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