Sunday 29 November 2009

Rain, Rain go away.....

We woke up to rain, and it has been raining on and off all day. After we had done the morning feed and check on the stock, we checked the ditches. Some needed clearing out, but on the whole, most were coping O.K with the rain. We checked them all again at 7pm to find that the ditch that runs to the lambing barn, was starting to overflow, as it can't cope with the volume of water from the fields above us. There is a large pond slowly growing in the back field, again due to the volume of water the ditch is taking. The stream that runs along the back of our property, which normally we have a good 12ft drop down to, was only a couple of feet below the banks of our fields. I bet when we get up in the morning, the bottom of the back field will be awash!!!!
We changed the raddle colour that Finn is wearing, he's now on Orange, with only 2 Black faced ewes left to cover. We think that had we put Finn in with all the ewes at the start, he would have covered all of them within 3 weeks, which is what we want for a tight lambing programme in April. It looks like we will start lambing on the 1st April and probably finish on the 1st May. Once I know all the date will post our actual lambing dates.

It's a year today since Tim's accident...

As I sit and type this blog, a year ago today at this time I was sat at Middlesbrough hospital with Tim sorting out just how bad the damage was to his hand.
So I thought as it's been a year now I'd post a few photos of the damage Tim did to his hand.
This first X-ray shows the bones that have been "mashed by the chop saw

This shows the same bones from the side view

This one shows the metal work that the consultant used to re-build the bones.
As you can see the bone to the little finger is all metal

I think this X-ray shows the best the amount of metal work in Tim's hand.
It looks like he could get a part in the X Men films!!!!
This final photo was taken just after Tim had arrived home and shows very clearly the large skin graft that has been added to his hand.
It's this skin graft that has now become "flabby" as the swelling on the rest of his hand has gone down and is to be "tidied up" next year.
We took more photos of Tim's arm, but they are a bit gruesome!!!!!
Needless to say, today, Tim has not been doing nothing more more strenuous that putting logs on the wood burning stove and keeping the dogs company on the sofa.
The weather forecast for this week, as it was for the same time last year, is snow!!!!!
But where has this last year gone!!!!!!!

Sunday 22 November 2009

A Wet and windy weekend

I feel that I can't really complain about the weather when you see what is happening to people's homes in Cockermouth (Cumbria). It's been wet and windy here, though our land is wet, I have known it wetter.
Yesterday was a trip into York, for me my monthly Spinners Guild meeting, where I'd been asked by a member to bring some of my exotic fibre for her to buy. Not only did she buy, but so did a few others!!! Looks like I'm going to have to have another trip across to see my fibre supplier to top up my stocks before their prices and the VAT go up.
Tim was sent on a special mission to the Early Learning Shop to purchase a Christmas present for our eldest godson's 9 month old little boy, the "Robster".Needless to say Tim was armed with a photo of the required toy so all he had to do was to ask a sales assistant where said toy was and then pay!!!! His second mission was to get 2 new printer cartridges. He managed to achieve both missions without too many problems.
Today we moved the ewes and Gimmers to new paddocks, the ewes because their existing paddock is getting a little thin, the Gimmers because they were going to be too close to Finn. Trouble is when we move the sheep we also have to move their feeding troughs, hay racks and straw down the shelters. Thankfully the rain held off until we had finished.
On Wednesday when we moved Finn in with the rest of the ewes, we also had a bit of a sort out with the lambs ear marked as "fat stock". We had 5 in the barn for the past 2 weeks where we gave them concentrate and hay. We weighed them to see how much weight they had put on. Zero weight gain, so we're not doing that again. So what to do with our "fat lambs". A discussion at our local auction mark looks like our better market may be to sell them as "stores". To that end we've separated out the 14 weathers and booked them into the special Stores sale on the 2nd December. The remaining 5 girls went in with the other Gimmers. We will take a good look at all the Gimmers next March as to which of those are suitable to be added to our breeding stock.

Friday 20 November 2009

A spot of wood chopping

Spent an hour or so this afternoon, chain sawing some wood. Tim had a go at the slab wood (waste wood from the wood mill) and after an hour or so, we had this pile of wood ready to split.
I'm not going to split it all at once, but like today, split enough wood to burn for the evening.
Whilst we were busy with the wood, our cat Lady, was busy annoying Holly dog. She sat on the roof of the tractor and squirmed around mewing at Holly, trouble was, Lady squirmed so much she fell off the roof onto the bonnet of the tractor. There was a look of panic in Lady's eyes as she thought she was going to fall into the Holly's paws. We didn't laugh much!!!!
For those keeping a score on how many ewes Finn has served so far. Well since we put him in with all the ewes, he's covered 7 more ewes in the last 2 days!!!!!!

