Wednesday, 30 December 2009

That's Christmas over....

We had a quiet Christmas and thanks to the snow, which finally reached a depth of 7", carol singing was cancelled and the family gathering here last Sunday has been postponed until New Years Day. Tim checked over our generator as with this much snow, we're bound to loose our electricity. It was a good job he did as one of the fuel leads had a slight weep in it. It's been replaced and the "Genni" run for several hours and so far we've not needed to use it. It's been close once or twice, the power has "dipped" for a second or so, as if there has been a power surge, a usual sign we are to loose our electricity.
Every morning has seen us carrying bales of hay and water out the the sheep, and on more than one occasion this whole process being repeated in the afternoon. Now the snow has started to thaw, we're all wallowing in mud and several of the sheep are starting to limp.
A job for this weekend is to take Finn out from the ewes and put him in his own paddock along with Cecil, Archie and Fluffy. Whilst all the sheep will be coming in to the barn we'll give them the "once over", feet trimmed and a mineral drench etc.
Brazil is already in the barn, and has been since the Sunday before Christmas, when I went to feed that morning, she didn't come to the feed trough and when I went up to her she didn't move and looked very confused. Closer inspection revealed that she had gone blind! Thankfully a couple of injections from the vet on the Monday morning and her sight slowly returned over the next few days. She's fine now but we're keeping her in just to make sure. Today she was joined by Abbi, who was limping at this morning's feed which has got worse over the day. We caught her up and looked at her foot, it felt warm, but I couldn't see anything, and as the weather has been so miserable today we felt that Abbi would be better spending some time in the barn, she didn't complain, a sign a sheep is not 100%, and it's a whole lot easier for us to catch her to check her foot. Hopefully it's nothing too serious, but on the wet ground, her hoof is soft and a small piece of grit could have got wedged up the inside of her hoof. Painful!!!!!!
Despite the snow we've managed to get a couple of jobs done, the drain in the main barn (where I'm hoping to put the pet lambs) is now laid, just needs the top covering putting on. Virtually all the wood that was in the barn is now chopped and split, the wood that I can't cut got soaked when a load of snow slipped off the wood store roof, into the barn right on top of the wood! A few dry, windy days and I'll be able to get it cut and stacked.
I wish you all a good New Year and that not too many of you are struggling with all the snow.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

More snow.....

Overnight we have another 3" of snow, which means the snow is now 5" deep, which whilst looks great but is a pig to walk in. I took this photo looking from our top field back to our house.
Deefa in the snow, but if you look at the clouds near the top of this picture, that is a warm front out at sea, as long as the wind comes from the West they will stay out at sea, but if it changes direction, i.e comes in from the East, we will get another fall of snow.
The Hobbit's tree house looking very wintry this morning.
Ghilli and Grommet enjoying the snow from the safety of their shelter
The wood seasoning outside, now under a blanket of snow.



Saturday, 19 December 2009

Snow Pictures

I took these pictures this morning, whilst we were out feeding. This top picture is looking down from the field where the gimmers are to the back field where the ewes are. For us this is not a lot of snow, just a light covering, but I know that a few miles to the west of us, further onto the moors, they have had 8" of snow.
Here are the Gimmers, noses in the feed troughs, just after I had put some sheep feed down. There are not getting a lot of concentrate, but it gets them running to us so we can quickly spot any problems etc, as well as it keeps them tame, so are supposedly easier to handle!!!!
Here are the ewes, with their coloured bums, busy eating their morning feed of sheep concentrate. Rather than feed the ewes a lot of concentrate in the last 6 weeks prior to lambing, which is the usual practice, we feed the same amount of concentrate but over a longer period, which works for us.
Couldn't resist this photo of one of our Blackies, who was pinching hay from the top of the feeder as I was refilling it this morning. We are now checking the hay racks morning and early afternoon to ensure that the sheep have sufficient hay now that the grass is covered with snow.








Wednesday, 16 December 2009

You cannot be serious!!!!!!

No John McEnroe hasn't taken over my blog, it's my response to the new quote for our farm insurance. Evidently the increase of over £250 is because we sell approx 12 lambs a year to friends for their freezer and I'm selling my fibre at farmers markets and Woolfest etc, which I thought was covered by our farm liability insurance. Needless to say I'm going to get a market trader's policy (£47) and our friends freezer can no longer contain our lamb!!!! Bah humbug!!!!!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Finn gets a new raddle colour and a limping Holly!

Firstly the limping Holly, last week Holly decided to run up the hay wall in our barn, it's 9 bales high, after our barn cat, Lady. Then jumped down from 6 bales high! Later in the day she was limping a bit and we thought she had just strained her shoulder, after carefully checking her over to make sure she was in no pain. Anyway, she was still limping 3 days later and as Deefa was booked into the vet's for his annual check up, we booked Holly in as well. The prognosis is she's bruised the heel of her foot and snapped the tendon to her middle toe. Ouch!!! There is nothing that can be done apart from rest and try and stop her from bouncing up and down! No chance on that one, Holly is like Tigger, "top made out of rubber, bottom made out of springs, bouncy bouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun!!!!!!!!!" She's on anti inflammatories for the next 2 weeks and the toe will always stick up a bit from the rest of her toes. Evidently, snapped toe tendons are a common injury in dogs.
Finn is now on his last raddle colour, blue. I don't think we will have any ewes with blue bums, Finn is not interested in any of the ewes, just interested in eating. The ewes are not paying him any attention, a sure sign they are pregnant.
We've also moved the gimmers and ewes around. With all the rain we've had just recently the fields they are in are not poached, as yet, but the grass is looking less than appetising, so the gimmers are in the top field by the common land, the ewes and Finn are in the field at the back of the house. We've also given the ewes some more mineral licks. They have had a good go at eating them, but not as much as the last one they had. It was gone within 2 days, a sure sign they needed the licks. We will keep giving them licks now right through until after lambing, just to make sure they are in tip top condition come lambing.
Now the weather is getting colder, I'm sure there was snow in the rain this morning, the sheep are starting to eat the hay with some gusto and most mornings sees Tim and I taking between 2 and 4 bales of hay out to the hay racks, and to try and stop the sheep poaching the grass around the feeders, every time the rack becomes empty, we end up pushing them further up the fields, not easy when the fields are muddy and the wheels on the hay rack have sunk into the mud!!! As yet neither of us have ended up on our "bums" in the mud from pushing the hay racks, but there is plenty of time for that to happen!!!!!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

A sucessful farmer's market

Today I was at Saltburn Farmer's market. I packed the car last night, as it was an early start this morning (had to be at the market place by 08.00). When I arrived, those of us who's stalls were outside Saltburn station, discovered there were no stalls. The company that were putting up the additional stalls were late, thankfully it all got sorted out and I was more or less ready when the market opened at 9am.
From a selling point of view it was a mixed sort of day, sometimes busy, sometimes quiet. I sold out of gloves thanks to the cold weather, the hats and scarves also sold well. I'd also taken some scarf packs kits (wool, needles and pattern) for people to knit their own, which quite a few are to appear in people's Christmas stockings this year. I did a lot of talking, met some people who went to the Textile Event at Danby back in October, they re-stocked with the fibre they'd bought then. Overall the response from the shoppers was positive and I'm eternally grateful to a member of the York Spinners Guild, who was shopping in Saltburn, by helping out on the stall this afternoon.
It would appear that I've now got a stall at this market next year when it starts again in April - Result - I think is the expression used in this instance.....

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Mad dyeing and racking wine.....

On Wednesday I heard that I've got a stall at Saltburn Farmer's market next Saturday, so I had a trip out to see my fibre supplier, where, not only did I get some more Alpaca, Jacob humbug and merino mix tops, but also a quantity of merino wool, which this afternoon I rainbow dyed.

