Roadshow 2016

This times last year we were out and about with Spillers Weigh clinics, helping people get ready for Spring feeding.  What a great two days we had learning how to body condition score, taking the fear out of sugar in feed and lots of cuddles (and treats!)

Then there was our Meet ‘n’ Greet evening with Spillers and Verm-X.  There was lots of myth busting done that evening.

If you would like Spillers to visit your yard and give good impartial advice contact them here.

Tiggi x

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Mother’s Day Treat

17553838_1499829613412580_6635011570557394199_nNot sure that the hubby has quite got this Mothering Sunday thing down to a tee yet.  He suggested that we close the shop for the day, the first time ever since the shop opened.  How lovely I thought, I might get a lie in.  No such luck.  At an ungodly hour the alarm went off and Scott was up and out of the house to go fishing. I told him “I Love you, but you are mad to get up at this time – have fun”.

 

16387287_1177014752418703_4806954421200112916_nThe plan had been to go back to sleep for a few more hours.  It was Leon who had other plans this time.  He had heard the Landy leave and as there was light in the sky, according to little man it was time to get up.  I was going to need a lot of coffee, so thought I would treat myself to an ‘Uncle Pat’s’ coffee, or two (Ok so I overdosed on coffee).  No breakfast in bed for me, there were jobs to do.

We had my mum, my mother in law and grandmother in law coming for lunch, so there was tidying, cleaning and table setting to be done.  Thankfully I had planned ahead.  The menu for the day was Cheese stuffed pasta shells from The Pioneer Woman, homemade tear and share garlic bread, and a green salad, followed by Brownie Cheesecake (a recipe I had spied in Tesco magazine) and raspberries.  All of it, bar the bread, was already prepped as I had started on Friday evening.  Therefore, I spent the morning of Mother’s Day making bread (which I love to do), entertaining the child, preparing the house and drinking lots of coffee.

The husband returned from his morning out just in time for guests arriving and to get the drinks poured.  Have to admit the meal was delish, even if I do say so myself.  Though everybody else did agree as they tucked in, there was clean plates all round, always a good sign.  I forgot to photo the cheesecake – oops.  The meal and conversation was in full flow, just didn’t think to pick my phone up.  We have been eating the cheesecake up for last two nights, it is sooooooooooo good he he he he.

The hubby did redeem himself later.  There were no flowers or chocolates for me, but a new book to read.  Not one I had hinted at, but a carefully chosen one by my boys, all about food and set in Scotland. 10/10 for this one for this one Scott, I am really enjoying it.  The best was yet to come as the following morning had been set aside for me to go riding for the first time in about 12 months. Happy Days

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Thank you Scott & Leon, love you both lots.

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Tiggi x

 

 

Days off

What they don’t tell you when you start planning your own small business, is that days off become a rarity.  At certain times of the year they are even like rocking horse poo!  You will plan your business hours, and create an ideal schedule of when you will get all the jobs done that are required to create a successful business, and then reality hits.  Some days you will be so busy, but you will feel like you have achieved the square root of f**k all.  Which leaves your “spare” time dealing with all the jobs you couldn’t get done during business hours.

Mondays (our day off), are frequently spent visiting suppliers, business meetings, seeing the accountant, doing the books, working on the website and social media or at trade shows, fully utilizing the hours our son is at school.   All the while we try to eek out some time as a couple, even if it is just a brew together somewhere, if we are lucky we might even find time for lunch out.  Rushing back in time for end of school from whatever errand we have been on, to grab some family time.  Then the following morning the merry go round starts all over again.

Don’t get me wrong, we love our shop, but we are dictated to by the ebb and flow of retail life. Which means time off and holidays are a rarity rather than the norm, and everything has to be planned around your busy times of the year.   There is always that worry that you are just one bad day/month away from losing it all, and that the one time you do shut will be the time that your customer wants you to be open.  As we all know, you rarely get a second bite of the apple, if you aren’t there when the customer expects you to be they don’t come back again.  Be warned though, as logical as this is to other business owners, there will be friends and family who just don’t “get it”.