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Spotty Dog goes home....

This morning, we took Spotty Dog away from his small flock of girls at the morning feed and "bum check". Needless to say Spotty Dog had not covered any of the ewes. So Finn is now in with all 27 of our ewes, the master of he surveys, so to speak, and no sooner was Finn in with the new girls, he very quickly started to marshall them to see if any of them were on "heat". In his inexperience, he tried to get too friendly with Alluim. She soon put him in his place with a few well placed head butts, but to his credit Finn stood his ground.
As we were loading Spotty Dog into the trailer, Finn chose that moment to "serve" one of the Scottish Black Faced ewes!!!! It seemed as if Finn was adding insult to injury for poor Spotty Dog. But it also proved that at least one of the Scottish Black Faced ewes wasn't pregnant. It will be interesting to see how many "green bums" we have to count at tomorrow morning's feed.

Monday 16 November 2009

Shetland Sheep Society's Fleece Day

Firstly apologies for no photos, I did take some, but they don't really show anything meaningful.
It was a great day and thankfully the weather stayed fine. I had the usual "discussion" with the sat nav about the route I wanted to take. The fact that the A61 through Thirsk was closed didn't help matters!!!!
One of the Shetland Sheep Committee members who judges fleeces, Juliet, spent the morning talking about the faults and defects that can be found in fleeces, some hereditary, some man made and some down to the weather. How the shearing, wrapping and storage of the fleece is also important, as well as some of her early experiences of spinning fleeces.
There was a lot of discussion about what you want the fleeces for and the fact that "the book" on showing Shetland sheep asks for a shorter staple than a lot of hand spinners prefer and is this the right way to go etc. As you can imagine everyone has their own opinion on the matter and no one person was either right or wrong. There was also some discussion on the value of micron counting the ram's fleeces and making the standard less than the current micron count of 30. I am not going to open that Pandora's box here on the blog as views were obviously very divided.
Even though I deal with fleece everyday and I have a business selling fibre, I still learnt one or two things and with a fresh view on looking at fleeces I had another good look at the ones I have in store, to which end two more have been "turfed out" as not being good enough for what I want.
Paul Crookes was present, he's the owner of the Halifax Spinning Co. I've met him a couple of times and have seen the samples of the work he is producing, so I left him a couple of my fleeces to process for me in pencil roving's for some new ideas I have for next year.
That's it really, before we knew it, it was time to go home. It's been hard to describe the day, it was so interesting and so informative, but hard to relate back just exactly what happened. There is talk of holding another fleece assessment day next year. Will look forward to attending that day.

Saturday 14 November 2009

A quiet week

It's been a bit of a strange week, this week, we've been watching for the bad weather coming towards us, but it seems not to be as bad as the weathermen had predicted so far.
On Tuesday I met my sister and eldest Hobbit for lunch in York. Eldest Hobbit was off school as he'd been singing at the Royal Albert Hall in the School's Proms the evening before, arriving home at 03.30 that morning. He was a little bit tired to say the least. A few nights ago, at York Minster, there was a rehearsal of what the local schools were singing, it was a lovely evening. Evidently there is a DVD of the Royal Albert Hall concert, one we will cherish, and something to embarrass eldest hobbit with in years to come.
On Wednesday, I had the interview in Leeds to become a lay member of the Employment Tribunal at Newcastle. The interview was "intense" to say the least, and my head felt like it was going to explode on the train ride home. I won't hear anything now until the New Year.
Thursday was supposed to be wet in the afternoon, but it was fine and mild all day so I took the opportunity to get some more of the pointing done at the back of the house. I've nearly got finished where the study is, and I don't know if it's psychological, but it seems warmer in the study already.
Friday was another mild, fine day, and as our neighbour is putting a lean to on his barn, and as one or two of the trees in our wooded area over hang where it's to go we spent the day cutting back branches and having a general tidy up of some of the other trees. Tim then spent a good couple of hours shredding the weedy twigs, with the thicker stuff going onto the new wood pile by the wall to mature for a year or two.
This morning when we got up, it was obvious that we'd had some rain overnight, but not the high winds that were forecast. We spent the morning doing the weekly "run around" shopping, finishing off with a visit to fellow smallholder Jayne to see Poppy Puppy, who is now quite large, and also to let Jayne know that time is up on Spotty Dog, he's showing no interest in any of the ewes, we all think he's gay!!!! But whilst chatting to Jayne, I also mentioned I was looking for some small sided display boxes for my fibre at next year's shows, and she has just the thing. I just need to work out sizing's and she will make them for me. Once less thing to worry about, let's just hope I get a stall at Woolfest again next year. Application was sent off this week and has been received.
Tomorrow I'm at a Fibre Assessment Day organised by the Shetland Sheep Breeders Society, this is the first one organised in the North and all my Shetland fleeces are loaded into the back of my car. Will give a report tomorrow, along with, hopefully, photos.