I'm going to ball this wool up and make it into packs for people to knit their own scarves. I've yet to take some pictures of the scarf to be knitted, which I'm still knitting, then type up the pattern, before putting the kits together! Easy I have 6 days to get it all done!!!!! Haven't decided what fibre I'm going to take with me yet.
The other thing we've been doing today is racking off the sloe, bramble and bullace wines. They have all settled out and have quite a bit of sediment in the bottom of their respective fermentation jars. The sloe wine, is going to take some maturing, it's quite tart and reminds us both of very immature elderberry wine, you can taste the tannin from the fruit. The bramble wine is still quite sweet, but a lovely deep red colour and you can certainly taste the brambles. The bullace wine, or should I say Damson wine, tastes the best, still a little sweet, but already showing it's potential as a wine, which one of our neighbours says "is not one to be drunk standing up!" And we have 5 gallons of it!!!! At some point we could have a really good party!!! Or it will help out with Christmas presents next year.
This week the weather has been either wet or dry with wind. The sheep are not doing too badly with this wet weather as they have access to some shelter and it isn't really cold. We've had a couple of frosts, but nothing too serious. Finn has now covered all the ewes, he's covered Beatrix, Beniece and Ariadnne for a second time. Beatrix and Berniece are always covered twice. Finn covered Ariadnne the first night he was in with all the ewes and we suspect that she was at the end of her cycle, and in his inexperience covered her. But now we can safely say that all the ewes that have "red bums" are now pregnant and we should start lambing around the 3rd April and finish around the 27th, a normal lambing period for us. Not bad considering the problems we had with Spotty Dog.
Well I'd better finish now and get on with my knitting as I can't do it whilst watching Top Gear!!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

A day at our local Auction Mart

Today we took our 14 weathers to the Stores sale at our local auction mart. We were not sure how well they would do, but you don't know until you try, and with 68 sheep on our land, we really do need to reduce this number before the winter really sets in.
Looking round at the other sheep that were in the sale, ours weren't the largest, nor the smallest, and the prices the earlier pens of sheep were going for were not bad.
We were selling in the main ring and it quickly became apparent that because our little Shetland X's were something unusual, the bidding was very slow to get going, and though we didn't get the highest price, we got a fair price. It will pay for a tonne of sheep concentrate feed for the winter.
One thing we are now sure about, buying the Scottish Black Faced ewes was a good move, as their lambs should be more acceptable to the local mart buyers and hopefully sell for more than our Shetlands.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Rain, Rain go away.....

We woke up to rain, and it has been raining on and off all day. After we had done the morning feed and check on the stock, we checked the ditches. Some needed clearing out, but on the whole, most were coping O.K with the rain. We checked them all again at 7pm to find that the ditch that runs to the lambing barn, was starting to overflow, as it can't cope with the volume of water from the fields above us. There is a large pond slowly growing in the back field, again due to the volume of water the ditch is taking. The stream that runs along the back of our property, which normally we have a good 12ft drop down to, was only a couple of feet below the banks of our fields. I bet when we get up in the morning, the bottom of the back field will be awash!!!!
We changed the raddle colour that Finn is wearing, he's now on Orange, with only 2 Black faced ewes left to cover. We think that had we put Finn in with all the ewes at the start, he would have covered all of them within 3 weeks, which is what we want for a tight lambing programme in April. It looks like we will start lambing on the 1st April and probably finish on the 1st May. Once I know all the date will post our actual lambing dates.

It's a year today since Tim's accident...

As I sit and type this blog, a year ago today at this time I was sat at Middlesbrough hospital with Tim sorting out just how bad the damage was to his hand.
So I thought as it's been a year now I'd post a few photos of the damage Tim did to his hand.
This first X-ray shows the bones that have been "mashed by the chop saw

This shows the same bones from the side view

This one shows the metal work that the consultant used to re-build the bones.
As you can see the bone to the little finger is all metal

I think this X-ray shows the best the amount of metal work in Tim's hand.
It looks like he could get a part in the X Men films!!!!
This final photo was taken just after Tim had arrived home and shows very clearly the large skin graft that has been added to his hand.
It's this skin graft that has now become "flabby" as the swelling on the rest of his hand has gone down and is to be "tidied up" next year.
We took more photos of Tim's arm, but they are a bit gruesome!!!!!
Needless to say, today, Tim has not been doing nothing more more strenuous that putting logs on the wood burning stove and keeping the dogs company on the sofa.
The weather forecast for this week, as it was for the same time last year, is snow!!!!!
But where has this last year gone!!!!!!!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

A Wet and windy weekend

I feel that I can't really complain about the weather when you see what is happening to people's homes in Cockermouth (Cumbria). It's been wet and windy here, though our land is wet, I have known it wetter.
Yesterday was a trip into York, for me my monthly Spinners Guild meeting, where I'd been asked by a member to bring some of my exotic fibre for her to buy. Not only did she buy, but so did a few others!!! Looks like I'm going to have to have another trip across to see my fibre supplier to top up my stocks before their prices and the VAT go up.
Tim was sent on a special mission to the Early Learning Shop to purchase a Christmas present for our eldest godson's 9 month old little boy, the "Robster".Needless to say Tim was armed with a photo of the required toy so all he had to do was to ask a sales assistant where said toy was and then pay!!!! His second mission was to get 2 new printer cartridges. He managed to achieve both missions without too many problems.
Today we moved the ewes and Gimmers to new paddocks, the ewes because their existing paddock is getting a little thin, the Gimmers because they were going to be too close to Finn. Trouble is when we move the sheep we also have to move their feeding troughs, hay racks and straw down the shelters. Thankfully the rain held off until we had finished.
On Wednesday when we moved Finn in with the rest of the ewes, we also had a bit of a sort out with the lambs ear marked as "fat stock". We had 5 in the barn for the past 2 weeks where we gave them concentrate and hay. We weighed them to see how much weight they had put on. Zero weight gain, so we're not doing that again. So what to do with our "fat lambs". A discussion at our local auction mark looks like our better market may be to sell them as "stores". To that end we've separated out the 14 weathers and booked them into the special Stores sale on the 2nd December. The remaining 5 girls went in with the other Gimmers. We will take a good look at all the Gimmers next March as to which of those are suitable to be added to our breeding stock.

Friday, 20 November 2009

A spot of wood chopping

Spent an hour or so this afternoon, chain sawing some wood. Tim had a go at the slab wood (waste wood from the wood mill) and after an hour or so, we had this pile of wood ready to split.
I'm not going to split it all at once, but like today, split enough wood to burn for the evening.
Whilst we were busy with the wood, our cat Lady, was busy annoying Holly dog. She sat on the roof of the tractor and squirmed around mewing at Holly, trouble was, Lady squirmed so much she fell off the roof onto the bonnet of the tractor. There was a look of panic in Lady's eyes as she thought she was going to fall into the Holly's paws. We didn't laugh much!!!!
For those keeping a score on how many ewes Finn has served so far. Well since we put him in with all the ewes, he's covered 7 more ewes in the last 2 days!!!!!!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Spotty Dog goes home....

This morning, we took Spotty Dog away from his small flock of girls at the morning feed and "bum check". Needless to say Spotty Dog had not covered any of the ewes. So Finn is now in with all 27 of our ewes, the master of he surveys, so to speak, and no sooner was Finn in with the new girls, he very quickly started to marshall them to see if any of them were on "heat". In his inexperience, he tried to get too friendly with Alluim. She soon put him in his place with a few well placed head butts, but to his credit Finn stood his ground.
As we were loading Spotty Dog into the trailer, Finn chose that moment to "serve" one of the Scottish Black Faced ewes!!!! It seemed as if Finn was adding insult to injury for poor Spotty Dog. But it also proved that at least one of the Scottish Black Faced ewes wasn't pregnant. It will be interesting to see how many "green bums" we have to count at tomorrow morning's feed.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Shetland Sheep Society's Fleece Day

Firstly apologies for no photos, I did take some, but they don't really show anything meaningful.
It was a great day and thankfully the weather stayed fine. I had the usual "discussion" with the sat nav about the route I wanted to take. The fact that the A61 through Thirsk was closed didn't help matters!!!!
One of the Shetland Sheep Committee members who judges fleeces, Juliet, spent the morning talking about the faults and defects that can be found in fleeces, some hereditary, some man made and some down to the weather. How the shearing, wrapping and storage of the fleece is also important, as well as some of her early experiences of spinning fleeces.
There was a lot of discussion about what you want the fleeces for and the fact that "the book" on showing Shetland sheep asks for a shorter staple than a lot of hand spinners prefer and is this the right way to go etc. As you can imagine everyone has their own opinion on the matter and no one person was either right or wrong. There was also some discussion on the value of micron counting the ram's fleeces and making the standard less than the current micron count of 30. I am not going to open that Pandora's box here on the blog as views were obviously very divided.
Even though I deal with fleece everyday and I have a business selling fibre, I still learnt one or two things and with a fresh view on looking at fleeces I had another good look at the ones I have in store, to which end two more have been "turfed out" as not being good enough for what I want.
Paul Crookes was present, he's the owner of the Halifax Spinning Co. I've met him a couple of times and have seen the samples of the work he is producing, so I left him a couple of my fleeces to process for me in pencil roving's for some new ideas I have for next year.
That's it really, before we knew it, it was time to go home. It's been hard to describe the day, it was so interesting and so informative, but hard to relate back just exactly what happened. There is talk of holding another fleece assessment day next year. Will look forward to attending that day.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

