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.