Friday 22 April 2011

Hatching Chicks

On Wednesday afternoon the first of my chicks started to hatch. We'd heard them cheeping 24 hours earlier, but it was very exciting to see the eggs start to "pip". I was unsure if anything would hatch as this is the first time I've tried to hatch chicks.

Here is the very first chick, just out of it's egg.

A couple of hours later and 4 chicks had hatched (I'd already moved one into the brooder to give the other chicks some room). You can see 2 other chicks starting to chip their way out of their eggs. I had to help these last 2 chicks out of their eggs and they finally hatched at around 11pm. I left these 2 in the incubator with the final egg and put the other 4 chicks into the brooder to fluff up their feathers.

This is the chicks this afternoon, eating and drinking as they should be.

I was advised by a friend to put a woolly hat into the brooder for the chicks to snuggle up to. As the brooder is in the utility room, as you go passed the chicks, you can't but help but speak to the chicks, who are starting to be very mobile.
From the 7 eggs that I set in the incubator, 6 have hatched, the final egg was infertile, so for the 6 eggs that were fertile, I got 100% hatch rate. I've got 5 Maran chicks and 1 Sussex x Cream Legbar chick (the yellow chick). I'm not sure what sex the chicks are as yet, but according to one of my books, Maran male chicks have a white spot on their heads and are lighter in colour than the female chicks. Some of my chicks do have a spot on their heads, but not very big ones! I will have to wait until the chicks are bigger and fully feathered before I can sucessfully sex them. But in the meantime I will enjoy watching these chicks grow and develop over the coming weeks.

The Hobbits have gone home

The Hobbits left this afternoon, with their mum. We took them to the bus station in Whitby where they caught the bus back home.
We couldn't have asked for better weather for their stay, it has been warm and dry, so we've been able to spend most of the days out doors.
I did have a list of jobs for them to do, and they have done most of them.

Here are the Hobbits modelling mine and Tim's chain saw helmets as we got ready to go to Jayne's to chop up a tree of hers that had fallen down. The Hobbits job was to put the chopped logs onto the trailer so that Jayne could then take the logs to their storage space. As with all young boys, after an hour or so they got bored and as the field we were in was at the bottom of a steep bank, they decided to climb to the top of the bank and then roll down!!!! The also decided to explore the stream we were near, the water wasn't too deep. But they found the deepest pools and came back with wellies full of water and jeans wet up to their bottoms!!!!
Here they are the testing out the hydraulics of the tipping trailer on the back of the tractor.

Every day they have collected the hen's eggs, fed the hens their evening corn, helped us worm and ear tag some sheep, chased and caught the pet lambs for us to number them all, helped me in the veg garden getting the pea sticks and planting out the peas. They've baked a couple of cakes to take to my Tuesday night knitting club for the ladies to eat with their cups of tea.

It hasn't been all work and no play, they've played countless games of volleyball and football. But I think the most exciting thing that happened was watching my chicks hatch out on Wednesday afternoon and evening. It was better than any TV programme.

Monday 18 April 2011

The Hobbits are here!

The Hobbits arrive yesterday afternoon, in spectacular style, walking down the drive with their rucksacks and suitcase! Their parent's car was stopped at the top of the drive, it had broken down at the top of the road, which thankfully is a steepish hill, so they were able to coast down to the top of our drive and then with a bit of a push, coast down into our yard! When the Hobbits walked down the drive, we had a friend visiting who, on seeing the car stopped at the top of the drive, did comment "Are you sure they aren't just dropping the kids off and driving off, so you can't change your mind about them staying?" An hour later the car recovery company arrived to pick the car up and take Sis and her husband home. This is the second time their car has broken down on the way to deliver the Hobbits for a holiday! The are going home on Friday using the Coastliner bus, hopefully that won't break down.....

The fine weather continues...

which is great for the lambs, but not so good for the state of our grass. All the ewes and lambs are in the back field, which should last them a least a month, but after just a couple of weeks, the grass is getting very short, and there is not much grass in any of the other paddocks! We could do with some rain pretty soon. I've been out with my hoe in the veg garden, and I noticed that the parsnip seeds have started to sprout so the ground can't be that dry. We've also got another compost bin emptied onto another one of the veg beds so that I can plant out the last of my potatoes. The remaining compost bin's contents will be spread in the large bed that is near my shed, where the chickens are scratching around at the moment. I'm sure they will enjoy rooting around in the compost and at the same time save me a job of spreading it around the bed. The compost bins won't stay empty for long as Tim will soon be emptying the barn of all the straw bedding that's been down whilst we've been lambing.

