April 2011RSS feed


Saturday 2 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 1:23pm in Land Comments closed

The new field drains are going in today - well, started today, finished early next week.

Field drain installation

Field drain covered in gravel

I'm praying it's going to make a real difference.

Dates wrong

Saturday 2 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 1:24pm in Sheep Comments closed

I had Luna in the diary as due on 28th March - nothing so far, so i can only assume that I've got the dates wrong. She scanned in lamb, so I think she may not have held to the first service and we haven't noticed the second one. Seventeen days from 28th March is 14th April, so maybe she'll go then.

Lucy is due tomorrow, Mothers' Day. Unless I've got that one wrong too.

Luna's lamb

Saturday 2 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 9:02pm in Sheep Comments closed

Next year, I'm going to forget about the diary and just let Nature take its course.

Dan and I went out for a Chinese meal tonight - came back and Luna was lambing. Two feet and a head, but she was making a terrible fuss and nothing seemed to be moving. I had a moment of panic, phoned the vet and sent John (who's been dying to see a lamb born) for the car. I thought I'll have one more try, put on a bit of pressure and out she popped. John says to send someone else for the car next time.

Fruit garden progress

Monday 4 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 2:04pm in Renovation Comments closed

We've had a lovely weekend; windy but warm and sunny. Which is nice, because the lambs are outside now.

Dan and I and John and Linda have been focussing on what will be the fruit garden this weekend. It is 12m x 9m and walled on three sides; it was quite overgrown last year, although we cleared a bit for beans, leeks and potatoes. In autumn, we cleared one half and covered it with horse poo and black plastic; a few weeks ago, Dan forked it over and John planted our early potatoes. The other half, apart from a wee bed with the rhubarb in it, was still overgrown.

Onions and shallots

Monday 4 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 2:20pm in Growing Comments closed

We planted our onion and shallot sets yesterday in the first vegetable bed. We've already got garlic and elephant garlic in, so these were next to go.

I only bought brown onion sets- Hytech - so we planted 210 sets. Our shallots are Jermor and Pikant; we planted 20 and 15 sets respectively. The sets had been stored in the boot room and the Pikant had taken a bit of a hammering and quite a lot were mouldy. The Jermor had fared much better. We bought some red onion sets today - Red Baron - so if the sun comes out or at least the wind drops, I'll go and get them in. Also in that bed will be spring onions, although I'll just sow a few rows between the maincrop onions, sweetcorn and leeks. The leeks are already sown in trays and growing away. We'll sow the sweetcorn in a couple of weeks in the greenhouse.

Sheepy makeover

Tuesday 5 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 12:55pm in Sheep Comments closed

We trimmed Nellie, Niamh and Novas eyes this morning - one of the drawbacks with Ryelands is that the copious wool on their faces starts to obscure their vision.

Luna also had a makeover - eyes trimmed, feet trimmed, bum dagged, fluke drench then out with Pickle to the field for the first time. They were warmly welcomed by Lyra, Jinx and Juno - Lyra didn't even batter Pickle. She must be mellowing with motherhood.

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More veggie gardening

Tuesday 5 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 4:32pm in Growing Comments closed

It's been another glorious day - windy, though so I'm not sure if I'm sunburned or windburned.

We have 5 beds in the vegetable garden; bed 1 now has garlic, onions (red and brown) and shallots planted. Sweetcorn and leeks will also go in there.

Bed 2 now has potatoes - maincrop Druid and Rooster, with Desiree still to go in. John's been planting them today. The earlies are in the fruit garden.

Bed 3 has some strawberry plants on a temporary basis; Dan and I sowed sunflowers and red clover today. We sowed eight varieties of sunflower - Russian Giant, Taiyo, Velvet Queen, Pastiche, Helianthus p. yellow, Italian White, Sunspot and Yellow Spray. We will try to sell the flowers at the gate as cut flowers; if that doesn't work, we'll use the seeds for the hens and wild birds.

