Sunday 18 December 2011

Wind, Snow and the final market

We started the week off with the high winds that had been battering the rest of the country. Thankfully, to date, we have not found any damage, despite having gust of wind at around 30mph. We had already moved the sheep so that they now have full access to the barn, so feeding them is an easy task, but at the moment as they are spending time out in the field, so the weather can't be too bad, and considering that this time last year we had lost the barn roof and the snow was a good foot or so deep we really can't complain about the weather at the moment.
Saturday was my final market of the year at Botton Village and as I was driving over the moors to get to Botton it started to snow. Not a good sign as this market is out in the open I was not sure what to expect, but when I arrived they had arranged for the stalls to be undercover. I and another stall holder, Sue, were in the bus shelter. We had a quiet day, thanks in the main to the weather, which we all expected. But when you have made a commitment to attending a market I feel obliged to attend, despite the weather as you never know who will attend and what sales you will make.
The market at Botton Village was an experiment, on their part, for a year to see how it would go and as it has gone, in the main very well, so they are continuing them next year, starting in January, and not in March as other markets do. So where I thought I had a couple of months off to stock take and catch up on the knitting of hats, scarfs and head bands etc, that isn't going to happen. So the knitting needles will not be put given a rest over Christmas, they will be in action at every opportunity.
As next Sunday is Christmas Day I won't be blogging, so all that is left is to wish you all a Happy Christmas.

Sunday 11 December 2011

Saltburn Christmas Market

Not a brilliant shot of my stall, but you get the general idea of the colours of my hand dyed wool, and if you look carefully you can see the Christmas lights between mine and Jill's stall.
Despite the bad weather earlier in the week, thankfully the weather stayed dry and calm, if a little cold. But what do you expect for December.
Like last month, this market was another good one for me and the other fellow stallholders. Lorna, who organises the market, does a really good job at advertising the market and is very particular about the stallholders she invites, so as a result the market is well attended every month.
All the stallholders were very "christmassy" wearing Santa hats and dressing our stalls with Christmas decorations. I also had some mistletoe to sell, which simple flew off the stall. Pauline, a fellow stallholder had made 10 lovely holly wreaths, which by lunch time she had only 1 left.
So that is the last of Saltburn's markets for this year until March next, and next week is my last market for the year at Botton. Let's hope the weather next week is as kind to us all again.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

The latest markets

At the weekend I was at two markets. On Saturday I was at the Brunswick Centre in Whitby, which was cold and very dull and I sold nothing. Which is most unusual for me. There was also no interest in my wool, again most unusual, so I doubt if I will be visiting this market again.
Then on Sunday I was at a local Christmas Fair at Lythe, the next village to us. It was a different affair, people were interested in my wool and I had some sales, which was a lot better than the day before.
On Saturday I'm at my usual market at Saltburn which should be good fun.

Monday 28 November 2011

Manic dyeing, a day out and a poor market

Most of last week was spent dyeing 13kgs of knitting wool in readiness for the next few weeks Christmas markets. I got it all dyed, priced up and packed away into bags by Friday, so I was feeling suitable impressed with myself, especially as I had the Teeswater Sheep Breeder's newsletter to produce and get out by the weekend as well.
A Day Out - On Thursday I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show with Carol, Judith and Sarah from the Tuesday night knit club. We left our house at 7.30 and arrived in Harrogate at around 9, managed to park at the Exhibition Centre before having a cup of coffee and a discussion on our "plan of attack" to ensure we saw everything at the show. We split into 2 groups, Carol and I wanted to look at all the wool and textiles before looking at the exhibits. We kept meeting up with Sarah and Judith every 2 hours to swap notes. We finally left the Knit and Stitch at 5.30, when it closed. We all had a great day, even if our feet ached terribly. It's a few years since I've been to the knit and stitch and I'd forgotten how big the show was and how inspiring the exhibits are. We all came away with our heads buzzing with ideas.
The Poor Market, on Sunday I was at a Christmas Market, along with my friend Jayne (the lady who does amazing cut glass work), as the initial contact was through Ravelry we were expecting a well organised, well publicised market. What we got was something entirely differently, 16 stalls in a sports hall, which had no sign outside to say there was a Christmas Market inside. Driving to the venue we saw no signs for the market and friends who knew I was going to the market and lived in the area could find nothing about the market either. Suffice to say, takings were poor. We did manage to cover the cost of our stalls, but I think we were the only ones who did and some stallholders left just after lunch. The lady I felt most sorry for was the cake stall. Her cakes looked lovely, very seasonal and a lot of work had gone into making them. She took most of them home!
I know from arranging the North Eastern Textile Event, just how important advertising/publicity can be and it is not something that can be done lightly or half hearted, needless to say next time either Jayne or I get a contact via Ravelry asking if we are interested in attending a market they are arranging, we will be extremely cautious.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Another Market and a bargain Spinning Wheel