A quiet week

It's been a bit of a strange week, this week, we've been watching for the bad weather coming towards us, but it seems not to be as bad as the weathermen had predicted so far.
On Tuesday I met my sister and eldest Hobbit for lunch in York. Eldest Hobbit was off school as he'd been singing at the Royal Albert Hall in the School's Proms the evening before, arriving home at 03.30 that morning. He was a little bit tired to say the least. A few nights ago, at York Minster, there was a rehearsal of what the local schools were singing, it was a lovely evening. Evidently there is a DVD of the Royal Albert Hall concert, one we will cherish, and something to embarrass eldest hobbit with in years to come.
On Wednesday, I had the interview in Leeds to become a lay member of the Employment Tribunal at Newcastle. The interview was "intense" to say the least, and my head felt like it was going to explode on the train ride home. I won't hear anything now until the New Year.
Thursday was supposed to be wet in the afternoon, but it was fine and mild all day so I took the opportunity to get some more of the pointing done at the back of the house. I've nearly got finished where the study is, and I don't know if it's psychological, but it seems warmer in the study already.
Friday was another mild, fine day, and as our neighbour is putting a lean to on his barn, and as one or two of the trees in our wooded area over hang where it's to go we spent the day cutting back branches and having a general tidy up of some of the other trees. Tim then spent a good couple of hours shredding the weedy twigs, with the thicker stuff going onto the new wood pile by the wall to mature for a year or two.
This morning when we got up, it was obvious that we'd had some rain overnight, but not the high winds that were forecast. We spent the morning doing the weekly "run around" shopping, finishing off with a visit to fellow smallholder Jayne to see Poppy Puppy, who is now quite large, and also to let Jayne know that time is up on Spotty Dog, he's showing no interest in any of the ewes, we all think he's gay!!!! But whilst chatting to Jayne, I also mentioned I was looking for some small sided display boxes for my fibre at next year's shows, and she has just the thing. I just need to work out sizing's and she will make them for me. Once less thing to worry about, let's just hope I get a stall at Woolfest again next year. Application was sent off this week and has been received.
Tomorrow I'm at a Fibre Assessment Day organised by the Shetland Sheep Breeders Society, this is the first one organised in the North and all my Shetland fleeces are loaded into the back of my car. Will give a report tomorrow, along with, hopefully, photos.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Finn 4 Spotty Dog 0

No not a football score, just the number of ewes each tup has covered this week. We have got serious doubts about Spotty Dog, but he will remain in with his ewes for another couple of weeks, then if nothing has happened, Finn will be put in to cover the remaining ewes. I will keep you posted.....

Veg Garden update


As Saturday was forecast to be fine and sunny, it was the ideal opportunity for me to dig up the last of my potatoes and get them dry before storing them in the garden shed.
As you can see from the photo, there are 2 types of potatoes, Pink Fir Apple (the pink finger shaped ones) and Bambino. As you know blight struck my potatoes earlier in the season and it have been interesting to see how these remaining potatoes have fared.
The Pink Fir Apples have not done well at all, and as this is the 3rd year of growing them without a great deal of success, I won't be growing them again. On the other hand the Bambino variety have done really well, with only one or two lost to blight. Their only downside has been their little resistance to slugs. Next year I'm going to have a a bed of second early potatoes and a bed of main crop, but they will have to be both blight and slug resistant.
A couple of weeks ago I planted some broad bean seeds to see if they will survive the winter up here on the North Yorks Moors. If you look carefully at the photo you can just see one or two plants starting to grow. Hopefully they will put on a good bit of growth before the frosts arrive.



These are my winter onions which have come through really well, and it looks like I've got a 100% germination rate with them. My garlic bulbs arrived earlier in the week and I've planted them out next to the onions. Hopefully they will produce bigger bulbs than the ones I planted out in the spring this year.
Also on Saturday, the additional Black Current bush I had ordered arrived, so after the roots had been in soak for a couple of hours, that too was planted out. By then it was mid afternoon and the temperatures are really dropping quickly now, it was time to come in and light the wood burning stove in the front room. But it isn't cold enough for the central heating to come on for any length of time, which is good for the oil supplies.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Durham Guild of Weavers Spinners & Dyers

A month or so ago I was contacted by the Durham WS&D guild to see if Phillippa and I were available to come and talk to them in November 2010, then a week later they asked if we could cover this month's meeting as their booked speaker was unable to attend.
So I loaded THGlett up with my fibre and toddled up the A19 to Durham, (had the usual disagreement with the sat nav, it wanted me to go on the A1 for some reason and round Durham's wonderful one way system!!!!!) to meet Phillippa. We put out all of our fibre in readiness to start our talk, but the ladies of the guild were so interested in our fibre, that is took some time before either of us were able to get up and speak.
It was a great evening and I saw some old faces, and in no time at all, all the fibre was being packed up again, loaded back into THGlett, (this time I could see out the back) ready for the drive home, ignored the sat nav out of Durham and was home before 11pm. I even managed to get into the house without waking the dogs, now that is an achievement!!!!!
Thank you Durham ladies for a lovely evening.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Sheep MOT time

Today all the sheep have been through the handling system in the barn and given the "once over". Hooves trimmed, given a mineral drench, injected with Heptovac and given a liver fluke and worming drench. As it's the start of November, the ewe lambs were shed from the breeding ewes along with Brazil and Amy and put into a new field for the next couple of months whilst the rams (Spotty Dog and Finn) are in with the ewes.
Spotty Dog got 5 additional ewes today, Abbi, Ariadne, Missy, Allium and Anya, but there are some doubts about Spotty Dog and if he will actually work. He doesn't seem to have the "presence" that you expect from a Ram, whereas Finn seems to be all too eager to work. The next couple of weeks will tell, and if Spotty Dog isn't working, Finn will be covering all of the ewes.
We also weighed all the sheep and it was good to see how much weight that not only the lambs have put on, but also the ewes, and since we have weaned the lambs in July Missy has put on a staggering 10kg, the only ewe to have lost weight is Amy, hence she will not be going to the tup this year. We have also shed off 5 lambs for fattening in readiness for the "Light Lamb Sales". November is when the "light lamb" sales start, so any lamb that is well bodied and weighs in the region of 30kg go to this sale. Our 5 don't quite weigh 30kgs, but a couple of weeks in the barn on hay and a little bit of concentrate feed will soon get them up to this weight.
This coming week will see some major repairs to the main barn. One of the struts that supports the roof has rotted through at floor level!!! Not quite sure how Tim is going to repair it, but he has a plan.........

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

The Railway Goods Van


This old railway goods van sits at the back of the barn and is in need of some TLC, so today we decided to put some new roofing felt on in an attempt to stop some of the rain from coming in.
But once we had taken all the old felt of, it became very apparent that the goods van was past the TLC stage. The sides have come away from the floor, and the floor, which has been patched in several places, that when Holly walked on bounced. Not good.
So we have decided to condemn it. Trouble is, it was a good place to store all the slab wood that needs cutting for our log burning stoves. Which means that all of it will have to be removed and a new, dry home found for it all. Tim had already brought a trailer load into the barn for me to start chopping and whilst we unloaded it this afternoon, we did a very ruthless sort out of what was good to burn and what was not.
Tomorrows job, you've guessed it. Remove the rest of the wood from the goods van and then decide how we are going to dismantle the van, without damaging the barn behind it!!!!!! Any suggestions..............

