Monday 30 November, 2015
So what’s happened this week at TAS HQ? Weather has been changeable – which is what we’d expect for the time of year, I guess. We’ve had periods of heavy rain, but not sustained and in between times, things have dried up a bit. We had our first snow yesterday but it was wet and didn’t lie.
We’ve had a couple of frosts, but not heavy. But we’ve got the polytunnel door open, so hopefully bugs will be getting killed off. It’s almost cleared out – I’m hoping to get to that and the weeding in the fruit garden this week.
Sunday 22 November, 2015
It’s been a mixed week weather-wise here. Last Sunday, it was dry enough for Dan to hitch up the harrow and give Sheepfold a going over. The ponies have been out there over summer – in the limited turnout they have, being fat, hairy natives – and I haven’t picked poo, so the harrow’s broken it all up nicely and the frost should do the rest.
Since then, it’s been mixed – some heavy rain but no snow and a few dry, windy days that have dried things up a bit. It’s pretty soggy underfoot though.
Sunday 22 November, 2015
As many readers will know, we don’t breed pigs here at TAS. Like many smallholders, we buy in a couple of weaners in the spring and fatten them over the summer.
This year, we had two Oxford Sandy and Black castrates, a bred we haven’t had before. We’ve had Tamworths in the past and Kunekune for the last two years, but we do like to support the British rare breeds if we can.
The two pigs were born 15th March (Mothers’ Day) and w picked them up from the breeder on 15th May, along with two of their sisters, that a friend of ours has bought for breeding.
Thursday 5 November, 2015
Bonfire Night and time for Taylor, our tup, to go to work. This is his second year and he has 18 ewes to cover – fifteen of ours and three that we sold last year as ewe lambs and that have come back for mating.
He’ll be in until 17th December, then he and Ted, his wether pal, will be off to their winter quarters. He has a second companion at the moment – Tiny Tim. Tim’s (currently) a tup lamb, but he was a triplet and was tiny when he was born and is still small. To be honest, it wouldn’t have been worth paying £50 to have him slaughtered and butchered, so I’m going to get the vet to castrate him when he’s here to PD the cows later in the month. Then we’ll either run him on as hogget or sell him as a tup companion, as a fleece sheep or lawnmower. He’s really wee and awfully cute J
Tuesday 3 November, 2015
One of the reasons that there hasn’t been many diary posts over the summer is that we’ve had a new addition to the family. His name is Bryn and he’s a Cardigan Welsh Corgi. And he is a wee cracker. Apart from the sock fetish.
After Tess and Fillan died last December, we discussed whether to get another dog or wait until Meg wasn’t around. She’s 15 but is in pretty good health so we decided to go for it. Meg’s sight and hearing has deteriorated so she’s not keen to go away from the doors and I was missing a wee companion.
Monday 2 November, 2015
Heaven’s, where does time go? Can’t believe the last entry was in JUNE. So quick catch up then I promise to do better.
The milking progressed quite well until the end of July, when we had a week’s holiday then a week later, the bull went in. By the end, we could just bring the calves in to the barn at night and the cows stayed out. That was much earlier and what we’ll be aiming for next year.
Mak went in with the cows from 19th August until the beginning of October. Although I never actually saw him working, he does “court” each cow in turn, grazing exclusively with her for two or three days. I think Rosie and Annie were served quite early on, but think Blizzard may have come back for a second service. We’ll have the vet out in a few weeks to PD them and jag Vicky to prevent any unwanted pregnancies – the main thing is that they are safely in calf.
Monday 22 June, 2015
Following from Sally's comment on Part 4, we've put the cows back out tonight after penning the calves. It's a bit noisy just now - well, we can't hear it but I bet all the folk in Ravensby Road can :-( . The grass is coming in now and the cows are in a fresh field so hopefully they'll settle down and get munching.
It was a bit of a rammy tonight as Blizz is coming into season, Annie is trying to mount her and Rosie and the calves were all over excited. I was glad Dan was there to help.
Sunday 21 June, 2015
OK, so following hard on the heels of Part 3, which was written two weeks ago, here's Part 4.
About ten days ago, we decided to start bringing the cows and calves in at night and milking in the morning. We brought them in at 10pm and milked at 6am. This routine was killing us - not getting to bed until 11pm and up at 6am just wasn't getting us enough sleep. Last night, I went to let the ponies out at 8pm and the cows were standing at the gate, bawling, so I let them in. More milk this morning and they all seemed quite content. And we'll get an extra couple of hours sleep. So result all round.
Monday 8 June, 2015
So the last not-so-daily blog was on 25th May and things have moved on a bit since then, in a mainly positive way.
One of the problems I had was getting Annie and her calf out of the field without being mugged by the others.
So w/c 25th May, I decided to split the “milking cows”, i.e. those with a likely capacity to milk, from the non-milkers. I had decided to try again with Blizzard, although she’s a fourth calver that hasn’t been milked before. Rosie, who’s a year old and will calve (and therefore milk) for the first time next year and is Annie’s daughter WILL be a milker. So I moved Blizz, Annie, Rosie and Blizz and Annie’s calves into one field – you will recall that these are one “family” with Annie being Blizzard’s daughter. Basically, this means that I now bring the whole herd in every day.
Monday 25 May, 2015
Well, my daily blog didn’t last long. But the milking has. Quick recap – after a couple of days, Blizzard was dropped from the milking project and only Annie kept on.
I’ve milked pretty much every day; I’ve changed from a plastic bucket to a stainless steel one – it’s huge and the bit of milk looks a bit lost in it.
Between the 11th and last Friday (22nd), Vicki got pretty good at following her mum into the byre; sometimes I used a halter to stop her going off exploring. On Friday, I couldn’t catch her and she wouldn’t follow, so I brought Annie in on her own. The biggest fuss is made by Blizzard (Boss cow and Annie’s mum), who bawls at the gate. I wonder if I should bring her in too, just to shut her up.