Yesterday I was at Botton Market, it's one I've not been to before, but despite it being outside, (I managed to get a stall in the sun), and a little bit off the beaten track, it was a fairly sucessful market, so I will be back there in December, the weekend before Christmas.
All this weekend in Danby, there have been two Christmas Fairs, one at the Village Hall, run by Esk Valley Enterprses, which we felt was a bit of a let down, the stalls were nothing outstanding and very "samey", which I think gives Craft/Christmas Markets a bad name.
The second of the Christmas Fairs was at the Danby Moors Centre and a couple of friends had stalls as this fair. Whilst we were looking at the stalls we found this spinning wheel

It's an old Ashford Traditional, in need of some TLC, which, after some haggling I bought for a 10th of the price of a new Traditional. Ashford do repair/maintenace kits, so we've ordered one, along with some oil to treat and feed the wood.
The flyer is going to take quite a bit of work as it's very rusty, but I have found a new one on the internet for not silly money, which if we have to buy will mean that for less than £50.00 we've been able to repair this wheel. The only other thing I will have to buy are some bobbins. Once the wheel is repaired Tim is talking about having a go at spinning?

Sunday 13 November 2011

Christmas is coming........

I was checking my diary this morning, when it suddenly dawned on me that from this weekend and every weekend until Christmas, I am attending either a craft fair or market, and after my sales yesterday at Saltburn Farmer's Market, I'm going to have to ring my wool supplier to top up my diminishing knitting wool stocks, which will mean loads of dying to do as well. I'd better check my dye supplies as well just to be on the safe side.
Now that the days are getting shorter, the hens are laying fewer and fewer eggs and some have started to go into their annual moult, and so are looking very bedraggled.
Hotpot has now covered all the ewes he's with, so tomorrow we will be changing his raddle colour to blue, this way we will know if any of the ewes have failed to take the first time round. But it's 3 weeks since Frea, Missy and one of the Scotties were covered with the yellow raddle, and they have stayed yellow, so it's more or less safe to say they will/should lamb the middle of March 2012, and if the rest of the ewes hold, we should finish lambing around the 1st April 2012. A nice tight lambing, hopefully.

Saturday 12 November 2011

Saltburn Farmer's Market

These markets seem to come round quicker each month, but thankfully the weather, yet again, was mild and stayed dry. It's hard to believe that it will be Christmas next month.
The market today seem a bit slow first thing, but it did give me chance to do buy some Christmas presents, then all madness seemed to be let loose, everyone seemed to want knitting wool and the sock and scarf packs that I'd made up also went down well with people shopping for Christmas presents either to make or give. It looks like I'm going to have to order some more wool as I've got another 4 markets to attend before Christmas!!
Today I was on the next stall to Wold Pottery from Loftus, and between customers we have come up with a new product for Jill to make, with a knitting theme, hopefully they will be for sale at the next market in December, just in time for Christmas. Watch this space.

Sunday 30 October 2011

North Eastern Textiles Open Day - and other things

This happened last Sunday and this year's event proved as popular as the last 2.
We're not sure if as many people came through the door as last year, but all the stallholders were saying that they had had a good day with sales, so that's always a good sign. It was good, as always, to meet up with customers old and new, and many thanks to the ladies who brought their spinning wheels and spent the day spinning and chatting. There was a fair mix of wheels.
We will be doing this event again next year, in actual fact we are going to do 2 events, one on May Bank Holiday Sunday at the end of May and the 2nd in October, but we are moving the venue for the May event nearer to Pickering to give people nearer to York an opportunity to visit. As for the venue for October, well the jury's out on that one for the moment.
Hotpot has been busy again this week. He's covered another 4 of the ewes so he's now covered half of the them, and this morning whilst we were trying to change his raddle colour (it's now orange) he was sticking very close to Anya and a couple of the Scotties, so it wouldn't surprise me if they don't have orange bums before lone.
Today we took 2 of the cream leg bar chicks that were born in July to their new owners, Ian and Elaine. The hens are our wedding present to them, a few months late, but we had to wait until Ian & Elaine had their chicken house in place. We've already given them 2 maran hens, who have just started laying, another set of friends have given them 2 bantam hens, so with these latest 2 hens it means that they have a lovely little flock of hens scratching around in their garden.
I've got a load more dyeing to do in readiness for Saltburn Farmers Market in a couple of weeks time, but in reality I've only got next week to get it all done, as the following week I'm supposed to be working in Newcastle all that week! Well it'll keep me out of mischief if I've got lots to do!

