Monday 31 August 2009

A productive Bank Holiday

With the arrival of the Resident Vandal and KD on Friday night we seemed get a whole lot of work done this weekend.
Jobs that were crossed of the list, (the one that I will not let anyone see!!!) were:-
  • Concrete in front of the oil tank, so that when the man comes to fill the tank he no longer has to walk carefully across a bridge over a large hole full of muddy water!!
  • Put in 3 strainers so that Tim can do some more fencing, by the back of the barn to keep the sheep off the very fragile back wall, to create a larger nursery area near the small barn at lambing time and one by the woodland so that the existing wire fence could be moved, to prevent the sheep eating the hedge
  • All sheep weighed, hooves trimmed, wormed and given a mineral drench
  • The lambs sorted so that we now have 3 small flocks, the stores (the ones going to the mart) aka the marauding munchers, the breeding ewes (which now has the 11 ewe lambs we are keeping) and finally, the boys (Finn, Cecil, Archie, Fleecy and Fluffy) minus Hector who we sold 3 weeks ago as a breeding ram at the mart
  • Moved the existing wire fence in the woodland to the other side of the hedge, so that the marauding munchers won't eat it when we move them to the side of the big barn to eat the grass.

A very satisfying few days and the weather held off until this evening, the rain is lashing down as I type.

Sunday 30 August 2009

Peace reigns.....

Well the Hobbits left on Thursday afternoon with their mum. We really only had one day of bad weather and that was the day of Egton Show, which was a shame as so many people go and so much happens, but between the high winds and the rain, it was very little fun being there, so we all came home mid afternoon to warm up. The 2 high lights of the show were the stall selling very large meringues (they were lovely) and watching our Doctor wrestle with his Teeswater sheep he was showing!!! for which he did manage to win a rosette or two.
We did manage a couple of really good days on Saltburn beech, playing countless games of cricket and some football. Eldest Hobbit managed to get stung by a wasp that crawled up his leg and into his trunks, I don't think I need to elaborate much more as to where exactly he was stung!!!!. The sea goes out for far enough and the only way to keep track of the boys, is to ensure they are wearing brightly coloured T shirts and a pair of binoculars. We've watched all of the Harry Potter DVDs and played countless games of monopoly (the shortened version) and Sorry, backed biscuits for dogs and humans. Youngest Hobbit has made countless paper airplanes, which I'm still finding in the Dining Room, they are everywhere. It was a great few days with them, but no sooner had they left, then the following day Resident Vandal arrived with KD. More about what we got up to and the rest of the Bank Holiday work tomorrow.

Sunday 23 August 2009

The Hobbits arrive but the Alpaca shearer doesn't!!!

The Alpaca shearer was booked to call either on Monday or Friday, but he hasn't turned up, no phone call, no message, nothing, If we leave it much longer the boys will not have enough fleece on them to protect them for the winter, and if I wait until next year, the fleece will be too long for processing. Needless to say I'm not impressed!!! Anyone got the name and number of a reliable shearer?
The Hobbits arrived on Saturday afternoon and so far we've played 2 games of Sorry and Monopoly, several games of Top Trumps, watched the first 2 Harry Potter Films, with the youngest Hobbit hiding behind the sofa with his hands over his ears at the scary bits. 3 games of cricket, Deefa was the umpire, moved Ghilli & Grommet back into their paddock, Finn, Fleecy and Fluffy in with Cecil and Archie, put up some hurdles to give the "marauding munchers" (aka this years lambs), a bit more grazing. I'm shattered and they don't go home until Thursday!!!!!
This morning we went to visit fellow smallholder, Jayne who has just got a new 8 week old Gorden Setter puppy, called Poppy. Here she is sat on the grass in the sunshine. My handbag wasn't big enough to sneak her home.
I've dug up some of the potatoes that have blighted tops, thankfully they are O.K, but I doubt if they will store very well. But that's not a problem, we will have them eaten before theygo into store. The leeks are hiding amongst the weeds, so I will need to get there and try and rescue them. The sprouts, cabbages and sweetcorn are doing really well.
Tomorrow, if the weather is fine, we're off to the beech, so bread buns have been made ready for the pack up, with both bread makers being brought into action. Later in the week we're off to Egton Show, looking forward to meeting up with friends, seeing the sheep, horses and cattle. Hopefully the weather will hold....

Sunday 16 August 2009

4 men went to mow, went to mow a meadow....

