Sunday 27 September 2009

A day at Masham Sheep Fair for my birthday

Where has this year gone, it hardly seems 5 minutes since my big party weekend. But my birthday has come round again, so we went off to Masham Sheep Fair. We haven't been for at least a couple of years and in that time the sheep show is looking as if it's back to it's pre Foot and Mouth days.
We met up with some friends for lunch, before going our different ways to look at the sheep, fleeces and craft stalls. I'd taken some of my Shetland fleeces to sell on the Rare Breeds Stand. I managed to get one sold, which wasn't bad as they were only on the stand for about 3 hours. I also sold a couple of bags of rainbow dyed fleece on the North Yorkshire Smallholders stand. So a good day all round.
A bit of a P.S on our new ladies, a fellow smallholder came to see them yesterday and is convinced that some may be in lamb!!!!!!! Going to get Pete to have a look and pass his professional eye over them...... Will keep you posted

Bracken and Thistle bashing

On Saturday the Hedge laying Hollands arrived to help scythe down some bracken and thistles in one of our fields. I'd got some of it done a month or so ago, just as the thistles had started to flower, and this part of the field now looks like it is clear of thistles.
The last thing we wanted, was the weather we got, a beautiful fine sunny day, with no wind. Hacking back the thistles was very warm work, and thankfully we finished by lunch time.
After lunch we decided to do something less demanding, so we picked 8 1/2lbs of sloes and had just sat down for a very well deserved cup of tea when our eldest godson arrived with his partner and 6 month old son.
Here is the little chap gumming one of my home made ginger biscuits he'd pinched off his dad. Nothing wrong with his appetite.

Friday 25 September 2009

New Girls on the block...

We went to the Horned Ewe sale today with the intention of having a look and came back with these 10 ladies. They are pure bred Scottish Black faced sheep.
We had initially intended to bid for a pen of 4 cross breed ewes, but they went for silly money,
again, but a further investigation of the sales programme revealed a lot of 50 "scots" from the same lady farmer, we decided to put in a bid. We missed out on the first 2 lots, but got the 3rd lot, by some very carefully bidding on Tim's part. His time spent bidding on Ebay has not been put to waste. Despite being a hill breed, these girls were very calm around the farmer, had their tails docked and generally looked very happy.
They loaded into the trailer no problem and when we got them home and needed to get hold of them to check ear tags, they were no more difficult to handle than our girls.
At the moment they are in a paddock away from all our other sheep, we'll weigh, worm and heptovac them next week, and they will stay in isolation for 3 weeks, just to be on the safe side.
We're going to put them to Spotty Dog (the Suffolk tup), so it will be interesting to see how big their lambs are next year.

Sunday 20 September 2009

This good weather is hard work....

I shouldn't really complain about the good weather we are having at the moment, but it is hard work. There seem to be so many outside jobs that do not necessarily need doing, but it seems such a shame not to do them and enjoy the sunshine. Even the swallows are still here, with what must be their 3rd or 4th brood this year, though I did manage to stay in this morning to watch The Great North Run, as my sister was running, didn't see her, but she finished in a respectable 2hrs 5 mins. Not bad for a first attempt.
Holly and Deefa are also finding this weather exhausting. Now that Holly can be trusted to stay with us when she's out in the yard. When we are home, the back door is kept open, so Holly is backwards and forwards checking on what we are doing, or chasing Lady, the resident mouse catcher. Holly nearly caught Lady on Wednesday, but Lady had been winding up Holly, by sitting on top of the wood pile in the yard, knowing that Holly couldn't reach her. Deefa on the other hand just runs round his circuit in the yard and howls at the low flying aircraft.
Looks like we will have 2 extra ewes to lamb next year, my friend and fellow smallholder Jayne, is not lambing next year, and has said that we can borrow her 2 ewes to lamb, so we will be picking them up later in the month, along with Spotty Dog the Suffolk ram we are also borrowing. Tupping time is nearly upon us again..........