Friday 28 October 2011

Yellow Bum count

I meant to post this photo on Sunday

It shows that 3 of our ewes have been covered by Hotpot
Which means these ewes will be ready to lamb early March 2012.
It's good to know that he knows what to do.
We'll soon know if he's working when we change his raddle this weekend

Sunday 16 October 2011

Playing with the dyes

As it's the North Eastern Textile Day at Danby Village Hall next Sunday I've got some dyeing to catch up on.

This is 100% Bamboo yarn that Freyalyn helped me dye up at the end of September when she was here. The colours are really vibrant and I'm very pleased with the results, despite feeling that the dyeing process was so wasteful of the dyes. I'm used to dyeing my yarn through to "resist" and having no dye left in the water. But with dyeing this Bamboo, there seemed to be loads of colour left in the water.
This photo and the following ones are of the 3kgs of British Falklands Merino sock yarn that I dyed this week. The yarn has taken the colours very strongly and if I dye some more another time I think I will have to reduce the amount of dye powder used to get less striking colours.

All the same I'm pleased with the colour combinations.
Will have to see how well they sell next Sunday and at the next 2 Farmers Markets at Saltburn
I'm also going to put them up for sale on my Folksy Shop in readiness for Christmas.

Now just to get the 4kgs of BFL & Bamboo sock yarn dyed and then labelled in time for next Sunday!!!!!

Sunday 9 October 2011

Teeswater Sheep Annual Show and Sale

This took place last Thursday, and for me, as their breed secretary, is one of the busiest day of the year.
We had 120 sheep put forward for the show and sale, and despite the heavy rain, most members managed to get their sheep into their respective pens without getting them too wet. All sheep have to be inspected, to ensure they conform to the breed standard, and once inspected, the grooming and washing began before the show, which started at 10.15am. Not all sheep entered are shown, but it still took over 2 hours to get through all 5 classes.
Once the show was finished and the Overall Champion and Reserve Champion were photographed for the 2012 Flock book, there was time for a quick cup of coffee and then it was on with the sale.
Prices, as always, varied from as little as £50 guineas to the overall champion being sold for over £800 guineas.
Apart from the Annual Dinner, held in January, this is the only time I see a lot of the Teeswater members, so it's good to put names and faces to the voice on the end of the phone.
If you click on the link below, it should take you to the photos I took of the show.

Catching up

I seem to have been a bit behind with my blog writing just recently, so I thought I'd better do a quick catch up on what's been happening.
I've done some dyeing of a wool that has some stellina sparkle in it. I think you can just see it in the picture

To be honest, once the wool is dyed, the sparkle seems to disappear, so I don't think I will bother too much with it again.
At the end of September our friends Freyalyn and Mark came to stay, along with Lunil, Bill and Jasper. As it was high tide at Runswick Bay when they arrived, we went off to pick some sloes.

This was our half the haul of sloes of around 7lbs, which are now in the freezer so they will be easier to make Sloe Vodka with. Not sure what Freyalyn and Mark were doing with their half of the haul. Though Mark was muttering something about going down to Aldi for some cheap gin.
The walk with the dogs at Runswick Bay on the Saturday afternoon, was not a long one. But low tide on the Sunday morning was around 9am, so after our usual breakfast of sausage patties, bacon, eggs and toast we had a good long walk along the beech.

We picked up some limpet shells that had holes in the top to use as Dis' to create narrow rovings for spinning. Not sure how effective mine will be but I will give them a try as I have a good selection of hole sizes, as you can see from the photo.
Yesterday I was at Saltburn Farmers Market, which thanks to the rugby world cup, was a little slow to get started. But once everyone arrived sales certainly picked up. That was until the rain and a busker with a squeeze box, who, not only played badly, but also so loudly you could hardly hear yourself think. I decided to pack away around 1.30 as my wool was starting to get damp.
Finally on the house sale. After a quiet August and early Setember, viewings seem to be picking up again. We've had one couple round twice, second time with a builder and they are just waiting for quotes from him to finally decide if they want to buy, and yesterday a couple round who are looking to start a livery business. They seemed impressed with our house and land. But time will tell if they put in an offer or not. We will just sit and wait. We do know that we have a definite buyer, once they have sold their house. I'm hoping we can get it all sorted before the bad weather of the winter sets in.

Friday 23 September 2011

And then there were 21.....