Monday, 26 October 2009

Textile Day at Danby Village Hall


Sunday, was the day that the Textile Open Day at Danby Village Hall, Danby, that Phillippa and I had organised together happened.
We've been arranging this since the end of Woolfest, the idea being we used local Textile workers, as there is nothing like this event in this neck of the woods. We've contacted all the local Weaving and Spinners guilds within a 100 mile radius, the local W.Is, local radio, newspapers and T.V, as well as posters given to local Tourist Information Offices, libraries and put up in any other interested place we could think of.
4 other stallholders attended, making 6 different stalls in the hall. Phillippa put on a Natural Dying

Display down the middle of the hall.
11am arrived and the first people started coming through the door. We'd put in our publicity suggesting that spinners bring their wheels for a "Spin In", which some did and several ladies spent a very productive afternoon spinning their newly purchased fibre.
All day there was a steady stream of visitors and it only became quiet around 3pm, and during that last hour I was able to get some spinning of my own done.
We were asked several times if we were going to "do this event again? and if so when?" Well the answer is that "Yes" we will be doing this event again, all who had a stall agreed it was well worth the effort and there are some mutterings of doing it twice, one early in the season (April/May) and the other around the same time as now.
I always manage to forget something and this time it was my business cards!!! Normally I'm hardly ever asked for one as my details are on all my fibre labels, but yesterday, because we were local, everyone wanted one!!!!!! Good job I had some spare fibre band labels that I could hand out!!!!!
Photos are the 2 sides of my stall, showing the range of fibres that I now sell.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Hedgelaying Day

On Saturday evening Freylyn and Mark arrived, along with their dogs, Lunil and Bill for the weekend. Mark is interested in learning how to lay hedges and as Freylyn was teaching at the Eden Guild of Spinners Weavers and Dyers, it was decided that instead of going home, they would come to us for the weekend, and that on the Sunday, Tim, Mark and I would do a spot of hedge laying, whilst Freylyn supervised the dogs and got on with some knitting.

This is the section of hedge we were to lay and as you can see it's pretty overgrown and to make things more interesting, we had to ensure that anything we chopped down didn't hit the pig arc.


This is what the hedge looks like now. It looks really severe, but in the spring it will grow back and it will be surprising how quickly a hedge will appear. We all had a great time and we could not have ordered a better day, sunny with a very slight breeze. It started to rain just a Freylyn and Mark were leaving for home after tea.
Tomorrow Tim and I will have to clear all the brushwood and any logs that are any good to burn, stored to season for a year or two. I can see the old shed in the yard coming down to create a new area for this years wood pile from our winter hedge laying days.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Liver Fluke

Last night Tim and I went to a talk given by our vets on Liver Fluke in sheep and cattle. We went along with a couple of other smallholders and we all thought that there would just be a handful of people to listen. WRONG there were nearly 100 local farmers in attendance to listen to the talk.
Liver fluke has never really been a problem in this area but over the last couple of years it's been rearing it's ugly head. There is no cure for it, only control by regular medication and some paddock maintenance. This is the only parasite that affects BOTH sheep and cattle, so you have to treat both sets of animals, and not all medication controls the full life cycle of the fluke whilst in the animal.
Interestingly it is thought the reason why fluke is now in the North East is due to the Foot and Mouth outbreak 9 years ago. Everyone that was "wiped" out bought in new stock from the areas that were clear of Foot and Mouth and some of these animals will have come from the West side of the UK where the fluke is rife, and because there has never been a problem with fluke at this side of the country, animals were not given a flukicide as part of their general health/worming programme. Slowly the population of fluke has been growing, we've then had 2 very wet summers, ideal breeding for the fluke and the snail it relies on and BANG, everyone has a problem.
For us, all I know is that we have reeds in our paddocks, which signifies we have wet areas, a good breeding ground for the host snail for the fluke, and though none of our sheep we have taken to the abattoir show signs of fluke damage, we will be dosing our sheep against fluke. There is a joint wormer/flukicide that has come onto the market that has a 27 day meat withdrawal period, as opposed to the normal 56 day withdrawal period. Which means we can treat the lambs that should be going to the market next month as light lambs.
All in all it was a very interesting meeting and it did generate a lot of "chatter" around the tables. Our girls come in at the end of this month for their annual pre tup MOT, so I will be checking with the vet what flukicide we need to be using.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

A "tidy up" week

Autumn has well and truly arrived, the swallows have gone and we've had our first frosts, not hard ones, but enough to whiten the grass. I managed to get the shelter that Ghilli and Grommet will be using this winter "dug out" of the old straw and manure. With having the sheep in this field for part of the summer they have well and truly paddled everything down. But it's now dug out, the sides repaired, the panels were coming away from the frame, disinfectant put down, followed by a full bale of straw. All nice and snug ready for the bad weather.
We are starting to eat the winter veg out of the garden, the sweetcorn has nearly all gone, so the stalks will need to go through the shredder, some of the sprouts and cabbages are ready. Tim had pickled a couple of jars of red cabbage that were ready. The potatoes are still O.K despite the blight. All their peeling, tops and any suspect potatoes go straight into the bin, not the compost bin. I'm slowly filling the empty beds with compost to give the worms chance to take it all into the soil through the winter and hopefully to add some body to the soil. Next door keep a few calves and they have said I can "raid" last years manure heap for my garden


We've moved the ewes into the field at the back of the house and this evening the "girls" were busy grazing just in front of the study window, I couldn't resist taking this photo of them all. The grass is very long, so they will be in this field for some time, but be moved out before the really bad weather sets in after Christmas, as there is no shelter for them to go in. They do hide down the bank sides, but it's not the same as being in a warm, dry barn .





This is Spotty Dog the Suffolk ram lamb we are borrowing this year, all raddle'd up and raring to go. He's in with the Scotch Blackfaced ewes at the moment. We don't really expect him to cover any of the girls for another couple of weeks yet, but he was creating quite a fuss about being on his own, we decide to put him in with a raddle and see what happens. Ariadne, Abbi, Astrid, Allium and Missy will be joining his harem at the beginning of November.





Whilst I was out with my camera, Missy came strolling up and I took this picture of her, She is looking so well, especially after the scare we had with her before lambing. Will be interesting to see what she produces next year.
Looks like it's going to be a mixed week next week, so when it's fine I'll be doing outside jobs (digging veg garden, re-pointing back of house) and inside jobs (chopping and splitting wood, paperwork). Let's hope there are more fine days than wet days!!!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Update on the Moors fire

Well the fire is finally out, though we woke to no power and the smell of smouldering heather and a fine breezy. This afternoon the fire tenders were still damping down on the moor. It would appear that the fire is as a result of the game keepers doing controlled fire burning of the heather on Thursday.
This mornng was a sheep managing day. First we (Deefa, Tim and I) moved the marauding munchers on to the common land, moved Ghilli and Grommet temporarily into the Allotment, moved the new girls into the barn so we could weighed, wormed and heptovac'd them. They went through the weigh scales and up into the sheep crush with very little encouragement. Certainly made life easy. We then moved them back to their field, followed by Ghilli and Grommet. Ghilli runs full pelt back into his paddock whereas Grommet goes at his own pace, it is totally beneath him to run, unless it suits him!!!!
The weather is still holding and the swallows are still here. Last year they were gone by the beginning of September. It looks like the fine weather is to continue into next week and for some this is causing problems with their grass as it is not growing. Our neighbour has sold his young calves to a local finishing unit early as he's running out of grass and I've started to notice ring feeders out in fields with silage in them for the beef cattle. Hopefully tomorrow Tim will be out with the topper, on a high setting, to take off the dry grass stalks where the sheep have been grazing over the last week or so, so that the new grass that is slowly coming through isn't choked and is fresh again for when the sheep go back into these fields.

Sunbathing Alpacas

No Ghilli's not ill, he's just sunbathing. When we first saw him do this, we wondered what on earth he was doing. But on a warm, calm day he likes to lay on his back sunbathing. Grommet just ignores him.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Moor Fires close to home

Tonight we are sat waiting to see when the fire of the moor is finally put out. We expect moor fires in the summer, but not in the Autumn. No one is sure how it started, but all the fire engines for North Yorkshire are here and the main road is closed. The moor is so dry and if the fire gets into the peat, it is nearly impossible to put out.
We went to the Hill lamb sale this morning and half way through the auction the auctioneer advised that the Moor Road was closed as there was a moor fire at Danby. You can imagine the conversations that were going around the auction ring from then on, as most of the farmers had brought their sheep from this moor to the sale. When we got home we could smell and see the smoke and all afternoon the smoke has been drifting across our land, and these high winds are not helping the situation. At tea time we could see the head of the fire in the distance, not a very comforting sight I can tell you. Hopefully no one will be hurt and no animals will be lost.

