Diary

March 2011RSS feed

Fencing Five Acre Field

Sunday 6 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 5:45pm in Fencing Comments closed

Dan, John and our friend, Steve, started the fence to divide the Five Acre Field yesterday. Steve was showing Dan and John how to do the strainers properly - I think they will be VERY hard to move!

As well as putting in the fence, there are three gates to go in - one in the fence itself and two at the field shelter to create a small handing facility. It's hard to describe so we'll post a bit of video showing it all later this week.

Both gates at the field shelter are now in and John and Dan put in the gatepost for the field gate this morning. Tomorrow, they hope to get the strainer in and the field gate hung. Then it's on to the fence proper. It's not a great forecast for the weather, but hopefully they'll be able to crack on. The fence doesn't make any difference to the drainage work we're having done.

To the barn, Hubbards

Sunday 6 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 5:53pm in Poultry Comments closed

The Hubbards, at a day short of three weeks old, have moved to the barn with their external run. They still have the heat lamp but I'll be trying to get them off that in daytime, if the weather's not too cold. None of them actually went outside to day - well, one took one step out and went swiftly back in.

I'll put their feed outside tomorrow so that they start stretching their legs. They're feathering up nicely now and growing well. I had to change their drinker for a larger one today, as the wee one was empty this morning. Soon, I'll be changing their feeder too.

Three weeks to lambing

Sunday 6 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 5:57pm in Sheep Comments closed

It's now less than three weeks until we start lambing. I've upped the ewes' feed and they're now being fed twice a day; they still have a lick as well. Their hay consumption is down but that might be because the grass is coming in now. The tups are eating less now too.

I've got out the lambing box to check the contents. With all the incidents of twin lamb disease on TAS forums, I've bought a bottle of Lucozade and some black treacle, just in case but I will get some Calciject as well. As long as the weather stays OK, we sould be fine, hopefully.

Cultured cows

Monday 7 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:41pm in Cattle Comments closed

We have retuned the heifers' radio from Radio 5 Live to Classic FM. They weren't great football fans anyway, although they did enjoy "Fighting Talk". At least we never inflicted Jeremy Vine on them. Now, this might be in my head, but I think they are calmer.

We're on a new system now where they get haltered and tied up for each feed - no halter, no feed. They catch on quick. Hopefully, when they go out, they won't forget their lessons.

Edit - 8th March. Will be writing to Classic FM to complain about them distressing my heifers. Went in yesterday and they were playing the "Toreodors' Song" from Carmen.

First spuds in

Thursday 10 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 9:57am in Growing Comments closed

John put the first potatoes in yesterday - Anya, Vivaldi, Red Duke of York. Still got King Edwards, International Kidney, Druid and Rooster to go in but the rest of the bed will need to be cleared first.

The cabbages - Elisa and Pyramid - that I sowed a couple of weeks ago in the greenhouse are showing now. Looks like they have all germinated in the guttering.

The sweet peas and marigolds are also through but no sign of the tomatoes or the celeraic yet.

It's soooo windy here today - lovely sun, but blowing a gale. Off to do the outside chores now.

More spuds

Friday 11 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:26pm in Growing Comments closed

John put some more spuds in yesterday - International Kidney and Kind Edwards. That just leaves Druid and Rooster chitting in the boot room. We've run out of cleared space now though, so that adds another job to the "to do" list.

I spent an hour in the hail raking up dead grass in the hen run. The grass was long when they moved in there before Christmas - the hens are great at raking grass but no good at putting it in a wheelbarrow and taking it away. It took me an hour to do about a quarter of the run - filled the green wheelie bin and about five wheelbarrow loads. I'll try and get back to it tomorrow - some bits are worse than others but I don't reckon anything is going to grow under the thatch, so it has to go.

More fencing

Friday 11 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:32pm in Fencing Comments closed

Dan and John finished the second strainer in Five Acre this afternoon. The wind dropped a bit but it was still pretty cold.

Yesterday, they dug the hole in the wrong place so it was too big, so lots of stone tamped down finally secured it. The brace is in as well, so tomorrow (weather permitting), they are going to do the bottom wire and the stock net, and the top wire and the gate IF I get to the local farm store in the morning.