This is number of sheep we have left at the moment. This week we sent some "culls" and "fatties" to the mart on Monday morning and today Tim took the last of the Shearling Gimmers to the Horned Ewe sale, at which we got £74 each for them, which we are pleased with. The cheque for the sheep we sold on Monday also arrived this morning, which was a pleasant surprise.
We've only got 4 masham weathers left to go to the mart. We didn't send them with the other "fatties" on Monday despite the fact that they had reached the magic 40kgs weight as they felt too thin, so we wormed them and put them into a field that has a lot of grass and hopefully they will fill out over the next month, so we can send them to the mart at the end of October/early November. We want them away before the bad weather arrives, which if the the local farmers are to be believed, will happen before Christmas, as yet again the ewes are coming off the Moors fat and our remaining ewes are starting to pile on the pounds. So we shall see what happens.

Monday 12 September 2011


Yesterday, with the pending weather warning of severe winds, we went out foraging for the wild plums/bullaces from some trees on the common land and the trees in our hedges.

This is the result of our mornings work which amounted to a staggering 43kgs of fruit. We're making some in to wine, but the rest has gone into the freezer to use up at a later date.
Now that the strong winds have arrived today, if we had not picked the fruit I doubt if much of it would have been left today.

Sunday 4 September 2011

British Wool Weekend

The British Wool Weekend was at Harrogate this weekend and as the Shetland Sheep Society were selling some of my Shetland Humbug for me, going to support the show today seemed the right thing to do. I'm glad I went, it was interesting, and I got to meet up with some old faces and talk about wool and it confirmed my decision that I should have a stand there next year, if June, the organiser decides to run the event again. I know that is was a big commitment on her behalf and it could have been publicised more, but the stallholders that went enjoyed themselves and were talking about attending again next year.

Saturday 3 September 2011

Peace and Quiet

All is peace and quiet here today, as we took our 5 Maran Cockerels to Thirsk Auction Mart this morning. It meant a 5am start to ensure we were at the Mart by 7am. Last night we put the Cockerels into their respective carrying cages to save time this morning, but it didn't stop them crowing in the car as we were driving over to Thirsk. But as Cornflakes (our Cream Leg Bar cockerel) no has no one to compete with, he's just happy quietly clucking to his ladies. I've left the 2 remaining Maran hens in their original hen coup as I suspect that one of them has a slight attack of leg mite, so I want to treat her before putting all the hens together.
The cream leg bar chicks that were in the barn have now been moved outside into the plastic Solway hen coup to run on and grow on before I sell the 2 young cockerels and create one flock of 10 hens for Cornflakes to preside over. I might put leg rings on his daughters so in the future, if I decide to raise chicks again, I will be able to remove Cornflake's daughters from the run for a couple of day so that I collect fertile eggs from unrelated stock.

Sunday 28 August 2011

That Autumnal feel...

There certainly is a feel of autumn in the air and after 22mm+ of rain on Friday, and Saturday being not much better I was hoping that today I could spend some much needed time in the veg garden. But with the wind blowing at around 20mph, that put paid to that idea.

I decided to catch up on some in door jobs and something that has been "haunting" my sewing machine for a few months now are some small bags made out of curtain material to hold your latest knitting project etc, to make.

Here are the finished bags, both of which are lined I had enough left over curtain material to make 4 of these bags
I found this material in the bottom of a drawer, of which there was enough material to make 2 bags. I originally cut out 3 bags, but I ran out of the curtain liner I was using to line the bags, so the second and slightly larger bag has the same frog material inside and out.

The bags measure approx. 11" x 12" and I've squared off the bottom slightly so that they look better.

Will be posting them for sale on Folksy tonight. Let's hope they sell quicker than I took to make them.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Digging up Potatoes

After helping sort out the sheep yesterday, today the Hobbits helped me dig up the remaining potatoes in one of the deep beds and as you can see it produced a good crop of quite large spuds. Now just need to find somewhere to store them.

Sunday 21 August 2011

Sucessful day at the Mart, and the Hobbits

On Wednesday we took our ewe lambs to the store's sale at our local mart. They made a good price, averaging out at £48.00 each. Needless to say we were not disappointed. Let's hope we do as well when we send the next batch in a couple of weeks time.
The Hobbits arrived today and one of the jobs they will be helping us with tomorrow, will be the weighing and sorting of the the weather lambs into stores and fats. I can see lots of running around tomorrow, for 2 middle sized boys.

Sunday 14 August 2011

Wool Dyeing

As the weather has not been too good this last week or so, I've been busy dyeing up the 2kilos of Bluefaced Leciester/Bamboo sock yarn in readiness for Saltburn Farmer's Market in September. I've also taken the opportunity to upload them onto my Folksy shop site
Have a look and see what you think.