Mole Gassing on Thursday

And this was the field that I was working in, the view over Sandsend and Whitby is quite spectacular. I hit this field really hard last year and as a result there is very little mole damage in the middle of the field, just round the edges, against the wood.

Whilst I was walking round the field I came across a collection of toadstools, I think they are inkcaps, but I'm not sure.



Sunday, 27 September 2009

A day at Masham Sheep Fair for my birthday

Where has this year gone, it hardly seems 5 minutes since my big party weekend. But my birthday has come round again, so we went off to Masham Sheep Fair. We haven't been for at least a couple of years and in that time the sheep show is looking as if it's back to it's pre Foot and Mouth days.
We met up with some friends for lunch, before going our different ways to look at the sheep, fleeces and craft stalls. I'd taken some of my Shetland fleeces to sell on the Rare Breeds Stand. I managed to get one sold, which wasn't bad as they were only on the stand for about 3 hours. I also sold a couple of bags of rainbow dyed fleece on the North Yorkshire Smallholders stand. So a good day all round.
A bit of a P.S on our new ladies, a fellow smallholder came to see them yesterday and is convinced that some may be in lamb!!!!!!! Going to get Pete to have a look and pass his professional eye over them...... Will keep you posted

Bracken and Thistle bashing

On Saturday the Hedge laying Hollands arrived to help scythe down some bracken and thistles in one of our fields. I'd got some of it done a month or so ago, just as the thistles had started to flower, and this part of the field now looks like it is clear of thistles.
The last thing we wanted, was the weather we got, a beautiful fine sunny day, with no wind. Hacking back the thistles was very warm work, and thankfully we finished by lunch time.
After lunch we decided to do something less demanding, so we picked 8 1/2lbs of sloes and had just sat down for a very well deserved cup of tea when our eldest godson arrived with his partner and 6 month old son.
Here is the little chap gumming one of my home made ginger biscuits he'd pinched off his dad. Nothing wrong with his appetite.

Friday, 25 September 2009

New Girls on the block...

We went to the Horned Ewe sale today with the intention of having a look and came back with these 10 ladies. They are pure bred Scottish Black faced sheep.
We had initially intended to bid for a pen of 4 cross breed ewes, but they went for silly money,
again, but a further investigation of the sales programme revealed a lot of 50 "scots" from the same lady farmer, we decided to put in a bid. We missed out on the first 2 lots, but got the 3rd lot, by some very carefully bidding on Tim's part. His time spent bidding on Ebay has not been put to waste. Despite being a hill breed, these girls were very calm around the farmer, had their tails docked and generally looked very happy.
They loaded into the trailer no problem and when we got them home and needed to get hold of them to check ear tags, they were no more difficult to handle than our girls.
At the moment they are in a paddock away from all our other sheep, we'll weigh, worm and heptovac them next week, and they will stay in isolation for 3 weeks, just to be on the safe side.
We're going to put them to Spotty Dog (the Suffolk tup), so it will be interesting to see how big their lambs are next year.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

This good weather is hard work....

I shouldn't really complain about the good weather we are having at the moment, but it is hard work. There seem to be so many outside jobs that do not necessarily need doing, but it seems such a shame not to do them and enjoy the sunshine. Even the swallows are still here, with what must be their 3rd or 4th brood this year, though I did manage to stay in this morning to watch The Great North Run, as my sister was running, didn't see her, but she finished in a respectable 2hrs 5 mins. Not bad for a first attempt.
Holly and Deefa are also finding this weather exhausting. Now that Holly can be trusted to stay with us when she's out in the yard. When we are home, the back door is kept open, so Holly is backwards and forwards checking on what we are doing, or chasing Lady, the resident mouse catcher. Holly nearly caught Lady on Wednesday, but Lady had been winding up Holly, by sitting on top of the wood pile in the yard, knowing that Holly couldn't reach her. Deefa on the other hand just runs round his circuit in the yard and howls at the low flying aircraft.
Looks like we will have 2 extra ewes to lamb next year, my friend and fellow smallholder Jayne, is not lambing next year, and has said that we can borrow her 2 ewes to lamb, so we will be picking them up later in the month, along with Spotty Dog the Suffolk ram we are also borrowing. Tupping time is nearly upon us again..........

Thursday, 17 September 2009

A day of Hedge cutting & fleece washing

As today was mild and still. No wind being a rarity around here. Tim took the opportunity to cut the conifer hedge in the woodland, and as you can see from the photo he's cut it back a good couple of foot.
It's taken him all day as he's been picking up all the hedge trimming as he's been going along using tarpaulins under the hedge. The putting the trimmings in the trailer to be shredded later. It certainly made for a tidy job.
I on the other hand have been taking photos of fibre that is for sale through the on line shop, so hopefully now all the fibre I have for sale, should, over the next couple of days have pictures of people to see what they are buying.
I've also taken the opportunity to wash some fleeces and get them out in the sun to dry. The lovely honey coloured one is a Corriedale fleece, which is really soft and has long staples. I'm looking forward to spinning this one

The second fleece I washed, is supposed to be a Blue Faced Leicester fleece, but on closer inspection I'm not sure if it's not a BFL mule, and what is double disappointing is that the red sheep marker that has been used has not washed out, despite me washing the fleece in relatively hot water. So it looks like I will have to dye this fleece. If I do I'm going to dye it before I spin it for a change. Not sure what colour yet, but I quite fancy purple.














































Sunday, 13 September 2009

First Week of Gardening Leave

It has been a very strange week, to say the least. I still feel as if I'm on holiday, but I'm sure that will pass as the weeks go by.
The weather this week has been a typical Indian summer, very warm days, but coldish evenings. Whilst it's fine I've started on grouting the back of the house, it's more like filling in the holes where the mortar has fallen out. Hopefully when I've finished it will stop the mice getting in between our two walls into the rubble infill.
On Thursday we went to the local auction mart as it was the breeding ewe sale day. Neither of us were looking forward to it as our previous experience of breeding ewe sales at York have not been good. But this one at Ruswarp was a lot better, a very interesting day, the auctioneer was interested in all the animals that were going through and in getting the best price for the sellers. We didn't buy anything as the prices at the moment are really good if you are selling, but bad if you are buying. We were tempted by 3 pedigree oxford down ewe lambs, and by a mixed pen of 10 Blue Faced Leicester and mule lambs at £35.00 each, but they did not look as good as the rest and it was ewes we were looking for. It was a good job we had taken our small trailer as our neighbour bought 4 sheep, so we took them home for him.
We have another option for some breeding ewes, one of the local farmers has had an accident (fallen through a barn roof) and will be out of action for several months, so we are hoping to buy 6 of his 3-4 shear mule ewes, they don't go for a great deal at the mart as everyone wants young ewes, so here's hoping the price is right.
The marauding munchers are now at the back of the big barn having eaten the grass at the side of the barn. It's only a small paddock and it should last them 2 - 3 days, they will then be moved into the race by the side of the lambing barn, finally ending up in the top field near the common land. Eventually they will be grazing the common land, but it will depend on how the weather goes, as it can be very bleak on the common land and if we are not careful, they will start to loose weight.
Holly managed to get in with the marauding munchers and had to be rescued from them as one of the lambs had her trapped in a ditch and every time she moved it put it's head down and stamped it's feet at her. I don't think she's too keen to go visiting again.
Next week, a day of bramble picking, a day in the office (out placement support), then if the weather is fine back to grouting the back of the house.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

The munching marauders

As you can see the "munching marauders" are by the side of the woodland, against the new fencing, and yes, 2 of the little darlings have their heads through the ryloc eating the hedge. They have only been on this bit of grass for 24 hours, so tonight Tim opened the hurdle on the right to let them into an area by the side of the barn and up to the lambing barn to eat that grass down. They really are very effective lawn mowers.
This week we had a trip to visit my fibre supplier. The car came back 10 kilos heavier, now I just need to photograph it all and put on my on line shop. I've got some very interesting fibres this time, some seacell (seaweed), milk protein, several blends of coloured merino with silk as well as some gorgeous black bamboo.
It should be the end of my holidays tomorrow, but I will not be returning to work in York, I'm being made redundant and so I'm on "gardening leave" until the 7th March 2010, when my notice period ends and I finally leave Network Rail after 24 years. So I'm going to spend time getting the veg garden sorted out and really push the fibre, hence the on-line shop. Life will never quite be the same.....