The ponies will have to go into Sheepfold tomorrow, otherwise they'll "help".

Royal Welsh Smallholder and Garden Festival

Saturday 12 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 11:02am in Smallholding Comments closed

Booked our accommodation this morning - getting excited, even though it's still two months away.

We've been before, in 2009, and thoroughly enjoyed it. We're going both days this year because we didn't manage to see it all in one day last time.

Maybe meet a few TASers there too.

Dismal day

Saturday 12 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 11:04am in Anything goes Comments closed

but at least no earthquakes.

The fencing has been abandoned in favour of wood cutting, as John's got a stinking cold. Dan and his chainsaw - man and machine in perfect harmony :-)

Eddie Lovett (Black Rock man) called yesterday to say he had 40 day-olds for me - great! Phoned this morning to say that snow was heavy and lying with them, so maybe Monday.

Off to Forfar now to get fencing wire and hinges.

Dismal day Part 2

Monday 14 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:36pm in Anything goes Comments closed

Didn't get to Forfar on Saturday - got as far as Muirdrum and the snow was 2" thick so came home. They wouldn't have been fencing in that weather anyway.

It's so wet - grateful it's not snow, but the fields are flooded again. We're going to have to do the drainage without any grant aid as the timing isn't right - we need to get the drains in now, or we're going to lose a whole season.

Black Rocks

Monday 14 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:39pm in Poultry Comments closed

I picked up our 40 (or thereabouts - they don't stand to be counted) Black Rock chicks today. What busy little creatures they are - I'd forgotten how cute they are. Like pom-pom pets. I'm a wee bit anxious about them - for no specific reason, except that we've used the equipment before. They seemed fine when I looked in last thing.

The lame hen seems much better - I thought she was a goner on Saturday. Ate nothing Friday, she had terrible squits and the foot on her bad leg was all curled up again. Dan was getting out the gun. Anyway, Sunday (yesterday), she ate her breakfast and seems much better. When we move the flock to the new house, I'll put her back in and hopefully they won't notice her.

How long does a job take?

Saturday 19 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:45pm in Fencing Comments closed

I think the best way to estimate it is to work out how long you think it will take, then double it.

The fence in Five Acre Field is finished!!! Only the enclosure at the field shelter to finish in the morning and the heifers can go out. Hope it's a nice day tomorrow. The ponies are on the track in Sheepfold, much to their disgust, and the ewes will be in the south half of Five Acre, out of the way. I don't want them upset this close to lambing.

Strainers in

One week to lambing

Saturday 19 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:51pm in Sheep Comments closed

We're due to start 25th March, so getting the lambing box together and building pens tomorrow. Jinx and Lyra are due on the first day - it will be Jinx's third time and Lyra's first.

Hope the weather stays dry and sunny.

Black Rocks 2

Saturday 19 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:54pm in Poultry Comments closed

The little Black Rocks are thriving. They are now a week old. Yesterday, I put in a tray of spent compost and a divot for them to scratch about it - despite initial fright at this scary intrusion to the box, within five minutes, a few were pecking at the grass and by this morning, much of the compost was out of the tray and on the floor.

Today, I gave them a pile of leaf mould to play in. As I was watching them, two fell asleep - literally. They were standing under the lamp, and I could see their eyes closing, their heads drooping then they fell asleep, bump.

New hen house

Saturday 19 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 9:00pm in Poultry 2 comments Comments closed

We bought a new henhouse recently. We intend to run three 40 bird flocks - hence the Black Rocks day olds. I approached a local business that makes sheds and the like and they were keen to build the henhouse.

Dave and Murray came down and sketched the existing house, took measurements and built the new one. They delivered it a couple of weeks ago and it's very good. The best bit is that it's high enough for me to stand upright in, which makes cleaning easier and improves ventilation. There were a couple of things not quite right but we've discussed them and they're coming to make the modifications on Monday.

