Sunday 22 February 2009

Holly and Deefa

As the day was so nice today, Holly and Deefa were out with me, leaving Tim in the house on his own aka "Billy no mates"!!!!!
Holly is looking a little shaggy and is seriously in need of a hair cut. What you can't see through the fur around her eyes, is that she can hardly keep them open, as she and Deefa had spent the last hour playing "tig"
As you can see, Deefa is so tired he can no longer stand and is having a quick "power nap". So much for helping me!!!!
One thing is they will both be tired out tomorrow when they are at home with Tim on his own, so he won't have to be out with them too many times!!!
Who am I kidding, Deefa will want to be out regardless of how tired he is!!!!

Looks like spring is just around the corner

Now that all the snow has melted all of a sudden the snowdrops have appeared. It looks like the last few warm days have made then flower

By my shed I have a pot of daffodils, and they are starting to show
Today was such a mild day that I spent some of the time in the veg garden busily tidying the greenhouse and around the comfrey plants. They are just starting to sprout so it was easy to weed round them. I found a patch of couch grass which I've dug most of it out, filling 1/2 a feed bag with the roots. I'm sure more will show over the coming months, but now I know where the couch grass is I will be able to keep an eye on it and hopefully keep in top of it this year. What you should also see in the photo below is some Kale plants, but they have been eaten by the rabbits over the last few days. I think it is time to phone "Dave the Ferret man" to come and work the warren on the common land again.

It was a pleasure to be out and about today, I also cleaned out the greenhouses of the old tomato plants and grow bags in readiness of the coming warmer weather. I planted some garlic cloves earlier in the week, in plant pots, so that I can plant them out once the soil is a little bit warmer than it is now.
On the whole this winter has not been a bad one, yes we've had the snow, but it's not been as wet and cold as in previous ones and to that end the pregnant ewes are looking really well considering how thin they had got last summer, they seem to have "held their own" this winter and the land is not as "poached". Walking round the fields this morning there is still a good covering of grass and it's not a bad length for the sheep to eat. I think having the extra grazing on the common land has help. I have shut the ewes out from the hedge on the common land as they were starting to eat the bark, but they have eaten all the grass growing under the hedge and in the ditch, just what we wanted. As the grass is doing so well in the common land, we're going to let the sheep graze there until the end of March, a week before the first ewes are due to lamb. This will ensure that the fields nearest the lambing barn have a good covering of grass for the ewes and newly born lambs.
Tomorrow I'm starting back at work, just 1/2 days in the office Monday and Fridays and working from home the other days as well as the usual trip to the hand therapist for Tim. I'll still have the sheep to feed before going off to work as Tim is still not allowed to lift anything with his hand, so the 5am alarm is going to come round very quickly tomorrow morning!!!! Over the coming weeks I will be extending the days in the office and by the time we finish lambing at the end of April, I should be back working full time in the office.

Sunday 15 February 2009

After the snow now the big thaw.........

After the 5" of snow that fell on Thursday, it is now thawing and on Friday I discovered that one of my wellingtons leak!!!!! So a trip to Whitby to find some new ones. No such luck it would appear that there are no wellingtons in my size. So I've had to resort to the Internet yet again to get them, and hopefully they will arrive on Monday. Happiness is dry feet!!!!!
With all this snow we are going through our supply of hay and at the beginning of the week I used the last of the hay we bought last year, thankfully we've got 50 bales left over from 2007, but at the moment we're going through 10 bales a week, so I'm going to have to get some more for when we're lambing. Everyone has been going through hay at an alarming rate due to the snow, so no doubt hay will be at a premium. It has been suggested that we try silage as opposed to hay as silage is in greater supply and easier to bale than hay. We may have to try the sheep with it to see if they will take to it.
On Wednesday we weighed the ram lambs to see which ones are ready to go to the auction mart as light lambs on Monday. There are now 3 lambs in the barn waiting to be taken to the mart tomorrow morning. But the other more encouraging news is that the Wiltshire Horns have each put on 5kg in the last 2 months and the Shetlands 2kg. Considering the weather we've had and the quality of the grass etc, we're pleased with this weight gain. The lambs that are not going to the mart have had another dose of wormer, as per instructions from the vet, and are now fighting to see who is top dog, or sheep, now that the 3 biggest ones are being taken to the mart. Makes feeding them interesting as they head butt me at knee level, but a quick slap with the feed scoop quickly brings them into line!!!!
The ewes are looking well despite the snow, it's not been particularly cold, and they have had plenty of access to hay so that has helped them. At this time of the year it's a balancing act of making sure the ewes get enough to eat to maintain their body weight and the lambs their are carrying grow well, but not too well that they are so big they have problems giving birth. Not long now to the 6th April and the start of lambing.....

Friday 13 February 2009

I wish I'd had a camera.........

