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!!!!!