Sunday 7 August 2011

Autumn Sheep Sales

It may only be the beginning of August, but already the dates are out for the forthcoming autumn sheep sales and with us selling our smallholding we need to keep an eye on the forthcoming sales to ensure that we don't miss the right market to sell our sheep. To that end our gimmer lambs are to be booked into the store lamb sale that takes place a week on Wednesday.
We plan to sell our of our lambs through the store lamb sales, and the shearling lambs through the breed sales, all which happen over the next couple of months. The ewes will be the last to be sold, we intend to keep them for as long as possible so that they can help keep the grass down.
We have someone coming to buy 3 of my Maran hens on Monday night, I've decided just to keep my Cream Legbar hens, but sell the Maran hens and I will have to sell "Cornflakes" my Cream Legbar Cockerel, and on Tuesday morning someone is coming to look at buying Gus my Teeswater Tup, and once Gus is gone Ghilli and Grommet will move over to Jayne's. Once they have moved it will seem very strange without them here.

Monday 1 August 2011

Wedding of the year

Not the latest Royal wedding, but the one of our God Daughter, Abi, to Andy, on Saturday in York. The day was lovely, the sun shone and the bride looked beautiful.
Here are some photos of the couple's happy day.

The happy couple

The Bridesmaids

The Groom (on the left) with his best man

The Chief Bridesmaid's flowers

The Bride's bouquet

Confetti time at the Litch Gate

The back of Abi's dress

Abi with Tim at the reception.

Monday 25 July 2011

A tough decision

On Wednesday we decided to worm the male lambs as some had mucky back ends. When we brought them into the barn, we had to carry 2 of the lambs (Poorly Boy and Hobbit) into the barn as they were down on their feet, and as they were so poorly we put them into a pen. We also gave them a dose of antibiotics, some medication for grass staggers as well as a drink of glucose. The two lambs seemed to pick up and we were very hopeful for their recovery, but on Friday morning they were both very poorly yet again. Hobbit was grinding his teeth, a sure sign he was in pain and Poorly Boy could not even get to his back legs, let alone this front ones. So we decided to call in the knackerman, and by the time he arrived a couple of hours later, Hobbit was already dead and Poorly Boy was unconscious, so the knackerman put him out of his misery. A tough decision, but a necessary one.

Sunday 17 July 2011


We have decided, for a number of reasons, to put our smallholding up for sale. It's been for sale now for about a month and we've had lots of viewings, and things are looking very positive.
As a consequence, all of our sheep are for sale and today we had someone come and look at the Teeswater Ewes and ewe lambs. They have bought all of them, so tonight we are 9 sheep less and I'm glad they have all gone to one home.
Ghilli & Grommet, our 2 alpacas, are going to live at my friend, Jayne's smallholding. Ghilli & Grommet were the one's I was most worried about, as to what was going to happen to them and when Jayne offered them a home, it was a great load off my mind.
Now we just wait until we start having to pack up and move.

Great Escapes

This week has been the week of "The Great Escapes". It started on Wednesday morning, when I went out to do the morning feed to discover next doors' cattle in the field with Ghilli, Gromment and Gus, who were not best pleased! The cattle had broken through some fencing, and our neighbours were out for the day at the Great Yorkshire Show. Thankfully, Pete, a local farmer, came and gave us a hand to move them all back and put up some electric fencing to keep them where they should be. Tim then repaired the broken fencing.
On Thursday, one of the Cream Legbar chicks, decided to get out of the brooder and walk around on the lid. As I was at work, Tim had to catch the chick and put it back into the brooder, which was not what he wanted to do especially as we had a someone coming to look around our smallholding which we are selling.
Then today, when we were on our morning dog walk, we saw some young cattle on the common land, much to our surprise, and Brenda as the cattle should have been in the field at the front of her house. They had also taken out a long run of her fencing. We shall find out tomorrow morning if the cattle are back in their original field!!!!

Sunday 10 July 2011

Hen Party!!!!

Not the feathered variety but our goddaughter, Abi's hen party in York this weekend. The festivities started with 9 of us visiting a spa on Saturday afternoon for a pamper afternoon, complete with champagne and nibbles.
Then in the evening we all met up in one of the York's many pubs (only to discover that it had been Geordie Race Day in York)

Abi in her outfit for her hen night out and the first of her drinks!

After the drink, we all (20 of us) went to "Ask", for an Italian meal, where Hayley had dressed the table and placed hats on our chairs for us to wear.

