Sunday 31 August 2008

At last a fine, dry week......

Well that was until this afternoon when it started to rain, but it' not a bad as had been forecast a couple of days ago, where we were due to have heavy thunder storms.
Despite the fine weather it's been a quiet week here. Tim has got some more wood cut and split, we now have enough for a couple of months, to last the winter we need 3 times as much, but it's a start. He's built the base for my shed and made a start on getting the area level where it's to go. The truck passed it's MOT with flying colours and I got some winter veg plants (cabbage, cauliflowers and sprouting broccoli) which I planted out in the new deep bed.
We got the mutton back from the abattoir, we're using a new one this time. The meat arrived neatly butchered, labeled and packaged, ready to go into the freezer. We were very impressed. They also notified us that one of the livers had been condemned. Checking the results with the vet, he confirmed it was a tape worm, but not the type that is a serious problem within our flock, but we now have to ensure that our farm cats and dogs are wormed every 3 months, as the dogs are carriers for this type of tape worm!!!!!!!!! That's something I didn't know, so I've now got to find an inventive way of getting a worm tablet into each of the 3 barn cats, and not end up with shredded hands and arms. The dogs will be very easy I'll just hide the tablets in a tasty tit bit, easily fooled!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday 24 August 2008

Egton Show and The Hobbits

Well at least the weather was kind to us for Egton Show, it was sunny with a slight breeze. When we arrived at the show ground, vehicles were being towed on to the field by tractors as the ground was so wet. Standing talking to our solicitor at his stand, we decided that a new Olympic sport for 2012 should be mud driving, seeing how far you can go in a straight line whilst you push the accelerator hard to the floor!!!!!
As the day progressed the land started to dry out, so it slowly got easier to walk. Wellies being the standard footwear, though we did see one lady in high heels!!!!!!
For us Egton show is about catching up with people, having cups of tea with some of the agricultural merchants we deal with, looking at anything new they may have etc. This year we ended up drinking wine with out solicitor. A very sensible way to spend an hour or so!!!!!
I understand that despite the weather, the show was a success.
The Hobbits arrived the afternoon of Egton Show, full of beans as usual and despite the mixed weather on Thursday and Friday, we managed to spend quite some time on the beech at Saltburn building sandcastles and having water fights. The days typically started with us all watching the early morning Olympics sat in our bed (2 adults, 2 children and 2dogs) it gets a little bit crowded and Deefa has very bony elbows and he knows how to use them to get more bed. After breakfast Tim took the dogs for their walk whilst I packed towels, swimsuits, buckets, spades, spare cloths and more food than you can shake a stick at into the back of my car. Then it was down to the beech, returning home watch a DVD, the latest favourite being Lord of the Rings, then the Olympic highlights, before 2 very tired Hobbits go to bed.
My sister and her husband arrived on Saturday and stayed overnight, enabling us to catch up on family gossip. Sis and I tried to watch the marathon live in the early hours of Sunday morning, but I gave in after half an hour, sis half an hour later.
They all went home today after lunch and both of us feel as if we have gone deaf, Holly keeps checking all the bedrooms the see if they are still here. They will be back in about a months time for my birthday.........

Sunday 17 August 2008

Where has this summer gone????

