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.
Monday 11 May, 2015
When we first got cattle in 2010, the intention was to milk them for the house. When Breeze and Blizzard calved for the first time in 2012, my head was too full of magic to try; in 2013, they kind of knew that the milk was for calves and weren’t keen on sharing. I was advised to try with a heifer so last year I tried (but not very hard) to milk Annie, when she had her first calf. But it’s always been there, eating away at me. I think because I couldn’t get the perfect system planned in my head, I couldn’t get started.
Monday 13 April, 2015
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.
Monday 13 April, 2015
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.
Tuesday 31 March, 2015
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.
Tuesday 31 March, 2015
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.
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.
Monday 16 March, 2015
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 :-)