Monday, 31 August 2009

A productive Bank Holiday

With the arrival of the Resident Vandal and KD on Friday night we seemed get a whole lot of work done this weekend.
Jobs that were crossed of the list, (the one that I will not let anyone see!!!) were:-
  • Concrete in front of the oil tank, so that when the man comes to fill the tank he no longer has to walk carefully across a bridge over a large hole full of muddy water!!
  • Put in 3 strainers so that Tim can do some more fencing, by the back of the barn to keep the sheep off the very fragile back wall, to create a larger nursery area near the small barn at lambing time and one by the woodland so that the existing wire fence could be moved, to prevent the sheep eating the hedge
  • All sheep weighed, hooves trimmed, wormed and given a mineral drench
  • The lambs sorted so that we now have 3 small flocks, the stores (the ones going to the mart) aka the marauding munchers, the breeding ewes (which now has the 11 ewe lambs we are keeping) and finally, the boys (Finn, Cecil, Archie, Fleecy and Fluffy) minus Hector who we sold 3 weeks ago as a breeding ram at the mart
  • Moved the existing wire fence in the woodland to the other side of the hedge, so that the marauding munchers won't eat it when we move them to the side of the big barn to eat the grass.

A very satisfying few days and the weather held off until this evening, the rain is lashing down as I type.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Peace reigns.....

Well the Hobbits left on Thursday afternoon with their mum. We really only had one day of bad weather and that was the day of Egton Show, which was a shame as so many people go and so much happens, but between the high winds and the rain, it was very little fun being there, so we all came home mid afternoon to warm up. The 2 high lights of the show were the stall selling very large meringues (they were lovely) and watching our Doctor wrestle with his Teeswater sheep he was showing!!! for which he did manage to win a rosette or two.
We did manage a couple of really good days on Saltburn beech, playing countless games of cricket and some football. Eldest Hobbit managed to get stung by a wasp that crawled up his leg and into his trunks, I don't think I need to elaborate much more as to where exactly he was stung!!!!. The sea goes out for far enough and the only way to keep track of the boys, is to ensure they are wearing brightly coloured T shirts and a pair of binoculars. We've watched all of the Harry Potter DVDs and played countless games of monopoly (the shortened version) and Sorry, backed biscuits for dogs and humans. Youngest Hobbit has made countless paper airplanes, which I'm still finding in the Dining Room, they are everywhere. It was a great few days with them, but no sooner had they left, then the following day Resident Vandal arrived with KD. More about what we got up to and the rest of the Bank Holiday work tomorrow.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

The Hobbits arrive but the Alpaca shearer doesn't!!!

The Alpaca shearer was booked to call either on Monday or Friday, but he hasn't turned up, no phone call, no message, nothing, If we leave it much longer the boys will not have enough fleece on them to protect them for the winter, and if I wait until next year, the fleece will be too long for processing. Needless to say I'm not impressed!!! Anyone got the name and number of a reliable shearer?
The Hobbits arrived on Saturday afternoon and so far we've played 2 games of Sorry and Monopoly, several games of Top Trumps, watched the first 2 Harry Potter Films, with the youngest Hobbit hiding behind the sofa with his hands over his ears at the scary bits. 3 games of cricket, Deefa was the umpire, moved Ghilli & Grommet back into their paddock, Finn, Fleecy and Fluffy in with Cecil and Archie, put up some hurdles to give the "marauding munchers" (aka this years lambs), a bit more grazing. I'm shattered and they don't go home until Thursday!!!!!
This morning we went to visit fellow smallholder, Jayne who has just got a new 8 week old Gorden Setter puppy, called Poppy. Here she is sat on the grass in the sunshine. My handbag wasn't big enough to sneak her home.
I've dug up some of the potatoes that have blighted tops, thankfully they are O.K, but I doubt if they will store very well. But that's not a problem, we will have them eaten before theygo into store. The leeks are hiding amongst the weeds, so I will need to get there and try and rescue them. The sprouts, cabbages and sweetcorn are doing really well.
Tomorrow, if the weather is fine, we're off to the beech, so bread buns have been made ready for the pack up, with both bread makers being brought into action. Later in the week we're off to Egton Show, looking forward to meeting up with friends, seeing the sheep, horses and cattle. Hopefully the weather will hold....

Sunday, 16 August 2009

4 men went to mow, went to mow a meadow....

Well it was 2 men and 2 women, the hedge laying Hollands were here yesterday to help Tim and I scythe down the grass in the area we call the orchard. It's down a steep bank and then onto a small flat area, which when we moved in was packed with conifer trees and a very overgrown hedge. The hedge has been laid and the conifer trees taken out leaving 2 old apple trees and 3 very spindly plum trees. The plum trees had to be removed as they got blown over the first strong wind we had. Now the light can get in, the weeds have taken over. After our little scything party, the "orchard" is now looking a lot tidier, and hopefully if I can keep the weeds cut down, the grass should start to recover. Come the autumn I shall look at getting 2 new plum trees to replace the ones we had to remove.
This week we also went to pick up the 70 bales of straw we need for the winter, (50 for us and 20 for a fellow smallholder). We've been ready for over a week to pick it up, but as always, we've been waiting for the right weather.
There is a bit of a disaster in the veg garden, my main crop potatoes have blight. So I'm going to have to chop of the helms and either burn them or put them in a bag and take them to the tip, but they will not be going onto the compost bin, as this will spread this dreaded disease around the veg garden, something I don't want to do.
I've had another worm count done this week, this time for the ewes, and the results are quite encouraging, though we have a medium worm problem, it's not drastic, and we could get away with not worming the ewes until October, but the vet's advice is to give them an oral wormer now, just to keep on top of the worms, and then worm as normal in October. We were going to worm the ewes today, but after yesterday's exercise of scything on a mild and very windy day, which saps your energy and makes you dehydrated. Hence wrestling with sheep did not appeal. But the main reason for conserving our energy is that the Hobbits arrive next Saturday for a week!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Coming to our ewes in November

This is Spotty Dog a Suffolk ram lamb. He's one of a fellow smallholder, Jayne's pet lambs. He didn't have a great start in life, a suspect broken rib, which made his breathing very laboured. But with some good homeopathic medicine and some TLC, he's now fighting fit. We're going to use him in conjunction with Finn, we're not sure which ewes he'll cover, we'll make a decision in October when Spotty Dog and Finn are a little bit older.
Not really done a lot this week. On Friday we went to Hinderwell Horse and Agricultural Show, it was a pleasant way to spend part of the day looking at the stalls and watching the horses being shown.
Today, I dug up the winter onions and put them in the shed to dry, along with the garlic. The shallots have not done a great deal, but the beetroot is starting to mature nicely, which I'm going to have a go at making some sweet and sour beetroot, as well as pickling the smaller ones. The French beans have done very little, there were enough beans for tea tonight, but that was the whole harvest. The potatoes still amaze with how much they have produced. A couple of plants dug up is all that we need for our evening meal. I'm having a continual battle with the cabbage white butterflies laying their eggs on the sprouts and cabbages, so far I'm winning, but for how long I'm not sure.
I've finally got the last of the fibre photos done for the soybean, banana, silk, rammie (nettle) and merino mixes. I must put these descriptions on to my on-line shop. A job for next week.
Tim has modified an old water butt so that I can put comfrey leaves in to collect the liquid to create a great liquid feed, smelly as it is, but watered down and used on the veg and tomato plants the effect is startling.
Next week the Hedge laying Hollands are here to do the scything that should have happened a few weeks back. It will be a long and hot, but satisfying day..

