Tuesday 1 December, 2009
I always think of this as the start of the sheep year, since what happens now influences all else. Last year, our three ewes were tupped for the first time - we had two single lambs and one set of twins, although one was born dead. All three ewes were fine, which was my main priority.
The ewes are now at the tup again. A flock of three ewes doesn't justify keeping a tup and borrowing one isn't that easy, so they have gone back to their breeder and her tup, which just happens to be the same one as last year. He must have been a bit of a hit last year, because all three were covered within 10 days, two within 48 hours. We're just waiting to see if they come back into season. If they have held to first service, that will be great as I'll get a nice compact lambing. Last year, the first lamb was born on 30th March and the last on 18th May - which meant a lot of wasted broken nights.
Wednesday 2 December, 2009
At this time of year, I usually put a few sheep on the lawn. When I say "lawn", it's the bit of grass INSIDE the fence as opposed to "field" which is the same grass outside the fence. Bowling green it ain't. However, the sheep do graze it nicely down AND they tidy right up to the clothes poles, fertilising as they go. The lawn was probably it's best ever this summer, thanks to the sheep.
In order to protect the postie from said sheep, - Dickie and Li'l' Bud this year - I run electric fence along the path between the lawn and the front door. Now, I have an electric fence in the big field - one strand, high enough to let the ewes through but keeping the horse out of the sheeps' trough and lick. We only have one energiser, though, and that has been on the big field's fence.
Thursday 3 December, 2009
Last night when I shut the hens in, I peeked inside and noticed that a few weren't perching. I got the torch and put them all up on the perches, nice and tidy. Tonight, I thought I'd better check again. Bear in mind that I had closed the pop holes - just as well I DID check because the bold Tess was shut in the hen house. Being a dog of independent spirit, she wouldn't have worried about it but I'm not absolutely sure that she wouldn't have had a midnight snack, had she got the munchies before dawn. To be honest, I don't know if I would have thought to check in there, had I gone back to the house and simply shouted on her - I would have assumed that she was in the garage, under the pig hut, or down a bunnyhole and then been frantic when she didn't come home by bedtime. Hey ho, that's what happens when you have a dog with too much in her head - having another one with nothing in her's doesn't compensate!
Saturday 26 December, 2009
Dan and I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! We've had a lovely time with the family - but now the house is back in order and we'll be starting the serious planning for our relocation to Carnoustie in the summer.
If you haven't read on the forums, we've bought a new property just outside Carnoustie, on the Angus coast. We'll be about 10 miles north of Dundee and 5 miles south of Arbroath.
The house was built around 1860, we've been told, and needs a bit of upgrading. We need to improve the insulation and install central heating. The bathroom is very small, so we're going to move it into the smallest bedroom and the existing bathroom will become my office. The wall between the kitchen and utility room will come down to make a larger kitchen; there's a back porch that will be the scullery.
Sunday 27 December, 2009
Actually, it's not really a Christmas present, but I thought I'd keep it topical.
I bought a wheeled and covered hay rack for the sheep a few weeks ago; it was delivered last week and yesterday, we finally wheeled it into the field. I have a corner fenced off with a single strand of electric fence to keep the horse out of the trough and the lick - the sheep just limbo under it.
Sunday 27 December, 2009
With the prospect of a new mortgage, dana nd I are trying to save money. Sort of. Actually, we have this conversation every year, sometimes with more effect than others.
Anyway, we've got off to a reasonable start; when we went for bread yesterday, the supermarket had loads of boxes of mushrooms for 17p, so we bought 6 and Dan made mushroom soup. It's one of my favourites and it cost about 10p per portion.
This is the recipe Dan uses:
For 6 (small by our standards) portions
Monday 28 December, 2009
It's just lovely here today. Although it's -7, it feels warmer because the sun is out, the sky is blue, there's not a cloud to spoil the view... Are you singing yet?
I'm off to walk the dogs now - I had a cup of beefy "Bovril" to keep me going. If I drink it, I don't have the desire to eat sweet things, like mince pies, Christmas cake, chocolate.
I'll throw the sheep some more hay as I go past; in the load we bought, there were two bales of Jimmy's "special" meadow hay and the sheep love it! It's very fine textured compared to the normal offering. All the girls have a rim of frost on their fleeces but seem quite content.
Tuesday 29 December, 2009
Our two kittens, now eight months old, are becoming very distinct characters. Harry is bigger than Bertie and seems more mature. He reminds me of Cassius; happy to spend most of his time sleeping or watching the world go by, he is becoming a prodigious hunter.
Yesterday, alerted by the now usual clattering in the front hall, my investigations revealed Harry dragging a large, dead bird into the hall. Well, it was dead when I went back for a second look, coward that I am.
I was really surprised and not a little relieved to discover that it was a magpie. Given the egg stealing episode earlier in the year, I can't say I'm upset that there's one fewer of the bu**ers. Hope he keeps it up, but outdoors!
Wednesday 30 December, 2009
Last week, Dan and I noticed a large flock of brown birds in the field opposite the house. We tried to get a photographs, but the quality through the window was poor and when Dan opened the door they flew off. I consulted my "Reader's Digest" Book of British Birds, and decided they were curlews. I don't think I've ever seen a curlew before.
Well, they were back yesterday, this time in our river paddock. There were about twenty, maybe. I still failed to get a photograph, but maybe third time lucky.