Diary

February 2011RSS feed

New birds

Friday 4 February, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:23pm in Poultry Comments closed

I've just ordered 40 day-old Black Rocks as the first stage of my egg production expansion. I should get them next week or in three weeks. I have some Black Rocks already and they are a great hen for outdoors - very hardy and healthy, and prolific layers.

I like to raise my own pullets if I can - then I know how they have been reared and they get used to the bugs on this farm.

John's adapted the oversized hay box as a brooder - it's not quite finished yet but will be this weekend. I hope it works! I also have to go see the local "shed man" to see if he can build me a new hen house. The one I have from "Gardencraft" is very good but I'd rather source it locally if I can.

Dressed up

Friday 4 February, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:28pm in Cattle Comments closed

I was looking at Breeze today and decided she looked like a wee girl dressed in her mother's frock. She's got a nice set of grown-up horns - but she's still got a little calf face.

Pigs in the market

Tuesday 8 February, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:18pm in Anything goes 1 comment Comments closed

I had reason to be at our local livestock market today. While I was there, a load of pigs - cast sows and boars by the look of it - were delivered. These will be sold tomorrow.

They will, therefore, be kept overnight on concrete floors with no bedding other than a skim (and I mean a skim) of shavings. Some of the pens had no water dispensers. The market was freezing. I found this quite distressing. I have no difficulty with animals being slaughtered but this just didn't feel right.

First feed

Friday 11 February, 2011

by Rosemary at 4:48pm in Sheep Comments closed

Fed the ewes for the first time today - they are due to start lambing in six weeks. They're on 250g of Farmgate All-stock pencils, once a day. Since I don't know if they are carrying singles or multiples, I won't be increasing it much, trying to avoid big singles.

They are still munching hay and they have access to a mollassed mineral block from 5pm until 9am - then I have to lift it or the ponies eat it.

Water, water everywhere

Tuesday 15 February, 2011

by Rosemary at 2:00pm in Anything goes 2 comments Comments closed

Granted, we've had quite a lot of rain this week but parts of our fields are underwater. With only 12 acres, we can't afford to lose that much grass.

We had soil samples taken this week by a local firm, who will provide an analysis and advice on what to apply and when. The bloke that came out was very helpful and explained about liming and trace elements. The pH test was free but a full soil analysis was £25- we had 5 samples taken, but we reckon that £125 is a good investment if it helps us take good care of the land.

Clean greenhouse

Wednesday 16 February, 2011

by Rosemary at 9:10pm in Gardening Comments closed

It's been miserable here today - dreich, in fact. However, John did finish cleaning out the greenhouse with the powerwasher. Unfortunately, it drained to the back corner, so he had to drill a drainhole in the concrete floor to let all the water out.

So no excuses now - I hope to get some cabbages sown this weekend and maybe some carrots in pots. Have to say though, given today's weather, it doesn't feel very spring-like.

Spooky pony

Wednesday 16 February, 2011

by Rosemary at 9:13pm in Equines 1 comment Comments closed

My Smokey is quite an unconfident pony. Over the winter, he's been a bit like a feral pony - he comes in to be fed and have his feet picked out but we haven't spent much time together. On Monday, I took Bugsy out for a walk and intended to take Smokey out yesterday but for several reasons, it was put off until today.

I brought him in this morning, gave him his bucket in the loose box and went for my breakfast. When I came out an hour later, I thought he was coming over the box door. Hmm, I thought, maybe we won't go out.

More Hubbards

Sunday 20 February, 2011

by Rosemary at 5:51pm in Poultry Comments closed

I picked up another 12 Hubbards day-olds on Thursday. Well, four-day olds to be entirely accurate. They are doing fine in the batchelor pad in the loosebox - so looking forward to fresh chicken in twelve weeks or so.

Sheepy tasks

Sunday 20 February, 2011

by Rosemary at 5:56pm in Sheep Comments closed

Dan and I injected all the sheep with Heptavac P Plus today. We also took the opportunity to do a bit of hoof-trimming. We don't turn the sheep but do them the same way as a farrier would trim a horse, so I'm happy to do it when they are in lamb.

I have to say it was the best session of this that we've done - must be experience paying off at last! It was all very calm - even Dan and I didn't grump at each other. If we don't rush, we're fine.

Since the ewes had been shut in a small pen, I picked up some fresh poo (no end to the delights of smallholding) to go off for a worm egg count. I didn't get samples from all the sheep, but hopefully it was representative. I'll post tomorrow and should get the results by email on Thursday. Westgate are very good.

Tess, the bird dog

Sunday 20 February, 2011

by Rosemary at 6:04pm in Wildlife Comments closed

Peter was here today catching and ringing some wild birds. Our Tess has adopted him and follows him everywhere when he's here. When he's ringing, she sits and watches - I think she hopes that a stray bird might fall into her mouth. I did offer to shut her in but Peter was quite happy with her.

Today, despite the weather, he caught 41 birds, 10 of which had been caught before. There was a Tree Sparrow today and another Brambling - and adult female this time. She was beautiful. He saw lots of Goldfinches but none were caught. As last time, there were a lot of tits - 2 Coal, 10 Great and 11 Blue.

The power of the oatcake

Sunday 20 February, 2011

by Rosemary at 7:33pm in Sheep Comments closed

We were given boxes of slightly out of date oatcakes a few months ago. Only recently, have I discovered the power of the oatcake.

