonely instead of just hard.
    Your artichokes turned out beautiful! Happiest of anniversaries to you and Chris and may the celebration with family be everything you hope for. Dia

  30. I know the feeling..I have had to do many things that I would rather not..and frankly I don't feel bad when I call for a neighbor to do the hardest jobs anymore. I get softer and softer rather than the opposite. Here Here to the Softies!!


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