Tuesday 29 May 2007

Despite the weather a productive Bank Holiday Weekend

The forecast for the Bank Holiday weekend was not all that good and with 3 major jobs to get done, fine weather was needed to ensure we got them all done.

Saturday saw the arrival of Karol & Kev complete with scythes, grim reaper style, to help us cut down the long grass in a small wooded area (1/8th of an acre no less), where you can't get in with any mechanical machinery. I know that petrol strimmers will do the job, but after an hour I find that my hands have started to go numb and despite wearing ear defenders my head aches from the noise and smell from the engine. So the traditional way is used with a scythe, and when a gang of you get going it's very relaxing and satisfying. We managed to get it all cut and were stacking up the last few piles of grass in the compost bins, when it started to rain. I don't think any of us were too disappointed to see the rain.

Sunday morning found us using a rope tied to the back of the tractor which we used to help us get down a steep incline to repair 50ft of fencing. The old fencing had been overgrown and pushed down by the willows that are growing along the stream. These had to be cut away so that we could see the extent of the damage All the posts, wire, staples and mallet had to be hand balled down the slope and left in such a way that they didn't roll into the stream, closely followed by us. Despite the rain showers we got it finished by lunch time. The afternoon saw us cleaning out the barn where the sheep had been in readiness for the arrival of Bob the alpaca shearer in Tuesday. 3 hours later it was cleared and the floor sprinkled with a disinfectant powder and all the straw and manure in two large compost bins so that it can rot down.
All three jobs done and it was still Sunday, O.K it was late on Sunday, but it was still Sunday.

Monday was a quiet day, the hurdles in place for the shearing on Tuesday, the large trailer ready for the male alpacas to go in, so they were dry, the ewes and lambs moved into the back field where there is lots of grass for them to eat. Hector the Ram and his mates moved into another paddock that they female alpacas had been in and was starting to look like a dock field. The lads ran in and started eating the docks. They love them.
But the other reason for a quiet day was that Holly had a poorly tummy she'd been sick and was off here food, which for her is totally unheard of. But a quick spray on her nose of the "magic" spray (homeopathic remedy for sheep scour) seems to have done the trick and today she is nearly back to her old self.

Finally the worm egg sample results came back. The males had no worms where as the females and lambs had a few, so on the recommendation of the vet everyone will get wormed, it's about a year since they were last done, so the results are pretty good.

That's all - will tell you about the Alpaca shearing later.


Sunday 20 May 2007

Sunday 20th May

It's been a wet week, so the fertiliser that was spread last week should be well and truly washed in by now.

Tim's back is on the road to recovery and he's at the danger stage. It feels O.K so "I will get on some work", but that's the last thing he can do as the muscles are still very tender. He did suggest doing the concreting this weekend, but a week at work has changed his mind.

On Saturday Denise spent the morning gassing moles for a fellow smallholders Jo and Dave. Boy were there moles deep. Denise's metal rod to find the mole runs is 3ft long. On several occasions it disappeared right up to it's handle, and she ended up face down in the grass. Tim knows better than to laugh!!!! The gassing had to be done in between the short rain showers. Doing it during the rain is not recommended as the gas pellets are activated by moisture!!!! Once finished it was a quick trip to see the nephews to deliver some DVDs for their hols and return the cat baskets to the Cat Protection League. A hectic day

Today we went to look at some Wiltshire Horn Sheep -owned by some fellow smallholders, Sue & Keith- which are bred purely for meat as they shed their fleece/hair in the spring. We always enjoy meeting fellow smallholders you can always learn something new from each other, and the Wiltshire Horns seem to be the sheep we are looking for to fill our meat waiting list. They have 7 ewe lambs for sale at weaning, which we will probable purchase subject to a meat tasting tomorrow night.

The hay racks we bought a couple of week back in the farm sale have been moved into place so that the ewes and lambs and our male alpacas, Ghilli & Grommet, have some hay to eat. Seems strange to still be feeding hay when the grass is growing so well, but for the lambs the fresh grass can cause bloating and scour, they need the hay to add roughage to their diet as do the alpacas.

A rather bazaar job done this week was Denise collect poo samples to send to the vets so that they can do a worm egg count to see if we need to worm our animals. One lot went to the vets but a 2nd sample was needed to send to the lab. Denise left them in the milk crate at the vets on her way to work. What on earth the vets must have thought is anyone's guess!!!!! The trouble is until we know the results of the worm egg count it is restricting us moving the animals around, because if they want worming, they need to stay on their existing pasture for 2 - 3 days after they have been treated for worms and then moved to new pasture. Should be sorted out over the next couple of weeks.

