Thursday 31 March 2011

Yet more lambs...

We started at 5am this morning and by 6.30 2 sets of twins had been born. Then nothing until this afternoon, when in the space of 2 hours, another 2 sets of twins and a big single lamb were born. But we don't think we have finished yet, as 2 of the ewes that are due now are in the barn, just for ease. But I don't know where we will put them? We have 12 lambing pens set up in the barn, 3 of which are made up of hurdles from my friend Jayne, but they are all full and we have no space to put any more. Hopefully some of the ewes with their lambs can go out tomorrow to ease the situation. So far 18 ewes have had 35 lambs and now we have only 8 ewes left to lamb, which if they all have singles, will mean that we should have 43 lambs. We shall see what happens. Off to do yet another lamb check, looks like it's going to be another late night but by the weekend it should be all over!!!!

Wednesday 30 March 2011

5 sets of twins born today!!!

It started at 6.30 this morning with one of the Scottie ewes, who's first lamb was presented with it's leg back. Tim had quite a battle to get the lamb out but he did, followed by it's twin, also with a leg back. A pair of gimmer Masham lambs Cully had been penned up earlier as she was showing signs of lambing. Tim did a quick check on the ewes outside to find Cicely in the shelter, also about to lamb. We man handled her into a pen in the barn and she lambed first, again her lamb had a leg back, but the 2nd one was presented correctly. A pair of tup lambs. Just got her sorted out when we had to sort out Cully's lamb, leg back again on both of her lambs. One ewe lamb and one tup lamb, and it wasn't even 8 o'clock. By the time we'd fed up, put hay and water into the new mum's pens, the morning was nearly over. Before lunch I went to collect my chicken's eggs, and one of the Scotties was giving birth in the field. With no help from us. But we moved her and her lambs, a gimmer and tup, into a pen in the barn so they didn't get chilled. Then, feeding up this evening, 2 of the Scottie ewes refused to come into the barn to feed, a sure sign something is amiss. I got them into the barn, nothing was happening, so left them for a while to settle down. We went back an hour later to find that one of the ewes had a lamb's head hanging out. Urgent action was required to deliver the lamb. Once the lamb was delivered we put the ewe and her lamb into a pen and turned our attention to the other Scottie ewe in the barn, who, once checked was let out of the barn as she showed no imminent signs of lambing. We checked the newly lambed ewe to make sure everything was fine with her and her lamb, which it was, so we started to get her water and hay, when another of the Scottie ewes was bleating outside the barn door. Tim let her in and we put her in the last free lambing pen we have in the barn, and whilst I was getting her some hay. Tim looked into the pen of the Scottie ewe that had just lambed, to find she'd had a second lamb! She's had a tup and gimmer lamb. To date 13 ewes have lambed, which means we are now halfway through lambing. We have 26 lambs, 14 gimmer lambs, 12 tup lambs. A lambing %age of 200%, not bad considering the winter we have had. But I doubt it will stay that high.

Monday 28 March 2011

More lambs

Just a quick blog to say that Carolyn had twin gimmer lambs this morning, totally unaided and in the shelter. The first I knew she had lambed was when I checked out the ewes at 7am and a little white lamb peeped out from the field shelter. This evening whilst we were doing the evening feed, one of the Teeswater ewes didn't come in. She was sat down in the field. We got her into the barn as she was in the finally stage of labour. We had to pull the lamb out as it was a big lamb and this ewe was a first time lamber. She had a BIG gimmer lamb. Just off out to check on them all and to make sure that the Teeswater ewe's lamb has a full tummy of milk. Photos hopefully tomorrow.

Sunday 27 March 2011

A productive week

On Monday the Resident Vandal arrived and as we've had such fine weather our ground is now relatively dry, so Tim and the Resident Vandal wasted no time in getting the post knocker onto the back of the tractor and went round all our fields knocking in new posts, where the old ones have been broken by the snow over the winter. They put in over 30 posts, this just leaves Tim the job of removing the broken posts and re stapling the wire fence to the new posts. That job completed, the Resident Vandal, living up to his name, took the post knocker to the old railway carriage. It needs to come down as it will be in the way when we finally get the new barn sorted out. Once the railway carriage was broken up, a reciprocating saw was used to cut the wood into pieces that were easier to handle on to the bonfire. That done, some bits and pieces were moved out of the barn, again in readiness for when we finally pull this barn down. In the veg garden, well rotted compost has been put onto a couple of the deep beds where the potatoes are to be planted and I got 6 rows of parsnip seeds sown. I was a tempted to plant out my onion sets, but it's still only March and the weather can change so quickly here, that I'm going to wait until the middle of April before setting them out. In the greenhouse I've sown in seed trays, cabbage, brussel sprouts, leeks and pea seeds. My new Maran hens have had their wings clipped and yesterday I let them out of their run to scratch around in the grass by the hedge, they are also now starting to lay their lovely dark brown eggs.

