Sunday 29 June 2008

Back to reality......

After the great time at Woolfest it was back to reality today. Tim had noticed that Berniece was limping yesterday and after a quick look revealed that her the right nearside hoof badly needed trimming and knowing that I would be home on Sunday, left it until I was home, so guess what job I had to do this morning!!!!!! Trim her feet, as it's been dry, her hoof was quite tough to trim. I got the hoof trimmed and at the same time trimmed her other 3 hooves. She's still limping, but not as badly, will keep an eye on her for the next couple of days.
Whilst I've been at Woolfest Tim has been realigning the ditch between the back field and the common land. The ditch meanders from one side of our fence to the other, slowly rotting the wire and posts, and having spent a few days repairing this fence the last thing he wants to do is replace it all in a couple of year time. So he's been hand digging the new line of the ditch and has found a baler string mine!!!!!
So today, I've been pulling and cutting the string that crosses the path of the new ditch, which is only 2 spades wide, but it took most of the day. We filled 2 sack fulls of string and old feed bags that had been left to silt up the ditch. But a new path has now been dug and the water is flowing slowly along it. All we need now is a good rain storm to flush the ditch through.
Tomorrow I'm not at work so it's a trip to the accountants to hand over our accounts for 2007/08 and take some photos of the alpaca rovings to post on our web site that are for sale, wash a couple of fleeces in readiness for the North Yorkshire Smallholders fibre day on the 19th July, move the ewes and lambs into another field, along with their feed troughs and hay rack.....
Next week is supposed to be a quiet week but the rest of July is not, on the 12th the Hedge Laying Hollands are here were we will be scything a field on the common land, the 19th is the North Yorkshire Smallholder's fibre day and the 26/27th sees the arrival of the Hobbits....


I took this photo of the stall at 8pm on Thursday night, after Sharon, Phillipa and I had been there for 2 hours and had gone to get something to eat for tea and before finally crashing at the Youth Hostel.

As usual Woolfest was hectic and a great deal of fun. Friday was not particularly a busy day for sales, but Saturday certainly made up for it.

I met existing and new customer and it was great to meet Caroline M and her husband. I did manage to have a quick look round the show, but didn't buy anything. I didn't have the energy to think about any new equipment I may need, but did come away with some great ideas. I finally got home on Saturday night at 21.00 to be met by 2 dogs who were pleased to see me, especially Deefa, who spent the rest of the night glued to my side. During the night he kept coming up to me and sniffing to see if I was really home. He'd missed me so much

The three of us got asked if we were interested in taking our products to a fibre day for a guild near to Newcastle next May, which we are, so that is something to look forward to next year.

I've booked my accommodation at Cockermouth Youth Hostel for next year, so hopefully I will meet you all again......

Sunday 22 June 2008

Woolfest next weekend

This is the 3rd of my posts for this week.
On Thursday I will be loading up my car with all the alpaca fibre and heading over to Cumbria and Woolfest. As I said earlier, the sheep have not been sheared, so I will not be taking any sheep fleeces with me this year.
I've nearly got all of my fibre ready, but checking the poster to put up at the back of the stall, one of the letters had started to come off, so I'm having to sew all of the letters, just to ensure that they stay on for the rest of the show.
So, if you're going to Woolfest, come and say hello

