Sunday 30 November 2008

A good week and a not so good weekend!!!

Well both Isaac and Hector have now covered all their respective ewes and if nothing else happens over the next two weeks, we will be lambing the week before Easter, then a weeks break from lambing. Then another week of lambing. So it should be all over in 3 weeks. This is a record for us as some years, we've been lambing for nearly 6 weeks, thanks to the odd ewe hanging on to her lamb.
The not so good weekend happened this afternoon, we'd got the trailer ready for the early start that Tim has in the morning taking the 3 ram lambs to the abattoir, moved the ewes back into their respective fields after the bad weather. So with an hour or so left this afternoon we decided to split some wood and cut some kindling.
I was busy splitting wood when suddenly Tim shouted for Help!!! And Oh boy did he need help, he'd managed to chop the back of his hand with the chop saw. It was then a frantic drive to Middlesbrough Hospital, and one I do not want to repeat in a hurry. Tim kept drifting in and out of consciousness over the last mile.
The staff in A&E were fantastic, they could see he was in pain and going into shock. He was quickly taken to an examination cubicle and once he'd be given pain killers and his hand re-dressed, taken to X-Ray.
Basically he's got compound fractures of the bones in the back of his hand, ligament and nerve damage. He's going to operated on tomorrow and depending on what time that happens will depend on when he can come home.
The photo's of Tim's injured hand are pretty spectacular and he was the talk of casualty this afternoon!!!! By the time I left him, he had a bit more colour in his face and the pain killers had started to kick in. He's going to be out of action for about 6 weeks and I will let you know his progress over the coming weeks as he will no doubt become a "bear with a sore head" with frustration at being able to do anything............

Tuesday 25 November 2008

What happened to our shelter!!!!!!!!!!!

It was a little bit windy last night and this was the sight that greeted Tim this morning when he went to feed the ewe lambs...................
As you can see the wind has caught the pig arc and put it on it's end. Thankfully no sheep were injured when the arc blew over
Tim has now moved the arc further down the race, nearer the lambing barn, so that it has some protection from the wind.

Sunday 23 November 2008

Yet more snow!!!!

The promised overnight rain did not arrive, instead it snowed, so this morning the snow was 4" deep and with the high winds any gap in the hedges the snow had been blown into drifts a good foot deep. Trying to walk the dogs this morning was a challenge and with the wind blowing so hard into our faces that it was near impossible to get up the hill to the top road into the village.
With the additional snow we have moved the two sets of ewes, with their respective rams into fields that have got shelters and hay racks in them, so they can keep warm and dry in the snow storms and have access to fresh hay. They took no moving into the fields, a bucket with feed rattled soon gets them moving. Just don't stand in the way or you will get mowed over in the rush!!!!
The ewe lambs that are in another field, also now have access to a shelter thanks to a walk through between two fields we put in last year. Now all the animals have ready access to a shelter.
After helping out getting the shelters ready for the sheep, I have spent the rest of the day carding and dyeing fibre for Woolfest. The dogs on the other hand are getting "stir crazy" with being in so much over the weekend but it really hasn't been the weather to be out in unless you have to.
It's raining now, so hopefully the snow will have gone enough so that I can get to work tomorrow!!!

Saturday 22 November 2008

We have snow!!!!

Well as you can see we've have some snow overnight and looking out to sea, the clouds show more snow on the way

The rams lambs are snug in their shelter and are not venturing very far

The ewes on the otherhand are a hardy lot and are out and about

Ghillie is a little concerned as his and Grommet's shelter has a snow drift in the entrance, but where he is stood is perfectly dry.

Tomorrow it is supposed to rain, but as I type this blog, it is snowing again!!!!!!

We had a phone call from the youngest hobbit asking if we had snow. He was hoping that by the afternoon it would snow where he lived, but I don't think it has. Needless to say I sent him a load of photos of the snow, so that he can "see if he's got more snow than us!!!" The trouble is if we get much more snow, and there is none where he lives, he and his brother will want to come for the weekend!!!!!!

Sunday 16 November 2008

The rams have been busy

It's only a week since we put the rams in with the ewes and the "score" so far is: Hector 3, Isaac 8, so if Isaac is fertile, we should start lambing on the 6th April 2009.
We've been asked if we will have any lamb ready for Christmas, so we put all the ram lambs through the weigh and the 3 heaviest are now in the barn and given extra feed to "fatten" then up a little. We normally don't do the lambs before Christmas, tending to wait until into the early part of the New Year as the lambs are heavier and before the really bad weather arrives and they no longer put on weight, or start to loose condition.
As today was such a warm and calm day, I've been able to sort out the 6 Herdwick fleeces I got yesterday. Though they had been "dagged out" well, I still took some more of the fleece off before re rolling and packing them into paper sacks. Now they just want washing...........
I finally managed to get the last of my winter onions planted, the ones I planted at the end of September are already starting to show. The kale is growing well and at long last the leeks are starting to thicken up, and if the parsnips are anything like their top growth, then they should be huge!!!!!
On Thursday my application for Woolfest arrived and as an existing stall holder I have a week to get my application back before applications for stalls are opened up. So my form is filled out, cheque written and will be in the post tomorrow morning. I'm expanding the range of fibres that I'm taking to Woolfest, so I've got a lot of work to do over the next few months.

Sunday 9 November 2008

Here come the Boys..........

As we have now put the Tups in with the ewes I thought I would introduce them.

This is Hector, our resident Shetland Ram, getting his head stuck into some breakfast this morning. As you can see he only has one horn and it does sweep back over his head. The point is getting near to his neck so we will have to trim off the bottom inch or so, so that he doesn't hurt himself.
This is Isaac, a young Jacob Ram we are borrowing to cover some of our Corridale X Shetland ewes, and as you can see from the above picture, one of the ewes has a red bum, so despite his youth, he seems to know what to do.