Saturday 26 March 2011

Lots of lambs......

Doing the routine ewe and lamb check at 11.30 last night, I heard a lamb bleat, followed by a low bleat from a ewe. That could only mean one thing, a ewe had given birth to a lamb(s) in the barn. When I looked in the barn I found that Missy was busy licking 2 very newly born lambs. So I put her and her new lambs into one of the lambing pens and went to get her some water and the iodine spray for the lambs navels. Missy sat down in the pen and when I looked again there was a 3rd lamb being born. So I quickly pulled it out and put in front of Missy to clean up.

Here is Missy with her triplets, 2 tup lambs and a ewe lamb

This morning we put Allium into a lambing pen as she was looking as if she was about to give birth, and by lunch time we thought she would lamb, but as the afternoon progressed nothing happend. So we decided to come in and have a cup of tea and to warm up. Tim went out to check on her an hour later to find that she was in the final stages of labour. A quick check and he could feel a head, legs and a tail. None of which seemed to match up. A quick call to our friendly farmer Pete to help out, who happened to be on the top road into the village, so he arrived very quickly and he soon sorted out the head, legs and tail.

Here is Allium with her quads, 2 tup and 2 ewe lambs. Tomorrow we will take the 2 tup lambs off of her and bottle feed them, so we end up with 4 good strong lambs, rather than 4 little lambs if we leave them for Allium to feedon her own.
After each evening feed the pregnant ewes are kept in a small paddock by the lambing barn, this makes checking them on a night relatively easy. As Missy and Allium were in the barn with their new lambs and the temperature has dropped some what, we decided to shut the barn door after the ewes had been fed. No ewes are due for a couple of day and there is a small shelter in the field. I went to feed the Teeswater ewes and Frea in the "new mum's" field when I noticed a ewe at the top of the field the expectant mums spend the day in, with a lamb. So we brought them down into the barn and put them into one of the lambing pens for the night.

This is the first lamb from Gus our pedigree Teeswater tup, if a couple of days late. It will be interesting to see how this little tup lamb turns out. He should be a Masham. We did think this morning that none of the ewes that Gus covered were in lamb, as 2 of this ewes should have lambed on Thursday and Friday and on checking this ewe out this morning, we were not convinced she was in lamb. But like all sheep she's proved us wrong!!!!!
No more ewes are due of a couple of days but one of our Teeswater gimmer ewes was due yesterday, so she is penned up in the remaining empty lambing pen in the barn, just in case as the jury is still out as to if she's in lamb or not.

Sunday 20 March 2011

New hens and surprise lambs

I went and picked up the other 4 point of lay hens from a lady at Fylingdales early this morning and by the time I got home one of the hens had laid an egg in the box. I decided to put all the hens into their new house and run all at once and there seemed to be no problems. I think because they were all new together, no one feels as if it is their territory yet.I'd just given the new hens their evening treat of mixed corn and you can see how impressive the new Maran cockerel is. You can also see the cuckoo markings of the hens. When I went to shut them in at sunset they had all gone into their new home andwere rooting happily in the hen hut. They also laid a couple of eggs but I will see if I get any eggs tomorrow after the stress of moving to a new home.
Just after lunch Tim went out the check the ewes before we both went out to do some Mole gassing for a local farmer, when he noticed that Frea was on her own and something was hanging from her rear, we were instnatly worried as she was not due to lamb until Wednesday at the earliest and as this is her first lambing we were going to take no risk with her.
We got her into the barn and quickly penned her up. We didn't have to wait long before she started to strain and feet appeared, trouble was they didn't look right to Tim, I had a look and saw 4 feet, 2 back and 2 front feet. So I rang Pete, our local farmer friend, to find that he's gone shopping in Whitby for his mum! I then rang fellow smallholder Jayne, who is a brilliant with complicated lambings, who said she would be round in 10 minutes. Everyone seem to arrive at once, Pete followed by Jayne.
Pete had a look at Frea and found that the lamb was "presented" correctly, and it delivered quite easily, followed by a second lamb. Both were up and suckling in next to no time.
Here is Frea with her twin lambs, a gimmer and a tup lamb
As you can see they are good strong lambs and Frea is a very attentive mum. Their Dad was Tuppyman and like both their parents the lambs like their food.
We've given Frea a shot of antibiotics because Pete "intervened", just to be on the safe side. Needless to say we are very proud of Frea, she's produce a couple of cracking lambs despite the bad winter we've had.
1 ewe down 23 more to go!

