October 2010RSS feed

Preparation for tupping

Saturday 2 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 12:08pm in Sheep Comments closed

John has done a fabulous job of fencing one of the small paddocks. It was fenced with two wires and the posts and gates were in good condition, so he's added new stock fencing. This morning, we moved the seven females into this new paddock. Oh, how happy they were. They were like kids in a sweetshop - "oooh, I'll try this", "mmm, nibble this one". The paddock they've been on is pretty bare, so hopefully this attempt at flushing will work and we'll have a good lamb crop next March.

Great news about Buddy!

Sunday 3 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 3:38pm in Sheep 5 comments Comments closed

Buddy, our shearling Coloured Ryeland tup, has a new home. I am so glad. Because we have his sisters, we can't use him for breeding, so he's been for sale for a while. If we didn't get a buyer by the end of October, he'd have been chops.

On Thursday, I got a call from a man with a small flock of sheep that he uses for sheepdog training. Like us, he had daughters of his existing tup coming into the flock, so he needed another one to cover them and he liked the Ryelands. His existing tup is a Coloured Ryeland too, called Biffo, and he's had really good lambs from him.

Niamh and Nova

Saturday 9 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 8:25am in Sheep Comments closed

Dan and I had a couple of days away this week - mainly just to get a good wash. We stayed in a lovely hotel - The Crown, at Wetheral, near Carlisle. The food was delicious.

On the way down, we stopped in at Jackie and Dave Armstrong's Grindon Coloured Ryeland flock. We've bought two ewe lambs from Jackie, so we dropped the trailer off on Monday on our way to Wetheral, then picked it up, along with the lambs, on Thursday on our way home. Dave and Jackie are just lovely folk. If you fancy a self-catering break in the Northumberland National Park, they have two cottages that are just beautiful with wonderful views. They are very close to Hadrian's Wall.

Shetland cattle

Saturday 9 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 8:35am in Cattle 1 comment Comments closed

Regular readers will know that we have bought two Shetland heifers - Breeze and Blizzard. Their breeder contacted me this week to say that he plans to ship them around the 21st October, weather permitting. If the weather is too bad, the boats don't sail.

We're preparing the byre for their arrival. I intend to house them for a couple of weeks, so that I can hand feed them and halter train them - I'd rather do it at 7 months and at two years, when they calve. Although they don't get very big - 44" to 48" at the shoulder - there's no point in making it harder than it needs to be.

Bye, bye Buddy

Saturday 9 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 5:00pm in Sheep 1 comment Comments closed

Buddy went off to his new home today. I wasn't sad to see him go - but glad that he was going to do what he was bred to do. His new owners are really nice folk and I'm sure we'll keep in touch.


Sunday 10 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 8:44am in Poultry Comments closed

We bought twelve day old Hubbards a couple weeks ago - they will be three weeks old this weekend. We haven't had table chickens for a while, with the move and all.

They've been in a box - the batchelor pad - in one of the looseboxes, under a heat lamp but they're growing fast so yesterday, we moved the box into the barn and put on a wire extension run. They still have the heat lamp and will have until they are fully feathered, but they now have more room to move around, and being on a sand floor, scratch around.

Vegetable garden

Sunday 10 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 7:44pm in Gardening 1 comment Comments closed

When we first moved here, we identified the small paddock behind the West range as the mose likely site for our vegetable garden. It is also where the coils for the ground source heat pump are being installed - NEXT WEEK!

Given the time of year and the approaching groundworks, it seemed like a good time to start planning the vegetable garden. As usual, we're doing it all on paper (well, on computer) first - much easier to move things around! Last night, we had our first planning meeting and Dan's started getting the design drafted.

Paddock Paradise 6

Monday 11 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 12:16pm in Equines 2 comments Comments closed

My chum, Claire, sent me a few photographs of Sheepfold on the day we turned out the ponies. It highlighted how much the field has changed. The track is now very bare. However, it's not cutting up too badly yet.

Paddock Paradise from asmallholder on Vimeo.

Building progress report

Tuesday 12 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 8:54pm in Renovation 1 comment Comments closed

The ground works for the heat pump coil started yesterday. By this afternoon, 200m of the 300m coil were laid, which is pretty good I think. We didn't have the best start. As predicted, the water pipe into the house was broken early on, so we had no water for a while. But the plumber was there quickly and a new pipe installed. In fact, it has turned out to be a good thing, because the existing pipe was only 15mm, so it has been replaced with a 25mm one, so the flow should be better.