Sunday 10 April 2011

Farmer's Market & a WI talk

On Saturday it was Saltburn Farmer's Market and despite having had a late night/early morning I set off with my car packed, as usual with all of my fibre and knitting wool. The weather was, as has been all week, fine and sunny, which bought out the shoppers, who were only too happy to spend their money. Today I'd been booked by the Teeside WI Federation to give a talk on my exotic fibre, at a place called Cober Hill, near Scarborough. I never go with a prepared speech, just an outline of what I'm going to talk about, using my fibre as a prompt and seeing which way the questions take the talk. I never go with the expectation of anyone buying any of my fibre, but today the ladies had a "good root" through my hand dyed sock yarn and left with arms of knitting wool. Also a couple of the ladies took my details to give to their programme secretaries. So we shall see what happens. Despite being very tired, and the last thing I wanted to do. I was glad I did both the market and the talk as you never know what leads with come from them.

Lambing has officially finished...

Ariadnne had her lambs at 1.45 on Saturday morning and she was the last of our ewes to lamb. On Friday evening Flora, our Teeswater Shearling ewe, had twin lambs , a gimmer and a tup lamb. Tim had said to her that she was to have her lambs before lambing live started at 8pm. I went in at 7.45 and found her with her 2 newly born lambs.
Flora's lambs.

Ariadnne had shown no signs of starting to lamb, but when Tim went to check her at midnight, she was starting to show some signs of starting to lamb. He stayed up, but I went to bed as I was at Saltburn Farmer's Market that morning.

Tim went out to check her again at 2am to find that she'd had her lambs. He did navels and gave them some Watery Mouth medication and came to bed at 2.30.

Ariadnne's lambs and as you can see, one of them is laid down feeding!!!

We thought life could get back to normal, but yesterday morning a shepherding friend rang to ask if we wanted a "few" pet lambs. They have finished lambing and now have no time to deal with the pet lambs. We said "yes". But forgot to clarify what a "few" meant. He arrived with 13!!!! Most will only take a bottle, so we've got a battle to get them onto the bucket system we use. A couple have eye infections, one which is blind in one eye, so all lambs have been give a dose of antibiotics and are kept away from our other sheep and lambs until we are sure they are all O.K. Now just need to ring my feed merchant to see what deal he will give me on a bulk load of powdered lambs milk.

Sunday 3 April 2011

Things are quietening down

Only one lamb born last night, at around midnight. So this morning, after Tim had done the 5am check, we decided to go back to bed to catch up on some much needed sleep. Just another couple of hours can make all the difference. We're still on lamb watch as we have 5 ewes left to lamb. Anya this afternoon actually asked to be put into the barn despite it being such a warm day. She was due to lamb on the 31st March! A couple of days ago I decided to set some eggs in my little incubator, which holds 7 eggs.
6 eggs are Marans, which are darker than in this photo and the very light egg is from my Sussex, who is in with the Cream Legbar Cockerel. Will be interesting to see what type of chick hatches. This is my egg skelter, full of my cream legbar and Maran eggs from the last 2 days.
Until all of the ewes have lambed, neither of us go very far and you really can't start any job that can't be put stopped immediately. But on Thursday the wind was so severe it blew over the hen house that the Marans are in. When we finally managed to put it back right on Friday, thankfully there was not too much damage, and now Tim is putting in posts along both sides to attach the hen house to, so that it can't be blown over again. I've been working in the veg garden, got one set of spuds and some red onion sets planted out, and several barrow loads of compost/manure put onto one of the deep beds. Makes a change for the weather to be so mild and dry whilst we are lambing. I'm not complaining.

Saturday 2 April 2011

A quiet day!

Yesterday only 2 ewes lambed, a Scottie outside in the race, a lovely set of gimmer Masham twins and later in the afternoon, Yellow Neck with a lot of assistance, one lamb had it's head back. But both lambs and mum are O.K.

This was the barn last night

All 10 pens full of ewes with lambs.

The hurdles for the pens in this photo were borrowed from my friend Jayne as we had used all of our hurdles.

So far all the ewes that should have lambed by today have, that is except Anya. She was due on the 31st, but is showing no signs of "popping" yet. 20 ewes have lambed so far and we have 39 lambs a lambing %age of 195%. Only 6 ewes left to go!