Here I am, with Dawn (Abi's mum), sat behind me, and Jan (mum of the bridesmaid) sat in front of me, at the end of the meal and not too much alcohol had been consumed.
After the meal we all went out for a drink, the idea being, the "oldies" would have another drink and then catch the last bus home, leaving the "youngsters" to hit the night clubs. The trouble was, because it had been Race Day in York, the pubs were full and for some reason some of the bouncers were not keen for a party of ladies, of mixed ages, to frequent their pub wearing cowboy hats!!!!!!
Here is Abi and her bridesmaid, Laura, in the only pub we could manage to get into, and before us "oldies" left to catch the last bus home, the only trouble was, the future bride and bridesmaid also wanted to leave for home as well! They did stay out for a little while after we had left. These girls are way to sensible for their age. But I had a great time and am looking forward to her wedding at the end of the month.

Sunday 3 July 2011

A quieter day

After the excitement of yesterday, if you can call it that, it was nice to be able to spend some time out in the veg garden and catching up on some much needed weeding.
As always I've planted way too many Broad Bean Plants, which have lots of pods on them, my peas are also have lots of pods on them, but they really need some rain to help fatten up the peas. My young leeks are looking more like "drips" than proper leeks and I'm sure that's down again, to the lack of rain, but my winter and summer onions seem to be thriving in this heat. But my brassicas are a bit hit and miss, some are growing well and some are a little on the small side. But I seem to have very little problems with slugs and snails and I think this is down to the hens spending the winter in the veg garden.

Weaning lambs & new chicks

We had this weekend all planned out, Saturday - wean the lambs, Sunday - chicks due to hatch with Ian and Elaine coming over to watch their chicks hatch. But as always when dealing with livestock, things never go to plan.
The chicks decided to hatch a day early, so there was a mild panic. A phone call to Ian and Elaine to say that their chicks were hatching, so that they could re-arrange their Saturday to come over and watch their chicks hatching.
We decided to go head with weaning the lambs, it shouldn't take us too long, or so we thought!!!! Firstly the ewes and lambs wouldn't go into the barn, we could only get them into the barn in small groups. It took us over 1/2 hour to get them in the barn, a job which normally takes half that time! Then the ewes wouldn't go through the weighing machine or up and through handling system, again something they normally do without any problems!!! Thankfully the lambs behaved a bit better and moved into their respective paddocks, especially when they saw all the new grass. The ewes are up on the common land, with very little grass to help them dry up, the weather and tup lambs are in the Alpaca's winter paddock and the ewe lambs are in the very top paddock. Last night was very noisy, but today everyone seems to have calmed down a little. We had just finished sorting out the sheep when Ian and Elaine arrived.
The Cream Legbar eggs were supposed to hatch out today, Sunday, but, I understand that because I put very fresh eggs into my incubator, this is the reason why they have hatched a day early. So the brooder wasn't switched on, it wasn't even ready!! 4 chicks hatched very quickly and thankfully, because of the warm weather, the brooder came up to temperature very quickly so I could put the newly hatched chicks in to it to give the remaining 3 chicks, still in their eggs, some peace and safety to hatch in their own time. The final chick hatch around tea time with me assisting the final 2 chicks, one of whom was backwards and the other just very tired. Anyway all 7 eggs have hatched, which is 100% hatch and as the Cream Legbar chicks are an auto sexing breed, I can see we have 5 pullets (females) and 2 cockerels. This evening all 7 chicks are eating and drinking and starting to explore the brooder.

Monday 27 June 2011

Woolfest 2011 part 2

I got everything packed into the trailer and left for Woolfest at 10.30am on Thursday morning, I got no further than Guisborough when the left indicator on the trailer decided not to work. I checked everything I could, rang Tim, who arrived 1/2 hour later with spare bulbs and screwdriver. The bulb had blown, so once replaced I was on my way. I finally arrived at Cockermouth around 2.30pm and with the help of Mark and Frealyn, put my tent up in record time before it started to rain.
By this time it was 3pm and all the stallholders were allowed into the Auction Mart to start setting up our stalls. Thanks to Tracey and Christine I'd everything set up and displayed in a couple of hours.

These are 2 photos I took of my stall and as you can see, it's pretty well packed out with fibre and this does not include the 4 boxes of fibre I left at home!!!!! I'm getting close to wanting a double stand now, but I'm not sure if the cost would be worth it!
Woolfest as always is a show of 2 halves. Friday is the day the serious spinners/weavers/felters come. They are the ones that go round the stalls with their catalogues marking the ones they want to come back to. This is the day most stallholders say they take the most money. Saturday is the day when the coach parties arrive, with some no more serious fiber people than on the Friday, but it seems they are more lookers than spenders. But I find that my takings for both days are about the same and working out how much fibre I'd sold, it equated to around 38kgs!!!
The journey home was uneventful, despite the heavy rain, it took me just under 3 hours to get home. I decided to leave everything in the trailer and we unpacked everything on Sunday in the very humid heat, including putting up my tent to fully dry it out.
But the tent is now packed away for next year's fibre festivals. I'm hoping to go to both Wonderwool in Wales and Woolfest in 2012.