The water table is about 4ft down so it looks like we have a bit of a swimming pool; this isn't a huge problem and actually helps the system work better. A bigger problem was the sandy soil that kept falling back into the trench as it was dug. However, a solution was found and they are off and running. The plumber filled the pipes today so the system isn't far away from being commissioned.

Building progress report

Sunday 17 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 7:44pm in Renovation Comments closed

The coil for the heat pump is now in, and we have a lovely canvas for the vegetable garden, so two birds with one stone. There was a bit of a glitch with the heating system - breakdown in communication between the plumber and the heating engineers, but I think / hope it's sorted out now. Worst bit was the water leaking on to the kitchen floor - we've been really trying to get it dried out, since the debacle with the non-setting screed knocked us back a fortnight. So we're not sure when the heating will be on now, so that's a bit of a pest.

The byre

Sunday 17 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 7:59pm in Cattle Comments closed

Dan and I spent today (Sunday) preparing the byre for the arrival of the calves - hopefully this week. It has space for six tethered cows!

We've taken down the old hay rack as it was rotten, and Dan boarded up the roof space into the feed store - mainly to make the feed store bird proof. I swept down the rafters and walls - you soon learn to work with your mouth closed - then swept and vacuumed (truly) the floor. Ideally, we'd have repaired all the plaster and painted it, but we didn't have time and we have other plans for the area in the longer term anyway. I did try to remove any loose plaster and paint, though.

The calves are coming!

Monday 18 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 9:01pm in Cattle Comments closed

We've had confirmation today that our calves will be arriving in Aberdeen on Thursday morning, weather permitting, so Dan and I will be heading up there to pick them up.

They are unhandled, but the breeder is bucket feeding them to get them used to that. I think they may be in the byre for a wee while! Actually, it's fine because the vet needs to come and see them on 4th November. The calves have been running with their dams, who have been running with the bull. Shetland cattle mature very early, so it's just possible that they are in calf. Now, Shetlands have successfully calved at 15 months, but we'd prefer to follow a more conventional breeding pattern.

Breeze and Blizzard

Thursday 21 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 8:41pm in Cattle 3 comments Comments closed


First cow story

Friday 22 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 6:22pm in Cattle Comments closed

The calves are housed in the byre. There is a door and a bar as added "security", so we can get in and out without being mugged. Ha, ha!

This afternoon, I took the bucket of feed into the byre, ducking under the bar. Blizzard came towards the bucket, Breeze went to the door. She stuck her head under the bar but when it touched her withers, she stepped back. Then ducked under it and went off into the great outdoors. Trying not to panic, I called Dan and John - thank goodness for mobile telephony. I reckoned I had two choices - keep Blizzard in or go after Breeze. I decided that the former was the better course of action, banking on Breeze not leaving her sister. If I shut the door, I wouldn't be able to get Breeze back in.

Byre door modifications

Sunday 24 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 5:56pm in Cattle 1 comment Comments closed

Following Friday's escape, John made some modifications to the byre door.

We now have a gate that opens inward plus a bar above - higher than before. It's much more secure - and we can safely leave the door open. This means that the calves can see and be seen - and everyone stops to talk to them. Tess is obsessed.

Byre Door

Today, they have been listening to Classic FM - it was Radio 4 yesterday. I thought they would have been listening to the Chelsea game. I spent half an hour yesterday in the byre, reading a novel. I was well sniffed over.

Jura has a yellow bum!

Sunday 24 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 8:25pm in Sheep Comments closed

Yesterday, we trimmed the ewes' feet, dagged them and moved the ewe lambs to Sheepfold. Then we took Leo to meet his girls!

Attractively raddled in yellow, he was quickly checking them all out. When he could catch them! They didn't seem quite as keen as he was.

Jura's yellow backend

However, this morning, Jura has a very yellow bum. I'm surprised as in both previous lambings, she's been last by a long way. Of course, she might not hold but it's in the diary, so we'll be checking twice daily for any more actvity.

Cattle on the Buddon

Tuesday 26 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 2:29pm in Cattle Comments closed

We live next to Barry Buddon Army camp. It extends to around 950 acres. When the flags are down, the public have access - it is a SSSI and SPA. There are cattle grazing it as well.