Well it was 2 men and 2 women, the hedge laying Hollands were here yesterday to help Tim and I scythe down the grass in the area we call the orchard. It's down a steep bank and then onto a small flat area, which when we moved in was packed with conifer trees and a very overgrown hedge. The hedge has been laid and the conifer trees taken out leaving 2 old apple trees and 3 very spindly plum trees. The plum trees had to be removed as they got blown over the first strong wind we had. Now the light can get in, the weeds have taken over. After our little scything party, the "orchard" is now looking a lot tidier, and hopefully if I can keep the weeds cut down, the grass should start to recover. Come the autumn I shall look at getting 2 new plum trees to replace the ones we had to remove.
This week we also went to pick up the 70 bales of straw we need for the winter, (50 for us and 20 for a fellow smallholder). We've been ready for over a week to pick it up, but as always, we've been waiting for the right weather.
There is a bit of a disaster in the veg garden, my main crop potatoes have blight. So I'm going to have to chop of the helms and either burn them or put them in a bag and take them to the tip, but they will not be going onto the compost bin, as this will spread this dreaded disease around the veg garden, something I don't want to do.
I've had another worm count done this week, this time for the ewes, and the results are quite encouraging, though we have a medium worm problem, it's not drastic, and we could get away with not worming the ewes until October, but the vet's advice is to give them an oral wormer now, just to keep on top of the worms, and then worm as normal in October. We were going to worm the ewes today, but after yesterday's exercise of scything on a mild and very windy day, which saps your energy and makes you dehydrated. Hence wrestling with sheep did not appeal. But the main reason for conserving our energy is that the Hobbits arrive next Saturday for a week!!!!!!!!!

Sunday 9 August 2009

Coming to our ewes in November

This is Spotty Dog a Suffolk ram lamb. He's one of a fellow smallholder, Jayne's pet lambs. He didn't have a great start in life, a suspect broken rib, which made his breathing very laboured. But with some good homeopathic medicine and some TLC, he's now fighting fit. We're going to use him in conjunction with Finn, we're not sure which ewes he'll cover, we'll make a decision in October when Spotty Dog and Finn are a little bit older.
Not really done a lot this week. On Friday we went to Hinderwell Horse and Agricultural Show, it was a pleasant way to spend part of the day looking at the stalls and watching the horses being shown.
Today, I dug up the winter onions and put them in the shed to dry, along with the garlic. The shallots have not done a great deal, but the beetroot is starting to mature nicely, which I'm going to have a go at making some sweet and sour beetroot, as well as pickling the smaller ones. The French beans have done very little, there were enough beans for tea tonight, but that was the whole harvest. The potatoes still amaze with how much they have produced. A couple of plants dug up is all that we need for our evening meal. I'm having a continual battle with the cabbage white butterflies laying their eggs on the sprouts and cabbages, so far I'm winning, but for how long I'm not sure.
I've finally got the last of the fibre photos done for the soybean, banana, silk, rammie (nettle) and merino mixes. I must put these descriptions on to my on-line shop. A job for next week.
Tim has modified an old water butt so that I can put comfrey leaves in to collect the liquid to create a great liquid feed, smelly as it is, but watered down and used on the veg and tomato plants the effect is startling.
Next week the Hedge laying Hollands are here to do the scything that should have happened a few weeks back. It will be a long and hot, but satisfying day..

Sunday 2 August 2009

A mixed weekend

Tim has finally got the pipe from the well into the allotment, complete with tap, as well as putting another tap by the shed. He's also got the wire for the electrics to power the pump in the well, into the shed, so by Saturday he was shattered. As the weather was a bit inclement, i.e wet, we had a run around day, getting some more dog, cat and alpaca feed and then spending the afternoon listening to the 50's sci fi radio drama "Journey into Space". The recording at times is a bit suspect, but on the whole, it's great to listen to.
We're now starting to crop some of the veg that is ready. The Broad Beans are now finished, but the potatoes are just starting. This is what I dug up from 2 plants. Not bad considering I didn't earth them up
I baked some more of the ginger biscuits that Tim likes, and just to annoy the Resident Vandal, here is a photo of them. The top ones have white chocolate drops in them. The bottom ones are the ginger biscuits.
One other job we did today was to move the lambs around. Finn and his mates, Fleecy and Fluffy are now in the allotment, busy eating the grass down. The only downside is that the grass is so lush that this morning I had to "dag" out Finn as he's got rather a "pooy" bum. We also too the opportunity to worm these 3 and given their fleeces a quick squirt with Crovect, just to protect them against Blow Fly strike.
The other 34 lambs that have been grazing on the common land, are now in the paddock next to Finn and his mates, busily eating away as the overgrown grass and docks. They will be through it in a couple of weeks, then Tim will be able to give that paddock a quick "hair cut" with the topper and it will be ready for the autumn. Where has this year gone........

Saturday 1 August 2009

On Line Fibre Shop goes live

At long last my on line shop has gone live, thanks to the Resident Vandal's help. So far there is just the natural and dyed alpaca on view in the shop. I've got a whole load of fibre delivered on Friday, which I'll get uploaded to the shop.
Here is the link