March 2009RSS feed

The Hay Path

Monday 2 March, 2009

by Rosemary at 8:45pm in Sheep Comments closed

Our sheep are getting ad lib hay at the moment. We're feeding it from an old brazier, being too tight to buy, and too incompetent to make, a hay rack. They do waste a bit - helped by the hens who pull the hay out of the brazier / hay rack as well. So what to do with the wasted hay?

Well, you can't put it back in the brazier - the girls just look at you as if to say "we've walked on that. You can't expect us to EAT it."

So we're putting it in the currently- vacant pig pen. The sheep are using the pig pen as a through-way from teh lawn to the field, so the hay will protect the soil and help to reseed it. It will either disappear into the soil OR the pigs will rootle around in it when they come alng in April / May.


Monday 2 March, 2009

by Rosemary at 8:52pm in Cats 8 comments Comments closed

Our cat, Cassius, was put to sleep today. I have written his obituary in my head a hundred times since he was diagnosed with cancer almost two years ago, but it doesn't make the real thing any easier.


Cassius was a special cat. Before writing this, I searched the diary for previous entries. It was lovely to see him and to read about him at various times since he came to stay in March 2001.

Willow hedge

Tuesday 3 March, 2009

by Rosemary at 9:24pm in Anything goes Comments closed

We planted some willow behind the garage a few years ago. Since then, it's just been left to grow. The hens like it.

When we had the new fence put in along the river bank, I was quite keen to put a willow bank behind it to help stabilise the bank, to provide some shelter and to provide firewood, eventually.

Dan's dad got to work yesterday and cut and planted dozens of willow whips. If only half of them take, we'll be fine. In any case, they didn't cost us any money and we like feeding the bunnies...


Wednesday 4 March, 2009

by Rosemary at 5:30pm in Poultry Comments closed

Our Hubbard meat chicks are now nearly four weeks old and are outside. They have lost all their down and have grown tremendously - we don't notice it so much but dan's parents hadn't seen them for a week and couldn't believe how much they had grown.

They are in the "batchelor pad" with a run and are on adlib chick crumbs. They are very active - more active than I remember the ones last year being. I didn't intend them to be off the lamp as quickly as this - I was going to bring them into the garage at night and put the lamp in but it's been quite mild, so they've been out 24/7. The box is quite sturdy, they have good bedding and they huddle for warmth.

After Cassius

Saturday 7 March, 2009

by Rosemary at 2:43pm in Cats 2 comments Comments closed

Tuesday morning, our first day sans Cassius, and Tess was like a wee lost soul. It was her habit to follow Cass around, sometimes closer than was advisable; if you found one, you found the other. If Cass was asleep on the footstool, Tess would be asleep right next to it. If Cass was under the table, Tess was right there. If she got too close and Cass turned round to warn her off, she'd look away as if to say "I'm not looking at you, so you can't see me."

She now seems much better and is following Felix around - except Felix doesn't whack her, so she's not getting a proper adrenaline rush.

Prolapsed hen

Sunday 22 March, 2009

by Rosemary at 8:40pm in Poultry 1 comment Comments closed

One of our Cream Crested Legbars suffered a prolapse yesterday. Typically, she wasa small, young hen laying large eggs. We isolated her immediately, so the other hens wouldn't damage it. I cleaned it up and put it back where it should be twice last night but it was out again this morning and looking very bloody and swollen.

So we took the decision to kill her before she really started to suffer. I was quite upset - she was a really bonny wee thing and happy to be handled, even though she couldn't have been very comfortable.

Lame Jinx

Sunday 22 March, 2009

by Rosemary at 8:46pm in Sheep 1 comment Comments closed

Jinx is lame again. She has a slightly deformed right hind hoof and it occasionally gets infected. I trimmed it on Friday, but we'll give her a week of intensive attention and wash it with disinfectant every day. If there's still heat in it tomorrow, I'll ask the vet for a general antibiotic, which will be handy with lambing just around the corner.

Hubbard update

Sunday 22 March, 2009

by Rosemary at 8:56pm in Poultry Comments closed

The Hubbards are now 6 and a half weeks old. Dan has built them a bigger run as they are really active - much more so than the ones we had last year. They're now on grower pellets, which they'll get until they are at killing weight / age, in four to five weeks.

