Mostly cattle; Autumn jobs; Pig pen prepRSS feed

Posted: Thursday 3 November, 2016

by Rosemary at 11:25am in Smallholding Comments closed

Monday 24th October

Been a lot of rain over night. Paperwork day today. Need to get started on the Smallholding Scotland Conference programme this week. The venue’s booked and the catering sorted – just the speakers to arrange now.

Tuesday 25th October

Woke to our first proper frost this morning – had to scrape the car at 10am. To be fair, it was parked in a shaded area.

Popped up to Astwood to check on the lamb with orf and give another spray with Alamycin. The sore bit looks much less angry and I can’t see any sores on any of the other lambs. They were very well behaved and came into the pen no trouble at all.

Wednesday 26th October

Phew, warm and windy today. Must have been 14C. It’s dried up all the wet from the weekend, which is nice.

Cleaned out the brown hen house this morning but ran out of bedding so will do the green house tomorrow. Had a chat with Dan about the cows and calves; decided that 5 months is too young to wean the calves, so we’re going to take Annie and Rosie and the two soon-to-be-steer calves up to Astwood first weekend in November for a month – that gives them a week to get over their op before they move (if anything goes wrong, they’re better here) then they’ll be weaned early December, when we’ll bring the two cows back here to be housed and leave the four steers at Astwood.

Hopefully the weather won’t be too bad. Bringing the two cows back should be relatively simple since they are both halter trained and pretty good at trailer loading.

Blizzard and Winnie will have to stay here, because we’ll be bringing the new bull calf home shortly and he’ll need some company. Seems like a plan :-)

Once it got dark tonight, we moved the last seven Sasso hens into the caravan. We’ve just never got round to killing them and they’re laying now, so we’ll keep them for a bit. They were big girls though – my arms were aching carrying them round. Nugget will be happy in the morning J

Thursday 27th October

Mild and windy again today.

Checked and sprayed the lamb at Astwood and gave Robbie and Fraser some sugar beet. They’ll wonder what’s hit them when the cows go up there.

Robbie & FraserRobbie and Fraser loving their sugar beet.

The Sassos finally found their way out of the caravan, but only one managed to find her own way back in at dusk. Thankfully, they aren’t swift birds, so as darkness fell, it wasn’t too hard to catch them and “train” them to go up the ladder. They’re braw big hens.

Nugget with SassosNugget courting the Sassos.

Finally got round to emailing the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) about Shetland cattle at the Royal Highland Show(RHS). Quite excited about the reply – classes for Shetlands featured from 1912 – 1920 (apart from 1915 and 1916 when the show wasn’t held because of the Great War) and the archivist send some photos of the lists of exhibitors and prize winners. Turns out there are three photos of the Champion Shetland from 1912, 1913 and 1914 on the SCHBS website, here's the 1914 winner:

1914 Shetland Cattle RHS Champion1914 Shetland Cattle RHS Champion.

As a winter project, I might do some further research. Beats watching competitive baking on the telly.

Dan’s topped the two fields with the worst rushes – yes, it’s that dry underfoot :-)

Topping rushesDan topping rushes.

Friday 28th October

Lovely day here – sun, light breeze. Hope it lasts.

Vet was here at 10am to sort out the cattle. We brought them in to our wee milking parlour just after 9am and tied the cows up with some sugar beet. The calves were dead easy; I guess they remember coming in over the summer.

PD first, while the cows weren’t potentially stirred up by us handling the calves. Blizzard and Annie definitely in calf; Rosie, inconclusive. There was clear fluid showing indicating a possible pregnancy, but if she is pregnant, she’s not far enough on to show on the scan. So we’ll have her scanned again once we house them at the beginning of December.

The bull was courting her the first few days after we put him in, 14th August, but I was pretty sure she had been bulling a few days before that so he was just hopeful (and possibly desperate); 17, 35 and 52 days would take us to 1st and 18th September then 6th October. It’s going to give me an odd calving period but I’d rather that than her not be in calf at all. Fingers crossed for a heifer. Annie was served on 24th August and Blizz on the 28th, so they are due 3rd and 7th June respectively. Annie calved on the 3rd June this year :-)

The castrations went fine (for us humans anyway) and so did the blood tests. Our wee makeshift crush works OK for our particular set up. We’ll just keep an eye on the steers to make sure there’s no bleeding or other issues. They were a bit subdued in the afternoon, poor boys.

Got the deadweights back from the abattoir today – Mak was 399kg, Hamish 351.5kg; the pigs, 60.1kg, 61.4kg and 66.2kg. Confirmed that the kill charge would be billed to the transporter and he’ll bill me for kill and transport. Dan’s picking up the pig less bacon (which isn’t ready yet) tomorrow.

Saturday 29th October

Off to the Shetland Cattle Breeders Association AGM and won’t be home until nearly midnight on Sunday. Glad Sunday’s not Hallowe’en :-)

Dan got some of the autumn jobs done: clearing gutters, tidying the muck heaps, a final (hopefully) cut of the grass in the garden.

Sunday 30th October

Dan harrowed the pig pen with the tractor and spring tine harrow, and lifted all the detritus the pigs had left – large chunks of turf, sticks, lengths of baler twine, and a pile of stones.

Pig pen before and after harrowingPig pen before and after harrowing.

We’ll seed it with grazing rye next week, it’s a hardy grass that will germinate this year and should grow a good 6 inches by the time we get new pigs in the spring. We need to net the gate first though, to keep the hens from feasting on the rye seed once it’s sown.

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