Anyway, my body decided that this Monday was going to be a true day off as I was poorly.  The last time we relaxed on a Monday was during half time when we had a “ahhh eff it” moment and decided to go visit some friends after the shop shut on Sunday.  As it was half term, there was no rush to get back for school, so we packed our overnight bags and headed off to sunny Hertfordshire.  After a warm welcome from the two horses, a rather large dog wearing a door (he still thinks that he is a puppy and can fit through a cat flap!), a beautiful timid greyhound, two free ranging hens that are afraid of the dark, numerous cats and of course Andy & Trish, we settled in to the old farmhouse.

Andy had recorded the Six Nations Rugby that day for catch up after dinner, so we were free to explore.  I naturally headed to the stables to have cuddles with J-Lo and Colonel, followed by a nosy round Trish’s craft shop.  The boys disappeared into the numerous garages – surprise.  Before we knew it the light was fading and it was time to retire to an evening of hearty home cooked food, good real ale, a roaring log stove, rugby and easy conversation.

The following morning was a slower start to the day than we are used to.  A lazy morning which included a late cooked brunch, with our son performing the role of commis chef, numerous brews and a break down of the match from the night before. With full belly’s it was time to head out and play football in the horse’s field, with two dogs in tow.  Don’t worry, we utilized Andy & Trish’s pasture management tactics of fencing off large areas and played inside them. While two dogs ran around, and around, and around! Colonel and J Lo happily grazed near by wondering what we were doing with their football.  The view across the valley was stunning.

Spring fever started to show in the horses, Colonel most definitely had the wind up his tail.  We decided to leave them to the football and go for a walk around the local lanes.

As we turned off the main track, a field was being ploughed and we counted 16 Red Kites ! All flying above making the most of the turned earth giving up it’s worms, and completely ignoring us.  It was an amazing sight watching their airborne ballet as they swooped and dived.

We found lots of signs of Spring around us, places to explore and mud!

Before long it was time to head back to the farmhouse for a final brew and a slice of Parsnip and Pecan cake (made by me as a thank you).SAMSUNG

Then it was time to trundle back up the motorway, with a sleepy but happy Leon and both of us feeling a lot more relaxed and centered.  The power of a short break with good friends to revive and refresh never ceases to amaze.  Thank you again to Andy & Trish for understanding and generosity of time.

Tiggi x

P.S. Sorry Trish we got your dogs so very muddy – lol

 

(P>S Trish –

 

 

The Biggest Loser- Horse Edition!

Most people will watch their horse’s weight fluctuate throughout the year despite their best efforts to maintain a constant weight. However, Rupert has been weighed by professionals on 3 separate occasions, and the results range by 100kg!

Rupert has always been a chunky cob standing at approximately 15.1/15.2hh (one of my jobs this summer is to measure him properly!), but he became very ill just 3 months after I bought him. He had an issue with his liver (although the problem was never diagnosed, he had symptoms matching atypical myopathy aka sycamore seed poisoning) and his weight and muscle just seemed to drop overnight. He was weighed just 2 weeks after his health became more stable, where he weighed 492kg. And quite frankly, he looked awful. It looked like the life had been sucked out of him and his muscles had just vanished, especially over his quarters.

He gradually began to put his weight back on, but by summer, he had definitely but too much back on! A combination of 2 weeks off due to my summer holiday and having to move into a field with plenty of grass proved to be a problem in the weight department, despite having soaked hay when he came back into his stable during the day.

Rupert hacking- fat

When he moved yards, there was a 2 week quarantine period. Now my plan was to hack him around the village and lunge him in the field he was staying in as it was fairly flat. I attempted to lunge him for the first time and ended up being dragged along as he decided to gallop up the field and promptly decided that I wouldn’t even try to hack him until I could school him for a few days as I didn’t have a death wish! So, another 2 weeks off work for Rupert.

However, when he finally moved up to the yard after his quarantine period, he was the fattest he’d ever been. Not morbidly obese, but definitely something that could not be ignored. When the weigh scales came to the yard just a few weeks after I’d arrived, I was shocked to find out that Rupert now weighed 595kg. He’d gained a whole 100kg. Yes, when he was first weighed he was poorly and he was now at his heaviest, but I was still shocked. It just goes to show how quickly it can pile on!