Sunday 26 June 2011

Woolfest 2011

Just a quick post to say that I'm home safely from Woolfest, spent today unpacking the trailer, getting the tent dry and generally sorting out my stock and getting it packed away.
More about Woolfest tomorrow...

Sunday 19 June 2011

Avoiding the showers

After the rain yesterday, (which according to our rain gauge we had 10mm, which is much needed and fell as a gentle shower, rather than a quick heavy shower which just seems to run straight off the land rather than soaking in). I spent the morning in the veg garden. I have leeks, courgette and squash plants that were in urgent need of planting out.
Digging over the bed where leeks are going, the soil is still very dry and it was hard going. Despite this I managed to get over 100 leek seedlings planted out and watered in as well as the courgette and squash plants.
Came in for lunch with the idea of going back out to rescue my sprout and cabbage plants from the weeds, but it started to rain and it has rained all afternoon. At least my newly planted veggies will be well watered in.

Friday 17 June 2011

R.I.P Greyling

This morning when we went out to do the morning feed, we found that our old cat, Grayling had died during the night. She was very old, we think around 20 years of age. Tim had seen her yesterday afternoon, but she was not around for her tea, which is not unusual, and we normally don't worry, especially if we have seen her at least once during the day. But Grayling was spending more and more time asleep and we did not think she would survive the last 2 winters, but she did.
A very sad day and the end of an era

Sunday 5 June 2011

Sheep Shearing 2011

Today we had all of our sheep sheared and after a few days of fine weather, yesterday a sea fret came in, soaking all the sheep. This morning it was dryer, but the sky did not look promising, so we got all the sheep into the barn before breakfast.

Here is Gus waiting to be sheared

Freyalyn and Mark (complete with Lunil & Bil) came to assist with the shearing this weekend. Mark is learning to shear and so was looking to pick up some pointers from our shearer.

The Ewes and Lambs penned up in the barn, with the Ewes awaiting the shearer.

One of the Teeswater Ewes after her "hair cut"

This is the aftermath of shearing, a full fleece bag and all the daggings. After the winter we've had most of the fleeces were in good condition, a couple of Scottie fleeces were felted and came off as a mat. Interestingly, the older Teeswater's fleeces were still wet this morning, whereas everyone else's fleeces were dry after yesterdays sea fret. These Teeswaters have been shown last year, not by us, and we wonder if the "stain" that is put on the fleeces has some effect on the lanolin of the sheep's fleece as they seemed to have absorbed an aweful lot of water.
I was very restrained over the fleeces, keeping back the Teeswater's, Ariadnne's, Anya's and a couple of the gimmer fleeces for me to use for the rest of the year. Not quite sure what I'm going to do with them, but they were too good to send to the Wool Board.
Just need to get the Alpaca's sheared which should happen sometime in July.

Thursday 2 June 2011

Latest photos of the chicks

The chicks are now 6 weeks old and have been moved into their outside home and run as they are now fully feathered and the barn needs to be cleaned out ready for shearing on Sunday This photo shows the difference already between the male and female hens. The males is the lighter one at the front and the female (pullet) is darker and with a much longer tail
Here are the rest of the Maran chicks, and it clear to see that I've got 3 males and 2 females. The jury is still out on the Sussex X Cream Legbar chick's sex.

Sunday 29 May 2011

Weaning the Pet lambs..

As the pet lambs are now 8 weeks old and we have come to the end of the bag of milk, we have decided to wean them. They have been eating lamb concentrate for a good couple of weeks now, so they are well and truely ready to be weaned. But every time we go into the barn, the noise from 17 pet lambs bleating is deafening!!!! The trouble is the rest of the lambs will be weaned in a month's time!!!!!! Someone pass the ear defenders......

Sheep Lawn mowers

Tim has fenced round the barn so that the sheep can eat down the grass that is growing between the 2 barns
Once the grass is eaten down, this only takes about a week, we then open the gates into the race and then into the area around my veg plot. We will need to move the ewes back to paddocks with shorter grass, in a day or so, to give the few ewes and lambs that have got "mucky bums" chance to dry up ready for shearing next week. But using the sheep to keep the grass down is a lot easier and cheaper than using the tractor and topper all the time. Tim has to put up hurdles around the door of the lambing barn and from the main barn to the wall to stop the sheep greeting visitors in the yard, and along the line of hurdles some telegraph poles, to stop a certain Holly Dog wriggling underneath to go and see the sheep!!!!