Sunday, 2 August 2009

A mixed weekend

Tim has finally got the pipe from the well into the allotment, complete with tap, as well as putting another tap by the shed. He's also got the wire for the electrics to power the pump in the well, into the shed, so by Saturday he was shattered. As the weather was a bit inclement, i.e wet, we had a run around day, getting some more dog, cat and alpaca feed and then spending the afternoon listening to the 50's sci fi radio drama "Journey into Space". The recording at times is a bit suspect, but on the whole, it's great to listen to.
We're now starting to crop some of the veg that is ready. The Broad Beans are now finished, but the potatoes are just starting. This is what I dug up from 2 plants. Not bad considering I didn't earth them up
I baked some more of the ginger biscuits that Tim likes, and just to annoy the Resident Vandal, here is a photo of them. The top ones have white chocolate drops in them. The bottom ones are the ginger biscuits.
One other job we did today was to move the lambs around. Finn and his mates, Fleecy and Fluffy are now in the allotment, busy eating the grass down. The only downside is that the grass is so lush that this morning I had to "dag" out Finn as he's got rather a "pooy" bum. We also too the opportunity to worm these 3 and given their fleeces a quick squirt with Crovect, just to protect them against Blow Fly strike.
The other 34 lambs that have been grazing on the common land, are now in the paddock next to Finn and his mates, busily eating away as the overgrown grass and docks. They will be through it in a couple of weeks, then Tim will be able to give that paddock a quick "hair cut" with the topper and it will be ready for the autumn. Where has this year gone........



Saturday, 1 August 2009

On Line Fibre Shop goes live

At long last my on line shop has gone live, thanks to the Resident Vandal's help. So far there is just the natural and dyed alpaca on view in the shop. I've got a whole load of fibre delivered on Friday, which I'll get uploaded to the shop.
Here is the link www.shop.willoalpacas.com

Sunday, 26 July 2009

The Shearer and Shearing Party arrive

Today Andy the shearer arrived to give the girls, Hector and his mates a hair cut. Because the forecast for today was showers mid morning, Tim, Deefa and I were out getting the sheep into the barn at 7am to ensure their fleeces remained lovely and dry.
Andrew arrived just before 10, with his young son whose job it is to act as "wire man" for his dad. Basically pull the on/off lead when his Dad said. But still a very important job for an 8 year old, (who wants to be a sheep shearer when he gets older) and one he did very well.
We decided to shear Hector, Cecil and Archie first, as they are the largest of our sheep and it seemed only fair to Andrew to deal with them whilst he was fresh.
We had a very good method of working for the ewes, they were penned up and the only way out was through they weigh scales to Andrew, to be sheared. Once sheared, out of the barn door and away into the field. Tim put the ewes into the weight scales, Resident Vandal then took the ewe out of the scales, turned them ready for Andy to shear, half way through, Andy's son took over the responsibility of releasing the ewes from the scales for his Dad to catch. Once sheared the fleeces were passed over to myself, Phillippa and Mrs Resident Vandal to dag out, grade, roll and put into paper sacks. There was only 2 fleeces that didn't come up to standard, one was Missy's, which is no surprise considering how ill she was whilst she was in lamb.
We finished shearing by 11.30, just in time for lunch.
Here are Cecil, Archie and Hector minus their fleeces.
The shearing party consisted of me, Tim, Phillippa, Mr & Mrs Resident Vandal, Freyalyn and Mark (who arrived just as we'd finished).
After lunch Freyalyn showed Phillippa and I how to spin long draw, of which the important part is the correctly hand carded rolag, which for me was a great "light bulb" moment for me, as I have previously found hand carding really hard, now I know why. Spinning long draw I will have to practice on my Ashford Traveller wheel, as my Lendrum wheel has a "woolie winder" fitted to it, which winds the fleece up and down the bobbin automatically, which makes learning how to long draw spin harder. Once I've mastered the skill, I will be able to do it on my lendrum.
Phillippa went home with the two fleeces that were matted, as she had a use for them and Freyalyn yet again raided my fleece store and took home Archie's fleece and 1/2 of a Cheviot fleece, which no doubt with appear on her blog.
Now just Ghilli and Grommet to be sheared.

The Tour de Fleece finishes today

The Tour de France finished today so did the Tour de Fleece and I've spun over a kg of Texal fibre, which equates to 12 skeins of wool, more than enough to knit a jumper for me
Here is my haul of wool, I think I'm going to dye this wool either bright red or purple, but not decided yet, when I do I will post a picture of the dyed yarn

Sunday, 19 July 2009

A wet weekend with the Hobbits

The Hobbits arrived on Friday evening, travelling home with me on the train. we nearly missed our connection at Middlesbrough, partly due to the weather and a train being stuck in the station, so it was a fast run down the stairs, along the underpass, up the stairs onto the other platform and onto the waiting Whitby train.
As we travelled along the Esk Valley home it was very easy to see how much rain had fallen in the last 24 hours, the river was boiling.
The original plan had been to treat the Hobbits to Fish and Chips in Whitby, but we decided to scrap that idea and get home as quickly as possible.
So what do you do with 2 young Hobbits on a wet Saturday? You bake of course. A quick look in the W.I biscuit book and in next to no time we had a dozen ginger biscuits waiting to be cooked, followed by 2 trays full of dog biscuits. Whilst they watch Men in Black 2, the biscuits were cooked. The ginger biscuits were ready to eat with the mid morning drink, and because they were so moreish, a second batch "just had to be made" so the Uncle Tim had some to eat during the week, along with some plain biscuits to take home to mum and dad. Unfortunately they too had to be tasted to ensure they were of the exacting standard young hobbits insist of biscuits, which meant that only 3 managed to make it all the way home.
The dogs are enjoying their biscuits, after they too were quality checked, (eaten) by youngest hobbit, who was non plus about them. I hasten to add the dog biscuits are made from tuna, oats, eggs, flour and oats, so nothing nasty in them at all for a young hobbit.
The afternoon was spent watching the Tour de France, for which the Tour de Fleece I've managed so far to spin 900g of fibre, that's ample to knit the jacket I have in mind.
We took the hobbits home this morning, eldest hobbit had a birthday party to attend, and we spent a pleasant afternoon catching up with hobbit's parents and the Savage family, who are grieving the loss of Hamish, thier westie and grandma, all of which happened whilst they were on holiday. Sometimes life is horrible. But I did get to cuddle "the robster" eldest godson's little boy who's now a good 3 months old and just starting to smile. How can you be sad when a little baby giggles and smiles at you. My knitting needles have been busy, I've knitted him a little coat, which in the rush this morning I forgot to pick up. No doubt I will see him again before the summer is out.
Next weekend the shearing party arrive, let's hope we have fine weather towards the back end of the week so the sheep's fleece is dry.

Hay safely gathered in

Having a quiet cup of coffee with a friend on Thursday lunch time, when my mobile phone rang, it was Scooby, frantically trying to get hold of Tim. The forecast for Friday was awful, so our hay was being baled and needed to be brought undercover that night. I managed to get hold of Tim and he went off to help Scooby. I booked the afternoon off work and when I got to Saltburn station, (14 miles from home) it was tipping down. Thankfully when I got home it was dry and Tim and Scooby had just led in the first trailer load of hay. A quick change and I went back with the lads to help load the rest of the hay. We'd hoped for around 150 bales of hay, in fact there was 280!!!!!
A second load of hay was quickly stacked and whilst Tim and I took this load home, Scooby loaded hay onto his trailer to stack in the shed at the field. We got home, unloaded the hay in the barn, not stacked and set off for a 3rd load, to find that 5 minutes up the road, it was raining, but 5 minutes later it wasn't and thankfully it was still fine where we were the hay was, though the sky was a menacingly black!!!!
A third load of hay was loaded in double quick time and taken home. Tim had just backed the trailer into the large barn when the heavens opened.
It has rained off and on all weekend, very heavily, but we don't care the hay is in and under cover. Now it just needs to be stacked and space found for the extra 50 bales (80 bales of hay left in the shed on the hay field). Trouble is 70 bales of straw should be ready for us to collect in a couple of weeks time and where that was to go in the large barn, the extra hay is going!!!!!!
Any one know where I can get/or transform the barn into a tardis (aka Dr Who type) so I can store all the winter bedding and feed?

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Veg Garden, and getting ready for Winter


Tim has finally managed to get all the fence post in around the veg garden, and you may be able to see at the back of the photo a blue pipe. This is being connected to our spring with a pump. The idea being I can use it to water the veg garden

As Tim has been getting the barn ready for shearing in a couple of weeks time, we decided that the best place for the old bedding etc is to put them on the deep beds that I won't be using until next year. So we spent a very midge biting evening shovelling manure onto the beds, but the effort will be worth it.

