Alas, more sad news:
Mum & Dad’s beloved little Birman cat, Jasmine, has finally curled up those pretty little snowshoe paws for the last time, having suffered a long illness which finally got the better of her. But she certainly lived a fine life, & to a ripe old age to boot, the darling, sweet Puss; & was truly, dearly loved by us all. And we will so miss her funny, hale of ‘meow’, which sounded uncannilly as if she was bidding you a cheery little “hellooo”.
The Birman cat is a breed with fascinating provenance. Legend has it that a Siamese-type feline was kept as Temple Cat in a Burmese Buddhist monastery, several centuries ago. However, one day the temple was stormed by government troops (sounds familiar…?) intent on murdering the Ajahn (Abbot), who in meditation was lightly touching the statue of the Buddha. When the troops found & killed him, the little cat put her paws upon her kind, loving master & at the moment of his death her paws turned pure white, as his spirit entered the faithful little creature. So perhaps Jasmine felt, with all that has been happening, it was time her spirit returned to Burma to be of assistance to the gentle monks in their strife? Anyway, being cared for by my parents & loved as she always will be, she certainly earned her ‘paws’ in this life.
The little cat has been buried beside her brother Jasper, at the bottom of the garden. Mum is going to plant a rose over her grave; but with a name like Jasmine, she surely deserves that very flower. So as my contribution, I’ve ordered two types of jasmine; in total six plants, which should now be on their way to Mum & Dad: three delicate little coral-blushed Jasmine Stars & three of the rich ivory Clotted Cream variety, which has an exceptionally powerful scent. I’m hoping that not only may the prettiest grace Jasmine’s grave but that the others can be planted at strategic points around the garden – that way, with Mum’s sight loss, she will still be able to find her way around her lovely lawns, using the rich scent of the jasmine as a sensory pathway.
I did the milking whilst Tony restocked the hay store adjacent to the goats’ accommodation. Today we had to break into the 2007 bales; I must say as suspected, this hay is not as good quality as the previous year’s crop although I know the goats will eat it quite happily. However as Tony remarked, at least we have hay at all – which at one time was quite a concern. We just cannot afford another Summer (not that I can recall the weather of the last few months meriting that description) like that which has just passed.
Then it was back to the dreaded receipts, going through every scrap of paper accumulated since we arrived here, one by one – a ponderous chore whilst Tony recorded their details as he compiles the VAT return (which incidentally must be in by Thursday, or we get fined £100 – he is certainly cutting it a bit too fine for my comfort!).
We had a welcome break when Angus, our vet, arrived: ironically visiting in order to deal with a break, himself…..it was time for Assie – the goat who broke her leg a few weeks ago – to have her plaster cast taken off at last. This is quite a delicate operation to perform as the plaster as to be cut through with a small circular saw; not easy on a wriggling goat. But because she trusts us, & soon realised it wasn’t going to hurt her, she kept quite still & was generally very well behaved. Angus was delighted with her progress; in fact to look at the leg you wouldn’t know she’d ever broken it, as it was literally as good as new – so thank you Angus, for your skill in saving an excellent, hard-working, sweet-natured member of our Milkforce staff! It evidently felt a bit odd for Assie, though – much lighter, I expect – & she hasn’t started putting weight back on it as yet; but thank goodness she’s doing so well.
A couple of the other goats needed some routine treatments – Woodie, one of the other milkers, needed ‘flushing out’ as she’s still suffering from excessive discharge so may have a minor infection; & the little girls who’d been visited by their amorous little brother last week, were each given a shot to encourage them into oestrus so we can make sure nothing untoward happened. Angus bounced off with his characteristic cheery smile & seemingly endless energy; I did the evening chores, & Tony resumed work with grim determination on the VAT return.
As it was a mild evening I opted to forego the youngest kids’ evening bottle; they are pretty well weaned now & more interested in their concentrates & hay, than they are in the milk – & I don’t want to have to keep bottle-feeding through the cold days of November, when it will be more difficult to persuade them from their ‘creature comforts’. And as they are already almost as big as their older siblings, with the vet complimenting us on how well they’ve grown, I think I can safely make this move now.
As we’re trying to run down the freezer in preparation for the next porky extravaganza, I’d unearthed some lamb’s kidneys for Tony’s supper. As he thoroughly enjoyed them, & it’s a different ‘take’ on the usual devilled or creamed kidneys recipes, I thought I’d include it here as a warming autumnal supper dish:
OFFAL RECIPE: KIDNEYS IN TARRAGON & ORANGE SAUCE
8 x lambs’ kidneys, soaked, skinned, cored & halved; dash of oil for frying; 1 x plump red onion, chopped; 1 x pungent clove home-grown garlic, crushed; 300ml / ½ pint lamb, chicken or veg stock; splash of white wine vinegar; ½ tsp mustard powder; generous pinch of cayenne pepper or own spiced seasoning (I use a combination of cardamom, chilli, coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, ground ginger, mustard seed, paprika, pepper & pimento – wow); 2 x tsp tarragon, fresh, chopped (or 1 x tsp if you only have dried); 1 x zest of an orange, freshly grated; 1 x tbsp orange juice, fresh from said fruit; 100g / 4oz chunky mushrooms, quartered; 2 x sticks celery, diced into crunchy, bite-size pieces; salt & freshly-ground pepper, to taste.
Heat the oil in a good-sized frying pan, add the onion & garlic & fry over a moderate heat for 1 or 2 minutes. Dollop in the kidneys & fry gently for another couple of minutes, stirring constantly but carefully so as not to damage the kidneys. Pour in the stock & wine vinegar, along with the mustard powder, spicy seasoning or cayenne & tarragon, then add the orange juice & grated zest. Plop in the mushrooms, & scatter in the celery, stir well & season to taste with the salt & pepper. Bring the pan to the boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer & cook for around 15 minutes until the kidneys are tender. Serve at once, piping hot, on a bed of fluffy white rice, garnishing if desired with a blob of creme fraiche, a sprinkle of freshly-chopped parsley, & a scattering of little orange slices if you want it to look really posh. There you go – easy, tasty & filling!
So there we go – the sun set on another day at Ffarm Fach, albeit obscured by restless, scudding clouds as I hurried down the yard for one final check that all the animals were well & comfortable for the night. The last tentative scent of honeysuckle floated on the dark evening air – or was it, jasmine…..? Now that made me ‘paws’ for thought!