Lucy's lambs

Wednesday 6 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:46am in Sheep Comments closed

Well, Lucy lambed at 2am this morning - twins, a ewe and a tup lamb, both white, both fine. The tup is bigger; he was born first. The ewe lamb had a leg back, so I lambed her but I think she would have managed anyway; she's a big ewe and it's a small lamb.

Lucy's lambs

Anyway, she loves her lambs, she has plenty milk and both lambs have had a good feed. I'm off to bed now for an hour.


Wednesday 6 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:55am in Sheep Comments closed

Niamh must be the greediest sheep alive. Twice in the last week, including this morning, she's choked on the pellets the sheep get. It looks pretty awful - terrible slavers from her mouth and nose, plus coughing and retching. However, her breathing was fine so we kept her in as a precaution. Within half an hour, she was fine but it does give you a fright.

Lambing over!

Friday 8 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 7:54pm in Sheep 1 comment Comments closed

Well, that's our 2011 lambing, and our first at Dalmore, over. Rather unexpectedly in the end. We thought Jura wasn't due until the 20th, but she must have held to her second service and gave birth to two tup lambs yesterday teatime - one black and one white.

I had gone to feed the other ewes, looked in the field and there she was, with a black lamb. He was up and tottering around, so we brought them in. It was clear she was going to have another one, but since she wasn't getting on with it, I thought I'd better have a guddle around, as Dan describes it. Watched by our neighbour, Rebecca and her son, Sam, and John (no pressure), I had the guddle and said "Flip" (or similar), "only a head!". Fortunately, Jura's a third timer and quite a roomy sheep, so it was no bother to bring the legs out and, in a jif, twin No.2 made his appearance.

Outdoor chicks

Tuesday 12 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 9:13am in Poultry Comments closed

Leaf mould

Tuesday 12 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 9:19am in Composting Comments closed

There are a lot of trees round Dalmore and, consequently, a lot of leaves. Our predecessors had wire bays in the wood but they were pretty run down so Dan and John have built new bays in the vegetable garden - we had the choice of having them where the leaves are or where the leaf mould will be used and went for the latter. Dan and I dismantled the old bays - they were lined with plastic bags, which disintegrated when we moved them. What a mess. The old leaf mould still has to be moved, but it looks a lot better than it did. Dan's also bought a new toy - a petrol-driven leaf blower / sooker, so no excuses next year.

Drains finished

Tuesday 12 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 9:23am in Land Comments closed

The new field drains are finished - water is pouring down into the burn, even though we haven't had rain for two weeks.

The bare bits now need to be reseeded and the fertiliser and lime put on - moving that forward is a job for today.

Sheepfold fencing

Monday 18 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 12:33pm in Fencing Comments closed

The fencing in Sheepfold, our two acre field, was probably the worst on the property. It's a triangular field, with a wall on the short side. We renovated the south fence last year - removed all the rotten posts and rails and generally tidied it up.

The fence on the north side was pretty grim too. It's 170m long, roughly, and constructed from high posts about 5-6ft, with three rails plus single wires. On top of the bottom two rails and wires, hexagonal wire has been stapled on. Needless to say, that has broken down and some of the posts and rails are rotten. It looked like the Clampett's.

A great Sunday morning job

Monday 18 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 12:41pm in Sheep 2 comments Comments closed

The new grass has given our ewes the squits. Ryelands are very wooly sheep and consequently, the ewes bums were a bit messy. With the warm weather, we were getting concerned about fly strike, so yesterday morning, we had them all in to dag them and spray with "Crovect".

Dagging is the process of removing the wool from around the rear end of sheep. It's often done at this time of year to remove shitty wool that might attract flies, leading to fly strike. Some folk also do it as part of their preparation for tupping, presumably to make life a bit easier for the tup.


Monday 18 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 12:51pm in Equines Comments closed

Well, we got a bit closer to having Smokey as a working pony yesterday. Steve came down and we got the harness sorted. The broller fits fine and we used his old roller plus the back straps and breeching from his webbing harness, to give us trace carriers. We don't really need a breeching for harrowing, since the harrow won't run up his bum.

