Sunday 30 December 2007

It's a hard life being a sheep dog......

As you can see from this picture, it's a hard life being a sheepdog on our smallholding!!!! Today we separated the rams from the ewes, so Deefa was called into action to move the sheep into the barn. We took the oppotunity to give the ewes a mineral drench. Charlie and his ladies moved no problems, but Hector and his ladies, did move, but as Tim opened the gate Amber head butted Deefa!!! As Deefa weighs 30kg she bowled him over so easily. Deefa didn't retaliate, he just came and stood by me so that he could get round the back of the ewes to move them into the barn.
Deefa is coming along really well moving the sheep.
I'd got some ram masks to put on Charlie and Hector, they're like blinkers, the rams can't see forward, so they can't charge at each other. Trouble is, they were a bit big and Charlie couldn't see at all, Hector stood no chance. His didn't fit at all. So back to "plan z". Put them into separate paddocks next to each other and so far they have not tried to kill each other through the fence. We'll leave them like this for a couple of weeks and then hopefully we can put them in with the rest of the boys. Time will tell.
Thursday night was the Faith supper and Barn dance. It was a great night, despite Tim's bad back. He watched everyone else trying to come to terms with "stripping the willow"!!!!
Friday my sister and the Hobbits arrived for the day. Father Christmas had left some of the Hobbit's Christmas presents at our house. They had a great time opening them. Then it was time to do some work. They helped Tim to push some hay bales down and help me move Lotty and Dougal into another paddock. Instead of One Man and his Dog it was One woman and her nephews!!!!
Saturday the weather was raw and it was a choice between doing the sheep or working in the office. It was not particularly a hard choice. The office is now nice and tidy, invoices and bills filed away. Tim loaded a whole lot of music onto my mp3 player for me. An exhausting day!!!!
Have a Happy New Year, hopefully like us, you will be seeing in the New Year with friends.

Thursday 27 December 2007

Fencing, a bad back, parties abd the dogs get showered

Christmas Day was mild so we took the opportunity to get on with some jobs. Most of the sheep wanted hay, but as the weather is mild again, they are going through a bale every 2 days, instead of daily. Tim finished off fencing the wooded area, so all he needs to do is fit the small gate (which arrived on Christmas eve) and it's finished. I know that there are quite a few daffodil and snowdrop bulbs in this area, so as I see them I'm going to move them to where the sheep can't damage them.
I made a start on digging over my small veg area. I've an area 18ft x 2ft and now have 12 feed bags full of weeds. So I will have to have a visit to the tip and put it all in the composting skip. It took most of the day and by 3 o'clock it was starting to get cold and the light was starting to fade.
Christmas dinner (eaten in the evening) was a nice piece of beef. If you've read the earlier blogs you will know that our Christmas Goose was eaten by a fox 2 weeks ago!!!!!
Boxing Day, we went to watch the start of one of our local hunts, followed by a quick trip into Whitby, unfortunately, Tim's back has seized up so getting in and out of the car is not easy.
We'd been invited to Open House at our neighbours, which I went to, but because of Tim's back he decided to stay at home, he could not get comfy. He didn't miss out as Debbie (who's party it was) has lent Tim one of these wheat filled heat pads, that you heat up in the microwave. When I went to take him some food, he was moving a lot better and after he'd eaten his tea joined the party. He's certainly moving a lot better today.
This morning, after feeding up, which isn't taking very long with the two of us. I do the concentrates, Tim fills the hay racks, another quick visit into Whitby to get some food for the Faith Supper that we are going to tonight. So in between visitors, giving the house a quick hoover, I've been cooking 150 mini sausage rolls. Hopefully they will go down O.K.
I also decided that both dogs needed a shower, Deefa is decidedly filthy and you can't give him a shower without giving Holly one. Thankfully they will both go into the shower no bother and stand there whilst I give them a shampoo and wash. They also don't shake themselves, until I've got a towel to cover them with!!!! Deefa, the big softy, won't come out of the shower room unless he's got a towel wrapped round him!!! he'll them go and sit by the aga to dry. His fur goes all soft and crinkly!!!!! Holly goes for the unbrushed look!!!!
Tomorrow my sister and family arrive for lunch, we've still got some of the Hobbit's Christmas presents here, so that should be good fun.
Hope you all had the type of Christmas you all wanted!!!!!

Sunday 23 December 2007

Cold but dry week and Carol singing

As I mentioned last week on Thursday we went Carol Singing around the village farms. We all met at the village hall with our cars. Previous years there have only been a handful of singers, but this year, there were 7 cars full of carol singers. We started at one end of the village and then worked our way back to the A171 then to Tranmire, followed by the farms along the A171, then back to Brian and Jackie's for supper. There was one hairy moment, going to one of the farms at Tranmire, up a steep drive, one of the cars very nearly went over the edge when we were leaving, trying to do a 3 point turn!!!!
At Brian and Jackie's we had to sing for our supper, there was only one carol to sing, While Sheppard's watch their flocks by night to the tune of On Ilkley Moor b'tat. Well what else do you expect from Yorkshire Carol Singers!!!! It was a good night, there was plenty of food and alcohol to lubricate the old vocal cords. We finally got to be at 1 o'clock, not good when the alarm goes off at 5am for me to go to work!!!!!
This week the weather has been cold but dry so Tim has been able to rattle on with the fencing in the wooded area, it's not been easy as he's had to cut the lower branches off the conifer hedge to get the wire in place as well as cut back a very badly rotten hawthorn hedge. There's just the other side to stretch a wire along and fit a new gate, which has been ordered, then we will be able to put some sheep in to keep the grass down.
This weekend we finally cut the conifer hedge between the yard and the wooded area, to 4ft high. It's something we've been wanting to do for some time and what a difference it's made, the winter sun is now able to shine on the house and yard. There were 6 trailer loads of conifer hedge and once we got the fire going, there is very little of the conifer left.
With this cold weather the ewes are going through a bale of hay a day and looking at their paddocks it's time to move them, a job for next weekend when we take Hector and Charlie out. Charlie has covered all but 4 0f the Wiltshire Horn ewes, it's tempting to leave him in with them, but as it is we'll be lambing up to the end May, if we leave him in much longer than next weekend, we'll be lambing in June!!! We'll let the ewes have access to the common land, which has a good growth of grass on it. We'll also give them access to the barn for shelter, it will make feeding them easier and it will get the ewes used to the barn in readiness for lambing.
We will try and have a restful Christmas Day, but we'll still have all the animals to feed, water and hay to check and to be honest, if it's a mild and dry day, it's tempting to be outside working.
All that remains to say is to wish you all a Happy Christmas and I'll post as usual next weekend.

Sunday 16 December 2007

A week of frosty weather and Blue Tongue again

We've had a week of very frosty weather, it's been so white that at times it looked like a light covering of snow. Because it has been so frosty, has meant that Tim has not been able to do much on the land, which in turn, has meant that his eye has had a week to recover. Today he wore his contact lenses for the first time since last Sunday.
On Friday night, the news broke that a cow at a farm near to Middlesbrough, that had been imported from Germany, had been confirmed as having Blue Tongue, it has been culled and thankfully the Blue tongue protected area has not been expanded. But what we all don't understand is that we can't move animals out of the blue tongue protected area into the Blue tongue free zone. So why this farmer was allowed to import a cow from a country infected with Blue tongue to Middlesbrough which is in the Blue tongue free zone is totally beyond me. Lunatics running the asylum spring to mind!!!!
Graham from Bidgimire Pig Arcs delivered 3 arcs on Tuesday, 2 large ones and 1 small one. The small arc has gone into the small paddock that one day will be my veg plot, so that Lotty and Dougal can go in their and eat the grass, one of the large arcs went into the paddock where the whethers live, the other where Charlie and his ladies are. So now all the animals have got shelters and these last few days have been using them, only coming out when Tim has been putting feed into their troughs or when the sun came out.
Yesterday we went to York, delivering some of our lamb, but also to take birthday and Christmas presents and cards. It was good to catch up with family and friends, but it did mean the dogs were a little "crossed legged" when we got home
Today, it has been very mild, all the frost has gone and it was a pleasure to be out and about. I took the bottles to the bottle bank and the newspapers to Bunnyland for them to use in their kennels. Because it was dry we managed to burn all the hedge trimmings from the hedge laying we did last weekend. The fire took a little starting, but once it was alight, it burnt in next to no time. So we're now clear of debris ready for the next hedge laying day in January.
This coming week we're going carol singing around some of the local farms with the singers from the local church, instead of walking to the various houses to sing, you have to go by car, or to be precise, a 4 x 4 to get down the farm tracks. We end up at one of the houses in the village for supper, this year we'll end up at Brian and Jackie's. Should be good fun, more about that next week.
With Christmas only 9 days away, I'm feeling quite smug as all presents are bought and Christmas cards sent. The only down side is the goose we were going to have on Christmas Day, is in a fox, so we'll be having some of our lamb instead.
Next Sunday is the last weekend before Christmas, and how stressed will you be........