Saturday 19 March 2011

New hens

Today a trio of Cuckoo Maran hens arrived, courtesy of Sam, the son of Pam who runs the weekly knitting group I go to in Whitby. Sam breeds some very good hens and it was a conversation with his mum about me look for some more hens that she suggested I talk to Sam. He initially didn't think he had any hens for sale, but this afternoon rang to say that he could sell me a trio (2 hens with an unrelated cockerel) if I was interested. He's also setting some eggs (50) in his incubator, so will have some pullets ready in about 2 - 3 months time, but seeing as I have my own incubator and a chance of some free fertile Maran eggs, I think I will raise some chicks myself.
But some more Marans will be arriving tomorrow, there was an advert in our local paper for some POL Marans. I'm going to pick them up in the morning. I will post some pictures of my new hens once they have all settled down.

Sunday 13 March 2011

New Chicken Houses

It all started when I decided to move the chickens into the veg plot by the side of my shed to help clear the weed seeds and grass as they had done with the allotment area. We tried to move the existing hen house and run, but the plastic house is very heavy!!! So we had a hunt on eBay for a new house and we bought this one
Some of the chickens have gone in on their own accord, but tonight I had to put 3 of the hens in as dusk as they were a little slow in going into their new home. Once I put them in there was a bit of "sorting" out. We shall see what they are like in the morning.
As the hens have done such a good job clearing the grass and weeds that it has been decided that we are to increase our flock of hens to help keep the grass down where we have planted a new hedge. Tim has taken the opportunity, whilst the land has been soft, to fence a second hedge line where we had an electric fence to protect the new hedge from the sheep.
Again a purchase from eBay, but this time from the same company as we got the first hen house, The Chicken House Company, as we were so impressed with the quality of the wood and workmanship of the house. As I will be attempting to hatch fertile eggs to increase my flock, we bought a hen house with an attached run.
Now all I've got to do is get some fertile eggs to go in my new incubator, (another ebay bargain). Up until today I was going to get some Barnevelder hen's eggs, as they lay dark brown eggs the same as Marans do. Marans were my first choice, but all that I've read states that they can be quite an assertive hen, but today I was talking to a local farmer who has a small flock of Marans, which is looked after by his 6 year old son, he's very taken by them. So I've swung back to keeping Marans, also looking on the Omlet site, it states that Barnevleders are very lazy hens that have a tendency to get fat. I need a hen that its going to work at keeping the weeds and grass down, so my second flock will be one made up of Marans.
Now just to find some fertile eggs and possible some young pullets.

Mixed weather

It's been a very strange week for the weather, we've had winds in excess of 25mph and then other days that have been very mild and a pleasure to be out in.
Today has been a very typical day weather wise. As I went to let the chickens out at 7am, it was mild enough that I went out without a coat and I didn't feel cold, but by the time we had walked the dogs and fed the sheep, it was bitterly cold and starting to rain.
I had to go and look at some fields for a local farmer, in regards to doing some mole control, and it was bitterly cold, my fingers and feet were like ice, but by the time I'd had lunch and caught up with Jayne on "life and sheep", the late afternoon was really mild, so mild that I managed to get my broad bean seedlings, that I bought yesterday, planted out. It feels good to get some veg plants planted out in the veg garden at last.

Saturday 12 March 2011

Saltburn Farmers Market

First one of the new season today and thankfully the weather stayed dry and relatively warm for this time of the year, and thankfully not the sleet that was forecast for us a few days ago.
It was a busy market and my customers liked the new colours that I'd dyed the knitting wool, which is good.
I had a bit of a panic last week as I'd put off the job of re-pricing my fibre, due to the VAT increase, and it looked like it was going to be a bigger job than it actually was. Serves me right for putting it off since the beginning of the year.
Pauline, a fellow smallholder, also has a stall at Saltburn selling veg, plants and her naturally dyed hand spun Jacob wool. This month she had some Broad Bean plants for sale, and as I've not sown any Broad Bean seeds I bought some from her. Hopefully I shall get them planted out tomorrow.
Packing up my stall at the end of the afternoon, it would appear that most of the stallholders had, had a good day. It makes all the effort worth while.