So I decided Rupert had to go on boot camp. With 2 jobs and on my final year of A-Levels, as well as trying to see my friends and not ditch them for the horse (they know who is my favourite anyway!), it can be hard to find time to ride him every day. I aimed to exercise him 5 or 6 days a week, and on the days I didn’t have time to ride, I always popped him on the lunge for 15 minutes just to burn a few extra calories. When I can, we go on hacks with Haylie when she takes the hunters out, so we both come back sweating and rather tired as we try to keep up with the very fit hunting horses. I’d often go down to the yard in the evening and ride before it got dark, meaning that I was ready to leave at 5.30 once I’d mucked out and done all of my jobs as well as ride. Knowing that Rupert scoffs his haynet, I can’t bear the thought of leaving him at 5.30 and being certain that’ll his net will be finished by 6.30 and he’ll be stood for the rest of the night without any food. Luckily, the yard is so close to my house that I gave him a tiny net with small holes when I left my the yard to pass him over, then I’d go back at 7.30 to give him more hay that was double netted and his dinner comprising of a handful of Spillers Happy Hoof Molasses Free and Spillers Daily Balancer.

And this is the result:

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Rupert 10.03.17 (with a tail swish as I bribed him with a carrot to put his ears forward!)

He was weighed just last week and he’s lost 55kg since the last weigh bridge visit. There’s still a way to go with his fitness and as he’ll be living out 24/7 very soon, I’m going to have to watch his weight very careful. I’ll have plenty more time to ride soon though- that’s what study leave is for, right?!

For any equine dietary advice, I can’t recommend Spillers Care-Line enough!

Charlotte x

Why Log Burners must be female!

Well, the weather has changed again in this ‘can’t make it’s mind up’ month we are having.  We go from grey and damp, to sunny and crisp. It is up,down, shake it all around.  Anyway, Spring isn’t far off now, the signs are all there as the snowdrops bashfully bow their heads and the daffodils begin to creep above the ground.

Yet winter isn’t quite finished with us as temperatures are due to fall to around freezing in rural areas over the next few nights.  It’s already blooming cold out there and very wet.  However, fear not, as we have coal, logs, kindling and matches, as well as the very popular olive briquettes readily available to help keep you toasty warm.

Which led to a conversation with a regular customer, who was picking up his coal and logs, about how we use our log stoves.  Judging by his reaction (think eyebrows disappearing into hairline surprise) I obviously maximize the use of ours to the extreme.

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We all know that a log stove with a roaring fire not only warms the home, but the soul as well.  There is something hypnotically beautiful and cheering about a real flame. The light it gives off on a dark evening is most definitely conducive to a little romance and relaxation, sharing a bottle of your favorite tipple, with a few candles burning from Black Acres Soap Pantry easily makes for a little bit of #hygge.  Even the fat cat Silly Lillie gets belly up in front of the fire purring like a little motor boat. (P.S. The fireguard is not there to protect the child but the cat!  If she gets any closer to the fire we will end up with roast cat one day!! She’s singed her whiskers already – love that daft cat).

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On a more practical level, once our stove is lit I use it to do more than just warm the home.  To start with the kettle is filled and placed in position to keep hubby in brews, make hot toddy’s in the “man flu” & cold season, and top up hot water bottles when the child is poorly too.  The clothes are set out to dry around it, saving money not using the tumble dryer, and muddy wet boots and gloves are set nearby to dry again for the following day.

SAMSUNGI also cook on our stove.  Bread is left to prove and rise on the fire guard, tagines gently slow cook throughout the day filling the house with delicious spicy aromas, anything that needs to be boiled (pasta, veg,rice) goes in a pan on the top, stews and soups are left to simmer to perfection, and milk warmed for hot chocolate ready for when we come in from the cold.

Then we burn as much practical waste (veg peelings, tea bags, paper, cardboard etc), which helps to heats us and reduces how much we put out in the bins.  Finally, did you know that the ashes from your fire has uses too?  We tip ours onto the dormant veg patch to enrich the soil (let the worms dig it in) and save some to go around the new sprung veg to help deter slugs and snails.  You can even save your fire ash and use it to create dust baths for you chickens during the summer months.

Therefore, the obvious conclusion is that the log stove must be a female! Quite simply because of the ability to seriously multitask! Hahahahahahaha.

Tiggi x