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Posted: Monday 26 July, 2021

by Rosemary at 12:02pm in Smallholding Comments closed

Monday 19th July

Annie is fine this morning, so I’ve put her back with Ace and Rosie. I’ve let Rora out with Blizzard into the wee paddock by the barn, but will bring both in at night so Rora’s lessons can continue. It’s so quiet!!

Sheldon looks better today; he’s eating and drinking without encouragement. Fingers crossed. The remaining twenty hens seem fine, but I’m well over a dozen eggs a day down. I’ll try and get another twenty if I can.

Robbie got a shot off at the fox last night but missed; Rosie was “helping” so when he comes tonight, the cattle will go in a different field. I phoned the knackers to come and collect the bags of dead hens, which they did this afternoon. First class service from Douglasbrae as usual.

To warm up the kitchen (!!!), I made gooseberry chutney. It’s delicious so made another half batch – I only had one red onion left. And I started some gooseberry gin. We’ve made sloe gin before, but we’re not big drinkers of anything really. But it’ll be good to try it. Might try blackcurrant whisky – I’m not a whisky lover, although I feel as a Scot, I should be, but a fruit whisky might hit the spot. In deference to my cultural heritage, I do like Irn Bru though, but only the full sugar variety.

Our hanging baskets and pots are looking prety good. The baskets are lined with sheep wool. I've been very good about watering and feeding. I think I prefer the brightly coloured ones on the patio.

patioPatio baskets and pots.

backdoorPots and hanging basketat the back door.

Well, Rora was pretty good tonight. Came in with a wee bit of encouragement and after a wee bit nonsense, got her halter on and lead quite nicely into the pen to get her bucket. And she’s in season.


Tuesday 20th July

Bloody flies. Ace has a sore bit on his shoulder and Smokey has a sore bit on his sheath. Cream applied to both. Then I bathed Smokey and had to apply it again. 

smokeyBathed Smokey.

I put Blizzard and Rora into the caravan paddock, which meant I had to lead Blizzard through the garden with Rora following. Which she did, more or less. Blizzard was just great. The journey back in the evening was interesting as Rora decided a trip down the drive would be good, but Dan headed her off at the pass and the lure of some sugar beet got her safely housed.

cattleBlizzard and Rora, off to the field.

I’ve booked myself a bit of a busman’s holiday – a tour of Lynbreck Croft, with a night in Grantown on Spey beforehand. I’ve been invited to dinner at Birchwood Croft, by Tim and Beth Rose, after the tour, so it should be good fun and very informative.

We’ve had a quote for the spiking / drainage – we’re going with the spiking. Can’t afford the drainage, sadly.


Wednesday 21st July

Bit cooler this morning, which was nice, although the sun got out in the afternoon. I took wee Sheldon into the veg garden this morning while I was picking peas (bumper crop) and weeding as I went. He can’t live in the feed store, poopy floor notwithstanding. He helped be pod the peas and then spent the afternoon in the puppy cage, shaded with a towel. We need a better long-term solution though.

peasBumper crop of peas - Hurst Greenshaft.

Over the years, we’ve had a few breeds and crosses of pigs – Tamworths, Hampshires, Kunekune, OSB – but I’ve always wanted Middle Whites. I almost bought a Middle White gilt called Tinkerbell about ten years ago, after a glass of wine. Good sense prevailed and we didn’t buy her, but it’s a breed I’ve always really liked. Anyway, turns out there’s a new breeder about 12 miles away and yesterday Sarah was god enough to show me her pigs and the upshot is that we might be able to get MW weaners next year. We’re also on the list for MW pork soon.

The sore bit on Ace’s shoulder seems much better and Annie seems fine, so I plan to get them into Laing’s Field in the next couple of days. I need to check the electric fence first.

Ponies wandering and grass cutting. Euro makes Smokey look like a midget.

poniesEuro and Smokey.


Thursday 22nd July

Cool again this morning, and a wee bit of drizzle but no more than that. The cucumber plants are like triffids. My leek plants arrived, so I got them in – the varieties are Carlton F1 and Sultan F1.

We’re looking for a new bull to replace Ace. It’s very likely that we’ll put Ace in the freezer- either for us or for the dogs. I will be sad but he’s had a good life. I’m looking at a few bull calves born this year. And we’re going to sell Annie and Rosie – that will make me very, very sad.

Sheldon was helping me in the garden. 

sheldonSheldon, gardening.

I used seed tapes for carrots, beetroot and parsnips this year. The carrots have germinated well, the beetroot less so and I weeded the parsnips by mistake.



Friday 23rd July

Cool in the morning, warming later but overcast so around 18C.  I pulled and cooked rhubarb – it’s almost finished for this year – but then I found a jar of strawberry jam, so picked some more (definitely the last), cooked it with the jam and froze it.

In preparation for the new hens coming tomorrow, we’ve moved Duck into the brown hen house to keep order. The green house hens seem relieved. He’s very amorous!

We received some photographs of Dalmore taken from a drone. So interesting to see the place from the air.


Saturday 24th July

Weather much the same as yesterday. 

First job this morning was to kill the four remaining meat birds, all hens, but we just couldn’t so they’re in with the brown house layers. They’re huge, so we will have to kill them before they drop dead. Plan is to skin and joint, rather than pluck and clean. The dogs can have what’s left, raw and ground.

Drove to Perth to collect twenty laying hens – a mix of Susses, Silver Sussex, Coucou Marans and Bluebelles and two Polands for Sheldon. It was 23C in Perth; 18C here.  There was remarkably little hassle when we put them in with the existing birds – they were all too busy dust bathing and eating grass and seeds. Or maybe it was too hot to fight. They did need shepherded to bed though. The Bluebelles, in particular, seem to like the apple trees as roosts.

Sheldon and his girls (called Amy and Penny, of course) are getting to know each other. They’re in the meat bird pen until their new ark arrives.

polandsPenny and Amy.

Sunday 25th July

Hot today.

We had a visit from a nice young couple interested in Shetland cattle. Always happy to host such visits and share what knowledge we have.

Dan, Andy and I took down the electric fence in Laing’s Field so I can let Ace, Rosie, Annie, the two calves and the sheep through anytime. I will have to go and pull ragwort this week; even if we don’t have he grazing next year, I can’t in good conscience leave it.

Rain forecast for the start of next week. Sure hope it does rain – all getting a bit crispy.

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