Thursday 17 September 2009

A day of Hedge cutting & fleece washing

As today was mild and still. No wind being a rarity around here. Tim took the opportunity to cut the conifer hedge in the woodland, and as you can see from the photo he's cut it back a good couple of foot.
It's taken him all day as he's been picking up all the hedge trimming as he's been going along using tarpaulins under the hedge. The putting the trimmings in the trailer to be shredded later. It certainly made for a tidy job.
I on the other hand have been taking photos of fibre that is for sale through the on line shop, so hopefully now all the fibre I have for sale, should, over the next couple of days have pictures of people to see what they are buying.
I've also taken the opportunity to wash some fleeces and get them out in the sun to dry. The lovely honey coloured one is a Corriedale fleece, which is really soft and has long staples. I'm looking forward to spinning this one

The second fleece I washed, is supposed to be a Blue Faced Leicester fleece, but on closer inspection I'm not sure if it's not a BFL mule, and what is double disappointing is that the red sheep marker that has been used has not washed out, despite me washing the fleece in relatively hot water. So it looks like I will have to dye this fleece. If I do I'm going to dye it before I spin it for a change. Not sure what colour yet, but I quite fancy purple.

Sunday 13 September 2009

First Week of Gardening Leave

It has been a very strange week, to say the least. I still feel as if I'm on holiday, but I'm sure that will pass as the weeks go by.
The weather this week has been a typical Indian summer, very warm days, but coldish evenings. Whilst it's fine I've started on grouting the back of the house, it's more like filling in the holes where the mortar has fallen out. Hopefully when I've finished it will stop the mice getting in between our two walls into the rubble infill.
On Thursday we went to the local auction mart as it was the breeding ewe sale day. Neither of us were looking forward to it as our previous experience of breeding ewe sales at York have not been good. But this one at Ruswarp was a lot better, a very interesting day, the auctioneer was interested in all the animals that were going through and in getting the best price for the sellers. We didn't buy anything as the prices at the moment are really good if you are selling, but bad if you are buying. We were tempted by 3 pedigree oxford down ewe lambs, and by a mixed pen of 10 Blue Faced Leicester and mule lambs at £35.00 each, but they did not look as good as the rest and it was ewes we were looking for. It was a good job we had taken our small trailer as our neighbour bought 4 sheep, so we took them home for him.
We have another option for some breeding ewes, one of the local farmers has had an accident (fallen through a barn roof) and will be out of action for several months, so we are hoping to buy 6 of his 3-4 shear mule ewes, they don't go for a great deal at the mart as everyone wants young ewes, so here's hoping the price is right.
The marauding munchers are now at the back of the big barn having eaten the grass at the side of the barn. It's only a small paddock and it should last them 2 - 3 days, they will then be moved into the race by the side of the lambing barn, finally ending up in the top field near the common land. Eventually they will be grazing the common land, but it will depend on how the weather goes, as it can be very bleak on the common land and if we are not careful, they will start to loose weight.
Holly managed to get in with the marauding munchers and had to be rescued from them as one of the lambs had her trapped in a ditch and every time she moved it put it's head down and stamped it's feet at her. I don't think she's too keen to go visiting again.
Next week, a day of bramble picking, a day in the office (out placement support), then if the weather is fine back to grouting the back of the house.

Sunday 6 September 2009

The munching marauders

As you can see the "munching marauders" are by the side of the woodland, against the new fencing, and yes, 2 of the little darlings have their heads through the ryloc eating the hedge. They have only been on this bit of grass for 24 hours, so tonight Tim opened the hurdle on the right to let them into an area by the side of the barn and up to the lambing barn to eat that grass down. They really are very effective lawn mowers.
This week we had a trip to visit my fibre supplier. The car came back 10 kilos heavier, now I just need to photograph it all and put on my on line shop. I've got some very interesting fibres this time, some seacell (seaweed), milk protein, several blends of coloured merino with silk as well as some gorgeous black bamboo.
It should be the end of my holidays tomorrow, but I will not be returning to work in York, I'm being made redundant and so I'm on "gardening leave" until the 7th March 2010, when my notice period ends and I finally leave Network Rail after 24 years. So I'm going to spend time getting the veg garden sorted out and really push the fibre, hence the on-line shop. Life will never quite be the same.....