Could I call myself a consultant?

Had a call from a concerned local gamekeeper about the pheasants he was rearing, I went had a look advised him and all seems to be ok - "just when I thought I was out they pull me back in" I love it really haha.
Two words on the estate now ‘grass’ and ‘cut’.

A "W" Christmas!!

It's "W" Christmas alright "W" for wet that is.Its been one weather front after another passing through us at the moment, rain and gale force winds at times - knowing much of the country is suffering the same is no consolation!
My partridge had a premature release when one night their pen was smashed up like balsa wood, but they are doing fine and enjoying their freedom.
We are now well on with the shooting season, so far we have been lucky apart from one day with the rain and winds. Both aspects of the recent weather have a dramatic effect on shoot days, the birds get soaked and don't want to fly and strong winds make them fly down low.
In between shoot days I have been in the mill putting up Christmas trees and decorations ready for the guests.

Christmas and new year are most usually booked well ahead - the peace and solitude away from the mayhem is a great attraction and I know I live here but I totally agree with our guests!

A happy Christmas and a good New Year to you all !

first shoot and new chicks

First Shoot

With the first shoot of the season at the very beginning of next month, this month is all about organising.
Beaters, shooters, vehicles, dogs and food:- everything has to be ready to go when that first day comes.

Believe you me there is an awful lot to organise if shoot days are to run smooth, I hope I've got all my preparation done.

The water is still low but the forecast indicates we may get rain and with it a rise of water to hopefully see some fish being caught at last.

I've hatched some Guinea fowl chicks from eggs off the current flock of birds that roam around the estate, 28 chicks in total so my rearing season will be extended by the looks of it.

Late bookings in the mill have seen a last minute flourish so that has been really great , good weather always seems to make people find a few extra days for a break so let's hope it continues.

Domestic duties

It's when I'm collecting and clearing the rearing field that I realise how much work went into putting it out!

I have been standing at the cleaning bath and tubs for what seems like days at the moment. I keep saying in my head over and over, (as I do at the end of every season ) " It won't be long before your putting it all back out again Carl " Oh please I wish I could give myself a break.

The Mill has had more or less a full occupancy for all the summer, I think we must be doing something right when most of the people are returning guests. When we do get a vacant week I will be inside re-painting, fixing and replacing generally trying to keep the property up to scratch.

It's back on with the marigolds for me now, only joking I never wear marigolds while washing everything I have disposables instead.

Basking in Sunshine

Basking in Sunshine.

Basking in the sunshine? You must be kidding; on any game farm August is a busy, busy month.

Although my birds are out on the shoot now is the time for my customers to receive their birds.

So it's some early morning starts, ( not that is any different for me ) catching birds, crating them up and getting them out to various shoots. Stress, ( the birds) can be the biggest killer on catching up days so we try to keep everything as quiet as possible and be quick and efficient. It has never been for the faint hearted going into the shelters with hundreds of birds flying everywhere and I've seen some bad cuts caused by the pheasants over the years.

The warm weather continues hence the water is so low a pair of ankle boots would see you across the river with dry feet on the other side. In consequence, fishing has been poor this season so far, very few people have been out even trying to catch a salmon.

I think the one thing that has seen more action this year more than any other is the barbaque ! The aroma of cooking (sometimes burning ) food seem to be constantly wafting past my house every night.

Well I'm away to get the plasters out before I head back down to the rearing field I will keep my fingers crossed

Owl, swifts,fly catchers and blackbirds

Hot, hot, hotter.

This valley is a real sun trap in this weather as anyone who sits on the decking at the mill will tell you.

Late bookings to stay at the mill have been very good, I don't think the BBQ has seen as much use as this in years, lets hope for this weather every year ha! - if only.

Pheasants look good, almost ready to leave. My birds are out and already a tawny owl had a nice feast on some of my flock the first night out but that's the way it goes. Not at all nice to find a line of birds killed and not even eaten.

I've had a tremendous amounts of grass cutting to do with the sunshine and a few showers, great for us and better for grass! The new cutter I have for the back of the quad has been a God send.

The kestrel I saw the other day feeding youngsters looked fantastic, I've had swifts,fly catchers and blackbirds all take advantage of my open shed to produce at least one if not two broods of chicks, always love to see them fly out for the first time - some needing a little help and the thanks their mother gave me:- a dive bomb on my shoulder, don't worry it will wash out.

Check those Knees!

Things are starting to look up weather wise, my shorts are out and its warm.
Any of you that have visited us, will on most occasions be used to me buzzing about on the quad wearing shorts in all weathers, I seriously think I was born to live in a much better climate than we have here and yes I can hear you all saying much the same thing.

The gosling is growing fast and it will shortly be time to move the ducks and geese into their summer residence outside my house, it’s much easier than using the strimmer! The sheep too are doing a grand job in that respect.

I'm just starting to erect the rearing field ready for the pheasant chicks arriving so I will be keeping my fingers crossed the weather stays good, if only!

New Life

It is the start of a new life, no not for me, (unless the boss is not telling me something I should know).

A cold spring has sprung and new life seems to start everywhere around the place, If you have never stayed here at this time of year, come,( with warm clothes)- and do it.

The geese have already hatched their first youngster and the ducks are laying eggs in abundance,trees and flowers are again showing signs of life and the snowdrops along the entrance road were amazing this year. We are waking to dawn chorus in the morning along with squawking guinea fowl who have taken up residence on the river bank at the back of the house. Pheasant hens are being closely guarded by their male partners, partridge have paired too.

For me now its all about planning pheasant orders, shoot dates and everything that goes with that, in the main that will no doubt be rising prices from suppliers.

The fishing has being very quiet so far due in the main to lack of water but also a very poor run of salmon this spring.
I hope now for a good run of fish in the back end of the season for the guys who fish here.

That's me away now paintbrush in hand.

Weather Obsession

“Summer” someone shouted the other day, ‘don't bet on it !’ I shouted back.

I must admit the last few days seem to have being nice, sunny and warm - ( I said that very quietly….).

Just looking back through my previous blogs, maybe you can notice a theme? Yes.. weather.
Maybe it looks as if I'm obsessed with it but for anybody that has livestock to look after it’s all important and can be crucial to a good shooting season.

Perhaps you think , ‘well surely it doesn't do any harm for the fishing’ but you would be wrong.
A river that has being rising and falling two and three times a week is very unsettling for the salmon as quite a few of our rods have discovered this last month.

While out feeding pheasants this last week or two I've seen an abundance of wildlife. Roe deer seem to be everywhere, many have this years fawns with them; they are lovely to see and any spilled wheat is quickly cleaned up by them. I've spotted the otters a few times too, fishing outside the mill and one of the badgers has taken to sitting by the mill stone on most mornings, quickly making a run for it when he sees me heading up there.