Sunday 31 January 2010

A busy week barn repairing

On Monday the Resident Vandal arrived with Kiera Dog to help Tim repair the cracked barn perlins.
By the end of Monday they had.....
replaced the fractured post with this new one. and put in this new upright at the back of the barn, along with the gate, a start on the area for the pet lambs.
On Tuesday

a new perlin in the main barn went in. The 2 new supports have made great gate posts for the other half of the pet lamb area.
On Wednesday

it was discovered that as a result of the post fracturing, this part of the roof overhang had sagged, so this piece of wood put in to jack the overhang back into place.

Also the cracked perlin in the lambing barn was temporarily repaired. Full repairs are to the lambing barn are pencilled in for the end of June, whilst I'm at Woolfest......
For the rest of the week part of the main barn side was replaced.

This is what the barn side looked like, a patchwork of corrugated sheets, none of which kept the weather out. Also on the inside the framework that the sheets were attached to, or not attached to, was made from matchsticks. Once the sheets had been removed, Tim and the Resident Vandal had to set about beefing up, well re-building actually, the framework for the new sheets to be attached to, and to make matters worse the wind picked up and it was very cold!!!!

This is what the barn side looks like now, a vast improvement. There is a little bit of tidying up to do at the top of the sheets, but as you can see, it's been snowing, again!!!!
A very productive week to say the least and a good job that this work has been finished as Tim got to know on Friday that he's back in hospital this coming week for the final operation in his hand. Thankfully he's only in for a day but we're not sure how long everything will take to heal again. But he WILL be O.K for lambing this year!!!!!!

Sunday 24 January 2010

Veg seeds arrive and some interesting purchases!

A couple of weeks ago I finally sorted out all the veg seeds I had. Some were left over from last year and some from a seed swap. But I still had a big gap in what veg I wanted to grow. So I placed an order with Marshalls Seeds. Normally I get my veg seeds from various places as and when I see the packets on sale, but this year I've decided to be more organised. I've also ordered my second early and main crop potatoes from Marshalls as well because there was so much choice and the potatoes I grow must be blight resistance. Each year I always like to try a new veg or variety of veg I've grown for a while and this year is no exception. I'm trying sea kale. It's supposed to be cooked like asparagus. Something we both like. So we shall see. But now that I've got all my veg seeds I can't wait for the warmer days so I can start and get some seeds sown.
On Thursday we went to LAMMA 10 (the big tractor and machinery show near Newark) to look at tractors for smallholders, something that I can drive. Well we've put a deposit on a small tractor, it arrives at the end of March and when it does I will tell you all about it.
But that was not the only thing we bought! I've bitten the bullet and bought a hen house with run from Solway Recycling and it arrives within the next 10 - 14 days!! Yesterday we were visiting friends in York who keep chickens and they have lent me their books on Keeping Chickens and Chicken Breeds. I've narrowed it down to the 2 breeds of chicken I would like to keep, the Cream Legbar or the Araucana, both of which lay blue or green eggs. I did toy with the idea for a while of keeping Quail, but I think for the time being I would like to keep chickens. Now just to find a reputable breeder!!!!!!

Wednesday 20 January 2010

Sheep sorting and an interesting discovery..

Now that all the snow has gone in the paddocks and we can now finally get all the gates open we decided to sort out the sheep.
After we had moved a couple of hay racks around to ensure they were in the right fields. Abbi was put back in with the ewes, (who are now grazing on the common land) and Brazil back with the gimmers. We then moved Finn, he's had his raddle taken off and put back in the top paddock where the boys live. Next the gimmers came into the barn, Archie, Cecil and Fluffy shed off and moved into the top paddock with Finn, who'd claimed the shelter much to Cecil's annoyance. A little head butting and sniffing of each other seems to have sorted the pecking order out between the boys.
The smaller gimmers, (mainly the pure shetlands) along with Frea, Brazil and Amy were also shed off and put back into the field they had just come from. The remaining gimmers were put through the weigh scales to see who weighed over 25kgs for the light lamb market on Monday. We ended up with 7 nice looking lambs which topped the scales at 28kgs.
It was only when I went to record these weights that I discovered that all the gimmers that we'd weighed had all put on weight (between 2 - 4 kgs)! Now considering the weather we've had over the past month this was a nice surprise.
This got us both thinking as back in December, before the bad weather arrived, we had a group of weather lambs in the barn for 3 weeks, feeding hay and concentrate, to put weight on them for the store lamb sale. They put on nothing. So why have the gimmers? The only thing we have fed differently to the gimmers are sugar beat shards (soaked for 24hours before feeding) with a small amount of concentrate mixed in. Some people may think it's strange that we regularly weigh our sheep, but without these records and information I would not have discovered this difference in weight gains.
We've also been giving the shards to the ewes as well and they are looking really well and more importantly they feel in good condition. I had heard that sugar beat was good for giving the sheep energy without the fat that sheep concentrate can but had not given it much thought. We only started giving the sheep the shards because at the feed merchants in December, there was very little sheep concentrate left and they suggested we give the shards a go. So from now on all our sheep will be given sugar beat shards mixed in with their winter feed.

