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Soil tests et al

Monday 23 February, 2015

by Rosemary Champion at 2:31pm in Grassland management 0 comments Add your own

Do you ever start to do one small thing, and it grows into something bigger and bigger? Happens to me all the time - and it did yesterday. Actually, it happened three times yesterday but I'll relate one just now.

When someone tells me they've bought land, one of my first questions is "Have you had the soil tested for pH, P,K and Mg?" We had Dalmore tested in 2010 and again in 2013, but our rented grazing hasn't been tested since 2007 so I was thinking about soil testing Astwood this year and was, therefore, looking out an old invoice to see how much we'd paid last time.

Bonnie surprises us all

Monday 9 February, 2015

by Rosemary Champion at 8:38pm in Cattle 1 comment Add your own

According to when we put the bull in, our four Shetland cows are all due to calve early May - Breeze and Blizzard for the fourth time, Annie for the second and Bonnie is a first timer.

At teatime, about 5pm, I started to feed everyone - hens, sheep, ponies, cattle - looked in the barn, and Bonnie was mooing and I could see liquid coming from her back end. I jagged them with Bravoxin on Saturday, without incident I thought, but the instructions do say to use in the third trimester. Ours are JUST in the third trimester and it was playing on my mind a bit. Two plus two made a hundred and twenty two!!!

Sheep scanning

Monday 19 January, 2015

by Rosemary Champion at 12:36pm in Sheep 1 comment Add your own

We had the scanner here last week to scan the ewes. We've used the same lassie for seven years and she's never been wrong - and I'm hoping she's right this year too.

Of the fifteen to the tup - eight ewes and seven gimmers - all are in lambs. One gimmer is carrying a single and the other six have twins; of the eight ewes, we've got four sets of twins and four sets of triplets. So 33 lambs scanned or 220%. Gulp.

We had one set of twins last year from Poppy; she's expecting twins this year but her twin sister is expecting triplets (she had twins last year). Poppy's triplets were all much the same size and she did a good job of raising them all herself. I'd be lucky to get away with that thsi year, so I'll be buying milk powder and extra bottles, just in case. I might manage to twin one on to the single - never done that before either.

Sunny and Rosie learn about halters

Tuesday 13 January, 2015

by Rosemary Champion at 12:21pm in Cattle 2 comments Add your own

With the cows and heifer calves inside, it's time to halter train the heifer calves. I enjoy this - gives me an excuse to spend time with the cows :-)

I suppose the way I do it changes slightly every year, based on the calves and previous experience. First thing is to get them addicted to sugar beet. The cattle are naturally greedy, especially for anything swet - so that's not too hard. I tie up all the cows - always starting with the most dominant, Blizzard, then Breeze, Annie then Bonnie. If you tie up any BEFORE Blizzard, she'll take advantage and duff them up. I untie them in reverse order, but for the same reason.

Clostridial disease in cattle

Friday 9 January, 2015

by Rosemary Champion at 2:52pm in Cattle 0 comments Add your own

I do love a day when I learn something new, even when I'd amazed that I didn't know it before.

I was reading the NADIS site two nights ago, as you do, and looking at the page about castrating bull calves - we don't do our lambs with rings (I *have* done it but it was years ago) and until now, I've got the vet to do the bull calves either with a Burdizzo or by cutting, when he comes to PD the cows. Some pretty horrid photos of castrations gone wrong and it was just before dinner, but I'm made of stern stuff.

The paperwork got worse

Friday 9 January, 2015

by Rosemary Champion at 12:44pm in Smallholding 0 comments Add your own

Aaaarrgh! In the previous post, I recounted finding some paperwork that required my attention, during a festive clear out / tidy up. I thought it would be simple. Ha.

We have some rented seasonal grazing about 4 miles away; in terms of animal movements, if certain conditions are met, you can get a concession to link these seasonal grazings to your own main holding and you don't have to then notify the authorities every time you move stock between them. I did this in February 2013. What I didn't notice was that, for cattle, you have to renew the linking very year - the link lasts for 364 days.


Monday 5 January, 2015

by Rosemary Champion at 3:31pm in Smallholding 1 comment Add your own

Although I was a professional papershuffler until five years ago, I get terribly anxious about the smallholding paperwork. As is my habit, I like to spend a day over the festive period clearing out files, getting filing up to date and having a general tidy-up of my desk and surrounding area.

This year, I found an unpaid bill from July - feck, I am mortified. Still, the firm hadn't chased it up and it's paid now.

Also found a letter from the British Cattle Movement Service, one from Animal Health and one from SGRPID that needed urgent attention so I've been sending a few emails today, mainly for clarification. I don't think there's anything that's going to result in me being in the pokey but with the new CAP, we'll be applying for the new Basic Payment Scheme so it seemed a good idea to get all in order.

Sheep thoughts

Monday 5 January, 2015

by Rosemary Champion at 10:29am in Sheep 4 comments Add your own

I suppose it's the time of year when we look backwards then forwards. I had a long list of things to do today as the first day "back at work", like booking a post movement TB test for our wee bull, ordering a headstone for Tess's grave and bringing my Flock Register up to date.

I was also taking time to have a good look at the ewes. We've 25 at home just now; two retirees, eight ewe hoggs and the eight ewes and seven gimmers that went to the tup in November. The scanner will be out this month sometime to scan them - just waiting for her to get back to me with a date and time. Taylor and Ted are up at Braeside.

Tess - a dog of independent spirit

Monday 22 December, 2014

by Rosemary at 9:59am in Dogs 7 comments Add your own

Back in the summer of 2000, Dan and I had just moved to our brand new smallholding at Longcarse, in Alloa. In fact, it wasn’t really a smallholding; it was a newly renovated cottage with some grass inside the fence (which we laughingly called a garden) and some grass outside the fence. But we had plans.

My birthday is in July so when Dan asked what I wanted, I said “a puppy”. He agreed and we spent some time discussing the merits of several breeds – but when it came down to it, I really wanted a Border Collie. So Dan duly tracked down a litter of pups in Comrie, Perthshire and, on the 16th July (a day late, which may have set a trend for the future), Tess arrived home. Born on 21st May, she was the only bitch in a litter of five.

Who gives a muck?

Thursday 18 December, 2014

by Rosemary Champion at 7:46pm in Composting 2 comments Add your own

There’s a saying “Where there’s muck, there’s money” – not so sure about that but muck management is certainly taking up a good bit of time at the moment.

Summer is relatively simple – we have about a wheelbarrow full of horse droppings every day; in winter this is supplemented by the daily mucking out from the bull and the weekly mucking out of the feeding area of the cows. Mid March will see the mucking out of the laying area for the cows then the stuff from the lambing shed in late April / early May.

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