Sunday 29 March 2009

The Maternity Unit is ready........

We spent this morning getting the 5 lambing pens ready for next week. We have to put boards along the bottom of the pens as the Shetland lambs can get through the gaps and think it's a great game to stand outside their respective pens and bleat at mum, who can't get to them and so gets very frantic. So the boards stop this happening, but I'm sure at times the ewes would love to be able to get into the pens and ignore their lambs!!!!!
Talking of lambs, Frea and Finn are coming on a great storm. They are now 4 weeks old and starting to take an interest in the concentrate sheep food as well as eating the grass and sneaking a lick of the mineral bucket when none of the ewes are looking. Lucy and Emma have adopted Frea and Finn and make sure they are well looked after, but how they will feel once they both have their own lambs only time will tell. The ewes have now been moved off the common land and into one of the paddocks near the lambing barn, they fair skipped into the paddock as it has some new grass growing in it. We always try to keep the 2 paddocks near the lambing barn clear until this time of the year, so that we don't have far to carry newly born lambs. Once everyone has lambed, they get moved into the back field which has been empty since late last year.
Today was a lovely warm day, a great relief after the cold and windy week we've just have. I've been able to spend some more time in the veg garden digging over some more of the soil, which still feels quite cold despite the sunshine. The Broad Beans are finally through in their pots in the greenhouse, the garlic is now a good 4" tall in their pots, only a couple have failed to come through, so we should have a good crop later in the year. The potatoes in the shed are not chitting very well, but I'm not too worried as it's going to be another couple of weeks before I shall be planting them out on Good Friday, the traditional day to plant spuds. Hopefully I will have a couple of Hobbits to help me plant them as they arrive next Saturday for their Easter holidays.........

Sunday 22 March 2009

It's hard work this weather.....

Is a comment from one of our neighbours, and I know what she means. The last place I want to be is inside, you want to be outside working in the fields and/or garden. I don't remember being able to get so much of my veg garden dug this early in the year and the land being so dry.
The sheep are doing O.K and we are only 2 weeks away from the start of lambing. Missy's limp has now gone and she's looking really well. I did have a slight panic earlier this week, going out the feed the ewes on Wednesday night, I saw a dark coloured ewe on the common land with a lamb!!!!!! A quick role call of the ewes at the feed trough and no one was missing. Pete had put some of his ewes up on the common land that afternoon one of which was coloured. Panic over, but every time I go out to feed the ewes she still makes me do a double check on all of my girls.
Yesterday Tim and Deefa moved Hector, Cecil and Archie back to the field they normally live in and the ram lambs into the top field near the common land. It was good to see them both back working the sheep again and, if a dog could smile, Deefa had the biggest grin on his face a dog could have. Tim also managed to put together the new feed bin that arrived on Thursday, despite the instructions saying the 2 people are required to put the bin together!!!! In actual fact he only needed my help to finish fastening the divider into the bin, which if you had arms that were 6ft long you could do on your own. Now the feed bin is in place we can finish putting the lambing pens up.
Changing the thread of this blog some what, a friend of ours has just given me "The Book of The Farm Vol.1" by Henry Stevens, the one that was featured on the programme "Victoria Farm". It will make an interesting read on the train to work. I love reading old farming books, it's surprising how little has changed in farming over the years, apart from the machinery.

Sunday 15 March 2009

A weekend of sheep

The Resident Vandal has been here this weekend to help with the ewe's pre lambing injections and general "once over". The ewes on the whole are not too bad in condition. Some of the older girls are still a bit thin, but are looking O.K. One or two of the ewes have started to "bag up" so we know we are not far from the start of lambing.
Missy is still giving a some cause for concern, she has now developed quite a bad limp. I've trimmed her hoof, but there is nothing to see, but her lower leg is quite warm which could signify that she has some sort of infection in her foot. So to be on the safe side we've given her a shot of antibiotics this evening and hopefully that will resolve the problem.
The weather this weekend has again been fine and warm and thankfully today the very strong wind from Saturday has gone, so I've been able to get some more of my veg garden dug over and the paths around the edge marked out. Keira, Holly and Deefa spent the time I was in the veg garden playing tag in the woodland, I don't know who won, but very soon the game was followed by a snooze in the sun.
We weighed Frea and Finn yesterday to see how they are doing, now they are on 2 litres of milk a day each. Well Frea has put on 2kg, Finn 1.5kg. So there is nothing much wrong with them. Tomorrow we are going to let them out of their pen in the barn so they can join the ewes and get out in the sun. In one corner of the barn, we've turned one half of a ring feeder upside down, to make a "lamb creep" so that none of the other sheep can drink their milk or eat their lamb pellets, but I bet some of the will ewes try!!!!
On Thursday I spent a very pleasant afternoon walking over 30+ acres of grassland doing some mole gassing, when a deer ran out from the adjoining woodland across the field, it stopped when it saw me and for several seconds stood watching what I was doing before continuing it's original journey across the field disappearing into the adjacent wood. I don't know who was more surprised to see who, me seeing the deer or the deer seeing me.
This coming week Tim doesn't have a trip to see his hand therapist as she's on holiday, he's still doing all his exercises and this weekend he's helped out with the sheep and the moving of a couple of hay racks, which I think he's enjoyed being out, but it's tired him out, which is good. He'll certainly sleep tonight.