This morning whilst I was taking the dogs for a walk in the newly fallen snow, Holly, who loves the snow, was doing her usual "pogo stick" routine in the snow, when she suddenly disappeared. She'd forgotten about the ditch, which was full of snow and she bounced strainght in!!! Deefa and I didn't laugh much as she climbed out of the snow trying to look as if she meant to do it.....

Later this morning when I was feeding up, Lady (our barn cat) was sat on the fence post by the alpaca shelter when Ghilli came up to her and they were nose to nose. A great Ahhh moment!!! Suddenly lady sat back and raised her right paw as if to hit Ghilli on the nose, Ghilli started to gurgle and that can only mean one thing he is going to spit! There was, what can only be described, as a "stand off" for what seemed like several minutes, when lady started licking her paw, as if that had been her intended action and Ghilli chewed his cud.

I wish I'd had my camera..........

Sunday 8 February 2009

Victoria Farm on BBC2

I don't know if any of you have been watching Victoria Farm on BBC2 on Thursday night. The era and farm they are portraying is the same period that our smallholding was built. Our house was built in 1850 and was originally a 15 acre smallholding, before being split up over 30 years ago. We still have the original cow byre, but the over head hay store was taken down when we re-roofed as it was riddled with wood worm.
Talking to other smallholding friends we all agree that a lot of what is portrayed on the show, is still done today in some shape or form, like putting paint on the ram's chest (raddle) so you know when a ewe has been covered. We all have some sort of range in our kitchens, essential in a cold and wet winter, our aga always has hats and gloves drying on it and dogs drying/keeping warm in front of it.
Some part of the programme we all find a little strange, like the episode where Ruth was taking a bath and complaining it was cold, we were all surprised that the bedrooms didn't have fires in them, this house did, before the previous owner took them out.
If you haven't seen the programme it's worth a watch.

Tim looses the splint

On Thursday, the consultant told Tim to "loose the splint". But he's still got to be very careful as the bones are still very fragile. It's looking like Tim's skin graft is going to need another op to take out some of the "flabbiness" of the skin as the swelling goes. Technically it's having a "tummy tuck" so to speak. Also his little finger is not healing straight and the consultant is hoping it's muscle weakness, rather than the bone not adhering to the metal work, which if that is happening it will mean another reconstruction op in the near future. Not a good thing. But what ever happens the operations will be arranged to fit in with our lives etc.
On the whole the consultant is really happy with the way Tim's hand is healing and he very confident that Tim will get his hand working again. To that end he doesn't want to see Tim for another 8 weeks, which is when we will be lambing!!!!!

What happened to all the snow...........

I know that other parts of the country, mainly the south, have had quite a lot of snow, but as you can see in the photo of Ghilli & Gromet, we've not had a great deal at all.

In fact it's been a pleasant week, quite warm during the day. The ground is nicely frozen so that it's easy to walk on. But the water butts have at least 2" of ice on them each morning, so it's out with containers of hot water to melt the ice so that all the animals can have a drink.

On Saturday the Hedge Laying Hollands braved the snow to help me plant 40 blackthorn hedging slips to fill in some gaps in a hedge we laid a couple of years ago. The slips have to be cut back by half and these cuttings we planted along another fence line to create a second hedge, that is if they take. No doubt I will find out in the spring, but planting cuttings is a great way of getting a hedge for free.

I had to post the following photo, it's Cecil guarding the shelter he's supposed to share with Hector and Archie, but sharing is not something Cecil does.

Sunday 1 February 2009

Battening down the hatches.....

According to the weather forecast ( we are in for some very bad snow. The local schools have already advised parents that they could be closed on Monday, but as I type this blog, we have a slight covering of crunchy snow, so if the snow is coming it most be falling overnight. We will see what tomorrow brings, though this winter is supposed to have been the coldest for some time. All I can say is that I prefer the cold as opposed to the rain, the fields, though wet are not saturated, so for the sheep it's a lot better for their feet. Knowing that the bad weather was coming, yesterday I made sure that all the animal's shelters had plenty of fresh, dry straw in them.
It's been a quiet week, but I have finally got all the sheep fleeces washed, now all I have to do is get them carded for Woolfest, for which I've had confirmation of a stand again this year. Woolfest isn't until June, but it will be surprising how quickly it will come round, especially as I will loose April with lambing.
Back in September I posted a photo of the wood that we'd got stacked for the winter, well we're now at the end of that great pile of wood, it has lasted us 4 months, fortunately Tim had started on a second pile before his accident, so that should see us through until the warmer weather. One thing we have learnt is that we need half as much wood again to last the whole of the winter.
Next week Tim is back to see the consultant. It will be interesting to hear what he has to say on Tim's progress and how the bones are healing. The hand therapist is very pleased with the progress as Tim has more movement each week she measures his hand, though he still has no strength or power in his hand. Hopefully that will come in time.
Next week........ well if the weather forecast is anything to go by, we will still be dealing with the snow!!!!!