Wednesday 30 December 2009

That's Christmas over....

We had a quiet Christmas and thanks to the snow, which finally reached a depth of 7", carol singing was cancelled and the family gathering here last Sunday has been postponed until New Years Day. Tim checked over our generator as with this much snow, we're bound to loose our electricity. It was a good job he did as one of the fuel leads had a slight weep in it. It's been replaced and the "Genni" run for several hours and so far we've not needed to use it. It's been close once or twice, the power has "dipped" for a second or so, as if there has been a power surge, a usual sign we are to loose our electricity.
Every morning has seen us carrying bales of hay and water out the the sheep, and on more than one occasion this whole process being repeated in the afternoon. Now the snow has started to thaw, we're all wallowing in mud and several of the sheep are starting to limp.
A job for this weekend is to take Finn out from the ewes and put him in his own paddock along with Cecil, Archie and Fluffy. Whilst all the sheep will be coming in to the barn we'll give them the "once over", feet trimmed and a mineral drench etc.
Brazil is already in the barn, and has been since the Sunday before Christmas, when I went to feed that morning, she didn't come to the feed trough and when I went up to her she didn't move and looked very confused. Closer inspection revealed that she had gone blind! Thankfully a couple of injections from the vet on the Monday morning and her sight slowly returned over the next few days. She's fine now but we're keeping her in just to make sure. Today she was joined by Abbi, who was limping at this morning's feed which has got worse over the day. We caught her up and looked at her foot, it felt warm, but I couldn't see anything, and as the weather has been so miserable today we felt that Abbi would be better spending some time in the barn, she didn't complain, a sign a sheep is not 100%, and it's a whole lot easier for us to catch her to check her foot. Hopefully it's nothing too serious, but on the wet ground, her hoof is soft and a small piece of grit could have got wedged up the inside of her hoof. Painful!!!!!!
Despite the snow we've managed to get a couple of jobs done, the drain in the main barn (where I'm hoping to put the pet lambs) is now laid, just needs the top covering putting on. Virtually all the wood that was in the barn is now chopped and split, the wood that I can't cut got soaked when a load of snow slipped off the wood store roof, into the barn right on top of the wood! A few dry, windy days and I'll be able to get it cut and stacked.
I wish you all a good New Year and that not too many of you are struggling with all the snow.

Sunday 20 December 2009

More snow.....

Overnight we have another 3" of snow, which means the snow is now 5" deep, which whilst looks great but is a pig to walk in. I took this photo looking from our top field back to our house.
Deefa in the snow, but if you look at the clouds near the top of this picture, that is a warm front out at sea, as long as the wind comes from the West they will stay out at sea, but if it changes direction, i.e comes in from the East, we will get another fall of snow.
The Hobbit's tree house looking very wintry this morning.
Ghilli and Grommet enjoying the snow from the safety of their shelter
The wood seasoning outside, now under a blanket of snow.

Saturday 19 December 2009

Snow Pictures

I took these pictures this morning, whilst we were out feeding. This top picture is looking down from the field where the gimmers are to the back field where the ewes are. For us this is not a lot of snow, just a light covering, but I know that a few miles to the west of us, further onto the moors, they have had 8" of snow.
Here are the Gimmers, noses in the feed troughs, just after I had put some sheep feed down. There are not getting a lot of concentrate, but it gets them running to us so we can quickly spot any problems etc, as well as it keeps them tame, so are supposedly easier to handle!!!!
Here are the ewes, with their coloured bums, busy eating their morning feed of sheep concentrate. Rather than feed the ewes a lot of concentrate in the last 6 weeks prior to lambing, which is the usual practice, we feed the same amount of concentrate but over a longer period, which works for us.
Couldn't resist this photo of one of our Blackies, who was pinching hay from the top of the feeder as I was refilling it this morning. We are now checking the hay racks morning and early afternoon to ensure that the sheep have sufficient hay now that the grass is covered with snow.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

You cannot be serious!!!!!!

No John McEnroe hasn't taken over my blog, it's my response to the new quote for our farm insurance. Evidently the increase of over £250 is because we sell approx 12 lambs a year to friends for their freezer and I'm selling my fibre at farmers markets and Woolfest etc, which I thought was covered by our farm liability insurance. Needless to say I'm going to get a market trader's policy (£47) and our friends freezer can no longer contain our lamb!!!! Bah humbug!!!!!

Sunday 13 December 2009

Finn gets a new raddle colour and a limping Holly!