I took John and Linda down there today as the tide was out and the flags were down - and they wanted to walk round the beach to Carnoustie. It's a few miles to the start of the beach so I drove them down. As I drove back, I saw the cattle and stopped to watch them.

There were about 15 - 18 cows - Angus x Holstein, I would have thought - each with a calf at foot, and an Aberdeen Angus bull. They came through the trees, grazing as they went, but obviously walking with a purpose. Some stopped to have a look at me, then walked on.

Lambs away

Thursday 28 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 8:24pm in Sheep Comments closed

Our first lambs are booked for the abbatoir / butchers on the 15th November. We were happy that there was an abbatoir close to us at Brechin but it closed just after we moved here. So it will be St Andrew's instead. The good thing about St Andrew's, which isn't all that far away, is that there is a butcher on site. I had a chat with him today and he seems a nice bloke and is very helpful. It's costing £40 per lamb for killing, butchering and vacuum packing.

These are the first lambs we've had away - last year, we kept the two tup lambs - one as a tup, and one as a wether. Although I'll be sad in a way to see them go, I'm also looking forward to our first Ryeland lamb. If Leo doesn't get a move on, we might have to make them last two years!!

The end is in sight!!

Thursday 28 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 8:30pm in Renovation 1 comment Comments closed

Maybe, if everything over the next ten days goes according to plan, we'll have access to the first floor of our house by Guy Fawkes night!

The underfloor heating is now working, albeit off the electricity not the coil - don't ask. The woodburning stove was installed on Monday. The joiner has been here all week putting on skirtings, door frames and windowsills. The painter should be here from Monday and the plumber on Thursday to put on the radiators and install the sanitaryware. If we get our finger out, we'll choose and order carpet for Lorna's room tomorrow, for delivery on the 5th. If all this comes to pass, we could be sleeping and showering (!) in our new house a week tomorrow, or more likely, a week on Saturday!!

Cattle passports

Friday 29 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 12:56pm in Cattle Comments closed

Being new to cattle, we have to get to grips with the rules and regulations surrounding keeping them. The calves came with their passports - all calves have to be tagged and registered with the British Cattle Movement Service and are issued with a passport. This follows them throughout their lives.

I spoke to the BCMS helpline and Operations section today and they were extremely helpful. We're now registered with them and they are sending out the registration numbers and the bar code labels to update Breeze and Blizzard's passports.

More yellow bums!

Friday 29 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 1:00pm in Sheep Comments closed

Lyra and Jinx this time! Oh, for a nice compact lambing - three down, three to go.

Juno joins the club

Sunday 31 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 8:56pm in Sheep Comments closed

That's the "yellow bum club". Just Luna and Lucy to go now. If they all hold, we should have a nice compact lambing period.

More byre modifications

Sunday 31 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 8:57pm in Cattle Comments closed

We've made some further modifications to the byre to try to improve the airflow. We were a bit worried about pneumonia. It's been unseasonably warm and very still here, and the byre has been very warm.

We've been leaving the outside door open and now we have taken down the door between the byre and the looseboxes and replaced it with boards. If that fails, we will have to clip the calves but I'm reluctuant to do that as I'm hoping to get them outside once they are tamer.

Moving by stealth

Sunday 31 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 9:03pm in Renovation Comments closed

For the last two nights, we've eaten dinner in the house. The woodburner is installed in the livingroom and Dan has been lighting it every day to help dry out the floors and walls. Since it was nice and warm, and there was plenty room for us all, we've had dinner there. Now this means moving the food from the caravans to the room, but it's been lovely.

The room is bigger than expected, by me at least. The outside lanterns and the double door are very smart and I find myself planning Christmas decorations. I suppose it's only eight weeks away.

Hacking out

Sunday 31 October, 2010

by Rosemary at 9:15pm in Equines 3 comments Comments closed

I took Smokey out for a hack today. So what? Well, I lost my nerve riding a while back. Since we moved here, I've started to think about it more and more, without feeling scared. So today, Smokey and I went out with Rbecca and Sheba.

The flags were down, so we went down on to Barry Buddon. We were out for an hour, just walking, but it was a start. Smokey was great, really great. I hope this is a new stage in our relationship.

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