Monday 3 March, 2014
We record the number pf eggs we collect from each of our two henhouses each day. At the end of each month, I total it and, with reference to the number of days in the month and the number of hens in the house, I calculate productivity.
For February, the green house, with the remaining 27 of the 40 pullets that I bought in October is at 82%. The brown house, with 17 hens I bought POL April last year and 28 Black Rocks that I bought day-old in Spring 2011 ????, is at 47%. I suspect most of the production is coming from the 2013 birds :-)
Monday 3 March, 2014
If it's not Spring, it certainly feels like it's on its way.
We're feeding the pregnant ewes now (and the very greedy ewe hoggs that are runnng with the singles); the Heptavac should arrive tomorrow for rapid adminiistration - a glitch (Dan thought I'd ordered it and vice versa) means we'll be a few days later than usual, and the tup and cull ewe go away on Wednesday.
We're to be at Dunblane by 8am, so we're going to load them on Tuesday night and leave them with hay and water so that we can make a quick, stress free getaway in the morning. The two have been in the byre together for more than a week, so they're quite happy to bunk up together and the trailer's well big enough for two. I've filled out the movement licence and got the tags ready, so I think we're OK. I'm not really looking forward to it - Nellie was one of my favourite ewes.
Friday 21 February, 2014
Pleased to report that Penny appears to be fine - completely sound and bright as a button. I gave her a second injection of Alamycin yesterday, although the swelling in her foot had almost gone, and let her and Jinx out after morning buckets.
I started feeding the ewes on Saturday and she's got the taste for cake now.
I got the results of her blood test today - she was very slightly energy deficient but Ca and Mg levels were fine. Although the ewes have access to adlib good hay and a licky bucket, I suspect that, with her sore foot, she wasn't eating enough, so I think she'll be fine now that she's sound and they're getting cake.
Monday 17 February, 2014
We had the vet out yesterday to Penny, second time lamber carrying twins, who was lame and a bit off-colour. Didn't come to the trough in the morning (started feeding the ewes on Saturday) - a Ryeland that doesn't come to the trough is always a cause for concern :-(
Made a pen in the field shelter and brought her in; put Jinx in with her for company (Jinx had "escaped" on Saturday when we were splitting them into "twins / triplets" and "singles / barren / ewe hoggs" and slipped in with the singles, so she needed to be moved anyway.)
Wednesday 12 February, 2014
We've bought a caravan. Cost us £50 from the caravan storage place along the road. We're hoping to get it home tomorrow and start stripping it out, for conversion into a mobile henhouse.
We have a flock of "scratchers" - about 20 in number that have "retired" from the main flock and now live in three small henhouses next to the field shelter ('cos I'm too soft to cull them). Because of the position of their houses, they tend to forage in Home and Near Top paddocks - and they do a real good job of breaking up dung and so on.
Wednesday 12 February, 2014
Tuesday 11 February, 2014
Because we're relatively new to sheepkeeping, this is the first year we've had to cull animals.
In 2007 we bought ewe lambs; in 2008 and 2009, they went back to the breeder to be tupped. We bought our first tup for autumn 2010, then sold him in 2012 to a neighbour. However, the tup we bought to replace him is now done here, as his daughters will come into the flock in October, so we're culling him.
Last spring, we had two barren ewes; one we let go to a pet home and the other we gave a second chance to, but she's barren again this year, so she has to go.
Saturday 25 January, 2014
Looked out the 2013 diary this morning, noted down the dates each ewe was marked at tupping time and put the expected dates in the diary. I know they don't always go by the chart but I've found Ryelands pretty close to 147days with singles and 149days with twins. Triplets are a whole new ball game :-)
We're due to start 30th March and finish 17th April, which isn't too bad. Of course, the ewe expecting triplets is due a full week before the first ewe expecting a single - which is Niamh, as I hoped. Hopefully, this will mean that the triplet will be able to compete with its foster sibling when we twin it on. I suppose the challenge will be convincing Niamh that a week old lamb is newborn.
Friday 24 January, 2014
Gillian, our sheep scanner, has been today. She's scanned our sheep every year bar one since 2009 - and she actually remembers things about individuals! She must see thousands of sheep each year - what a woman :-)
I didn't have a good feeling about this - I usually feed some hard feed in the run up to, and during, tupping but I didn't this year. They had a molassed mineral lick from two weeks before Nemo went in.
We had thirteen to the tup. Nellie (aka Big Fat Nellie) is barren; no surprise there, she had twins first year then was barren last year but I decided to give her another try. But of course not raising lambs this year meant she was bigger and fatter - so Nellie will be joining Nemo on the mutton trail :-(
Sunday 19 January, 2014
I've always intended that the smallholding be at least self-financing in revenue terms. We've been happy to invest in capital items such as fencing and equipment durng the establishment of the smallholding but we're now hoping that it can support itself and even return a small profit.
Although I keep records of income and expenditure for the business overall, I've never looked at each enterprise to see how it performs. But 2014 is going to be the year of the "improved management information". I've ordered a proper calculator - not on my phone or computer, but a "proper" desk one - and I've got all the invoices out for 2012/13 and since it's a miserable day, I'me going to spend the afternoon working through them.