Beadies Comrade

Saturday 19 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 9:13pm in Cattle Comments closed

Two photos of Beadies Comrade, Breeze and Blizzard's new little brother.

Beadies Comrade

Milky-chinned Beadies Comrade

Also a new photo of Cracker.

Beadies Cracker

Shetland Cattle.

Pamplona comes to Barry

Sunday 20 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 10:18am in Cattle Comments closed

We turned the heifers out this morning after 5 months indoors. They were very excited. I hope they've stopped running.

Heifers out!

Sunday 20 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:44pm in Cattle Comments closed

Well, we finally turned the Shetland heifers out this morning. We blocked off as many potential escape routes as possible, put the sheep in the south side of the field and the ponies in Sheepfold. With us and our helpers strategically placed, I opened the gate of the byre...

Well, they were a bit tentative then OFF they went. They stopped a couple of times for a look around then out into the field, kicking and bucking. Round the perimeter they went; the ponies were cantering up and down the track in Sheepfold and the sheep skedaddled across their field.

Lambing shed

Sunday 20 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:53pm in Sheep 1 comment Comments closed

While John was finishing the field shelter, Dan and I were preparing the lambing shed. I like to bring the ewes in at night at lambing time to make it easier to check them. The barn has good lighting now, so we built a large pen using the pallets that have been piled up since we got here and baler twine. It looks OK, I think. The floor is sand but I'll put some straw down too.

Lambing shed

Soil tests

Monday 21 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:55pm in Soil 2 comments Comments closed

Since our main crop is grass, and it's important to us to get it right, we decided to have our soil tested. As well as pH, the test looks at levels of macro nutrients like potassium and phosphorus and levels of micro nutrients like calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron. The nutrients in the grass are inflluenced by the nutrient status of the soil, and the various elements interact with each other as well. For example, high levels of zinc can interfere with the availability of iron.

Across our ten acres, we had five samples taken and they are all different. Only Sheepfold needs lime while the other areas have a high pH, which should decrease over time simply by grazing with livestock. Across all the areas tested, some key elements are low - calcium, sulphur, sodium (odd since we're so near the sea?).

Light out

Tuesday 22 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:15pm in Poultry Comments closed

Damn, when I went out this morning I discovered that the heat lamp in the Black Rocks had failed. I don't know if it's the bulb or the lamp - only bought it last week. I set up another lamp but when I went in this afternoon, two chicks were obviously on the way out. I dispatched the worst one and Rebecca (Florence Nightingale reincarnated) has taken the other away to nurse it. It's good of her because it will almost certainly die.

The rest seem fine; I suspect it's just weeded out the weakest chicks, although both were a good size. I'm bl88dy cross, I'll tell you.

Lambing box

Tuesday 22 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:19pm in Sheep Comments closed

My chum Carol had a bad lambing yesterday - nine hours and vet intervention - fortunately, the ewe and her twins seem to be OK. I read this on Facebook last night and woke at 4am this morning fretting about a) not bringing the ewes in last night and b) not having sorted my lambing box.

Needless to say, both are done tonight except calcium and some plastic cups for navel dipping, which I'll pick up tomorrow. Jinx is starting to show a bit of udder; Lyra I can't get near, so I'm not hassling her. Sam and I bedded the three individual pens tonight - Sam tried them all and said they were nice and warm and comfy, so that's good.

Sick chicks

Wednesday 23 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 9:49am in Poultry Comments closed

Another two sick chicks this morning. I've made a sick bay with another heat lamp, so that they are safe from being trampled by their littermates. No sign of scoots, just lethargic. Nurse Rebecca was unable to save the sick chick last night, despite her best efforts. I'll try and get them to drink later.

Still bl88dy cross. It was the bulb that blew in the lamp, so at least the lamp's fine.

Sick chicks 2

Friday 25 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 11:16am in Poultry 1 comment Comments closed

Three chicks in the sick bay now. However, all eating and drinking - I've put some cider vinegar in the water to help their tummies and one was preening itself yesterday. No sign of scoots. All are unsteady on their legs though, so will stay where they are meantime.

