Sunday 26 July 2009

The Shearer and Shearing Party arrive

Today Andy the shearer arrived to give the girls, Hector and his mates a hair cut. Because the forecast for today was showers mid morning, Tim, Deefa and I were out getting the sheep into the barn at 7am to ensure their fleeces remained lovely and dry.
Andrew arrived just before 10, with his young son whose job it is to act as "wire man" for his dad. Basically pull the on/off lead when his Dad said. But still a very important job for an 8 year old, (who wants to be a sheep shearer when he gets older) and one he did very well.
We decided to shear Hector, Cecil and Archie first, as they are the largest of our sheep and it seemed only fair to Andrew to deal with them whilst he was fresh.
We had a very good method of working for the ewes, they were penned up and the only way out was through they weigh scales to Andrew, to be sheared. Once sheared, out of the barn door and away into the field. Tim put the ewes into the weight scales, Resident Vandal then took the ewe out of the scales, turned them ready for Andy to shear, half way through, Andy's son took over the responsibility of releasing the ewes from the scales for his Dad to catch. Once sheared the fleeces were passed over to myself, Phillippa and Mrs Resident Vandal to dag out, grade, roll and put into paper sacks. There was only 2 fleeces that didn't come up to standard, one was Missy's, which is no surprise considering how ill she was whilst she was in lamb.
We finished shearing by 11.30, just in time for lunch.
Here are Cecil, Archie and Hector minus their fleeces.
The shearing party consisted of me, Tim, Phillippa, Mr & Mrs Resident Vandal, Freyalyn and Mark (who arrived just as we'd finished).
After lunch Freyalyn showed Phillippa and I how to spin long draw, of which the important part is the correctly hand carded rolag, which for me was a great "light bulb" moment for me, as I have previously found hand carding really hard, now I know why. Spinning long draw I will have to practice on my Ashford Traveller wheel, as my Lendrum wheel has a "woolie winder" fitted to it, which winds the fleece up and down the bobbin automatically, which makes learning how to long draw spin harder. Once I've mastered the skill, I will be able to do it on my lendrum.
Phillippa went home with the two fleeces that were matted, as she had a use for them and Freyalyn yet again raided my fleece store and took home Archie's fleece and 1/2 of a Cheviot fleece, which no doubt with appear on her blog.
Now just Ghilli and Grommet to be sheared.

The Tour de Fleece finishes today

The Tour de France finished today so did the Tour de Fleece and I've spun over a kg of Texal fibre, which equates to 12 skeins of wool, more than enough to knit a jumper for me
Here is my haul of wool, I think I'm going to dye this wool either bright red or purple, but not decided yet, when I do I will post a picture of the dyed yarn

Sunday 19 July 2009

A wet weekend with the Hobbits

The Hobbits arrived on Friday evening, travelling home with me on the train. we nearly missed our connection at Middlesbrough, partly due to the weather and a train being stuck in the station, so it was a fast run down the stairs, along the underpass, up the stairs onto the other platform and onto the waiting Whitby train.
As we travelled along the Esk Valley home it was very easy to see how much rain had fallen in the last 24 hours, the river was boiling.
The original plan had been to treat the Hobbits to Fish and Chips in Whitby, but we decided to scrap that idea and get home as quickly as possible.
So what do you do with 2 young Hobbits on a wet Saturday? You bake of course. A quick look in the W.I biscuit book and in next to no time we had a dozen ginger biscuits waiting to be cooked, followed by 2 trays full of dog biscuits. Whilst they watch Men in Black 2, the biscuits were cooked. The ginger biscuits were ready to eat with the mid morning drink, and because they were so moreish, a second batch "just had to be made" so the Uncle Tim had some to eat during the week, along with some plain biscuits to take home to mum and dad. Unfortunately they too had to be tasted to ensure they were of the exacting standard young hobbits insist of biscuits, which meant that only 3 managed to make it all the way home.
The dogs are enjoying their biscuits, after they too were quality checked, (eaten) by youngest hobbit, who was non plus about them. I hasten to add the dog biscuits are made from tuna, oats, eggs, flour and oats, so nothing nasty in them at all for a young hobbit.
The afternoon was spent watching the Tour de France, for which the Tour de Fleece I've managed so far to spin 900g of fibre, that's ample to knit the jacket I have in mind.
We took the hobbits home this morning, eldest hobbit had a birthday party to attend, and we spent a pleasant afternoon catching up with hobbit's parents and the Savage family, who are grieving the loss of Hamish, thier westie and grandma, all of which happened whilst they were on holiday. Sometimes life is horrible. But I did get to cuddle "the robster" eldest godson's little boy who's now a good 3 months old and just starting to smile. How can you be sad when a little baby giggles and smiles at you. My knitting needles have been busy, I've knitted him a little coat, which in the rush this morning I forgot to pick up. No doubt I will see him again before the summer is out.
Next weekend the shearing party arrive, let's hope we have fine weather towards the back end of the week so the sheep's fleece is dry.