Of our three original ewes, Jura is by far and away the least friendly. While Jinx and Juno were happy to be hand fed, Jura never came close. Until the oatcakes. Now she's first in line if she thinks I have anything in my pocket - but furthermore, when Dan was holding her today to have her jab and her feet done, she went to sleep, leaning against him. Incredible!

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work...

Monday 21 February, 2011

by Rosemary at 10:57am in Smallholding 3 comments Comments closed

I've ordered Smokey's French collar, harrow and scrub puller today.

Off to see Shedman about the new poultry house now.

Finished!

Monday 21 February, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:06pm in Equines Comments closed

I have finally finished poo picking in Sheepfold! Yipee!!

The ponies were in there during the snow, then it froze and all the poo froze - and there was a lot of it. My plan was to do two barrowloads a day until it was clear but it never worked out like that in practice. But finally, today, I removed the very last piles. I can't tell you how good it felt. I can't tell you what a saddo I am!

Now it's ready to harrow and have the electric fence sorted. And if I can persuade Dan to do something about the North fence, then I will.

Beadies Cracker

Tuesday 22 February, 2011

by Rosemary at 9:22am in Cattle Comments closed

I received an email this morning from David Smith, who bred our two Shetland heifers, telling me that they have a little sister. She was born this morning - David thought she was a wee cracker, so that's her name. She's a full sister to Blizzard, so a sort of cousin to Breeze, and is dun and white.

Shetland calf Beadies Cracker

David says "mum and calf are doing well; dad oblivious."

On the horns of a dilemma (or several)

Thursday 24 February, 2011

by Rosemary at 9:28pm in Land Comments closed

Where to start. Last year, we decided to split Five Acre field in two - although five acres isn't a lot to a big farmer, our small numbers of stock would benefit from smaller paddocks that we can rotate them round. We made a plan and bought the stobs, strainers, Rylock and wire, with the intention of doing the job in spring before the calves were turned out.

Over the winter, it has become apparent that there is a drainage issue in the Orchard (to be) and Five Acre field i.e. there's a lake where there should be grass. Last week, we had a drainage contractor out to have a look and give us some options. He was here last Friday with a laser to take the levels accurately - one of the drawbacks of our very flat land is that there is only a 2 foot drop to the nearby drainage ditch.

Spring has sprung today

Thursday 24 February, 2011

by Rosemary at 9:54pm in Anything goes 1 comment Comments closed

It's been lovely here today - I don't know what the temperature was but it was warm and sunny with a light breeze.

John put up some hooks in the feed store for me, so I spent a happy hour sorting out ropes and halters and harness neatly on the wall. You can never have too many hooks in a tack room.

I took Bugsy out for a walk along the golf course. Although he was on the halter, he had his bridle on and he seems much happier with the bit. He also had his roller on. After several months of a semi-feral existence, we're taking one step at a time until we get to where we were in the autumn of last year, then we can start to move forward. He was very good today, responding well to voice commands to whoa, walk and trot.

A few things off the "To Do" list

Sunday 27 February, 2011

by Rosemary at 9:48am in Smallholding 1 comment Comments closed

Do you have a "To Do" list? I have several - there's an annual one, that has big projects on it, there's one specifically for fencing and boundaries, a planting plan for the vegetable garden and there's a daily one.

The annual action plan is so scary I can only look at it once a week, when Dan and I update it. It has completion dates and notes of who's responsible for various projects.

The fencing / boundary one is new. Dan and I walked all the boundaries last weekend and made quite detailed notes of the current condition, then decided what action needed to be taken and when (ideally). It's been subject to some amendment because of the drainage issue we have, but we're back to putting up the fence to divide Five Acre next weekend. I'll just need to be patient regarding the calves. John and Dan finished the south boundary fence of Five Acre yesterday; the east fence is new and in good condition; other two are good enough for this year. If we have time, we will refurbish part of the west boundary fence, but it's not essential.

Preparing the fruit garden

Sunday 27 February, 2011

by Rosemary at 1:38pm in Renovation Comments closed

It's another lovely day here - third day in a row with rain early on but lovely sunshine by mid-morning.

Dan's been in the fruit garden where. this year, we'll be planting potatoes to clean the ground. It's 12m x 9m and is split into roughly two halves. We dug out one half last summer but didn't manage to get all of the other side cleared. The soil is light sandy loam but we noticed that there weren't many worms. This is what it was like 6 months ago:

Today's list

Sunday 27 February, 2011

by Rosemary at 2:11pm in Smallholding Comments closed

I had four things on today's list and I've done three. We've just had lunch - boiled eggs and soldiers. Yummy! We don't eat a lot of eggs - and not as many as Dan would like - because customer demand is outstripping supply so we have this as a weekend treat. Daft, isn't it? Oh, they were delicious.

Anyway, this morning, in addition to my normal routine, I have cleaned out the caravan and dealt with all the stuff. I finished "grooming" the sheepskin cushion covers and put them on the dining room windowsill and Felix has taken up residence, basking in the sun. I now need to sort out what needs to go into the caravan before our first guests arrive.

Hubbards and dirty feet

Sunday 27 February, 2011

by Rosemary at 2:27pm in Poultry Comments closed

Our Hubbards are now two weeks old, having hatched on St Valentine's Day, and are growing fast. They do poop a lot and, despite changing their paper twice a day, some of them were starting to get balls of poop stuck to their feet. This is uncomfortable for them but really difficult to remove without damaging their feet.

Hubbard chicks

I think I've solved the problem but putting in a tray of old compost. Not only does this give them something with which to display natural behaviour, it also seems of get rid of the feet problem. All of them now have nice clean feet!

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