Sunday 9 December 2007

Hedge laying and Snow

As you know we were hedge laying this weekend, well watching the weather forecast, it didn't look good. But yesterday morning it was sunny, slightly windy and not a cloud in the sky. We made a good start, and after a couple of hours, the wind suddenly became very cold and switched round to blowing in from the North, that could only mean one thing Snow. Sure enough an hour later snow started to fall. We worked on as long as we could, but the bank sides were getting very slippy and it was starting to become too dangerous to work. So we had to pack in at around 1 o'clock. we'd managed to lay about 6 metres of hedge, not bad all things considered.
This morning the sun was shining, hardly any wind. A perfect day to do some more hedge laying. This was after we decided to cut the dog's walk short because neither of us is very good at skating on black ice in wellingtons!!!! Maybe we should suggest it as a new sport for the Olympics.
Dave, the ferret man, came to visit us today. He's been up a couple of nights to shoot our expanding rabbit population, but today decided to go in with the ferrets. Part of our rabbit problem comes from our neighbours, where the warrens are, thankfully they have agreed that Dave can go onto their land and work the warrens. Hopefully this will keep the little blighters down. After a couple of hours, he'd got 4 rabbits, so he wasn't too disappointed.
We got on with some hedge laying, but just as one of our friends, John, arrived Tim was pulling out some of the loose branches, when one flicked back and caught him in the eye. It's very red and sore, but we think that his contact lens took most of the damage. The next couple of days will tell. So we didn't get a great deal of hedge laying done today.
John came bearing gifts, Tim's birthday present, and Christmas presents for us both. He's been in Spain for a few weeks on holiday, so he's feeling the cold.
Talking of the cold, the wind around these parts is very lazy. It refuses to blow round you, it goes straight through you. So the thermals have come out in an attempt to keep us warm whilst out working on the smallholding.
The ram's had their raddle colours changed for the last time. Hector's ladies are all covered, but Charlie is now just starting to cover the Wiltshire ewes, to that end he subjected the hedge laying gang to some "sheep porn"!!!!! He obviously likes an audience!!!! We will leave the rams in with their respective harems until Christmas and then they will be moved back in with the weathers. Any of the Wiltshire ewes that are not covered are obviously not ready yet and it's a chance you take when putting this year's ewes to the ram. The next couple of weeks will tell.
More next week.

Sunday 2 December 2007

An annoying time with the abattoir and Mr and Mrs Resident Vandal arrive

On Monday Tim took our 6 fat lambs to an abattoir near York, who do sheep skins, only to discover that they no longer did sheep skins, despite when I booked them in, I mentioned we wanted the skins doing!!! Needless to say Tim was not impressed as it's 100mile round trip and the fleeces on the rams were in something special. Had we known I would have sheared the rams, to keep the fleeces and then sent them to the abattoir. Needless to say we are now looking for a new abattoir, nearer to home. One thing we did learn this time is that we end up getting back 1/3 of the live weight. Yet again most of our lamb meat is sold. We've purposely held back the Wiltshire Horn meat for ourselves to sample. We had a leg today, and though very tender and quite tasty, it's not as strong a flavour as the Shetlands we had last year, but they were older, so we shall see what the Wiltshire's taste like as a shearling.
Mr and Mrs Resident Vandal arrived on Wednesday, Mrs RV has been working in York, so they decided to extend their visit and spend a long weekend with us. As I type up this blog Kiera dog is crashed out on one of the sofas, Deefa on the other. All they have done for 2 days is chase one another around.
Tim and the RV have managed to get some fence post knocked in at the back of the barn, the idea being fence up to the barn so that we can create some temporary shelter in the main barn, but having spent today clearing the end of the barn, discovered that the old railway van parked at the back of the barn, the water running off it, runs into the barn, creating a very wet floor. The answer is to move the railway van, but it's full of wood and we have no more space left to store this wood undercover, so I'm not sure what we're going to do.
Now as you know the RV is so named because he usually breaks something when he's here, but this time it was Mrs RV who lived up to her name. Coming back from the pub on Saturday night she tripped/fell over 2 "imaginary" pot holes in the road!! Goodness knows what was in the 2 glasses if white wine she had with the meal in the pub!!! Today, as it was raining it was suggested that we both split the wood that was cut in the log store, after about an hour our new log splitter, that Mrs RV was using, started to make some very strange noises. Turns out it was short of hydraulic oil!!!! She said she was enjoying herself, but personally, I think it was a bit severe, to get out of splitting wood.
We put the rest of the Wiltshire Horn ewe lambs along with Davina and Demelza into Charlie the Wilthsire Horn ram's paddock. He then spent most of the morning chasing them around the field, but not much action. We will see what happens over the coming week as everyone settles down. It's fun watching an inexperienced ram trying to persuade "his ladies" that he's "the one". Hector watched from the next paddock in absolute dismay!!!!
Now that Charlie has been in with his "original ladies" for 4 weeks, and as he covered them in the 1st week, none of them have come back to him, so he's fertile, that's always a worry with a new ram.
Next weekend we're hedge laying, should be good fun.
More next week

Sunday 25 November 2007

Tim takes early retirement.....

Well from paid employment that is. He finished working at the cafe in Whitby, where he's been for the past 3 years, working part time. He was finding that as the days get shorter, he was not able to get a lot done on our smallholding, he was leaving home at 10.00 and not getting back until 15.00. The light has virtually gone by then. So I'm compiling a list of jobs for him to do so he doesn't get bored!!!!!!
This weekend we seemed to get quite a lot done. On Saturday, which was cold and wet, Tim got a whole load more wood cut and as the new log splitter has arrived, he was able to test it out fully. The old log splitter has given up the ghost, well the on/off button has. We bought it not long after we moved here, after a very "cartoon moment" when I tried to lift the axe above my head to split some wood and ended up falling over backwards with the weight!!!! The new log splitter is impressive with an 8 tonne ram, and can split a log up to 3ft in length, hopefully it will give us several years useful service. I did the VAT, not a difficult job, but we've moved onto a new accounting system, so I'm been extra careful to ensure that the VAT is correct. Great way to spend a wet afternoon!!!!
Today has been much milder, so it's been a day of topping up the hay racks, putting straw down in the shelters and changing water troughs. We also weighed the fat lambs to see how much weight they have put on over the week, they averaged between 2 - 5 lbs. It will be interesting to see the weight gain next year as we will not be castrating any of our lambs. One thing we have done in reading the weights for the lambs is to get the kgs and Ibs mixed up, so though we thought we were reading the number correctly it was the kgs/lbs bit we got wrong!!! Tim is taking them to the abattoir on Monday, it will be interesting to see what weight we get back. It's reckoned that the weight we get back will be a 2/3 of it's live weight. We wait and see.
Tim fitted the final post of the fencing in the veg plot and moved the old horse box into the barn ready for the arrival of the resident vandal. I managed to clear an area in the new veg plot to put one of the compost bins back in place, the other bin will fit behind it when I get the rasp canes cleared away. Guess what I will be doing over the winter? Digging over the veg plot!!
The resident vandal and partner, along with Kiera dog arrive on Wednesday for a few days. Holly and Deefa are catching up on their sleep in readiness for a hectic few days playing tag. Fencing up to the barn is one of the jobs to be done along with wrecking the old horsebox and work on the old Jeep. It will keep Tim and the resident vandal out of trouble for a few days.
After a week of inactivity Hector is back working, it looks like the last few ewes had cycled just before we put them to Hector, so hopefully he will cover the remaining ones this week. Charlie only having 6 ewes to look after, covered them all in a week. Next week he will be introduced to his new ladies. More about that next week

Sunday 18 November 2007

Cool Weather arrives and the fat lambs move into the barn

This morning we awoke to sleet and looking from the landing window to see how Lotty was, she was no where to be seen. Thankfully she was in a hollow sheltering from the weather. So we had a rethink as to who goes into which paddock so that Lotty can have some shelter.
So..... the fat lambs have been moved into the barn in readiness for dispatch to the abattoir a week on Monday. We've weighed them again and we will weigh them again next weekend to see how much weight they have or have not put on. Moving them into the barn freed up their paddock, so Archie, Angus, Alex and Cecil have been moved into it. Lotty and Dougal are now in their paddock and have spent most of the day in the shelter eating hay. Lotty is so full of life we feel that she deserved some T&C to get her through the winter.
Tim has been busy this week, he's not been at the cafe since Wednesday, so he's been able to get the fruit area in the veg plot paddock fenced, so that gives us some more grass for the sheep to eat, he's nearly finished fencing the wooded area, but the hedge needs laying along one side, not a long job, and we were hoping to do it today, but not in this weather. Once it's done Lotty and Dougal will be moved in. Denise is going to order a small pig arc to act as a shelter for them. We already have 2 large pig arcs that the sheep use in the bad weather and we think another large one, as well as a small one, will give the sheep quite a lot of shelter for the winter.
Tim has also been putting in fence posts to enable the sheep from the back field access to the large barn. He will put some temporary fencing up in the barn, again the sheep will appreciate it when the weather becomes wet and cold.
Why do we worry about shelter for our sheep, well one year the sheep had no shelter as such and though they seemed to come through the winter well, the ewes only had single lambs. Proving that a lot of their food was being used to keep them warm. Since then we've made sure that, at the very least, the ewes have had access to shelter during the winter months and as a result our lambing percentages have gone up.
Whilst Tim was doing the fencing, the fencing plyers slipped and went into the fleshy part of his palm, just below his thumb!!!! Yes is did hurt and yes his hand is bruised and very tender.
As Tim has been at home for a couple of days, both dogs are warn out, Deefa as he spends all day outside with Tim, Holly watches from the bedroom windows, guarding the house. On an evening we have crashed out dogs.
Next week is Tim's last week working at the cafe, the reason for going has now out lived it's usefulness and there are still lots of jobs to complete on our smallholding.
More next week

Sunday 11 November 2007

Cold Weather and flood warnings

Well the mild weather ended with the arrival of high winds from the North and for Sandsend, 4 miles away, severe flood warnings, and for one car driver, finding their car parked on a wall at the side of the newsagents!!!!!! Though the winds rattled around the barns and out buildings, there was no damage. But today we had our first fall of snow and hailstones!!!!!!
Yesterday we delivered Lucy and Winky to Lonnin Alpacas to act as lawn mowers. They loved being in the paddocks with the young male alpacas and there are chickens to watch. We were hoping that Lottie would be going with them, but as you know her health is not brilliant, and to expect someone else to keep an eye on her is not good and does nothing for "customer relations". We also delivered out only ram lamb to his new owner, Beryl, who is a great hand spinner and wants a new fibre type added to her flock of fibre sheep. He's in for a fun time.
Before we delivered the ram lamb. we weighed all the male lambs, interestingly the only full ram lamb we have weighed the most (76kgs). So this has further confirmed that next year we will not be castrating the ram lambs, also we've been asked if we have any ram lambs for sale, as it is known that our young rams seem to add not only fibre, but at 6 months of age, their male off spring achieve a good weight for a meat.
Hector and Charlie, our two rams, have being enjoying themselves over the last week. Hector has covered a ewe everyday since last weekend, which is great for us come 1st April as we will be dealing with one ewe a day. Charlie decided to go mad this weekend and covered 3 girls in one night and not to be out done so did Hector, so it looks like we will have a busy time around the 5th April. The crayons on Charlie's harness are not working very well so we tried to get some new ones!!! No luck, we had to get him a new harness, but this was so easy to fit, we will get one for Hector next week when we change his raddle colour.
We picked up our finally load of wood from our neighbours at the Land O Nod farm, now all we need to do is chop all the wood we have, but the log splitter we have, the switch on it has decided to stay switched on, so you have to switch it off at the wall. A real pain!!! Repairs and a service are required. Hopefully we won't have to buy a new one. This week will tell.
More next week...........

