Sunday 27 July 2008

All is safely gathered in............

The Resident Vandal arrived on Wednesday to do some more work on his tractor and 2 very excited Hobbits arrived on Friday night. The original plan was that Resident Vandal was to go home early Saturday morning, but a phone call on Tuesday to say that our hay was being cut that day and probably baled Friday or Saturday, meant we could do with as much help as possible to collect and store 250 bales of hay.
The series of phone calls re the hay went something like this.........
Tuesday - Call to say that the hay was being cut and should be ready on Friday
Thursday - Call to say that the hay would baled over the weekend as a sea fret had settled and the hay had not dried as much as it should have.
Friday - Call to say the baler had broken and they didn't know if the hay would be baled this weekend and as it was predicted rain on Saturday, it would be Monday before the hay would be ready.
Just put the phone down when we got a second call to say that a second baler had arrived and they were baling the hay now.
So on Saturday morning we took the trailer to go and pick up the hay. It was a hot morning, I had the hobbits in my car, Tim and the Resident Vandal in the truck. Getting to the hay was not a problem, but getting out was as the hay field was quite steep and despite the drying sun the grass was still slightly wet and with the weight of the hay on the trailer the truck struggled to get up the steep field, not being able to get a run at the slope, thankfully there was another gate, but with a very tight swing. Anyway with a little bit of manoeuvring Tim managed to get out. The hobbits had a great time rolling down the hill whilst we stacked the hay. It took 3 loads to get all the hay we needed, but after the 2nd load, the hobbits were absolutely exhausted partly due to the heat and all the running up and rolling down the field, so only Tim and the Resident Vandal did the final load. Though the hay smells wonderful, it has not been baled particularly well. They vary in size, weight and compactness, making it quite difficult to pack well in the barn. We think we will have to pitch fork the hay into the feeders during the winter. We will see what happens. Today a very tired Resident Vandal and Kiera dog went home and we took the Hobbits to the Huby and Sutton show near York, to hand them back to my sister and brother in law. We had a great time wondering around the show, despite the heat, and the hobbits appear to have had a great time with us, even if they did sleep for over 12 hours last night, 2 tired little boys......
So tonight as I write this blog all is quite here on the farm, the lambs had stopped calling for their mum, Deefa and Holly are crashed on the sofa, as well as Tim. Hay is not good for his asthma!!!
Nothing much is planned for the coming week, it will depend on the weather, it supposed to rain again on Wednesday!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday 26 July 2008

We're now in the Blue Tongue Protection zone

As of Monday we became part of the Blue Tongue Protection zone, so this will enable us to purchase the blue tongue vaccine from our vet. The vet had rung some while back when we went into the surveillance zone to get an idea of how much vaccine we would need. Now we just need to confirm the quantity with the vet. I'm not too worried if we don't vaccinate for a week or so as the ewes are still quite thin that trying to give them a subcutaneous injection will be a bit of a challenge.

Sunday 20 July 2008

Unhappy lambs and shearing

With the shearer calling today, we've been watching the weather to ensure that the sheep are kept dry. Well on Friday the forecast for Saturday was thunder storms, with Sunday being fine and dry. So we decided to bring the ewes into the barn to keep them dry, the lads, if their fleeces were still wet on Sunday, drying them is no great deal.
With bringing the ewes and lambs in we decided to split the lambs from their respective mums. First to be separated out were the ewe lambs and put in to the field on the common land, we then separated the ram lambs off and put them into the small paddock by the back field. Initially the ewes were the ones who were complaining loudly in the barn because their lambs were not with them, then as the evening progressed the lambs started to bleat as they realised they could not get to their mums. The complaining wiii continue for the next few days and by next week all will be peace and quiet.
Today our shearer arrived bright and early and he started on the ewes. Tim was catching the sheep for him and I was wrapping. Thankfully our shearer doesn't shear the sheep at 30 sheep an hour, so wrapping the fleeces for me was not a hurried job. Half way through the ewes, the sky started to cloud over, so Tim created a second pen to bring the lads into and as Dougal fights with Hector, he was sheared and put out almost straight away.
By 1 0'clock all the sheep were sheared, there were only 4 fleeces that were no good to keep. The ewes are in a field near the barn, Hector, Charlie, Archie and Charlie are back in the top field, with Dougal, Alex and Angus grazing in the small paddock by the new hedge.
Later this afternoon some friends from Wakefield visited so we had a good excuse to sit and catch up with the news and have a leisurely tea a nice end to a hectic day.
Next week Kiera Dog and the Resident Vandal arrive as do The Hobbits.