I'm off to the local ships' chandlers to get rope traces and rope reins made, then we're ready to harness him up and see how he goes.

Phase 2 demolition starts

Tuesday 19 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:17pm in Renovation Comments closed

The work to demolish the east range has started with the removal of the roof tiles and gutters. The building is now empty and we expect the demolition to start on 29th April.

The building work should start mid-end May, so it will be good to see the new "annexe" going up.


Tuesday 19 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:20pm in Wildlife 1 comment Comments closed

We've got a small flock of yellowhammers at Dalmore. Until they appeared, I'd only seen drawings and photos and none of them did this little bird justice. The yellow plumage on its head is so bright it's almost fluorescent.

We had three at the feeder today, along with five goldfinches, a robin, two blackbirds and a family of spuggies. The spuggies have taken up residence in the nestboxes on the gable end of the house. A little wren was pottering about under the ivy - they are still my favourite, despite my current yellowhammer obsession.

More veggies sown and planted

Tuesday 19 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:26pm in Growing Comments closed

I've planted out the first cabbages today - two rows of Elisa, which is a summer cabbage. In the brassica bed, the row of spinach and row of kale are showing now. The other cabbages and the brussels sprouts are in the greenhouse and tiny seedlings are starting to show.

John built a wire frame for the peas, so the first double row of Hurst Greenshaft are in, having been started in the greenhouse. John's made a number of frames so I can get the spacing done. There will be four double rows of peas - the second is in the greenhouse now and the last two will be direct sown. I sowed two gutters of Sugar Ann, a sugarsnap pea today.

Poorly Felix

Tuesday 19 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:33pm in Cats 1 comment Comments closed

Our little cat, Felix, is unwell. You wouldn't know to look at him - he's been "helping" us outside today and playing with leaves and stuff. However, he had an ear infection about six weeks ago and when I was there, I mentioned to the vet that I thought he was losing weight. Since then, he's been weighed twice and he's dropped from 3.75kg to 3.4kg - not a lot of grammes but a significant percentage of his bodyweight.

So, he's had some blood tests - it's not his thyroid or his liver, but it could be a kidney problem. He's had some tests done on a urine sample and there is excess protein in his urine, although other tests have been fine. He's to go tomorrow to have a sterile urine sample taken by needle from the bladder, to be cultured to see if there is a bacterial infection and, if so, what bacteria are present. He'll then get an antibiotic to clear up any infection.

AI timetable

Tuesday 19 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 9:05pm in Cattle Comments closed

Regular readers will know that I like to plan things well in advance so won't be surprised that I was sorting out the AI timetable for the heifers today.

I want them to calve during next year's lambing - if I'm getting up to check sheep, I can check cows at the same time. So the AI date - Day 0 - will be Tuesday 28th June. That should give a calving date of Saturday 7th April, if they stick to the agreed timetable.

We're using AI and PRIDS / hormone injections, so Day -12, the vet will insert the PRID, Day -4, he'll inject prostraglandin and on Day -2, I will remove the PRIDs (deep joy). If they aren't seen to come on heat on Day 22/23, they will be pregnancy diagnosed on Day 35 after AI (Tuesday 2nd August).

Happy birthday, Harry and Bertie

Friday 22 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 9:00am in Cats 1 comment Comments closed

Our two young cats, Harry and Bertie, are two today! I don't know where the two years have gone, to be honest.

They are litter brothers and very close, although Harry in particular loves Felix, too. Harry was the biggest kitten but Bertie is now the "chunky monkey", while Harry is "rinky slinky" - how daft am I? When they were small, they looked a bit like black Siamese - Bertie had a wee, pointy face. He still does, but now it's attached to a big body. God knows how much he weighs.

Our three black cats

Monday 25 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 7:56pm in Cats 1 comment Comments closed

Three black cats

Unusual to have all three in the same place for any length of time, but they were enjoying the sun. Harry is closest to the camera, then Bertie, then Felix standing.