Firstly the limping Holly, last week Holly decided to run up the hay wall in our barn, it's 9 bales high, after our barn cat, Lady. Then jumped down from 6 bales high! Later in the day she was limping a bit and we thought she had just strained her shoulder, after carefully checking her over to make sure she was in no pain. Anyway, she was still limping 3 days later and as Deefa was booked into the vet's for his annual check up, we booked Holly in as well. The prognosis is she's bruised the heel of her foot and snapped the tendon to her middle toe. Ouch!!! There is nothing that can be done apart from rest and try and stop her from bouncing up and down! No chance on that one, Holly is like Tigger, "top made out of rubber, bottom made out of springs, bouncy bouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun!!!!!!!!!" She's on anti inflammatories for the next 2 weeks and the toe will always stick up a bit from the rest of her toes. Evidently, snapped toe tendons are a common injury in dogs.
Finn is now on his last raddle colour, blue. I don't think we will have any ewes with blue bums, Finn is not interested in any of the ewes, just interested in eating. The ewes are not paying him any attention, a sure sign they are pregnant.
We've also moved the gimmers and ewes around. With all the rain we've had just recently the fields they are in are not poached, as yet, but the grass is looking less than appetising, so the gimmers are in the top field by the common land, the ewes and Finn are in the field at the back of the house. We've also given the ewes some more mineral licks. They have had a good go at eating them, but not as much as the last one they had. It was gone within 2 days, a sure sign they needed the licks. We will keep giving them licks now right through until after lambing, just to make sure they are in tip top condition come lambing.
Now the weather is getting colder, I'm sure there was snow in the rain this morning, the sheep are starting to eat the hay with some gusto and most mornings sees Tim and I taking between 2 and 4 bales of hay out to the hay racks, and to try and stop the sheep poaching the grass around the feeders, every time the rack becomes empty, we end up pushing them further up the fields, not easy when the fields are muddy and the wheels on the hay rack have sunk into the mud!!! As yet neither of us have ended up on our "bums" in the mud from pushing the hay racks, but there is plenty of time for that to happen!!!!!

Saturday 12 December 2009

A sucessful farmer's market

Today I was at Saltburn Farmer's market. I packed the car last night, as it was an early start this morning (had to be at the market place by 08.00). When I arrived, those of us who's stalls were outside Saltburn station, discovered there were no stalls. The company that were putting up the additional stalls were late, thankfully it all got sorted out and I was more or less ready when the market opened at 9am.
From a selling point of view it was a mixed sort of day, sometimes busy, sometimes quiet. I sold out of gloves thanks to the cold weather, the hats and scarves also sold well. I'd also taken some scarf packs kits (wool, needles and pattern) for people to knit their own, which quite a few are to appear in people's Christmas stockings this year. I did a lot of talking, met some people who went to the Textile Event at Danby back in October, they re-stocked with the fibre they'd bought then. Overall the response from the shoppers was positive and I'm eternally grateful to a member of the York Spinners Guild, who was shopping in Saltburn, by helping out on the stall this afternoon.
It would appear that I've now got a stall at this market next year when it starts again in April - Result - I think is the expression used in this instance.....

Sunday 6 December 2009

Mad dyeing and racking wine.....

On Wednesday I heard that I've got a stall at Saltburn Farmer's market next Saturday, so I had a trip out to see my fibre supplier, where, not only did I get some more Alpaca, Jacob humbug and merino mix tops, but also a quantity of merino wool, which this afternoon I rainbow dyed.

I'm going to ball this wool up and make it into packs for people to knit their own scarves. I've yet to take some pictures of the scarf to be knitted, which I'm still knitting, then type up the pattern, before putting the kits together! Easy I have 6 days to get it all done!!!!! Haven't decided what fibre I'm going to take with me yet.
The other thing we've been doing today is racking off the sloe, bramble and bullace wines. They have all settled out and have quite a bit of sediment in the bottom of their respective fermentation jars. The sloe wine, is going to take some maturing, it's quite tart and reminds us both of very immature elderberry wine, you can taste the tannin from the fruit. The bramble wine is still quite sweet, but a lovely deep red colour and you can certainly taste the brambles. The bullace wine, or should I say Damson wine, tastes the best, still a little sweet, but already showing it's potential as a wine, which one of our neighbours says "is not one to be drunk standing up!" And we have 5 gallons of it!!!! At some point we could have a really good party!!! Or it will help out with Christmas presents next year.
This week the weather has been either wet or dry with wind. The sheep are not doing too badly with this wet weather as they have access to some shelter and it isn't really cold. We've had a couple of frosts, but nothing too serious. Finn has now covered all the ewes, he's covered Beatrix, Beniece and Ariadnne for a second time. Beatrix and Berniece are always covered twice. Finn covered Ariadnne the first night he was in with all the ewes and we suspect that she was at the end of her cycle, and in his inexperience covered her. But now we can safely say that all the ewes that have "red bums" are now pregnant and we should start lambing around the 3rd April and finish around the 27th, a normal lambing period for us. Not bad considering the problems we had with Spotty Dog.
Well I'd better finish now and get on with my knitting as I can't do it whilst watching Top Gear!!

Wednesday 2 December 2009

A day at our local Auction Mart

Today we took our 14 weathers to the Stores sale at our local auction mart. We were not sure how well they would do, but you don't know until you try, and with 68 sheep on our land, we really do need to reduce this number before the winter really sets in.
Looking round at the other sheep that were in the sale, ours weren't the largest, nor the smallest, and the prices the earlier pens of sheep were going for were not bad.
We were selling in the main ring and it quickly became apparent that because our little Shetland X's were something unusual, the bidding was very slow to get going, and though we didn't get the highest price, we got a fair price. It will pay for a tonne of sheep concentrate feed for the winter.
One thing we are now sure about, buying the Scottish Black Faced ewes was a good move, as their lambs should be more acceptable to the local mart buyers and hopefully sell for more than our Shetlands.