Sunday 6 March 2011

Moving Compost

As we've had such a mild and dry week, after Michael had left, we emptied one of the compost bins, moving the contents onto one of the deep beds. I've been letting the hens out of the allotment area and they have had a great time scratching around in the compost bins. So rather than spread the compost well on the deep bed, I've left it piled up a bit, and the chickens will spend the next few days scratching around looking for grubs and seeds and before I know it, they will have made the compost lovely and friable in the deep bed, ready for me to start using.
The hens have also got a new hut and I will be moving them into another area of the veg garden in the next couple of days for them to help clear the weed seeds and eat any little "nasty" creepy crawlies that are hiding in the soil.

New Ear tags

Michael, the breeder we bought our 2 pregnant Teeswater ewes from, called today to replace the ewes missing ear tags and also have a look at the lambs they'd had. He was impressed with all 3 lambs and very pleased with the condition of the ewes as well. When we walked into the barn, the little gimmer lamb that has a "rattle" on her chest, coughed and sneezed. Michael had a good look at her and, like us thinks she may have some birth fluid still on her lungs. I gave her another shot of antibiotics as we've now let the ewes and their lambs out of the barn into the small paddock at the side of the barn. Hopefully being out in the fresh air, the gimmer lamb will loose her rattle.
Having a very experienced Teeswater judge here, we took the opportunity to get him to have a look at our Teeswater Gimmers. One has a slight pink colouring in her ears, which for showing could mark her down and we will have to watch from a breeding point of view. He was taken by Dumpling, her fleece has a sheen to it and he thinks she will grow into a good ewe. Dimples, the smallest of the 3 gimmers, is doing O.K but still has some growing to do.
Michael was also with us when we bought the Scotties and he remembers how small they were, so he got a pleasant surprise seeing how much they had grown over the winter, no mean feat when you think how bad a winter we've had. Hopefully they should grow even more now that spring is just around the corner.
It's good to listen and glean some knowledge from a very experienced sheep man like Michael, every time we chat to him we learn something new, he's not afraid to pass on his knowledge or experience.

Saturday 5 March 2011

Headbutting Sheep

Last night we moved Gus away from the ewes and put him in the paddock with Cecil and Archie, and that was when the headbutting started, not by Gus, but Archie and Cecil. They were taking running headbutts at Gus.
Tim quickly pulled Gus out and put him in the handling area at the top of the race for the night. This left us with a dilemma as to where to put Gus. We decided to put him in with Ghilli and Grommet or two male alpacas and so far all 3 are quite happily munching the grass. So peace is restored and if Gus takes to being with Ghilli and Grommet it will mean that we won't have to keep any sheep weathers just to keep our resident tup company.
So what is going to happen to Cecil and Archie? Funnily enough when we took Tuppyman to the mart on Monday, Tim suggested that he also take Cecil and Archie, but we decided not to as we thought they would be company for Gus. Well they're off the to mart a week on Monday. It will also mean that we will have an extra paddock to use for grazing.

Tuesday 1 March 2011

Born this morning

A Tup lamb, who Tim has called "Hotpot". When we checked the ewes last night Hotpot's mum showed no signs of lambing. But when Tim went to check everyone at 7 this morning, there was a steaming lamb.
Here he is asleep at lunchtime
With Mum
and a close up of him.
We had to turn this ewe over as well and try to get her milk flowing. We're more than convinced that it's because the 2 Teeswater ewes have been in the barn for the last two weeks so that we could give them extra feed, and not had access to grass, this really does effect their milk. Though they have an udder full of milk, it doesn't seem to "come down" the same as in a ewe who has been out on grass and then penned up for a couple of days prior to giving birth.
Hopefully, if the weather stays as mild as it has been during the day all 3 lambs will be out in the nursery paddock with their mums pretty soon. But as one of the twin gimmer lambs, born yesterday as a bit of a "rattle" and is now dosed up with antibiotics, along with her sister and mum, they could all be in the barn for a couple of days more.
Now we can have a rest until the main onslaught of lambing starts on the 23rd of this month.