Diary

Manure / Wreaths / FrostRSS feed

Posted: Monday 2 December, 2019

by Rosemary at 2:59pm in Smallholding No comments Add your own

Monday 25th November

Another dreich day and the winter blues have struck.  I was mucking out the cattle and working out how much it cost to keep them – and that caused me to reflect of whether we were making a surplus or not. Retiring to the office, I did some sums and we probably do very slightly better than break even on the cattle. The sheep make a surplus if we attribute al the income form sheepkeeping courses to them. But then we have grass rents, business insurance and accountancy costs to cover.

On the bright side, No8 is now sound – and no vet’s bill. And water levels are dropping.

ditchWtaer level's dropping.

Tuesday 26th November

Grey and dismal. So’s the weather.

Wednesday 27th November

There’s a saying that no matter how good things are or how bad things are, you can be sure neither condition will last forever. We had a bit of pale blue sky today – through cloud, but definitely blue.

No2 Has a very green bum, which I’m very happy about. I put more raddle on Urquhart – that should do him until next Wednesday. Based on the research at the start of the week, 2020 will be our last lambing. It’s been interesting and I’m going to rewrite my notes for the sheep keeping courses next year. One of the problems I’ve had this year is having to run three groups of sheep – ewe lambs, ewes with tup and tup lambs that were too wee to go to the abattoir in October. This means I have three paddocks being grazed and three hay feeders to fill every day. It’s the grazing and the impact on next year’s grass that’s most important.

We don’t castrate – to avoid a mutilation – and in most years, that’s been fine because all the tup lambs have gone in the autumn – although if I’m brutally honest, there have been occasions when some of them were a bit wee to go. But the imperative was to get them gone. So next year, I will castrate any triplets, if we have any, any born at the end of the lambing period and any that are small at birth.

Thursday 28th November

The weather is improving, the ditch is running and water levels are dropping.

I made cranberry and orange scones this morning – a trial for the wreath making courses. I don’t usually mess with scones – I’m a traditionalist. It’s sultana or cheese, with an odd foray into treacle. But I wanted something (dare I say it) Christmassy – so I soaked the cranberries in orange juice and grated orange peel and added a teaspoon of mixed spice. Dan says they’re his new favourite home bake. Bless ‘im.

Did a talk a local Women’s Guild – very nice.

Friday 29th November

Sunny and cold – yay! Tacked up Smokey and took him for a walk. The new girth is too long, so Tara’s taking it for Euro and I’ll get his. Took a coulpe fo tries to get the bridle right. It's been a long time.

Made mince pies for tomorrow – some puff pastry and some with shortcrust pastry and a frangipane topping. And some gingerbread biscuits – mage with ground almonds and hazelnuts, eggs , sugar and spices and drizzled with dark chocolate. Gluten free and delicious.

Saturday 30th November

Hard frost; first Christmas wreath making course today. Dan and Rebecca went foraging while I sorted the catering and the facilities – Christmas pot pourri in the toilet! Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and all made lovely wreaths. I hope they are all proud of themselves!

Sunday 1st December

Everything still hard frozen – but it’s blue sky and sunshine, so it’s worth it. Dan took a load of muck up to Guildy Farm. I’m trying to separate off the wasted hay – that’s to go up to the orchard to mulch the trees – it reduces the amount of muck in the trailer too.

After breakfast, Dan and I spent a few hours in the veg garden, emptying No2 muck bay, which is one of the four muck bays, on to one and a bit veg beds and the rhubarb. The new base of hardcore and chicken wire has stood up well. No1 bed was topped with REMIN, covered in manure and then black plastic.

bed1Bed 1 topped with REMIN and manure.

 

bed1Bed 1 covered with black plastic.

bay2Muck bay No2 empty.

Muck management takes a fair bit of time here. Dan tidied up No1 bay, which was the last bay we filled and we covered it with black plastic. The other two bays are probably good to use now, so we’ll try and get that done over the next few weeks if it stays reasonable, weather-wise. The robins were very happy that the muck was disturbed – it was full of worms and, while we covered one bed with black plastic, we left some muck open for the birds. And we had a bit of a general tidy round – as well as we could when some stuff was frozen to the ground.

bay1Bay 1, tidied up.

I’m in pre-Solstice declutter mode. Dan’s feeling the pressure. I can't decide whether to do the potting shed, polytunnel or greenhouse first.

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