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.

Sunday 1 May 2011

Weekend Visitors

On Saturday Freyalyn (, Mark. Lunil and Bil came for the weekend. It started with a quick note from Freyalyn asking if I had any long stapled fleeces. A look in my fleece store revealed 2 Teeswater fleeces, that had been washed, and so they decided to come and visit, and collect the fleece.

As the lambs were due their first Hepotvac injections, Mark volunteered to help, and as we had all the ewes in the barn as well, and one or two had a slight limp, all the ewes got a pedicure and some a "bum trim". It gave Mark some more experience of dealing with sheep as he's keen to learn how to shear sheep.

But it's not all work. After this morning's chores we drove down to the beech at Runswick Bay for the dogs to have a run around. Thankfully we managed to get there without Holly being sick in the car. This is a great result and we may try to take her and Deefa there another day.

Holly and Deefa sniffing a rock on the beech.

Deefa in the sea. Moments later he turned round and the wave you can see lifted him off his feet! He was not impressed! and as this was his first experience of the sea he's not too keen about going in again.

Lunil, Bil and Deefa.

Deefa watching Luni and Bill in the sea from a safe distance

Nesting birds in the cliffs. Not sure what they are.

It was a good walk, as well as a good weekend and now both dogs are crashed out catching up on their beauty sleep and my fleece store is now several fleeces less after Freyalyn and I'd had a good rummage around at what fleeces I've got.
I've been inspired to blend some of my fibres together, and have another go with my drop spindle having watch Freyalyn using hers this weekend. I was amazed at how much wool she got spun up using her drop spindle.


Apart from the thunderstorm last weekend, we've had constant sunshine and we could really do with some more rain. So I thought I'd post some pictures of some of our animals.

These are our pet lambs, all 17 of the "little darlings". They terrorise any of the Maran hens that dare to venture into their paddock.
Most of the pet lambs are on the milk buckets, but 3 are still on bottles. Hobbit, because he's so small and had a problem with Selenium deficiency, Honolulu, he's got Orf, so we don't want that spreading through the rest of the lambs and finally Poorly Boy, he came to us with a nasty rattle in his lungs and hardly drank any milk. We dosed him up with antibiotics and he recovered, only to go down with joint ill last weekend. He's slowly recovering with medication.

And finally, the chicks. You can clearly see their wing feathers starting to develop and when I take the top off the brooder, they are starting to try and fly. I've just put them onto wood shavings in an attempt to keep the brooder a bit cleaner. Already 2 of the chicks are bigger than the others, which could mean they are cockerels, and 2 have the startings of a tail, which could mean they are pullets or female hens. It's looking like the Sussex X chick could be a female, but we should be able to tell more when they are 3 weeks old.

Holly spends a lot of time watching the chicks, we call it "Holly TV" and she's watching the "Chick Channel". The chicks seem to change everyday and are really growing fast. They'll soon be too big for the brooder and if I raise the lid, as I'm supposed to, to reduce the temperature inside the brooder, but I think the chicks will fly out!!!!!