The others seem in great form - I suspect the five got chilled when the lamp blew. The two that died were basically trampled. If I had got them out earlier, they might have survived.

In future, I will run two heat lamps overnight in the big box so that there's back up if a bulb blows. Lesson learned.

2011's first lamb

Saturday 26 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:29am in Land Comments closed

Born bang on time yesterday to Jinx, a single tup lamb. Good big lamb - went out to check them and there he was, up and sucked. This is Jinx's third lamb - all single tups - and she's a really good mum. Both well this morning, but kept in for a couple of days to bond and for Jinx to get a good feed.

Jinx's Lamb

Ryeland Lamb

Lyra's lamb

Sunday 27 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 5:20am in Sheep Comments closed

It's 5.20am and we've just lambed Lyra - single tup lamb with one leg back. Once the second leg was in place, he was out quickly, although she was quite tight. He's up and sucking furiously; she's plenty milk and seems to like him well enough.

Off to bed now for an hour's less sleep - must remember to change the clocks.

Juno is due today, Sunday, and looks like she's got a bellyful of lambs. She's had twins the last two years but always lost one. I'm determined that, if she has two this year, both will survive. Bought a lamb energiser thing from Harbro yesterday.

Dead lamb

Sunday 27 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 4:09pm in Sheep 4 comments Comments closed

Just when you think things are going smoothly, Mother Nature sends something to trip you up.

Went out to check Lyra at lunchtime. She had a drink but wouldn't eat; watched her for a bit and thought she was straining. Phoned the vet right away and he came out. Turns out the single she had was actually a twin. Of course the second lamb was dead - it was an awful presentation, coming back first, not even "normal" breach. I couldn't feel it in the womb or the birth canal.

Juno's lambs

Monday 28 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 6:42am in Sheep 1 comment Comments closed

Went out at 2am - nothing, went out at 6am, Juno has two white ewe lambs. Bang on time. She's had twins the last two years but always lost one, so I'm really glad all is well this time. Also glad they're ewe lambs, as we'll be keeping them for breeding and hopefully they'll have twins themselves.

Juno's White Ryeland Lambs

She's got plenty milk and both lambs were up. They will be Poppy and Pixie - it's a Ryeland "P" year.

Sore eyes

Monday 28 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:32pm in Sheep 1 comment Comments closed

Juno's two lambs are showing a condition called entropion. This is where the eyelid folds inwards so that the eyelashes rub on the eye. It's very uncomfortable for the lamb and I think it would probably go blind, if left untreated.

It was a problem when I worked on a farm 30 years ago - I believe it is hereditary. If it's not bad, it's quite easy to treat. You basically just squeeze the eyelids into the correct position and hopefully, they stay there. Sometimes it needs done a few times a day for a few days. The vet can also treat it if it is bad.

Lamb update

Tuesday 29 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 1:07pm in Sheep Comments closed

As of now, 1pm, Luna is hanging on.

Jinx and Lyra have been out with their lambs. Very exciting - what's all this green stuff, Mum? As I was coming in for lunch, I looked over the gate and Jinx's lamb was flat out, sound asleep. Lyra's lamb was tailed this morning, Jinx's yesterday - we don't castrate our tup lambs.

Lyra's lamb in a trug

Juno's two, Pixie and Poppy, are doing great. Their eyes are fine now and they were tearing about the pen this morning. They are pretty grubby - being born on to a bed of sand does nothing for the coiffure, but they'll clean off in the first rain shower.

Hanging on

Thursday 31 March, 2011

by Rosemary at 10:22am in Sheep Comments closed

It's miserable here this morning - heavy rain and windy. I've kept the ewes in, both lambed and unlambed ones. They seem quite content with hay and water.

Luna's hanging on. I'm starting to think I might have got the dates wrong, or she's been tupped twice and I haven't noticed the second time.

We gave the three lambed ewes a flukicide yesterday and tailed Juno's lambs before they went out. It was lovely to see them enjoying the sun, but when I went out at 4pm, they were at the gate asking to come in. Lyra's wee boy fell asleep in her feed trug - twice. I moved him first time to clean his bum, but he must have got straight back in.

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