Sunday 8 March 2009

Missy has an emergency visit from the vet!!!!

This morning whilst I was moving the ewes feed troughs to a new place, I noticed a sheep in the shelter. When I looked in it was Missy, completely flat out and breathing very shallowly. This could only mean one thing. Twin lamb disease!!!!! This is life threatening and has to be treated very quickly if the ewe and her unborn lambs are to survive!!!!!
The vet was called and he arrived within the hour (he was dealing with a difficult lambing when I called him). Basically Missy has had 100ml of glucose injected into a vein and 100ml of calcium injected at various points of her body just under the skin to help her recover. She was very cold, but as the glucose started to kick in, she warmed up greatly and was soon up on her feet and very responsive.
Here she is in the hospital shelter looking much better. We've got to give her some more glucose, thankfully as a drink, tonight and tomorrow. The vet has given us a quantity of the glucose drink to have on hand not only for Missy but for the rest of the ewes. Missy will have to be very carefully watched when she has her lambs as she could go into a low glucose coma again. So over the next few weeks she's in for some very special TLC

Meet the Milky Bar Lambs........

This is Frea (looking at the camera) and Finn (trying to hide), our 5 day old, 2 pet lambs. There are Kerry Hill x Oxford Down orphan lambs from a fellow smallholder, who has too many sheep to cope with pet lambs. Rather than give them bottles every 4 hours, they get their milk from a "milk bar", a bucket that has 5 teats at the bottom. At the moment we put 1 litre of milk in the bucket 3 times a day and Frea and Finn can drink the milk "ad lib" which is more like they would do, if they were with mum. It also means they don't get the bloated tum common in pet lambs and we're not harassed with the bottles, easier all round and hopefully when they get bigger they will behave more like sheep. They will be nearly weaned by the time we come to lamb in April and hopefully they will have very interesting fleeces.

Sunday 1 March 2009

Selling fibre via the internet

As a means to selling more alpaca and sheep fibre, I've finally grasped the Ebay nettle and last weekend I set up an account and posted 5 different colours of dyed alpaca fibre. A lady from Switzerland has bought 100gms of each colour!!!! I'm really pleased and hopefully when I post some more fibre I will have the same amount of success. I've also set up an Etsy account and have had 1 sale. Etsy is slower at selling, but I'm not restricted to a selling end date, so it's like having an Internet shop, which is great for getting people to know I'm selling. I've also found a firm that sells fibre, at trade prices, but not at huge quantities, the minimum quantity being 10kg. It may seem a lot, but to me it's about right at the moment. So I will be able to extend the range of rovings I sell. Look out for them at Woolfest

Too early in the morning for the sheep!!!!!!

Now that I'm back at work, all be it part time as well as working from home. I've been out feeding the sheep at 6am!!!! You can see the sheep mentally checking their wrist watches, it was definitely too early for them. The sun hadn't even got out of bed. For Holly and Deefa, it was a bigger shock, they have had a very fast morning walk.
It's taken some planning the evening before to ensure that Tim has something for his lunch, that he can do himself or sandwiches made. He's now able to get his painkillers out of the packet himself, so that's another step forward.
I drove over to the office in York, so that if Tim had a problem I could get home relatively quickly. But he seems to have coped O.K on his own and I shall soon start to travel to work by train again. This is another step forward and hopefully a bit nearer to normality, or what is called normality here at Meadowcroft Farm!!!!!
The weather this weekend has been great. On Saturday afternoon the dogs and I spent some time in the veg garden. The kale plants that were nibbled by the rabbits, I've given to the ram lambs to eat. They loved them. Dug up some of the leek plants to make some leek and potato soup, and dug over a bit more of the plot in readiness for planting out this years veg. I've also got some potatoes to grow this year, Ballerina, a variety that's a second early and Pink Fir Apple, a salad main crop. Broad Bean seeds were sown in plant pots in the greenhouse. The garlic I planted last week in pots, has been moved outside and has now started to grow. Hopefully over the next few weeks I will be able to get some more of the veg plot dug over and the greenhouse will fill up with veg seed plants.
We're now into the finally 6 weeks prior to lambing and from this week on the ewes are now on 1/2lb of concentrate feed each a day. Because they were thin coming into the autumn we've already been feeding the ewes 1/4lb of concentrate per day and rather than double the feed they get on a morning, I'll now start to feed them 1/4lb of feed each morning and evening. In a couple of weeks time the feed will be increased to 3/4lb of feed per day, split into 2 feeds and finally by the time we get to the beginning of April they will be on 1lb of feed a day. It should be enough to keep the ewes and their growing lambs in good health, but not too much that the lambs are too big for the ewes to deliver themselves!!!!! We'll soon find out in April if I've got it right!!!