Sunday 13 July 2008

The scything gang becomes the ditching gang!!!

We didn't think we would get any scything done this weekend as the weather during the week had been terrible, so much rain and Tim had been ill. He suffers from hay fever and it laid him low for a couple of days.
But Saturday was fine and the Hedge laying Hollands arrived, laden with tomato plants and home made black current jam, and of course their scythes and hand sickles. After a quick cup of tea and a look round my veg plot we made a start on cutting back the reeds and grass around the ditch we'd cleared over the last couple of weeks to see if we could find where the water was running from. We found a couple of drainage pipes, one running with water the other was dry. We cleared them both so they drained into the ditch.
As this point the scything gang split into the ladies scything and the chaps messing about in the ditch, digging in the mud and generally getting enjoying themselves as they cleared the overgrown ditch to make a much clearer run for the water, they also found very large stone in the middle of the path of the ditch, it looks like it was placed their as a stepping stone to get over the ditch.
After lunch we ladies continued scything and stuck to the original order of the day of clearing the fence line along the second field we can graze sheep in on the common land, to check that it's sound before we let the Shetlands in. They are great escapologist, the smallest hole in a fence is seen as a "opportunity to explore" by all Shetland sheep. The chaps decided to continue playing in the mud and decided to clear the end of the ditch that went under a fence, it had become silted up with old twigs, feed bags and silt. By the end of the afternoon, both teams had completed their tasks, but in the process the midges had feasted on us all. I don't know about the Hedge laying Hollands, but I've been bitten along my forehead and arms!!! As usual the day ended with an excellent meal at our local pub, The Black Bull.
Next weekend sees me at the North Yorkshire Smallholder's fibre event on the Saturday, then on the Sunday, Andrew the Sheep Shearer is here to attempt to shear the sheep again!!!!!!

Sunday 6 July 2008

Weather Watching

We log onto the Met Office's web site daily, so that we have some idea of what the weather is going to be like over the next 5 days and very often depending on what is forecast can decide the priority of work we have to do. So according to the Met office it was going to rain heavily on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, and as I said in my last blog we've been re-routing a ditch, which on Monday morning became Priority No.1!!! Between us we got a lot dug, leaving Tim with about 3 or 4 yards to tidy up at the top of the ditch, which he finished on Tuesday. He also finished off the fencing along the ditch line, in readiness for the expected down pour.
Wednesday was fine, so was Thursday and Friday. The rain finally arrived Saturday afternoon, but not with any great force, but as I sit writing this blog, it is absolutely tipping it down. The sad people we are, we have been out to check that the ditch is running O.K and it is. Though it looks like we will have to clear some fallen trees further along the beck so that it can take the extra water.
This weekend, between the rain showers, I've been working in the veg garden. The heritage tomatoes are now planted in grow bags in the greenhouse, (and thanks to my friend I travel with on the train between Redcar and Middlesbrough, we've found a glazier so we can get the extra panes to finish off greenhouse number 2), the sweetcorn and butternut squash plants are planted out, the kale and red cabbage plants are being hardened off in the cold frame. I might try and plant them out into a nursary bed so that they keep growing, and a whole load of weeds got their heads chopped off. We also paced out the deep beds for the veg garden proper and I'm sure if you Google Earth'd our land you'd see blue electric posts marking out the beds. With any luck I will have 12 15ft x 6ft deep beds to plant in over the coming years. They will take some creating, but once done experience tells me they are a doddle to manage.
The two Shetland fleeces that I washed last week have dried beautifully and so has the Masham x Shetland one I did yesterday. Tim has come up with a great idea for where to permanently site my fleece washing trough with very little effort. Tim has also made a small table, on wheels, that my large carder can stand on, so I can at long last process my fleeces. As I said in my last blog I've come back with lots of ideas from Woolfest and having full access to the carder is essential to what I want to do.
According to the Met Office it's going to rain right through until Wednesday, as long as it is fine for next Saturday as the Hedge Laying Hollands are here to help scythe some rather wild areas we have on our land, one of which might reveal a small water catchment area, which might make a wildlife pond!!!!!!!! More next week.