Monday 5 November 2007

So how did we spend our 30th Wedding Anniversary..

Holly went to visit her doggie hairdresser, Anne. Holly now has much shorter fur, and when she is wearing her harness, she looks "a very hard dog." This haircut will, hopefully, last her now until the new year.
Lottie had a visit from the vet, Liz, and she confirmed what we already knew. Lottie is now quite old, and though everything is working reasonably O.K, there are times when her digestive system doesn't. So another course of 'botics for her and we will be watching her weight and if she looses much more weight (size zero is not good for a sheep) we will have to make that awful decision of when to send her to the "big sheep field in the sky". A friend wants some sheep to keep a paddock short (sheep lawn mowers) and we were hoping to send Lottie with her sister Lucy along with Winky, but we will now be keeping Lottie at home.
Paul, from the NFU called, to help us sort out Tim's pension. It was an interesting chat and at long last we got answers to our many questions.
We also had a visit from the Animal Movements people, we were in breach of the 20 day standstill during the Foot and Mouth restrictions, but it turned out that they had forgotten the 20 day standstill was rescinded for 5 days, between the 2 outbreaks, and we like a lot of people, took full use of the opportunity. Anyway everything is O.K, movement books, medicine books and feed records.
We had the Wild Duck we were given yesterday and very tasty it was too. Tim got the old sleepers cut up for use with the tractor to dig the ditch and I emptied and moved the 2 compost bins that were going to be in the way of the fencing in the veg plot.
Finally one of the ewes in Hector's field has a "yellow bum". So the ram score today is Hector 1 Charlie Nil.
More at the weekend

Sunday 4 November 2007

Hedge Laying Weekend and the tups are raddled up and ready to do

The mild weather continues and for this weekend it was greatly appreciated. The Hedge Laying Hollands and Stone Walling Marshalls arrived on Saturday morning to lay the hedge that boarders our land and the Common Land.
The hedge laying went well as the stems of the hedge are still very supple and forgiving when they are laid. This enabled us to bring the hedge back into line and create a hedge of approx 3ft high. At one point there was a large gap and we thought that we might have to under plant it with blackthorn saplings, but as the rest of the stems were laid, the gap gradually filled in. By the end of the day we had laid 15 metres, it may not seem far but we had a lot of stems/trunks to remove that were not in line with original hedge, and as the hedge had got so high, the top had grown together, looking like a rather large amount of spaghetti and just as difficult to untangle. Another day hedge laying is to be arrange before the end of the year and Tim and I in the mean time will attempt to remove all the stems that are outside the hedge line to save time later on.
To add a bit of interest to the day, the local farmers that have shooting rights over the common land, decided to have a day shooting. They did let us know, but was a little bit disconcerting having guns going off around us. They also came and stood in our back field to shoot over a small coppice. Deefa decided to become all brave and barked at the shooters!!!!! A duck is now hanging up in our garage as a thank you from the shooters. So that's tomorrow's tea sorted out.
The stonewalling Marshalls stayed over to help sort out the sheep for tupping. The first lot of sheep to be given the once over were the Wiltshire Horn Ewe lambs along with Lucy, Lottie, Damelza and Davina. There were all weighed, given Heptovac and Decotmax injections and Selco. But poor Lottie is not well and we shall be calling the vet tomorrow to come and have a look at her, she is so thin and it looks like the abscess she had earlier this year is back again.
It was interesting weighing all the ewes to see the difference between the Shetlands and the Corridales. When we put the "big" lad through, we realised how heavy they are, ranging from 140 to 160kgs. No wonder they hurt when they stand on your foot!!!!!
Hector and Charlie have had raddles fitted and are now happily residing the their respective harem of ladies. Bum watch starts again!!!!
Tomorrow is our 30th Wedding anniversary not too sure what we will be doing, Holly is booked in to have a haircut, and as said earlier Lotty needs a visit from the vet. Such is life..........
More next week and hopefully Charlie and Hector will have wooed a few ladies and we will know when lambing starts next year.

Sunday 28 October 2007

A productive week and magazine interview

Tim had the first 3 days of the week off from the cafe and he got the veg area fenced, so we can now run sheep in this small paddock. He also decided to dig a new ditch adjacent to the veg garden paddock, where the well for the spring is, which is now defunct. Anyway, Tim started to dig the ditch, and yes you guessed it, the tractor sunk!!! Not as deep as on the common land, but deep enough to be pulled out by another tractor driven by our neighbour Colin. It has been suggested that Tim puts some old railway sleepers down and reverse the tractor over them. We wait and see if this works.
On Wednesday afternoon we were interviewed by Vicki from the Farmers Mart mag, thankfully the weather was fine so Vicki was able to take lots of photos of the sheep and alpacas. We've yet to get the proofs to read through, but it should be arriving next week. Will let you know when the article is going to be published.
As we have finally chopped all the wood stored in the barn, Tim took the tractor and trailer to the Land O Nod Farm to collect some nicely seasoned wood. Two trailer loads, (approx 4 tonnes) are now stacked relatively neatly in the barn waiting for us to cut into logs for the resident vandal's partner to split in a months time.
We had a surprise visit from some friends Sandie and John, they were delivering some of their Ryeland lambs to their new owners in Castleton. Sandie and John have not been to our smallholding for a couple of years, though we have met up on several occasions at sheep and smallholder events. So they seen a great deal of change from the last time they visited. It was good to chat, as the saying goes. Sandie is a champion breeder of Ryelands, winning best in breed at the Great Yorkshire Show with one of her own bred ram lambs, so it was interesting to hear what she thinks of our sheep. Been a hand spinner she really appreciated the fleece on the Shetlands and Corridale fat lambs, confirming that next year we will not be castrating any of our ram lambs so they can be sold, if required, for breeding.
Next weekend we have the Hedge laying Hollands and Stonewalling Marshalls here for a day of hedge laying. We will also be putting the rams in with the ewes, so we will be inoculating all the sheep, checking feet and ensuring that they are all in tip top condition. So hopefully the weather will remain mild and dry.
As always more next week.....

Sunday 21 October 2007

Weekend of Hobbits - aka The Nephews

The nephews arrived on Friday night, travelling here with Denise on the train. On Saturday they decided that they didn't want to walk the dogs, preferring to feed the animals. After we had walked to all the different paddocks feeding the sheep and alpacas, they decided that maybe walking the dogs would have been a shorter walk.!!!!!! The rest of the day was spent "chilling out" but they did summon up enough energy to go into Whitby and demolish fish and chips for their tea. Sunday we went to pick up our remaining Wiltshire Horn Ewe from Sue and Kevin, we also decided to take the ewe that had been badly caught with fly strike when we had picked up the previous ewes, as she has recovered really well. We all had a good look round at the other animals on Sue and Kevin's farm (horses, goats, kune kune pigs and Dexter cows), despite the mist. We arrived back safely and the 2 new girls are settling in nicely. The nephews went home this afternoon and as I write this blog I think I've gone deaf and both Deefa and Holly are both crashed out. They have spent a large part of the weekend playing tag with the nephews!!!!
There was some good news on the Foot and Mouth front, the 20day standstill was brought down to 6 days as from Wednesday, which makes moving sheep around a lot easier. But the
Blue Tongue zone has been extended, thankfully we are still outside the zone, but only just!!!! Hopefully the frosts we have had over the last few days will kill off the gnats that carry the infection.
Talking of frosts, we are now lighting the wood burning stoves on an evening, so some part of the weekend is spent cutting and splitting wood. We've nearly cut all of the wood stacked in the barn. But not to worry our neighbour, Colin, has a few more trailer loads waiting for us!!!!
That's all for this week

Sunday 14 October 2007

Rare Breeds Sale

On Friday we took 13 of our ewe lambs to the Rare Breeds Sale at York. We wished we hadn't. To start with Denise spent most of Friday in bed with a nasty cold and had to drag herself out of bed to do the movement and transport licences.
Thankfully the ewes went into the trailer no problem and the journey to York was reasonably good until we got onto York's inner ring road. We then proceeded to sit in traffic for 20 minutes without moving!!!! We finally arrived at the auction mart an hour late, but thankfully we were able to unload the ewes and settle them in for the night. Worryingly there were a lot of empty pens.
Saturday fared not much better, the prices were worryingly low and thanks to our black and white yuglet who reached the heady price of £17 gns, the best price for an unregistered Shetland ewe, our cheque from the auction mart should not been too bad, but at least half of what we would have got last year. Worryingly it's the same story from all the other Rare Breed Sales that were held this weekend. We can only hope that things improve next year.
The only ewes left on our smallholding are the one's we will be breeding from, all 27 of them!!! So come April/May next year we could have between 27 - 54 lambs!!!!! So next year we will have to make some serious decisions on which of our ewes we keep as we will be concentrating on the Wiltshire Horns, ideally we would like to have 12 - 18 Wiltshire Horn ewes and 6 - 12 Shetlands and Corridale ewes. Mutton will defiantly be on the menu.
Next weekend the nephews, aka The Hobbit's, arrive for a couple of days and we should be able to go and pick up our remaining Wiltshire Horn ewe lamb from Rosedale.
Hopefully more cheerfully news next week


