Sunday 30 March 2008

The Hobbits arrive

The youngest hobbit travelled home with me on Friday night and after a large helping of Shepherds Pie he soon was asleep
Saturday morning we were all up and about early and had managed to have breakfast, walk the dogs and feed up all before 9am.
After a trip into Lealholme to visit the local bakery for lunch the next job on the list was to set up the lambing pens, straw them down and ensure that the water and feed buckets were clean. After lunch it was attack the chopped conifers in the yard. (Earlier in the week Tim had cut the very tall conifer hedge, between us and next door, down to a more manageable size. They had also become dangerous in high winds). We had just got finished when the rain started, which was good as junior hobbit was very tired. So much so he had to have a power nap on the sofa for an hour. Needless to say it was an early night for him.
This morning we put Yellow Neck, CA1, Brazil and Lilly into separate lambing pens. These are the ewes that are due this coming week, starting on Tuesday. Brazil and Lilly are not due until Friday, but both have bagged up well and we will not be surprised if they lamb before Friday.
Lunch time saw the arrival of the eldest Hobbit with is mum and grandma. He'd been at a sleep over party on Saturday, hence his later arrival.
As lambing starts on Tuesday, I'm now on holiday, from paid work, for the next two weeks, so as the lambs are born, I will, as last year, post pictures.
Now where's that glass of wine, it's going to be a very hectic next two weeks......

Sunday 23 March 2008

A snowy Easter

We've not managed to do a great deal this weekend, it's either been very windy or snowing. We were invited to 30th birthday party in York, as well as it being youngest hobbit's 6th birthday. We went across but watching the weather we decided to come home early and try and beat the advancing snow storm. We managed to get half way home before the snow hit and then we caught up to a slow moving convoy of cars, which made driving worse than it actually was. We decided to cut across country and after a very slow drive into Grosmont, the drive out was easy as there was very little snow until we got to Egton, then the snow hit again. I'm so glad my car is a 4x4!!!!
The ewes are spending most of the day in the barn out of the bad weather, only venturing out when the sun was shining. We're only 9 days away from starting lambing and all of a sudden a couple of the ewes have "bagged up" noticeable so over this weekend .
Hopefully the weather will improve soon as I've got another request to go and gas some moles at a local caravan park and whilst the weather is so damp, it's impossible to do. Looking at the forecast, it should be fine tomorrow, so it could be a very unlucky day for some moles.....
The Resident Vandal spent last week with us and because of the very windy conditions, working outside was not the place to be, so he and Tim did some work on RV's tractor, but after a while the sound of the wind whistling through the barn became a form of Chinese torture!!!!
It's taken Holly and Deefa until today to catch up on their sleep after spending so much time playing with Kiera Dog.
On Friday the youngest Hobbit arrives, his brother follows on Sunday, to spend a few days with us at the start of lambing.

Friday 21 March 2008

We're now in the Blue Tongue Surveillance Area

As a new case of Blue Tongue was found in Lincolnshire on Wednesday, the surveillance zone has been extended to cover the rest of North Yorkshire and Redcar and Cleveland.
Not quite got my head round what effect that will have on us, but it might mean we stand a better chance of being able to get our animals vaccinated.
It can't be long before the whole of England is either in a protection or surveillance zone.

Monday 17 March 2008

Why don't men believe instructions!!!!!!

Yesterday we did a check on what we needed for lambing, we have plenty of colostrum, but we need some milk. I'd already got the easy lambing and after lambing cleanser homeopathic solutions last month, now it's a check on the last minute things, like the lubrication gel, navel spray, milk and watery mouth. It was also the ideal time to check the other medications and sprays we have in the medicine cabinet.
Well we found 3 cans of foot rot spray that were 2 years out of date, so they needed to go. Now for some reason Tim decided to hit the pressurised cans with a chipping hammer!!!!! Once he hit the cans they flew up into the air spraying blue spraysolution everywhere. He and his coat now look like they have blue measles and I can tell you this coloured spray does not wash off!!!!! It clearly states on the tins, do not pierce the can!!!!!
We also gave the lads their mineral, wormer and heptovac injection and drenches. As Charlie was going through the handling system I noticed he'd got a bald patch on his side, nothing to worry about for the Wiltshire Horns as they do shed their fleece, but the bald patch revealed an abscess, which was on the verge of bursting. So it was a matter of stand well back and squeeze!!!! This morning you could hardly see where the abscess had been, but as I'd given it a squirt of antiseptic that is coloured purple, it's easy to spot.
Today I gassed a few mole runs that have appeared in the back field, I like to keep on top of them and not let them get too much of a hold in a field. I also managed to spend a couple of hours digging over some more of my veg patch before lunch. Some friends who have an allotment are growing a few extra veg plants for me this year.
Despite the warnings of severe weather this week, we have got off quite lightly, the winds have been strong, but no more than we are used to. The conifer hedge between us and next door rocked a great deal in the high winds, so we will have to cut them down to take some of the weight off the top to save the roots.
On Monday the Resident Vandal and Kiera dog arrive for a few days. Both Holly and Deefa are catching up on some sleep in readiness for their arrival.
It's Easter next weekend, looking forward to the 4 days off.