After yet another wet week, where it is better to stay off the land because it is so boggy, not a lot has got done this week.
Tim has made a start on chopping the wood for the wood burning stoves for the winter, a job we always intended to start at the beginning of the summer and have a slow steady plod at cutting the wood, but as always it will be a mad frenzy of activity over the next couple of months to lay enough wood down to last us all winter.
The weather did finally dry up in Friday and through on into Saturday so we were able to vaccinate the animals with the Blue Tongue Vaccine (BT8V). Our smallholder friend, Jayne came across to help with the vaccinations and as always when we have the sheep in, we check their feet, and this time we also gave them a mineral dose and a worming drench. Jayne was very impressed by our sheep handling system and it's gone on her Christmas list. She has a bad neck so handling sheep can be quite sore, but using the crush she found it very easy to do and the sheep are not at all stressed.
I'd got 70ml of BT8V and it was a close run thing that we had sufficient vaccine. I think we had a couple of doses spare, that's all. But now everyone is protected, so that's all the matters.
With all this we weather we've not been able to give Layla a second dose of antibiotics for her abscess and it was good to see that it had gone down and was healing nicely. As all the animals have been vaccinated we can't give them any other medication by injection for the next two weeks, it reacts with the BT8V, so we will not be able to give Layla anymore anitbiotics. Checking all the animals this morning they all looked O.K, none were showing any reaction to the vaccine.
The other reason Jayne came to help, was that she's bought one of our little ram lambs for breeding so after he'd had all his medication he was put into her trailer to take home. Not too far though, just into the next village less than 3 miles away.
With it raining again today, we decided to have a bit of a lazy day and have spent some time watching the Olympics, especially the rowing and sailing. Just occasionally it's nice to chill and "do nothing" apart from feed the animals, walk the dogs, do animal movements paperwork, the VAT!!! Yes a very lazy day.........
Next week it's Egton Show and the Hobbits arrive to stay for a few days..............

Wednesday 13 August 2008

R.I.P Lotty

Doing the usual morning check of the stock, Tim found Lotty curled up as if she was asleep in the small paddock by the barn. She'd passed away during the night.
She was one of our original herd of sheep and last winter we were advised by the vet that she may not make it, but she did and through most of the summer.
We realised on Sunday that her days may be numbered and had thought we may have to call the vet to "put her to sleep" in the very near future. It will seem strange her not coming to the fence for a quick rub of her nose and a handful of sheep nuts.

Sunday 10 August 2008

A shed vandalised without the help of the resident vandal

After dealing with the sheep this morning, we decided to empty my garden shed so that we could take it apart to create the space for my new shed.
Considering the shed was starting to lean and parting from it's base, it should have been easy to knock down!!!!!!
As the roof had at some time been repaired with tin sheet, it was very heavy, so Tim decided to take the sides out so that we could push the shed backwards to get at the roof.
We started by taking the glass out of the windows then Tim removed one of the sides which made the shed sway rather dangerously in the high winds. Carrying the sides, front and back of the shed into the barn was entertaining, we were very nearly hand gliding down to Sandsend on more than one or two occasions.
After a couple of hours the shed was no more and the reason why it was so unsteady was easy to see once we picked the floor up, the shed had been set on the soil and rats and rabbits had buried under the shed.
My new shed will be set on a frame of tanalised wood and bigger than my old one so I should be able to find all my gardening tools a lot easier.
Next week we will be vaccinating the animals against Blue Tongue, I picked up the vaccine yesterday from the vets. Whilst we have all the sheep in we will also do some routine work on them, feet trimming, worm the lambs and generally have a good look at them all, it's amazing what you can tell about the health of a sheep.
Will post next week about how the vaccinations go.............

A bad week with the sheep

On Friday we had another ram lamb die, he was the smallest of the triplets and by far my favourite. There were no visible signs of anything wrong, he was unsteady on his feet on Wednesday, and considering earlier in the day Tim had seen him having a head butting competition with his brother we thought he was maybe concussed, but he was no better the following day and I gave him a shot of antibiotics, but on Friday he was dead. Looking through the sheep ailments book there are 2 possibilities, grass staggers caused by sheep grazing on very new lush grass and it causing a magnesium deficiency or a mineral B12 deficiency, again caused by new grass but growing during a wet summer, so there is very little or no goodness in the grass. The answer to both problems is to provide a mineral lick for the sheep. So on Saturday morning, licks were picked up from the local agricultural merchant and put in the fields that afternoon.
Today the ewes lolly pop lick has nearly all gone and all the sheep seem to have a spring in their steps, especially the ram lambs, so here's hoping we've cured the problem.
A routine check of the sheep last night saw Lilly limping and Layla with a rather nasty looking swelling on her lower jaw. So this morning we ran the sheep down into the handling area, with the help of Deefa. Layla has either been bitten or has a thorn in her skin which has caused an abscess, so she was given a dose of antibiotics, and I think she will need another injection in a couple of days time. Lilly on the other hand looked like she had mastitis, so I called Pete a local farmer friend to have a look. But it wasn't mastitis, but she was given an injection of antibiotics to be on the safe side as well as her feet trimmed, again we'll watch her over the next week just to be on the safe side.
The other sheep to give us cause for concern is Lotty our old matriarch, she's got a lot thinner. We were told by the vet that she wouldn't see the winter through last year, so for her still to be here is a bonus, but for how much longer we don't know...............