It's the bank holiday next weekend and we will be getting ready for the alpaca shearer and doing so scything of the woodland. Hopefully the weather will be good to us.


Sunday 13 May 2007

Mousers arrive and fertilser get spread

Our two new cats arrived on Wednesday and were safely placed in our old shed to get used to us and where they will find food and shelter. We decided to call our two new mousers Hissing Sid - he took one look at us and hissed!!! and Lady, because for the rest of the day we referred to the two mousers as "Hissing Sid and his lady friend!!!!". Then on Saturday they escaped from the shed in true Colditz style by tunneling out. All the food we put down in the shed goes and they are using it as shelter on a night. So we know they are safe. We had intended to demolish the shed, but we will now leave it standing until we are sure that Hissing Sid and Lady have moved into the barns

Despite Tim's bad back jobs still seemed to have got done. The animals have been fed, all be it when Denise leaves and returns from work. Tim has been able to give Dougal his late morning and afternoon feed as he is now of a height that requires very little bending for him to get at the bottles.

Thanks to our neighbour Colin we were able to give the lambs their first lot of Heptovac injections on Saturday. The system we worked was, Colin caught the lambs, Tim held them, Denise injected, by the time they were injected, Colin had caught another lamb. Getting all 23 lambs injected took less then 20mins. Tim did get knocked over by a couple of ewes checking on their off spring, but thankfully to no ill effect.

Tim's back is now at the dangerous stage, no longer stiff, but still aching and he thinks and feels that he can do all sorts of things, but knows if he does he could do more damage to his back.

This weekend also saw us get the first of the fertiliser spread on some of the paddocks before the rains fell late Saturday and Sunday nights. We also moved Ghillie and Grommet into a new paddock, so that we can chain harrow, spread fertiliser, grass seed and minerals in their paddock. We hope to move Hector and his minders into one of the races (handling/movement area between paddocks) as the grass needs eating down. The trouble is, the grass is so long and lush the boys will end up with "the runs" so we will have to ensure they have access to hay to help add some roughage to their diet.

So what is happening during the coming week. Not a lot it will all depend on how Tim's back improves. For Denise next weekend she is gassing moles for a smallholder friend!!!!!

Denise Newey

Tuesday 8 May 2007

A busy Bank Holiday weekend and a visit to A&E

The bank holiday weather was kind to us, despite the strong wind, the promised showers stayed away.

Saturday was spent at a farm sale held in the village, so we took the dogs and walked to the sale. There was plenty to see and people to talked to, and laugh at!!! Especially our neighbour's son, who has dislocated his ankle doing silly things on a trampoline. We bought 2 sheep mobile hay racks, 3 sheep troughs and a bale spike without having to part with too much money. Then a walk home to get the truck and trailer to bring home our purchases.

Sunday the wind dropped and so we were able to get on with some spaying in the empty paddocks and cut up the trees that had been removed from the fencing they had fallen onto and damaged. Tim and the resident vandal managed to get the first part of the footings dug for the lamb barn. But when Tim got off the digger and tried to straighten up, he couldn't his back had seized. It was a very slow walk back to the house.

So Monday morning saw us at Whitby hospital as A&E opened to get his back checked out as he was in much more pain. Thankfully no discs are damaged, the muscles in his back have gone into spasms, hence the pain. A course of strong painkillers and advice on light exercise, i.e keep moving, don't lay down, lift or try to move anything. So he can't feed the animals or take the dogs for a walk. When he does walk he looks like a 70 year old farmer walking with his stick!!! We haven't got a timescale as to when he will be back to his normal annoying self, but today he is moving a little easier.

So the animals are getting fed before Denise goes to work, that gave them a shock at 05.30 this morning, they were all still asleep in the field when she put their feed in the troughs in the barn. They were awake by the time they reached the barn!!!!!

Wednesday sees the arrival of the new barn cats. Denise will be picking them up from the Cat Protection League on her way home from work.

Next week the lambs need their first course of heptovac, that's going to be fun catching the little monsters as they run round the barn!!!!!! and guess who is going to be doing the chasing and catching!!! It won't be Tim!!!!!

More next week!!!!!