Fencing with the Resident Vandal

The Resident Vandal arrived on Tuesday night, along with Kiera Dog, for a few days of fencing. The original plan was to put up some temporary fencing to protect the newly laid hedge on the common land, replace and move a piece of fence between two fields and some fencing to protect a hedge I'd laid a couple of years ago, against the sheep, next to the backfield.
But as usual here, it didn't all go to plan!!!
On Wednesday they managed to get the new fence in place by the short hedge, but in the process of moving the other fence and removing a piece of old fencing that joined it. Tim and RV realised that on closer inspection the piece that needed replacing was not just a few metres, but more nearer 50 metres, and as a consequence ran out of Rylok fencing. So they had to go our local agricultural merchants (BATA) to get some more. This would be the first of several return trips to BATA.
Thursday was spent finishing off what they'd started on Wednesday as well as making a start on the 100m of fencing on the common land, and another trip to BATA for some fencing posts!!!
Friday - part of the morning was used up with the abortive shearing, but then after lunch cracked on with getting the wire laid out on the common land to knock the post in. Again another trip to BATA for some more Rylock fencing wire.
Saturday saw them get all of the post knocked in for the fence on the common land before it rained, and today Tim stapled the fence wire to the posts.
It's been 4 very hard days work, 200m of new fencing is now in place and the new hedges are protected from the sheep.

Not a good day for shearing

We got the ewes and lambs into the barn, the rams and weathers in a pen at the side of the barn, the fleece wrapping table ready. We also took the opportunity to weigh the lambs as we put them outside the barn so that they were not in the way when Tim catches the ewes for Andrew the shearer.
Andrew arrived just after 10.00 and made a start. Brazil's fleece came off reasonable easily, but when he came to shear Damelza, it was a different story, her fleece had not "risen". This is where the sheep's fleece has grown and there is a distinctive gap between the sheep's skin and the lanolin in the fleece, this is where the shearer's cutters cut through the fleece. If the fleece has not "risen" the cutters get clogged up with the lanolin and it becomes very difficult to cut the fleece cleanly and not cut the sheep.
So after a check of the other ewes we made the decision to delay the shearing for a month, by which time the ewes should have put some weight on and the fleece should be well and truly risen.
So this means that I will have no sheep fleeces to take to Woolfest this year, but looking at some of the fleeces even if we had sheared the sheep I don't think I would take many of them. The girls have certainly put everything into feeding their lambs.

Sunday 15 June 2008

Paddock maintenace week

It's been a busy week for Tim in between the showers. He got managed spread fert and grasstrac (mineral supplement) to the summer alpaca field, knock some temporary posts in against the hedge in a small paddock so the sheep can't eat it and finished off the base for my second greenhouse. This weekend he's topped 3 paddocks, 2 because the grass is so long and the 3rd because the docks and thistles are just starting the flower and this is the best time to cut them down.
Today we gave the lambs their second heptovac injection, they are now covered for the next 6 months, and when we are finally able to inject against Blue tongue, all routine injections will be up to date.
We've also decided to give the ewes additional feed as they are looking a little thin, this often happens at this stage of them feeding their lambs, it's a matter of watching them and making sure they are O.K.
The veg garden is coming along and we're slowly getting it all dug over. I planted out the sprouts and cabbage plants as well as some additional red cabbage and salad plants in the greenhouse. The sweetcorn plants will need planting out very soon as they are growing well in their pots.
Now that the wooded area is well fenced, Holly is able to run around without disappearing, she and Deefa have had a great time playing tag.
Ghilli and Grommet are now residing in their summer paddock and are enjoying being next to Charlie, Hector, Cecil, Archie, Angus and Alex. Ghilli and Grommet are so easy to move, open the gates of the fields you want them in, walk in front of them, calling them and they just follow you. The sheep on the other hand move better with the aid of a dog and Deefa is certainly earning his stripes as a sheep dog. We are now using him without a lead, and apart from the occasional lapse in concentration, he's moving the sheep really well. At one point today he was in the handling area, laying down, as instructed, whilst Tim and I got the last few lambs into the barn, they were running over Deefa and he didn't bat on eyelid, he just stayed there. Deefa did have the final word, or bark, when we moved the sheep and lambs back, he took a great deal of delight in moving them at speed!!!!
Next week the Sheep Shearer cometh...............

