It’s been a while since I last posted. My time has been taken up with work, cottage improvements and nursing poorly animals.
After debating for the last year about having Bunter castrated, Chris and I finally came to the decision to go ahead and booked him for the op. The deciding factor was that we honestly had no control when we left the house! He is bouncing back remarkably well and prancing around in what can only be described as a baby grow!
The same day Bunter went in for his op while sitting at my desk in the office worrying about him and how he was getting on, I had a call with my farrier who had been up to do a trim for my Sussex Horse Rescue pony (Bisto); my farrier was concerned that Bisto was suffering with a bad bout of laminitis (Bisto had been fine when I left the yard in the morning) he believed it had caused Bisto’s pedal bone to drop in his hoof. For those of you who are not familiar with this disease, it is a painful inflammation of tissue in a horse’s hoof that connects the hoof and the pedal bone together. The root cause of laminitis is often the high sugar levels in the spring/summer grass (also during a frost). Due to this I am always overly cautious with my horses turnout, especially Bisto who is prone to getting laminitis in order to help lessen their chances of coming down with this awful condition. Yet despite my best efforts and their rigorous turnout regime here I am with a poorly pony. It has therefore and continues to be an emotional time coming to terms with how to get Bisto through this, or if this is even the right thing to do for him at the age of 24 when he has suffered each and every summer for the last 6 years, with each year worse than the year before. Bisto is also now being tested for other diseases which may ultimately affect his ability to enjoy his retirement to the fullest. He is a very special boy to me and I want to give him the best while allowing him the greatest retirement possible. Yet in order to get him back to good health and maintain his health it would involve sever micromanagement for life, and in my eyes starving him (he loves his food) and allowing him only very limited turnout as well as being on drugs for the rest of his life. Like all animal owners I love my animals dearly, and will do all I can for them all the while I believe that they have a decent quality of life (my eldest horse is 33)! I simply love Bisto far too much to subject him to a limited life. Everyone who knows and loves Bisto and I have said the kindest thing is to let him go. I feel torn, heartbroken and lost, my heart is telling me one thing while my mind the other. For now I watch as he grows more bored as the days pass, hungry and constantly trying to find a way to break out of his stable to get to food and his friends. I agreed with my vet I would consider next steps over the course of the long weekend. I will be making such a fusss of my golden boy during this time.
I have always loved foraging for fresh sessional produce, and autumnal foraging is my absolute favourite! There are a plethora of items free for the picking, and all around three weeks early it would appear this year.
While out walking last weekend we never left the cottage without a basket to collect our finds either up at my mum’s farm or down at the local towpath in Loxwood.
How we will use them: crumbles and freezing to use in smoothies.
How we will use them: apple and blackberry crumble, and for sharing very occasionally with the horses (too much sugar for Bisto right now though).
How we will use them: sloe gin! I love sipping on a sloe gin by the fire of a winters evening. My mum makes the best sloe gin and all of us on the yard at Christmas time become very merry on it indeed. I will be making this for the first time with my mum in the next couple of days; will let you know how it comes along. As the gin takes two months to mature, it will be ready just in time for Christmas and can make a great homemade Christmas present for a gin lover in your life. Additionally as the gin tastes better the longer it is left if you make a large batch this will see you through until next winter!
How we will use them: wine! I feel elderberries are a much underrated berry. They make a lovely wine (especially the one by Lyme Bay) again this to me is best enjoyed by the fire on a winters evening. I will be sharing with you the recipe I followed soon.
Bunter is proof that everyone can get involved in foraging, he enjoyed picking the blackberries, only he did not share his finds, and then became lazy and started eating all of our pickings too.
It was not only Bunter who was after our produce.
So what are you waiting for? Grab a basket and get out there picking!
Love for now Emma & the Dals xxx