Sunday 8 November 2009

Finn 4 Spotty Dog 0

No not a football score, just the number of ewes each tup has covered this week. We have got serious doubts about Spotty Dog, but he will remain in with his ewes for another couple of weeks, then if nothing has happened, Finn will be put in to cover the remaining ewes. I will keep you posted.....

Veg Garden update

As Saturday was forecast to be fine and sunny, it was the ideal opportunity for me to dig up the last of my potatoes and get them dry before storing them in the garden shed.
As you can see from the photo, there are 2 types of potatoes, Pink Fir Apple (the pink finger shaped ones) and Bambino. As you know blight struck my potatoes earlier in the season and it have been interesting to see how these remaining potatoes have fared.
The Pink Fir Apples have not done well at all, and as this is the 3rd year of growing them without a great deal of success, I won't be growing them again. On the other hand the Bambino variety have done really well, with only one or two lost to blight. Their only downside has been their little resistance to slugs. Next year I'm going to have a a bed of second early potatoes and a bed of main crop, but they will have to be both blight and slug resistant.
A couple of weeks ago I planted some broad bean seeds to see if they will survive the winter up here on the North Yorks Moors. If you look carefully at the photo you can just see one or two plants starting to grow. Hopefully they will put on a good bit of growth before the frosts arrive.

These are my winter onions which have come through really well, and it looks like I've got a 100% germination rate with them. My garlic bulbs arrived earlier in the week and I've planted them out next to the onions. Hopefully they will produce bigger bulbs than the ones I planted out in the spring this year.
Also on Saturday, the additional Black Current bush I had ordered arrived, so after the roots had been in soak for a couple of hours, that too was planted out. By then it was mid afternoon and the temperatures are really dropping quickly now, it was time to come in and light the wood burning stove in the front room. But it isn't cold enough for the central heating to come on for any length of time, which is good for the oil supplies.

Friday 6 November 2009

Durham Guild of Weavers Spinners & Dyers

A month or so ago I was contacted by the Durham WS&D guild to see if Phillippa and I were available to come and talk to them in November 2010, then a week later they asked if we could cover this month's meeting as their booked speaker was unable to attend.
So I loaded THGlett up with my fibre and toddled up the A19 to Durham, (had the usual disagreement with the sat nav, it wanted me to go on the A1 for some reason and round Durham's wonderful one way system!!!!!) to meet Phillippa. We put out all of our fibre in readiness to start our talk, but the ladies of the guild were so interested in our fibre, that is took some time before either of us were able to get up and speak.
It was a great evening and I saw some old faces, and in no time at all, all the fibre was being packed up again, loaded back into THGlett, (this time I could see out the back) ready for the drive home, ignored the sat nav out of Durham and was home before 11pm. I even managed to get into the house without waking the dogs, now that is an achievement!!!!!
Thank you Durham ladies for a lovely evening.

Monday 2 November 2009

Sheep MOT time

Today all the sheep have been through the handling system in the barn and given the "once over". Hooves trimmed, given a mineral drench, injected with Heptovac and given a liver fluke and worming drench. As it's the start of November, the ewe lambs were shed from the breeding ewes along with Brazil and Amy and put into a new field for the next couple of months whilst the rams (Spotty Dog and Finn) are in with the ewes.
Spotty Dog got 5 additional ewes today, Abbi, Ariadne, Missy, Allium and Anya, but there are some doubts about Spotty Dog and if he will actually work. He doesn't seem to have the "presence" that you expect from a Ram, whereas Finn seems to be all too eager to work. The next couple of weeks will tell, and if Spotty Dog isn't working, Finn will be covering all of the ewes.
We also weighed all the sheep and it was good to see how much weight that not only the lambs have put on, but also the ewes, and since we have weaned the lambs in July Missy has put on a staggering 10kg, the only ewe to have lost weight is Amy, hence she will not be going to the tup this year. We have also shed off 5 lambs for fattening in readiness for the "Light Lamb Sales". November is when the "light lamb" sales start, so any lamb that is well bodied and weighs in the region of 30kg go to this sale. Our 5 don't quite weigh 30kgs, but a couple of weeks in the barn on hay and a little bit of concentrate feed will soon get them up to this weight.
This coming week will see some major repairs to the main barn. One of the struts that supports the roof has rotted through at floor level!!! Not quite sure how Tim is going to repair it, but he has a plan.........