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Posted: Monday 13 April, 2020

by Rosemary at 6:29pm in Smallholding No comments Add your own

Monday 6th April

Sunny but so windy again. Dan had office work this morning then got the chainsaw out to prep timber for splitting and cut kindling; then he was off harrowing Laing’s Field.

No7 had twin ewes about lunchtime. Only Niamh (12th) and Kit (28th) to go, so a few unbroken night’s sleep in prospect. Picked up hay and took two bales to East Pitkerro but the steers had plenty left, so left two bales in the shed; then picked up two bales for here.

Spent some time in the office.

Tuesday 7th April

Glorious day – really warm.  Even the inevitable breeze is warm. Picked up our three weaner pigs this morning. They’re pure Oxford Sandy and Blacks, from Martin and Jackie at Parkhill Rare Breeds. By, they produce braw pigs. These are eight weeks old. They slept on the way home in the puppy cage then we pooped the cage in the wee pen with the door open and left them to it. When I went out at 2pm, they were in the ark, so I removed the pen and gave them water. At 4pm, I fed them and opened the wee pen up – then spent 15 minutes watching them start their exploration. Their mother is Delilah so they are called Samson, Tom and Alex. Folk of a certain vintage will understand.

pigsNew pigs.

Dan did some office work then processed this week’s comfrey orders, then he had an hour or so in the orchard before going off harrowing. He’s also harvesting the rhubarb – we cook and freeze it, then eat it for breakfast mainly. Last year, or maybe the year before, I made quite a lot of strawberry jam that didn’t set (I also made some that did set, but we’re not big jam eaters and raspberry and blackcurrant are the preferred ones) so Dan is adding a jar or strawberry jam / syrup to each batch of rhubarb instead of sugar – it’s lovely and it’s good to use something that’s only going to haunt the pantry forever.

This was my first day doing the horses on my own – first time I’ve poo picked for ages. Euro’s very good at picking his feet up – which is just as well because they’re like dinner plates.

I had a wee while in the polytunnel then started to take the bricks off round the plum and gage trees, weeding as I go. Did half; will do the other half tomorrow. And I rescued a tired and thirsty bumble bee.

plumPlum blossom.

Wednesday 8th April

Rain! Yes! Dan did more harrowing and started preparing the potato beds. The earlies have been chitting for ages – we’ve got Maris Bard and Red Duke of York. For mains, we’ve got Carolus and Rooster.

I think Niamh is going to lamb tonight. Feeling anxious, so will check every two hours and nap in the chair. I’d hate for anything to go wrong at her last (eighth) lambing. She’s huge and bagged up. And greedy. But she’s always greedy.

no2No2 and Niamh, daughter and mother

Thursday 9th April

Cool and overcast. Having a day off. Got up every two hours during the night as I was convinced Niamh was going to lamb. She didn’t, of course. So up at 6.30am, all morning chores done by 9am, breakfast and a relax. My head was getting a bit flakey. I had so many projects on the go before the Covid-19 outbreak – Royal Highland Show, Yes Carnoustie, Smallholding Scotland, the Festival, the Shetland cattle film – as well as tours and courses here – and then STOPPED. And I seemed to get brain freeze – although there was plenty stuff I could be getting on with. It’s not like this virus won’t pass.

Slept a bit this morning, had lunch, read my book, had a shower and did the afternoon round. Unless anything changes in the night, I think I’ll do four hourly checks – 10pm, 2am and 6am.

Dan’s been working in the veg garden and doing some more harrowing, finishing Laing’s field. We got the bill from Tractor John and it was very reasonable, so we’ve asked him to fix the tractor’s front loader. There’s a big pile of horse poo in Sheepfold that I’d rather NOT barrow onto the trailer.

Pigs seem to be settling in OK.

Friday 10th April

So, checked Niamh every two hours during the night and she lambed this afternoon – a big white tup and a smaller black ewe.

tupNiamh's thirteenth lamb.

AstridAnd her fourteenth, Astrid.

All seem well. I was on tenterhooks but that’s the last pedigree Rosedean Ryeland born. At ten, with eight lambings and fourteen lambs, I think Niamh’s earned her retirement. What a sheep she is. We’ll keep the ewe lamb – now named Astrid. I’ve loved breeding Ryelands – they are fantastic sheep and I hope we’ve done a bit to promote them through our website and courses.

Dan’s had a bit of a day off and did some knitting. I’m repairing my fleece – it must be ten years old and the zip’s gone, so I’m putting some Velcro. I am not a seamstress. I also found my flower press – some pretty pressed leaves in it from winter.  I should make some cards.

leavesDried leaves for card making.

Saturday 11th April

Sunny and very warm but very windy again. Niamh and the lambs, and No2 (who must get a new name soon) out in the garden. Niamh seems a wee bit short of milk so will top the lambs up twice a day. No2 was making such a noise, I wondered if she couldn’t see. One of the problems with Ryelands is wool-blindness, when the wool on the face grows so densely it obscures the vision. Gave her a haircut but she was still bleating on so she’s back in Sheepfold with the ewe hoggs and Shetlands. At least I can’t hear her now. Offered the lambs – Astrid and Artie – a bottle at 7pm and they took a wee bit but not much. They’re in the byre tonight but will be out in the field tomorrow I’m going tom put Niamh and No8 (with the triplets) together and give them some extra feed.

lambsNiamh and her lambs, 24 hours old.

Had a text exchange with our shearer. He’s planning to shear as normal this year; I want the ewes done before they are sold. They’ll travel more comfortably shorn.

When the sheep moved out, the dogsmoved in. No kisses for mummy onight.

dogsHuntin' dogs.

Took hay to East PItkerro – hopefully that’s the last bale. Dan started the round of harrowing again. We could do with some rain. Walked the fields. The grass is coming slowly although Laing’s Field looks awful. There are about eight or ten big piles of rushes from the topping – Steven is going to come next week and put them over the fence out the way. I wonder if should get it oversown with grass – I’d really like to.

rushesCut rushes.

Finished taking the bricks off round the plum / gage trees and completed the repair of my ancient fleece. First day for ages I’ve done everything on my To Do list. The secret is not to put much on!

Sunday 12th April

Cloudy with sunny intervals, not as warm as yesterday but decided to put Niamh and her lambs out in the field. They don’t seem interested in the bottle and are very lively – I think I might be looking for problems where there are none. I’ve upped the feed for all the ewes with lambs at foot. I’ve been in contact with the chap who’s bought them to sort out when they’re going – looks like early June, after shearing.

Also put the meat chicks out – they’re three weeks old now and doing well. Tidied down the box they’ve been in for three weeks – not a nice job, but done. The guards on the field pen are a bit raggy looking but hopefully they’ll be fine.

And we had rain! It fairly dropped the temperature, but it rose again before bedtime. 

Rosie and Annie are now a month away from calving.

cattleAce, Blizzard, Rosie and Annie l to r.

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