Sunday 7 October 2007

Good Bye to Elli, Bella and Eloise

On Saturday we delivered, Elli, Bella and Eloise to their new owners, Carol and Duncan. The girls went into the trailer with no problems and when we arrived at Carol & Duncan's smallholding some 3 hours later, they were sat in the back of the trailer "totally chilled". Once the back door of the trailer was opened, they came straight out and proceeded to run around their new home, eat the grass and hay and have a general look round. When Tim closed the back of the trailer they were non too bothered and when we left, they were avidly watching the chickens fighting in the next paddock. An e-mail today from Carol says they have settled in well. Good to know.
It's also been a busy week. Scooby, the fencer arrived on Tuesday, to re-fence one of the paddocks that boarders the common land and also to create a new "sheep walk" or "race" at the top of another paddock by reclaiming 10ft of land that was overgrown by a hedge. It now means that we have 2 ways of moving the sheep to the barn, so hopefully during the winter neither race will become poached, as it did last year.
But in order that Scooby could do the fencing we had to move the "fat lambs" and the Rams. Tim put some hurdles up to split one of the paddocks in half so that the boys could share, as the fat lambs are on rather more feed than the rams at the moment. The only trouble was, Charlie (Wiltshire Horn Ram) was now next to the ewes, and he proceeded to batter "7 bells of whats it" out of a 8 inch strainer post. Drastic action was call for, so we moved the ewes into the same field as the ewe lambs that are due to go to the Rare Breeds Sale. That stopped him, but that evening we discovered that as we are in a Low Risk area for Foot and Mouth and Blue Tongue, the Rare Breeds Sale at York has been rescheduled for the 12th and 13th October, so we are going to have to split all the sheep up again.
So guess what we did this morning? We spent the morning moving sheep. The fat lambs have been moved into the paddock once occupied by the ewes, the ewes moved into the newly fenced paddock next to the common land, the lambs going to the sale are in a paddock next to the barn, which has the trailer in it ready to load them into on Friday. We also took the opportunity to give the Wiltshire Horn Ewes their finally booster of Heptovax and to put the Whiltshire Horn wether with the other fat lambs, Davina and Demelza, the 2 Masham X Sheltland ewe lambs have been put with the Wilthsire Horn lambs along with Lucy and Lotty who are now too old to breed from and Winky, who I'm afraid is meat for the freezer, as mutton, in the next month or so, she has not produced any lambs for us over the last 2 years.
We also had a fire to get rid of all of the hedge prunings from Scooby when he did the fencing as well as the lot from the hedge laying a couple of weeks ago. All that is left is a pile of ash. It was a good fire despite the sea fret and rain.
Next week will be another busy week, sorting out the relevant movement licences for the sale on Friday/Saturday, taking them to the sale and hoping we get a decent price for them. Arranging the collection of our missing Wiltshire Horen Ewe, the delivery of a Corridale Ram and the arrival of the nephews!!!! I'm sure the kids have more school holidays now than when we were at school, and talk to a farming magazine who want to do a feature on us!!!!
Results of the sale and the outcome on the magazine article next week

Sunday 30 September 2007

Animal Movements and Birthday Celebrations

Early this week it was announced that animals in a Low Risk area, that's us, could start to do a farm to farm movements, but again with very tight bio security, a 20 day standstill etc. So we are in the process of arranging the delivery of our 3 alpaca girls for next Saturday. Denise has managed to negotiate the Defra help line and web site to download the new movement licence but still has to speak to the local animal health department in Leeds. She will need a strong coffee before tackling that phone call!!!!

On Thursday it was Denise's birthday and the celebrations went on for 2 days. Thursday night was a meal out in the local pub, Friday was a day of chocolates, followed by an office night out at a Mexican (the office is now on a diet), a farm sale on Saturday morning, (a galvanised trough was purchased for fleece washing) and a trip to Masham Sheep Fair on Sunday. No sheep but lots of gossip and fleeces and fibre to see, not one of Tim's favourite of fairs.

The rain this week has proved that the ditch Tim dug is working really well. It's weired watching the water running out of the top layer of soil at the "Y" start of the ditch. The part of the fence line that was previously wet, appears to be dry. This winter will test it more, but it's good to see the water running down the newly dug ditch.

The problem with being able to move sheep is that we are 1 Wiltshire Horn ewe short, but if we pick her up we are then on a 20 day stand still, apart from sending sheep to slaughter, and on Saturday we heard that sheep markets are back on, so we are hoping that the York Rare Breeds Sale will be back on soon. Gossip is that the prices paid for sheep is very low, so we're undecided what to do. It will cost us to keep the lambs through the winter but to get just £5.00 a lamb is an insult. We will take this year's lambs, but we were going to take a couple of ewes from last years lambs. but we are now thinking about keeping them and putting them to Hector, our Shetland Ram.
Speaking of the rams, they are looking well and getting ready for tupping, we will start to put in pre tupping licks for both the rams and the ewes. Two of our "old girls" will not be going to the tup this year, Lucy and Lotti our Hebridean X's, they are both looking thin. One of our friends is looking for a couple of "grass cutters" to keep her paddocks down, so they may go there for a few months. We will see what happens.
Next week see us getting the alpaca girls used to the trailer they will be travelling in to their new home. Will post as to how it all went.

Monday 24 September 2007

Autumn arrives and Hedge Laying

Autumn arrived well and truly on Monday, it's been quite cool and wet for most of the week, but thankfully it cleared up for the weekend.

On Saturday we decided to have a day out and went to a Countryman Show at Sledmere House, near Driffield. It was a great day with plenty of demonstrations, from sheepdogs rounding up ducks and geese, horses used for deer stalking and logging, working ferrets and lurchers. Lots to see and do. Sitting down to watch the ferreting demonstration we sat next to an old neighbour of ours, so we had a good chat to catch up on our news. She likes the newsletter we send her at Christmas, which is great to hear.

Sunday the Hedge laying Marshall's arrived, they had to make that awful decision all pet owners hate, having them put to sleep. So Holly and Deefa got especially big hugs as they miss their dog so much.

At the start of the hedge laying we thought that all we were going to do was cut down willow trees, but after creating a gap of 15 foot, the next part of the hedge was in line and so with a lot of pulling and careful placing, the gap was filled. In some ways we were not hedge laying as such more tree laying, but it's worked. It's surprising how pliable a large willow tree is. There is still a lot of hedge to go at and another hedge laying day is arranged for the 3rd November. Hopefully by then Holly and Deefa will have caught up on their sleep. Deefa spent all day just walking back and forth checking up on everyone, Holly checked the fence to see if there were any gaps to get under. Much to her disappointment, there are non. So we know it's sheep proof.

It's been an up and down week with the Foot and Mouth outbreak with more cases again this week, but for us the more worrying outbreak is Blue Tongue, we know it is a very serious problem in Europe and everyone has been asked to be vigilant. But then today, reading the Defra website, we are now in a low risk area and between farm movements will be allowed from tomorrow, but with heightened bio security. What that means we are unsure, but no doubt we will find out over the coming days.

Finally - the experiment with the fleece in the washer. I ended up with a large piece of clean fleece that was in matted clumps. Speaking to other spinners, looks like my machine temp is too hot, a problem with older washing machines. So it's back to hand washing them in the bath!!!!

More next week unless something major happens in the week..........

Sunday 16 September 2007

Foot and Mouth again.......

This week has not been particularly a good one. It started on Tuesday when Tim went to book the truck in for it's MOT only to find that the earliest it could be done is Tuesday of the following week. Normally that is not a problem, but we had arranged to deliver Elli, Bella and Eloise to their new owners on Sunday. So this was arranged for the following Saturday, the 22nd.
Then on Wednesday the news broke of another Foot and Mouth outbreak in Surrey, so the delivery on the 22nd is now postponed until we are allowed to move animals again. At the auction mart in Whitby, anyone who had not moved their animals from the mart when the news broke of Foot and Mouth, could not move their animals until they had been inspected by a vet.
We were hoping to go to a farm sale on Saturday, but this too has been cancelled, along with all the other farm sales. This includes the Rare Breeds Sale on the 5th October, where we were hoping to send 15 ewe lambs. We have plenty of grass at present, but the knock on effect of these lambs staying on our land past October will only be known come Jan/Feb next year when we are struggling for grass.
A useless piece of information - this latest outbreak of Foot and Mouth is nearer to France than it is to us!!!!!
As you know we've purchased 5 Wiltshire Horn ewe lambs, well on Tuesday Tim was doing the morning feed when he noticed on of the ewes was "weeing from the middle!!!". A check that evening confirmed that the ewe was a weather, so rang Sue and after a bit of a giggle about Sue's eyesight and needing new glasses etc, it's been agreed we will keep him and she's found the missing ewe lamb, and again once the movement restrictions are lifted we will go and collect her!!!
On the plus side Tim has finished digging the ditch on the common land and despite the dry weather we have been having, the ditch is filling with water.
Denise spent Saturday, spot spraying the nettles, docks and thistles, despite what the instructions say on the bottles, of spraying in spring, we have found that the best results occur when they are sprayed at this time of the year, the plants must take the chemical down into their roots and because they are dying back anyway, it kills them more quickly.
Today we sprayed all the ewe lambs that have Orf, Denise had been putting a homeopathic spray in their water, which looking at the lambs today has certainly helped to dry up the ulcers around their mouths and noses.
Whilst we were doing this Lucy/Lotty came to the gate to watch us, she is still thin so we decided to move her into the handling area, she can see all the other sheep and alpacas, so we can give her some extra feed, as in hay, sheep nuts and sheep lick. I don't think we will be putting her to a ram this year.
As we are not delivering the alpacas in the near future we have moved them back into their own paddock for the time being. The trailer will be moved back to where it normally lives and once we are able to move animals again, we will put the girls and the trailer back into the race for the girls to once again get used to the trailer.
So what of next week, well it's "batten down the hatches" yet again thanks to Foot and Mouth. The weather is predicted to be unsettled so I'm not sure what will get done on the land, but on Sunday it's the first of our hedge laying days, with the hedge laying Marshalls. Really looking forward to it, but this signals the end of the summer, though we still have some swallows flying around, so summer isn't fully over, but once they go that is the sign that summer is over!!
More next week

Sunday 9 September 2007

Orf and "Anything you can do, I can do better!"