These are my winter onions and as you can see they are nearly ready and a good size. Hopefully they taste as good as they look

One other veg I'm also please with is my bulb fennel, we had some yesterday, roasted with some other veg, and very tasty they were. We've also been eating the broad beans, and today a first cutting of broccoli.
As I said in the title, getting ready for Winter. Today we collected 90 bales of hay which is now stacked in the barn, another 150 are arriving later next week. The bales were very heavy, even for Scooby!!!! so they are well packed and smell very sweet. Should be a good feed for the animals this coming winter.
The second thing I did, in prep for winter, was start and chop wood ready for splitting. I need to cut enough wood so that both sides of the cow byre are full. So it looks like I will be coming home from work and spending an hour most evenings, and the same most weekends, cutting wood, to ensure we have sufficient wood for about 6 months.
Tim went to see the consultant last week, who is still very pleased with his progress. We also now understand why the swelling isn't going down as fast as Tim hoped. To put it in the consultants words "you not only mushed the bones, which I can rebuild, but the blood capillaries are a different matter, and they are responsible for pumping the blood back etc." The down side is that his hand will feel the cold in winter. Tim was asked if he was self conscious about the skin graft, which he's not, but it does make getting gloves on a problem. So we are back on the 7th Jan to discuss an operation to reduce Tim's skin graft. All bets are off that Tim has the op at lambing time!!!!!!
Next week the Hobbits arrive!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Web Page down.........

I'm in the process of changing my web host provider and so my website is down at the moment. Hopefully it will be back within 48 hours and then I can start and re-build it.

Monday, 6 July 2009

The Cull Ewes are back

Well the cull ewes went to the mart and came back. Pete who took them, was so disgusted with the price that he not only bought ours back but his also. It would appear that there was some sort of cartel bidding, or not as the case may be. This is not good for anybody, why these buyers do this is a mystery to me as before long no one will take sheep to the sales.
Hopefully prices will get better, meanwhile the 3 girls are merrily munching grass

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Tour De Fleece starts and my Guild Fibre Day

Today was my own Guild's Fibre Day, so I took some of my Alpaca, sheep and camel fibre to sell, as well as my spinning wheel so that I could get some of the texal fleece spun, as my part of the Fleece de Tour.
The guild day went well, it was in conjunction with the Farming Museum where we hold our meetings. Some of the ladies were doing indigo dyeing, some felting and some spinning. It was an enjoyable day.
As to the spinning I managed to get two bobbins finished and put onto a niddy noddy

The texal is quite an interesting fleece to spin, whilst I was plying the yarn it has a sheen to it, that I was not expecting. Will be interesting to see how much I get spun over the next few weeks.

The Silence of the Lambs............

or not in our case, as on Saturday we gave the lambs their second Heptovac injection and at the same time separated them off from their mum's!!!! All was calm until we took the lambs out of the barn and into their own paddock on the common land. We kept Finn back and put him in the Alpaca's summer paddock along with missy's lad, Fluffy (as per Harry Potter) and Amy's lad, we've called him Fleecy as he has a really nice and soft grey fleece.
We also weighed and gave the ewes a mineral drench to help them recover from the rigours of raising lambs. There is a 5, 3, 4 month rule with ewes, 5 month pregnant, 3 months riasing lambs and 4 months to recover, which we try to follow. So as the lambs are now 12 weeks old, it's time to separate them from their mum's. Last night was a very noisy night, as well as very warm as all the windows in the house were closed to block out the bleating from the ewes and the lambs. Today it's a little quieter.
Weighing the ewes and lambs at weaning, means that we can monitor weight gain/loss to ensure we never have the worm problem we had last year. I have to say the lambs are looking really well, no "pooey bums" despite the long grass they are grazing.
In a months time we will have all the lambs in and decide which ewe lambs we are keeping, so they will go in with the rest of the ewes and the rest that are going to the mart into another field, so we can keep an eye on their weight and anything near the 30kg mark will be sent to the mart as light lambs.
Just spoken to Pete, he's going to borrow the our lamb scales, and cull ewes are a good price at the moment, so we will be up early to sort out the 3 ewes we've ear marked as culls. Such is life, you have to respond to the markets where possible.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Woolfest report and pictures

I left for Woolfest on Thursday morning, the truck packed to the gunnel's. At one point I did think that I was going to have use the small sheep trailer as well, I had so much fibre to take with me. I met up with Phillippa, as arranged, at Scotch Corner cafe lay by. From there it's the long drive along the A66 to Cockermouth, thankfully with no problems. We finally arrived at 3.30 to find the car park to the action site already full of stallholders busy unpacking.

We'd decided to get some tables, put them up with some boxes on and then go and get a cup of tea. Stop again at 6 for tea, by which time we hoped we would have not much more arranging to the stall(s) to do.
At 7 o'clock I was stood with bags of fibre all around me with my head on my hands, wondering what to do next, when a very kind lady from the stall behind us, went and got us all a cup of tea. It's amazing what an effect a good cup of tea can do for you and it seemed as if all the fibre finally had a home .
This is what my stall looked like at 9pm on Thursday night







This is what Phillippa's stall looked like. As you can see we both had very colourful stalls. We always have stalls next door to each other with the centre gate removed so we can create one big stall for everyone to come a browse and buy from.





One thing we hadn't bargained for this year was a girder, right at the front of the stall, in the middle. So we used it as best we could and hung all sorts of things around it that we had to sell. On the whole it seems to have worked.









As compensation for the girder, we were able to use the cattle crush that was in front of the stall as extra hanging space. I think we used it to the best effect. When you looked down isle H, where we were, it certainly drew your eye to our stall.

Woolfest it's self when the paying public arrived, what can I say apart from the fact that is was very hectic and very warm.

I'd signed up for a drop spindle workshop on the Friday afternoon, at a time which is usually quiet, just after lunch, no such look, it was busy and I
had to rush off and leave Phillippa and her mum to man the stall.
The workshop was very informative and gave me loads of hints and tips on how to use a drop spindle. The hour went so quickly, and so did the rest of the afternoon, so much so we were still selling at 6pm, an hour after Woolfest had closed for the day.
A photo showing both our stalls.
As I was sleeping on site, in the truck I spent a great evening with Freyalyn and Mark, sat out chatting and drinking tea, that was after a quick glass of wine with fellow Shetland Sheep Breeder, Lenice, as she restocked her stall, something we all had been doing throughout the day, re-stocking.
Saturday seemed to start a little slower, but it soon picked up, as well as the temperature, I ended up borrowing a t-shirt from Phillippa's mum, I was so warm in my thin long sleeved top. Again the day just flew past, I was hoping to catch up and visit a few stall, but I just didn't have any free time. Despite the really warm weather, I sold a couple of aran jumpers I knitted, along with an alpaca scarf.
As I had so much fibre, I offered some of my Shetland Sheep batts to the Shetland Sheep Breeders stall for them to sell for me. I took half a dozen round, along with a couple of hand knitted jumpers in Shetland wool and thought no more about. A couple of hours later Joy appeared, could she have some more batts for the stall they'd sold out, a bit later she was back again for more. In the end I had to give them some of my shetland x corridale batts to sell. When I finally managed to see Joy, late on Saturday afternoon, they had sold 19 sheep batts and my 2 jumpers for me. Yet on my own stall the batts had hardly moved, strange?
It was gone 5pm before we finally managed to start and pack up and I hit the road home at 6, to hear from Tim that it was thick fog on the A19 and at home he'd had to endure 3 days of sea frets. I got to within 20 miles from Scotch Corner when I drove into the mist and from there on to home it was rain and thick mist. Not what I wanted after two hectic days. I finally got home at 9.15, took my cash, spinning wheel and phone out of the car, locked it up and crashed on the sofa with a glass of wine.
I will be going to Woolfest next year with Phillippa. This year had been worth all the effort of night spent dyeing fibre, carding fleece batts etc. Though on Friday afternoon I did manage to text a friend saying that I didn't want to see another customer, and to make them all go away!!!! Well I had been on the go since 6am, that and the heat was getting to be too much. I understand that on the Friday nearly 3000 people came through the doors, a record, and I suspect the same number on the Saturday, if my takings are anything to go by.
But I can't put my feet up as on Sunday it's my own guild's fibre day!!!!!!!!!