Saturday 15 March 2008

The School Farm Club

Last year I did a session at a friends' smallholding for their son' school's farm club showing the children how to spin and how a sheep is shorn. Anyway I was asked earlier this year if I would do the same again, and so late Wednesday afternoon saw me sat in a very drafty barn showing 10 6 - 9 year olds how to spin and how a sheep was shorn. They all went away with a length of wool they had spun and some wool they had carded. This will go into their work books and the best one wins a prize at the end of the Easter term.
The class only lasted an hour but it was very draining, but great fun.
One of the things the children had done with the farm club was put some chicken's eggs into an incubator and the day I was there the chicks had started to hatch. You could hear the chicks cheeping inside the eggs.
Once the kids had gone I then spent a very cold hour gassing moles on the smallholding where the farm club had been held. Because the light was fading I decide to concentrate on the large breeding chambers, so I'm hoping that I've been able to make some inroads to their mole problem.

Sunday 9 March 2008

Hedge laying and mole gassing

Despite the gale force winds on Saturday, we managed, along with the help from the hedge laying Hollands, to lay 22m of hedge. Thankfully there was only one large piece of hedging to lay, the rest being thinnish stems, but quite top heavy, so the wind did blow them about quite a bit. We would have got more done but a heavy rain squall stopped play. We knew we were in for a heavy storm as the sky got darker and the wind picked up, the ewes all of a sudden went into the barn. Once they moved you know it's going to be rough. After an hour or so it had stopped and we were able to walk to our local pub for a meal without getting wet.
This morning I've been out gassing moles on one of the local farms, it was a pleasant walk round the fields in the sun and we had a superb view of Ravenscar. The fields where the mole activity was, had been chain harrowed, so it was easy for me to see where the latest mole activity was and concentrate on those runs. A much more effective way of mole control.
This afternoon we finally gave the ewes their final pre lambing check over, mineral drench, wormer, heptovac and foot trim. Scooby arrived just as we were about to start so he was "press ganged" into helping, not that it's hard work with the handling system we have, no more turning sheep onto their bums, just push then through the mini crush and do all you need to do to them. Saves your back, and the sheep are not at all stressed!!!!
Next week I'm off to give a spinning demonstration to a group of school kids at a friends smallholding, followed by an hour or so of mole gassing. Let's hope the weather holds, but looking at the forecast I doubt it, we're in for a rough time.

Sunday 2 March 2008

Another very windy weekend

We didn't get the hedge laying done this weekend, the Hollands had a crisis at home so we've rearranged the hedge laying to next weekend, and to be honest with the high winds we've had this weekend, we would have struggled to lay some of the much bigger branches of the hedge(more like small trees).
We also didn't get the ewes drenched, we found that we only had no drenching gun for the wormer. Normally we inject the wormer but seeking advice from the vet, we're changing our worming regime this year to using a drench to ensure that we don't build up a worm resistance to the wormer we have been using. So we'll do the ewes next weekend.
The wind was so strong you couldn't work outside it was the perfect excuse to catch up on paperwork, and put on the office notice board the due dates of all the ewes. All I can say is we are going to be very busy in April and I hope we don't have any problems as we won't have the capacity to keep a ewe and her lamb(s) in the maternity pens for more than 24 hours. But if we have to no doubt we'll create the extra pens if needed. We think we may have in excess of 30 lambs this year!!!!!!!
My friend Phillippa called this afternoon to discuss Woolfest, (she's sharing a stall with myself and Sharon), have a general chat and a look at May, the ewe we brought from her last year. May is the same age as Berniece and Beatrix, and has the same father, but this is the first year she has been put to a lamb and I know that Phillippa was concerned that she wouldn't conceive, but she's looking very pregnant, her due date is the 20th April.
We've started feeding the ewes twice a day now, their stomachs are small as most of their abdominal space is taken up with the lambs their are carrying. Despite their advanced pregnancy, when you put the feed into the troughs in the barn, they certainly can produce a fair turn of speed. You don't want to be stood in the way or be a little slow in putting the feed out. You will get mowed down in the stampede.
With all the high winds we've had this weekend we've had a good look round to see if there is any damage. There appears to be non to the buildings, but the hedge along the common land and the back field, the willows have lost their roots and leaning against the fence, so once the wind calms down we will have to take the chain saw to them and cut them down. Looks like we may not be able to use this field for the growing lambs as we normally do, as the fence now has quite a few gaps in it.
Despite not being able to do what we had planned it's not been a wasted weekend, the paperwork is up to date and just sometimes it's nice to not be on the go the whole time.
See you next week....

Pig arc as sheep shelters

I've been asked to post a picture of the pigs arcs we have that are used for sheep shelters, so I was out with my camera this afternoon, and in order to get the sheep into their shelter I had to bribe them with some sheep nuts.

So here are the boys, outside their shelter. You can see Hector in the bottom right of the picture with his one horn. He's starting to grow another horn, you can just see the bud

Just so you know whose in the picture, from the bottom right is Hector (looks like a panda), moving to the left is Archie, then Charlie, partly hidden is Cecil and then Angus in the shelter.

Now you can see how they look and why they are great shelters for the sheep

Holly want's a little lamb.........

Well all the ones in the field near the village.
On the normal dog walk there is field with new lambs in it and Holly wants to bring them all home.
She's under the impression that she can look after them better than the lamb's mum can!!!
I don't think so!!!!!