Calves / Milking or not / PoniesRSS feed

Posted: Monday 1 May, 2023

by Rosemary at 4:10pm in Smallholding 1 comment Comments closed

So, Monday morning, I had to drive to Stirling to collect our meat chicks and two Maran pullets for a friend. I was supposed to collect them last Friday, but I wrote the time down wrong. Anyway, it worked fine because it meant I was able to fit in a visit to UA Mart, which may be the new venue for the Scottish Smallholder Festival. Forfar Mart, where we’ve held the event for the last two or three years, is closing next month, leaving us homeless.

It was sunny first thing but as I prepared to leave at 10am, we had this huge ninja shower. Temperature dropped from 8C to 2C. Within a couple of miles, I was into sunshine again, then ninja showers all the way. I did say last week that we needed rain – this wasn’t quite what I had in mind.

Replace meBlizzard and Skip.

Tuesday morning, ice on the water buckets but sunny. Not warm, except in the sun. Finally managed to get the milking machine on Blizzard. She only has three quarters so I got about 2 pints off her. I was ill prepared with buckets and so on and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t manage to get colostrum from her, but hey ho.


ScotGov meeting this morning, then bits and prices of paperwork for various volunteer “jobs”. The 2am checks are killing me – last night, I was out at 10pm, 11pm, 2am and 4am, because I thought Baby looked a bit restless. She’s been snoozing all day. Hopefully, the calf is getting into “launch” position.

Had a Zoom meeting this evening; checked the cows just before 7pm and the meetong sarting; bowed out at 8.30pm a,d Rora had calved. A heifer. Both very well and Rora looks like a super mother.

RoraRora and her newborn heifer calf.

Starting to get some eggs now - mainly double yolkers.

eggsPullet egg - not bad for a first try.

Wednesday was fine, weather wise. Head a bit like cotton wool. Nothing yet from Baby. I’ve had tidying up this bed on my list for ages, but it’s loking OK just now, if you don’t focus on the sticky willie and the clover.

side bedSide bed looking ok.

Wednesday evening, Zoom meeting of the RBST Scotland committee to discuss plans for our tent at the Royal Highland Show.

Thursday, Granny Blizz was left wi’ the bairns, while Rora went to visit Baby and Bronte, who are still in the barn. Blizz’s face is like that because she was eating an apple.

BlizzBaby-sitting Blizzard.

RoraRora and Socks.

Smokey and Gracie have finished trimming the back lawn, so they’re making a start on the vegetable garden, very carefully fenced. Gracie called at the house first. She is such a curious pony.

GracieA curious Gracie.

poniesPonies on grass control duties.

Checked Baby and Bronte at 10pm. Both lying quietly, cudding.

Friday 2am check, Baby was clearly in the first stage of labour. I put a chair in the barn and waited. And waited. Scared myself silly by reading stuff on the internet. And waited. Got to 6am and I bloke and phoned the vet. The calf was properly presented but it was all a bit tight, so Baby had stopped pushing. Alistair said it wasn’t unusual in heifers – a cow would just have pushed it out. So Baby has a heifer; she’s almost all black, just a white patch on her belly and a white tail tip.

BabyBaby's baby.

Alistair came back in civvies to ring Blizzard’s bull calf – now called Skip. Rora’s is Socks. Baby’s doesn’t have a name yet. I wouldn’t say Baby is the most attentive mother; I’ve seen her kicking the calf off a few times, but she’s a persistent wee bugger. A close eye will be kept.

Saturday morning, Skip got himself into a bit of a difficultyand got stuck half in, half out of the ring feeder. And after yesterday, he’s not awful keen on us, but Dan managed to lug him out. He’s a wee chunk – what a difference a week makes in a calf’s development.

Dan repaired the fence in the Triangle; an old strainer and about six posts were rotten at the bottom and Smokey had pushed them over. All tidy now.

I let Baby and her calf and Bronte out into the field with Blizzard and Rora and their calves. Poor Bronte is the only one without a baby – well, she does have one, it just hasn’t chosen to make an appearance yet. Yesterday was her due date – and she was due to be first, based on service.

I had a go at milking Rora – not a happy bunny. I’ll try again tomorrow.

Sunday – cold, damp, bit miserable. I think Bronte is waiting for sunshine.  Her teats are noticeably bigger and she has a bit of milk on now. Ponies have a new areaof the veg garden.

poniesPonies' next project.

Dan was doing comfrey this morning, so I planted out the tomatoes. They’re a bit of a disaster, sadly, and a lot of them have died. I think it’s the compost. I planted out the survivors and the root systems were far poorer than I would have expected. I started potting up the leeks as well, and the brassicas that I sowed last weekend are through.

I brought the cows in to milk at 3pm; Blizzard gave diddly squat and Rora nearly had a breakdown.  I came in a bit tearful; I might give Baby and Bronte a try but really, we’re not set up to start heifers safely. I started Blizzard, Annie and Rosie ten years ago – I’m not sure I’m up to it now. Dan says the only person putting pressure on me is me, and if I don’t want to do it, don’t.

All this took me to thinking about the website “The Accidental Smallholder”. It needs an update and the content needs a rewrite. Neither Dan nor I are motivated to do either and I think it has come to the end. We started it as a blog twenty years ago, added the forum in 2007 and articles along the way. I hope it’s been a useful resource but it’s time to put it to bed. With four hens and four cows, I don’t feel like a smallholder anymore, especially now I’m not going to be milking.

Hey ho, looking forward to gel nails and high heels.




Monday 8 May, 2023 at 3:53pm

Oh goodness! Please don't close down the website. Even after 10 years of smallholding, I still refer to it when an unexpected problem crops up. Some of the old posts on the forum can be really useful.

I can understand that writing the diary every week could become a bit of a task but it would be a shame to loose al the valuable information that has been posted over the years.

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