It would appear that we are not the only ones to get a tractor stuck. Our friends from the farm that sounds like is should be asleep, were cutting a hedge with the hedge trimmer on the back of their Nuffield tractor, when it decided it wanted to lay down against the hedge for a nap!!! Seriously though a dip in the field made the tractor tip ever so slowly. Thankfully no one was injured. But we all had a good laugh at their expense.
The truck went in for it's MOT on Monday and it failed on brake pipes and brake discs. The garage wanted a £1000.00 to do the work. Needless to say Tim is doing the work, to date the brake lines have been done and we await the arrival of the brake disc. They have tested the detective skills of the motor factors to find them!!! Hopefully they arrive on Monday.
On Saturday morning Denise was doing the feeding up of the alpacas and sheep, when she notices that Cassie had some nasty looking scabs on the sides of her mouth. It's Orf or thistle prick and not something from the Lord of the Rings, they are Orks. It's infectious but easily treatable and all sheep get it at some point and then have a good resistance to it. The problem is to ensure that we do not get the infection as it is easily transferable, hygiene is of the up most importance.
The good news is that Defra have lifted the 20 day standstill and so Richard and Steph, fellow smallholders, who we owe 2 sheep to for the selling of Dan the young male alpaca, came to visit today to choose their 2 lambs. They are not bothered about the Orf and we have medication, so no problems. The chose 2 lovely Corridale ewes lambs, one a lovely brown and one with mottled markings, we know they are going to good homes. Steph liked Amy's daughter, but she is so small, that if they mated her to their tup, who is a Teeswater, it would cause problems for her. One thing Richard and Steph were able to advise us on is the quality of our grass, we have very little clover and herbage within our grass, so the suggestion is that we have some of their hay, which contains seed heads from their meadow hay and once the sheep start to eat it will spread the seed via their poo and what they spill from the hay rack. If this works we will look at green hay next year.
Tim managed to get some more of the ditch dug out today, he's put the extension on the digger so he can stand the tractor on firm land and reach further into the bog to dig the ditch without getting stuck, so far it's working.
The alpaca girls that get delivered next weekend are getting used to the trailer, Tim has been moving their feed trough into the trailer bit by bit, so it is not strange to them when we deliver them next weekend.
Next weekend there is also a farm sale that we are keen to go to, they've got lots of sheep equipment for sale, how much and if any we buy will depend on price and what it looks like. But we'll never know unless we go and see. Will post more after we have been next week.
The Wiltshire Horn ewe lambs we got lest year are settling in and looking well.
So what does next week hold for us, well we will have to give all the ewe lambs tablets for Orf and keep a watch on all the other sheep, though tonight Dougal lamb has scabs on the corners of his mouth, so it looks like we will have to treat the ewes as well. But we will keep watching them. You can only treat for Orf if you have got it, you can't carry out a preventative programme, as the treatment is to use the Orf vaccine itself, which will give the sheep Orf. Denise will also ring our homeopathic practitioner to get a spray to put in the drinking water of the ewes and lambs. More news next week on our progress on dealing with Orf.
Paperwork as always is something that needs dealing with on a regular basis and with the problems of foot and mouth, we have not had our yearly inspection by the National Scrapie Programme, but as they are only testing ram lambs this year, there will be no visit. One less thing to worry about at the moment.
More next week

Sunday 2 September 2007

A stuck tractor, moving sheep and new arrivals

On Wednesday whilst doing some ditching work up on the common land, Tim was slowly moving the tractor on when it decided to slide slowly sideways and get stuck in the soft marshy soil. He rushed to get the Zetor, but by the time he got back, the tractor and digger had sunk to it's axles. With Tim on the Zetor pulling and me trying to drive the International (the stuck tractor) we attempted to get it out, but to no avail. We rang Colin to help, but he was still on his holidays, so Gerald brought a tractor across, but before Gerald arrived Brian and Kathleen from the next farm had seen the tractor slip and arrived with a very big tractor to pull us out. It took Brian no time at all and the International was released from the marsh. So now Tim can still do the ditching but with the International at a very different angle and on very hard ground. It will take longer this way, but at least we shouldn't get stuck again.
But the other problem with the International was that the starter motor finally packed up so one had to be found pronto. It's amazing what you can find on e-bay.
We had a couple come to look at our 3 remaining female alpacas, and after looking at Ghilli's offspring they decided to buy the girls. We will be delivering them to their new home in a couple of weeks time.
Now that the restrictions for Foot and Mouth have changed, we can move sheep on to our farm but incur a 20 day standstill, so with us taking some lambs to the Rare Breeds Sale at the beginning of October, we have a very small window of opportunity to bring our Wiltshire Horn Ewe lambs onto our holding.
So in readiness of the lambs arriving on Saturday we had a mass move round of our livestock. Something we thougth would not take long so we could go to Kildale Show.
First we moved the female Alpacas to the top field next to the common land, we then moved the breeding ewes to the top paddock that was fenced earlier this year, shedding off the gimmers that are to go to the rare breeds sale. Next to be moved were the lambs in the back field, into the barn to be sorted into females and tups. We then moved the alpaca males, into the back field, they moved reasonable well, but they have not been in this paddock before and were a little nervous, we played "chase the alpacas around the tractor" a few times before they got the idea of going into the field, where they spent their time hugging the fence line to watch the females. But this was nothing compared to what was to come.
We first shed off the 5 lambs that were to stay into with the breeding ewes, we had to use Deefa's help as they thought it was a "good game" to chase up and down the field rather than through the gate, they finally went. Next to move were the lambs that are going to the sale. They have never been moved on their own with a dog before and typical of Shetlands they do not flock. Deefa has learnt to "tack" down a field with them and to ensure they don't turn back on him. He's good at that. After a good half an hour they finally decided to go through the gate and up the race into their new paddock, but Deefa was all for grabbing them and chucking them over the fence and to hell with what Defra say about the correct way to handle sheep, no grabbing of horns or wool. They obviously don't handle our sheep the little horrors or words to that effect.
We then moved the alpaca girls into the race along with the trailer ready for them to be moved, so they will get use to the trailer, the ram lambs into the field the alpaca girls were in and finally the alpaca males into a field near the common land with fencing capable of dealing with them.
Today we picked up the Wiltshire Horn girls, we were originally to have 7 but 1 died and a 2nd got fly strike very badly. The 5 remaining lambs loaded easily into the trailer and when we got them home we gave them a shot of Heptovac and Selco, they are now in isolation for the next 3 weeks, and they certainly have some meat on them.
So what does next week hold for us, well we are both back at work, Tim at the cafe, Denise for the railway but the weekend is hedge laying, subject to the one of hedge laying Holland's ribs mending, but that's another tale or as he put it a "Bugs Bunny moment" running whilst a ladder is falling does not stop you getting hurt.


Tuesday 28 August 2007

The nephew's surprise and a hectic bank holiday

This was the nephew's surprise a tree house. They were over the moon when they saw it on Wednesday and spent most of their time here playing in it. It took some building but the enjoyment they have had out of it and will have was well worth it.

Life has been so hectic over the last few days, hence the lateness of the blog.

The week started with us repairing part of the concrete standing at the front of the house. It didn't look a long job, but it took us all day to do it and several mixes of concrete.

Wednesday we went to Egton Show, it was bitterly cold and of course there were no animals. As the nephews were also going to the show, we had hoped it would have been warmer, so not long after lunch we all decided to come home to warm up. The cold was quickly forgotten in the excitement of playing in the new tree house.

Thursday we went to see a baby cria (alpaca) who was fathered by our stud male Ghilli last year. Gilmour looks just like his dad and was driving his mum mad by straying too far away from her. For the first week of a cria's life their mum's like them "super glued" to their sides, but for some reason the young male cria like to test the boundaries from day 1.

Friday was some shopping in Whitby followed by lunch.

Saturday, the nephews helped with round up the lambs as one or two of them needed dagging out. They took great delight in watching us dag out the soiled fleece around a lambs bottom. What is it with little boys and poo!!!!!

Sunday was the family and friends Open Day, thankfully the weather held and we all had a great time catching up with everything that has happened over the last year and showing everyone round. The nephews went home and the Resident Vandal and partner arrived with Kiera Dog (KD) to stay for a couple of days.

On Monday we managed to get the sheep netting in the top field lowered ready for the breeding ewes to go in, nearly all of the hedge on the common land cleared of the old fencing in readiness for the 2 hedge laying gangs arrival in September, and the start of the new ditch between our land and the common land.

Today - the hedge line finally cleared of old fencing, the ditch is now half done with the rest, hopefully finished this week, if the weather holds.

So what's happening for the remainder of the week, hopefully the ditch finished, the sheep moved round and sorted into breeding ewes, rams and wethers and the ones being sold at the Rare Breeds Sale in October. All of the sheep need additional feeding despite the amount of grass we have, but there is not much body in it. So we will start feeding them concentrates, something we normally don't do until November. But we are not the only ones, most farmers are doing the same.