This picture shows Isaac's impressive set of horns. He also has a very soft fleece, so it will be interesting to see what his lambs turn out like.
He's only been with his harem of ewes for less than a day and already he's covered 3 of them. Hector on the other hand, is saving his energy, but I'm sure he will get to work soon.

Saturday 8 November 2008

The Shetland Sheep Inspectors call

On a very wet and windy day 4 Shetland Sheep inspectors arrived to inspect Hector, Cassy, Carmen, Cicely and Carolyn.
The ewes were the first to be inspected and they all passed with flying colours and Cicely got a special mention as an example of what an original Shetland Island sheep looked like with her grey multi coloured fleece. She is by far one of my favourite ewes. Carolyn took the eye of the Shetland Sheep Chairman, as one he would bid for in an auction ring. Carmen and Cassy also got good comments about their fleece and their overall appearance. It's good to know that we have bred some good ewes.
Hector on the other account very nearly failed his inspection. It was his horn, it is swept back, which is not a good feature in a Shetland Ram. If he had been polled (hornless) he would have passed with no questions asked. Everything else was O.K. His fleece is nice and long, which makes it an ideal spinners fleece.
Anyway the main thing is they all made the grade and it's good to pick the brains and knowledge of the inspectors of what does and does not make a good Shetland Sheep

Friday 7 November 2008

What is Common Land?

I've been asked what meant by the term "Common Land"? Well it's one of those things that everyone seems to know about, but trying to get a definitive description is proving a bit of a challenge. I've looked on the Internet etc, but again there are so many definitions that I'm now totally confused. So I thought I would say what Common Land grazing rights means to us.
Our house was built in 1850 and in the deeds it states we have the following rights over Ugthorpe Moor
"The right to graze 25 ewes and followers, the right to cut and take away peat and the right to take top stones over the whole of the land comprised in this registered unit."
In our case Ugthorpe Moor is not owned by the "Commoners", of which there are 22 properties, that have the rights to graze over the moor. Not everyone takes up this right and we only graze the land that is adjacent to our smallholding along with another local farmer, who also has the shooting rights over this part of the moor.
Common Land ownership can be an emotive issue in some areas, but here is seems to work well.
I don't know if I've made things any clearer, but for us it means we can rest our land from the sheep and have a larger flock than our 7.5 acres really can support.

Sunday 2 November 2008

Pheasent and Wild Duck for tea

One of the events that happens at this time of the year, is some of the local farmers, walking over the common land and shooting pheasant and wild duck. On Saturday, they were out with their guns, it was, for once a really nice day. As we were out shopping we didn't hear them, but later in the evening, we were given a pheasant and duck as a "thank you" for letting them walk through our fields and along the fence line.
We're having the duck for tea tonight and the pheasant in a stew later in the week.
I know that they enjoy walking and shooting what ever pheasant and duck "rise" to the guns and I think it's a much better way of shooting rather than stood at a point whilst the birds are driven to the guns and a large number of birds are shot. This way they only shoot for the pot, so to speak, and the pheasants are kept to a level where they don't end up eating my winter veg!!!!

Giving the ewes the once over and paddock logistics

As we will be putting the tups in with the ewes next weekend we decided to separate them out in readiness for the boys arrival. The original plan was to put the ewes that are going to Hector on the common land and the ewes for the Jacob in the back field. But a phone call on Saturday afternoon from the Shetland Sheep ram inspectors to say that they are coming next Saturday (8th Nov) we've had to have a rethink, as we want them to inspect 4 of our ewes as well as our Ram, Hector.
So the ewe lambs are now in the top paddock near the common land, the ewes to be inspected are in a paddock next to the common land, the ewes for Hector are on the common land and the ewes for the Jacob are in the back field.
Whilst all the ewes were was in the barn we took the opportunity to weigh everyone. Not surprisingly, the ewes are lighter than they were this time last year, but we giving them additional feed, so hopefully this will help them through the rest of the winter. One thing we have decided to do, it to weigh the ewes again when we wean the lambs, to that way we can keep a better track on their weight gain/loss.
As well as the weighings everyone got a pedicure, a mineral and wormer drench, so they are fit for the winter. The ewe lambs got dagged out as well and I think they will need doing again in another couple of months!!!!
Now that all the ewes are in their winter paddocks, all the feed troughs, water troughs and hay racks had to be moved and I did this all in the rain this afternoon!!!!! Wellies, gloves, hat and over trousers are now drying by the aga. Is this a sign of things to come for the winter, outdoor clothes drying by the aga!!!!!

Our first snow!!!!!!!

On Tuesday we had our first snow of the year, we only had about an inch, but it stayed around for a couple of days, making everything very wet.
Between the showers of snow and rain, Tim has been able to re-wire the outside lights. He's put a new light on the barn, so that it lights up more of the yard as well as an additional sensor, so that when you walk from the barns into the yard, the lights come on. He's reduced the wattage of the bulbs used so that overall we use no more wattage than before, the light is spread about more and the glare from the spot lights is reduced, you're not blinded by the lights and then can't see anything in the darker areas of the yard. Now there are now no dark areas in the yard. Tim has also set the sensors, so that the cats don't set the lights off every 5 minutes.
As well as snow this week it's also thunder and lightened during the night. The only way I know it was thundering, is that Deefa woke me up, for some reason he and Holly are afraid of the thunder.
If this is the weather we are getting at the end of October, what are we going to get for the rest of the winter!!!!! We can cope with the cold and it freezing, but what we both hate is the wet, the animals end up caked in mud, it saps their energy and makes their feet soft and vulnerable to rot, even their shelters are damp and that can cause breathing problems. So lets hope we have a cold dry winter...