Felix seems not to have a kidney problem - all the tests have been fine and he's put on a wee bit of weight. Still waiting for the results of the urine bacterial culture to see if he has a UTI. Must be wos - worried owner syndrome.

Reins and traces

Monday 25 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 7:59pm in Equines Comments closed

I got the new rope reins and traces last weekend, so I've had Smokey out today in his broller. With 22ft reins, you feel a long way away from your horse but thye need to be long enough to let me get behind the harrow, since changing sides would be dangerous if I had to step over the traces or the harrow itself. I feel a bit like a fish on a bicycle with these long, long reins, but I'll just have to work away until I get used to them.

One of the good things about the rope reins is the weight - if I ask him to move off and he doesn't (which is unusual, to be fair), a flick along the length of the rope makes him pay attention.

Livestock Units

Monday 25 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 8:07pm in Smallholding 2 comments Comments closed

I've been researching infromation about managing grassland for a TAS article. One of the useful things I came across was Livestock Units (LUs), courtesy of the SAC Farm Management Handbook. Basically, LUs are a way of comparing the grazing and forage requirements of different livestock. Bear in mind that grass yields are subject to may variables, so LUs are a guide only.

A mature Friesian cow weighing 625kg, giving 4500litres of milk and producing a 40-45kg calf is defined as 1LU; all other livestock is a proportion of this. For example, a medium weight ewe is 0.08LU, a horse is 0.8LU, a lamb from birth to fat is 0.04LU.

Dead Black Rock

Tuesday 26 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 12:46pm in Poultry Comments closed

One of the three sickly Sids died this morning. The other two are fine, but I had my doubts this morning. She came out and pecked around then settled in the sun; when I came back after feeding, she was dead.

The other two are going out with the rest tonight. They are now just over six weeks old and looking fine. I've just changed them over to grower pellets; normally I would have kept them on chick crumbs for another week or so, but the bag was finished and I didn't want to open a new bag for a week, then end up wasting the rest.

A proper shepherd

Tuesday 26 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 12:50pm in Anything goes Comments closed

I've just bought a crook. It's a Ritchey Conroy, as recommended by Tim Tyne. It's made of carbon fibre, so is light and strong. I feel a bit of a fraud but it will be useful, once I learn how to use it. Those lambs are fast, you know, and tricksy.

I'd really like a nice wood one with a horn top, just for leaning on :-) Oh, and a bunnet.

Ear tags

Thursday 28 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 11:13am in Sheep Comments closed

Ear tags are makin' ma heid nip. I need to order tags for our lambs. We have 4 ewe lambs that will be registered Ryelands; they will need two tags, one electronic. The tags need the UK flock number and an individual number by law plus the RFBS flock number and individual number as well. The five boys are destined for the freezer so I need five electronic slaughter tags for them.

I've just completed my RFBS ewe registration document, but won't send it off until the lambs are tagged since all the numbers have to tie up with the correct lamb.


Saturday 30 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 1:35pm in Renovation Comments closed

Well, the demolition is well underway. JCB man was here bang on time this morning and about 2/3 of the building is now down. I love watching folk work :-) Actually, I love watching people who are really skilled and this guy is amazing. He picked up a wee bit of plastic with the huge bucket and tidied it away. Brilliant! They always make it look easy.

We've been in the vegetable garden - day off yesterday for the wedding. It's starting to look like a vegetable garden now.

More veggies in

Saturday 30 April, 2011

by Rosemary at 1:40pm in Growing 1 comment Comments closed

Sown another row of spinach and one of kale. Planted out two rows of peas and direct sown another two. Got the dwarf French beans in and just going to put out some cabbages (Pyramid) and some runner beans. Dan's building the frame for the runners.

I'd also like to get the carrots sown but Dan wants to riddle the soil first - he's more particular than me. Then pot on the celeriac - fabulous scented leaves on the seedlings.

Spuds are through and so is masses of ground elder and other weeds. We'll beat them in the end though.

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