Sunday 8 June 2008

High speed wrapping fleeces and a greenhouse built

As you will have read I volunteered to wrap fleeces for another farm at Goldsborough. They have 150 sheep some Texals, but mostly mules (many with Masham parentage). What I didn't realise was that there would be 2 shearers working, with 2 people catching and turning the sheep for the shearers, so I was wrapping for 2 shearers. After the first hour, 75 sheep had been sheared and wrapping that many fleeces, I had certainly worked up a sweat. After a mid morning break, the rest were sheared, the final sheep to be sheared were the very large Texal tups, who needed two people to turn them over for shearing. We started at 09.30 and we were having lunch at 12.15 and this included a 30 min mid morning break.
Today the weather has been brilliant, sunny all day with very little or no wind, Tim got the frame of the greenhouse in place, having built the base during the week, and has now fitted all the glass, so I now have a functioning greenhouse and a promise of tomato plants from the hedge laying Hollands, along with other veg plants for my small veg garden. Which is doing quite well at the moment, the onions, parsnips, beetroot are growing really well, along with the french beans and leeks that I planted this weekend. I've got sweetcorn and red cabbage plants growing in seed trays in readiness to be planted out later this month. We will be far from self sufficient in veg, but every little helps.
Our sheep shearer rang this week, and he could come today or Wednesday of next week, neither of which is any good to us, so he'll be here some time after the 18th June, so we had better get the barn cleaned out and the handling areas set up in readiness for his arrival....
More next week, when all the lambs are to have their second heptovac injections and we will probably worm all the ewes and lambs as well.

Friday 6 June 2008

The Alpacas and Holly have a hair cut

As you can see from the picture Ghilli (the fawn alpaca) and Grommet (the white alpaca) have both been shorn.
The weather the day or so before the shearer arrived had been wet and low cloud, so the boys had to be put into the barn to try and keep dry, or at least not get any wetter than they already were. They were not impressed!! They were even less impressed when the shearer arrived into the late afternoon, by which time the day had turned decidedly chilly and it take 24 - 48 hours for their skins to "fatten" up after being sheared, so they had to spend a 3rd night in the barn. The following morning, they couldn't wait to be released. Despite the time spent in the barn Ghilli's fleece was still wet that I had to dry it out overnight on the floor of the utility room. Next stop for their fleeces will be Woolfest to be handed over to the owners of the processing mill I use to be turned into knitting wool for a change.
Holly Dog has also had her hair cut, she goes to her hairdressers every 3 months to be clipped. This time her hairdresser used a new shampoo on Holly, all the way from Italy especially for white dogs. What this picture doesn't show very well is that Holly is very white, in fact whiter that white. She's been given the nick name of "Daz Dog".

More news on Sunday, I'm helping out at one of the local farms tomorrow wrapping fleeces whilst their 150+ sheep are being sheared. It will be very hot and sticky work, not to say noisy from the sheep.

Sunday 1 June 2008

Too much grass!!!!!

It had to happen, we have too much grass, but not sufficient to leave a field empty for hay, if that makes sense. The sheep at present are in the back field, which we recon the grass will last them for another week, then they will need moving to another field. The ones that are empty at present, the grass is just short of knee level in height, too long for the sheep to eat, so Tim is going to have to top them over the coming week.
We will be moving the rams back into their field, as they have eaten the grass down sufficiently in the Alpaca paddock, so that Ghilli and Grommet can be moved from the paddock they are in at present, (which needs the docks and thistles knocking down, and a light sprinkling of fertiliser), into this one. You would think that now the better weather is here, life would be easier, but managing the grass is at times a logistics nightmare.
This week the weather has been cold, but yesterday was warm and sunny, so we managed to get the bases finished for the greenhouses and the plan was to set them up in concrete today, but this morning we woke to low cloud and rain. The only problem being, the alpacas are being sheared tomorrow, so they are now in the barn to dry out, unfortunately until 2 days ago the sheep were still using the barn, so it's not been cleared out. Not an ideal situation for shearing as the last thing I want is hay and straw in the fibre, but if I have to spend some time picking over the fibre, then that is what I will have to do. The alpaca shearer visits just once a year as he works his way down the country and ready or not, he's here and the forecast for tomorrow is the same as today!!!! Oh joy.