Saturday 16 January 2010

The start of the thaw and a death.....

We woke up this morning to rain!!!! We've never been so pleased to see rain, it will mean the end of the snow and we will be able to get out of our yard easily at long last. As the melting snow and rain were running down the lane over the compacted snow, we spent the morning clearing the slope of the compact snow. Not much fun in the rain, but if it decides to freeze we won't have a ice rink to deal with.
Now the sad news, as I went to feed the ewes this morning, I saw a sheep on her back, it was Cassie, she was on her back resting against the hay rack, with no sign of life. I don't know how it's happened, but it is so sad as she was such a good ewe. Considering we've had 4 weeks of snow she was in good condition. There is only one thing to do, get her into the barn and ring the fallen stock man to come and collect her.....

Sunday 10 January 2010

It's starting to thaw.....

Despite the cold wind this morning the snow is slowly starting to melt, but that brings with it new dangers. Roof avalanches!!!! There is a crack, followed by a whoosh and a hold load of snow falls off the roof.
Here is Holly looking at where the snow she is standing on had come from, the garage roof. We then had to clear this fallen snow away from the garage doors because if it freezes we will not be able to get in.
As the snow falls off the roofs, it is revealing just how badly damaged all the gutterings on the house and garage are. On the house the guttering has buckled and then cracked with the weight of the ice from the roof, on the garage it has just buckled at the end, which Tim has been able to twist back into place. But the most damage has been done to the barns. The main barn has a broken perlin and this morning we found a snapped upright. All that was holding up the corner of the barn roof was the guttering down pipe, which now has a lovely kink in it. When we went out to check on the ewes this evening we noticed that the little barn's (aka the lambing barn) roof was leaking. The reason for this was that one of the main roof perlins had a massive crack in it and the one next to it had a rather alarming bend in it. We've put a couple of supports under the cracked perlin. This will have to be the first perlin to be repaired once the snow has gone and the decision to do some more repair work to this barn have now become the number one priority once lambing has finished. Oh hum.......

Friday 8 January 2010

Yet more snow....

The snow is now over the tops of my wellies so walking out to feed and check on the sheep is a challenge, especially when carrying hay and water. On Wednesday morning there was a ominous crack from the barn!!! One of the perlins had split under the strain of the weight of the snow. We had to do something quick as this perlin supports the only part of the barn roof that is decent. We put a couple of struts either side of the split and Tim hammered them into place. They will stay in place until the Resident Vandal arrives at the end of the month. A job that wasn't on the list to be done whilst he's here.
Today we walked down to one of the local farms (we delivery yellow pages this time of the year), and to get to the farm we have to cross a ford where the water depth marker showed the snow at 2ft deep!!!! When we take the dogs out for their morning walk, Holly has to walk in the tracks left by the cars as the snow is now half way up her sides, and as for Deefa, he has "frozen assets". Good job we have underfloor heating in the kitchen. If we have anymore snow we will not be able to get out of our yard, the Ranger is up to it's axles in snow.
Can I say that I'm now totally and utterly fed up with the snow.....................

Sunday 3 January 2010

A snowed in New Year and the wrong type of snow!!!

We didn't see the New Year in, but when we woke up there was a light dusting of snow. My mum, sis and her family, were coming here for the rearranged Christmas lunch, and this snow meant that the Hobbits could run off some energy with their sledges.
Here are the Hobbits with Tim and their Dad just about to be pushed down the slope in the top field.
Here the Hobbits are pushing me on the sledge
My sister falling off the sledge after being pushed by the Hobbits
Tim falling off the sledge trying to avoid me whilst I was taking photos
An action shot of the Hobbits being pulled down the race by their mum and dad
We all sat down to lunch and it started to snow, again, this time very heavily, to such an extent that Jayne, Cliff, mum and the Hobbit's couldn't get up our road, so they all stayed the night. Thankfully in the winter we have a "siege mentality" where food is concerned, which meant that feeding an extra 5 people for the night was not really a problem. We had a good time catching up.
The following morning, the Hobbits, Tim and Cliff dug out the end of our track as the snow plough had been down and there was an 18" wall of snow to try and drive through. With a break in the snow and a helpful tow from Tim, the Batt family and mum were able to get home.
This was the depth of the snow the morning of the 3rd Jan. A whole 5"!!! The Hobbits were going to build a snow man, but the snow was too light and powdery, it also meant that when they tried to do some more sledging, they just sunk in the snow. It was quite fully to see the boys on their sledges going further and further into rather than on top of the snow.
Within 1/2 of everyone leaving we did a quick run to the supermarket, returning home an hour later, as it was snowing heavily.
This is the depth of the snow today - 10". Needless to say the jobs we had planned for the sheep have been put on hold until some of the snow has started to thaw and I fear that once the sheep are in the barn, they won't want to come out!
Happy New Year everyone