Flies / Shearing / DecadeRSS feed

Posted: Tuesday 19 May, 2020

by Rosemary at 3:15pm in Smallholding Comments closed

Monday 11th May

Sunny, cool in the wind. The cows have decided that Ace is part of the herd again – they brought the calves round to the field shelter, so I decided they were telling me something and let him out. He was far more interested in grass than girls.

Milked Rosie and Annie then tagged the calves. We planned to ring Albie but failed to find any balls so we’ll get the vet to do the job sometime, but before he gets too big. Bringing them in was a pantomime – the cows aren’t liking the surface of the Triangle and raceway to the barn so that’s a bit of coaxing – then the calves took off across two paddocks – tails in the air like warthogs. After their run, they trotted into the barn no bother – not so sure they’ll be as happy to come in tomorrow.

Gave the pigs their first milk – of course, they loved it.

Took the ponies across the golf course then went shopping, to the bank, to the feed store and the petrol station. How exciting!

Tuesday 12th May

Happy 23rd birthday, Smokey (Munro of Millfield). We’ve been together for eighteen years, through ups and downs. To celebrate, the three ponies each had a bottle of homebrewed bitter on their breakfast. They do love beer. And we had our regular trip out to the golf course – except Euro got spooked by the sprinklers coming on and took off. But only as far as Smokey, who was grazing a few yards away. Good boy!

smokeyBirthday boy.

I sowed some flower seeds – Rudbeckia “Marmalade”, Zinnia “Pop Art White and Red”, Cosmos “Snow Puff” and Cosmos “Rubinato” and finished mucking out the barn. I’ll have to do the field shelter again now that Ace is free, and the byre is waiting.

As I was getting ready to milk the rain came on, cold and hard. And Ace was standing at the gate to get in. Bless him. He found milking a bit tedious, so had a wee lie down.

aceAce, relaxing at milking time.

Bertie and Pen retired to the polytunnel, out of the inclement weather. So glad they enjoy it – makes the expense worth every penny.

Wednesday 13th May

Picked up ten new POL hens in Stirling – five Sussex and five Silver Sussex, which surprisingly are black.

hensNew hens - Sussex and the misnamed Silver Sussex.

The fruit garden looks well – the half that used to have raspberries but has some comfrey and potatoes. Not sure what will be in it next year – but raspberries have to go in somewhere.

fruitHalf the fruit garden.

potatoesAnd the other half.

The grass in Laing’s Field is coming away but it’s slow, so I’m planning to keep the cattle on our grass as long as possible.

grassNew grass.

I’ve put a hay rack out for them, just in case they need it. They certainly don’t go mad for hay when they come in to be milked.

Wednesday is cheesemaking day – first cheddar on the go this morning.

Thursday 14th May

On this day ten years ago, we got the keys for Dalmore. Time’s a funny thing – it seems like a lifetime ago yet we’ve had Bryn for five years now and that just seems like a moment. Although not when he’s asking to be let out / in /out/ in. We had planned to have a party on Saturday, but of course that won’t happen, so we just had to drink champagne on our own.

The day was not wholly spent quaffing bubbly though. There was a lot of shit. When I got up this morning, either one dog had had a big dump or two dogs had had smaller dumps in the bathroom. Cleaned that up.

With most of our sheep going off to their new owner on Saturday, we thought we’d better tidy up their back ends. With the new grass, they were pretty dirty. Actually, they were horrible – a fine combination of wet shit and dry rattley dags. We were shocked to find three with early stage of maggots. By that time, I had a blister on my hand and was liberally coated in shit, so Dan did the clipping. We used Spotinor and blue AB spray. The unaffected ones had a dose of Spotinor as well. I texted the shearer and he’s coming on Saturday morning.

strikeFly struck ewe.

I had previously arranged for the cattle foot trimmer to come and trim Annie and Rosie, and for the vet to come too, to have a good look at Blizzard. Foot trimming was fine and Nik ringed Albie, the bull calf. Blizzard’s problem seems to be in her hip, so the advice is not to breed from her again after she calves in October. I need to check whether we can use AI – I think it’s the service by the bull that’s the problem. Anyway, we’ll let Ace get Annie and Rosie back in calf, then we’ll have to think about what we do next. But as a culmination of the day, and to express their disgust at being manhandled into the crush, all three cows shit on me and Rosie managed to get me a shitty tail strike across my face. I love being a smallholder.

aceStackyard Ace of Spades (and a wee bit of Annie).

Friday 15th May

The three ewes are fine this morning. I’ve got all the paperwork done and let the two flocks in together. We shed off our eleven and put them in the barn overnight, so that they are empty for the shearer. The rest went back in the field.

Drove down to Perth to pick up fifteen meat chicks; Jane broke down at Braco, so one of the customers waiting at Perth drove down and collected the birds. Our car then failed to start – flat battery, so I had to wait for the Green Flag man to rescue me. Got home at 7.30pm. All but one of the chicks look fine. We’ll see in the morning.

The green henhouse, where the new hens are, has proved a bit crowded, so Dan made some additional perches – happy hens tonight.

perchNew perch.

Saturday 16th May

The weak chick was dead this morning, but the rest are fine. Shearer arrived at 9am, set up and all done and dusted by 10am. It was interesting to see the difference between the milking and unbred ewes. Kit and Niamh look pretty rough; Scoot, Bambi and Molly (previously No2) are shorn like a hot knife through butter. The BFL look like deer. The fleece hadn’t risen but with the cases of strike, we felt we had to shear, because we can’t use chemical insecticide and send the fleece fro processing. It’s very difficult.

scootScoot, shorn.

bflThree Bluefaced Leicesters and one Ryeland.

fleeceBluefaced Leicester fleece.

The rest of the sheep – all 21 – were collected at 10.30am. Was I sad to see them go? Yes, and no – but I know it was the right decision. Although Alistair, the shearer, reckons we’ll have more sheep. And who knows.

The milking machine isn’t keeping pressure – Dan has thankfully found the fault (a crack in the lid of the dump bucket. It’s taped up for now but we’ll have to contact Tim Gibson and see fi we can get a replacement.  Annie and Rosie haven’t been very happy, so hopefully the repair will improve things.

Dan and I weeded the polytunnel ready for the tomatoes; the spuds and peas are almost ready to eat and all my little lavender plants look like they have taken.

spudsPeas and spuds in the polytunnel.

sweetpeasSweetpeas (and weeds).

Sunday 17th May

Wakened to loads of black smoke in Barry - there was a shed of rubbish on fire up past the village. Apparently it's a regular thing. Who'd have thunk that there would be arsonists about in Barry at 5am on a Sunday.

fireFire! But where's my breakfast?

Managed to get the ponies out for a walk today then weeded and weeded inthe polytunnel; top dressed with REMIN and we're ready for the tomatoes!

Had our best milking so far this season – very relaxed for all concerned. When it goes like that, it’s such a pleasure.

After making a pile of pea supports, Dan started topping Laing’s Field again; giving those rushes a hammering is very satisfying!


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