Will post again next week


Sunday 19 August 2007

Hissing Sid is missing

We think that Hissing Sid has decided to leave us and go and live on another farm. We've not seen him now for over a week, he may come back we will wait and see what happens. But Lady has decided to move into the barn and is becoming very friendly, we can now stroke her and not have to count the number of fingers we have left. She's very vocal and she and Grayling have had some spectacular hissing matches in the barn.
The bad weather predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday didn't seem to materialise, we did have some rain, but nothing too bad, today is a worse day with a sea fret blowing in from the coast, the water gets everywhere.
This week has seen the steps finally built into the fleece store and lots of little fiddly jobs get finished, i.e.the electric sockets in the barn and fleece store, the barn tidied etc.
Denise had a reasonably successful day at her local guild fibre day selling some of the alpaca fibre left over from Woolfest. But one topic of conversation was about washing fleece in the washing machine, something that has always been taboo as it was thought it would felt the wool, needless to say Denise will be having a go as it will be much easier that washing the fleeces in the bath as she does at the moment. The suggestion comes at a good time as our washing machine needs upgrading, the timer on it is a little bit hit and miss. If this works then the old washer will be plumbed into the garage for the purpose of washing fleece and oily overalls.
We're having a few quiet days to charge our batteries in readiness for the nephews who arrive on Wednesday for a week. We have re-named the nephews to "the hobbits's" we have never know two little boys eat so much, but when they are here they do spend a lot of time running around. So next week we will be splitting our time, weather permitting, between here and the beach, but more about that next week, there are also a couple of local shows we will go to, there will be no animals, but it will be good to meet up with our neighbours and friends.
On the Foot and Mouth front, it looks like we will be able to move animals from the 9th September, so we should be able to collect our Wiltshire Horn ewe lambs, pretty soon. When they arrive I'll post a photo of them.
That's all for this week.


Sunday 12 August 2007

All is safely gathered in.......

A frantic phone call on Wednesday from Dave to say that our hay was now baled and ready to be picked up from the field at the end of the village. Ideally we would have liked to have left it to the weekend, but the forecast was not good from Friday onwards. So Wednesday evening saw us packing bales of hay onto the back of our trailer. Tommy (the farmer who's hay it is) took pity on us and with his 8 bale grab, loaded the trailer for us. We managed to get 100 bales on the trailer. We roped it all down and set off home. Halfway home is a steep hill which in the tractor is a nasty gear change. The sudden jolt rocked the hay and it very slowly fell off the trailer. Thankfully no damage was done and we repacked the trailer. The problem was where Tommy had stacked the bales onto the trailer they were not "locked in" with the rest of the bales. It's one of those things. We decided that the remaining 100 bales we would collect them in 2 loads. The hay was finally collected and packed away by Friday.

Deefa helping Denise pack the hay at the top of the barn. We didn't think he could climb that high!!!
Tim moved the hay we had left from last year on top of the new hay and then put a tarp over the front near to the barn door to protect the hay from the rain etc.
We had a bit of a day off for us today. The North Yorkshire Smallholders Society that we belong to had a social get together at a smallholding not far from us. The forecast for this afternoon was not good and when we set off in heavy rain we were not sure how wet we were going to get. But once we arrived the sun was shining and apart from a sharp shower whilst we were walking in the wood at the back of the smallholding, the weather was fine. These gatherings are always good fun and it's a chance to catch up with the "gossip" which centered around the FMD outbreak and how much hay everyone had been able to cut/bale/buy.
We've had a couple of phone messages from Defra advising us about the latest movement restrictions. We can now take animals to slaughter as we are not in the restricted area. But as our lambs will not be ready until October at the very earliest this is no help to us at all. As there have been no more outbreaks since the middle of the week, hopefully by the end of August all movement restrictions for us should be lifted, and we will be able to pick up our 6 Wiltshire Horn ewe lambs, deliver the Corridale ram lamb to his new owner and sell the rest of our ewe lambs either privately or at the Rare Breeds Sale at the beginning of October.
As we are keeping Missy's two ewe lambs we have decide to call them Davina (the one with the black spot on her leg) and Demelza.
Just looked at the forecast for the coming week and just for a change severe weather warning for Tuesday & Wednesday!!!!! But it does say on the Met Office web site, to check again on Monday for the latest. Find out next week what happened

Sunday 5 August 2007

Silence of the lambs......

Finally happened on Wednesday, so peace and quiet is restored to Meadowcroft Farm and as I sit and write this blog I can see the lambs grazing in the back field in a line like a bovine lawn mover!!!!
The older ewes breathed a sigh of relief as their lambs were sent to a new paddock, but the 2 new mums Berniece and Bridget took it a little harder but by Tuesday they were non plus about their lambs.
Lucy/Lotty who we noted as being very thin at the shedding, is still very thin and on Saturday evening we noted a swelling on the side of her face, she looked O.K and was eating well. This morning things were not so good, she looked much worse and when we went into the field to take a more serious look she took very little or no catching. She had a very nasty green discharge from her nose and very loose at the rear end!!! The vet had to be called!!!
Our vet arrived with his partner and 2 dogs, a 5 month old whippet and a 4 year old Shetland Sheep Dog who was the spit and image of Deefa only the shrunken version. She was beautiful.
Now bearing in mind that on late Friday night a Foot and Mouth outbreak had been confirmed, that last thing we wanted was an ill sheep. Thankfully it was nothing too serious as a tooth abscess which had ruptured internally and hopefully a dose of antibiotics and she should be O.K. The vet was concerned that it could have been a very serious infection which causes abscesses on the sheep's faces. Having brought in 2 new sheep 3 weeks ago and one having an abscess on his shoulder, we were "ticking all the boxes for a serious infection"!!! But as we quarantine our sheep for 3 weeks there should have been no cross infection.
Hector's head is healing nicely where he lost his horn. He still stands with his head on one side and he's at the bottom of the pecking order of rams and weathers, but he will come into his own come November.
Hubby and the resident vandal have got through a lot of work this week thanks to the fine weather. The fencing on the common land, had been finished so has the surprise for the nephews. Can't say what it is as the youngest nephew can now read. You will have to wait until after they have been at the end of August to find out what the surprise is.
So how does the Foot and Mouth outbreak affect us. At the moment not too badly, we have a young ram lamb that needs to be moved onto hos new owner, all we will do is put him with the other rams and weathers. We have 6 Wiltshire Horn ewe lambs to pick up, but we were not due to pick them up until the end of August. We have nothing ready to go to market and at the moment we have sufficient grazing. Now we have fenced part of the common land, unless we put the sheep into one of the top fields, they will not come into contact with Pete's sheep, that will be good for both of us. We do have a regular family and friend's Open Day, which could be in doubt but as it's at the end of the month hopefully it will still happen. If we can register our Shetlands with the Rare Breeds we may be able to protect out Shetlands, but it does not protect the cross breeds so not sure what to do. But if the infection has come for the ministry lab as has been stated, hopefully this will be an isolated case. Will know more next week.
So watch this space, it's worrying but you can't go completely over the top and panic, that will be next weeks job!!!!!

Sunday 29 July 2007

The Resident Vandal arrives and the Clash of the Rams

The Resident Vandal arrived, along with Kiera Dog (KD), on Friday afternoon. Holly, Deefa and Kiera then spent a "mad half hour" chasing around in the yard, to finally collapse, in KD's favourite place, the mat in front of the aga.
Finally, it would appear, that the fine weather has arrived, well for the weekend at least. It was good to be able to wander around without a waterproof coat, even the strong wind was welcome as it was helping to dry the land.
The resident vandal and Tim spent most of Saturday attempting to remove the clutch of a Peugeot 307 and Denise and the resident vandal's wife checked on the newly planted hedge to replace missing rabbit guards and straighten canes and also attempt to cut the grass in the wood area, but the handle on the ground clearer decided to part company with the rest of the machine. Another job for Tim to do, weld it back to the frame again!!!!!!!
Sunday was the day for casting the lambs from the ewes, but before we could bring the ewes and lambs into the barn for shedding we had to move some sheep around. It becomes a game of chess, ensuring we move the sheep only once, but leaving the correct races clear to put the next set of sheep into the correct paddocks.
So first we had to move Charlie and Cecil back in with the rest of the boys. Charlie and Hector had already seen each other from either sides of the fence, so we hoped that putting them together should be relatively easy! Cecil decided to head butt anyone who made any move towards Charlie!!! and Cecil is the quiet one!!! Charlie and Hector decided to have a stand off, there was a clash of horns, resulting in Hector loosing one of his horns, he then head butted Charlie in his side, at which point Cecil joined in!!!! The result is that Charlie is now top ram, Hector looks lop sided with only one horn. Angus, Alex and Archie the Corridale weathers are playing the diplomatic game of not showing who they want to be pals with in case they pick the wrong one and have to deal with Cecil.
So the boys were moved leaving the path clear to move May and Dougal in with the ewes all be it across the girl alpaca's field, again easy we thought!!!! All we had to do was catch May and walk her across the field, May had other ideas, some how or other she jumped between the netting and top wire into the girl's field, and decided to play with the alpacas, so we decided to move Dougal in the hope that May would follow, she did in a fashion, the only thing that had gone well so far.
Getting the ewes and lambs into the barn, was relatively easy, rattle a bucket of sheep nuts and they come running, the trick is not to stand in the way, other wise you will get knocked over in the rush. Once they were all in the barn, the next thing to do is to go and have a cup of tea and let the sheep calm down.
As well as sheding the lambs from their mums their ear tags putting in and so whilst we had them all in it was a good opportunity to do all the sheep's feet and give them all a dose of selco+. One or two of the ewes are looking a bit thin and so we took a note of their ear tag numbers and before we put them to the tup we will "condition score" them and if they are too thin they will not be put to the tup. But in fairness to them they are "not in the first flush of youth" and have had been feeding twins. A month on good grass and they will start to put the weight on.
So the lambs are in the back field and the ewes are in their original field, which is short of grass, so their milk will dry up quickly, aided by a homeopathic spray. The ewes will stay in this field for a week and then they will be moved into one of the fields that has some fresh grass. After a month we will put all the ewes and the lambs back together.
But for the next few days, we will have to listen to the ewes and lambs complaining and in true fashion it's the male lambs that complain the most, obviously "mummies boys". So we want some dry but coolish weather for a couple of days so we don't have to open the windows and listen to the lambs complaining. But (un)fortunately the forecast is fine until Thursday, but you know the weathermen they have been know to be wrong.
As the Resident Vandal is here all week hopefully lots of work will get done, we will wait and see what happens. "I have a little list" - as they say in true Gilbert and Sullivan style!!!!!
More next week

