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Grass at Astwood

Monday 13 April, 2015

by Rosemary at 10:16am in Grassland management 0 comments Add your own

The grass at our rented grazing was ploughed and resown in 2007. The soil hasn’t been tested since then, so I’ve had it done this year. Testing every four years is generally recommended, unless there is a specific problem.

Got the results back on Friday. For some reason, all the paddocks are high in magnesium – this sounds like good news for preventing magnesium deficiency in the livestock, but it also inhibits the uptake of potassium by grass. I have no idea why there’s high Mg but it means that we don’t want to use magnesium lime to correct the pH.

Lambing 2015 - week two to the end

Monday 13 April, 2015

by Rosemary at 10:06am in Sheep 0 comments Add your own

So at the end of week one, we had seven ewes lambed, fifteen lambs; one single, two triplets and four twins; nine tups and six ewes. Eight are still to lamb, six with twins and two sets of triplets. According to the raddle marks, five are due in week two plus Smudge, who was due in week one but hadn’t obliged.

Monday 2am, Niamh lambed two ewe lambs. The first one had the head back and I had a bit of a panic, because I wasn’t sure I had the right head for the legs. I phoned the vet – I don’t tend to mess around - then had another try and the head slipped into place and the lamb was safely delivered. I had to phone the vet to say all was well. Following the calf abortion that never was, I’ll be starting to get a reputation ☺. The second was presenting normally, so I left her to get on with it while I tailed Trixie and Twinkle’s lambs and dosed the ewes, ready for turnout in the morning. Niamh’s a great mum; this is her fourth lambing. Previously she’s had a single, twins and a single. Her twins from two years ago, Tansy and Treacle, are lambing for the first time this year.

Getting ready for new hens

Tuesday 31 March, 2015

by Rosemary at 8:53am in Poultry 0 comments Add your own

I have a batch of 40 pol hens ordered for collection next month. They are Rhode Rocks with a smattering of White Leghorns. They will be going in to the Brown House (as opposed to the Green House, where last year’s Rhode Rocks are).

In preparation, the hens that were in the Brown House last year have moved into the caravan, affectionately called Dignitas. These are a mixed bunch, the youngest being a disastrous batch of 40 that I bought in October 2013 (there are fewer than 20 of them left, but that’s another story). All 41 birds have gone through at least one moult and egg production has fallen off so they will have a glorious summer free-ranging in the pig pen and adjacent field, but they won’t go through another winter.

Lambing 2015 - week one

Tuesday 31 March, 2015

by Rosemary at 8:47am in Sheep 4 comments Add your own

We usually aim to start lambing on 1st April; this year, we’re a bit earlier because we were on holiday in November and wanted to put the tup in before we went to make sure he was working.

According to “The Chart” and raddle marks, our first ewe hit 147 days on Monday 23rd March.

Poppy

So the shed was prepared and the lambing box restocked in plenty of time and, wonder of wonders, Poppy delivered twins  (one tup, one ewe) as planned on Monday 23rd. This is her third lambing – she’s had twins and triplets previously – so it was really no surprise to find her with two lambs, up and fed, without any intervention from me.

Tis the seaosn to be mucking out

Monday 16 March, 2015

by Rosemary Champion at 5:50pm in General livestock 0 comments Add your own

At this time of year, I spend most of my time with a wheelbarrow and graip.

John, digger man, was here today and mucked out the barn where the cows have been. I'll finish it tomorrow with the wheelbarrow and pressure wash it; pens up on Wednesday and sheep in THursday. The weather forecast is good for Wednesday and Thursday, so they'll be nice and dry.

John's back tomorrow to scrape out the Triangle, where the twins' hay racks and feeders have been over winter. The sheep are pretty picky and a lot of "reject" hay drops into the trays under the feeder. As it accumulates, it spills out, gets trodden on and dunged on and becomes a damned mess. Dan told me to clear out the trays every day - the cows and the ponies eat it perfectly happily - but I didn't and it's a damned mess. So next year, I'll be clearing the trays daily. I hate it when he's right :-)

Mothers Day

Monday 16 March, 2015

by Rosemary Champion at 5:30pm in Smallholding 0 comments Add your own

Well, Mothers' Day for us meant moving some mothers (to be). As planned, we took Breeze, Blizzard, Rosie and Sunny to Astwood. I vaccinated them with Bravoxin first - oh, that vaccinator is just magic - then took the cows individually and the two heifers together. We decided to keep Bonnie and the calf at home because I'm feeding her, so Annie has stayed for company. Vaccinating them was easy - getting Clyde's tag in wasn't and it broke, so he's got one tag in and a blue ear, which will get a tag in once it's healed. Note to self - tag all future calves at 24 hours old. He's not very big but he's stronger than he looks and very wriggly.

Busy busy

Saturday 14 March, 2015

by Rosemary Champion at 8:07pm in Smallholding 0 comments Add your own

Been a busy day with more to come tomorrow. Dan finished the field shelter roof; Alan, our joiner, put the sheets on last week and today Dan and his dad put on the barge boards and tidied up. The ewes expecting triplets have access to it now but they'll be in sometime during next week and the ponies are going into that paddock. It's not been heavily bedded so won't be awful to muck out.

Dan moved the chookmobile to its new site. I'll get the oldest batch of hens moved into it this week, so I can give the brown house, their current residence, a good clean and replace the perches before our new POL pullets arrive early next month.

Soil tests et al

Monday 23 February, 2015

by Rosemary Champion at 2:31pm in Grassland management 2 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.

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