Sunday 28 February 2010

Some important decisions have been made....

Firstly the Chief Justice's office has decided to offer me a post as a lay member of the employment tribunal panel that sits in Newcastle. It's been a long wait but I'm so happy that I've got through the rigorous selection process and looking forward to the work. I only have to do a minimum of 15 days a year, so that should fit in nicely with work here on the smallholding.
As the weather has been and still is pretty dire, we've decided to house the ewes in the barn as our land is getting more and more boggy and trying to get hay out to the girls is getting harder and harder. The gimmers have come into the big barn, into the area we'd sorted out for the pet lambs, as they are going to the butchers on the 8th March and they need to be dry and clean.
If we are going to get anymore winters like this last one we're going to have to have a good look at the barns and make a much bigger area in readiness to house the ewes on a more permanent basis each winter, if only to save the fields from getting so churned up, so that when the lambs are ready to go out, there is some decent grass for them to eat.
Today I finally chose the type of chickens I want to keep, and to that end I've ordered 4 Cream Legbar chickens from a lady called Cath who is Wolds Way Chickens (follow the link to her website ), as the chicks will be ready just as we start lambing, Cath is going to keep them for me until we have finished lambing, so I shall be picking them up on the 1st May. I've also got first refusal on 2 White Sussex chicks that are in the same incubator hatch as my 4 girls. Cath has promised to send my photos of my girls as they grow, so as I get them I will post them on the blog.
This coming week is my final week with Network Rail, I've got my pension statement, so I know how much pension I'm getting and hopefully my redundancy payment will be paid out to me on my final day and not 2 weeks later at the next "official" pay run! We shall have to wait and see what happens. Next week I will have to make some important phone calls to make to the Job Centre, National Insurance office, insurance company and I'm sure that will lead to many more phone calls!!!!! Considering that the weather is supposed to be wet, a week in the office doesn't seem to be a bad place to be.

Tuesday 23 February 2010

A Mole catching myth busted!!!!

When I went on my mole catching course a few years back, not only did I get my mole gassing certificate, I also learnt the art of setting mole traps, and I've listed the things I was told about setting mole traps
  • All new traps need to be left out in the open or buried in the ground for 6 months
  • When digging into the mole runs to set the traps, don't wear rubber gloves or any gloves for that matter, rub your hands in the soil to hide your scent
  • Scissor traps are largely ineffective, use only the tunnel traps.

Well for years now I've had very little or no sucess catching moles, (gassing them, no problem!! But I suppose poisen is a woman's way of killing!!!) that is until just recently. My friend and fellow smallholder Jayne has a lot of sucess with traps and considering the weather we've had recently I've been determined to master the art of mole trapping.
Jayne came round a few weeks back and she showed me how she set her traps, scissor ones no less, and I tried again with the tunnel traps. Needless to say it was the scissor traps that caught the mole. As with a previous blog you will have read how I've been catching moles with the Hobbits.
As I don't have any of the said scissor mole traps, Ebay was searched and mole traps have been purchased. They arrived 3 or 4 days ago and with the snow we've had recently, it has been easy to see where said moles have been working. So these last couple of days I've been setting my traps, straight out of their plastic bags, into the mole runs, with me wearing plastic gloves to keep my hands clean. To date with these new traps I've caught 4 moles within a very short time, doing everything I was told not to do.
You wonder how much was "old wives tales", "old folk lore", or just an excuse because the traps have been so badly set! But I don't care as no mole is safe on our land now from either gas or trap!!!!!

Sunday 21 February 2010

The house is strangely quiet.....

We took the Hobbit's home on Friday and it amazes me how 2 small boys can make so much noise and so much mess!!! We did manage to spend some time on Sandsend beech rock pooling, looking at fossils, picking up shells and managing to get a lot of sea water in wellingtons!!! They did help split some wood, straw down the barn and trap some moles, for which they were on 50p each, for every mole we caught. We also played countless games of Sorry and watch some funny DVDs.
Originally the Hobbits were going home on Thursday, but Friday was my "official" leaving drinks night in York, so it seemed silly to do the trip to York on 2 separate days. Tim and I had a great night out with my old team and they presented me with a £60 Amazon voucher, which was totally unexpected.
Not a lot is happening on the smallholding at the moment, we had yet more snow this weekend, the ewes feed is being increased in readiness for lambing, it feels like the calm before the storm. But we and the animals are now heartily sick of the snow and mud. Our usual windy weather we have here would be more than welcome.

Sunday 14 February 2010

A week of endings....

This week saw the end of, the hay in the small barn (we're now using our emergency reserve), all the chopped and split wood, all the remaining dry wood has been chopped ready to be split. (I've had to bring in some wood from the pile outside so that it can dry out in time for me to start and chop it) my dishwasher, admittedly it is over 10 years old and has been a true work horse, and the peace and quiet as the Hobbits have arrived for the week. Needless to say I've got plenty of jobs for the Hobbits to help me with!

These are the snowdrops that are starting to poke their heads up through the grass in our little wooded area.

These are not our lambs, but the ones I mentioned in a previous blog. Not a good photo, I have to admit, but you can see they are lambs.

Monday 8 February 2010

It must be spring.......

Because today I have seen my first lambs out in the fields, snowdrops that are flowering and daffodils. The fact that we are predicted to get more snow over the next two weeks has nothing to do with it. Lambs are in the fields!!!!!
On a different note, today we took our 8 light weight Gimmers to the mart to be sold. Pete, our farming neighbour took them for us and we followed to be with the sheep when they were weighed and during the sale.
Selling was brisk, as always, for the fat lambs, but when we got to the "light hoggs" there were only 6 pens, including ours, and bidding was very slow. A pen of gimmers, average weight of 30kgs went for £40.00 each, the next pen, which were heavier still, made only £35.00 each. The next two pens fared no better. Ours averaged at 26.3kg, so we were not hopeful for a good price. But they sold for an amazing £41.50 each!!! Needless to say we are delighted with that price. Works out at £1.58/kg. Pete did say this morning, how impressed he was with how our sheep looked. Praise indeed from a farmer who has over 400 ewes.

Friday 5 February 2010

Tim's Op

Yesterday Tim had, what is hopefully, the last operation on the back of his hand. It was to remove all the excess packing and skin used to cover up the metal work in the back of his hand, and now that his hand is no longer swollen, this excess skin has been causing problems, especially getting gloves on and wearing jumpers/shirts that have ribbed cuffs as they won't go over the lump. I dropped him at James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough at 11.00 and he went down to Theatre at 2pm, coming back onto the ward around 5pm. I was able to bring him home at 9pm, not looking too bad, but back to being the "one armed bandit" again.
Today we are both having a quiet day in front of the fire, giving me the opportunity to get some spinning done.