Friday, 18 November 2016

Ten Years a-Blogging!

Yep. November the 18th. It was on this day exactly ten years ago that I first stuck a rather wary toe into the unknown waters of blogging. I can remember I didn't have a clue and I can tell that from those first posts with titles like "Bear with me on this...." and no photographs. I have been a diary-writer all my life and I thought it should be fairly a-kin to that. I had recently bought our Westie bitch 'Deefer'. I thought it would be cute/clever/funny to go exploring the 'blogosphere' as if seeing it through her eyes, so my cast of characters in the early posts had me as 'Dad', Liz and 'Mum', our old dogs as 'Big Sister' and so on.

First ever post. 
I have only 2 bits of advice for anyone thinking that they might try blogging and the first would be don't do that "cute", speaking-as-if-you-were-a-pet thing. It quickly became rather limiting, not funny and plainly rather silly. It also got a bit complicated finding new pseudonyms for everyone. I was quickly looking for a good break-point where I could bail out as 'Deefer' and take over the keyboard myself. The other option was to stop altogether and then, after a break, return, as if by magic, as a human. In the end I took the 30,000 page-views point. It was as good a land mark as any.

My other advice, for what it's worth, is make sure you have something to say; a story to tell or opinions bursting out of you that you just HAVE to share with someone. There is nothing worse than a blog post which says "I'm bored". If you've nothing to say, then park the thing till you have something. If you have an urge to write then this can be easier said than done, but I know this blog flagged a bit when it was all "went to work, came home, walked the dogs, ate, went to bed". It is so much better when I got to 'moved to Ireland' and 'ripped the house to bits and rebuilt it' or we started to accumulate livestock. The latter also made for much better pictures accompanying the text.

There's always food! This a rolled rib roast.
Anyway, here we are, ten years, 1794 posts and 156,884 page views later. I am obviously never destined to be a best seller, I never went "viral" (as they now say) and I have never hob-nobbed it with JK Rowling but I chug along with around 30 people looking in at each post. Mainly you are friends and family and I am eternally grateful for your support, comments and loyalty. Once we were in Ireland the blog also quickly became a sub for a "letter home to Mum" - she gets colour prints of all these posts (thanks to my very generous, UK-based bro' ) and tells me she knows more about what Liz and I get up to now we are 500 miles away than when we were 45 miles away in Kent.

It is quite tricky to get a pic of the 5 sheep as Silas always
comes sprinting over to say 'Hello'.
Meanwhile, back out in the bitterly cold, slightly snowy landscape, the 18th November is also significant as being Day 18 of Silas's visit. You will recall from an earlier post that ewes 'cycle' around a 13-18 day heat and, had they been on heat when he showed up, by today all 4 of them should have come fully on and been 'seen to'. We would now be changing the raddle colour and watching him for another 18 days to see did any of the ewes "return to service". If they picked up the new radde colour that would mean that they had not been made pregnant last time round (and now might be).

A light dusting of snow last night.
In practise it is proving to be a lot less exact and scientific than I thought it would. We have not seen Silas chasing anyone about in any convincing way or mounting anyone. He quickly 'washed off' the raddle colour on the wet grass and none of the ewes have ever been convincingly 'slapped' with the blue paint. Never mind. The lad is staying in there till, probably, the other side of Christmas so he has plenty of time to grow a bit in size and in confidence and, if he doesn't actually 'score' this time he will, we hope, have had some fun learning and practising and he will be all the better for it next winter. For the moment, anyway, he is the only show in town.

The weather has taken a turn for the worse and Thursday saw us getting some first sleet. There was a dusting of white on the car, log piles and the grass this morning and we had to scrape the windows of the car clear for Liz to drive to work. Local comment has it that this is "very early"; they were all enjoying the very mild weather.

3 whooper swams dramatically lit against the dark forestry
and storm clouds
The Whooper swans are back - our winter visitors who join is each November from their Iceland nesting grounds. We first see a few flying in to the local lough (L.Feigh) and then notice their fluting chatter of an evening after dark, which comes to us on the wind or in the stillness. I nipped down to the lough armed with the long lens and caught a few reasonable pictures of them glowing white in the sunshine against the dark of the forestry and an impressive storm cloud. I was also gifted a flock of wigeon - another winter visitor (a duck this time).

In our own birds we are nearly through processing the Hubbard meat chickens and we are very pleased with them. The (5) roosters have all come in with oven ready weights of 2.4 to 2.8 kg and the (7) hens just under 2 kg each. We had one of the hens roasted last night, when a leg each and a breast between us did us proud, so the remaining breast, wings and stripped bits served as cold left overs tonight with garlic bread and our regular Bulgarian "shopska" salad (like Greek salad but with no olives!)

Mute swans down on the lough.
Ah well, I hope you join me in wishing this blog a Happy Birthday for the first ten years. I am not sure I can promise another ten but it is with me for the fore-see able future.


Noel Cronin said...

Happy blog birthday from a non-family and non-friend follower from down the country!
Can't remember how I came across your blog but have been enjoying your journey.
My wife & I are fellow smallholders down in Clare so we enjoy reading about what you are both getting up to and comparing notes :)
It is very readable and always entertaining, so hats off to you both.
I look forward to the next 10 years of your posts!
Keep it up, and fair play!
Noel from Clare.

Matt Care said...

Well, Thank You very much for those kind words, Noel and the Good Lady. I am glad you enjoy it.