Wednesday, 28 July 2010

An Icey day in July!

On Saturday and Sunday, Anastasia and I travelled to Tebay for her Icelandic Horse at Midfield Farm near Tebay. Midfield Farm is the home of the Siamber Wen Icelandic Horse Stud where Janice and Tim Hutchinson breed and train their amazing and beautiful Icelandic Horses.
Their herd numbers as many as forty Icelandics and they look fabulous high on the moorland above the farm.
Anastasia and her Icelandic Siamber Wen Trausti (born and bred at Midfield Farm) had a fairly successful competition and came fourth in the TREC obstacle test on the first day. They would have come higher had they not been penalised for being too fast!
The highlight for me was seeing Trausti in his first Pace Race. Icelandics are 5 gaited horses, the fastest gait being the flying pace, and boy is it fast, not to mention impressive to watch!
Unfortunately Trausti decided not to go right into pace on the day (I've seen him do it back up at Brenfield) but instead demonstrated a lovely canter.
One of the other horses present was setting a fine example however complete with the characteristic impressive exaggerated leg action. Her poor rider lost her stirrups!
We'll have to see how Trausti does once he has had further training in Pace!
My lines for this week are... I cannot afford an Icelandic Horse... I cannot afford an Icelandic Horse... I cannot afford... ...!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

South of the border

Whisper and I are on a little adventure this weekend. We are helping our friend Anastasia at an Icelandic horse show. But right now we are doing some early morning exploring of the fields behind her house in North Yorkshire. The landscape here is so typically rural England!

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Wild pudding

These light evenings with their glorious sunsets often tempt Chris and I to give the dogs late night strolls.
 If you walk to the top of the hill behind our house you can see right over to the Isle of Jura to the west; across the Moine Mhor National Nature Reserve to the mountains and the Isle of Mull beyond to the north;
 down the Crinan Canal towards Loch Fyne to the east
 and to the shimmering lochs deep in Knapdale Forest to the south.
 It is simply beautiful; and to make the place even more tempting to visit, the bilberry bushes are laden with fruit at the moment.
Bilberries are just like blueberries. They are also called blaeberries in other parts of the country. They may be small but they have a delicious sweet flavour and the effort that has to go into collecting them is well worth it for the prize.
From a very young age, all of us Holden kids were brought up  to spot a bilberry at fifty paces and not to give up our picking patch until we've found every last one. Don't worry we're not being mean to the birds and beasts, there are more than enough to go around!
I'm not sure how chuffed dad would be at Fox's keen interest in bilberry picking!
Whisper doesn't get what the fuss is about at all.
She is far more interested in rolling in nameless muck and racing round like a loony!
We managed to pick a pretty good tub full of bilberries, despite the number that got eaten before reaching the pot!
Chris put them to very yummy use :o)

Thursday, 15 July 2010

WOW! What a bug!!!

I just had to share my photos of this amazing insect with you all.
It's an Ichneumon also known as a Sabre Wasp: to be specific this is Rhyssa persuasoria which translated from Latin means persuasive burglar!
Despite its fearsome appearance, this is a harmless beast to humans. That long appendage is an ovipositor (egg-laying tube) which is used to bore into wood and deposit an egg onto a horntail larvae. the horntail is another scary-looking but harmless insect that is found in pine forests around Knapdale.

The female ichneumon looks for hosts, which live within fallen timber. It isn't fully understood how she finds them: she may detect them through the smell of their droppings, or by sensing their vibrations within the wood. However she does it, the accuracy with which she locates them is remarkable. When she finds the right spot, she drives her slender ovipositor into the wood (which can be inches thick) by rotating the two halves backwards and forwards very rapidly. She lays one egg next to or on the host larvae. 

She's what I call one cool bug!!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Herding Cats

My Shetland lambs are an unruly bunch.
They are not interested in eating hard feed with their mothers at this stage, the grass is too good and they are still suckling.
And so when it comes to getting them in the pen, they turn into wild little things resembling gazelles or mountain goats.
For some reason the boys are easier to catch than the girls...

but not all of them!
BTW Michelle: that's a polled ram lamb on the right in the photo below!
The lambs on the outside peer in with expressions of "what are you doing in there?" on their little woolly faces.
I give in, new pen set up needed!
At least I the girls behaved themselves and I got half sheared before the heavens opened and the rain poured yet again.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Home on the range

Alfie is becoming quite a pro at helping out with the sheep.
He doesn't spook when the lambs run between his legs,
and is great at carrying the feed up to the field for me.
Tolly however, is not so keen. He's going to great lengths to combat his "little man" syndrome and stay at the top of his flock!
Don't worry Tolly, you're still top sheep here, even when you're on the ground!

Midsummer Arrival

Meet Solfari!
He's a pure bred Icelandic Horse born to my friend Anastasia's mare Reice on the solstice.
His name means "day light" in Icelandic.
What a cheeky little character he is. Very independent, very brave, and rather too inquisitive for his own good!
Here he is having a man to man chat with Anastasia's husband Dave.
Anastasia plans to keep this little chap and I'm looking forward to seeing how he grows up. He;s a proper little colt already though and will take some handling!