Hay safely gathered in

Having a quiet cup of coffee with a friend on Thursday lunch time, when my mobile phone rang, it was Scooby, frantically trying to get hold of Tim. The forecast for Friday was awful, so our hay was being baled and needed to be brought undercover that night. I managed to get hold of Tim and he went off to help Scooby. I booked the afternoon off work and when I got to Saltburn station, (14 miles from home) it was tipping down. Thankfully when I got home it was dry and Tim and Scooby had just led in the first trailer load of hay. A quick change and I went back with the lads to help load the rest of the hay. We'd hoped for around 150 bales of hay, in fact there was 280!!!!!
A second load of hay was quickly stacked and whilst Tim and I took this load home, Scooby loaded hay onto his trailer to stack in the shed at the field. We got home, unloaded the hay in the barn, not stacked and set off for a 3rd load, to find that 5 minutes up the road, it was raining, but 5 minutes later it wasn't and thankfully it was still fine where we were the hay was, though the sky was a menacingly black!!!!
A third load of hay was loaded in double quick time and taken home. Tim had just backed the trailer into the large barn when the heavens opened.
It has rained off and on all weekend, very heavily, but we don't care the hay is in and under cover. Now it just needs to be stacked and space found for the extra 50 bales (80 bales of hay left in the shed on the hay field). Trouble is 70 bales of straw should be ready for us to collect in a couple of weeks time and where that was to go in the large barn, the extra hay is going!!!!!!
Any one know where I can get/or transform the barn into a tardis (aka Dr Who type) so I can store all the winter bedding and feed?

Sunday 12 July 2009

Veg Garden, and getting ready for Winter

Tim has finally managed to get all the fence post in around the veg garden, and you may be able to see at the back of the photo a blue pipe. This is being connected to our spring with a pump. The idea being I can use it to water the veg garden

As Tim has been getting the barn ready for shearing in a couple of weeks time, we decided that the best place for the old bedding etc is to put them on the deep beds that I won't be using until next year. So we spent a very midge biting evening shovelling manure onto the beds, but the effort will be worth it.

These are my winter onions and as you can see they are nearly ready and a good size. Hopefully they taste as good as they look

One other veg I'm also please with is my bulb fennel, we had some yesterday, roasted with some other veg, and very tasty they were. We've also been eating the broad beans, and today a first cutting of broccoli.
As I said in the title, getting ready for Winter. Today we collected 90 bales of hay which is now stacked in the barn, another 150 are arriving later next week. The bales were very heavy, even for Scooby!!!! so they are well packed and smell very sweet. Should be a good feed for the animals this coming winter.
The second thing I did, in prep for winter, was start and chop wood ready for splitting. I need to cut enough wood so that both sides of the cow byre are full. So it looks like I will be coming home from work and spending an hour most evenings, and the same most weekends, cutting wood, to ensure we have sufficient wood for about 6 months.
Tim went to see the consultant last week, who is still very pleased with his progress. We also now understand why the swelling isn't going down as fast as Tim hoped. To put it in the consultants words "you not only mushed the bones, which I can rebuild, but the blood capillaries are a different matter, and they are responsible for pumping the blood back etc." The down side is that his hand will feel the cold in winter. Tim was asked if he was self conscious about the skin graft, which he's not, but it does make getting gloves on a problem. So we are back on the 7th Jan to discuss an operation to reduce Tim's skin graft. All bets are off that Tim has the op at lambing time!!!!!!
Next week the Hobbits arrive!!!!!!!

Tuesday 7 July 2009

Web Page down.........

I'm in the process of changing my web host provider and so my website is down at the moment. Hopefully it will be back within 48 hours and then I can start and re-build it.

Monday 6 July 2009

The Cull Ewes are back

Well the cull ewes went to the mart and came back. Pete who took them, was so disgusted with the price that he not only bought ours back but his also. It would appear that there was some sort of cartel bidding, or not as the case may be. This is not good for anybody, why these buyers do this is a mystery to me as before long no one will take sheep to the sales.
Hopefully prices will get better, meanwhile the 3 girls are merrily munching grass

Sunday 5 July 2009

Tour De Fleece starts and my Guild Fibre Day

Today was my own Guild's Fibre Day, so I took some of my Alpaca, sheep and camel fibre to sell, as well as my spinning wheel so that I could get some of the texal fleece spun, as my part of the Fleece de Tour.
The guild day went well, it was in conjunction with the Farming Museum where we hold our meetings. Some of the ladies were doing indigo dyeing, some felting and some spinning. It was an enjoyable day.
As to the spinning I managed to get two bobbins finished and put onto a niddy noddy

The texal is quite an interesting fleece to spin, whilst I was plying the yarn it has a sheen to it, that I was not expecting. Will be interesting to see how much I get spun over the next few weeks.

The Silence of the Lambs............

or not in our case, as on Saturday we gave the lambs their second Heptovac injection and at the same time separated them off from their mum's!!!! All was calm until we took the lambs out of the barn and into their own paddock on the common land. We kept Finn back and put him in the Alpaca's summer paddock along with missy's lad, Fluffy (as per Harry Potter) and Amy's lad, we've called him Fleecy as he has a really nice and soft grey fleece.
We also weighed and gave the ewes a mineral drench to help them recover from the rigours of raising lambs. There is a 5, 3, 4 month rule with ewes, 5 month pregnant, 3 months riasing lambs and 4 months to recover, which we try to follow. So as the lambs are now 12 weeks old, it's time to separate them from their mum's. Last night was a very noisy night, as well as very warm as all the windows in the house were closed to block out the bleating from the ewes and the lambs. Today it's a little quieter.
Weighing the ewes and lambs at weaning, means that we can monitor weight gain/loss to ensure we never have the worm problem we had last year. I have to say the lambs are looking really well, no "pooey bums" despite the long grass they are grazing.
In a months time we will have all the lambs in and decide which ewe lambs we are keeping, so they will go in with the rest of the ewes and the rest that are going to the mart into another field, so we can keep an eye on their weight and anything near the 30kg mark will be sent to the mart as light lambs.
Just spoken to Pete, he's going to borrow the our lamb scales, and cull ewes are a good price at the moment, so we will be up early to sort out the 3 ewes we've ear marked as culls. Such is life, you have to respond to the markets where possible.