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Pregnant Sheep Surprises

not for us, but our friend and fellow smallholder Jayne.
I got a phone call yesterday from Jayne "How long before before a ewe lambs do they bag up?", as with the wild wind we've had their fleeces, a bit like your skirts, are being blown up, to reveal a few sheep with udders full of milk!!!!
A frantic phone call to her shearer, and last night we helped out shearing Jayne's sheep. Jayne had borrowed "Tuppyman" and because of the snow, thought he'd not managed to cover any of Jayne's sheep. So we did a swap with Gus Man and he too covered some of Jayne's sheep.
But after shearing yesterday Jayne starts lambing next week, and not late June as she thought, also she thought that only 3 or 4 of the ewes had been covered, that figure is now confirmed as 8! Needless to say she's happy, but in slight panic mode! Tim's on lambing help standby!

Tuesday 24 May 2011

A Lost hen

Last night, when I fed the hens, one of the Maran hens was missing, I had a look round for her, but with the strong wind it was difficult to walk and I hoped she would appear when I fastened the hens up later in the evening. She hadn't but as she had been showing signs of being broody, I thought she had found her self a nest to hatch some eggs. This morning she didn't come for breakfast, but when I did the evening feed tonight, she was huddled in the corner of covered part of the run, very,very dead! She showed no signs of being mauled or attacked by anything, so I'm not sure why she died. Very sad, but part of keeping livestock.

Sunday 22 May 2011

Tynedale Spinners Guild - Stocksfield

Yesterday I did the 2 hour drive to Stocksfield to attend the Tynedale Spinners and Weavers Guild Fibre Event, and won the battle with the Sat Nav by turning the volume down whilst I drove through Darlington to get to the A68. It was good to see old faces and see what they done with the fibre they had bought last year. One lady, Grace, had bought some Merino and Bamboo tops which she had spun, dyed and wove the fibre to make a jacket. It was beautiful.
Though sales were down a little, it's still worth the trip and I shall be there next year. Now just need to get everything sorted for Woolfest. I won't be taking any of my fibre to Saltburn Farmer's Market in June, just my knitting wools, some of which I'v still got to dye, but I've run out of yellow, black and green dye and I can't wait until Woolfest, so will have to order some next week. Another job to add to the list!!!!!

Monday 16 May 2011

Cold and Windy day at Saltburn

On Saturday I was at the Farmer's Market at Saltburn, the forecast was for rain, so we were all prepared for the worst.
It didn't rain, just a cold wind, which blew straight through you and as a result the market was not very busy, though when I got home and totted up what I taken, I was pleasantly surprised. So it wasn't as bad as I'd thought.
Saltburn Farmer's Market is in the process of becoming officially recognised by the North Eastern Area of Farmer's Market which will be good for all of the regular stallholders. It is such a good market.
On Tuesday night I'm booked to give a talk at Marton WI on my exotic fibre. As usual I have no script prepared, will just take my fibre and use that as the props for my talk. This gives me the freedom to take the talk which ever way my audience want to go. Seems to work for me, though I know for other professional speakers, way too scary......
Then on Saturday I'm off to Tynedale Guild in Stocksfield for their annual fibre event where I have a table to sell my fibre. Usually a great event and the food is superb too.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

The chicks are 3 weeks old...

My chicks are now 3 weeks old and as you can see from the following picture, they are fast out growing their present brooder in the utility room
The chicks are starting to look "tatty" as their proper feathers as starting to grow.
The Sussex X chick in the foreground has lost it's cute chick look and hasn't got the proper hen look either. According to my hen books you are supposed to be able to tell the sex of the Cuckoo Maran chicks now they are 3 weeks old. The pullets have very little or no comb and a large tail, whereas the cock bird has a small tail and a noticeable comb. So if that is the case, I can identify 3 pullets (female hens) and 1 cock bird. the remaining Maran chick I think is a pullet, and the jury is out on the Sussex X chick at the moment.
Talking to my smallholder friend Jayne about a bigger brooder for my chicks, she had a run that the snow had crushed the roof, so with a little bit of joinery work by Tim and I have a new run for my chicks Just needs a hinged panel to go on the top, then it is ready to go into the barn, the heat lamb turned on and then the chicks will be moved into their new home.

Growing some unusual veg

Looking through the seed catalogues earlier this year, a couple of unusual veg plants caught my eye.
One lot of plants were some Black Tomatoes, the others were these...

Sweet Potato plants as opposed to slips, which are supposed to be easier to grow. Here in the North I will have to keep them in the greenhouse to ensure that they grow well. It will be interesting to see how the sweet potatoes grow and the taste of the black tomatoes.