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Posted: Monday 30 May, 2016

by Rosemary Champion at 2:35pm in Smallholding Comments closed

It’s been another decent week, weather-wise – not hugely warm as we’ve had a northerly or easterly wind most days, but it’s been dry with a good deal on sunshine. When the wind has dropped it’s been rather nice indeed.

The grass is growing now – although not as fast as I’d like, but then that’s par for the course. However, all the stock looks well – so they must be eating something.

Tatties are through the soil; peas and beans are in; carrots, parsnips, beetroot and spring onions are sown. The veg garden is starting to look a treat. And we have some asparagus through too.

Dan’s been spraying the gooseberries against sawfly – wee devils can strip a bush overnight. Sadly we’ve lost a few apple trees in the orchard – maybe it’s just to wet in some areas, if we get a winter like the one just past. Dan will no doubt be weighing up options. Our raspberries seem to be done as well, so I’m thinking I’ll plant fresh in the orchard. I need to visit Graham Bell (Permaculture Scotland / Red Shed) to see his permaculture garden.

A nice family came to meet Ulrika, our barren gimmer; they loved her so she’s going off to be a pet / lawnmower. She’s a nice sheep so we’re well pleased.

The ewe lambs are now tagged. There must be a better way of doing this. I’ve resisted tagging shortly after birth simply because the tags look huge in two-day old lambs so we usually do them at first Heptavac. Because the ewe lambs are to be registered, we need to be sure that we correctly match ewe lambs to dams. The tup lambs are all going for slaughter and get tagged on the trailer, so they’re easy. We split the ewes from the lambs – each group in a pen at either end of the barn – and let lambs out one at a time (or ewes out one at a time, which is easier, I think) and see who mothers up through the hurdles. We’ve never got it wrong but it’s a bit painstaking – and every year I say I’m going to tag at birth.

Dan split one of our beehives yesterday. We have a robust one and a less robust one, so he took the old queen, some brood and some bees out of the robust hive to form a new nucleus. Now he has to let a new queen develop in the old hive. It all seems terribly complicated – fortunately, Dan has a wonderful local beekeeper as a mentor. The aim for the poorer hive is to build it up, take no honey, and get it in good condition to come through the next winter. We should get honey from the robust one.

The pigs were allowed out into their big pen yesterday. We keep them in a smaller area for a few weeks until they get used to coming for a bucket then they get out to play. Bryn loves them but they are pretty indifferent to him. Which is a shame, as they’re of similar size and colour – at least for now.

It’s only a few days until our first calf is due – Rosie on 1st June. We’ve had nine calves so far – all without incident (apart from Charlie but that was me being an anxious owner, rather than anything wrong with the calf), so I hope we’re incident free this year too. I can certainly see some changes in Rosie – she’s much looser around the vulva and she’s getting a nice wee udder. Annie is due on the 4th, then Blizzard isn’t due until the 26th – so until Annie and Rosie are safely delivered, I will be in a state of excitement, anticipation and terror. Then I’ll have a couple of weeks off until it’s Blizzard’s turn.

We’re now getting twelve picnic eggs a day from the pullets. They’re still on grower pellets – I’ll wait until most are laying before I change them over to layers pellets. We’ve got our twenty meat chicks – Sassos this year. They all look chirpy in their box. The outside box needs some renovation – the ponies have broken the chicken wire, so we’ll replace it with light weld mesh.

And finally, we made it on to the front page of “The Courier” with Wallace, our bottle-fed lamb, and our Rosedean Ryelands knitting yarn. The photographer didn’t make best use of soft focus, IMHO, but the lamb and the yarn looked lovely.

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