Sunday 3 August 2008

A weekend dealing with the sheep

On Saturday we moved the ewes from their existing paddock into the paddock with the Wiltshire Horn ewes and whilst they were all running past me I noticed that Layla was limping on her nearside rear foot. Now it's two weeks since we weaned her from her lambs and her limping could be an indication of her starting with mastitis. But a quick check revealed nothing more serious than her hoof needed trimming, her udder didn't feel hot or lumpy, so that's a relief.
Today we decided to spray all the lambs with Crovect against fly strike. Deefa was an absolute star moving the ram lambs, once they were in the holding area it was a case of first catch you sheep!!! Thankfully none of the ram lambs had been struck, but with the ewes it was a different story, 2 had got fly strike, so they have been cleaned up and instead of going back onto the common land, they are in the paddock near the barn so we can keep a better eye on these 2 ewes. Spraying them with Crovect should now protect them for a good 12 weeks against fly strike.
The forecast for the weekend was for heavy rain and on Saturday, after I had sprayed our yard with weed killer, there was a thunder storm, so I think I will have to spray the yard again. Today it was supposed to rain this afternoon, so after we had sprayed the lambs, I decided to cut the grass in the woodland, watching the sky for the first signs of rain, but despite some very dark clouds, nothing happened and so I managed to get it finished. It took around 3 hours as the grass had got so long with the wet weather over the last week.
We had our first cabbage from my veg garden tonight, and the tomatoes are coming along really well in the greenhouse. I did manage to get some weeding done in the veg garden, but it's going to have to be a concerted effort to rescue the leeks from the weeds.
During the coming week I must do the VAT!!!!!! and arrange with a fellow smallholder when we are going to inject our sheep with the Blue Tongue Vaccine, we've need 75 doses and have had to order a 100 doses, (the vaccine comes in 50 and 20 doses) whereas my friends need 55 doses, so has ordered 50 doses and is buying the extra doses they need from me. Sound complicated, but it's not, just need to get it done within 8 hours....... Oh for a quiet life occasionally!!!!!!

Friday 1 August 2008

An interesting day out and a death........

On Wednesday we drove to the Three Counties Showground for the National Sheep Association's bi annual show. Despite the long drive in the heat, we had a great day out, looking at all the sheep breed stands as well as looking at all the sheep related equipment. We don't need anymore sheep handling equipment, but I'd been asked to look at the ease of using a sheep turn over create for a friend. He worked on the theory that if I can use it, he can. Well I tried the turnover create and it's very easy to use and work on the sheep, especially for trimming their feet and "dagging out". So I shall recommend to my friend that he buys one.
Today one of our lambs died, he'd not been particularly a good lamb, very slow and hasn't really grown on as the rest of the lambs have. But to make things worse for him, he got fly strike, not too badly, but I think it was more that his system could cope with, having to be sprayed with iodine solution to remove the maggots that were in his fleece and protect the small area of skin that was sore. He was O.K last night, and was eating quite well, but this morning Tim found him dead in the shelter. So the knacker man took his body away this lunch time.
We had a very bad thunder storm in the early hours of this morning, Deefa woke us both up as Holly was a quivering wreck. She hates thunder storms and Deefa was very worried about her. He calmed down, once Holly was safe with us and she'd stopped shaking. This morning she's back to her old self jumping around demanding to be taken out for a walk as if nothing had happened. Hopefully this is the last of the bad weather for a few days as my veg garden has been taken over by weeds.........