Candling eggs

Sunday 22 March, 2009

by Rosemary at 9:34pm in Poultry Comments closed

I set 20 Cream Crested Legbar eggs a week past Thursday; eight from eBay and 12 of my own. We candled them tonight and 15 look as though they are developing. But not counting until they're hatched!

New sheep shelter

Monday 23 March, 2009

by Rosemary at 8:49pm in Sheep 5 comments Comments closed

Our new sheep shelter is almost finished. I think it looks great - it certainly won't blow away, for sure.

Longcarse Field Shelter

I'll bring my stable mats back this week and we'll get some straw for the pens. We also need to put up some tie rings, to secure the hurdles that we're using to make pens. No curtains, though.

The hens think it's great. The sheep, so far, have boycotted it and actually run past the entrance. However, if I put the trough in there, I'm sure they'll like it better!


Tuesday 24 March, 2009

by Dan at 8:11pm in Dogs 2 comments Comments closed

Words commonly used to describe Meg in this household include pest, menace, irritating, annoying, demanding, and nuts. When I'm not shut in my office working she's my constant companion, always there by my side or under my feet, doing all she can to help. Tess of course is nowhere to be seen, with her head down some rabbit hole or other. But Meg is always there. Like a piece of shrapnel. To illustrate. We had a few glorious spring days here last week, when the sun beamed and the wind was little more than a gentle breeze. We don't get many days like that at any time of year, let alone in March, so I grabbed a chair from the shed and took some time out to enjoy the weather. Meg came and lay down beside me, I closed my eyes, but it lasted about 3 minutes before I knew I was being watched:
Meg, border collie from asmallholder on Vimeo. On most of our videos you can either see Meg under my feet or hear her yipping in the background. She's always on the move when we're outside, helping with a stick, playing with a ball or just making sure we're okay. And although we complain about it we really wouldn't have it any other way.

Clearing the field

Saturday 28 March, 2009

by Rosemary at 9:00pm in Anything goes Comments closed

When we bought our house, there was a "hump" in the field. It was made of rubble and was the remains of what had been used to reclaim some land down to the river. Over the years, it has been used as a viewpoint for Dan and I, the dogs, the chickens and latterly the sheep. Since it was slightly horseshoe shaped, we also used it as a fire pit. At one time, we had plans to make it into some kind of garden feature.

However, the advent of the sheep and the need to make the most of what grazing we have sounded the death knell for the "hump". As part of the fencing and sheep shed erection exercise, the "hump" was relocated to the riverbank and planted with willow.

First ever TAS lamb!

Monday 30 March, 2009

by Rosemary at 8:37pm in Sheep 2 comments Comments closed

Jinx produced her lamb today at about 5pm. I must have missed it by a few minutes. It's a tup lamb; grey and black at the moment. He seems quite healthy - he's been up and had a feed. I helped Jinx with the rubbing down (don't think she really needed help, but I had to do something). She's had a feed and a drink and the lamb was sleeping when I went out at 8pm. His tummy felt quite full and he was nice and warm. I'll leave them in peace until morning. I'm planning to leave them in for three or four days, to be sure all is well.

Unwelcome visitor

Tuesday 31 March, 2009

by Rosemary at 8:07pm in Poultry 6 comments Comments closed

We had an unwelcome visitor today that killed 13 of our hens - 7 Hubbards, 5 Black Rocks and one Light Sussex. Our postman, John, phoned me at work at 12 noon to say that some of our hens were dead. My father-in-law came round, as Dan was in Edinburgh, to help me collect the bodies and round up the survivors.

We know who the culprit is but we can't prove it; the evidence is circumstantial. I have informed the police, who are making enquiries but they won't be able to do anything about it either. The dog concerned is kept at a local yard about 200 yards from our land; we know that this morning it had slipped its chain and gone missing (the owner actually asked my mother-in-law if she had seen it) and it has attacked our hens before. I asked the owners at the time to ensure that he was properly secured but he's been seen running loose since then. He's a Staffie and is just "jaws on legs".

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