Sunday 22 July 2007

May arrives and so do the Nephews for the weekend

On Thursday, May, a pedigree Shetland ewe arrived. She was the one we saw last week and she has now been sheared. We put her in an isolation area with Dougal, the pet lamb. May is slightly wild and nervous of us, but she should calm down in a few weeks, we hope!!! Moving Dougal was very easy. He thinks he's a dog and so will follow Tim out of the field at his heal. Unfortunately once out of the ewe's paddock the grass is greener and he was more interested in eating the grass, so we had to push him along into the isolation paddock, where the grass is very long and plentiful. May watches him with a weary eye, but so far they are getting along.
The nephews arrived with Denise on Friday evening to be greeted by Holly and Deefa. Deefa did his usual and gave them a low growl, Holly just ran straight up to them and gave them a good sniff. After lamb burgers and a Pink Panther cartoon DVD, 2 excited boys went to bed and surprisingly were soon asleep.
Saturday the weather wasn't took good, so we decided to let the dogs and boys run in the back field. That was after a breakfast of cereal and 2 rounds of toast. They had a great time, though I don't know who had the wettest legs, the dogs or the boys!!! Thankfully the dogs and the boy's shorts dried relatively quickly with the aid of the aga.
As the local show had been cancelled, we thought we would take the boys to see the Vikings at Whitby Abbey and the model railway show in Goathland, but over dinner (at 11am) they just wanted to go home and play in their hay den and Holly and Deefa, so that's what they did. It certainly tired them out.
Sunday - the weathermen got it wrong again - has been a dry and sunny day, so the nephew's played again in their hay den and successfully tired Holly out running around the house with her rope pull. Their mum and gran arrived for lunch and they finally left mid afternoon.
It's great having them here, they love coming and they can certainly eat!!!! They are back in a months time, this time for a week!!!!
As a consequence not a lot has got done this weekend, though the doors from upstairs had all been dipped and hung.
Charlie, the Wiltshire Horn Ram, was not very well at the beginning of the week. On Monday he was scouring, so we put him in the barn, along with Cecil, gave him a shot of wormer and sprayed his nose with a homeopathic medication for scouring, we also put some of the medication into his water. Within 24 hours, he was looking a lot better and the scouring had cleared up. Then on Friday evening, the abscess on his shoulder finally burst so we were able to clean it up. Thankfully it is healing up well and Charlie is showing no ill effects. Tonight we let him and Cecil out into a small paddock near the barn to start eating grass again. What has happened to Charlie proves that we are right to put all new arrivals into isolation.
Tuesday is Tim's final day at the cafe for the summer hols and Friday sees the arrival of the vandal for a week. So we could do with some fine, dry weather for the next two weeks.
More next week.

Sunday 15 July 2007

A new arrival and non working machinery

We went to look at a Pedigree Wiltshire Horn ram that was for sale by one of the North Yorkshire Smallholders Society members, they live not too far away. So the small trailer was hitch to the back of Denise's 4x4 Fiat Panda. They had two rams for sale, Clifford and Charlie, but Clifford had already been sold when we got there. Having had a good look at Charlie, we decided to buy him, he took a little bit of effort to get him into the trailer, having horns is a big help, something to grab hold of. Once in the trailer, Charlie just stood as placid as every, which is good for a ram.
Once we got him home and put him in the isolation paddock, we realised that he would need a mate, so we put Cecil in with him. After a bit of chasing around the paddock, the two boys seem to have settled down. The idea is that Charlie will be used for the Wiltshire Ewes we are getting in August, but we also think we will use him on the Corridale X Shetland ewes and Masham ewe so we will have more lambs for meat. We will use Hector on all the Shetland ewes and our two Hebridian X Shetland ewes. Should be an interesting lambing next year.

With the threat of severe weather for today, we decided to crack on with a couple of jobs that need fine weather. Tim went to clear out one of the ditches that had started to get filled in due to the sheep walking on the ditch sides and pushing the soil into the bottom of the ditches. He'd not got far, when the tractor decided to stall, so he had to switch the digger from the Nuffield tractor onto the International. He managed to finish the job before the rain cam down too heavily. But bringing the Nuffield back into the barn, he got it parked up and walked round the front of the tractor to discover that the radiator had started to leak!!!!!
Denise meanwhile was cutting the grass in the woodland, when the ground clearer spluttered and stopped. It did need a new spark plug, so Denise left the machine for a while, filled it up with petrol and tried to start it again. After a while it started, but after a couple of minutes, it spluttered and stopped again. Once the spark plug and air filter were cleaned, it started and Denise was able to finish the job, despite the ground clearer being very erratic.
The rain arrived at lunch time, so there was nothing more to do but watch the Tour de France, which Denise did, Tim went out into the barn to see how bad the Nuffield's radiator was!!!!!!
Next weekend see the arrival of THE NEPHEWS. They are coming for a long weekend, Friday night through to Sunday. It will be a LONG weekend, Tim has started to twitch!!!!

Sunday 8 July 2007

Rain, Rain go away.......

I wish the rain would go away, it has been a very mixed week weather wise. Our neighbour, Colin, finally cut 2 fields for silage and today he finally got the bales wrapped. He's obviously got a new type of tractor one that not only has flotation tyres fitted, but an aqualung and flippers too!!!!!
Despite the wet weather we managed to get some work done. Some pipes into the ditch in the gateway to the common land, it's nearly filled back in with earth, but the land is so wet we will have leave it for a few days.
As Saturday had been reasonable the grass in the woodland was dry on Sunday morning so Denise was able to get it cut before it completely takes over again. As we are cutting the grass regularly, it is starting to loose its coarseness and beginning to produce a fine grass, it will never be a bowling green, but at least the nettles and docks are slowly going and it makes a good play area for the nephews.
We got some electric fencing so that we could move Hector and his minders into the race that has the new hedge in it, so hopefully the electric fence will keep them from eating the new hedge. The amount of grass there is will keep them going for months. We also moved the ewes, into the paddock the boys had been in as they were making no impact on the grass and we will need a paddock that has short grass for when we wean the lambs, as the ewes need to go back on some poor grazing to "dry up" so that they don't get mastitis. We will also use a homeopathic spray to aid the process.
Reading the daily yahoo newsletter from the North Yorkshire Smallholders Society we belong to, of items for sale, one of our local smallholders, and friend, was selling some electric fencing and some of her sheep, one of which was a pedigree Shetland ewe. So after a rather nasty thunder and hailstone storm, we went to see her. Bought the electric fencing and her Shetland ewe, May, who should be delivered to us next week.
Not only is the newsletter useful for items/stock for sale, you can also put in a wanted add, which is what we did for a Pedigree Wiltshire Horn Ram. Result of which is we are going to view two rams next weekend. If we buy one of them, we will have to sort out quarantine arrangements for our new sheep.
All new sheep onto our holding go into quarantine for at least 2 weeks, they are heptovac'd (clostridial diseases) and Dectomax'd (worming & sheep scab). May seem over the top, but so far, we have not had any problems.
As this house is approx 150 years old, the paintwork leave a lot to be desired, especially on the doors upstairs. We decided to get one of the doors dipped to see what the result was. It came back an amazing colour, so much so that all the up stairs doors are to be dipped and then treated with oil. Even the chap who does the door stripping was impressed.
Tim is waging a one man war on the rabbits that seem to be taking over our empty paddocks, but every time he gets his gun, they have disappeared, or run in to the paddocks where the sheep are and sit amongst them!!!!!! Such is life - one day he will get them.
More next week......


Sunday 1 July 2007

Rain, Panic & Woolfest

I don't think we've had so much rain in such a short time. Monday saw Denise come home early from work and then work from home on the Tuesday because of the flooding and the effect on the rail service. Not good
There was also the last minute panic in the preparation for Woolfest, ensuring that all the fibre was packed, fleeces dry and all the other sundry bits and pieces need for running the stall Denise's was sharing with another local alpaca breeder, Sharon.
On Thursday, Denise packed the truck to the gunnel's with all the fibre and 24 sheep fleeces she was taking to Woolfest, and after lunch set off on the 3 hour drive across to Cockermouth where the festival was being held.
At Penrith, a cup of tea stop, listening to the news, the A66 into Kendal was shut, both ways. There is not a lot that can be done at this point apart from continue into Kendal. But by the time Denise & Sharon got to Kendal, the accident had been cleared and it was an easy run onto Cockermouth.
It was raining when Denise & Sharon arrived at the Auction Mart where Woolfest is held so, find the stall, set up the tables and then empty both vehicles as quickly as possible. The stall took a while to set up, but once done it was time to look round at the other stalls and it was then, we discovered that we were right opposite the biggest alpaca fibre producer in the country!!!!! We also met up with stallholder friends from last year and they too were not happy to discovered that for some reason the organisers had decided to put similar types of stall holders together!!!
The Auction Mart has a very good canteen and on the Thursday night a lot of the stallholders were in eating and drinking. Many were camping in the car park but as we were booked into the local Youth Hostel, we had to leave them to enjoy the rest of the evening.
As usual sleep on Thursday night seems not to happen, something to do with the drive over and the apprehension of the following day.
Both Friday and Saturday passed quickly, being opposite the largest alpaca fibre provider didn't seem to effect our trade, and it was good to see old and new customers. Both vehicles on the way home were much lighter, all but two of the sheep fleeces had been sold, the sales table holding the processed alpaca fibre, by lunch time on Saturday was looking very bare.
As the fibre producer we use for processing our alpaca fibre was also at the show, we gave them all our remaining raw alpaca fibre for them to take back to the processing mill. Saves on postage.
All in all a good time was had by all and we will be back next year with more fibre and hopefully some interesting alpaca tops.


