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.