Sunday 24 June 2007

Flaming June!!!!

Flaming June doesn't mean hot weather, it refers to the horrible weather we are having at the moment.

This week we have seen so much rain, the sheep have webbed feet!!!!! and the girls with the most fleece are really struggling with the weight of their wet fleece.
Denise has been frantically packing Alpaca fibre most nights, in readiness for Woolfest next weekend, signs have been made and business cards printed. Now the question is, will it all go into the truck!!!
Because of the rain we decided to bring the ewes and lambs into the barn on Thursday night so that they would be dry on Saturday for Andrew to shear them. Because the weather has was so bad once the door was open to the barn, they ran in!!! Warm shelter and fresh hay, what more does a sheep want. By Saturday morning they wanted to be out, the barn and hay had out lived its fascination.
Saturday morning saw is moving the ewes and lambs, into half of the barn so that we could clean the area to be used for dagging and wrapping fleeces. We'd already hurdled off the area Andrew and Denise were to use for shearing the sheep, so that was already clean.
By the time we had finished getting the barn ready, but then there was a down pour of rain and we decide to put the boys in the large trailer, good move as once we started to shear we had 2 thunder and lightening storms. We also decided to remove the lambs from the barn so we could move the ewes into a smaller space to make them easier to catch. Big mistake every one complained!!!!!. But if we had left the lambs in the barn, it would have become a logistic nightmare, do we leave the sheared ewes in the barn with their lambs, or do we put them outside, for not only them to complain, but their lambs as well. Either way we would have sheep bleating VERY LOUDLY, and non of use were wearing ear defenders.
There was not a lot of spare time before Andrew arrived. The idea was, that Denise would start shearing some of the smaller sheep and Chris (a local spinner) would dagg and wrap the fleeces.
Well we got Brazil done, she had already started to "roo" (that means cast her fleece), so the had shears were used. When Denise started to use the shears on the next sheep, she really struggled.
Andrew arrived and got set up, he sheared Berniece first, not problems, then he finished off the lamb Denise had started, and struggled, the fleece was sticky. Strange!!!! Why was her fleece like this. As Andrew sheared more of the girls, they too were very sticky!!!!
The only thing that makes fleeces sticky is molasses, but we don't feed our sheep sugar beat, so we were at a loss as to what it could be. Tim realised that this year we had given the sheep more mineral licks than usual and wondered if that had made their fleeces sticky. Only when we sheared the boys would we know if this theory was correct as they had not been given any mineral licks this winter. Well it proved to be correct. The boy's fleeces were not sticky at all and were a dream to handle. Though they were a challenge for Andrew to shear. Tim has requested that Alex's fleece be spun and knitted into a jumper for him, so that is one fleece that will not be going to Woolfest.
All of the boy's fleeces were damp and so are spread out on the tractor trailer in the barn to ensure that they dry out completely before being packed into paper sacks.
It was a long afternoon doing the shearing. Andrew finally left at 19.00.
Next year, on advice of Andrew, we will be shearing in July as most of the sheep's fleeces have not "risen" this means, that during the winter the sheep's fleece has more lanolin to protect them from the bad weather of winter, during the spring and summer the fleece has less lanolin which makes shearing so much easier, the lanolin doesn't clog the shears. It's easier to see and feel rather than explain.
But the sheep are now done and so the worry of fly strike is not a problem for a month or so at least. Bum watch is on hold for a while!!!!
Next weekend is Woolfest - the biggest fibre festival in this country, a great time to meet up with customer, friends and suppliers. So if you are at Woolfest please say "hello".

Sunday 17 June 2007

Wet week reeks havoc with weekend plans

We should have sheared the sheep on Saturday, but after 24 hours of constant rain following a week of mist and drizzle meant the sheep were wearing soggy wooly jumpers, not a pleasent prospect for shearing, just after shearing one wet sheep your legs are soaking wet and the idea of another 28 to do is not fun. Also wet fleeces can't be wrapped and stored and where do you dry 29 very wet fleeces!!!!!!! So instead of shearing Denise spent the day getting to grips with a new accounting software package and Tim put a new roof ridge on the shed where Hissing Sid and Lady Friend live.
Hissing Sid and Lady Friend are settling in we are seeing them more and more over the last week. Lady Friend sits and waits for Tim to put the food in te bowl for her, Hissing Sid is risking life and limb eating our other cat, Garyling's food!!!!!! You stroke Grayling and then check you still have all of your fingers.
Saturday night we were invited to our local feed merchant's retirement party, it was a great night, especially when his and his daughter's dog (Fallon & Abbi) worked the tables for scraps. Needless to say we were a soft touch and gave them something!!!!!
Today, Sunday, our smallholder friends from Teesdale were to visit, mainly to look round and catch up with the gossip, but also to select 2 or 3 lambs as payment for helping sell Dan our male alpaca cria a couple of months ago. But a case of fly strike in their pedigree Teeswater flock meant they had to cancel so they could shear all their sheep and spray the lambs against fly strike, they also have had 2 lambs die for reasons unknown, so life is a little rough for them at the moment. They will be speaking to their vet in the morning to see if she can cast any light on why the lambs have died. So we will rearrange a new date to meet.
So Tim took the opportunity to finally tidy his workshop, it actually has a concrete floor!!! Denise planted the rest of the hedge saplings and got the labels ready for the Alpaca fibre bags for Woolfest, and guess who ran out of plastic bags to put the fibre in!!!!! Panic order now done. Hopefully they will arrive over the next couple of days.
Hoping for a fine week, as Andrew the sheep shearer is booked in for Saturday to help Denise. Dry sheep a necessity. Will let your know how it goes next week

Monday 11 June 2007

Testing out the Sheep Crush

Saturday was spent just catching up on the usual jobs that need doing around the smallholding. Made sure we had all the medicines etc to deal with the sheep on Sunday. Tim had mended the grass cutter so it meant we were able to trim the grass in the wooded area. Denise raked all the loose grass up and the wooded area certainly looks a lot better, hopefully over time the grass will become finer. I doubt if it will become a bowling green, but it might improve to become to some sort of football pitch for the nephews.
On Sunday, Colin and Gerald came to help with the sheep, as Tim's back is still very fragile. Tim had created a run to funnel the sheep into the crush. So with medications and foot trimmers at the ready we started.
The crush was set up for the Shetlands and after a few teething problems we got into a routine. The idea was that Colin/Gerald would move the sheep into the crush, Tim could manage the crush door and Denise would catch and hold them in the crush then do the injections and trim the sheep's feet. But with the Corridales, the crush was set too close and so the brake could not be applied, so Tim held them in place with the foot pivot whilst Denise continued doing the injections and foot trimming. So this was the routine for the rest of the sheep and it worked well. Colin devised a gate so that the sheep didn't come back down the race, which helped and in future we will ensure that sheep of the same size go through at the same time followed by the larger sheep so that we can make the crush larger or smaller dependent on which sheep are going through. But you have to learn as you go along.
By the time we got to the end of the sheep, none of us felt we had been wrestling with the sheep and in truth the sheep were a lot less stressed, it was so easy to do everything, especially the feet and dagging out Missy, again!!!!! A good buy
Now all we have to do is shear them. That's next week's job!!!!!!!


Northern Sheep - Wednesday 6th June

On Wednesday we spent the day at the National Sheep Show near Bishop Auckland. The day started cool and misty and when we arrived at the host farm, the choice of shorts and sandals worn by Denise, did seem a poor choice, though as the day progressed the weather got warmer so it was not a bad choice after all.
A first glance the show only looked as if it was all in one field, but going passed the farm house there were several large barns which held all the sheep societies and all sorts of suppliers specialising is sheep equipment.
We has arranged to meet some fellow smallholders and the plan was that we would ring them around lunch time to arrange meeting. Slight problem mobile phones did not work, or only intermittently, we did manage to have a disjointed phone call, but that was it, anyway we will be seeing them this coming weekend when they visit, so nothing is lost by it.
We did come away with a purchase, a sheep handling system, which we had seen a couple of years ago and had been imported from New Zealand, it is now being manufactured in this country and is a lot cheaper. Turns out that one of the reps is the son of our alpaca shearer and when he delivered the "sheep crush" the following day, he also brought Denise several bags of Alpaca fibre from his Dad as promised. Result all round.


Monday 4 June 2007

Another Busy weekend

Knowing that the sheep have a lot of fleece on them and it's getting warmer we are on "blow fly watch" so we decided that we would spray the sheep to give them some protection for a couple of weeks until a shearing day can be arranged. So again we've been watching the weather forecast as the sheep ideally need to be dry to ensure that the spray stays on their fleece, and for various reasons Sunday was the best day to do the job.
Saturday was a day of "silly" little jobs getting done. Some fencing moved near the small barn by a 3 or 4 metres, not much, but it means the sheep can keep a ditch clear of grass etc rather than either of us having to scythe it every couple of weeks.
Now that we've been here nearly 4 years, you start to notice bits of land that "if we moved that fence, some more grazing for the sheep" and to quote the youngest nephew "sheep are just woolly lawn mowers". How true!!!
Sunday we sprayed the sheep against the dreaded blow fly and part of the prevention is also to "dag out" i.e Clip the soiled fleece from around the sheep's bum!!! Guess who gets that job!!!!!
The trouble with having to use the blow fly spray, you need to be well protected, gloves, mask and overalls. So after a couple of hours you have broken out into a sweat.
Thankfully not many of the girls needed "a Brazilian" so to say!!!!!!! They are in need of shearing so that is a job for this month to arrange help for.
Here's the list,
Andrew to shear the large sheep, Denise being the light weight she is can't hold them to shear,
people to catch and turn the sheep,
wrap the fleeces,
keep the shearing area clean and
man the strings to turn the shearing machines off and on as required.
We try and make a fun day of it and on the whole everyone seems to have a good time.
Will as usual post on this blog when it's arranged